There’s no doubt about it – online shopping is here to stay., And with the high street becoming prohibitive, many sellers are looking to move their businesses online instead. And who can blame them? Last Christmas it was estimated that around £17.7bn was spent online, with Britain spending an average of £100bn online every single year. The internet is connecting buyers with sellers in a way that has never been done before, all of which makes it a really exciting time for flexible, forward-thinking retailers. But how do you get started with your very own online shop?
Research is an essential part of setting up and running an e-commerce shop. From market research to business infrastructure, you need to know that you have planned everything out before you put the wheels in motion. Running an online shop opens up a lot of opportunities, but it also comes with a healthy dose of competition, so you will want to work out who you are up against, what makes you different and how you plan to stand out. This might mean looking at successful competitors, borrow ideas and use their successes and their failures to shape your business. A good place to start is by conducting a SWOT analysis to define your own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and using it to decide how your business will operate.
Your online shop will only be as good as the platform behind it – so it’s important to pick a good one! You might decide that you want something bespoke and unique right off the bat – in which case, you’ll need a good web developer on your side to make it happen. If you’d rather avoid that minefield, there are plenty of services that can help you manage your shop day-to-day. There are some full-service subscription models like Shopify, Etsy or Magento, or there are free tools like WordPress eCommerce, which will require a bit more input from you. Generally speaking, we recommend going for the ‘off the shelf’ options first and moving to a bespoke site when you’ve had a chance to establish and grow. They also mean you will have a head start in the marketing department, since these platforms offer a community of members all looking to buy.
Once you’ve got everything set up in your online shop, you’re almost ready to start trading! But first, you need to work out how you will get your products to your customers. After all, it’s not like retail where they pick it up and walk out with it. Your customers will judge you heavily on your shipping times and quality, so it’s important to get it right. You can opt for services like Royal Mail, but you may not get the best price, or the best treatment for your products. If you’re shipping something delicate or expensive, you want to know your products are going to arrive at their destination safely. We recommend you choose an experienced courier service to support you in your delivery.
Finally, it’s time to get your name out there! Unlike the high street, people aren’t very likely to walk past your shop and come inside. So you need to make sure your customers know who you are and where you are. This is another place your SWOT analysis comes in handy. Look at your target market and find out where they hang out online. Then get on those platforms and engage with them! Strong marketing is essential to a successful online shop, so you will need to invest some serious time in this bit. If social media and marketing isn’t really your thing, then we recommend hiring someone to do it for you-you won’t regret it.
At Blue Box Storage we love an e-commerce start-up. Our storage facilities are perfect for any size of e-commerce business to store their products in, with full access and security to keep it safe. To find out more, just get in touch with us today.