How to Build an eCommerce Website from Scratch and Get Everything Right

ecommerce website on computer

Over 10% of sales that are generated in the United States are conducted online. That number continues to push upwards as people’s internet fluency increases and access to the internet reaches its domestic saturation point.

Given the amount of success that eCommerce giants like Amazon and eBay have built for themselves, many smaller entrepreneurs are hoping to build their fortunes by selling items over the internet. We’re guessing that you share those ambitions!

Let’s be honest though… Do you know the first thing about how to build an eCommerce website from scratch that’s capable of generating sales?


If you answered no to that question, have no fear! Here’s everything that you need to do to enjoy a successful foray into the world of digital sales.

1. Discover Your Niche

Very few eCommerce companies find success by acting as “catch-all’s”. Not only does being a catch-all present challenges from a branding perspective but by not specializing in any particular thing, customers will assume you’re a bargain bin operation and won’t rely on you when it comes to acquiring quality products.

Rather than selling anything that you can get your hands on, pick an inventory niche that you know a little bit about, that has demand and that features items that are easy to ship.

If you can find an underserved niche that checks those boxes, you’ll have a solid foundation to launch your company from.

2. Pick Your Platforms

Now that you know what you’re going to sell, the next question to answer is how you’re going to sell.

We know that you’re going to be selling your products online but there are a bevy of ways to achieve that end. For example, you could sell on Amazon, eBay, through your own website, through the Walmart marketplace and more.

As a general rule, the more platforms that you’re willing to sell through, the better. Just be aware that third platy platforms will take fees from your sales which you’ll need to bake into your product’s prices accordingly.

3. Buy a Domain Name

No matter which platforms you choose to sell through, we can’t recommend highly enough that one of your platforms be your own website. That suggestion shouldn’t be too surprising given that this post is about how to build an eCommerce website from scratch!

The first step to building a successful eCommerce site is buying a domain name. Domain names should have a “.com” extension, should be no more than 8 characters long and should be easy to spell.

Take time to think about what the perfect domain name might be for your eCommerce website because once you choose it, it’ll be hard to change.

4. Select a Web Host

A web host is the service provider that’s going to house your website online. Picking a good web host is imperative because a bad host that uses poorly optimized servers will cause your website to experience substantial slowdowns.

We won’t recommend a particular web host but we will say that you should look over online reviews when determining which host to do business with. A quality web host should have fast servers, excellent customer service and reasonable rates that don’t skyrocket after your first contract term.

5. Decide on a CMS

CMS stands for Content Management System. For the uninitiated, content management systems are tools that amateurs can use to build beautiful websites on their own or with some assistance from an eCommerce web development team.

The vast majority of websites that leverage a CMS use WordPress so we recommend starting your CMS search there. WordPress is free to use and allows you to retain ownership rights to your website.

6. Find a Great eCommerce Plugin/Gateway

With your website built, you now need a way to start putting up inventory that people can buy. The easiest way to achieve that end is by installing a reputable eCommerce plugin onto your CMS-powered site.

For WordPress users, your best bet is to go with WooCommerce.

In addition to an eCommerce plugin, you’ll need to select a payment gateway (PayPal for instance) that customers can use to compensate you through.

7. Come Up With a Shipping Workflow

Shipping can be the most tedious aspect of the eCommerce workflow. It’s imperative that you do anything that you can to streamline this aspect of your sales pipeline.

If you sell digital products, you’re good to go! All you need to do is have your eCommerce plugin automatically email products/links to customers. If you’re shipping physical merchandise, consider having a third party warehouse fulfill your orders so you don’t have to pack and ship boxes on a daily basis.

8. Start Marketing

No matter how good your products are, people are going to have a hard time finding them amidst the products that millions of other websites are selling online. To gain some attention, you’ll need to hatch a solid marketing plan.

Popular means of digital marketing include leveraging SEO, buying ads through Google and organically marketing through social media, just to name a few!

Now That You Know How to Build an eCommerce Website From Scratch, Start Building!

You can read blog posts on how to build an eCommerce website from scratch until you’re blue in the face. The only way that you’re ever going to achieve your dreams of generating an income online though is if you stop reading and start doing!

Our team challenges you to take your first steps towards getting your eCommerce operations off of the ground today. If you find yourself in need of additional inspiration during your build, check out more of the helpful content that we have featured right here on our blog!