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 November 2020, online sales had risen to 36.2% of the retail total (Source: ONS).
- 53% 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.
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 WordPress and there are many other providers out there (but you should always do your research).
Some solutions will require you to have some tech knowledge, from coding to fixing errors, while others will provide a readymade online shop, sometimes for a subscription fee or a percentage of each sale you make.
Choose your domain name
Whichever route you take, you’ll need to choose your website’s domain name. Most domain buying platforms 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.
Adding Tyl to your website
Once your website is up and running, you can almost crack open the champagne. Almost, because you can’t actually sell anything yet without a secure payment page. You can integrate your website to Tyl's secure hosted payments page, and also customise the look and feel of your Tyl payment page so that it blends with your website design; new Tyl customers receive a guide on how to do this when they join.
Decide what to sell
Moving your business online doesn’t mean you have to sell the same products as if you were on the high street. Some products have a long history of being popular online, from books to homeware, while others may have more of a niche audience, perhaps because they’re fragile, or too large, or are more suited to in-person collection. Given that you’ll have to add postage and packaging, you should think about your pricing strategy carefully.
Also, before selling online, you should get up to speed with your VAT obligations for sales within the UK and overseas – read more on GOV.UK.
Kick-start your marketing
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. And techniques like 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.
Should I design a website?
While platforms such as WordPress have design features, themes and tutorials you can try, if you really want your business website to look professional, you might want to hire a designer. Some businesses prefer to engage designers on a short-term freelance basis, while others may want to commission an agency to carry out the work.
It’s important to know the difference between a web designer and developer, which often get confused. The latter will build the core structure of the website, using their coding and programming knowledge, while the former is more focused on the creative vision and user journey. Ideally, you want a designer and developer working in tandem to create a professional and effective online presence for your business.
Get up and running online with Tyl
By taking full advantage of Tyl online, as well as your in-store card machines, your business can enjoy the best of both worlds – online and offline all under one roof. For more information about getting started online, check out our help & support FAQs and videos. And as you take your first steps in moving your business online, read our guide to growing a business for more handy tips. But in the meantime, go live and start selling!