Building an Online Storefront: A Comprehensive Guide
It’s easy for an online shop to get lost in the shuffle when there are between 12 million and 24 million ecommerce sites actively operating across the globe.
How to make yourself noticeable?
Top-notch website development that gives customers the experience they need.
The technical aspects of your online store, such as how it processes transactions, reacts to user input, and presents itself aesthetically, are developed during the E-commerce website development process.
The web development services industry is expected to be worth $11 billion by 2022, allowing business owners to launch customer-friendly websites and address pressing ecommerce issues such as:
- Determining the right features and functionality for your ecommerce project.
- Recognizing the best e-commerce framework for your needs.
- The process of adding an online store to an existing website.
What is ecommerce web development? Where can I find a developer or a team of developers to help me realize my vision? What should I do to get ready for launch? All these questions and more will be answered in this article. I say, “Shall we?”
Designing an Online Store: Various Possibilities
There are three primary paths you can take when establishing your online shop:
- Create your own website using freely available building blocks.
- Modify an existing software as a service (SaaS) offering.
- Make use of MACH architecture’s potency.
Create it from the ground up.
Open-source software could be the best option if you already have a web development or IT staff in place.
With an open-source e-commerce platform, you can make any changes to the code, allowing you to create a one-of-a-kind website from the ground up.
However, keep in mind that using an open-source solution often means your business is responsible for things like PCI compliance, web hosting, security issues, manual patches and updates.
Because of this, some companies might think open source is too complicated, pricey, and technologically intensive, especially as your company expands and becomes more complex.
Customize a SaaS solution.
Lack the time or resources to develop a custom solution?
SaaS e-commerce is now available.
Software as a service (SaaS) refers to a model of delivery in which users pay a subscription fee to access and use software developed and maintained by an external provider, often via the Internet’s “cloud.” SaaS allows you to avoid the hassle of maintaining your own software by renting the platform from a third party who handles everything from product updates and security to hosting and PCI compliance. This is why businesses can reduce costs and speed up their time to market by using SaaS solutions.
Some e-commerce solutions, known as “open SaaS,” combine the best features of open-source software and software as a service.
For example, BigCommerce is a top open SaaS ecommerce platform for large and medium-sized businesses. With our open API, merchants receive all the benefits of a SaaS platform — being hosted on behalf of BigCommerce, a lower total cost of ownership and faster go-to-market time — as well as the flexibility to create custom integrations and functionality faster, similar to using an open-source platform.
microservices, API-first, cloud-native, and headless (MACH) architecture.
The conventional e-commerce model has, for many years, integrated the front- and back-end storefront and server-side into a single, unified whole.
While a monolith solution might be a smart choice for small and mid-sized (SMB) businesses with limited requirements, it can present some challenges as your business scales and requires greater complexity, such as launching multiple websites or expanding into new regions.
What’s the fix?
The MACH principles (microservices, API-first, cloud-native SaaS, and headless) are a best-of-breed methodology for developing enterprise software technology stacks. With MACH, you’re not limited to using just one type of technology like you would be with a monolithic architecture.
Microservices are specialized services that are combined to form a larger application. They each use unique code that is developed, updated, deployed, and managed separately.
APIs (application programming interface) are what make it possible to connect and communicate to deliver content between two or more applications or services — which means the application needs to be built with APIs at the forefront.
When it comes to managing, monitoring, and maintaining technology, as well as licensing it through subscription services, a cloud-native application takes full advantage of the cloud and SaaS technology.
The term “headless commerce architecture” refers to a design pattern in which a website’s frontend presentation layer is separated from its backend ecommerce features. This opens up more options for customization and integration of channels when designing the user interface.
How Do I Find the Best Developer for My Online Store?
The role of an ecommerce developer and why it’s crucial that their expertise matches your own will be discussed in the following section.
PWC reports that nearly three-quarters (73%) of American consumers value a positive customer experience when making an online purchase, but only about half (49%) of consumers believe brands deliver on this expectation.
Hiring a web development team with prior experience in ecommerce design and/or development will greatly improve your site’s usability.
If you’re lucky (or if your platform, like BigCommerce’s, has a robust partner program), you’ll be able to find ecommerce website development services that are up-to-date on the latest ecommerce best practices and can build a site that will impress your customers and increase your conversion rate.
Recognize the unique skillsets of individual developers.
Developers can specialize in either the frontend (making your brand come to life through beautiful design) or the backend (customization and technical implementation).
Know the strengths of the developers you are considering for your online shop.
Some developers will have the skills to work on both the backend and the frontend, but most will choose to specialize in just one. Check the developer’s credentials to make sure they match your requirements.
- Web security and PCI compliance.
- Optimization for search engines (SEO).
- Allows for a wide variety of payment methods.
- Integration with a content management system.
- Making a shopping cart.
- Filtering purchases.
Make a decision based on what you need
Don’t hire a developer or development firm until you have a firm grasp on your ecommerce site’s goals and the specific expertise they’ll necessitate to realize those goals.
A backend developer, rather than a designer, may be more important for your e-commerce solution if it is built on an open-source framework.
More frontend work may be required if you’re utilizing a SaaS platform, though you may also want someone familiar with constructing APIs. Although most SaaS platforms come with a sizable library of apps that have already been integrated, any additional complexity is best handled by a professional.
What Features Should an Ecommerce Website Have? The features and functionality you need from an ecommerce website will depend on the nature of your business.
Make a wishlist of functionality for your e-commerce site based on your goals. These should be tailored to fit your customer’s journey through your business.
For example, a startup or small business may not need to support multiple currencies, but this could be a crucial feature for a cross-border retailer.
You can easily figure out what functions your shopping cart needs by going from broad to narrow.
Include things like preferred payment gateways and marketplace integrations in the list of basic requirements.
Add extras that your business needs, like automatic sales tax/shipping rate calculation.
Rank all the extras from 1 to 5, with 1 being the most important for driving revenue and 5 being a useful bonus that could streamline your daily operations.
Use of responsive layout.
According to Statista, by 2025, mobile commerce sales will account for over 10% of all U.S. retail sales, an increase of 7% from 2018.
You need a website that is responsive and mobile-friendly as more people shop online from their phones. Another option is to commission a mobile app from your web designer.
The point is to provide a uniform shopping experience whether your site is being accessed from a desktop computer or a mobile device.
The theme marketplace on BigCommerce is stocked with fully responsive options, both free and paid. Our Stencil-built themes are expertly crafted and suitable for use with a wide variety of product catalogs and business types.
Search engine optimization skills.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a must in today’s competitive online environment.
Gaining a high Google search engine ranking for targeted keywords can increase organic search traffic. Search engine optimization (SEO) has the potential to provide free, organic traffic from people who are more likely to convert as customers.