If you plan to sell products online, the first thing you need is to create an online shopping website. A digital store opens new horizons to its owner. Apart from global outreach and the ability to sell services or products worldwide round the clock with no limitations, you also get access to an advanced bunch of marketing and promotion instruments.
Before diving into the world of eCommerce promotions, loyalty programs, and product marketing, you need to have a fully-featured online shop. Modern website building methods let users create eCommerce projects from scratch without special skills. On the other hand, the time and resources need to deploy the shop will depend on the technology you opt for.
In this article, we will describe two major ways to create an online shopping website from scratch, But first, we need to identify some core features it should have.
10 Essential Online Shopping Website Features
Regardless of what platform or software you use to build your future digital store, you need to make sure it will have all of the following features:
1. Product Management System
While blogs require a powerful content editor to manage numerous articles, blog posts, and categories, with an online shop you will have to manage each of your products. Make sure a chosen platform lets you add new items, edit descriptions and titles, set prices, sort products by categories, models, sizes, etc.
The feature is vital for not only website owners, but also customers. They will have a chance to find the good they need faster, which results in a higher conversion rate. The idea is to make it easy for them to identify the product that meets their expectations.
2. Payment Options
As the eCommerce niche considers transaction processing, you need to think of the most popular payment gateways for your visitors. The more alternatives your shop has the better. Do not limit your future buyers with one or two payment methods. Use flexible platforms that provide third-party integration capabilities.
3. High-Quality Images
High-quality product photos result in strong product representation. Use high-resolution images and showcase your items from different angles. The idea is to ensure real-life product experience for people who shop online.
Let them benefit from the sense of presence right here right now. A good way to encourage them to complete the purchase. This is where video product overviews and promos might also come in handy.
4. Good Performance and Responsiveness
Building and maintaining a digital store requires much of assets especially if you plan to add hundreds of new products followed by photos, videos or descriptions. Make sure your building platform has a powerful engine while hosting will handle traffic spikes and leaps during seasoned offers, discounts, etc.
Make sure the site speed is fast enough, as it appears to be a crucial rate that reflects customers’ satisfaction and conversions. Moreover, your digital store must be mobile-friendly. Almost half of all users do online shopping via their tablets and smartphones. It would be wrong for you to lose that target audience.
5. Website Security
Buyers are looking for a safe way to purchase products online. To meet their expectations, you may implement something more than just an SSL certificate. A good idea is to use a Firewall and protect your site from malicious traffic while two-factor authentication will appear to be an additional security layer.
6. Customer Support
With the aim of establishing a flawless online shopping experience, you will need to resolve different issues from time to time. Some customers might not be satisfied with the product quality, others may request a money back or change. Make sure you provide enough tools to get in touch and ensure instant customer assistance.
7. Contact Info
Apart from customer support, an online store requires a clear contact section. It should contain all possible ways to get in touch. It opens new opportunities for not only your target audience but also potential business partners, investors, etc.
Increase your digital store trustworthiness with real customer reviews and testimonials. Ask previous buyers to share their opinion on the product they have bought. It will make your website look more trusted and reliable.
9. SEO, Analytics, and Promotion Tools
As you need to promote your shop, make sure you have enough marketing tools. They may include loyalty programs, coupons, promo codes, and other instruments to boost sales.
With the traffic growth, you will also need some measurement services as well as to track your buyers, their demographics, and other crucial metrics. SEO settings will let you optimize product pages as well as make your digital store more SEO-friendly. Promote separate items, categories, and pages using keywords, meta tags, etc.
10. Extra Features to Look for In an Online Shopping Website
The following extras may be implemented demanding on the product type you sell. Whether you have a small store or a huge online marketplace, you may also want to have:
- Shipping methods and terms explained.
- Social Media buttons to let users share opinions or product pages on Facebook or Instagram.
- Related Product options to offer more items that refer to a particular product category.
Now you need to find the ultimate platform that offers enough tools to implement all of the above-mentioned. eCommerce projects appear to be the toughest ones in terms of implementation and customization.
They require advanced technical skills unless you opt for ready-to-use solutions like Shopify. Another way is to use WordPress CMS paired with the WooCommerce plugin and eCommerce functionality it delivers. Let’s have a look at both options and how they may help.
How to Create an Online Shopping Site Using Shopify
Shopify – is a website building platform designed specially for eCommerce needs. The key software benefit is that it delivers everything you need to implement the features we discussed earlier. From loyalty programs and SEO settings to a handy control panel and product management system – you get all needed functions within a chosen package.
The platform is pretty easy to use. Adding new content and products is simple as well as modify titles and descriptions, create item collections, create new pages and product categories, set prices, etc. The system offers several baseline shopping templates with pre-installed widgets, which means you do not need to code at all. Shopify uses its hosting facilities and ensures smooth shop operation in addition to free SSL and other security means.
In that whole, we have a great eCommerce website building tool that requires a minimum learning curve. Now, let’s get to the website building process.
- Sign in and choose a plan. The registration process is very fast. However, you will need to choose a package right at once with a chance to switch between plans. The good news is that each plan has a 14-day free trial to test software features.
- Select a template. Although Shopify does not overwhelm you with an endless array of themes, you may still pick from a list of 10 stylish and responsive layouts. Technical geeks will appreciate HTML/CSS access to implement exclusive features, scripts, etc. Those who crave for exclusive design may choose form 60 premium templates costing $190.
- Set up your store. Editing your store might seem a bit difficult to form the start. However, the control panel is pretty intuitive. After some time, you will learn how to add products, images, edit on-page blocks, create product collections, set prices, indicate relevant goods, etc.
- Shopify App Store contains additional widgets to make your shop shine online. Here you may find from promotion and marketing tools to cart recovery instruments, product image galleries, etc.
- Connect a domain and go live. Shopify lets you connect your domain as well as register the one within the platform. Now you only need to publish all website pages and go live with your store.
The overall process is rather easy considering you have all the necessary tools depending on the chosen plan. The price depends on the package and the number of products you want to sell. It ranges between $29/month for a small shop and $299 for a growing digital marketplace.
How to Create an Online Shopping Site Using WooCommerce
When we say “WooCommerce”, we mean an eCommerce plugin to be used with WordPress. When we say “WordPress”, we mean an open-source CMS used together with Bluehost (the best WP-optimized hosting provider).
The plugin itself is a good solution for any store. It comes in a free baseline version for simple projects. Growing websites may benefit from paid extensions and extra features designed to be used together with the plugin.
To build a full-scale online shop with WooCommerce, you will need to do the following:
- Register a Domain and Find a Hosting provider. Consider the problem solved thanks to Bluehost. Its WP-optimized plans include WordPress integration, access to templates and widgets, system and plugin updates, 1-year free domain, etc. Additional manipulations ate nor necessary.
- Choose a WP Theme. WordPress boasts thousands of eCommerce themes. Most of them are mobile-friendly. Use the preview mode to check how it looks like. Users may benefit from free templates or buy premium layouts depending on the design requirements.
- Install WooCommerce. Now you need to install and activate the plugin. Go to plugin settings to fine-tune your future store. To complete the stage, simply follow the 5 simple steps and indicate vital info to get a setup plugin working.
- Add products and edit content. Now you may add new products, set descriptions, and titles, work with product page SEO, etc.
The key downside here is that users will have to do most of the work manually. On the other hand, a solid level of technical skills will come in handy in references to website optimization. Moreover, users may integrate thousands of third-party services form payment gateways to shipping methods.
At the same time, using this method is cheaper although some extensions might cost you hundreds of dollars, as well as premium WordPress themes.
The Bottom Line
Choosing between Shopify and WooCommerce depends on the digital store size, the number of products you want to sell, and the additional features you look for.
Shopify is an all-in-one eCommerce solution with everything you need in its plans. Although the editing process is not as easy as some may expect, the system lets you build a fully-functional online shopping website in hours without extra costs or manipulations.
WooCommerce is more like a plugin rather than an automated eCommerce solution. It means you will need other means to bring your project to life. Additional technical skills may also be useful. However, things get much easier when using WooCommerce paired with WordPress and Bluehost. It is you to decide, which way to choose.