Whether you're completely new to eCommerce or you've been selling successfully on eBay, Amazon, or Etsy and feel ready to branch out, it's time to learn how to create a website for your business. A website helps your business stand out from competitors and gives you far more control than you'd have selling on a large marketplace. With your own website, you can define your own store policies, show off your products to their best advantage and take payment in the ways that you and your customers prefer.
But customers have expectations, and with so much competition online today, you'll need a website that's fully optimized for eCommerce. You need product pages, images, a fully-functional shopping cart, additional pages, and more. You'll need an eCommerce website builder — a platform for building a website specifically for selling online, handling customers, and running your business.
Ideally, your website builder will be made specifically for eCommerce, not a generic site builder with a few optional eCommerce addons. An eCommerce-specific website builder will offer you much more in the realm of selling online and growing your business.
With so many website builders on the market today, it can be a real headache to try and figure out which would offer the most for your business. The first step is to eliminate website builders that aren't primarily for eCommerce. If a site builder has blogging, photo galleries, or a different feature as its main purpose, with eCommerce tacked on through addons, it won't be enough for your business in the long run.
Once you've narrowed the field down to eCommerce software platforms, you need to understand what to look for. Not all eCommerce website builders are equal, nor do they all offer the full range of advantages you'll need to make your business thrive.
Each of these features is necessary for your business, by making it easy to get your website off the ground, reducing your expenses, helping you reach (and serve) customers, and more.
If you can build, run, and host your eCommerce website on one convenient platform, you've eliminated the need to find and pay for reliable web hosting. This will save you time and money.
Every time a visitor accesses your website, some bandwidth is used. Many eCommerce platforms limit bandwidth, restricting the amount of traffic you can get without your site slowing down or incurring overage fees. High-traffic days should be cause for celebration, not punishment via decreased performance and surprise charges.
Some platforms restrict you to small numbers of products unless you move up to a higher-tier plan. Look for a platform with minimal restrictions so you won't have to pick and choose which products to sell. Even the lowest-priced plan should allow you at least 100 products.
Your product pages need to include all the information customers want, including descriptions, specifications (technical or otherwise), customer reviews, and high-quality images. The best eCommerce website builders provide an easy way to add these through dedicated sections.
Categories are a necessity for organizing your products so customers can find them, and your category structure should rely solely on a sensible approach for your products, not an arbitrary limit.
Your business website will benefit from additional pages like an About page, policy pages, a Contact page, and other pages as you see fit.
Search Engine Optimization is necessary for getting your pages and products to rank high in search engine results. SEO is much easier with built-in tools for applying these optimizations, otherwise you'll need technical knowledge.
These are your means of tracking purchases and interacting with customers to build loyalty, while keeping records of these interactions. The more capabilities you have for performing customer service, the better — you should be able to handle returns, edit orders, communicate via email, and more.
When a customer puts items into their online shopping cart and doesn't complete the purchase, they are said to have abandoned their cart. You need built-in tools for reminding customers to return and finish their purchase.
You should be able to run every aspect of your online store, from initial website creation to inventory management to customer interaction, from a single dashboard accessible via login and password, without needing to install software on your computer.
If you have issues or questions regarding your eCommerce website, it's extremely helpful to be able to contact someone for help 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. If all support is in-house, even better.
You don't want your growing business to be held back by your online store's infrastructure. You need a platform that works for any size of business without sacrificing speed or quality.
Building an ecommerce website can seem intimidating at first, but if you approach it step-by-step, you'll be able to build your eCommerce site without feeling overwhelmed. With Shift4Shop, you don't need any programming or design experience — just knowledge of your industry and a drive to succeed.
Follow these steps to build your website and start selling online!
Shift4Shop comes with a large assortment of customizable, mobile-ready themes you can apply to your store instantly. Choose one that matches your industry and branding by looking for colors and images appropriate for your type of products. You can do deeper customizations later or even hire a professional to give your store's theme a complete overhaul.
You can preview themes on your store and change them whenever you like, which is helpful if you have trouble deciding. You can also pick your theme later in this process, when you may have received more inspiration while building your online store!
Customers expect certain things from an eCommerce website, including an About page where they can learn more about the business, a Contact page for getting in touch, and sometimes other pages like FAQs. You'll also need pages for your privacy, return, and shipping policies
Your Shift4Shop Online Store Builder contains an easy-to-use page creation tool complete with word processing right in the dashboard, so you can make new pages and write content with minimal hassle, in a familiar environment.
Categories organize your products to make it easier for customers to find what they want. You can create subcategories within other categories as needed, as well as cross-categorize products that call for it (i.e. assign them to multiple categories).
Keep your categories as simple as possible — customers should only need to click three times to reach their desired item. Categories are intended to be permanent, so don't use them to create lists of "On Sale" products.
Easily add products in your Shift4Shop Online Store Manager upload at least one high-quality image per product, fill out product information, and assign them to categories. You can accomplish all this through a simple Add Product form.
Optionally, upload products in bulk through a properly-formatted CSV file. It's recommended to start out by adding at least one product manually to get a feel for how it works.
Shift4Shop provides built-in credit card processing through Shift4. You're ready to take credit card payments right away, from the moment you launch your online store.
Add other payment methods based on your target market and customer demand. Digital wallets and other alternate payments are becoming more popular, so consider PayPal, Google Pay, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, Bitcoin, and any others your customers will want to use. Several "buy now, pay later" options are also available, in which the customer is given time to complete their payments while you receive the full amount immediately.
Choose shipping methods based on your location, reach, products, and preferred carriers. Shift4Shop is integrated with several popular shipping carriers including USPS, UPS, FedEx, Australia Post, Canada Post, DHL, Royal Mail, Parcelforce and more. Real-time shipping rates, tracking numbers, and label printing are enabled for many carriers.
You can also set up flat-rate or free shipping, and charge based on weight and size of purchases as you see fit. Optionally add a handling charge for items that require additional time or materials.
Depending on your location and your customers' locations, you'll be required to pay taxes on at least some of your sales. Neglecting to charge sales tax where appropriate means you'll be paying the government out of pocket.
Shift4Shop makes it easy to set up tax rules that charge the correct tax on purchases that require it. Simply select your country and state and go from there. Shift4Shop's automatic tax calculations will handle the rest.
Shift4Shop may have everything you need, but you might prefer to use outside accounting, marketing, shipping and fulfillment, CRM, analytics, or other programs to streamline your business. No problem!
Instantly connect your online store with QuickBooks, MailChimp, Avalara, ShippingEasy, Google Analytics, and hundreds of other options. Shift4Shop's integrations with Facebook, Amazon, and eBay also make multi-channel eCommerce and social selling easy.
With Shift4Shop, you decide when your online store is ready for launch. Simply point your domain name to your new ecommerce website, and within hours your online store will be online and ready to start taking orders!
Don't let your business be held back by inadequate tools or a weak platform. Shift4Shop is made for building a complete and affordable eCommerce website that will help your business shine. Even if you don't know how to create a website, you'll find that Shift4Shop has everything you need to build a powerful, streamlined online store your customers will love.