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Blog » Annuities » Starting an E-commerce Business in Retirement? It’s a Great Idea

Starting an E-commerce Business in Retirement? It’s a Great Idea

Updated on May 18th, 2022
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Starting a business after retiring isn’t a revolutionary new idea. People have been doing it for a long time, but they haven’t had access to as many opportunities and money-making strategies as they do today, especially in the online business sphere. Of course, one of the most popular online options is e-commerce. Some are even considering starting an e-commerce business in retirement.

In 2014, global e-commerce sales were valued at just a bit over $1.3 B, but in 2021, this number reached almost $5 trillion. That shows just how much potential there is in the e-commerce business and how lucrative it could be. 

But why would you engage in starting this kind of business after retiring? To improve your finances or avoid boredom? Are there other reasons than a potentially high income that make this move a good idea? Here’s what you should know about starting an e-commerce business after retiring. 

1. This kind of business has a manageable workload 

The beauty of running an e-commerce business is that it gives you the flexibility and freedom to do your work from wherever you want and set your schedule however you want. 

Unlike a traditional brick-and-mortar business, e-commerce doesn’t require your constant attention or presence. As long as your website is online, you can decide how and when to handle your orders. 

Have a brunch planned with your family in the middle of the workday? Take your time and relax. Your website will still be handling traffic and online orders even if you’re not sitting by your computer screen. You can get back to work and check for any changes and new orders when you have the time for it. 

However, even more appealing than a manageable workload and a flexible schedule is the fact that you can work from wherever you are – all you need is an internet connection. 

Whether you’re traveling around Europe, moving to Florida, or joining a Royal Caribbean cruise, you can easily manage your e-commerce business from there. If you’re selling physical goods, you only need to make sure that you have someone who can fulfill orders when you’re away. If you’re selling digital products, you don’t have to worry about a thing as the whole transaction is limited to the online environment.  

2. Initial investments are minimal 

One of the main reasons why interested entrepreneurs, young and old, never start their own business is the associated costs. There’s no denying that starting from scratch can be quite an investment. Depending on the niche, even a small home-based franchise can cost around $5,000 initially. If you have to set up an office or a full brick-and-mortar shop with all the furniture and other necessities, the up-front investments can quickly stack up. 

It’s different in the world of e-commerce. You can get everything you need to get started (except the inventory) for less than $100. 

However, keep in mind that your inventory can still be expensive when you’re selling physical goods, whether online or offline. If you want to keep your expenses low, you might want to consider selling digital goods, such as photographs (taken by you), video tutorials or educational lessons, your own music, eBooks, and the like. 

In any case, since you need no office space, custom window decals, furniture, or interior decor to impress your clients, you can save a lot of money when starting e-commerce rather than a traditional business. 

Of course, although you don’t need a physical location, you do need a website if you want to run an e-commerce business in your retirement. To create one, you can either use a website builder or start from scratch. 

Website builders 

Using website builders is the simplest, cheapest, and fastest way to create your own website. Although you need to be somewhat computer literate to use one, you don’t need any coding, programming, or design knowledge. 

Most builders like Wix or Shopify have an intuitive, user-friendly design with drag-and-drop features that allow you to seamlessly choose your website theme, customize your web pages, add your preferred payment processing methods, and more. 

In most instances, you don’t even have to know anything about web hosting – your website builders can take care of it for you. 

Simply choose your domain name (preferably the name of your business), start playing around with the features and design, and create your website in a matter of hours. If you have any questions or concerns, you can always contact the support team of your chosen website builder and solve any problems you encounter on the go. 

Building a site from scratch 

The alternative to website builders is doing everything from scratch. Depending on how you approach this process, it could be much easier than it sounds. 

If you want to truly start from scratch, you’ll need some technical knowledge as you’ll be responsible for every single aspect of your site, not just its appearance. You’ll need to create your own features and commands, learn how to fix bugs, find the right host for your needs and budget, and more. 

Alternatively, you can hire a developer who can make your vision come to life, but you’ll need to pay a hefty fee for them. 

3. Not much computer knowledge required 

Considering that seniors don’t typically have as great of a grasp on computers and all the related technologies, it might be frightening to get yourself immersed into the online world during your retirement. However, running an e-commerce store isn’t nearly as complex as it first appears, and it doesn’t require much computer knowledge at all. 

You will need some understanding of how the internet works, but you don’t have to be anything near a computer genius. 

As previously mentioned, you can create your website from scratch, but you don’t have to if you don’t know-how. Thanks to the advancements in website builders, as long as you know how to work a computer mouse, you’ll be good to go. 

Web builders give you complete design freedom without requiring a web development background. You can create a functional, eye-catching e-commerce website that attracts customers within a few clicks. Best of all, you don’t even have to worry about site maintenance when you choose the right builder. 

4. You can hone your skills and follow your dreams

If you’re like most people, you’ve spent the majority of your life within the same business field -even if you changed jobs frequently. After all, you likely always searched for jobs that matched your education and experience. If you earned a finance degree and spent time and money honing all the relevant skills, you probably didn’t switch your career mid-way through and turn to liberal arts fields. 

That doesn’t mean that you have to spend your retirement doing the same old thing. Starting an e-commerce business allows you to try new things and hone the skills you never even knew you had. 

You’ll need to learn a little bit of web design, a little bit about writing interesting content, using social media, and developing marketing strategies. It all makes your retirement much more exciting and allows you to pursue your dreams. 

Take a look at just a few skills you’ll get the opportunity to develop when you start an e-commerce business in retirement. 

Web design 

If you’ve been paying attention so far, you’ve learned that you don’t really need any web development skills to get started with e-commerce. However, even if you’re using the most streamlined web builder that can create everything you need with a single click, you still need to have a feel for web design. After all, it’s the first thing your customers will notice. 

If your site is too crowded, too slow, too flashy, you’ll drive away more buyers than you’ll attract. So, you’ll need to work a bit on honing your web design skills. 

The most interesting thing about it is that web design is ever-evolving. Trends that shaped websites last year are already becoming obsolete today. You’ll always have room to learn, improve, and have some fun. 

Content writing 

If you want your e-commerce website to attract customers, you’ll need to enrich it with relevant content. At the very least, you’ll need to learn how to write product descriptions. At best, you’ll also devote some time to creating catchy slogans, interesting social media posts, and relevant blogs. 

Of course, you can always hire someone else to do it for you, but where’s the fun in that? 

Social media 

When you start your e-commerce business, social media will quickly become your best friend. It’s the perfect tool for reaching a wider audience and attracting customers. 

You can use it to promote your products, engage with your followers, build brand awareness, and spread your brand message. 

Using social media is a skill you can learn quickly, so don’t be afraid to give it a try. 


You can’t expect to simply make an e-commerce website and have your customers come to you. You need to attract them, and there’s no other way to do so than through marketing. 

Develop traditional ads, come up with unique YouTube ads, spend some time perfecting your social media marketing skills, and let your creative juices flow freely. 

5. Everyone is turning to online shopping 

The past couple of years has redefined the world of e-commerce. Whereas the COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating effects on the travel and hospitality industries, among many others, it’s led to largely positive developments in the e-commerce field. 

With most brick-and-mortar businesses closing up at the start of 2020 and throughout 2021, consumers have turned to online shopping, getting everything they need in a few clicks from the comfort and safety of their homes. Subsequently, online sales have skyrocketed. 

In the US alone, online retail sales grew from $519.56 billion in 2018 to $791.7 billion in 2020

Despite many of the pandemic restrictions easing up, most consumers have grown accustomed to getting everything online – from entertainment to groceries, apparel, and tech gadgets showing that the rise in online sales is anything but temporary. 

6. Room for success regardless of your professional history

Running a successful e-commerce store isn’t tied to having a professional history related to this field. It doesn’t require any experience or technical skills. It only requires a desire for learning. 

While having some understanding of how, for example, marketing or lead generation works can be helpful, it’s not critical. Every online business is different, and even if you have extensive experience running an e-commerce store, you’d still have to adapt to your new business as you go. Your audience will be different, your brand persona will be different, and your entire business approach will be different. 

Don’t let your inexperience stop you from venturing into the world of e-commerce. Whether you were an accountant, a librarian, an artist, or a stay-at-home parent, you can try your hand at running an online business and find success. 

Still, if you’re afraid of failing due to your lack of experience, you can always join an online course to learn more before you start your business. It can help prepare you for all the challenges and opportunities that may come your way. 

7. Your store doesn’t need to be hyper-successful to earn decent savings 

When most people think about e-commerce, they think of giants like Amazon, Etsy, Alibaba, eBay. While it would be nice if your e-commerce store became a household name, that’s not necessary. It could even be undesirable since it would require you to work much harder and dedicate more time and effort to your store – something you might not want to do during your retirement. 

If you want to supercharge your savings and secure your finances, you don’t need to be hyper-successful. You only need to work on keeping your revenue higher than your expenses. 

Some of the key areas that will improve your profitability include: 

  • Customer acquisition and retention: 
    • The more paying customers you have, the more successful your business will be; it’s simple math. However, you’ll also want to focus on customer retention. Boosting your customer retention by just 5% can enhance your profits by anywhere between 25% and 95%; 
  • Data collection and analysis:
    • Collecting and analyzing data will shape your success. Business intelligence will tell you about your performance and areas for improvement, while customer intelligence will tell you all about consumer behaviors and purchasing preferences;
  • Product selection: 
    • Choosing the right products will significantly impact your performance. Use high-quality products, do some competitor research to determine fair pricing, and promote your products to boost profitability; 
  • Supply chain optimization: 
    • Finally, you need to optimize your supply chain – from how you source your products to where you store them and how you deliver them. Any issues in the supply chain will directly impact your revenue. 

On average, you can expect your newly-established e-commerce store to make about $127,000 in monthly revenue in the first year. While it might not be enough to turn you into a millionaire, it could help you supercharge your savings and enjoy your retirement even more. 

8. There are a lot of different products you can sell 

E-commerce lets people sell products they are passionate about. There are so many options to consider, and there’s always a chance you’ll find an untapped niche that hasn’t yet been brought close to customers. 

Some of the most in-demand physical goods include: 

  • Hand-made accessories, clothes, and decor; 
  • Paintings; 
  • Cosmetics; 
  • Apparel; 
  • Shoes; 
  • Home decor; 
  • Garden supplies; 
  • Kids toys and games; 
  • Books; 
  • Pet products. 

As we previously discussed, selling physical goods can be more expensive initially as you’ll have to build up your inventory. So, if you want to cut your initial costs, you can always sell digital goods, including: 

  • Mobile apps and games; 
  • Digital art; 
  • Music; 
  • eBooks; 
  • Educational courses; 
  • Photographs; 
  • Software; 
  • Podcasts; 
  • Virtual guides; 
  • Online resources. 

When choosing your product, whether it’s physical or digital, you must focus on quality. Small businesses often find success because they can offer quality that large corporations with mass production cannot. 

Go for products that you’re passionate about, and rely on your experience with your favorite goods to improve the offer and astound your audience. 

9. E-commerce is constantly growing 

With every new business, you’ll encounter some risks. After all, over 20% of new businesses fail within their first two years. However, not all fields carry the same risks, and e-commerce is known for its stability and sustainability. 

Starting a business in e-commerce is generally considered a much safer option than starting a brick-and-mortar shop. 

Over the past few years, this field has shown steady growth. Consumers have already gotten accustomed to making online purchases, and they’re spending more in the e-commerce world than they ever did before. The expectations are that e-commerce sales will reach a value of over $6 trillion by 2024

With more and more businesses moving to the online environment, your competition in e-commerce might be harsher, but you have more opportunities for growth than ever before. 

10. Scaling is easy, and your business won’t overwhelm you

Retired people usually like to do some additional work, but they don’t have the time or energy to give their “110%” at any given moment. Therefore, it’s only natural that you have concerns about what you can do when your business starts growing. 

The good news is that even if your business skyrockets overnight, it’s easy to scale up without increasing your workload.  

To prevent your business from overwhelming you, you can: 

  • Automate processes; 
  • Adjust marketing budgets; 
  • Outsource the workload;
  • Create a good retention strategy;
  • Establish quality customer support. 

With these strategies, you can boost your revenue without sacrificing your free time. Enjoy your retirement and let your business take care of itself. 


The thought of starting a new e-commerce business in your retirement can be frightening. However, it’s not as challenging as it may appear at first glance. 

Consider which niche suits you best, develop a plan, and start working on making your dreams come true. You risk virtually nothing and yet stand to gain a lot. 

Give e-commerce businesses a shot, and see for yourself just how much they can enrich your retirement. 

Robert Brandl

Robert Brandl

Robert Brandl is the Founder and CEO of Tooltester SL. He has also worked as an account Manager, and graduated from both Edinburgh Napier University, and Hochschule Munchen University of Applied Science. He earned degrees in marketing and business administration. He is skilled in Affiliate Marketing, Online Marketing, Digital Marketing, and other forms of marketing as well.

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