how to become an online merchant

What does an Online Merchant do?

Online merchants must be knowledgeable in retail, such as buying and managing inventory. However, they must also be knowledgeable in online marketing strategies, updating stock on a website, and managing the merchandise that may not be housed where they operate their business.

Watch a video to learn what an online merchant does:


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How to Become an Online Merchant

According to O*Net Online, a little over 50% of online merchants have at least a bachelor’s degree or a postsecondary certificate. However, education is not a requirement to become an online merchant. Common degrees include business, entrepreneurship, or marketing. Related coursework such as web design, finance, economics, accounting, and marketing can be useful in this industry since you will be managing a website, money, accounts, sales, and obtaining merchandise for online sales. Strong computer skills are also necessary for website management, email, the internet, and data-tracking software. Additional strengths should include good verbal/written communication skills, customer service, and organizational skills.

Also, most employers prefer that you acquire some sales experience before working for them. This can be in a retail store, cashier, or even a sales position. Internships or employment can provide the skills that are looking for when applying for a job. Though not required gaining certifications may also give you an edge in this industry. Certifications such as the Certified Professional Sales Person (CPSP) from the National Association of Sales Professionals, Certified Inside Sales Professional (CISP) from the American Association of Inside Sales, or the Certifed Sales Executive (CSE) offered through Sales and Marketing Executives International.

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Job Description of an Online Merchant

how to become an online merchant

Before the Internet, online merchants didn’t exist. However, more than ever, people are shopping online and conducting daily business online now. Therefore it has brought an opportunity to those who wish to sell products (or services) on the internet.

Online merchants primary goal is to sell merchandise and their products via the internet. They must make their website as appealing as possible and get their products online in front of potential customers. Online merchants advertise and market their products, manage their inventory by updating it online, implement marketing activities, filling and shipping orders, and managing their financial records. Online merchants also resolve customer complaints, receive and process payments, correspond or send recipes via email, and work with vendors to obtain their inventory.

Typically an online merchant works more than 40 hours a week, but during the day. They spend a lot of time on a computer, phones, or on the internet. Online merchants sit a lot and are usually in an office setting. At times they communicate or collaborate with others to ensure quality customer service, especially when working for an online merchant company. This career field requires you to be a self-starter, like carrying out projects and, at times, can be risk-taking due to internet scammers. Some online merchants may also work with third-party sellers, making it challenging to ensure quality assurance; therefore, it is pertinent to be very knowledgeable in the products you sell online.

Online Merchants Career Video Transcript

Online merchants can get the best of both worlds, establishing a place for themselves in the market and saving money by working from home. Online merchants sell, package, and ship products to customers or distributors. On a daily basis, they might check their computer for new orders and process payments received for merchandise. Then, they might buy a new product and upload an appealing picture of it to the online store.

Online merchants make sure users can find and navigate their website and then buy their products easily. They typically set the prices for products and email customers to confirm transactions and communicate throughout the shipment process. Some online merchants work in teams for a store or distributor, while others work independently from home. This career allows a lot of schedule flexibility they may work full-time on developing their online store, or work part-time for some extra cash.

Online merchants rely more on their business savvy than formal education to get their careers started. In this field, good customer service and the ability to work independently are essential to success.

Article Citations

National Center for O*NET Development. 13-1199.06. O*NET OnLine.

The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.