Topic overview


EcommerceEcommerce offers small businesses the chance to sell products online to a large number of potential customers via a secure website. Selling online can give small businesses access to a wide customer base.

Setting up an online shop can save significant costs compared to running a bricks and mortar business out of premises; however, many small businesses enjoy the best of both worlds, with a retail outlet to serve local customers and an ecommerce website to sell online to a wider audience across the UK and beyond.

Planning your ecommerce website

An ecommerce website must be well-designed and then continually refined to take full advantage of potential sales. The foundations of a good ecommerce website include clear and comprehensive product information, a simple and secure checkout process and excellent customer service.

If you are new to ecommerce, a good starting point can be to sell via an established marketplace such as eBay or Amazon. Some sectors, such as hotels and B&Bs, also have their own specialist online marketplaces. Many online businesses use marketplaces alongside their own websites to maximise their reach.

Ecommerce web design

Good design is crucial to making your online business a success: a well-designed online store must be easy to navigate, it must provide enough images and information to encourage shoppers to buy and, above all, it must be easy to buy from. Poor design and clunky navigation will damage your brand and discourage potential customers.

The design and content of your ecommerce website can help you stand out from your online rivals. Good content can lift you in search engine rankings and make it easier for potential customers to find your online shop.

Helpful product information and ease of contact - by phone as well as email - will set good standards of customer service, while regular updates can encourage repeat visits.

Over time, website analytics can help you further improve your website and develop your online store. Online data can show you how many visitors you are getting and how many of them actually get to the checkout. Abandoned shopping carts often indicate a problem with the online buying process; there are many ways to improve your ecommerce website and online marketing to convert more people from browsers to buyers.

Logistics are also a crucial aspect of your service; in particular, delivery is critical when it comes to getting repeat business. Make sure you use reputable couriers so that your delivery promises are always met.

Expanding your ecommerce business

An ecommerce business has to focus on building trust in order to build a loyal following and attract more customers. You can inspire trust in many ways - from making it easy for people to contact you to providing secure ways to buy. Publishing customer reviews is also a good way to reassure new customers that your business will deliver on its promises.

Customer service is paramount. Ecommerce is about delivering quality products within the time promised. Keeping the customer satisfied is the first step; keeping in touch and prompting them to keep buying will help your ecommerce business to grow.