So, you’re thinking about starting your own business and have an idea of what you’d like to sell. But you may already be working full time, or may not want to commit to a workspace yet, starting a business from home is a perfect starting point.
Starting point | One
There are many benefits to starting your business from home, one of them being registering as a sole trader as soon as you begin trading, which is the first step in our guide – it’s a great way to become self-employed without too much commitment and low startup costs while remaining compliant.
Becoming a sole trader is the easiest way to set up a business, especially if you’re simply trying out a business idea alongside your full-time job and you can also claim back some money for tax-deductible expenses such as stationary, IT equipment, internet access and business phone bills to name a few, when working from home. Your accountant should be able to help you with this or you can read the Government guidance here.
Getting online | Two
So now you’re registered with HMRC as a sole trader, you can now legally begin trading. The next logical step would be to set up your own online shop. Selling online and getting started can be a bit of a process but putting the time and effort, in the beginning, will give your business the best starting point possible.
When setting up your online shop, you’re going to want to think about firstly, what you’re selling – have you done your market research? Who are your target customers? What channels will you use to market your new business? The answer to all of these questions will help you to determine what sort of theme and branding you should choose when designing your online shop.
Choosing the right theme for your e-commerce shop will also depend greatly on what industry you’re in. For example, if you’re selling clothing, you’re more likely to choose an image-heavy theme to best display your products. If you’re struggling with choosing a theme our e-commerce experts can advise you on the best theme to choose for your business.
Showcase your products | Three
Once you’ve chosen your theme, you’re going to want to be able to show off your products in the best possible way, which is why your product photography should be the best quality possible. Bad product photography is a quick way to kill your business’ sales and can leave the customer with a really bad impression.
Ultimately, photographs communicate information about a product that words simply don’t. By using high-quality photos, you are not only building trust with your customers as they hand over their hard-earned cash, but also increasing your sites conversion rates. You can either do it yourself or hire a professional depending on your budget but a few of the top pieces of advice from our e-commerce experts are:
- Provide multiple angles of the product
- Avoid supplier images (as you’ll then also be competing with them)
- Use models within your image rotation
- Get some lifestyle photography shots on your site of people using the product
- Tell a story
Good product photography will make or break a sale and as a new business, you need to ensure that you’re doing everything you can to make the sales.
Let’s get descriptive | Four
Product descriptions are one of the most important aspects of your online shop. Product descriptions are where shoppers go when the imagery isn’t giving them enough information about the product they’re viewing.
Writing product descriptions yourself rather than using the standard supplier description will go a long way, not only for your customers but also your SEO efforts for your site. The best product descriptions consist of features of the product, specifically unique features such as functionality, measurements and specifications.
Features are usually bullet-pointed and will list all the useful information a shopper may want to know about the product. A body of text should also be included as a more descriptive way to sell the product to the shopper, you need to be telling them why they need the product, how it can be used and what it is compatible with.
When it comes to product descriptions, there is plenty of detail about the importance of them in our Product Descriptions support guide, however, some of the top tips for writing product descriptions for your shop are:
- Identify your target market and write for them
- Detail the product benefits
- Tell the customer what it does and why they need it
- Use a natural narrative voice
- Use positive words and terms if applicable to your brand
- Use bullet points for the basics – make it easy to scan
- Ensure that the content is optimised for search engines
One of the reasons you want to spend the time writing your own product descriptions as I mentioned before is the effects it can have on your sites SEO. When Google crawls your site it will read your product descriptions and use the content to match your product page to specific keywords. Google will also always favour human-created content over the exact same description as your supplier – they will also mark you down for having duplicate product descriptions, so it’s always best to write your own and give your customers’ a unique experience.
Payment gateways | Five
So now you have your amazing photographs and product descriptions, you’ll need to set up a payment gateway so that customers can buy from you. When setting up a payment gateway, most like Stripe, PayPal and Klarna will require you to create an account with them in order to process any payments.
Best practice is to give your customers a few options when it comes to payment. Some may be comfortable using PayPal while others would only use credit/debit cards to make purchases online. By having a few options for your online shop you aren’t excluding any potential customers or putting them off from purchasing from you.
Payment gateways can also help to build trust with your customers. As a new business, this is something you really need to work on and by working with well-known payment gateways, people are more likely to purchase from you and by providing them with a positive buying experience, you will build trust and they may become a repeat customer.
Building trust | Six
As we just touched upon, trust is a vital factor to any new business and earning that trust can seem impossible but there are a few things you can do on your online shop to demonstrate trust.
Payment gateways are one way you can begin to build up trust but, the only time a customer will see this is when they’re going to make a purchase. We want to begin building trust with customers as soon as we can.
One way you can do this is by having customer reviews on your homepage and also reviews on your product pages. Genuine reviews are a very powerful way of building trust with customers. It shows potential new customers that other people, just like them, have purchased from you before and have had a great experience and received what they ordered.
Setting up your business for Google My Business, which lets you list your business on Google and includes a business profile among other things. So when someone enters your URL (to begin with) into Google’s search, you’ll see a local listing displaying information about your business with your Google My Business profile featured on the right-hand side, this let’s potential customers know you’re a real business and where you are located helping you build trust. Google My Business has many other advantages too, for example, you can collect reviews for your business for free, this could be a huge impact for building up your social proof and once again build up the trust for your business.
Be social | Seven
Once you’ve got your e-commerce site set up and ready to go, you’ll need to create social profiles across all the major platforms and ensure that the look and feel of them are consistent with your website.
Setting up your social media channels is quite straightforward and the platforms themselves will take you through it step by step. If you’d like to read more on setting up your social channels including, the right sizes for your profile and header images, why not download our Social Media Guide and you can also learn about how having a social presence will help with your websites Google rankings.
Launch | Eight
Finally, you are now ready to fully launch your business with a beautifully designed e-commerce site and coherent social media channels that compliment your site. Once your site and social channels are live, make sure to share the good news about your new business across social platforms and via word of mouth.