What Is An eCommerce Website & How To Build One (2023)
Global eCommerce sales will hit $7 trillion by 2025. If you want to start an eCommerce business from scratch and get a good slice of the eCommerce industry, you need a functional website.
Here’s where many people miss it.
They use a standard website to start selling their products and services online. Without a functional eCommerce website, you will struggle to thrive in the competitive online business environment.
Read on to learn the ins and outs of an eCommerce website and how to build the perfect online store for your business needs.
What is an eCommerce Website?
An eCommerce website allows entrepreneurs to sell products or services directly to consumers over the internet. It operates like a physical store where potential customers can buy products. The only difference is it offers online products and services.
An eCommerce site differs from other website types like blogs and online portfolios. It focuses on providing a satisfying online shopping experience for customers.
If you are running a traditional store, you have to build or rent space in every country to sell to a global audience. eCommerce sites solve this problem. You can reach a global audience at a low cost with an online store.
The key difference between an eCommerce store and a business website is in features. A business website usually contains information about its products and services. On the other hand, an online store supports online transactions of goods and services.
eCommerce statistics show that there are 13-26 million eCommerce stores globally, and the number keeps increasing daily. Don’t let the massive numbers discourage you.
Starting a profitable online store today is possible. The Good News? You don’t need to invent a special formula. If you want to succeed in the eCommerce industry, learn from the pros.
Best eCommerce Website Designs
What makes a great eCommerce website design? Every successful online store optimizes eCommerce website elements to increase profit.
eCommerce Website Example 1: Amazon
What We Love About Amazon
- Easy Navigation.
- Precise Product Search Feature.
- Product Recommendations and Best Sellers.
- Shipping and Return Information.
eCommerce Website Example 2: Apple
What We Love About Apple
- Modern eCommerce Design.
- Responsive eCommerce Web Design and Optimization for Mobile Devices.
- Fast Loading Time.
- Easy Navigation.
eCommerce Website Example 3: Skullcandy
What We Love About Skullcandy
- Fast Loading Time.
- Modern eCommerce Design.
- Stunning Product Images.
- Quick Checkout Process.
- Effective Call-to-Action.
eCommerce Website Example 4: Bite Toothpaste
What We Love About Bite Toothpaste
- Responsive eCommerce Web Design and Optimization for Mobile Users.
- Easy Navigation.
- Effective Call-to-Action.
- Fast Loading Time.
Types of eCommerce Websites
There are different eCommerce business models.
- Business to Consumer (B2C): The B2C eCommerce business model sells products or services directly to consumers. For example, selling T-shirts to consumers on your online store.
- Consumer to Consumer (C2C): The C2C eCommerce website allows individuals to buy and sell products or online services to one another. Examples are eBay and Craigslist.
- Business to Business (B2B): B2B eCommerce is any website that sells products or services to other businesses. Examples are Alibaba and ThomasNet.
- Consumer to Business (C2B): The C2B eCommerce website allows individuals to offer products or services to businesses. Freelance platforms like Upwork and Fiverr use this model.
How To Build An eCommerce Website
Building an eCommerce website can be a complex process. There are three main ways to build one. You can hire a web developer, do it yourself, or use an eCommerce store builder.
If you plan on hiring a web developer or eCommerce website development company to build your site, be ready to pay premium prices. The cheapest option is to build it from scratch, but that requires prior website development and design knowledge.
Out of the three main options, using an online store builder is the best. Why? You can build your online store within minutes without writing a single line of code at an affordable cost.
Here is a step-by-step guide for building an eCommerce website.
1. Choose an eCommerce Website Builder
There are many eCommerce website builders offering users amazing tools, including AI assistance and free professional templates for their website needs.
With many good options, picking one is tricky. Before you make a choice, check each option’s features, scalability, customer support, and cost. If you are looking for a cost-effective but powerful platform, try these cheap eCommerce website builders.
Top eCommerce Builders and Technology
2. Register a Domain Name and Set Up Web Hosting
Building an eCommerce website requires getting a domain name and paying for web hosting services.
Domain name registrars like Domain.com, NameCheap, and GoDaddy help you find and register a domain name for your online store. Without a web hosting service, your beautifully-designed storefront will not appear on the internet.
Luckily, many eCommerce store builders offer free web hosting, SSL certificates, and domain registration services. For example, Wix eCommerce and Zyro offer a free hosting plan and 1-year of domain registration.
3. Design and Customize the eCommerce Website
Your eCommerce store builder provides you with multiple templates you can customize to suit your business needs. Choose a template that is easy to navigate, responsive, and optimized for different devices.
When people shop online, they want to quickly find the product they want to buy. If they struggle to find it, they will move on to another store.
Many builders offer you a simple drag-and-drop editor to help you edit every element of your site. Use this tool to ensure your online store’s layout and appearance is visually-appealing and easy to navigate.
4. Create and Manage Product Listings
Add products to your website and manage their listings. Use high-quality images and detailed product descriptions to convert visitors.
Many eCommerce stores fail because they sell the wrong products. If you are selling a product with zero or low demand, you are setting yourself up for failure from the start.
The first question you should ask yourself is: “What should I sell?.” Finding trendy products to sell online for high profits is essential for eCommerce success. Some trending products to sell include baby clothes, pet accessories, hair extensions, and Bluetooth speakers.
Congratulations, your eCommerce website is almost ready to launch! But before that exciting step, configure core eCommerce functionalities like payment, shipping, inventory, and tax options.
5. Add and Configure Payment Gateway, Shipping, Inventory, and Tax Tools
Many eCommerce store builders support third-party payment solutions like credit cards, PayPal, Apple Pay, and Google Pay for easy and secure transactions.
Set up shipping options to ensure customers receive their products on time. Depending on your platform, you can set shipping policies like variable fees, flat rates, and free shipping. You can add return and refund policies on your checkout page.
Some eCommerce site builders like Squarespace, Wix eCommerce, and Shopify provide you with tools for managing inventory and taxes.
6. Test and Launch the eCommerce Website
Test the website to ensure it is functioning correctly. How fast did it take to load? How easy was it to navigate from one part to the other? Test the user experience by adding products to the cart, proceeding to checkout, and initiating the payment process.
Check your notification settings. Do you get notifications for successful or declined transactions? If you have a team working on these transactions, do they get notifications?
Optimize your eCommerce website for different devices like mobile, laptop, desktop, and tablet. Test-run how it appears on different browsers.
After carrying out comprehensive tests on every aspect of your eCommerce store, you can launch.
Top eCommerce Website Builders
Are you a business owner looking for the best way to build a new online store? Is the cost of hiring a web developer beyond your budget?
Here’s what you need…
eCommerce website builders are the fastest tools to help launch your online business. With many options available to choose from, picking the best eCommerce store builder is far from easy.
Here are the best eCommerce website builders for building an online store that attracts and converts website visitors.
- Squarespace– Best Overall
- Wix eCommerce – Best for Small Brands
- Shopify – Best for Dropshipping
- Zyro – Best for Cheap Plans
- BigCommerce – Best for Building Large Online Stores
Best Overall eCommerce Website Builder for Building a Minimal Online Store
Squarespace is the best overall eCommerce website builder that takes care of every aspect of your online business.
Apart from creating professionally-looking websites, the website builder offers many eCommerce features. It can manage inventory, shipping, payment processing, and handle your taxes!
Squarespace eCommerce Website Example:
- Modern eCommerce Website Templates: Squarespace offers users 80+ pre-built, customizable, and visually appealing eCommerce website templates. There are customized themes for different eCommerce niches such as fashion, food, health & beauty, and home & decor. You can modify every aspect of your eCommerce website to better represent your brand.
- Built-in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tools: eCommerce websites created with Squarespace are fast, clutter-free, and perfect for SEO. It integrates with Google Search Console to provide you with the keywords target audiences are using. Squarespace SEO checklist helps SEO novices with a detailed step-by-step guide for better visibility in search results. Users can customize their SEO page titles and descriptions, and URLs for each page.
- Extensive Analytics: Squarespace provides users with comprehensive analysis of their eCommerce websites. Users get valuable insights on their page views, sales, and cart abandonment for better decision-making.
- Inventory Management and Control: Managing your inventory with Squarespace is easy. You can add unlimited products with clear descriptions, images, and videos. That’s not all. Squarespace lets you change prices, manage product variants, update stock, receive quick alerts when your inventory is running low, and track ordering patterns.
- Flexible Shipping Options: This online store builder offers different shipping options to customers. You can set a flat, real-time, or weight-based shipping fee. From your dashboard, you can send shipping notifications, print shipping labels, and automate the refund process.
- Global Payment Options: If you want to maximize sales from your online store, offer multiple payment options. Thanks to Squarespace's integration with Stripe, it accepts popular credit cards like Visa and Mastercard. Other global payment options include Apple Pay, PayPal, and Stripe.
- Social Media Integrations: Squarespace integrates with social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. You can link your business social media accounts directly to your online store to improve sales and build brand recognition.
Squarespace offers four pricing plans: Personal, Business, Basic Commerce, and Advanced Commerce. However, the personal plan is not suitable for creating online stores because it lacks eCommerce functionality. Squarespace offers a 14-day free trial on every plan.
- The Business Plan ($23/month) is the most affordable plan for small eCommerce businesses. You can create fully functional eCommerce websites and sell unlimited physical and digital products. However, it charges a 3% transaction fee.
- The Basic Commerce Plan ($27/month) is best for growing eCommerce businesses. It allows you to sell on Facebook & Instagram, use product reviews, and support Point of Sale (PoS) systems and customer accounts.
- The Advanced Commerce Plan ($49/month) is best for large eCommerce businesses. This plan includes the business and basic commerce features, plus abandoned cart recovery, subscriptions, advanced shipping and discounts, and Commerce APIs.
- Excellent customer service.
- Outstanding marketing tools for business growth.
- Mobile-optimized templates with a minimal interface.
- Third-party integrations.
- Integrated and comprehensive analytics.
- Free SSL certificate.
- Customizable banners and promotions.
- Limited eCommerce templates.
- Limited eCommerce and marketing integrations.
- Lacks phone support.
- Charges a 3% transaction fee for the Business plan.
- No autosave feature.
2. Wix eCommerce
Best eCommerce Website Builder for Beginners, Solopreneurs, and Small Brands
Wix eCommerce is a leading eCommerce platform hosting 659,722 live stores. What separates Wix from other website builders is its unparalleled freedom in web design. You can create online stores using its flexible drag-and-drop interface and sell to their target audience.
This eCommerce website builder is great for non-techies and small brands looking for an easy-to-manage option for their e-stores.
Wix eCommerce Website Example:
- Highly Customizable eCommerce Website Templates: Wix eCommerce offers 500 pre-built online store templates for users. You can customize any template to your taste with its simple drag-and-drop editor. If you don’t want such design freedom, Wix ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence) asks you a few questions and uses your answers to create a professional online store.
- Intuitive User Interface: Track your store’s analytics on your dashboard. If you want to upload media to your product page, add editable fields, and integrate Wix apps, the process is easy.
- Secure Checkout and Payment Gateways: Wix eCommerce supports over 50+ payment options like credit cards, Stripe, and PayPal to help you reach a wider audience. Online store owners get the abandoned cart recovery feature to help close more sales. The checkout process is secure and easy. It handles your tax calculations with a few clicks.
- Multichannel Selling: You can sell your products directly on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest through the Ecwid app to reach more customers. Wix eCommerce lets you sell on platforms like eBay, Wish, and Amazon. However, selling on Amazon is only available for Wix merchants in the US, the UK, India, and Australia.
- Hassle-free Inventory and Shipping Management: Wix’s multichannel inventory management feature helps you sell and track unlimited products across connected platforms. You can manage stocks, connect your store to a dropshipping supplier, and handle shipping, printing labels, and refunds.
- In-built SEO and Marketing Tools: Wix eCommerce offers built-in SEO tools to optimize your online stores for search engines. Users get a detailed guide on how to use Wix’s SEO features. Wix’s marketing tools drive traffic to your online store through social posts, Instagram and Facebook ads, and email marketing campaigns.
Wix eCommerce offers three pricing plans: Business VIP, Business Unlimited, and Business Basic. It offers a 14-day free trial on all plans.
- The Business Basic Plan ($17/month) offers a free domain, unlimited bandwidth, 20 GB storage space, 5 video hours, 24/7 customer care, a cart abandonment feature, and the ability to sell unlimited products across different social channels. It is best for small business owners who don’t need excessive eCommerce functionality.
- The Business Unlimited Plan ($25/month) offers 35 GB storage space, 10 video hours, 24/7 customer care, multiple currencies, 100 transactions/month with automated sales tax, and the ability to sell on marketplaces and social channels. It is best for growing eCommerce businesses.
- The Business VIP Plan ($35/month) offers 50 GB storage space, unlimited video hours, priority customer support, customized reports, and 500 transactions/month with automated sales tax. It is best for larger eCommerce businesses.
- 500+ pre-built and responsive eCommerce templates.
- 50 secure payment processors.
- Translate your online store into 90+ languages.
- Intuitive user interface.
- 24/7 customer care.
- Free hosting plan, SSL certificate, and 1-year domain registration.
- Password-protect member login pages.
- 14-day money-back guarantee.
- An excellent app market for adding more eCommerce functionality to your website.
- Difficult to migrate data to another website builder or host.
- Slow loading speed for large online stores.
- No inventory control alerts.
- Reliant on third-party applications for multi-channel selling.
Suitable eCommerce Site Builder for Dropshipping and Growing Online Businesses
Shopify is an all-in-one eCommerce site builder packed with customizable templates, inventory and customer management, shipping, and merchandising to help users sell products online.
According to Shopify Statistics, over 1.75 million stores from 170+ countries are currently active on the platform.
Shopify helps technical and non-technical users create their desired online stores without stress. Users can use its templates to get started or create custom designs with code.
- Customizable Templates: Shopify offers users 170+ free and paid modern-looking templates with in-built features for selling online. Reputable designers like Pixel Union and Happy Cog designed most of Shopify’s themes. You can customize the templates to your taste with the drag-and-drop editor.
- Multiple Sales and Marketing Channels: Selling online across multiple channels is easy. Shopify allows users to reach their target audience on their preferred platforms. You can sell your products through Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, Amazon, eBay, Google, Walmart, and YouTube Shopping.
- Inventory & Order Management: Managing every aspect of your online’s store inventory and delivery is smooth, thanks to Shopify’s centralized order fulfillment system. You can track and manage orders, shipping, delivery, and returns from your dashboard.
- Secure Payment Processing: Shopify supports popular payment processors like credit cards, Google Pay, Apple Pay, Stripe, and PayPal. Your customers’ information is safe thanks to its end-to-end encryption, 3D secure checkouts, and PCI-compliant servers.
- Shopify Point of Sale: The Point of Service feature allows eCommerce businesses to sell their goods in person. This feature collects payment from customers, tracks inventory, and keeps a record of each sale.
- In-Built SEO: Shopify offers users many SEO tools to help them rank higher on search engines. The most popular tool, Smart SEO, supports multiple languages, automatically creates metadata, and creates structured data for search engines.
- Shopify Market Analytics: eCommerce businesses use Shopify’s advanced analytics to measure their stores' performance. Users get valuable insights on sales, marketing, SEO, and customer activities.
Shopify offers three pricing plans: Basic, Shopify, and Advanced. Each plan comes with a 3-day free trial with no credit card required.
- The Basic Plan ($25/month) provides unlimited products, 2 staff accounts, 24/7 customer support, cart abandonment, and basic report features. It is ideal for small eCommerce businesses.
- The Shopify Plan ($65/month) offers standard reports and 5 staff accounts, and it allows you to grow your business with eCommerce automation. It is best for growing eCommerce businesses.
- The Advanced Plan ($399/month) allows you to add 15 staff accounts, create custom reports, show third-party calculated shipping rates, and estimate and collect duties and import taxes. It is best for large eCommerce businesses.
If these plans are not what you need, Shopify offers alternative solutions for your business.
- The Starter Plan ($5/month) is super-affordable for beginners and small business owners. You can create a simple online store within minutes and start selling products through social and messaging apps. Enjoy the incredible $1/month discount for your first three months!
- The Shopify Plus Plan (Starting at $2,000/month) is perfect for high-volume eCommerce businesses. Users enjoy 24/7 priority technical support by phone, email, or live chat, and a better checkout process for conversions plus fast loading speeds.
- The Commerce Components Plan (Contact Sales) is best for enterprise retailers.
- Great customer support.
- Translates to 21 languages.
- 170+ free and paid modern-looking templates
- Easy and quick set-up processes.
- In-built payment functionality (Shopify Payments).
- Free advertising tools.
- No transaction fees are charged with Shopify Payments, but other payment methods attract additional fees.
- Some learning curve.
Best Low-Cost eCommerce Website Builder with Fast Load Times
Hostinger Website Builder (Zyro) is an affordable and fast eCommerce site builder used by 250,000+ users. You can search its library of over 100+ stunning design templates for the best match.
If you don’t know which theme is best, use Zyro’s AI-powered builder to answer some questions and watch it generate an eCommerce website in minutes.
Zyro offers free business tools like business name and slogan generators, logo makers, and product description generators.
Zyro eCommerce Store Example:
- Extensive Templates: Zyro offers users 100+ pre-built eCommerce site templates that are responsive and optimized for different devices. You can set up your storefront in minutes by choosing a ready-made template and using the drag-and-drop builder to edit it to your taste.
- Effective Inventory Management: Keeping track of your products in real-time is easy with Zyro’s inventory management features. You can manage inventory, set up automatic notifications when stock is running low, and monitor orders and deliveries from any location.
- SEO and Marketing: eCommerce stores created with Zyro are responsive for different screens (laptop, desktop, tablet, and mobile phone). With Google Analytics integration, Zyro helps you know your target audience. You can segment them into different categories for your marketing campaigns. This website builder helps you sell your digital and physical products on different marketplaces like Amazon, Google Shopping, Facebook, and Instagram.
- Multiple AI Tools: Zyro provides many AI tools to help you sell online. There’s an AI writer that serves as a writing aid for creating product descriptions and website content. Zyro’s AI image background remover and AI image resizer are useful for creating clean product images and optimizing your site's speed. The AI heatmap features spots which site areas people click on the most. You can use this information to improve vital site parts and increase conversions.
- Multiple Payment Options: You can offer customers 20+ different payment methods, including Stripe, PayPal, Google Pay, Apple Pay, and credit cards.
- Third-party Integration: Zyro integrates with third-party applications like Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, and Google Ads. Its native integration with Unsplash provides users access to millions of high-quality free stock images.
Zyro offers two pricing plans: Website and Business. Both plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- The Website Plan ($2.59/month) is suitable for users who want to create a blog, personal website, and portfolio, not an eCommerce site.
- The Business Plan ($3.59/month) is ideal for small eCommerce business owners. It provides eCommerce functionality like the ability to sell up to 500 products, accept online payments via 20+ payment options, and manage orders and inventory.
- Free domain for 1 year.
- Free email for 3 months.
- 24/7 customer support.
- Comprehensive order and inventory management.
- 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Limited customization options.
- Fewer eCommerce features compared to competitors.
- Users can only sell up to 500 products.
Best for Building Large Online Stores
BigCommerce is a cloud-based eCommerce website builder designed to create and manage large online stores. It provides tools for managing inventory, processing orders, and tracking analytics.
Compared to other eCommerce site builders, BigCommerce offers more built-in sales tools and control over your store. Using BigCommerce requires a learning curve because of its extensive features that provide you with everything you need to grow your eCommerce business.
BigCommerce is perfect for medium to large-sized eCommerce businesses looking to sell across multiple platforms.
BigCommerce Store Example:
- Ready Made Templates: BigCommerce offers users 12 free and 180+ premium templates. Each theme has multiple style variations for more options. With WordPress integration, you can build a custom template for your storefront. The Stencil CLI framework helps you build templates with fast-loading speeds.
- Multi-Storefronts: BigCommerce is ideal if you run multiple bands or sell products to different customer segments or regions. You can build and manage multiple storefronts from a single dashboard.
- Multi-Channel Integrations: Users can open multiple storefronts on popular marketplaces like Google Shopping, eBay, and Amazon to boost their sales. You can connect your online store to social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to expand your reach.
- International Selling Facility: BigCommerce supports multiple languages and accepts payments for international transactions in 100+ currencies. It accepts credit card payments, Square POS, and digital wallet payment solutions like Amazon Pay, Apple Pay, and Google Pay.
- Inventory Control and Shipping: The eCommerce website builder integrates with the ShopStation app to provide you with real-time shipping quotes and different delivery options. You can manage your stock levels, and track & control inventory across offline and online channels.
- Extensive Features for B2B Merchants: If you are running a B2B eCommerce business, this platform offers you tailored B2B functions. Take advantage of B2B features like bulk pricing, quote management tool, and B2B payments. You can also integrate third-party B2B tools like B2B Ninja and BundleB2B.
BigCommerce offers four pricing plans: Standard, Plus, Pro, and Enterprise. All plans come with a free 15-day trial.
- The Standard Plan ($29.95/month) is ideal for medium-sized online stores that want to sell online across different marketplaces.
- The Plus Plan ($79.95/month) is best for marketing tools to boost conversion.
- The Pro Plan ($299.95/month) is suitable for large eCommerce businesses that want to enhance their eCommerce website functionality through additional features like custom product filtering and Google customer review.
- The Enterprise Plan (Contact Sales) is best for super-large eCommerce businesses with very high sales volumes.
- Easy site customization.
- Fast-loading, mobile-optimized design.
- Supports multiple currencies and 40 payment options.
- WordPress integration for better flexibility.
- No transaction fees.
- Comprehensive SEO and marketing features.
- Advanced checkout customization.
- Expensive to use.
- Every plan has an annual sales limit.
- Limited free templates.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
eCommerce is the buying and selling of products and services on the internet, unlike brick-and-mortar stores, which involve physical contact in the sales process. In other words, it is trading online. Online shoppers are people who make online purchases.
There are many eCommerce platforms in the market. Choosing the right eCommerce solutions is vital if you want to create and manage a profitable online store.
The best eCommerce platforms are Shopify and BigCommerce. Shopify is best for all sizes, and BigCommere is the best fit for large stores.