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If your business usually relies on foot traffic, you may be finding yourself in a tough spot in the current business environment due to COVID-19 and social distancing that  has forced closure of hospitality, leisure and retail businesses.

Jessie Caldwell, digital marketing and events specialist at EKM, offers helpful tips to move your business online and help keep it open during the current circumstances.

If your business hasn’t made an effort to build an online brand in the past, it’s not too late. In fact, if you are a business who can offer local delivery, your customers will embrace the opportunity to have your products delivered to their doorstep.

If you are unfamiliar with the world of ecommerce, read on to discover how you can get your business online and in front of your customers today!

Step 1: Choose a platform to sell your products

In the past, businesses would have to hire a web designer and purchase a server to host their website. This process was expensive and technical and scared a lot of self professed technophobes away. Nowadays, there are many different hosted ecommerce platforms available that do the hard and technical parts for you, leaving you to do what you do best – run your business!

There are a number of different platforms to choose from, with the main ones for the UK market being EKM, Obodo, Shopify, BigCommerce, Wix, and WooCommerce. Which one is right for your business will depend on your individual business needs.

Step 2: Buy a domain name

A domain name is a website’s name or address (or as my nan calls it, the ‘.com’). You can purchase a domain name through your chosen platform, or you can buy one from a platform like GoDaddy, Namecheap, or 123-reg. You’ll want to make sure your domain name reflects your business name, as this is how your customers will find you.

Step 3: Create and customise your shop

Once you’ve signed up for your online shop, you’ll get to delve into customising your online brand.

Most hosting sites will allow you to choose from a host of different themes. The theme will serve as the structure of your shop where you can add your own branding and images. Ensure that whichever platform you choose has themes that are mobile friendly or mobile optimised. This means that your customers will easily be able to shop from their tablet or mobile phone.

You’ll want to feature your logo on your website. If you don’t have a logo already there are a lot of free websites to help you build one, like Canva and Logomakr. Some ecommerce platforms like Obodo and EKM allow you to build a logo straight from their site.

Don’t forget to create or update an ‘About Us’ page and include relevant contact and delivery information. You’ll also need to draft a terms and conditions page, there are plenty of templates for this available online, or you can likely use one provided by your platform.

Step 4: Add a payment method

In order to take money from your new online shop, you’ll need to add a payment method. There are many to choose from, and your ecommerce platform should be able to guide you as to what is most appropriate for your business and help you get these setup on  your website.

Step 5: Upload your products

When uploading your products you’ll first want to consider how you want to organise them with categories and subcategories. Once you’ve created your categories, you can then start adding the products into the right places.

Product images are perhaps one of the most important things that you’ll include on your website. These help your customers to know what they are buying and find new products that they like the look of. If you don’t have these photos from the manufacturer, you should take your own.

Step 6: Connecting your social media channels

Before your site goes live you’ll want to add your social media accounts to your new website. Be sure to also add your new website into the description of your social media profiles so that your followers will be able to shop at your new website.

But don’t stop there! Create a few posts to announce to your followers that you’re now online! You can even entice them with a special offer to get those orders rolling in.

So, get started! 

Based in Preston, EKM is one of UK’s largest online shop providers. It recently launched a new platform Obodo, a free ecommerce solution designed to provide a quick and simple way for high street businesses to get online and serve customers in their local area. Obodo is ideal for businesses looking to offer local delivery or click & collect services particularly during the coronavirus lockdown.

EKM is a member of Boost & Co – a group of public and private sector organisations that can help Lancashire businesses grow.

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