Guide

Create an online shop

Set up a basic online shop

The requirements for building a basic online shop are fairly straightforward. A simple setup allows you to sell a small range of products, providing photos, descriptions and prices as well as accept orders online.

A basic site is low cost and easy to create for a limited product range. However, be aware that the design and functionality may be restricted and it may be less secure than other more sophisticated options.

Equipment and facilities

The equipment and facilities you'll need include a computer, internet access, email, a website and hosting services. Having a firewall as part of your IT security will prevent unauthorised access to your website. A firewall is sometimes included as part of your operating system. See protect your business online

Hosting

You will need a hosting package for your shop. There are many website hosting options and e-commerce web-hosting specialists. It's worth shopping around for the best deal. While this service is not necessarily expensive, you tend to get what you pay for. It's important to study the service level agreement and the type of technical support on offer. You should be looking for round-the-clock support.

Ordering and payment systems

Most customers shopping online will want to pay by debit or credit card. You can create electronic mail-order forms, using one of the various web authoring software packages on the market.

These order forms let customers email their orders to be processed offline. If you already have a website, software can add e-commerce functionality. Some companies offer this free, on the condition that they receive a cut of future transactions.

If you want to accept card payments online, you will need to invest in a more sophisticated online shop. See accepting online payments.