As the number of consumers purchasing goods and services from the comfort of their own homes continues to increase it is not surprising that the process of setting up an online shop directly on your website is now easier than ever before - and also far less expensive than it used to be.
So would it make good business sense for you to start selling online? Well, let’s look at the maths.
Start-up costs for an ecommerce website can be broken down as follows:
If you don't already have a website then you will need your own domain name (i.e. website address such as www.greenwidgets.co.uk). This is a minor cost of just £5 to £10 a year.
Building your website.
You can do this yourself if you have the time and expertise. Alternatively you can commission a website to be built for you, which, thanks to modern website building tools, is far less expensive than it used to be. For example, assuming a modest number of products, our charges for building and publishing your ecommerce website could be just £400.
Website hosting and online editing facilities.
To accept payments online you will require secure ecommerce website hosting linked to a payment gateway service. Expect to pay about £25 a month for the secure ecommerce website hosting, which also includes online website editing facilities for updating the website and products.
For processing online payments then one of the easiest and most popular payment gateways to use is PayPal. It costs nothing to set up a PayPal account, and you only get charged as you sell, with PayPal currently deducting 20p plus a percentage of each transaction value, ranging from 3.4% to 1.9% depending upon turnover.
So working out whether it makes financial sense to have an ecommerce website is quite simple really. Assume a one-off website build cost of £400 and an annual ecommerce hosting cost of about £25 per month (£300 per year) then you’ve only got to sell goods or services yielding a nett profit of over £700 in year one to cover your costs. From year 2 onwards you’ve just got the hosting and PayPal costs to cover, so any sales that generate roughly more than £25 profit a month mean that you should be quids in!
And don't forget that you also end up with all the benefits of having your own website, which most consumers expect any respectable business to have in place these days to provide credibility to potential customers.
I’m still amazed at how many websites I come across that have serious usability flaws. I often say that there is only one thing worse than having no website at all – and that is having a “bad” website.
So if you have a website (or are thinking of getting one) make sure you that your visitors stay and look around by following these 5 key principles.
1. Make sure people can read your text easily!! Don’t go crazy with different styles of text and a range of colours. First and foremost make sure that there is good contrast between the text and the background and use an easy to read font style and size. For most websites a dark coloured font on a white or pale background is the way to go. Your website is not there to win artistic awards – it is designed to engage your visitors.
2. Make it immediately clear to your visitors that they are on the correct website. Make sure your name (or brand or organisation) clearly stands out. Repeat it in the header and footer of all web pages.
3. Don’t hit your visitors with masses of text at the beginning – make your Home page a signpost to more detailed content, and provide images or buttons as links to other, more detailed content.
4. Make sure your navigation system is clear and logical. As well as providing a full menu system, provide plenty of other ways to allow your visitors to move between content, such as buttons, images or text links.
5. Make sure your website works equally well for visitors using mobile devices such as phones and tablet computers. Google provide a free checking tool that allows you to check how “mobile-friendly” your website is rated. Remember, more and more people are now using mobile devices to surf the web.
There are obviously many more things that go into making a website “user-friendly” but if you make sure that your website has the above basics covered at the very least, then you are off to a great start.
You can find more suggestions here:
Here are the answers to a few of the common questions I get asked by people thinking of replacing their website with a brand new updated design.
How long will it take to replace my existing website?
The two things that affect the time-scale the most are the size of the website and how quickly you are able to provide us with the details of your requirements and approve changes. A small website can be replaced within hours.
Can I keep my current website address or can I have a new one?
The choice is yours. We will initially develop your new website at a temporary website address (for your eyes only). When you decide it is ready to replace your existing website we do the technical stuff so that your new website replaces your old one seamlessly.
You can also take the opportunity to have a brand new website address if you wish. We normally then set things up so that any traffic going to your old website address is automatically diverted to your new one.
Can I use all or some of my existing content on the replacement website?
Yes. We can re-use any text, images and graphics that you wish to keep. We can also source new images and re-write your copy if required. Alternatively totally new images and text can be incorporated.
Can I keep my existing email address?
Yes, if you want to. We will advise you on best practice with regards to email addresses. If you decide to change to a brand new website address then we can advise on the best plan with regards to handling old and new email addresses.
Once completed, will I be able to update my replacement website myself?
Yes. We will use a simple but powerful online website builder or CMS (Content Management System) to create your replacement website. This means that you will be able to edit and update your website yourself instantly at any time, using any computer, tablet or mobile phone with internet access. We can provide training should it be required.
We can also carry out future updates for you at a very economical cost. We supply a detailed time-log of time spent (to the minute), and we provide this very affordable service to many existing customers.
Will my new website improve my search ranking on Google?
Most likely. All our websites are optimised as standard for search engines. If your current website is not mobile-friendly then it is almost certainly being penalised by Google in terms of its search rankings. Your new website will be mobile-friendly and meet modern standards.
Will I get access to detailed site visitor statistics?
Yes. A free Google Analytics account will be integrated into your replacement website and you will be provided with simple instructions on how to access your detailed site visitor statistics, including number of visits, web pages visited, how long was spent on each page, geographical location of site visitors, how people found your website and much more!
Can I link my new website to my social media accounts?
Yes. We will incorporate links to any social media sites that you have such as Facebook and Twitter.
I’ve lost touch with my previous designer - is this a problem?
Normally not. We can check the status of your existing domain and associated services and make sure that everything is correctly set-up and registered in your name.
Get a quote >
If your business serves customers in a specific geographical area then it makes good sense to set-up a free Google My Business page. We do this as standard for all our customers.
Google My Business complements your existing website by giving your business a public identity and presence with a listing on Google. The information that you provide about your business can appear on Google Search, Maps and Google+.
You can find out more here: http://www.google.co.uk/business/
Having now completed several websites for Yoga teachers we are very keen to add to our portfolio.
During October 2016, therefore, we are running an offer especially for Yoga teachers.
I get asked lots of questions about creating websites so this year I'll be sharing the answers to the questions that apply to the majority of small businesses and organisations.
A question I am regularly asked is:
“I am trying to choose a website address for my business or group – what advice can you give me?”
Here are my top 6 tips:
1. Your website address (i.e. your domain name) must be unique - you cannot register a domain name that is already registered to someone else. You should also be very careful about choosing one that might infringe existing trademarks.
2. Make it as short as possible - the top websites have short domain names e.g. Amazon, Google, Facebook, EBay, BBC.
3. Make it easy to spell and remember. This will help people spread the word more easily. Avoid words that are often misspelt. Keep it simple and don’t use hyphens.
4. If your business or organisation is already established then choose a name that is as close to your existing name as possible e.g. A good website address for ABC Doors Ltd would be www.abcdoors.co.uk.
5. The majority of website addresses end in .co.uk or .com. Use a .co.uk if your business activity is restricted to the UK. A .com is more suited for international websites. Only use a less common extension (such as .org) if there is a very good reason.
6. Choose a domain name that ties in with what your business is about. If your business specialises in supplying rare widgets throughout Europe then www.rarewidgets.com would be a good website address.
If you would like more detailed help or advice about choosing a website address just drop us an email and I’ll suggest some specific ideas and check their availability.
If you want to ask a question about getting a new website or updating an existing one then you can submit your question here.
We are supporting this year's national Small Business Saturday event by offering a 20% discount on our website design services during the whole of December 2015.
If you are an individual, business, agency or organisation that comes into contact with sole traders and small businesses then why not spread the word about our acclaimed services and earn funds for yourself or your organisation at the same time?
If you are know of any individuals, small businesses or organisations that could benefit from a new website (or need help with an existing one) then you can not only help them to get a great website - you can earn revenue too.
You will receive an agreed percentage of sales value.
Once registered, you will be given access to the Agent's section of our website, where you can provide us with the details of potential customers that you would suggest we contact.
Learn more at www.martbarrett.co.uk/agent-login.html
Just like last December, we are offering a great discount off your brand new website during December 2014.
This offer is only available for a short time, so download your voucher today from www.martbarrett.co.uk/december-2014-discount-offer.html
Now you can have a great website for far less than you could imagine.
A lot of new content has been added to www.martbarrett.co.uk. And if you are really clever you should be able to find the details of our great August 2014 discount offer. So NOW is the perfect time to grab yourself a fantastic looking website at an amazing price. www.martbarrett.co.uk
According to the BBC news yesterday 16,000 new businesses were started in Birmingham alone last year.
You can bet your bottom dollar that many of them will have a website as a matter of course.
If YOUR new business doesn't have a website then the competition has one over on you.
Get yours sorted NOW - it will be the best investment you will ever make.
Request an information pack at www.martbarrett.co.uk
Well, having spent the last month creating a website for a Herefordshire based catering business, I'm ravenous!
Have a look at their tasty treats at www.cwmclydcatering.co.uk
Today we have launched our Small Business Website starter package. Your very own website created for you and published for just £250.
An absolute must for any business or organisation that for whatever reason still has no website of its own. No computer or technical skills required, we'll do it all for you within a matter of days.
Get the ball rolling TODAY by requesting an information pack online at www.martbarrett.co.uk/starter-package.html
Isn't it strange? Every new business starting in 2014 will regard having a website as a MUST. They will see it (quite correctly) just as essential to them as having a business name and a phone.
And yet there are still many existing businesses and organisations that DO NOT have a website. By missing out on the single most cost-effective tool in the marketing and customer relations battle they are risking being usurped by the new competition. Complacency means the new boys on the block will be on your tail.
Get it sorted! Today if possible. Get a quote and a dummy site put together at www.martbarrett.co.uk/website-creation.html
When you have your own website you will have to choose your domain name (the bit after the www. in your web address). There are lots of things to consider when deciding on your domain name.
For now, though, a quick word of warning – some people have made huge mistakes (with hilarious results) by choosing unfortunate web addresses. You will find some funny examples at www.slurls.com (Warning. Some may offend!).
I have just been talking to one of my customers about their website and found they were missing a simple but very effective way of promoting their website.
Today's tip is this: Always make sure that EVERY email that you send includes YOUR website address in the signature. By typing in your website address (e.g. www.martbarrett.co.uk) underneath your name, the recipient can easily visit your website by simply clicking on this link.
Another great benefit is that should any recipient of your emails forward them on to someone else, the link to your website is likely to go with it. This is a simple way of getting your website address more widely known. Never miss an opportunity to get your website address in print!