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Blue sky thinking? How to get your webshop off the ground

With the coronavirus pandemic changing the role of the high street, an increasing number of people are setting up their own webshop. Here are some suggestions to help you join the online retail boom.

Online retail continues to grow in the Netherlands, with spending in webshops up an average 44% last year. In fact, the Netherlands is home to around 50,000 online retailers, selling everything you could imagine – from eyewear to plants and machine parts.

Some shops are purely online, others are known as multi-channel operations, because they combine a high street with an online presence. Whichever approach you opt for, setting up a webshop need not be a complicated endeavour, but if you are not technology inclined, you will may well want farm it out to a third party.

This is particularly the case if you grow and source your stock from a variety of sources and this is where a piece of technology known as a product information management system, or PIM, comes in.

PIM solutions provide a single place to collect, manage, and improve your information about your products, create a product catalogue, and distribute it to your sales and eCommerce channels – in short, what you need to properly manage information about the goods you are selling online.

One such system which is proving increasingly popular among Dutch online retailers is Akeneo, a French open-source package which is currently available in the Netherlands through has over 2,000 clients and is the Dutch market leader, with retailers such as Ace & Tate, Fairphone and Grape District using their services.

The Byte team has more than 200 development partners on hand who can help you start up and maintain an Akeneo installation.  Removing complexity is key to running a successful webshop and make sure information from a myriad of different sources all operates together smoothly, the company says.

‘Customers expect instantaneous information, and any hiccups in content, its context for the channel, or its delivery has the potential to instantly ruin relationships painstakingly built over time,’ said Akeneo’s chief executive Fred de Gombert in a recent White Paper.

Akeneo Cloud Hosting’s founders including Fred de Gombert (centre)

Experts also suggest that webshops that really need guaranteed uptime 24/7 should also go for a cloud edition. Cloud hosting provides maximum network uptime and guarantees no single point of failure. It also provides that all important disaster recovery feature because data is automatically backed up in the server. In addition, cloud computing allows the webshop owner to have access anywhere.

Akeneo is a fully hosted, cloud-enabled solution for companies looking for power, without the need to deal with third-party hosting providers, and for a smooth and secure operation, even for the most complex catalogues.

In particular, Akeneo works well together with popular e-commerce systems such as Magento and Shopware, and changes in product information in Akeneo are automatically synchronized with them. is currently offering a 14-day free trial for managed Akeneo cloud hosting. In just one click, they’ll spin up a node, pre-install Akeneo and make sure you always profit from the newest innovations on performance and security.

Basically, says, ‘just let us take care of the ‘boring’ stuff like server configurations, uptime and security. Because we don’t think that’s boring at all.’

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