Does your business need an eCommerce website? The short answer is yes, if you sell goods or services and wish to be able to take payments online, then an eCommerce website is what you need. Despite popular belief building an eCommerce website for your business doesn’t have to be a chore.
In fact, with the help of a decent eCommerce website builder, the process is quite simple. For you, all it takes is sharing your vision for your online store, letting the developer build your eCommerce function and then uploading your products.
Imagine being able to operate your physical store around the clock — even on public holidays — without having to pay a single staff member. Sounds too good to be true right? Not with an eCommerce website! An eCommerce site allows you to start selling online 24/7.
But, first things first, what is an eCommerce website and why does your business need one?
An eCommerce website allows a business to sell goods online.
The business is able to receive orders, process payments, manage shipping and provide a customer experience all through their eCommerce website.
There are many different ways to create and host an eCommerce website, with so many different platforms to choose from.
But, not all eCommerce websites are made equal — more on this later.
What should your eCommerce platform have?
We may be stating the obvious here BUT the first thing you need to make an eCommerce website is a product or service, and a business model. From here, your possibilities with an eCommerce website are unlimited.
In short, a web eCommerce store should be able to facilitate a customer’s journey from start to finish, allowing your business to start selling online with ease.
Now, let’s get down to the basics of what you should expect from your eCommerce provider, plus some of our favourite eCommerce features to add to your wish list.
1. Accept orders from your online store.
At the very least, your eCommerce website should be able to accept orders from your customers. While this may seem like a simple task, there is a lot that goes on in the backend of an eCommerce store for this process to work.
- Every time your eCommerce business receives an order, it has to:
- Read and record customer information, including name, address, phone number etc.
- Retain and store accepted website conditions, such as terms and conditions.
- Know when, where and how to add any additional taxes and fees.
- Generate and apply coupons and discounts.
- Process billing information and direct the customer to a payment gateway.
2. Collect payment from your customers.
A good online store provides customers with an effortless transition to a secure payment method.
Your eCommerce store should provide you with standard payment options for you to provide to your customers, such as PayPal, Mastercard and Zip Co.
You’ll also want to ensure your platform provides multi-step authentication, to provide a safe and secure method of payment.
3. Provide a shipping solution.
Once an order has been made and the payment processed, it’s time to ship!
Most online store builders have shipping software built into their eCommerce platform. Depending on your needs, this software can allow you to print shipping labels, packing slips and customer information to help you fulfil your needs. At an absolute base level, your eCommerce site should be able to initiate the process.
It is also important to remember to have a process in place for any returns and refunds which may come your way. This is incredibly important if you want to meet your customers’ expectations for your online shop — and let’s be honest, who doesn’t?
4. Offer user friendly templates.
Did you know 76% of website users say the most important characteristic of any website is the ease of use?
Most eCommerce platforms have templates available for business owners to choose from when building their online store. Where possible, look for website builders with templates designed by UX/UI designers. These designers focus on ensuring the templates are designed with the users’ intentions at the front and centre, ensuring ease of use.
Not only is a user-focused design important, but so is having a mobile-first design.
According to Criteo’s Global Commerce Review, over 50% of online purchases are made from mobile devices. Whatever type of business you run, a responsive website should be at the top of every business owner’s wish list.
5. A ‘Favourites’ feature.
A favourites feature, otherwise known as a wish list, is a great feature to look out for when choosing an eCommerce service provider.
Giving customers the option to save their favourite items for later is a re-marketers dream!
It not only encourages repeat visits to your website, but a wish list option also helps you reach your customer expectations by creating an enhanced user experience.
6. Top-notch security features.
Having top-notch security is one of the key elements to look for in an eCommerce platform.
While online security is important for any website owner, eCommerce websites are even more at threat of attack from cybercriminals.
Before you jump ship and halt your build on an eCommerce store, there are some simple ways to protect your businesses and customers.
How to protect your eCommerce store:
- Have a valid SSL certificate. You’ll know if you have one by checking if the front of your URL has a locked padlock.
- Ensure you have secure payment processing. Many eCommerce platforms do not have adequate security measures in place to protect small businesses and their customers — don’t be one of them.
- Sign up for high-quality hosting and website management, which helps keep your website plug-ins up to date and secure.
Building an eCommerce Website
There are a number of different ways to sell online, from building a new online store on one of the many available eCommerce platforms to using an eCommerce plugin on an existing website.
The below process will help you prepare yourself for any of these steps, but also in building your own eCommerce site, if you’re up for the job.
1. Ensure your business details are up to date and ready.
Before building your eCommerce website, ensure all your information is up to date online.
Ensure you check your online information is up to date and consistent across:
- Your current website (if you have one).
- On any social media platforms your business is on.
- Your business’s Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business).
- All of your online listings, including Localsearch.com.au.
It’s also a good time to check your licences and ABN are up to date and correct too.
2. Make sure your domain is available.
The next thing you need to do is ensure your desired domain name is available — we recommend using an online domain checker.
If you already have a custom domain name, you can skip this step. There is a chance the exact domain name you want may not be available, so try and stick to your business name, where you can.
You may also want to look into expanding your domain availability and checking if your .au is available, as well as .com.au.
Picking the right eCommerce website hosting platform can save you a lot of time and money.
Remember, the cheapest hosting provider is not the one you typically want to go for. Cheap hosting providers can leave you at risk of cyber attacks or limit how much you can store on your website, a problem you definitely don’t want to face after setting up with an eCommerce platform.
Here are some things to look for when choosing a hosting provider:
- Bandwidth and file storage.
- Scalable hosting to support growth.
- Support for business owners.
- Top-notch security for your business and customers.
- Automatic website backups.
4. Start building your website.
If you’ve opted to build your own eCommerce website rather than use a web designer, now is when you get to be creative.
Depending on the eCommerce builder you’ve chosen, they may have themes or layouts you can choose from to make getting ready to sell online easier. When you are selecting your theme, be sure to keep your branding in mind, sticking to your online business brand colours, font and personality during the design process.
Selecting or designing a layout for your eCommerce site goes far beyond ensuring it looks ‘nice.’ The layout should be functional, with the user’s experience front of mind.
Ask yourself, what is the user’s intent and what is the best way to help them achieve that? Web design is more than making your eCommerce store look pretty.
The eCommerce platform you use will also depend on the functions you can add to your website, especially if you’re trying a DIY builder. Choosing the right platform can be the difference between a good customer journey and a great eCommerce website to poorly performing eCommerce stores.
5. Begin loading your products into your online store.
How you upload your products into the eCommerce platform will depend on your online store builder. However, the steps you’ll want to have in place, including payment processing, will be the same.
First things first, ensure your products are accompanied by product pages optimised for search engines (more on this later). If you have a large variety of products, consider building product category pages.
Secondly, it is important every product has high-quality product images to showcase your online store’s offerings. After all, what’s the point of selling high-quality products if your website can’t do them the justice they deserve.
If you’ve opted to work with one of the many reliable website builders out there, they may include uploading a set number of products for you into the package. They will generally know what you need for the best website performance, including how to optimise eCommerce design, setting up a web address, including features like a search bar and more.
6. Set up your payment processing and shipping.
The reason for online stores is to sell online, so your online store will need a secure checkout process. This may seem easy to do, but this step can get complicated depending on the products you’re sending, where you’re sending to, what payment methods you accept and more.
For example, if you’re selling products by the 100g, not by the bag, and someone orders 400g, your payment processing will need to be able to facilitate this.
The complexity of seeing up eCommerce stores is why it’s common for business owners to turn to eCommerce professionals to ensure their online store set-up is correct.
7. It’s time to go live!
Once you’re happy with your online store, it’s time to go live!
Your site launch is an exciting time, so be sure you share it on your social media channels.
In fact, it may be worth running some social media marketing and search engine marketing to get the word out about your new online store and how people can now shop online with your business.
Remember, the work doesn’t end when your website is live. Regardless of the builder you use, it is important to regularly update your website.
8. Market your website.
Once your eCommerce website is live, it’s time to start selling online. The best way to do that is by creating a marketing strategy to attract your target audience to your online store. Some of the marketing tools you may consider using include:
Search engine marketing, or SEM, is a popular marketing tool used to drive traffic to your website from Google or Bing search results.
Have you ever noticed the websites with ‘ad’ in small writing at the very top of your Google search results? Well, those are Google Ads!
Businesses pay to ‘bid’ on a specific keyword or phrase within a search result to ensure they are front and centre of certain Google search queries.
This is one of the ways you can put your brand new online business front and centre of your customer’s search results. It gets you results faster than many other marketing options, but only if you have optimised your ads correctly and your eCommerce website design, functionality and user experience are optimised too.
Social media marketing efforts are a great way to place your product in the palm of your consumers, literally.
With social media, you can place an ad for your business, or even a single product, on your consumers’ Instagram or Facebook feed or story.
The best part is, you can link your ad directly to your product pages, so if someone clicks on your ad they’ll be taken directly to your shiny new eCommerce website.
Email marketing, sometimes referred to as EDMs, allows you to send information about your online store, including sales and promotions, directly to your consumers’ inbox.
Before you start any mass emailing, ensure you’re familiar with the laws and regulations surrounding this type of marketing. The best way to ensure you’re working within these guidelines is to run your email marketing through a professional platform.
The good news is, many eCommerce solutions come with an email marketing tool embedded into their builders.
Integrated email marketing automation is a must-have feature for any online store. It allows you to send communications to your customer when:
- They have abandoned their cart.
- There is a sale or promotion on a particular product or service.
- You send out newsletters.
- You want to showcase product releases and features.
and so much more.
SMS marketing is a valuable tool for small businesses. It allows them to communicate with their target market in a different way.
However, there are strict laws and regulations for SMS marketing that must be followed. If you find yourself in breach of these, your eCommerce business, even you as the business owner, could be in some hot water.
If you want people to find your eCommerce store on Google, it needs to be optimised for search engines.
Search engine optimisation, or SEO, is the optimisation of your online presence with the aim of improving the quality and quantity of organic traffic to your website. SEO can help bring more customers to your online store.
Why should you sell products on a website?
Australians love shopping online.
It’s no secret Aussies love their online shopping. After a long day, there is nothing better than kicking back and browsing your favourite online store.
In fact, nearly 70% of Australians purchased something online last year — a 19% growth year on year. To put this into perspective, your average Australian consumer spent $2,766 online in 2021.
That’s 2,766 reasons to sell online.
Your competition is selling online.
If your competition is selling online and you aren’t, you’re likely losing business to them — it’s as simple as that.
Consumers like the convenience which comes with shopping online. They aren’t bound to opening hours, nor do they have to waste time travelling between brick and mortar stores.
Online price and product comparisons are merely a click away and if you’re not selling your products online, suddenly you’re losing to the competition.
Your eCommerce website is open and working for your business 24/7.
Your website is working for your business 24/7 — even on public holidays! You’ll find your online store becomes your most valuable employee. There is no product, within reason, of course, your website cannot promote for you.
You can even hire services to answer basic online chat enquiries on behalf of your business 24/7 too, so even when your actual staff are sleeping, you’re still meeting your customers’ demands.
The right eCommerce platform will be able to recommend an option that works for your type of site.
What are the types of eCommerce websites?
There are six main types of eCommerce websites. Each may require specific eCommerce features.
Consumer-to-administration eCommerce sites are websites that typically contain a payment gateway for consumers to transfer funds to government or council bodies.
The website homeowners visit to pay their council rates is a great example of a consumer-to-administration eCommerce website.
A consumer-to-consumer, or C2C, eCommerce website is the term used for an online marketplace such as Etsy or Alibaba.
Any eCommerce website which exists to host the exchange of goods between two or more consumers falls into the C2C category.
Business-to-business (or B2B for short) is the term used for a business whose primary target audience is another business.
Localsearch is a prime example of this, as we provide digital marketing services and marketing tools to other businesses.
Business-to-consumer or B2C is the most common form of eCommerce website and likely the one you’re most familiar with. Whenever you visit your favourite online store to shop for a new outfit, something for your home or presents at Christmas time you’re likely shopping on an eCommerce website.
A consumer-to-business, otherwise known as C2B eCommerce, website facilitates the purchasing process between a consumer marketing to a business.
While this may sound a little backwards, C2B is a huge market that has seen growth over the past years. Freelancers and other creatives often operate in this space and use an eCommerce website to facilitate the purchase process.
Business-to-administration, sometimes known as business-to-government, refers to businesses that service the government as a customer.
Businesses that fall into this category typically will only service government bodies. A good example of this is a local council web portal.
Frequently Asked Questions About Building an eCommerce Website
How much does it cost to make an eCommerce website?
The cost of an eCommerce website depends on the size and type of website you build, the platform you choose and your hosting requirements. This means an eCommerce website may cost you upwards of $10,000 to build, and then $100+ a month ongoing to maintain said website.
However, building a successful online business doesn’t have to break the bank these days.
Localsearch eCommerce websites start from as little as $199* a month. *Price does not include website subscription, hosting or GST. Minimum 12-month term.
Is eCommerce web design important?
Yes, web design is an important element of any website build, including eCommerce websites. A good web design guides users through the website in a seamless way, with easy navigation and call-to-actions in place.
What is eCommerce on a website?
eCommerce is defined as a commercial transaction conducted via the internet. An eCommerce website is a type of website, much like single-page websites and custom websites.
A business selling products online via their website is known as an eCommerce business.
What do I need to build an eCommerce website?
To start building an eCommerce website to sell products online, you’ll need the below, at a minimum:
- A domain name.
- Some products to sell online.
- Shipping software and packaging (shipping software is often integrated into an eCommerce website builder).
- A safe and secure payment processor (often included in eCommerce platforms).
- A leading eCommerce platform, such as Localsearch, to help you.