How to Create an eCommerce Website

Selling online has never been more popular, with many companies using multiple platforms like eBay and Amazon alongside their own independent online store.

If you are looking to start your own online shop then we have created the following list to help you start your eCommerce build and ensure its success.

Where to Start?

The Scope

When creating a new eCommerce store the best place to start is to define your scope.

Sit down and determine what your website needs to deliver.

Looking at competitor websites can be beneficial in defining your scope but remember that they may not have the perfect website themselves so be prepared think beyond this.

What do your customers would see when they land on your website and what kind of information do they would want from your website? Speaking to potential customers can also give you an idea of what you need.

eCommerce website

It's key to split this wish list into three areas, they are:

  • What you need to launch the website
  • What can be added post launch
  • What you think you will need in a year or two when the website has a larger audience

Splitting your wish list will allow you to get your website off the ground faster and ensures you can start generating profits to fund further expansion.

Domain Names

Assuming that you already have a brand or company name decided for your eCommerce business you will now need to decide on and purchase a domain name.

You can visit domain registry websites such as 123Reg.com to see what is available and at what price.

When purchasing a domain name consider…

  • How easy and fast it is to type into browsers
  • How relevant it is to the industry and/or company branding
  • What kind of domain you need to purchase - .com. .co.uk, .eu.com etc

The last point, what kind of domain you purchase, can arguably be the most important. You should always opt to have the domain in the most applicable domain for your target audience.

If you are targeting the UK audience then opt for the .co.uk domain, if you are targeting the German audience then opt for the .de domain, and if you are targeting the Chinese audience then opt for the .cn domain.

Waiting until after your eCommerce website is ready to purchase the domain name can cause complications. For example, it might be that by then your domain name has been taken by another company and you would need to change your branding etc. which might have a bigger impact on your website that you think.

Also consider buy additional domains to protect your future interests, for example, you may only need the .co.uk, but it's worth also buying the .com to prevent it going to someone else.

Select an eCommerce Platform

Select an eCommerce Platform

An important decision, that will undoubtedly impact the success of your online shop, is what eCommerce platform you opt to have your website built on.

Any eCommerce platform selected needs to be able to help you manage your online shop, its products, its sales and any ‘normal’ content pages like the ‘About Us’ page.

You naturally want to grow and expand your business over time and you don't want to have to start again with a new platform several years down the line. 

All eCommerce platforms can be split into the following categories…

Hosted eCommerce Platforms

Hosted eCommerce platforms offer an all in one solution. The eCommerce store is…

  • Hosted on a server for you (you do not have access to the server)
  • Specific features and design templates for you to choose from

This is a good platform for small eCommerce businesses who have no technical knowledge and very limited budgets. 

With these online shops, you effectively rent your website from the eCommerce platform.

Examples of hosted eCommerce platforms include Shopify and 3dCart.

Open Source & Self Hosted Platforms

These are eCommerce platforms that have the ability for edits and adjustments to be made to better suit your online shop, your customers and your company aims. Being self-hosted platforms allows you to get the best hosting service for your needs and to upgrade as more and more space is needed.

The ability to edit online shops will require some technical knowledge. Fortunately, these types of eCommerce platforms are open sourced so finding support can be fairly easy.

Being open sourced means that there are a large number of developers who are able to work on the platform and that there is already a high number of quality plug-ins that can be purchased to give your online shop all the functionality you could possibly want.

This is a good platform for medium and larger businesses or small businesses that expect to grow.

A popular open source and self-hosted eCommerce platform is Magento.

Self Hosted eCommerce Plug-Ins

A common choice for many companies is to use a platform such as WordPress and then integrate an eCommerce plugin like WooCommerce to give them the eCommerce functionality.

Choosing this option allows for the flexibility of your website, like having an open sourced and self-hosted platform (i.e. Magento) in a slightly less complicated fashion.

This kind of eCommerce platform is not recommended for large eCommerce stores as it is not quite as robust.

Choosing a Website Hosting Service

All websites must be hosted by a web hosting company so it can be seen. Choosing a good web hosting service as poor server response time can seriously impact your sales.

You can learn more about why website hosting is so important for eCommerce websites in our blog post – ‘What do Customers want in eCommerce Websites’.

When choosing a website hosting service you should consider the following…

  • Technical support – is support provided and how is it provided?
  • Hosting service – is it built for eCommerce websites?
  • Scalability – can the server grow as your business grows?

Professional website developers like ExtraDigital usually offer hosting for your website during the website build with the option to continue with the hosting service afterwards.

eCommerce development

The Main Show

Once all of the above decisions have been made you come to the main show. Designing, building and then marketing your online store.

Activities in this exciting phase involve….

  • Designing the website – depends heavy on the eCommerce platform you have chosen as to what kind of features you can have.
  • Building useful functions such as customer account areas and ensuring the basics are there
  • Testing the new eCommerce website – fully across multiple devices and browsers
  • Launching and marketing your new eCommerce store

Creating the Best eCommerce Website

Creating the Best eCommerce Website

Following all of the steps above will help you to create a great eCommerce store.

However, remember the decision you make can have a big impact on the ability of your eCommerce store to compete in your chosen marketplace. So take you time and get plenty of support so you can be confident you have made the right choices.

ExtraDigital can help, our friendly experienced staff and help you create a winning eCommerce website for your business.


If you are looking to create a fantastic and highly marketable eCommerce store then contact our team here at ExtraDigital today on 01227 68 68 98 or tell us about your project below.


 

Thursday 24th November 2016

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