How to Build an e-Commerce Website from Scratch in 6 Steps

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the expansion of the e-Commerce world. According to CBC News, Canadian consumers preferred to buy online to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. The below image from CNBC News shows how people prefer to shop in-person and online since the pandemic started.

covid19-changed-canadian-shop-statistics

Source: Statista

Moreover,

  • According to Statistics Canada [a Government agency that provides key information on Canada’s economy, society, and environment], there was a rise in retail sales by $55.1 billion as of February 2021, which is 4.8% from the previous month.
  • Another statistic from Statista states that approximately 28.1 million Canadians made purchases online, generating revenue of 1.85 billion CAD. And this figure is expected to surpass 33 billion USD by 2024.
  • One more research from the international trade administration conveys that fashion is one of the top product categories, followed by electronics and media. Retailers are competing with Amazon Canada and reaching consumers across the globe.

So, are you planning to build an online store for your business similar to Best Buy, Hudson’s Bay, or Walmart Canada?

How do online stores help to grow your business?

  1. Eliminate barriers with the geographical location
  2. Build local presence
  3. Reach out to a vast customer base
  4. Reduce travel and time cost
  5. Have 24*7 online presence
  6. Provide full access to the customer information
  7. Simplify the purchasing process

If you’re planning to start with an e-Commerce business for the first time and want to know how to build an e-commerce website from scratch, this blog is for you. This piece will provide step-by-step information to develop an e-Commerce website from scratch.

  1. Research About the Target Audience for Your Online Store

  2. Identifying-target-audience

    Selling the right product to the right customer is a key to a successful online business. If you don’t know who your customers are, how will you identify their needs?

    To identify your target audience, look for your local competitors who are selling the same products. Then, understand your competitor’s marketing strategies, identify their customers and perform local marketing to grow your customer base.

    Which Factors Help to Identify the Target Audience?

    The data used to define the target audience are:

    • Age
    • Gender
    • Location
    • Education background
    • Income

    For instance: A 35-40-year-old woman living in Toronto holding the degree of fashion stylist with an income of $8000-$10000 loves luxury brands and designer clothes.

    Another example: If you’re selling exclusive products for kids, your target audience can be children, mothers, or teachers.

    How to Define Your Target Audience?

    1. Understand the competitor’s marketing strategy and know which channels are they using to attract their audience
    2. Figure out who has a need of your product and who are likely to buy your product
    3. Create personas by researching the audience, identifying the pain points, and goals
    4. Understand who is not your target audience. For example, if your product is specific for women between 20 to 40, then definitely women above 50 are not your target audience.

    For instance: Vans– Is an American manufacturer of skateboarding shoes based in California. Their shoes come in appealing colours and designs, which attract a wide range of consumers. To reach the right target audience, Vans have different Instagram accounts for male and females. This shows the company’s clear understanding of marketing to multiple target audiences.

  3. Buy a Right Domain Name for Your e-Commerce Website

  4. Buy-right-domain-name

    Once you have researched the target audience and competitors and identified the products, you’re going to sell, purchase the domain name for your website. A domain name is the address of your online store, from where your audience can search your store. So, for example, in the web address: www.amazon.ca, “amazon.ca” is the domain name.

    Selecting the right domain name adds credibility to your business. It is recommended to make your domain name the same as a physical store; however, if you do not get the required name, pick the name similar to your brand.

    Quick Tips: How to Choose a Domain Name?

    1. Keep a name unique, short, and memorizable
    2. Make it easy to pronounce and spell
    3. Avoid hyphens and numbers
    4. Use the right domain name extensions
    5. Easy to pronounce
    1. GoDaddy
    2. Bluehost
    3. Web Hosting Canada
    4. CanSpace
    5. HostPapa

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    Want to validate it? Get a 30-minutes free consultation.

  5. Choose Development Platform for Your e-Commerce Website

  6. Choose-e-commerce-platform

    Once you have identified the right domain, choose the right platform for your e-Commerce site that fits your requirements.

    There are two types of platforms to choose from:

    a) SaaS platforms: Ready-made e-Commerce website builders like BigCommerce, 3d cart, and Shopify

    b) Customized e-Commerce website development: Developed with the help of e-Commerce web developer

    Both have their pros and cons; choose the one per your target audience, complexity and price structure. But, first, let’s understand both platforms.

    A) SaaS Platforms

    SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) is a software licensing model where software is accessed via the internet and hosted on the cloud. This online e-Commerce platform helps build the online store without much technical knowledge or coding skills; all you need is a stable internet connection.

    However, data security, compliance, and transparency are issues that most companies face with the website builders or SaaS model.

    So you need to select the right eCommerce website builder that is flexible and easy to manage. However, many website builder tools are available, making it challenging to choose the platform that fulfills the needs and is within the budget.

    We have listed the most recommended platforms, making it easy for you to choose an e-Commerce solution.

    e-Commerce Website BuildersFree Plan or Free TrialBasic PriceFeatures
    Squarespace
    Squarespace-icon
    14 days free trial$12
    • Template customization
    • Blogging
    • Scheduling software
    • Photo galleries
    • Podcast hosting
    Wix
    Wix-icon
    Free plan$14
    • Customizable Designs.
    • Free and Reliable Hosting.
    • Optimized Mobile View.
    • One-Pagers.
    • Drag n’ Drop Website Editor.
    • Image Editor
    Shopify
    Shopify-icon
    14 days free trial$29
    • Shopify payments
    • Augmented Reality
    • Fulfillment
    • Fraud analysis
    • Manual order correction
    • Discount connection

    Advantages and Disadvantages of Website Builders.

    AdvantagesDisadvantages
    Less learning curveLimited design control
    No coding knowledge is requiredYou don’t technically own your website
    Shorter time to buildFewer ways to optimize
    Free templates are providedLatency, security and scalability issues
    Easy to buySwitching between SaaS vendors is difficult
    No special software is required

    B) Customized e-Commerce Website Development

    Customized e-Commerce website development means designing solutions as per the specific business needs. An eCommerce developer or e-Commerce website development company can help you develop a website using the latest technology stack, advanced tools, and plugins.

    Since web development companies have experience working in the competitive market, you can rest assured of getting the best results. They will develop a customized e-Commerce platform to give you an enhanced online shopping experience.

    Moreover, you can devote your time to core business operations rather than managing the entire website. When you develop a customized e-Commerce website, you have complete control over the source code.

    Advantages and Disadvantages of a Customized e-Commerce Website Development.

    AdvantagesDisadvantages
    Flexibility through customizationIncreased programming work and complexity
    Flexible e-Commerce hostingDifficult to find a trustworthy hosting provider
    Community support
    Faster updates and faster time-to-market
    Third-party plugins are available
    Easily connect with the support team to solve the issues

    Customized e-Commerce Platform or SaaS e-Commerce: Which Platform to Select?

    Deciding between customized e-Commerce or SaaS e-Commerce depends on business needs, budget, and resources.

    Choose customized e-commerce platform if:

    1. You require high-level customization and have to integrate complex features
    2. You want your store to be secured and updated with the latest security standards
    3. You don’t want to spend time in installation
    4. You want to choose your own hosting provider as per your requirements

    Choose SaaS platform if:

    1. You do not have extensive features and doesn’t need much customization
    2. You have a limited budget and looking for a no-coding solution
  7. Designing Your Online Store

  8. Design-and-add-product-to-your-online-store

    Well-placed visual elements, graphics, and readable texts make your website visually appealing, conversion-focused, and establish your brand presence.

    If you choose to customize your e-commerce store, you need web designers or web designing companies to design your eCommerce store. An experienced web designing professional knows how to align the logo, colours, fonts, images, and other visual elements that show your brand identity.

    You can even hire our UI/UX designer team, as we have experience designing UI across different industry verticals like entertainment, sports, healthcare, fitness, and education. To know how we design UI, you can check our on-demand photography app and the expense tracker app.

    If you have selected website builders or SaaS platforms, you have to choose the theme and categorize your product. If you’re building an e-commerce website from scratch, you need to customize the template by designing it in a way that is attractive and easy to read. Your displayed product should be clear and concise.

    You can modify anything on the e-Commerce platform as per the preferences:

    1. Text Size, Color, and Font
    2. Colour of the theme
    3. Use of images
    4. Product’s position
    5. Logo and branding
    6. About us and Contact us Page
  9. Adding Payment Integration to Your e-Commerce Website

  10. Add-payment-integration

    Once you have designed and developed an e-commerce website from scratch, integrate a payment gateway to accept the online payment from the customers. A payment gateway refers to software that interfaces between e-Commerce websites and customer’s preferred mode of payment like a bank account, debit card, credit card or other online wallets.

    If you choose to develop a customized e-Commerce store, web developers will integrate the payment gateways like Stripe, PayPal, and Braintree with the help of APIs and SDKs as per your target audience and requirements. Moreover, setting up payment integration as per your choice will help add features like auto recurring payment and loyalty programs as per the data analytics of your target audience. It is secured, safe, reliable but takes more time to develop.

    SaaS platforms like Magento, Shopify, and Wix offer in-built payment gateways which enable you to integrate your stores with payment service providers. It is easy, safe, reliable, and takes less time to integrate; however, in some cases, SaaS e-Commerce platforms lack the ability of extreme customization and don’t give you access to the software codes.

    Which are the Most Used Payment Gateways in Canada?

    1. Adyen
    2. Blue Snap
    3. Google Pay
    4. Stripe
    5. Braintree
    6. Authorize.net
    7. NMI

    What are the Types of Fee Structure in the Payment Gateway?

    Payment gateways have different fee type like as follow:

    1. Setup fee
    2. Monthly fee
    3. Integration fees
    4. Maintenance fees

    How Does Payment Gateway Work?

    A payment gateway focuses on creating a secured pathway between a customer and the merchant to facilitate payments securely.

    Here’s the image which describes the overall process of the payment gateway.
    Payment

  11. Test and Launch Your e-Commerce Website

  12. Test-and-launch-the-website

    Once you develop the website entirely, test and launch your e-Commerce website.

    If you have hired an e-Commerce testing team or e-Commerce web development company, they will complete the entire website by performing black box testing or white-box testing depending on the needs of the business.

    However, if you’re developing an e-commerce website from scratch with the help of a website builder, it is recommended to preview the complete website before launching and ensure that all the web controls work as they should be.

    What Things to Consider Before Launching an e-Commerce Store?

    1. Products, descriptions, and images should be aligned as per your customer’s convenience
    2. Check the website on different browsers and devices and check if all the features are available.
    3. Test all the payment gateways and check discounts and promotions are applied as intended
    4. Ensure web controls and links are directed at a right place
    5. Run sample purchase to make sure that shopping cart is working properly

After testing the above-mentioned points, your e-Commerce site is officially ready to launch in the market. Upgrade your e-Commerce website at regular intervals by adding features, customizing design, description and images. This not only enhances the shopping experience of your e-Commerce store but also increases customer loyalty. You can even connect with a reliable web development vendor like us who has experience developing enterprise-level websites.

Planning to Develop an e-Commerce Website Like Hudson’s Bay, Costco or Best Buy?

Let’s build your e-Commerce business together.

Market Your Online Store

Market-the-store

Only building a webshop is not enough; you need to market your online store to get a return of investment. With your online store, you will be able to reach more online customers and will have complete control over their shopping experience.

If you are a start-up and want to grow your online stores like Walmart, Metro, or Home Depot; you need to market your eCommerce store locally to build an online presence. To market your e-commerce store, you need promotional marketing strategies to increase online traffic, convert leads into paying customers and retain customers post-purchase.

How to Market Your Online Business?

  1. Set up social media account for Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter
  2. Provide exceptional customer services like web-integrated call management, multi-channel tracking, and management of customer communication
  3. Consider omnichannel marketing; add products to the cart on the website and provide in-store pick-up and returns
  4. Offer loyalty programs to the repeat customers
  5. Provide deals and discounts to first-time customers

Want to know more about e-Commerce website development? Check out the frequently asked questions.

FAQs About e-Commerce Website Development

  1. Are there any laws in Canada to sell online?

  2. Yes, except Quebec, every Canadian province has a United Nations Model Law on Electronic Commerce written by a legislative body. Quebec’s law is similar to the model but developed independently. In addition, the Canadian Office of Consumer Affairs offers an Internet Sales Contract Harmonization Template which includes contract formation and cancellation rights.

  3. Is a business licence necessary to sell online in Canada?

  4. Yes, it is necessary. Register in multiple provinces if you are planning to do business across Canada. Connect with the government Canada Business Network-specific to your province to learn how to apply for a business license.

  5. Does the tax structure apply to online stores?

  6. If you earn income from multiple websites, you need to report your business and the income you make. For more information, check Canada Revenue Agency.

  7. How to make money with an e-Commerce website?

    1. Take advantage of shopping ads
    2. Get your products on multiple channels
    3. Shipping fee
    4. Commission fee
  8. What are the advantages of an e-Commerce business?

    1. Increases customer reach
    2. Low-cost investment
    3. Sell quickly
    4. Run your business from anywhere
    5. Less time-intensive
    6. Higher margins and better cash flow
    7. Help online shoppers to shop online quickly
  9. How many products or categories can be uploaded to custom e-Commerce sites? Is there any limit?

  10. Uploading products depends on your server and the hosting plan of your e-Commerce sites.

    For instance: WooCommerce can handle more than 100k products, but you need a good optimization and hosting plan. In Squarespace, each page can take 200 products, and each product can have up to 100 variants.

  11. What are the ways to boost sales of products on an e-Commerce website?

  12. For a successful e-Commerce retail business,

    1. Keep customers engaged on social media
    2. Showcase the top-selling items
    3. Set the right price; learn about the cost of your competitors
    4. Create a unique selling proposition to stand out from the other online stores
    5. Decrease shipping times
    6. Provide multiple payment options
  13. How much does it cost to build an e-commerce website from scratch?

  14. For building e-Commerce websites, a rough estimate is in three months which costs around 30000 USD. However, it all depends on the complexity, features, and functionalities you want to integrate.

Conclusion

Undoubtedly, the pandemic has increased sales in the Canadian e-Commerce industry. If you’re the one who wants to increase the profitability of the brand and build an online presence in the provinces of Canada, this is the right time to leverage the online marketplace.

After reading this blog, you’ve got enough idea about how to develop an online store from scratch. You can hire our eCommerce developers who have experience in developing websites in various business verticals like logistics, education, social media, entertainment, fitness, and healthcare.

So, if you have an e-Commerce idea, then our expert team of experienced web development specialists can help build an online business. Connect with us to know how we can help you to make an e-Commerce website.

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Author Bio
Rakesh Patel
Rakesh Patel
Designation: Co-founder and CEO of Space-O Technologies

Mr. Rakesh Patel is a Founder and CEO of Space-O Canada. He has 28 years of IT experience in business strategies, operations & information technology. He has expertise in various aspects of business like project planning, sales, and marketing, and has successfully defined flawless business models for the clients. A techie by mind and a writer at heart, he has authored two books – Enterprise Mobility: Strategy & Solutions and A Guide To Open311.