An e-commerce website, by definition, is a website that allows you to buy and sell tangible goods, digital products or services online.
Trade, be it barter exchange or buying and selling of goods and services has been prevalent for centuries. No one can be self-sufficient. And this brings out the need for demand and supply of goods and services. Transactions have been going on all over the world for centuries, locally, and across locations. Keeping the same concept in mind, now think electronic.
However, also bear in mind that with the whole world going online, data privacy laws have become increasingly stringent. And before you begin, an eCommerce venture you should be aware of all the legal policies required for your eCommerce website.
E-Commerce, also known as e-Business, or electronic business, is simply the sale and purchase of services and goods over an electronic medium, like the Internet. It also involves electronically transferring data and funds between two or more parties. Simply put, it is online shopping as we commonly know it.
E-Commerce started way back in the 1960s when organizations began to use Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) to transfer documents of their business back and forth. The 1990s saw the emergence of online shopping businesses, which is quite a phenomenon today. The first-ever online purchase was a Sting CD, sold by US retailer, NetMarket on 11 August 1994.
It has become so convenient and easy, that anyone can shop for anything right from a living room, with just a few clicks. This has evolved more with the emergence of smartphones, where now, you can shop from anywhere and anytime, with a wireless device connected to the Internet. Now you can search for almost any product or service online, without having to go anywhere physically.
“In 2020, eCommerce sales are expected to account for 15.5 percent of retail sales worldwide.”- Oberlo.in
E-Commerce websites are online portals that facilitate online transactions of goods and services through means of the transfer of information and funds over the Internet. In the early days, e-commerce was done partially through emails and phone calls. Now, with a single website, anything and everything that a transaction needs, can be executed online.
Different eCommerce websites are labeled or referred to differently, based on the function they fulfill.
eCommerce is nothing but a type of commerce. Its functioning style is quite similar to that of the physical retail industry. The only difference it has with a brick and mortar store is that here, the entire process takes place online.
The journey of an eCommerce firm begins with setting up an eCommerce website. It is usually done with plugins like WooCommerce. After that, the products are displayed along with necessary details like product descriptions and price tags. A CTA button like “Buy Now” is placed near the products for the convenience of the customers. If they feel like buying a product they can simply click on the button and make the payment.
Customers are usually asked to place their orders by filling up a form. There, they need to provide all the necessary details like the delivery address. There are different payment methods used in the eCommerce industry. Buyers either can make the payment through a payment gateway like PayPal or they can use their credit cards. There is another option called COD or cash on delivery. This is mainly preferred by senior customers. In this option, the buyer makes the payment when the item they ordered is delivered on their personal address. The payment can be made either in cash or through cards or other convenient options like Google Pay.
If you are not happy with the quality of the product or mistakenly a different product gets delivered to you, you can use the reverse logistics system. It is simply returning the items and getting the money back. You need to notify that you want to return the product you ordered. A representative of the company will come to you and take the product back. The money will be cashed to your account.
The product promotion in eCommerce is also done digitally. The two most prominent methods are a digital advertising and email marketing. Ads are placed on the social media platforms which are most preferred by the target groups. All visitors are asked to provide their email addresses. Based on that an email list is prepared. After that personal emails are sent. Sometimes personal notifications are also sent to the social media accounts of the prospect costumes.
These are some of the most popular examples of eCommerce websites across the world (in no particular order) –
Selling products through an online shop is the best way to make a bit of extra money. Through an eCommerce website, you can easily introduce your products to a large number of customers at once. There are so many benefits of eCommerce websites over physical shops. And that is the reason why many traders are inclined to take their business to the next level by creating an eCommerce website.
You don’t need to be a tech geek to build a website for your business. Alternatively, you can hire dedicated developers that will help you with your eCommerce website creation. Also, you can easily create your own eCommerce website with the help of various eCommerce platforms. Ecommerce platforms are the quickest way to build an eCommerce website. Below are some of the top eCommerce website builders which you can consider for developing your eCommerce website.
Before you even launch your e-commerce website, you need to make sure it is legally compliant with the data privacy laws that are applicable to your audience’s region. GDPR and CCPA are the two of the first regulations that directly impact data collection, use, and storage on a widespread scale.
Below are some of the policies which you need to set up on your eCommerce website
These are just some of the basic policies you need to communicate clearly to your visitors.
WooCommerce is an open-source platform just like WordPress and the most popular solution for building an eCommerce website. And is currently the most popular technology used for eCommerce. About 27% of all websites around the world use WooCommerce and that figure comes around 35,712 websites.
WordPress is an open-source CMS and it easily integrates with WooCommerce. With WordPress and WooCommerce, you can create your site the way you want it, depending on the products you’re selling. To add more functionality to your eCommerce site, you can easily install various WordPress and WooCommerce plugins. So, whether you are planning to start a small or large eCommerce store, WooCommerce gives you all you could ever need for building a high-quality eCommerce store with the power of WordPress.
7 Reasons why we love the WooCommerce & WordPress combo for making an eCommerce website
Later in this article, you’ll learn how you can create a website using WooCommerce & WordPress or directly jump to the section: How to create an e-commerce website using WooCommerce & WordPress?
BigCommerce is another top option to consider if you’re looking for a reputable and trustworthy eCommerce site builder. BigCommerce has features like bulk pricing rates, quote management, customer groups, and custom price lists. BigCommerce is specially designed to help larger eCommerce sites scale quickly. So, if you are willing to start a high-volume eCommerce store which is fully functional and has all the advanced features, BigCommerce will be perfect for you.
BigCommerce plans and prices:
Shopify is the most popular eCommerce platform which is used by more than one million online stores worldwide. Shopify is suitable for those who are planning to start a high-volume eCommerce store. Shopify provides 70+ free and premium themes that are easy to use and customize. The Shopify app store contains over 3,200 apps that you can choose from to add features and functionality to your eCommerce store.
Shopify’s plans and prices:
Magento is the most powerful CMS and eCommerce platform that perfectly suits any business type and size. More than 190k eCommerce websites are powered by Magento. Magento is an open-source platform and provides more than 3,000 third-party extensions that can make your store unique and adaptable for all situations.
If you are a beginner, then Wix is the most suitable eCommerce platform for you. Wix is amongst the top and most popular online site-builder platforms. Wix is easy to use and comes with a drag and drop feature. Wix provides specific plans made for eCommerce websites. All plans have unlimited bandwidth, a free domain for one year, visitor app analytics, and $300 in advertising vouchers. With the Wix store manager dashboard, you can easily track orders, inventory, and product pages.
Wix eCommerce plans and prices:
A domain name refers to the web address of your website. An easy way to come up with the domain name for your blog is to use the name which is related to your niche and choose .com as the extension. Check whether the domain name is available using a website like Namecheap.
Web hosting is the place where your website data is stored. There are multiple web hosting service providers you can choose from, but for illustrative purposes, we will stick to Bluehost for this guide.
Go to Bluehost home page and click on the Get Started button to continue:
Upon clicking, you will be taken to their signup page where you will be asked to choose a pricing plan among the following 3 plans. We recommend you to choose the plus plan. You can always upgrade your plan.
(Note: While we were working on the article, Bluehost was offering a special discount on the choice plus/prime plan. We would recommend going for the Choice Plus plan if the offer can still be availed.)
After selecting the plan, you have to enter the domain name of your website.
If you’ve opted for the Choice Plus plan, you’ll get the domain privacy protection feature for free. For other plans, you can choose it as an add-on. Domain privacy protection is a useful feature as it keeps your details hidden from the public.
After adding the payment details, you’ll receive a confirmation mail. Once you’re registered with Bluehost, you’re good to go!
Bluehost and almost every major web hosting service provider offers 1-Click Installation for WordPress and other CMSs such as Joomla and Drupal.
Below are the steps to install WordPress using the 1-Click Installation feature:
Congratulations! You’ve successfully installed WordPress, and now you are ready to install the WooCommerce plugin and start building your e-commerce site.
Follow the below steps to install and setup WooCommerce:
4. Next, click the “Install Now” button next to the plugin and activate the plugin.
Next, you’ll see WooCommerce’s on-screen setup wizard. To start the wizard, click “Let’s go!”
The first step in the wizard is about creating below pages:
After creating the required pages, all you need to do is click the “Continue” button to proceed next.
The next screen you’ll see is to set up your store location, currency, preferred units, etc.
Once you’re done, click the “Continue” button.
On the next screen, you can select if you’re going to be shipping physical goods or not. If you check the box, WooCommerce will pre-set the remaining shipping-related details in the settings.
Next, check the main tax box, if you’re going to charge sales tax. Once you check the box, a new set of boxes will appear and inform you of what’s going to happen next.
Next, click the “Continue” button and you’ll be asked to set up your preferred payment method.
PayPal and Stripe are the most popular payment options. We recommend that you integrate your site with both PayPal and Stripe. When you are done, click “Continue” to proceed.
The next screen you’ll see is just a confirmation page. Now, you’ve just built a blank e-commerce store with WooCommerce!
The WordPress theme directory is a great place to find free themes or you can check this list of the top 100 free WordPress themes. In this guide, we will use the free Responsive theme(one of our own popular WordPress themes with 50,000+ active installations) that can be installed and used as any standard free WordPress theme.
Follow the below steps to install the Responsive theme manually from the WordPress admin dashboard:
Install & Activate Responsive Ready Site Importer Plugin
The Responsive Ready Sites Importer plugin extends the functionality of the popular Responsive theme by adding the ready site importer feature. It comes with free ready to use WordPress website templates that can be easily customized using the Elementor page builder.
First, download the latest free Responsive Ready Sites Importer by visiting https://wordpress.org/plugins/responsive-add-ons/.
After downloading the plugin zip file, follow the below steps to install the Responsive Ready Sites Importer Plugin manually from the WordPress admin dashboard:
Now that you have activated the importer plugin, it’s time to import an eCommerce website template that comes free with the Responsive theme. To do so, follow the steps below:
2. On the preview page, you will see the website and you can see the “Import Site” button.
3. On clicking the Import Site button on the preview page you will see actions that will be taken to import the website.
4. Now you can click on the Import Site button and the import process will start. You will see a checkmark in front of the actions that are completed.
5. After Import is complete you will see the Launch Site button which will take you to the newly imported site.
Next, you will need to add your site logo, add and style the navigation menu. With Responsive theme you can easily make these changes to your eCommerce site. Check this guide.
With the above steps completed, your eCommerce site is ready to display your first product. Follow the steps below to add your first product:
Once you’re done, click on the “Publish” button to make your first product live.
Follow the steps below to customize the store page layout using customizer:
Below are the options which you will see:
Follow the steps below to customize the product page layout using customizer:
Below are the options which you will see:
Below are some of the best WooCommerce plugins available to help you grow your eCommerce business:
Legal pages are a must to safeguard from liabilities and prevent GDPR and CCPA penalties. WP Legal Pages can generate policy pages on your eCommerce website in just a few clicks. It is a popular plugin with over 190,000+ downloads. It is available for free in WordPress.org or you can buy a pro version from Wpeka.com.
Optinmonster generates opt-in forms to grow your email list, uses exit-intent popups to get potential shoppers to stick around, and more. It is available for free in WordPress.org. If you want to get pro features and want more insights on improving your website conversions, you can consider their paid plans.
Plans start at $9 per month.
It is very important to learn about how users engage with and experience your site. HumCommerce – A CRO tool with Visitor’s Recordings, Heatmaps, and User’s Flow features can help produce insights on user experience.
HumCommerce also features some powerful and cost-effective features to allow eCommerce websites to optimize the website at each stage to convert your visitors into buyers.
One of the crucial ways to grow your eCommerce business is by increasing your subscriber base. This way, you can send out new product launch, announcements, and any other communication periodically.
MailChimp is a popular email marketing tool that enables you to build an email list and send mass emails. Using Mailchimps’s WooCommerce plugin you can collect emails via your website. You can create forms on your site through which you can build your newsletter list. It also integrates with major contact form plugins giving you one more avenue to build your database.
Yoast SEO is a must-have plugin if you want to improve the rankings of your eCommerce website in the search engine. This plugin helps with SEO friendly content, XML sitemaps and provides an easy template to add a title, meta description, and other SEO tags.
Last but not least! Post a lot of reviews and testimonials on your website. People love to read other customers’ experiences before becoming a customer themselves. Post a few negative ones too. This section should not look all made up to suit your business.
Ecommerce has made the world a much smaller place, thanks to the Internet. It is convenient, fast, and easy. The number of people turning to e-Shopping is only going to rise as time goes by. So make your business go online, choose a good e-commerce WordPress theme and set up a clutter-free and easy to use eCommerce website, and see your sales and profits rise.
Download Free Responsive theme that comes with 40+ Ready-site templates that you can easily import and save your valuable time in building websites from scratch.