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What to consider when starting an online shop

Starting an online shop

Starting an online shop has never been easier. That’s a fact. But however tempting it is to plough straight in, you still need to make some smart decisions up front.

Although you may want to start simple, scaling these things once you get started requires some, well… answers from the future. No, this doesn’t require The DeLorean for a research trip. Instead, just think about it. Properly. Your future self will thank you for it.

So, to help you, below are the main questions we ask anyone looking to start in e-commerce.

Your products

  1. Do you expect to make sales occasionally, or regularly?
  2. Will they be tangible or intangible products?
  3. Will you have any downloadable products?
  4. Will you offer any subscription products?

Shopping functionality

  1. Will you offer options or variations within each product? (e.g choose a colour)
  2. Would you want to be able to suggest related products?
  3. Will you need categories of products, or just one big category?
  4. Will you ever want to give special offers or discounts?
  5. Do you want customers to create an account, or just be able to do one-off purchases?


  1. How do you want to accept payments? PayPal is the simplest as it doesn’t require a credit check
  2. Do you need multi currency support, or just Sterling?
  3. Do you need local tax support? e.g will you accept non-EU customers where VAT doesn’t apply?


  1. Will you charge for delivery?
  2. How will you deliver? UK or international? You will need to be able to calculate delivery cost to each country according to weight and size, if you offer this.

Reporting and other functionalities

  1. Do you need the e-commerce system to be linked to any other systems? e.g an accounting package
  2. Do you need to be able to control and track your stock levels through the website?
  3. Would there be any orders that you will only partially fulfil?
  4. Will the website need to generate invoices/paperwork or will this happen offline, manually?

These questions are basically asking you to look beyond your immediate need to just get selling and give us guidance. That way we can quickly give the right suggestions for you.

There are so many layers of functionality possible with online shops, but you don’t necessarily need them all and just need to decide what’s essential. You can easily start small and scale later if the proper decisions are made now.

If you’re looking to start a shop, give these questions a try and then get in touch. We’ll have you up and running in no time.

Want some help with this? Ask us for a quote ›

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