Setting Up Your Own Ecommerce Website

Written by Jon on 26th January 2016

So you have a product (or service) and would like to start selling online, where should you start?

setting up your own ecommerce store
We’ll assume you have your logo, your brand and have also appointed a web agency to build your website for you, if you are building the site yourself, you might want to check this blog post out.


Step 1 – Your 1st Impression: The Homepage

This is normally the page on your website with the highest amount of traffic and therefore the appropriate time should be spent on this page, it should clearly communicate what your offering is to the customer without them having to look too far.

My Homepage Checklist:

  • A lovely logo (lovely doesn’t mean fancy!)
  • Clear promotional ads with strong calls to actions i.e. shop now
  • Links to your most popular categories (or even products)
  • A prominent search box (that works!)
  • Language options (if selling globally)
  • Currency options (if selling globally)
  • Any promotions or special offers
  • Delivery charge (especially if you offer free delivery or over a certain threshold)
  • Social links
  • Link to your blog (you need a blog!)
  • A clear and well thought out navigation bar
  • Email signup (with an explanation on why I should give you this)

Step 2 – Your Category Pages

Often missed out, these pages represent a great opportunity to display a range of your products to your user.

My Category Page Checklist:

  • Side bar with promotions and call to actions
  • Ability to choose browsing preference i.e. grid or list view
  • Quick view (so I can see the product without visiting the homepage)
  • Beautiful product images
  • Filtered navigation
  • Email signup

Step 3 – Your Product Page

We can assume the user is interested in your product and service and is looking for more information, you should ensure that they do not have to look too hard.

My Product Page Checklist

  • Multiple images including the ability to enlarge/zoom
  • Crisp, clear images
  • Customer reviews and ratings
  • Social Share buttons
  • Product overview
  • Product specifications
  • Add to cart button
  • Pricing discounts i.e. buy 2 get 1 free
  • Video (wherever possible)
  • Shipping options
  • Related products
  • Similar products
  • Stock availability

Step 4 – Your Checkout

We’re at the stage where the custom is (almost) yours to lose, they have demonstrated an intent to purchase and this process should be as frictionless as possible.

My Checkout Checklist

  • Be upfront about your shipping costs (one of the biggest causes of cart abandonment)
  • Add checkout buttons to the top and bottom of the website
  • Reassure the customer with your security credentials i.e. SSL certificate
  • Offer a range of shipping options
  • A section to add promotional codes
  • Accept all major payment methods
  • Allow checkout with PayPal
  • Allow customers to save their cart for later
  • Free shipping threshold
  • Address finder

Step 5 – After Sales Service

Don’t think that once your customer has purchased from you there’s no more to do. On the contrary, this is your chance to really cement your relationship with a slick after sales service.

My After Sales Checklist:

  • Clear communication i.e. order confirmation email with relevant information
  • Confirmation of delivery day (with a time if possible)
  • A link to track your order
  • Follow up email asking for a review (after the delivery has arrived of course!)
  • Offer a personalised offer on a similar product 1 – 2 weeks after purchase
  • Cart abandonment email (personally, I am not a big fan of including a promo code but whatever works for you!)

Remember it’s much cheaper to retain an existing customer than to bring in new ones, so this step is a crucial stage of business.

Step 6 – Content and Informational pages

Your website should have a range of content and information your customers may require and should be clearly displayed throughout this site.

Information Pages

  • Social Media links (these should always open in a new tab)
  • Contact Information
  • About Us page – tell your story!
  • Terms & Conditions
  • Privacy & Cookie Policy
  • FAQ’s
  • Delivery & Returns information
  • Technical information

Content Pages

  • Blog, this can include latest news, product info, events
  • Customer Reviews/Testimonials
  • Informational pages i.e. How to guides
  • Video’s

All of this content is a great way to increase your search visibility and drive organic traffic.

Step 7 – Technical Steps and Final Checks

You have completed all of the above steps and are now in the final stages of launching, the excitement (and nerves) are building and you are almost ready, time for the final list!

My Technical Checklist:

  • Speed: your website pages should load quickly. (This can be tested here)
  • Responsive to all devices i.e. Mobile, tablet & desktop (in that order!). (Again, you can test that here.)
  • Payment methods tested
  • Breadcrumbs
  • SSL is working correctly and on the appropriate pages
  • Google Analytics has been setup
  • Google Search Console has been setup
  • Live chat installed (great for customer support)
  • Meta Descriptions, Title tags and keywords are in place
  • Submit Sitemap to Google & Bing
  • Test
  • Test again

If you have gone through the entire list, firstly well done! Secondly, that’s it! You’re ready to go and start selling with confidence.

Remember: Always put the customer first when thinking about design, or marketing and you can’t go far wrong.

As ever, any additions to the above are always welcome! 🙂