Set up a successful eCommerce website from scratch

Starting your own business and setting up an eCommerce site is no small feat. It takes a lot of dedication, time, and effort to succeed, and still, you are bound to run into some challenges along the way.

Matthew and Chris from Custom Plugs in Leeds are two entrepreneurs who have developed their multi-million pound eCommerce website business from scratch. They are now one of the leading international websites for ear stretchers and plugs, ear gauges, body jewellery, alternative clothing, and accessories.

But success has not been without its challenges, having started out with minimal selling and tech experience there have been some hiccups along the way. Here are their tips on setting up a successful eCommerce website based on their journey and experience. Over to Chris and Matt:

Start small

Don’t wait for everything to be perfect – just get started and get your website and product out there! Developing and improving the packaging and logo and, working on your vision can come later on. You’ll learn more by just doing it and getting it out there. Be consistent and your business will eventually snowball!

Work hard

We worked 2 jobs to get the business off the ground, using our weekends to sell our products both online and face to face.

Know your market

If you think there’s a gap, research it, and when you’re done, then research some more. “Follow the path less travelled” – this has been one of the key mantras to our success.

Be passionate

Choose something that you have a genuine passion for, and that you have an understanding of from the customer’s point of view.

Follow trends

Stay close to your market and respond to trends quickly.

Take calculated risks

Once, we sold out and had no stock due to the demand being so high and with the wait time for restocking taking 3 months, we had to max out our credit cards and purchase enough to get ahead of the curve. It was a calculated risk – we knew the demand was there but needed the cash flow to fulfil the demand.


When you embark on a business journey, you need to learn all the time. Never think you have all the answers, because that is simply not true. Learn from others, research, hire experts, experiment, and use good old trial and error. Success in business is about constantly learning and evolving.

Embrace challenges

When you own a business, you have to be versatile and a jack of all trades. There are always new challenges ahead, and suddenly, you have to become knowledgeable in all manner of areas. Don’t be arrogant and assume you know it all. Be open to learning new things, as nobody can be the expert in everything. Lean on others for expertise.

Embrace social media

Be where your customers are. We owe a lot of our success to social media. This really helped us get noticed by people from all over the world. Social media is one of the main ways to build a brand and reach people, and we need it to grow. It’s also awesome to put a face to the customers that we would otherwise never see since we don’t have a physical shop.

Research your eCommerce platforms

This is very important! We have had some very serious challenges with eCommerce platforms that didn’t suit our business or our way of working. When you scale up your platform, make sure it’s fit for purpose. Hands down, our preference is always Shopify, as it has been fundamentally the best platform for scalability and flexibility.

Build a strong team

You have to work with people you can trust so you can learn to delegate. Let them embrace their creativity and have an influence in the business. Learn from their ideas and make them feel valued.

By Editorial team