How To Start A Small eCommerce Business In The UK

Starting a Small eCommerce Business in 2023

eCommerce now accounts for around 20% of all retail spending the world over (ref: statista.com). This means for every £5 spent the world over at least £1 of that was spent online.

Long gone are the days when having an effective eCommerce arm for your business is not a priority. In this guide, our eCommerce Web Designers in Hampshire share their best advice on how to start a small eCommerce Business in the UK.

eCommerce is complicated requiring lots of knowledge of various technical systems and marketing methods.

Generally, you would seek to have an in-house specialist develop this for you or for a much lower cost outsource this work to a digital marketing agency such as ourselves. Before you do any of this though you must be conscious of the type of products you are thinking of retailing online.

The Best Products To Sell Online

Generally, when selecting the best products to put in your eCommerce store you need to consider three things:

  1. How competitive is your niche?
  2. How price competitive is your product?
  3. How strong is your brand at present?

From a recent study performed by Shopify (the biggest eCommerce hosting platform), price is the main factor influencing 74% of consumers buying decisions. This means effectively pricing your product can be the main element determining the success or failure of your eCommerce venture.

Before you start a small eCommerce company you need to be conscious of the importance of price to new customers to your site.

To understand how to price effectively you must first assess the competitive environment. Say you are retailing ‘small wooden ducks’ you will need to look at all competing products and understand where you sit from a ‘value for money’ perspective to your prospective customers.

To do this you can simply google search your product and see what shows up on the ‘Google Shopping Carousel’ and the ‘Google Shopping Tab’.

Google Shopping Carousel Example

Hampshire ecommerce web design google shopping carousel example

 Google Shopping Tab Example

Start a Small eCommerce Business image 1

From this search, we can see that most of the products are around the £9.99 range with the upper limit being around £29 and the lower limit being around £4.99. You should also consider shipping costs on top to give the total price the customer can expect, then begin to formulate where you want to sit price-wise in relation to the competition.

  •  Are you looking to be a premium product offering brand?
  •  Are you looking to be a low-price, high-value product offering brand?

Each strategy has different pros & cons you need to consider, generally, the right balance of value to the customer and profit to your business requires some tinkering but at least now you will have real-world data to assist you in your pricing strategy.

If you want to know how to have your products show on the google shopping carousel – Contact Our Team of eCommerce Experts Here.

Selecting an eCommerce Hosting Platform

Now you have your products and a defined pricing strategy you now need to start looking into the best eCommerce hosting platform for your needs.

The four major eCommerce hosting platforms are Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce & Magento.

We are of the belief that the marketing leading eCommerce hosting platform Shopify is usually the right platform for most businesses whether a microbusiness or a multinational mega brand.

The major advantages that Shopify has over the other platforms are:

  • eCommerce store looks highly professional and offers a great user experience (UX) when set up correctly.
  • Shopify can handle thousands of products and won’t charge you more for simply having a larger product range.
  • The ability to customise your Shopify store is unmatched by any of the competing platforms owing to the massive ecosystem of third-party developers creating Shopify Apps.
  • Ease of use once you understand how to use the platform’s intuitive backend.
  • Great value money with a fair monthly cost that scales only when you are ready.

If you would like a more in-depth analysis of the different platforms and whether Shopify is the best overall solution for you – read our article on What Is Better Than Shopify For Starting A New eCommerce Business?

We are such believers in Shopify as the superior eCommerce solution for businesses of any size, especially new companies just starting out we have an ‘all in one’ Shopify Setup Service – Click Here to read more and receive a free consultation with our Shopify Experts today.

Develop a Marketing Strategy For Your eCommerce Business

Marketing for eCommerce like all marketing methods evolves over time however like direct marketing staples such as cold calling or ‘flyering’ have proven they are reliable over a long period of time and therefore essential to any eCommerce business.

The three main Digital Marketing methods you need to consider are:

  1. Search Engine PPC
  2. Search Engine Optimisation
  3. Social Media Marketing

Search Engine PPC

When starting any eCommerce business your fastest route to market will be search engine PPC (pay-per-click) marketing.

PPC marketing in its simplest form means you pay a certain amount per click to show your product ads at the top of the search results.

In the wooden duck example shown above the Google Shopping Carousel is an example of search engine PPC. The text ads that appear at the top of the search results are also PPC.

PPC requires a lot of knowledge to set up and run correctly but once set up and optimised can deliver a reliable and highly profitable stream of customers overnight.

Search Engine Optimisation

Search Engine Optimisation or SEO for an eCommerce business is equally as important as PPC but takes a long time to set up and see results. However, once you see results it can provide endless streams of free targeted traffic to your site.

The way SEO works for eCommerce is you will create content that solves a particular query that is relevant to your niche.

Once the content is considered the right solution for the search query Google will then begin to place your content higher up the search rankings for that query and many related queries. Meaning over time you will end up with many top-ranking pages that Google considers high-quality enough to show to many thousands of people.

This results in thousands of visitors coming to your site that express an interest in your products. You can then try and convert them into new customers from the article. Or you can use more advanced eCommerce techniques like remarketing ads to target them on other sites with low costs ads to bring them back to your site and convert them later.

Without SEO an eCommerce site will be highly dependent on PPC marketing to bring in traffic which can be very costly. However, once SEO is set up correctly your business will have a reliable source of free monthly traffic that can sustain the business without further investment.

To speak with our SEO experts with over 20 years of experience in the industry – SEO Hampshire

Social Media Marketing

The final element to consider in your marketing mix is social media marketing. There is slightly more discretion needed when performing social media marketing as each of the major platforms requires a different approach owing to the fact that people use those sites for different reasons.

Understanding the platform and its user base is key to understanding how to market effectively there.

The major Social Media Platforms you should be considering for your eCommerce store are: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest & Twitter.

Our team of inhouse marketing experts can help you understand what platform you should focus on for your business – see the contact us form at the bottom to arrange a completely free, no-obligation social media marketing consultation.

Tracking eCommerce Performance

Finally once you have your products, hosting platform and marketing mix set up you have to effectively track the performance of your website to ensure you are growing in line with your goals and reduce waste where you can.

What metrics does an eCommerce store need to track?

Like any business profitability is the name of the game so everything you need to be tracking and analysing needs to be framed in the context of profit to the business.

Once you understand your Fixed Costs of simply running your store you need to look into the cost required to generate new customers for the business.

For your PPC activities, you will need to be tracking the ROI of the adspend. Are you generating adequate profit from the expense of the ads? You will need to do this at different levels of

For SEO this is slightly more complicated as you will need to understand the value of SEO traffic to your business and forecast the value of SEO traffic to your business once your long-term SEO goals have been met.

You will have to track this activity using two main tools ‘Google Analytics & Google Search Console’ – both of these tools will help you understand whether your SEO activities are resulting in conversions to your business and whether or not the SEO activity is growing from month to month.

Analytics Set-Up & Training - ecommerce web design hampshire

Both of these platforms require a degree of technical knowledge to use – however, our in-house experts can train you on using these platforms.

Finally how do you track the performance of Social Media Marketing?

This one typically requires the use of both google analytics (mentioned above) and the native Social Media Marketing platform’s analytics system. Here like with search engine PPC you will  need to be conscious of your ROI and assess regularly whether your ads are profitable or whether they need optimising or cutting.

Get Expert Help Setting Up Your Small eCommerce Company

As you can see there is slightly more to eCommerce than most would first assume however with the right kind of support you can get your eCommerce store off to a flying start and if you choose you can outsource the day-to-day running and optimising of your store to the seasoned experts here at BytesizeMe – to arrange a free no-obligation consultation, click here.

To learn more about eCommerce here are some further articles from our eCommerce Experts:

To learn more about our Shopify eCommerce Setup Service – Click Here

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