Interest in setting up an online business in the UK is up by 555% compared to last year, as the country continues to navigate through this financial crisis.
Data analysing increased searches for starting your own business shows a boost in demand for the likes of “how to start business”, “create a website” and “start business online” during lockdown:
Rise from Jan 2020 to Jan 2021
Set up online business
How to start a business
Start business online
Create a website
Start online business
To help entrepreneurs navigate starting their own ecommerce business in 2021 amongst the high competition they will be facing, Andy Bojko, Director at Hidepark Leather, has set out 5 key steps to follow:
1. Register your domain name and business as quickly as possible
After deciding to set up a business, one of the first steps business owners should take is to register their business and domain name. When picking a domain name, it can be wise to select a name that gives customers at least a vague idea of what the firm sells or what market it operates in. Business owners can conduct a quick corporate name search to ensure the name they select is not already in use.
The next step is to pick an eCommerce platform, the operating system which will allow for the business to operate as a functional eCommerce store. The most popular general purpose eCommerce platforms are Shopify or WooCommerce, where businesses can sell their digital products or shippable goods. Using an eCommerce platform means business owners can set up their online store in lockdown with just a few easy steps, with the opportunity to customise the look of the website to a theme that best suits their brand.
2. Analyse the competition to gain an advantage
Competition does not have to always be a bad thing when looking to create a new ecommerce business. Whilst competition can make it challenging to break into the industry, it also validates the market and demonstrates a demand by consumers for the product/service. This gives business owners a chance to assess whether their business idea is viable both during lockdown and in the years to come.
New businesses should take the time to analyse their competition and the market to identify any practices worth investing in and assess who exactly their customer base is. By using tools such as SEMrush, businesses can assess which pages perform best from their competitors, who their audience demographic is and which of their products is top-selling. This, in turn, is an advantage since it can feed into the strategy and help to set the business apart.
3. Invest heavily in marketing during lockdown
Without having a physical store for customers to see or walk by, ecommerce businesses must invest budget into marketing their site to stand out from competitors during lockdown. When starting a new business, social media marketing is one of the most common methods selected to build brand awareness, develop customer loyalty and promote products for sale. Using Facebook, ecommerce businesses can advertise their products with ads based on consumer demographics and other factors, meaning their target audience can be reached despite the lockdown.
Email marketing is still an incredibly popular method of promotion for ecommerce businesses, with this channel giving the business owner direct access to the consumer. To gain access to the email details of consumers, business owners should consider conducting a giveaway within their first few months of operating. By stipulating that in order to participate, individuals must give their email address, this will not only increase the brands presence but also allow access to an email list which can be used for future marketing efforts.
4. Set up an integrated payment gateway and check out the progress
Before businesses begin fully operating they need to set up their store for accepting payments from customers. The most efficient way to accept payments is through an integrated payment setup, where customers can enter their payment information without needing to leave the website. This can help to reduce card abandonment, a common issue for ecommerce platforms in general.
5. Focus on customer relationship management
Where in a physical store customers have the ability to ask employees for help in person, online shops do not facilitate this option. Instead, customers can use email or phone calls to reach a contact person, but this can become time-consuming for staff as the number of enquiries increases as the business grows. Instead, businesses should consider integrating a chatbot service to their website.
During lockdown, a simple customer journey has never been so crucial since consumers are quick to abandon their carts if they experience issues. A live chat service allows customers to connect with support in real-time, but also means agents can handle multiple conversations simultaneously and route them to the right team for faster support. Live chat options can aid in minimising cart abandonment since customers can have their enquiry answered far quicker than with an email or phone call.