Building E-Commerce Web Sites

Copper Contributor

The success of your eCommerce website depends heavily on the quality of your product catalog. While this is probably the most important consideration when building eCommerce websites, it is unfortunately often the area that remains most neglected. Many new eTailers choose their eCommerce development partner based on price, graphic design capabilities, and eCommerce feature sets.

While price is important when choosing an eCommerce platform, you don't want to be penny-wise and pound-foolish. A budget of $5-10K is a realistic starting point for a successful eCommerce website.


Quality graphic design is definitely important and will certainly help improve conversion rates, build brand reputation, and give customers a sense of confidence. However, when it comes to the overall design, it is most important to have a clean, usable, easy to navigate design rather than trying to impress visitors with a flashy, over-designed website. Dozens of eCommerce websites that gross over a million dollars in sales each year have relatively weak graphic designs.


ECommerce feature sets can also be a great factor in determining your eCommerce partner, but ancillary features such as Gift Certificates and Wish List modules have no value unless your site has visitors. These types of extras are great for expanding sales once you have already reached success.

Cheap, beautiful, feature-rich eCommerce websites are a great thing. Just remember that the success of your business is all going to come down to a well-developed product catalog. If you can't hire a company to develop that catalog for you, be prepared to do some work. If it were easy, everyone would own a million dollar Web business!


Planning Your eCommerce Website
In SCUBA diving they say, "plan your dive and dive your plan". The same holds true when building eCommerce websites. Develop an outline for your catalog that includes categories and sub categories (this would be a good time to consult with an SEO - search engine optimization specialist). It is important to have your category and product names align with phrases that people actually search for. You want to carefully consider your navigation/category structure in this early planning stage to ensure that you are using words that can generate traffic to your site. The keywords in your navigation system are very important for search engine visibility. It is easier to get it right during the planning and development stage.


Don't bite off more than you can chew. A big catalog is great. A complete catalog is better. Search engine visibility takes time to develop, so you want to get your site live as soon as possible to start laying claim to your important keyword phrases. You are better off having your website go live with 25 products rather than waiting nine months to develop the content for 200 products.


Building eCommerce Website Content
A successful salesperson has an in-depth knowledge of the products they sell. Similarly, if you want to sell online you need well-crafted product descriptions, several professional-grade photographs for each product, as well as supporting documentation when possible. Brochures, spec sheets, instructions, and user manuals will play a big part in converting sales. An SEO specialist can leverage these content elements to generate relevant search engine traffic.


You can expect several other competing websites to be in your market space. He with the best content will win (i.e. sell more).


Avoid Duplicate Content
Content must be unique for each category and product description. Content borrowed from manufacturers will be punished by Google. Only the first page with content indexed by Google will show up in search results. Your page will end up in the supplemental results. If you are competing with several other sites and you are all getting your

products (and content) from the same manufacturer, your site will stand out from the pack in the Google rankings only if you craft your own quality, keyword-rich content.


Cross-selling and Up-selling Features
"Popular products," "related products," and "also purchased products", are all common up-selling and cross-selling features. These features showcase products that site visitors might be interested in purchasing based on what they have already viewed. If they are looking at a sweater, show them the matching hat, scarf, and gloves. It is worth the effort to understand these feature sets and to take the time to implement them.


Refined Catalog Look
When building eCommerce websites, developing a refined catalog look will help convert sales. Large, bold fonts with loud colors will not help. Nor will big, ugly and clunky buttons. Take a look at what the big boys (,, are doing. You don't see big ugly buttons or loud-colored fonts there do you? You don't need them on your site either.

1 Reply

Totally support your claim about Duplicate content. I see it on so many eCommerce websites, and it must be really confusing for the user. Every single item should belong to one category only. If it’s not possible t attribute to only one category, it means that the list of categories is not full and should be reviewed.
I also suggest that eCommerce website developers cooperate with because it’s one of the oldest and most highly certified in the Magento community. Magento is one of the leading platforms because more than 30% of the market uses it.