Customers everywhere pretty much expect that they can now get what they want online. Whether you’re a local shop or a multinational corporation, eCommerce has become a must for businesses looking to grow sales. Offering online payments and home delivery gives you a massive competitive edge. It all starts when you create a good eCommerce website.
An eCommerce website should both look trustworthy and work seamlessly. Plenty of businesses lose customers because their site looks fishy or their payment gateway doesn’t work. We want to avoid all that.
There was a time when building an eCommerce website was a painful task. It required skilled developers and constant maintenance. Thanks to the free eCommerce website builders available now, launching your eCommerce website is easier than ever.
Once you’ve made all the business decisions, setting up your own eCommerce website should only take you a day or two. Even if you’ve never made a website before, you can set up an eCommerce website completely by yourself.
In this tutorial, we will show you how to build an eCommerce website from scratch. Follow these steps and convert leads into online sales, all in a matter of a few clicks.
Why Build Your Own Ecommerce Website From Scratch
Starting out, many business owners are confused about their eCommerce strategy. What are the benefits of having your own eCommerce website? Should you rely on popular marketplaces, or go with your own website?
While building and marketing an eCommerce website is slightly more challenging, it pays off in the long run. Here are the reasons why
You Control Product Placement
Marketplaces like Amazon get to decide what products show up first on their listings. For the visibility of your products, you may have to pay Amazon for ads.
You could also try to get prominent on organic search results, but Amazon could change their algorithm and all your effort would be lost. Having your own eCommerce store lets you decide where your products show up.
No Fee for Selling Your Product
Marketplaces will charge you a hefty fee for selling your product on their website. It may be a small percentage. Overtime, though, it can end up being a big sum.
If you grow your own eCommerce store, you make sure nobody else is getting cuts from your sales.
Amazon is stuffed with competitive products at low rates. Your product may be better, but if you can’t beat the price point others offer, you will be crushed.
If you can make your eCommerce website popular in your product category, there’s nothing like it.Customers see only your products and are likely to not get distracted by the competition. “This also depends on your location. If you’re doing eCommerce in Australia, you will face different challenges rather than doing it in Europe.”
Create A Brand
When people buy products from marketplaces, they don’t always remember the brand. The more niche the product, the less the brand matters.
You’re not creating brand awareness even for customers that are buying your product. That’s not going to help you in the long run. Having your own eCommerce website will help you showcase your brand to customers.
No Need To Choose
One of the most compelling reasons to build your own eCommerce website is that there’s no downside. If marketplaces help your product sell right now, there’s no need to stop that. You can keep selling on Amazon, and develop your eCommerce presence on the side.
These reasons make it a no brainer that you should have an eCommerce website. There’s simply no excuse not to. So if you’re ready, let’s discuss what all you will need to set up your eCommerce store.
What You Need to Create An Ecommerce Website
Setting up an eCommerce website doesn’t require a lot. You do have to invest a bit into the usual website stuff, but that’s about it. Once you have these things in place, you can start building your own eCommerce website the way you want.
A Domain Name
Your website needs to have a catchy domain name. When users think of a product, they should remember the name of your eCommerce website. That is why choosing a good domain name is important.
You can use any of the usual vendors to buy domain names. There is GoDaddy and a lot more of the likes.
Oh, and remember, you don’t need to have any SEO keyword in your domain name. Since Google’s updates to its search algorithm, it stopped mattering if domain names had keywords. So you’re much better off just going with the domain name you want.
A Web Hosting Provider
A web hosting provider is where all the data of your eCommerce website will be stored. It’s important to pick a good host for your eCommerce website. The speed and security of your website depend on hosting providers.
The popular choices are BlueHost, Hostinger, etc.
An E-commerce Website Builder
A Content Management System (CMS) or website builder will be the backbone of your website. It will be the control room from where you add new products or edit existing ones. It’s important to pick an easy-to-use eCommerce website builder. It will help you make changes to your eCommerce website smoothly.
WooCommerce, which uses WordPress, is the most popular eCommerce website builder. Additionally, you’d need a good WooCommerce hosting to improve your site performance. Wix and Squarespace have also emerged as new popular choices.
Hosted on WordPress, WooCommerce offers more functionality with plugins. For beginners, though, Wix and Squarespace might be easier to navigate.
A Payment Processor
For self-hosted eCommerce websites, customer trust is one of the biggest barriers. Thus, it is important to choose a reliable payment processor customers are comfortable with.
While choosing a payment processor, you want to make sure they are compliant with data privacy laws. They should also have some fraud prevention measures in place. These things will help your eCommerce website feel secure and trustworthy.
How to Build Your Ecommerce Website from Scratch
Now that you have all the tools in place, it’s time to put them all together. In a few steps, you will then have your own eCommerce website. We’ve broken it down into easy five steps –
1. Get Everything In One Place
This is perhaps the most technical step when it comes to building your own eCommerce website. But the good news is, once you’re done with this, the rest is easy!
By now, you have bought a domain name, chosen a website builder and a payment gateway. You have to link them to each other. The instructions will be specific to your choices. Your website builder should have easy instructions for this step.
A lot of website builders like Wix and Squarespace also offer an all-in-one solution. They are slightly expensive, but then you can skip this step. The website builders will already put everything together for you. For people less comfortable with technical steps, this is the best option.
2. Structure Your Ecommerce Website
Once you have everything linked, it’s time to add some structure to your eCommerce website. When you visit any website, it usually has a navigation bar on top. We will want something similar. Your website builder should have that built in by default.
List down the pages and categories your website will need. You will need a homepage, of course. But what other pages do you want? How should products be categorized?
When thinking about pages and categories, focus on what structure will help the buyer the most. For example, you could build an eCommerce website for natural air fresheners. As a seller, you might think of categorizing products by brand. But you need to think about how the customer thinks.
When I go out to buy cereal, am I thinking about the brand or the product category? The key to making navigation easy is to structure the eCommerce website well. Customers will then be able to navigate easily. It looks professional and brings you closer to that sale.
3. Add Copywriting and Pictures
A serious mistake eCommerce shops can make is not investing enough in the presentation. A functional website is only half the challenge. Your eCommerce website needs to look and feel professional. That is the only way customers will trust an online eCommerce website.
Good copywriting in an eCommerce website inspires trust and communicates your brand message. Thanks to freelancer platforms like Upwork, copywriters are not hard to find. They are also not very expensive.
For photographs, try not to rely on stock images. No matter how beautiful, customers can tell. If you can get a photographer to capture your products, that’s the best. You can also add a picture of your team on your eCommerce store’s homepage. Pictures of your team help customers trust you.
4. Add Product Details
Once your eCommerce website has some structure and branding, we can finally get to product listings. This is perhaps the most important part of creating an eCommerce website.
With product listings, you want to add as many images of the product as possible. This again is so that customers trust your website. You also want to give the products catchy names. Amazon and other marketplaces have rules about naming and descriptions. With your own eCommerce website, you have the freedom to present your product however you want.
You will probably want to stick to the traditional listing template, though. Product images on the left, price, and other details on the right. A detailed description and a FAQ section answering some common questions as they scroll down. Sticking to this basic structure ensures your customers aren’t lost. It still leaves a lot of space for innovative presentations. Here is a product page selling Circuit Breaker Lockout Tagout designed on the basic product page structure.
5. Add More Elements to Improve Your Ecommerce Website
Now that you are done with the basics, its time to supercharge your eCommerce website. There are a few key elements that eCommerce websites can benefit from. Most website builders will allow you to include them. Here are some of the must-have elements.
In the eCommerce market, reviews are everything. Over 50% of online shoppers read reviews while making a purchase online. Allow reviews on your product listings. Let customers share their experiences with your product. It will go a long way in building trust and improving sales.
A Search Bar
You may have gotten the structure of your website just right. A few customers will still want to rely on a search bar. It’s always a good idea to let customers search directly for products. Search bars also help you get precious data on what your customers are looking for.
A Shopping Cart
When you include a shopping cart on your eCommerce website, you’re really giving customers the store experience. Once they select a product, let them roam around for anything else they want. This will increase your chances that customers will buy multiple things.
This feature is not for everyone. If you think you can create customer loyalty so they keep coming back, a wishlist is a great idea. Instead of just closing the product page, they can save it for later. At least they’re taking some action. And you can always remind them about items on their wishlist, increasing chances of a sale.
Most eCommerce website builders will already have all these elements. You might have to activate them. The support team of your chosen website builder can help you with that.
It is really easy to set up a good-looking eCommerce website these days. There are free eCommerce website builders. The ones that charge you are not very expensive. In such a landscape, there’s no excuse for you not to have an eCommerce website.
Once you create your eCommerce website, all you need to do is run some ads. Get the word out there, and reach customers sitting right at home. It could not be easier.
Keep in mind that the biggest challenge for your eCommerce store is to build trust. Marketplaces exploit the trust customers have in them. You can create that for your brand by selling good products at reasonable prices. Once they trust you, they will keep coming to your eCommerce website.
In the long term, having your own eCommerce website is the best solution. It ensures you maintain your loyal customer base. Create your own eCommerce website, and enjoy better sales and better margins!