We all know the internet has transformed every aspect of our lives, not least the way we eat, drink and shop. But even if you’re the most traditional of butchers, bakers or candlestick-makers, you can reap the rewards of getting online. In this guide we’ll explore how to make a website and move your business online with the minimum of fuss.
Why move your business online?
The landscape for online shopping has changed faster than you can say ‘click and collect.’ And while you’ve probably heard many of the arguments before, here are a few facts you may not know, all of which underscore the benefits of transitioning to an online business.
- The move from offline to online is a one way street. Back in December 2006, internet sales as a percentage of total retail were just 2.5%. By February 2020 – the month before the first COVID-19 lockdown – the figure was 19.1%. And by September 2023, online sales had risen to 25% of the retail total (Source: ONS).
- More than 50% of retail sales are expected to be online by 2028, according to research by Retail Economics.
- The British public love shopping online – the UK is the third largest e-commerce market in the world, behind only China and the USA.
How to set up an online store
Once you’re sold on the benefits of moving your business online, it’s time to think about your web presence. Here, we look at how to set up your business website in five simple steps:
Choose your website host and domain name. Most domain buying platforms like GoDaddy or 123 Reg let you register your website’s domain and provide hosting services for a subscription fee. But what domain name should you buy? Going for a ‘.com’ or ‘.co.uk’ domain extension is a solid bet, or you could consider a localised option like ‘.london’ if it’s important to your business. You should avoid hyphens and numbers in your domain name.
Decide how to build your website. Not everyone is a digital pro, but luckily, these days you don’t have to be an expert coder to know how to make a website. You can either hire a professional to build and maintain your website, which can be expensive, but may take the strain away if you’re not a computer whiz. Alternatively, you could build the website using a tool like BigCommerce, Shopify or WordPress. There are many other providers out there so you should always do your research to find the right solution for your business.
Choose a template. Many CMS providers offer premade templates that you can install to get up and running quickly. It's a good idea to make a list of requirements before choosing your template. For example, would you like to add a blog section? Or perhaps you'd like a website that's more visual-led with sliders and galleries. Take a look at this guide on choosing a website template by WIX for some ideas.
Customise your website. Once you've picked your website template, you can think about customising it with your branding, logo and products. It's a good idea to have an about page and contact information so that visitors can get more information or get in touch if they need to. This also helps to show that you're a trustworthy business.
Publish your website. Once you are happy with the design and content of your website, you can publish it so that it can be found online.
Start marketing your business
Getting a website live is one thing, but to make a successful transition to an online business, you’ll need to put time, energy, and sometimes money, behind your web presence. Social media is an increasingly powerful tool in selling online products; Instagram, for example, can be a great way for businesses to showcase their talents, from food to furniture.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – the practice of improving your sites technical health and writing content with appropriately targeted keywords, can help your business to be found on search engines.
Get more marketing inspiration in our article, 22 marketing ideas for your small business.
Further reading for growing your business:
This has been prepared by Tyl by NatWest for informational purposes only and should not be treated as advice or a recommendation. There may be other considerations relevant to you and your business so you should undertake your own independent research.
Tyl by NatWest makes no representation, warranty, undertaking or assurance (express or implied) with respect to the adequacy, accuracy, completeness, or reasonableness of the information provided.
Tyl by NatWest accepts no liability for any direct, indirect, or consequential losses (in contract, tort or otherwise) arising from the use of the information contained herein. However, this shall not restrict, exclude, or limit any duty or liability to any person under any applicable laws or regulations of any jurisdiction which may not be lawfully disclaimed.