How To Set Up Your First Online Store

open sign on glass shop door

Looking for some ecommerce advice? Perhaps you’ve decided to go online rather than establish a second branch in the city? Perhaps your footfall has reduced lately and you’d like to capitalise on some online sales? Or do you live somewhere remote, but still fancy the thrill of sharing local produce online?

This article will give you all of the most up-to-date information to get your ecommerce store up and running with minimal hassle and help you stay ahead of the pack.

Before you take the plunge and go online, perhaps it would be wise to check conduct some market research, so you can understand more about your online market.

Choosing your domain name

A domain is like the postal code for your online store, and it’s usually the first thing that your customers notice about your brand. Choosing one is easier said than done. Ideally, your brand name should:

Be memorable and concise. Something easy to pronounce can really help, too

Be relevant to your product offering or niche, though this is not always necessary. Take a look at companies like Bing and Google – these nonsensical phrases have taken the world by storm and originally had no literal meaning. However, they have had recognition as search engines bestowed upon them over the years and have since become household names.

Be an identical phrase-match or a partial match to your store name, so your offline and online enterprises are consistent and recognisable. For example, if your brand and shop name is Ocean Fresh, and the domain oceanfresh.com is taken, you could add a word like ‘online’ to the end. The end result would be: oceanfreshonline.com.

Be available on a number of domain extensions, including .com, .co.uk, and .net. Purchasing multiple domains and redirecting them to one primary domain will stop another individual from purchasing the domain and stop potential customers from getting confused between another brand and your own

A local element in your domain name can help display local pride and improve your chance of ranking for local search queries, but you might be limiting your customer base

Sites like GoDaddy.com are a good, universal place to register a domain. With a domain name registered, it’s advisable to set up rolling payments to prevent yourself from having any hosting problems and to stop anyone from buying up your domain when it expires.

Building a website

If you’re already running your own physical store or retail operation, chances are that you’re hoping to get your online store set up with minimal fuss, time, and financial investment.

Luckily for you, there’s a whole host of options available to get your store up and running in next to no time at all.

Start by exploring open-source options like WordPress and it’s more-budget competitors. Not sure which content management system to go for? Getting acquainted with third-party reviews and curated lists of the top ten open-source ecommerce platforms will help you get to know their unique selling points and limitations, so you can make an informed choice.

Ask around for advice and speak to local business groups. The platform you choose will have a big impact on how much time, money, and effort is needed to run your website in the long run.

Want a more managed service? Investing in a SaaS ecommerce platform means that for a small monthly subscription you get technical support and have greater autonomy over the look and feel of your store.

Here are some things that a hosted platform can offer new etailers:

A selection of free, professional themes to ensure a positive customer experience.

A store-building service that enables you to easily optimize the SEO value of your store, ensuring it shows up in the search engine result pages of your potential customers.

Many ecommerce building services have a strong sense of user community, usually with events and online forums, where entrepreneurs can ask for help and share knowledge. This is particularly useful if you are just getting started online and can save you a lot of money otherwise spent on professional advice.

Of course, if you have plenty of time and budget to play with, you could invest in a custom-built website for your store. If this is the case, consider checking out the portfolio of the web designer and developer before you commit yourself. Have plenty of face-to-face meetings and discuss designs in detail as the website starts to come together.

The omnichannel way

Omnichannel retailing involves offering your customers a seamless shopping experience, regardless of what device they are using or whether they buy from you online vs. in-store.

The future of omnichannel retail is online, and modern ecommerce solutions give you the necessary flexibility to sell across different online marketplaces. Instead of setting up disparate accounts on the likes of Amazon, eBay, and Etsy, an ecommerce platform offers a holistic, integrated approach where merchants can manage inventory, fulfill orders and optimise listings all from one place.

With all of this controlled from one dashboard, managing your business and analysing data will be far easier. The more platforms you are active on, the more chance you will have to get noticed and makes sales.

Using an omnichannel approach, you can eliminate back-office legwork and inefficiencies. More data also means more efficient and joined-up marketing. On top of this, you have more time to focus on running your store and making online sales.

Social media marketing

hoboscardiff instagram feed

credit: hobos cardiff

Whether you’re a vintage clothing retailer in a big city, or a shop selling homemade jams in a village, social media will open your online store up to new, targeted audiences. Online social selling is a potentially low-budget way for new Welsh businesses to make their mark and share their brand story and personality effectively.

To get the most out of your social media budget, you should return to your buyer personas – a vital and useful part of any online business plan. This way, you can ensure that you know where and how your customers spend their time online, and you can make your brand visible in the right places. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Which social networks do they use, and what kind of content do they engage with?
  • Do they prefer wordy ads on Twitter and Facebook, or more visual content on Instagram?
  • What time of day are they most active?

This information is the key to success on social media. The most important thing about your social media strategy is to constantly measure the engagement levels of your posts, and alter your course accordingly. Check out third-party tools like BuzzSumo to get some cross-network data on how you’re doing — your social strategy should be backed up by other digital strategies like content marketing, influencer outreach, and digital PR.

By following this guide, you will be well on the way to set up a great online store. The transition from offline to online is a natural one, but don’t feel like you need to abandon your brick-and-mortar store just because you’ve gone digital. Operating an omnichannel strategy that includes a physical store is a sure-fire way to create a business with real longevity that’s embedded in the local community.

Click here to add a comment

Leave a comment: