Designing a Compelling E-commerce Website — in the age of Amazon and Dropshipping!

8 steps to designing your own e-commerce business from scratch

A lot of us seem to think that e-commerce has had its day. That Amazon has come and eaten every small fish, and now there is no scope for anyone else to get into the game. But that’s not true! Today it’s easier than ever to start your own store, and if you look around you see hundreds of people are opening their own niche stores and drop-shipping successfully!

So here’s how to get a piece of the pie — and design your own ecommerce platform from scratch:

1. Choose a Niche

Image: Magnifying glass on a globe.
Image: Magnifying glass on a globe. Source: Unsplash, Jay Wennington

First things first, before you create a store — you need to think about what you want to sell and find a niche in the universe for yourself. A good niche has two elements — it combines a market need with something that you are personally interested in. At this stage, it’s best to talk to as many potential users as possible and try to identify their needs, priorities and beliefs.

Think about it deeply, but don’t worry if it’s been done before — you can always enter an existing market and still make a good profit.

2. Map out your products

Image: Products physically sorted in plastic boxes.
Image: Products physically sorted in plastic boxes.
Image: Products physically sorted in plastic boxes. Source: Unsplash, Raymond Ramusson

Now that you have thought about what area you want to go into, it’s time to think of your products. Maybe you are selling your own art / handicrafts, or you’re thinking of drop-shipping clean beauty products. Either way, this is the time to make a cross-referenced list of your products complete with tags, product descriptions and benefits.

Make sure to stalk your competitors and see what you can learn from them at this stage! Maybe they have certain related products on their website as well, or maybe they have a sub-niche that is doing well — all things that are helpful to know.

3. Pick a Web Platform

The next thing to do is decide where you want to set up your store. You can choose from one of the many leading e-commerce platforms to start your store

You might have heard of Shopify being the primary choice of most store builders, but there are in fact many such options.

Image: Shopify, the most popular ecommerce builder.
Image: Shopify, the most popular ecommerce builder.
Image: Shopify, the most popular ecommerce builder. Source: Shopify.com

Best to make this decision wisely, keeping in mind the features that you need and the customer service availability.

For example, Wix’s ecommerce website builder comes with drag-and-drop layout functionalities that makes it easy to reach the finish line quicker. You can also leverage the website themes & templates that would be available on any platform you use.

4. Create the Information Architecture

Image: A blank flowchart.
Image: A blank flowchart.
Image: A blank flowchart. Source: lucidchart.com

The goal of any ecommerce website is for users to find what they need easily. And with this comes the importance of Information Architecture. Figuring out what the sitemap will be, how to group your products and where to display them is the most important thing you can do for your site.

Spend adequate time here and make sure its the easiest, most intuitive structure to help your users (and eventually help you).

5. Design is King

Image: Definition of design on a mobile phone.
Image: Definition of design on a mobile phone.
Image: Definition of design on a mobile phone. Source: Unsplash, Edho Pratama

And now for the fun part — the visual design of your website. There is a concept in user experience known as the aesthetic usability effect. It illustrates that users are more likely to use and appreciate the usability of a digital product if it is aesthetically pleasing. Here, the idea is to design a clean website with lots of whitespace, good visual hierarchy and a clear navigation.

It’s also important to include trust markers in the form of trusted names, features and user testimonials in your website. Another way to induce trust is to add in a redressal platform and quick response times.

6. Provide safe transaction tools

To be trusted as a new entrant in a market, having a dependable transaction partner is a must. No amount of products, design or IA will help a site that a user can’t transact on. Do your due diligence and find the right partner for you to execute your transactions seamlessly with good customer service and a big name.

7. Improve Your visibility

Your platform needs to be found easily — or else it won’t be beneficial. It’s important to optimise your site for search engines and use keywords in the right places for google to be able to find you. At this stage, you can also include some performance marketing as well and create some ads for social media.

8. Optimize Your Store for Conversion

The next thing is to make sure that the right users reach the right products and have a great shopping experience.

The true magic of ecommerce comes when your website is personalised to visitors and they’re presented with products that are very relevant to them.

Image: Dialogue’s dashboard showing conversion, sessions and average time on time.
Image: Dialogue’s dashboard showing conversion, sessions and average time on time.
Image: Dialogue’s dashboard showing conversion, sessions and average time on time. Source: nowdialogue.com

An Ecommerce personalisation platform like Dialogue can help you present the right products and messages to each visitor by using advanced AI algorithms.

The platform analyses the user’s journey, understands his intent and is able to come up with relevant deals and product recommendations automatically.

And there you go!

You’re now ready to take the first step to creating your own online shop and optimise it for performance. The hardest part is the beginning, and the idea is to just go for it — knowing that you can figure it out on the way.

UX designer, Psychologist, Reader & Writer. I love to explore ideas in the intersection of design, business and the human experience.

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