Creating an Online Store: Step-by-Step
So now you know how much they cost, how do you actually start an online store?
Thankfully, it’s an absolute breeze. We’ll show you all the steps you need to go through, and all the things you need to consider.
Step 1: Choose an Ecommerce Website Builder
As you can see from the table above, Shopify is our favorite ecommerce builder. Its biggest strengths include letting you sell across loads of different channels, and handling everything from your tax and accounting records to shipping costs.
However, this level of detail comes at a price, and might not be ideal for people just starting out. If that sounds like you, we’d recommend Squarespace. While Squarespace is designed to work as a website with online store capabilities rather than an entire sales platform, you’ll still find handy built-in account tools.
Squarespace is best suited for smaller and startup businesses, with its pricing plans costing between $20-40 per month. Established businesses, with more complex requirements, would be better off choosing Shopify or BigCommerce — they start at between $70-100 per month.
Find out more – Best Ecommerce Website Builders
Step 2: Design Your Website
This used to be one of the most complicated parts of constructing a website. You’d either have to hire an expensive and time-consuming web designer to get the job done, or be a pretty handy coder yourself.
Fortunately, those days are long gone. Instead, ecommerce website builders will give you templates to base your website around, which give you the ability to control the design of individual website pages and the content on them.
For example, you’ll be able to create standardized product pages for everything you sell, or pages with FAQs or contact details for your business.
Some ecommerce website builders offer hundreds of different templates, so it’s worth taking a bit of time and being prudent with your selection – you might find yourself stuck with it!
Step 3: Set up an Inventory and Stock System
Now you’ve picked your ecommerce website builder and chosen your template, it’s time to set up your inventory and stock-keeping system.
The best dedicated ecommerce platforms will have this functionality baked into their systems. However, with some website builders (such as Wix), you might have to install an app or plugin from their app stores to gain access to this functionality.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll need to upload your actual products onto your site. Some ecommerce website builders, such as Shopify and Squarespace, allow you to bulk upload products, which is handy if you sell a wide range of goods. You’ll need to make sure you have high quality photography to hand, and lots of product information to make sure your customers are informed about what products they’re actually buying.
After your products are in the system, you’ll be able to keep an eye on the number of products you have in stock through your platform’s dashboards.
Step 4: Create a Basket, Checkout and Sales Process
Your products are on the site, but they’ll be no good to you or your customers if nobody can buy them.
When you pick an ecommerce or online store template, you’ll likely be given a checkout page ready to go. This means you won’t have to spend ages creating one from scratch. It’s worth bearing in mind, though, that there will still be a level of set up to go through. You’ll need to connect a bank account and set up a payment processor, for example, but most sites will guide you through this.
It’s also worth remembering that not all ecommerce website builder checkouts are created equal. For example, while Weebly’s checkout can’t be customized to reflect your own brand, BigCommerce doesn’t let you change the information you require from your customers when they buy a product.
You want to make sure that your checkout page is easy to understand and appears trustworthy. You don’t want customers changing their mind on a purchase at the final hurdle because your checkout looks a bit shady. If in doubt, show it to your friends and family to get some honest feedback.
Step 5: Set Up Your Domain
Every website needs a domain. Ours, for example, is www.tech.co.
Some ecommerce website builders will offer to host your domain as part of their service. For example, Wix, Weebly and Squarespace all offer free domain hosting when you buy one of their plans on an annual package.
However, it’s always worth checking out the prices and services from third-party hosting companies. You’ll be able to connect your domain from a third-party host to any ecommerce website builder you like.
Find out more – How Much Does Web Hosting Cost?
Step 6: Go Live and Start Making Money
So you’ve chosen your ecommerce website, picked a great-looking template, set up your inventory and stock keeping system, sorted your checkout, and bought a domain.
There’s nothing left to do other than pull the trigger – it’s time to put your site live on the internet, and watch the money roll in!
Of course, it’s not quite that simple. You’ll need to keep on top of your products and orders, make sure that your site stays up-to-date, and keep working to attract new customers.
However, with all the heavy lifting out the way, it should be easy to stay on top of your business by taking advantage of the tools provided by your ecommerce platform.