Updated: Apr 25, 2019
Today, online businesses are growing much faster than brick and mortar stores. There are obvious players in the e-commerce space like Amazon and Ebay. These companies have seen exponential growth since the early 2000s when they started. In less than 30 years, Jeff Bezos has outpaced Bill Gates as the richest man in the world! Statistics show an expected rise in e-commerce business by $523 billion by 2020!
While Amazon and Ebay are huge, the growing demand makes more and more room for ecommerce startups to have great opportunities online. When you sell through your own website, people would know your brand distinct from Amazon or Ebay, and you could create a longstanding relationship with customers through your email list or direct mailing unparalleled to what you’d be able to do by selling on Amazon, Ebay or Flipkart
From retail shops, DIY craft makers, to even bloggers are starting to sell their merchandise and services online. Knowing how to make a website is one of the most essential skills you should master as a small business owner in this day and age. Here's why :
• If you know how to make a website on your own, you will save a ton of money on web developers and designers.
• This will also allow you to follow the market trends and put new things on your website without needing a programmer’s help.
• You will effectively stay ahead of your competition because, while they have their projects slowed down by the need to consult developers, you will be able to build most things yourself.
But it’s difficult to know where to start. The good news is you don’t need lots of money, time or technical knowledge to build your own online store.
In this step-by-step guide, I’ll show you the best way to create an online store.
1. Find your perfect website builder
There are a number of website builders available online. The predefined templates make it easier to build the perfect customised website as per our needs. Below are the top website builders that I’ve personally used and found reliable and simple.
» Beginner friendly interface is easy to use, with a drag-and-drop editor and mobile responsive templates
» Brand first, products second. The strong focus on creating a developed and attractive brand to sell products through
» Eye-catching designs! Add product videos to give customers a better shopping experience
» With Multilingual sites you can grow your business globally by creating multiple sites for different countries
Overall rating : ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2
» Sell across multiple channels, including Facebook, Instagram, Amazon and eBay
» Brilliant inventory system which helps you manage your store
» Came first in our research for sales features and customer score
Overall rating : ⭐⭐⭐⭐3/4
» Worpdress is very SEO-friendly. The built in permalink structure, the organization and structure of post types and pages plus the addition of the 'rhymes with toast' SEO plugin gives you a great SEO foundation.
» Wordpress is a constantly evolving piece of code. Wordpress does a great job of maintaining the core product. As new features are available, as new security issues become known, the WP team keeps you up to date with the latest and greatest version.
» The Wordpress community is strong! As a developer, this is just fantastic. If I am having trouble implementing a highly custom piece for a client, chances are someone else has already done it! And if not, I can just ask the community, review the Codex or simply Google it. I've never had to say "No, can't do that" when working in Worpdress.
» Because Wordpress is so popular, it is under constant attack from bots and hackers. New security issues are found and exploited. Our client's websites are at risk of hack or attack.
Overall rating : ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2
» Squarespace’s e-Commerce functions are fully integrated into their platform, and seamlessly built into all their templates
» Full Control Over Product Variants - If you look at other mainstream online shopping sites (such as Amazon), whenever you choose a product (such as a t-shirt), you can pick different variants such as size, color, etc.
» Squarespace has a centralized “Content Manager” interface where you can easily manage your inventory across your entire store by stock level, price, or title.
Overall rating : ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2
Along with these specific features, all these website builders have :
• Payment Gateway Integrations like Paypal, VISA, Mastercard, ApplePay, GooglePay etc.
• Easy to use interface
• Inventory Management
• Status updates on orders
2. Choose the best plan that suits your requirements
Each of these website builders have 3 to 4 plans starting from free to premium. As you’d expect, the more you pay, the more you get. Which plan suits you best depends on the size of your business and your growth ambitions.
If you’re looking to create an ecommerce store, you will need a paid plan. Uploading and selling products requires more complicated software than building a normal website.
3. Get a domain name for your store
When learning how to make a website, picking a name is probably the most fun aspect of the whole process. After all, you have complete freedom here. You can pick literally any name you wish for your website. However! There are still some things you need to understand to set yourself up for success later down the road.
It’s a really good idea to construct your website’s name (and thus your domain name) around either the name of your organization (the most obvious approach) or a phrase that’s associated with the niche you’re in, but with some added words for better brand visibility. For instance, if you do anything with pizza, it would be cool to have “pizza” somewhere in the name of the site.
4. Pick & Customise your e-commerce template
Next, choose a template, which are split into different categories. Each category represents a different industry. For example, you’ll have templates for Blogging, Business Services, and Online Stores.
How Do You Pick The Right Template?
Ask yourself these three questions to find out which template is right for you:
What features do you want in your store?
What style of landing page do you want?
How do you want customers to move around your store?
Once you’ve selected a template/theme, head to your store’s admin tool to start customizing.
Customizing is easy, and you can change just about anything. This includes your:
Text Size and Font, Color Scheme, Images, Positioning of Products, Embedding Social Media
Most online store builders will also allow you to embed apps. These are found in the app market, and can be used to cover any features you need that the platform may not already have inbuilt.
5. Add your products
Now you’ve created a stylish online store using a template, you need to add your products.
The main things you need, to add a product are:
• Weight (for physical products)
• File (for downloadable products like ebooks).
Different ecommerce website builders have different limits on:
• The number of products you can upload
• The number of options for each product (the same product but in a different size or color)
• The number of product variants (a combination of two options: for example, a blue t-shirt in size medium)
Make sure you check that each builder’s limit meets your business’s needs.
6. Setup payment methods
Next, you need to set up your payment method. This is a crucial part of converting a website into an e-commerce site.
Ecommerce website builders make this easy for you. They optimize the process so you can hit the ground running with the best (and most effective) payment options.
Ecommerce website builders help by connecting you directly to multiple different payment options, such as PayPal, Visa, Apple Pay, GooglePay and Mastercard.
7. Preview, test and publish your store
Once you have added the products, it is best to test it first to check if all the features are working properly and there is a seamless flow from your home page to the checkout page.
What to test?
• Are all the products available on the products page
• Is product search working properly
• Test payment gateway also. Usually the payment gateways provide a test login from where you can test the integration and once satisfied, you can link your credentials.
• Your shipping options and charges are correct and visible
• Orders work across all the payment options.
If everything looks fine, you can publish the store.