How to Build a Successful Ecommerce Website From Scratch

Learn how to build a successful ECommerce website from scratch. Our guide to creating an eCommerce website will guide you step-by-step through the process of launching your online business.

Build a Successful Ecommerce Website From Scratch

Modern e-commerce platforms are economical and very user-friendly, allowing you to create a customized website for your business with just a few clicks. Most e-commerce platforms also offer key features like secure payments, shipping, and plug-and-play sales, so you probably don't need any programming experience to set up a professional-looking website. 

How to Build an E-commerce Website in 5 Steps

In this article, we'll learn how to build a successful eCommerce website from scratch, just in the following five steps:

  1. Choose a Name and Get Your Domain
  2. Choose an E-commerce Platform 
  3. Plan and Create an E-commerce Website
  4. Set Up Payment, Tax, Shipping, and Marketing Tools
  5. Test and Launch Your E-commerce Website 

1. Choose a Name and Get Your Domain

Your domain—also called a URL—is your web address. This is your site's "home" on the Internet and what buyers type into their browser bar to visit your site.

Choosing a good domain name is important to your brand and overall success. If possible, choose a business and domain name that is closely related to what you sell. By using descriptive keywords or keywords in your business and domain name, your customers know what you sell in advance and it will help you get good search engine rankings, which is essential for your SEO business strategy.

If you have some ideas for a name, you can purchase your domain through a domain registrar such as GoDaddy, Bluehost, or Google Domains. Just go to one of these websites and enter your business name. This will tell you if this domain is available.

Once your name is accepted, these sites will display options such as .net or .co as an alternative name. If possible, it's a good idea to stick with .com because that's the most common and reliable usage. However, if you are set on a specific name and take a .com domain, .net and .co options are also widely recognized.

Your domain name typically costs between $12 and $25 per year, depending on the service and any extras you choose, such as domain privacy. You may also know that whatever e-commerce platform you choose to build your website on also includes a free domain with your purchase, which brings us to our next point.

2. Choose an E-commerce Platform 

This is where your website "lives" online and you have many options to choose from. There are free platforms with limited features and almost free stores built on WordPress. You can add e-commerce features to popular website builders or use a dedicated e-commerce platform that can support unlimited growth.

Here are some top choices for eCommerce platforms to consider: 

Choice 1 Dedicated E-commerce Platforms: 

This is the easiest way to quickly launch a full-fledged e-commerce website. These solutions are highly robust and extensible and offer powerful built-in features such as secure payments, shipping labels, email marketing, and multi-channel sales support. These solutions are not free, but they provide a lot of tools for around $30 per month.

The top three niche eCommerce platforms to consider include:

  • BigCommerce: Targeted at multi-channel sellers, BigCommerce is probably the most widely used e-commerce platform for small businesses. Plans start at $29.95 per month.
  • Shopify: is the most popular niche e-commerce platform and is ideal for startups and drop shippers. Shopify plans start at $29 per month.
  • Shift4Shop: is another leading contender in the niche eCommerce platform space, offering a budget starter plan for just $19 per month.

All of these niche eCommerce platforms offer a free trial period, so you can try each one completely risk-free before deciding which one to use.

  • Website Builders with eCommerce Features. Popular website builders Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace offer eCommerce features. If you already have a website on one of these platforms, you can add online marketing features simply by switching to an eCommerce plan.
  • Wix: offers hundreds of easy-to-use website templates with eCommerce features starting at $23 per month.
  • Weebly: Like Wix, you can quickly and easily create an attractive Weebly website with eCommerce features for $25/month.
  • Squarespace: Ecommerce features start at $30 per month. So, you can choose from hundreds of design templates.

Simplicity makes website platform building popular with the DIY and side gig crowd. ​​​​​​​However, if you are building a website with the goal of growth, a dedicated e-commerce platform provides more integrated sales and marketing features for the same price.

Choice 2 E-commerce Plugins for WordPress: 

The WordPress platform powers half of the world's e-commerce websites thanks to its many customization options and low cost. 

In fact, you can add online shopping functionality to any WordPress website for free using the following e-commerce plugins:

  • WooCommerce: The free WooCommerce plugin adds full e-commerce functionality to WordPress sites. 
  • WP EasyCart: Like WooCommerce, WP EasyCart adds a full set of WordPress online shopping features. 
  • BigCommerce: Specialized e-commerce platform BigCommerce also connects to WordPress so you can combine its multi-channel sales features with a branding blog.

Choice 3 Free E-commerce Web Platforms 

Free e-commerce platforms allow businesses with multiple products to sell online without any upfront or ongoing costs. These platforms may limit the number of products you can list for free or may have fewer features than the eCommerce solutions described above. There are three platforms to consider:

  • Square Free Online Store: Square users can grow online with Square's free online store, which is included with every Square account. 
  • Freewebstore: Freewebstore offers a free e-commerce platform that can host up to 20 products; Paid plans cover other products. 
  • Ecwid: Ecwid offers free e-commerce websites for 10 products; a supplementary insurance premium plan.

3. Plan and Create an E-commerce Website

To create a business website, we need to collect the following details and information:

  • Logo and Brand ImageryYou can create a simple logo on any e-commerce site, or you can use a third-party platform like Canva to create your own using free logo templates. 
  • Product Photos, Descriptions, and Data: Consider a list of information to include on your website and some tips to help you market your products effectively. 

    1. Good photos: With a little creativity, you can take good photos with your phone's camera. If possible, take pictures from different angles and show the products you are using. 
    2. Product Video: Real-life realistic video is a proven sales tool and can also be captured with your phone. 
    3. Detailed Description: Write a good description of the product that includes all the details. Include the size, weight, and materials of every item you sell, and add answers to frequently asked questions. Use keywords in product titles and descriptions that are appropriate for achieving search engine rankings. 
    4. Product Options: Options such as size and color are called variables, and e-commerce platforms allow you to create different options for products of different sizes, colors, etc. 
    5. Product SKU: Make sure you have a unit in the product or SKU and all manufacturers. Sometimes buyers use the manufacturer's location to search, so it's a good idea to include that in your product information. 
    6. Product Pricing: Many e-commerce businesses offer sales and discounts, as well as a single product and group pricing options. Some may also track product costs for advertising purposes. 
    7. Product size and weight: E-commerce platforms use product size and weight to determine shipping times and printing costs. Although optional, it can be a quick and easy way to automate the shipping process. 
    8. Inventory: Enter inventory for each product and your e-commerce business will track your inventory as it sells.

  • Your Story: This is your chance to connect with buyers, so hit up the "About Us" section of your website. Share your own trip, personalize it with photos and videos, make it fun and engaging, and encourage more buyers.
  • Customer Service Pages: Great customer service keeps customers coming back, so use a customer service page on your e-commerce website to clearly set expectations. Key elements here include: 

    • Shipping costs and times: Set your average delivery time, the fees you pay, and average delivery times. 
    • Returns and Exchanges: Cover your return policy and make it clear who pays for return shipping. 
    • Privacy Policy: By law, you are required to include a privacy policy on your website, and most e-commerce platforms provide a comprehensive statement that you can embed.

  • User-Friendly Navigation: Your eCommerce site's menus help shoppers navigate your site's content with ease. Most platforms allow you to create the main menu bar along with footer menus and sometimes top and sidebar menus. Experiment to see what combination works best for your collection and product content.

4. Set Up Payment, Tax, Shipping, and Marketing Tools

Depending on your eCommerce platform, this step may be different. BigCommerce and Shopify, two integrated platforms, include built-in payment processing, tax calculation, the printing of shipping labels, and marketing capabilities. Most others require integration with some external service to handle these tasks.

Processing Payments and Setting Up the Tax Table 

All of the above e-commerce platforms offer plug-and-play integration with leading payment services such as Square, PayPal, and Stripe. To process payments using these solutions, just click a few buttons, set up an account, and you're connected.

Most platforms also allow you to link your own payment gateway and merchant account. However, built-in and plug-and-play payment services are the easiest and often the most economical option for startups.

After you set up your payment processor, you configure the sales tax rates that will be collected from buyers. All online e-commerce platforms support sales tax collection and allow you to apply tax on selected or all items and orders. The sales tax rates you pay depend on your state and, in most cases, the total sales volume.

Shipping settings 

You can and should integrate shipping software into your e-commerce platform to speed up the order fulfilment process. Unified Shipping seamlessly connects orders with shipping software so you can choose carriers and shipping methods, print labels, and automatically notify customers when their order ships.

BigCommerce, Shopify, and WooCommerce offer integrated shipping, so integration is done for you and setup only takes minutes. Most other platforms require the connection of a third-party solution such as ShipStation or ShippingEasy to print labels and trigger customer notifications. These integrations work well on most platforms but increase the monthly cost.

Once your shipping solution is set up, you can create shipping rates and charge shipping costs to your customers. Most e-commerce websites allow you to add real-time rates, which are the actual shipping costs of each order. You can also set flat rates based on the total number of orders or offer free shipping on all or selected orders.

Email Marketing and Social Network Building 

Like checkout and shipping, some website platforms offer powerful inbound marketing tools. BigCommerce and Shopify's all-in-one solutions offer a full suite of marketing tools. You can easily create and use email lists to connect with customers, sell products and post ads on your social media accounts with just a few clicks.

Some e-commerce platforms require a bit of work to set up marketing features. For example, you can connect WooCommerce with leading email marketing services like MailChimp using free plugins. However, you need to pay plugins to directly link your products to social media accounts for social commerce.

5. Test and Launch Your E-commerce Website 

The final step in how to build a successful eCommerce website from scratch starts with processing some test orders. Each eCommerce platform handles testing differently; However, you all can run some test orders through the system before launch. These orders connect to your payment processor but do not charge your card. 

Once you've successfully submitted a few test orders—or resolved any errors you've noticed while browsing your e-commerce site—you're ready to open a store. 

Remember that launching an e-commerce website is not the same as selling directly. It takes time for search engines to find and index your new online store. You can speed this up by verifying your new store in Google Search Console and uploading the XML sitemap provided by e-commerce platforms for this purpose.


Meanwhile, you can also use social media and Google Adwords ads to get the word out when your online store is live.

Ali Al-Talhi
By : Ali Al-Talhi