If you have a business that mainly operated offline before, now is the right time to transition to an online store.
Turning to e-Commerce can benefit your business in many ways. e-Commerce platforms give you freedom in managing your business. They allow your business to have 24/7 operating hours, complete with shipping and payment options.
An online store also makes it easier for potential customers to look up information about your business and make their purchase.
They can reach your business website by keying in the domain and hitting enter or come across it through the search engine result pages.
Through this article, I’ll guide you about the basics of an e-Commerce website and the steps it takes to create one.
What Is an e-Commerce Website?
As people are becoming more dependent on internet to buy their daily life products, business owners are also moving towards eCommerce to sell their product.
With time there have developed multiple platforms to create eCommerce websites but many of them cost a good amount of money.
An e-Commerce website is a website that facilitates the activity of buying and selling products on the Internet. As an e-Commerce website will require payment and shipping services to support transactions, the system and tools used in this website differ from a regular website.
There are several things you will need for an e-Commerce website.
First, this website needs improved security. You’ll be handling countless transactions every day, so you need to make sure that all customers’ data and payments are safe.
Your website will also need a payment gateway to handle the payments. Online stores usually depend on a payment service provider (PSP) for this service. They manage the technical connections from your store to the bank and card network.
Lastly, the website needs optimization for more conversions. It needs to have an eye-catching landing page, presents information clearly, and easy to navigate.
Hiring a professional to build your shopping website will cost you a lot.
But wait, don’t get depressed, there is something for you.
There are many open-source platforms that allow you to create your eCommerce website for free.
How to Build an e-Commerce Website?
After understanding what an e-Commerce website is, it’s time to delve deeper into details about how you can create one.
Here are the steps you’ll need to take.
Step 1 – Pick a Platform
There are various platforms you can choose to build your e-Commerce website. They vary in the technical skills needed to maintain them.
Make sure to choose a platform you know you can handle, and familiarize yourself first before launching your website.
There’s WordPress, which people use to make different types of sites, including e-Commerce. If you want to create your site with WordPress, you need additional plugins like WooCommerce to handle the transactions.
WordPress as a shopping platform?
It might sound weird to a person who is new to the world of websites but the truth is WordPress provides a very good platform to run eCommerce websites.
It is open-source, so it can be moulded into any way that suits user and this is a feature that many developers have used to convert WordPress into an eCommerce platform.
Today hundreds of plugins are available on the WordPress plugin store that allows creating a shopping cart on your website.
Some of these plugins come bundled with really strong features including the option to link a payment gateway.
Payment gateways are angels and take a large part of your headache. There might be many aspiring business owners who don’t want to through the long banking process and these payment gateways can help you in this.
They provide a bypassing system, just register with your favourite Payment gateway company (they will need your bank account details), put their checkout system on your eCommerce website.
Now all your payment related issues will be taken care by your payment gateway provider and you will receive money for the sold goods directly to your bank account.
WordPress is a very good platform to add a shopping cart to your website but still, it is in its early stage of developing an eCommerce environment.
It is best if you want to create a website focused on a different area and you want to put a shopping cart just to earn extra money.
But if you want to create a full-fledge eCommerce website with powerful backend support then you need another platform.
Another platform commonly used for e-Commerce is Magento. Magento comes in two package options: the free Magento Open Source and the paid Magento Commerce, which starts from $1988.00/month.
Magento includes lots of features and capabilities, especially in its Magento Commerce package.
However, its free option requires more technical knowledge to operate because it doesn’t have customer support.
Opencart is a very powerful platform for you If you are really serious about your eCommerce website. It comes packed with all the powerful features that you will need and installing it is super easy.
Detailed instruction to installing OpenCart can be found here.
Initially, OpenCart was considered as an intermediate level eCommerce platform, but after the release of OpenCart 2.0, it has got a nice reputation over the internet.
A good and responsive storefront packed with all the features that you would expect on a big eCommerce website is what you get at the moment you install it.
A backend management system gives powerful features including:
A Dashboard that displays all your statistics including orders and users online.
Extension manager to install any additional plugin if needed.
Power to run and track campaign. Option to start affiliate programs and you can also generate Coupons to give a discount to your customers. A set of option to set location and currency of the sale.
These are just a few features of OpenCart, it is the best free of cost platform that I will recommend you for your eCommerce website.
There are business owners who use OpenCart to sell just one product and they use it because of the powerful features that this platform provides.
You can also add accounts for your assistants or customer representatives and you can also set what powers will be available to each account.
You can also use a website builder, which is excellent for beginners who want to create a website. For example, you can create an online store with Zyro, a popular website builder for e-Commerce. Zyro’s plan starts from $1.99/month.
Website builders often have templates and a drag-and-drop feature to add pictures, text, and sections to your web page, so it’s simpler to use.
If you choose the free option, like WordPress with WooCommerce or Magento Open Source, you’ll also need web hosting for your site.
Step 2 – Pick Your Domain Name
A domain name is the address of a website. It’s what people type into the address bar in their browser to access your website.
A good domain name needs to be short and easy to spell to make it easier for your customers to reach your site.
Since people will automatically type in .com when they want to access a site, you should use .com in your domain, if possible.
Some e-Commerce platforms have already included a domain in their package. If you use a third-party hosting provider, most also offer free domain in their plans.
However, if you get your domain outside apart from these services, link the domain with your chosen platform.
Step 3 – Start Building Your Store
After you have your platform and your domain name, now it’s time to start importing your products and build your store.
When choosing a design for your online store, your customer’s experience should be first and foremost. 80% of customers reported that they stopped doing business with a company because of a poor experience.
A big part of their experience relies on your website’s functionality. Choose an optimized theme or template that’s quick to load, a font that’s easy to read, and intuitive to navigate.
Another essential component of an online store is the payment options. Look up what payment processor options you have, the features you’ll need, and what payments you want to accept for the transactions.
A shipping calculator tool is also a useful feature to have on your website. An example would be like FedEx’s or UPS’s. It allows your customers to estimate how much they have to spend for different shipping options.
Last but not least, keep your product’s copy engaging. You’ll never know when your customers will shop for one product and end up buying more. Still, an engaging copy will surely get them interested.
Step 4 – Secure Your Website
A common way to improve the security of your website is by installing an SSL certificate. SSL ensures that all data that passes through your website’s server and your customer’s website are encrypted.
Some platforms already include a free SSL certificate in their plan, but if it doesn’t, make sure to research your options and get one installed for your e-Commerce site.
Getting extra security measures for an e-Commerce site is crucial because your customers will input sensitive information when doing transactions. Information like their card number or their address. can get stolen by attackers if you don’t secure your website correctly.
Step 5 – Go Live
Now that you’ve done all the previous steps, your e-Commerce website is ready to go live!
However, your online business journey doesn’t stop at launching your website. There will be no customers if people don’t know about your online store.
That’s why the next important step is to start marketing.
Step 6 – Start Marketing
To get people to start buying products from your site, you will need to attract visitors first.
There are several ways you can gain traffic to your website. First, you’ll need to get your website’s rank up on search engines through search engine optimization, or SEO.
You can boost your site’s ranking in several ways. First, be sure to add content regularly to your site. Most businesses do this through a blog.
You may also optimize the keywords you put in your content to match what people are looking up on search engines.
Another way to introduce your online store is through social media. Create a social media account to promote your business and put up ads to link to your website.
When you already have many visitors signing up on your website, email them regularly about your latest products and offers to keep them engaged.
Creating an e-Commerce website will benefit your business in the long run. When you’ve understood the steps you need to take, you’ll be able to set up your site overnight.
After listing all the features your e-Commerce site needs, it’s time to do your research and start building your site.