What is eCommerce? How to Start Selling Online

eCommerce - or ‘electronic commerce’ - simply means buying and selling via the internet. It includes every type of online buying and selling including via your own website, a site that hosts independent traders like Etsy as well as eCommerce focused big businesses like Amazon.

Thanks to simple-to-use technology, it’s incredibly easy to set up an online shop and start selling in just a few clicks.

eCommerce in the UK

Internet sales have been rising since 2006 and saw massive growth during 2020 when most shops and physical businesses were forced to close due to COVID-19 lockdowns. At the beginning of 2021, internet sales accounted for more than 30% of all retail sales in Britain.

In 2018, 97% of consumers made at least one online purchase, so eCommerce opportunities for businesses have never looked so good.

How to start selling online

Starting to sell online is incredibly quick and easy.

You can:

  • set up a dedicated online store and start taking orders immediately
  • add an online payments tool to your existing website (there are options that don’t require any coding knowledge)
  • create pay links, pay buttons and QR codes to share with customers however you wish, including via email and, in the case of QR codes, on printed materials like leaflets
  • sell on social media by inserting payment and booking links to posts.

How to enjoy eCommerce success

eCommerce success stories don’t get bigger than Amazon, which saw sales increase by 51% in 2020.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has said the success is down to the company’s constant innovations, such as being a pioneer of customer reviews.

One of the fundamental things Amazon does is to ensure its technology works well, making it easy for customers to shop.

For eCommerce success you need to:

  • make ordering easy
  • offer delivery (or click and collect) that suits the customer
  • engage with shoppers wherever they are – such as with online checkout links on social media
  • ensure customers can shop on all kinds of device, including phone, tablets and computers.

The Benefits of eCommerce for your Business

Benefits of eCommerce include:

  • Online stores are always open – customers can shop when they feel like it and you won’t miss a sale

  • New opportunities for your business to benefit from impulse sales

  • Bringing your business to new and more customers because they:

    • can find you when searching for products and services you offer as well as via your brand
    • don’t need to live close to your physical outlet
    • can be targeted via online advertising
    • become engaged with your brand via communities such as social media and then make a purchase.

Combining an online shop with a physical outlet

The choice for businesses isn’t simply should we be ‘online or offline’. With the rise of online shopping, brands have found new ways to combine the two and make the most of all their shopping channels.

We call this omnichannel, that is, having a physical location and an online presence that let you extend your customer reach pretty much without limit.

An online shop lets you find customers beyond the geographic location of a physical outlet and connect to customers whenever they are on the web, including social media.

A physical location gives you a reassuring presence, somewhere for more traditionally minded customers to shop and ways to connect with them face-to-face. With these two powerful assets, you’ll be able to offer key omnichannel services such as ‘click and collect’ and deliver a seamless shopping experience.

Set Up a Free Online Store

With Square you can easily set up a free online store

How to get your eCommerce Business Started with Square

Square Online provides a range of solutions to get you selling online fast, without advanced technical skills.

Get started with eCommerce, by signing up to Square. Clicking through to Square Online then navigate the simple dashboard to select what works best for your business. It’s fast and free.

The benefits of Square Online Store

You can set up a free online store with Square. There’s no need to know website coding to create a professional website via Square Online Store. Just select the blocks you want and publish, to start making sales fast. It’ll work perfectly on desktop, tablets and mobile phones. You can also sell via social media including Facebook and Instagram. Do it all for zero monthly fee and pay only when you make a sale or upgrade to a subscription for advance features.

Square Online offers a tailored experience for different industries to make it even easier to create online stores that work for you and your customers. Square Online Retail allows you to auto import items from your Square point-of-sale system, include multiple products photos and easily show variants like different colours and sizes.

For developers

If developing sites for users is nothing new to you, then Square still has the perfect solution for your eCommerce needs. Square Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and Square Checkout let developers accept Square payments from their own websites, while still enjoying the same convenience (fast deposits, reporting) and security (PCI compliance) as the above integrations.

eCommerce and social media

Make all the places that you engage with your customers an eCommerce opportunity with pay links and buttons. Simply insert the button or link on emails, social posts or newsletters. There’s no need to upgrade your website or even to have one with Square Online Checkout.

There is massive opportunity online, whatever your business, and the technology is now easier than ever to access and use. Get started with Square Online and see what you can achieve.

7 Great eCommerce solutions
5 Tips for eCcommerce Businesses
Omnichannel Marketing: The Ultimate Guide for Retailers