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Guide to online shops/e-commerce

Published on: 26/03/2019

If you’re thinking of setting up an online shop, either as an addition to your existing business or as something entirely new, then there are a few things to take into account before to help you make decisions on the direction to take.


Will it work with your current website?

Many website providers such as Wix offer premium plans that give you the ability to include e-commerce on your site. Such providers allow you to quickly, cheaply and easily create your own e-commerce shop. You could alternatively use a website designer to help you. This is a much more time-consuming endeavour but can give you a bespoke finish to your shop. 

If your business manufactures a product, then you can avoid costs of having a website by selling on an online marketplace such as Amazon or Etsy. These sites can be quite useful for testing how well your products sell since they offer a large user base, and a targeted search system. There are significant fees to take into account when hosting your shop on sites like Amazon, which is why it’s always advisable to have a platform of your own to help you maximise your profits.


Market Research

Market research is something that we do for every business decision we take, and the same should be true of your e-commerce shop. The internet is international, and that sets you and your business against many nationwide and even global competitors. Browse on Google for products that you are aiming to sell and see who the top related searches are. Have a browse around the sites of competitors to get a measure of how much they sell their products for, how they present them, and any offers they may have.


Design and structure.  

The design of an E-commerce shop is essential to present stock to customers in an accessible way. The focus should always be around making navigation quick and frictionless to allow customers to purchase from you without frustration. To achieve this, navigation bars should be clear, and page links should be as direct as possible.

Including links to your social media accounts on your web page allows you to keep your overall marketing efforts unified and provides a point of contact for people.


Payments and accepting money

Did you know that 37% of shoppers will abandon an online shop at the checkout because they were told they had to create an account in order to complete their purchase? Making the payment process as easy as possible will help you to create the seamless experience that customers look for in an online store.

This can also be helped by maximising the payment types you accept. According to Statista, debit and credit cards are the preferred payment methods, followed closely by PayPal and similar. There are many shops now that even offer payment via Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, although these aren’t particularly common.


Legal considerations

There are a few legal considerations to take into account which apply to your online shop. You are bound by the terms of distance selling as well as specific rules for online selling.  These include but aren’t limited to providing a clear ‘pay now’ button, taking reasonable steps to let a customer correct errors in their order, and provide a breakdown of total costs.

You will also be bound by the General Data Protection Regulation since you will be holding and processing customers details. GDPR came into effect in 2018, aiming to improve the rights of consumers whose data was held by companies. You can find out more about GDPR from the Information Commissioner’s office website.

There are specific rules relating to Cookies. Cookies are small text files stored on a computer by a website which hold preference information, help with website analytics, and recognise a device. Since 2018, it has been policy that users must opt-in to receive cookies. ‘Opt in’ is the key phrase here. Sites may try to use assumed consent, but there must be an unambiguous positive action to confirm that a user consents to have cookies stored on their device. You can find out more about cookies from the Information Commissioner’s office website. 

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