For an ecommerce storefront, the quality of your website can make or break your online business. Will your website be easy to navigate? Will the pages load quickly? Will your search system and product filtering work well? Will online shoppers trust your website? There are so many factors that come into play when building a successful ecommerce website.
Let’s go over a few of these considerations! If you are in a rush, scroll down to our Top 50 Ecommerce Websites.
1.) How to Choose an Ecommerce Platform
Do yourself a favor and try out a few ecommerce platforms before choosing one for your next online store. All too often we see ecommerce businesses choose a platform for all the wrong reasons. Don’t make such an important decision because a friend or colleague made a recommendation before understanding your business requirements or product data. At the same time, don’t allow yourself to be influenced by a TV commercial, either.
Here are a few of the factors that go into choosing ecommerce software for your next website:
Product Data Considerations
If your ecommerce website will only have a handful of products you can probably skip this section. Otherwise, before choosing an ecommerce platform, make sure your product data will import into it without unnecessary effort or custom functionality.
We’ve worked on ecommerce developments where data migrations from Magento to Shopify or Magento to BigCommerce required extensive custom coding. For some of those projects, it was due to the product data and ordering functionality being handled within third-party Magento extensions that didn’t have similar solutions within Shopify or BigCommerce. In other situations, it was due to extensive product variations, personalization options, or inventory bundling that made the migration much more intensive.
For new ecommerce businesses with large product catalogs, make sure you actually have product data in hand before starting your project. We’ve worked with numerous ecommerce clients who were under the impression the manufacturer or distributor would have “perfect product data.” This is often not the case! Even if some kind of product data does exist, merging product data between multiple manufacturers or distributors is next to impossible. The way one company organizes and formats their product data is unlikely to match another, making categorization, images, and other important attributes difficult to line up.
Custom Ecommerce Functionality
For the purpose of this article, the last factor in choosing an ecommerce platform we will discuss is custom functionality.
If you are migrating an existing ecommerce website, it is important to make a list of all the custom functionality in your website that wasn’t native to the platform. This includes extensions, plugins, or apps that were installed. It even includes custom functionality created by a web developer you hired in the past. You can’t assume an identical extension, plugin, or app will exist in the next platform. You have to verify this before choosing a platform.
To further complicate that review of custom functionality, you also need to figure out the differences between your current ecommerce platform and the one you’ll go into next. For example, we often hear from previous Magento storeowners they don’t like how Shopify and BigCommerce handle product data. If that is a major concern to you it will be important to investigate those differences further. Likewise, if you’ve become accustomed to Shopify’s use of collections, it might seem unnatural for you to learn how other platforms handle categorization of products.
For new ecommerce businesses, the process is simpler. You just need to make a list of all your functionality requirements and compare that to what the shopping cart provides, or what is offered through third-party solutions. The custom features that remain unresolved will need to be reviewed by an ecommerce developer as a custom project.
2.) How to Start Designing Your Ecommerce Store
Now the fun starts! After you’ve figured out what platform you’ll use for your next ecommerce website you can move onto the design. There are two ways forward from here, let’s discuss both in more detail.
The most affordable way to design your ecommerce website is to start with a third-party template and customize it to be unique to your business. All of the most popular ecommerce shopping carts, like Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, and WooCommerce will have some kind of template marketplace for you to check out. This will allow you to browse through hundreds of pre-made designs and pick one that closely resembles the look and feel you want for your website. You might even find a few free ecommerce templates to try out!
Keep in mind there will be some drawbacks to a third-party template, but that is to be expected. You are saving a lot of money by choosing a template instead of hiring a graphic designer create custom mockups and a web developer to integrate it into a custom theme. If you find certain areas of the theme impossible to modify without the help of a developer, you might want to reconsider if those changes are necessary. It doesn’t make sense to choose a pre-made theme to save time and money on a development, only to hire an ecommerce developer to redevelop it to your satisfaction. If complete customization is what you are after, consider a custom design instead.
If your ecommerce business can afford it, choose a custom design instead of a pre-made theme. The process of a custom ecommerce website typically starts with design mockups in Adobe Photoshop or Adobe XD to help everyone get on the same page for the look and feel of your future storefront. After going back and forth on design revisions, the finalized version of the custom mockup(s) will be passed to an ecommerce developer to integrate into the ecommerce platform’s base theme. The end result should be exactly what you want, without any major concessions within the design. In fact, you’ll have the added benefit of the design being in the ecommerce platform’s base theme, which means you will likely have a faster website, with less code conflicts, than you’d have if you chose a pre-made theme.
3.) How to Make Your Ecommerce Website Impressive
After selecting an ecommerce platform and starting your design, the next part is figuring out how to make your online store generate revenue. It might be a good idea to brush up on the latest digital marketing trends to help spark some ideas. Otherwise, you can check out the websites of the Top 50 Ecommerce Websites that we’ve put together below! This is a specific collection of ecommerce websites within our top ranked websites on the internet!
Within each of these ecommerce stores you’ll find examples of how other ecommerce business are excelling at online business. There are plenty of examples of great ecommerce website templates, custom ecommerce designs, beautiful homepage layouts, creative product pages, social proof implementations, ecommerce funnels, and more throughout these ecommerce examples.