How To Build An eCommerce Website (2023 Guide) (2023)

Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on Forbes Advisor. Commissions do not affect our editors' opinions or evaluations.

E-commerce revenue in the U.S. was estimated to be $768 billion last year and it is expected to exceed $1.3 trillion in the next three years, according to Statista. If you are in the retail space, creating an e-commerce site can allow you to get a share of that pie. Here’s how to build an e-commerce website in just seven steps.

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Step 1. Choose Your Content Management System (CMS)

The foundation of every website is a content management system (CMS). There are a number of different content management systems to choose from open-source platforms such as WordPress to beginner-friendly all-in-one website builders such as Shopify or Squarespace. Which is right for you and your online store will depend on your budget, experience, and unique e-commerce needs.

Here are the most popular content management systems for e-commerce websites:

  • WordPress: The world’s leading CMS that is also one of the most customizable.
  • Shopify: An ideal e-commerce solution for building a dropshipping business.
  • Squarespace: One of the best website builders for beginners who want to easily build a professional website with no previous web design experience.
  • Square Online: Best for existing retailers that are looking to sell in-person and online.
  • Wix: An all-in-one website builder that is both easy to use and highly customizable.

For help deciding which is the best CMS for your e-commerce needs, learn more about the best e-commerce platforms.

Step 2. Create an Account (Or Get Web Hosting)

Once you have decided which CMS to use, the next step is to create an account–unless you choose WordPress. If you are planning to build your e-commerce site with WordPress, your next step is to get a web hosting plan. The best web hosting services come with a free domain name, a free SSL certificate and one-click WordPress installation, eliminating the need to manually connect your domain and hosting to WordPress.

If you’re using a website builder such as Shopify, Squarespace, Square Online or Wix, simply navigate to the provider’s website and register for an account. If your chosen CMS allows, register your domain name through the CMS to eliminate the need for manual domain configuration process.

In the instance where your chosen CMS does not give you the option to get a domain name, register your domain using a domain name registrar. For help choosing one, check out our article on the best domain name registrars.

Step 3. Select an E-commerce Theme or Template

The first thing you need to consider is a theme for your website. Themes are ready-made templates that give your website a consistent look and feel. All subscription platforms have tons of templates to choose from, so whether you’re building your e-commerce website with WordPress, Shopify, Wix or anything else, you will have prebuilt templates and themes to choose from.

Keep in mind that while free templates are generally available across most platforms, some also offer paid (or premium) templates. For example, both WordPress and Shopify offer premium themes that range in price from around $30 to over $200. The benefit is that many offer more unique designs, which can help businesses that want a specific look to reduce the amount of time spent customizing their chosen theme.

Step 4. Customize Your Site and Build Out Web Pages

After you have found the perfect theme or template for your online store, the next step is to begin customizing it. This is where you will be updating your header and footer, configuring your site’s navigation, and building out pages from your homepage to your refunds and return policy page.

Step 5. Create Product Listings

No online store is complete with product listings. So once you have built out your website, the next step is to create your product catalog, complete with all of your individual product listings. In this process be sure to organize and categorize your listings so they are easy for your future site visitors to find and for you to manage.

Step 6. Set Up a Payment Gateway, Inventory and Tax Tools

After you have populated your e-commerce website, there are a few key aspects of building an e-commerce site to attend to from setting up a payment processor to adding inventory and tax tools.

Choose a Payment Gateway

When it comes to choosing and setting up a payment gateway, many online retailers opt for third-party tools such as Stripe or PayPal to make the process easier and more secure. If you are redirecting the customer to other websites, you must ensure that the data is fully encrypted before transfer.

If you are choosing payment integrations, consider these points:

  • How easy is it to integrate the tool with your platform?
  • Is the tool secure?
  • Is the tool PCI compliant?
  • What are the fees you and the customer must pay?

For a detailed breakdown, refer to our article on the best payment gateways.

Integrate Shipping

If your platform allows it, you should integrate shipping with your e-commerce website for a seamless experience. It will also simplify operations and you can focus on selling. But before you integrate shipping, determine your shipping policies such as free shipping, variable fee, flat rate, etc. And while you are at it, also establish refund and return policies.

Add a Sales Tax Calculator (Optional)

Additionally, you may want to consider adding a tax calculator to automatically calculate sales tax, shipping and any other fees at checkout.

Step 7. Test and Launch Your E-Commerce Site

Before launching the e-commerce site to your customers, you must check the site thoroughly. Every button and every link on the site must be working. Even 404 error web pages should be designed according to the theme.

Run tests to see if you can add products to the cart and process the payment. Most platforms will allow you to test payment processing without actually charging your credit card. Be sure to check if all the emails are getting sent to the right inboxes after a purchase has been made or declined. And last but not least, check how your site looks and functions on mobile devices. If possible, try to check out the site’s performance on different web browsers.

Once you have tested and double-checked everything, from product descriptions to category pages, you are ready to launch.

Announce the launch of your e-commerce store through your social media pages, guest posts on popular retail blogs in your niche, influencer marketing and to your email lists. If you have the budget, you can also go for paid advertising on Facebook, Google and other platforms.

Why You Should Sell Online

Before you actually start building your e-commerce website, you need to be clear about your business needs for building a website. Here are some reasons why you should sell online.

More People Are Buying Online

Buying online is convenient as well as safe, and during the recent pandemic, e-commerce sales surged by as much as 40% in 2020, the first pandemic year. The easy availability of smartphones also means that you can buy from anywhere, any time of the day. So it’s obvious that people will continue buying long after the pandemic has abated.

Setting Up an E-Commerce Storefront Is Cheaper

When you compare it with a brick-and-mortar store, Setting up an e-commerce storefront is much cheaper. This is partially because brick-and-mortar stores incur multiple fixed costs such as rent, electricity bills, employee payments, infrastructure maintenance, etc.

E-Commerce Website Can Augment Off-Line Sales

It is not necessary that online and offline stores should be mutually exclusive. They can augment each other nicely when you tell people about your brick-and-mortar store on your e-commerce website and install app kiosks in your stores.

For instance, Amazon is now opening brick-and-mortar stores after the runaway success of its online e-commerce website.

Create Unique Customer Experiences

Personalizing experiences and services are much easier online. You can use different media including video, audio, stories, customer reviews and personalized messaging to build an experience your customers cherish and share with others.

Start Selling Immediately

Once you have the website ready, all you need to do is set up payment processing and list your products on the website to start selling. There is no need to wait for new employees, stockpile inventory or generate enough marketing buzz. You are in business the moment you put your website live.

Eliminate Costly Overheard With Dropshipping

When you think of retail, the first thing that comes to mind is sourcing, maintaining and handling inventory. However, if you choose a dropshipping business model, you don’t need to maintain and handle inventory by yourself. You can read all about dropshipping here.

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Bottom Line

An e-commerce website is your online brand identity. You must take care to build it in a way that makes it easier for customers to experience your brand. Also, remember that it is not possible to get everything right the first time. Keep learning from your experiences, be ready to experiment and make changes when required.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I build an e-commerce website on my own?

Yes, you can easily build an e-commerce website on your own. You need to follow these steps:

  1. Buy a custom domain name for your e-commerce website
  2. Opt for an SaaS e-commerce solution
  3. Choose a storefront theme
  4. Customize the theme to match your brand
  5. Upload products to sell
  6. Set up payment methods and you are ready to sell

How much does it cost to build an e-commerce website?

To build an e-commerce website, you need to pay for a domain name, SSL certificate, e-commerce hosting, payment processing integrations, store theme and designs, and any other third-party tools you are using.

Which is the best e-commerce platform?

These are the best e-commerce platforms for 2023: Squarespace, Square Online, Ecwid, Shift4Shop, Shopify, Wix, Weebly, BigCommerce, WooCommerce and Big Cartel. You can read the pros and cons of all these platforms here.

Are website builders secure?

Because most website builders offer cutting-edge technology, they are usually ahead of the curve when it comes to keeping their sites secure. They do this by keeping their customers’ websites protected by using top-end technology. Because of this, most website building companies offer some of the best security options available on the internet.

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FAQs

How do I build an ecommerce website from scratch? ›

A 7-step recipe for building an eCommerce website from scratch
  1. Pick the right eCommerce platform.
  2. Select a theme and start customizing.
  3. Create your product pages.
  4. Set up payments.
  5. Set up shipping and delivery.
  6. Connect your domain.
  7. Test and launch.
Dec 31, 2022

What are the 3 types of e-commerce? ›

There are three main types of e-commerce: business-to-business (websites such as Shopify), business-to-consumer (websites such as Amazon), and consumer-to-consumer (websites such as eBay).

What are the 4 types of e-commerce? ›

The Most Common Types of Ecommerce Business Models
  • B2C (Business-to-consumer). B2C businesses sell directly to their end-users. ...
  • B2B (Business-to-business). ...
  • B2B2C (Business-to-business-to-consumer). ...
  • B2G (Business-to-government). ...
  • C2B (Consumer-to-business). ...
  • D2C (Direct-to-consumer). ...
  • C2C (Consumer-to-consumer).

Can I build a website with no experience? ›

There's no need to get discouraged with the task of building a website. It's true, there's a lot to know if you want to build a site from scratch. But these days you don't need to start from scratch. You can actually build a beautiful site quickly and easily with no coding experience.

What is the best eCommerce site for beginners? ›

The 6 best eCommerce platforms
  • Shopify for getting up and running quickly.
  • Square for selling in-person and online.
  • Ecwid by Lightspeed for starting with a free plan—then growing.
  • BigCommerce for large-volume sellers.
  • WooCommerce for adding a shopping cart to an existing WordPress site.
  • Wix for building a complete site.
Jan 3, 2023

Which is best eCommerce platform for beginners? ›

The Best E-Commerce Platforms of 2023
  • Squarespace: Best Overall E-Commerce Platform.
  • Square Online: Best for Omnichannel Selling.
  • Ecwid: Best for Existing Sites.
  • Shift4Shop: Best Free E-Commerce Platform.
  • Shopify: Best for Dropshipping.
  • Wix: Best Drag-and-Drop Editor.
  • Weebly: Best Value.
  • BigCommerce: Best for Boosting Sales.
Jan 22, 2023

How long does it take to make an eCommerce website from scratch? ›

Even full-fledged websites differ by complexity. For example, an eCommerce website will take around 1,000 hours to build, while a social media website can take 2,000 hours or more.

What pages are required for a eCommerce website? ›

Here are the 25 most important pages for your ecommerce website:
  • Homepage.
  • Category Overview.
  • Category Page.
  • Product Page.
  • Search and Listing Results.
  • Login/Create Account.
  • Mini Cart.
  • Cart Page.
Aug 30, 2021

How much does it cost to build a simple eCommerce website? ›

Cost: The cost for website development usually starts from INR 25,000 and can highly vary depending on the requirements and the agency or developer you choose.

What is the 80/20 rule in ecommerce? ›

Also known as the Pareto Principle, the 80/20 rule states that for many events, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. In ecommerce, the 80/20 rule simply means that most of your business – around 80% – probably comes from about 20% of your customers.

What are the 7 C's of website design? ›

The 7 Cs are: Context, Commerce, Connection, Communication, Content, Community, and Customization. Context: A website's layout and visual design.

What are the 8 elements of e commerce? ›

These elements are value proposition, revenue model, market opportunity, competitive environment, competitive advantage, market strategy, organizational development, and management team.

What are the 2 pillars of eCommerce? ›

Every e-commerce business stands on 4 pillars: Profitability, Productivity, Payment, and Personalisation.

What are the 3 trends that will shape e-commerce in 2022? ›

10 Ecommerce Trends That Will Define Online Shopping in 2022
  • Meet and exceed customer expectations. ...
  • Tell the story of your client's brand. ...
  • Authentically engage customers with social commerce. ...
  • Create live shopping experiences. ...
  • Rethink personalization to build truly tailored customer experiences.
Jan 26, 2022

What are the 7 features of e-commerce? ›

But let's explore more in depth...Here are the eight unique features of e-commerce:
  • Ubiquity. This pretty much means that it happens everywhere. ...
  • Global reach. As I mentioned earlier, e-commerce is everything. ...
  • Universal standards. EASE. ...
  • Information richness. ...
  • Interactivity. ...
  • Information density. ...
  • Personalization. ...
  • Social technology.
Jun 8, 2016

What is the 5 C model of e-commerce? ›

The 5 C's are “company,” “collaborators,” “customers,” “competitors,” and “context.” The initial step is to understand what each represents and how it might help your business's marketing. The 5C marketing framework can help a business understand its position in the marketplace.

What are the 3 features of e-commerce? ›

Essential e‑commerce features for B2B companies
  • Easy navigation.
  • Real-time information.
  • Simplified pricing.
  • Online order processing.
  • Superior customer service.
  • Personalized marketing.

What are the 6 major types of e-commerce? ›

There are six major eCommerce business models:
  • Business to Consumer (B2C)
  • Business to Business (B2B)
  • Business to Government (B2G)
  • Business to Business to Consumer (B2B2C)
  • Consumer to Consumer (C2C)
  • Consumer to Business (C2B)
Oct 11, 2021

What is the easiest website to make? ›

Which Is the Easiest Website Builder for Beginners?
  • Wix — Best website builder for beginners.
  • Jimdo — Easiest website builder to use.
  • GoDaddy — Best for a quick initial set up.
  • Squarespace — Best design templates.
  • Hostinger — Lowest cost option.
  • 1&1 IONOS — Best for multilingual websites.
Jan 17, 2023

What is the easiest program to build a website? ›

Adobe Dreamweaver is one of the most beginner-friendly web design software. It allows you to easily create mobile-friendly static HTML websites, stand-alone landing pages, or quick HTML docs. It is easy for beginners to simply drag and drop to create web pages.

What skills are needed to create a website? ›

To achieve this, there are skills needed, and web designers should work to be proficient in them.
  • Visual design. Visual design focus on digital products that determine how a website looks and feels. ...
  • Using Design software. ...
  • HTML. ...
  • CSS. ...
  • JavaScript. ...
  • Time management skills. ...
  • Communication skills. ...
  • Problem-solving skills.
Dec 14, 2020

How much does Shopify take per sale? ›

Are there any transaction fees? There are no transaction fees for stores using Shopify Payments. If you choose a third-party payment provider, there will be additional fees of 2%, 1% or 0.5% for our Basic Shopify, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify plans, respectively.

What is the most profitable eCommerce niche? ›

The Best 10 eCommerce Niches in 2023
  • 2- Pet Products/Services. The pet owners' niche is a profitable business. ...
  • 4- Eco-friendly/Organic Products. This can be a little broad and can be used in anything. ...
  • 5- Online Courses. ...
  • 6- Re-commerce. ...
  • 7- Fitness & Gym Appliances. ...
  • 8- Jewelry. ...
  • 9- Home Decor.
Jan 17, 2023

What is the number 1 eCommerce site in the world? ›

The company initially started as an online marketplace for books. However, Amazon has grown to become the world's largest retail chain.

What is the trend for 2023 ecommerce? ›

In 2023, personalization is set to become one of the biggest e-commerce trends. Personalization gives customers tailored experiences based on their interests, needs, and preferences. Brands can offer personalization by using customer data to create unique experiences and build customer loyalty.

What are the top ecommerce trends for 2023? ›

Here are six hot global ecommerce trends that will shape the online landscape in 2023:
  • The dominance of large marketplaces.
  • The importance of personalized experiences.
  • Smoother online shopping experiences.
  • The importance of social media marketing.
  • The ever-increasing focus on sustainability.

What is the future of ecommerce 2023? ›

Ecommerce might be growing at a slower pace than during pandemic times, but it's still taking an increasingly larger slice of total retail sales worldwide. By the end of 2023, one in every five retail sales will be made online. Although these numbers are significant, commerce has always been more than a transaction.

How much do people charge for making a website? ›

For an hourly rate, the average freelance web designer may charge about $75 per hour. This figure can vary based on a number of things. The typical cost to design a website ranges between $27 to $60 per hour while the cost to develop the site can go up to $100 to $180 per hour.

What is the fastest way to design a website? ›

If you're short on time, the easiest way to create a website is by using a website builder – they are low cost, adaptable, easy to use, and there are so many great options to choose from – including Wix, Squarespace and Shopify as three of the best.

How much does it cost to hire someone to build a website? ›

Experienced freelancers charge anywhere between $20 and $80 per hour. As a rough estimate, a small business website could cost you anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000.

What are 5 important requirements for e-commerce? ›

5 Essential Requirements for Effective E-Commerce
  • Payment Systems. A significant component to consider is the payment system for your shopping cart. ...
  • Mobile-Friendly Website and Storefront. ...
  • Customizable Themes and Templates. ...
  • Integration of Third-Party Apps. ...
  • Customer Support and Interface. ...
  • Conclusion.
Dec 14, 2020

What are the 4 types of Web pages? ›

5 types of websites and how to create & design them
  • Ecommerce websites. Ecommerce websites allow users to shop for and purchase products or services online. ...
  • Personal websites. ...
  • Portfolio websites. ...
  • Small business websites. ...
  • Blog websites.
Nov 5, 2021

Can a beginner build a website? ›

If the simple thought of building a personal or business website sounds intimidating, we have good news: it's something that you can easily accomplish. There are multiple approaches you can take to build your own website or blog, even as a complete beginner. Building your website can actually be fun!

What is the cheapest way to launch a website? ›

Make it yourself with a website builder

There are various website builders out there that don't require any technical skill to set up. WordPress is a popular free website builder that can host your website for you for free. Wix is also an option for building and hosting a website for free.

Can you start eCommerce for free? ›

Let's be honest, there is no such thing as a 100% free eCommerce platform. Even when the eCommerce platform itself is free, you will have to pay for a domain, web hosting, payment processing fees, and other extension costs. We have a detailed guide on the real cost of building eCommerce websites.

How competitive is the eCommerce market? ›

Competition is very high in the eCommerce industry since millions of companies are present in the industry. Moreover, some big companies, such as Amazon and Alibaba, hold a significant market share, making it hard for smaller companies to compete.

What is inventory rule? ›

The 80/20 inventory rule states that 80% of your profits should come from 20% of your inventory. The rule is based on the Pareto Principle, a management consulting principle that suggests that 80% of effects come from 20% of causes.

How to do a good inventory control? ›

Inventory management techniques and best practices for small business
  1. Fine-tune your forecasting. ...
  2. Use the FIFO approach (first in, first out). ...
  3. Identify low-turn stock. ...
  4. Audit your stock. ...
  5. Use cloud-based inventory management software. ...
  6. Track your stock levels at all times. ...
  7. Reduce equipment repair times.
May 27, 2021

What is the golden rule in web design? ›

Place users in control of the interface. Make it comfortable to interact with a product. Reduce cognitive load. Make user interfaces consistent.

What are the 3 principles of good web design? ›

What are the three basic principles of website design?
  • Don't offer too many choices (Paradox of Choice)
  • Put things in an order that makes sense (Visual Hierarchy)
  • Leave enough space between the items on your page (White Space)
Jul 21, 2020

What are the top 3 most important things to consider for a successful ecommerce website? ›

Top 8 eCommerce Website Success Factors
  • Quick Load Time. It's a sobering fact that you could lose 40% of your shoppers if your site takes more than three seconds to load. ...
  • Mobile Responsive. ...
  • Easy Check-out. ...
  • Clear calls-to-action. ...
  • Secure Shopping. ...
  • Social Sharing. ...
  • Product Reviews. ...
  • High Visibility Contact Info.
Apr 6, 2016

Can I build eCommerce website on my own? ›

Choose your e-commerce website builder

Some of the best e-commerce website builders include: Shopify: An all-in-one solution for businesses that sell physical products and do most of their business online. Square Online: A free website builder that offers an easy route into online sales for brick-and-mortar businesses.

How much does it cost to have your own eCommerce website? ›

We'll answer the question right away: The total cost for hosting an eCommerce website in 2023 can be anywhere between $40 and $4000/month, plus $1,500 – $30,000 in website design setup fees.

Which is better Shopify or Wix? ›

Shopify is easier if you're building an online store, particularly if you plan to scale it. Wix is easier if you're building a content-rich website that also offers basic e-commerce functions, such as collecting payment for services or selling a limited number of items.

What is the 10 example of eCommerce? ›

Top Examples of Ecommerce. There are some pretty major examples of ecommerce businesses that have made it big, including Amazon, FlipKart, eBay, and Myntra.

What is the cheapest website to sell on? ›

10 cheap ecommerce platforms
  • Shopify.
  • WooCommerce.
  • BigCommerce.
  • Wix Stores.
  • Volusion.
  • BigCartel.
  • Ecwid.
  • LemonStand.
Oct 21, 2022

Can you start an eCommerce business with no money? ›

Many ecommerce business ideas don't need upfront cash to start. Business models like dropshipping, print on demand, and self-publishing books take inventory and fulfillment tasks off your plate entirely. That leaves you with more time to do what you do best: create and sell.

What is the easiest item to sell online? ›

25 Top Easy Things To Make And Sell For Money
  • Bath Bombs.
  • Soap.
  • Natural Cosmetics.
  • Candles.
  • Jewelry.
  • Personalized Gifts.
  • T-Shirts.
  • Magnets/Pins.
Nov 10, 2022

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