Learn how to create an ecommerce website that is beautiful and high-performing

A professional creating an ecommerce website

Like any business, you want to sell more of your products or services online. But to do so, your company needs a powerful ecommerce website — and maybe you’re unsure of how to create one.

Instead of settling for less, businesses must embrace ecommerce technologies of the future that have suddenly become requisite for the present. Partially due to the pandemic, ecommerce is rapidly on the rise — accounting for 13% of all US retail sales in 2021.

A great ecommerce website is vital for brands. It allows for more data collection about your shoppers, enables nearly unlimited customization, widens your target audience boundlessly, is affordable to set up and maintain, and lets you sell constantly — even while you sleep.

If you’re new to the world of ecommerce, don’t worry — in this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to design an amazing ecommerce website, including:

What is an ecommerce website?

Fundamentally, an ecommerce website is an online portal that allows businesses to sell goods or services to customers around the world. Although you might hear “ecommerce website” and “online store” used interchangeably, they’re two different concepts.

Online stores focus solely on selling products or services on the internet. This is usually a tactic used by brick-and-mortar retailers who have a physical storefront and want to sell their goods online as well. These retailers use their own systems to collect reviews, market their businesses, and process payments.

On the other hand, ecommerce platforms support a brand in its entirety, facilitating or handling business operations. An ecommerce website functions as a holistic platform where business owners not only list their products but also manage their marketing, email list, payment processing, reviews, and so much more in one place.

Type of ecommerce websites

Although ecommerce websites are in a league of their own, they usually fall into one of four categories.

types of ecommerce websites

Design differences between B2B and B2C ecommerce sites

While C2C and C2B are legitimate business models, your company is more likely B2B or B2C. It’s important to understand how you do business, though, because your model will have a tremendous impact on the design of your ecommerce website. In fact, there are three major design differences between B2B and B2C ecommerce sites.

Customer intent

B2B shoppers are famous for taking their time, so their intention may not be to buy something from you right now. B2B buyers are often on an information-gathering mission, so their goal is to learn about your offerings and see if they can trust you. They’re on your ecommerce website to read blogs, check reviews, and watch demos.

B2C buyers, on the other hand, tend to buy on impulse. They’re likely ready to buy something when they visit your website, so calls to action like “buy now” are appropriate. Be sure to include product demos, photos, and user-generated content to make impulse purchases more appealing.

User experience

Both B2B and B2C websites need to be sleek, modern, and mobile-optimized. They should also pass assessments like the Google PageSpeed Insights speed test.

In terms of user experience, B2B buyers need to see that your brand is an authority. Fun images matter less here — instead, lean heavily into building trust through high-quality information. Since B2B shoppers take their time, you can use more complex calls to action that keep them on your website longer, rather than just trying to sell.

But B2C buyers don’t have that kind of patience. These consumers tend to shop more emotionally, so B2C brands should use less text and more imagery in their ecommerce website designs. It’s also important to have a quick checkout process for B2C shoppers — whereas B2B buyers tend to pay via invoice or purchase order, so it’s less important to optimize their shopping portal.

Purchase process

Businesses rarely make decisions in a vacuum, which means that B2B shopping tends to be long and drawn out. With multiple decision-makers at the table, B2B shoppers require a lot of reassurance from your brand in the form of quality content, quantitative metrics, customer testimonials, and webinars. This also means your B2B website will likely have more URLs than a B2C website.

The B2C purchase process usually involves just one decision-maker who’s buying lower priced items, so it happens quite quickly. Even so, 95% of shoppers check reviews before they buy anything, so make sure your B2C ecommerce website design includes reviews on every product page.

An ecommerce website functions as a holistic platform where business owners not only list their products but also manage their marketing, email list, payment processing, reviews, and so much more in one place.

How to build a high-performing ecommerce website

Regardless of whether you’re designing a B2B or B2C ecommerce website, you’ll still need to follow similar steps. After all, an ecommerce website is one of the most powerful tools for modern businesses, so how you build it is key.

Want to learn how to build a powerful and striking ecommerce website that will set your business up for success? These eight steps will help guide you through the process.

Step 1 — Pick your ecommerce platform

Remember, ecommerce is about much more than simply listing products online. It involves moving your business onto a platform that handles everything from taxes to payment processing to marketing.

To build an ecommerce website, you need to pick the right ecommerce platform for your goals. While several options are on the market, there are three main types of platforms you can choose from, including:

1. Open source

When something is “open source,” it means that users have total access to its source code. This means users have full control over their ecommerce platform and the freedom to customize it as they see fit. If your brand wants the option to hyper-customize the ecommerce experience and you have the internal resources and coding know-how, open source is a great option.

One of the most robust open-source ecommerce solutions is Adobe Commerce. The platform not only gives you all of the basic ecommerce features you need to run a business but also provides:

2. SaaS

Software as a service, or SaaS, is essentially an ecommerce platform subscription service. The major upside to this type of platform is that it has low startup costs and often includes maintenance in a monthly subscription fee. Growing brands or those with limited internal resources often go with a SaaS model to save time, although it isn’t as customizable as open source.

3. Headless commerce

Headless commerce is a more technical option that’s popular with large enterprises. With headless commerce, a brand separates the systems that would normally tie the front end of a website (what shoppers see) to the back end of a website (what the development team sees).

Headless commerce allows brands to test out changes on the front end of an ecommerce platform without damaging the back-end setup. This way, enterprises can cherry-pick the right tool for the job and launch initiatives more quickly.

The API-based headless capabilities from Adobe Commerce are agile, fast, and flexible, allowing you to deliver seamless customer experiences across every channel and device

Step 2 — Keep it simple (and beautiful)

When designing an ecommerce website, it can be tempting to add a lot of images and walls of text. You want to knock shoppers’ socks off — but in ecommerce, less is more. Go with a website design that’s simple, elegant, and beautiful.

In practice, that means:

80% of users skim content and retain 65% of info with images

When in doubt, keep things simple to preserve the beauty of your new ecommerce website. If you want to build a new site from scratch or take your current one to the next level, look no further than these inspirational ecommerce website designs.

Step 3 — Make branding a priority

Your business likely has competition — so why should shoppers choose you over everyone else in the market? Branding is an essential part of ecommerce that helps your business stand out and clearly differentiate itself in even the most saturated niches.

Since just one in three consumers trusts the companies they buy from, you need to add branding elements to your ecommerce design to show you’re legitimate.

Be sure to add branding to your website design in the form of a:

While website branding is a must, it needs to be consistent with the branding your business uses on its emails, social media, and other marketing materials too. It’s a good idea to create branding guidelines for your ecommerce business so everyone on your team uses the brand consistently across all platforms.

Step 4 — Employ user-friendly navigation

In addition to using a simple design for your website, it’s important to keep the navigation simple as well.

90% of users want easy navigation, 37% have left a website due to bad navigation

This means every ecommerce website design should include:

It’s also a good idea to follow W3 accessibility guidelines when setting up your website navigation. Since approximately 20% of internet users report having some type of disability, accessibility is an essential characteristic of an inclusive site. After all, the more people who can successfully navigate your website, the more people your business can serve.

Step 5 — Make it responsive

Today, ecommerce sites are all but required to be mobile-friendly and responsive. Since nearly $3 out of every $4 spent online is transacted through a smart device, mobile-friendly design is a must.

Many ecommerce website design templates are responsive out of the box. However, if your brand is customizing its ecommerce setup, be sure to follow these mobile-responsive best practices to impress shoppers on any device:

Step 6 — Make purchasing painless

While ecommerce is supposed to be convenient and easy, brands sometimes add barriers to the purchasing process unintentionally. During the website design phase, it’s critical to streamline the checkout process as much as possible. Follow these best practices to make the checkout process easier on your shoppers:

Step 7 — Lockdown quality security

Just 21% of shoppers trust brands to keep their data secure. When user trust is on the line, quality security solutions are crucial, especially with personally identifiable information (PII) and payment data.

Take steps to lock down your ecommerce website design, including:

Step 8 — Leverage user data and feedback to make improvements

Once you launch your ecommerce website, the hard work is done. But it’s never truly over because ecommerce platforms are continually changing and improving.

After you launch, it’s important to continually gather, collect, and analyze data. This will help you make improvements to the platform based on customer needs, changes to your products, and pressure from your competitors.

The advantages of using Adobe Commerce as your ecommerce platform

There are several ecommerce platforms you can choose from — but Adobe Commerce, powered by Magento, stands out as a top solution among them. Let’s take a look now at some of its advantages.

Endless out-of-the-box features

Adobe Commerce ecommerce website builder

While Adobe Commerce is an open-source platform that’s completely customizable, it also comes with plenty of features right out of the box, including:

If your business needs to hit the ground running, Commerce comes with virtually everything you need to start an ecommerce business.

Customizability

Unlike other ecommerce platforms, Commerce is completely customizable. You aren’t locked into cookie-cutter themes or inflexible settings. Add product recommendations, integrate with third-party services, and maintain complete control over your website design in Commerce.

Mobile centricity

Mobile accounts for more than 70% of all ecommerce sales. Since most of your shoppers are on mobile devices, a platform like Commerce makes it easy to sell to shoppers no matter their location. Commerce uses agile progressive web applications (PWA) to improve the mobile user experience and boost sales in the process.

Integrated B2B functionality

B2B buyers have different needs, but the longer buying process can be a challenge for ecommerce brands. Fortunately, Commerce comes with plenty of world-class features that are perfectly suited for B2B ecommerce brands to improve the shopper experience, such as:

Scale and support

Adobe is a global leader in digital experience, digital commerce, and much more. Hundreds of thousands of businesses rely on Commerce, which is a robust solution for both SMBs and enterprises.

If you ever have questions or concerns about Commerce, simply get in touch with our team for quick help. We also provide resources tailored specifically to developers so your team can keep moving forward.

Design an ecommerce website that sells

A powerful, user-friendly ecommerce site is a must for scaling a competitive business that thrives in a digital-first market. Follow these eight steps to build an ecommerce website that turns heads and generates more sales. With an ecommerce platform like Commerce, it’s never been easier to build a thriving online business.

Ready to see Adobe Commerce in action? Take the product tour or watch the overview video.