The Beginner’s Guide to Ecommerce

Ecommerce or electronic commerce is a business model that facilitates a firm or an individual to manage not just business over an electronic network such as the internet but also sell products or services and accept payment for transactions. Individuals or businesses involved in an ecommerce, b2b (business to business) or b2c (business to customers), be it buyers or sellers depend on internet-based technology in order to do their transactions via a website. It is now important for all the businesses to have an online presence and have a digital storefront to provide their services and products to the customers spread all across the globe. Ecommerce enables businesses to communicate and transact anytime at anyplace all over the world. Some of the top ecommerce stores include Amazon, eBay, WalMart, Alibaba, Groupon, Apple and several businesses with offline presences also have an ecommerce division such as Walmart, Ikea, and American Apparel.

Who Can Open an Ecommerce Store?

Anyone can open an ecommerce store because there are no such barriers that exist during the entry inside a traditional commerce store. If you have an ecommerce store, the various benefits that you will enjoy are;

  • No need to waste months searching for potential places.
  • No need to have a building on the lease and nor will you be required to spend your money while fitting it out.
  • No need to hire a large number of employees who will help you to manage the shop.
  • You don’t need to purchase your entire stock upfront, thus completely minimizing your risk. (Various ecommerce stores only purchase stock after they’ve made a sale. This is called drop-shipping business model.

It gets very easy to manage everything with an ecommerce store. You only require a great website, and this, too, can be quickly and easily done. It also minimizes the budget. However, there are certain elements that an online and offline store will be requiring. For instance, you will be needed to have a good security base and an easy way to process payments.

Getting Started With Ecommerce

Business principles needed to manage an offline store are same for an online store. However, the problems confronted by you will vary. Considering this fact, the primary shape of an ecommerce business model is identical where you are required to sell products, a spot to market them, and a marketing policy to draw purchasers. You will be required to possess a strategy with ecommerce business for shipping the goods you market because a customer is not able to take them off themselves. Go through each step respectively, and examine how your strategy will vary to that of an offline commerce store.

Products To Sell

Primarily, products are required by your ecommerce store in order to market. These products can be brought either in-house or sourced externally. When as an online retailer you talk about sourcing your products, you’re not limited to online suppliers. Every offline supplier is perfectly viable. But, due to an online business’ nature, most ecommerce owners will do business with other online businesses.

Among the many ways, the basic method to seek products for an ecommerce store will be identical to that of an offline store, i.e. find the best product at the best price.

Digital Vs Physical Goods

Generally, the goods sold by you from an ecommerce store will be the same as that of an offline store. But, running an ecommerce store also provides you the chance to market digital products as well.

A digital good is an intangible variant of a real world physical good. For instance, eBooks instead of books, and downloadable music and videos rather than CDs and DVDs. Compared to physical goods, these things possess some amount of benefits from the perspective of both the buyer and seller. From the buyer’s viewpoint, a digital product is excellent as it can be downloaded immediately. For sellers, there’s no shipping charge, you never have to trouble about selling out because a download doesn’t affect stock levels or conversely purchasing stock in large amount.

A Place To Sell Products & Services – Your Website

The place where business is done by you is the principal variation between an ecommerce store and physical store. A website is required to create an ecommerce store. So, without any doubts, your website will be the extremely significant element of your ecommerce business. After all, it is the platform where your customers communicate and purchase from you. Thus, the way your website is designed will profoundly affect their impression of you, and influence how inclined they are to make that purchase. If you want to run an ecommerce business, your website is something you must get right. However, it is not only about selecting a website but there are a number of things to consider about before using a website.

The process of making a website can be quite intimidating if in case you have never before made one. And that is the very goal of this guide; splitting down everything you’ll require into easy terms so that the entire procedure becomes less confusing and easier.

Content Management System

The best part while creating a website from scratch is that you won’t require any sort of programming skills to make your website: you can make use of what’s called a Content Management System (CMS). This basically gives your website’s framework that can enable you to add and edit pages on it with just the click of a button. There exist a number of CMSs but to avoid it from getting confusing, you are advised to go for two of the most generally used CMSs, WordPress, and Shopify.


The most popular CMS today is WordPress as it is powering over 20% of the Internet. As it is a self-hosted CMS, you will require your own web host but is totally free to use. However, there are two versions of WordPress,, and is good for a first timer, as it is totally free to try (you won’t need your own host), though there exist loads of limitations that turns it inappropriate for running an online store.

And the other version is This is the version which can be used to create an online store as you begin with installing a theme for your website. A theme is the visual design used for your site and on are present thousands of themes that are both free of cost and chargeable.

Though there exist several themes that have customizing options but most importantly, the theme selected by you will regulate the design and layout of your website. There are few very good themes present for under $50, you can possess the basis of a fabulous looking website at a moderately low cost.

WordPress also enables you to install plugins which enable specific features or functionality to your website. For instance, if you want to allow social media sharing on your website, you can install a plugin to add social icons to each page.


The other CMS that is talked about is Shopify which was designed especially for the goal of powering ecommerce stores, and it now encompasses more than 100,000 online stores. Shopify is a hosted CMS, otherwise referred to as a software-as-a-service (SaaS). Basically, it is an all-in-one solution, taking care of everything you require in order to run an ecommerce website. It’s excellent to have the advantage of keeping everything under one roof, but when compared to WordPress, Shopify service is rather expensive and also has restrictions.

There are far fewer themes present, but these were all designed from an ecommerce outlook. A majority of the themes can be customized within the framework of the theme, or you can also hire a developer to change the theme according to your wishes.

Web Hosting

All the website require hosting. Your website is stored by the web host on one of their servers, which implies that it can be accessed by other Internet users. And if there is no host, there is no website. As far as hosting is concerned, that is pretty pricey but this also encompasses all security considerations and a shopping cart solution.

If an ecommerce business is using Shopify, all hosting is involved inside your monthly plan. Though in case you want to stock more than 25 products, the plans start from $29 per month and go as high as $179. But you will be provided with a much larger number of options while using WordPress. A few popular web hosts involve Hostgator, Bluehost and Siteground, with plans available as low as $3.95 per month.

There are a number of dedicated WordPress hosting services available; these are called “Managed WordPress Hosts.” Not only are these services among the fastest hosts around, but they will also help you manage your WordPress website by optimizing it for speed, security, and updates. You can do all this yourself, but it’s useful to have specialists helping with these tasks. One of the more popular managed WordPress hosting services is WP Engine, with plans available from $29 per month.


Domain names are used to recognize one or more IP addresses. For instance, the domain name represents about a dozen IP addresses. Domain names are used in URLs to identify particular web pages. For instance, in the URL, the domain name internetsearchinc. Every domain name has a suffix that indicates which top level domain (TLD) it belongs to. There are only a limited number of such domains. Domain registration is the process of registering a domain name, which identifies one or more IP addresses with a name that is easier to remember and use in URLs to identify particular Web pages. The person or business that registers a domain name is called the domain name registrant. There are many domain registrar companies like GoDaddy that can make registering or booking Domain Names fast, simple, and affordable.


Shopping Cart

A shopping cart is also required by an ecommerce website as it will enable the users to drop their selected products into their basket. It comes handy when a customer wishes to calculate before the total and it also guides the customer through to the checkout where they can pay.

ecommere-shopping-cartIf an ecommerce is using Shopify, their solution for the shopping cart is easy: all Shopify ecommerce stores have an inbuilt shopping cart function. You can easily add your products, append a price-tag and Shopify will allow users to add them to their cart.

Whereas when WordPress is concerned, it doesn’t include ecommerce functionality, so you’ll be required to install a plugin for the job. After the desired plugin is installed, you’ll be able to make product pages from the dashboard of your WordPress, where details of your product, images, prices, shipping costs and even stock levels can be included by you.

Payment Gateway

Money is not directly transferred into your bank account, thus, in order to manage an ecommerce website, you’ll need a payment gateway to authorize and process your customer’s transactions. After each transaction is processed successfully, the money proceeds to a holding account, known as a merchant account, where it can then be withdrawn from your own account.

ecommerce-payment-gatewayThe two most successful payment processors for WordPress users are PayPal and Stripe. PayPal is on the market for quite some time. Also due to its link with eBay, you may perhaps even be aware of its process. Stripe is still new but has the benefit of allowing an onsite payment procedure.

In case the hosted method is taken by you through Shopify, your website can utilize their own in-house payment gateway, but you also have the option of an external solution, like PayPal or Stripe. It’s something worth to note that the Shopify gateway is accessible only in the USA and Canada; Stripe is accessible in the US, Canada, UK, Australia and much of Europe; and PayPal is available pretty much worldwide. However, all three services are free to set up and integrate. you’re only charged for each successful transaction processed, with a small fee deducted from the money you receive.

Now, the fees you pay is influenced by a number of factors such as your location, the number of transactions you process, and your membership level.

Website Security

On-site security is also an essential element that is required before you can start taking customers’ card payments on your website.

PCI compliance is the standardized set of rules that you must comply with. There exists a considerable part of your website that requires being PCI compliant: your server, your payment gateway, and your shopping cart. However, as all the significant hosts, payment processors, and shopping carts are PCI compliant; the good thing is that you will not be required to deal with these concerns.

Nevertheless, there can be some situations where you will also require an SSL certificate for your website. An SSL certificate provides an extra security for your customers by encrypting the connection between your customer and your website. While dealing with sensitive information like credit card details, this is necessary. As Shopify provides an all-in-one service—hosting, shopping cart, payment gateway—they also include SSL. While using PayPal, you will not have to concern over this context. The sensitive payment information is not entered on your website—rather it is entered on PayPal’s own website—meaning PayPal has to provide SSL.  But the users of Stripe will need to take duty and set up their own SSL certificate. But on the same hand, this process is not difficult at all. You can simply contact your hosting provider and buy one from them. And in case if you utilize one of the big hosting companies, they will even look after the installation—which indicates there your worry is eliminated there and then.

Online Marketing Strategy

A proper inflow of customers and buyers is utmost necessary if any business has to flourish. In the case of offline businesses, this indicates customers through their doors whereas for an ecommerce store this means people looking at their website. After your ecommerce website is built by you, you ought to design an approach in order to get as many customers as you can.


The interesting part is that most of the strategies for marketing that are applied in the offline market to bring customers in the shop will also be appropriate in the online world. The most important are word-of-mouth method as it will always be very powerful. Traditional print and television adverts can build awareness among the customers, too.

The best way to develop and expand the presence of your ecommerce store online is to follow the latest trends in online marketing strategies and most importantly make the most use of social media like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Reddit, Instagram and more. Social media not just enables you to communicate with your customers. Each time your company is mentioned in positive views or reviews, this is actually a very important piece of approval—the online version of word-of-mouth. Everyone listens to the opinions of their friends and family, so if someone is testifying for you on Facebook, then it means that other people are possibly going to check you out.

Nevertheless, by far for most Ecommerce stores the principal beginning of traffic will arrive from the search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

How Do You Get Your Website To Appear On The Search Engine Results Page (SERPs)?

Ecommerce website’s primary goal is to get more & more customers and to do that your site must be search friendly. If your site is not high in search engine rankings, you will not get visitors, that means loss of business.

If you want your website to appear on the search engine results page (SERPs), then there are two options available for you. One is paid and the other is free. In case if you want your website to be seen prominently in the SERPs, the paid option is the fastest way to get it done. Every search engine has a paid set of results for each search query, with Google’s AdWords being the most popular.

Essentially, you observe the sort of phrases being searched by your potential customers in Google, then bid for that phrase.

Google Search Results And SEO:

Although the free approach is a much-extended method, it is far more productive and also very cost-effective. It’s known as SEO, or search engine optimization. Each search engine has its own algorithm which determines how websites are ranked for each search query. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a set of methods aimed at improving the ranking of a website in search engine listings and is a subset of Search Engine Marketing. Research your market and competition, decide which key phrases would be the most suited to your products or services and are being used the most by consumers in the search engines. To compete for top relevant placement this action will help you to figure out the time and cost. There are particular steps that can be taken by you in order to rank your website better for the keywords you want to mark.

ecommerce-seo-strategyOne of the great idea to boost your website rank better is to get other websites to link to it. Every link shows Google that your website must be high quality to be link-worthy, and this causes Google to view your website more positively.

In case you manage to rank properly for various key keywords, you’ll have the regular influx of traffic your ecommerce store that is required to persist. A way to find out why you’re not getting enough search traffic and sales are by auditing a site framework. Auditing is a growth hack method in the SEO world which will assist you to attract and engage customers.


The way through which customers and buyers receive their products and purchases is one of the biggest differences between a physical shop and an ecommerce store. With an offline/physical shop, it’s simple where buyers only take the products off the shelf, carry them to the checkout to pay, then move out of the store with their purchases. However, with an ecommerce store, you’ll need to get a solution for shipping your products to the customer. If you’re not particular enough, this can take a lot of time an effort and numerous rounds to the post office will not be the right impression to make on a customer.

ecommerce-shipping-optionsAlso, fulfillment services are critical to any ecommerce business large or small since customers expect delivery of their goods in a timely manner with near real-time tracking. Amazon prime is the leader in ecommerce shipping with millions of ecommerce deliveries daily. Amazon sellers are offered Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). Walmart has just announced Walmart prime. Drop-shipping is another popular alternative for ecommerce businesses that don’t want to carry an inventory. Ecommerce stores can also use what is known as a drop shipping business model, mentioned in the beginning of this guide. With this approach, your suppliers ship the products directly to your customer. From your point of view, this is highly beneficial: you don’t have to worry about buying 1,000 units in advance; the supplier simply ships following each order. This minimizes your risk of holding unwanted stock, cuts down on delivery charges and the time involved and also eliminates storage costs.

Also providing your customers free shipping is becoming a frequently attractive prospect and has shown a lot of potential in reducing the abandonment of shopping cart. Furthermore, you can either go for offering free shipping on a minimum order amount.

Creating your own ecommerce business is not an easy task. From choosing a product, evaluating viability and sourcing, to the building, launching, and growing sales, it needs your hard work, dedication, and expertise. There’s a lot of puzzle pieces to put together. To some, it may seem quite confusing at first but by following this resource roundup, you should have a clear roadmap that can help you build a profitable one.

Please contact PROS Ecommerce consulting for a FREE consultation or call us today at 619.567.9322.

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