If you are thinking of starting a business, going for an online business is currently the most practical and beneficial way to begin. Because of the pandemic experienced this year, the UK e-commerce sales is expected to total £78.9 billion and this uprise is predicted to continue the next four years, growing from 27.5 per cent this year to 32.1 per cent in 2024.
If you are looking into finding a new source of income or a new career to start, this article is your guide. Many future entrepreneurs experience various obstacles when starting an online business, but we are here to help address different issues by sharing six steps on how to start an e-commerce business:
1. Develop your business plan
No matter the size of your business, it is essential to have a business plan that serves as your guide when making decisions. It also gives you a clear direction in all aspects of your business moving forward. Without one, you will find it easy to feel lost and overwhelmed. Business planning helps you see the bigger picture and plan, which is why this step is crucial because it improves your business’ overall chance of success.
In this step, you need to identify your target audience, sales forecasts, plans for the company, and strategies on how to get there. You also need to consider your budget in business planning, and identify how much it will cost to start and run your online business.
2. Register your business
Before starting, you need to first make your business legal. If you begin your operation without registering it, keep in mind that you can face possible fines, especially if you also forget to act on the legal requirement to inform HMRC (HM Revenue & Customs). Only when your company is licensed, then you are ensuring that your business, you, your employees, and customers are all protected in case a lawsuit or business damage occurs.
There are two ways to go about this step. The first is by registering on your own. Company registration in the UK has simple and straightforward instructions to follow, such as visiting this site to get started on the process. Second is by using a Company Formation Agent who can arrange everything for you on the same day but will require a fee.
3. Secure a domain
After you’ve settled the foundation, you can start building up your online presence by setting up a domain name. Be sure to choose a short, memorable domain name that would give your business an effective recall. Likewise, choose a professional and attractive brand name because it is crucial in driving more people to your website.
If it is possible, try to get an extension that is recognisable to the average consumer, such as the TLD (top-level domain), .com, or if your business is solely serving the UK, you can try to use co.uk.
4. Set up a website
Setting up a website is one of the most exciting parts of the process and there are also two ways for you to do this. You can either do it yourself or hire a professional web designer and developer to build your website.
There are a growing number of website builders online that offers platforms or software that allows you to create a fast and appealing website that is ready for running anytime. You can also hire a web design company in Suffolk to create a customised website for your brand. The good thing about having a designer is that you can ask them to tweak the design to meet your demands and needs.
Whatever option you choose, make sure that your website is secure and mobile-friendly so that it can reach a wider audience.
5. Set up an Internet Merchant Account (IMA)
An e-commerce website will not be operational without an Internet Merchant Account. This step is vital and will help you with separating your money with your business money. Likewise, make sure to open a different bank account for your business.
Keep in mind, however, that the length of the setup process will vary. It can be as fast as 24-hours to several weeks, depending on what type of service you will get. Prepare all the requirements and then decide ahead on what payment options your business will accept.
6. Make your marketing plan operational
Once everything is in order, it is time to bring the business to life. Make sure to have a structured content strategy that can easily capture the attention of your target audience. You also need to ensure that you have at least the basic analytics running on your website to track your progress. At the same time, build a strong relationship and sense of trust with your customers by adding testimonials, feedback, and any relevant credentials.
E-commerce businesses today have strong potential to grow. If you are planning to dive into this platform, now is the best time to do so. However, expect to encounter many hurdles when opening a business, yet understanding the process and following the initial tips enumerated above can help smoothen the process.
If you are looking for a professional website design in Suffolk to use for your business, a bespoke website is what you need. At Brudson Media, we provide companies with e-commerce sites that are powered by effective SEO. Get in touch with us today to see how we can help!