Ultimate ECommerce guide for your business

In this guide we go through all the things you will need to know about, questions you will need to ask your web services provider, and questions your web services provider will ask you.

We have created this guide from our experiences with clients around the UK, over the years.

Along with a range of other web solutions, making sure that you have reliable and affordable IT support is vital.

Our Ecommerce guide has advice from our IT team on how to select and purchase the best ecommerce solutions for your business needs and budget.

Guide Contents:


Defining your ecommerce requirements


Allocating your ecommerce budget


Website Design and Development


Payment Gateways


Suppliers and Fulfillment


Ongoing Maintenance


HelpDesk Heres Ecommerce Solutions

Let’s begin!

Have a cup of tea and get comfortable. This IT guide includes everything. You may even want to bookmark it for future reference!.


Some of the latest stats about Ecommerce


These days there are lots of options, when it comes to setting up an ecommerce business. Whether you are selling physical products that you source or make yoruself, dropshipping or sellling a service.

According to the ONS, 92% of the population of the UK uses internet or has internet access, Most people use the internet for work, social media and shopping.

So, if you want to sell anything online you need to use an eCommerce platform. Whether it is a physical product or digital download. Your eCommerce platform is basically your store management software for your online shop. Each platform has varying features including managing your inventory, collecting online payments, managing shipping or delivery of your product.

These platforms make setting up your business as easy as possible and offer features that can be easily managed without a huge development team. With so many to choose from it can be a little overwhelming knowing where to start.

Evaluating your ecommerce business

Determining your business requirements and ecommerce needs is the first step in your plan.

This will help in the process and procedures when it comes time to design and develop your website.

As a small business whether you are just starting out or you already have an online shop, having a great website which is optimised and delivering results is vital.

Important questions you will be asked by your IT provider

  • Do you create your products or do you have a 3rd party supplier?
  • How many products do you estimate you will be selling
  • Will you have international customers?
  • What features do you want?
  • What kind of data will you/ are you handling?
  • What about maintenance? will you be updating it yourself?

3rd party apps vs ecommerce platform, which is better?

Ecommerce platforms are software created to design your own shop under your rules and branding. These are designed to work together with your website and can be easily implemented. Popular examples of these are WooComerce, Shopify or Magento.

3rd party apps on the other hand, are websites where you can sell your products by paying a fee. In this case you won’t have control of branding nor rules, but you will get still a way to display your products or services. Popular examples are Amazon or eBay.

Both are great but it will depend on your needs or desires.

An ecommerce platform requires more effort and constancy than a 3rd party app. For an ecommerce platform you have to pay special attention to design, marketing and optimization in order to get sales.

The good part is that all sales will be under your brand name.

On the other hand, 3rd party marketplaces requires less effort since it is just publishing a product and its description, but it could be competitive since there could be other providers selling the same product.

Else, your brand won’t be published anywhere since your product will be listed on a huge inventory.

If you are focusing in making sales, and don’t care about branding. You could start on a 3rd party market place, but if you want to build a brand, consider investing on your own ecommerce.

Having a proper budget to design and develop your ecommerce website make life so much easier. Inevitably things will take longer than hoped and you will probably want to make changes or improvement as you go along.

So it is better to be fully prepared, plan and allocate your budget from the start.

A common question is always How much does a website cost?

You can read more about this on our blog post. You will need to factor in the hosting, design and maintenance.

Once you have chosen what type of ecommerce business model you will be using. Selling your own products vs dropshipping, or B2b vs B2C.

For example, if you are selling your own physical products, then you will need to have photos ready to use. Will you need to hire a photographer?

There are things to consider, in addition to standard domain and webhosting costs.

Make a note of the transaction fees each platform has

Some platforms have unlimited data – how much do you need?

For example, if you have a shop selling mulitple products, someone needs to be uploading the images adding the text.

What if you decide to have a blog? How many articles are you going to post each month? This can quickly become a time consuming effort keeping it consistent.

Then there is social media and online marketing.

In addition, if you are selling your own physical products, then you will need to have photos ready to use. Will you need to hire a photographer?

Once you have a plan and a budget for it, you can start to think in which ecommerce platform you are going to choose. And who is going to actually create your website.

Choosing your Platform

If you're starting an online store and have no experience with ecommerce platforms, the process can be overwhelming. There are plenty of platforms to choose from. Some of the most popular e-commerce platforms in the market today are Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, WooCommerce, Wix, Big Cartel, Squarespace, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, and Volusion.

But which is the best for your needs? To figure this out, start by understanding your goals for the store and what sort of design aesthetic you want to create. From there, compare features across different platforms and see which would be a good fit for your business.

Types of Ecommerce platforms

The main types of e-commerce platforms are SaaS (software-as-a-service) platforms, PaaS (platform-as-a-service) platforms, and on-premises platforms. SaaS and PaaS platforms both deliver the e-commerce solutions through the internet. SaaS platforms, like Shopify, involve software only. Once they add a hardware element as well, they become known as PaaS platforms.


Hosted platforms is when the platform seller also includes the hosting in their service. They will be in charge of maintaince and updates, so you can focus on designing and selling.

Platforms like Shopify, Squarespace and Wix are better for small businesses who need something easy to get them up and running. They offer drag-and-drop templates that are easy for users without much coding experience,

For larger websites Magento and BigCommerce are more tailored toward larger enterprises with high order volumes.

Read our post on 10 Factors to consider when choosing your ecommerce platform

Self hosted or non hosted

On-premise platforms allow a company to have more control over their e-commerce site and create a custom storefront solution. In this case, you will hire a third party hosting provider to host your ecommerce. In this case, you are in charge of your site performance, putting special attention to bugs fixing and updates.

This options could be more challenging (if you are considering to make it by yourself with no help) but it can be moe flexible in the long term

Outsourcing design and development

Depending on the scale of the project you may decide to hire a designer and developer to help you to achieve your vision. If you are building a more complex website, you may want to have a professional server side developer. Outsourcing a team to help with logo design, sitemap structure, page layout and SEO.

Choosing WordPress as your Ecommerce platform

If have decided to go with WordPress. It is a great options and comes with ever increasing features. While WordPress is designed to make life easy. It can still become a bit technical.

WordPress is used by over 60 million people. It is one of the best-known and most popular web publishing platforms globally. WordPress is free to use, but you do have to pay for the hosting and domain name as well as any pro themes or plugins.

One of the most popular plugins for ecommerce is Woo Commerce. Packed with features and easy to use. With it you can add products, inventories, products tags, categories discounts, calculate taxes and even deliveries. It is a great option and you can always add another plugin in case you want to add another feature to your shop.

There are endless templates and easy layout tools to help you create your page. Which is great. However if you want to integrate email forms or have online forms or products for sale. Then you may need assistance to set up and configure things correctly.

WooCommerce is free to use, but it has paid options in order to enjoy the plugin at the fullest.

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What if you want to create a custom ecommerce?

Shopify, WordPress or Magento are cool options, there’s no doubt about it. But they have something in common, they are based on templates.

Sometimes some of these templates don’t fit right with your business, right? Like it doesn’t feel ok.

On the other hand, maybe paying for a “plan” in some platforms is not worthy since you wouldn’t enjoy al the services.

That’s why a tailored custom ecommerce could be perfect for you. A custom ecommerce will be created from scratch but under your specific requirements.

This is perfect for business which are too specific or doesn’t find a good fit in a template.

How much does a custom ecommer costs?

Once again, there’s no simple answer for that. It will all depend on your business needs.

The bright side is that it could be less than you think, because it will be tailored to your requirements, so you won’t have to pay for extra features that you won’t use, never.

Custom ecommerce also let’s you expand easily, since it can be adapted as long as your business is growing.

Custom or Templates? Which is best for your business?

Remember that ecommerce platforms are based on templates, these are created this way to give simple solutions to everytone. They could be cost effective and give you great results.

Custom ecommerce can give you a full optimized website based on your unique needs and requirements. These can be more complex to develop but can be effective in the long term.

Once you have chosen your eCommerce platform, you will need a payment gateway to accept online payments on your website. Without a payment gateway you will not be able to easily complete orders and your customers will leave for an eCommerce website that has all steps fully streamlined.

Make a note of the transaction fees each platform has

Read our blog post about Payments Gateways and which one to choose

Choosing how you get paid online is important and it is good to take a good look at the options available before making your decision.


Depending on your product, you may be your own supplier. If you are creating something in your house and sending it to customers, then you do not need to worry about a third-party supplier. If you are reselling products from another company/distributor then they will become the supplier and you will need to be aware of their stock management systems and how you reflect this on your website.

Most suppliers will be able to give you a daily feed of stock levels that you can manually feed into the website some suppliers will even have integration for yourwebsite so that stock levels can be updated automatically.

The more advanced suppliers will offer ERP integration and/or XML integration to automate the sales process even more. We will explore this further in the next post.


Once your customers have made an order you will need to get it to them. If you are sending them yourself then check for your local delivery services if they offercollections and how much they are. The Post Office is always a good option as it allows a simple drop off.

Your supplier may have their own fulfilment service and once you send them the order, they will send the item directly to the customer so be sure to check with them what options they have available.

Sadly, delivery does not come free of charge (unless you drop it off yourself) so you will need to consider the price of delivery in the price of your products. Smalltip, studies show that a higher product price and free delivery is favoured over a lower product price and a separate delivery price

All website owners need to focus on SEO. This includes on page, off page and technical SEO.

Some platforms offer more advanced SEO options than others. Volusion, Big Commerce and WooCommerce have great SEO benefits.

“Woocommerce is great for SEO, which is definitely something to consider when starting your shop and working to connect with customers. We probably use this platform the most for our clients”

Shopify for example, is great for blogging but does have some limitations. Not being able to edit your robots.txt files or change your URLs can be a bit limiting for some businesses.

SERP is short for Search Engine Results Page. SERP is a term from the SEO world and is usually used in connection how your blog ranks in the Google search results.

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You must have an SLL certificate on your ecommerce website. This offers some security benefits and also is preferred by goolgle, who will rank higher sites with one than without.

If you are not sure, read our Essential guide to SSL Certificates on our blog

Ongoing website management Once your website is live, you will have to ensure that you understand your continuing maintenance tasks. Keep in mind that software will need to be updated, backups made, security scanning and hosting will need to be managed.

Ecommerce replatforming is the term used when you move to a new ecommerce platform. There may be all sorts of different reasons to do this. Maybe you have outgrown your original store, need increased functionality and more features.

We work with all eCommerce platforms used to build your online shop. Whether you need to create a shop for your small business or a large online store with ongoing development. Each platform has varying features including managing your inventory, collecting online payments, managing shipping or delivery of your product. We can get your online shop up and running quickly. We make sure your specific requirements are met and work to future-proof your business.


Ecommerce Solutions UK

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