Thinking about starting your own online business? We’ve put together some of the most important steps to consider before taking the plunge.
Whether your business is service based or you have products to sell, our team is equipped with the knowledge and experience to get you started ahead of the game. Foundry Digital will help you set up your online business with all the right tools you need to start selling online.
Secure your domain and the right hosting package
Having a domain that relates directly to your brand is super important. It will support your brand identity and make it easier to find. Companies like 123 Reg or NamesCo are easy to use and allow you to secure your desired domain name.
The right hosting package depends on the needs of your business – the last thing you want is a slow website, a security breach or not enough bandwidth. You have multiple options when it comes to hosting, from share servers which are low cost (£50 – £90 p/a), VPS – Virtual Private Servers (£350 – £2400 p/a) or premium dedicated server (£5k – £25k p/a). When choosing the right hosting package, bare in mind the size of your business and how much traffic will be moving through your website – the more traffic, the more robust your server will need to be.
Design your brand
A strong identity and a clean design is vital for an online business. When considering your brand and brand elements, it is important to find the right synergy between logo shapes, typography, primary colour, secondary colour, tone of voice and general visual identity. Everything about your visual presence should go towards building your brand awareness – from your logo to your layout, it needs to be unique – most importantly to make your brand stand out, but also to captivate your audience.
Aside from the visual aspect of your website, you also need a clear and clean design. A tricky user journey will discourage sales. Keeping your site simple and minimalistic will allow for an easy-to-use navigation – you want to reduce the amount of steps it takes to getting to the checkout, or getting in contact.
Set up your online store
Online stores need the perfect platform to showcase your products. You need to consider your stock size, your projected growth and what payment methods you will use. Customising your online store from your chosen platform will also contribute to your brand’s design and identity.
As a standard you should look for platforms that offer key functionalities like:
– Flexible site navigation allowing for easy product browsing by product category grouping
– Bespoke product page layout
– Support for multiple product text, images, custom defined fields
– Being able to share a product via social media and wishlists
– Display featured products in their own prominent panel
– Display an unlimited number of products, product groups and product subgroups for potential future growth
– Display availability on the product pages
– Product submitted enquiries confirmation emails are sent to customer and shop owner automatically
– Product promotions and promotional codes to enable member discounts, loyalty rewards or seasonal offers
– Easily search by keyword across the entire site
– Filter search across a subset of categories
– Powerful searches across all product details on the site (product names, codes, brands, descriptions, product values, meta data, etc.)
– Refine product searches by ordering results by product name or by price
– Fully comprehensive, flexible shipping features
– Define and manage your own delivery zones (UK, USA, Europe, ROW)
– Free or charge for shipping based on weight or order value
– Offer free delivery over a set order value or weight to increase sales
– Delivery carrier support and tracking
– Online shop management
– Built-in order-processing, a flexible workflow allows processing of orders from receipt to shipment
– Simple visual management of product categories, allowing for multiple levels
– Accurately calculates shipping and taxation costs
– Create and view sales reports
– Flexible searching and sorting of orders and products
– Comprehensive online product management and maintenance
– Simple entry of product and category meta data to aid with site search
– Automated Customer Communication – automated customer emails each step of the way
– Loyalty reward points
– Product return page form
– Compatibility with your stock system or manage stock online
Process online payments
Will your online business accept PayPal, Google Checkout or Apple Pay? Or maybe traditional credit/debit card, or even all of them! What about Klarna for splitting up payments? All these payment methods will be hosted via platforms that will charge a fee per transaction, or monthly. You will need a payment platform ready for growth. Payment services are often where it gets a little bit tricky, so how could Foundry Digital lighten the load for you?
We can integrate your e-store to your preferred online payment service provider including Worldpay, SagePay, Global Payments, Stripe, Paypal or any other provider. We will ensure security certificates are in place so your clients can have peace of mind that their orders are placed in a safe environment, as our system uses SSL technology and where necessary PCI-DSS compliance for online credit card payments. We are happy to discuss your options further, but to initially assist you in making your decision of payment service provider, here are some of their fee structures:
Promote and get noticed
Arguably the most important part of starting your online business – you could have the most amazing product or service ever, as well as an immaculately designed website, built to perfection – but if you don’t promote it, who’s going to know?
There are many tools that you can use to promote your business and the good news is you don’t have to spend a fortune on marketing campaigns. Social media platforms have a huge international outreach, and you can use each one differently to connect with your audience. Instagram is valuable for getting your visuals out there, whilst Facebook is great for events. Social media platforms also allow you to communicate instantly with your audience, and running small competitions and giveaways will likely broaden your audience and increase your social presence.
SEO is hugely important for increasing your websites ranking on search engines, you can improve this using keywords and creating valuable, interesting content – your content should be shareable so that blogs or forums can link to your page. Linking to or from high quality websites will bring your site up the rankings, and also increase your outreach.
We wrote a whole blog post about promoting your online business, have a read here.
Need Foundry Digital’s help?
Starting your online business can be daunting, especially going it alone. We are a team of creatives, coders and problem solvers who have worked on over 600 bespoke projects from start ups to transforming the digital presence of established businesses.