eCommerce Website Development: Guide for Beginners (2019)
E-commerce is the fastest growing and most valuable industries that have revolutionized the way of living. It has connected every buyer, seller, and the end users with each other irrespective of their geographical location. E-commerce is such a big platform and gives you complete freedom to endorse your goods and services without any restrictions. Have you ever thought how this entire eCommerce website development life cycle works? In this tutorial for beginners you will learn about easy steps for eCommerce website development.
When you sit back home shop online and conveniently have your order delivered at your doorstep, you might think the process is quite simple as it seems. Right? Well, it’s more than what you think. It can take a lot of time to understand how everything takes place to successfully launch an online store from scratch.
How eCommerce website development works?
There is a chain of things that take place to create a successful online store. And every aspect of this process has its own significance and plays its role to give you a perfectly working ecommerce website. While you can use a powerful Ecommerce website builder to get it done in the easiest way.
In this tutorial for beginners, I’ll walk you through the all required and important steps of an eCommerce website development. This makes you more knowledgeable and equipped to run a successful online store without many efforts.
Follow the 11 steps below to start eCommerce website Development
Step 1: Finalize Your Model
You need to size up your requirements before starting the development process. The more precise your specifications are, the better the end product you will get. So, you need to decide first that if you wish to have a full-fledged eCommerce website to sell your products. Or you want to create an eCommerce marketplace to let others sell their merchandise on your website.
The basic difference between having your own eCommerce website and a marketplace website is the authorization. Marketplace website is a common platform, where any seller can register to sell their merchandise and anybody can purchase from them. It’s more like a market.
Whereas, an eCommerce website is a place where you sell your own products or maybe merchandise of a specific brand. Here, only the admin can add and sell products, no other seller can intervene. Similar to what you see in the retailer shops. Create your beautiful online store using an eCommerce platforms and get in the business right away.
Step 2: Choose Your eCommerce Platform Wisely
The content management system (eCommerce platform) you use to design your eCommerce website will have a huge effect on its success or failure. A CMS or eCommerce platform should be chosen while considering the scale of your website. Of course, both in terms in of products and customers.
There are various content management systems (CMS) such as WooCommerce, Magento, PrestaShop, OpenCart, Shopify etc. available in the market to choose from. However, you can create an eCommerce website with WordPress WooCommerce and TemplateToaster. WooCommerce is basically a WordPress plugin that converts your simple website into an eCommerce store.
But how about a beautiful amalgamation of WordPress, WooCommerce, and TemplateToaster? Yes! TemplateToaster – a website builder software that lets you create a fully functional template or website in the desired CMS. TemplateToaster can benefit you in many ways. It gives you the freedom to switch your designed theme with any other CMS of your choice. Check out free WooCommerce themes.
Step 3: Responsive eCommerce Design
The flexibility to use mobile devices has pushed the eCommerce business enormously. Thus, it is absolutely important to make sure that a website should be mobile optimized. A website should be compatible with all devices no matter what size it is of. If you don’t have a responsive web design, then there are huge chances that you might lose your maximum traffic. Also, your site will not appear in the mobile search results. Thus, your site’s SEO will be affected. Because Google itself gives preference to responsive websites.
Since much of the audiences is inclined towards mobile devices nowadays so you cannot overlook the importance of the mobile-optimized website.
Step 4: Impressive Mobile App for iOS and Android
Don’t panic it’s not a mandatory aspect of eCommerce website development. In fact, it is just a suggestion. If you want to attract more traffic to your website then you can build a mobile app targeting specifically iOS and Android users. People spend most of the time on their phones and if you are offering an exclusive app for them, then this can boost up your business giving more authentic traffic. But at times creating an app can be a little heavy on your pocket, but believe me, it’s all worth it. Additionally, having a mobile-friendly website is indeed a great idea.
Step 5: Select the eCommerce Website Hosting Platform
Your choice of hosting server can have a massive effect on your eCommerce business. The site’s performance, efficiency, and website accessibility are connected to the chosen hosting platform. You should choose a hosting plan according to the needs and after analyzing the traffic that possibly can come to your website. Although it can be tough to analyze traffic in advance still you need to have an understanding before you buy any hosting plan.
There are various types of hostings such as VPS, Dedicated hosting, Cloud hosting, Semi-dedicated hosting, etc. available that you can choose for your website.
- Virtual Private Server (VPS) is a virtualized server that provides you dedicated resources on the server. It is a secure and stable solution. It can serve medium-level traffic pretty well.
- Dedicated hosting is a type of hosting in which a server is allocated to a single user only. Thus, more security and high performance are guaranteed.
- Cloud hosting basically operates across distinct servers in the chain. Your data in the cloud hosting renders from varied servers. The best thing about cloud hosting is that you pay for what you use only. Your server needs can fluctuate with the business up and down and so is the price which you will pay to the server.
There are some Free WordPress hosting out there but you definitely need a good paid plan for eCommerce Website Development. As they say “if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys”.
Step 6: Some Important Other Key Factors to Keep in Mind
Perfect Site Search
This is actually not a step to implement rather a key component that needs to be taken care of in the development cycle. It helps you increase the user engagement to your website. The perfect the site search result, the more the user engagement will. Yes! A site search will help users to search for the desired product on a particular website. A site search engine searches the website for a particular result. When a user can’t find what they are looking for then chances of increase in bounce rate gets higher. You ought to have a perfectly working site search to keep your users on your site and to scale your WordPress eCommerce website easily.
Adding Related Items
It is absolutely important that other displayed merchandise should be related to the product that a visitor is currently viewing. Display of unrelated items can cause you to lose potential customers. Likewise, in the multi-product website, you need to be very specific about the related items you are showing to the potential customer. For example, you can display a specific model covers to the visitor that is searching for a mobile phone.
Perfect Categorization and Tag usage
A perfectly categorized website is a treat to eyes and the easy navigation is like a cherry on the cake. If all the products are well categorized then users can quickly find the relevant items. Thus, increase traffic to your website. Whereas, for a multi-product website it becomes even important to have well-defined categories to display the products.
You can also use tags to link to your merchandise. Since a Tag is a keyword referring to a particular product and helps it appear in the search result. Once a product is tagged then it is easy for a user to discover that specific product simply by typing that tag in the search. Therefore, tags are another very helpful tool to organize your store.
Look after SEO
One thing that you can never overlook in the eCommerce website development is search engine optimization. Use the best SEO practices to help people find your website, products, and services. An SEO-friendly website draws more customers than a non-optimized website. Similarly, adding target keywords make it easily searchable for the users. During the website development life cycle, you’ll find many SEO strategies that if implemented correctly can attract a huge number of potential customers to your website. Follow these eCommerce SEO tips for higher sales and conversions.
Use eCommerce Rich Snippets
Rich Snippets are basically a piece of structured data that helps users as well as crawlers to perceive more information about the site’s content. These rich snippets work amazingly different for your website. They attract the audience by displaying necessary information because you can’t tell a search engine to what exactly to show regarding your merchandise or pages. eCommerce rich snippet gives an idea to the search engine and customer to what to expect from a specific page. And it will help your site gain more exposure in organic search.
Being an eCommerce website, security is the biggest concern. The transactions carried out through your website is your responsibility and it needs to be as secure as possible. The server you are using should Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) compliant. And your site must support Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). As the primary purpose of SSL is to provide a secure connection to exchange sensitive information such as credit card details, name, phone number, address etc. over the internet. Thus, employing SSL will give your customers a sense of security and consequently keep your data absolutely secure. In fact, basic SSL certificates are freely available these days. You can follow these instructions to set up SSL using Let’s Encrypt.
The site’s performance is directly proportional to its speed. If the speed is slow, you’re likely to lose customers. It’s true! Generally, people abandon the website which takes more than 4 to 5 seconds to load. So, you have less than 5 seconds only to hook a new visitor to your website. Page load can significantly impact the user experience and your site’s ability to convert visitors into buyers. There are many ways to improve the performance of your WordPress website to run it smoothly. Consider using image compression and caching during development. Caching is a technique to save a static copy of pages so the server does not need to generate it dynamically every time it is requested. Caching is an essential tool for ensuring that your website runs efficiently and provides the best experience to the users.
Step 7: Website Testing
Once you’re ready with eCommerce website or even along with the designing process you can run testing. It is probably the most vital facet in website development. Testing is carried out for:
- User Convenience
- Broken links
- Shopping Cart Abandonment
Both automated and manual testing should be done so that there should be no room for errors. However, you can never test enough. eCommerce website having errors or any other type of bug can leave your visitors as well as existing users dissatisfied.
So here are some factors which you need to keep your focus on. And you require to run various testings such as cross-browser compatibility checks, resolution testing, load test, scalability, stress testing, integration testing, performance examination, security checking, functionality check, cookies usage, and database testing.
According to experts opinion, around 20 to 25% of total ecommerce website development time should be invested in this stage only.
Step 8: Market Your eCommerce Website
That’s it. Congratulations, your store is now live. But don’t forget to market your website. Digital marketing is actually the most essential part of the eCommerce website development life cycle. Rarely will visitors discover your eCommerce website by accident. Thus, in order to generate sales, you will actively need to market your website on various platforms. In fact, you should be ready in advance with your market plans, so that as soon as you launch your website, online marketing and promotions can be rolled out. An online market campaign needs to be really effective so that the website doesn’t go unnoticed. Right strategy, right implementation at the right time will definitely attract potential users.
To promote your product and to increase traffic and drive sales, follow these popular marketing methods.
- First and the foremost method is the traditional method is by giving ads in the newspaper, magazines, pamphlets, etc.
- Social media marketing (SMM). SMM is the most popular and attention seeking digital marketing solution that helps marketers to market their merchandise conveniently. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Linkedin, Google+, Pinterest, etc. have almost become an integral part of every business marketing strategy to promote their business.
- Email marketing is another effective way to market your website. You can ask your visitors to leave their email addresses in exchange for some enticing offers or promos. Send emails to your customers at specified intervals (not too often) and inform them about the new deals or new launches. Send them discount coupons to keep their interest in your store.
- Content can help you reach the next level. Yes! Content marketing is an imperative measure of eCommerce development. It is something that can take the website higher in search results. Produce authentic, unique, and shareable information to attract visitors to your store. Give them something interesting and genuine to read and keep up their engagement.
- Use viral marketing. Viral marketing is all about how creatively and quickly you create a strategy to get people to promote your website via however medium they like.
Step 9: Payment Methods
This is certainly a significant aspect of eCommerce business. It is your responsibility to make sure that no customer should ever feel insecure while making online payments. Thus, it is essential to include convenient payment options like cash on delivery, net banking, payment wallets, and credit or debit card payments. The best user experience always includes simple and secure payment methods. Support for these payment options will ensure credibility. If you wish to serve customers from various countries, then it requires you to integrate multiple currency payment options to ease your foreign customers. Here I would like to mention how the “Cash on Delivery” method dramatically changed the eCommerce ecosystem in India
Step 10: Effective Return and Exchange Policy
Since you’re running an eCommerce website so the chances that you will face many cases return and exchange of items. Nowadays with huge competition in the market, you have to have a good exchange and return policy to stay in business and ahead in this race. You should employ easy exchange and return policies so that your customers will never have trouble if they ever want to change or replace or maybe return the product. Give your users extra peace of mind.
Step 11: Offers, Sales, and Coupons
This is interesting. Well, at least for the customers. Everyone likes offers, sales, and coupons, you being the owner of an eCommerce website need to keep this in mind to introduce various offers and sales time to time and keep up the excitement. And also if you get lucky enough to collect plenty of email addresses of your valuable customers then you can send them discount coupons via email as well. Not only existing customers but sales and offers can get you more organic visitors as well. So keep tracing customer’s browsing habits, purchase patterns, and other user reactions to refine your offerings accordingly.
Follow these 11 steps and develop a fully functional eCommerce website in no time.
Voila! you are ready for eCommerce website development
As you can see, establishing an eCommerce site is a detailed process. And this guide clearly states that eCommerce website development requires sheer dedication and a basic knowledge of technology. Because in order to implement payment methods, SEO optimization, security measures, and marketing strategies for your eCommerce website you would need technical knowledge. So having a little knowledge in advance will benefit you to launch an eCommerce website flawlessly.
I hope this detailed guide on eCommerce website development equips you with valuable information to build an eCommerce website with ease. And I’ve broken this guide into a number of stages to make it more easily understandable for you. You can share your thoughts with me in the comments below. I look forward to hearing from you.