A Guide to setting up an Ecommerce Site

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It’s an increasingly rare business these days that doesn’t have a website. Many people now turn to the web first when looking for consumer goods, so having your own site ensures that they can find you and browse your products. Perhaps more importantly, if you choose to invest in an ecommerce website then you can sell your goods online. In fact, as footfall in physical shops falls, more and more ecommerce only businesses are being setup every day.

If you’re a newcomer to building websites then this might sound rather daunting, but if you’ve already tried your hand at selling online, perhaps through eBay or Amazon Marketplace, then it needn’t be that much more difficult. There are eCommerce platforms such as Shopify which allow you to build your own sales site and link to other established sales outlets too.

First Steps

The first thing to do is to find and register a domain name. This is the address by which people find your site. Ideally, you want something catchy and which relates to your business. Try to avoid including dashes and other characters and steer clear of addresses which are too close to those of similar businesses. You will find that many domain names are already in use, so you may need to be a bit inventive if you want a .com or .co.uk. Of course there are many other top level domains (TLDs) available such as .uk or .shop or .digital.

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Once you have a domain then you need to choose a platform. There are lots of these available so take some time to look at the features they offer and see what suits your business model. Remember though, that the more popular platforms like Shopify and Magento, have been around a long time and will have a lot more support than smaller platforms, so it does make sense going for one of these. Once you’ve chosen an ecommerce platform, it can be very costly to change your mind further down the line.

You also need to think about how you will be accepting payments and ensure that your chosen platform can cope with them in a secure way.

You will, of course, need a hosting service to get your site onto the internet. Some ecommerce platforms offer hosting as well or you can opt to use a separate host. Either way, you need to ensure that the service is reliable and that it is robust enough to cope with large volumes of traffic.

Design and Optimisation

With your platform selected, you can turn your attention to how you want your site to look. If you want to sell concert tickets, for example, then your site will naturally look very different from one that sells artisan pies, so take some time to look at competitor sites and see how they are set up. Obviously, you don’t want to create a copy of someone else’s site, but they can give you some useful tips about the sort of look and feel you should be aiming for.

Think about your unique selling points. Competing solely on price is rarely a good idea, so look for ways in which you can add value to the products that you intend to sell. Again check out the competition to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t.

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Having a beautiful looking site is pointless if no one can find it, so your site also needs to be designed with SEO (search engine optimisation) in mind. This takes time and if you’re going to do it right, probably means working with an SEO company. Make sure that you research and include appropriate search terms (keywords) so that it can be found easily, and have a plan for adding new content to keep the site fresh.

Before launching your site on the world make sure that you check it thoroughly. Get someone else to help so that you don’t miss spelling and grammar errors. Test all of the links to make sure that they work correctly and ensure that payments are working properly.

Building your own eCommerce site needn’t be difficult, but it is time consuming and you do need to ensure that you get it right from the outset so that it delivers long-term returns and can grow and develop as your business grows and develops.

We’re very proud to bring you this feature in association with Shopify.

You may also enjoy our blog on goals.

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