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The Intersection of E-commerce and CMS: Building an Effective Online Store

November 5, 2023

E-commerce has completely changed both B2B and B2C industries. According to a report, 65% of B2B businesses conduct transactions online. The retail e-commerce industry’s sales surpassed $5.7 trillion in 2022 and continue to climb.

We recommend getting digital content if you’re also interested in creating an e-commerce platform for your business. One of its main advantages is that it helps non-technical users create functional pages or upload and change content themselves.

Want to build an amazing e-commerce store with the help of a CMS but need help figuring out where to start?

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1. Purchase a domain name, web hosting plan, and SSL certificate  

To start your e-commerce store, you must first buy a domain name, a web hosting plan, and an SSL certificate.

screenshot of Shopify domain hosting help articles

(Image Source: Shopify)

Domain name

The domain is the address where your online store lives. Ideally, you should buy a domain name that includes a relevant keyword and is relatively short. Often, hosting providers offer domain names as part of your hosting package. If not, you can purchase or lease a domain name separately. To get a sense of the options that are out there, checking out Squadhelp’s marketplace for domains is a good idea, as it will also bring you up to speed on the pricing differences.

Hosting plan

Now that you’ve got a domain name, it’s time to get a web hosting plan.

What’s the difference? A domain acts as an address, allowing visitors to easily find your website. The hosting service stores the website files. You need both to run a functional website.

Many companies offer hosting services. When selecting a hosting package, consider both price and performance. Make sure the package offers adequate speed, enough bandwidth, and storage.

It’s a good idea to read reviews and consider how other users rate the service’s products, customer support, and other features. Most hosting plans come with annual contracts, so choose carefully.

SSL certificate

SSL (Secure Sockets Layers) is a security feature that provides privacy, security, and data integrity for your website and your users. Get an SSL certificate for your website to provide a safe buying experience. Almost all hosting providers include an SSL certificate in their packages, but double-check to make sure.

2. Choose a CMS

Many web hosting plans offer easy CMS installation. However, it’s essential first to understand the different types of CMS. Consulting with an expert software development company is crucial in helping you choose the right CMS for your needs.

Open-source CMS

A community of developers maintains an open-source CMS, giving users complete control over the website’s functionality. It typically offers extensive customization options with no initial charges.

Example: WordPress.

Proprietary CMS

A single company owns and manages a proprietary CMS. It typically charges a license fee. Customizing and upgrading such systems usually involves additional costs.

Example: Shopify

SaaS CMS

SaaS (Software as a Service) CMS is a pre-built, cloud-based solution. It includes a web content management system (WCMS), web hosting, and technical support provided by a single provider. You typically have to buy a license via a subscription to use the SaaS CMS.

Example: Wix

3. Choose the right theme

Selecting visually appealing themes for your online store can be challenging. Here are some considerations to help you:

Simple and minimalist

Prioritize simplicity to enhance usability. Avoid overly complex designs. Remember, visitors come to your website primarily to buy products.

Easy to customize

The theme should be easily customizable so you can change them according to your needs.

Suitable for all screen sizes

Check the themes on various devices. Make sure it performs well on mobile, laptops, tablets, etc.  

4. Create important pages

Every online store requires specific pages to fulfill different purposes. While many are important, some are crucial.

Home page

This page is the storefront of your website. Consider highlighting promotions and top-selling products here. And link this page to other crucial pages.

Contact page

Also known as the “Help Page,” this page allows customers to reach out via call, email, or live chat.

Terms and conditions page

Create a Terms and Conditions page to outline the rules, terms, and guidelines for using your online store. It ensures buyers know what they are getting into and can help you avoid legal trouble.

The customer service department can be valuable in determining what to include. Investing in a well-designed website is crucial for the success of your online store. Consider partnering with the best custom software development companies to ensure a user-friendly interface and seamless functionality. A customized approach allows you to tailor your online presence to meet the unique requirements of your business, enhancing the overall customer experience.

5. Optimize user experience (UX)

20 aspects of Heuristics to analyze and improve user experience

(Image Source: Toptal)

The speed of your online store matters a lot and directly affects the user experience.

Some features may enhance site speed, while others can slow it down.

To provide smooth performance, consider a Heuristic test to identify what might be causing issues.

You should also run A/B tests, i.e., testing two themes to identify the best-performing one. These tests will bring to light the components of the best UX.

6. Make it a mobile-friendly site

According to a survey, 77% of shoppers use mobile devices for online purchases.

We expect this trend to increase, so make sure your site is mobile-responsive. To do this, use responsive web design CSS and HTML code.

At the very least, make sure the width of a page changes according to the display area. This option is best for those limited by budget constraints

Keep desktop and mobile apps in sync

To provide a simple experience to mobile users, businesses prefer a separate app for mobile users. In this case, keeping desktop and mobile apps in sync is essential.

Make sure the content and functionality are consistent. You can leverage automated tools like Puppeteer to help check whether both apps behave similarly.

Make your content readable

To keep visitors engaged, it’s crucial to ensure your content is readable. So, make sure that:

  • Buttons and icons are easily recognizable
  • Written content is easy to read
  • Website visitors can zoom in on the images if they want to take a closer look
  • Written content doesn’t look like a wall of text

To test for these issues, you can try the website across phones of different brands. You can also ask your friends to check the site on their phones.

Chrome Developer Tools allows your browser to emulate different mobile devices, making it easy to check your site’s appearance.

Leverage mobile-specific capabilities

Consider reviewing your site regarding using more advanced input methods offered by mobile devices. For example, enable pinch and swipe gestures so that users can zoom in and view product images. You can also leverage voice input to allow users to look for products.

Moreover, you can also allow users to perform an image search, i.e., a user can find a product based on sample material patterns. Services like Google’s Vision API can help to integrate image search.

7. Set up secure payment gateways

infographic explaining how a payment gateway works

(Image Source: Forbes)

Your online store site needs to quickly and securely process payments. Consider the following when setting up your payment gateway.

Security

The primary concern for buyers is secure payment. Use methods compliant with Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards to ensure safe credit card transactions.

Payment methods

Offer various payment options so you don’t lose a sale. In addition to credit cards, include options like PayPal, Venmo, and e-checks. Also, try to get a merchant account and integrate your payment gateway with it so that the money is directly deposited into your account. You won’t have to wait days or weeks to reinvest the money into your business. Also, try to get a merchant account and integrate your payment gateway with it so that the money is directly deposited into your account. You won’t have to wait days or weeks to reinvest the money into your business.

On-site and off-site transactions

Customers can complete the transaction process in two ways.

On-site transactions process payments on the website, while off-site methods redirect the customer to a separate page.

Go for on-site transactions if you want to keep customers on your website.

8. Carefully list the products

Product images influence 76% of online buyers. Therefore, consider the following while listing your products:

Product images

Post several high-quality images of each product from multiple angles. However, optimize the images first to avoid slowing down your website.

Best products first

Highlight your unique and attractive products to engage visitors. It increases the chances of viewing more products.

Right category

Place products in appropriate categories so customers can find them easily. Misplaced products can frustrate potential buyers.

Product listing and description

While listing the products, include essential details like the product title, SKU, and price.

For product descriptions, avoid the pitfall of highlighting impressive-sounding features. Instead, focus on the benefits that these features provide. It’ll resonate better with potential buyers.

Also, remember to incorporate relevant search terms and keywords in the descriptions. It’ll improve your website’s visibility in relevant Google search results. 

9. Provide a seamless checkout experience

screenshot showing examples of seamless online checkout options

(Image Source: Search Engine Journal)

Getting customers to the checkout stage requires effort. Remember the following points to make sure your efforts bear fruit:

Accessibility

Ensure all the information and tools that customers might need to complete the purchase are readily available.

Customer service

Offer immediate assistance for any queries or confusion buyers might have. You can provide 24/7 customer support via phone, email, and chatbots.

Simplification

Keep the checkout process simple and on a single page. Demand minimal information as customers dislike lengthy forms.

Guest checkout

Allow checkouts without account creation. Keep the steps towards the final checkout as few as possible. 

10. Integrate shipping

Shipping is vital for customers, so integrate multiple options in your online store. If one option doesn’t work, you can consider another for smooth and timely delivery of products to customers.

Another crucial factor is highlighting free shipping on the checkout page, if available.

Also, it is a good practice to add shipping fee details according to different areas.

Circuit’s insight on delivery management suggests that keeping customers updated on where their package is and when it will be delivered can significantly enhance the user experience.

Note: Some popular shipping service providers to opt for include DHL, FedEx, and UPS.

11. Implement SEO practices

Applying the latest search engine optimization practices to rank high on search engines is essential. For example, use specific keywords and search terms on your product pages to target the appropriate audience.

Moreover, tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, Moz, Oxylabs web scraper, and
SpyFu can also help with keyword strategies and competitor analysis.

12. Preview, test, and launch the online store

After addressing all necessary factors, test and launch your online store’s functionality.

Check processing

Before launching, check all the main pages of your online store and make sure they are working well.

Also, review the entire buying process, from product search to order placement.

Cross-browser check

Several browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge, are commonly used for browsing. Ensure your online store is compatible with all of them before launching.

13. Marketing and promotion

graphic showing the relationship between elements of marketing: promotion, product, place, and price

(Image Source: EdrawMind)

Start marketing and promotion after launching your online store. Some popular methods include:

Social media marketing

Never neglect social media platforms.

Create business accounts on these platforms. From sharing your unique selling points to announcing special discounts, social media platforms can help capture the attention of your target audience.

Email marketing

Leverage email marketing for both existing and new customers. It’s an effective marketing technique, many marketers cite it as their primary lead-generation tool.

Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing campaigns can be very effective. Run pre- and post-launch campaigns to increase sales, build awareness, and establish a robust online presence.

14. Ratings and reviews

Approximately 95% of consumers check reviews before buying a product online. Therefore, capitalize on positive reviews by showcasing them on your site.

If the reviews are negative, use them as feedback to improve your service.

15. Reports and analytics 

Regularly check your online store’s performance using various analytical tools. These can provide insights into traffic volume, bounce rate, conversion rate, order numbers, and more.

A few popular analytics tools include Google Analytics, Ahrefs, and Semrush. This data can help you set future strategies for your online store.

Selling in a digital world

In a rapidly changing digital world, B2B sellers and buyers can no longer rely solely on door-to-door selling and cold-calling.

According to a report, B2B business owners prefer to use e-commerce platforms more than traditional sales methods.

You can also explore online B2B wholesale marketplaces to connect with relevant suppliers, which can help open up opportunities for business growth.

Marketplaces like Alibaba and SeeBiz can offer a good start if you are looking to source products in bulk.

FAQs

Do I need a license to sell products at an online store?

Licensing requirements for online stores vary, depending on the rules and regulations set by the Small Business Administration (SBA) for specific states and locations.

Do I need a logo for my online store?

A well-designed logo is crucial for representing your brand. Moreover, it also helps to convey the core values of your brand. For example, the negative space between the ‘E’ and ‘x’ in the FedEx logo forms an arrow implying accuracy and speed of delivery.

How many products should you have in an online store?

The wide range usually lies between 10–20 products. It gives enough variety to attract your customers initially. However, this isn’t set in stone and can vary depending on your online business goals and target audience.

How can I use chatbots effectively in my online store?

Make sure your chatbot can answer commonly asked questions about your products/services. For example, giving information about shipping times. Also, consider taking feedback from customers using a short survey. You can ask them to rate their buying experience and whether they could find what they were looking for easily and quickly.

Jennifer James
Jennifer James is a great blogger who speaks passionately about ‌B2B Go-To-Market, digital disruption, online commerce, and companies.
Jennifer James
Jennifer James is a great blogger who speaks passionately about ‌B2B Go-To-Market, digital disruption, online commerce, and companies.