How to Set Up an Ecommerce Business
Embracing an ecommerce website if you are an existing ‘offline brand’ is far easier than starting an ecommerce business from scratch. If you are an established company going digital, then you will already know what you are selling and how competitive you are in the marketplace.
If you are an ecommerce start up, then you need to do the legwork before you go live online. Consider what you are selling, how you want to sell it and who you are selling to.
1. Register your business
You may have already chosen a business name, but if not, now is the time to decide on one. You will need this in order to register your business and trade legally. You can register your company on GOV.UK which will automatically register with Companies House if you are a limited company.
2. Get a domain name
Your website name does not need to match your registered business name but it will be the name that users are familiar with seeing so it’s recommended that you stick to it once chosen. If you can, try and choose a dot.com or dot.co.uk address. You may need to get a little creative if the domain is not available or is more than your budget will allow. Once you have bought your domain name, you’ll need to register it.
3. Sort your branding
If you haven’t already done so, get your branding designed ready to go on your website. You will need to decide on your colour scheme, your logo and your font as well as any key messaging and content to help maximise conversion on your site. Branding is how your users will recognise you going forward so ensure you are happy before you publish this. Do your research to see the best colours/designs that work in your industry.
4. Get a website
Whether you decide to build your website yourself or use a web design agency, you need to ensure it meets your business needs as an ecommerce site. There are a number of services that enable you to design your own site, but ecommerce tends to be much more complex to set up, so if in doubt, rope in a professional who can set you up an ecommerce platform such as Shopify, with a secure payment gateway.
5. Set up an IMA
An IMA is an internet merchant account. You will need this to start selling online. With ecommerce you can’t just use your bank account – you need a specific account for online trading. In order to get an IMA, you need to pass a few criteria. You will need to show a business plan, provide identification, decide how you will receive payments and prove that you are PCI compliant.