It’s easier than ever to build your own eCommerce website and start selling products online. With the help of select website building tools you can have your site online in a day’s work.
Of course, coming up with your product idea, along with product sourcing and creation will take longer, but the actual website building process can be streamlined.
Plus, eCommerce stores are only primed to grow. By building your very own store now you can take advantage of this trend well into the future.
Even if you’ve never built a website before, you can create your very own eCommerce store with ease. By the end of this post you’ll know how to find a good product and niche for your store, how to build out your site, and the approaches you can take to generate sales.
Before we jump into the how, let’s take a look at the why.
Why You Should Sell Products On a Website
For people to buy your items, they have to be able to access them. When you only sell them in one location (or even if you have a chain of specific locations), you’re limited to selling products to the people who are willing and able to come to you. That means there’s a huge market you miss out on.
If you’ve been hesitant to do the work of building an eCommerce website to sell products, there are a few good reasons to move it up on your to-do list.
1. People spend money online.
In 2017, people spent over $450 billion making purchases online and that number has been growing over the last few years. Any business owner that stays offline is missing out on their piece of those profits.
While some shoppers certainly still make a routine out of heading to their local shopping district or mall, many now skip the trip and do a lot of their buying while sitting at home.
If your competitors make their items available to them there and you don’t, you’ll lose that business.
2. An eCommerce website costs less than a storefront.
Running a storefront requires paying:
- Rent for the space
- The paychecks of enough staff to be there during business hours
- Proper licensing and permits
- Utility bills
- Furniture and decorations
- Building maintenance
- Cleaning supplies
- Selling supplies like POS systems and cash registers
All of that adds up to a lot of expenses – and most of them are ongoing.
Selling products on a website, on the other hand, cuts out most of those costs. You will still need to pay for things like web hosting and marketing and may need to hire some staff, depending on the size of the eCommerce store you run, but the costs are overall more manageable and easy to plan for.
3. Online shopping provides convenience.
When you’re tired, busy, sick, or just feeling a little lazy – you probably don’t want to spend time driving somewhere and browsing a store for the items you want to buy. People have a lot going on and sometimes there just isn’t room in their lives for a trip to the store.
By comparison, browsing an eCommerce site online and making selections is easier, faster, and requires a lot less energy. People are more likely to spend their money when it doesn’t feel like work to do so.
Online shopping isn’t 100% effortless – but it’s pretty close. When you sell your products through an online store, you remove a lot of the barriers to buying that exist with a physical store.
4. An online presence gets your products found in search.
85% of people turn to Google for product discovery and shopping. Without an eCommerce website, your products have no chance of showing up when potential customers start looking for what you sell online.
But when every product you sell is listed on a page on your eCommerce site, all of them will be indexed by Google. That’s the first step to your products showing up in search results.
If you want those product pages to show up on the first page of Google, that requires an investment in SEO best practices. But before you can even start thinking about that, you need an ecommerce website for your products.
5. The growth in mobile means people can buy from anywhere.
Mobile shopping trends show that almost a third of all shopping people now do online is on mobile devices.
Mobile shopping makes it possible for people to make purchases at the exact moment they decide they want something. Whether they’re at a dinner party, strolling through the park, or lounging on the beach – if they think of something they want, they can make the purchase right then.
That creates more opportunities for sales. You don’t face the risk of a potential customer deciding they want an item you sell, only to forget about it by the time they get home to their computer. That’s good for your customers, and it’s good for your bottom line.
Now it’s time to jump into the how!
Before You Build Out Your Store
Before you start the process of building out your eCommerce store there are some foundational things you’re going to need to do first. The first of which is securing your domain name and web hosting services.Without these, there’s no way to actually have a live eCommerce website.
There are dozens of different providers and services you can use to secure a domain name and hosting, and you can either purchase them together or separately. If this is your first time building a website, then the easiest course of action will be purchasing them together from the same provider. This will minimize the number of technical tasks you need to complete and speed up the process of getting your site online.
If you’re looking for the fastest and most beginner friendly way to secure a domain name and hosting, then consider purchasing them both right here at HostGator. Just select your web hosting package and add a domain name to your order before you check out.
You might not be ready to name your store and purchase a domain name just yet, so feel free to return to this section later once you’ve come up with the perfect domain name for your business.
What You Need to Build an eCommerce Website
Building an eCommerce website will be a little different than creating a standard website or starting a blog. Beyond securing a domain name and hosting you’ll also need to consider tools and software for processing payments, along with actually creating and manufacturing your products.
Here’s a quick rundown of what’s required to build a website from scratch for an eCommerce store:
- A domain
- A hosting provider
- An integrated payment processor
- A platform or tool to build your store
- Initial capital to create your products
- Packaging for product shipping
When you’re creating an eCommerce store there will be some initial capital that you’ll need to invest.
Building an eCommerce Website the Easy Way
Building an eCommerce website is similar to the process of building any other website, except you’re selling physical products. This means there will be greater work upfront to help ensure the success of your website.
Here’s the process of discovering your market, finding out what you’re going to sell, and finally building out your store.
1. Market Research and Finding Your Niche
To start an eCommerce store you’re going to need a physical product to sell. But, it would be a heartbreaking experience to go through the process of building out a store only to find out that no one wants to buy what you’re selling.
To avoid this fate you’ll want to spend time upfront finding the right market and products to sell.
You might already know exactly what you want to sell, but if not, no worries, this post will walk you through the process of market research.
Ideally, what you want is to uncover a pressing need in the marketplace and fill it with your product.
Look for Trending Products
One way to ensure that you’ll start selling products right out of the gate is to align yourself with products that are currently trending. By getting into a trending niche at the right time, you can ride the wave in the short-term and long-term.
However, you don’t want to hop into a trending market when it’s on the decline. Instead, you want to find a product or a niche for products that are growing in popularity.
There are tons of different tools you can use to spot trending products and niches, but here are some of the most common.
- Google Trends: This Google tool allows you to look into the past and future of certain product keywords. By using the data this tool provides you’ll be able to see if a market is growing or waning in popularity.
- TrendHunter: This site showcases a ton of different niches and products that are currently trending across the globe. Plus, there’s a nifty filter that lets you sort by different industries.
- Instagram Influencers: If you spend any time on Instagram then you probably follow a few influencers who regularly promote certain products. The chances are pretty high that the products they promote tend to sell well and can suggest a viable niche.
Align With Your Passion
Hopefully, by exploring the resources above you have a handful of products or potential niches you could go into. To narrow down that list even further we’re going to do some self-evaluation. After all, it’s going to be hard to sustain momentum with your store if you don’t actually care about what you’re selling.
Spend some time with the following questions to determine if you have what it takes to sustain yourself in the niche:
- Do you care about the market you’ve chosen?
- Do you have any pre-existing knowledge you can rely on?
- Can you see yourself working in this space for 5 years or more?
- Do you care about the people that you’re serving?
Explore What’s Currently Selling
By now you should have narrowed down your list of potential products and niches to a group you actually care about. Now, we’re going to take this one step further and validate our ideas in the marketplace. The most effective ways to do this are using the Amazon product marketplace and a keyword research tool.
First, head over to the Amazon bestseller list in the product category of your choice (link). Then, spend some time digging through the products to see what kinds of things people are actually buying. Look for product multiples and dig through the reviews to see if there are any glaring issues with the existing products.
Second, head over to the tool Ubersuggest. This is a free keyword research tool that’ll give you tons of actionable keyword data. Then, all you have to do is input your target keyword and you’ll receive a list of related keywords and their overall search volume. This will help you determine the overall size of the market and maybe even give you a few ideas of products you can sell.
2. Getting Ready to Sell
Before you settle on the product you want to sell there are a few more considerations you’ll want to take into account.
First, you’ll want to make sure the product is light enough that it’s easy to ship. During the early days of your eCommerce store, you’ll be handling most of the packaging and shipping yourself. This will not only make your life easier, but you’ll be able to maintain better product margins, which can be crucial in the early days of your store.
The last thing that needs to be considered in regards to your product is prototyping. With this approach, you’re not looking to create the perfect product the first time around. Instead, you’ll be trying to create an initial product and then iterate and improve based upon product feedback.
This will help you get to market faster and build a better product over time.
3. Choosing Your Platform
If you haven’t secured your domain name and hosting yet, now would be the time to do it. The easiest approach would be to pick up both right here at HostGator.
When the time comes to choose the platform for your eCommerce store you’re going to have a lot of different options at your disposal. There’s all-in-one platforms, website builders, CMS like WordPress, and more.
One of the easiest options is using a website builder to set up an online store.
4. Building Your Store
Below you’ll learn the basics of building an eCommerce website with the HostGator website builder.
For full eCommerce functionality, select the eCommerce plan. This will give you options like inventory management, shopping cart, coupon codes, and additional online payment methods for eCommerce sites.
With the builder up and running the next thing to do is select your website template. From the ‘Category’ option select ‘Online Store’ and spend some time browsing through the templates until you find one that you want to act as the foundation for your site.
Once you’ve found a suitable template hover over it and click ‘Select’.
On the next page, you’ll be able to edit your website. Just click on any existing element of your site and a drop-down list of options will come up that shows you the changes you can make.
If you want to design your storefront, then click on Pages>Store from the left-hand menu.
To add products to your store, configure your shopping cart, and more, you’ll need to upgrade your service. So click on the blue ‘Upgrade’ button in the upper right-hand corner. Or navigate to Store>Upgrade Now.
5. Launching Your Store and Selling Products
If you’ve done everything above, then congratulations, you’ve put in a ton of work and you’re just about ready to launch your store. However, it’s important not to launch your store before it’s fully polished. After all, you only have one chance to make a first impression.
Spend some time double-checking every page on your site for typos, broken links, or other things that don’t work. You’ll also want to run through a few sample purchases to make sure the checkout process works smoothly as well.
Once you’re satisfied with your virtual storefront, it’s time to launch your store and start selling products!
Marketing Your eCommerce Website
Now, if you don’t have any existing social media channels for your business, or a list to promote your store too, you probably won’t get much traffic to start. What you need to do is invest in marketing your eCommerce store to the world. Here are a few of the most common eCommerce marketing methods:
1. Content Marketing
With an eCommerce store, you have a multitude of opportunities to create content. Whether you’re creating educational content that’s geared towards your selection of products. Or, you’re creating content that’s geared towards picking up backlinks or social media shares.
Often, content marketing won’t give you immediate results, but instead, it’s something that can provide you with traffic over the long-term.
Here are a few great resources on building a content marketing strategy from scratch:
- How to Make eCommerce Content Marketing Work for You
- Top 5 Tips for a Successful Blog Content Marketing Strategy
2. Social Media Marketing
Social media can be a great way to increase brand awareness while driving traffic back to your eCommerce site. There are a lot of social media networks out there, but the ones you’ll probably find the most value in are Instagram and Pinterest.
Both of these are more image-driven platforms, so they align well with selling products.
Instagram will give you a way to showcase your product itself, along with how it’s commonly used. While Pinterest gives you the opportunity to create and share content that’s related to your niche and drive targeted traffic back to your site.
3. Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing has been used to build some wildly successful eCommerce stores. If you’re not familiar, it’s the process of reaching out to influencers on Instagram and having them promote your brand and products to their audience.
You have the option of doing paid shoutouts, but you might also be able to find accounts who will mention your product for free in exchange for your product.
If you’re interested in exploring this further, then check out the resources below:
- A Comprehensive Guide to Instagram Influencer Marketing
- A Simple Guide to Instagram Influencer Marketing in 2019
Building Your eCommerce Website
Hopefully, by now, you have a better understanding of what it takes to build your own eCommerce store from the ground up. It’s a lot of work to make an online business, but with the eCommerce market continuing to grow you’ll be setting yourself up for success in the long-run.
If you truly want to create your own eCommerce website all you have to do is get started. Use the information above and start implementing. You’re not going to get everything right your first go around, but the most important thing is to experiment, fail, and keep moving forward.