How Online Retail Business Can Use Storage in London

by | May 29, 2024 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

The world of online retail businesses in London is poised for another remarkable year. It’s a sector offering a straightforward entry point, making it an exciting prospect for new sellers and online store owners. Despite the challenges that all businesses, whether online or brick-and-mortar, face, such as finding affordable workspace and storage solutions in a costly city, the potential for success is within reach.

The solution for many entrepreneurs is leveraging self storage and removal services for e-commerce ventures. The Gentleman & A Van team has worked with many online business owners, helping them navigate the choppy waters of commerce. This blog will highlight practical steps to start an online business in London and additional resources tailored for e-commerce traders and online stores.


  • Current E-commerce and Online Trends
  • How to Start an Online Business in London
  • Additional Resources for E-commerce Traders
  • Online Sellers Use Self Storage as Workspace
  • Man & Van Removal vs Courier Companies

Current E-commerce and Online Trends

Before we discuss how storage and removal services fit into this situation, let’s begin with starting points for would-be e-commerce traders. This section will review some interesting niches for you to explore further. Remember that this list isn’t exhaustive – it gives you a better idea of current trends. You’ll have to research more granular details.

Reselling: Amazon, eBay, Facebook Marketplace

The influence of the high street shopping experience is waning, with 28% of total retail sales now online purchases. One exciting trend is reselling, where people source and resell items for Amazon, eBay, and Facebook Marketplace.

Risk is involved due to buying and storing inventory, but some courses and groups are available.

Vinyl and CD

Retro technology often reappears to appease nostalgia and counter the rise of digital products. People still like owning copies of their favourite music, and vinyl sells like hotcakes. Interestingly, CDs are now enjoying a comeback, although it’s unclear whether it will match the rise of vinyl.

Much like reselling, you’ll sleuth online and at music fares for items with a decent resell value. That involves using valuation sites and checking current selling prices online.

AI Artwork

There’s plenty of optimism (and scepticism) regarding AI. Savvy creators are using AI-generated art as a business. While many use Redbubble and similar sites, there’s a growing dislike for low royalties and poor customer service, including random suspensions without recourse.

That’s why many solopreneurs are cutting out the middleman by creating online e-commerce stores. Shopify and WooCommerce are two popular platforms for this. It requires some website and social media smarts to achieve—more on that later in this blog.

Personalised Clothing and Printing

In addition to art and craft items, online stores offer personalised clothing and apparel. This can be via a dedicated tee shirt and clothing printing company, where the online store takes orders and deals with the customers.

You can also handle the entire process yourself—printing equipment has never been easier to source and use.

How to Start an Online Business in London

There’s a common myth that online businesses, particularly resellers, are exempt from VAT and business registration. This false notion lands many people in hot water with the HMRC, so let’s review how to run your company to avoid issues.

Registering a UK Business & VAT

Any entity that trades and potentially earns a profit must register its business. You have three months to do this to avoid running into problems. You won’t have to worry about VAT until you earn over £85,000 – $90,000 annual turnover. We recommend using an accountant or accounting software for tax purposes.

Understanding Additional Business Rates

One significant advantage for online sellers is lower business rates. Physical stores pay whopping rental and business rates, which puts them at a disadvantage. However, they have the benefit of passing trade and being household names.

If you run a home-based e-commerce store, we suggest contacting your local council to find out about additional trading fees. Your home might not fall under an exemption status.

Council and COC for Business Information

Another wise option is contacting your council to see what business services and information are available. Additionally, you can consider COC (Chamber of Commerce) membership if it meets your business’s needs. Depending on your niche, you should also consider local networking events.

Additional Resources for E-commerce Traders

We’re not positioning ourselves as experts in setting up an online store or reselling venture. However, it’s worth guiding newer traders in the right direction for those in this sector.

Creating an Online Store

We mentioned Shopify and WooCommerce earlier, and there are a few others to consider, such as WordPress and Wix. This will incur costs, so start a business plan early and calculate costs to ensure you have enough capital. There are plenty of add-on services to improve customer service, like chatbots and retargeting software.

Do your due diligence before investing in your store, and only spend what you can afford to lose. You can always integrate more sophisticated customer service options later.

Role of Social Media Marketing and Ads

Unfortunately, the era of organic traffic is long gone – Meta and Google will boost you, but only if you line their pockets. That said, if you use ads smartly, you’ll reap the rewards and see a steady return on investment.

Most e-commerce store owners do this in-house at the beginning of their ventures. However, you should consider outsourcing your social media marketing and ad campaigns when you grow.

Finding Fellow E-commerce Trader Forums and Groups

You’ll find a plethora of online resources to help you delve into the details. There are plenty of internet forums for e-commerce businesses linked to online magazines, in addition to X (formerly Twitter), Facebook groups, Subreddits, and Discord servers.

Online Sellers Use Self Storage as Workspace

Gentleman & A Van works with various businesses that use our storage services. Over the years, we’ve seen more sole proprietors opting to use self storage as an alternative workspace. It’s an affordable option that reduces costs such as business rates and is significantly cheaper than commercial rental.

Before deciding on the cost savings, we suggest crunching the numbers via your business plan. We can provide a free, no-hassle quote to include. We also suggest seeking comparable figures from an estate agent specialising in commercial rentals.

So, what are the other benefits of business storage? Firstly, you can use the unit for more than one purpose. We frequently see e-commerce retailers’ section off the storage room to use one or more sides for stock and the remainder for admin.

Secondly, there’s more flexibility and wiggle room if you encounter problems. Remember the pandemic? We’d sooner forget it, but there are some lessons SMEs must take forward. Commercial leases span from 12 – 24 months. Unless you have a sympathetic landlord, you’re stuck with that rental, even if your business struggles.

Finally, you can link storage and removal packages to create a seamless local distribution service. Next, we’ll discuss why a removal service is perfect for collections and deliveries.

Man & Van Removal vs Courier Companies

Most of us have dealt with courier companies, often with a few horror stories of appalling customer service. We shouldn’t tar all couriers with the same brush because of a few bad apples. However, there is a broader problem with courier providers – they rush to compete with traffic and delayed deliveries.

This leads to poor handling and drop-offs as they rush between jobs, often due to being overbooked and a lack of organisation. Additionally, using a courier can soon bloat your costs because they’re costly. That means increasing your prices and dealing with angry customers.

The problem is you don’t want to take this task on yourself – collections and deliveries require a vehicle (buy or lease), and someone needs to perform the role. So, what’s the solution to this scenario?

From experience, a man & van service is more suitable for e-commerce stores that care about their goods. Our movers have decades of handling and packing experience, meaning your products remain in excellent condition. We perform holistic local distribution for several companies, including storage for stock control and warehousing.

Whether you need an affordable workspace or an alternative to using a courier company, we have everything you need under one roof.

Gentleman & A Van – Helping London E-commerce Thrive

As you embark on your journey to establish and grow your online retail business in London, having the right support system in place is crucial. Gentleman & A Van doesn’t just excel in moving services; we also understand the unique needs of e-commerce entrepreneurs.

With our reliable storage solutions and expert removal services, we provide the backbone for your business operations. Whether you’re storing inventory, managing deliveries, or setting up your headquarters, our team is dedicated to ensuring your success.

Reach out to Gentleman & A Van today to discuss how we can tailor our services to meet your needs. From flexible storage options to seamless removals, let us be your trusted partner in building and expanding your online retail venture in London. Your success is our priority.