Getting started with ecommerce and selling online
Please note that this article is intended for educational purposes only and should not be deemed to be or used as legal, employment, or health & safety advice. For guidance or advice specific to your business, consult with a qualified professional.
While it may seem daunting to step into the world of online selling, there’s lots of technology out there to help you set up your online store in no time and start reaching new customers with just a few clicks. Learn about the benefits of ecommerce, the different options available to start selling online and how to be successful in this guide written by our friends at Square.
Online selling in the UK
Ecommerce is growing in popularity all the time. During 2020 and 2021, online shopping enjoyed a huge boost as brick and mortar shops had to close and purchasing online became the only option. Even as traditional retail opens up again, many customers have discovered how easy and convenient ecommerce is and will continue to shop this way.
By the middle of 2021, more than 25% of all retail sales in the UK took place online. Ecommerce is definitely here to stay.
The benefits of selling online for your business
Setting up an online store can seem like a big task and requires some work up front, but there are many benefits for your business of being up and running online.
- Reach a wider audience. Your business is no longer limited to attracting customers who are in the same physical location as you. Instead, you can sell to customers nationally and even internationally with a wide range of options available for delivery.
- Sell 24/7. With an online store, customers can shop whenever they want. Not only does this make it more convenient for shoppers but you can also take advantage of impulse buys which wouldn’t be possible when your physical shop is closed.
- New ways to market your business. With a wider audience and a shop that’s never closed, you can make use of a wide range of digital advertising and marketing options to target potential shoppers. Whether you’re advertising on social media, using banner ads or working on collaborations with online influencers, you’ll be able to connect your marketing efforts to real world results and make informed decisions about what works best for your business.
Choosing the right option for selling online
Whatever the scale of your business, there’s an option that works for your ecommerce business.
For businesses with a large number of items in their catalogue, setting up an online store with a dedicated website could be the best way to display everything you have on offer. An online store makes it easy for your customers to find what they’re looking for and shows off your goods in the best possible light.
If you already have a website, there are several easy ways to convert it to an ecommerce store. Add a buy button to an existing webpage or blog so readers can buy in just a few clicks. You could also integrate an online payments tool to your website - no coding knowledge needed.
You can even start selling online without a dedicated site. Create pay links and QR codes to share with customers however you like: via email, text, on print materials or on social media.
Whichever tool you choose, you’ll want to know exactly what the cost of taking payments is so you can make sound business decisions. We’d recommend going for an option with clear, transparent pricing with no hidden fees so you’ll never be caught out.
Another key consideration is how long it will take for funds to be transferred to your account. With Square, funds are transferred as soon as the next business day as standard.
Making your online store successful
With so many ecommerce options out there, customers have high expectations for the online shopping experience. Here are some key things that can be applied to your own online store to meet those expectations:
- Make ordering easy with a clean, intuitive checkout flow
- Offer a range of delivery or click and collect choices so the customer can choose the best option for them
- Meet your customers where they already are by offering buy buttons or checkout links on social media, email or text.
- Make sure it’s easy to complete an order on all kinds of devices - mobile, laptop or phone.
Seamlessly combine online and offline stores
Setting up an online store shouldn’t be in competition with your brick and mortar locations. In fact, they can really complement each other. This is what we call omnichannel selling, where a business makes the most of both online and offline options to maximise sales.
A physical shop can be a real asset, providing a traditional, in-person shopping experience for those who prefer it. A shop also offers you a location to provide click and collect services and lets customers get a feel for your brand in real life.
Connecting your online and physical stores with the same technology lets you build a consistent brand for your customers, and also lets you keep track of inventory so you don’t accidentally oversell stock.
Ready to start selling online?
Get your business ready for ecommerce with Square and receive your first £2000 in payment processing for free when you sign up
If you’ve not yet opened a Cashplus Business Bank account, it comes with some very helpful features such as receipt capture, spending insights and also integrates with most leading accountancy software. Find out more about the Cashplus Business Bank account, where you can apply for an account in minutes and get an instant online decision.
Where others see challenges, business owners see possibilities. Square builds tools that let businesses bring those possibilities to life by enabling them to reach customers online and in-person, and manage their front- and back-of-house operations. Square can help your business succeed — on your own terms. Learn more at squareup.com/gb/en.
This content was created on October 14th 2021
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