Wondering where to begin when it comes to eCommerce website development?
According to Forbes, by 2026, 24% of purchases will be made online. At the same time, 79% of respondents shop online at least once a month. An online store is a step forward for many merchants.
It is not so rare that a digital platform’s success inspires store owners to eliminate their brick-and-mortar venues.
However, building a potentially successful online store is not an easy task, requiring much resources, effort, and often help from experts, like professional Magento development services.
To help you walk this path the best possible way, we’ve prepared a comprehensive guide on developing a website for an eCommerce business.
eCommerce website development: Preliminary steps
eCommerce website development is about laying a sturdy foundation with thorough research and planning. So don’t skip the following steps to pave the way for your eCommerce success:
Research your target market
Kick off your eCommerce journey by focusing on your ideal customer. Don’t just skim the surface; immerse yourself in understanding their preferences, pain points, and purchasing triggers.
Conduct surveys, host focus groups, or even set up one-on-one interviews. Knowing who you’re catering to can help you tailor your offerings and pitch your products just right.
Analyze the competitors
As you venture into the eCommerce arena, you’ll want to get the lay of the land. Peek behind the curtains of your competitors’ strategies: subscribe to their newsletters, engage with their social media, and even make a few purchases.
Pay attention to UX/UI design, product pages, checkout process, shipping, payment options, marketing efforts, etc.
By immersing yourself in their customer journey, you can pinpoint gaps in their strategy and spot opportunities for your own brand to shine.
Purchase a domain name
Your domain name is more than just a URL—it’s your brand’s first impression online. Don’t rush this step; take the time to brainstorm. Toss around ideas, juggle with words, and settle on a name that not only resonates with your brand identity but also rolls off the tongue.
Once you’ve got a list, head to a domain name registrar or a search tool to find out whether your desired domain is available. Popular registrars include GoDaddy, Namecheap, and Bluehost, among others.
Check your inventory
Launching an online platform in addition to a physical store, you should expect an increase in demand. So don’t forget to check whether you have enough products in stock. A seamless shopping experience hinges on keeping promises.
If you’re showcasing products online, ensure they’re available and ready to ship. Regularly check in on your stock levels, foster strong relationships with suppliers, and consider integrating inventory management software to keep everything on track.
Decide on the shipping terms
Forbes claims that 22% of users stop shopping because shipping is too slow. Shipping isn’t just about getting products from A to B; it’s a crucial touchpoint in the customer experience.
Mull over offering features like package tracking, express delivery, or eco-friendly packaging. Sometimes, it’s the little shipping perks that can tip the balance for a hesitant buyer.
Choose payment gateways
Seamless transactions can make or break the online shopping experience. While credit and debit cards are standard, many users prefer alternative payment methods like PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Wallet, or even cryptocurrencies.
The more diverse payment options you offer, the wider the net you cast. Dive into the info about different payment gateways, compare their fees, assess their security protocols, and read user reviews. It pays to ensure your checkout process is smooth, encouraging repeat business.
Create a marketing plan
You need to start building awareness for the goods and services you intend to sell before your website is prepared for commercial usage. Your site will receive promotion with a social media presence and uploading pertinent information there.
To avoid having to start from scratch, it is also advisable to write up all of the necessary content for your website in advance.
A website can also be promoted using various strategies, like search engine optimization, paid ads, email marketing campaigns, blog promotion, etc. This will aid in the popularity of your website among internet visitors.
Choosing the right eCommerce platform
Another preliminary point is picking an eCommerce platform, and it deserves special attention. The choice will mostly depend on the resources available, the size of the store, and personal preferences.
Let’s look closer at the most popular eCommerce platforms:
Magento is a robust open-source platform geared towards medium to large businesses, allowing them to deck out their online stores as they see fit. If you’re the type who loves to tinker around and get hands-on, Magento is your playground.
With a wealth of plugins and themes, you can really drill down and fine-tune every aspect of your online store. Yet, Magento development is pretty complicated, and you’ll need experienced Magento developers to succeed.
The platform is highly scalable, so as your business picks up steam, Magento is right there with you, handling increased traffic without breaking a sweat. Apart from that, it has a huge community of developers that you can always rely on.
Magento Open Source is a free iteration of the tool. Usage of premium features can start at roughly $2,000 per month; however, it will depend on how many services it requires.
Shopify is the go-to for many budding entrepreneurs and seasoned sellers alike. It’s a hosted solution, which means you can hit the ground running without worrying about backend server setups.
Shopify rolls everything into one neat package, from hosting to security certificates. With a multitude of themes, you can whip up a professional-looking store in no time. Apart from that, Shopify’s App Store is bursting at the seams with plugins that can plug into your store, bolstering its functionality. Monthly pricing ranges from $24 to $399.
WooCommerce is a plugin that hooks onto WordPress. If you’ve already dabbled in WordPress, integrating WooCommerce is a breeze. Being open-source, it’s free to use, making it perfect for startups looking to keep spendings low.
With countless themes and extensions, you can scale up or strip down your store as you please, making it as basic or intricate as your heart desires.
The essential capabilities are covered by a monthly fee of roughly $10. Extra features will cost about $200. Total yearly expenditures for large-scale WooCommerce websites may exceed $1,000.
BigCommerce aims to strip away the complexities of online selling. It’s a hosted platform, meaning it takes care of hosting and security, letting you focus on selling.
Out of the box, BigCommerce comes chock-full of features, reducing the need to hunt down external plugins. You can seamlessly tap into international markets with built-in tools geared towards global sales. The monthly fee starts from $29.
Wix has made a name for itself as a user-friendly website builder, and its eCommerce offering is no different. Drag, drop, and you’re off to the races. With a plethora of design options, jazzing up your store to reflect your brand is straightforward and fun.
Wix eCommerce is ideal for those just dipping their toes into online selling, but it’s got enough under the hood to cater to more established sellers looking to branch out. Minimum monthly pricing is $16.
Designing your website
UX/UI design influences website conversion as well as how users see your eCommerce site. Without being able to allocate what is required, the buyer will probably leave your website (and may never come back).
An unoptimized website, slow-loading pictures, and bad navigation are just a few examples of how poor UX may be to blame. Let’s figure out what should be taken care of while creating UX/UI design for your eCommerce website.
Homepage and navigation
There shouldn’t be too many items on the homepage, and it should be well-structured. Consider your calls to action again and emphasize the value your products or services offer. Importantly, the navigation of your store needs to be easy.
Every action your customer makes must be taken into consideration. Not to mention that finding and purchasing desired goods should be simple as well.
For instance, the Webster’s homepage displays various collections and separate items that have recently appeared at the store.
Menu and search
Create a simple top menu that clearly identifies the different product categories you provide. If you have too many categories, only display “the best of the best” in the menu (see how Bodum does it).
It’s crucial to have products intelligently organized so that consumers can find them easily. Apart from that, product search has to be speedy. To expedite the process, you may utilize smart search and autofill features.
Give each of your goods the room they require on the catalog pages. Products are sometimes crammed together in an attempt to display as much information as possible, which scatters attention and makes it difficult to concentrate on any one object.
To ensure a great user experience, include filters and a quick view function. Check out a catalog page at H&M website.
Any product page should have a few essential components.
- The cost: The cost should be immediately obvious and unambiguous. Think about duplicating the cost on a sticky bar. While a client scrolls back and forth, it remains visible. If the pricing is really alluring, draw attention to it using a bigger font and/or a different color.
- CTA. Customers may see a variety of CTAs on the product page. Add a pop-up with either a success message or the key information, such as the product name, price, and quantity, to let the user know that the CTA button succeeded.
- Videos and photos. Every store must include high-quality photos or videos on its product pages. Think about including close-ups and showing the product in action. A single image is displayed at a time in traditional galleries used by some businesses. Some people decide to show every photograph at once.
- Details and a description of the product. Rarely the text is large and full of information. The remaining details are either concealed or serve as a menu. However, there may be a brief summary given. Users may then review all the titles and decide which one to read.
The checkout process is a crucial part of an eCommerce website. If this one is poorly done, none of the attributes described above will matter. A smooth checkout process depends on a number of factors, including speed, ease of form completion, and a concise cart summary.
The majority of modern eCommerce websites offer a one-page checkout. It indicates that all of the forms are contained on a single page (see how Bodum uses the model). A pop-up checkout is also an option. Forms will immediately display once they open on the page in this manner, removing the need to scroll.
If you’re in the eCommerce arena, you’ve probably got wind of how pivotal SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is in drumming up business.
But just tossing a few keywords here and there won’t cut it. Let’s dive deep and break down what it truly takes to get your eCommerce website to rise above the noise and stand out in the bustling digital marketplace.
- Keyword Research: What might your potential customers be punching into the search bar? Tools like Google’s Keyword Planner or SEMrush can help you discover those golden keywords that drive traffic and sales.
- Product Descriptions: Think of your product descriptions as a chance to woo potential customers. Make them captivating, but don’t forget to weave in those essential keywords naturally.
- Optimize Images: Search engines can’t ‘see’ images. So, make sure you’re naming your image files wisely and filling out those alt tags. It’ll help search engines pick up on what’s in the picture and give your SEO a leg up.
- Get a Handle on Your Site’s Speed: Nothing turns customers off faster than a site that drags its feet. Look into ways to speed things up, whether it’s by compressing images or
- cutting down on unnecessary plugins. Tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights can pinpoint where you might fall short.
- Rack Up Quality Backlinks: Think of backlinks as a thumbs-up from other sites. The more quality endorsements you have, the better your chances of moving up the ranks. So, reach out, build relationships, and pull in those backlinks.
- Stay on Top of Technical SEO: Regularly carry out site audits to iron out any kinks—be it broken links, duplicate content, or issues with your site’s structure.
Adaptation for mobile
According to Statista, at the beginning of 2015, mobile devices accounted for less than one-third (31.16%) of global web traffic. In 2021, that figure rose to 54.8%. Since most people today tend to do all kinds of web activities on their phones, UI/UX design for mobile is a priority for many businesses.
When striving to improve engagement inside your mobile app or mobile version of the website, there are a number of things to take into account:
- Observe the sizes of the components. Almost everyone who uses a smartphone uses their thumbs. According to Apple’s iPhone Human Interface Guidelines, the minimum target dimension should be 44 pixels wide by 44 pixels high. Microsoft suggests a minimum touch target size of 7mm/26px and a maximum of 9mm/34px. Both the goal size and the distance between them matter. The user could inadvertently hit the incorrect action button if they are too close to one another.
- Remove any unnecessary elements or copy that don’t directly support user activities. Build your user interface to make every piece of information shown on the screen useful and pertinent.
- Employ Fitts’ Law. Fitts’ Law states that the size and look of a target affect how long it takes to acquire it. For essential functions, it is therefore preferable to create big goals.
- Reduce data entry. On a mobile device, typing takes time and is prone to mistakes. Forms should be kept as simple and brief as possible to minimize the quantity of typing needed. In addition, you can use auto-complete as necessary.
- Consider the size of the text. Since smartphones have much smaller screens than desktop computers, one of the challenges of mobile design is how to pack a lot of information on a little screen. It might be tempting to compress everything to fit as much information as possible into a mobile design. But you ought to restrain yourself. To be readable at a standard distance without zooming, the text must be at least 11 points in size.
An eCommerce website is a dynamic entity, continually evolving in response to market trends, technological advancements, and consumer behavior.
While this guide has provided a comprehensive foundation for creating an eCommerce platform, there are more things you can consider to make it even better. Some of them are:
- Displaying customer feedback and reviews: In an information age, consumers trust peer reviews almost as much as personal recommendations. Integrating a review and feedback system not only lends credibility to your products but also provides valuable insights into areas for improvement.
- Sales Tracking & Analytics: You can’t improve what you don’t measure. Implementing tools that monitor sales, cart abandonment rates, and other vital metrics will empower you to refine your strategies and increase conversions.
- Augmented Reality (AR) Integration: AR is changing the face of eCommerce, enabling customers to ‘try before they buy,’ whether it’s visualizing furniture in their living space or trying on clothes virtually. Embracing AR can significantly elevate the user experience and reduce return rates.
- Chatbots & AI Customer Service: Automated assistants can guide users, answer frequently asked questions, and even assist with the checkout process, ensuring customers feel supported around the clock.
- Personalization: Offering personalized experiences, like product recommendations based on browsing history or personalized email marketing campaigns, can boost sales and enhance customer loyalty.’
Building an eCommerce website is a constant process of analysis, adaptation, and growth. The real magic lies in continuously listening to your audience, adapting to their needs, and embracing innovation.
In a rapidly changing digital landscape, staying static is not an option. Instead, the aim is to evolve, innovate, and lead, providing consumers with unmatched online shopping experiences.
Guest Author: Kate Parish is a chief marketing officer at Onilab. She has almost a decade of experience in the company and is still enthusiastic about every aspect of digital marketing. Kate sees the marketing mission in ensuring sustainable business growth. For this purpose, she helps companies and readers create efficient campaigns, solve common problems, and enhance crucial website metrics, such as conversions, bounce rates, and others.