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How to Build an E-commerce Website in 10 Steps?

Last updated on May 29, 2018 by Dotsquares

These days the ubiquity of the internet has made it easy for businesses to expand their reach to global levels. It is the growing pace of technology that has made the web more accessible for e-commerce business to prosper over their ‘brick and mortar’ counterparts. No wonder more companies are trying to establish their online presence than ever before. The e-commerce industry has become more and more lucrative and mainstream, that it’s hard to ignore it anymore. So if you have any idea or an existing trade business, this is the best time transform it digitally and maximise your ROI. So without further ado, let’s start the process of establishing your online store right now through the following steps:

  • Get a domain name
  • Sort out the legal obligations
  • Choose your platform
  • Hire a web developer
  • Design a unique theme
  • Make your website live
  • Shipping Strategy
  • Secure Payment channel
  • User Testing
  • Invest resources for its marketing 

Step 1 – Get a domain name

Picking a domain name is a pretty straight forward task. If you already have a brick-and-mortar store, you may use its name as the domain, and doing so will allow you to leverage your brand reputation. However, if the name of your business is too big, it would be better to choose a shorter version, maybe even an abbreviation of your brand name for the purpose. You want to give your potential customer a name that they can remember.

Even better, choose a bespoke name that promotes your products/services or your business story in an innovative manner. Depending on how much forethought you have already given to your e-commerce concept, this step will take some critical thinking on your part. Always have a list of alternatives in case there is limited availability of the domain name and your budget. If this is the case then refer to websites like GoDaddy and HostGator, where you will also get information for the hosting of your website.

Step 2 – Sort out the legal obligations

If you are just starting your e-commerce business, without any established predecessor, you should first complete all the paperwork associated with the registration of a business. For this, you can take the legal services of a local attorney. These legal obligations are becoming increasingly important as more people are becoming aware of the growing impact of e-commerce, and all the other digital channels.

This is why it is essential to complete these tasks at the very beginning to save yourself from elongated legal procedures in the future. In this step, you should also cover the taxation and other legal strategies to establish a reliable foundation for durable results.

Step 3 – Choose your platform

E-commerce has now become so ubiquitous that the technologies to build these online stores have become far more advanced in the last decade. For small business, frameworks like Shopify, BigCommerce, and even WooCommerce are good sources. Their CMS like layout will allow you to manage and update your online store with complete ease.

However, if your business is of large scale, you may want to consider more robust solutions like Magento, to build your website on. You may also opt to build your e-store from scratch, as you will have more freedom in the optimisation and extension of your website. It may involve more investment and can be a complex. This is why for individuals just starting out, it is always recommended to choose a platform that will be easier to manage and upgrade, owing to the large community support.

Step 4 – Hire a web developer

Once you have decided which of the platforms is most suitable for the scale of your business, you should then hire a dedicated web developer or e-Commerce web development company, that is offering services with your chosen platform. This step should be taken with utmost care, as with the growing conundrum of demand and supply, many deserving companies lay hidden in substandard competition, which otherwise may offer you quality services in more cost-effective manner.

The best way to determine whether a company or a developer is fit for the task is to look at the projects they have already developed. Doing so will allow you to check the capabilities of the candidate, instead of just relying on their word. You may also want to consider the opinions of previous clients to get a better understanding of how reliable the said candidate actually is.

Step 5 – Design a unique theme

Most of the time the company or the developer that you hire would do this job for you. However, you may want to participate in this step as much as possible. Most e-commerce companies will have ample experience of working on e-commerce projects, thus having a better understanding in this domain as well. However if your idea is not something they have already worked on, it is always best to incorporate the inputs from the expert, and that in this case, is you.

No one will have a better understanding of your idea and the business than you will. This is why you need to make sure that the work approach the developing company is following, allows you to give inputs in the designing of the theme. To give best inputs from your end, it is necessary for you to conduct some research on your part. Look at the e-commerce websites from your domain, see what your target audience expects.

Step 6 – Make your website live

Once you have the domain and the website is ready, it is time for you to go live with your web store. You can always add the products later, but going live in advance will give search engines the time to crawl your website. Furthermore, it will also give legitimacy to your idea when you negotiate the trading strategies with the vendors.

A basic website will have a homepage, a page with contact details and an about us page that will detail about the purpose, goal, function of the business. Once the website is live, you can start adding your catalogue and products to it, evaluating in the meanwhile the responses and feedback from the visitors. In doing so tools like Google analytics will be of great help.

Step 7 – Shipping Strategy

Once you have started adding products to your website, it is high time for you to figure out your shipping and storage strategies. Depending on the type of products you are dealing with your requirements will be different from the next persons. Depending on your audience reach and the location of your vendors, you will need to choose at least one or more of the postal services that you will be using, for the purpose of shipping and tracking the packages.

Have a really good think about your packaging strategies. Are you wanting to add promotional materials with the merchandise, and what size and materials will be used for the packaging? To streamline this particular process you can implement a checklist. This checklist will be automated, freeing you to manage your e-store more efficiently.

Step 8 – Secure Payment channel

After your functional website is live on the World Wide Web, it’s time to focus on the payment gateway channels that you will be using for online purchases. For that, you first have to create a merchant account, with reliable brands like PayPal, Google Wallet, Amazon Payments, Payoneer etc. For small businesses, you may opt to go with Stripe and BluePay, as their fee structure may be more suitable for your needs. You may also want to add credit card processors to your website in case a consumer wants to pay that way as well.

This step involves certain actions like the creation of legal policies, getting the SSL certificates, and getting approval from these payment gateway channels. However, once that’s done, you can ask your developer to integrate the gateway channel to your website so that you can finally start making sales through your e-commerce store.

Step 9 – User Testing

Once your website is all set, you can ask a few of your friends to perform user testing on the website. This step will ensure that the visitors can easily make purchases on your site. You will also get to know more about the functionality of the website that and any malfunctions that might prevent a smooth navigation on it.

In this step, you may want to invest more time on the crucial pages like the checkout. Also ensure that you are using all the different types of devices for the purpose of testing, as the number of purchases from mobile devices has witnessed a significant growth in the last few years.

Step 10 – Invest resources for its marketing

Creating an e-commerce store is one thing, but making sure your customers are aware of its existence is another. This is the point where you need to give your business a voice, in the hustle and bustle of the world of digital commerce.

Given the competition in the market right now, it is always advised to hire a digital marketing company to take care of the things. Such agencies will work on multiple grounds to create the brand awareness for your store. However, if you decide to do all the marketing in house you will have to choose the appropriate channels, like digital ads, search engine ad results, organic search engine optimisation, social media marketing, and content marketing with PRs and blogs.

So there you have it. Ten simple and well-defined steps to bring your idea of e-commerce to life. In case you still have some queries, you can always consult with our business analysts. They have helped thousands of our clients in establishing their e-commerce websites, and have helped them to thrive too. We are working on a wide range of frameworks and have a brilliant team with expertise on multiple grounds. You can avail all this through multiple engagement models too, as best fit your requirements.