How to set up an online shop
With digital continuing to permeate our everyday lives, shoppers across industries are looking online for quick and easy shopping experiences. With the rise of ecommerce in mind, we've put together a handy step-by-step guide to help you navigate the world of online shopping, from a business point of view.
Step 1: Choose the platform that’s right for youThere are now a number of ecommerce platforms designed to make building an online shop as simple as possible. Platforms like Shopify, Wix and BigCommerce are set up for anyone to get building their own store, no complicated coding or developing required. These platforms usually have direct links with all the major payment platforms, so you won’t have to worry about setting this up separately.
These platforms are great if you are creating a website from scratch. However, if you’re building ecommerce features into your current website, the job may be a little more complicated. In these cases, it’s best to talk to a web developer who specialises in ecommerce, who will be able to take you through the options.
Step 2: Set up a domainAlongside Step 1, you’ll need to think about how you want your brand to appear online. A domain name is what users will type into the search bar to find you; for example gleebirmingham.com. Again, if you already have a website, you’ll already have a domain.
Platforms like the ones mentioned above usually include the option to customise your domain name as part of your paid-for plan. If the site you’ve chosen doesn’t include this option, you may need to register your domain name elsewhere.
When thinking of your domain name, make sure you keep it as close to your business name as possible.
Paw-some tip: Think of your domain like a digital sign post to your store. Just like a physical shop sign, your domain should make you instantly find-able and recognisable online.
Step 3: Pick a designNow for the fun part, styling your site. Depending on your plan, many ready-to-use ecommerce platforms have design templates built in, again meaning no tricky coding or risk of deleting everything! These templates are also set up specifically for ecommerce, with simple layouts, clear calls to action and plenty of space for imagery all guiding potential customers through the site, to conversion.
When choosing your template, think about the features you’d like to include on your website, how you’d like your homepage to look and what designs and web features have pushed you towards conversion in your own online shopping. For example, would you like customers to be able to filter by price or product type? Is there a particular product or offer that you want to guide them to?
Once you’re happy with your template, you can customise colours, fonts and images.
Paw-some tip: Make sure your site is easy to read and features quality imagery and information that will encourage your customers to purchase.
Step 4: Add your productsWith your website set up, you now have a perfect place to add your products. Again, with a specialised platform this should be as easy as uploading your imagery and copy into the backend of the site. Make sure you take the time to get the words and images perfect; whilst there’s no substitute for touching and feeling a product in real life, your website’s copy and images should provide an experience that’s as close as this to possible.
When you add your products, make sure to include the essentials:
- Product name/ title
- Category (i.e. food, toys, accessories etc.)
- Product description
- Product imagery
Step 5: Stay up to dateThe work doesn’t stop once you’re all set up. Make sure you’re regularly checking back on your website for any customer queries as well as to add new products or update offers or promotions.
If you want to, you can also include a blog on your website, and/ or your business’ social media handles, to give your users a much more rounded experience online as well as offline.
Paw-some tip: For businesses with a physical store as well, make sure you have your “real life” address featured prominently on your website, for anyone who’d rather come in and have a conversation face-to-face.
With all that said, the secret to online retail success is great service, just like in a physical store. Your online shop should enhance your customers’ experience, providing them another touchpoint to engage with their favourite fashion retailer.
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