Does the word "website" immediately conjure up images of endless coding, tech jargon and additional stress? You aren’t alone — 37 percent of small businesses don’t have a website. It’s common for small business owners to shy away from building a website because they feel it’s too technical, time-consuming and costly, especially if you have to hire a developer.
However, not having an “online address” for your venture can prove costly, especially when 278 million Americans are expected to become digital buyers by 2024, according to Statista. Customers expect businesses to have a website and prefer engaging with those that have a powerful ecommerce interface.
Fortunately, digital acceleration has made the daunting task of building a website manageable. Today, you can build a website on your own.
But, before we get to the how-to part, let’s start with the why.
Why Build an Ecommerce Website?
This year continues to be the best time to be in the ecommerce market — the space is booming with more Americans opting to shop digitally. This trend even applies to the B2B segment. In 2020, B2B ecommerce hit sales of $1.3 trillion.
They serve as a 24/7 marketing and lead generation tool.
Online shopping is faster and more convenient.
It's more affordable than investing in a brick-and-mortar model.
Having an ecommerce website is a competitive necessity and it's easier to build one than you imagine.
How Easy Is It to Create Your Own Website?
If you're wondering how you can build an ecommerce website without coding, modern ecommerce website builders like Wix, Shopify, Squarespace and BigCommerce enable you to launch a site within hours. They are affordable (plans range from $18 to $40/month, and in some cases, are even free), extremely easy to use and allow you to build a customized site using simple templates and drag-and-drop tools.
Most of the builders offer integrated solutions like payment gateways, inventory management and shipping, so you can construct a professional-looking website without the headache of coding. Squarespace and Wix even offer built-in SEO tools and website analytics, so you can keep track of your bottom line.
Interested in learning how to build the best DIY ecommerce website? Let's start.
How to Build an Ecommerce Website
1. Choose a Name and Domain Name
Your domain is your web address and it’s what customers enter into the web browser bar. Opt for a business and domain name that is closely connected to your business. Create a winning domain name by using descriptive keywords and phrases as they’ll help you appear on the first page of search results.
Domain names can be purchased from GoDaddy, Bluehost or Google Domains for approximately $15-$20. Don’t panic if your chosen domain name isn’t available with a .com — search under .net or .co options, as these two are also widely accepted.
You might also find that some ecommerce website builders provide free hosting and domain names. This brings us to our next step.
2. Pick Your Ecommerce Website Builder
A simple search for ecommerce platforms will yield multiple results, with each company claiming to be the “best.” How to determine the right one for you? Here’s a checklist of things to look at before you seal the deal on your online “location.”
Ease of use: There can be different levels when it comes to ease of use; therefore, capitalize on free trials and look for builders with drag-and-drop functions, a large range of designer templates and a robust editor (for graphics and texts).
Features and integration: Top ecommerce portals come with a laundry list of features, but are they are a match for your needs? Identify and prioritize which features are important to you. A few guiding questions are:
Is a payment gateway included (check the fees per transaction) or easy to integrate?
Does the builder provide free hosting?
What are marketing and analytical tools provided? Does the builder tie with Google Analytics?
Is the platform SEO-friendly? Does it allow you to add a blog and customer reviews? Can you select your own domain name?
Pricing: In a small business, budgets can run tight. Therefore, it's always best to know what you'll have to shell out for one of the website builders. Looking at pricing plans and search for hidden costs (like automatic renewal terms and payment processing fees).
Customer support: Check out what sort of support is offered by the platform. You could stand to lose a great amount of money if customer service is hard to reach or has limited working hours. Read the policies for payment issues and technical glitches and IT, and compare user reviews on this. A good measure of a platform's helpfulness is to check whether they provide any website building guides/tutorials. Research their website or contact customer service and get firsthand experience.
Security: With so much information being shared on the web, research which data and payment security systems are in place. Select a website builder that has an SSL certificate and is PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliant.
3. Plan and Build Website
Before you dive into actually building the website, plan it out. This'll ensure you're addressing the buyer's journey at all touchpoints.
Areas to incorporate in your planning include item descriptions, headings, prices, photos, customer reviews, customer service details and an About Us page.
Once you have gathered the information, login into your platform, select a template and get building.
Many website builders have inbuilt shipping, taxes and payment functionalities that take just a few minutes to set up. Shopify even has its own payment solution — Shopify Payments.
If your builder doesn't support shipping, then you can integrate the function via third-party solutions like ShipStation or ShippingEasy or explore these shipping alternatives. These add-ons can be costly, so account for this while you're selecting a builder.
5. Test and Launch Your Website
You may have created the best ecommerce site, but without testing it, you'll never know how it functions. Test your website to iron out any kinks before the whole world sees it. Important aspects to test are:
Check header image, text, and loading speed.
Ensure it's on auto-scroll.
Add and remove multiple products.
Click on items in cart — do they open in a new page?
Do coupons & discount codes work?
Test all functions of payments (credit card, PayPal, bank transfer).
Ensure taxes/shipping are calculated correctly.
Check for PCI compliance.
Post Purchase Details
Is an order confirmation email sent out?
Is there the ability to review or cancel an order?
Check how to make changes to billing, account and shipment.
The Best DIY Ecommerce Website Builder
If you have been hesitant about jumping into the ecommerce world due to technical or time issues, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Thanks to modern ecommerce builders, building an ecommerce website is something within everyone’s reach and doesn’t require a background in computer science or coding.
Your ecommerce dream can be a reality. Check out our website building partner Wix and dive right in.
Swara Ahluwalia is a freelance content writer with experience in the technical, B2B and SaaS domain. She also has curated content for various lifestyle brands. In her downtime, you will most likely find Swara training for her next marathon or spending time with her two daughters.