Getting started with E-commerce


If you want to sell things on the internet you are going to need an e-commerce website. Today I'm going to take you through the basics and explain everything required for a successful online store.

Everything you need to know about e-commerce

E-commerce (or electronic commerce) is also known as an online store or an online shop. Basically, this means selling things on the internet.

Get a website

You have three options when it comes to building a store: We would always advocate building a bespoke e-commerce platform. It may cost you more in the short term but will cost you less over time and you will be able to have every feature you require and nothing more. Hosted or open source platforms tend to have every feature possible out of the box, which is great, but can make things more complicated and you could end up with a difficult to maintain, slow website. (or a huge hosting bill!) Think of it like buying a suit. You could have a tailored suit with correct measurements which looks great or an off-the-peg suit that does the job.

Make it secure

A secure website is essential to prevent fraud and increase customer trust. Thankfully, thanks to the encrypt the web movement and Lets Encrypt this is now easier than ever to achieve and you can get an advanced, secure, trusted secure certificate for FREE! A secure (HTTPS) website is not the only consideration. You also need to make sure your hosting is secure since you will be handling sensitive information such as customer and credit card data. To that end you should ensure that your platform is PCI Compliant.
The PCI Security Standards Council is a global forum for the ongoing development, enhancement, storage, dissemination and implementation of security standards for account data protection.
Whilst it is not law that your site is PCI compliant, we strongly advise you to undertake a self assessment to make sure you are as secure as possible.

Take payments

To take payments on your site you have 2 options:
  • Use a payment platform that takes a percentage of your sales. Such as Stripe, Amazon Payments or BrainTree
  • Obtain an internet merchant account and pay a flat monthly fee
Taking payment through a payment platform is quick and easy to setup but as your business grows at some point your will want to move to a merchant account to reduce your costs. You must apply to a merchant account provider (usually a bank) and it is through this account that you can verify and process credit/debit card information.

Sell over multiple channels

When you have your new website setup you may want to increase sales by selling your products on other platforms. The three most popular platforms are: Instead of adding all the information to these platforms again, which can be a long process, your platform should supply a feed so that as you update your own store you also update your products on the 3rd party platforms. It is important that information such as pricing and stock levels are synced at all times to prevent misselling.

Market your shop

Everyone wants to be number one on google. Its an ultra competitive space and you need to be prepared to compete if you want to be on the all important first page. There are many different steps you can take, such as:
  • Making sure you copy is optimised (perhaps hire copywriters)
  • Having a strong social presence (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, Pinterest etc)
  • Use of microformats to provide more metadata
  • Adhere to usability standards (Google likes this)
  • Make sure your website is fast
There are many ways to increase the performance of your e-commerce platform. So many ways in fact we recommend that you hire a search engine marketing professional to undertake this work on your behalf. You could also pay to compete by way of PPC (Pay per click). This can be an odd concept to those new to e-commerce, after all if you owned a brick-and-mortar shop you wouldn't pay people to come in would you. What if you paid someone £1 to come in knowing that 1 in 5 people will spend £10. You are up £5! This is the basic principle of PPC. Google AdWords and Bing Ads are the 2 most popular PPC platforms.
Fastfwd specialise in the building of bespoke, performant e-commerce platforms. E-commerce need not be complicated.

Want to get started?

If you want to get started with e-commerce give us a call on 0121 236 8007 or send us an enquiry and we'll get back to you.

Insights by Trevor Sewell

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