Tips for Starting Your E-Commerce Website
Given that the whole world practically went on lockdown this year, it’s no wonder that online retail is booming. Many businesses faced a difficult decision, moving from offline to online, hoping to find a profitable niche with their own e-commerce store.
With such a competitive online retail space, not to mention Google’s constant updates on how they rank pages, this new influx of market players can only mean one thing: your e-commerce game has to be on.
Whether it’s selling clothing or a service, if you’ve got a crystal-clear picture of your dream e-commerce business, then we have some easy-to-follow tips on how you can make those dreams come to life.
Pick a Domain Name for Your Website
A good rule of thumb? Your brand name should, for all intents and purposes, reflect your domain name.
If you already have an existing brand name that’s connected to what you’re selling online, you can use this domain name or a learn how to use a subdomain.
If you don’t yet have a brand name for your online store, don’t worry. All it takes is researching the market and researching your competitors to come up with one. This brand name, as previously mentioned, will then serve as the domain name for your store.
Whether you’re looking for the popular .COM and .NET, there are plenty of domain names to choose from. (Helpful hint: With Namecheap, you can get a discounted domain name using a promo offer or when you sign up for a Shared Hosting plan — more on this later). There are also domain names that are specific to the e-commerce world, such as .STORE and .SHOP.
Now’s also the time to consider your location. Is your business only in Germany? It makes the most sense, then, to register a country-specific domain name, e.g. .DE. This is an indication that it belongs to the country you do business in. Keep in mind that registering a country domain name can be quite a process, so if you’re looking to sell internationally, it’s not necessary to register a domain name that’s specific to a particular country.
Still can’t find the domain name you want to use? Feel free to check out the domain name marketplace, like Namecheap’s. Here you should be able to find a suitable business name for a nice price.
Decide Which Hosting Is Best for Your Website
While you can think of your domain name as your online address, your website still needs an online home. This is what’s referred to as website hosting. For a general overview of the different types of website hosting available, feel free to check out my previous article.
To be fair, it’s not always so straightforward when it comes to choosing the right hosting platform for your e-commerce website. You need to take a variety of things into account such as the speed of the hosting server in question, its ability to handle large loads like the amount of visitor traffic, its compatibility with different payment methods, what type of marketing features are included with the hosting provider’s service, and of course, your level of technical skill when it comes to being able to build your website.
Our advice? Start small. When your online business is relatively new, chances are you’re budget-conscious. This doesn’t mean that the hosting you choose should compromise your e-commerce website’s performance or security, but it also shouldn’t mean breaking the bank, either.
If you are a newbie to website hosting and the very thought of managing a server on your own makes you shudder, then consider Shared Hosting. Certainly the most inexpensive hosting option available, Shared Hosting often comes with many benefits, including enough resources to handle visitors to your blossoming e-commerce store.
From a Namecheap perspective, Stellar Business Shared Hosting is a solid option given it’s Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant, meaning it adheres to security standards that protect credit, debit, and cash card transactions. Secondly, it has unlimited bandwidth and higher LVE limits (e.g. physical memory usage or CPU) than Namecheap’s Stellar or Stellar Plus. This is also why it can handle e-commerce platforms like Magento 2, which we’ll discuss in the next section.
Stellar Business also comes with many free perks such as a .STORE domain name, SSL certificates, AutoBackup, and Cloud Storage. Looking to send out thousands of emails to prospective customers? Stellar Business can send up to 10,000 emails per hour, which is ideal for advertising your business when you’re just getting started.
However, if you feel completely comfortable managing a server and setting up all the required security measures, a Virtual Private Server (VPS) will suit your e-commerce website just fine. Since it’s a virtual server, this gives you root access and the ability to modify, according to your needs.
In other words? VPS Hosting is great for custom-coded websites, active marketing promotions such as Facebook and Google Ads, higher levels of visitor traffic, and dynamic product stocks. While VPS Hosting won’t necessarily break the bank, keep in mind you’ll often have to invest additionally in such things as anti-DDoS/malware protection and server management fees, if applicable.
That’s why Namecheap’s VPS Pulsar plan comes with 1 TB of bandwidth, which is definitely enough for medium e-commerce websites or e-commerce websites with a growing audience.
Choose a CMS for Your Website
OK, so you’ve got your domain name and you’ve chosen your website hosting. What’s next, you may ask? Now it’s time to choose the content management system (CMS) you’ll use to build your e-commerce website. Widely-known examples of a CMS are WordPress, OpenCart, Drupal, and Magento, just to name a few.
If you’re not a web developer and you don’t have the budget to hire one, you can always use a website builder to create your first website. (Namecheap’s Shared Hosting plans all include a free e-commerce website builder.) Here you can choose from a variety of pre-designed templates or create your website from scratch with its easy drag-and-drop interface. This particular website builder also comes with a range of payment tools, such as PayPal, Skrill, and EasyPay Finance to make the earning process even easier.
If you’re already familiar with the ins and outs of WordPress, the most popular CMS on the market that powers nearly 40% of the Internet’s websites, then consider using this platform for your e-commerce website. WordPress features plenty of awesome themes designed for an online storefront and also has plugins like WooCommerce that add complete e-commerce functionality to your website, from product display to the shopping cart and checkout.
WordPress is also super easy to install (with Shared Hosting it can be done in a few clicks with the Softaculous App installer and just one click with EasyWP Managed WordPress).
If you’re looking at creating a full-blown online shop, look no further than Magento. While Magento is far more complex than WordPress with its WooCommerce plugin, it also comes with everything you need to run your online store, straight out of the box.
Whereas WordPress is more user-friendly for newbies who are building their first online store, Magento is an incredibly stable and flexible option for more enterprise e-commerce websites, especially if you require a lot of customization such as multi-store management, generated reports, mobile e-commerce, etc.
Already have a WordPress website? Simply add the WooCommerce plugin and you can get started. If you don’t yet have a WordPress website, you’ll need to purchase a domain name and hosting from a provider like EasyWP in order to bring your WordPress website online, without any of the technical hassle. Then you can add the WooCommerce plugin to get started.
Now the fun part can begin, aka the designing of your e-commerce website.
Are You Ready to Start?
Today, e-commerce websites seem to do it all.
From storing products online, displaying them in a browsable catalog, keeping track of product inventory, and adding secure payment methods, a solid e-commerce website makes selling anything online possible.
Remember that building your e-commerce website is a long and arduous process. And it definitely doesn’t happen overnight! By identifying what type of e-commerce website you dream of having and reading through our suggestions on how to get there, you’re well on your way to setting yourself up for future success.
What’s your preferred way to host your e-commerce website? Let us know in the comments below!