How to Set Up an Online Store – 10 (Simple) Steps to Success!

Want to make a fortune, while never getting out of a robe and slippers? I sure do – and one of the most popular ways to do it is by building an online store.

While people have been selling things online for more than a couple decades now, only recently have online stores become so mainstream.

It has been estimated that the USA’s eCommerce revenue alone in 2019 was over half a trillion dollars! The market also equates to almost 20% of worldwide retail sales – and the revenue numbers grow steadily every year, meaning there are more and more opportunities to set up your business.

eCommerce revenue over time
There is still plenty of room for growth!

So, what’s stopping everyone from hopping along?

Well, I’ll make a guess – that’s because building a good online store can still be a difficult and genuinely intimidating task.

With a bigger market, there’s also more competition, meaning you need to have a good website to be successful. I’ve been there – I made both websites that were good-looking and successful, and ones that were really, really bad.

So, learn from my successes and mistakes. In this post, I’ll give you a solid guide to get started, as well as some tips on what (not) to do.

Let’s jump straight into it! 

1. Decide The Platform1.Decide The Platform

The first thing you need to do when you’re setting up an eCommerce website is to choose what platform you’re going to use. Evaluate your skill level and how long you have to spend on the building process, and choose accordingly. 

Ultimately, you have three main options when it comes to starting a new online store:  

  1. Create a custom-coded storefront – best for advanced web developers. 
  2. Use a content management system (CMS) such as Magento or WordPress.org – best for those with at least some development skills. 
  3. Build your store with an online store builder – best for beginners with little to no website building experience. 

Since I’m assuming that you’re a complete beginner without much previous eCommerce experience, I’m going to recommend using an all-inclusive online store builder such as Wix or BigCommerce.

wix website builder homepage

Before I go any further, it’s important to note that “online store builders” and “website builders” are essentially the same thing – store builders just include eCommerce functionality that doesn’t come with all website builders. 

Why Should You Use an Online Store Builder? 

Essentially, online store builders are extremely powerful platforms that allow you to build the eCommerce site of your dreams, even if you have no experience. They include everything you need to create a fully functional online store, and most come with beginner-friendly development tutorials. 

One thing you need to understand is that not all online store builders are equal. Different platforms come with various features, and it’s important to do some research and choose the one which meets your needs. 

With this in mind, I’ve explored a few of the best eCommerce builders available to help you make your choice. 

Wix – best combination of features and value

wixpricelooser

out of 10

LIVE UPTIME
99.99 %
TEMPLATES
10
PRICING
9.5
SPEED
287 ms
FEATURES
9.7
EASE OF USE
10
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/ mo

out of 10

UPTIME
99.99 %
SPEED
287 ms
PRICE
$ 13 /mo
TEMPLATES
10
FEATURES
9.7
EASE OF USE
10
VISIT SITE READ REVIEW

Wix is arguably the most powerful website builder available. It offers extreme design flexibility and comes with a range of great features tailored towards those building their first website. It’s also quite affordable, which means that it’s a good choice for those with a tight budget.

One of my favorite things about Wix is that it offers a range of great online store templates that you can use for inspiration. Creating an attractive website is one of the keys to eCommerce success, and Wix excels here. 

wix templates

On top of this, Wix’s eCommerce features are really powerful. Sure, it’s not the best choice for those who want to build large, scalable stores (I have a tool for that, too!), but it’s great for smaller, content-driven shops with a focus on community engagement

wix online stores

To put it simply, Wix is a good option for those who want to build a highly personalized online store.

It’s quite beginner-friendly, and its powerful drag-and-drop editor makes this whole “business” thing just a teeny tiny bit less intimidating.

BigCommerce – for big eCommerce sites

bigcommercepricelooser

out of 10

LIVE UPTIME
99.98 %
TEMPLATES
8.4
PRICING
8.3
SPEED
215 ms
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9.2
EASE OF USE
9.3
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out of 10

UPTIME
99.98 %
SPEED
215 ms
PRICE
$ 29.95 /mo
TEMPLATES
8.4
FEATURES
9.2
EASE OF USE
9.3
VISIT SITE READ REVIEW

BigCommerce is second on my list, but it’s going to be #1 for those that wish to create large, scalable online stores. And yet, that doesn’t translate to it being complicated or confusing. BigCommerce remains beginner-friendly and quite straightforward to set up. On top of this, it’s extremely versatile, with powerful features that will allow you to get the most out of your investment. 

bigcommerce homepage

Ultimately, I’d recommend BigCommerce for those who want to build a large online store with a range of products and product categories

Weebly – great for simple online shops

weeblypricelooser

out of 10

LIVE UPTIME
99.99 %
TEMPLATES
7.7
PRICING
8.9
SPEED
612 ms
FEATURES
7.9
EASE OF USE
8.9
PRICE FROM
$
0
00
/ mo

out of 10

UPTIME
99.99 %
SPEED
612 ms
PRICE
$ 6 /mo
TEMPLATES
7.7
FEATURES
7.9
EASE OF USE
8.9
VISIT SITE

Like Wix, Weebly is a dedicated website builder with a focus on eCommerce. Weebly recently partnered with Square, one of the world’s leading online store software providers, allowing it to offer premium online store building tools. 

weebly homepage

I love Weebly because of the professional design features it offers. Although its template library isn’t huge, every theme is professionally designed and up to date with modern trends. 

On top of this, Weebly offers a foolproof editing interface which is quite intuitive and self-explanatory. I’d recommend giving it a go if you want to build a smallish store that includes elements like a blog or informational content. 

Volusion – a good value eCommerce solution

volusionpricelooser

out of 10

LIVE UPTIME
99.98 %
TEMPLATES
6.9
PRICING
8.1
SPEED
743 ms
FEATURES
7.2
EASE OF USE
8.2
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$
0
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/ mo

out of 10

UPTIME
99.98 %
SPEED
743 ms
PRICE
$ 29 /mo
TEMPLATES
6.9
FEATURES
7.2
EASE OF USE
8.2
VISIT SITE READ REVIEW

Like BigCommerce, Volusion is a dedicated eCommerce platform that offers some of the most powerful online store solutions available. It’s certainly not the most beginner-friendly builder on this list, but it remains a great option for those who are willing to spend a bit of time creating a high-quality online store. 

volusion homepage

Volusions’s focus on eCommerce allows it to offer more powerful online selling tools than Wix or Weebly. However, it’s a little limited when it comes to adding non-eCommerce features like blogs or niche-specific elements to your store.

Really, I find it to be like a mix between Wix and BigCommerce – and that’s in no way a bad thing.

Ecwid – supercharging your existing site

ecwidpricelooser

out of 10

LIVE UPTIME
N/A
TEMPLATES
7.1
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8.2
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N/A
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7.8
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8.1
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out of 10

UPTIME
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N/A
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$ 15 /mo
TEMPLATES
7.1
FEATURES
7.8
EASE OF USE
8.1
VISIT SITE

Ecwid does things a bit differently to all the other platforms on this list. That’s because it offers some of the best multi-channel selling tools I’ve seen.

What does it mean?

It allows you to integrate your store with Facebook, Amazon, Instagram, eBay, and various other platforms.

ecwid homepage

If you already have a social media or other platform presence, this is a great option to pick. And if you already have a website for your business but just want it to also sell things – there’s your way to do it.

On top of this, Ecwid offers a functional free-forever subscription that will allow you to play with its features when you’re learning how to set up an online store. The free subscription only allows you to add ten products, and I’d recommend upgrading once you get up and running – but it’s still a great choice when you’re getting started. 

Ecwid homepage

All things considered, Ecwid is one of the best platforms if you already have a website or a solid social media presence.

Site123 – the easiest way to get started

site123pricelooser

out of 10

LIVE UPTIME
99.98 %
TEMPLATES
8.9
PRICING
10
SPEED
421 ms
FEATURES
8.9
EASE OF USE
10
PRICE FROM
$
0
00
/ mo

out of 10

UPTIME
99.98 %
SPEED
421 ms
PRICE
$ 10.80 /mo
TEMPLATES
8.9
FEATURES
8.9
EASE OF USE
10
VISIT SITE READ REVIEW

Finally, Site123 is going to be perfect for those that want this tutorial to be done as soon as possible. How come? It’s without a doubt, the easiest way to build an online store that I know.

site123 homepage

I love Site123’s intuitive store builder. It’s very simplistic – you simply choose the things you want your website to and arrange the order in which they appear in. It doesn’t compare to providers like Wix or Weebly, but this is also where its strengths lie. If you use Site123, it’s more than possible to get online within a few hours

What Do I Need to Keep in Mind When Choosing a Store Builder? 

It’s important to realize that there is no such thing as the “perfect store builder”. You need to choose a builder that is suited to your vision and which includes the tools and features that you require. 

Some of the most important things to consider when you’re choosing an eCommerce store builder include: 

  • Your experience. If you have little to no web development skills, you should use a beginner-friendly builder such as Wix or Site123. 
  • The size of your store. Different store builders are suited to different sized stores, so make sure that you keep this in mind. 
  • How much time you have to build your shop. Some online store builders require significantly less time to set up than others. If you have limited time, consider a basic store builder such as Site123. 
All things considered, I’d recommend sitting down and listing your overall goals and what you’re hoping to achieve by learning how to set up an online store. Use these to make a decision on which platform’s strengths match your goals the most.

CHOOSING THE PLATFORM – CONCLUSION

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2. Choose the Right Plan2.Choose the Right Plan

One of the most important parts of learning how to set up an eCommerce website is setting your budget and sticking to it. Unfortunately, a lot of beginners make the mistake of spending money on things that they just don’t need.

The first thing to do when you’re selecting a plan for your new online store is to set your budget and stick to it. Understand that the range of subscriptions offered by different website builders can be very different. Low-end plans tend to include fewer features, while high-end plans are better for larger stores with a focus on growth.

With this in mind, I had a quick look at Wix and BigCommerce to see how their eCommerce plans stack up.

Let’s see what you should and shouldn’t spend on.

Wix eCommerce Subscriptions

Wix offers three eCommerce plans which offer different selling tools and features. They range from $17 to $35 per month, which makes Wix quite an affordable online store builder. 


Business BasicBusiness UnlimitedBusiness VIP
Price Per Month$17$24$35
Transaction FeesNoNoNo
BandwidthUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Storage20GB35GB50GB
Video5 hours10 hoursUnlimited
Free DomainYesYesYes
Free AppsSite BoosterVisitor AnalyticsSite BoosterVisitor AnalyticsSite BoosterVisitor Analytics
Free LogoNoYesYes
Priority SupportNoNoYes

At the cheaper end, Wix’s Business Basic plan costs $17/month and comes with simple eCommerce features. It allows you to accept commission-free online payments, gives you access to all of Wix’s eCommerce features, and includes access to Site Booster and Visitor Analytics apps – worth $60 each. 

Upgrading to the Business Unlimited plan will cost you $25/month and will give you access to everything in the Basic plan, along with a professional logo and social media logo files. 

Finally, the Business VIP plan ($35/month) goes a step further, with priority response, VIP support, and even more lenient resource limits.

wix pricing

Understand that it’s more than possible to create a high-quality online store with Wix’s Business Basic subscription. However, upgrading to the Business VIP plan and gaining access to VIP support could be useful if your budget allows it. Other than that, it’s not crucial.

BigCommerce eCommerce Subscriptions

On the other hand, BigCommerce is significantly more expensive, with plans ranging from $29.95 to $249.95 per month.

So…is it a bad deal you shouldn’t choose?

Well, no – even the cheapest BigCommerce plan dunks on everything Wix can do in terms of eCommerce.

There’s 24/7 live chat support, and some of the most advanced eCommerce features in the business, that a lot of sellers will appreciate.


StandardPlusPro
Price Per Month$29.95$79.95$249.95
Transaction Fees0%0%0%
Multi-Channel SalesYesYesYes
Shipping Discounts64% average66% average68% average
Abandoned Cart RetrievalNoYesYes
Credit Card SavingNoYesYes
Product FilteringNoNoYes
Sales Per YearUp to $50kUp to $150kUp to $400k
24/7 SupportYesYesYes
PayPal Credit Card Rates2.9% + 30c per transaction. 2.5% + 30c per transaction. 2.2% + 30c per transaction.

For those learning how to build their first online storefront, BigCommerce’s Standard plan offers more than enough features. It costs $29.95 per month and includes basic eCommerce features and up to $50k worth of sales per year. 

Upgrading to the Plus plan will cost you $79.95 per month but will allow you to sell up to $150k per year. You will also gain access to lower PayPal fees and better shipping discounts. 

The Pro plan goes one step further. It does cost $249.95 per month, which is quite expensive for those starting their first eCommerce business, but it allows you to sell up to $400k per year with even lower fees and better shipping discounts. 

bigcommerce pricing

Finally, BigCommerce also offers Enterprise level eCommerce solutions for those who plan on selling more than $400k per year. These solutions are custom-priced, and the cost generally depends on your sales. However, you probably won’t have to worry about this when you’re starting your first store. 

Can You Make an Online Store for Free? 

To put things simply, yes, you can build an online store for free. But, it will be severely limited, unprofessional, and in general, not worth doing. Some website builders, including Strikingly and BigCartel, do offer free online store plans, but they aren’t as good as they might appear. 

bigcartel homepage

Generally, free store builders come with a range of limitations, including: 

  • Branded subdomains. Basically, this means that you won’t be able to connect a custom domain to your store. Instead of a professional domain like bazsflowershop.com, you will be left with something like bazsflowershop.strikingly.com. 
  • Platform advertising. Similarly, free eCommerce plans tend to include a lot of platform advertising spread throughout your site. This can detract from your design and give your store an unprofessional, poorly branded appearance. 
  • Limited features. In almost every case, free eCommerce plans severely limit the features you have access to. You won’t be able to add more than a few products, and you usually won’t be able to access things like inventory management and customer analytics. 

As you can imagine, these limitations can be detrimental to your store’s success

There is one alternative that will allow you to build a free store without using a constrained website builder plan – coding it yourself. However, this will take a lot of time, web development skills, and patience. And, you still won’t be able to get a custom domain or premium features without paying for them. 

Ultimately, if you’re serious about starting a successful online store, the small price you will pay for a website builder subscription is negligible. If you’re looking for a budget option, then consider using Wix, Weebly, or SITE123. 

COST OF PLATFORM – CONCLUSION

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3. Choose Your Online Store’s Branding3.Choose Your Online Store’s Branding

Once you’ve chosen an eCommerce platform and subscription for your online store, you need to start working on the specifics and fine-tuning your content and design.

First, you should develop a clear, consistent brand for your store which encompasses your values and appeals to your target audience. 

If this is the first time you’ve come across it, the whole idea of branding might be a bit scary and confusing. But don’t worry, it’s really not that hard, and I’m going to walk you through everything you need to know about developing your own brand. 

Choose a Business Name

To begin, you should choose a business and domain name. Your business name should be engaging and will often be related to the type of store that you’re building. 

If you don’t already have a business name in mind, consider sitting down for a while and brainstorming ideas. Try and come up with a few different names because the chances are that some of them will already be taken. 

Once you’ve chosen your business name, you need to think about your domain. Choosing a domain can be difficult, so I’ve put together a few tips to help you decide: 

  • Try and find a domain that is closely related to your business name. 
  • Don’t be afraid to use domain extensions like .org, .net, or .shop. Although .com is the most popular extension, it’s certainly not essential. 
  • Make sure your domain name can’t be confused with a similar business. Otherwise, you could end up losing traffic to them.

If you already have a domain name, then you’re ready to go. Connecting your domain to your store should be straightforward if you follow the prompts on the dashboard of the store builder that you decide to use. 

Design a Logo

Your logo forms a crucial part of your overall brand image. It’s extremely important to ensure that it’s professionally designed, memorable, engaging, and consistent across your store and social media profiles.

Ideally, it would be all about your business and include an original color palette – as the studies show that a distinct color can seriously help your brand.

Color increases brand recognition by up to 80 percent.

University of Loyola, Maryland

Now, if you already have a logo, that’s great – you can skip this step. 

If you don’t, then it’s definitely something that should be at the front of your mind. Luckily, many store builders actually offer logo design solutions, especially if you use one of their higher-end plans. 

For example, Wix’s two top-end eCommerce subscriptions include access to the Wix Logo Maker. In the past, I’ve found this tool extremely useful. You simply answer a few questions about your business, design, and color preferences.

wix logo maker questionnaire

And just like that, you get a bunch of logos Wix simply allows you to use.

online store wix logo maker
The middle one looks like claw marks, so it’s perfect.

So, before you go out and pay someone to design a store logo for you, look at the logo design tools that your store builder offers. You might be surprised. 

Consider Your Selling Options

Just because you’re learning how to set up an online store doesn’t mean that you have to confine yourself to one sales channel.

In fact, many of the most successful eCommerce store owners maximize their profits by using various sales streams, including: 

  • Social media. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram allow you to add at least basic stores to your business profiles. 
  • Point of sale. Many online store owners also use point of sale (POS) systems that allow them to sell their products through a physical storefront. 
  • Marketplaces. Large online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay are great resources for those who want to expand their reach and sell more products. 

Ultimately, your sales options will impact your overall brand image. Carefully consider your options when you’re developing your brand, or else you might regret it later. 

Audience Engagement

Finally, carefully consider how you want to communicate with your audience and what the best ways to drive customers to your store will be. Ultimately, your entire brand should be structured around the people who are most likely to purchase your products. 

You should sit down and think carefully about the type of people who are going to visit your store. Make sure your brand is attractive and that your marketing streams target them. 

There are various different ways to drive new visitors to your store. The most popular include: 

  • Search engine optimization. If you would like people to be able to find your store through search engines like Google, you will need to put some time into search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Social media marketing. Alternatively, you might decide that your best choice is to drive customers to your store through social media marketing (SMM). This is a great option for those with niche products who can use heavily targeted campaigns. 

You also need to consider what other features you should include as part of your overall store image. Do you want a blog? Or perhaps you’re planning on focusing on building a strong email subscriber list and using email marketing? 

Regardless of what your exact strategy is, <strong>the important thing is that it’s carefully defined and integrated with your overall brand and store design</strong>. 

ONLINE STORE BRANDING – CONCLUSION

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4. Pick Out a Perfect Template4.Pick Out a Perfect Template

Now that you’ve figured out just what you want your shop to do and what your brand will look like, it’s time to jump in and figure out your store design. In fact, the best place to start is with a professionally designed store template. 

Try to find a design template that contains the main features you want your store to include. For example, some online shops perform much better when they are paired with a blog.

Others should be image-focused and include gallery and advanced product showcase tools.

Some may need both.

pact clothing homepage
pact clothing blog
Eco clothing brand Pact includes both a blog and an advanced image gallery.

A lot comes down to your product – does it require a story and a blog, or a showcase and a picture gallery? If so, put those features in the left, right, and center of your page.

Ultimately, every online store builder offers some sort of template library where you should be able to find a theme that suits you. For example, Wix contains over 500 website templates, and a large percentage of these have been specifically designed with eCommerce as their primary focus.

One of the things that I like about Wix’s template library is the fact that it’s heavily categorized. Not only can you filter by the type of website that you want to build – in our case it’s an online store – but you can also narrow down your choices further by selecting what type of store you’re planning on creating. 

For example, Wix offers seven different templates that are specifically designed for online food and drink stores. 

food and drinks store templates

Ultimately, you need to explore the store templates that your chosen eCommerce builder offers, play with them a bit, and choose one which offers the features and functionality you need. 

What Should I Consider When Choosing a Store Template? 

There are a few important things to consider when you’re choosing the perfect template for your new online store.

There may be 30, or 500 of them on your platform of choice – but there’s still the one that’s perfect for you. So I’ll try to make the selection process as simple as possible. Let’s go!

Make a list of the features you need – The first thing to do is sit down and list the features that your online store needs to include. For example, you might want to add a blog, a video player, or niche-specific elements such as music players. Think carefully about this, because your core features will essentially form the backbone of your store. 

Explore a few different options – I often see people looking at different website templates, finding one which looks okay, and then simply stopping their search. Don’t do this. View a range of options, shortlist a few attractive templates, and then revisit them and choose the one that’s best suited to you and your needs. 

Choose a mobile-friendly template – Although most online store builders offer fully responsive mobile optimized templates, it’s important to double-check this. If you use a template that’s not mobile optimized, your store won’t be anywhere near as successful as it could be. 

Understand how customizable your template is – This will largely depend on the website builder that you use, but it’s important to keep it in mind. Some website builders, such as Wix, offer high levels of customization. However, others aren’t nearly as flexible, which means you won’t be able to change a lot once you’ve chosen a design.

Ultimately, a template you choose has to fit your style and include the most important features. Explore your options carefully, and pick the ones that treat your desired features with the same priority as you do.

PICKING OUT A TEMPLATE – CONCLUSION

Ultimately%2C%20a%20template%20you%20choose%20has%20to%20fit%20your%20style%20and%20include%20the%20most%20important%20features.%20Explore%20your%20options%20carefully%2C%20and%20pick%20the%20ones%20that%20treat%20your%20desired%20features%20with%20the%20same%20priority%20as%20you%20do.

5. Add Elements to Your Website5.Add Elements to Your Website

Once you’ve chosen your design, it’s time to start adding some content to your website. It’s all about fine-tuning your template to make sure that it includes the necessary features.

Depending on the exact type of store you have in mind, there are a few different things you should consider adding and customizing. They include: 

  • Social media integrations, such as buttons or call to action links. 
  • Images to increase the aesthetic appeal of your site. 
  • Different fonts for different parts of your site. 
  • Sliders and other popups to promote your products. 
  • Buttons that encourage specific actions. 

One of the most important things here is ensuring your design is consistent throughout your website. Many people learning how to set up an online store for the first time make the mistake of using different elements on different pages, which can detract from the overall brand image and appearance.

Social Media Integrations 

Most online store builders make it easy to add social media integrations. These can be in the form of header or footer icons, social share buttons, or anything else that encourages people to visit your social media profiles and engage with your community. 

If you don’t already have social media profiles on at least a few of the most popular platforms, now is the time to get them.

Think about building a presence on the following platforms: 

  • Facebook. In reality, every online store should have a strong Facebook community. Make sure that your page is consistent with your overall brand image, and share interesting, engaging content that’s likely to appeal to your followers. 
  • Instagram. If you’re selling anything that can be represented visually, you should be using Instagram. Share product images and anything else that’s related to your brand, and try to encourage strong engagement with your followers. 
  • Twitter. Although Twitter isn’t the most popular social media platform for online stores, it’s still worth using, especially if you write regular blogs. It’s a great way to share written content and drive visitors to your store. 
  • YouTube. Similarly, YouTube is a great platform for sharing videos. Consider creating things like video tutorials and product showcases and sharing them with your followers. 

When it comes to social media integrations, you should ensure that it’s easy for people to follow you. To do this, place your social media links in obvious, easy-to-find places when you’re designing your store.

And of course, ask yourself a question: why would people choose to like a post, or follow your page? Offer either competition and special deals, or interesting eye candy and personality. Or…

both is good

Images for everything!

You’ve probably heard it time and time again: “a picture is worth a thousand words” (and since gifs are series of still images, a gif is worth an entire book).

Adding images to your website is a great way to build a more attractive design and encourage visitor engagement, especially if you’re selling products that rely on visual appeal.

However, choosing the right pictures to add to your store can be difficult, especially if you don’t have a lot of design experience. You could use free stock photos, but this can be dangerous – it can lead to a store that looks boring and generic. 

Rather, you should try and take your own pictures that are personalized and directly relevant to your store. When you’re choosing images, think about the following: 

  • Are they relevant to your products? You should always try and keep your content, including your pictures and other visual content, aligned with your overall brand image and the products you’re trying to sell. 
  • Are they professional quality? Adding poorly taken or unprofessional photos to your website will only detract from your brand image and reduce consumer confidence. 
  • Are they necessary? Only ever add images that actually add value to your store. Never add content just for the sake of it, or your shop will become cluttered and confusing. 

To put things simply, pictures can be a great way to improve your store’s appeal and overall design – when they’re used well. 

Fonts and Font Pairings

Although you might not realize it, the fonts you choose for your new store will play a large part in defining your brand and overall online appeal. It’s important to use fonts that are attractive but also easy to read.

Similarly, you should use consistent fonts and font pairings throughout your website. 

Luckily, most online store builders offer a range of different font options that help beginners design an attractive store.

For example, the Wix Design Library includes a great selection of different fonts. You can change everything from the size and style of your written content to its color and positioning. 

wix design library

Meanwhile, many store builders allow you to import your own fonts. A quick Google search will reveal thousands of different fonts, which you can download and add to your store. 

When you’re choosing which fonts to use for your store, keep the following in mind: 

  • Make sure they are simple and easy to read. You don’t want to use overly creative fonts that are hard to read. Otherwise, you will find it hard to engage with people when they’re exploring your store. 
  • Pair similar fonts. You need to use fonts that work well together. By all means, use different fonts for your headings and main paragraph text, but ensure that they complement each other. 
  • Highlight important information. It’s also a good idea to bold or italicize important information to draw the reader’s eye. 

Always try to choose fonts that add value to your overall store design. There are many choices available, so take your time and play with a few different options before settling on any. 

Sliders and Popups

If you want to maximize the effectiveness of your online store, think about adding sliders or popups to encourage conversions. For example, you could use a popup to showcase a new collection or a category that’s on sale. 

Understand that sliders and popups can be extremely useful marketing tools – when they’re used right. However, using too many will detract from your store’s appeal and could drive potential customers away before they make a purchase. 

In my opinion, some of the most important things to think about when you’re designing sliders and popups for your store include: 

  • Do they really add value? If not, don’t use them. 
  • Are they consistent with your brand? Make sure that your sliders and popups are aligned with your overall brand image, or they could detract from your store’s design. 
  • Where should you use them? For me, one of the best places to add a new slider is at the top of your home or category pages. Use them to showcase certain products or collections. Similarly, popups are a great way to encourage sales when people perform actions that suggest they are going to leave your store. 

Most store builders allow you to add different types of sliders and popups, so it’s important to explore your options. Similarly, some platforms let you integrate third-party apps or plugins that are designed to help you create attractive, high-converting popups.  

Buttons

Like popups and sliders, call to actions buttons are extremely effective online selling tools when used right. Think about where you’re going to place different buttons for maximum effectiveness. 

If you’re a true web development beginner, you might not understand exactly what a call to action button is. Basically, call to action buttons are designed to encourage a specific action and are placed in strategic locations. In an online store context, they could include things like: 

  • Add to cart. 
  • Buy now. 
  • Checkout. 
  • Sign up. 

Call to action buttons can encourage upselling – where people upgrade to a more expensive purchase – or quick checkout. 

Ultimately, you need to make sure that your call to action buttons are strategically placed and immediately obvious, but still consistent with your overall design. 

Consistency and user experience are two of the main things to remember when adding elements to your website. Everything has to be easy to understand – as long as you maintain this, all else is a matter of personal preference.

ADDING ELEMENTS – CONCLUSION

Consistency%20and%20user%20experience%20are%20two%20of%20the%20main%20things%20to%20remember%20when%20adding%20elements%20to%20your%20website.%20Everything%20has%20to%20be%20easy%20to%20understand%20-%20as%20long%20as%20you%20maintain%20this%2C%20all%20else%20is%20a%20matter%20of%20personal%20preference.%20

6. Add Your Products6.Add Your Products

Assuming you’ve followed the first five steps of this guide you should know the basics of how to build an online store – and your skeleton store should be up and running.

If so, you can start adding your first products. That’s super exciting. But there are some things to keep in mind.

Keep everything neat and organized!

It’s important to think carefully about your store structure and organization when you’re adding new products. Otherwise, your design can quickly become messy.

Some of the things to keep in mind include: 

  • Categorization. Separate your products into clearly defined categories to help people find the things that they’re looking for. Think about making landing pages for each of your product categories.
  • Product options. Similarly, you should pay careful attention to your product options. Think about things like different size or color variations, and check that people can select them if applicable. 
  • Shipping options. You also have to add shipping options. Be clear about the countries that you ship to and how much it’s going to cost. 
  • Search. I’d also recommend adding a search box to your store so that people can narrow down their options and find what they want quickly and efficiently. 

Basically, you should do everything in your power to make your store interface intuitive and easy to navigate. Include as much product information as possible to encourage purchases. 

High-Quality Product Images Are Essential

When you’re adding new products to your online store, it’s extremely important to include high-quality, professional-grade photos. You can take your own photos if you have a decent camera and some experience. Alternatively, you could pay a professional to take them for you. 

This is where Weebly, one of my favorite website builders, really shines.

weeblypricelooser

out of 10

LIVE UPTIME
99.99 %
TEMPLATES
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PRICING
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SPEED
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FEATURES
7.9
EASE OF USE
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UPTIME
99.99 %
SPEED
612 ms
PRICE
$ 6 /mo
TEMPLATES
7.7
FEATURES
7.9
EASE OF USE
8.9
VISIT SITE

One of my favorite things about Weebly is its Photo Studio, which offers professional product photography services.

Basically, Weebly allows you to ship your products to them, where they will be photographed by a team of professional photographers. They will then be returned to you, along with high-resolution product images. 

weebly photo studio

If I were you, I would seriously consider this option. Attractive product images can be the difference between a successful online store and one which barely breaks even.

And if you have no confidence in the photographs your could source, getting someone else to do it sounds like a plan.

You Might Want To Consider Dropshipping

The rise of eCommerce and the money in the market made a lot of people look for original ways to make bank. A lot of the businesses use dropshipping – and run massive stores without having a single product in stock or shipping anything out.

It’s also a good option for existing stores that want to add some different products to their catalog.

How does it work?

You connect your store with factories and suppliers across the world. When someone places an order on your store, the order is forwarded to the relevant suppliers, who package and ship it directly from their warehouse. 

Dropshipping has a number of pros and cons, but it’s certainly a business model that can work for some people. 

Some of the pros of dropshipping include:

  • Not having to worry about stocking any products. 
  • Low start-up costs.
  • The ability to add and remove products from your store without the risk of being stuck with too much stock. 

Some of the cons of dropshipping include: 

  • Long shipping times.  
  • A very competitive dropshipping industry, which makes it hard to gain a profitable share of the market.
  • Difficulties selling generic, unbranded products. 

If you do decide to give it a go, there are numerous plugins and third-party software programs you can use to streamline the process

One of my favorite dropshipping apps is Oberlo, which allows you to import selected products to your Shopify store. Using apps like Oberlo allows you to offer lower shipping times, high-quality products, and very competitive prices. 

Oberlo homepage

Similarly, you can use platforms such as Printify to sell print-on-demand products including t-shirts, phone cases, and much, much more. Printify is a great choice because it integrates with most major online store platforms, and it reduces the risk associated with running a custom product based eCommerce business. 

Printify homepage

Ultimately, I’d consider dropshipping if you don’t already have a line of products to sell. It’s easy, there are numerous apps out there to streamline the process, and it will reduce your initial financial outlay when you’re learning how to build an online store.

When adding products, there are two main things to take care of: order and presentation. A clear structure makes a website easy to navigate, and beautiful images make the products more pleasing – and that increases sales. And dropshipping can serve as a great way to stock your shop with very little fuss (and very little personality).

ADD YOUR PRODUCTS – CONCLUSION

When%20adding%20products%2C%20there%20are%20two%20main%20things%20to%20take%20care%20of%3A%20order%20and%20presentation.%20A%20clear%20structure%20makes%20a%20website%20easy%20to%20navigate%2C%20and%20beautiful%20images%20make%20the%20products%20more%20pleasing%20-%20and%20that%20increases%20sales.%20And%20dropshipping%20can%20serve%20as%20a%20great%20way%20to%20stock%20your%20shop%20with%20very%20little%20fuss%20%28and%20very%20little%20personality%29.

7. Set Up Shipping and Payments7.Set Up Shipping and Payment Options

Once you’ve settled on your products, it’s time to start thinking carefully about the shipping and payment options you’re going to offer. Ensure you’re providing competitive choices without compromising your store’s profitability. 

There are numerous things to keep in mind when you’re deciding what sort of shipping and payment options to include. I know from experience that this can be one of the more confusing steps when you’re learning how to set up an eCommerce store, so I’ve expanded on a few of the more important details. 

Should I Offer Free Shipping? 

Offering free shipping can work, especially if you’re selling small, high-value products. You will find that a lot of stores offer free shipping to try and draw customers in and encourage purchases.

But, the cost of shipping has to be factored in somewhere, or else your profit margins will be impacted. 

Most stores that use free shipping as a selling point actually just add the cost of shipping to the final product price. This can work, but you should be careful that this doesn’t make your prices uncompetitive. Otherwise, you will lose customers. 

Meanwhile, it’s usually quite easy to offer free shipping if you’re using a dropshipping business model. Most dropshipping suppliers use free shipping as a default, but be aware that this can result in very long transit times – sometimes over a month.

That’s why dropshipping better works on impulse purchases that people don’t actually need, but does not work on commodities.

Decide What Countries You Want To Ship To

It can be tempting to offer worldwide shipping and welcome customers from anywhere, but I would highly recommend not doing this – especially if you’re starting out small.

Instead, focus on building up a specific market, with the option of expanding later if you want to. 

Shipping to certain parts of the world can present problems in terms of tracking and logistics. For example, many Middle Eastern countries use very different mailing systems to America and Europe.

When I was managing an online store, I had a lot of problems with parcel delivery in this region – the number of packages that went missing or turned up late was quite unbelievable (and even contributed to the closure of the business). 

Really, it’s best to start with shipping to a couple of countries that you’re familiar with. For example, if you’re based in England, you could offer shipping to the United Kingdom and select countries in Europe. This will also help you target specific groups of people with your marketing and social media efforts. 

Understand Your eCommerce Provider

When you’re working out your shipping options, it’s extremely important that you’re aware of any perks your eCommerce provider offers. Some platforms offer shipping discounts and abandoned cart recovery, while others allow you to create customized printable labels to streamline the packaging process. 

I particularly like the shipping tools that BigCommerce offers.

bigcommercepricelooser

out of 10

LIVE UPTIME
99.98 %
TEMPLATES
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PRICING
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SPEED
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FEATURES
9.2
EASE OF USE
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out of 10

UPTIME
99.98 %
SPEED
215 ms
PRICE
$ 29.95 /mo
TEMPLATES
8.4
FEATURES
9.2
EASE OF USE
9.3
VISIT SITE READ REVIEW

For starters, it provides significant shipping discounts with major providers, allowing you to offer extremely competitive rates. It also allows you to integrate automatic shipping calculators to provide accurate domestic and international price estimates.  

bigcommerce features

At the same time, BigCommerce lets you create custom printable shipping labels for a range of major delivery companies.

If you’re shipping a large volume of orders, this can be a major time-saver. Similarly, BigCommerce makes it easy to set free shipping options according to certain parameters. 

bigcommerce dropshipping

As you can see, BigCommerce excels on the shipping front. But, most online store builders tend to offer at least some shipping tools, so it’s important to do some research and understand exactly what your platform offers.

Decide What Payment Gateways You Need To Include

Finally, you need to set up your store’s checkout. A major part of this is identifying which payment providers you want to use and what the best way to integrate them is. 

One again, different eCommerce platforms offer significantly different payment solutions, so it’s important to understand exactly what your options are.

At the same time, think carefully about the customers you’re targeting, and offer payment gateways that will appeal to them. 

Some of the more popular payment gateways include: 

  • Credit/debit card. Most online store builders allow you to accept credit and debit card payments through a native payment gateway. 
  • PayPal. Similarly, almost all providers allow PayPal integrations. PayPal is the preferred payment method for many online shoppers, so I’d definitely recommend using it. 
  • Cryptocurrency gateways. There are a number of reputable cryptocurrency payment gateways available. The use of currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum is becoming increasingly popular, so I’d recommend considering adding cryptocurrency payments as an option. 

You also need to be aware of the payment preferences of the people that you’re trying to sell to.

For example, I recently spoke to a colleague who was targeting a niche group in Greece. She was having trouble converting visitors to her store, so she reviewed her payment options. 

What she found was that PayPal isn’t very popular in Greece, so many people were abandoning their cart before completing payment. Once she added an alternative Skrill payment gateway, her sales skyrocketed, and her store immediately began to grow.

Really, the moral of the story is simple – you need to know your customers and pace yourself. Don’t go full worldwide unless you have the means and the experience. Also, use relevant payment solutions, or else you might find yourself missing out on a significant number of sales.

SHIPPING AND PAYMENT OPTIONS – CONCLUSION

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8. Do the Math8.Do the Math

Okay, now we’re getting into one of the more technical aspects of setting up an online store – figuring out how much money you’re going to make.

This can be complicated, but who cares – it’s also fun!

I mean, who wouldn’t like figuring out how profitable their store is going to be? 

Once you get to this step, you should really put your thinking cap on to work out the optimal price point for your products. You want to maximize both your sales and your profits, so finding the right balance is important. 

Working in the eCommerce industry, I see a lot of beginners make the mistake of pricing their products too low. This can significantly impact profits, even if you do manage to drive a large sales volume.

If you make only $2 from one sale, how many sales you need to do to be able to sustain yourself?

But it may be difficult to actually set a price to something. If it costs you $10 to obtain a product, what the final markup should be? Here are some of the expenses to consider:

  • Product prices. First, you need to work out exactly how much you’re paying for each product that you’re selling. If you’re dropshipping, this will be easy. However, if you’re purchasing and stocking your own brand, you need to account for costs like shipping to your warehouse and inventory management. 
  • Your time. Ultimately, time is money. Consider the amount of time it takes you to prepare orders, manage your store, and look after things like customer complaints and refunds. 
  • Shipping. This is extremely important, especially if you’re planning to offer free shipping. Don’t forget to take the cost of shipping into account when you’re calculating product prices. 
  • Taxes. In some cases, you might have to pay import, export, or sales taxes. Understand what taxes are applicable in your place of operation and add them to your product price. 
  • Marketing and service fees. If you’ve identified your main marketing streams, you should have some idea about how much it’s going to cost. Ensure that you take marketing costs into account when you’re pricing your products. 
  • eCommerce fees. Really, your platform fees shouldn’t be too high, especially if you’re driving a decent number of sales. However, it’s still something you should keep at the front of your mind. 
  • The “margin of failure”. Finally, you should add a small buffer to your prices that will account for the so-called “margin of failure”. This includes things like products that get lost in transit, refunds, and unexpected costs. 

Basically, you need to make sure that you’ve planned for every conceivable cost and taken it into account when you develop your pricing structure. It’s not enough to just break even – ultimately, you want your store to bring in a decent amount of profit, right?

Finally, I’d recommend keeping track of your initial investment and working out how many products you will need to sell before you start making a profit. Estimate your weekly sales, and set flexible long-term goals that will drive ongoing success.

DOING THE MATH – CONCLUSION

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9. Do Some Testing9.Do Some Testing

First of all, I’d like to congratulate you. If you’ve made it this far, you should have a fully functional online store that’s ready to print your money.

But, things don’t stop there.

Once you’ve got your store ready to go, you need to test everything. And I mean everything. 

It doesn’t matter how much time you’ve spent learning how to set up an online store, it’s almost certain that you will have made at least a few mistakes. You need to try and fix as many of these as possible before your store goes live to prevent customer complaints and problems in the future. 

Check Every Single Part of Your Store

Ultimately, you need to test every single page, link, image, and product on your store. Click through everything on as many different browsers as possible, using as many different devices as possible. This will take time, but trust me, it’s worth it. 

  • Don’t neglect your mobile store. In the modern world of smartphones and portable devices, mobile eCommerce has become more widespread than ever before. It’s therefore extremely important to test your store on as many different mobile devices as possible. 
  • Try different browsers. I’d also recommend clicking through your store using as many of the major web browsers as you can. Different browsers can render websites slightly differently, so it’s important to test as thoroughly as possible. 
  • Check through your content. When you’re building an eCommerce business, you need to maintain a strong professional image. Double-check your content for spelling and grammar mistakes that could detract from your overall appeal. 
  • Review all links, images, and buttons. You should double-check every single element of your website. Click through all of your links and confirm that they go where they should. Make sure your images are well presented and high-quality and that things like checkout and add to cart buttons work as expected. 

The testing process will take time, but it’s important not to rush it. Try and iron out as many mistakes as possible before your store goes live. It might seem like too much effort, but you will find that it’s definitely worth it in the long run. 

Pay Special Attention to Your Checkout

Your checkout is arguably the most important part of your entire online store. If it’s not working, you won’t make any sales – it’s as simple as that. When you’re going through the testing process, you should pay special attention to your checkout.  

  • Make sure all payment methods work. I can’t stress the importance of this enough. If you’re offering a payment gateway, you need to ensure it’s working. If it doesn’t, you will almost certainly run into problems and lose potential customers. 
  • Check all items and prices. Similarly, confirm that things are being added to the cart correctly. Check that they show the correct prices and variations throughout your store. 
  • Consider taxes. If you’re planning on offering services across a number of countries or locations, pay special attention to tax calculations. Ideally, you should include some sort of automatic calculator that works out the amount of tax you have to pay once you enter your location. Check that this is working. 
  • Play with discount codes. The chances are that you will offer some sort of sale or promotion at some point during your eCommerce career. Test a number of discount codes and coupons to ensure they work in the checkout. 
  • Make sure shipping costs are correct. Finally, check your shipping options and charges. Confirm that they are working correctly and that you’re not charging too much or too little. 
Ultimately, it’s all about spending enough time trying out everything you can. Once you’ve worked through the testing process, I’d suggest asking a friend or family member to make a couple of dummy purchases. Who knows, they might pick up on mistakes that slipped through your net – and save you some money.

TESTING – CONCLUSION

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10. Publish – And Wait For Orders10.Publish Your Website and Wait for the Orders

Go ahead – hit the publish button and send your store out into the worldwide web! 

Congratulations. If you’ve made it this far, then you’ve successfully built your first eCommerce store. Now, all you have to do is sit back, relax, and wait for the orders to start rolling in. 

Well, actually, this isn’t quite true.

There are a couple of things that you should start thinking about in more depth once your store goes live. You will need to develop a clear marketing strategy to drive customers to your store. Similarly, performing regular maintenance updates and continuing to optimize your store’s performance and appearance is very important. 

  • Regular maintenance is essential. If you’ve used an all-included online store builder such as Wix, most of the technical maintenance, including server and software updates, will be completed for you. However, you should still check things regularly, making sure that your store is working the way it should. 
  • Never stop improving. If you want to grow your business and become a successful eCommerce entrepreneur, try to continue improving your store’s design and performance. Pay attention to the things that work well, and note the things that don’t. Make changes accordingly. 
  • Don’t be afraid to add new products. If you find that a particular product is performing especially well, consider adding similar products and expanding your store. Similarly, you can remove underperforming or unprofitable products from time to time if you want to. 
  • Start marketing. Social media marketing is one of the most popular ways to drive traffic to new eCommerce stores. Think about creating highly targeted ads that are likely to bring interested people to your store. Over time, you can work on building a strong SEO profile as well. 
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Recap: How to Set Up an Online Store?Recap: How to Set Up an Online Store? 

Learning how to build an online store and develop a strong eCommerce presence can seem difficult – but with the right tools, it’s nowhere near as hard as it might seem.

In fact, useful tools such as online store builders mean that anyone can start their own online store without investing too much time or money. 

It’s all about following the process of building your identity, recognizing your audience, and making the right environment.

Don’t be afraid to do your own research, and make sure that you take your time making important decisions – I hope that this guide taught you a thing or two you’ll be able to implement when making your very own online store. Good luck!

Paulius M.
Paulius M.

The Article Author

Editor-in-chief of Website Advisor, Paulius spent several years of his career building, testing, and breaking websites. Not an avid website builder fan at first, he soon started admiring the concept and is now dedicated to helping people go online quickly. He also follows at least 8 professional sports leagues and loves baking. Go figure.

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