When it comes to digital nomad jobs, you probably think about blogging, software engineering, digital marketing, and similar laptop-based roles. If you’re staying in one location for a while, you may consider teaching English, serving as a tour guide, or working at a hotel.

But have you considered an e-commerce store?

If you haven’t, you may be missing out on a key revenue stream.

After all, e-commerce has boomed during the COVID-19 pandemic. In May 2020, for instance, online sales increased 78% from the year earlier.

The pandemic has quickened the shift towards online shopping. Even though e-commerce is well beyond its infancy, it’s still growing fast. And you can get a piece of the growing pie.

Now, you may be thinking: E-commerce isn’t necessarily location-independent. How could you sell stuff to consumers around the world if you’re traveling in South America?

The logistics actually aren’t as hard as you’d think. In this guide, we’ll cover why you should open an online store and discuss why e-commerce work is one of the best jobs for digital nomads.

Should You Open an Online Store?

We’ve written about the best semi-retirement jobs before. One of those gigs was online selling because the e-commerce market will exceed $6 trillion annually by 2023.

If you’re not in semi-retirement, online selling still makes for a great digital nomad job. It could start as a side hustle and an extra revenue stream. And if you’re successful, it can turn into something much more.

Selling online is a great digital nomad job because:

  • The market is growing and there’s ample opportunity to sell high margin items.
  • You can scale your operation much more easily than a service like travel writing.
  • You can streamline, outsource, and automate work by partnering with e-commerce agencies, hiring freelancers, and using software solutions.
  • It can be location-independent once you have everything set up.

Before you decide whether to open an online store, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I want to do the initial legwork? You have to hire a fulfillment center, build a direct-to-consumer website, make listings on Amazon, and more. This takes time, but the payoff can be huge.
  • Can I hire people to help? You could do it all alone. But if you want to scale, you should bring on people with relevant skills. For instance, if you have a background in logistics, you could handle that part of the operation and hire a web developer, marketer, designer, and copywriter for the other work.
  • Will I be responsive to customers? As the London Business School notes, you have to be fast and right if you want to win over customers. Will you have the passion to respond to a customer inquiry or complaint at odd hours? You could hire staff for this, but you get the point. E-commerce requires constant attention.
  • Can I handle inventory management? 43% of sellers still count inventory by hand. This is a mistake. You must learn about inventory best practices and use tools to help with inventory forecasting. If you don’t, you can run into issues like excess stock, which results in high storage costs, or a lack of product, which leads to missed sales.
  • Do I have the capital to start? If you do all the work, you would pay domain name fees, the cost of inventory and storage, and any fees to list on various sites. This can still cost over $1,000 and even well over $10,000 if you’re selling something expensive, such as electronics or toolkits.

If you feel you’re up to the task, then get started. There’s no better time than now for digital nomads to launch an e-commerce store.

How to Set Up and Run an E-Commerce Store if You’re a Digital Nomad

Now that you feel selling online is a digital nomad job that suits you, let’s go over the process of running a store remotely.

1: Figure Out What to Sell

This requires you to do market research and find an opportunity. Unless you have a proprietary product, winning in competitive sectors, like shoes, vitamins, and beauty, will be difficult. Look for where there’s high demand, but low competition. Discover a niche!

A tool to help: Helium10 allows you to do in-depth market research on customer demand on Amazon. It’s mostly used for Amazon SEO, but it’s a great way to see what products can fill gaps in the market.

2: Do Competitor Research

Once you know what you want to sell, research the competition. What do good businesses do right? What are customers saying in the reviews? How can you differentiate yourself?

A tool to help: SellerApp has a competitor analysis tool that gives you insights on everything from competitor keywords to pricing.

3: Select Your Business Name and a Legal Structure

If you’re just starting, go with either an LLC or an S Corporation. It’s just easier for tax purposes. Speaking of tax, read our digital nomad tax guide for more clarity on this. Also, apply for an EIN so you can separate your business and personal finances.

A tip: If you’re a US expat, register your business in a state with low taxes, such as Delaware.

4: Create Your Websites and Store

Remember: The goal of the site, and your goal for this digital nomad job, is to sell products. This requires stellar copy and stunning design. Don’t take shortcuts here. Because it will affect your conversion rates.

A tool to help: You definitely know about Shopify. Use Shopify to create a beautiful online store.

5: Set Up a Store and Listings on E-Commerce Platforms

Much of your initial revenue will flow through Amazon, eBay, and other sites initially. Setting up a store and listings takes time, but the right words and images can boost conversions and profits.

A tip: E-commerce partners, such as Amify, an Amazon agency, can take on all the work of managing product listings, sales, and customer service. Such agencies are great to use if you’re operating remotely.

6: Set Up a Business Growth Strategy

Once you get off the ground, put a business plan in place with realistic revenue targets. Set out a roadmap for getting there. Decide what sort of strategy will drive growth. Will it be social media and Amazon advertising, content marketing, influencer marketing, or a combination of all those?

A tip: If you have the capital, learn all about Amazon advertising. There are strategies you can employ to seize opportunities.

7: Establish a Way to Manage Inventory

You may need to visit the warehouse you’ll use to store products first, as it’s best to build trust and a good line of communication. If you’re manufacturing your own product, you’ll have to make a contract with a manufacturer and agree upon a scope of work as well.

A service to use: Fulfillment by Amazon can work if you’re able to ship products from the supplier or manufacturer to the Amazon warehouse. If you’re selling on multiple sites, have a service like ShipMonk handle your storage, shipping, and returns. For forecasting inventory, tools like Jungle Scout can help.

8: Take Advantage of All the Tools Available

For instance, on Amazon, you’ll find what’s called Amazon A+ Content. It’s an enhanced content section for listings that allows you to incorporate more copy and high-resolution images and videos. Creating A+ Content alone increases conversion rates by an average of 10%.

A tip: Utilize listing software to optimize and manage listings. Do A/B testing on sites to determine what content works best for selling products. Always look at the data these e-commerce sites give you!

9: Price Correctly

Pricing is a dynamic art. To win over the competition, you must price your products accurately. This necessitates you focus on the data and use e-commerce pricing tools.

A tool to use: RepricerExpress offers 24/7 automated pricing, enabling you to capitalize on opportunities even when you’re having fun in one of the best digital nomad cities.

10: Analyze and Optimize

This is one digital nomad job that you can’t set and forget. It’s not an investment. You have to analyze the data, see what products are selling best, and optimize your listings. This way, you can maximize profits and eliminate waste.

A tip: Review your product catalog on a monthly and quarterly basis. Focus on your top sellers if you plan to spend money and time on advertising and improving listings. A 10% improvement in conversions on your three best-selling products is more profitable than a 20% improvement in conversions on your three worst-selling products.

Online Selling: One of the Best Jobs for Digital Nomads

Having multiple revenue streams is always a good idea. With a diverse array of digital nomad jobs, you can protect yourself against a downturn in one field. E-commerce appears to be bulletproof at this point, and it’s worth a try as a digital nomad job if you have that entrepreneurial spirit.

It’s also important to mention that e-commerce has become quite important during the pandemic, especially for at-risk people who can’t journey to the store. As an online store owner, you can not only make money, but you can also get folks the things they need. You can do something good.

So, is e-commerce a viable digital nomad job?

I would say yes. Dive in, and see what sort of success you can have.

About the Author

Nick Callos

Nick Callos has always had a passion for reading, writing, and discovering the new and unknown. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Nick holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Boston College. He currently splits his time between his hometown, Chengdu, China, and the open road. A full-time travel writer, Nick hopes his work can inspire others to explore the world more deeply and enjoy the digital nomad lifestyle.