If you’ve got a dream to make a living as an online entrepreneur, but aren’t sure how to start up your online store, you’re not alone. Many great ideas and entrepreneurs have failed when faced with the problem of where to start with an online store. The world of e-commerce can be confusing, you need to cut through the noise. This article will show you how to run a successful online store.

Get the basics

There are a few basics that you will need before you open your online store. The first of these is a website. You can secure your own domain for less than £10. Remember that you will also need to pay for a web hosting service. Key considerations when making a decision include:

  • Storage space – the amount of data you can save.
  • Bandwidth – the amount of data that can be transferred during a billing period, which is normally a month.
  • Location – many people prefer UK-based hosting for reasons of speed and convenience.

Design and build your website

Once you’ve got your market, product, and selling process locked down, you are now ready for your small-business web design. Remember to keep it simple. You have fewer than five seconds to grab someone’s attention–otherwise, they’re gone, never to be seen again. Choose one or two plain fonts on a white background, this will make the page look more appealing. Make sure your navigation clear and simple, and the same on every page, as consistency, is key. Don’t go overboard, only use graphics, audio or video if they enhance your message. It is important to include an opt-in offer so you can collect e-mail addresses.

The next step is to work out how you will build your shopping cart. You may choose to contact a professional web developer to have a tailored solution built for you. If you are on a budget, you might consider using one of the many options available – often for free. Some of the most popular include Zen Cart, OpenCart, and Magento. Some hosting companies offer packages designed specifically for e-commerce. These often include shopping cart solutions ready installed.

Set postage

It is important that you think carefully about the rates you will charge for shipping. Especially in cases where you are selling items with a relatively low retail price, postage and packing can add a proportionally significant sum to the final cost. You need to decide whether you will add the cost on, or incorporate it in an effort to attract custom. A lot of the big players also do next day delivery for a discounted rate at a certain time of day. This makes people have a sense of urgency that they need to buy now or miss out on this deal.

Physical work

You should also remember that there is a potentially significant amount of extra work involved in opening an online store. Setting up the infrastructure is timely, even if you pay someone else to do it. You should also ensure that you set aside enough time for the physical picking, packing, and posting of products. You will also need sufficient resources to field customer service emails, and to maintain your online store. Make sure that you factor this into your planning.

Payments options

There are many payment options available for retailers new to selling online. You have access to credit card processing for your online store without the requirements from larger merchant accounts. PayPal, Square, and Stripe are great options as they are easy to setup and already built-in to your e-commerce platform.

In addition to credit card processing, you want to consider digital wallets to appeal to a larger audience of consumers that prefer to use these over entering their credit card number. You can consider Paypal Express, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Visa Checkout, MasterPass among others.

Understand the law

Selling online requires you to abide by a new and potentially unfamiliar set of laws and regulations. Online sales are becoming progressively better regulated, and it is important that you understand your obligations. Amongst the most important of these are the Distance Selling Regulations, the Sale of Goods Act, and the new cookie regulations.

Make yourself seen

Finally, you need to make sure that potential customers are aware of your online presence. There is a number of ways in which you might do this. Search engine optimisation is a key element of your online marketing, and you should bear this in mind whenever you are creating content. But you might also choose to investigate other methods, including pay-per-click, or PPC, advertising.