As one of the biggest ecommerce businesses in the UK, we’ve worked with thousands of customers over the years who have set up their own online shops and began their journey of running their own business. But with so much to do and think about, there are a few important things that can be missed when setting up on your own.
In this blog, we’re going to be covering a few important essentials that can be missed in the early stages of getting your business set up but that are vital in your success.
Firstly, one of the most common things people don’t think enough about when setting up their online shop is their product descriptions. As an essential requirement for an ecommerce shop, your product description is invaluable to you for a multitude of reasons.
For SEO reasons, having product descriptions allows Google to crawl your website and read the information in the description and helps it best place your product in it’s SERP (Search Engine Results Page) rankings. It’s best practice to write your own product descriptions rather than copying your suppliers for instance, as doing so will hurt your site rankings rather than help and you’ll now be directly competing with them for the same product.
The second reason is your customers’ experience. Your product descriptions give your customer a better idea of the product, whether that be its dimensions or materials and if they’re ethically sourced. All of this information and detail matters to your customer as they can’t physically hold the product so make sure to include as much relevant information as possible.
From words to images, which are arguably more important from the customer’s point of view as visuals will make more of an impact, your product photography can make or break a sale. Sometimes product photography isn’t thought about enough, either a quick photo of the product or using a suppliers image and in this day and age of ecommerce, it simply doesn’t cut it.
Your product photography is a part of your business branding so it needs to not only be aesthetically pleasing and align with your branding, but it also needs to be beneficial for the customer. We spoke earlier about the customer not being able to hold the product so this is where your images come in. Your product images can help your customer imagine how they would use the product, so you need to have a range of images for each product.
Product photography is where the product is on a white or plain coloured background and centred in the frame, with a few different angles. This is different to lifestyle photography, where your product is photographed being used as it would by a customer. This kind of photography is great for social media channels such as Instagram and can still be used on your website too but make sure that you have your product photography up first.
Google Search Console
If you’re new to selling online it can be a steep learning curve, so using as many resources as possible to educate yourself is essential. When you have your online shop set up and ready to go, you need to submit your sitemap to allow Google to easily crawl your site.
You’ll need to firstly create a Google Search Console account and connect your domain to the account. We have a really handy guide on submitting your sitemap to Google. The purpose of this isn’t just to ensure that your site is searchable on Google but that people can find your site based on relevant search queries.
If you don’t already have a sitemap, it’s essentially a list of all the pages on your site and you can either create it yourself or use a third-party provider to create your sitemap. This is what tells Google, what pages to crawl and helps it to understand the type of content on the page in order to display the best result for the user.
Now that you’ve submitted your sitemap to Google, you’ll also want to submit your product feed to Google Merchant Centre. You can do this by opening a Google Merchant Center Account. Once you’ve opened an account and linked up to your shop you’ll be able to submit your product feeds. Once set up this allows you to create campaigns in Google Adwords to serve up your products to the relevant audience.
Whatever type of website you set up, you’ll need to work on your sites SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to help improve your rankings, especially if you’re an online shop. You will have hundreds if not thousands of competitors who will all be competing for the same or very similar keywords to achieve the highest ranked result on Google.
This is why you need to work on your sites SEO, to try and prevent being outranked by your competitors and ultimately losing out on sales. This covers a lot of activity from on-site SEO to site speed, structure and on-page changes.
Improving your sites loading speed as well as taking a mobile-first approach will help dramatically improve your rankings. Site architecture is the experience the user has on your site. Make it as easy as possible for your customers to find what they’re looking for, whether that be through the search bar or the menu. Best practice is a customer being able to find what they’re looking for in 3 clicks or less from the homepage.
Content and on-page changes are also important for SEO. Any content you write for your site should have a purpose – bottom of the funnel content should have more call to actions in it and reference your product or services more; top of the funnel content should make customers aware of your brand and being more educational pieces than anything else. Most importantly, make the content attractive and interesting to read and remember to do your keyword research – know exactly what content you are going to write to target certain keywords.
Business Bank Account
When getting started you might be taking your business payment via your personal bank. This can complicate things when it comes to submitting your annual tax return. Which is why we suggest setting up a business bank account as soon as you start receiving orders. When researching what bank account is best for you, make sure to always check what benefits you can access – some banks also offer a discount on certain types of insurance for example.
There are other benefits to opening a business bank account such as being able to separate your personal and business finances and expenses, which will make your tax return that much easier. It also helps to provide your business with an air of authority when dealing with suppliers and taking payments from customers and can become an important trust signal.
Most business owners when they first start out, wear many hats, from Marketing to Sales to Accounting, but if you can you should look to outsource services like this. Handing over your business finances to a trusted professional is one less task for you to deal with and worry about.
Outsourcing sections of your business like this, especially if you’re not an accountant yourself, allows you to focus on actually running your business rather than worrying about paying suppliers etc on time. They are also the experts in their field and can help with your annual tax return, getting you set up for VAT if you’re over the threshold and can provide you guidance and advice on your business financials.