Thanks to an explosion of ecommerce sites, it's never been easier to quit your day job to make a living selling custom T-shirts or whatever strikes your fancy. However, given the balancing act that is small business cash flow, you may find yourself in need of a business loan to help cover revenue gaps or to fill orders. This guide will take you through your options.
How do ecommerce business loans work?
An ecommerce loan is a type of financing for small online retailers. Because online lenders tend not to hold physical assets, such as retail stores, these loans are generally unsecured and are available for amounts less than $500,000. They can come as a lump-sum payment or as a line of credit.
Is my company considered an ecommerce business? If you sell goods online, you have an ecommerce business.
What kinds of loans are available to ecommerce businesses?
The first step to finding a loan is learning about the options that are available for a unique business like yours.
Unsecured business loan. This is a loan that delivers funds to you as a lump-sum payment and requires you to repay them over a set term. You will usually have two years to repay the loan and you can generally borrow between $5,000 and $500,000. Compare unsecured business loans using the table on this page.
Lines of credit. If you want funds to support your cash flow or are not sure how much you will need and when, a line of credit may be an option to consider. These loans give you a total credit limit that you can draw on when you need. You only repay what you borrow and you are only charged for what you use.
Business credit card. You can also consider a small business credit card to support your online business. This is a good option if you have expenses to manage across multiple team members or you are looking to take advantage of business rewards programs. Remember that charge cards require you to pay the entire amount back in full at the end of the statement period so ensure this will work for your business's budget.
Online business loans you can apply for today
Updated February 27th, 2020
Loans for PayPal merchants
If you use PayPal to process transactions in your ecommerce store, you're in luck. PayPal offers a working capital loan whereby you can borrow up to 25% of your sales from the last 12 months, up to $97,000. You then choose a percentage of your sales to make as repayments plus a fixed fee. If you're approved, you will receive the money in your account and the repayments are automatically deducted from your PayPal sales.
How do I compare options for ecommerce business loans?
There are a few things to keep in mind when finding the right ecommerce business loan for you:
Repayment amount. Consider the interest rate and fees to see how much your ongoing repayments will be. Look at this in terms of your past sales and see if these will be affordable.
Repayment flexibility. Are the repayments flexible? Are you able to repay the loan ahead of schedule or change your repayment amounts?
Loan amount. Make sure you are able to borrow as much as you need – no more, no less. There is no need to take out additional funds that may make the loan unaffordable or to end up with a loan that is insufficient for your needs.
Loan type. Is the loan you're opting for a line of credit or a term loan and will it suit your needs?
What do I need to apply?
The documents you'll need vary depending on the lender and loan you're applying for, but you'll likely need to provide the following:
Your business's financial records including monthly revenue and expenses
You may need to attach your business accounting software as part of the application
Your personal information including contact details and business ownership verification
Four tips for running a successful ecommerce business
Use multiple social media platforms. Don't just rely on reaching your customers through Facebook. Each platform comes with its own strengths and weaknesses, and using more than one could cover your bases.
Be mobile-friendly. Shopping on a computer is becoming a thing of the past. Not only should your site be responsive, but your content should fit mobile reading too.
Simplify, simplify, simplify. The last thing you want is for frustrated customers to give up while trying to buy your products. Make it as easy as possible for them to spend money on your site.
Reward loyalty. Developing a loyalty program is a tried-and-true way of getting customers to come back.
Investors. Get funding in exchange for ownership of a percentage of your business from venture capitalists, angel investors or investment corporations.
Crowdfunding. Set up a page on a crowdfunding campaign to collect donations from your social circle and fans of your business.
Friends or family. You probably won't have to pay interest or fees when borrowing money from a wealthy acquaintance or relative — but you risk serious social consequences if you can't pay them back.
Personal loans. Consider taking out a personal loan to fund minor business expenses. This could be an option to consider for a business that doesn't meet the age or revenue requirements for a business loan.
You might, depending on the type of loan you take out. You will be able to borrow more and you will have more loan options if you have residential or commercial security to use for a secured business loan, but if you don't, there are still unsecured business loans available.
If you can no longer make payments on your loan, call your loan provider as soon as possible. You might be able to work out an adjusted repayment plan.
You can, but it's not usually a good idea. Aside from running into trouble qualifying for a loan, if you can't make your payments on time, you'll pay any number of fees — and potentially dig your business into a hole of debt.
Adam Mathew is a writer for Finder, specialising in video games and TV. He's been the editor of magazines such as Ultimate Nintendo and Official PlayStation AU. His words may also be found in IGN, Gamespot, Kotaku, Red Bull, Game Informer and AusGamers.
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