In your routine, do you prefer going to a physical store or buying online? Pandemic times made the second option the only possibility, sometimes. But, even with street stores and malls reopening, many people find using an ecommerce website much more convenient, and practical.
Maybe you are one of them. An ecommerce website is about being able to buy without going out of the comfort of your home, making a purchase from a seller on the other side of the world, or finding unique items. It also presents great business opportunities.
Technology has become more and more part of our daily lives, from the moment we wake up to when we go to sleep. Certainly, it has influenced the way most people shop, and you can benefit from it, but first is essential to comprehend the ecommerce website concept.
The definition of an ecommerce website
Basically, an ecommerce website can be defined as an online space where you are able to sell products or services. It can be physical items such as a t-shirt or a smartphone but can be digital ones, like ebooks or a song, and even services, for example, an online doctor appointment or fashion consultation.
It includes a business model where part of it is making sales transactions through the internet. That’s where the main difference from a simple company website lies. In them, you can access to know more about the company, its products, and services, get in contact, but you are not able to buy anything directly from the site.
While on the online store, you get to know more about the business, its history, where its located, but conclude the purchase on the digital space. Instead of looking for physical sales points, the customer can buy with a click.
To build an ecommerce store, you have multiple options. It’s possible to create an online store from scratch, where your company is responsible for developing the coding and the design to launch the ecommerce and enabling it to function correctly.
Although, nowadays, if you don’t want to, you don’t need to have all that work. You can rely on ecommerce website builders, which already have a CMS (Control Management System), and don’t demand any coding or design skills.
Other possibilities of sales channels on the internet are selling directly on social media pages, such as Instagram, and Facebook, and using marketplaces like Amazon, and eBay. You can sell in all of them if you want.
The history of ecommerce website
When do you think the internet started to be used as a way to make purchases? The 90s? It was decades before it, in the 1960s companies began to use the online space to exchange data for selling purposes. They used Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).
But, it was in the 1990s that ecommerce websites started to be more explored, and seen as a possible market to be developed. That’s when Amazon was founded, for example, to be more precise, on July, 5th,1994. eBay was founded on September, 3rd, 1995.
The giant marketplaces were small businesses at the time, and they helped pave the way for the growing industry ecommerce has become. In the 1990s, having a computer at home had turned into something common in the US, but people were still feeling very unsafe about buying online and providing data such as credit card numbers.
Aware of this problem, many companies focused on increasing cyber security, and developers came up with several solutions, creating security systems to prevent hacking and other problems. Also, the creation of return policies, tracking orders, and payment gateways helped to improve the customer experience.
To understand those changes, try to remember the first time you bought something online. Did you feel insecure about it? Probably yes, but, nowadays, it feels more natural, doesn’t it? Of course, tracking the order, checking if the website is secure is still essential, but buying online has turned into a habit for many people.
Types of ecommerce websites
As there are several business models, whose target audiences are very different from one another, the existence of different kinds of ecommerce websites is something natural. It helps to guide you when building your ecommerce and defining which features to add. Take a look at it:
- B2B: Business-to-business ecommerces, as the name suggests, are companies that sell products or services to attend to other companies’ demands. For example, a store that is specialized in selling software designed for business solutions, or raw material suppliers.
- B2C: Business-to-consumer ecommerces are the stores that sell directly to the final consumer, for example, a shoe store, or a clothing one. Such as when you purchase a new smartphone at Apple Store.
- C2C: Consumer to consumer ecommerces are the kind of sales transactions that happen between consumers, as the name points out. A simple example is a sales garage, but in this case, it happens online. There are platforms already specialized at allowing people to sell their used items on the internet, like Decluttr.
- C2B: Consumer-to-business ecommerce is when the sales transaction happens from the consumer to a company. We can see that when brands pay for someone to show their products on their social media page.
Ecommerce sales channels you can use
With internet growth, the number of sales channels has increased immensely. You can sell your products not only on one ecommerce website but also on many platforms. Each with its aspects that must be considered when deciding which ones you are going to use.
Social media platforms that were mainly used to advertise products, now are the means to finish the purchase itself. For example, Instagram has created a store inside its app, with an icon on the initial page that directs users to it.
The same has happened with Facebook that has a marketplace area as well. You don’t need to have an ecommerce website to sell on those platforms, just register your account, add the products, and follow the guidelines.
WhatsApp has also turned into a sales platform. Many companies were already using it to sell items. But, WhatsApp Payments, which allows customers to pay directly on the app, has made the purchases even more practical without having to redirect to other platforms.
Should I use all of those social media sales channels? You may be asking yourself. The answer is, it depends on where your potential customers are, and what channels they prefer to use. That’s why building a solid ecommerce website business plan, including a behavior study about your target market and audience, is so important.
Marketplace follows the multi-seller business model, It enables various companies to sell their products in the same ecommerce website, for example, Amazon, eBay, and Etsy. Many users prefer to buy on those platforms because, as they have developed authority in this field, they believe them to be more reliable when it comes to delivering on time, and security.
You can use that credibility and visibility in your favor. Considering the marketplaces already have a huge number of users, that’s an opportunity to be seen and to conquer more customers.
There are some marketplaces focused on specific sectors, such as ASOS, focused on the fashion market, or Discogs, a music specialized ecommerce. Usually niche marketplaces have a small number of users, but offer the advantages of being able to target a very specific public.
How to start an ecommerce website
To create an ecommerce website for your company, the easier and faster way is to use an ecommerce builder platform. You will just need to do the following steps:
- Register your account.
- Choose the plan that suits your needs.
- Define which pre-built template you are going to use.
- Customize the template.
- Add the products (including image, title, description, and price).
- Set shipping and payment methods.
- Install plugins to help you manage your website, and expand sales.
- Revise everything and launch it.
What are the basic pages on an ecommerce website?
The number of pages your ecommerce website is going to have depend on how many products or services you are going to sell, the sections you want to add, among other things. But there are basic pages, essential to building your online store and which highly affect the customer experience.
Starting with your homepage, it must have an intuitive design, instigating the users to keep navigating through your website without having to do any effort. Every item has to be positioned strategically.
The product listing pages are primordial. They are the place where the users can see the variety of items your store contains and feel curious to discover more about them on another fundamental area of your website, the product page.
Each product must have a page, with high-quality pictures that show the item as closely as possible to reality. Add a description thinking about how the product can help to solve your potential customer’s demands, to help with SEO it’s advisable to include keywords. Don’t forget to add specificities like size, weight, color, and others.
The checkout page also makes the whole difference, since It’s the place where the user is almost becoming a customer. You are close to making a sale, but if the procedure is too complicated or the load speed too slow, it can discourage your potential customer. Focus on making the last sales step simple and clear.
After that, what about a thank you page? Is a way to show you care about your customer besides the purchase, you could include a coupon discount the next time they visit your website. Start building customer loyalty.
What is the cost of having an ecommerce website?
The cost of having an ecommerce website has to do with many factors, for example, the size of your business, the number of products you are going to sell, if you are going to use an ecommerce website builder, the plan you choose, besides the other sales channels.
There are free ecommerce website builders where you can create and maintain your website without having to pay for it, but it has its limitations. Some marketplaces, such as Amazon, offer a free plan too.
But, that is not the only cost of having an online store. It’s necessary to think about your company’s internal processes. If your company produces the items it sells, will you have to increase the production? What about creating a new packaging system and shipping methods?
Include all of those aspects in your ecommerce business plan, to better understand all the costs. If you are a reseller, it’s possible to start with a very small capital investment. Many companies use the dropshipping system, where you are responsible for making the sale, but they are in charge of storing and delivering the items.
5 ecommerce website builders you should know about
Now that you understand what is an ecommerce website and know it can help you start or grow your business, what about getting to know more about the main ecommerce website builders? Take a look at their main characteristics:
One of the most famous website builders, Wix also offers many solutions to open your online store. It has more than 500 pre-built templates for you to choose from, all customizable, and mobile-friendly.
They also provide Wix Payments, a centralized inventory to sell in different channels, an integrated analytics dashboard, automated Facebook and Instagram ad campaigns, automated sales tax, among other advantages.
With more than a million brands using Shopify to create their stores, there is no doubt, the platform offers useful solutions for having your ecommerce website. To test its features, a 14-day trial is provided, you don’t even need to put your credit card number to register your account. And, you can migrate your store from other platforms, for example WooCommerce to Shopify.
They have many templates divided into categories such as food & drink, jewelry, and home & cosmetics. You will also count on a platform that is integrated with several sales channels, allowing you to manage everything from the Shopify dashboard.
Site123 has many valuable features for an ecommerce business, for example, an intuitive website editor, responsive and mobile-friendly design, SEO tools, and custom domains.
You can easily track and manage your orders, add different types of payment methods, control shipping and tax rates inside the system, set and automate inventory, and select various currencies. If you need any help, you can consult their 24/7 support.
With a simple interface, after creating your store, you will see how to add products and manage the inventory. You can set the system to notify you when a sale is made, or about their status.
The pre-built offered templates have a responsive design, so your customers can have a great experience buying on their smartphones or tablets. You are able to offer local payment methods and define the best shipping solutions, including in-store pickup.
With Shoplazza, you are going to count on a complete ecommerce platform that enables you to create your online store from scratch and manage it, all in one place. To begin, you will find several themes to choose from to make the layout, which can be personalized in the drag-and-drop online store builder.
The platform also provides you with an inventory management system, you can easily set multiple payment and shipping options too. Besides, Shoplazza has marketing and SEO tools to help you promote your website and boost sales.
Understand what is an ecommerce website and grow your business
Knowing what is an ecommerce website and its advantages is the first step to what can be an incredible journey through starting your company or expanding it, by offering the option to buy online.
You can reach people from all over the world, in a growing market where new features are daily invented. The possibilities are endless, but, in order to achieve success, it’s indispensable to create a business plan, analyze the market and be aware of the need to be in constant improvement.
Study deeply about what is an ecommerce, the features, each sales channel’s characteristics, know your target audience, and see what strategies your competitors are applying. Remember, committing mistakes is part of the path, you can learn from it, adapt, and take your company to the next level.