Business development 15 September 2016

Five things to consider when launching an ecommerce platform

ecommerce
Online businesses need a third party host which will be compatible for all ecommerce needs

Ecommerce makes it easier for entrepreneurs to be able to have both a UK-wide reach as well as an international client base. It is therefore increasingly important to understand the key points of starting your own ecommerce website, writes director at Quality Formations, Greame Donnelly.

Ecommerce is becoming an ever more essential aspect of starting a business. Many new businesses predominantly use online services, for example.

Register a company and domain name

Once you have an idea of what you would like to sell online, and prior to you registering your company with Companies House, you need to establish a company name and, ultimately, a domain name. The company name is one of the most important parts of any business – it engages with the customer and highlights what you provide as a business.

Once you have a business name, you should register for a domain name. This web address starts your journey to having a fully-functioning website. The domain name, much like your company name, should reflect your service, be easy to spell and easy to remember. It may seem obvious, but using your own company name is the standard way to go.

Get a web hosting server

When you have registered your domain name, you can’t simply start your ecommerce site. You need a place to host your site which will be compatible for all of your ecommerce needs. To do this, you can either purchase services from a third party ecommerce host, who will carry out the work on your behalf, or you can do it yourself if you have enough technical expertise and reliable internet speeds.

Buy shopping cart software

One of the pivotal aspects of your ecommerce site, the cart is a space which allows visitors to store items before buying them, acting like a virtual shopping trolley. You’ll need the aforementioned technical expertise to produce your own shopping cart software, but if you know what to do, then it is achievable. However, pre-made shopping cart software, such as eBay’s Magneto platform, allows you to directly plug such systems into your website, making the process that much more effortless.

Design your website

There are two options for this – you can design your ecommerce website yourself using programming languages such as HTML, Javascript and SQL, or you can get a web designer or design company to develop your website.

For ease of use, Content Management System (CMS) platforms such as WordPress and Magneto tend to be preferable, as they can be used to edit content and products or services without help from web designers. It is also very important to understand how you would like your website to look on all platforms, from desktops to tablets to smartphones.

Get an ecommerce payment system

Accepting and handling payments through your site requires an ecommerce payments system that will accept electronic transactions over the internet. To do this, you can either open an account with your bank to receive online payments via credit or debit cards, or you can use a payment processing company to do it for you.

The most popular and most secure ones include PayPal and WorldPay. Remember that for the latter method, the companies charge a fee on each transaction made through your site.

Once you have all of the above, you will have the makings of your very own ecommerce site – somewhere you can offer your products and services online. However, in order to attract customers, you will need to look into various marketing strategies to drive traffic. Whether that’s through search engine optimisation (SEO), pay-per-click advertising (PPC) or using banner ads, that’s for you to consider which best serves your business.

When all your efforts, marketing and strategy comes together, you can officially consider yourself part of the digital age, conducting your business via your online marketplace.

Greame Donnelly is director at Quality Formations, providing formation solutions for startups, assisting new businesses to register their companies with Companies House.

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