The unfortunate onset of the Covid-19 pandemic had resulted in lockdowns and travel restrictions that are being enforced worldwide to curb the spread of the disease. Owing to this, many people all over the world have become less mobile and doing their physical shopping to meet their needs has become difficult. Hence, shopping online has become popular worldwide over the prevailing pandemic period and is expected to increase even after the pandemic is over.
It follows that many e-commerce websites have been set up to capitalize on this growing trend. As a result, the growth of e-commerce business has outstripped that of the traditional ‘brick and mortar’ businesses many times over in recent times. In fact, many of these traditional businesses, even the more established ones, have to take their businesses online in order to survive. However, many smaller ones face stiff competition from e-commerce businesses and those that were unsustainable had unfortunately closed down.
The success of e-commerce businesses has been so impactful that many individuals have started selling online using social media platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram or Tik Tok. But the more enterprising ones are looking to dive into e-commerce in a bigger way instead of just using the social media platform. But first, to start an e-commerce business, it’s necessary to build an e-commerce website for a start.
Fortunately, there is a structured process in building an e-commerce website. Though a website developer is normally engaged in such a task, having some relevant knowledge could also help you in building a website for your online business.
Simply follow these 8 easy steps to build an e-commerce website from scratch:
1. Decide on the product niche for your store
When you search the Internet, you would have come across many e-commerce websites selling a variety of products. However, there are also many similar websites focusing on selling a specific line of products or services such as apparel, pet accessories, fashion wears, shoes or travel packages. Besides, there are some other e-commerce websites that sell many different products such as smartphones, cameras, home appliances, household items, sports and health items, lamps, laptops, books, and so forth. The latter is something similar to a hypermarket where you can find almost any stuff – you name it, they have it.
For a start, it’s significant to decide on the niche or type of services you wish to sell or provide on your website. In your decision, you need to find out the local demand for certain products relating to the niche or certain high-demand services you are interested in. Be mindful that buyers would normally prefer to buy products or obtain services from a local vendor whether online or offline. The local vendor would usually provide easy payment methods, faster deliveries, and faster replacements in case of the wrong or defective items.
2. Decide on your business model
As a prospective e-commerce business entrepreneur, you should first decide on your business model that best suits your need and budget. You can either sell your products solely on your online store, or you can sell your products on marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, etc. If you decide on the latter, there is no need for you to build your own website. All you need to do is to sign-up for an account and list your products at its marketplace and start selling. You can also choose to sell your products on both the platforms in parallel.
3. Decide on a domain name for your business
If you have decided your business model to be an e-commerce online store as well as having chosen the niche and the range of products to sell or the type of services you wish to provide, you need to buy a domain name from any web hosting company such as GoDaddy, Namecheap, Hostgator, etc. Make sure that the domain’s hyperlink is “https” which ensures data security over the network. It’s preferable to choose a domain name that is closely related to the product niche or services you’ve chosen. For instance, if you choose to sell only pet accessories, get a domain like ‘petaccessories.com’ or ‘petaccessories.net’ depending on which is available. The domain name is also considered as your business name and should be easy to remember by your target audience. A domain provides a brand to your business and makes it easy for your audience to associate it with each other.
The hosting of the domain is easily done with the help of the web hosting company’s support team.
4. Choose an e-commerce platform
There is a multitude of e-commerce platforms on the Internet nowadays, such as Square Online, Weebly, Big Cartel, Constant Contact, BigCommerce, Wix, Shopify, Squarespace, WooCommerce, and more. Some comes with a free plan while some comes with a free trial but for a limited period. Choose one that best suits your budget and requirement. Also, you need to make sure that the platform you chose is optimized for mobile phone usability to take advantage of the accelerated growth of smartphone usage worldwide. The online e-commerce platform can easily help you build your website in a couple of simple steps.
5. Set-up your e-commerce store
Your e-commerce website is your online store, and it needs an appropriate theme to represent your brand. You have to set it up properly so as to ensure that your potential customers will have a good browsing experience in terms of fast loading speed, navigability, user-friendly, etc. Your website should contain accurate details on your products or services, quality images, good descriptions and prices as well as options for customers to leave reviews and star ratings. All this should be included in your product page for the viewing of prospective customers so that they buy based on an informed decision and not to mislead them into buying in any way. You must make your website and its web pages eye-catching as it’s your brands’ representation to your online customers.
6. Set-up payment gateway
For your online store, you must have a few payment options in place for your customers. Most e-commerce store builder platforms already have functions to allow you to easily set up the payment gateway. The customer should have options to make payments via PayPal, credit card, debit card, online wallets, Internet banking, etc.
7. Secure your website by installing an SSL certificate
For all websites that transfer data online, especially relating to payment, you must ensure that the network connection is protected by a Secured Security Layer (SSL). The SSL certificate keeps your website secure from website hackers and will help to build trust among your customers.
8. Choose your shipping partner
When you start selling products on your e-commerce website, you need to ship the products to your customers using shipping companies. You must choose those reliable ones that have good track records in fulfilling shipments within agreed durations and at the lowest available shipping cost, so that you can give your customers the best deal as well as maximize your profit.