Are you thinking about taking your business online? You're not alone! The COVID-19 pandemic has left many brick-and-mortar shops closed until further notice, but online shops have seen an unprecedented rise in customers since lockdown began.
Countless people are now turning to the Internet for their favourite products and necessities, so opening a digital store for your customers to use is a no-brainer. Here's where to start:
1. Choose a domain name
Choosing a domain name that fits your business is an important first step when you're taking your business online. Ideally, your domain name will be the same as (or very close to) your business name - for example, you can see that our domain name is designer-websites.co.uk. This will help people to match your website to your brand.
Here are a few other things to bear in mind when you're choosing a domain name:
- Choose a suitable domain extension like .com or .co.uk
- Avoid domain names that include other people's trademarks - this can cause legal problems
There are lots of different websites you can use to find and register your domain name. GoDaddy and Ionos are two popular registrars. Once you think you’ve found the right domain, you can either register it yourself or ask your website developer to do this for you. Once registered you'll own it for at least a year, so make sure you choose wisely.
2. Set up a website
Once your domain is up and running, it's time to start thinking about the exciting part: setting up your website! There are lots of pre-built systems and free platforms out there, , but in our opinion, these are simply not the best way to go if you want a quality site.
Although pre-built systems might look like a good deal, there are several reasons why we'd recommend a bespoke solution if you're taking your business online. Here are just a few of them...
- More freedom to customise your website's functionality and design
- Significantly improved scalability
- More flexibility to integrate 3rd party solutions
- Improved website security
- Much better optimisation
- Better tracking
The list goes on - read our blog about the advantages of a bespoke website design if you'd like to find out more.
Your website needs to:
- Be visually representative of your brand
- Show up in Google's search results
- Work seamlessly across a range of devices
- Generate successful sales / enquiries
We know this sounds like an awful lot of work when you're already shouldering all the pressures and responsibilities of running a business, but fear not - here at Designer Websites, we have in-house graphic designers, developers, and copywriters who can do all of the hard work for you. Whether you need an ecommerce website that allows your loyal customers to shop online or a simple brochure site to help you generate more enquires, we can help.
Over the years, we've supported all kinds of businesses as they've made the transition from brick-and-mortar store to online success story. Check out some of our case studies if you'd like to see how we did it.
If you're interested in taking your business online, you can request a free, no-obligation quote here:
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3. Integrate a payment method
One way to help your customers feel secure when they're placing an order on your website for the first time is to integrate a recognisable, reputable payment system. Designer Websites is an official Sage Pay partner, but there are other options like PayPal, Stripe, Wirecard and Worldpay that you might consider too.
For added consumer confidence, you should also:
- Make sure your website has a valid SSL certificate. This will ensure that any sensitive details (e.g. passwords, credit card numbers) submitted via your website are encrypted and therefore much harder for hackers to steal.
- Add an express checkout option so new users aren't forced to register an account on your site when making a quick purchase.
4. Follow the law
As you might imagine, selling your wares online comes with a set of legal obligations that may seem a little overwhelming if you've only ever sold in-store. Here's a brief overview to help you get to grips with the basics:
- You need to comply with the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) if you are collecting any personal data from your users.
- You should be aware of age restrictions that apply to your good/services and (if applicable) set up a method of verifying age before the checkout.
- You should be mindful of copyright. Images, text and even the architecture of a website site can be copyrighted. Make sure you're only using digital assets that you have the rights to use.
5. Let customers know you're online
Although you might not be closing the doors of your real-life store for good, it's important to make people aware your business has a new space online. There are many different ways you can reach out to old and new customers to share the good news, including...
Use your existing social media channels (or set some up) to make a bit of noise about your new website. There are so many platforms to choose from, you'll have no problem reaching your target audience in no time at all.
We'd recommend tailoring your posts to suit each platform; for example, you could post a detailed announcement on Facebook and a more casual mention on your Instagram story. This gives people lots of different ways to discover that your business has moved online. (Don't forget to include a link back to your new website whenever possible!)
A great way to let your existing customers know that you've moved online is to send them a simple, informative email. You could include a promotion to encourage them to make their first purchase on your online store. While this won't directly help you to attract new customers, it is a great way to keep your loyal customers in the loop.
Operating as a stand-alone offline business is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Don't get left behind and lose sales to your competitors. Take your business online with a little help from the Designer Websites team.
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