Do you want to build an online store to market your product to millions of customers every day? Having an online store can really help market your products to a wide range of people even without leaving your house.
Customers have embraced online shopping as it’s easy to shop around the store without living the comfort of their home and at any time, and you can sell practically anything in the store.
Another amazing thing about online stores is that you can start your online store without inventory and start selling online, and you don’t even have to build the store from scratch.
After helping many people to create their online store, we have decided to create the a step by step guide on how to build your online store.
Ready to learn how to create your own online store? Then is guide is for you.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to create your own online store also know as an eCommerce store in 8 steps and how to get your first sales.
Let’s dive right in!
What is an Online Store?
An online store is a website through which you can offer items for sale and customers will place their orders without seeing you physically or visiting your shop or company.
An online store may represent an online presence of a small local store, a major retailer, an e-commerce store, or an individual who sells offline. You don’t need a license or any legal document to own and create an online store for your business.
Pros of Owning an Online Store
- The stores will be available for shopping 24/7 with instant payment into your bank account or online wallet.
- Customers can buy your products from anywhere in the world.
- With an online store, customers can easily shop for products in sections or categories.
- You can easily turn your store to a brand with an online store.
- Direct interaction with potential customers via Live Chat or Support channels
- An online store is a great marketing tool to attract new customers and retain the former customers.
- You can reach more customers than would ever be able to with an offline store.
Cons of Owning an Online Store
- You need to have little technical knowledge to manage an online store or hire a professional to do it for you.
- An online store has its own associated costs, such as Web hosting and domain fees, graphic design, etc.
- It can cost you some high investment to build a well optimize an online store and services.
- The cost of shipping may not be affordable for potential customers.
- Product marketing and retaining of customers can cost more compared to marketplaces.
- Your online store will have to compete with other similar online stores, brands, and marketplaces.
Having your own online store still have much better advantages despite the cons. Let’s get started by building one.
Step 1: Choosing Your Online Store Platform
Building a successful online business starts with choosing the best eCommerce platforms that enable a business to sell products and services online.
There are a lot of eCommerce platforms out there that you can use to build your online store such as:
- WooCommerce – free standard features to create an online store and blog
- Shopify – create a functional online store faster with easy-to-use drag-and-drop store builder
- Gumroad – most simple interfaces to sell digital products.
- Ecwid – for selling on social media
- Wix – for simultaneously creating a store and a blog
- PrestaShop – a free platform with user-friendly tools to run a store.
We recommend WooCommerce (WordPress) and Shopify which are the two most used eCommerce platforms among others after trying out these platforms.
Shopify is an online store builder that comes with the essential features that every eCommerce website needs create a functional online store fast with is easy-to-use drag-and-drop store builder, which allows you to quickly set up your shop and start selling.
The downside to Shopify is that it quite expensive, and the payment gateway you can use in your store is limited unless you pay additional fees.
Shopify also offers a $9/month lite plan for selling on social media if you don’t want to invest in a full-blown eCommerce website yet.
Woocommerce is a free WordPress plugin that you can integrate into a website to add an online store into a self-hosted WordPress website. You can even combine other plugins from WordPress with the Woocommerce to customize your store even more.
WordPress is a free open-source application you can easily use to create a beautiful website, blog, and online store without any coding knowledge. WordPress is the world’s largest platform for building online stores, blogs, and websites.
With the integration of Woocommerce plugin, it will converts your WordPress site into a fully functional online store, with product listings, categories, collections, and a shopping cart.
Most people choose WordPress and Woocommerce because both are free as you only have to pay for a domain name and hosting. Both application also offers flexibility and you have total control over the design of your store.
In this guide, we’re going to setup an online store using WordPress. Have no knowledge how to set it up?
You don’t need to worry as we’ll show you how to build the online store with WordPress and Woocomerce step by step for easy understanding even if you’ve never built a website before.
Step 2: Purchasing a Domain Name and Web host
To build an online store also know as eCommerce website you’re going to first purchase a domain name (www.yourstorename.com) and web hosting(Your website storage).
A good domain name is a key to launching a successful online store. It help built trust with customers and helps establish your brand. Think of your domain name like a brand name you will love to own, then come up with a name that is original and memorable. eg Shoprite, Gucci, Amazon, Nike, Slot, Konga, etc
Normally a domain name costs around N4500 / year, web hosting costs around N500 / month, and SSL certificate costs around N10,000 / year.
That’s a lot of startup cost.
Thankfully, Namecheap a standard Shared Hosting for WordPress has agreed to offer users a free domain name, free SSL certificate, and a discount on web hosting.
Basically, you can get started for N601.98 / month.
But if you don’t have much but still want a good web hosting for your online store, you can also make use of a Nigeria based domain and hosting company name Harmondweb.
Harmondweb offers a free .com.ng domain and hosting for N3,850 a year for starters.
That’s how cheap it is to create an online store as compared to renting a store or shop offline.
But in this guide, we are going to be purchasing the domain and hosting from Namecheap; our preferred partner to get started. Then follow these simple steps to get your store domain and Shared Hosting account up and running with Namecheap.
How to Purchase a Domain and Hosting on Namecheap
Click on ‘Hosting‘ >> ‘Shared Hosting’ at the top.
Scroll down to view the different hosting plans offer by Namecheap, pick a plan that best fits your needs by checking the packages in each plan.
For beginners, we recommend the cheap Steller plan because it packs plenty of power for starting a new store. Click the ‘Get Started’ button to start the process.
On the next page, type the domain name that you will like to use as your store name in the search bar to check if your preferred store name,
Eg babiesplalace, etc, with domain extension such as .com, etc, is available.
For example, as a new business owner that want to buy this domain name “babiespalace” for your online baby clothing store. After searching the domain on Namecheap, it was discovered that it was not available.
Both as you can see, there are other related extension that are available that you can purchase for your business. But we recommend that you always go for extensions like .com, .com.ng, as they are the ones people are use to.
Since the domain you wish for your business is not available, you can try other related business names such as “TheBabiesPalace, LittleBabiesPalace” and recheck if any is available.
You can also visit the business tool page to make use of business name generator to suggest amazing business tool for your business.
After finding the right domain for your business, you can then go ahead to buy it. Scroll down a little and click the ‘Connect Hosting’ button, allow the page to reload, then click on the ‘Add to Cart’ button.
Note! Since you are not making use of domain extensions like .site, .studio. .website, etc., you will have to pay for the .com extension with the web hosting, which has been added together in the above example.
After clicking on the “Add to cart” button, you will be redirected to the cart page where you can add a coupon code and some extra features to improve your site.
When you are satisfied with your order, click on the ‘Confirm Order‘ button to proceed.
You will be redirected to another page where you need to create a Namecheap account. Go ahead to create the account.
After creating your Namecheap account, click on the “View cart” button at the top to proceed to the checkout page where you will be required to select your payment method. You can make use of PayPal or MasterCard or VisaCard to make the payment.
Note! You can’t make use of your Verve card to make the payment.
You’ll be paying around $28 which is equivalent to around N10,700 for your domain name and one year of hosting of your site. Once you’ve filled in the payment details, click the ‘Confirm Order’ button at the bottom to complete your purchase.
After purchasing the domain and hosting for your online store, you need to install WordPress to start creating your online store.
Step 3: Installing and Setting up of WordPress
Go ahead and log in to Namecheap, click on your ‘Username‘ >> ‘Dashboard’ at the top of the Namecheapmenu, your dashboard will open, click on the ‘Domains‘ tab, the domain you just registered with appear, hover over the Hosting icon, select ‘Manage’ from the drop-down menu, and click ‘Go to cPanel’.
Once you have logged in to your cPanel, click on the Softaculous icon from your cPanel selection.
A page will appear, select the WordPress icon, and click ‘Install Now’.
Next, you will be redirected to the site setting page where you will need to setup SSL for your site to by changing your site address to use https instead of http.
You also need to change the site name and description to yours, Then enter a username and strong password for the site. The username and password is the administrator login detail for the site.
Note! Write down the Username and Password somewhere save.
After you have filled in your details, scroll down and click ‘Install’. You will receive a message once your WordPress installation is successful.
The next step is to log in to the backend of your site. Your login URL should look something like this ‘http://yourstorename.com/wp-admin‘.
Navigate to your login page, enter your username and password and click on the ‘Login’ button. Your WordPress admin dashboard will show up looking like the below image.
Now it’s time to add an online store to your site by installing Woocommerce on the site to transform your site into an eCommerce store.
Step 4: Setting up Your WooCommerce Store
WooCommerce is a free WordPress plugin that can be used to sell both digital and physical products with ease. To convert your wordpress website into an online store, you need to install a plugin called “Woocommerce”.
Click on ‘Plugins’ >> ‘Add New’, and search for ‘WooCommerce’ in the search bar to install the Woocommerce plugin on your site. Then, install and activate the plugin.
Once you clicked on activated you’ll be taken to a ‘Welcome to Woocommerce’ page. Go ahead and click on the ‘Yes please’ button to run the Woocommerce wizard.
This will open the WooCommerce setup wizard where you need to, enter your store address, your preferred currency and type of product you want to sell, then click on the ‘Let’s go’ button to go to the next page.
A notification will pop up asking you to ‘Enable usage tracking’ to help improve WooCommerce, check and click ‘Continue‘ button to proceed.
Next, choose a payment method for your online store, by default WooCommerce, comes with Offline Payments, Check payments, Bank transfer, and Cash on delivery.
For now, you can click on ‘Continue‘ button to proceed, you can later install any of the payment gateway plugin.
Next, you need to enter shipping cost for location you will be delivering products to and the location you will not. If you are not sure, then you can leave the section unchecked.
You can add the shipping information later from ‘WooCommerce settings‘. Click on the ‘Continue’ button to go to the next section of the wizard.
In the next wizard, Woocommerce will recommend two amazing plugin; Mailchimp and Facebook that you can use to start marketing your products to potential customers.
Click on the ‘Continue’ button to install the plugins, but you can unchecked the plugins and click the ‘Continue’ button if you don’t wish to install the plugins now.
The next wizard page will open asking you to install Jetpack, another amazing plugin to help improve your online store. Click on the ‘Continue‘ button to install the plugin and move to the next page.
The Next wizard page will open,this is where you can agree to be receiving mails about Woocommerce updates in your mailbox, if you wish to, click on the ‘Yes please‘ button’.
You can also click on the ‘Create a product’ or ‘Import products’ to start displaying your products online.
Your WooCommerce online store is now setup. Click on the ‘Visit dashboard‘ to exit the setup wizard to return to WordPress admin dashboard.
Step 5: Adding Products to Your Online Store
You can now start adding products to your online store. Navigate to Products » Add New page to open product editor. Enter the product name and product description.
On the right-hand column, you will see the ‘Product Categories’’ click on the ‘+Add New Product Category’ to create a category for this product. This will allows you and your potential customers to browse products based on specific categories easily.
After that scroll downward, you will see where you will enter the product data such as the product pricing, inventory, shipping, etc.
After that, upload the product image. From your right-hand column, you will see add the main product image and a product gallery.
Tip! Upload professional images of the product to attract potential buyers.
Next, scroll down again to see a section where you are going to write a short description about the product. This short description is a quick summary about the product.
After that cross-check the product information once again to be sure the information provided is correct.
Once you are satisfied with the product information click on the ‘Publish’ button to make the product live on your store. Follow the same process to add more of your products to the store.
Step 6: Adding Theme and Customizing WordPress Theme
WordPress Theme is a web template that controls how your website, blog, or online store looks and functions. It also controls how your products are displayed in the store.
To made things easier, there are a lot of already customized WooCommerce themes for WordPress that you can use to create any sort of eCommerce website to fit your business perfectly.
For example, Astra theme, Oceanwp, Woostify, Porto, WoodMart, Marketo, Woovina, etc – are example of amazing Woocommerce theme you can use for your online store. You can check out the theme demos before installing it.
You can choose from thousands of amazing eCommerce themes with a wide variety of features and customization options.
Tip! A well customize theme will make your store attractive which is good for better marketing.
In this guide, we are going to be using Astra theme as it is one of the best theme you can use for your online store. The theme is well optimized and customized for ecommerce store.
To add a new theme to your online store click on ‘Appearance’ >> ‘Theme’ >> ‘Add New’ to install the theme on your website.
In the search bar, search for the theme you will like to use, install and activate the theme. Eg Astra
After the installation, click the activation button to activate the theme. Astra theme has about 150+ ready to import websites templates that you can use for your website without been a techie. To use any of the templates, you will need to install the Astra starter templates plugin.
To add the plugin, go to the dashboard then click on “Plugins” >> “Add new”, then search for Starter Templates and install the plugin.
After installing the theme, activate it. To select a template for your online store, go to the dashboard and hover over “Appearance”, under Appearance select “Starter Templates“. A list of already design website templates will show up, go through it and select the one you like.
Starter Templates plugin allows you to import ready and beautifully built demos onto your site. These templates come with sample content, images, and style that you can customize and personalize any way you like to make it your own.
That way you no longer have to spend hours coming up with your own designs. Select anyone you like from the free templates or agency templates,
Then click “Import Complete Site” a popup will appear with the some options. Click on the Import button.
Tip! we recommend to select all these settings to make sure you’re imported template is exactly the same as the preview.
Do not close the window until the site is finished importing. Once the import process is completed, you can click the “Preview Site” button to view how your website looks.
Congratulations! now you have a well optimized store for your products. The next step is to add some essential web pages to your website to make it look more professional.
Step 7: Adding Essential Pages to your Online Store
When you setup Woocommerce on your site, Woocommerce automatically create few essential pages such as cart page, account page, shop page, and checkout page.
If you purchase a theme from themeforest, it will come with the above pages so you do not need to create it again. With a theme like Astra theme, you don’t need to create those pages as it as already been created.
But if your theme don’t come with those pages, you can click on ‘Pages’ >> ‘Add New’ to create a new page for the site. Enter the page name and the content you will like your potential customer to know concerning the page, then click the ‘Publish’ button.
Repeat the process to create the other pages needed.
To edit or redesign any of the pages to your liking, you can learn how to use Elementor page builder to edit your contents or redesign some of the pages.
Step 8. Improving your Online Store Function with Plugins
Once you are done with the setup of the store, you may discover that your eCommerce store still needs some extra functionality to make it work efficiently like an online store.
To further customize your eCommerce site and add more features like Site security, payment gateway, analytics, invoicing, etc, you need to install some WordPress plugins.
Here are some of the essential plugins to make your online store function like others;
- Paystack – Online Payment gateway
- Wordfence – security
- WooCommerce Print Invoices & Packing Lists – Invoicing
- Mailchimp for WooCommerce – Email marketing
- Rank Maths – Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Don’t know how to install plugin, see a guide by Wpbeginner
To add shipping fee (logistics fee) to your ecommerce store, see guide here
Marketing Your Online Store and Getting Your First Sale
When you have carefully followed the above steps, you’re probably ready to start selling your products online.
But firstly, you need to check that the store is working properly as expected by first carrying out a demo sale on your eCommerce site to make sure there aren’t any errors and that the payment gateway actually works.
If everything is working as expected, then it’s time to move on to launching, marketing, and getting your first sale.
Here are a few things you can do to help create a successful store launch and getting your first sale.
1. Send Traffic via Social Media to your Online Store
With 2.6 billion users, social media can create a huge impact on your store traffic. All you need is a link back to your site from within your bio and you should see people clicking through to visit your website.
The most useful and free to use platforms you’ll have at your disposal are Facebook Twitter, and Instagram.
2. Investing in Advertising
Paid advertising is one of the best ways to bring in new customers, get leads, and increase brand awareness easily. These ads appear to potential people searching for the kind of products you sell online, this can be a great way to grow your store faster.
When it comes to paid social media ads, Facebook and Instagram ads dominates the market.
3. Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is a strategy that businesses use to promote their products and services by partnering with popular social media users or bloggers with large audiences to help improve brand awareness, increase site traffic, and deliver your brand’s message to potential customers in need of your products.
4. Build a Blog alongside your Online Store
A killer marketing strategy for building a strong business or brand is creating a blog alongside your online store to give yourself a long-term source of traffic to your online store.
You will be creating content that can educate your visitors all about the products you sell before they decide to buy.
Starting an online store is increasingly important for a business’s success in this technological age, and is definitely an amazing way to grow your business faster.
Owning and operating a successful online store is a dream for many as anyone can start sell products and services online without fancy face-to-face sales pitches but it is a ton of work but hopefully, it will pay in the future.
Note! To escape the stress of building the online store you desire, you can hire us to build the online store for you, don’t hesitate to contact us today.
That’s it. we hope this guide helped you learn how to create an online store for your business easily.
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Now, Over To You
What did you think of our guide on how to create an online store for business?
Or if you have any questions that have not been covered in this guide about building an online store, ask in the comment section, we will give you an answer.