Setting up a brand new eCommerce website or store can be a challenging task. There are various factors to consider as well as multiple things to handle at the same time. However, it is not as difficult as it seems.
In this post, we will be discussing some of the preliminary things that you need to setup an eCommerce website from scratch. These are questions that you need to ask before getting started with your eCommerce store.
Getting Started With Your eCommerce Website
Which Hosting Plan Do You Need?
The first and foremost question that you need to ask is related to hosting plans for your eCommerce website. The options are many and you need to pick the right one. Do you need shared hosting? Or should you opt for VPS straightaway? More importantly, do you need a managed VPS or an unmanaged one?
For smaller eCommerce stores, shared hosting plans tend to suffice well enough. Also, you should bear in mind that most decent web hosting providers offer an upgrade path from shared to semi-dedicated with additional memory and server resources.
However, for larger eCommerce projects, a Virtual Private Server or VPS is a better fit. If you have the time and expertise required to manage your VPS, you can opt for an unmanaged one. Alternatively, you can purchase a managed VPS solution that ensures you do not have to worry about server management and other related hassles.
Depending on the level of traffic that you are expecting as well as the amount of resources your eCommerce website might need, you can pick the perfect hosting plan for your needs.
Which eCommerce Solution Will You Be Using?
There are many tools and solutions out there that help you build eCommerce stores. You can opt for a hosted or self-hosted solution as well as a dedicated CMS or just a plugin!
If you really wish to simplify things, opting for a hosted solution such as Shopify makes good sense. You do not have to worry about hosting or other aspects — you are given a ready to use eCommerce platform wherein you can choose templates and add your products. The downside, obviously, is that you rarely own all of your data (since you are not hosting it yourself) and have to pay a monthly fee for using Shopify. Such fees tends to be higher than expected in the longer run.
WordPress, on the other hand, is a very popular CMS and is backed by various eCommerce plugins. WooCommerce is the de facto leader in this field. You can find both free and premium extensions for WooCommerce within minutes.
For digital goods, you can try a WordPress plugin such as Easy Digital Downloads.
Alternatively, opting for a dedicated eCommerce CMS such as PrestaShop or ZenCart is a good idea too. This way you can be assured that your tool is fully meant for eCommerce websites only and you will not find bloatware such as blogging features anywhere.
Which Payment Gateway Should You Use?
Your eCommerce website will need a payment gateway mechanism to process payments from your customers. There are certain aspects to consider here:
- You need to pick a payment gateway that is supported by your bank as well as your customers. For example, PayPal is generally a universal fit for most users. However, what if PayPal is not supported by your customers’ countries? Naturally, having an alternative is a good idea in such cases.
- Furthermore, you should never neglect the importance of processing credit and debit cards for payment. While most users on the internet tend to use external services for payment, there are many who use credit or debit cards too. Plus, a merchant that accepts cards can evoke a higher level of trust among users as compared to one who only accepts payments via PayPal or a similar solution.
- Using processors such as Stripe is a good idea too, but only if it is available in your country. If not, you can always work with your bank or any of the local payment gateway solutions for your eCommerce website.
- Regional payment gateways are a good pick if you are targeting users from a specific country. For instance, if you are looking to boost sales from China, using AliPay as a PayPal alternative can be a wiser choice. Of course, you should still retain PayPal or other solution for non-Chinese clientele.
SEO, Speed and Security Solutions
Search Engine Optimization is vital for the promotion and growth of your eCommerce website. If you are using a dedicated CMS such as WordPress or PrestaShop, you can find many SEO plugins and extensions that will help you in this task. For hosted solutions, however, you are limited to the SEO settings that are provided by your eCommerce tool.
Website speed is a combination of various factors. Make sure you use a decent caching solution — especially for product pages since these are less likely to change daily and can be accessed frequently. Also, it is very helpful if you web hosting provider can offer server-side caching to further boost your website’s speed.
Images and other media should always be compressed before uploading. Lastly, make sure you keep your eCommerce website’s database fully optimized and clean from overheads to avoid unnecessary slowing down of performance.
Security of your eCommerce store is vital as you will be storing user data regularly. Employ a good security plugin (depending on the CMS opted by you) and also take regular backups of your content. This way, even if something were to go wrong, you can restore your data easily.
That brings us to the end of this article about some preliminary steps that you must take and things you should bear in mind when getting started with your eCommerce website.