You can purchase a domain name from many companies, including Mailchimp.
2. Get a hosting provider
Your hosting provider gives you the space your site needs for its online presence. Keep in mind that some website builders, including Mailchimp, can provide hosting for you. Before starting to use a website builder, be sure to verify whether or not you’ll need a separate hosting provider.
The hosting company provides a place for your website on the internet and gives you the storage space and bandwidth to ensure your site runs the way it should. Bandwidth is the ability to handle the data that’s transferred back and forth between your customers and your site. You need bandwidth to ensure a seamless experience for your visitors. If you don’t have enough bandwidth, it could slow things down, negatively impacting the user experience. Adequate bandwidth makes it easy for users to:
- Navigate from one page to the next smoothly
- Watch video content
- View images of products, including close-ups
You should have enough bandwidth so that visitors don’t even think about how seamless their visit is. This way, they can focus more on your products or services than on how your page is functioning.
For an e-commerce site, storage space is vital because you may have hundreds or thousands of product images or videos, which may take up considerable space. Therefore, you’ll want to ensure that you use a hosting provider that meets your current space requirements and gives you room to grow. As you add more products or services, you may need more storage than when you first launched.
How to choose a hosting provider
When you create an e-commerce website, you need to choose your hosting provider carefully. While virtually any hosting provider with web-building tools can meet the needs of a typical website, an e-commerce site requires specific considerations.
- Accommodation of higher traffic demands: This ensures your site can handle the transactions and browsing of many visitors at once.
- Greater uptime: Uptime is the time a site is accessible on the web. You should always inquire about the amount of uptime you can expect because downtime can mean lost sales. Be sure to ask if there are specific times when uptime may be a challenge, such as during peak selling seasons.
- SSL encryption: Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption protects your customer’s personal and financial data. It disguises the data while it’s in transit. This way, if someone were to intercept the data between the customer’s browser and your website, they wouldn’t be able to read crucial details like credit card numbers or home addresses. This security is provided in the form of an SSL certificate on your site.
- Automatic backups: An e-commerce site should have regular, automatic backups. If the site were to go down, you would need to be able to revert to a backup that includes product names, descriptions, images, and videos as soon as possible. This aids in business continuity and resiliency, which lets you bounce back after an unexpected event.
- Adequate storage: Ideally, you want to choose a hosting provider with expandable storage. As your business grows, you may need more storage to accommodate the increasing content on your site.
- A fast database: With an e-commerce site, the data pertaining to each item you sell is stored in a database. The site pulls information from this database to present to the user. This may include prices, images, descriptions, videos, and anything else associated with each item. A fast database enables shoppers to see accurate, complete information, making it easier for them to make a purchasing decision. On the other hand, a slow database may result in delayed images or other critical information, which can cause visitors to lose interest.
3. Study the competition
Be sure to check out what your competition has done with their online stores. There are plenty of great e-commerce websites you can take inspiration from—and you can also think about what you can do better.
By studying the competition, you'll see what works and what doesn't. This way, when you create an e-commerce website of your own, you'll know what to include and what to leave out. You can do this by analyzing what the competition offers and figuring out how to offer more than they are.
4. Create a wireframe
An important part of how to build an e-commerce website is to create a wireframe. This will determine the layout of your site and how user-friendly it is. The easier your site is to navigate, the more likely consumers will use it. You can successfully build an e-commerce website by creating a low, medium, or high fidelity wireframe. The differences between the three types lie in the details, with low fidelity being the simplest. By the time you get to the high fidelity wireframe, you have the basic layout of your website mapped out.
5. Upload your products
You can't sell your products as well if your customers don't see them first. A crucial part of e-commerce website building is to upload the highest quality pictures of each product you sell. Ensure that every image is the same size so that your site looks polished and professional. You'll also need to provide pictures of your products from every possible angle so customers can get a full view of each item.
6. Implement a payment service
A payment service is central to an e-commerce site’s function because it lets customers purchase your products directly from your site. If you already have a brick-and-mortar store, an effective online payment solution can increase your sales volume by giving you another way to do business.
- You may have customers who are unwilling or unable to travel to a physical location.
- Your customers might be used to online buying experiences like those provided by Amazon and expect to be able to purchase from the comfort of their homes or while on the go.
- Online shopping makes it easier and faster for customers to compare products, so the ability for them to make a purchase immediately after choosing your product can boost your bottom line.
Your payment solution can integrate with your business’s bank account, an online payment provider like PayPal, or a mobile payment solution, such as Square. Furthermore, you can accept a wide variety of payment methods, including direct bank transfers, credit card transactions, and those provided by online payment solutions. It may also be possible to accept cryptocurrencies, depending on your payment preferences and provider.
Aside from the functionality, you should also consider your payment provider’s transaction fees. A payment service may charge a fee for every transaction, which can impact how much you charge for your products.
Most e-commerce platforms offer built-in payment services. Some may give you and your customers multiple options, while others may use just one payment service. For example, Mailchimp uses Stripe to process payments. When choosing an e-commerce platform, you’ll want to look into the details of what payment services they offer to see if they work for you and your business.
7. Test, refine, and publish your site
Once your e-commerce website is complete, preview it to verify everything works as it should. This means testing links, buttons, forms, and so forth. If you identify any issues, fix them promptly and test again before publishing your site.