Ecommerce is booming and is only going to get bigger: online retail sales are expected to count for 13.7% of global retail sales in 2019, and it’s predicted that by 2040, around 95% of purchases will be made via ecommerce. If you have a product or service that you want to sell, the internet is a great place to do it, and much cheaper than opening up a bricks and mortar store.
The question is, how? Setting up an ecommerce website might seem like a daunting task, but it’s easier than you think. Here is a beginner’s guide to setting up your first online shop.
Before you start building your store
It’s a good idea to get some details ironed out before you start building your store. If you’ve never done anything like this before, spending some time reading up on how to start a business will grow your knowledge and confidence. You should also do some research into your competition – other online stores similar to yours – to figure out how you can design and market your ecommerce website in a way that will be more attractive to potential customers than existing ones.
At this early stage you should also choose and purchase a domain name and web hosting service, unless you decide to do that through your ecommerce platform.
Choose an ecommerce platform
Ecommerce platforms make setting up your shop quick and easy. Most of them offer a selection of templates (some, like Shopify, even have free templates so there is no initial outlay) that enable you to create a slick and professional looking online shop, even if you have no experience of web design.
Things to consider when choosing a platform include competitive pricing, and the ability to integrate plugins such as email marketing and analytics, mobile friendliness and SEO capabilities. Do some research before you decide so you can make an informed decision about the platform that will be best for your business.
Decide on a payment gateway
Payment gateways are how you collect money from your customers, and allow your business to safely and securely accept credit cards or other forms of online payment. The ecommerce platform you choose can tell you what gateways work within your system, and they will usually be ones you’re familiar with such as PayPal and Worldpay. The most important things to consider when choosing your payment gateway are:
- Compatibility with your ecommerce platform
- Availability in the countries your business targets
- The amount of fees charged
- The types of payment they support
- Reporting and reliability
- Ease of use and support
There is plenty of advice available online that will help you decide which payment gateway will work best for your ecommerce website.
Create a marketing strategy for your ecommerce website
Once you’ve created your website you have to get it out there so people can start shopping. You are probably aware that the best way for your website to generate sales is for it to be near the top of the Google search rankings. What you may not know is how to get it there. The answer? SEO and marketing.
There are a lot of things you can do to get your store noticed, but it may take time to build your brand presence, so to start seeing results quickly your first efforts should go into SEO, or search engine optimisation. In very simple terms, SEO is the process of generating more traffic to your site from search engines using keywords and it’s crucial to pushing your page to the top of the search engine results pages, or SERPs.
Setting up your own ecommerce store is very achievable but if you’re doing it for the first time, you may like to choose to work with an experienced web designer or SEO company to help you get the best results. This is more expensive than setting up a shop by yourself but the professional expertise you gain is a worthwhile investment that will get you both a well-branded and marketed sh