From high street to eCommerce

Published by James Allen | 04 Jun 2020

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How do you rapidly change a high street business to an online eCommerce business? And does it cost a fortune? With COVID changing the landscape of retail and small businesses, the rapid need to launch an eCommerce website has been griping the UK and the world.

In fact, according to eMarketer, roughly two-thirds of small and medium sized business owners will rely on eCommerce more post-lockdown as the public move away from brick-and-mortar shopping and embrace digital.

So, with online business thriving during the pandemic, Spinbox thought it would be good to tell you how you can do it yourself and what you need to do in four easy steps:

Step 1 – Domain Name

Acting as the front door to your shop, you’ll want to grab yourself a domain name if you don’t already have one. Domain names can be picked up from a registrar, such as 123-Reg, for around £15-20 per year for a .com or .co.uk. If available, we would recommend choosing your company name as your domain name – but always make it relevant to your industry.

Step 2 – Hosting Environment

Now that you have your domain name, you’ll need to purchase a hosting package for your website to sit on. There are plenty of hosting providers out there and choosing one can be a bit daunting if it’s your first time setting up a website. Ranging in cost and scale,it is easy to make a mistake on going for too much or too little.

Do some research and settle on a reputable hosting provider, instead of choosing the cheapest company you can find. Afterall, you’ve got to trust that these companies maintain a level of security across their infrastructure if they’re to host your website and data. Look at reviews would be our suggestion, this is where google is your best friend.

We do really like UK Fast, Host-IT and Microsoft Azure for the more serious online businesses. Let us know if you need any help with this part.

Step 3 – eCommerce Solution

You’ve now got a domain and hosting environment for your website to sit on, now what? Well, you’re going to need a way of getting your products in front of customers allowing them find what they want – ultimately converting to transactions!

The easiest and fasted way to get this up and running is to use a Content Management system (CMS) with built in eCommerce capabilities out-of-the-box. There are plenty of solutions out there each with varying yet similar features including order management, discount and voucher codes, customer accounts and loyalty schemes, etc.

The most affordable route would be to use an open-source solution such as NopCommerce or WordPress’ WooCommerce, both of which are completely free to use and have a strong community behind them if help and assistance is required. Free versions do have limitations and advertising catches, so nothing is every completely free. NopCommerce does provide you with all you would need even for larger eCommerce websites.

If you’re looking for an enterprise-level solution, then something like Magento or UCommerce might be more suitable. Offering a higher level of support and maintenance, these enterprise-level solutions often have associated one-off or monthly fees. We would recommend combining these with the likes of Umbraco or Sitefinity for an excellent CMS + eCommerce system. Let us know if you would like more information on how to do this.

Step 4 – Taking Payments

A payment service is essential to your eCommerce website, allowing customers to carry out transactions securely using their debit / credit card or through a payment gateway such as PayPal or Stripe. There are lots to choose from here, so you really need to check the fees and how many transactions you would expect. Stripe is one of our favourites.

Typically, most payment services will charge a percentage and fixed fee for each payment they process on your behalf. For example, at 2.90% + £0.30 for a transaction of £10.00, you would be looking at a cost of £0.59 to the payment service. Relatively cost effective and the peace of mind that security is maintained by a third party, most of these services offer scalable pricing structures depending on your order turnover.

Familiarity and trust are key here, showing that you take security seriously by installing an SSL Certificate on your website.

Conclusion

So, there you have it, by following these simple steps you should have an online eCommerce website set up in no time with minimal initial investment.

Do remember though, with websites and eCommerce, because you build it, it doesn't mean the orders will just come. A strong design and trust are key factors to people completing purchases on a website.Getting into analytics will really allow you to see why your customers are not purchasing and what you can change to improve this conversion rate.

Additionally, your USP's will be searched for, so make them clear. Have a great delivery and returns policy as well as encourage reviews of your service and products, it really does add up and help promote your website.