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Online & Technology - Build a website for your business

BRM Editor Siobhan Godwood explains the basics of building a website for your business

If you don’t already have an online arm to your retailing business, there are several questions you may be asking yourself: the main two being ‘why should I?’ and ‘how do I start?’. In this introduction to taking your business online, we answer these questions, and explain some of the more commonly-used jargon and technical terms.

Why you should get online

Retailers can’t sensibly ignore the lack of growth through their shop door while online selling rages ever upwards.

Now that consumers can easily shop on their phones and tablets, researching and shopping on the move is becoming more and common. The newest generation of consumer is one that has grown up with mobile technology, and often considers buying online as a first option, before they think about physically going into a shop to buy something.

UK sales made online accounted for 11.7% of all retail sales made in March 2015. These sales showed an increase of 10.3% compared with the same period in March 2014. The stats for the whole of 2014 haven’t been released yet, but e-commerce sales represented 20% of all business turnover in 2013. Retail industry website sales had a value of £28.7 billion, and the UK is currently ranked first in Europe for e-commerce sales by value.

The good news for our industry is that health and beauty is the third largest sector for online sales after clothing and alcohol; although this is obviously a huge sector that includes mainstream junk alongside the quality natural products that independent healthy retailers want to sell. So if you are serious about staying in business long term as a retailer, developing an online shop makes a lot of sense.

Domain name

While you’re thinking about whether you really want to open an online store or not, it’s well worth purchasing a domain name to protect your current brand, or any other future brand ideas you might have. A domain name is the name by which your company will be represented on the internet and must be registered with an authorised body. The most common way of doing this is by registering the domain name with a hosting provider – more information on this below.

One potential problem is that someone has already registered your choice of name. This can be negotiated fairly easily with the addition of a hyphen or changing the spelling slightly, but you may have to compromise and choose a different name.

One big risk is checking out the name’s availability and then leaving the hosting site without registering it. This gives others the opportunity to buy the name that you have researched and then try to sell it back to you at an inflated cost. There are always organisations that will try to do this, and if you really want the name you may feel that it’s worth the extra cost; but consider carefully how valuable the name is, as the prices can often be prohibitively high.

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