Setting up an e-commerce store has never been so easy before, yet growing a successful online business requires deeper thought and a strategic approach. Just over a year ago I decided to pursue a passion for entrepreneurship and launched an online store Lovely Tutu. London Design Studio. My business specializes in handmade top-quality baby, girl and mother fashion.
Opening an online store has been an entirely new path for me. It has been an exciting and intense learning process yet not without bottlenecks and doubts. Below, I share my insights on the process and lessons learned I experienced throughout the entrepreneurship path.
Validate your business idea and the target audience (customers). Extensive market research is key in business specification. The British Library offers access to a sophisticated global market study on sectors, customer profiles and behaviours for free. The more research, ideal validation is done at the beginning, the better our chances for quicker results and proper market targeting (resulting in savings on marketing adds).
Validate whether the domain with that name is available. This is also a good time to think about the logo and IP protection (e.g., trademarks). Check the UK IP (Intellectual Property) office website whether the name/logo you are thinking of is available. After that verification, make a final decision on the brand’s name and purchase the relevant domain. With this very moment, the journey in building business branding begins… In the cases where it is important that the brand’s name is the same as a registered company’s name, verify whether the name is still available at the Companies House’ website.
by registration at the Companies House website. It is an easy and straightforward process. Select the legal form appropriate to your business. You may want to consult with an accountant on the best suitable option.
Having a professional and customer friendly website is essential. The use of e-commerce platforms such as Shopify, WordPress or others serves as a quick and safe alternative to independent website development. After an in-depth consultation with other start-ups, I decided to build my store on the Shopify. E-commerce platforms offer tons of ready website templates and customization options for any kind of business activity. Some templates are for free, while the more sophisticated for an annual fee. Also, there may be additional costs such as a monthly subscription fee. Although adaptation of a website’s template can be done by the entrepreneur, in order to save time, I have advised to seek assistance from a “Shopify expert” who helped me choose a store template, design, plug-ins, ensure there are no broken links between the sites, SEO, etc. In the case of the Shopify, all experts are listed at the website, along with the details on their location and reviews. It is very easy to contact them, compare prices and negotiate. Also, what I like about the e-commerce platforms is that they educate customers on the essential elements of an online business, share materials on good practices and offer online support in addressing any question or issue.
Once the website is set up with all the legal terms, privacy policies, contact details etc. it’s the time for the launch! It’s a great moment, yet it’s just a start to work hard on attracting customers to the website to make a purchase… In fact, the journey starts just at this very point…
Since, now it is all about the business visibility through PR platforms, building the presence in social media, selection of most suitable marketing tools. Given the complexity of these matters and high online competition, in-depth marketing strategy makes a difference. With the lack of knowledge on how to use a variety of marketing tools offered by various online platforms, it is very easy to spend money on adds with no major results.
In my view, the role of marketing experts in designing an in-depth marketing strategy is key. Effective marketing strategy needs to be adjusted to target markets based on the analysis of hard data collected via the e-store website, google analytics, other platforms that collect data on potential customers’ profiles and behaviour. Such analysis enables understanding of the existing bottlenecks in business development and provides evidence for the design of targeted solutions.
Another point to be made is that great value in business development gives participation in a variety of events such as seminars, webinars, educational events run by business associations, business incubators, the British Library, etc. I found the Eventbrite platform as a convenient option for finding high-quality networking and educational events. Joining a business community makes a real difference in overcoming daily challenges in business development and stay inspired and motivated to take actions every day!
Iwona Borowik is an economist and an entrepreneur. For the last 12 years she has been with the World Bank advising governments from across Europe in implementing entrepreneurship and innovation programs and reforms. Last year Iwona launched an e-commerce Lovely Tutu London specialising in top-quality EU handmade baby, girl and mother fashion produced in-house by London Design Studio.@lovelytutulond1