Whether you are a sole trader or a substantial enterprise, to set up an online shop via an ecommerce website to display your products or services can bring in extra sales – provided that you do things correctly. Of course, you could be just starting out and need to get vital exposure in order to build the business. In any of these cases, the following are the six steps you should follow to set up your online shop.

1. Make sure you have the right products or services on offer

You may already sell the products or services you want to include in your online shop, or you may be starting out and looking for the best products or services to sell and to make a reasonable profit. Whatever the situation is, you will need to check the competition online to work out the likelihood of making sales. Try an internet search to see who else is selling the items and at what price.

To mitigate the degree of competition, it may be better to focus on niche products that only a few suppliers sell. To check this, you can use tools such as SEMrush, which checks the competition for your products as well as helping with identifying the key searchable words that users enter when looking for various items. Whilst SEMush offers a trial period, after this, it costs a minimum of $99 per month to use the tool. Google Keyword Planner is a totally free alternative to SEMush, amongst others.

2. Source your products for the online shop

There are three ways in which you can procure your products for an online shop. You can make them yourself; buy them from a supplier or use drop shipping where the supplier will send the product to your customer when a sale is made. If you are offering a service, you will not need to source products. Dropshipping does have its challenges in that you are relying on others to send the correct products on time. Unless you are sure that you have found a good and reliable drop shipper, stay away from this method.

You can find wholesalers and suppliers of any products by searching on the internet or by joining wholesale sites that show the latest deals.. Please bear in mind that sites including Amazon and eBay may also be selling the same items and it would be beneficial to compare their pricing before buying any products.

3. Choosing shop building software

Before you can set up an online shop, you need to have a domain name and at least one email address. You’re best advised to choose a good internet domain name that no one else has used and is memorable plus a memorable email address linked to your domain name such as sales@thisismyshop.com.

You could use an agency to build the shop for you which could prove to be expensive. Even so, if you go this route, you must make sure that you have control of the products or services displayed on the site. Agencies will normally use a content management system (such as WordPress) or a full e-commerce solution such as Magento which will allow you to make additions, changes and deletions. With WordPress it is also possible to use PrestaShop, which is an e-commerce application.

An easier way to set up your shop is to use our Professional Shop or Premium Shop e-commerce packages with one of our hosting packages. These packages start at £18.20 per month with the Professional Shop providing the first month free. All packages come with a website builder package which allows you to design your own shop.

4. Make sure your website appears in applicable searches

What this means is if someone searches on, for example, USB headsets and you have them in your shop, your website needs to appear at or near the top of the first page of the search results. To do this, you will need to add all your product keywords in the SEO (search engine optimisation) functions of your website and invest in content creation and marketing. Some SEO elements come with all our hosting packages and it is vital that all keywords that people may search on are included.

5. Use blogging to drive traffic to your site

You will need to drive traffic to your site. One option is to write valuable, useful blog posts about your products and some on your website and some on respected blogging sites. This will ensure that potential customers see you as an authority on the subject and are more likely to visit your shop.

6. How to further promote your shop

You can also use online ads (such as on Google AdWords or Facebook ads) to further publicise your shop. Of course, this can be costly. Social promotion also offers a substantial potential, depending upon your market. Ultimately, some form of advertising or promotion is required!