E-commerce can be defined as the buying and selling of goods or services on the internet. E-commerce is all around us and it has grown exponentially since the 11th of August 1994, when a man sold a Sting CD to his friend through his website NetMarket.
Now, global e-commerce sales are predicted to reach $4.2 trillion. In the UK, revenue for e-commerce business is projected to reach £80,678 million in 2021 at an annual growth rate of 3.5x. The UK e-commerce market's largest segment is fashion with a projected market volume of £27,060 million in 2021.
Based on these numbers, one thing is for certain – if you don’t have an e-commerce website yet, you should.
Get yourself an e-commerce website
The first step in becoming an e-commerce business is to set up an e-commerce website. There are plenty of superb e-commerce website builder sites out there so it is important to understand which one’s might fit your business the best.
It is also important to note the difference between an e-commerce website builder and e-commerce platforms.
E-commerce website design builders are perfect for companies that are looking for an all-in-one solution hosted by a provider and delivered through the cloud. Alternatively, e-commerce platforms can be hosted on a custom website which gives companies more control over the end to end delivery of the product.
Here are some of the top e-commerce website builder recommendations:
Creating a custom e-commerce website
A downside of using e-commerce website design solutions is the fact that your website will use a template that thousands of other brands and companies have already used. If you want a truly unique solution that will impress your customers, consider working with an e-commerce website development consultant. They will help to integrate the best e-commerce platform for your needs into your custom site, giving you full control over the process. If you would like to go down the e-commerce website development route, bear in mind the main features that e-commerce business companies need from their site:
Search – functionality to easily find the product
Shopping cart – to store and view intended purchases before moving to the checkout process
Payment – functionality for customers to pay for products
Database – to store transaction details
Inventory management – to track available merchandise
Customer support – to manage and improve the customer journey
What is the best e-commerce platform in the UK?
In general, most companies will be happy with an integrated platform solution that incorporates all the necessary features for a monthly fee. Shopify is generally considered the best e-commerce platform in the UK largely due to the fact it is easy to set-up and customise. You can create a store with no coding knowledge, and they make it incredibly easy to start accepting credit card payments.
Now, that you’ve got a gorgeous new website and your products are ready to fly off the (virtual) shelves, the final piece to the puzzle is getting customers to find you. This is where e-commerce marketing comes into play. A vital part of any e-commerce business is developing a strategy that will increase awareness of your store and brand. There are multiple tactics to get traffic to your website and then convert traffic into sales:
SEO – Pick some keywords that are relevant to your business and include them throughout your website. Increasing organic searches means more visitors to your site.
PPC – Through Google AdWords, you can pay to have your products come first in search results when someone searches for the term. Some e-commerce website builders even give you free credit to get started.
Email Marketing – Get customers to sign up for a newsletter and send offers and promotions to make sure they keep coming back.
Affiliates – Get larger sites to refer back to yours, they earn some commission and you get more customers, it’s a win-win!
We can help
GoCardless helps you automate payment collection, cutting down on the amount of admin your team needs to deal with when chasing invoices. Find out how GoCardless can help you with ad hoc payments or recurring payments.