Want to build your brand and business online? Aspire to be the next online success like The Iconic, Temple & Webster, Kogan and Shoes of Prey? Dream of optimising your time, minimising operational costs, converting browsers and boosting sales?

Online Shop

Now is the time to build a successful online business from set-up through to the day-to-day operations. The good news is, it’s never been easier to set up shop online. The bad news is, the sales don’t just start streaming in. You need to know the smarts and here are a few tips to help you on your journey.

1. Have you got the basics right?

Your core fundamentals need to be right before you start your online journey. Have you…

  • Stalked your customer? Before you invest you need to understand your customers’ buying journey and then uniquely meet (aim is to exceed) their expectations. Understand your customers’ behaviours online vs. instore and tailor the online experience to complement your other channels.

  • Got a plan? Create a business plan to get your thoughts down but don’t let this hold you back. Know your ‘why’ and purpose. Who’s your target, where are they engaging, your message, your market and what your competitors are doing. Also register your domain name as quickly as possible as you don’t want to miss out.

  • Tested your product? Have you tested the waters through low-commitment channels? Sold on eBay, Gumtree, at markets or on social media? Is there a need for your product and is the price right?

  • Invested the time in research? Research the off-the shelf packages, ecommerce tools, effective marketing tools, the finance fundamentals, shipping, payment gateways, your competitors and how you can improve the customer experience. Knowledge is king.

  • Thought about your why? People connect with people. Why have you created your product? What problem are you trying to solve? How can you add value to your customer and what makes you unique? Only then can you make rich, engaging content that will drive people to your site and keep them coming back.


Know your customers’ purchasing behaviour, understand your product’s unique features and your why.

Only then can you create a shopfront that has an amazing customer experience online.

2. Choosing the right platform

Ask yourself:

  • How much cash do you have to invest in your website and ecommerce platform?

  • Have you got any technical ability beyond basic coding?

  • How much time do you have to go to market?

  • What is the most effective use of your time?

With my last two businesses, I was aware of what my skills were and were not; I am not a graphic designer, I am definitely not a developer or coder, and I was 100% bootstrapped. I used a combination of talented designers, off-the shelf packages and with my minimal coding efforts created both www.hillsandwest.com and www.digitalandagile.com.  Both sites had different purposes, not essentially different audiences, but the functionality and content requirements were very different and this played a big part in my decision-making.

Research is essential before you start. I would recommend understanding;

  • Less sophisticated e-commerce tools such as Wix, SquareSpace and Weebly if you are not considering building a very advanced ecommerce website, or selling many products.

  • Off-the-shelf ecommerce shop fronts like Shopify, BigCommerce and Magento for more advanced solutions.

  • Established marketplaces such as Etsy, eBay and Red Bubble.

  • Sourcing and managing stock – consignment, dropshop and holding stock.

  • Ecommerce/payments facilities such as PayPal, stripe, GoogleWallet, WePay, Dwolla.

  • Automation and how these solutions can streamline your operations, such as inventory management, shipping, marketing, bookkeeping, social media, etc.

  • How to optimise for mobile – make sure the solution has a mobile tailored offering.


Choose an ecommerce builder right for your business, that is flexible and has the potential to grow as you do.

3. Building a site is not enough anymore

Unfortunately, even if you do all the above to the optimum, you will still need to build your brand through various channels and use SEO and SEM smarts to get the right audiences purchasing.

Be all over:

  • Your SEO smarts – ensure the right people notice you.

  • Search engine marketing – create highly targeted, non-intrusive, action based and highly effective campaigns.

  • Social media– keep the 2-way conversation going bringing your audience valuable and engaging content. Praise endorsements and influencers.

  • Have a healthy content profile – keep your content working for you in SEO.

  • Google extensions – make sure you are using extensions where relevant.

  • Your analytics – know your stats: conversion rates, traffic sources, unique visitors, bounce rates, product performance etc.


There are no quick wins. It is the sum of multiple touch points and activities that contribute to your success.

Be all over search and your analytics, as insights inform optimisation.

4. Keep your relationship spicy

You want your customers to want to keep coming back. You need to give your customers multiple reasons to need you. Here are some of the ways you can stay front of mind:

  • Build your database – stay connected regularly.

  • Be consistent – with message relevance and frequency. This builds awareness, familiarity and trust, leading to desirability and purchase.

  • Build a dashboard – continually optimise your efforts, evolve, tailor, personalise and protect your margins.

  • Merchandising – what does your product look like online? What products is it next to? Are you making recommendations that are relevant? Know your customer and delivery them valuable recomendations.

  • Content – are you adding value with your expertise, advice and recommendations? Are you a destination for insights?

  • Serve your customer – facilitate the customer experience. Bundle products, upsell, cross sell (this goes with that; frequently bought together; you may also like) and personalise the experience. From the minute the customer touches your brand you should be offering a solution.

  • Connect – effectively connect with your consumers, on the platforms that are relevant to their consumption behaviours. If it is Facebook, have Facebook Shop.

  • Have a plan – always have a 30, 60 and 90-day plan of engagement and keeping the conversation going.


Reward, nurture, personalise, inform, recommend and delight.

Make the effort and give your customers a reason to keep coming back for more.

5. Be agile

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Launch and learn. You will never have all the answers so best to just get started (better to fail fast and get to the right solution quicker) and take your customers on your journey.


Get started and gain momentum.

Your business will constantly evolve.

Get comfortable with adapting to this change.

This is the key to your online success.