When did you last shop online? If it’s within the last 7 days, you’re in good company. Mintel’s latest report shows 39% of UK adults shop online at least once a week.

How could this help your business?

Selling online allows you to reach people all over the world, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So, it can really expand your customer base. Plus, with the right design, you make your customer’s path to buying easier.

In this lesson, we’re going to look at some of the ways you can make it easier for your customers to pay you online. You’ll learn about ‘eCommerce’ – the activity of buying and selling online and how you can use it to make buying easier for your customer.


  • Setting up to take payments online
  • Selecting the best software for you
  • The regulations you need to be aware of

Read time:

10 mins

Chapter 1

Building an eCommerce enabled website

Read time:

3 mins

Why use eCommerce?

As we mentioned, eCommerce allows people to buy and sell through websites and apps. Having a well-designed eCommerce strategy can help you to reach more people and grow your sales. The online market is large.


In fact:

There are almost

60 million

eCommerce users in the UK

Statista Opens in a new tab


Of debit card spending is online

Revolut for the ONS Opens in a new tab


If you don’t already have a website, you’ll need to buy a domain name. This is the name people will use to access your site, like mycompany.com. Make sure the address you want to use is unique. A good place to start is by looking for more information on domain names online. There are tools that can help you check whether someone has used them already.

Once you have a domain name, you then need to build your site. Online tools like WordPress and Wix can help you to do this. You could also hire a web designer to create one for you.

If you want to know more about website building, our designing your website lesson takes you through the steps. For now, let’s talk about website hosting. This is the service that enables your website to be available online. The options you select here will impact how you sell online.


You have two choices for hosting your website:

  • There are hosting services like Bluehost and Hostinger that can offer you platforms that are pre-built and ready to use. They aim to get you started quickly and easily.

    When you select a hosted site, you're renting space from them. You can use this space to store all your website's files and data. The company will keep these files and data in something called a 'server'. This is a physical storage space where they store your data. You access this online.

    They also make sure visitors can access text, photos and other files on your site. Most companies will offer you technical support and security features to protect your site too.

  • These give you complete control over your site. With this option, you look after both the design and 'housing' of your site.

    Self-hosting can be complex. For example, you need to look after your own security and always be ready to manage any issues. If you don't have any web development experience, you might like to talk to a web designer about this option.

Adding eCommerce to your website

When you’re thinking of selling online, there are a few things to consider. Ask yourself - what makes an appealing online ‘shop window’? How do you set up secure payment options? What can you automate?


There are several ways to add eCommerce to your site. You can:

  • Work with a Payments Provider who can help you update your website to take payments
  • Hire a web designer
  • Use a website design tool that already links to a secure payment system


Mobile-only alternatives

Your customers will use a range of digital devices, including mobile. For mobile users, apps can give them a better experience than a website. People often design apps for mobiles, so they cater to the size and shape of the screen.

There are companies such as Preoday(PDF, 306KB), Yoello, and Ovatu who can build mobile platforms for you. So, your customers can book services or pay for products on a branded app.


Whichever option you select, make sure you can easily manage it. Being able to add pages or make changes will save you time and money.

Chapter 2

Selecting secure payment software

Read time:

2 mins

How to begin your search:

Giving people a safe and easy way to pay is an essential part of your eCommerce site or app. So you’ll need secure, third-party payment software.


Here are some things to remember:

Payment methods

There are many ways your customer might want to pay. They may prefer credit or a debit card. They might use a virtual wallet like Apple Pay, Google Wallet or PayPal. To cater to this, you should always check your software offers a good range of options.



You need to keep your customers' details protected. To do this, make sure your selected method is safe. Look for safety features. These can be things like data encryption, 3D Secure authentication and other securities. You also need to make sure you meet GDPR and PCI expectations.


Ease of use

Simple is always best. Select a platform that is easy to use for both you and your customer.

When looking at easier to use options, you should also check you can scale and change them. This is important to make sure that as your business grows, your platform can too. Even if you don’t use all features at first, it's good to know you can.



One thing you’ll need to balance is impact and cost. It may be difficult to get all of what you want. So, you need to ask yourself what drives the most impact for less. Put simply, make sure you’re getting value for your money.

The best way to do this is through researching the cost and features of various tools. You can then use this to narrow down your options based on the impact they’ll have on your customer. Also look at what best achieves the goals you have for your business.



Check and make sure the provider has a good reputation. You can do this by looking at reviews. You may also want to speak to other business owners to see what they think.

By doing these checks, you can narrow down the chance that you won’t like the option you select. You need to make sure you get a good service and product.


International payments

If you are taking international payments, there may be some extra things your need to think about. You can find out more about international payments here. You also need to consider this when selecting a platform.

Your user’s location might change the way they can pay you. So, you may need to think about, for example, the ability to use International Bank Account Numbers to pay


Making your choice

No matter what features you want, you should do your research. You need to select a platform that's right for your business.

Some of the things you can do are compare fees, demo products and check what other services come with it. Also check how it protects your customers’ data.

Chapter 3

Using tools to view online transactions

Read time:

1 min

Consider order monitoring

No matter what option you select for your online sales, you need to think about how you’ll monitor orders from customers. A good order tracking facility will let you see the progress of orders from start to finish. Some can also help with things like customer questions and stock management.

If you’ve picked the hosted option, then the ready-made tool you pick may have this built in. Add it to the list of things you want from a platform. This can help you make sure it either comes built in or that you can add it easily.

If you self-host, you still need to keep track of your inventory and keep up to date with incoming orders. So, you’ll need to select a system to add to your platform. There are plenty of systems to pick from, including shopwired, Ecwid, OpenCart, and Zen Cart.

These tools allow you to check details of incoming orders, payments and transactions. So, you can you stay on top of your business. It also means you can create a better customer experience.


Whether built in or separate, here are the features you should consider:

  • Visibility – Can you see the status of the order at every step of the process?
  • Accuracy – Some programs offer options to confirm quantity before shipping an order. So, you’ll never send out 100 items when the customer wanted 10
  • Customer use – Can the customer track orders?
  • Returns – Can the software track returned items?
  • Integration – For separate order tracking software, how easy is it to integrate with your website?

Chapter 4


Read time:

3 mins

Regulatory areas

As a business selling online, there are several regulations you need to consider. In this chapter, we’ll look at some of these.

For ease, we’ll divide these into these sections.

Website content

Selling and payment

Privacy and data protection

Website content

There’s some information you need to include on your website. You need to look into the regulations that apply to you and make sure you’re doing your own research. In the meantime, here’s a checklist of some of the basic things you need to include:


  • Your business name
  • Company registration No
  • VAT No if applicable
  • Contact details
  • Any trade or professional memberships
  • Terms and conditions
  • Website terms of use
  • Privacy policy
  • Cookie policy
  • Refund and return policy



Design your website so that anyone who wants to access it can do so. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has created a set of accessibility guidelines. These help you make sure that people, including those using assistive technology, can understand and use your site.

Selling and payment

These include regulations such as the Consumer Rights Act and the surcharge ban. They apply to all retailers, whether online or offline. There are also some specific to online or distance selling.

Payment Card Industry (PCI) Regulations

You need to think about these if you are receiving payments online.

Using a third-party secure and certified service can make it easier to help you comply. These kinds of services should already meet the regulations, but you should always check.

If you decide to look after your payments, make sure you review the regulations yourself. This will make sure that you are fully compliant. Find out more here: PCI regulations.

Strong customer authentication (SCA)

All websites and apps that take payments need to use 3DSecure. This keeps you compliant with SCA regulation. They exist to keep both you and your customer safe. This is because they make it hard for anyone to use your customer’s detail to make a purchase on your site without their consent.

Find out more here:

Financial Conduct Authority article on SCA.


Privacy and Data Protection

These are here to protect personal data. The main ones you should look at are GDPR and PECR.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

GDPR replaced the Data Protection Act (DPA) and is far more wide-ranging. It gives people rights over the way any organisation can use their personal data.

It means you need to ask people to give consent before you can access their data. So, if you are storing or otherwise using your customers’ data, you need to be aware of these requirements.

Find out more here: GDPR in simple terms

Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR)

These rules affect you if you communicate with your users. For example, emails with special offers or phone calls to people who you’re hoping will buy from you. They also give people privacy rights while using electronic communication tools, like cookies and email marketing.

Find out more here: What are PECR?


We’ve outlined some of the key regulations here. This information does not form a comprehensive list. It is your responsibility to check any regulations that may impact your business.


Bank of Scotland Academy is committed to providing information in a way that is accessible and useful for our users. This information, however, is not in any way intended to amount to authority or advice on which reliance should be placed. You should seek professional advice as appropriate and required. Any sites, products or services named in this module are just examples of what's available. Bank of Scotland does not endorse the services they provide. The information in this module was last updated on 13th March 2023.