What you need to set up
If you are trading on the internet for the first time, it is advisable to start small so you can see what works before you scale up.
Your web hosting company can provide the necessary web space for your online store. It will be your responsibility to register a domain name for your company.
The easiest way to set up an ecommerce shop is to use a ‘turnkey’ package
- These solutions give you everything you need to start trading.
- Packages include a design template which you can insert your products and information into, plus payment facilities.
- You do not generally need any additional technical expertise.
You can use ‘shopping-cart’ software for a customisable site
- This creates a virtual shopping basket which holds the customer’s provisional purchases until the shopper confirms the order and pays at a checkout page. You can build your site around this functionality.
- You will probably want to hire a designer to build an ecommerce site which is driven by the shopping-cart.
- Using a shopping-cart package will give you more flexibility than a turnkey solution, but will also generally cost more and take longer to set up.
- Most web-hosting companies offer shopping-cart software for a modest cost.
Launching and running an internet shop will require some expert input
- You will need legal help in adapting contracts and terms of trade for the online environment and to ensure you comply with the regulations controlling distance selling, data protection and electronic communications.
- You will need someone with technical knowledge to keep the system running.
The investment you make in marketing your site is a key success factor
- If you have a limited marketing budget, you will need to make up for this with time, effort and energy.
- You will need to advertise and publicise your site everywhere you can, both online and in the real world.
- Many small online retailers have built a customer base through Twitter, Facebook and other free social media.
You will need to check that you can fulfil online orders efficiently
- Put appropriate systems in place to ensure you meet orders and consider the impact on the rest of your business.
- If you sell a physical product, choose a shipping company you can trust to be sure items are delivered when promised.
- Offer customers a choice of delivery options and enable them to track their delivery online.
- Ensure you have your employees’ backing.
- Disappointed customers are unlikely to buy from you again.