Three steps to building your own online shop

The basics of ecommerce planning.

We’ve covered how to move your offline business online. Now it’s time to go a step further by setting up your own online shop.

An online shop delivers on the promise of a fully stocked store without the expensive overheads that come with a bricks and mortar outlet. Better yet, your online shop can stay open even when your physical space is closed.

Of course, there are a few initial challenges to overcome. How do you set up a site? How do you enable payments? How do you create a compelling online experience?

Luckily, creating an online shop tailored to your business needs is not difficult. But first, you need to plan ahead: work out your budget, what functionality you need, and what technical resources you have. This will give you a good idea of the scope and scale of your project.

When you come to actually building your shop, there are three main things to consider:

1. Platform

In a previous blog, we talked about choosing your Content Management System (CMS). Your CMS platform is basically a pre-built framework within which you will build and customise your shop. When it comes to ecommerce, getting this step right will make a massive difference to how easy it is to populate and navigate your site – so choose carefully.

You’ll find a number of options out there. Wordpress is a good, versatile option, but it hasn’t been designed specifically for ecommerce so can require some expertise to get it working exactly how you’d like. Platforms like Wix or Shopify have reduced functionality, but in turn require less technical know-how.

2. Features

Once you have your platform up and running, you’ll need to enable your key shop features. This will depend on your product of course, but the basics remain the same for whatever you’re selling.You’ll need to enable multiple payment methods to suit your various customers – so investigate various payment tools (such as PayPal, Klarna and the like) as soon as possible. Remember to include a variety of delivery options and ensure customers are always able to contact you – whether it be through live chat, email, or even a simple contact page.

Next, think about your specific business needs. Got hundreds of products? Consider your category labels and navigation tools. Offering products with multiple colour or size variations? Ensure customers can compare and contrast without having to load a new product page.

Finally, don’t forget to enable customer reviews. Positive reviews are the next best thing after a personal recommendation and make prospective customers much more likely to make a purchase.

If you have a user-friendly platform, enabling these functions is as simple as choosing the right plugin. So do your research and make sure you experiment with the different options.

3. Content

You don’t want just any old online shop. You want your online shop, which speaks to your customers about your specific business. And that means being on top of your content.Firstly, think about your brand. Your colour scheme, your logo, your tone of voice – everything that makes your business unique. How can you translate this to your online presence? If you struggle, consider hiring a designer or a copywriter to make your site really stand out.If you’re selling a physical product, photography is hugely important. In the absence of touch and feel, high quality photos and videos give your customers the visual information they need to make a purchasing decision.

These are just the basic considerations – but they’re enough to create a robust online shop with functionality specific to your business needs. If you’re looking to take the next step, our next blog explores how technology can help maximise your online sales.

Want more help and support? Speak to our expert V-Hub Business Advisers, who offer tailored guidance and support on a range of topics.

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