What Is An E-Commerce Website & How To Build One (2020 guide)

What Is An E-Commerce Website & How To Build One (2020 guide)

E-Commerce Website Definition

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.

What is E-Commerce?

What is eCommerce?

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

Shares of e-retailer sales in 2020
Source: Oberlo.in

What is an E-Commerce website?

What is an eCommerce website?

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.

Types of E-Commerce websites

Different eCommerce websites are labeled or referred to differently, based on the function they fulfill.

  • Business-to-Business (B2B): Electronic transactions of goods and services between companies. Example: A business sells SAS products to other businesses.
  • Business-to-Consumer (B2C): Electronic transactions of goods and services between companies and consumers. Example: You buy a new t-shirt from an online store.
  • Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C): Electronic transactions of goods and services between consumers, mostly through a third party. Example: You sell your old smartphone on eBay or Olx to another consumer.
  • Consumer-to-Business (C2B): Electronic transactions of goods and services where individuals offer products or services to companies. Example: A Social media influencer offers exposure to their online audience in exchange for a fee.
Types of #E-Commerce #websites- 1) B2B 2) B2C 3) C2C 4)C2B.... Click To Tweet

Top E-Commerce websites

Top E-commerce websites

These are some of the most popular examples of eCommerce websites across the world (in no particular order) –

How to build an E-Commerce website?

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.

Top 5 E-Commerce website builders in 2020

  • WooCommerce & WordPress

WooCommerce and WordPress

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.

Graph showing market share of different CMS platforms

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

  • Suits every budget
  • Easy to use (especially for people who already use WordPress)
  • Hundreds of extensions (plugins)
  • Can sell all kinds of goods (virtual, physical, downloadable, services, etc.)
  • Works with almost all payment gateways
  • Open source – can be customized to suit our needs
  • Big community of developers, marketers, and experts

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?

  • Shopify

Shopify

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:

  • Basic Shopify — $29 per month
  • Shopify — $79 per month
  • Advanced Shopify — $299 per month
  • Magento

Magento

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.

  • Wix

Wix

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:

  • Business Basic — $23 per month
  • Business Unlimited — $27 per month
  • Business VIP — $49 per month
  • Enterprise — $500 per month
  • BigCommerce

BigCommerce

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:

  • Standard — $29.95 per month
  • Plus — $79.95 per month
  • Pro — $249.95 per month
Top 5 #E-Commerce #website builders in 2020- @WooCommerce & #WordPress, @Shopify, @Magento, @Wix, and @BigCommerce Click To Tweet

How to create an eCommerce website using WooCommerce & WordPress?

  • Choose a domain name for your eCommerce website:

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.

  • Choose a web hosting plan

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:

Bluehost landing page

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.)

Bluehost pricing plans

After selecting the plan, you have to enter the domain name of your website.

Bluehost signup page

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.

Bluehost package details

After adding the payment details, you’ll receive a confirmation mail. Once you’re registered with Bluehost, you’re good to go!

  • Installing WordPress

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:

  1. Log into Bluehost (Or any web host you are using)
  2. Go to the control panel
  3. Click on the WordPress icon (Install WordPress) which you can find under the website section
Install WordPress in Bluehost
  1. Choose the domain where you’d like to install WordPress
  2. Enter the site name, admin username and admin password of your choice, and once you’re done, click on Install Now

Congratulations! You’ve successfully installed WordPress, and now you are ready to install the WooCommerce plugin and start building your e-commerce site.

  • Install WooCommerce Plugin

Follow the below steps to install and setup WooCommerce:

  1. Login to your WordPress dashboard
  2. Go to Plugins > Add New
  3. Now type “woocommerce” in the search field. The first search result you’ll see is WooCommerce.
Installing WooCommerce in WordPress

4. Next, click the “Install Now” button next to the plugin and activate the plugin.

Activating WooCommerce in WordPress

Next, you’ll see WooCommerce’s on-screen setup wizard. To start the wizard, click “Let’s go!”

WooCommerce’s on-screen setup wizard

The first step in the wizard is about creating below pages:

  1. Shop: Your all products will appear here
  2. Cart: This is the shopping cart where your customers can modify their order before proceeding to the checkout page.
  3. Checkout: This is where your customers choose the delivery method and pay for whatever they’ve bought.
  4. My Account: This is where your registered customers can view their past orders and manage other details.

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.

WooCommerce store locale setup

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.

WooCommerce main tax box

Next, click the “Continue” button and you’ll be asked to set up your preferred payment method.

Integrating payment methods in WooCommerce

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!

  • Installing and activating a theme

The WordPress theme directory is a great place to find free themes or you can check this list of 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:

  1. Download the latest Responsive theme from the WordPress repository
Responsive theme- WordPress.org page
  1. Login to your WordPress Dashboard
  2. From your WordPress dashboard, go to Appearance > Themes > Add New
Adding Responsive theme in WordPress
  1. Upload the downloaded theme zip file
Uploading Responsive theme zip file in WordPress
  1. Install the Responsive theme
  2. Activate it

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/.

Responsive ready sites importer plugin- WordPress.org

After downloading the plugin zip file, follow the below steps to install the Responsive Ready Sites Importer Plugin manually from the WordPress admin dashboard:

  1. Login to your WordPress Dashboard
  2. Go to Plugins > Add New
Adding new WordPress plugin
  1. Upload the downloaded plugin zip file
Uploading WordPress plugin zip file
  1. Install the Responsive Ready Sites Importer plugin
  2. Activate it

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:

  1. From the WordPress dashboard navigate to Appearance > Ready Sites and select any eCommerce template like Furniture shop, Jewellery shop, Ecommerce fashion, Fashion shop, Pet shop, etc. For demonstration, we’ll select the Ecommerce Fashion template in this article.
Responsive theme ready sites templates

2. On the preview page, you will see the website and you can see the “Import Site” button.

Importing Responsive theme template

3. On clicking the Import Site button on the preview page you will see actions that will be taken to import the website.

Importing Responsive theme template

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.

Importing Responsive theme template

5. After Import is complete you will see the Launch Site button which will take you to the newly imported site.

Importing Responsive theme template

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.

How to add product to your eCommerce site?

With the above steps completed, your eCommerce site is ready to display your first product. Follow the steps below to add your first product:

  • Go to your WordPress dashboard > Products > Add new
Adding WooCommerce product
  • Next, you need to:
Adding WooCommerce product details
  1. Add product title
  2. Add your product description
  3. Select your product category
  4. Set your product price
  5. Set your main product image
  6. Add additional product images to showcase your product
  7. Add a short description of your product
  8. Add product tags to organize your database of products better.

Once you’re done, click on the “Publish” button to make your first product live.

How to customize your eCommerce store page?

Follow the steps below to customize the store page layout using customizer:

  1. From the WordPress dashboard navigate to Appearance > Customize 
  2. Next, select Product Catalog Options > Layout
  3. On the next page, you will see different options to change the layout of your store page.
WooCommerce layout customizing options

Below are the options which you will see:

  • Main content width: You can adjust the width of the main content.
  • Sidebar position: You can change the position of the sidebar. You can choose to put your sidebar on the Right side, Left Side, or No sidebar.
  • Catalog view: You can change the view of your product catalog. You can choose whether a grid or list view be set as the default.
  • Shop pagination: This option allows you to set up shop pagination without coding. You can choose the Default option to set up numeric shop pagination and Infinite option to set up infinite pagination which can offer a more fluid experience to your website visitors who want to quickly browse through lots of products without waiting for a new page load.
  • Shop pagination style: You can change this style to Circle or Square.
  • Shop quick view: You can manage the Quick view which shows product details in a lightbox. You’ll get below options:
    • On Image
    • On Image Click
    • After Summary
  • Content alignment: You can change the alignment of your shop contents.
  • Shop elements: You can Show or Hide any particular shop element and also drag up-down to change the position of a particular shop element.
  • Sale notification: You can set sale notifications to default, custom ring, or none.
  • Sale bubble style: You can change this style to Circle, Circle outline, Square, or Square outline.

How to customize your eCommerce product page?

Follow the steps below to customize the product page layout using customizer:

  1. From the WordPress dashboard navigate to Appearance > Customize 
  2. Next, select Product Options > Layout
  3. On the next page, you will see different options to change the layout of your product page.
WooCommerce product layout customize options

Below are the options which you will see:

  • Main content width: You can adjust the width of the main content.
  • Sidebar position: You can change the position of the sidebar. You can choose to put your sidebar on Right side, Left Side, or No sidebar.
  • Gallery layout: You can change the product gallery layout to horizontal or vertical.
  • Single product structure: You can Show or Hide any particular product element and also drag up-down to change the position of a particular product element.

Top 5 WooCommerce plugins for growing your eCommerce website

Below are some of the best WooCommerce plugins available to help you grow your eCommerce business:

1. WP Legal Pages: WordPress Privacy Policy Plugin

WP Legal Pages Pro- WordPress privacy policy plugin

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.

Top 5 @WooCommerce #plugins for growing your e-commerce #website Click To Tweet

2. Optinmonster

Optinmonster

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.

3. Humcommerce: CRO tool

HumCommerce- Web analytics tool

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.

  • Viewing visitors activity on how they browse your website
  • Understanding which part of the page they spend more time.
  • Knowing where your users are dropping out.
  • Setting up Ecommerce funnels to push potential customers along the funnel which ultimately results in higher sales.

4. MailChimp for WooCommerce

Mailchimp

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.

5. Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO

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.

Conclusion

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.

What Is An #E-Commerce #Website & How To Build One (2020 guide) Click To Tweet

32 Comments on “What Is An E-Commerce Website & How To Build One (2020 guide)

  1. Hi Pooja,
    Thanks for great idea explanation about e-commerce!
    i define e-commerce like this: Transacting or facilitating business on the Internet is called eCommerce.Buying and selling good on the internet is a very common example of eCommerce.
    :)
    Again thanks for sharing this helpful article!

  2. Hey Pooja Thanks for sharing great article on ecommerce.
    Just a definition of ecommerce is not enough. The word ecommerce has changed in many ways in recent years and whole thesis can be written on it.
    As you mentioned perfectly, making good ecommerce is now more important than having just online store.

  3. I am very interested in B2B eCommerce. Your definition is very elaborate. We are a photo editing company and most of our clients are B2B based. Thanks for your efforts on the proper eCommerce definition.

  4. Hey, Pooja.

    Accidentally I landed on your website. As you mentioned in the article eCommerce comes with diverse challenges and opportunities. Most often the challenges are quite extreme that small B2C eCommerce companies will not be able to compete with the international brands.

    The consumers affinity towards freebies and discounts are extreme. They fall for high volume discounted sales. Where as a startup with limited budget needs to strive a lot, to identify their KPI and to differentiate their USP.

  5. Hi Pooja,

    Great article, I especially liked the “What Makes a Good e-Commerce Website?” section. However, like the comment above me mentioned, it can be hard compete with the big brands. With that said, one of the thing people can do is do niche specific stores.

    Most of us are aware that being the next Amazon, eBay or even Etsy is nearly impossible. But niche sites are wide open and they seem to resonant with people. For example I’m in the process of starting an all cat store :)

  6. Now a Days Without E-Commerce Concept we can not get leads to our business.Big Companies are always interested in B2B eCommerce companies.Really Great Article Post,it will really help me to run out my business.

  7. I think the main challenge for the ecommerce beginner is server speed. Because Google takes it very strongly nowadays to give ranking. High Quality hosting server can solve the issue.

  8. Thanks a lot, Susmita.

    You’ve shared a very resourceful article about eCommerce website. This is really Cool.

  9. whoah this weblog is fantastic i love studying your articles.
    Stay up the good work! You already know, many people
    are hunting round for this info, you can aid them greatly.

  10. Valuable information. Lucky me I discovered your web site unintentionally, and I’m shocked why this coincidence
    did not came about in advance! I bookmarked it.

  11. Thanks for elaboration of complete eCommerce journey. I Think the important metric of e-commerce which should measure each of us on our website are very important.

  12. Hi Pooja Thanks for sharing great article on ecommerce.
    Just a definition of ecommerce is not enough. The word ecommerce has changed in many ways in recent years and whole thesis can be written on it.
    As you mentioned completely, making good ecommerce is now more important than having just online store.

  13. In 2016 first i learn about eCommerce website this time i struggle to build my own platform, but now a day its become so easy and now i use Shopify they give me lot of support to build eCommerce platform very easily.
    And thanks for sharing your content here. happy to see such as great article.

  14. A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing your data. I genuinely value your endeavors
    what’s more, I will be waiting for your next post thanks indeed.

  15. This is really a great blog. You covered almost everything about e-commerce.

    Thank You for sharing such an awesome blog.

  16. Helpfull writing. If you start any business like eCommerce and another, you must gather proper knowledge. here is rich full knowledge for eCommerce business. Thanks for sharing the best experience.

  17. E-commerce is the trending business now but you can’t touch the giants like Amazon, eBay. The best thing you can do is start a niche e-commerce website to find a low competitive high search volume product start the keyword research, design and other related tasks. If things are going well you can definitely earn decent money from your e-commerce business. By the way, you have done a great job putting the information.

  18. In my opinion, I understand E-commerce means who are selling products and services and their website is an E-commerce website. In trending online business E-commerce grabs a huge market in online as like Etsy, Amazon, Aliba etc.

  19. Nice topic and a great read. I don’t think these are must because not all e-commerce websites are using this. In contrary, this is very effective if the business is just starting, no doubt to that.

  20. I have learn several just right stuff here.
    Certainly price bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how much effort you set to create one of these fantastic informative web site.

  21. This article was just amazing. I really appreciate your word. A very informative article. keep sharing this kinda post. thanks.

  22. Great Article!
    Thanks for sharing. I will really help in my eCommerce website development.
    Really useful in my every query related e-commerce.
    Thanks again.
    Keep sharing…

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