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Essential Guidelines for Launching Your E-Commerce Store

The United Kingdom boasts the world’s fourth-largest eCommerce market, valued at approximately £120 billion in 2021 and the first quarter of 2022. Despite the significant impact of the pandemic on the digital market, sales figures continue to rise, particularly through mobile devices, which constitute about a third of all online sales, even after the reopening of physical stores in April 2021.

Opportunities abound to carve out your niche online, and with proper setup, your e-business stands a strong chance of success. However, there are numerous pitfalls to avoid and essential strategies to implement to stay on course. In this discussion, we’ll delve into the key areas that require attention.

Getting Your Finances in Order

When considering launching an eCommerce venture, it’s crucial to approach it with clear eyes, understanding the workload and expenses involved, even for a modest-sized audience.

You’ll need to pinpoint the product(s) you intend to sell, define your target audience, conduct thorough competitor research, and craft a solid business plan. Each of these components holds equal significance because, as a startup, optimizing your investment is paramount.

Additionally, ongoing expenses must be factored in, including:

  • Fees for Website Hosting
  • Purchasing of new stock
  • Returns and refunds
  • Product storage (warehousing, fulfilment or drop-shipping)
  • Payment Processing (small flat % fee charged by a platform for every transaction)
  • Packaging/postage/courier costs
  • Marketing (depending on how far you want to extend your brand)
  • Email Marketing tools

In addition to the initial expenses for setting up and designing the website (especially if you require specific elements not offered for free by platforms like Shopify or eCommerce), it’s crucial to manage all costs diligently.

Effective planning and meticulous tracking of expenditures are essential. Ultimately, the goal of your eCommerce store is to generate a consistent income and achieve profitability.

Choosing Your Hosting Provider

Ensuring a seamless customer experience is paramount for converting visitors and cultivating a loyal audience who advocate for your brand.

Therefore, it’s crucial to select a dependable hosting company that provides fast, stable service with minimal technical disruptions affecting customers on your site.

Some providers, like Krystal, offer top-notch hosting solutions powered by renewable energy, appealing to those prioritizing sustainability. With excellent customer support, comprehensive package features, and user-friendly tools, they deliver an exceptional hosting experience.

Other reputable providers such as HostGator, Hostwinds, and 1&1 Ionos have also earned trust in the industry. However, it’s worth noting that they may not offer support for Windows servers or Windows-based VPS hosting, which may not suit everyone’s needs.

Selecting the Perfect E-Commerce Platform

Choosing the Right eCommerce Platform: Exploring Shopify, eCommerce, and Magento

Pros of Shopify

  • The incorporation of hosting and security features simplifies the initial setup process.
  • Amazon, Facebook, and eBay integration is seamless within the platform.
  • Round-the-clock customer support is available, which is beneficial for beginners.
  • Every Shopify store is mobile-ready, ensuring accessibility across all devices.

E-Commerce pros

  • Being an open-source platform, E-Commerce allows for extensive customization according to your preferences.
  • The platform can be easily scaled to accommodate any number of products you wish to sell.
  • The basic option is entirely free, which is advantageous for those with budget constraints.
  • You don’t need to know HTML or CSS, allowing you to get started quickly.

Magento pros

  • Magento is also open source, granting you the freedom to customize templates and tailor the build to your specific needs.
  • The platform offers a plethora of out-of-the-box features for marketing, analytics, and more.
  • All essential SEO features are already integrated, eliminating the need for additional plugins.
  • You’ll have access to omni-channel features, allowing customers to reach you from anywhere.

Perfecting Web Design

It’s crucial to prioritize the “above the fold” section of a webpage, which is the initial part visible before users scroll down. Ensuring the design of this area is optimal is essential, as it significantly influences impressions and conversion rates. Factors to take into account comprise:

  • Call to action

Incorporate a call-to-action (CTA) button to allow customers easy access to products, services, or a contact form without the need for navigation to other pages.

  • Contact info

Include an email address or phone number to foster trust, reassuring customers that you’re accessible and not avoiding communication.

  • Value proposition

Highlight what sets you apart from competitors using straight forward language, avoiding unnecessary length.

  • Brand identity

Ensure customers grasp your brand identity, displaying your logo, tagline, color scheme, and other key elements prominently at the top of the page.

  • Navigation

Make sure customers can effortlessly navigate your website by placing navigation tools at the top of the page. Include a search bar for easy access to specific content.

Implementing a Sleek Design

When visitors arrive on your website, they expect to find what they need swiftly. Therefore, your design and layout should be sleek and purposeful, devoid of clutter and unnecessary distractions. While creativity is welcome, prioritize creating a polished and professional website that drives inquiries and sales.

Utilize high-resolution images and concise copy to convey key points without unnecessary filler.
Customers prefer succinct content; focus on essentials and aim for under 200 words, if feasible.
Prioritize site speed optimization to retain customer interest and boost sales; faster loading times enhance user experience and drive conversions.

Building customer trust

Considering the abundance of similar products available on other websites, why should customers choose you? Equally important, how can they trust your brand?

Establishing trust is crucial for sustainable sales, and there are several strategies to bolster your credibility:

  • Showcase relevant awards or accreditations in your industry.
  • Incorporate customer reviews and testimonials from authentic sources, linking externally for validation.
  • Provide comprehensive contact information, including email, phone number, and address, and feature a personal touch in the “About” section.

Consistency in these efforts fosters trust and accelerates the development of a loyal customer base.

Managing Order Fulfillment

When you’re ready to start receiving orders, efficient order fulfillment is crucial. However, holding stock may not be feasible for fledgling companies due to storage and delivery constraints, which can increase overhead costs and diminish profits.

A viable solution is to employ a fulfillment service that stores your products, handles order picking and packing, manages shipping and tracking, and handles returns and damaged stock. This allows you to save costs in the short term and reinvest profits into purchasing your own storage space later on.

When opting for this approach, ensure the fulfillment service offers robust reporting and analytics tools and compatibility with your eCommerce system.

Implementing the Plan

Putting Ideas into Action: Real-Life Examples

Setting up and running a successful eCommerce business can be challenging, and while providing guidance is helpful, executing it is a different story. Here are some instances where we applied the aforementioned concepts and integrated key fulfillment features to support stock and delivery management systems.

One example is Timothy Dunn, for whom we developed a highly customized WooCommerce site. The site is designed to streamline the checkout process, with added convenience for mobile users through Apple Pay and Google Pay integration. Despite holding all their stock, Timothy Dunn benefits from seamless DPD integration. When orders are received, details are promptly sent to the courier, and postage labels are printed with a click of a button. Staff then prepare the order, label the package, and hand it to DPD for delivery, with customers automatically provided tracking details.

Another illustration is Camden Tea, for whom we created a fully customized shop theme tailored to their specific business model and customer journey. Combining physical locations with an eCommerce store, Camden Tea’s Shopify-based site utilizes features that facilitate management of both online and physical sales, including inventory (POS and EPOS). This setup ensures greater accuracy, offering “live” stock levels so online customers always know what is available to order.

So, what’s next?

If you’re thinking about setting up an eCommerce website but are not sure where to start, we can help get you up and running. We’ll work with you to develop everything from scratch so the store supports your products and customers, and we also offer SEO services that can boost your search engine visibility and rankings to increase visitors to your site.

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