Whether you’re crafting handmade hampers or dominating the world of dropshipping, there’s never been a better time to start your online business. It’s estimated online shopping is more popular in the UK than in any other country, with 30% of all retail purchases taking place over the net.   

But even after you’ve decided what you want to sell, it can be tough to know where to start. We’ll take you through the steps you need to make your eCommerce dreams a reality in 2024.

What is an eCommerce platform?

An eCommerce platform is where you’ll manage all of your online sales. And there are plenty of options to choose from. Here in the UK, the most popular platforms to start your online business are: 

  • Squarespace: If you’re brand new to building a website, Squarespace makes it easy. With professional-looking designs and a ton of support, Squarespace is a great option for beginners. Prices start at £21 a month
  • Shopify: The perfect space to build a dropshipping store, with a dedicated dropshipping section that allows you to fulfil orders, fuss-free. Prices start at £19 a month
  • WIX: With a built-in app marketplace for shipping tools and stock management, WIX is one of the most user friendly platforms available. Prices start at £20 per month

If starting your online business on a stand-alone platform feels a bit intimidating, you can also explore options like Etsy. Etsy will take a percentage of your sales each month and in return, you can sell on their dedicated platform. For some, this can be a good way to try out their business idea and see how it performs before launching a standalone online business. 

How to optimise your online store 

No matter where you’re selling online, you’ll need to consider search engine optimisation (SEO). SEO helps your website show up higher in Google and other search engines. That means when people look for stuff you sell, your site is more likely to pop up in their search. 

To achieve this you’ll need to pull together an SEO strategy that includes a strong set of keywords, accurate product descriptions, plenty of useful content and high-quality images as a minimum. So, how do you start your SEO journey?

Use the right keywords for your products

There are plenty of ways to find out what keywords you need to use for your online store. Firstly, consider what people are typing into Google when they’re looking for products like yours. While it might seem obvious if you’re selling a gold-plated necklace, that needs to be used in the product description.

You can also use keyword research tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush that will suggest keywords for you. Use those keywords naturally in your product descriptions and throughout your site.

Create useful content 

Google values high-quality content when it’s ranking a page for SEO. But what does high quality really mean? 

  • Useful: Google’s top priority is giving users exactly what they need in their search results. That’s because when people find valuable and accurate info, they keep coming back to Google for more, and that’s great for Google’s business too. 
  • A low bounce rate: A bounce rate measures how long visitors spend on the page before they leave and Google understands that users will spend longer on a useful page. So, writing with readers in mind will always help optimise your page. 
  • High-quality content builds links: When your content is useful, other websites might link to it. For example, if you’re writing about the best ways to clean your jewellery – you might include a link to a jewellery cleaner. This is known as link building and signals to Google that your site is more trustworthy. 

With this in mind, it’s worth considering what your audience will want to read. Websites like AnswerThePublic can be useful in suggesting what your customers are searching for, but you can also search social media 

Make sure your site is mobile-friendly

A large portion of your online customers will be shopping using their mobile phone, with 67% of online purchases made using a smartphone. So, how can you make sure that your eCommerce platform is ready to receive mobile visitors?

  • Most platforms are mobile-friendly: If you’re using a major platform like Squarespace, WIX or Shopify, your site is ready for mobile users. However, it’s worth visiting your site on mobile and ensuring your content looks just as brilliant on the small screen as on a desktop.
  • Loading time matters: Mobile users are impatient and if your site is taking too long to load, there’s a chance they may simply give up and move onto a competitor’s page instead. With this in mind, you can improve your site’s loading speed by shrinking your image sizes, reducing on-screen graphics and using video content sparingly.

Add live chat to your website

When people browse your website, they often ask questions about the products. You should aim to answer as many questions as possible in the product description. However, for those who require more information, you can help fill in the blanks and guide people on the path to purchase with a live chat widget.

With a live chat widget, you can engage website visitors as they browse your products and resolve any queries before they make a purchase. 50% of consumers say that having a live person answer questions during a purchasing decision is one of the most important features a brand can offer.

If you don’t have time to respond to chats yourself, look at hiring a live chat answering service. A live chat answering service uses a team of trained receptionists to respond to visitors and resolve issues on your behalf.

But many customers may also seek support via your phone lines. If you’re unable to respond to those leads, you may lose them to competition. An eCommerce answering service can help you field queries around the clock, leading to fewer abandoned shopping carts.

How long does SEO take to show results?

How long it takes for your SEO efforts to impact your site depends on a few factors. From how old your site is to how often you’re producing high-quality content, can impact your results. 

According to Ahrefs, most users see results from their SEO strategy in 3-6 months. However, if you’re investing in your SEO and optimising your eCommerce site early on, it’s a time investment that will serve you year after year. 

Once you’ve got your website up and running, give every visitor 24/7 support from a team of trained receptionists. Get a jump on the competition and grow your eCommerce business without limits.