What is an eCommerce website?

eCommerce - Website

An eCommerce website is a website that facilitates buying and selling of products and services online.

Users can browse from an online catalogue, add products on a virtual shopping cart, fill in their name and delivery details in a form, check out and pay through a payment gateway, all in one website. Once the process is complete, the website gives the buyer the estimated time of delivery and tracking number.

What is a business to customer eCommerce website?

A business to customer website sells products or services directly to consumers.

What are the Advantages of Having an eCommerce Website?

Automated Processes

Many tasks can be automated using your website features, saving you time and effort in running your business.

Allows 24/7 Operations

Potential customers can visit and buy from your online store anytime.

Lower Operational Costs

Automated processing of transactions reduces the manpower required to run the business.

Also, sellers have the option of not maintaining a brick and mortar store, depending on their situation. Having fewer or no physical stores at all means that money that would have been spent on rent, utilities, and manpower to run the store can be spent elsewhere.

Reach More Potential Customers

Unlike a physical store that relies on foot traffic, your online store can cater to a wider audience beyond your physical location. As long as you can fulfil your customers’ orders and your partner shipping company has coverage in their place, you can practically sell your products anywhere.

Run your Business from Anywhere

As long you have a laptop and internet connection, you can oversee your business from wherever you are.

Measure your Results

ECommerce platforms provide tools that you can use to track how your products are performing. With this available data, you can optimise your products, prices, and offerings to cater to your customers.

What is an eCommerce Platform?

An eCommerce platform is a software solution that allows business owners to set up an online store.

ECommerce platforms come with built-in tools and allow integration with third-party software to enable the owner to manage many aspects of the business such as inventory, order processing, payment processing, accounting, customer service and more.

Some of the common features of an eCommerce platform are as follows.

Store Management Systems

Store management systems typically include the following.

  • Product Management System – Lets the admin upload and edit product listings
  • Order Management System – Takes care of processing orders including tracking, email notifications and others
  • Return Management System- Takes care of approving requests, sending status updates and so on.
Design Options

Most eCommerce platforms have ready to use themes and templates to help you create your online store’s appearance easily. You can also customise your themes to fit the image that you are going for.

Payment Processing

Ecommerce platforms let you integrate with payment gateways such as PayPal, Stripe, WorldPay and others. Some platforms also have their built-in payment system.

Security

Ecommerce platforms have security features such as SSL encryption and fraud protection tools to keep all transactions protected. They must also meet PCI Security Standards, a set of requirements for websites that work with payment information.

Merchant Tools

Most eCommerce platforms provide tools to help promote the store and to find and retain customers such as the following.

  • Automate sending abandoned-cart reminders to your customers that did not continue with the checkout process
  • Add social share buttons to your online store
  • Create loyalty programs, special discounts, and deals on your online store through the platform’s built-in tools or by allowing integration of third-party apps for such purposes
Analytics and Reports

Many eCommerce platforms allow you to collect and store data and support integration with analytics services.

Knowing who your top customers are, where they are from, your most popular products and other insights can help you make educated decisions about your business.

Integrated Blog Platform

Many eCommerce platforms have integrated blog platforms. Blog posts can attract powerful backlinks, rank for long-tail search queries and boost your SEO.

Top eCommerce Platforms

Shopify

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Shopify is a cloud-based, hosted eCommerce platform that is very easy to use. With Shopify, you can set up your online store within a few hours even if you don’t know how to code.

Here are some of the core features of Shopify.

Storefront

You can instantly create web pages and can customise the look and feel of your online store by changing the website template or themes. You can use the free templates out of the box or choose from free or paid themes from a theme store.

If you also sell in person, you can use the Shopify POS (point of sale) app. The app syncs with Shopify so you can track your sales and inventories for both online and physical stores in just one place.

Payment processor

Shopify has its own payment processor called Shopify Payments which can save you transaction fees. However, Shopify Payments is not available in all countries yet.

You still have the option to add third-party payment processors but you will be charged transaction fees when using them.

Sales channels

Aside from your online store, Shopify also lets you add other sales channels so you can sell anywhere your customers could be. Sales channels include online marketplaces like Amazon and social media platforms like Facebook, and another website or blog.

Abandoned cart saver

One of the good features of Shopify is that it offers an abandoned cart saver out of the box in its basic plan. Other eCommerce platforms offer this when you get the higher tier. This feature enables sending of email reminders to people who added something to their shopping cart but did not push through with the transaction.

Product management

As with any eCommerce platform, you can add and edit products and create product categories on your online store. One great feature of Shopify is that it lets you create smart collections. Instead of manually adding products to your collections, you can populate them automatically based on the conditions you set.

On the downside, there is a limit to how you can add product variants and options in Shopify. While it is possible to create 100 product variations, each product can only have up to three options. For example, if you are selling t-shirts, you can only list three product options for each item, say size, colour, and material. To lift the limits, you need to use third-party apps which you have to pay for.

Apps

If you need more features and functionalities that are not out of the box, you can use free or paid third-party applications from the Shopify app store.

Advanced customisation

For more advanced customisation and eCommerce website design for your online store, you have the option to hire a third-party eCommerce website development company that has expertise in Shopify development.

BigCommerce

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BigCommerce is another popular eCommerce platform that has an easy to use interface and has a lot of built-in features. Like Shopify, you don’t need to know how to code to be able to use the platform.

Here are some of BigCommerce features.

Storefront

BigCommerce has several themes you can choose from to create your online store. You can edit these themes with its page builder which lets you drag and drop elements like hero banners, images, video, carousels, spacers, dividers, buttons and others.

Payment processor

PayPal powered by Braintree is the recommended payment gateway of BigCommerce. It features credit card processing, fraud protection, and an in-context PayPal window that lets your customers pay with PayPal without having to leave your site. BigCommerce has over 65 payment gateway integrations available out of the box so you have the option to use payment gateways other than PayPal powered by Braintree. It also offers integrations with popular digital and mobile wallets such as Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, Venmo and more. However, the availability of the payment gateways will depend on your country and currency.

Product management

You have more flexibility in adding product options and variants in BigCommerce. A single product can have up to 600 variants. You can also create up to 250 product options for each item.

Sales channels

BigCommerce allows you to add sales channels to your store so that you can sell your products to online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, and social media platforms namely Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. You can also create buy buttons that you can put in any blogs, social media posts, landing pages, or anywhere you can add HTML.

Apps

Like with other eCommerce platforms, BigCommerce lets you add third-party apps to add more functionalities to your store. Advanced customisation If you want to add more advanced features and customisation for your online store, you can hire third-party eCommerce website developers that have expertise in BigCommerce development.

WooCommerce

Logo_Woo

WooCommerce is a customisable, open-source eCommerce platform built on WordPress.

Unlike Shopify and other eCommerce platforms, WooCommerce is not a stand-alone eCommerce solution. It is a WordPress plugin that lets you add eCommerce functionalities like product display pages, a shopping cart functionality, a checkout, and payment gateways to your website.

It is a little bit more complicated to use than Shopify and other eCommerce platforms out there. But if you are already familiar with WordPress, you will not find it hard to use.

The plugin itself is free. But you need to have your domain name and get a web hosting package that you have to pay for.

To start your online store, you must first install WordPress on your domain. Most hosting providers offer a “one-click” WordPress install with your account. But you have the option to download the WordPress core and manually install it on your domain.

Afterwards, you’ll need a theme for your storefront. You can choose from free and paid WordPress themes. Or if you need a bespoke theme, you can develop your own if you have the skills, or hire a developer to do one for you.

Then you can install and activate the WooCommerce plugin to get basic eCommerce functionalities. You can install WooCommerce extensions to add more functionalities to your website.

What is great about WooCommerce is that it is fully customisable. This means that not only can you add extensions to your store to expand its functionalities, but you can also change the code and content to fully customise your website.

But doing this requires some level of coding skills and knowledge. Businesses that want bespoke solutions for their WordPress based online store websites often hire professionals in developing eCommerce websites.

Final word…

If you are thinking about setting up an E-Commerce website, why not contact the Mettro team to discuss what you are hoping to achieve. We have a dedicated website design team who can help you to create a fantastic online store.

Mettro are a proudly Queensland, independently owned and operated digital agency that has been delivering award-winning website design & development and digital marketing for over 20 years. We are dedicated to solving our client’s business problems with smart, simple digital solutions and have the testimonials to prove it.

We’ve built thousands of digital solutions including apps, eCommerce websites, custom software, eLearning applications, WordPress websites and Shopify Websites.  Contact us or book a one-one-one to discuss your website design project!

Written by Raeleen  |  28 July 2021