How to Build an Online Store from Scratch – Step by Step Guide

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How to Build an Online Store from Scratch – Step by Step Guide

If you are selling your products through your brick and mortar store, this is the right time to start working on building your web store to provide your customers an easy and convenient way to shop from anywhere

Majority of the business owners face challenge since they are not familiar about the exact process to follow while setting up their eCommerce webshop and it can be complicated if you don’t know where to begin

Building a successful ecommerce website is much more than just buying a domain and setting up a premade template/theme

Let’s Discuss Each Point in Detail

1) Do Some Market Research

Doing some basic market and competitor’s research is critical as it will help you to realise what your competitors are doing, what works for them and what not. What challenges they are facing , If they are doing well – is it because of their website user experience or their pricing strategy, What product personalisation option do they offer on their product pages, what payment gateways and shipping methods your target audience prefers the most etc

Try to understand all these metrics for at least 5-7 of your top competitors and based on that you can make the best choice of different parameters on your web shop

Taking the time in the beginning for thorough research and discovery will be very helpful on later stage

2) Selecting Right Domain Name for Your Web Shop

Once you have done all required research and identified all the products that you want to sell on your web shop, the next step is to purchase the domain name to be used for your eCommerce website

Domain name is the address where internet users can access your business website. Selecting a right domain name around your business industry is very important as it adds credibility to your business in long run

You can buy a domain name of your choice from various sellers available in the market like Godaddy, Bigrock, namecheap and such as others

best domain for online store

3) Prepare an Effective Business Plan

Starting a web shop is definitely a great idea with lots of opportunities but with technological advancements, the market is changing faster than ever and a clearcut business plan would help you to stand out

Market and competitors research done on the step 1 will help you to prepare a sound business plan with the consideration of needs of your potential customers when they buy online and what you should offer on your eCommerce website to provide them with the best shopping experience ever

Your web shop will have impact on almost every area of your business including Sales-Marketing, Customer Service, Accounting, and Information Technology. When you start to put a plan together, understand how your eCommerce web shop can reach each corner of your organization and help your business to grow in long

4) Choose The Best eCommerce Platform

The next step is to select the best eCommerce platform suitable for your business needs. Selecting a right digital platform to build your web shop can have a huge impact on success of your online business

Since there are numbers of different platforms available in the market, It can be difficult to select the platform that can fulfil all your needs effectively and within your budget

You need to Consider below Factors while Selecting an eCommerce Solution

– Pricing
– Flexibility to implement custom designs and features
– Possibility and ease of third party system integration
– Mobile friendliness
– In built marketing features available
– Ease of order & inventory management
– Possibility to scale as your business grow
– SEO friendliness
– Security

If you are just starting with small amount of inventory and you don’t need much custom functionality, any woocommerce development company will suggest to check woocommerce as it has all the functionality a standard web shop needs

And If you are a well established business with big SKU numbers and need lots of custom features to provide your end users with wonderful shopping experience, Magento and Shift4Shop are the best eCommerce platforms available in the market

There are some other good self-hosted eCommerce platforms available which you should explore too

5) Designing eCommerce Website

It’s not that tough to design a simple CMS website but designing a fully functional eCommerce website has lots of challenges as it is built not only to showcase your products and services, It is built to motivate your users to shop online. Consider to hire an experienced eCommerce website design company to design your web shop

Designing eCommerce website

A great design is attractive and easy to read with intuitive navigation. Your customers should be able to easily find what they are looking to buy or they will switch to your competitors. Usability of your web shop can be increased by displaying product and service information in a clear, concise manner

6) Developing all The Front End and Back End Functionality

Once the design of all the web shop pages is done, next step is quality development or coding on the eCommerce platform you have selected. There are certain features that every eCommerce website should have to stay competitive

The success of your ecommerce websites is determined by not only the products & services you offer and how well the website is designed, but also by the features your website offer both for the customers and the website owner

Effective product pages and intuitive checkout are the most important part. Never make it hard for buyers to select required product options and checkout with minimum steps possible

Quick loading time for every page is very crucial and one of the most important factors behind loading speed is how effectively your website coding is done. Hire an experienced eCommerce website developers who can build your website with all the coding standards in place

7) Decide Product Categories

The better the product categorization is on your eCommerce website, the easier it would be for your customers to locate specific products that they need

No matter what types of products you sell, understanding how your users will search for your products and developing accurate and well organized product categories structure is very crucial for success of your web shop

An accurate category/subcategory structure will not only help you to improve user experience on your website, it will also help to rank your site high on search engines for certain keywords

There are a numbers of different ways to categorize your products, consult a professional SEO services agency to further understand and implement category structure in the best possible manner
ecommerce product categorization

8) Prepare Product Pictures & Videos

You should discuss with your Certified Magento eCommerce developers about required picture size on different sections of the new web shop and start working to arrange it when the development is in progress

A good picture speaks a thousand words. When someone lands on your website, their attention first goes on the pictures that you have used and if they like what they see – they will browse more on your website. Good quality of product pictures on your eCommerce website will help you to convert more visitors into buyers

According to a recent research, about 71% consumers think that video explains product better. Product explainer videos on your web site will make it easy for user to understand everything about your products and help them to make buying decision. You won’t deny the fact that people these days like videos more than reading long texts

9) Write Product Descriptions

eCommerce website owners usually underestimate importance of quality content. Though you use good quality product pictures or product explainer videos, your customers will have lots of other questions about your products which you can address by writing detailed product descriptions

Unique and user friendly product descriptions will help to boost search engine ranking of your product keywords, Check our guide on how to write effective products descriptions

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10) Set up Payment Gateways

Payment gateways are an integral part of eCommerce web shop checkout process. If you don’t offer right and easy payment gateway options to your customers, your eCommerce business will not be successful

You should offer your customer all major payment gateway options such as PayPal/Braintree, stripe, direct bank transfer etc

While selecting the payment gateway, you should check for PCI compliance and SSL certificate in order to avoid any security problems in future

11) Configure Shipping Options

Online buyers care much about shipping options that you offer and delivery fees. Research says that 45% of shoppers abandoned a cart when they didn’t find free shipping option

You should integrate shipping methods that can offer your customers with faster and cheaper deliver options on your web shop.  If your are unable to satisfy your customers in either area, then you will lose the sale

You should clearly specify order delivery dates with live order tracking feature. A positive delivery experience will increase trust of customers and encourage them to shop again

12) Web Hosting and SSL

Web hosting is basically a space on server where your website lives. You need to buy a reliable hosting service to make your new web shop available to public

Your web hosting service will have a huge impact on performance of your web shop so be careful while selecting a hosting company. Consult with your web design & development company to get their advice regarding required hosting package specifications suitable around yourbusiness needs

You would also need to integrate SSL on your website to offer your buyers with secure shopping experience. You can get a SSL certificate from your hosting provider

13) Search Engine Optimization – SEO

SEO is the process of improving organic search rank of your web shop using some set of tactics. If your potential customers cannot find your web shop on search engines, you will lose a big opportunity of sale

eCommerce business owners generally ignore SEO just because they do not know how important it is for long term success of the business

SEO should be integrated with your web shop design and development process. If you don’t know how to do it, here is our ultimate eCommerce SEO guide

14) Testing

Your ecommerce website development team will do the testing of the site on different browsers and devices but you should also keep testing the things on your end to make sure that each section of the website is working very well before it is launched

A website that has not been properly tested may look fine in one browser and device but break apart in another and if any functionality doesn’t work – users will simply go elsewhere

Once the web shop is live, you should keep doing A/B testing to identify what works and what not

15) Content & Social Media Marketing Strategy

Only building a good web shop is not enough, you should plan to market it well for success. Content marketing and social media marketing are two most important pillars of your ecommerce marketing strategy

Content marketing is all about creating useful content for your target audience and distribute it through different channels

Creating & sharing valuable content on regular basis will help to increase customers trust on your brand and represent your business as an authority in your niche. It will also help to boost conversions and search engine rankings

Social media is another important channel to engage with your buyers and ultimately increase sales. Integrating social media into your ecommerce store marketing is very crucial

16) Regular Maintenance

Your job will not end when design and development of your web shop is finished. In order to run it smoothly, it is important to monitor and maintain it regularly for any possible issues

When the site is being built, we often overlook some important aspects in order to finish and go live on time. So it’s important to use some live visitor tracking tool to monitor how the end users are interacting with your web shop and if they are facing any issues on any sections

Our eCommerce website maintenance guide will help you to maintain your web shop well


Success of your ecommerce website is dependent on many factors like quality of your products, easy to use web shop, competitive pricing, customer service, your marketing strategy etc and if you follow all these steps properly, you will be in a good position

In this age of high competition, eCommerce Business is all about creating value for customers and the more value you can provide, the more chances your business will be successful

If you have any other questions about how to build an online store, please feel free to write in the comments section below and our eCommerce consultants would be happy to assist


Bhavin M

Bhavin M, co-founder of Icecube Digital, spends much of his time creating simple but valuable content which helps ecommerce entrepreneurs to grow their online business.

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