Creating online store: a step-by-step non-exhausting guide
July 22, 2023
A growing number of merchants are moving their businesses online as technology advances. The convenience of shopping online and comparing products and prices from the comfort of home has made moving a business online increasingly popular in recent years.
However, it might be more challenging than it appears to build an online store. A successful online store requires careful planning and execution, but it is rewarding once it is up and running.
To get started, you’ll need to consider many factors which I’ll cover in this guide.
Ready, set, go.
#1 Administer the legal side
When creating an online store, it is essential to consider the legal implications of selling products or services over the internet. Several laws and regulations apply to e-commerce, and failure to comply with these laws and regulations may result in significant legal and financial consequences.
Registering for taxes and obtaining licenses and permits before launching an online business is necessary. You may be fined, penalized, and even sued if you do not comply with these laws.
Furthermore, different rules and regulations may apply depending on the country, including tax obligations, consumer protection laws, and industry-specific requirements. For example, food, healthcare, and pharmaceutical products may have stricter regulations.
In addition to general business laws and regulations, it’s also essential to consider the state’s or country’s laws regarding the specific products or services you plan to sell. For example, certain items such as cannabis, sex toys, adult products, medicine, or firearms may have stricter laws and regulations that must be followed.
You can choose a legal structure such as a Limited Limited Liability Company (LLC) or a similar legal structure that separates the business owners’ personal assets from the business’s liabilities. Forming an LLC for your e-commerce business is a common choice because it provides liability protection for its owners, known as “members.”
LLCs also offer flexibility in management and taxation. For example, members can choose to be taxed as a partnership or corporation, and they can also have multiple classes of membership interests.
Additionally, you will need a merchant account with a payment processor to accept credit card payments on your online store. This typically involves a background check, proof of business, and a contract with the payment processor.
It’s also essential to consult with a lawyer or accountant who specializes in eCommerce or online businesses to ensure that you understand and comply with all the necessary legal requirements.
#2 Choose an eCommerce solution
There are several eCommerce solutions that allow merchants to build and manage their online stores.
One type is ready-made solutions and software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms such as Uvodo, Shopify, BigCommerce, and others. SaaS based eCommerce solutions allow you to subscribe to a plan that fits your business size and needs. Your online store can go live within hours after choosing your plan and making a few design adjustments.
SaaS-based eCommerce platforms offer a user-friendly interface, pre-built templates, and a variety of third-party plugins that can help merchants quickly set up and launch their online stores without needing technical expertise.
Another type of eCommerce platform is open-source platforms such as WooCommerce, Magento, and PrestaShop which provide full flexibility for the merchants. These platforms are free to download and use, but it takes more technical know-how to set up and manage them since they are not pre-built. They are highly customizable and offer a wide range of features and functionalities.
Lastly, there is a custom-built eCommerce platform. A team of developers creates these from the ground up to meet a variety of business requirements. Custom-built eCommerce websites have high initial costs, and it may take a longer time to go live, but they offer high customization and scalability. These platforms are ideal for businesses that have specific requirements for storefront design and eCommerce-related features that are either expensive or hard to find with ready-made solutions.
When choosing an eCommerce platform or website builder, it’s better to consult with a web developer and consider your needs and budget and the level of technical expertise you have or are willing to learn.
#3 Find a hosting provider and a domain name
If a merchant chooses a custom-built or open-source eCommerce platform, they will need to find a web hosting provider to host their online store. Hosting is a service that allows a merchant to store their website and its files on a server so that users on the internet can access it.
First, make sure you pick a domain name that reflects your brand and is easy to remember. This can help customers find your website easily. Domain names are usually purchased through domain registrars, such as GoDaddy, Hostinger, HostGator, SiteGround, DreamHost, Bluehost, etc.
Next, you should choose a hosting provider to store your store’s data and files and serve your business. There are many hosting providers to choose from, and selecting one that is reliable and meets your website needs is important.
Suppose a merchant chooses a fully hosted eCommerce platform. In that case, they won’t need to find a separate hosting provider, as the platform provider handles the hosting and maintenance of the platform. Fully hosted eCommerce platforms, such as Uvodo, Shopify, BigCommerce, etc., take care of the technical aspects of running an online store, including hosting, security, backups, and software updates, which allows merchants to focus on growing their business without having to worry about the technical details.
Also, make sure you’ve purchased an SSL certificate for your online store. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a digital certificate that encrypts the connection between a web browser and a server on a website. This way, sensitive information, such as personal and credit card information, can be protected against being intercepted by third parties.
The address of a website with an SSL certificate typically begins with “HTTPS” rather than “HTTP,” and a padlock icon appears in the browser’s address bar to indicate a secure connection.
The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) requires you to have an SSL certificate installed if you accept payments on your website.
An SSL certificate is essential for e-commerce websites because it builds customer trust and protects sensitive data. The SSL certificate is also a small ranking factor.
#4 Design the Layout and User Experience of Your Online Store
Design and user experience (UX) play a crucial role in the success of an eCommerce store. Good design and UX can help create a professional and cohesive brand image, make the store easy to navigate and use, and create a visually appealing and engaging shopping experience for customers.
The importance of design and UX in eCommerce can be summed up in several ways:
First impression: When customers visit your website, they first see your store’s design and layout. A professional and cohesive design can help your brand establish trust and create a positive first impression.
Conversion rates: An easy-to-use design and UX will increase conversion rates by making it easier for customers to find and purchase products.
Customer loyalty: Providing a positive shopping experience encourages customers to return to your store repeatedly.
Search engine optimization: Easy-to-navigate websites have a higher ranking in search engines, offering a good user experience.
An organized and easy-to-browse product catalogue, navigation menu, and checkout page are essential for the successful UI/UX of an eCommerce store. The navigation menu should be intuitive and easy to use to make it easy for customers to find what they are looking for in product catalogues.
The checkout process should also be straightforward, with clear instructions and as few steps as possible to complete the transaction.
In eCommerce, allowing guest customers to make purchases without registering is a good practice. If customers are required to create an account, they may be discouraged from making purchases, resulting in increased abandoned carts. It can also simplify the checkout process since customers don’t need to create an account to make purchases.
#5 Process payment methods
Adding multiple payment methods and options to your online store is an essential part of running an eCommerce business to accept payments. The following checkpoints will help you set up payment options for your online store:
Payment gateways: A secure, reliable, and easy-to-use payment gateway is the best choice. Several options are available, such as PayPal, Stripe, and Square. It is essential to research each gateway’s fees before deciding.
Payment options: Make it easy for customers to complete their purchases by accepting credit cards, debit cards, e-wallets, and/or manual payment options such as Cash on Delivery or POS.
Secure transactions: Use SSL encryption for your payment gateway to protect customer information and comply with PCI-DSS.
Easy checkout: Minimize the steps required to complete a purchase for easy and simple checkout.
Payment confirmation: Send customers a confirmation email after they make a payment. This will give them a sense of security and help them track their purchases.
Refunds and returns: Make sure there is a clear policy for refunds and returns and that customers can easily follow the process.
Ensuring a smooth and satisfactory shopping experience for your customers can help make sales and build trust in your brand.
#6 Arrange Shipping
Shipping refers to the process of setting up the delivery of purchased goods from your online store to your customers. Providing timely and convenient shipping to customers is one of the most important aspects of running an online store.
Here is the checklist for setting up shipping options for your online store:
Shipping rates: Based on your weight, size, and distance, determine your shipping rates. Provide discount codes or free shipping options to encourage your customers to purchase.
Shipping methods: Provide different shipping options to your customers, such as express, overnight, and standard.
Shipping tracking: Ensure that customers have access to their tracking number and can track their shipments.
#7 Optimize your store for mobile and desktop
Providing your customers with a seamless and enjoyable shopping experience requires your online store to be optimized for mobile and desktop devices. To optimize your store for mobile and desktop, make sure you have:
Mobile-friendly navigation: Avoid complicated navigation on a mobile device by using large, easy-to-tap buttons and minimizing the number of steps required to purchase.
Responsive design: Ensure that your site’s layout is automatically adapted to fit the screen size of the device on which it is being viewed. The result is an easy-to-navigate site that looks great on all devices and doesn’t break the user experience.
Page loading speed: You should optimize your site’s code and minimize the use of large, high-resolution images to make it load faster on mobile and desktop devices. Pages that load under 2.4 seconds have 1.9% higher conversion rates.
Image optimization: Using appropriate file types, compressing, and responsive images will help you optimize your images for mobile and desktop devices.
#8 Add products
A great selection of products and services that will grab your potential customer’s attention is one of the most critical aspects of building a successful eCommerce online store. Here are what product pages should include:
1. Product collections: A product collection is a group of products that are related in some way. Product collections are a way to organize products on your site in a logical and user-friendly way. Products can be organized by seasonal sales, gender, type etc.
2. High-quality media: You can upload photos, GIFs, and videos to share richer details about your products. High-quality images are crucial for displaying your products and giving customers a clear idea of what they are buying. Ensure your photos are clear, well-lit, and accurately reflect the product. To showcase your products and services, you can also use videos. It is a great way to help customers understand what they are buying.
3. Zoom-in feature for photos: Zoom-ins allow customers to see more detailed information about the products they are interested in and build trust in the store and product. The zoom-in feature allows customers to get a better sense of the product’s details such as craftsmanship, colours, and patterns up close.
4. Product details: Ensure all the necessary information about the product is included, such as size, color, material, and weight.
5. Product descriptions: Products should have compelling descriptions that accurately describe their features, benefits, and unique selling propositions. Use relevant keywords and phrases to ensure your products rank well in search engines.
6. Reviews and ratings: You can build trust and credibility for your products and services by using customer reviews and ratings. It can help with sales and conversions.
#9 Add “About” page
Providing your company’s information and contact information on your website is another step in creating an online store. The information you provide can include company information, team, mission, values, and story.
Including this information on your website’s footer and “About Us” page is a great way to make it easy for customers to access. Customers will be more likely to trust your company if you create transparency about your company.
Additionally, you can include more specific information about your company, such as photos of your team members, a short bio, certifications, awards, or other types of recognition that will help you build customer trust.
#10 Add “Contact” page
Any e-commerce website should have a “Contact” page where customers can reach out to you regarding their questions, or provide feedback. This page should include the business’s contact information, such as phone number, email address, and physical address that customers can use to send a message.
As another option, consider adding a live chat, so customers can get in touch with you quickly.
Also, linking to your social media pages can help customers learn more about your business and stay connected.
You should have a clear and easily accessible “Contact” page on your website since it demonstrates the company’s transparency and approachability to customers and allows them to contact the company if necessary.
#11 Create Legal pages
A refund policy outlines the conditions under which customers may request a refund. It helps manage customer complaints and set customer expectations.
You can use online legal page copy generators, but it’s advised the legal pages are written by a lawyer and regularly reviewed to ensure that they are up-to-date and comply with the law.
For example, Uvodo provides pre-written templates for legal pages of your store where you can customize them easily to adapt to your company rules.
#12 Manage GDPR/CCPA & Cookie consent bar
Make sure you manage GDPR/CCPA and have a Cookie consent bar on your online store.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a regulation in European law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union. This regulation was enacted to protect citizens’ personal data from being processed without their consent and to give citizens more control over their personal data.
The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is a California law that gives consumers the right to know what information businesses collect about them, why it’s being collected, and who it’s being sold to. It also requires businesses to allow customers to opt out of having their personal information sold or shared with third parties.
And the cookie consent bars give visitors a clear and concise explanation of what happens when they visit a site and how their information is collected and used.
#13 Connect conversion tools
Conversion tools are apps or plugins designed to help increase a website’s conversion rate. These tools can help increase sales and improve the overall customer experience.
Cart abandonment recovery tools such as exit-intent popups use on-exit intent technology that triggers promo popups to appear when a user is about to leave your website.
Discounts and promotions are another way to encourage customers to buy from your store. Coupon codes or special promotions can be used to accomplish on-site widgets.
It is also possible to increase conversion rates by using social proof notifications such as customer reviews, ratings, and testimonials since they can help customers gain trust and credibility towards a specific product or your brand. You can display customer reviews or testimonials on your website or use social proof notifications.
Using Google Analytics can help you identify any potential issues with the checkout process, such as long load times or confusing navigation.
You might also like to read: How to sell products on WhatsApp?
#14 Work on SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to a website through organic search engine results. Investing in SEO can help drive free traffic, leading to more sales and revenue.
SEO is an ongoing process as search engine algorithms and consumer search habits constantly change. To maintain and improve your website’s search engine rankings, it’s essential to regularly update your website’s content, monitor your backlink profile, and keep up with the latest SEO best practices.
Make sure you follow these basic steps:
URLs on your website are readable;
You publish blog posts on your blog page;
Images and content on your product pages are optimized.
Also, it’s a great practice to create Product schema markup by adding structured data to your product pages. Product schema markup is a type of structured data that can be added to an e-commerce website to provide additional information about products to search engines. Information such as product names, descriptions, images, availability, prices, etc., can be included in this database.
A significant benefit of Schema markup is that it makes your web pages appear in rich results or more prominently on search engine results pages.
See, for example, the first page of search results for “Nike.”
These details can assist search engines in understanding and presenting the page’s content more effectively in search results, resulting in improved search engine optimization (SEO) and product visibility. In turn, this can increase traffic to the website and sales.
You can use a Schema markup generator which is a free and easy tool to generate schema markup for different pages like the product, author etc.
Also, for technical SEO, ensure you follow the Core Web Vitals. Using real-world usage data (sometimes called field data), Core Web Vitals shows how your pages perform. You can visit Google Search Central to learn more about this initiative.
Find out how to optimize SEO for your online store by checking out the product page SEO best practices.
Launch your store
Launching your online store is the final step in building a successful eCommerce store. Here are a few tips to remember when launching your store:
Test, test, test: It is essential to ensure all features, functions, and payment/shipping options work properly before launching your store.
Soft launch: Soft launch is a good idea before an official launch. Before an official launch, a soft launch is a testing phase for a product, service, or website. The process usually involves a small group of users, beta testers, or a select audience. A soft launch identifies bugs or issues, gathers feedback, and makes any necessary adjustments before a product or service goes live.
Maintenance mode: A maintenance mode for your online store allows you to make changes without affecting the live site. When your site is in maintenance mode, it means that it is under construction or that some improvements are being made. Using this tool is great for testing out new features, redesigns, and more without worrying about your site going down.
As outlined in this guide, the essential steps to creating an online shop involve the following:
– planning: administering the legal side and choosing an eCommerce solution, etc.;
– creating: designing the layout, adding payment gateways, working on SEO, managing GDPR/CCPA and cookie consent bar, and creating legal pages etc.;
– execution: adding products and collections, launching a store.