Last Updated on March 6, 2021 by Obaro Alidou K.
Building eCommerce is one of the most profitable online businesses out there. If you are looking to start an online store and don’t know how, you are in the right place. In this in-depth tutorial I will show you how to create your own online store fast–step by step with zero technical knowledge.
What is an Online store?
I could spend hours trying to use technical terms to define what an eCommerce is. But let’s take it simple in plain English…
Whether you call it an online store, online shop, or eCommerce website, it all refers to the same thing: A virtual shop that is live on the internet.
So at the end of the day, an online store is a virtual representation of a shop.
Why should you launch an online store?
This is a good question, right? If people can just go to a physical shop and buy items, then why put in the effort of launching a virtual store online? Even better, what are the benefits of running an eCommerce?
First, the statistics tell a wonderful story. E-commerce sales will cover about 18% of retail sales worldwide by 2021. That is good news because it represents more than $3.5 trillion dollars.
Secondly, nearly 50% of businesses in America don’t still have an online presence despite the online sales boom. This means the completion is quite minor considering the fact that more and more buyers are becoming online shoppers.
Furthermore, as the online shop is virtual and hosted on the internet, it is reachable worldwide. Everybody from every location in the world can access it and buy items. Plus, you don’t need to be physically present before selling. You just set up the store, put in the products and start making money on auto-pilot.
So an online store helps you expand worldwide without the need to travel and make more money even when you are on vacation, or when you sleep.
All these facts mean now is an excellent time to make your mind and enter the eCommerce business world with a beautiful, dynamic, and professionally built online store which I will walk you through the entire process step by step.
What do you need to start an online store?
Today is the perfect time to start an eCommerce website.
And you might be thinking it is difficult or requires some tech skills to get started. But you know what? Anyone with a computer and an internet connection can get an online store up and running within minutes without typing a single line of code.
So what do you need to get started with building your own eCommerce business?
- Ecommerce Ideas
- A domain name (this will be the name of your online store i.e amazon.com)
- A web hosting made for eCommerce (this is where your shop files, products, and images are stored to be available to buyers on the internet)
Finally, your exclusive attention of 30 minutes to 1 hour max, follow the steps below.
It is that simple.
Eager to get your own online shop today? Let’s get started.
How to Launch an Online Store Fast (Step-by-step)
#Step 1: Brainstorm eCommerce Idea & Know your Audience
Note: If you already have your products, or know exactly what you are going to sell, you can skip and go to #Step 2 directly.
Anyway, when you are running an eCommerce business, the most important things are “buyers” and “products”. You will spend most of your time into having the best products and drawing customers.
That is why before setting up an online shop, you first need to figure out what to sell and who is going to be the buyers. This is the biggest mistake most eCommerce beginners make. They don’t take the foremost step of thinking about who their targeted audience is, who they are going to sell their products to.
So before you jump on building an eCommerce website, you absolutely have to decide your niche (if you don’t have any product to sell). This is important because your niche impacts:
- How much effort you will put into drawing customers
- Whether or not you will have returning customers
- Your sales amount (figures)
The deeper you understand your niche, the better you adapt your strategies to make sales. If you are lost, here are #10 strategies for choosing an ecommerce niche.
#Step 2: Pick Your Pricing & Payment Methods
The final purpose of an online store is to sell. Apart from the audience and market opportunity, the two other aspects involved in selling are: pricing and how you collect payments.
Let’s first start with pricing
Many people think if they sell cheap products, they will make a lot of sales. While this is true, it is also a mistake.
Here is the thing: there is something called the Average Order Value (AOV). This is the actual value an individual sale brings to you. So when you sell really cheap items, you are likely to make more sales, but your AOV is small.
Likewise, when you sell pricey items, you are more likely to draw fewer sales, but your Average Order Value is higher.
So the cheaper your products, the more sales you make but with little to no value (benefits) and the pricier your products, the fewer sales you make but with higher value (benefits).
So what to do?!
Well; unless you are selling digital products that don’t require buying inventories, warehousing, and packaging, I recommend you to always do your best to price your products at $100 or more.
Yep, and here is why…
With digital products like e-books, images, audio files, videos, you don’t have pricing problems. The item is set once and sold forever and there is no inventory, warehousing, or packaging cost. So you can sell them at your convenience.
But with physical products that need to be shipped, the story is totally different.
Do you think you will be earning 100% of the money a sale brings to you? Wake up!
When we consider the warehousing, inventories, packaging, payment processing, and marketing costs, most online store owners make somewhere from 20 to 30% profit margin.
Plus, whether you are adding a $20 or $120 product to your online store, the process is the same so you will put in the same effort and time. This means that selling only cheaper products will result in wasting your time and energy.
Don’t believe me? Let’s do the math…
Okay, let’s assume you are making 30% profit on the items you are selling.
If someone buys a $20 product, you will earn $6 where as if you sell a $120 product, you will make $36.
So with a $20 item, you need 17 sales to make $102 profit while with a $120 item, you just need 3 sales to earn $108 in profit.
Assuming you want your online store to make you $1,000 in a given month, this will require 170 sales with a $20 product, and just 30 sales with a $120 product.
With all these having been said, you better price your items at $100 or above to get more bucks for time and energy.
Thinking About Payment Methods
Note: if you live in a country where PayPal and Stripe work to receive payments, you can skip this section and go to #Step 3 directly.
Here is another important piece of the puzzle which nobody seems to care about. Another big mistake in my opinion. I have seen many people get stuck into collecting payment after they have built their online store. Sound ridiculous?
Here’s the thing:
The most popular payment methods for online stores are PayPal and Stripe (for collecting credit card payments). They work very well but they also have some of the most strict location policies. If you live in the USA or Europe, this is fine. But for other continents like Africa and Asia, using PayPal or Stripe could be a nightmare.
In fact, except countries like India, Japan, and some other big names, if you live in Asia, or Africa, there is a high chance PayPal is not available in your location. Sure, you can still create a PayPal account but you can’t receive payments. Stripe is even worse: it just won’t be available to even create a simple account.
PayPal has a larger coverage so if it is not available in your country; don’t waste your time with stripe: it won’t be available as well.
So what to do?
Thankfully, there is another big payment option which is 2CheckOut.
In fact, 2CheckOut is the third most popular payment method that allows you to collect credit card payments on your online store. It is fast, secure, and available worldwide and in many languages. No matter your location, you can create a free 2CheckOut account and start collecting payments on your ecommerce store.
But wait… what if you just want to sell locally?
Let’s say you are in Africa and planning to sell your products in African countries (as well) where most people don’t use credit cards. What do you do?
After having built many eCommerce websites for African entrepreneurs, I have learnt a thing or two. So I still have a solution for you.
In African countries, everybody uses mobile payment like MTN MoMo, Orange, Airtel, etc. Now we just need to find a way to collect mobile payments.
Ever heard of WeCashUp? It is a payment method that allows you to collect mobile payment on your online store. It is available in nearly all African countries an uses most mobile operators. Just go to WeCashUp and Create a free account to start collecting mobile payments on your online store. This is what AirFrance uses to collect payments in Africa.
However, if you are in Uganda, one of the best options is, no doubt, EasyPay. They even provide Android and IOS apps to stay in touch with your clients and send/accept payments with no hassle.
Now is the time to move on to the next big step which is deciding the right eCommerce platform.
#Step 3: Choosing The Right Ecommerce Platform
Before you start building the ecommerce store itself, you first need to decide on the ecommerce platform that will run your store. Let’s go…
An eCommerce platform is an app or a piece of software that helps in the setting of your online store. It is the tool that you use to:
- Install the store
- Add products
- Sell and collect payment
- Issue invoices
- Collect buyers and shipping information
- Automate the whole process
The eCommerce platform helps you manage and automate your online store, making you money while you sleep. It is the engine of your eCommerce business.
If you choose the wrong platform, your entire business will be messed up. This is another big mistake people make when starting an eCommerce business.
But don’t worry because you are not alone. I’m going to direct you on the right path in choosing the ecommerce platform that you deserve.
There are many ecommerce platforms out there with each having its own specificities, advantages, and drawbacks. To choose the best eCommerce software, you need to focus on your actual project, your goal on the long run, your budget, and most importantly, your technical skills level.
Nevertheless, as you are just starting with eCommerce, I assume that you don’t have any technical knowledge and don’t want to invest too many $$$$$$$.
This having been said, you need a platform that is:
- Easy to set up and use
- Relatively cheap to maintain
Well, Wix is a hassle-free eCommerce solution. Price starts at $17/mo and the platform is really easy to use. Start selling just takes the time of logging in. It is a pre-built and fully hosted solution. This means it lacks some flexibility that you might not appreciate when you start growing. Plus if you are from the aforementioned countries where PayPal is not available, and you want mobile payments, it might not be the right platform.
However, if you just want to start selling simple physical products in minutes without the need for extra features, I highly recommend going with Wix it is the most beginner friendly.
Flexibility and freedom are the main reasons why most eCommerce owners choose WordPress + WooCommerce. In fact, the combination of WordPress and WooCommerce is the most flexible and cheapest eCommerce solution. It is also the most SEO friendly out there. If you want something that scales with your growth and allows you to do everything you can imagine, then WordPress + WooCommerce is the best choice.
For example, you can decide one day to change your shop name (domain name) with just a matter of clicks. You can also have a separate business homepage, and shop page and design each differently to suit your needs. Adding a blog to your online store to provide your items’ quick starting guides to customers is just a matter of clicks and you can sell either digital (downloadable) or physical products as well.
WordPress + WooCommerce allows you to do advanced settings at no extra fees which Wix can’t just afford.
Let’s say you want your store to be available in different locations and you also want each location’s store to be in its local language and currency.
For example, your online store is in English language and dollar currency for the US location. Now, you want your store to also be available in French, Spanish, and German language, with each holding its own currency and separate designs may be. With WordPress + WooCommerce, you can do this without spending any extra cost. In some cases you might just need to upgrade your hosting to get more databases and that is all.
Moreover, WordPress + WooCommerce is much cheaper to set up and maintain and there are dozens of payment options with the possibility to set your custom payment methods (if you have any). This is God sent when you live in a country where PayPal and Stripe are not available.
So I recommend you go with WordPress and WooCommerce as eCommerce platform and this is what I will be using in this tutorial to launch a fully functional online store.
Now that you know your niche, how to price your items, and the right eCommerce platform to go with, it is time to move on to the biggest and fun part of the process: building your actual online shop…
#Step 4: Setting Up Your Ecommerce Store
Ok, you know what you are going to sell, how to price your products for more profits, the payment methods available to you, and the eCommerce software to use. What is next? You can now start the actual process of setting up your online store.
To get your shop live on the internet, you need two things: a domain name and web hosting as discussed from the beginning of this tutorial.
The domain name is your ecommerce website’s address on the internet. It is what people type in their browsers to land on your website. For example, amazon.com, ebay.com, giantblogger.com.
Web hosting is the place where your shop lives on the internet. Everything you put on your online shop (items for sale, images, product descriptions, payment methods, etc.) is stored there. Web hosting is what makes your online store available on the internet 24h/7/365. I will show you in this guide how to get the best web hosting for WooCommerce and set up your eCommerce store from start to finish.
But first, let’s…
#1. Get a Domain name and WooCommerce Hosting
As we are going to use WordPress + WooCommerce, you need a web hosting that is optimized to run WooCommerce fast. Then, as you are launching an online store, you need to make sure the hosting provides not only SSL certificates, but also some extra security steps like DDoS protection and Web Application Firewalls.
Finally, the host should provide WooCommerce dedicated support to assist with common WooCommerce issues.
After having tested over 98 website hosting providers, I trust FastComet for beginners and small budgets, and Kinsta for advanced users and high traffic stores. They supply clients with optimized servers for WooCommerce and some of the most helpful technical teams I’ve seen.
However, as this guide is for beginners, I will use FastComet for the demonstration. It is also the cheapest and easiest to use option.
FastComet provides cloud hosting meaning your online store is hosted on a whole network of hundreds of servers with 11 cloud datacenters worldwide to choose from, pure SSD storage, latest server technology, free Virus Scans, BitNinja security, free SSL certificates, full account isolation in the cloud, and a proactive 24h/7 support.
Next, as you are launching an online store, I recommend you choose the FastCloud Plus plan to start with and click on “GET STARTED” button. But feel free to choose any plan you feel comfortable with.
On the next screen, enter the domain name you want for your online store and click on “USE THIS DOMAIN”.
On the following page, fill in your contact information, choose a password to create your hosting account, check the “Terms & Conditions” box, and click on COMPLETE ORDER to get your hosting account.
#2. Setting Up WordPress
The first step after getting your hosting and domain name from FastComet is to install WordPress. So let’s do that…
First, login to your FastComet account (just go to FastComet, click the login button at the top menu, and enter your mail and password).
Once logged in, scroll down to the “Services” section and click on cPanel icon.
You will be asked to enter a master password. Just type in your hosting account password and click “proceed”
This will bring you to your cPanel account. To start the WordPress installation process, scroll down to the “softaculous” section and click on the WordPress icon.
On the following page, click “Install Now”
Next, fill in your store details, and click on the blue “Install” button.
Installation URL: select your domain name, and for the “In Directory”, leave it blanc (don’t put anything there).
Admin Username: this is your WordPress/shop username. Choose a username different from the default “admin”. I recommend you pick something hard to guess. This will put an extra security step for your store.
Admin Password: Choose a strong password to make it hard for malicious attacks to access your store.
Admin Email: Type in your real email. Everything related to your ecommerce store installation and reports will be sent there.
The installation process lasts 3-10s and then you will get a congratulations message!
From now, you can access your website’s admin panel or WordPress dashboard by just typing yourdomainname followed by /wp-admin (this way: myniceshop.com/wp-admin) in your web browser. Of course, replace myfirstshop.com with your own domain name.
This will take you to the WordPress login page. Putin your WordPress username and password, then click on Login to access your WordPress dashboard.
Once logged in, your WordPress dashboard looks like this:
Note: Your website admin panel or WordPress dashboard refers to the same thing. It is where you control/set everything on your online store. From now, your WordPress dashboard is where you will spend most of your time.
Now that you have WordPress installed on your domain, the next big step is installing WooCommerce to run your online store. Don’t worry it just takes about 30s. So let’s jump to that…
#3. Install and Setup WooCommerce
WooCommerce is the tool that will run your online store. It handles every aspect of your business including adding products, setting prices and discounts…
To install WooCommerce, hover the mouse over Plugin and click Add New from your WordPress dashboard.
After installing WooCommerce, you need to activate it before it starts working. So click “Activate”.
YEP; it is that simple. Your online store is now up and running. But before you start adding products and selling, there are a few things you need to define like your shop address, currency, payment method, and shipping information.
After activating WooCommerce, a “Welcome to WooCommerce” notification appears on your WordPress dashboard. Go ahead and click on the “Yes please” button. This will launch the WooCommerce setup wizard.
To get started, WooCommerce needs your store location, address, and whether you are building your own store or one for a client.Once you provide the info, click “Continue”
Next step, you will need to tell WooCommerce in which industry your online shop operates in.
Don’t forget to always click on the “Continue” button to move on.
Next, you will have to define whether you are going to sell physical, digital products or both. Then decide if you want more features like Membership, subscriptions, bookings, and bundles for your ecommerce store.
Next, tell Woocommerce whether you are just starting or already have a business in place, and decide if you want to install the free business features. Then hit the blue “Continue” button to move on next step.
Now select a theme for your ecommerce website.
Themes in WordPress control your shop’s design . The simplest theme to use for your WooCommerce store is “Storefront”. Just select it and click “Continue”.
#4- Setting up Payment Method for your Online Store
In this section you will have to choose a payment method for your online store.
There are many payment methods available for WooCommerce which you can install.
But by default, WooCommerce comes with support for WooCommerce Credit card payments, Direct Bank transfer, Check payments, Cash on delivery, and PayPal Standard.
First, hover the mouse over WooCommerce and click on Settings.
Next, click on the “Payments” tab
The easiest way to accept payment is using PayPal Standard. You just need to enter your PayPal email address and you are good to go. So let’s do that.
Activate “Paypal Standard” on next page and click on the “Set up” button.
Finally, fill in the next page with your Paypal email and click on “Save Changes.”
After setting up Paypal, the next most popular payment method is credit card. Stripe used to be the biggest in this domain but thankfully, WooCommerce recently launched its own payment method.
To get it up and running, you first need to click on the payment link from your dashboard.
On the next page, click on the “Set up” button.
Now just follow the instructions to get it working and you are all set. Once you’re done, your online store is all set up and ready to start selling.
After setting up WooCommerce, you can now add products to your online store and start making sale!.
Without any further talk, let’s move on to the funniest step of adding products to your store…
#Step 5: Add Products To Your Online Store
Adding products to your online store is simpler than you might think. Just go to Products >> Add New from your WordPress dashboard.
On the new page, give a title to your product and provide its detailed description. Then on the right hand column, add a new category for your product. This is to make it easy for your clients to browse products.
Now scroll down to the “Product Data” tab to select the type of product (simple, grouped, variable, or external/affiliate), whether it is downloadable or not, and provide the pricing, shipping, and inventory information.
Next, scroll down again to the “Product Short Description” box to provide a short description of the product. Then at the right hand, add images for illustration. If the product requires more than one image, you have the option to “Add product gallery images”.
Once you are done, click the “Publish” button to make your product available to customers on your ecommerce store and you are all set. Repeat the process to add as many products as you want to your store.
Congrats! You have just started your first eCommerce website and added products for sale.
What is next?
Well; you need one last thing before you start marketing your product: making your ecommerce store look beautiful….
#Step 6: Designing Your Online Store To Catch Customers
Making your online store beautiful is a strong marketing tactic. The more professional it looks, the more likely customers will browse your product and eventually buy from you.
When it comes to design, it’s better to see it than just reading. So once you have the Storefront theme installed, watch this video to design your store.
Selling online is the best way to expand your business and reach more customers. While there are many ecommerce platforms to launch your online store, using WordPress + WooCommerce is the most flexible and extendable one. You can sell any type of product and expand easily as you grow.
However, if you don’t feel comfortable with installing WordPress and dealing with themes, or you just want a straightforward path to sell your physical products, then Wix Ecommerce might be the right choice.
Or for a simple store
What do you think about starting an eCommerce website? what is your pain? Share your experience in the comment section below.
Have a wonderful day!