How to Build an Ecommerce Website from Scratch

Nov 17, 2020

102 Mary Shapel

How to Build an Ecommerce Website from Scratch

Ecommerce is a promising endeavor that provides you with unlimited opportunities for growth on the international market. The number of online stores is increasingly growing among both small businesses and large enterprises as due to the COVID-19 lockdown the world has witnessed an impressive rise in ecommerce sales. Why is it crucial to sell your products online in 2020 and how to set it up properly?

Definition of ecommerce
Types of ecommerce
How to get started
Segment target audience
Choose the most suitable platform
Set up your ecommerce site
Add products to the ecommerce website
Adding ecommerce to an existing website
How to attract customers to your ecommerce store
Ecommerce best practices
Some examples of the best eсommerce websites

You may think that all you need is to design a website and define the products that you are going to sell. However, it is not that simple. Building a flourishing online business takes more than creating an online store. In this article, we consider major steps that you have to take in order to make your webstore thrive. We are going to discuss how to pick the best possible ecommerce solution and create a decent ecommerce website from scratch.

 

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Definition of ecommerce

According to Shopify, ecommerce is “the buying and selling of goods or services using the Internet.” It is important to bear in mind that not every online business should be considered ecommerce. You can sell online on the marketplace without the need to set up an ecommerce website, but certainly this practice does not work well for a business of any industry and scale. First of all, let’s take a look at the different types of ecommerce.

 

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Types of ecommerce

  • Business-to-Business (B2B)

B2B is when a business sells physical or digital products, materials or services to another business.

  • Business-to-Consumer (B2C)

B2C is the most wide-spread type of ecommerce. Consumers purchase a product or service from a business.

  • Consumer-to-Business (C2B)

C2B is the type of ecommerce, when an individual sells services or products to a business. For example, freelancers often provide their services to companies.

  • Business-to-Administration (B2A)

B2A is sometimes referred to as Business-to-Government. It is the type of ecommerce when a business offers services to the government.

  • Consumer-to-Administration (C2A)

Typical C2A operations are payments for parking tickets or ordering a new government ID.

  • Customer-to-Customer (C2C)

An individual provides the services or products to another individual through a third party like eBay or Amazon. Online auctions can also be considered a customer-to-customer type of ecommerce.

  • F-Commerce

F-commerce stands for Facebook Commerce. It is about interacting with your customers on Facebook when likes and shares become useful tools in website promotion. At the same time, this type of commerce also includes selling directly from Facebook’s growing marketplace. This type can incorporate other types of ecommerce, for example, B2B or B2C.

  • M-Commerce

M-commerce stands for ecommerce on mobile devices. M-commerce can be combined with other types of ecommerce: a B2B purchase on a smartphone is considered to be both M-commerce and B2B. More and more people choose to go online via mobile devices. It is predicted that global mobile traffic will increase from 7 exabytes monthly in 2016 to 49 exabytes in 2021.

 

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You should create an ecommerce website from scratch taking into account the type of your business. We’ve described the examples above.

Forrester provided some insights for global investment based on the FRI (Forrester Readiness Index). According to the results of this survey, the following key markets are the best for investment and potential growth opportunities in the ecommerce field:

 

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As we can see, the US and China dominate the chart, India and Russia follow them in terms of their size and expected ecommerce growth. During the research, two factors were analyzed: the environment score with consumer indicators, economic indicators and the retail opportunity score.

One of the main advantages of setting up your own ecommerce site is that your customers can make purchases 24/7 regardless of their time zone or location. Moreover, online shopping is more convenient as your buyers do not have to spend hours in brick-and-mortar stores and can easily find the goods they need with the available filters. For merchants, ecommerce websites can be far more profitable than selling your products on a marketplace. If you use a marketplace, then your clients remember the name of the marketplace and not your brand. And you also have to pay a fee. If you create your own website, on the contrary, it will promote the name of your brand specifically.

Designing your own ecommerce store allows plenty of room for customization. With such ecommerce platforms as Shopify, Magento, Shopware, WooCommerce, OpenCart or Prestashop, you can create an ecommerce website from scratch implementing almost any of your ideas. However, these platforms are quite complex in terms of setting up and you will probably need a developer’s assistance.

You can maintain full control over the way your webstore looks, as well as of its functions and pages’ content. With your own website you will understand the needs of your customers better and get more valuable insights on their personalities such as their location, age, gender and much more. All this information is valuable for setting up target ads.

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How to get started

There are companies that manage to sell almost everything, like Alibaba or Amazon. However, small business owners usually prefer to start with only one or a few product categories. When entrepreneurs create ecommerce sites for a small business, they often choose a specialized market – a so-called niche one. If you choose to follow this path, then you have to identify the ecommerce niche where your business belongs. There are plenty of available niches on the market: hand-made jewelry, drones, meal delivery, vintage clothing, etc. It is also possible to establish your own one if your business idea is unique.

 

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Segment target audience

It is important to be aware of your target audience in order to attract relevant traffic to your website, not just random visitors. To build a successful ecommerce website, you need to bear in mind that ecommerce stores function differently from brick-and-mortar stores. There are 4 types of market segmentation you can take into account while creating an ecommerce website from scratch:

  • Demographic type
  • Psychographic type
  • Behavioral type
  • Geographic type

Demographic categories include age (learn more about targeting generation Z & Y and generation X & Baby Boomers), gender (men and women also differ in their purchasing habits), income, level of education, ethnic background, family status or location. With psychographic segmentation type, you can track such characteristics as habits, personal values, opinions, hobbies, life styles, psychological influences, faith and beliefs, motivation and credos. Behavioral segmentation type helps merchants understand purchasing and spending habits of their clients as well as their user status and brand interactions.

For example, a well-known Amazon marketplace uses segmentation to target their audience more accurately. Geographical information includes ZIP code, city, country, radius around the location, climate characteristics and urban or rural status.

 

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Choose the most suitable platform

When you have decided to create an ecommerce website from scratch, it is about time to pick the platform that fits your current needs better than others. All of the platforms have their own pros and cons for different businesses according to their scale, location, products and target audience. If you want to get a closer look at the popular options, check out the following articles:

You can also read more about other available options here.

It is important to make sure that your solution offers customer support, is easy to use and has everything that you are interested in  – from drop-down menus and editor to shipping options. Also you need to check the availability of all the necessary integrations (as most of the custom solutions are quite expensive), the complexity of optimization and possibility for further customizations.

 

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Set up your ecommerce site

Choose a template

When choosing the template for your ecommerce website, pay attention to the following typical features: category pages, search capability, navigation bar, image gallery, header & footer, design and color scheme. The best template reflects the identity of your brand and depicts the mission of your store. Select the one that is the most appealing to you visually and satisfies all the functional requirements. It should leave enough room to add pictures and text content.

Customize your template

Another important feature you have to pay attention to while creating an ecommerce website from scratch is the possibility for customization. It will give you the opportunity to change colors and add such features as banners, one-page checkout, CTA button and guest checkout. Customers will really appreciate a user-friendly interface, which is fancy and easy to navigate at the same time. Another important feature is the responsiveness of your theme. It denotes the possibility of your online store to adapt to the size of any device that is used. Your online store will be displayed properly on smartphones, tablets and desktops.

Shipping options

Then you have to select the shipping method that is the most suitable for you. You can ship locally or all over the globe. You can also consider free local shipping, same day delivery and expedited shipping. There are different types of rates available – flat-rate shipping and real-time carrier rates. You can read more about ecommerce shipping methods here.

Let’s consider various shipping services. The most well-known services are USPS, FedEx, UPS and DHL. USPS is known to be the cheapest option for ground shipping since it runs established local routes every day. FedEx provides various delivery options at several price rates.

 

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Payment methods

When you decide how to build an ecommerce website from scratch, you have to consider payment methods as well. There are plenty of possible payment methods for ecommerce websites you can add to enhance your successful ecommerce business. Paypal is one of the most well-known payment gateways and it is used in the majority of ecommerce platforms. Other popular options include American Express, Stripe, Square, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, etc.

With these online payment options you can make the checkout process fast, easy and safe. Encryption of your data ensures the security of transactions on your ecommerce website. I would advise you to offer multiple online payment methods since it is more convenient for your customers to have a choice.

 

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Security

When you make a decision on how to build an ecommerce website from scratch, it’s very important to make sure that your data is secure first of all. The danger of data fraud and identity theft always poses a serious threat to the existing online business. To protect the transfer of your data when you are starting an online retail business I would recommend you to use SSL – a Secured Security Layer. A secure website will help you build trust in the relationships with clients and increase customer loyalty to your brand.

ecommerce development

Build a custom ecommerce site with BelVG

Start your online business today

Contact us

Add your products to the ecommerce website

One more advice that I can give you on how to build an ecommerce website is about properly added products. It will help you on your mission to create a successful ecommerce business. When you are starting an online retail business and adding products to your site, make sure that you provide detailed descriptions for them.

It will help your customers find out more information about the item and make a final decision to buy it. Alluring photos of the product, as well as unboxing videos will provide even more useful details that can motivate your customers to make a purchase. Do not forget to divide your products into categories. It will simplify the search and your customers will be able to find the product they need quicker.

 

Adding ecommerce to an existing website

When you already have a website, information or a company one, then you can add ecommerce to the existing website and transform it into a successful online store. Here we will compare some of possible solutions that you have if you decide to resort to this option when starting an online retail business.

Shopify Buy Button

With Shopify Buy Button sellers can create a checkout and an embeddable product card that can be placed on any type of website.The embedded code lets you display your products and collections  in a way that satisfies your current needs and tastes. If you are starting an online boutique, the Shopify Buy Button allows you to provide your clients with a safe mobile-friendly experience and custom color schemes, storefronts, lookbooks, content and advertising possibilities.

Facebook eCommerce

When you try to understand how to build a shopping website, you need to remember that social networks are a great place to promote and advertise your products. If you have a Facebook business page, then when you start an online retail business you can press Add a Shop Section button on the timeline and enjoy all the benefits of Facebook eCommerce.

Ecwid

The Ecwid solution allows you to incorporate ecommerce features to your website or social media account effortlessly. You can enjoy the benefits of multiple payment gateways, catalogs of products, translation to foreign languages, various shipping options and inventory tracking.

Foxy

Foxy provides merchants with advanced features like recurring payments, shopping cart management tools, more than 90 payment options and unlimited number of products. It is highly customizable and has a free unlimited trial option, but you can accept payments only with a paid plan.

E-Junkie

It is possible to add the E-Junkie solution to any existing website. You will be able to use such ecommerce features as selling bundled items, inventory management instruments, and a few payment gateways. It is quite cheap in comparison with other options, but it lacks abandoned cart recovery and is not the best choice if you are eager to savor fancy design.

SnipCart

The SnipCart is one of the most flexible options that allows you to create a sophisticated ecommerce website. Merchants are free to design a refined online store with several payment options, various shipping possibilities and abandoned cart recovery. Nevertheless, it is not the best option for those who do not know how to code.

 

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How to attract customers to your ecommerce store

It is not enough just to create a website to make your online business flourish. You have to devise a refined client acquisition strategy to engage more potential clients. There are different strategies that can help create ecommerce websites for a small business. Below we will describe the possible ways how you can attract more customers to your store.

Social media

More and more businesses use social media networks to advertise their brands to potential customers. If you are making a plan on how to build a shopping website, first of all, we would recommend you to register on several social media networks like Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook to attract more clients.

Make your website visible

With SEO optimization you can improve your search visibility when starting an online retail business. If the content of your website matches long tail keywords and phrases that your potential customers are interested in, it can lead to the increased conversion rate.

Care about your customers

Great customer support ensures that every problem that your clients may encounter during the purchasing process will be solved quickly and efficiently. The best ecommerce websites provide support 24/7 via multiple communication channels like online live chat, phone, video, messaging apps and social media.

Promos & discounts

You can provide your customers with the following incentives to increase their commitment: free shipping, gifts, special offers and discounts. These methods can improve brand loyalty and customer retention and your customers will be glad to return to your website to make a new purchase.

Good reviews

People are more inclined to buy a product with an impeccable reputation. With that being said, collecting good reviews is beneficial. If your clients notice dozens of positive comments, they are more likely to buy the item because they tend to trust other customers. In order to use these tactics make sure you do not forget to ask your satisfied clients to share their feedback and give ratings for the products.

Striking content

Your customers will really appreciate fancy imagery, vivid product descriptions and unboxing videos that provide them with more information on the product they intend to buy. Try to bear in mind when you build a shopping website that blogs and branded hashtags can appeal to your users and catch their attention.

 

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Ecommerce best practices

It is aways useful to observe the established practices in the sphere that you want to get in. In this case, certainly, we are going to discuss the topic of ecommerce.

Below we will consider a few tips you can use after creating your website from scratch to attract new customers and keep them loyal to your brand. Ecommerce best practices will help you promote your website effectively and enhance the efficiency.

Better images

According to the marketing research, we live in the age of visual culture and 67% of online shoppers agree that pictures are more attractive for them than feedback from other buyers. The alluring imagery will draw more attention to your products and entice the clients into making a purchase. In order to create unique content it is advisable to use your own photos rather than resort to stock pictures.

Improved loading speed

Another crucial ecommerce best practice is loading speed. It can influence the decision of your potential customers on whether to wait till the page is loaded or leave it and proceed with another website that is faster. According to statistics, 47% of consumers wait only for 2 seconds and then leave the page and even a 1-second delay can lead to a 7% conversion decline. You definitely do not want to disappoint your customers with a slow ecommerce website.

Simplified navigation bar

You’d better use the following tip – a simplified navigation bar. You can persuade your clients to make a final decision to make a purchase on your website if you simplify your navigation bar so that it becomes clear and user-friendly. This ecommerce best practice will help the visitors of your online store to find the products they need and purchase them easier. On the contrary, remember that the complex navigation can repel the clients and they can leave your website and switch to your competitor.

Noticeable search bar

Search bar is of pivotal importance if you want to improve the shopping experience of your customers and help them to find the item they need. The majority of online shoppers prefer to use the internal website search, so it is a good idea to make your search bar easy to find in order to establish this ecommerce best practice. Make sure the results that the search bar retrieves are precise and relevant to the search query.

Free shipping

Customers often abandon their carts because they find out that shipping costs are too high. According to Forrester, the primary reason for cart abandonment is shipping cost. If you add a free shipping option to your ecommerce webstore, you can increase the number of orders and make your store more profitable.

Detailed product descriptions

We would advise you to improve the descriptions of your products. To incorporate this ecommerce best practice you have to tell a story about the items you sell. Try to understand the personas of your potential customers better and answer the following questions: what are their values and preferences, lifestyles and backgrounds. This information can give you an insight into how to write a more attractive message and allure your customers to buy the products from your webstore.

Simple registration and checkout

With a clear and simple checkout possibility your customers can make purchases quickly and smoothly. You can offer a Guest Checkout option in order to provide your clients with the opportunity to buy your products without the necessary registration. If you pay attention to this ecommerce best practice, your customers will appreciate that they do not have to spend their time on creating the account. Do not forget to make the checkout process user-friendly and optimized for mobile devices when you build a shopping website. You can also consider Social Sign In as an alternative to the regular registration.

Update regularly

New techniques always appear and I would also recommend you not to forget to test your website on a regular basis, discover possible frictions that your customers may encounter. You also have to introduce new advanced features in order to upgrade the shopping experience of your customers and increase the customer loyalty to your brand.

 

Let’s take a look at the examples of ecommerce sites that we’ve built

Below we will describe several examples of successful ecommerce websites that can give insight on how to design your own website.

The online stores are the examples of successful ecommerce websites which can help you to incorporate ecommerce best practice in your business. Below the following categories will be considered: fashion & clothing, health & wellness, kids & babies, sports & outdoors, technology & electronics.

Fashion & Clothing – Artipoppe

Artipoppe is a Dutch brand that offers ergonomic babywear. The website is designed with the help of PrestaShop and is extremely user-friendly. It is flexible and proved to be a great instrument for providing a fantastic shopping experience. The integrations like PrestaShop Klarna were made. Such payment gateways as ApplePay and Ayden payments were added. It is possible to use the postal services of Fedex, PostNL and DHL on the ecommerce website. Purchase fees can be calculated with the help of DHL Express. A SMS notification module is integrated into the admin panel.

 

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Health & Wellness – REMI

REMI is a brand that provides custom whitening kits for their clients that provides them with the opportunity to enjoy a perfect smile. Their ecommerce website is built on Shopify and has plenty of various integrations. For a more vivid customer experience the online store is integrated with Justuno PopUps. The website is also equipped with CRO tools that analyze personal data of the customers in order to improve the performance. Lucky Orange Integration allows the seller to track customer behavior and interact with them. Yotpo integration provides the opportunity to read and post reviews of the clients.

 

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Kids & Babies – Zizzz

Zizz is a Swiss brand that sells sleeping bags, blankets, duvets made of bio-cotton and Swisswool. Magento ecommerce platform allowed the developers to create a fantastic design that is convenient both for clients and merchants and incorporates plenty of customized features. Initially the website used Magento 1 and then it successfully migrated to Magento 2. The online store has an intuitive interface and supports several languages and currencies. Zizz always strives for excellence and tries to incorporate more extensions and customized features in order to improve the performance of their online store.

 

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Sports & Outdoors – Únic

Unic is an online store where you can buy colorful racewear. The company was established by a professional motorcycle racer and a mountain biking champion. Their website is built on PrestaShop. Its homepage contains multiple widgets, the category pages use custom filters and the checkout process has been streamlined. Special shipping offers and tax calculations are displayed based on the client’s location. The PayPal payment gateway and the FedEx shipping integration are used to provide a better customer experience.  With a fully optimized template customers are guided through the process of making a purchase.

 

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Technology & Electronics – E-bikes4you

E-bikes4you is a company that offers such products as city e-bikes, e-mountain bikes and e-cargo bikes. Their website is a Magento-based multistore enriched by some extra custom features. In terms of payment gateways, the E-bikes4you webstore supports PayPal and Amazon Pay. The company operates on the international market and the custom tax calculation system allows the users to get a full exact product price including taxes at the checkout page.

 

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Conclusion

To create a successful ecommerce website from scratch you have to elaborate a certain strategy. Undoubtedly, it will take time and effort to build a profitable site and incorporate best ecommerce practices into it. When you decide to build an ecommerce website from scratch, do not be afraid to experiment and try new features.

We hope that our article gave you valuable insight on how to build a prosperous ecommerce website with outstanding conversion rate and fantastic customer experience.

Do you have an ecommerce website? Feel free to share your experience in the comments below!

Andrey Dubina

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Looking for a partner to grow your business? We are the right company to bring your webstore to success. Talk to Andrey

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