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How to start an online business

How to start an online business

Interested in launching an online business but unsure of where to begin? Here are some tips to help you get started.

Like starting any business, building an online enterprise involves planning, making financial decisions and meeting legal compliance. There are also some considerations which are unique to the online world. Here are some key points to have front of mind at each stage of building your business.

Start-up phase 

Create a business plan and digital strategy. These two key documents can help you set goals, shape your business, track progress and communicate your aims and objectives to others. Find out more on how to develop a business plan and digital strategy.

Setting up shop

A website that is well designed and easy for customers to use will help your business stand out. Look at other examples of online shops and think about how you want to display your products as well as how you want the shopping experience to feel.

Depending on what type of online store you want to create, you may be able to buy a web hosting package and set up your shop yourself. If you want something more individual and greater control, you can also discuss your options to build a site from scratch with a web developer.

Decide on a domain name that reflects what you do and will also make you easy for customers to find through search engines as well as remember. To register your domain name, you’ll need to find an accredited registrar and pay a fee.

When it comes to design, make sure your site can be easily used on smartphones and other mobile devices. Optimising your website for mobile use means that you can tap in to the growing number of people using phones and tablets to shop.

Things to make sure you include

With so many online stores these days, customers have high expectations of what they want from websites and how they want to shop. Here are some things you’ll need to have:

  • A product list or catalogue
  • A tool for selecting products (often called a shopping cart or basket)
  • An ordering and payment tool

You need to give your customers clear information on ordering, shipping and prices. They’ll be interested in refunds, warranties and returns policies, and be sure to provide them with information on your privacy and security policies. Find out more about protecting privacy and information.

The same laws apply to online selling as they do to traditional selling methods. Make sure you’re familiar with the laws outlined in the Fair Trading Act before launching.

Displaying your registered company name and Australian business number (ABN) prominently ensures your potential customers will be confident that you’re a legitimate business.

Think beyond selling

Having relevant and appropriate content and images will help customers understand your products and services. Many online stores also have their own blog to help engage shoppers further and create a deeper connection with their audience.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is another large part of doing business online. Consider creating an SEO strategy so that you can increase the number of people visiting your page.

This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. It does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as financial product advice. You should consider seeking independent financial advice before making any decision based on this information.