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A beginner’s guide to selling online in 5 simple steps


A beginner’s guide to selling online in 5 simple steps

While high street stalwarts have struggled to navigate the coronavirus pandemic, the eCommerce industry is booming. Online retail sales growth hit a 13-year high in 2020 as brands embraced an online-first approach in response to changing consumer spending patterns. This is great news for any budding entrepreneurs with an online business idea up their sleeve. 2021 could be the best time to get things underway. However, setting up an online store can be daunting as a newbie, so we’ve created a beginner’s guide to get you started.

1. Choose a relevant business name & domain

Choosing the right business name can be the difference between success and failure. Your business name is the linchpin of your identity, essential in both marketing and branding efforts. Pick a bad name and you may fail to connect with customers. A good business name should be simple, relevant, and offer scalability for potential future company growth. For instance, some of the best names include Twitter, Spotify, and Uber, all of whom have established themselves as instantly recognisable international brands.

When choosing a business name, you should also keep an eye on whether similar domain names are available. There’s no use spending hours creating a catchy business name, only to discover later that your desired domain is already registered by another company. The domain name should be short, easy to remember, and include your brand name. For more information on registering a domain, read this handy step-by-step guide.

2. Set up an online store

You’ve finalised your business name and secured a domain, now you need to set up an online store to start selling. It’s very easy to do this nowadays as you can create a functional website without needing to know how to code. An online website builder such as Wix, Shopify or SquareSpace provides all of the tools you need to get started, including themes and templates, design options, and guidance on adding product listings and creating a checkout. 

You can also sell online on a marketplace platform like Etsy or Amazon, alongside selling items on your own website. These platforms are great for generating revenue as they are already well-established with large customer bases. However, remember that these platforms often have limitations such as design and layout restrictions, as well as fees for listing products.

3. Add a payment method

There are several payment methods you can use for your online store. Aside from standard credit and debit card payments, offering your customers alternative payment options like PayPay, Apple Pay and Visa Checkout can put your business at an advantage. These methods allow consumers to save their banking information in order to speed up future purchases. What’s more, these are very secure methods of payment, increasing brand trust among customers.

If your checkout process is too complicated or time-consuming, consumers will likely abandon their cart. One study found that 55% of consumers will not only abandon their shopping but also never return to a retailer’s website if they have a poor payment experience. So, make sure you pick a payment method which is simple and quick to use in order to retain your customers.

4. Select a delivery option

Selling online means you need a reliable, secure and fast delivery service. As a new business, you’ll likely want to avoid offering free shipping unless you can manage the costs yourself. You can send your parcels either by shipping items yourself using postal services like Royal Mail, drop shipping, or through a courier. 

Drop shipping means you don’t need to store inventory in your own office or studio, and packing and delivery is managed by another company. Meanwhile, a courier service can provide additional benefits that can set you apart from the competition. Using a service like CitySprint for instance, which has the largest same-day courier network in the UK, would provide short and reliable delivery times, ideal for fragile or even perishable items, that ultimately results in happy customers.

5. Build a relationship with customers

Once you’ve started to make sales, it’s important to cultivate a positive relationship with your customers. To run a successful business, you not only need to attract new customers, but also ensure your turning first-time customers into repeat buyers. One way of encouraging customer loyalty is to provide incentives such as discount codes on next purchases. 75% of consumers are likely to make another purchase after receiving an incentive. 

You should also actively encourage customers to leave feedback so that you can respond to and learn from any criticism. Having an open dialogue with your customer base allows you to identify any areas of your business that can be improved upon and helps to build affinity with your brand.

There’s a lot of work to do if you want to start selling online and it’s unlikely that you’ll be an immediate overnight success. You shouldn’t be discouraged though. Start small, follow the above steps and gradually your sales will begin to increase.

I am the founder of Startup Today. I am the main writer and have put in many hours of work into creating this blog. If you want to find out more about me then lets get in contact.

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