E-commerce has completely changed both B2B and B2C industries. According to a report, 65% of B2B businesses conduct transactions online. The retail e-commerce industry’s sales surpassed $5.7 trillion in 2022 and continue to climb.
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Table of Contents
1. Purchase a domain name, web hosting plan, and SSL certificate
To start your e-commerce store, you must first buy a domain name, a web hosting plan, and an SSL certificate.
The domain is the address where your online store lives. Ideally, you should choose a domain name that includes a relevant keyword and is relatively short. Often, hosting providers offer domain names as part of your hosting package. If not, you can purchase or lease a domain name separately.
Now that you’ve got a domain name, it’s time to get a web hosting plan.
What’s the difference? A domain acts as an address, allowing visitors to easily find your website. The hosting service stores the website files. You need both to run a functional website.
Many companies offer hosting services. When selecting a hosting package, consider both price and performance. Make sure the package offers adequate speed, enough bandwidth, and storage.
It’s a good idea to read reviews and consider how other users rate the service’s products, customer support, and other features. Most hosting plans come with annual contracts, so choose carefully.
SSL (Secure Sockets Layers) is a security feature that provides privacy, security, and data integrity for your website and your users. Get an SSL certificate for your website to provide a safe buying experience. Almost all hosting providers include an SSL certificate in their packages, but double-check to make sure.
2. Choose a CMS
Many web hosting plans offer easy CMS installation. However, it’s essential first to understand the different types of CMS.
A community of developers maintains an open-source CMS, giving users complete control over the website’s functionality. It typically offers extensive customization options with no initial charges.
A single company owns and manages a proprietary CMS. It typically charges a license fee. Customizing and upgrading such systems usually involves additional costs.
SaaS (Software as a Service) CMS is a pre-built, cloud-based solution. It includes a web content management system (WCMS), web hosting, and technical support provided by a single provider. You typically have to buy a license via a subscription to use the SaaS CMS.
3. Choose the right theme
Selecting visually appealing themes for your online store can be challenging. Here are some considerations to help you:
Simple and minimalist
Prioritize simplicity to enhance usability. Avoid overly complex designs. Remember, visitors come to your website primarily to buy products.
Easy to customize
The theme should be easily customizable so you can change them according to your needs.
Suitable for all screen sizes
Check the themes on various devices. Make sure it performs well on mobile, laptops, tablets, etc.
4. Create important pages
Every online store requires specific pages to fulfill different purposes. While many are important, some are crucial.
This page is the storefront of your website. Consider highlighting promotions and top-selling products here. And link this page to other crucial pages.
Also known as the “Help Page,” this page allows customers to reach out via call, email, or live chat.
Terms and conditions page
Create a Terms and Conditions page to outline the rules, terms, and guidelines for using your online store. It ensures buyers know what they are getting into and can help you avoid legal trouble.
The customer service department can be valuable in determining what to include.
5. Optimize user experience (UX)
The speed of your online store matters a lot and directly affects the user experience.
Some features may enhance site speed, while others can slow it down.
To provide smooth performance, consider a Heuristic test to identify what might be causing issues.
You should also run A/B tests, i.e., testing two themes to identify the best-performing one. These tests will bring to light the components of the best UX.
6. Make it a mobile-friendly site
According to a survey, 77% of shoppers use mobile devices for online purchases.
We expect this trend to increase, so make sure your site is mobile-responsive. To do this, use responsive web design CSS and HTML code.
At the very least, make sure the width of a page changes according to the display area. This option is best for those limited by budget constraints
Keep desktop and mobile apps in sync
To provide a simple experience to mobile users, businesses prefer a separate app for mobile users. In this case, keeping desktop and mobile apps in sync is essential.
Make sure the content and functionality are consistent. You can leverage automated tools like Puppeteer to help check whether both apps behave similarly.
Make your content readable
To keep visitors engaged, it’s crucial to ensure your content is readable. So, make sure that:
- Buttons and icons are easily recognizable
- Written content is easy to read
- Website visitors can zoom in on the images if they want to take a closer look
- Written content doesn’t look like a wall of text
To test for these issues, you can try the website across phones of different brands. You can also ask your friends to check the site on their phones.
Chrome Developer Tools allows your browser to emulate different mobile devices, making it easy to check your site’s appearance.
Leverage mobile-specific capabilities
Consider reviewing your site regarding using more advanced input methods offered by mobile devices. For example, enable pinch and swipe gestures so that users can zoom in and view product images. You can also leverage voice input to allow users to look for products.
Moreover, you can also allow users to perform an image search, i.e., a user can find a product based on sample material patterns. Services like Google’s Vision API can help to integrate image search.
7. Set up secure payment gateways
Your online store site needs to quickly and securely process payments. Consider the following when setting up your payment gateway.
The primary concern for buyers is secure payment. Use methods compliant with Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards to ensure safe credit card transactions.
Offer various payment options so you don’t lose a sale. In addition to credit cards, include options like PayPal, Venmo, and e-checks.
On-site and off-site transactions
Customers can complete the transaction process in two ways.
On-site transactions process payments on the website, while off-site methods redirect the customer to a separate page.
Go for on-site transactions if you want to keep customers on your website.
8. Carefully list the products
Product images influence 76% of online buyers. Therefore, consider the following while listing your products:
Post several high-quality images of each product from multiple angles. However, optimize the images first to avoid slowing down your website.
Best products first
Highlight your unique and attractive products to engage visitors. It increases the chances of viewing more products.
Place products in appropriate categories so customers can find them easily. Misplaced products can frustrate potential buyers.
Product listing and description
While listing the products, include essential details like the product title, SKU, and price.
For product descriptions, avoid the pitfall of highlighting impressive-sounding features. Instead, focus on the benefits that these features provide. It’ll resonate better with potential buyers.
Also, remember to incorporate relevant search terms and keywords in the descriptions. It’ll improve your website’s visibility in relevant Google search results.
9. Provide a seamless checkout experience
Getting customers to the checkout stage requires effort. Remember the following points to make sure your efforts bear fruit:
Ensure all the information and tools that customers might need to complete the purchase are readily available.
Offer immediate assistance for any queries or confusion buyers might have. You can provide 24/7 customer support via phone, email, and chatbots.
Keep the checkout process simple and on a single page. Demand minimal information as customers dislike lengthy forms.
Allow checkouts without account creation. Keep the steps towards the final checkout as few as possible.
10. Integrate shipping
Shipping is vital for customers, so integrate multiple options in your online store. If one option doesn’t work, you can consider another for smooth and timely delivery of products to customers.
Another crucial factor is highlighting free shipping on the checkout page, if available.
Also, it is a good practice to add shipping fee details according to different areas.
Note: Some popular shipping service providers to opt for include DHL, FedEx, and UPS.
11. Implement SEO practices
Applying the latest search engine optimization practices to rank high on search engines is essential. For example, use specific keywords and search terms on your product pages to target the appropriate audience.
Moreover, tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, Moz, Oxylabs web scraper, and
SpyFu can also help with keyword strategies and competitor analysis.
12. Preview, test, and launch the online store
After addressing all necessary factors, test and launch your online store’s functionality.
Before launching, check all the main pages of your online store and make sure they are working well.
Also, review the entire buying process, from product search to order placement.
Several browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge, are commonly used for browsing. Ensure your online store is compatible with all of them before launching.
13. Marketing and promotion
Start marketing and promotion after launching your online store. Some popular methods include:
Social media marketing
Never neglect social media platforms.
Create business accounts on these platforms. From sharing your unique selling points to announcing special discounts, social media platforms can help capture the attention of your target audience.
Leverage email marketing for both existing and new customers. It’s an effective marketing technique, many marketers cite it as their primary lead-generation tool.
Influencer marketing campaigns can be very effective. Run pre- and post-launch campaigns to increase sales, build awareness, and establish a robust online presence.
14. Ratings and reviews
Approximately 95% of consumers check reviews before buying a product online. Therefore, capitalize on positive reviews by showcasing them on your site.
If the reviews are negative, use them as feedback to improve your service.
15. Reports and analytics
Regularly check your online store’s performance using various analytical tools. These can provide insights into traffic volume, bounce rate, conversion rate, order numbers, and more.
A few popular analytics tools include Google Analytics, Ahrefs, and Semrush. This data can help you set future strategies for your online store.
Selling in a digital world
In a rapidly changing digital world, B2B sellers and buyers can no longer rely solely on door-to-door selling and cold-calling.
According to a report, B2B business owners prefer to use e-commerce platforms more than traditional sales methods.
You can also explore online B2B wholesale marketplaces to connect with relevant suppliers, which can help open up opportunities for business growth.
Marketplaces like Alibaba and SeeBiz can offer a good start if you are looking to source products in bulk.
Do I need a license to sell products at an online store?
Licensing requirements for online stores vary, depending on the rules and regulations set by the Small Business Administration (SBA) for specific states and locations.
Do I need a logo for my online store?
A well-designed logo is crucial for representing your brand. Moreover, it also helps to convey the core values of your brand. For example, the negative space between the ‘E’ and ‘x’ in the FedEx logo forms an arrow implying accuracy and speed of delivery.
How many products should you have in an online store?
The wide range usually lies between 10–20 products. It gives enough variety to attract your customers initially. However, this isn’t set in stone and can vary depending on your online business goals and target audience.
How can I use chatbots effectively in my online store?
Make sure your chatbot can answer commonly asked questions about your products/services. For example, giving information about shipping times. Also, consider taking feedback from customers using a short survey. You can ask them to rate their buying experience and whether they could find what they were looking for easily and quickly.