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What is an online store and why do you need one?

what is an online store and why do you need one

An online store, also known as an eCommerce store or electronic commerce store, is a website or digital platform that allows businesses or individuals to sell products or services over the Internet. Customers can browse an online catalog, select items they want to purchase and complete transactions electronically. Online stores have become increasingly popular due to the convenience of shopping from home and the global reach they provide.

8 key components of an online store

The following are some of the most important parts of an online store, when it comes to making an eCommerce website, it’s important to factor in all of the following. 

01. Product listings

Online stores typically display detailed information about products or services, including images, descriptions, prices and specifications. For more inspiration check out these product page examples.

02. Shopping cart

Customers can add products to a virtual shopping cart as they browse. The shopping cart keeps track of selected items until the customer is ready to checkout.

03. Checkout process

This is the process through which customers complete their purchases. It involves entering shipping information, payment details and confirming the order.

04. Payment options

To facilitate transactions, online stores offer various payment methods, such as credit cards, digital wallets and other online payment systems. Wix Payments, for example, allows your customers to pay with major debit/credit cards, Apple Pay, Tap to Pay on iPhone, Tap to Pay on Android and Google Pay. 

05. Security infrastructure

Security is crucial in online transactions. Online stores use secure socket layer (SSL) encryption to protect customer information and ensure a safe shopping experience. They should be built on platforms, like Wix, that enforce enterprise-level website security infrastructure both for reliability and security reasons. 

06. Order management

Businesses use order management systems to track and fulfill customer orders. This includes managing inventory, processing orders and handling shipping logistics.

07. Customer accounts

Many online stores allow customers to create accounts, providing a personalized experience. Customer accounts can store order history, preferences and shipping information for future purchases.

08. Search and navigation

Effective search and navigation features make it easy for customers to find products. This includes categories, filters and search functionalities.

Get your online store started with an ecommerce website builder.

Why do you need an online store?

Global reach

An online store provides the opportunity to reach a global audience, breaking down geographical barriers. This broadens your customer base and allows you to tap into markets that were previously inaccessible. With the internet connecting people worldwide, your products or services can be showcased to a diverse set of consumers, increasing the potential for sales and eCommerce business growth.

24/7 availability

Unlike physical stores with fixed operating hours, an online store is open 24/7. This level of accessibility provides unparalleled convenience for customers who can browse, shop and make purchases at any time, regardless of their location or time zone. This flexibility enhances customer satisfaction and contributes to increased sales, especially for businesses catering to international audiences.

Reduced overhead costs

Operating an online store often incurs lower overhead costs compared to a brick-and-mortar establishment. There's no need for physical storefronts, extensive in-store staff, or utilities associated with maintaining a traditional retail space. eCommerce allows businesses to streamline operations, allocate resources more efficiently and offer products at competitive prices, which is a significant advantage when it comes to starting a business in today's competitive market. You can take this one step further with different ecommerce types, that are especially low investment, including dropshipping amongst others.

Benefits of analytics 

Online stores offer the advantage of collecting and analyzing customer data effectively. By leveraging analytics tools, businesses can gain valuable insights into customer behavior, preferences and buying patterns. This data-driven approach enables targeted marketing strategies, personalized customer experiences and the ability to adapt and optimize product offerings based on real-time feedback, ultimately leading to better decision-making and improved business outcomes.


Online stores need a scalable eCommerce platform that can easily adapt to the growing demands of a business. Whether you're a startup or an established enterprise, the digital nature of eCommerce allows for seamless expansion without the constraints associated with physical space. With the ability to add new products, services, or features, online stores provide the flexibility needed to respond quickly to market trends and evolving customer preferences.

Competitive advantage

In today's dynamic business environment, having an online store is crucial to staying competitive. It allows businesses to adopt innovative technologies, such as augmented reality for virtual try-ons or AI-driven recommendation engines, to enhance the customer shopping experience. By staying at the forefront of technological advancements, businesses can differentiate themselves from competitors, attract tech-savvy consumers and position themselves as industry leaders.

3 examples of successful online stores

This jewelry business is a great example of how versatile an online store can be. You can choose to sell almost anything from an online store, including a wide range of popular jewelry choices. 

This online beauty store is a great example of how successful an online store can become with the right products and customer targeting. 

Online stores also serve niche product markets well, such as this online store selling sleeping sacks and clothes for babies, all of them made to the highest standards of care. 

Online store FAQ

How does an online store work?

Customers can visit the website, browse through products or services, add items to their cart and complete a digital checkout process to make a purchase.

Is an online store the same as an eCommerce website?

What products can I find in an online store?

Other types of websites

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