Our guide to setting up an e-commerce business for success

If you are considering setting up an e-commerce business, congratulations; it is a rewarding and scalable business model that is filled with opportunities for growth domestically and internationally. To ensure you are one of the successful e-commerce entrepreneurs, please read through this guide on the best way to set up an e-commerce business for success.

Entrepreneurs come to e-commerce through many different paths. This may be your first business, but it may be that you are simply adding another string to your bow or perhaps you’re extending your existing retail business online. Whatever your background, you will discover that e-commerce business is unlike any other. Following these helpful tips will help you get off to a good start.

Find your niche

The first step for any e-commerce business is to know what you’re selling and if you don’t, then identify what you are looking to sell. Creating a selection of products that are all within a niche is a popular and proven method to create additional sales and draw a die-hard audience to your store.

Set up your e-commerce business

Before a single expense is incurred or even too much time is spent, you must register your new e-commerce business. This should be done through the HMRC website or your accountant. At this point, you will need a business name, although this can be changed later, and to decide on the entity choice of your business. Will you begin as a sole trader, a partnership, a Limited Liability Partnership or a Limited Company? Again, this can be changed at a later date but can be complicated to do so. If you need further guidance, we have an article on this subject.

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Financial setup

Your next step when setting up an e-commerce business should be the business’ financial processes. You will need to decide if you will register for VAT, which countries you will begin trading in as well as basics such as setting up a dedicated business bank account


It is considerably easier to have an accounting system in place from day one than it is to clamour for receipts with a looming deadline. Choose an accounting system that supports e-commerce business, so you have all the features you need at your fingertips. We recommend Xero, and you can read why here. You can choose to set this up yourself, or you can seek advice from specialist e-commerce accountants.

Choosing an e-commerce platform

There are many routes you can use to launch your e-commerce business, and each has its pros and cons. You can choose one or more platforms simultaneously too, just be careful not to spread yourself too thin. Allow yourself the time to market and build a presence on a platform, whichever you choose. 

Popular e-commerce platforms include your Amazon FBA, Shopify or WooCommerce, Magento and eBay.

How to setup your e-commerce business
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Sourcing a product

You can source your product directly or use dropshipping methods to avoid ever physically owning your stock. Dropshipping can be quicker and easier to get started but directly owning your product or creating it in-house if you have the manufacturing capabilities through existing businesses allow for great quality control and customisation. 

Getting your product out there

Now you have your product chosen and sourced, it’s time to get it out to the public. The public aren’t going to see your product outside of your images, so it is crucial that you use photos that make your product look its best.

Once you have your photos ready to go, it’s time to spread the word. Amazon FBA allows your products to be seen easily by a large audience but if you have gone for your own shopfront you may want to consider social media marketing campaigns, setting up referral schemes or even a paid ad campaign targeted at your niche. 

Next steps

Although you are unlikely to require an e-commerce accountant while you are setting up an e-commerce business, you will need one as your business grows. When you are looking for guidance on how to scale or simply looking to outsource your bookkeeping so you can focus on more important parts of your business, we will be there to help and provide advice when you need it. If you are ready to discuss your e-commerce business with us today, get in touch with our team.

The best time to start is now.

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Breakout E-commerce accountants and Xero specialists to supercharge your UK online business growth.