So you want to start selling stuff online?
There are plenty of websites that let you sell stuff on their platform – Etsy, Amazon and eBay, to name a few. But what if you want to create your own website to sell products? To keep your brand front-and-center, and keep more of the money you make?
Fortunately, it’s never been easier to create your very own ecommerce website thanks to a range of ecommerce platforms and website builders. In this guide, we’ll explain how to create your own ecommerce website so you can get selling quicker, while getting the best deals to save money in the process.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
- What is an Ecommerce Website Builder? – We explain what they are and how they work
- How Much Does an Online Store Cost? – You’ll have to pay to create a store, but you can easily recoup whatever you spend
- Creating an Online Store: Step-by-Step – We’ll walk you through the five easy steps to creating an online store
Our score is based on independent assessments of ease of use, features, ecommerce functionality and value for money
Cheapest Ecommerce Plan (per month)
Priciest Ecommerce Plan (per month)
Number of extra sales channels
Physical Product Sales
Digital Product Sales
Click to check for deals, discounts and tiers of plans
BEST FOR SMALLER STORES
BEST FOR LARGER STORES
Wix is our top choice ecommerce website builder. It makes creating an online store brilliantly easy, and it's perfect for smaller or boutique stores.
The best ecommerce website builder for larger businesses, with outstanding features, great websites, and a scalable platform
Perfect for anyone already using Square POS or looking to get set up quickly and cheaply
Runs Shopify close with great sales features, but a small knowledge base and weaker website design let it down.
Can't match the scalability of the its rivals, but you'll get a great-looking, easy to use sales website.
A good alternative to BigCommerce with better web design. Can be confusing to use, though.
Has some advantages over Wix when it comes to sales features, but Weebly's overall platform isn't as compelling.
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.
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