5 Things to Remember When Setting Up an E-Commerce Business
The UK has one of the fatest growing E-Commerce markets in Europe and having a website makes your business instantly international – it’s entirely possible that your business and the products that you are offering may be more in demand outside of the UK than inside it. Here are the crucial things to think about when setting up an e-commerce business to make the most of your businesses potential:
Choose your Online E-Commerce Platform
Setting up an E-commerce website doesn’t have to be expensive – there are plenty of ready made software that youcan purchase to reduce the costs of building a bespoke system. WordPress or Drupal can be used to allow you to edit all the content on your site and a plugin, like Zen Cart, can be installed to handle the shopping cart system. Other alternatives include, Shopify, BigCommerce, Volusion, Opencart or Magneto. The key to deciding which is the best for you is research – make a check list of what you want your website to do and look at a few alternatives to find the best solution.
In some cases it may be cheaper, or an easier alternative to partner up with an exisitng e-commerce website. There has been a rise recently in websites that allow sellers to list their products that simply take a monthly fee or a percentage of each sale for the priviledge. A couple of these include Not On The Highstreet and ASOS Marketplace. These websites do tend to focus on the fashion and beauty and lifestyle industries but if your business sells other goods another alternative could be setting up a shop on eBay or Amazon and selling through their platform. This allows you to sell through an already established website, that you know people are already going to purchase products and in turn the fee that you pay to these sites may end up cheaper than starting up on your own and having to market yourself before people find your site.
Think about your Customers
What products are you selling? Who are these products aimed at? Think of your website as a virtual shop, where your customers want all the same things as they would in real life, but they accept they cannot hold or touch the items. You should try your best to not let this 2D experience hinder the sale of your products – instead you should do your best to overcome this aspect of the e-commerce experience . For example, if you are selling clothes on your site, it may be worthwhile getting models to shoot the clothes to allow you to have short videos of each item. This way your customers will be able to see what the product looks like on, and see the movement of the item on the body. For other products, it could be a good idea to set up a funtion to allow for reviews – that way people can see what others whio have bought the product thought about it.
Many well known online retailers offer “free” shipping within their own country and just a minimul charge for international shipping. You may ask yourself how they manage to negotiate such small shipping costs and the answer is – they don’t! Often the larger companies can appear to offer free shipping by absorbing the shipping charges themselves or by including the shipping costs in the price of the items so as not to discourage buyers because of an additional charge. Shipping efficiency can be the make or break of any online site – you need to decide whether you can afford to make a loss on shipping until your business becomes more well known and sucessful, or how you are going to recoup the money elsewhere.
Make sure you know the Distance Selling Rules
Distance Selling takes place when a VAT Registered business in one EU Member State supplies and delivers goods to a customer in another EU Member State (who is not VAT Registered), most commonly thorough e-commerce or mail order service. Each member state has their own thresholds for distance selling that, when crossed, require the business to register for VAT in that country and start to charge local VAT. It is imperitive that if your e-commerce webiste offers delivery outside of the UK, that you keep an eye on your sales figures and register for VAT when required.