The eCommerce market is booming all over the world, with global sales coming in just under $3 trillion in 2018. The UK has one of the most promising markets out there, so it’s a great time to get into eCommerce and start your own online store.
Whether you’re planning a purely online business, or looking to bring a new or existing brick-and-mortar business into the world of eCommerce, setting up an eCommerce website has never been easier. Here’s how:
Select a platform
Most eCommerce store owners work with custom designed eCommerce platforms, like Shopify, Magento, Wix, WooCommerce or Big Commerce. These are already equipped with features such as payment options, shopping cart software, and even customisable design themes, automating much of the process so you can have your website running as soon as possible. In fact, you can make an account and do basic setup in as quick as 15 minutes without knowing how to code.
Shopify is one of the most popular because it’s extremely comprehensive and user-friendly, and you can even manage offline and online stores simultaneously using Shopify POS.
Purchase a domain name
Spend some time finding a decent domain name. This is the URL that users will enter when they want to go to your online store and is usually based on your store’s name. If you are starting an eCommerce business from scratch you will want to settle on a name with an available domain name. If you cannot get a .com or .co.uk then there will likely be other top level domains (TLDs) like .uk or .shop out there but it’s preferable to get the .com or .co.uk.
You will need to find a webhost as well. Your website’s speed and any downtime will largely depend on the reliability of your webhost, so make sure that it can handle heavy traffic and has good customer support. eCommerce platforms like Shopify already function as web hosts and will guide you through the entire process.
Set up payment options
Your eCommerce customers should be able to pay online with only a few clicks. Nearly all platforms offer a wide range of payment options that are convenient and secure. Customers all over the world lean towards paying via credit card, and as of 2017 and 2018, this is the preferred method for 47% of UK customers, so your store should accept credit card payments.
Another standard option is Paypal, which 41% like in the UK. There is a small fee charged by payment providers for each transaction, but this is usually covered by your eCommerce platform package.
Design the website
Designing your online store can be as easy as choosing themes from your eCommerce platform and tweaking some details, but you can also work with a web designer to maximise your website’s visuals. Either way, your online store should be visually appealing no matter what device customers are viewing it on. Usability is also important—navigating through the website and ordering should be a no-brainer. Essential parts of your online store include the home page, where you can feature products, as well as an about page describing your shop and a contact page for inquiries and customer service.
Enter your products
Product pages are the heart of your eCommerce store. Each product should have its name and price listed, along with high-quality images showing different angles. Make products more enticing with informative yet appealing descriptions that highlight why customers should buy them. For fast searching, products should be organized into categories. You can even add extra features such as filtering by brand or price range. Do keep the product inventory updated so customers won’t order unavailable items!
Market well with SEO
Your website is pretty much functional now, but it still needs SEO (search engine optimisation) to consistently pull in customers. Your eCommerce site’s SEO determines how high it will rank on Google. The highest-ranking online stores land at the top pages of Google searches, which boosts their visibility immensely and leads to more sales. SEO is complex, but is of huge importance if you are to attract traffic and potential customers to your store through the search engines.
Content relevancy, length, quality, as well as site structure and backlinks are all factors in how well your pages rank for a given search term in Google. SEO should be the major part of your overall marketing strategy, along with social media and paid ads.
These are the basic steps for setting up an eCommerce website. If you’re just starting out, you can accomplish a lot of this on your own. However, as your shop scales, it’s recommended that you work with experts such as web developers or SEO consultants to upgrade the website and make it growth-ready. After all, your online store will require constant maintenance as your business evolves.