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Beginner guide to opening an online shop



At Sixtwo, we are a team dedicated to living and breathing the web industry and bringing you the latest updates in bite size chunks.

So, you want to open an online store

With the right planning and execution, an e-commerce website can open up new opportunities and help you reach a wider audience, whether you’re launching a new business or expanding an existing one. As many of our clients will know, we’re great advocates of doing your homework and getting the planning stage right in any project, so what follows is on the right track from the very beginning of the process. With that in mind, here are some things to consider when embarking on your own e-commerce journey.

Define Your Niche

It may sound like an obvious thing, but understanding exactly what you intend to sell in your store is an important question to answer. You don’t want to try to compete with the likes of Amazon, so research a specific market segment that you want to operate in, research potential competitors, understand the environment and choose your niche – consider your interests and expertise… and make sure it has the potential for reasonable profit.

Define Your Target Audience

You need to understand who your ideal customers are. What are their needs and pain points? Are they tech-savvy or not so much? What device would they likely be using when they view your store? What do they like – what do they NOT like? Do lots of research, analyse your competitors, and ask people in the street. All data is good and will help give you more insight into who this target audience is. This in turn will help inform your marketing strategy going forward.

Decide on an E-commerce platform

There are lots of options when trying to decide which platform to use for your store, and how it will be built. Making sure you select the most suitable for the scale and budget of your enterprise will be essential, considering what features are available and its ease of use. You’ll need to understand the costs too – most have transactional fees on top of ongoing monthly costs, so don’t get caught out. You may want to consider one of these more popular choices:

If you have an existing WordPress website, then the logical choice would be to add WooCommerce to it. It’s very easy to use and has an entire catalogue of plugins that can extend functionality. It’s also free if you’re only using the basic features, so just transactional costs to pay. Unless you have extensive experience of WordPress you would be advised to get help from a web professional to install it on your site.

Similarly, if you have a Wix website you can add a Store element. There is a solid variety of templates, and you’ll require no coding skills to get up and running. Wix e-commerce does have both monthly and transactional fees.

If you’re starting fresh, Shopify is one of the most popular e-commerce platforms. It is very easy to use, and being a specialist e-commerce platform it has lots of options and features. It will also scale well with your needs. The level of customisation within the templates is rather limiting, and it has the potential to become very expensive – especially if looking for more advanced features.

Create Compelling Product Listings

If you want visitors on your site to take the next step and make a purchase, you must make your product listings attractive. Detailed product descriptions are important, as are high resolution, well taken photographs. Cutting corners on photography will almost certainly have a detrimental effect upon your sales as people often buy with their eyes. However, you can impress potential customers with stunning photos of your products and have them accompanied by a clear description and pricing information, you will be doing everything you can to convert sales.

Make Sure Your Website Is Seen

It’s of no value having a wonderful online store if nobody knows it exists. This is the one area where you are not in full control, so you need to do as much as possible to get your name out there. There are several ways of getting your site seen and there may be an element of trial and error required to find a combination that works for you.

SEO: This one is very important. A large proportion of your visitors will likely arrive from search engines and other organic routes. Optimising keywords across the key pages of your site, ensuring pages have sufficient content, including meta tags, ensuring your site is not slow – things like these will contribute to solid SEO scoring with search engine algorithms, and that will help you be seen in search results.

Social media: Having an active social media presence is almost essential these days. Being seen participating regularly in discussions, adding value to discussions or expert opinion, will help with your brand presence, brand recognition and brand value. All these things feed into social media users trusting you and seeking out your website.

Paid Traffic: If you have a marketing budget set aside, it may be worth trying some paid advertising on social media to get your brand seen. We suggest getting an expert to help you choose the right platform, bid for space, and offer advice for getting the most out of your investment.


Opening a new online store can be an exciting prospect, but it will pay dividends to do your homework and make informed choices. Once it goes live it’s important to support it on social media and marketing, doing everything you can to create and maintain exposure. Having a schedule to periodically review the analytics, get feedback from your customers, and make any necessary adjustments or upgrades will help your online store remain a useful resource for users.


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