5 things to consider when creating your online shop

Choose the right website builder. Present your products in the best way. Check your policies. Know how postage and packaging works.

Business.connected in partnership with Enterprise Nation is an extensive online training programme that will help 800,000 small businesses boost their digital skills. The free three-year initiative - delivered exclusively online and consisting of workshops, webinars and e-learning modules - will empower businesses to kickstart digital change, adopt new technology, and stay safe online.Avviso Media Ltd director and business.connected adviser Lucy Hall provides an overview of how to set up an e-commerce store using website builders and how to decide what tools are right for your business.

1. Choose the right platform

Before you start uploading photos and writing the perfect listing for your products, you’ll need to choose an e-commerce website platform that’s suitable for you. With so many options on the market, how do you decide which one is right?

First, make a list of all the must-haves for your store. If you need to easily integrate third-party tools like email marketing, discounts, voucher codes and upsells into your store, research the most popular platforms and ask yourself: “Will this platform do what I want it to?“

There’s nothing worse than being close to completing a website and realising you can’t integrate one of your most-wanted features. Most e-commerce providers also offer free trials, some for a month or more. This is a great opportunity for you to test the waters and see if the product will work well for your business.

Popular e-commerce platforms include Shopify, Wix, Squarespace and WooCommerce, but there are plenty more to choose from.

2. Present your products in the best possible way

It goes without saying that your products must be well presented to be able to attract those all-important buyers. But how do you make sure you’re presenting your product listings in the best way for your customers? There are several elements to consider here.

The first is photography. Taking a very clear photo of your product from several angles will help customers to properly understand what they’re buying. Get as much detail into your photos as you can, to avoid situations where customers are returning items because they aren’t what the website depicted. Photos of products on a clean background work really well. Also look to include images of your product in use.

The second important element of your product listings is the copy. A photo can show consumers what to expect but the copy delivers the detail. You should always give people the facts, so be sure to include information about the product’s size, materials and so on. However, you’re also trying to make sales, so feel free to add some storytelling about the product to increase consumers’ interest. Get creative with your copy and demonstrate ways in which the product can be used.

Finally, a well-written product title is very important, as it’s often the first thing customers see before reading the rest of the copy. With titles, the rule is to keep them simple — don’t include lots of keywords and features. Also, keep the title short. Titles that are too long may appear cut off in the search engine results and might not be approved for marketing channels such as Facebook Shops and Google Shopping.

3. Check your policies

When it comes to e-commerce websites, transparency is key. Consumers must be able to trust who they are buying from. Before your online store goes live, make sure you’ve added pages that detail the important policies — your privacy policy, cookie policy, returns policy and terms and conditions. Not only do these policies protect you but they give the consumer a clear understanding of how your store works and what they can expect when returning items or reporting faulty goods. A privacy policy tells customers how you’ll use their data. In fact, before you can market products on Facebook Ads and other advertising platforms, the companies will check that your website carries these policies. Not having the policies in place can also affect how well your ads perform.

4. Know how postage and packaging works

There are two common mistakes new e-commerce sellers make. One is not knowing the correct postage for products, and the other is offering free postage without weighing the items first (and knowing how much they will cost to send). Finding out the actual cost of posting an item is crucial. Also factor in potential returns whose postage costs you may be liable for. Don’t overlook packaging costs either — work out how much packaging costs for each item and build this into your postage rates.

5. Create those final, important web pages

You’ve set up your store, created your listings, put policies in place and made sure your postage costs are correct. Now there are a few final pages to build before your online store goes live.

Home page: This is often where visitors to your site first land. Users should be able to navigate easily to find your products and other information about your business.

About us: The perfect place to tell customers more about your business’s story. Give people a behind-the-scenes look at how you make your products or how you got started and what people can expect from you as a company. You can even use this page as a signpost for products you love or towards your own social media accounts.

Contact us: Have a page on your website for customers to be able to get in touch. This could be through WhatsApp, by email or via a form. Being able to contact you easily increases customers’ trust and makes sure they can ask you questions about products or if any issues arise with their orders. You can even integrate bots into your store that answer the most common questions.

Find out more about e-commerce with business.connected

Sign up to business.connected today for support with digital security, collaborating with others online, websites, e-commerce and connectivity.

Watch e-commerce videos as part of the business.connected programme:

In the videos discover how to create a static website to showcase your business, how to get started with creating an e-commerce store including: templates, website design, domain name and hosting.

Vodafone has teamed up with Wix to help you set up everything you need to conduct business and sell securely online. You'll benefit from a dedicated one-to-one support from a Wix expert who can walk you through how to build the most effective website.

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