Build an ecommerce website: beginner’s guide

Creating an e-commerce website can be a thrilling journey into the world of online business. With the right tools and guidance, even a beginner can set up a successful online store. This guide will walk you through the basics of building an e-commerce website, focusing on popular platforms such as WooCommerce, Shopify, and the options for affordable custom web design.

We have worked a lot with woocommerce and we can recommend that easily, but its your choice to get whatever you want to use, because there are a lot of options, all viable and all having pros and cons.

Understanding E-commerce Platforms

Before diving into the specifics of website creation, it’s important to understand what an e-commerce platform is. Simply put, it’s a software solution that allows you to sell goods and services online. It includes features like shopping carts, product catalogs, and payment processing.

Choosing the Right E-commerce Platform

The choice of platform can significantly impact the success of your online store. Factors to consider include cost, ease of use, customization options, and scalability.


WooCommerce is a popular choice, especially for those already familiar with WordPress. As an open-source plugin, it allows users to convert any WordPress site into a fully functional e-commerce store. It’s known for its flexibility and extensive customization options. You can choose from a multitude of themes and plugins to enhance your store’s functionality and appearance. WooCommerce is particularly appealing because of its no-cost base product, though additional costs can arise from purchasing premium themes, plugins, and hosting services.


Shopify is another leading platform, ideal for beginners due to its simplicity and ease of use. Unlike WooCommerce, Shopify is a hosted solution, which means it takes care of hosting and managing software for you. This can be beneficial for users who prefer a more straightforward, all-in-one solution. Shopify offers a range of pricing plans and comes with a variety of themes that can be customized to meet your needs. The platform also includes robust support, making it a great option for those who might need a bit more guidance.

Affordable Custom Web Design

For those who desire a unique website but need to keep an eye on budget, affordable custom web design services are available. These services typically use platforms like WordPress and add e-commerce functionality with WooCommerce or other plugins. This option allows for greater uniqueness in design and functionality tailored to specific business needs without the high cost associated with fully custom solutions. It’s important to select a reputable designer or agency to ensure you receive a quality product that meets your e-commerce needs.

Usually web design agencies offer from the most cheap to affordable to very expensive but it all depends on the platform they use and to the features you want to have. But all in all you should discuss first with them, and they will give you a price quote.

You can read more about web design pricing here and you can get a picture of the whole thing before you go with the web design agency route. Advantage is that you will have everything done for you.

Step-by-Step Guide to Building Your E-commerce Website

Now, let’s break down the steps to build your e-commerce website, from planning to launch:

Step 1: Planning

Before you start building your website, you need a clear plan. Define your target audience, decide on the products you want to sell, and determine how you want your website to look. Planning also involves choosing the right domain name and e-commerce platform based on your business needs.

Step 2: Setting Up Your Store

  • WooCommerce:
    • Install WordPress and set up your hosting.
    • Install the WooCommerce plugin and go through the setup wizard.
    • Choose a WooCommerce-compatible theme and customize your site.
    • Add your products, set up payment methods, and configure shipping options.
  • Shopify:
    • Sign up for Shopify and choose a plan that fits your needs.
    • Pick a theme from Shopify’s theme store and customize it.
    • Add your products and set up your tax and shipping settings.
    • Configure your payment gateways.

Step 3: Customizing Your Website

Regardless of the platform, customizing your website is crucial. It should reflect your brand and appeal to your target audience. Customize your layout, color scheme, and fonts. Add essential pages like “About Us,” “Contact,” and “FAQ.”

Step 4: Testing

Before going live, thoroughly test your website. Check everything from the user interface, loading times, and responsiveness to shopping cart functionality and the checkout process. Ensure that all aspects work seamlessly across different devices and browsers.

Before launching your e-commerce website, comprehensive testing is crucial to ensure a smooth customer experience. Begin by conducting functional testing to verify that all features of the website operate as intended, from product searches and user account creation to checkout processes. Pay special attention to security testing, as protecting customer data is paramount in maintaining trust and complying with regulations. Performance testing should also be included to ensure the website remains stable and fast under various traffic conditions. Additionally, usability testing with real users can provide invaluable insights into user experience and highlight areas for improvement. This can include navigation ease, visual appeal, and the overall shopping experience. By rigorously testing your e-commerce site, you can identify and address any issues before they affect your users, thereby enhancing customer satisfaction and minimizing potential disruptions post-launch.

Step 5: Launch and Promote Your Website

Once everything is set, launch your website. Use social media, SEO strategies, and email marketing to promote your online store. Consider using paid advertising to increase traffic and attract more customers.

Launching your e-commerce website is just the beginning of its journey. Effective promotion is key to attracting visitors and converting them into customers. Begin by optimizing your website for search engines (SEO) to enhance your visibility in search results. Engage with potential customers through regular updates on social media platforms and consider content marketing strategies such as blogging about relevant topics to draw more traffic to your site. Email marketing campaigns can be particularly effective, allowing you to send targeted promotions and updates to people who have shown interest in your brand. Additionally, leveraging partnerships and collaborations with influencers or other brands can amplify your reach and credibility. Remember, the goal of your promotional efforts should be to build a strong brand presence and drive traffic, which in turn will lead to sales. Continuously analyze the effectiveness of your promotional strategies and adjust them based on performance metrics and customer feedback to ensure the best results.

Step 6: Managing and Scaling Your E-commerce Business

After your website is live, monitor its performance and make improvements as needed. Analyze customer behavior to better cater to their needs. As your business grows, you might need to upgrade your hosting plan or expand your product range.


Building an e-commerce website can seem daunting, but with the right tools and a clear step-by-step approach, it’s entirely achievable, even for beginners. Whether you choose WooCommerce, Shopify, or an affordable custom design, the key is to start small, plan thoroughly, and scale wisely. With dedication and the right strategy, your online store can thrive in the competitive digital marketplace.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Which e-commerce platform should I choose?
The choice depends on your specific needs and technical skills. Shopify is great for beginners due to its ease of use and comprehensive support. WooCommerce is ideal for those with some experience with WordPress, offering extensive customization options. Consider factors like cost, scalability, and the types of products you plan to sell when choosing your platform.

2. How much will it cost to build an e-commerce website?
The cost varies significantly based on the platform, customization, and additional features you choose. Basic Shopify plans start at a monthly fee, whereas WooCommerce might require additional costs for hosting, themes, and plugins. Don’t forget to account for costs associated with domain registration and potential transaction fees.

3. Can I build an e-commerce website with no coding experience?
Yes, platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce are designed for users without technical backgrounds. They offer templates and drag-and-drop interfaces that make setting up a store straightforward. However, for more tailored customizations, you might consider hiring a developer or learning some basic HTML and CSS.

4. How can I secure my e-commerce website?
Security should be a top priority. Ensure that your platform has SSL certification for safe transactions. Regularly update any software and plugins to protect against vulnerabilities. Consider additional security measures like secure payment gateways, two-factor authentication, and regular backups.

5. How do I optimize my e-commerce site for search engines?
SEO is crucial for driving traffic to your new site. Use relevant keywords, optimize product descriptions and images, and ensure your site has a mobile-friendly design. Regularly create quality content, such as blog posts related to your products or industry. Also, ensure your site has fast loading times and a structure that’s easy for search engines to crawl.

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