Apr 19, 2023

How to Set Up an Online Shop UK

How to Set Up an Online Shop UK 

If you’re here, then you might already be thinking about how to set up an online shop. Whether you’re a brick-and-mortar business looking to diversify your sales channels into the digital world or looking to start an Ecommerce business from scratch- setting up an online shop isn’t as complicated as it sounds. 

This handy guide to setting up an online shop will run through why it’s worth doing and what you need to get started. We’ll also run through some examples of how to set up various online small businesses including online sweet shops, vintage stores and clothing stores.

Finally we’ll take you through a step-by-step guide on setting up an online shop on Facebook and eBay.

Contents and Key Links

  • Reasons why you should start an online business
  • What do you need to set up an online shop
  • Setting up an online shop examples
    • How to start setting up an online shop
    • How to set up an online sweet shop
    • Guide to setting up an online vintage shop
    • How to set up an online clothes shop
  • Selling online through digital marketplaces
    • Setting up an online shop on Facebook
    • Setting up an online shop on eBay

Reasons why you should be starting an online business

Before we start detailing how to start an online business, we should explain why it’s worth setting one up in the first place. There’s various benefits that come with opening an online shop, either in lieu-of or in addition to, a traditional brick-and-mortar store. 

Let’s explore:

Cheap startup costs

Starting an online business is much cheaper when you compare it to the cost of opening a brick-and-mortar store on the high street. For starters, you can avoid paying for a building lease and, if you choose to use a third party distributor, storage solutions by operating exclusively online. 

However, three things you will need to pay for when starting an online business are:

  • A personal laptop or a computer - overheads will be lowered if you already own this technology.
  • A personalised domain name via a provider.
  • Website building tools or the budget to hire a website designer.  Alternatively you can just set one up yourself with some patience and around 30 minutes. 

Major potential and growth

There is major potential growth when it comes to setting up an online shop. This is because there is the ability to tap into markets outside of your local geographic area. You can service national and even international buyer’s needs. 

Selling in the international market means you will be able to process online purchases from Ecommerce sites across the seas. To start taking international payments, you can allow your customers to pay remotely via online services or MOTO payments. Ecommerce will account for nearly 25% of global retail sales, according to Statista. So, if you do choose to tap into this market, there’s huge room for growth in the future.

Freedom to work anywhere

If you own a brick-and-mortar store, it is usually set up as your business base. Since you’re probably paying a lease, you’ll want to spend the majority of your time working from there.

If you set up an online shop, you will have the freedom to work from anywhere. This is not only great for flexibility but also your wellness.

The steps of setting up an online shop

Different shops (such as vintage and confectionary stores) require different stages of setups. However, for a general guide, we’ve pulled together a quickfire list of decisions you will have to make when you are starting to set up an online shop. 

This list is by no means exhaustive and a lot of setting up an online shop is actually research and taking time to think through what you’re trying to achieve from it.

10 steps to setting up an online store:

  1. Decide what products you’re going to sell. Will you specialise in a small but strategic range of products or have a wide range of goods.
  2. Pinpoint who your target audience is. What sorts of products are they buying, where do they shop and which social media platforms can you reach them on.
  3. Get a business licence. If you want to be legally recognised in a business in the UK you need to be registered with Companies House. More information can be found at HMRC.
  4. Research which website builder will work for your store. From GoDaddy to Wordpress there’s a lot of choice when it comes to online store builders. Factors to weigh up include cost, functionality and convenience.
  5. Decide who’s going to build your site. This mainly comes down to if you want a basic or tailor-made site. Think about whether you’re capable and able or if you’d prefer to outsource.
  6. Create your brand. Branding is all about who you are to your customer. What are they going to go to your site for and how can you entice them back. Start with the basics like picking a brand name, a colour scheme and arrange your products onsite in a visually appealing way.
  7. Pick a way to get paid! Make sure customers can order and you can get paid. There’s a variety of online payment methods you can connect to your Ecommerce store including remote payments, online checkout and virtual terminals.
  8. Set up shipping. Review your shipment options and decide which courier will fulfil your shipping needs.
  9. Think about marketing. Creating a marketing plan to launch your online store.
  10. And finally - launch! Pencilling in a launch date and finally clicking ‘live’.

Throughout the rest of the guide, we will focus on five specific types of online businesses you can set up. We will talk you through specific elements you need to be aware of when building these businesses

The businesses we will detail include:

  • An online sweet shop
  • An online vintage shop
  • An online clothes shop

We’re also going to cover how you can set up to sell on popular marketplace websites:

  • Facebook shops
  • eBay shops

How to set up an online sweet shop

Selling confectionery online can become a lucrative small business. If you have a sweet tooth and fancy trying your hand at running an online sweet shop then here are five essential steps you need to follow to create your indulgent dream business.

1 - Select the correct e-commerce platform

There are so many different E-commerce platforms to build your dream sweet shop.

However, you need to find the one that will work best for you. We recommend picking a customisable, product-led E-commerce platform. Lots of platforms offer free trials - so take advantage!

2 - Specialise in products

Selling sweets is all well and good - but what sweets? What do you want your online sweet shop to be known for?

Some examples to take inspiration from are specialty American sweetshop online sites selling pick & mix or stores that only sell retro sweets, you are unable to buy from local supermarkets.

By niching down, you are more likely to stand out from the crowd and be able to target your customers.

3 - Select your payment methods and payment gateway

Dojo offers online sweet retailers two types of remote payment methods. These are payment links and online remote checkout. You can learn more about how these payments will benefit your e-commerce business via our website.

You will also need to set up a payment gateway. Find out more more about what this means, here.

4 - Create and optimise individual product pages

When you set up an online shop, you need to make sure that every sweet you sell has an individual product page.

Every product page should have a good-quality product image. A page should also have SEO-heavy copy, product weights and ingredient information.

Your site is more likely to make it onto the front page of search engines if you have lots of individual product pages on your website.

5 - Make sure your online business is licensed correctly

To successfully set up an online UK sweet shop, you need to be fully licensed. You will need to register:

  • As a sole trader, a business partnership or a limited company. You can learn about the differences here.
  • For a food hygiene certificate. This is not the law but it is strongly recommended.
  • Register as a food business via the Food Standards Agency (FSA) website or HMRC.

How to set up an online shop UK - vintage store

A vintage clothing shop is also known as a thrift store. It usually sells second-hand fashion, vinyl and furniture.

Customers opting to buy second-hand items is on the rise. Did you know that 43% of shoppers regularly buy vintage?

This is potentially due to rising environmental concerns and the cost of living crisis. It’s never been a better time to set up an online vintage store.

Here are the four essential steps to opening an online vintage store.

1- Decide what vintage items you are going to sell

58% of 25-34s buy vintage clothing - making it the most popular item you could sell in your online vintage store. However, that doesn’t mean you have to.

To stand out amongst the competition, you could sell vintage technology. This could include a collection of Walkmans, VHS tapes or used vinyl.

It’s so important to pick what you’re going to sell before you start to procure stock and set up your online store. This is because you will be able to save money in the long run.

2 - Source your vintage items

Vintage items must be between 20-100 years old to be considered ‘vintage’. Before you start setting up your website, you need to find a source of the vintage items you are going to sell.

This could be a wholesaler who specialises in supplying vintage goods. Or, it could be a dropshipper who does all the work for you.

To find out more about dropshipping, see our guide.

3 - Select an Ecommerce platform

Whatever you decide to sell, you should design your online shop on a platform that works for you. If dropshipping sounds like your preferred method of operation, you should build your business on a platform that supports this.

Much like in the How to set up an online sweet shop section - we recommend picking a platform that is customisable to your needs.

4 - Develop a marketing strategy

When it comes to selling vintage items, you need to develop a strong marketing strategy. Alongside niching down your product offering, a marketing strategy will help your online vintage business stand out from the crowd.

How to set up an online clothes shop

While dropshipping is a possibility when selling vintage items, we think it is the best option when setting up an online clothes store.

By utilising a dropshipping business model to sell your clothes, you’re dedicating more time to marketing and building your business. It also means you’re spending less time worrying about small businesses’ inventory and product shipping.

Here are three steps that could help you set up an online shop that sells clothes.

Find a dropshipper you can trust

As we mentioned, dropshipping is an easy and effective way to run an online clothes shop. To do so, you will need to find a third-party dropshipper that you can trust.

This is usually a wholesaler who you can purchase goods from. All dropshippers are different, so find one that suits your business ideals best

Get your products made

If you decide you don’t want to explore a dropshipping business model, then you will need to get your clothing items made. A manufacturer makes goods from raw materials. You can purchase your goods in bulk directly from a manufacturer. You can do this by designing your product and sending it to a manufacturer.

Or, if you don’t want to create a clothing collection, you can purchase clothing items from a wholesaler instead.

Model your products in an appealing way

The online clothing market accounts for around one-fifth of total sales in the UK so it goes without saying, competition is fierce. To stand out, you need to model your clothing items appealingly or interestingly. 

For example, brands like Zara consistently drive chatter on social media around the way their models pose in the product images they post on their website.

Set up online shop for eBay

One of the benefits of selling items on eBay is that you don’t need to create and manage your online shop from scratch. And, despite not having a personal platform, you still have the option to customise your eBay shop.

Here is a simple step-by-step guide to setting up an online shop on eBay:

1 - Create an eBay seller account. You can learn more about creating a seller account via eBay.

2 - Decide what subscription level you want to invest in. These are Basic, Featured or Anchor.

3 - Choose a description that best suits your shop. This will be what kind of items you will be selling via eBay.

4 - Pick a shop name. There are a few rules when it comes to setting up an online shop. See here for the full details.

5 - Personalise your shop. You can edit the design and add a personalised business logo

6 - Organise your inventory. Add items for sale and write SEO descriptions.

7 - Go live with your eBay shop! It is as simple as that

Creating online shop on Facebook

Within the Shops section of Facebook, customers can browse products and make purchases. Here’s a basic 7 step guide on how to set up an online shop on Facebook in just a few steps:

1 - Head to the Create Your Shop page and choose one of three checkout methods.

2 - Create a business manager account.

3 - Select the product catalogue you want to use for your Facebook shop. This cannot be changed later, so it’s important to pick which catalogue is right for you.

4 - Agree to the Seller Agreement before creating your online shop.

5 - Once you’ve created your shop, you can customise how it looks.

6 - After making your shop unique, select products to upload to your chosen catalogue.

7 - Publish your shop and start selling your goods and services.

For more small business tips, head to the Dojo blog.