How to Create an E-commerce Website [Update 2020]

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You are going to sell products online but you don’t know what to do, how, and where to start first. Starting an online store successfully is not difficult. But besides thinking of your products, the prices, tax, and shipping cost, etc, you have to build a perfect eCommerce website to sell your items in an effective and professional way. In this article, we will provide you with an ultimate guide on how to open an online store in 2020.

How to start an online store?

1. Purchase a Domain Name, Web Hosting & an SSL certificate

To open an online store and have it run securely, you need to pick a Domain Name, Web Hosting, and an SSL certificate

A domain name, your website’s address on the internet, which is what users will type in their browsers to reach your website (for example, woostify.com or haintheme.com).

Web hosting is considered your website’s house, the place where your website is kept on the internet.

SSL certificate adds a special security layer on your website, making your site safer and more trustworthy. Hence, don’t worry if you update sensitive information such as credit card numbers and other personal information on your website. SSL certificate is optional; however, it is a must- have if your website supports credit card payments.

According to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), a group of more than 350,000 small businesses in the U.S., general costs for a startup will be:

  • Domain name registration: $10-$15/year
  • SSL certificate: $70-$300/year
  • Web hosting: $40-$200/year

These numbers are too enormous for the beginners to handle. To reduce the cost, you can buy your domain name at Namecheap, and purchase web hosting and SSL certificate at Cloudways.

1.1. Namecheap 

Namecheap offers cool names at such fair prices with great free 24/7 support. Purchasing a domain on Namecheap is entirely easy.

  • Step 1: Go to NameCheap, type the domain name you’d like to register into the search bar, then “enter
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  • Step 2: On the next screen, NameCheap will show if this domain is available or not; or what domain name suffixes are available. Sometimes, the domain you like isn’t available. NameCheap will provide some alternatives for you. If none of them will work for you, try to search for other names.
  • Step 3: When you see the domain name you expect, hit the adjacent shopping cart icon. You can add as many domains to your order as you’d like.
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  • Step 4: When you’re ready to check out, click View Cart on the right. Then a new screen appears to ask you to set the time you want to register the domain if you’d like the domain to auto-renew, and set WhoIs Guard.
  • Step 5: On the right, click Confirm Order. Then, you’ll be required to create an account before checking out.
  • Step 6: After creating an account, you can Review Order and make the final Check-Out.
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1.2. Cloudways

Cloudways is one of the leading managed cloud hosting platforms, leverages the resources of several servers to balance your website load by providing hourly cloud hosting packages that only charge you for the amount of time you’ve used. Cloudways offers competitive prices, available 24/7 support free, unlimited app installation without extra cost, free SSL certificate.

Then you are navigated to a new page to select your plan. There are 4 packages with different services and price levels. These plans are pay-as-you-go, which means the more bandwidth you use, the more you pay. You can consider and opt for the most suitable plan for your e-commerce site and use the trial version in 3 days, so don’t worry. You can upgrade or downgrade later based on your needs.

2. Choose the appropriate eCommerce Platform

Besides domain, SSL certificate, and web hosting, starting an online store also requires an eCommerce platform. There are two most popular eCommerce platforms that a lot of businesses are using, namely: Shopify and WordPress + WooCommerce.

Shopify is a fully hosted eCommerce solution that lets you start, grow, and manage an online store from the cost of $29/month. It’s convenient for you to start because you just log in and start selling. The disadvantages of Shopify is its high cost and limited payment options if you don’t pay the extra fees.

Meanwhile, using WordPress integrated with Woocommerce provides you with more options and more flexibility to customize your site, which benefits your online store in long terms. That’s why most users choose this platform although it requires some setup. For more details, you can take a look at this comparison.

Please follow the tutorial below to learn how to build an online store in WordPress using WooCommerce.

If you went for Cloudways service, WordPress & WooCommerce have automatically been installed on your website. If not, Download WooCommerce and install it on your website here.

To setup WordPress and WooCommerce on Cloudways, first Login Cloudways with your account you’ve created. Then Launch server by making some choices, including Application and Server Details, Cloud Infrastructure, Server Size, and Server Location.

Click “Launch Now” at the right bottom to start deploying your server.

2.1. Set up WordPress

Deploying WordPress on Cloudways is simple and easy. All you need to do is choose the features in some minutes. Let’s go through step by step:

After logging in, click on the applications tab to create a new application that will become your new WordPress blog. Also, you can create multiple blogs.

Then, click into add application and in the pop-up box select your server which should be the only option listed in the drop-down menu. Then you can install the latest WordPress version with the following customizations.

*Setup and access your Master Credentials

It includes your server’s public IP, Username and Password. You can upload multiple SSH Public Keys to your server to access it without password prompts by manually selecting SSH Public Keys button and setting label and public keys, or automatically launching SSH Terminal on your browser by simply clicking into Launch SSH Terminal.

*Customize your application’s Security

Here, you can whitelist your IP addresses in order to safely access your server over SFTP and SSH. You can further check whether your specific IP address is open or blocked. Then “Save Changes” to apply them.

2.2. Set up your WooCommerce store

After registering and launch your server, go to Cloudways Platform and click Applications in the top-left menu. Then, click on your WooCommerce application, you can configure some features of Woocommerce.

*Access Details 

Navigate to Access Details > Admin Panel. From there, you can find your login credentials and the URL for the WooCommerce store. By navigating the link under the admin panel, you are driven to the WooCommerce Dashboard. Using the username and password available in the credentials to log in to the dashboard.

After arriving WooCommerce Dashboard, you will see a thanking message and a welcomed message asking you to Run the Setup Wizard.

This is the easiest way to configure WooCommerce store, so press the button to start. If you accidentally hit the Skip Setup button, you can still run the Setup Wizard in WooCommerce > Help > Setup Wizard.

*Store Setup

You have to add the location of your WooCommerce store, the currency used, and the type of products you want to sell.

*Payment setup

Payment setup may be the toughest step when building an online store. Stripe and PayPal are the most popular and the easiest methods for you to get started. However, you can add other means of payment later.

*Shipping setup

Shipping would be the most important section if you sell your products around the world, especially the physical ones. Hence, choosing Shipping Zone and Shipping Method carefully is necessary.

*Extras

You can enable/disable automated VAT depending on your requirements.

*Activate

You can skip this step as it has no direct implication in launching your store.

*Ready

Now you can click Create a product button to add your first product or click Return to your dashboard.

*Domain Management

This section requires you to type your domain to link your purchased domain with the web application that you have launched. You can add a primary domain and further add additional subdomains depending on how many websites you wish to interlink with your web application. Then, Save Changes

*Install an SSL Certificate to enable secure transmission 

You can apply the pre-default Let’s Encrypt SSL Certification available at Cloudways or customize your own certification by using the custom SSL tool on the platform to install and configure your SSL certificate. 

*Restore your website backup

You can restore your web app from the available backups which contain all files synced with your server database. Since automated backup is already enabled on your server, you have several restore points to move your web app to an earlier time. Once selecting the point you want to restore, hit Restore Application Now.

*Application Settings

You can configure settings as many applications as you like with 3 different categories specified settings available at Cloudways.

General Settings allows you to access permissions and manage the webroot directory.

PHP Settings allows you to manage PHP-FPM settings.

Varnish helps ou define caching rules for your WordPress website.

3. Download a WooCommerce WordPress theme suitable for your niche

Themes show your WordPress sites’ look to the users. For a WooCommerce site, they also control how your products are displayed. Hence, when opening an online store, you have to look for a theme that fits your industry.

There are a large amount of paid and free options, you can go to WordPress to find the best theme for your eCommerce site. But this process may take you a lot of time and effort. That’s why we recommend the Woostify theme. It is a WooCommerce theme for all WordPress and comes with complete easy customization and a better conversion rate. I am sure that currently, it is the best theme in comparison with other ones because of if unique and useful features just focusing on the eCommerce site. The most special function of Woostify is WooBuilder which allows you to build shop page, single product page, cart page, and checkout page as you desire.

We have released Woostify FREE and a large number of our customers are using it for their online store. It is available for you to download now.

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After downloading, you will need to install Woostify theme, take a look at this detailed guide: How to install Woostify Theme?

To import Woostify demo Sites with some clicks and customize them in your own way, you can navigate this tutorial: How to import Woostify demo site? and also know what to do after installing the demo site.

Whenever Woostify releases new features, you can update theme easily with just some minutes.

4. Add products to your online store

To start selling, you must add your product to your WooCommerce shop. But before coming into the details, it is important to learn about product categories, labels, and data.

4.1. Product categories

Product categories can help group your products. If you want to offer several products on your WooCommerce store, you will have to organize these products into different categories. They allow customers to quickly find and locate the items based on their categories. You can create as many categories and subcategories as you want and change them at any time.

4.2. Product Labels

While setting up an online store, you may definitely want to filter products. Size, color, fabric, and tastes are product labels and help the user to choose the desired products easily. You can assign labels independently to each product or set up a general label for the entire store.

4.3. Product Data

WooCommerce saves you much time by predefining product types:

  • Simple: The products are shipped without any options.
  • Grouped: This is a group of similar items.
  • External/Affiliation: This function allows you to have the products sold on other sites.
  • Variable: The products have varying qualities like size, color, etc.
  • Virtual: The products do not require shipping. (example: services)
  • Downloadable: The products you can download. (example: ebooks, songs,…)

To add a product, go to Products > Add New and type your product’s name and add description including the most important and relevant information about your product.

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In Product Data section, you can customize your product. Using the drop-down menu, you can change its type. I recommend that you start with a Simple product to familiarize yourself with this section. It has the following options:

  • General section allows you to set the price of the product, set a promotion price and even schedule sales dates.
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  • In Inventory, you can organize Stock Management Unit (SKU). You are asked if the product is in stock or out of stock. Check the Sold Individually if you want to sell only one item at a time.
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  • Shipping relates to delivery and logistics. Here you should provide the dimensions, weight and shipping class of your products.
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  • In Linked Products section, you can add related products and market similar products, which helps to promote your product by using upsells and cross-sells. Just search for a particular product and select it from the drop-down list.
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  • The Attributes section allows you to add more features to your product.
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  • In Advanced section, you are allowed to create purchase notes,
    specify the menu order, and enable or disable reviews.
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  • Remember to Publish your product!
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Repeat the process to add more products if you want.

5. Extend Your eCommerce Site With Plugins

Now, your online store can basically run and you can start selling products. But if you wish your online business more powerful, you can extend your website with many other functional WordPress plugins, for example, contact forms, galleries, sliders, etc.

WordPress plugins are tools that support you to add new features to your eCommerce website. At the time I write this tutorial, there are more than 56,000 WordPress plugins available including free and paid ones, in which some must-have plugins you need to install on your website if you want your online business run successfully like page builders, SEO plugins, etc. Besides, you can take a look at our collection on FREE Woocommerce Plugins to get more details about the extensions you may need for your online store.

In Woostify WooCommerce WP theme, some of these functionalities have already been updated, so you just download to use on your site. Starting an online store, and experiencing its great performance. Also, you can easily install other WP plugins to make your online store more powerful.

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Summary on Starting an Online Store

In conclusion, starting an online store is not difficult, but the most important aspect directly affecting your online business’ success is the products’ types you sell, their prices, and the strategies you launch to promote your brand. Considering them before running your eCommerce site is necessary.

Here are 9 Best Tips to Increase Traffic to your E-commerce website and an ultimate tutorial of customizing shop page which you may need to launch your online business successfully.

Lastly, we wish you good luck and great success in your business with our tutorial on how to start an online store.

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Wakeel Ahmed
Wakeel Ahmed
1 year ago

Ohhhh! superb bro.. this is the way, You have defined this topic with proper guidelines and proper descriptions. I must say you clear lots of doubt which I will never be cleared before. dear

priya Sharma
3 months ago

I want to make my own e-commerce website but don’t have knowledge about how to create t and how to manage it. After reading this blog I came to know about it and I will surely crate it with these guidelines. Thanks for the helpful article.

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