A how-to guide on starting your own e-commerce website

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Following the e-commerce boom fueled by COVID-19 movement restrictions, many have sought to pursue profits from the rapidly growing market. There are numerous factors that influence the success of an e-commerce business, but building a good e-commerce website is one that sits at the forefront. 

While not impossible, solely selling products via online marketplaces is unlikely to get you far in today’s fiercely competitive e-commerce scene. As an e-commerce business — startup or enterprise, regardless — you require an organic e-commerce website to effectively capture a global audience, and grow your business revenue and profit margins for sustainable success. Some of the key benefits of starting your own e-commerce website for your store include: 

  • Greater control over brand building and strategic business direction

  • Facilitation of brand awareness, loyalty, and recognition amongst consumer groups

  • Provides potential for swiffer global expansion

  • Reduced cost per sale due to elimination of seller marketplace fees

  • Improved search marketing opportunities via search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM)

  • Freedom to sell whatever, wherever and whenever you want

  • Increased marketing opportunities via cross-promotional strategies

While the aforementioned advantages are but the tip of the iceberg, they alone are reason enough for e-commerce businesses to invest the time and capital needed to start their own website. For startups, it is better to do this before officially launching your e-commerce store. This way, all returns from the investments you’ve made with regards to your marketing strategy will be enjoyed by your business solely, rather than trickling down to the online marketplaces your products are being sold on.

Without further ado, here are the essential steps to starting your very own e-commerce website (check out our previous piece on what you need to know before getting started in the global e-commerce scene if you’ve yet to register your business): 

Essential steps to starting an e-commerce website from scratch

At DHL Express, we understand that the task of building an e-commerce website can be a daunting one with no clear place to start. That is why we’ve broken it down step-by-step, such that you can create your e-commerce website with greater ease while achieving better results: 

1. Pick and purchase your domain name

The very first step you’ll have to do is register a domain name for your e-commerce website. Think of the domain name you desire, and go to a domain name provider to check if what you’ve come up with is available. Places you can do this include Namecheap and Godaddy, though there are countless options out there for you to browse and choose from. Ensure that your domain name is as close to or the same as your business name wherever possible. Find out more about choosing a good business name for your company.

Once you’ve gotten a domain name on your hands that is available for the taking, decide on how long you want it for and any optional services you’d like to order along with it. It’s fairly easy to renew a domain name, so feel free to go with the subscription with the lowest tenure. Domain protection, DNS features, email, hosting options and more are common additional services you can choose to add on to your domain registration package — they’ll likely still be available for future purchase at the same rate, so don’t rush into anything you’re not yet sure of.

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Also, you can consider purchasing multiple domain names for local country versions of the e-commerce website you’re starting, to facilitate better search engine rankings and a stronger sense of local presence when engaging in cross-border e-commerce. Alternatively, you can establish subdomains for these various markets and apply strong localisation strategies.

2. Build your e-commerce website

Next, you’ll have to build your e-commerce website on both the frontend and backend. The former refers to the interface and content of your e-commerce website that your consumers will see and interact with, whereas the latter is with regards to the unseen technical aspects of the site.

While scrimping on costs and building your own e-commerce website yourself may seem alluring, it is best you seek help from professional specialists if needed. Web developers with experience of working on e-commerce sites can not only speed up the entire process, but also offer insightful inputs that can improve the overall shopping experience of your customers. 

However, if budget is an issue, you can also leverage tools such as Shopify, Wix, Squarespace, WooCommerce or Magento to build your e-commerce website from scratch yourself. We recommend the foremost for its focused catering to e-commerce businesses, and its ever-expanding app store that makes it easy to incorporate new features into your website as and when needed. 

3. Incorporate payment gateways

Lastly, you’ll need a way to take payments on the e-commerce store you’ve built. Incorporate suitable payment gateways for each country your e-commerce site caters to. Look out for dominantly preferred payment methods in each geographical location and be sure to make payment as accessible and convenient for your customers as possible. Major payment gateways include PayPal, Stripe, Ingenico, Amazon Pay, and Worldpay. While Apple Pay and Google Pay are not strictly payment gateways, they are also nice-to-have options that don’t charge you a single cent. 

Make sure your chosen payment platform is Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliant when taking this last step of creating your very own e-commerce website.  

Tips for creating a competitive e-commerce website

Some tips for creating a more competitive e-commerce website for your business include:

  • Incorporate a search box for ease of product filtering and finding

  • Shorten the checkout process to as few steps as possible

  • Use an abundance of high-quality product photos wherever appropriate

  • Make your e-commerce website easy and enjoyable to navigate

  • Integrate a live chat function that facilitates customer support

  • Add call-to-action buttons where suitable to convenience customers

  • Understand your target audience and cater the design and content accordingly

  • Optimise your site for voice search presence 

  • Be transparent and upfront about the pricing of your product offerings

  • Include reviews and testimonials to build consumer trust

  • Allow users to filter products for a more enjoyable shopping experience

  • Include order confirmation or thank you pages to acknowledge purchases

  • Ensure mobile optimisation for your e-commerce website

  • Include FAQ pages and a means for consumers to contact you if needed

Deliver on your promises with DHL Express

Starting your own e-commerce website is a significant step in the right direction. With the right product offerings and marketing strategies, you’ll likely find orders starting to stream in as your e-commerce store picks up and word gets around. 

However, as always when it comes to business, opportunity for profit inherently spells room for failure. Slow or incorrect deliveries can impede business growth and result in costly loss of consumer trust. The good news? You can avoid this altogether and ensure flawless deliveries and order fulfilment with our global delivery service at DHL Express . 

Register for an account with us today, or check out our other resources regarding e-commerce.