How to Build an E-Commerce Website
So many people dream of starting a business, but before the internet, starting a business was a difficult prospect. Nowadays, building an e-Commerce website and selling products online become even cheaper and is within reach for anyone.
Building a business of any sort is surely a challenging work. Coming up with products and strategy ideas among other things, are big and important steps you’ll have to tackle. However even if you’ve never built a website before, the tools now available ensure that anyone can create an online store.
Of course when you shop online, seamlessly checkout, and then conveniently have a product or service delivered to your doorsteps so effortlessly, you might think the process isn’t that complicated.
Surely if you’ve never started an e-commerce store from scratch, it’s impossible to understand how time consuming and detailed the process is. When looking at any e-commerce site, you never think about the fact that someone had to negotiate with each manufacturer, take the investment risk, build the website, craft the online content, spend hours and money in online marketing and individually load each and every product, before the actual selling process even begins.
Before anyone can purchase a product from you, they need a way to find your brand and the products you’re selling. For brands that only sell products through a storefront, that limits greatly the number of people that can learn about you to begin with, much less come to your store to make a purchase.
That was already true before the Corona-virus pandemic started, but it is much more the case now that people sheltering in their houses have shifted almost all their shopping to online. Therefore, if you don’t have an e-Commerce website, you’re missing out a huge market.
If you’ve been hesitant to sell products online, here are a few good reasons to why setting up an online store is a good idea.
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1- People Are Now Spending More Money Online.
People in the United States spent $602 billion online in 2019. And that was before the Corona-virus changed everyone’s shopping habits. In the first month after the pandemic started, e-Commerce sales grew by 49%.
Nowadays, more then ever, any business owner that stays offline is missing out on their piece of those profits and surely the new normal. Some experts predict that e-Commerce will surpass $2 trillion in sales in the next few years -it’s the fastest growing and one of the most valuable industries.
While some shoppers still prefer the experience of buying clothes in a store and will eagerly get back to doing so when it’s safe to, many will prefer to skip the trip and do their shopping from a computer screen or mobile device.
2- An e-Commerce website costs less than a storefront.
Running a storefront requires paying:
Rent for the space
Store staff salaries
Proper physical store licenses and permits
Furniture and decorations
Selling supplies like a point-of-sale (POS) system and cash registers
All of that adds up to a lot of expenses – and most of them are ongoing.
Selling products on a website, on the other hand, cuts out most of those costs. You will still need to pay for things like web hosting and marketing. And you may still need to hire some staff, depending on the size of the e-Commerce store you will run, but the costs are overall much lower and easy to plan for.
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3- Online shopping provides convenience.
When you’re tired, busy, sick, or just feeling a little lazy – you probably don’t want to spend time driving somewhere and browsing a store for the items you want to buy. People have a lot going on and sometimes there just isn’t room in their lives for a trip to the store.
By comparison, browsing an e-Commerce site online gives more options to a customer. Making selections and comparing prices is easier, faster, and requires much less energy. People are more likely to spend their money when it doesn’t feel like work to do so.
Online shopping isn’t 100% effortless. True it require consistency and attention but it’s not very hard. When you sell your products through an online store, you remove a lot of the barriers to buying that exist with a physical store.
4- An online presence gets your products found in search.
85% of people turn to Google for product discovery and shopping. Without an e-Commerce website, your products have no chance of showing up when potential customers start looking for what you sell online.
But when every product you sell is listed on your e-Commerce website, all of them will be indexed by search engines such as Google. That’s the first step to your products showing up in search results.
If you want those product pages to show up on the first page of Google, that requires an investment in SEO best practices. But before you can even start thinking about that, you need an e-Commerce website for your products.
5- You can sell your products not only locally but for people anywhere.
With cheaper and quicker delivery couriers and with the increasing mobile purchasing trend, it is much easier nowadays to have your products reaching potential customers all over the world. As far as you have a good product and price that people want, it isn’t hard to sell and ship it elsewhere.
Mobile shopping surely has been a game change on online sales, making it possible for people to make purchases at the exact moment they decide they want something. Whether they’re on the couch watching TV, strolling through the street, or resting on the beach – if they think of something they want, they take their mobiles up to purchase what they want right on a blink.
That creates more opportunities for sales, less avoiding the risk of a potential customer deciding they want an item you sell, only to forget about it by the time they get home to their computer.
Before you start the process of building your e-Commerce store you need first a domain name and web hosting plan. Without these, there’s no way to actually have a live e-Commerce website.
There are dozens of different providers and services you can use to buy a domain name and hosting, and you can either purchase them together or separately. If this is your first time building a website, the easiest course of action is purchasing them together from the same provider. This minimizes the number of technical tasks you need to complete and speeds up the process of getting your site online.
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6- What You Need to Build an e-Commerce Website
Building an e-Commerce website will be a little different than creating a standard website or starting a blog. Beyond buying a domain name and hosting you’ll also need to consider tools and software for processing payments, along with actually creating and manufacturing your products.
While building an e-Commerce store is much cheaper and easier than building a storefront, it does still require some upfront capital and work.
Below is a list of all the steps we took to get started and successfully build our e-commerce site:
a)- Purchase a domain name.
This is pretty straightforward. You need a domain name that will perfectly identify your brand. Don’t overthink the process. You can purchase a domain name for less then $10.00.
b)- Find a web developer.
This is a crucial component in launching your e-Commerce site. If you want to launch your site in a relatively short time span and in a professional manner, make sure to do your vetting when it comes to hiring a developer.
Get references from other e-Commerce websites the developer has built. Get a timeline for how long they anticipate it will take to launch the site. Make sure they have a graphic design background so they can crop images that will align with your site. Be sure to ask if the developer has experience building sites on the e-Commerce platform you choose.
Too often, entrepreneurs move forward with a developer without doing their due diligence in terms of research. Don’t let this happen to you, as it can put a halt to your website before you really even get started.
c)- Select e-Commerce and website builder platform.
For many new e-Commerce owners, the easiest option by far is using a website builder that includes e-Commerce options. Most website builders are designed with beginners top of mind, so anyone should be able to put a website together quickly and easily.
With a website builder, you start with a pre-designed template, then can easily add in original images, move things around on the page with drag-and-drop functionality, and fill in your copy.
As long as you choose a website builder that supports e-Commerce, you should also be able to easily add product pages that include photography, basic SEO fields, a product description, and inventory status information.
To save time and money, select a popular e-Commerce platform. The best platforms are Shopify, WooCommerce or BigCommerce. Most developers are familiar with these, making it easy to integrate plugins, payment processing, etc.
For a simple e-Commerce site, we recommend WooCommerce because of the its WordPress capabilities.
d)- Find a theme that matches your e-Commerce vision.
To save even more time, you can choose a free theme and plugins from wordpress, that way you can modify and create a layout that resembles the look and feel you desire from an e-commerce perspective. Don’t try to make a website from scratch, choosing a theme will surely save yourself quite a headache.
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7- Register your business.
When starting a business online you cannot forget that even though you are selling online, it is illegal to sell products or services without a proper business licenses and paying taxes. Therefore it is important, specially to be able to grow your business and be eligible for a bank loan to be sure that what you are doing is properly registered and in accordance with law.
So it is important to get a business license and start looking into legal business issues as soon as possible. It isn’t very hard or expensive by itself, however you should contact a local attorney to assist you in the creation of your business. While it is an upfront cost, it will likely save you a lot of headache and expense in the future.
8- Take your website live.
As soon as you commit to starting your business, take your website live, even before listing any of your products. Have your developer created a homepage, an “About Us” page and a contact page, even if nothing else.
This will be helpful for numerous reasons:
It will allow you to establish legitimacy when negotiating deals with vendors. You’ll have more than just an idea.
When reaching out to “Help A Reporter Out (HARO)”, partners, potential customers and bloggers, they will see that you have a website and are credible.
It will give you a place for all of these sources to link back to your site, which is, of course, key for building SEO.
9- Help a Reporter Out (HARO).
Help A Reporter Out (HARO) is one of the greatest tools for PR and SEO any business owner or digital marketer can make use of. It’s free, it generates amazing exposure (if executed properly) and it can really be a game changer (again, if executed properly).
HARO provides journalists with a robust database of sources for upcoming stories and daily opportunities for sources to secure valuable media coverage. Sign up and use this resource as much as you can to build credibility and establish media relationships for your website.
When it comes to HARO, there are several key components on how to take the most advantage of it. The first is timeliness. When a reporter submits a query, they can receive hundreds of pitches in response. Each query has a deadline as well, so making sure you respond immediately, in the morning, afternoon and evening is critical for both reasons.
The second key element is finding a true industry expert with ease of access. This will provided you an advantage over the thousands of pitches that deal with entrepreneurship (which you should also responded to, but often returns a lower conversion rate).
If you spend the time and send back two pitches per day for a one-year time span, you will get tremendous exposure on some of the most popular sites on the web. This will not only help increase your brand exposure, it will greatly help your SEO as well.
Developing relationships with media contacts is a very important. This is where Pitchbox comes in. Pitchbox automates the outreach grunt work so you can focus on what you do best; creating real, person-to-person connections with the people you want to reach. Pitchbox helps scale your outreach efforts. It handles all aspects from the prospecting to the emailing to the tracking and managing the workflow.
After Pitchbox sends an initial pitch, if someone doesn’t respond, their SaaS software will send a follow-up email based on a timed schedule. You can craft your own emails (both initial and follow-up) so that the message still sounds personal.
Pitchbox starts at $95 for startups and is a great resource to generate high quality relationships.
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11- Personalized outreach.
Personalized relationships are very important, both for vendors and for the media. If you have successfully implemented an SEO strategy, you definitely understand the value of personalized relationships.
Make sure to pitch the website something of value. It is important to do research on reporters and editors so when you pitch them a story idea the email doesn’t get buried in their inbox or deleted unread. It is also important to share your expertise through articles informing or teaching readers about what you know best.
Be sure to have an email, phone number and WhatsApp that a customer can use to reach you and be sure to pick up the phone and answer messages asap.
If you have a sales team be sure to have a close professional relationship with them as well as the vendors are the people who dictate sales and promotions. They can keep you up to date on the latest trends for their brand to help bolster your sales. They are the people who know the most about the products you’re selling, so it’s very important to always communicate with them.
Let them know that you’re a team and you want to work with them to garner success for both of you. They will appreciate it and think of you anytime they have a special deal or promotion, or even a great marketing idea.
12- Get a payment gateway.
It’s important to have several payment methods available. The most familiar offsite payment gateways are PayPal and Stripe. But if you want to accept credit cards directly onsite, recurring billing and mobile payment, a gateway like authorize.net or 2Checkout.com provide great options.
All of this information will need to be visible on your website. Make sure to also have a clean credit history, a U.S. driver’s license or state ID, a U.S. bank account for the business where funds will be deposited, and a federal tax ID. You’ll need a voided check (or a bank letter with your account information) and it’s also a good idea to include a cover letter with your application explaining your business and why you’ll be successful.
Setting up your payment gateway and credit card processing can take a while as these processors don’t want to take any risk on a business without experience or that is unlikely to be successful, so you must prove to them that this is not the case with your business. Don’t wait until the last minute to start this process.
13- Google Shopping + Facebook Product Catalog.
There are some things, that you cannot complete until the site is ready to launch and the products are all uploaded. When you are in the final stages of development, make sure to get your Google Shopping Campaign set-up to ensure your product images populate when users search for relevant keywords.
You can use this same data feed from the merchant center and upload it to Facebook’s product catalog.
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14- Choose Elements to Include on Your e-Commerce Website.
Before you get to building, take some time to consider what functionalities you want your website to have and how to best organize it.
a)- Organize Your e-Commerce Website Based On How People Shop.
One of the first steps to organizing an e-Commerce website is figuring out what pages and categories to include. You’ll obviously want a home page and pages for each of your different products. But how will you organize all those product pages so that people can find what they’re looking for?
Think about how your potential customers are likely to shop and browse and build out the site architecture that makes the most sense based on that.
For example, if you sell pet food and supplies, you might organize your website based on the type of pet your visitors have (dog, cat, fish, mouse, etc.) with subcategories under each for product types (toys, treats, food, etc.). Anyone visiting the site can pretty quickly figure out how to narrow down their search based on their particular needs. And by visiting a page that groups a lot of similar products together, they can browse all the dog treats or cat toys available and pick the one they most want.
b)- Include a Search Bar.
Many of your visitors will be content to browse the site to find items they like, but some will know exactly what they’re looking for. A search bar will give them a way to get directly to the page they need and is, therefore, one of those features that every e-Commerce site should have.
c)- Include Reviews.
Over half of regular online shoppers say they read reviews almost every time they shop online. Looking at customer reviews has become a regular part of the purchasing process. By including a review feature on your website, you give your customers a way to hear directly from each other, which is more powerful than what you can tell them.
Enabling reviews from third parties shows your customers that you’re confident that your products can stand up to customers’ honest feedback. And if the reviews are positive (which they should be if your products are solid), they’ll increase your sales.
As an added benefit, reviews can help you gain valuable feedback about the products you offer and the service experience your customers have. You may be able to pick up some tips that help you improve your e-Commerce business results over time.
d)- Have a Shopping Cart.
Your ideal customer isn’t going to see one item they like and go straight to the purchase process. They’ll spend some time browsing and choosing several items they want.
A shopping cart is another standard feature of e-Commerce stores because it allows visitors to save the items they want to purchase while they continue browsing, and then go through the purchasing process once for all of them.
And for visitors that add items to a shopping cart but don’t buy right away, you can follow up with a reminder email to your customers to help nudge them back to the site toward a purchase.
e)- Include Wish List Functionality.
Including wish list functionality accomplishes a few different things:
- It gives people an easy place to point friends and family in the lead up to a gift-giving event – a situation people regularly make purchases for.
- For people who prefer to do research before they buy a product, it gives them a chance to save the items they like for possible future purchase.
- For anyone avoiding impulse buys for budgetary reasons, they can mark now the things they want to come back for later.
Giving people a way to use your website to create a list of items they want creates a few opportunities where those items are more likely to become future sales.
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15- Order packaging and figure out shipping/storage options..
Before you can launch your website, you’ll need to figure out how to store and ship your inventory. You will have to determine storage to make arrangements for with your vendors. Some questions you will need to answer are as follows:
- Will you be utilizing drop shipping or will you store all of your inventory in a warehouse?
- Will you use USPS, UPS, FedEx, or some combination of the three to ship and track packages? What will you ship your package in?
- What size packaging do you need?
- Are you going to include any promotional materials in your packages?
- Are there shipping restrictions on any of the products you’re offering (e.g, there are some beauty products can only be shipped via ground)?
You need answers to all of these questions before you’re ready to ship out any merchandise. As you can see, starting an e-Commerce website is quite an involved and detailed process. Following this checklist will ensure you take the proper steps to get your website launched in a timely manner while being proactive with your SEO and marketing.
So… here’s the process of how to build an e-commerce website. I hope that you all liked this article and got some good information out of it. Feel free to comment and please help us by sharing this post.Thanks !!!