E-Commerce Website Development Checklist: 10 Steps To Create An Online Site

Oct 5, 2020

<a href="https://www.ewrdigital.com/author/matt" target="_self">Matt Bertram</a>

Matt Bertram

Matt Bertram is a award-winning marketing consultant and SEO Expert. He is the lead digital strategist at EWR Digital. Host of the Best SEO Podcast and Co-Host of the Oil and Gas sales and marketing podcast.

Did you know that over 20 percent of the world’s population buys their products online? That’s over one-fifth of the world as a whole. Starting an online store is the way to go if you have a vision for a product (or products) to sell. E-commerce is the current rage right now, and if you’re looking for a way to generate more income, you might be thinking about e-commerce website development. Maybe you have an awesome store in mind already, or perhaps you’re just thinking about laying the groundwork for future plans.

While there are some “do it yourself” aspects to building an e-commerce website creation, you’re probably going to want to seek some help for some of the nitty-gritty details. Don’t worry, though. We’ll touch on that and more in this quick and handy guide with ten steps to creating an online e-commerce site.

Small Business SEO Marketing - EWR Digital

1. Decide What You’re Going To Sell

This may seem obvious, but if you haven’t been dreaming of your e-commerce store for a while, you might need to decide on what you’re going to sell.

Try to figure out if you want to go broad with your sales or work on something more niche. Is there an item that your local area is lacking? While your sales aren’t going to be limited to local customers, many people enjoy buying from local companies, even if they’re online. You can benefit from filling a local need and reaching out to people in your area for advertising.

Niche stores can include clothing, electronics, art supplies, art, or any variety of objects. For branding purposes, it might be best to find a niche and stick with it to be a big fish in a small pond, but that’s entirely up to you and the demand that you’re seeing.

Decide what you’re going to sell and begin either reaching out to vendors or creating your products if they’re custom made.

2. Get A Website Host And Domain Name

These two can go together, and here’s why: many online web hosting services offer a free domain name with their hosting package.

However, this isn’t true for all of them. The one you find might not necessarily do this, but if you can get both of these done together, that’s great. Some options are Bluehost and GoDaddy, but there are many more if you shop around and do your research.

Why Do I Need A Website Host?

All “real” websites need somewhere to sit on the internet. Think of it as a plot of land. If you want to build a store, you need a plot of land (or an empty lot, or a vacant retail space) on which to put it. You can’t just build it in open space.

Hosts charge a fee, often monthly or annually, since you can make profit with your platform. You build upon that “plot” to create something new.

What About The Domain Name?

Assuming you’ve been thinking about this e-commerce shop for a while, you probably have an idea of what you intend to call it, right?

Your domain is part of your branding, so you need to take it pretty seriously, but you also have to be flexible. There are over 130 million domain names registered under the .com name alone. It’s highly likely that yours is already down for the count.

Try to keep it short, easy to type, and memorable.

3. Pick Your Website Platform

Now you have to actually make your site or have someone make it for you. Some sites are super user-friendly. However, if you’re just starting, you may want to hire a web design company to build your e-commerce site.

Websites like Shopify are popular for budding e-commerce sites as they have easy to use interfaces and customers and builders are familiar with their processes. Squarespace is another popular option for new website builders as it has an easy-to-use drag and drop building method.

There are many other options available, so do your research and find the one that works best for your specific needs. Do you want to have other pages on your website, aside from sales? Do you have particular SEO needs? Ensure that your platform choice has everything covered.

If your domain is the plot of land for your e-commerce store, your website platform will be the basic groundwork. This is the walls, the cement flooring, and the ceiling. Now you have to do the work to make it pretty and fill it with content.

Storage, Shipping and Delivery - EWR Digital

4. Design Your Site

This can be a little bit tricky, but it doesn’t have to be.

You have several options here. Now, maybe you’re already an amateur (or professional, lucky!) web designer. If that’s the case, this is a non-issue for you and you’re able to breeze through this process.

If not, that’s okay. You can certainly hire a web designer for this purpose. E-commerce website development is a lot of work and outsourcing, some of it makes sense if you want the perfect website.

Otherwise, you can pick a pre-made theme from plenty of free or paid themes made exactly for this purpose. Now, depending on the site format, you might be looking at different theme websites and albums. Googling your website platform + themes will likely supply you with more than enough to look through and find one to fit your vision.

Remember, when it comes to e-commerce website development, you want to make sure that you have the customers in mind. Is the site easy on the eyes? Is it easy to navigate? Is everything clear? You’ll likely have to adjust once your shop is complete.

5. Make Your Site Go Live

Woah, what? You don’t even have anything up yet!

Don’t worry, we’ll get there.

You want to start developing interest in your site before you start listing products. You can have some SEO-friendly coming-soon page to generate buzz if that makes you happy, but getting that site live will help you in the long run.

When you’re trying to sell yourself as a legitimate business to new vendors, you’ll have a website to show as a kind of “business card.” This gives you a bit of legitimacy that you wouldn’t otherwise have.

This also provides you an opportunity to reach out to bloggers or advertisers. If you want someone to market your website, you need to have a website to market. While plenty of people have generated hype around ideas, it’s much easier when there’s something tangible to grasp onto.

6. List Your Products

This is a process that’s going to be ongoing throughout, but starting after you go live is the main idea.

Whether you’re doing everything through other vendors, or you’re listing products that you’ve created in-house, you’re going to be listing your products.

Make sure that products have big and clear pictures so that customers can easily see them without having to look too closely. Links to product descriptions should be clearly marked, and prices should be easily available.

Remember, you need to have the customer in mind here. You’ve shopped on e-commerce websites before. How do you like them to look when you’re browsing?

You want your product posts to be SEO-friendly to attract more customers. There are several resources on the web to help you learn how to best manage your search engine optimization. This is crucial, so don’t neglect it.

You don’t have to make these listings public just yet (your site is live, but your store hasn’t launched), but you should keep the listings going as you’re working on the rest of your set-up.

7. Reach Out To Bloggers

Bloggers are your friends when you’re starting an online store.

Now, it might cost you a little bit, but the exposure and future revenue are worth it. A good blogger can build hype amongst your target audience like no other, and you need that hype.

This doesn’t have to be the standard “typed out” blog type of bloggers. Reach out to vloggers and Instagrammers as well. This works really well if you’re focusing on a specific niche, and the blog in question fits into that niche.

Fitness products? There’s a blog for that. Childcare products? There’s a blog for that. Do not underestimate the power of a blog’s online audience. If you want eyes on your store, this might be the best way to go about it.

8. Figure Out Your Storage, Shipping, And Delivery

So you’ve got a store, you’ve got some products; how are you going to get them from point A to point B?

If this is a small-scale business and you’re working with products that you’re producing, this isn’t super difficult. Storage is probably going to be local, either in your home or in a small storage center nearby that’s easily accessible.

If this is a much larger business, you might be working with many more products. If that’s the case, you might need some form of warehouse down the line. Maybe you’re utilizing dropshipping.

Do your items need specific packaging? Are you trying to avoid excess plastics? What size boxes do you need to ensure the proper packaging of your items?

When it comes to shipping and delivery, check on any restrictions that might be present. What delivery services are you going to use, and will this add extra shipping charges to domestic or international purchases?

This all likely seems very involved, and it is, but making these decisions before products officially launch will make your life much easier.

9. Set Up A Payment Gateway

Believe it or not, e-commerce websites don’t just take your money through magic or only by default. This is something that needs to be established and set up by the person creating the site.

However, this is not too complicated.

Some websites opt just to use Paypal or Stripe, but this can be limiting. Not everyone uses these payment methods, and some people like the ability to use their credit or debit cards.

If that’s the case, you’re going to have to put a little bit of research into which payment gateway is right for you.

You need to be approved for a payment gateway, so you need to ensure that your website is up to par. You’re going to need both a privacy and return policy, clear shipping and handling options, and easy access to customer service information (including an email address and phone number for easy contact).

Whoever is engaging with the payment gateway professionals will need to have a clean credit history and a legal ID. You should also write a cover letter detailing your business and your goals.

This isn’t a difficult process, but it is a lengthy one, so be prepared for a bit of sitting around time. Use this to work on your marketing strategy.

10. Work On Your SEO And Marketing Plan

With so many e-commerce websites, how are you going to catch the attention of customers? You need to stand out, and you won’t do that without a decent amount of marketing and SEO know-how.

You should be utilizing various digital marketing techniques and advertising wherever you’re able. Also, consider other SEO strategies, like starting a relevant blog on your website. Even if you’re not much of a blogger yourself, you can hire SEO experts to write blog posts for you that will draw more customers and boost your site.

After This E-Commerce Website Development, You’re Ready To Launch!

That’s it! Those are the primary steps to e-commerce website development. While your work is far from done, you’ll have a legitimate web store ready to take orders from customers and start creating a new revenue stream. You have a business!

To keep the business running, marketing is going to be a full-time job. You can work on the website yourself or hire it out to someone else with your new funds. It might benefit you to get an evaluation of your website to see if you have any areas that need work.

For more information on building SEO once you’ve gotten your new site started, check out the rest of our blog! You’ll find all of the help you need.