If you've been following our blogs, you know that we have covered topics such as choosing the right ecommerce platform for your business, to ecommerce website design, and how to start an ecommerce business. However, we never touched upon the process of how to build an ecommerce website.
The process of building your ecommerce website includes multiple stages, such as preparation, selecting the right ecommerce platform, building the ecommerce website, and implementing payment processing. We'll cover these topics so that your only concern will be how to handle all the sales your ecommerce website will generate.
Essentially, this is the work you will put into your ecommerce business before you build your website. To make this part as informative as possible, we'll assume you are building your website from scratch. Getting the prep work done correctly will help set the foundation for the rest of the steps that go into building an ecommerce website.
Company Formation and Branding
Before you jump into picking a platform or domain name, your first step should be to work out a business plan, execute on your company formation, and build your branding. This process includes determining your target market, choosing the goal for your website, gathering the information that you'll need for achieving your goals, and figuring out how to present it to your target audience.
Below are some points to consider when starting a brand:
- Establish your target audience and competitors
- Calculate your aims and KPI’s
- Create your business name and slogan
- Develop the look of your brand and logo
- Stay up to date with each of the above points
Once done, you can head over to the second part of your ecommerce website building experience.
2. Select an Ecommerce Platform
Picking the right ecommerce platform for your business is a vital step in planning your future growth. We've tried to address some of the essential factors on how to pick the right ecommerce platform below.
How to Pick the Right Ecommerce Platform
If you are searching for an ecommerce platform, keep in mind the monthly fee or the network price you are going to pay. The cost may vary from individual factors, such as choosing a self-hosted solution vs. a hosted one. You should also consider how your customers are going to pay for your products or services.
Some ecommerce or website building solutions do not offer third-party payment processors. The lack of this type of integration could be a considerable inconvenience and lead to frustration among customers.
A factor to also consider is integration possibilities and plug-in options, which might be necessary for your ecommerce business to run efficiently. Likewise, being mobile-friendly is just as important. A platform should offer your consumers the flexibility to browse through your website. It should also let the buyer pay for their purchases with ease on any screen.
Contemplate having an SEO friendly ecommerce platform. Just because your website is ecommerce based doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to rank higher on Google. After all, the success of your business can depend on it. Here are a few tips:
- Pick the right domain name
- Offer fast page load times for your customers
- Customize your URLs, page titles, and meta descriptions
- Edit product names, descriptions and images
- Add a business branded blog
- Allow customers to leave reviews
Finally, it’s important to consider the customer service and security issues that might arise. Having this in mind, find a platform that offers solutions to these problems. An ecommerce platform that offers around the clock support should suit any of your business needs.
Also, when it comes to security, always check to make sure your platform supports "HTTPS/SSL" for a safe and secure checkout for your customers. Make sure that any platform you choose is "PCI" (Payment Card Industry) compliant.
Purchase a Domain, Hosting and SSL Certificate
No matter which ecommerce platform you use, you need to have a domain. Hosting and SSL certificate might be provided by your ecommerce platform, which will be explained in more detail further down.
Select a Domain Name
You may be wondering why a domain name is so important? To keep this short, it serves as the first impression of your ecommerce website to the search engines, influencing your optimization or SEO. It also helps to define your brand. Once you've picked a name, you must register your domain name. You can do this through domain registrars such as:
The most appropriate domain extension for any commercial business is .com. For ecommerce website domain extensions, you can also consider it. shop and .store, as well.
If you use an ecommerce platform that does not provide hosting (e.g., WooCommerce), you need to find an appropriate hosting provider for your ecommerce website.
In general, there are three types of hosting solutions:
- Shared Hosting
- Dedicated server
Shared Hosting is not suitable for ecommerce websites for numerous reasons. The two main ones include:
- Security - Your ecommerce website is vulnerable because other sites share the same server.
- Resources - Your ecommerce website can slow down, encounter errors, or go down due to workload and traffic of other sites on the same server.
A Virtual Private Server or VPS is an affordable and scalable solution for ecommerce website hosting. You get a Virtual Machine with dedicated resources (CPU, memory, disk space, bandwidth), which are reserved only for your ecommerce website.
This hosting solution is safe because your VM is completely isolated from other VMs on the same server or cloud.
VPS hosting providers include:
A Dedicated Server is another name fora Bare Metal Server. In this instance, you rent your physical server, with a designated CPU, memory, disk space, and bandwidth. This machine is in a rack within your hosting provider's data center. This option is the most expensive and requires knowledge to set up and manage the server, its operating system, web server, various services, firewall rules, and overall security.
Dedicated Server providers include:
You need an SSL Certificate to be eligible to take payments through your ecommerce website. An SSL Certificate encrypts communication between a visitor and your server. In that way, you protect all sensitive and private data such as a username and password, credit card number, and SSN from nefarious third-parties. The most convenient way to get an SSL Certificate is through your hosting provider. In most cases, a free SSL Certificate from Let’s Encrypt will do the job.
Having an SSL Certificate implemented on your server makes you eligible for HTTP/2 protocol. Necessary, because your server will get a performance boost and pages should load much faster when customers visit your ecommerce website.
Pick a Theme and Customize Design
While most ecommerce platforms offer a wide variety of designs for you to choose, it's easy to get caught up in endless options, especially if you don't have a sharp eye for design. An ecommerce theme is a pre-built ecommerce store design, installed on to an ecommerce site to deliver the best possible user experience for site visitors. Using an ecommerce Theme can be an affordable option for online businesses because they can eliminate web design and development costs.
Before sourcing an ecommerce platform, or when choosing a theme, first, ask yourself the following questions:
- How elaborate do I want my content to be?
- How do I want my Header to look?
- What type of Menu Bar do I want to provide my shoppers?
You don't build every website template the same way. Consider the following features for your website:
- Cross-sell and Upsell capabilities
- Shopping cart functions
- The aesthetics
- Mobile optimization
- Customization options
- Customer support
- Free vs. Paid themes
Your business needs and the type of products you sell will help you determine the right theme for your business.
The way you import products into your store will differ slightly depending on the ecommerce platform you choose. Still, it will usually involve importing from a CSV file, extensions, or integration with product platforms.
Product import with WooCommerce
If you're looking to import your products through WooCommerce, there are a couple of options. It has a built-in product CSV importer and exporter that allows you to import products through a CVS file. You can also import products through extensions (e.g., Fulfillment by Amazon and eBay, and Dropshipping through AliExpress). Finally, there are also product platforms such as Spocket that can help in the process.
Product Import with Shopify
Product Import with Shopify is very similar. There is also the option of import by CSV file as well as import through extensions (e.g., Fulfillment by Amazon and eBay, and Dropshipping through AliExpress). Shopify differs because they use Oberlo, which lets you find products, add them to your Shopify store, and ship them directly to customers.
Connect with Google Shopping and Facebook Product Catalog
Google Shopping is a Google ad service that enables customers to search for, compare, and buy physical products from various advertising retailers Google Shopping results are visible as thumbnail images showing the retailer and the price of each item. When a shopper clicks on a retailer’s link, then they are sent directly to the retailer's site to place their order.
There are a few steps required to manually set up your account to get your products listed on Google Shopping.
Create a Google Merchant Account
You must register for a Google Merchant Center Account to get your items included in Google Shopping results. Google Merchant Center is easy to set up, easy to navigate, and serves effectively as your home base for your product information.
- Fine-tune your Product Images
Google Shopping uses submitted product feeds to index search results, but it pulls the featured images from the corresponding ecommerce websites. Due to that, optimizing your product imagery and listings on your site are critical before Google Shopping approval.
To get your products displayed on Google Shopping, follow Google’s image guidelines.
To set up a Facebook Store :
Step 1: Go to your Facebook Page and configure the Shop page
Step 2: Set up your Shop details
Step 3: Configure your Payments
Step 4: Add a Product to your Facebook Store
Step 5: Manage your Orders
Step 6: Sell!
3. Build an Ecommerce Website
Now it’s time to put all the effort from your earlier work to good use and have your site ready for publishing.
Create Company Pages
Begin by building your company pages. These include your Homepage, About Us page, Contact Information, and anything you might think would interest buyers who visit your website.
The easiest and most effective way to approach the Homepage on an ecommerce website is to show the most popular products. Keep the Homepage easy and tidy and include strong Calls to Action. Test your product popularity every couple of months and rotate products when appropriate.
Many visitors will look at your "About Us" page to figure out more about who you are, what you do to help establish you as a trusted retailer. This page offers you a perfect opportunity to tell your story, and it is the one place your buyers will come to see if your website is reliable.
Add a simple Contact page - Include your phone number, address, and a contact form for people to reach your offices. If you have customer support, make sure to add that as a separate listing on the same page.
Create Product Pages
Consider the reason why visitors visit your website - to buy your products. Therefore, the design of your product page is as essential as your Homepage. The first factor to take into consideration is how your visitors are finding or reaching your site:
- Directly from a search engine like Google?
- After browsing through your brick-n-mortar store
- After clicking through a targeted advertisement
On top of this, you should make sure users find your store. These are a few steps to consider:
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- Provide Search Engines with enough information about your ecommerce store
- Design your website pages well, so they load fast to provide a great online shopping experience
Make SEO Friendly Product Names
Formulate Product Names in a way that they can be found easily through search engines like Google.
For example, if you are selling baby rompers, your product names should be something like:
- Baby Romper Disco
- Baby Romper Cinderella
- Baby Romper Smurfs
The product description should provide more details about size, materials used in production, etc.
Write Convincing Product Descriptions
The object of a Product Description is a marketing tool intended to provide relevant information to consumers about the product's features and benefits, so they are motivated to buy it.
Nevertheless, both developers and advertisers are vulnerable to a common error while writing product descriptions. Sometimes even the professional copywriters are guilty of this - writing descriptions of the product that simply describe it.
To avoid this:
1. Use persuasive wording - These words can help draw readers into action.
2. Use storytelling - Storytelling is a very effective way to engage readers and lead them to purchase your product.
3. Keep your message concise - Product descriptions should be easy and quick to read.
Take Professional Photos of your Products
The way you present your products online affects revenue dramatically. Amateur-looking product images will deter prospective customers from making a purchase. You don't have to spend loads of money but use a good quality camera. Having professional-looking photos of your goods on your website is vital.
Setup Tracking and Analytics
Measuring the success of your ecommerce store involves more than just checking your profit and loss statement. There are dozens of metrics to use to help you make more informed decisions and drive store growth, from Unique Visitors to Conversion Rates and Average Order Value.
So, what do you get from tracking?
Ecommerce Platform Tracking
Ecommerce reports allow you to analyze purchase activity on your site or app. You can see product and transaction information, average order value, ecommerce conversion rate, time to purchase, and other data.
Payment Provider Tracking
Your Customer Relations Management (CRM) software should provide analytics, including leads and customer interactions. You can activate native integration within the ecommerce platform if it exists, or if not, you can use Zapier.
Using Web Analytics like the most popular Google Analytics gives you the overall picture, traffic sources, location tracking, sold products, interactions on the website, and much more. Best of all - it's free.
There are many ways to implement Google Analytics. They include Google Tag Manager, WordPress plug-in, or by providing just the Property ID in the ecommerce platform, etc.
Test Speed, UX and SEO
Technical success is crucial when it comes to the overall success of the website, including the ease with which your visitors can access and browse your webpage. It is important to optimize your website. In addition to SEO, technical optimization also determines performance factors that will influence Google's ranking of your site are the aspects you should consider:
1. Optimizing site speed
Site speed is one of the most critical performance indicators of all: the estimate is that you risk losing traffic when a site takes over 2.5-3 seconds to load. That abandon rate shoots up even more after 5 seconds. A site can slow down for any number of reasons. However, several tools will give you a quick appraisal of the situation:
2. Responsive design for mobile and tablet devices
In the last quarter of 2019, mobiles generated 52.4 percent of global traffic, with the significant improvements in web browsing in the previous five years. Because of the vast volume of mobile web browsing, websites need to be optimized (or "responsive") for smartphone and tablet displays.
When designing landing pages, note that various landing page designers provide completely responsive templates, which is a good way to save time when developing websites. Consequently, making sure that your platform is responsive means building the website so that the information shown adapts to the scale of the display window used by the user.
The best way to test responsiveness, performance, usability, and accessibility is through Google's Lighthouse. This tool can be used programmatically on your repository, i.e., it can fit into your existing Continuous Integration process.
3. Page errors and hosting performance
Loading errors: we’ve all experienced them. They usually take the form of an HTTP protocol starting 4XX or 5XX. The most common are:
- 404 (not found)
- 403 (forbidden)
- 401 (unauthorized)
- 400 (bad request)
- 500 (internal server error)
The problem with page errors is that buyers who come across them sometimes signal the end of their stay. By using a crawler, you can identify page errors on your site to redirect visitors to useful resources. Technology such as Screaming Frog or Botify may help in this.
On-page SEO covers all the technical aspects needed to rank in Google. This means:
- Your tags must be consistent and must contain your targeted keywords
- Your site must load quickly
- Your website must be responsive
- Your website must be HTTP Secure (HTTPS)
- Your site architecture must be consistent and organized
- Links, both internal and external, must work
4. Implement Payment Processing
A Payment Processor helps an ecommerce website accept different types of payments from their online shoppers. Choosing a Payment Processor can both help you save money and keep the business running smoothly. Most Payment Services have integrations with the popular ecommerce platforms, so It should be easy to integrate them into your online store applications.
How to Select the Right Payment Provider
One of the most important decisions you make when setting up your ecommerce website is choosing the right Payment Processor. There are a couple of factors to consider when choosing a payment processor:
• To start accepting online payments, you need a Payment Processor and a merchant account.
• You also need a Payment Processor for your buyers to be able to pay with all their preferred payment types.
• Your Payment Processor should handle the heavy lifting from payment processing to customer support.
To have all the requirements met, you should look for:
- PCI compliance
- Compatibility with other software
- Ecommerce fraud prevention
Set up your Payments
There are various ways of taking payments, and each has its advantages. A Payment Processor is the easiest option. Most companies will handle credit card payments for you for a small fee and monitor all the details of the store account. Once you've decided on a Payment Processor you'll need to:
1. Create a Merchant Account
You will have to sign up for a merchant account no matter which Payment Processor you choose. Each Payment Processor will have their sales team walk you through this process.
2. Create a Payment Form
You can now start tailoring your payment forms using your new software. Determine the types of products, services, and payments you want to offer, then upload your logo and activate the form.
3. Integrate the Forms
Payment processing is there to save you all the hassle, but first, you and your customers must get accustomed to the online payment forms from your payment processor.
Configure Marketing and Sales Automation
Before you start thinking about how complicated this part is going to be, we'll tell you right away that specific ecommerce platforms offer both Marketing and Sales Automation, either natively or through add-ons (e.g., Shopify Apps).
So, what does Marketing and Sales Automation in ecommerce mean?
- Tracking and managing customer data effectively
- Converting website and app traffic
- Personalizing marketing
- Delivering above par customer support
A combination of ecommerce platform + CRM + Payment Processor will equip you with the right Marketing and Sales Automation tools.
Some CRM’s that are a good fit for ecommerce platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce include:
Perform Pre-launch Tests
Starting a website is not as straightforward as setting up a WordPress theme, thinking up a homepage, and clicking on the tempting "publish" button. There is a lot of energy and effort that must be put into a website to make sure it has a chance to succeed.
So visitors can seamlessly click through your pages, there are some Pre-launch Tests that you should perform first.
1. Test your website on multiple browsers
Preview your website from multiple browsers to make sure that it displays correctly in all of them. We suggest the following:
- Google Chrome
In this step, you need to check your connections and navigation menus. Test on multiple devices and operating systems for the best results. If the basic navigation links do not function properly, you might lose a lot of traffic and drive the bounce rate through the roof.3. Test social media add-ons
It is also essential to take a few moments to check your social media add-ons. Linking your social media channels to your platform is essential to your company. For example, use social media plug-ins to allow users to comment directly on the blog.4. Cross-check your text
While video and image content is incredibly important, the text still makes up a vast majority of websites. It is worth taking the time to double-check your copy and ensure there are no spelling errors.
Check that you are using the right font throughout your website and that the text is structured correctly (heading annotations, bold, italics, etc.). You might want to read the copy aloud, too, to make sure it doesn't sound too formal or complicated.5. Test your sales and marketing automation
The whole point of having an ecommerce website is to get customers. To keep track of potential and actual customers, you're going to have to add and test Marketing and Sales Automation tools.
Marketing Automation includes:
- Lead creation and scoring
- Email blasts and drip campaigns
- Campaign automation
- CRM tracking
Sales Automation includes:
- Using sales bots
- Cross sales offer
- Up sales offer
- Sales notifications
The final and most crucial test is related to taking online payments.
You need to make sure payment processing works before you launch an ecommerce website. If customers experience any issues with payments on your website, it will negatively impact not only your reputation but also your profits due to the increased number of chargebacks.
Rest assured that test transactions will not cost you any real money. Everything is done in a sandbox or dev testing environment until you fine-tune purchase flows and get ready for public launch.
By now, you should have more knowledge about how to build an ecommerce website from scratch and sell online. It might seem like a lot at first, but it can prove very fruitful. As you might have understood from the text, to get your website up and running, all you must do is get started.
Use the information we provided and implement it, test what works best for you, analyze and repeat. You might not get it right the first time, but that’s the beauty of a venture like this, that you can try and try until you get it right.