According to Nominet, one out of four retail purchases are made through the web. Last year alone, £68.2 billion was spent online and the ecommerce marketplace is set to double in size by 2018 because it will be boosted by sales through mobile phones and tablet computers. It has also become relatively easier to start a small business online because of the growth in technology platforms and the growing popularity of market places like eBay, Etsy and Amazon.
According to research results from Santander, at least 49% of UK student entrepreneurs sell their products and services online. While at the university, a student can start an ecommerce business with less than £100. How to start an online store requires identifying the product or service that you are going to sell or resell after which you have to purchase a domain name for as little as £3. The price of the domain name is based on domain extension whether you prefer .com, .co.uk or niche domains like .london.
After the domain, it is important to arrange for web hosting. You can opt for third party hosted ecommerce solutions like Go Daddy, 1&1 or 123-reg so that hosting can be managed on your behalf. You can also opt to manage your own hosting but this requires technical skills and resources. Price for basic hosting ranges from £4 to £5 but for premium services, you can expect to pay over £30.
After you have sorted out your domain name and hosting, you will be able to turn your retail ideas into reality through the use of shopping cart software like Shopify, Magento and Sellr. The shopping cart software is a key component of your online business because visitors will need to view the products before making a purchasing decision. One of the most common ecommerce shopping software is eBay’s Magento platform.
How to start an online store also involves ecommerce website design and the choice for payment methods. PayPal and World Pay are popular options but typically the shopping cart provider will offer a whole package that includes hosting, payment options and the ability to purchase a domain.