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Ecommerce - setting up an online shop

Selling online can be a profitable business development – preparation is key to its success

Know the landscape

Research rules and regulations regarding trading online before you begin.

Shop around

Look at what competitors/suppliers are doing for ecommerce, browse sites for ideas and pick out the aspects that work for you. Invariably they will work for your customers too.

Keep it clean

Make sure your site is uncluttered. Simple and clean means your customers can navigate quickly and order with minimum confusion.

Independent or hook up?

You have the option of setting up your own website from an online package or selling goods through a third party such as eBay or Amazon. Walk through the pros and cons of both before making your decision. The key is getting the right fit for your target market and this may mean setting up your own dedicated site.

Quick off the mark

Speed of delivery is a key concern for online customers. Keeping your customer experience quick and efficient, from payment to delivery, increases the potential for return custom.

Name the site

Choosing the right name for your online shop is crucial - it’s the gateway to your brand. You need to decide whether you want a name that can accidentally crop up in web searches – one made up of real words – or whether your brand would better suit a made-up word that can be unique to you. Remember some of your ideas may already be taken by other sites. Depending on your budget, you might need to be more creative. Consider how the name you choose will look as an address. Rule of thumb – easy to spell means easy to use for the customer.

Social networking

Remember when using social media that it requires to be continually updated, so before embarking on conversations, be sure you can respond. It’s vital that you regularly update both your social media and your website to keep customers coming back. A blog can also be a good way to keep customers interested.

Maximising search opportunities

Search engine optimisation improves your site’s ranking with search engines like Google, Bing, etc. SEO can help increase the number of consumers reaching you through key word searches, so it’s important to review and refresh pages regularly. Search engine advertising is also worth considering to increase your search results.

Customer feedback

Without feedback you can neither improve your site nor know if you’re providing the right information. Customers will appreciate the opportunity to be heard and it will provide valuable information for improving your business.

Keep it safe

The biggest concern for online customers is security. Whichever options you choose, only ask for the absolute minimum information you need and ensure you’re complying with current legislation on data protection. Show your customers you take their security seriously and explain everything you’re doing to safeguard it.

Please note that this is a guide only and should neither replace competent advice, nor be taken, or relied upon, as financial or professional advice. Seek professional advice before making any decision that could affect your business.

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