Starting your own online business

There’s no doubt that e-commerce has been rapidly rising for a long time, and still shows no signs of slowing down, while more traditional transactions are gradually levelling off. The cost and risk involved with setting up physical shops to deal with customers is, in many industries, becoming too great due to the saturation of their respective markets. That’s why so many businesses are not just supplementing their business with an e-commerce option, but actually putting all of their resources into an exclusively online business.

Creating your business

Before even starting, it’s vital to produce a business plan covering everything you’ve concluded so far from your market research and assessments. If you understand your audience and your competition, regardless of your industry you are off to a good start. You’ll need to consider paying tax and VAT, as well as data protection and any other relevant legislation. For an online business, marketing is going to be critical and you need to consider how those target customers are going to reach your website, whether it’s through paid advertising, organic search engine optimisation or other means.

Setting up your website

You will start setting up your website by choosing whether to take the DIY route or have it handled professionally. There’s an infinite choice of affordable and simple options to build your own website, which is becoming increasingly viable all the time. You can do it completely for free, or invest a little money in more professional resources like premium website themes, elements of your design and so on. For a bigger investment you can go all-inclusive with a web designer and be guaranteed a more professional finish. Either way you’ll also need to consider your web hosting, which again can be free but there are significant benefits to paying for better services.

What your site has to cover

As a business you have a responsibility to include certain information on your site. This will include contact information and address, a privacy policy, exchange and refund information where appropriate, terms and conditions of use, statements about your company and so on. Customers expect all vital information to be freely available as they’ll probably be making comparisons to your competitors quickly, plus you’ll obviously need to follow legislation. Information about pricing for your products, services, shipping and so on need to be updated constantly. If your website is an e-commerce one, you’ll definitely need to take security very seriously and ensure you have a secure shopping cart and payment system in place. To take online payments you may need a merchant account which can be arranged with banks or providers such as PayPal for a fee per transaction.

Testing and launching your site

Try to get as much feedback as you can before your website goes live and test it thoroughly until it’s the best it can be. To avoid future disasters, remain extremely careful with the data you handle as a business and make sure you always have a back-up plan in case you run into issues. If you have considered all these things, however, you should already be well prepared for the challenges ahead.