E-commerce has been driven by the implementation of 4G and 5G technology, the growing adoption of smartphones, social media applications that increase the users’ exposure to online shopping, proliferating small and medium businesses and increasing consumer wealth in developing economies, and other factors. Large enterprises have also been increasingly leaning towards online business. The global e-commerce market size was expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 14.7% from 2020 to 2027.
COVID-19 has given e-commerce a major boost. In 2022, the U.S. retail e-commerce market size should exceed $875 billion. The number of digital buyers exceeded 2.14 billion worldwide in 2021, up from 1.66 billion in 2016.
Despite the high competition in the industry, there is still space for new players.
For entrepreneurs that are contemplating their own online store or marketplace, this article offers some tips from our experts regarding e-commerce website development.
1) The majority of consumers nowadays start product searches online, primarily on mobile phones. Without an online presence, they wouldn’t learn about a company’s goods or services. In contrast, the power of digital marketing combined with search engine optimization (SEO) creates tremendous opportunities for sales and growth.
2) E-commerce links sellers and buyers regardless of their geographical location. The opportunities to endorse a company’s products and services become boundless.
3) The cost of building and maintaining an online store is much lower compared with the cost of opening a physical storefront.
4) An online platform enables consumers to shop and companies to run sales round-the-clock.
5) Businesses can also receive and quickly respond to customers’ questions and requests, improving customer service, customer loyalty, and retention.
6) Process automation is another great advantage. E-commerce platforms with integrated billing and delivery service APIs make it possible to prepare an invoice and delivery note in two clicks. An admin panel facilitates the management of product stock and keeps the descriptions, pictures, names, categories, etc., up to date.
7) Online sales help cut expenditure on communication and infrastructure even for big established companies.
8) The system collects data about the customers, orders, stock, etc., empowering businesses to access statistics and discover trends. This helps build strategies and adjust their marketing and sales efforts to maximize profits.
9) When customers don’t have to travel to a physical store and browse among the goods there, they save time and money. A smart business can convince them to spend those saved resources on extra online purchases.
10) The use of innovations, such as artificial intelligence (AI), chatbots, and augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR), facilitate conversions, sales, and hence businesses’ growth.
11) An easier reach for a wider pool of customers and the necessary exposure to other businesses are the primary benefits of e-commerce to business owners that are only starting, expanding an existing business, or giving it a fresh start.
The potential benefits of e-commerce for your business may be plentiful, but starting an online store requires consideration, research, calculations, planning, and a basic understanding of e-commerce website development. Let’s take it step by step.
Read Also: Web Design for E-commerce
Generally, the e-commerce website development process encompasses the following activities:
Before launching an e-commerce, the business owner should consider both the market potential and their own capabilities, e.g., their website development budget. This roughly corresponds to the discovery phase.
It all starts with your business goals. First of all, it’s necessary to determine your preferred type of website:
If it’s a marketplace, there are several e-commerce business models you might go for:
Every e-commerce project should be guided by research about the products or services that will be sold and the people who will buy them. Begin the description of your solution with answers to the following questions:
Put down several SMART goals that the e-commerce site should achieve for your business.
All this will give you the basic concept of your future solution and the project scale. Now you can start your research, potential competition, and target market analysis. For example, after defining the products or services you are going to offer, you can identify other online shops selling them.
E-commerce competitor analysis is equally important. Your odds of success are extremely low if you intend to compete with big players possessing popular services and impressive marketing budgets. Finding a niche with some breathing room can give you a better chance, especially if you have a unique idea for processes, branding, and customer experience.
The easiest way to search for competitors in your niche is to browse the web indexes utilizing relevant catchphrases. Instruments like Semrush also help analyze the most relevant keywords indicating demand, discovering potential rivals, and identifying the most active and ready-to-buy TAs. Looking at other companies’ rates, you can also see how well and in what numbers you can expect to sell your products. For more in-depth e-commerce market research and analysis, it’s generally recommended to hire experts.
Knowing your TA’s tastes and the competition is essential even for choosing or creating your website name. It should be concise, original, but easy to remember and distinguish your brand from competitors. A unique name also means better odds of getting a perfect e-commerce domain name. If you can’t find an available URL including the iconic .com, you might try .biz, .shop, .solutions, .online, or other domains that can work as well.
NB. Once you’ve got a business name and found an available URL, go ahead and register the domain name lest someone else snatches it up while you are developing your website.
Once you have worked out your business idea and requirements for the future e-commerce solution, you are ready to reach out to the professionals that can implement it.
To qualify for the job, vendors should have positive reviews and a strong track record of building e-commerce sites. Ideally, they should also provide UX/UI design services, offer ongoing support, and be ready to advise you before your actual cooperation begins.
Namely, you will likely need advice on prioritizing your future e-commerce website features, most suitable technologies, project planning, and other prerequisites of successful and cost-effective software development.
Firstly, the experts can help you decide on the format of your solution. Depending on the results of your research, available budget, and ambitions, you may choose among several scenarios:
Onix typically recommends its clients start with a minimum viable product (MVP). This is a practical way to validate your assumptions and test the market interest quickly and at a minimum cost. Within a few weeks, a couple of programmers can build and launch an MVP marketplace or store that can effectively sell goods or services to real customers.
By monitoring the early users’ feedback and key performance indicators (KPIs), including the sales, you will be able to assess the effectiveness of the platform and chosen solutions, the user experience, and more. Then, you may either make adjustments and develop the website further, or pivot, or close the project.
Read also: How to Measure UI/UX Design Performance
The development of your MVP or a full-fledged online commerce platform will proceed faster if your team utilizes one of the specialized web development platforms. This topic deserves special attention.
Let’s start with the functionalities that will be available to your website visitors. The minimum e-commerce features list is likely to include:
Users can create an account just by entering their email address or phone number or using Facebook, Google account, or another social login ID.
Users should be able to browse by categories, subcategories (if needed), and products.
A basic product details page should contain an image, description, and price, as well as an ‘Add to cart’ button.
Enable users to search products, filter products by category, price range, and other parameters, and sort by price.
The items in the cart should be stored on the server. Users will need to add items, change the amount, remove items, and empty the cart. The page should automatically calculate an order’s total cost and shipping costs.
At checkout, users should be able to access instructions and choose a convenient payment method.
Users should be able to link one or several credit cards to their profile and add and remove them as needed.
The feature is not a mere list of past orders but also the ability to repeat orders.
The system must load fast and be secure, especially when it comes to online payments. Interfaces must be intuitive, neat, and display correctly in all browsers, on all types of screens.
The following e-commerce website features are valuable but might be omitted in an MVP due to time or budget restrictions:
The store administrator’s functionalities, inaccessible to consumers, are indispensable for managing your online business. The instruments you are going to use include:
Read also: Healthcare CRM Software Benefits
Once these functionalities have been implemented in the MVP, you will need to select features for future iterations and upgrades. Whatever your decisions, the security, proper performance, user-friendliness, and scalability of your e-commerce solution will remain important.
Quality UI/UX design is essential for an intuitive, smooth, and convenient shopping experience. Along with the strictly utilitarian purposes, online store’s design should build trust and emotional links with the buyers. Hire a professional web designer with a thorough knowledge of modern user interfaces and experience in custom e-commerce design.
Smart innovation can give you a competitive edge. Voice shopping, AI-powered features, and augmented reality (AR) are among the first integrations to consider when online stores want a better customer experience and higher sales.
If you are hiring external back- and front-end developers to implement your selected e-commerce website features, familiarity with some technical terms may prove useful as well. The following chapter lists the most relevant programming languages, libraries, tools, etc. – something to look for in the candidates’ CVs.
Words like price, expenses, or budget have been popping up throughout this article. Now, we’ll try to sum things up and answer probably the most vexing question: how much does it cost to build an e-commerce website?
Regarding timelines, a project’s initial stage lasts roughly 2-4 weeks. Subsequent software development will depend on the system’s complexity and other factors. The first version of a basic solution may take from 3 to 5 months, a custom-built online shop – some 4-9 months, and a large e-commerce platform may take a whole nine months and more to build.
Basically, the project budget compounds the hours spent by appropriate experts at each stage of your software development. All of the project stages, choices, and activities mentioned so far both contribute to and can directly impact (increase or decrease) your e-commerce site cost, along with other factors:
Budget issues are the second major reason why startups fail. An increasing number of companies choose to minimize this risk through a productive outsourcing partnership. Offshore outsourcing helps in saving costs enormously when compared to in-house development or nearshore outsourcing. Furthermore, it enables entrepreneurs to hire the most suitable experts and promotes flexibility in the business process.
You can outsource your e-commerce MVP development on a fixed-price basis or hire a dedicated team that will be working for you throughout your product life cycle. In any case, the recommended team structure should include at least:
Don’t forget the additional services, such as creating brand identity, graphics, product descriptions, keyword-rich titles, high-quality photos of the products, maybe even short videos, and other content for your website.
Make sure to reach out to at least five development teams and compare their offers. Your essential e-commerce features list can be the basis for the teams’ initial project estimates. The more details you can provide, the more accurate their assessment may be.
A lower quote may not necessarily imply a lower quality of work. The gap in the professionals’ hourly wages in different countries has little to do with differences in training, skills, or experience. Normally, the reasons are purely economic, but the development of the same custom e-commerce solution in the US may cost four times as much as in India.
|North America||USA, Canada||$100–$450|
|South America||Mexico, Panama, Brazil, Argentina||$20 - $55|
|Western Europe||Ireland, Germany, Norway, Netherlands, UK, Belgium, France||$150–$400|
|Eastern Europe||Ukraine, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania||$25–$199|
|Central Asia||Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan||$10–$59|
|East and South Asia||China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Japan||$10–$350|
|Africa||Morocco, Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt, Ethiopia||$10–$99|
Eastern European IT markets are known for their optimal price-quality ratios. For example, a Ukrainian software developer’s average rate is $45-$90 per hour. The Polish specialist’s rate starts from $100 to $149. Hungarian developers take minimum $50 and maximum $100 per hour, the same as Slovakian and Romania IT specialists. This is higher than in most outsourcing destinations in Asia or Africa but still much lower than in the U.S., Canada, or Western Europe.
As a result of all the factors, the cost of creating e-commerce solutions of different complexity, from the initial business analysis to launch to the market, can vary dramatically.
However, this is not all. E-commerce website development is not a linear process. Once your team has successfully released the first version, the continuous maintenance work starts. Simultaneously, you will need to monitor your customers’ feedback and keep updating and upgrading the website to satisfy the TA’s emerging needs and preferences. The testing of new releases and patching up occasional flaws will also continue.
After your e-commerce website launch, you may still have to pay:
The maintenance of an e-commerce website thus may cost from $1,000 to $6,000 per month.
The primary benefits of e-commerce development using website builders and templates are:
The disadvantages include:
Still, such platforms are an excellent solution for small and mid-sized sites that don’t harbor plans for extensive scalability, employing new technologies, or innovation.
Even free plans empower entrepreneurs to set up a basic store and start selling products online immediately. If they build a simple templated solution, the platform provider will handle most testing and maintenance. For greater capabilities, store owners will need certain skills and investments into premium plans and underlying software.
Some of the leading e-commerce website builders are:
Over one million business clients across 175 countries are using this e-commerce solution. It is best geared towards small-to-medium businesses (SMB), especially boutiques and exclusive product stores.
With various features already integrated, it’s virtually possible to make an e-commerce website single-handedly. Shopify has diverse custom domains, AI personalization, over 70 user-friendly templates, extensive SEO features, and excellent 24/7 support.
Shopify Lite, with certain limitations, costs $9/month; Basic Shopify will cost $29/month. There will also be an additional fee for each sale you make.
A quarter of all online stores use this free, open-source shopping cart plugin. WooCommerce is perfect for small businesses that already have a WordPress site but also a modest budget.
The features include shipping options, calculator, geolocation support, mobile optimization, coupons, and discounts. However, since you may need to buy additional extensions to implement more features, your e-commerce site cost will depend on their number and complexity.
This platform is also open-source and free and can be integrated with your existing website. Although not the best fit for large-scale projects, OpenCart offers everything you may need to run an online store: unlimited item categories, accessible dashboard, numerous themes, and plugins. Various modules, extensions, and themes will help you customize its look-and-feel. There’s also excellent documentation, a helpful online community, and paid technical support.
OpenCart’s self-hosted version is free; the cost of a cloud-hosted version starts at $30.
If your business requires a small and simple e-commerce site, a ready-made template costing $1,000 or less can do the job. However, companies that aim at a global arena, vast customer bases, promotion, high revenues, and brand loyalty may have to resort to custom e-commerce web development (albeit it can also use templates).
‘Have to’ because the option implies two significant disadvantages:
On the other hand, custom e-commerce development offers:
It’s clear that a custom-built e-commerce web app, with its unique look and feel and customized features, will enable you to stand out amongst the competitors and provide better user experiences. This means more conversions, higher customer loyalty, and so forth.
Whether you opt for building an MVP on one of the e-commerce platforms or a bespoke full-fledged online marketplace, your product should include certain e-commerce website features. The following chapter will provide you with a preliminary list.
When creating an e-commerce website, it’s important that you take the time to define who your target audience is. This will help to ensure that your website is designed in a way that appeals to them and meets their needs. Without a defined target audience, it will be difficult to create an effective e-commerce website.
If your e-commerce website is not easy to use, potential customers are likely to give up and go to a competitor’s site that is simpler to navigate. Make sure that your website is designed with the user in mind and that it takes a couple of seconds to find what they are looking for.
The quality of the photography on your e-commerce website is important as it can make or break a sale. Poor quality images will put potential customers off, so it is worth investing in good quality photographs that show off your products in their best light.
If you want to maximize sales on your e-commerce website, it’s important to offer a range of payment options. Customers should be able to choose from a variety of methods such as credit card, PayPal, bank transfer, Apple or Google Pay, etc.
In today’s world, it’s essential to have a mobile-friendly website as more and more people are using their smartphones and tablets to shop online. Make sure that your website is optimized for mobile devices and that it’s comfortable to use on a small screen.
If you want to keep customers coming back to your e-commerce website, make sure you provide good customer service. This includes responding to inquiries and complaints in a timely manner.
When it comes to building an e-commerce website, security should be at the forefront of your mind. In today's digital age, there are a number of ways that fraudsters can attack your business, including financial fraud, phishing scams, and infected links.
Investing in security measures is essential to protecting your business from these threats. At a minimum, you should have SSL certificates to protect payments, antivirus software to keep payment information safe, and switch to HTTPS to protect your users' data.
When it comes to actually executing the sale, e-commerce businesses often see a lot of abandoned carts. This can happen for a variety of reasons - usually because the checkout process is confusing. If your customers get lost during checkout, they're likely to get frustrated and give up before completing their purchase.
To increase conversions, it's important to make the checkout process as simple as possible. Eliminate any obstacles in their way. Your website's copy should be clear, detailed, and concise. Outline the exact steps they need to take in order to make a purchase and make sure buttons are big and eye-catching.
Finally, don't hit them with any unexpected terms or fees. Everything should be defined from the beginning. Making a purchase involves a degree of trust, so you don't want to give customers any reason to think that you're being sneaky or spammy.
From the project discovery stage through the ongoing support of your online store or marketplace, Onix can be your trusted outsourcing partner. Our employees possess a thorough knowledge of the e-commerce industry, the most popular and emerging applicable technologies, and excellent user experience and modern online shopping interfaces.
We have vast experience in building custom e-commerce solutions for international clients. Our development process combining the Scrum framework and the Lean Startup approach promotes flexibility and facilitates quick implementation and testing.
One such example is the BetterMe project our specialists worked on.
It’s a leading healthy lifestyle provider and e-commerce platform featuring a vast assortment of fitness programs and clothes. As of today, this app is available in 10 languages in more than 190 countries and has 100 million installs so far.
One more example is a branded mobile application for a nationwide chain of wholesale grocery retail stores Metro UA.
Our team won a tender for this project among 10 candidates and was really proud to become a technical partner for this company. We were responsible for making the app that will not only facilitate the physical shopping experience but also pave the way for online sales in the future.
Today, the app has more than 500,000 downloads on Google Play. We continue to work on this project adding new functionality and improving existing features.
E-commerce is a great way to reach a global audience and sell your products or services online. But if you're new to the world of e-commerce, the whole process can seem a bit daunting.
Whether you would like to test the water with a minimum viable product using templates, or are about to build something groundbreaking from scratch, please feel free to reach out. A 30-minute talk will be enough to decide how your project should proceed.
The most important elements of an e-commerce website are a product catalog, a shopping cart, and a payment gateway.
Some of the most popular e-commerce platforms are Shopify, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce.
The cost of building an e-commerce website can vary depending on the platform you use, the features you want, and the size of your business. The basic model can cost between $10k and $90K. Middle-scale app development may vary from $40K to $150K, While large-scale apps can start from $80K up to $250K.
Building an e-commerce website can be divided into a few different steps:
1. Choose an e-commerce platform
2. Select a domain name and web hosting
3. Design your website
4. Populate your website with products
5. Set up payment processing
6. Launch your website!
Some common mistakes when building an e-commerce website include:
1. Not investing in a good e-commerce platform
2. Not putting enough thought into the design of the website
3. Not providing enough information about the products
4. Not setting up a payment gateway
5. Not promoting the website enough
6. Not providing good customer support
7. Not regularly updating the website
8. Not measuring the website's analytics
9. Not A/B testing the website
10. Not making the website mobile-friendly