Small Business Owners Ask: How do I start an online store?

There are so many reasons small businesses would benefit from setting up an online shop.  The online market is the fastest growing in the world: and in 2023, there were 80 million more digital buyers than there were in 2022—a 3.1% year-over-year increase. 

And, there are billions of people globally who use the internet to buy products.  In 2023, the number of digital buyers is at 2.64 billion. This makes up 33.3% of the population worldwide.

So, you can see it’s a really good idea to have a secure online shop with a reliable ecommerce platform. It’s essential for any business which sells products. But, even if you’ve got a service- based business, an online store will give you lots of opportunity to diversify your income. For example, if you own a hairdressing salon or a barber, having an online store will allow you to sell hair products, equipment such as hairdryers and straighteners, and gift vouchers directly to your customers.

Restaurants who have exceptional menus can sell recipe boxes, specialist ingredients, gift vouchers, and even merchandise such as branded napkins, plates, and cutlery. Dog walkers can use their website to advertise their walking services, and they can diversify into a membership service, into selling bespoke dog food and treats, or selling toys and clothing, or selling leads and training tools.

Even if your service- based business is entirely digital, you can launch and sell digital products such as copywriting workbooks, accounting planners, and graphic design templates.

But, before you get overwhelmed with ideas and excitement, let’s look at everything to consider when you start an online store.

  1. Start an online store: Choose the right ecommerce platform
  2. Start an online store: Get your own domain name and website
  3. Start an online store: Factor in overheads into your pricing
  4. Start an online store: Final tips to get an impressive store

Start an online store: Choose the right ecommerce platform

In a crowded market of online ecommerce platforms, it can be tempting to think they’re all the same. In fact, each platform offers different features and services.

You need a platform which is right for your business. When it comes to setting up your online store, it has to be easy. Business owners are incredibly busy, with huge amounts of work to do, so being able to move quickly and intuitively is essential.

Your chosen platform should give you hundreds of website templates to choose from, all of which look professional and impressive. There should also be adaptable design options for you to integrate your brand assets such as your font, logo, and colours. In order to show trustworthiness and security, your online site should have a range of secure payment features and be optimised to allow customers to browse using their mobile phones.

With the KitStart Start Premium package, for example, not only is your store mobile optimised, but you can actually create your storefront from your mobile in five simple steps. Since 63% of global online shoppers buy directly from smartphones, you’ll be best placed to snap up more sales with a truly impressive, functional store built with mobile technology in mind.

Generally, you should choose an online store platform which gives you space to grow your business. So, even if you want to start small, you should be able to add on features later as you become more and more successful. Your store platform should offer the option to gather customer information for marketing and communications purposes, add as many products as you wish, and offer popular payment gateways such as Stripe or PayPal for your customers to safely buy your products online.

Another important feature to consider is the level of support the platform will give you. While everything is designed to be as straightforward and easy as possible, sometimes you might need a little guidance. When it comes to your business, time is money. Should you ever hit a hurdle, ask yourself how quickly will you be able to get help? KitStart offers 24/7 support to all business owners.

Start an online store: Get your own domain name and website

Getting your own domain name and website along with your store is essential.

First up, let’s break down some of that jargon. You will probably have heard the phrase “domain name” but it never hurts to clarify the meaning. Your domain name is what your customers will know your website as, so it’s a good idea that your domain name is also your business name.

Let’s imagine your business is called Kindle & Spark Coffee Co. Your domain name is going to be something like, or It’s best to choose a name which is similar as possible to your business, reducing any miscommunications or confusion for your customer. With (the best) online store packages, you’ll also get access to email addresses linked to your domain name. It’ll appear as [yourname], or

Not only do you get to choose the “name” part of your domain name, but you also get to choose what comes after the dot. This is called the extension, and it certainly doesn’t have to be ‘.com’. It’s best for SEO and location information if you use whichever extension is used in your country:

  • is used in the United Kingdom
  • is used in Australia
  • is used in Uganda
  • is used in Nigeria
  • .NL is used in the Netherlands
  • .DE is used in Germany
  • .HK is used in Hong Kong

If you don’t want to use a location-based extension, you could use something to tell your visitor what your business is about:

  • .org is used for a charity or non- profit
  • .coffee for coffee shops
  • .io is often used for tech companies
  • .fm relates to the music industry and radio
  • .edu is all about education

So, you can see how important getting a domain name and related email addresses are. It’s another way for your customer to know you, understand you, learn more about you, and recognise your business as completely trustworthy. No one feels comfortable buying from a business they don’t feel is legitimate and authentic. Getting your own domain name with matching email addresses gives your business a level of professionalism which is unmatched.

Having a website means you have total control of your products and prices. Rather than your products being sold through a third-party marketplace like Etsy or Not on The High Street, you decide what happens to your products. If you’re a service-based business, you don’t have to use overcrowded sites like Fivverr or People Per Hour, because you have your own website to promote your business.

Domain names are supposed to be simple, and we keep them simple at KitStart. Whichever domain name you choose, the cost is already included within your KitStart Start Premium package. That means there is nothing else to pay except for your monthly or annual subscription to KitStart which will automatically be renewed along with your domain name each year.  You receive a domain name and three email addresses as part of your package.

Start an online store: Factor in overheads into your pricing

You should not feel tons of pressure when starting an online store. Any intense sales tactics or urgent “buy now!” banners are red flags. You’re making an investment in your business of both time and money. It makes sense for you to make that investment on your terms, in your way.

Look out for payment terms which work for you. Having access to a free trial is a great way to get a feel of the features and aspects of an ecommerce platform without having to commit financially. It’s also a good sign if there are different packages for you to choose from, at different price points. That way, you’re finding the right options for your business, rather than bending your business to fit a pre existing package.

With KitStart, for example, you get a free two- week trial to the Start Premium package before you buy, so you can set up your website and trial our e-commerce store or bookings platform to see if its right for you, before you upgrade to a paid subscription and officially publish your business online. You’ll never be surprised by unexpected costs, and you’ll be in full control of your design, business, and products at every step.

Once you know your monthly costs for running your store, add these to the fees from payment handlers like Stripe and PayPal. Adjust the prices of your products to include these margins so that you can be sure you’re on track to hit your profit targets.

Start an online store: Final tips to get an impressive store

Getting started is extremely easy with KitStart, and your online store will be up and running in no time. But, before you share your new website on social media, or in your email signature, or in another way to get visitors to your website, make sure you give your store works perfectly.

You should be guided through these processes whichever ecommerce platform you choose, but your store can’t function unless you have a few key processes perfected. These include having your payment options fully set up, your shipping fees and timelines organised, and having canned emails ready to go for your customers, including order confirmations and dispatch messages.

Once these systems are set up, it’s time for a full test run. Ask a trusted friend or colleague to read everything on your website thoroughly, click on all the buttons, “buy” a few things, or “book” your services. If possible, have the transactions actually go through your website, and refund your tester afterwards. You are looking to understand the experience your customer is going to have at every stage of buying from you, and you want to give the very best impression. This is your chance to fix any errors and spot any areas to improve the customer journey.

Once your website and store are live, it’s time to celebrate yourself! You’ve achieved a huge business milestone and you deserve to acknowledge your success. Then it’s time to get your amazing online store in front of as many people as possible. Creating a marketing plan and driving traffic to your website is your next priority. Don’t worry, we’ve got some help for you there too.

Small business next steps

Explore how Bookings, Site, and Store can help you manage your business, and request a demo right here. 

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