How to Build an eCommerce Store

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Olga Demidenko
Author, Geomotiv
Published: Aug 11, 2021

Starting an eCommerce store is not an easy task since it requires a lot of time and effort. But in the long term, it pays off. Let's look at what is vital for an entrepreneur to consider when starting an online business. We’ll also talk about how the changes of 2020 are already affecting the e-commerce market and what we should prepare for soon.

In the end, the article will break down the price range for custom eCommerce store development and explain why they are still in demand among decision-makers.

Understand the State of Things on the Market

The move towards online commerce has been in the minds of business entrepreneurs for a long time. And it has become even more active as a result of the pandemic. The restrictions targeted at preventing the spread of COVID-19 have put many companies in complicated settings. Some of them found eCommerce is the only option for their survival and looked at how to start an eCommerce store in the shortest time frame.

The pandemic also has tuned the shopping behavior, which has shifted online instead of visiting traditional brick-and-mortar stores. These and other factors lead experts to predict significant growth of the eCommerce market soon. According to recent Statista estimates, online retail sales are expected to approach $6.5 trillion by 2023, whereas in 2019 alone, this figure accounted for 3.5 trillion.

The US eCommerce has caught up with this worldwide trend and grown significantly in 2021. As stated by eMarketer, the Covid-19 pandemic also contributed to a sharp leap in developing this market. Previously, the analytics predicted that by 2021 the segment could stretch to $761.26 billion, but now experts state that the growth is ready to reach $908.73 billion. As for the future estimates, eMarketer expects US consumers to spend $1.192 trillion through eCommerce retail channels. 

Now that the opening of physical stores in the USA is upon us, eCommerce sales are gradually slowing down. There is a strong return to offline stores as more people get vaccinated. However, that doesn’t affect the latest eMarketer’s predictions about traditional retail growth rate; its pre-pandemic estimates for 2021 were 13% higher than post-pandemic ones. 

All the above figures speak in favor of the bright future of eCommerce sales. With a general trend of consumers tending to buy online and favorable market conditions for entrepreneurs, there is no better time to create an eCommerce store. If you are unsure where to start, use our review of different business models powering online stores below.

Then, read our article dedicated to this topic. We share tips and tricks on how to start an eCom business from scratch.

Start reading

Get to Grips with Different Business Models

Knowing which options are available, you can understand how to manage your store and monetize your solution. So let’s look at them in more detail.

B2B (Business-to-Business)

Just like it sounds, the model involves a business selling its products to another company. B2B stores provide items that end consumers would have no interest in, like Enterprise-grade software, corporate training solutions, or business supplies. In other words, they can include virtually anything to help other businesses enhance their operations and practices.

Great examples of B2B eCom stores would be:

  • SalesForce
  • Hubspot
  • Zendesk
  • ACME
  • Quill

B2C (Business-to-Consumer)

As its name suggests, this model involves companies selling online directly to ordinary consumers. A B2C online store can supply all possible goods, from electronics to home decor, clothing and footwear, books, and items for personal care.

Great examples of B2C online stores would be:

  • Aliexpress.com
  • Amazon
  • Alibaba.com
  • Walmart
  • Rakuten
  • Flipkart

C2C (Consumer-to-Consumer) eCommerce stores

When setting up an eCommerce store under a C2C model, you will let consumers purchase and sell products by charging a commission fee. These eCom websites manage the transaction details and usually provide multiple options for paying via credit card, PayPal, or blockchain.

 Great examples of C2C online stores would be:

  • eBay
  • Amazon Marketplace
  • Etsy
  • Craigslist

C2B (Consumer-to-Business) online stores

C2B online stores make it possible for individuals to connect with businesses and earn money along with them. Under this model, consumers have the power to ask the price for their offering and have other businesses pay for that value. 

Think affiliate marketing, BA services, or hiring freelance web designers or social media influencers to market your business. All these use cases fall into the category.

Great examples of C2B online stores would be:

  • Fiverr
  • Upwork

B2A (Business-to-Administration) online stores

B2A eCommerce occurs when a business provides goods or services to administrative bodies or governments through a website. The ultimate goal of this eCom model is to unite the two parties and facilitate their transactions.

Great examples of B2A companies would be:

  • Accela
  • IPS Group
  • Swiftly

C2A (Consumer-to-Administration) eCommerce stores

This model covers transactions between consumers and public administration or governments. Its primary purpose is to simplify cooperation between them and make it more efficient.

Great examples of C2A services would be:

  • Online learning
  • Electronic taxes
  • Payment for health-related services.

The above types of eCommerce business models can help you find the right niche for your online store. Now, it is time to turn to what can make it competitive and relevant for target audiences. Let’s discuss some of the essential features that come with online store website development. 

Know the Features to Add when Building an eCommerce Store

It is worth noting that in each case the set of features will be unique. It depends primarily on the needs of each specific business. However, there are certain elements every eCommerce website should possess to be valuable for customers. Here are a couple of the must-haves:

Catalog management. This module allows users to organize, browse and navigate to relevant products and their options. A precise and detailed eCommerce catalog that fits your audiences’ expectations will make your products visible. Here are the features your eCom website needs:

  • Consistent product tags and measurement units
  • Consistent image sizes
  • High-quality visuals
  • Batch Import and Export
  • Virtual/Downloadable/Digital Products
  • Product Configurations/Bundles/Groups.

Product Pages. They serve to inform clients about your products and motivate them to make a purchase. Add a stellar product page with a well-thought design and conversion-oriented components. Here are the features your eCom website needs:

  • Descriptive product name
  • Informative product description
  • Multiple images
  • Zoomed-in view of images
  • Product reviews
  • Price
  • Clear product options
  • Stock availability.

Catalog Browsing. This module needs to ensure that your clients don’t get confused while surfing your website. You need to remove all possible roadblocks from their path to checkout. Here are the features your eCom website needs:

  • Breadcrumb navigation
  • Search box
  • Product comparisons
  • Filter products by Tags
  • Grid or list format of inventory listings
  • Straightforward navigation for filtering products in Categories/Search results.

Checkout. The rule of thumb is to remove potential confusion from the checkout process. Mind that most online consumers will cancel the purchase if they encounter problems at this stage. Here are the features your eCom website needs:

  • One-Page Checkout
  • SSL security support 
  • Shipping to multiple addresses per order
  • Guest Checkout
  • The final price with discounts, tax, and shipping estimates
  • The field to edit and remove items
  • The area to insert promo codes.

Payment. To build an eCommerce store and make it a success, it is necessary to prioritize safe and reliable payment gateways. The ideal execution offers a couple of options and lets customers pick the most convenient ones for them. Here are the features your eCom store needs:

  • Multiple payment options
  • Saved credit card methods
  • Add/delete credit card from a profile
  • Accept checks.

Customer account. If you want to pave the way for returning and loyal customers, this module is worth the attention. Registered accounts provide customers with an interactive shopping experience and the convenience of easier purchases. Here are the features your eCom website needs:

  • Past order history
  • Order statuses
  • Billing and Shipping addresses
  • Wish Lists
  • Newsletter Subscription
  • Saved credit card details
  • Sent product reviews
  • Information about refund and returns.

Search Engine Optimization. With proper SEO practices in place, you can increase brand visibility and attract more organic traffic to your website. Here are the features your eCom website needs:

  • Google Site Map
  • URL editing
  • Meta tags: title and meta description management
  • 100% SEO-friendly website.

User-friendly interface and navigation simplicity. Your objective should be to help shoppers to complete a purchase without interruptions.  It is necessary to simplify their journey from product discovery to checkout, more accessible removing unnecessary complexity. Focus on the user experience by providing effortless, clean, easy-to-use navigation menus, filters, search bars, shopping categories, and checkout forms.

Mobile-friendly experience or a mobile app. As consumers tend to browse through their smartphones, the demand for mobile responsive eCommerce websites is on the rise. It should be on a store development checklist as it provides the most user-friendly experience for digital natives. Some eCommerce entrepreneurs don’t limit the functionality of their store with just a responsive design. Instead, they develop a mobile app that can personalize the shopping experience for end-users.

Security. Strict security compliance is one of the top priorities for eCommerce stores, as customers are becoming aware of online threats more than ever before. If you can’t provide appropriate security measures against cyberthreats, you might be risking your investments. Here are the features an eCom website needs:

  • Full compliance with GDPR and CCPA guidelines
  • Data purging
  • SSL certificate 
  • Strict password rules
  • Card Verification Value(CVV) check
  • HTTPS protocol in place.

Return/privacy policy. An integral part of a trusted eCommerce website, it eases concerns in case of any issues. For instance, if the customers are dissatisfied with the product or need a different color option, the company will support them according to the policy.

FAQ section. With this module, you can address common and repetitive questions regarding your brand or product offering. Make it easy to find and navigate and include only straightforward questions that match your clients’ expectations.

How to Build an eCommerce Store: a Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Research the market you are entering.
    Before developing an eCommerce store, you should know for sure to whom you are going to sell your products or services. Identify buyer personas and adjust all aspects of your business accordingly:
    -develop product categories, descriptions;
    -identify the most optimal payment gateway;
    -choose the style of product images.
  2. Choose your business model.
    As we previously discussed, choosing a proper business model is one of the most impactful decisions for your business structure.
  3. Develop a business plan. 
    The next step would be to finalize a business plan and a thoroughly outlined strategy. Make sure you include the initial budget, monthly/yearly expenses, or any potential loan needs.
  4. Pick the right development approach.
    There are three primary options based on your goals when it comes to developing eCommerce stores. You can choose from the following:
    - Go with template-based website builders, which provide limited flexibility and scalability;
    - Go with Custom eCommerce solutions, which enable you to create a unique store with unlimited features and functionality;
    - Go with Open-source eCommerce platforms, which offer various pre-built features but involve a time-consuming and labor-intensive development process.
  5. Create an MVP.
    An MVP for an online store is a version of the final product with a minimum feature set to test and validate your business idea. By offering it to early end-users, you can determine if you’ve picked the right features and detect current flaws of the project.
  6. Set up your store using early feedback.
    This step involves much more than adding the required modules and content. You need to get essential back-end features, including:
    - Customer management
    - Analytics and reporting tools
    - Inventory management
    - Email marketing and automation
    - Order and shipment management
  7. Focus on promoting your store.
    Building an eCommerce store is only the first step of the journey. Next, it is necessary to make it noticed in the crowd once it goes live. From driving traffic to building an efficient social presence, you need to stay consistent and patient.

Then, turn to Geomotiv for professional eCommerce development services.

What is an eCommerce Store Development Cost?

The approximate cost to develop an eCommerce store is closely tied to the particular business goals and the feature list to be implemented. For example, if you sell a small pool of products, you’ll probably need a generic website with essential features and design. Then you may go with website builders like Shopify for $29/month. 

In the case of an eCommerce business selling more than 1.000 customizable products and requiring a tailor-made design and diverse hosting options, the process becomes a bit more sophisticated. You may expect to invest more than $1.000 per solution, which will take longer to implement and deploy on the market.

Based on our extensive experience with online store website development, we can provide time and money estimates based on the project peculiarities. In most cases, the price tag for the design and development of off-the-shelf solutions is similar to that of custom eCommerce stores. However, with a custom-built website, you can go beyond the limitations common limitations:

  • Develop a unique store design
  • Include only relevant features
  • Optimize costs
  • Access tech-savvy engineering teams
  • Ensure flexibility and scalability when a business starts to grow
  • Receive timely security updates
  • Avoid vendor lock-in
  • Integrate seamlessly with third-party systems, including payment gateways, marketing tools, and CRM software
  • Get continuous maintenance and support for your solution.

The price range for custom eCommerce development is between $60K-900K+starts from $60,000 - $70,000 per platform. Depending on the project size, the project estimates will be as follows:

Basic eCommerce website: 3-6 months. $60KMedium eCommerce website: 6-9 months, $90KLarge eCommerce website: 9+ months (ongoing), $300K
Project AnalysisProject Analysis“Medium” feature set
DesignComplex DesignComplex multi-level website design
ArchitectureArchitectureOngoing development and support
Core feature set with responsive designMultiple features
DeploymentMultiple integrations and payment gateways
Automated testsEmail marketing features
QAPromotion and discount code tools
Management and supportSEO-optimized code and layout
Deployment
Automated tests and QA
Management and support

Note that these numbers are approximate as numerous factors will affect the budget. Here’s what you need to consider:

  • the scope and complexity of eCommerce website features
  • the complexity of UX/UI web design
  • the required tech stack
  • the number of specialists and their proficiency
  • the required back-end development services
  • the number of integrations.

Let’s Recap

This article contains a great deal of information concerning where to start when designing and developing an eCommerce store.

  • We briefly outlined the current state of the online store market and provided a couple of insights about the eCommerce industry in the USA. Next, we also determined the peculiarities of the most popular business models that form the foundation for the brand.
  • Equally important, an online store should provide optimal features to facilitate the shopping experience and streamline the road to checkout. If not, you might encounter hundreds, if not thousands, lost customers.
  • As for building an eCommerce store, we turned to the widespread practices of building solutions for the industry. Following our step-by-step guide, you will be able to minimize risks and save a substantial amount of time and money. 
  • Finally, we provided the answer to the following question “What are the costs for online store website development”? Although it is nearly impossible to provide accurate estimates, we aimed to give you an idea of the projected budget.

As a company with a proven track record in custom eCommerce development from scratch, we are ready to empower your business with tailor-made online stores. So let us assess your project from technical and business sides and estimate the expenses necessary to complete it. Just reach out to us via this form, and we will be glad to help!

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