Topic overview



Ecommerce lets small businesses sell their products or services online via a secure website. Selling online can give small businesses access to a wide customer base.

What is ecommerce?

Ecommerce is the process of buying and selling online. Any business transaction conducted electronically is ecommerce and that involves online shopping, online auctions, online ticketing and online banking.

Selling products or services on your website

Setting up an online shop can be much cheaper than running a bricks and mortar business; 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 make sure it performs as well as possible. A good ecommerce website needs to include clear and comprehensive product information, a simple and secure checkout process and excellent customer service.

If you're new to ecommerce, a good starting point can be to use 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: your online store should be easy to navigate, have enough images and information to encourage shoppers to buy and, above all, 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 you.

Providing helpful product information and making it easy to get in touch with you - 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 improve your website's performance. 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 important to get right; in particular, delivery is critical when it comes to getting repeat business. Make sure you use reputable couriers so 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, ratings and testimonials is also a good way to reassure new customers.

Customer service is essential. 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.

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