Setting up an ecommerce website: the basics


If you are thinking of setting up an ecommerce website or have an existing website that you are looking to improve here are 5 things that should certainly be at, or very near to, the top of your list.

1. Pick a web designer who has experience (and that you can build a relationship with)

It’s obvious but based on the number of emails and calls we get, something that some people overlook. Our advice when selecting a web design firm is to speak with the people that will do the work and not just the salesperson.

Within our company we all work on websites and we do not actually employ any salespeople. We believe this is the right way of working as you can speak directly with someone who knows who to design and build a website rather than just “sell” a website. Many of the companies offering similar services will actually outsource the work abroad which can work okay however in our view it's much better to have someone that you can get to know, and they can get to know you and your business, and offer a level of support from this knowledge.

Over the last 10 years we have helped hundreds of businesses with their online activities and a key aspect of our offering is that once a website is live, we are here to help support clients when needed. When a website goes live the real work starts and so you should find a company that you can work with long term.

2. Payment gateway

A core aspect of any ecommerce website is the payment mechanism. When a visitor is completing their purchase, they will interact through your website with a payment gateway which processes the actual payment and then that payment will end up in your bank account.

There are numerous different payment gateways that you can use, with different levels or integration and business liability. In some cases, if you are handling the card details you will need to be PCI compliant which will incur a regular expense.

Another important consideration is the cost that you will pay for the gateway. There are typically three potential fees although with some solutions these can be greatly reduced:

We work with several different payment gateways and one of our team will be happy to make a recommendation based on an understanding of your business. It’s a complicated area but we are happy to guide you through it.

3. Clear product information with good images

For anything other than a very small ecommerce website there is no getting away from the work involved to list the products. It will take some time and sadly there are no real short cuts.

It is essential that you put time into describing the products and uploading good quality images as once you have gone through the hard work of launching a website and trying to drive traffic to the website the information around the product is a major deciding factor if the visitor will purchase from you.

With many products, where you buy them from a manufacturer or distributor, you will be given photos and possibly descriptions, so it is certainly worth asking if that is available.

4. Keep delivery charges simple

Delivery is something that is an important part of ecommerce and there are many ways that you can cover delivery. Including:

Our team are happy to explain the options and what is possible using our ecommerce websites but the golden rule is to keep it simple and if it takes longer than a moment to explain you will then probably complicate the user and therefore not obtain the level of conversion you would if the delivery policy was simple.

5. Once you have launched your website the real work starts!

Setting up an ecommerce website is not difficult, and we have helped hundreds of businesses over the last 10 years with this. However, it does take some effort on your part and you should enter into the project understanding this.

Once the website is launched though the work has just started and you will have to reply to enquiries, deal with some returns and importantly market the website.

Of course, you can outsource lots of this as the business grows but as the business owner you will always be ultimately responsible and we believe that it is important to enter into the ecommerce world understanding that it can be incredibly rewarding (both financially and in terms of satisfaction) but like most things it will require commitment on your part.