How to Build an eCommerce Website from Scratch

Published On: May 22, 2018
Last Updated: December 6, 2023
How to Build an eCommerce Website from Scratch

Building an eCommerce website from scratch is a rewarding experience, as it provides you with complete control over your online storefront and customer experience.

According to data collected, it is estimated that there are 12 to 24 million eCommerce sites worldwide, and around 79% of shoppers shop online at least once a month.

So it’s evident that the world of eCommerce is thriving, and it has become imperative to build a strong online presence.

Whether you are a rising entrepreneur or an established business owner looking to expand your online operations, this guide will provide you with the essential steps involved in creating an eCommerce website.

By following these steps, you can lay a solid foundation for your online business and ensure a seamless and engaging customer experience.

Why Build an eCommerce Website for Your Business?

Building an eCommerce website for your business offers ample opportunities to create connections that lead to growth and brings several other benefits that include:

New Market Acquisitions

An eCommerce website helps to break geographical barriers and allows companies, especially small businesses, to reach customers beyond the local market. With the power of the internet, you can expand your business reach that you couldn’t in brick-and-mortar sales.

Unique Shopping Experience for Customers

By defining unique eCommerce strategies, you can provide a seamless and enhanced shopping experience to your costumes. It includes videos, stories, and personalized services to your eCommerce websites.

You can display products with high-quality images, detailed descriptions, and customer reviews. Also, implement features such as secure payment gateways and smooth navigation for a satisfying customer journey that brick-and-mortar stores typically don’t provide.

Strengthen Your Brand

If you sell your products on an online marketplace, like eBay or Amazon, some customers won’t even realize they are buying from you. Building your eCommerce site gives you the freedom to display your products and expand your catalogue and promote your brand name.

You can also scale operations and accommodate increasing order volumes. It makes your business agile and responsive.

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How to Build an eCommerce Website from Scratch in 9 Steps

Here, we will walk through a step-by-step process for how to start an eCommerce business successfully.

1. Determine the Purpose and Target Audience

It’s crucial to understand your website’s purpose and target audience that help you make informed decisions regarding design, features and marketing strategies.

Start by analyzing your competitor’s site and the latest eCommerce trends to identify opportunities that differentiate your eCommerce website.

It helps you to define the primary goals of your business. Ask yourself, do you want to sell products directly to customers or businesses? Or both? Understanding different eCommerce business models helps you make decisions wisely.

After that, determine your target audience’s interests, demographics, and preferences so you can customize your website design and product offering effectively to convert visitors into customers.

2. Choose Domain Name and Hosting

To get your eCommerce site up and running, you need to choose a domain name and reliable hosting.

Ideally, choose a domain that is relevant to your business and easy to spell. Use domain registration services, GoDaddy and Bluehost, to check if your desired domain name is available and secure it for your website.

After that, research and choose a reputable hosting provider that meets your website’s needs. Consider security features, pricing and scalability options.

Also, ensure that your hosting provider offers SSL certificate integrations to purchase and install one for your domain.

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3. Choose Your Platform

There are several different platforms to choose from, such as WordPress, Shopify or Squarespace. However, choosing the right platform for your online store depends on your budget and unique ecommerce needs.

Here are the most popular ones for your ecommerce websites:

The most popular way to create an eCommerce website is to use the WooCommerce plugin for WordPress. It is free and has all the tools you need for online shopping. It is the most customizable platform, as you can add product pages and dynamic pricing and choose the payment and shipping options.

Shopify is an ideal SaaS eCommerce platform specifically designed for online stores. It has more than 70 themes to design the front end of your store, advanced marketing, and analytic features. With Shopify, you can also integrate your eCommerce store with apps from its app store.

Shopify has different pricing plans, including basic, Shopify, and Advanced, with varying features and transaction fees.

BigCommerce is a comprehensive eCommerce platform that provides a user-friendly interface, built-in features, and scalable solutions for small & medium stores.

While BigCommerce allows you to sell across different channels through a single dashboard and scale your store. It offers responsive themes, extensive customization options, and strong SEO capabilities.

BigCommerce has different pricing levels based on your business size and needs.

Squarespace is an all-in-one website builder that offers eCommerce functionality. It provides visually stunning templates and easy-to-use customization options and integrates seamlessly with payment processors.

With Squarespace, you can create a visually appealing online store and efficiently manage products, inventory, and orders. It also offers features like abandoned cart recovery and built-in SEO tools to enhance your online presence.

Wix is a popular website builder that provides a user-friendly drag-and-drop interface, a wide range of customizable templates, and a robust app marketplace for expanding functionality.
Wix offers features such as secure payment gateways, inventory management, and order tracking. It also provides marketing tools like email marketing and social media integration to help promote your online store.

If you want to update your store regularly as per the consumer behavior then go for headless eCommerce. It keeps the frontend layer of your sites separate from the backend. You can also use CMS or other technology for the front end and power that with an ecommerce engine on the backend.

Research and compare the features and pricing of different platforms to choose the best that aligns with your business needs.

Also Read: Best Headless eCommerce Platforms

4. Design Your Website

After choosing your eCommerce platform, it’s time to design your website. The design plays a crucial role in representing your brand image as it guides users towards desired actions when they visit your site.

There are two options to choose from when it comes to design:

Pre-built Theme
It is easy to set up and offers a wide range of designs to choose from for your store. Using pre-built is the cost-effective option, but the customization options are limited. The free design template may not be exactly what you want. You can buy premium themes, but it would cost you a lot more for customization.

Custom Design
You can hire an eCommerce developer to customize eCommerce website design and get exactly what you want. However, this option is time-consuming and expensive, but it helps your store differentiate from the competitors.

Apart from building themes from scratch, you can also customize an existing theme which is a more affordable option.

Consider your budget and desired customisation level in your design when selecting between these two options.

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5. Add Products

Your ecommerce store won’t be completed without product listings. They are the most critical aspects of your site that show customers what you have to sell.

As you set up your product categories, ensure it’s easy to navigate. Think about the path your customers would take to find them.

Product descriptions are an essential part of your ecommerce site. Include as much information as possible about sizing, colors, and other features. Avoid long sentences and complex phrasing when writing descriptions. Be specific with the information so customers won’t have a chance to return it, saying it’s not what they expected.

Visual information engages visitors, and producing high-quality images are essential. Show your product from different angles. Include photographs that show the product is in use in lifestyle and help customers visualize them.

You can add products into different categories to help customers find what they are looking for. This transforms into a better customer experience and makes it easier to build successful online businesses.

6. Set Up Payment Options

When it comes to choosing and setting up a payment gateway, choose the one that is secure, reliable, and widely accepted, such as PayPal or Stripe.

Set up by providing necessary information that includes your business details, bank account information, and more. You can also customize the payment options, such as credit/debit cards, digital wallets, or alternative payment methods based on your audience.

By setting up payment integration, you can manage your online transactions efficiently.

7. Set Up Shipping & Delivery

Your customers are located all over the world, and they want delivery of the product faster than ever. So it is essential to sort out shipping settings to ensure customers have a seamless experience.

Research the market and determine how you will ship the products and the cost of it. Select shipping options you want to offer, such as standard shipping, expedited shipping, free shipping, and international shipping. Also, provide estimated delivery times to set customer expectations.

However, providing accurate shipping rates, transparent policies, and reliable tracking options contributes to a positive customer experience and builds trust for your eCommerce business.

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8. Test and Launch

You must test your eCommerce site thoroughly before launching it to customers. Ensure that a user can seamlessly add products to the cart, process the payment, and confirm whether the purchase has been successfully completed or declined. Additionally, it’s crucial to assess how your site functions and appears on mobile devices and across various browsers.

Once you have rigorously tested and double-checked every aspect, you are ready to launch. To maximize your reach and impact, consider announcing the launch through social media pages, influencer marketing, and your email lists. For an even more extensive reach, you may want to explore paid advertising, especially if you have allocated a budget for effective website marketing services.

9. Maintenance

Congratulations on successfully building your eCommerce website! However, the journey doesn’t end here. To ensure sustained success, integrating a robust maintenance plan is essential.

Website maintenance play a pivotal role in preserving the functionality, security, and performance of your eCommerce platform. Regular updates, security patches, and performance optimizations are key aspects of maintaining a thriving online store.

Consider budgeting for monthly maintenance, with typical costs ranging from $50 to $200, depending on the complexity of your eCommerce site. This investment safeguards against potential issues, keeps your website up-to-date with industry standards, and provides a seamless shopping experience for your customers.

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In conclusion, following the step-by-step process outlined in this guide will help you create a successful eCommerce website that caters to your target audience and provides a seamless shopping experience.

However, building an eCommerce website can be complex, requiring technical and design expertise and time investment. So it’s wise to partner with an eCommerce development company to create a customized and high-performing eCommerce website.

Guru TechnoLabs has prominent experience in building an eCommerce website. Our team of professionals can help you navigate through different complexities, from selecting the right platform to implementing custom features.

Feel free to contact us and get an estimated quote for building your eCommerce website.

Ravi Makhija
Ravi Makhija

Ravi Makhija is an entrepreneur, an IT professional, tech geek, founder & CEO at Guru TechnoLabs - Globally Trusted Web & Mobile App Development Company. He loves writing about new technologies and the latest trends in the IT field.