If you’re going to start an e-commerce business, then you’re going to need a website.

Your website is your store, so take the time to build a functional, beautiful site that will appeal to your customer base. If you have the technical skills, you can build the website yourself, or you can hire a developer and work with them to design the website.

Luckily, there are a lot of easy to use solutions available to business owners today, and it is much easier to build your own website today than it was even five or ten years ago. With Helcim Commerce, you can quickly put together a fully hosted online store and customize it with the built-in theme editor. Whether you decide to use a developer or build the website yourself, you will want to ensure a few key elements are included to give your customers the best user experience possible.

Also, be sure to check out our video guide to optimizing your website for sales.

The basic requirements of an e-commerce website include:

1. Recognizable Domain Name

You will want to make sure your domain name aligns with your business's name and is recognizable to your customers. By keeping your domain name consistent with your business's name, it will be easier for customers to find your website and to know immediately that they are on the right page.

An easy way to get a custom domain name is by purchasing one from a domain registrar like GoDaddy.com, so you do not have to use the default URL provided by the site-builder. 

2. Home Page 

The Home Page of your website is the site’s first point of contact with your customers when they go to your site’s main URL and will likely account for most of your website traffic. It’s important that your home page provides easy navigation to anywhere else on your site that people might want to visit before making a purchase. You can also use your main page to highlight any current promotions or featured products that you might want your customers to be aware of.

3. Product Catalog and Product Pages

Your Product Catalog and Product Pages are where you will share all the information related to the products you’re selling to your customers. To increase the likelihood that customers are going to understand the value you’re offering and make a purchase, it’s important to write detailed and informative product descriptions. If you want to know more about how to manage your product catalog, you can check out our article on How to Create an Easy to Use Product Catalog with SKUs.

4. About Us

If your customers are looking to learn more about your company, they will visit the About Us page. This page is a great place to share your store’s mission, and why you decided to go into business. This is your chance to share your story with your customers and to develop a relationship with the people who are visiting your online store. People are more likely to identify with your brand and your products if they’re able to personally identify with your story.

5. Shipping Policy and Terms & Conditions

Unlike your standard brick and mortar stores, because your business is based entirely online, you will need to have a clear idea of how you will be shipping products to customers. Once you have the details of your shipping strategies and options, adding them to your website ensures that customers understand the nature of your business’s return policy, shipping times, and any associated costs that they will need to cover. By clearly outlining your shipping policy and terms and conditions, you are setting customers expectations to align with what your business can deliver.

6. Contact Us

Your customers are going to have questions, so be sure to list your contact information along with the timeframe for responses, so they can get in touch with you. There is nothing worse than having an already frustrated customer get even more frustrated because they can’t find how to contact your business.

7. Header and Footer Menus

You can use your header and footer menus to make it easy for customers to navigate through your website and find the information they are looking for quickly. A website header is one of the most valuable areas of your website because it can direct customers to wherever they want to go within your site. Once you design your website, have some friends or family members review your site. Having a fresh set of eyes look at your site can let you know if the navigation is intuitive and easy to use, or if it could use a few edits.

8. Eye-Catching Images

Complete your site with great visual media such as hero images and beautiful product images that showcase your products and brand clearly to customers. People are visually motivated, and great images can make all the difference in making a sale. If you don’t have the photography skills yourself, you can partner with local photographers, or use stock images for your website.