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14 Tips to think about before opening your online shop




E-commerce has become an essential channel in the global business landscape. In Europe, we expect B2C e-commerce to grow by 65% between 2018 and 2023 with 975 million euros, according to the organisation e-commerce of Europe in 2023.


Wherever you see it as an alternative or complementary option, establish and online presence is necessary to maintain relevance and expand customer base.


Creating an online shop is entering the world of global e-commerce, but it's important to realize that creating an online shop isn't just about putting products on a website. It is about creating a platform that reflects your vision, your values, and your brand promise, ensuring that it is relevant to your customers, and that they understand it. It implies a deep understanding of consumers' needs and wants and providing them with a shopping experience that is not only satisfying, but that engages and promotes loyalty. All of this while making a competitive offer.


However, it is alarming to realize that a significant part of businesses has not yet recognize the potential to sell online. E-commerce Europe in their E-Commerce Report of 2023 revealed that 31% SMEs still have a very low digital intensity index. This is a lost opportunity, especially considering that 92% European population is online.


Almost everyone in Europe is watching advertising in websites and social media, buying online, obtain information about products and services before buying, have you ever thought how are you presenting yourself?


European consumers are showing a growing appetite for online, and it's not limited to one specific category. From fashion and accessories to electronics, travel, real estate, accounting, medical practices, and digital entertainment, all these sectors have been setting up online shops or websites where they generate leads (interested potential customers) to convert offline.


This is why any company that wants to be competitive, must seriously consider creating a online presence, as an important part of its business strategy.



So how does a company set up an online shop?


In this article we're going to take a brief look at some of the steps you need to consider when setting up an online shop. It's not an exhaustive list, but rather a list to help you get started.


Don't forget that when setting up an online shop, it's essential to do extensive research to understand the market, identify your target audience and recognize which niches or areas have the greatest potential for growth.


One of the first steps in setting up an online shop is to explore which technical infrastructure options make sense for you; in setting up online shops, the platforms chosen for the shop are crucial. These decisions will define not only the aesthetics of your online, but also its functionality and user experience.


Analysing legislation and compliance are other areas that cannot be overlooked when creating an online shop. After all, setting up an online shop requires certain regulations to be complied with, thus guaranteeing consumer confidence and the integrity of the business.


Knowing the law is essential to operate ethically and avoid litigation. You should familiarize yourself with the relevant laws for setting up an online shop, such as the e-commerce law, the law on prices and reductions, consumer law, data protection and privacy, contracts and copyright, and the Advertising Code etc.

Setting up online shops also requires a strong focus on image, as consumers cannot touch, smell, or try the product. It is therefore essential to be even more careful with the presentation of what you sell.


When setting up an online shop, it's essential that it is visually appealing, with lots of rich content that is relevant to your customer. The more time they spend online visiting your site, the more relevant your domain will be and the more organic traffic you will generate. When creating an online shop, invest in professional quality photographs or videos that emphasize the products.


But above all, to create an online shop, the company's passion and vision will determine success. It's not just about selling products or services, but about creating relationships, telling stories, and building a community around the brand.


If you've already decided to take the plunge into the world of e-commerce, you're about to embark on an exciting and rewarding journey. With the right planning, research, passion and the right partners, your business will not only flourish, but will also help shape the future of e-commerce in the country. And remember: every step of the way, we're here to help and guide.


To help you, we're going to list a few points that we think are important in this journey of setting up online shops.



1. Creating an online shop - Providing a good user experience


When creating an online shop, choose an accessible platform that allows easy and intuitive navigation. This is crucial to creating a successful online shop. Try to create a purchase process that is simple (but secure), where make sure there aren't too many steps between "view" and "buy".

Customers should be able to easily find what they are looking for and quickly understand the product's characteristics. A doubt about a size, material or functionality can be enough to make them stop buying and look elsewhere.

When setting up an online shop, you should also ensure that the price is clearly explained, for example, whether it includes VAT or postage.



2. Creating an online shop - Think mobile.



Bear in mind that currently 77% of online shoppers already make purchases via mobile devices, so it's important that when you create an online shop it's prepared to work and allow purchases on this type of device, and that the shopping experience is easy and intuitive.

It therefore makes more and more sense when setting up an online shop to think first and foremost about the mobile experience of your shop and depending on the product/service and your target audience, this may even be "mandatory".


3. Creating an online shop - Choosing the product/service you're going to sell


First, when setting up an online shop, it's important that you decide which product or service you want to sell. This choice should be based not only on your passion or experience, but also on initial market research and the viability of selling online. At Rocket Fuel we offer a product insights service, where we can help you not only define the product or service, but also provide insights into the most important features that the market is looking for in that product or service.

This can be a decisive help when setting up an online shop, as you'll avoid investing developing or buying products that for some reason aren't exactly what your target audience is looking for.


4. Creating an online shop - Defining your target audience


To create an online shop in Portugal, it's essential to define your target audience. Who are they? What problems do they face? What needs do they have? How can your product/service help them? By answering these questions, you'll be able to create a more focused, efficient marketing strategy and understand how you can interact with and seduce your target audience throughout all the stages of the sales funnel.

An important step in setting up online shops is to define who your Personas are, your prototype customers. This is an often-overlooked step, but it will help a lot when setting up an online shop, keeping the project coherent and attractive to your target audience at all stages.


5. Creating an online shop - Analysing the competition


Find out who your competitors are, what they offer and how they work in the market. When setting up an online shop, it's essential to analyse the competition. This will help you identify gaps in the market and consequently position yourself differently. Study and write down everything: how they communicate, on which platforms, which messages they focus on, what products they sell, what prices they charge, which carriers and payment methods they use, etc.

In the end, when you reread your notes, you'll start to notice patterns and opportunities. It's through the most relevant opportunities, those that you have the skills to exploit competitively, that you should target the creation of your online shop.


6. Setting up an online shop - Preparing your supplier network



To set up an online shop, if you're selling physical products, it's essential to have a reliable network of suppliers. They play a crucial role in the quality and availability of your products.

It's important that they supply you with quality products and that they deliver what they promise, because returns are a significant obstacle to the success of online businesses, as they greatly penalize business results. It not only means increased logistics costs, but potentially also your acquisition costs and is an important indicator of your customer's experience.

The same is true if you provide services. It is essential that you have the minimum resources required, either internally or externally, or that you know how to guarantee them before you take the first steps.


7. Creating an online shop - Developing a unique value proposition


What makes your brand, product, or service unique? This value proposition must be clear, relevant to your potential customers, set you apart from the competition and, if possible, long-lasting, and difficult to copy. It may sound like a cliché, but to create an engaging online shop all your communication must be consistent with your value proposition, to ensure that you put in front of your customer those arguments that you know they value and that "nobody else" has.


8. Creating an online shop - Creating a brand


A strong brand is more than just a name or logo. It involves colours, design, values, and the message you want to convey to your audience. It's a whole identity, a personality that will cut across everything you do.

The brand will bring the value proposition to life, so it is essential that it reflects what you set out to do.

Before setting up an online shop, registering a brand is very important because it will prevent you from having intellectual property problems with similar brands that are already registered for the same categories of products or services and, conversely, give you some degree of protection against the appearance of brands identical to yours to commercialize the same products and services. The aim is always the same: to avoid creating confusion among the end consumers.



9. Creating an online shop - Registering a domain


Your domain is your online address, so before you create an online shop, you need to define and buy your domain.

Nowadays it's increasingly important to register a domain because a domain with the brand name, without any other words, gives the project greater credibility. In some cases, it's almost more important than registering the brand, although both registrations are important and have different objectives.

That's why in the process of creating a brand you should take this into account and research not only whether the brand you have in mind is already registered, but also whether the “.com” or “.de” or “.co.uk” domain is already registered. You can do this on any domain registration site such as whois.com, domain.com, godaddy.com.


When setting up an online shop you should try to choose a short domain, related to your brand, products, or services. Depending on the case, it may be a good idea to register some domains defensively.


For example, if you choose a yourbrand.co.uk domain because your strategy at the moment is to set up an online shop in the UK, if you think that in the future you may be interested in internationalization, you can also register other domains, such as yourbrand.com, yourbrand.fr, or yourbrand.de.


This will prevent any competitor, noticing that you have entered the market, from registering these domains before you and taking your place in some of the most relevant markets. Of course, if this happens, you can always add a word like "shop" to the original domain, but it's not the same thing.


These domains can then be redirected to your main domain.


10. Creating an online shop - Choosing an e-commerce platform


When setting up an online shop, it's important to choose a platform that is adaptable, easy to use and supports the functionalities you need for your shop, such as payments, stock management, logistics and marketing.

There is currently a huge variety of platforms available such as wordpress.com, wix.com, prestashop.com or shopify.com, among many others.

All of them have advantages and disadvantages, some are more geared towards e-commerce, others towards institutional and service websites, some are more pitched towards inexperienced users and others towards professional web designers, so we suggest you take some time to analyse the options, see which platforms your competitors are using, analyse the pros and cons of each one and choose the one that best suits your objectives and budget.

11. Creating an online shop - Creating your story


In a world saturated with brands, products, and services, those who tell a genuine story stand out. Your brand's narrative is not just about how it began, but about the passion, challenges and victories that define it. By sharing this journey, we create an emotional bond with our customers, making them part of our journey.

To create a successful online shop, it's not enough just to list products and services. It's essential to present them in a clear, detailed, and attractive way. After all, each product has its own story, unique benefits, and unrivalled value. Combining captivating descriptions with high-quality images is the difference that turns a simple item into a desired product.

And it's this genuine connection that makes all the difference in today's market. So, take the time to create this narrative, and never stop improving this work, adding new content and improving what you've already created.

But the creation of this story should not be done by chance, or just driven by your creative impulses. Its is very important that you create the content of your website with an SEO approach, providing content your target market is searching for. This will make sure that all content creation efforts are going to bring you organic traffic, and sales, placing your messages and products in front of your consumer completely in context of what they are looking for.

Rocket Fuel Ads as a service SEO service that can help you along all the journey of creating the right content for your website, get in touch with us.


12. Creating an online shop - Providing a secure experience



Nowadays, digital security is a highly important issue, and essential for transmitting safety to your customers. When setting up an online shop in Portugal, the SSL certificate has become fundamental to this mission. This certificate encrypts information transmitted between the user and the site, ensuring that sensitive data, such as passwords or credit card details, is transmitted securely.

A website without SSL is like a house without a lock; it is vulnerable to attacks and exposes its visitors to unnecessary risks. What's more, modern browsers alert users when a site is not secure, which can drive away potential customers and tarnish your brand's reputation, so it's very important that you take this into account when setting up an online shop in Portugal.

However, online security isn't just about SSL. There are other important issues to consider when setting up an online shop in Portugal. One of these is requiring your customers to use secure passwords, with combinations of numbers, letters and upper- and lower-case characters.

Another important measure is to choose a reliable supplier that offers security guarantees. A secure website is not only protected by a good certificate, but also by robust infrastructures and constant updates.


13. Setting up an online shop - Creating a solid process structure


One of the most important factors for success when setting up an online shop is creating simple and efficient processes. Whenever we think of creating processes, we imagine something very complex, but it doesn't have to be that way.

A process is a group of activities, carried out by one or more people, in a logical sequence with the aim of producing a good or service. It's as simple as that.

The idea of designing the most important processes in your business is to clearly understand what tasks there are to do, what takes up the most time and what can be improved and optimised.

This is essential not only to understand the workload of each function, but also to understand how you need to evolve to scale your business, what you want to internalise and what makes sense to externalise.

There are various processes at work when setting up online shops, such as updating content on the site, stock management, customer support, sorting products in the warehouse, etc. Here are some ideas to consider in the latter:


Product sorting in the warehouse:


Activities to be considered using automated or manual systems: Confirmation of order, Confirmation of payment, Transition of order to warehouse, Separation of products, Quality check, Packaging, Transport marking and labelling.


When creating processes for an online shop, it is very important to set up separate workstations for different activities, grouping them logically, and in each of these workstations gather the necessary tools. They should be arranged logically and make it easy to handle the tools and products. Don't forget the space is three-dimensional, you can have tools hanging in the air and on the floor if it makes sense and facilitates the activity but remember not to jeopardize safety.

At the end, measure the time taken for each activity and each process (repeat the process several times and record the average time). After a few months, review the process and, if it makes sense, apply changes to the process to achieve efficiencies. And don't forget, once a year, look at your processes. This is a job that is often overlooked, but when setting up an online shop, establishing simple and efficient processes from the beginning, which that can be optimized, often means having more time for all the tasks you must do.


14. Setting up an online shop - Valuing customer service


In a world where online competition is intensifying every day, a brand's differentiation may not lie solely in the quality of its products or the efficiency of its delivery, but also in the excellence of its customer service.


Resolving queries and problems:

Imagine a customer undecided between two products, with an urgent question that could determine their purchase. Effective and fast customer service can not only clear up the doubt, but also speed up the purchase decision.


Managing expectations:

Delays can happen; however, how they are managed makes all the difference. A customer who is informed about the situation, with solutions presented proactively, is more understanding and maintains confidence in the brand.


Valuable feedback:

Through customer support, companies receive direct feedback on their products and services. This communication channel becomes a powerful tool for continuous improvement, adapting to the needs and desires of the consumer.


Retention and Loyalty:

In situations of returns or complaints, the treatment and solutions offered can be the difference between losing a customer or turning them into a loyal one. A customer who feels that their voice is heard, and their problems are dealt with tends to return.


However, customer support goes beyond solving problems and clarifying doubts. Every interaction is a window of opportunity. A positive experience can turn a casual customer into a fervent brand advocate and these customers can dictate the success or failure of setting up an online shop in Portugal. Each contact with customer support, when managed with care, empathy, and professionalism, has the potential to create a brand ambassador, someone who voluntarily promotes and defends the company in the vast digital universe.


Nowadays, customer support doesn't take place via email or telephone, but also via WhatsApp or social media. All channels of contact with your customer tend to be customer service channels, so always be vigilant and maintain your standards of quality and tone at all points of contact.


So, while products may attract customers, it's exceptional customer service that keeps them and turns them into true brand allies. Customer Service is so important that it can make or break an online shop and was the foundation from which many successful shops like Amazon or Zappos conquered the market.

E-commerce has established itself as an unstoppable force in the global business landscape and Europe is no exception.


The digital transformation, accelerated by the pandemic, has led many companies to set up an online shop, not just as a competitive advantage, but as a vital necessity for business survival and growth. The projection of substantial growth in B2C e-commerce in Europe and the growing trend of consumers to shop online reinforce the urgency for companies to embrace this channel.


It is imperative to recognise that a significant proportion of companies are still lagging in this digital race, which represents a loss of opportunity, especially when we consider the upward trend in online shopping.


Companies that embrace this digital transformation with the right planning, research and passion will be well placed not only to thrive, but also to shape the future of e-commerce in the Europe. It's a challenging but equally rewarding journey.


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