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A Dummy’s Guide on How to Build an eCommerce Website from Scratch

how to build an ecommerce website from scratch

Do you need to know how to build an ecommerce website from scratch?

If you’re about to jump into the ecommerce game, now is a great time to do it.

Ecommerce is quickly becoming the way to shop for just about anything. It’s expected to grow by 15% over the next few years and about half of consumers now make purchases online.

That means that over the next 5-10 years, the industry is poised for massive growth and getting started in ecommerce now puts you in a position to be successful.

In order to start, you need to have products to sell and a website.

Here’s how you can build your ecommerce site from the ground up.

Determine Your Store Name and Brand

We’re going to start the process at the very beginning. We’ll assume that you already chose the products you’re going to sell and have some idea how you plan to sell and market the products.

To take the process a step further, you’re going to need to know your store name and brand.

If you have been selling on Amazon or in a brick and mortar store, you may already have a brand name.

You want to be sure that the name you choose is easy to remember and has a promise to the customer. You need to convey what your business is about and what the customer can expect from your business.

Buy Your Domain Name

Once you have a store name and brand, you need to buy that domain name.

The first step is to make sure the domain name is available. You can go to any registrar or hosting company where you can look up domains to see if the one that fits your name is available.

When you find the one you’re looking for, buy it. It’s about $13 to buy.

If you decide to go with a website builder (see below), most of them offer a way to buy domain names, too.

Choose Your Website Backend

When you learn how to build an ecommerce site from scratch, you’re going to learn about website backends.

Your website’s backend will be an important choice that you make. If you’re not a developer and have no plans to hire one right away, you do have a couple of options.

The first option is to build your website in a content management system (CMS) like WordPress or OpenCart.

The other option is to use a website builder like BigCommerce or Shopify.

If you’re not a fan of either option, you can choose to have a hybrid approach. You can turn your WordPress site into an online store.

Website builders often have integrations and plugins available for WordPress. That allows you to have the shopping cart portion of your site hosted elsewhere while you maintain your blog.

Which one should you choose? It depends on your level of technical knowledge and your willingness to learn.

If you have some technical expertise and like the flexibility that WordPress has to offer, a CMS would be a good option.

For those that want to have control over the experience and use an open source platform, Magento e-commerce solutions would work well for you.

Designing Your eCommerce Store

Now that you have your backend set, you can start to design your store. You’ll have to revisit your brand and create the best user experience.

Whether you go with a CMS or website builder, you will have templates or themes that you can customize.

At this stage, take a few moments to think through your customer’s experience. You do need to make it as smooth as possible. One poor experience and you run the risk that potential customers won’t return.

Map out the journey you want them to take, from the first time they visit your site (through a blog post or optimized product page). Do you want them to sign up for your email list?

Once you know what actions you want visitors to take, it’ll be easier to design and customize the experience around that.

Choose a Payment Gateway

There are two terms to know when it comes to accepting payment: payment method and payment gateway.

A payment method is how the customer chooses to pay. That can be Visa, MasterCard, A payment gateway is a program that you will use to process payments online.

Your payment gateway should be compatible with your software and easy to set up. You’ll also want to verify what percentage of your sales you’ll get billed every month.

Install SSL Certificate

An SSL certificate is an important piece to run an ecommerce store. You want to make sure that customers feel safe when they buy online.

An SSL certificate will help establish that trust and credibility between your brand and the consumer.

To install an SSL certificate, check with your hosting company first. They might provide free SSL certificates through Let’s Encrypt.

BigCommerce and Shopify offer SSL certificates for free with the option to upgrade for better security.

Choose Your Host

If you opted to go with a CMS, you will need to have your website hosted by a hosting provider.

There are four things you need to consider when choosing a hosting provider.

1. Compatability: Are their hosting solutions compatible with your shopping cart and payment gateways?

2. Speed: How fast are their servers?

3. Technical Support: 24/7 technical support is a must.

4. Cost: This is obviously a big consideration for site owners. Be wary of plans that offer cheap hosting. Read the fine print before you sign up because you’ll pay a lot more when you renew a year later.

How to Build an Ecommerce Site from Scratch

Ecommerce is exploding right now and this is the perfect time to build your ecommerce store. Once you have the product and the brand down, building the website is pretty easy.

Even if you don’t have a tech background, there are stores and tools that you can use to learn how to build an ecommerce site from scratch.

Once you have your website up, you can market it to the masses and make sales online.

Want to know more about marketing online? Check out these articles about online reviews and increasing online sales.

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