Whether you are a newbie or have already started creating your online store but need some help, this guide will walk you through how to build an ecommerce website from scratch.
For more tips and ideas, we also suggest that you check out our dropshipping checklist to make sure you do not miss anything. To make sure you are not missing anything, make sure to have this “starting a business” checklist on a new tab.
BONUS: Before you dive in, check our Ecommerce Glossary of terms.
Now, let’s get started!
3 things to consider when learning how to build an ecommerce website from scratch
Before learning how to create a dropshipping store, you need to determine a few important things such as:
1. What will you sell?
Although there are lots of dropshipping products to sell online, you need to choose products that are likely to be profitable.
Sure, finding such products takes both time and extensive research. However, if you do your research properly, it can save you time as well as make a huge difference to the success of your online business.
Luckily, many dropshipping product research tools are available today. These tools can help you find in-demand products.
They can also help you identify if there is a defined audience that is looking for your products.
Want to sell only one product online? No worries – simply read our previous article about how to create a one product dropshipping store.
2. How will you promote your dropshipping store?
It is also important to map out your dropshipping marketing strategy prior to creating your ecommerce website.
Knowing your dropshipping target audience and how you will reach your potential customers will help shape the vision for your online store.
So, take the time to create an action plan about how you want to promote your dropshipping store. For example, start by learning about:
- How to advertise your store for free;
- What the best ecommerce marketing tools are;
- How to pick a marketing agency for your dropshipping business.
3. How much money will it take to start your business?
Setting a budget for creating your dropshipping store is also one of the first things you need to do.
Remember that how much you put into your online store will pave the way for how much you will make. Thus, you must know what the initial expenses are when starting a dropshipping business.
You will need to pay for building your website (domain, hosting, themes, plug-ins, etc.) and marketing your store.
To have a clearer picture of what the minimum budget to start dropshipping with Shopify is, read our previous article.
Now, let’s focus on the steps, i.e., tips on how to build an ecommerce website from scratch.
1. Select an ecommerce website builder
Well, no. In fact, there are three main options to create your dropshipping site:
- Option 1; As long as you have some experience building websites, you can create a website from scratch using just an open-source content management system (CMS) such as WordPress. But to do so, you will need to invest a lot of time and effort into it. Content Management Systems do not usually offer any hosting and domain options included in the plan. That’s why you will have to buy a domain name and hosting from a third-party company. Also, you will have to install extra plug-ins and a payment system set up to create a fully functional online store.
- Option 2; Another option is to hire a web developer to create a website for you. This approach is the easiest one. But it may cost an arm and a leg.
- Option 3. The third option is to use a website builder such as Shopify, BigCommerce, Wix, WooCommerce, etc. Most of these website builders are easy to use and come with ready-made templates and intuitive user interfaces. This means that by using one of these website builders, you can create a dropshipping store from scratch without any coding at all.
These website builders are also known as e-commerce platforms. And here is how to choose the best e-commerce platform for your dropshipping store.
In this guide, you can explore and bookmark the best companies for everything dropshipping.
2. Create your dropshipping store
Once you have picked your ecommerce website builder, you are ready to start building your website.
Read on to learn how to build an ecommerce website from scratch.
• Choose a business and domain name
Your chosen ecommerce platform may include a free domain with your purchase. This means that you may not have to purchase your domain name.
But selecting a good business and custom domain name is important to both your branding and the success of your online business.
It is best to pick a business and domain name that describes what you sell online.
If you use descriptive keywords in your domain and business name, your online buyers will be aware of what you offer.
Let’s say you want to sell branded clothing. If this is the case, you need to include the words “branded clothing” in your domain name.
Plus, you need to check if your desired domain name is still available.
• Pick a template and customize it
All the above-mentioned ecommerce website builders or platforms come with a wide selection of themes for dropshipping. For example, these are the best Shopify themes and WordPress themes for dropshipping. (In between, check Debutify Theme Review for Shopify & WoodMart Theme Review for WordPress).
Depending on your chosen ecommerce website builder, pick a theme that best matches your needs.
The theme should define the basic look and feel of your online store. Next, customize it to fit your brand:
- Customize text and font sizes;
- Configure the color scheme;
- Add your logo image and other high-quality visuals;
- Add social media buttons and a blog;
- Experiment with different product listing types and page layouts.
• Add products
You are learning how to build an ecommerce website from scratch, right? So, now is the time to add products to your online store.
You need to set up your product category pages, upload high-quality product images, and create amazing product descriptions.
When importing your products, you will be taken to a page where you can create your product category pages, add your product names and descriptions, and upload your product images.
- Set up your product category pages; Creating product categories will make your products easier to discover in searches and through navigation. Enter a name for every single category, and then enter a description. Plus, consider adding extra filters to help your online buyers narrow down their choices.
- Add your product names and descriptions; Make sure you list the most important features of your products and highlight the main benefits.
- Upload your product images. It is crucial to showcase multiple photos from different angles because customers will not be able to touch, feel, or try out your items.
• Set up the main pages
What pages make up a dropshipping site? The first ones that come to mind are the product page, the home page, checkout, and shopping cart.
However, you must also create other pages that are of utmost importance for your success.
Here are the main pages you need to create:
- About Us; This page helps you introduce your dropshipping business to potential customers. It needs to include basic information about you (as a founder) and your store and describe your business’ purpose and how it differs from your competition.
- Contact Us; A dropshipping store’s “Contact Us” page is usually one of the most under-optimized things on the entire website. However, it is actually one of the most important pages on any website, including an ecommerce one. This page should include information about how customers can reach you like by mail, phone, etc.
- Terms & Conditions; The purpose ofthis page is to protect both you and your customers. This page ultimately protects your business and helps you resolve any issues that may come up.
- Return & Refund Policy; This is a document that should describe under what conditions your customers can return products they have purchased from your online store.
- Shipping Policy. Your shipping policy should outline important information around shipping when an order is placed online. In short, it should include details on your shipping methods and costs, shipping times, etc.
• Set up the checkout system and payment methods
To set up a fully functional dropshipping store, you must ensure that your store enables online payments from your customers.
As a result, it is important to offer various payment methods and ensure that your checkout process is simple and primed for conversions. This allows you to create an experience that’s as frictionless as possible for your customers.
These are the best payment gateways for Shopify. Plus, here are a few simple tips on how to simplify your checkout process:
- Make it easy for your customers to add or remove products from the shopping cart;
- Do not require them to register before checkout;
- Keep them on the same domain;
- Remove any distractions;
- Display trust signals throughout the checkout process.
• Install useful plug-ins
You are currently learning about how to build an ecommerce website from scratch.
And you are almost ready to launch your new dropshipping store. However, perhaps you feel like something is missing.
Yes, you are right. And you know what? You can install different plug-ins to add extra functions to your online store and improve its performance.
For example, if Shopify is the platform of your choice, you can install some of these Shopify dropshipping apps.
3. Bring customers to your store
You do not want to be just another me-too player in the highly crowded ecommerce market, do you?
So, you must make an effort to get your ecommerce site in front of people if you want them to find you and buy from you.
And as you might expect, you need to promote your store. As mentioned above, you should have developed your dropshipping marketing strategy by now.
Your marketing strategy should include things like:
- Social media marketing;
- E-mail marketing;
- Content marketing;
- Instagram marketing;
- Influencer marketing;
- TikTok marketing;
4. Launch your store
Before hitting the “Publish” button, it is recommended to run some simple checks.
Look out for the following things when making the final checks:
- Broken images. Broken images look unattractive, provoke rejection, and degrade conversion. That’s why you need to ensure all your images are loading fast and in laser-sharp focus.
- Typos. Grammar and spelling errors are costlier than you might think. Therefore, this is something you need to check before going live.
- Website design. Ensure your design is aesthetically pleasing since it can influence your brand’s credibility.
- Checkout experience and payment gateway settings. Before driving any traffic to your site, make sure your potential customers can complete a purchase.
Now, it is go-live time. So, just hit the “Publish” button. Well, that is it, you are done.
How to build an ecommerce website from scratch – The bottom line
We just showed you how to build an ecommerce website from scratch.
And we hope that you will launch a successful dropshipping business with this how-to guide.