The UK has now been under lockdown conditions, on and off, for over a year. And while the challenges that come with a stop-start society have caused headaches for the majority of micro-business owners, many online retailers have proved resilient.
Much has been made of the swing to ecommerce, with data from the ONS showing that online sales accounted for 35.2% of all retail transactions in January this year, a new record. The small business owners who have thrived against this backdrop have had to show an incredible amount of commercial nous – and a great deal of courage – to further their entrepreneurial aspirations.
It’s certainly provided an opportunity for micro-businesses to pivot and open up new sales channels. A case in point is Magpye, a vegan pie business and a GoDaddy customer based in Newcastle. Created by husband-and-wife duo, Chris and Sarah Fryer, Magype was a purely bricks-and-mortar business prior to the pandemic, with sales made from a converted horse trailer at events across the north east.
But when the world changed in March 2020, Chris and Sarah took their business online and they haven’t looked back. Since then, with the support of GoDaddy, over 14,000 pies have been handmade and delivered to addresses all over the UK.
Our data shows that thousands of entrepreneurs have taken the plunge and set up online during the pandemic, with a large portion of those being ecommerce ventures. In fact, between April and June 2020 – when we were all still coming to terms with the severity of the Covid-19 situation – we saw a 14% rise in new ventures being established over the previous quarter.
For many of these entrepreneurs, their new business venture came about as much through necessity as it did opportunity, due to an extremely challenging jobs market in the UK over the past 12 months.
This is particularly true for young people. Our research shows that one in ten 16-24-year-olds have launched their own venture since February 2020. This is an impressive figure, and it’s promising to see that the younger generations are continuing to hustle despite the challenging circumstances they find themselves in. Further findings from our research show just how vital an online presence is for these growing businesses. Young entrepreneurs overwhelmingly favour ecommerce and reported that they derive 12% more revenue from online sales than more senior business owners.
At GoDaddy, we are often asked for advice and guidance on how to get online to help a business grow. If their business is ready to sell online, we suggest how ecommerce might help them be more visible, expand their customer base, and grow their business. They are:
1. Decide what you want to sell
It may seem obvious but it’s worth spending time identifying the niche your business could occupy – and how much demand there is likely to be – before launching. Research what else is out there and think about how you can differentiate your products and services. And determine how you will handle inventory, shipping, payment methods, and servicing global customers.
2. Buy a domain name and website builder package
Your domain name will be the way that many people refer to and remember your brand, so it’s important to get one that describes your business or one that you are happy with to use across your online presence. With some website builders, including GoDaddy’s, you’ll find that a domain name is included free for a year, so it’s worth looking out for these kinds of deals.
3. Decide how you want to build your online shop
Your ecommerce site is your virtual shop window and it needs to be as compelling as possible. If you’re wanting to build a small-to-medium size online shop and are looking to get online quickly, then we would recommend a website builder solution.
4. Gather products and assets, so you’re ready to launch
Take time to ensure you have the right imagery, product details and prices and make sure they are categorised clearly on your page. GoDaddy Guides are always on hand if you need any further help.
5. Grow your online shop
Once you’ve launched, you need to ensure you can measure how your online shop is doing so that you can adapt as necessary and track views of your pages. One of the best ways of doing that is by installing analytics. GoDaddy Guides can give useful advice on marketing, SEO, pay-per-click advertising, social media and more.
At a time when it’s natural to reflect on the way that the past year has upended our personal and professional lives, it’s also important we look forward. We’re proud to be helping UK entrepreneurs get online and grow their businesses. By taking the right steps now, small online retailers can remain resilient and play an important role in the wider UK recovery efforts.
Sakshi Anand, managing director, GoDaddy UK & Ireland