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The 2018 Guide to Starting an Online Store in Wales

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With the ecommerce industry in the UK worth an estimated £133 billion, it’s clear that online ventures can be extremely lucrative. But how do you go about setting up shop online yourself? Whether you’re an established retail business looking to make the transition online, or you’re a budding entrepreneur wanting to get started in ecommerce, this article is for you.

Are you a budding entrepreneur based in Cardiff? Take a look at this great funding opportunity that could help you get your business off the ground.

Find the perfect product niche

If you’re not already established, but you’d like to set up an online store, you need to make sure that your product offering is going to appeal to your target audience.

There are a number of ways that you can do this, but a good place to start is to try and understand your target audience. What products or services would positively impact their day-to-day lives? What products can you provide that would fill a gap in the market?

To answer these questions, you need to create a set of buyer personas by carrying out detailed research into the lives of your target audience. Learning about their age bracket, purchasing habits, desires, education level, and pain points will help you get to the crux of what products will appeal to them. If your existing product idea suits – great! If not, perhaps you should go back to the drawing board and come up with some fresh ideas.

Here are some ways to scratch beneath the surface of your target audience’s purchasing habits:

  • Conducting research on Quora, the question site
  • Carrying out quantitative keyword research to find out what they are searching for. io and Google Keyword Planner are two great places to start
  • Scouring the pages of niche relevant blogs and forums for opinions, insight and product reviews

If you’re feeling a sense of national pride, why not specialise in traditional Welsh produce? The key is to offer something a little bit different, and stocking Welsh-made goods such as woollen products, traditional Welsh cider, or artisan cheese online presents a great niche opportunity.

Consider the dropshipping model

The staggering growth of online shopping has led to an increased demand for storage capacity in the UK, and this has left many businesses stumped for how to best manage their ecommerce stores.

If you’re hoping to overcome this obstacle, or perhaps expand your existing product range with minimal required investment, you should consider using the dropshipping business model for your online venture.

Dropshipping involves an arrangement between business and manufacturer, whereby the product is sold through an online store, but shipped and fulfilled by the manufacturer directly. In other words, the online merchant does not need to worry about stocking inventory – or renting storage space. One of the best ways to operate this business model would be by setting up an online store with an ecommerce builder that can integrate directly with a dropshipping solution.

Take a look at this guide on some of the market leading dropshipping integrations that can help automate and growth-hack your business.

The verdict is in, and content is king

Content marketing is one of the best long-term marketing strategies out there right now for any budding online entrepreneur. If you want your online store to be a success, you should devise a cracking content strategy. Here’s why:

  • It attracts new traffic to your site and more footfall to your physical store or office. The aim of content marketing is to raise the visibility of your brand in search engines and other advertising channels
  • It builds your brand’s reputation, making a name for your business and increasing the chances that you will be recognised and returned to. It also encourages a sense of trust and faith in your brand by providing authoritative, informative and entertaining content on your website or physical marketing channels
  • Content marketing can have a really great influence on your customer’s journey through the conversion funnel. Well-written content, targeted to engage with your audience at each stage (from awareness to the action) can encourage them to make a confident sale. For example, if your customer visits your store with a broken case, and your content shows them the available products on the market with their specifications, you will be more likely to make a sale
  • Putting time into creating a content calendar can help your map your content strategy out for the long-term, well into 2018. It is useful to take this approach to make the most of public holidays, national events and seasons that may offer a chance to engage with your audience in unique ways. For example, if you’re a jewellery retailer, you might wish to take advantage of increased exposure and conversions on Valentine’s Day

The beauty of content marketing is that it can encompass any kind of online and offline content, from social media to billboards. It is your chance to develop your brand voice, inject personality into it, and convey your brand’s message. It is one of the most important tools in your sales arsenal.

Pro tip: For best results when conjuring your content strategy, ensure that you use a consistent brand voice across all channels. This way, your communications will appear more recognisable and trustworthy.

Make the most of social media marketing

credit: hobos cardiff

Whether you’re a vintage clothes retailer in Cardiff, or a shop selling home-made jams in Rhondda Valley, social media will open your online store up to new, targeted audiences. Online social selling is a potentially low-budget way for new Welsh businesses to make their mark and share their brand story and personality effectively.

To get the most out of your social media budget, you should return to your buyer personas – a vital and useful part of any online business plan. This way, you can ensure that you know where and how your customers spend their time online, and you can make your brand visible in the right places. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Which social networks do they use, and what kind of content do they engage with?
  • Do they prefer written content on Twitter/Facebook or visual content on Instagram?
  • What time of day are they most active?

This information is the key to success on social media. The most important thing about your social media strategy is to constantly measure the engagement levels of your posts and alter your course accordingly. Check out third party tools like BuzzSumo to get some cross-network data on how you’re doing. Your social strategy should be backed up by other digital strategies like content marketing, influencer outreach, and digital PR.

From finding a product that will sell to crafting a content strategy, this guide will ensure that you are well-advised to go away and set up your own online store in Wales. If you need to expand your product range or want to get up and running on a budget, dropshipping could be the business model for you.

Victoria Greene: Brand Marketing Consultant

My work is a labor of love: I get to collaborate with inspiring people and businesses from around the world. I help set them on the road to success by producing effective content marketing and social media strategies.