It’s clear that the growth in ecommerce brings many benefits for a business’s bottom line, but there are more reasons to create an ecommerce business. An online presence gives businesses ample opportunities to create connections that lead to growth.
1. New market acquisitions.
For many companies, especially small businesses and startups, it can be hard to reach customers in new markets with just a storefront. An ecommerce site enables you to reach new customers online that you couldn’t reach with only brick-and-mortar sales.
2. Create unique shopping experiences.
Online businesses are also able to directly impact the customer journey by creating a unique shopping experience through videos, stories, and personalized services. These shopping encounters don’t need to end at the checkout either, as you can reach customers via email marketing or social media. These extraordinary experiences have a way of convincing customers that online shopping offers inclusive opportunities that a brick-and-mortar store typically doesn’t provide.
3. Strengthen your brand.
If you sell on an online marketplace, like eBay or Amazon, your products are listed generically and often use the marketplace’s brandings. Some customers may not even realize they’re purchasing from you and consequently won’t learn about your brand. Building your own ecommerce site ensures control of how your products are presented. Your customers remember you, not the marketplace.
How to Build an Ecommerce Website Step-by-Step
Building an ecommerce site may be simpler than you imagine. There are now ecommerce solutions that do most of the work for you, but you still need to understand what’s offered and what your site needs. If you do enough research, you can make decisions that lead to a magnificent site that grows and evolves with you in the years to come.
- Select your perfect ecommerce platform.
- Purchase a domain name.
- Find a developer.
- Pick your ecommerce theme.
- Customize your ecommerce template.
- Add your products.
- Set up payment options.
- Sort out your shipping settings.
- Preview, test… and publish your online store.
Find Your Perfect Ecommerce Platform
Finding the right ecommerce website builder is the first step in your journey. It’s important to have one that can meet the needs of your products and brand.
1. Types of Ecommerce platforms.
There are three main types of ecommerce platforms to choose from, which suit different kinds of businesses and have different functionality. Here’s what you need to know:
As the name suggests, open-source platforms offer their source code freely to everyone who wants to use it. It’s free to install and endlessly customizable. However, open-source platforms usually require advanced coding knowledge to use properly. Security breaches are also a concern, and users often need to hire people dedicated to maintaining the security, which may end up costing more than a subscription to another type of platform.
SaaS, or Software as a Service, is an ecommerce platform that’s offered as a subscription service. These systems are generally easy to use, scalable, and have robust security. As they’re designed specifically for ecommerce, they can handle the logistical processes, like checkout and payment processing.
Headless commerce keeps the shopping cart and display layer of ecommerce sites separate. This means you can use a content management system (CMS), digital experience platform (DXP), progressive web app (PWA) or other technology on the frontend and power that with an ecommerce engine on the backend.
Headless commerce enables customer-facing changes to be made quickly and gives businesses plenty of creative control. It also lets companies get to market faster, with a lower total cost, and businesses get increased control over their store while outsourcing security and PCI compliance.
2. Ecommerce Hosting.
Ecommerce web hosting is where your data is stored. It can have an impact on security and costs, so take the time to understand your options.
Cloud hosting refers to ecommerce sites hosted off-site. It’s generally offered by SaaS or headless commerce companies. The platform manages the uptime as well as updates, patches, and upgrades that help keep sites secure. Open source solutions may also have a cloud option that includes the costs of hosting, but will still require security maintenance to be done by the merchant.
On-premise hosting refers to ecommerce sites that are hosted on servers owned by the business and is usually found with open source solutions. The company needs to have space for the server, handle the installation, and hire people to look after it to ensure that the site stays up and secure. This usually is more feasible for large corporations.
3. Things to consider when choosing your ecommerce solution.
Several systems have to work seamlessly to give your customers the best ecommerce experience. Look at how your preferred ecommerce platform works in the following areas to ensure it performs optimally now and into the future.
Make sure the platform works consistently and has a strong uptime record, so your website is available when customers want to shop. Unlimited API calls help make your site easier to manage, and pages that load quickly give customers the best experience.
Can the platform meet your current traffic needs? Does it have the scope to grow with you as your business expands? Does it handle big days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday?
More consumers are shopping on mobile devices, so it’s essential that your platform can optimize your website for an excellent mobile encounter. Look for ways to enhance customer experience through mobile technology, like geolocation, which helps customers find the nearest store.
Secure payments and data
The platform must be able to protect your data and your customer’s data. SaaS solutions include security, like SSL and PCI, as part of their monthly plans. Self-hosted and open-source solutions require you to have a greater understanding of security, as there’s a higher chance of attack.
4. Ecommerce website builders to use.
Your website builder is the foundation of your online store. Options explicitly designed for ecommerce give you more options and room to grow than generic website builders with an ecommerce add-on. Here are a few to consider:
Big Commerce is a SaaS solution that’s known for being scalable. It has 24/7 customer support, with priority support available for large accounts. There are plenty of built-in features. Multi-layered security keeps data safe, and local payment methods bring in customers from around the world. Big Commerce supports headless, so brands can deliver API-driven experiences through a CMS, DXP, application, device, or custom front-end — with Big Commerce powering the commerce engine.
Shopify is another SaaS solution that’s fully hosted and known for being quick and easy to set up. They have an extensive range of plug-ins, but if you need to use a lot, the price can quickly add up. Shopify can handle a high number of transactions per minute, so it can easily cope with traffic spikes.
Magento is a self-hosted solution, so you have total creative freedom; however, you need someone with coding knowledge to take full advantage of the platform. There’s a wide choice of integrations, and it can handle instant purchases and product suggestions.
Woo-Commerce is an open-source WordPress plug-in, so it’s free to install. It’s generally used by those with an existing WordPress site. Woo-Commerce is flexible, has limitless customization, and industry experts audit its secure code.