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How to make an eCommerce website: a complete guide for 2024


how to build an ecommerce website

Building an eCommerce website is a significant and inevitable step in launching your  eCommerce business. And it can feel like a big undertaking. After all, there are tons of nitty gritty details, research and design considerations to juggle when you’re first learning how to create an ecommerce site.


Fortunately, this handy guide can get you started with all the essential tips for creating a site to sell that’s unique and professional.


Still not sure what is an ecommerce website, we've got that covered too.



How to make an eCommerce website in 8 steps




01. Pick the right eCommerce platform


When you’re making a website from the ground up, you can choose to host it yourself or tap an eCommerce website builder or platform.


Independently hosting a site yourself gives you total control but it’s expensive and time-consuming. Self-hosting means you must handle website development, website maintenance and your site's security all on your own. If you’re not technologically savvy, you’ll need to hire a professional who is or opt for a hosting plan.



Alternatively, you can choose to use a hosted eCommerce platform or website builder. Cloud-based platforms like Wix for eCommerce make setting up your store easy. Look for a platform that offers an easy-to-use website builder, plus tools for managing multiple aspects of your business, from marketing and sales, to inventory management and fulfillment. You can also explore these best eCommerce website builders to help you decide.



When it comes to choosing how and where to make your eCommerce site you'll want to consider some of the following crucial features and capabilities:


  • Mobile friendliness: Seek a platform that offers responsive themes and templates, ensuring that the elements of your online store will automatically adapt to fit various screen sizes. Check out all of Wix’s eCommerce website templates, which are all designer-made and mobile-responsive. You can also choose from a range of fully responsive website templates from Wix Studio.

  • Security: Your platform-of-choice should offer fraud prevention, data backups, and other eCommerce website security measures that keep your site and data well-protected. In addition, if you plan to accept credit card payments, PCI compliance is a must.

  • Reliability: Given that every second of downtime puts your sales in jeopardy, it’s crucial to find an e-commerce platform that has the infrastructure and resilience to handle any volume of traffic to your site. Ideally, it should support limitless scalability and take measures to prevent eCommerce site crashes, especially during peak selling periods. Learn more about Wix's robust web hosting with every site.

  • Back-office tools: Select an eCommerce website builder that supports all the major functions, apps and automation that you need to grow your business in the right ways. Think about the tools necessary for managing your inventory, product listings, shipping solutions, orders, and more.

  • Multichannel selling capabilities: As you grow your eCommerce business, chances are that you’ll want to expand your reach with the help of third-party marketplaces, social media and other channels. Get ahead with a platform that lets you manage your sales and marketing channels from a single dashboard.


create an ecommerce website - choose an ecommerce platform


02. Design your eCommerce website


Your eCommerce website serves as the face of your brand. This means you'll want to get your online store design right from the start. Selecting the right design and templates is essential for reinforcing your brand image, as well as guiding users toward the right actions through eCommerce merchandising strategies.


You'll want to pick a theme that fits with the category of merchandise that you’re selling—be it fashion, furniture, food or another product type. Sift through the themes and templates offered by your eCommerce platform for inspiration.


A good place to start is with Wix's eCommerce website templates.


Other eCommerce template options by category include:


how to create an ecommerce website - design and templates


Once you've chosen your eCommerce template, you can customize your theme as needed through your platform’s editor. Or, tap a professional designer, like one of Wix’s Marketplace professionals, to help out.


At this stage of making your eCommerce website, you’ll want to think about a number of design features, plus also the option of adding more website pages beyond just your product pages:


  • Product images: It’s best to upload your own product photography, including ones that aren’t product-specific but serve as compelling header images, background images, or lifestyle photos. If you’re in a pinch, Wix offers a gallery of free, high-quality stock photos to choose from. Learn more: eCommerce photography.

  • Fonts and colors: Select a typeface and colors that align with your eCommerce branding. Check that your copy is easy to read and that buttons are easy to spot. Be intentional about your design, taking into consideration how colors and patterns have the power to communicate various moods, memories, and values.

  • Your homepage: Consider the most crucial information to provide upfront for your customers to see (think: if your business were opening a brick-and-mortar location, what signage would you show at the front of your store?). Highlight your most important products, messaging, and/or offers on your homepage. You could even embed posts from your Instagram or Facebook feeds, or add product reviews that showcase your brand’s authenticity.

  • Navigation: Keep your navigation clean and well-organized. As a general rule of thumb, visitors should be able to find any product they need within three clicks or less. Add site search, sorting options, and filters to your pages to further assist your customers with finding what they need faster.

  • The mobile experience: As you finetune your eCommerce website, don’t forget to check on the mobile experience. Check that any text, images and buttons appear as they should on smaller screens. Learn more about ecommerce ux.



how to create an ecommerce website - design and templates


03. Create and optimize your product pages


When it comes to building your eCommerce site, product pages can’t be rushed.


Get them right and you’ll not only encourage sales but you’ll also spark cross-sells and upsells that can lead to bigger purchases.


Be deliberate about how you format your product pages. Think about the questions—and assumptions—buyers may have when they’re not able to physically see or touch your products.

Remember that the devil is in the details: Often the most high-converting product pages are rich with information, provide multiple images, and include some sort of social proof.


As you build out your product pages, pay close attention to the following elements:


  • Product names: Your product names should include at least one easy-to-recognize descriptor in the title. For example, if you’re selling headphones, include “earbuds” or “headphones” somewhere so that it’s easy to search.

  • Product images: Add multiple high-quality images taken from several angles to give your customers a 360-degree view of your product. Where appropriate, use video and/or informational graphics to provide even more context. If your products come in multiple colors or styles, include images of each variation.

  • Product descriptions: Your product descriptions should aim to answer frequently asked questions about your product. Include details such as how the product is made and the type of material it’s made out of. Speak to the benefits of your product, not simply its features, and emphasize what makes your product unique. Weave in keywords naturally tool to enhance your chances of ranking high in search engines.

  • Shipping and return information: Today’s shoppers want to make as few clicks or swipes as possible, so including shipping costs and your return policy on your product page will help create a more efficient journey. More importantly, putting your policies in a clear spot helps to keep expectations aligned, reducing the chance of returns or upset customers.

  • Product reviews: Incorporate reviews onto your product pages by adding a widget or importing existing reviews from another source. You could additionally display user-generated social content on your page to showcase real-life photos of your product in action.

  • Cross-selling and upselling opportunities: Include dynamic “related products” banners on your pages to draw attention to other accessories, components, or items that your customers may be interested in while shopping. As another option, upsell your customers on product subscriptions or premium versions of their items.



04. Set up payments


Today’s shoppers expect multiple payment options. Some prefer credit or debit cards. Others prefer digital wallets. Still, others may prefer a payment app. When creating your eCommerce site we recommend offering as many payment options as possible to give customers exactly what they want.


Your eCommerce platform should include prompts for setting up your online payment gateway. Most will ask you to enter and confirm your business’ country of origin, before determining which payment and currency options are available in your region.


With Wix, you can activate Wix Payments as a credit card payment solution to instantly start accepting all the major credit/debit cards, alongside digital wallets and other popular forms of payment. Wix Payments additionally allows you to manage your entire business from one place, whether you’re looking to review orders or schedule your payouts (among other things).



05. Set up shipping and delivery


While an efficient payment experience will help shoppers convert, an outstanding shipping and delivery experience helps convince them to come back. When building an eCommerce website, start by determining your shipping and delivery objectives:


  • Do you want to ship your products domestically, internationally, or both?

  • What shipping policies do you care to offer (free shipping, flat rate, variable fee, etc.)?

  • Which carriers or third-party logistics providers are you looking to ship with?

  • Will you be dropshipping?

  • Which shipping software platforms are you planning to use?


Your eCommerce platform should make it easy for you to set custom rules and integrate your most important apps so that you can deliver outstanding customer service, plus track the cost of shipping with each order.


If you use Wix to make your eCommerce site, you can also enable local customers to pick up their orders from a nearby warehouse or from your closest brick-and-mortar store by setting up store pickup as a ‘delivery’ option.



06. Choose and connect your domain name


Once you've created your eCommerce site, you’ll need to either connect an existing domain or create a new one yourself. Your domain name is the name that users will type into their browser to get to your site. Choosing the right name is important for both your branding and marketing strategies, with the latter focused on having a trustworthy and easy-to-search domain name.


Pro tip: Opt for popular domain extensions such as .com or .net to enhance your site's credibility.


To register a domain name, you can find a domain registrar that's accredited by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). You can purchase a domain from Wix. The average domain costs between $10 and $20 per year, though with a Wix premium plan, you can get a voucher for a free domain name for a year.


If you already have a domain and want to incorporate it into your eCommerce site, simply go to your site’s settings and connect your domain. You’ll be asked to log into your domain registrar and verify your domain name. The verification process often takes a few minutes, but in some cases, it could take up to 48 hours. Once your domain is verified, it will be automatically connected to your new eCommerce site.



how to build an ecommerce website - domain name


07. Test and launch your eCommerce site


Once you've made your ecommerce site it’s critical that you take the time to test it thoroughly. Most platforms will allow you to preview your site before it goes live. This allows you to see exactly what your site will look like, and to make any last-minute changes.


Be sure to test your site across multiple devices—desktop, tablet, and mobile. Make sure that all links, menus, and buttons work properly. Go through the whole user journey, starting with a product search and ending with a checkout.


This is also a good time to test it's performance and speed - these are crucial to get right on ecommerce website as a slow experience can frustrate potential and returning customers to your online store.


Once you’re completely satisfied with your eCommerce site’s look and feel, hit publish and take your site live (and then check out our guide on eCommerce website optimization). Then look into getting it ranking on Google and other search engines, too.



test and launch your ecommerce website


08. Market and promote your eCommerce website


While building your own eCommerce site will give your store a “home,” selling on other sales channels, such as third-party marketplace (e.g., Amazon, eBay, etc.) and social media (TikTok, Instagram, etc.) should be a central part of your marketing strategy and of promoting your site.


By establishing a strong omnichannel retail strategy, you can expand your reach, while engaging users with a clear intent to shop.


Of course, you’ll want to make sure to sync these third-party channels with your eCommerce site. Doing so will make it easier to track inventory across channels and deliver a consistent brand experience no matter where a customer shops for your products.


If you use Wix for eCommerce, you can easily manage today’s most popular marketplaces from one central dashboard. Simply choose the channels you want to activate from your Wix account and go through the step-by-step instructions that are provided for you. By signing up through Wix, you may even receive special benefits, such as higher listing limits or reduced commission fees.


Learn more:




Why create an eCommerce website?


Building an eCommerce website offers numerous advantages for individuals and businesses looking to sell products or services online. Here are several compelling reasons to make an eCommerce website for your online business:



Global reach


An eCommerce website allows you to reach a global audience, so you can sell to customers anywhere in the world. This type of website typically increases visibility, especially if you also market it effectively. This can attract new customers, boost brand awareness and lead to higher sales.



Streamlined customer experience


Unlike physical stores with operating hours, eCommerce websites are accessible 24/7. This constant availability accommodates varied consumer schedules and time zones. Consumers also appreciate the convenience of online shopping as it allows them to browse products and make purchases from the comfort of their homes or on the go. With features like online payments, automated order processing and efficient customer support systems, eCommerce websites provide a streamlined and efficient shopping experience for customers.



Data insights


Some of the best eCommerce platforms provide valuable data and analytics about customer behavior, preferences and buying patterns. This information can be used to refine your marketing and selling efforts by improving the overall customer experience. An eCommerce website allows you to adapt to changing trends and preferences, meaning your business stays relevant and competitive. Check out Wix Analytics as an example.



Cost-effectiveness


Compared to brick-and-mortar stores, eCommerce businesses often have lower overhead costs. You can save on expenses like rent, utilities and staffing. You also have flexibility in terms of product variety and business scale. You can easily add new products, update inventory and expand your business without significant infrastructure changes.



Personalization


Ecommerce platforms enable personalized shopping experiences through features like product recommendations, targeted promotions and personalized content based on customer preferences and behavior.



How to make an eCommerce site FAQ

How much does it cost to build an eCommerce site?

Ecommerce website cost varies depending on factors like the chosen platform, features, design complexity and whether you hire professionals for certain tasks. Wix offers a low monthly fee, while custom-built solutions may involve higher upfront costs. Additionally, consider expenses for domain registration, hosting and potentially hiring designers or developers for specific tasks when assessing how much it costs to build a website.

Can I create an eCommerce site for free?

Can I build an eCommerce site on my own or as a beginner?


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