Whether you already have a brick and mortar store and are looking to expand your reach, or you’re a brand new business in need of an online shop, selling your products online is a great way to reach a national or global audience. There are many other benefits to an online shop, including fewer overheads and running costs, easier stock management, and the potential for growth. In addition, marketing and analytics tools allow you to gain a better understanding of your audience.
The Advantages of Selling Products Online
Of course, there are also disadvantages to selling online, such as having to keep your website and inventory up-to-date, adhering to strict legislation, and providing a less personal experience for the customer.
Before You Start
Before you think about selling your products online, there are a number of things you should have ready:
A Brand & Logo
Do you have great branding in place? Will your customers instantly be able to recognise you?
A Target Audience
Knowing exactly who you want to market your products to is key.
Your business social media accounts will go hand-in-hand with your online shop.
You will need to pay for your e-commerce website, plus other expenses such as packaging materials.
Create a list or database of your products and their prices. Ideally, you want each product to have a SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) so it’s easy to identify.
A Shipping Courier
Decide how you will be posting your products (Royal Mail, Hermes, DPD etc.) and make a detailed note of your postage costs.
Online Shop Website Options
The key aspect of your online shop is of course the shop itself. There are so many ways to create an e-commerce website for your online store. From do-it-yourself options such as Shopify and Squarespace Commerce, to powerful ecommerce software such as Woocommerce, you’re spoilt for choice.
Marketplaces (Etsy, eBay, Amazon)
Setting up your spot on an online marketplace is a relatively easy and familiar way to sell your products online. Consumers tend to check marketplaces – particularly eBay and Amazon – for the items they need, so it’s good to have a presence on these websites.
However, there are many drawbacks to using a service such as Etsy, eBay or Amazon to sell your products. One of the main disadvantages is that there are countless other businesses just like yours also trying to promote their products on the platform, so it gets very competitive and customers might not easily be able to find you.
You are also very limited as to how you can customise your online shop, and there are very little options for optimising your product pages for search engines (SEO).
You can also expect to pay a fair emount in fees:
|Monthly Fee||£0||£0||£0 - £25|
|Listing Fee||£0.15||£0 - £0.35||£0|
|Transaction Fee||9% + £0.20||12.9% + £0.30||7.14% - 45.9% + £0.75|
DIY Shop Builders (Shopify, Squarespace)
Online website builders (such as Wix, Squarespace & Shopify) are increasingly popular, and most have e-commerce capabilities. They’re a relatively easy option for setting up an online shop (if you already have a bit of design and technical knowledge) but they do come with limitations and can become quite costly.
DIY website builders can be really great, if you have the time to invest into designing your website, and the technical knowledge to make it work as expected. However, the monthly cost can really add up over the lifetime of your website, and you pay extra if you require more features.
Whilst you do benefit from having your own website and domain (unlike marketplaces mentioned above), you are usually required to use a template, which limits your design possibilities. The SEO for online builders can also be quite limited, and you will need to invest a lot of time and skill into making your website look good and work correctly.
Here’s what you can expect to pay:
|Monthly Fee||$29 - $299||£15 - £30||£13 - £22|
|Transaction Fee||1.6% - 2.2% + £0.20||0% - 3%||2.1% + £0.20|
|Commission||0.5% - 2%||£0||£0|
WooCommerce + WordPress
There’s a reason why WooCommerce is the world’s most popular open-source e-commerce solution with over 5 million installs. It’s flexible, it has no limitations, it’s customisable, and it’s free to use. WooCommerce is a free plugin for WordPress (software used to build websites). It can take a bit of time to set up, and if you plan on building it yourself, you will definitely need technical and design skills.
The downside is, WooCommerce and WordPress is aimed at web designers and developers. It would be very tricky for the average business owner to create an e-commerce website with WordPress, which is where web designers/developers like us come in! Here at CRJ Design, we design and build websites using WordPress, with a completely bespoke design. We take care of the set up for you, implement full SEO, and provide ongoing support.
Whilst there is an initial cost for us to design and build your site (starting from £570), the only monthly cost you’ll pay is for web hosting. This makes your e-commerce website more affordable in the long run. Transaction fees vary depending on the payment processor you choose (we recommend Stripe):
PayPal: 2.9% + £0.30
Stripe: 1.4% + £0.20
If you hire us to build your WooCommerce + WordPress website, and host it for you, here’s what you’ll pay (using Stripe as the payment processor):
|WooCommerce + WordPress|
|Design + Set Up Cost||£570+|
|Monthly Hosting Fee||£4|
|Transaction Fee||1.4% + £0.20|
The quality of your product’s imagery can make all the difference when it comes to making a sale. If you really want your products to ‘pop’, consider hiring a professional photographer to take photos for you. Some local photographers we recommend include Checkered Photography and Mike Searle.
If a professional photographer is out of your budget, you can still take good quality images with your phone or digital camera. Try to experiment with different backgrounds and lighting to get a good photo.
For inspiration, here’s some great product imagery by Celtic & Co :
Advertising Your Online Shop
Now that you’ve got an online shop, it’s time to start advertising it. Even if your SEO is up to scratch, it takes time for your website to reach high positions in Google. Some ways to promote your ecommerce store include:
Post on social media regularly and try to grow your following. Invest in social media advertisements to attract new customers.
Promote your online shop to the top of search results by setting an ad budget and paying a small fee every time someone clicks on your advert.
Get in touch with a relevant social media influencer to discuss promotion of your product.