How to Build an e-Commerce Website from Scratch (Step-by-Step Guide)

Read this blog if you have no coding experience and you are:

  1. A retailer or manufacturer looking to develop an online store
  2. Owner of a brick-and-mortar store and want to expand the business online
  3. Someone who wants to develop a 3P (third-party platform) that connects buyers and sellers

According to Statista, in 2021, retail eCommerce sales of physical goods increased to almost 32,442 million USD and are projected to increase by 40,352 million USD in 2025.

retail eCommerce sales statistics

So, if you’re planning to start an eCommerce business for the first time and want to know how to build an eCommerce website from scratch without coding experience, here is a step by step guide for you.

How to Build an eCommerce Website from Scratch

Let’s start with step 1.

  1. Identify 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. But, if you don’t know who your customers are, how will you identify their needs?

    To identify your target audience for your online store, 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 following parameters are used to define the target audience for your eCommerce site.

    • Age
    • Gender
    • Location
    • Income

    For Instance: A 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 for Your eCommerce Site?

    1. Create user personas by researching the audience, identifying the pain points, needs, passion, and goals.
    2. Understand who is NOT your target audience. For example, if you own a brand like Sephora, then definitely MEN is not a target audience.
    3. Figure out who needs your product and who is likely to buy your product.

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

  3. Buy the Right Domain Name for Your eCommerce 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 online store. 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 a name similar to your brand. Let’s understand how to choose a domain name and popular domain name registrars in Canada.

    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 numbers
    4. Use the right domain name extensions
    5. Easy to pronounce

    Which are the Popular Domain Name Registrars in Canada?

    1. GoDaddy
    2. Bluehost
    3. Web Hosting Canada
    4. CanSpace
    5. HostPapa

    Looking to Develop an eCommerce Solution from Scratch?

    Let’s validate your idea. With thorough research and market analysis, we help you define your project scope and check the feasibility of your idea.

  5. Choose Development Platform for Your eCommerce Website

  6. Choose-e-commerce-platform

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

    You can develop an eCommerce website in two ways:

    a) Custom eCommerce Website Development: Developed with the help of dedicated eCommerce web developers

    b) SaaS Platforms: Ready-made eCommerce website builders like BigCommerce, 3dcart, and Shopify

    Both the methods have their pros and cons; choose the one per your target audience, complexity, and price structure.

    But, first, let’s understand both platforms.

    A) Custom eCommerce Website Development

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

    Since web development companies have experience working in the competitive market, rest assured of getting the best results. So, if you want to build an eCommerce website from scratch, leading development companies can create a custom eCommerce website structure to give you an enhanced online shopping experience.

    Moreover, devote your time to core business operations rather than managing the entire website. When you develop a customized eCommerce website, you have complete control over the source code and you get scalable eCommerce project architecture.

    Advantages and Disadvantages of a Customized eCommerce 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

    B) SaaS Platforms

    SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) is a software licensing model where software is accessed via the internet and hosted on the cloud. The SaaS eCommerce software 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, there are 104 different website builder tools available in the market currently, 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 eCommerce solution.

    e-Commerce Website BuildersFree Plan or Free TrialBasic PriceFeatures
    Squarespace-icon14 days free trial$12
    • Template customization
    • Blogging
    • Scheduling software
    • Photo galleries
    • Podcast hosting
    Wix-iconFree plan$14
    • Customizable Designs
    • Free and Reliable Hosting
    • Optimized Mobile View
    • One-Pagers
    • Drag n’ Drop Website Editor
    • Image Editor
    Shopify-icon14 days free trial$29
    • Shopify payments
    • Shopify analytics
    • 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

    We have listed the advantages and limitations of both custom eCommerce web development and SaaS platforms. So now which is one to select? Let’s find out.

    Customized eCommerce Platform or SaaS eCommerce: Which Platform to Select?

    Deciding between customized eCommerce or SaaS eCommerce depends on business needs, budget, and resources.

    Choose a customized eCommerce platform if

    • You want to integrate a complex features like QR code, voice search, image search, and AR/VR features.
    • You want your store to be secured and updated with the latest security standards.
    • You want to have total control over your data and you do not want to compromise with your data and its security.
    • You want to build a scalable solution that grow with the audience and yet fast and secure.

    Choose a SaaS platform if

    • You do not have extensive features and you don’t need much customization in your website.
    • You have a very limited budget and looking for a no-coding solution.

    After choosing the right eCommerce platform for web development, let’s consider the key features to implement in your eCommerce store.

    Core Features to Implement in eCommerce Website

    Here is a list of core features that you must have in your eCommerce website.

    FeaturesReason to Implement
    Shopping CartTo maintain the clean and organized record of your potential orders
    User-friendly InterfaceThe UX/UI should be optimized to work on all mobile devices and desktop
    Social IntegrationAllow your users to share the deals with their friends
    Security SystemsFor saving your website from lucrative attacks and securing user’s data
    Offers and DiscountsHelp your users to find some great deals available
    WishlistAllow your usres to add products for future purchase
    Related ItemsTo provide personalized and AI-based recommendation in addition to an item your customer is viewing
    FAQsAnswers the most common customer problems for buying a product, refunds, orders, and payments
    Customer ReviewsBuilds trust and authenticity to the seller’s product

    Apart from this, you can even get MVP (minimum viable product) developed by a software development company to create your own eCommerce website. With MVP, you launch your website with minimum features and test the feasibility of your custom eCommerce site development.

    Want to know more about MVP? Here’s a complete guide on what is MVP?

  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 eCommerce 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, colors, 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, check our video-sharing eCommerce app and on-demand ride sharing app.

    If you have selected eCommerce website builders or SaaS platforms, you have to choose the theme and categorize your product. If you are building an eCommerce website from scratch, 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 eCommerce website as per the preferences:

    • Text size, color, and font
    • Colour of the theme
    • Use of images
    • Product’s position
    • Logo and branding
    • About us and contact us page

    You have understood how to design your eCommerce store, let’s even know the reasons to design a compelling eCommerce store, and tips to design an aesthetic eCommerce store.

    Quick Tips: How to Design an eCommerce Website

    1. Keep your website neat and clutter-free
    2. Include review and testimonial section
    3. Make it easy to navigate
    4. Use high-quality photos
    5. Keep the product pages organized
    6. Make your website mobile-friendly
    7. Make your content scalable
    8. Spend time on branding
    9. Use a color palette
    10. Maintains a visual flow

    Want to get more design tips? We have curated a PDF to know what things to keep in mind while designing a product page, listing page, and home page.

    Until here, you have got the idea to build an eCommerce website from scratch; let’s understand the important eCommerce functionality, i.e., payment gateway.

  9. Adding Payment Integration to Your eCommerce Website

  10. Add-payment-integration

    Once you have designed and developed an eCommerce website from scratch, integrate a payment gateway to accept the online payment from the customers.

    What is a payment gateway?
    A payment gateway refers to software that interfaces between eCommerce websites and customers’ preferred mode of payment like a bank account, debit card, credit card, or other online wallets.

    If you choose a customized eCommerce online store development, web developers integrate the payment gateways like Stripe, PayPal, and Braintree with the help of APIs and SDKs. The software development vendor will cover specific eCommerce business requirements as per your target audience and needs.

    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, and 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 eCommerce platforms lack the ability of extreme customization and don’t give you access to the software codes.

    Now you know how to integrate the payment gateway when you build an eCommerce website from scratch. Let’s discuss the most used payment gateways and how it works.

    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 Pricing Structure in the Payment Gateway?

    Payment gateways have different pricing type as follow:

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

    Let’s move to step number 6 now, the final step.

  11. Test and Launch Your eCommerce Website

  12. Test-and-launch-the-website

    Once you develop the website, test it on the multiple platforms, and launch your eCommerce website.

    If you have hired an eCommerce testing team or custom software development company, they will complete the entire website by performing various testing such as unit testing, device testing, and functional testing depending on the needs of the business.

    However, if you’re developing an eCommerce 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.

    Consider These 5 Points During the Testing Process

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

    Your eCommerce site is officially ready to launch in the market. Upgrade your eCommerce website at regular intervals by adding features, customizing design, description, and images.

    This not only enhances the shopping experience of your eCommerce 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.

Create Your Custom Web-based eCommerce Solution

Let’s discuss. Be it a complex to simple eCommerce solution, we help you develop a custom web solution.

You know how to launch your eCommerce website from scratch now.

But, we are still missing one of the most important points – website design and development cost.

When you read the next step, you won’t have further questions regarding website development cost.

How Much Does It Cost to Build an eCommerce Website from Scratch?

The cost of building an eCommerce website ranges from $5000 to $30,000.

The cost depends on various factors like features, site functionality, and the size of the website.

If you have advanced features in mind, want to get a personalized quote for your idea, get in touch with us. We have experience of developing custom eCommerce website from scratch. We know the required features. We know the cost. Get a complete bifurcation of cost to develop your online store. Know the budget you might require for eCommerce website development.

You are now clear with the development cost and steps to create an eCommerce website solution, let’s quickly go through the guidelines you should keep in mind while developing an eCommerce store.

Fundamental eCommerce Usability Guidelines

  • Make sure your navigation structure is simplified
  • Show multiple product deals instead of either having one or two items on the homepage of your best eCommerce website
  • Ensure that you use the right color combination, font size, and font color
  • Be sure that the ‘Add to Cart’ button is clear, vibrant, and conspicuous relative to other product pages and site functionality
  • Pick the correct typography and recruit experienced developers to create the best eCommerce website for robust results and brand image
  • Study customer psychology, eCommerce website examples, and online store business strategies to make great eCommerce design elements
  • Make sure that your eCommerce website loads quickly and is mobile friendly

After developing your eCommerce store, you need to market your store to expand your user base. You need to have a strategic and innovative online sales approach to increase your online presence.

Market Your Online Store

Only building a webshop is not enough; you need to market your online store to get a return on 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 eCommerce store, you need promotional marketing strategies to increase online traffic, convert leads into paying customers and retain customers post-purchase.

Let’s understand in what ways you can market your online eCommerce store.

How to Market Your Online Business?

  1. Offer loyalty programs to regular customers
  2. Offer referral bonus to the existing user, this keeps sales cycle on the auto mode
  3. Set up social media accounts for Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter
  4. Provide exceptional customer services like web-integrated call management, multi-channel tracking, and management of customer communication
  5. Consider omnichannel marketing; add products to the cart on the website and provide in-store pick-up and returns
  6. Provide deals and discounts to first-time customers
  7. Grow site traffic with SEO content. By generating SEO content, you can continue to refine your website and boost its search result rankings

Want to know more about eCommerce 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 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. Which are the most successful eCommerce sites?

  8. Amazon, Walmart, Alibaba, and Macy’s are some of the most successful eCommerce sites globally.

  9. How long does it take to develop an eCommerce website?

  10. It takes from 2 to 12 months to build an eCommerce website from scratch.

  11. How many products or categories can be uploaded to custom eCommerce sites? Is there any limit?

  12. Uploading products depends on your server and the hosting plan of your eCommerce 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.

  13. How to use Augmented Reality in your eCommerce store?

    1. Using 3D Trials: The buyers can easily judge whether the product will look good in their home or not. This also provides a good hint to the buyers about the actual size and dimensions of the product.
    2. A Virtual Tour: If you are into a business like real estate or are selling bigger than usual products, Augmented Reality can help your potential customers get a virtual tour of the product through your app. So, regardless of the type of eCommerce website you are planning to have, you can easily make good use of Augmented Reality. And how perfectly you get this totally depends on the developer you are planning to hire for your website. So, choose the developer carefully and know-how technology helps you get more business.

Ready to Build Your eCommerce Store from Scratch?

If you’re the retailer or manufacturer or brick-and-mortar store that 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.

If you have an eCommerce idea, then our team of experienced eCommerce web development specialists will help build an online business. Connect with us to know how we help you to make an eCommerce website.

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Rakesh Patel

Written by

Rakesh Patel

Rakesh Patel is the Founder and CEO of Space-O Technologies. 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.