If you’re thinking of starting your own business, money is probably your biggest worry. However, setting up an online shop is a simple and cost-effective way of starting your own business. Here are some tips to get you started.
Decide what to sell online
First of all you will need to decide on what products you want to sell. Going for the Amazon approach of selling virtually everything at this stage would be very ambitious. Instead, find a niche that you could dominate in the online marketplace. Perhaps you already have a small jewellery or clothing shop but want to reach more people. If not, source a product you’re passionate about and one where there are not many competitors.
Setting the price of your product will be one of the most important business decisions you make. Your business growth will be affected if you set a price that is too high or low. Make sure that the prices you set will allow your business to be profitable. Take into consideration the cost of sourcing, packaging and delivering the product.
Name of your online shop
Brainstorm different names for your online shop and find out if the domain name is available. A domain name is what people will type in the browser address bar to find you. As a long-term strategy, choose a name that is related to your niche and is easy for people to remember. This will be the start of building your brand.
Setting up your online shop
If you’re planning on selling a lot of physical products, you’ll need a service that can handle transactions, process credit cards and provide security to both you and your customers. Attempting to set all of this up on your own server will be time-consuming, expensive and full of security risks.
Instead, choose an all-in-one ecommerce package, which includes hosting, customisable design templates, a shopping cart and integrated payment options. Choosing an all-in-one ecommerce package makes it simpler, faster and cheaper to get your online shop up and running. EasilyShop is a great example of a low-cost, all-inclusive ecommerce package.
Your customers may leave your online store after seeing your delivery costs. Imagine, a customer sees a great price for the product they have been searching for. After filling in all of their information on the electronic customer details form, they are surprised to see a huge delivery price added on top of the product price. This results in the shopper clicking off the site and looking elsewhere.
Some online companies will absorb delivery costs while others will include them in the listed price and offer free shipping instead. Major postal carriers have websites that allow merchants to calculate the shipping charge for any item, based on weight and location.
Take a look at what your competitors are doing and whether or not free delivery is expected by consumers in the country you are targeting. If free delivery is common practice, you should consider doing the same too.
Decide how you’ll accept payments online
You’ll need to consider how to accept payments online. If you want to accept credit and debit card payments online you will need to set up an internet merchant account (IMA). There are also other ways of processing card payments for online sales such as online payment processing services. Check charges such as monthly fees and transaction charges.
If you already have a merchant account for face-to-face transactions, you will still need one which specifically accepts online payments directly from your customers’ credit or debit cards.
Promoting your online shop
So, now you’ve got a fantastic-looking online shop set up you need people to find your website. There are many different ways to open up your online shop to new visitors. Search engine optimisation has become a popular way to market online stores. Search engines are the sites where shoppers can search for products by entering keywords that describe the product they are looking for.
Being able to get a listing on the first page of a search engine’s result is often considered as “striking gold” in the world of ecommerce. To rank highly in natural search results, the content on your website should include keywords which a customer might type into a search engine when looking for the product you are selling. Additional methods such are as link building should be used to optimise your website for search engines.
Remember that you have competition on the high street as well as online. If you provide excellent customer service your customers will keep coming back and recommend you. Have a phone number and email address on your website for customers to contact you if they have a question.
Li-Sa Lim, Marketing Executive at Easily.co.uk