Use Magento, Shopify, WooCommerce, or does it make sense to create a custom online store? Learn how to build an eCommerce website from scratch today with our guide.

In 2020, Statista states that the number of monthly visits to e-commerce websites globally surpassed 21 billion. Now is the best time to start your eСommerce business.

There are multiple ways to code an ecommerce website from scratch and we have created this guide to answer your questions.

We will brief you on the details of how to create an eCommerce website from scratch, namely:

  • key options for eCommerce website development
  • basic and advanced feature-sets for online stores
  • top practices and best examples of eCommerce sites
  • step-by-step process of how to build an eCommerce website from scratch
  • details on tech-stack for the development process
  • cost and timeline required to create an online store
  • reasons to build a custom eCommerce website

Let’s start our journey in creating a great Estore for your business!

MLSDev Expertise to Build an eCommerce Website from Scratch

Online presence is a great idea when starting a new business or expanding an existing one.

We at MLSDev do know how to build an eCommerce website from scratch and what it takes to create not just an eCommerce website, but a successful on-demand delivery service and online store with thousands of daily users.

Take a closer look at the GoPuff project!

Check out detailed information from the GoPuff Case Study where we show our experience in building eCommerce websites and complex projects.

Online Ordering and Delivery App: Gopuff
Online Ordering and Delivery App: Gopuff

Within just a few years, we developed a complex eCommerce system that now operates in 500 cities in the USA and has over 200 facilities. The main idea behind GoPuff is to make shopping stress-free and fast, be it day or night. Users get products delivered to their doorsteps within 30 minutes.

Have a great idea for creating an eCommerce site?

Feel free to drop us a line to receive a relevant consultation, knowledge, and expertise in the field of eCommerce website development. Simply click on the link below.

Get in touch for a consultation

eCommerce Websites: Feature-Sets

So, how do you build an eCommerce website from scratch?

We recommend starting with discussions regarding core functionality.

Custom eCommerce Website Structure & Components
Custom eCommerce Website Structure & Components

Basically, we single out several groups of features: user-related, product-related, search functionality, and admin panel or content management system (CMS).

1. User-Related Feature Set

Let’s start with a user-based functionality and its key unique features.

1. Registration

The user can register via a few options like social networks (FB, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, etc), email, or phone number. Consider using two-factor authentication for increased security.

Check the following guide when considering building a social network website from scratch.

2. User profile

In their profiles, users can add data for delivery services, provide personal information, create and update lists of their favorite products, and view their order and payment history. Personalized, special offers will bring the customer experience to the next level.

By implementing the user profile functionality, you can reach three goals: boost user loyalty, increase customer retention, and receive valuable data and analytics on customer behavior.

3. Wishlist

When thinking about how to build an eCommerce website from scratch, a wish list feature may not top your feature set. However, it is important. A wish list caters to a smoother shopping experience, as it lets users organize the desired items in a fast and simple way.

This feature will help you cut the drop-off rate. You may use wish list data for analytics or as a part of your e-mail marketing strategy. Additionally, this is a great way to grab email addresses from unregistered users.

Tip: To make a wish list even more attractive, use it creatively. For example, ModCloth informs its registered users, when the items on wish lists will be on sale. Alternatively, you may let users share their wish lists with friends.

4. Save for later

When considering how to build an eCommerce website from scratch that will convert visitors into loyal customers, think about this feature as a must-have.

Some online stores use it as an alternative to a wish list that allows users to set aside quantities of a desired product.

A typical “save for later” function doesn’t require a customer to create a user profile and allows products to be reflected in the shopping cart. This is a great option to pamper users who prefer a guest check-out.

Example: Nordstorm added a save for later button to their checkout page. Thus, they gave users who had already decided to leave their cart a reason to come back.

Nordstrom Checkout Example
Nordstrom Checkout Example

5. Shopping history

Access to their shopping history gives customers the pleasant feeling of control over data and also opens up the possibility to offer customers an updated version of a product or turn their interest to related items.

6. Coupons & discounts

Statista states that coupons and discounts are the strongest factors that influence the purchase decisions of US customers.

As well, users often plan purchases for upcoming sales. You can give the option to see the discount schedule as a special feature to pamper the most loyal customers.

7. Checkout system

This system consists of two major parts – cart and payment options (e.g. Braintree, Stripe, PayPal, etc.).

When thinking about how to build an eCommerce website from scratch, this feature should be at the top of your list.

According to statistics, easy checkout is the most popular website feature for U.S. online shoppers. Even the most simple eCommerce websites should not operate without this feature.

Key Reasons of Leaving a Checkout
Key Reasons of Leaving a Checkout

2. Search Functionality

One of the main goals of any eCommerce site is to provide customers with an easy-to-navigate interface and a way to find the needed products within milliseconds.

You should remember this factor while you are trying to decide how to build an eCommerce website from scratch.

1. Search & review products

Think about how to arrange the search results, for example. For reference, you may check out the Lush website selling handmade cosmetics.

They break all search results down into categories like articles, products, and ingredients related to a search term.

Auto-suggestion During Search in Online Store
Auto-suggestion During Search in Online Store

2. Filtering

The more filtering options are enabled on the website, the better. You may include filtering by price, size, color, and also by customer reviews.

A great example for reference is Nike's filtering system. They allow users to hide or show the filtering menu and go through several filtering levels. First, you filter sale items, then you enter the category of ‘women’s clothing,’ and end up with a 12-point list of garment types.

Mango also enables several filtering options. As you browse through categories, you may enter sale items and choose from different color, size, age, price, and even popularity options.

3. Voice search

How to build an eCommerce website from scratch that will really stand out.

The profound feature of voice search will add to your website’s popularity among millennials and GenZers.

PayPal has recently updated their iOS app to be compliant with Apple’s Siri and let customers arrange payments via voice orders.

Jonnie Walker and Nestle are also enhancing their solutions with speech recognition functionality. Jonnie Walker has recently partnered with Amazon’s Alexa to enhance their speech ordering.

4. Prompts & suggestions

Plan and code your search engine to prompt search results and read erroneous inputs.

For reference, check out Primark’s search functionality. For example, you type in a search term and get a prompt with products (in one list) and features (in the second list).

5. No zero search results

Try to avoid zero-result searches.

You may offer a user multiple options, like signing up for a notification when a product is back in stock, offering related or similar products, etc.

For reference, check out the minimalistic zero-result page by the French crystalware brand Baccarat.

3. Product Functionality

If you are considering how to build an e-commerce website from scratch, this feature is among the most vital for your store.

1. Product page

Product pages should include all the information about a product, including its photos, short and long descriptions, and all the data that might be useful for customers like the size, special characteristics, and so on.

Product Page Example
Product Page Example

Thus, it is important to keep the product page as detailed as possible. In this regard, it is interesting to check out the product pages on the Lush website.

Every Lush product page contains:

  • a How-to video with each product
  • a featured review
  • info on the product’s use
  • info on the product’s benefits
  • How-to-use and How-to-store guides
  • a list of ingredients with a link to a description of every ingredient
  • a list of related products
  • product reviews

2. Product categories

How to build an eCommerce website from scratch with the best product categorization.

The top industry leading websites feature sophisticated categorization systems with distinctive categories and subcategories.

Check out the Adidas website for reference. They present a vast list of subcategories that cater to different customer needs.

3. Product ratings & reviews

Another important feature is to allow users to give product reviews. Customer testimonials increase trust in your store, which can result in higher sales and revenue.

4. Content Management System

When starting an eCommerce site, do not forget about the creation of an admin panel (also called a CRM).

This is the part of eCommerce website building that is not visible to customers, but is dedicated to ease-of-use for a store’s administrators.

A system like this should include features for:

1. Catalog management

You should be able to upload, download, and manage your products separately and in batches. This functionality also implies the assignment of products to categories, brands, promotions, reseller offers, etc.

2. Content management

Easy and hustle-free content management is the key to success.

It is important that your CMS doesn’t just let you quickly upload and edit content like pages, blogs, home-page banners, system messages, etc, but also allows for the scheduling of content updates.

3. Reporting & analytics

If you are still not sure how to build an eCommerce website from scratch that will be useful for you and your users, take into account the following information.

To make data-driven decisions, store owners and administrators need to have access to statistics and analytics.

CRM System Sample for eCommerce
CRM System Sample for eCommerce

An interactive dashboard with reports, charts, and statistics allows you to see how products sell, the overall performance of the store, and compare data from specific periods that might help identify some specific patterns in customer behavior.

4. Order management

It is possible that a user could decide to order a product or change an order during a call with support.

To reduce the hustle, you can build your own CRM that allow you to create, alter, and cancel orders from the admin panel, as well as see the statistics related to the orders.

5. User management

This functionality refers to creating, editing, and deleting user profiles from the admin panel. It is also used to add personalized discounts or include users and user groups in different promotional programs.

6. Integration with extra services

If you’re wondering how to build an eCommerce website from scratch, do not forget that a robust and fully-fledged website needs to be enhanced with a number of integrations.

This includes delivery (e.g. USPS, FedEx), email marketing tools for promotions (e.g. MailChimp, MailerLite), etc. Let’s check out a few of the most common services.

Integration service Description
Payment integrations handle and automate electronic payments, save payment information.
Examples: PayPal, Square, Stripe, Braintree
Shipping integrations bridge your solution with delivery services, automate shipping orders, calculate rates, provide shipment tracking, etc.
Examples: FedEx, UPS, DHL (for Europe)
Analytics integrations help track e-commerce metrics, provide A/B testing, prepare reports, etc.
Examples: Google Analytics, Zoho PageSence
Inventory integrations provide omni-channel inventory visibility, automatic updates, order management, forecast consumer demand, manage prices and promotions.
Examples: Business Manager, Ordoro, Forecastly, Cin7
Accounting integrations provide book-keeping, payroll, profit and loss management and accountability, budgeting, cash-flow statements, tax management, etc.
Examples: FreshBooks, Sage Business, WaveAccounting, Zoho Books
Email and marketing automation integrations organize marketing activities, create promotions, set discounts,provide reports.
Examples: Mailchimp, Zoho Campaigns, HubSpot
CRM integration manage customer relations, store contract information, transaction history, retain analytics.
Examples: Zapier, Gong, Stitch, Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce
Customer support integrations: live chat and help desk provide a platform for multi-channel communication with customers, enable the ability to create and resolve tickets, assign tasks among personnel, etc.
Example: ZenDesk, HelpDesk, Jira Service Management, LiveChat, HelpCrunch
Social integrations allow your products be shared on social media, enable commenting, social media sign-in, etc.
Examples: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest
Additional integrations these may include location tracking, weather notifications, ratings and feedback, price comparisons, etc. There is an integration for almost every business case imaginable.

Now that you have a better idea of how to code an ecommerce website from scratch in terms of functionality, we recommend paying special attention to alternative payment methods.

5. Alternative Payment Methods

Implementing alternative payment methods in eCommerce website development is not necessary, yet it may bring several benefits.

Most Popular Payment Methods Worldwide
Most Popular Payment Methods Worldwide

Firstly, alternative payment methods add flexibility that caters to user retention.

Secondly, alternative payment means are extremely popular in countries with mobile-first internet use experience and are gaining popularity in more conservative areas of Europe and the United States.

So, if you are thinking about how to start an eCommerce business that will target different world regions, alternative payment options are a must.

The number of alternative payment solutions and their functionalities are vast. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, AliPay, Skrill - mobile payment and digital wallet services
  • Coinbase Commerce, GoCoin, BitPay - bitcoin payment service
  • One Card - reprogrammable smart cart that unites credit, debit, discount, and loyalty cards into one solution
  • ePay, PayDollar, Yandex Money, DaoPay, TenPay - services similar to PayPal for online payments, e-bank transfers, and issuance of debit and credit cards.
  • MasterPass - a service allowing for the unified storage of all payment related information (debit and credit card, your name and address) for faster checkout
  • Klarna - an online crediting system, allows you to pay for purchases later

When considering how to make an ecommerce website from scratch to fit all potential user needs, you should also pay attention to the emerging trends of the FinTech market.

Alongside the growing popularity of traditional cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether, the majority of countries worldwide are implementing digital central bank currencies or DCBCs.

Wondering what feature set you need to select for your online store?

Contact us for a detailed break-down of the project price based on both basic and advanced functionality. As well, we can deliver a consultation from the business side of things and discuss project growth.

Get a consultation and estimate

Innovative Technologies Utilized in eCommerce Websites Development

As you think about how to code an ecommerce website to beat competitors and gain a new audience, you might consider implementing some innovations.

1. Artificial Intelligence

Thanks to deep learning that allows software to perform complex tasks without human supervision, AI has the power to change the way we shop.

AI Use Cases in eCommerce
AI Use Cases in eCommerce

Today, artificial intelligence and machine learning in eCommerce are widely used, namely:

1. Image detection

Pinterest Lens allows for visual searches based on objects in the real world. A user needs to point their camera at an object and have a real-world system to find it.

2. Voice recognition

The global smart speaker market reached 11.9 billion U.S. dollars in value in 2019, according to statistics. By 2025, the market is projected to reach 35.5 billion U.S. dollars in value. As this use of AI gathers pace quite quickly, consider discussing this option with the team that consults you on making an ecommerce website from scratch.

The implementation areas range from a mere voice search to shopping assistants like Apple's Siri or Amazon's Alexa.

3. Customer support

Smart chatbots that respond to requests via messages or voice interaction are quite popular today. However, this technology is yet far from perfection. For example, Facebook scaled back its Messenger chatbot that had a 70% failure rate.

However, there are still many reasons to consider this technology a rising one. Thus, automated customer support will be a must-have feature in the near future.

4. Personalized recommendations

With AI-powered suggestion tools, shoppers receive really valuable insights, like matching products or product upgrades.

5. Designing desired products

Adobe implemented an interesting idea: if a user has a visual idea of a product, an AI-based visual recognition tool will help design an image of a product and then use it for an order or find a similar product on the web.

This is a great solution when thinking about how to code an ecommerce website for selling shoes, apparel, and furniture.

2. Virtual and Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality in eCommerce Industry
Augmented Reality in eCommerce Industry

Here are some of the most common use cases of VR & AR in eCommerce website development:

1. Virtual fitting

Some brick-and-mortar shops use virtual mirrors to avoid the fitting room hustle. If you want to create your own online store, the smart fitting room concept will work in eCommerce as well. The principle is simple: a user uploads an image (of a room) and a VR solution merges it with an image of a product to sell.

2. Makeup previews

Image Metrics has an app that allows users to try on makeup before buying. Their algorithms determine age, race, gender, different skin tones, and shades of light to make the image look almost completely realistic.

3. Home improvement

The Specular Theory has developed an AR app that allows parents to detect child safety hazards in their home, then the app recommends childproofing products.

4. Interior design

Amazon and IKEA offer AR services to view their products in your environment. A German-based art shop, ARS MUNDI, allows customers to preview different ways to hang a picture on their wall.

4. VR merchandising

The company InContext has developed a tool that allows merchandising teams to check store layout, product positioning or packaging, etc., in a virtual environment. The product allows A/B testing of different concepts based on algorithms for shopper behavior.

5. VR shopping

Today, brands compete to expand the range of VR shopping functionality. For example, Swarovski has partnered with Mastercard to allow their users to buy items in their virtual store and even shot a video explaining how it works.

A virtual shop is not a cheap solution, so when you decide to code an e-commerce website from scratch, you need to form your budget by taking VR expenses into account.

3. Blockchain

As you are looking for information on making an ecommerce website from scratch, you’ve likely heard of or even received offers to build a website with blockchain technology.

Ways Blockchain Technology Transforms eCommerce
Ways Blockchain Technology Transforms eCommerce

As a data structure that ensures security, transparency, and decentralization, blockchain can find multiple uses in e-retail:

  • Cryptocurrencies payments and exchanges - faster and less costly than with fiat currency, which makes them a fitting solution for e-commerce.
  • Encrypted shipping - blockchain can make shipping safer and smarter.
  • Smart contracts - blockchain-powered smart contracts are agreements between parties in the form of a computer code that cannot be changed. Website owners can use them to guarantee the security of user data and compliance with privacy regulations.
  • Fraud prevention - Blockchain helps prevent counterfeiting. For example, The De Beers Group uses this technology to track their gems from the mines to the end-users.
  • Product provenance - Blockchain provides end-to-end transparency on the origin of every product or even an ingredient. This could become an industry-standard in the nearest future, yet for now, it makes a great competitive advantage.

Now that you have an idea of the core functionality and advanced technology of an ecommerce website, it’s time to learn about costs and, further, how to build an ecommerce website step by step.

How to Make an eCommerce Website from Scratch: Cost & Timeline

It is impossible to decide the best way to create an eCommerce website without first learning about the budget that will be needed and how much time the development may take.

The final price of a custom eCommerce store development project will range between $60,000 - $300,000+ depending on the eCommerce website requirements. In terms of the timeline, the process may take 3-6 month for the basic version, 6-9 months for a mid-sized website, and 9+ months to build a large, complex eCommerce site.

Generally, the cost and timeline to create an online store depends on the following factors:

  • Software development vendor (local or outsourced, hourly rates, etc.)
  • Design complexity and level of customization
  • Scope of functionality and its complexity
  • Integration with 3rd party services
  • eCommerce website hosting, domain, marketing, SEO and other expenditures

The table below summarizes the rough eCommerce website cost and its timeline based on the website’s functional complexity and design elements.

Basic version (core features + responsive design) Medium version (more features + more complex design) Large version (complex design, development, & support)
Timeline $60,000+ $150,000+ $300,000+
Cost ~3-6 months 4-9 months 9+ months (ongoing)

Want to know how much it will cost to build a custom eCommerce website from scratch?

Check out the article How Much Does an eCommerce Website Cost?, which provides an in-depth analysis of all the costs that come into the creation of an online store, for its basic and more advanced version; feature-set included.

How to Build an eCommerce Website Step by Step

In this segment, we navigate you through a step-by-step process for how to start an eCommerce business successfully.

How to Create an eCommerce Website from Scratch: Step-by-Step Process
How to Create an eCommerce Website from Scratch: Step-by-Step Process

1. Conduct market analysis and study competitive online stores

It is impossible to decide how to build an eCommerce website from scratch without thorough market research and competitor analysis. Define what products or services you are going to offer and learn which shops have the same offerings.

2. Define goals and KPIs for your retail business

Depending on whether you are going to resell products or offer those manufactured by you, you may need to consider your pricing strategy, the level of revenue you will need to generate, how to allocate expenses, and other financial aspects of how to start an eCommerce business and make it financially profitable.

3. Identify USPs of your products and online service

How to build an eCommerce website from scratch and make it successful?

To create an eCommerce website from scratch and make it successful, select a unique and easy-to-remember name and find a corresponding eCommerce domain. As well, investigate how you can be different from your competitors and what your unique selling proposition will become.

4. Select partners for delivery and packaging

Depending on whether you want to create an online store for a local or international market, you might need to take care of finding companies that will take on delivery and packaging.

5. Get all the paperwork done

It is important not only to know how to create an eCommerce website from scratch, but also to make it a legitimate business. Study your local laws and regulations, or hire a company that will help you with the paperwork in order to circumvent legal problems.

6. Choose and hire a reliable web development vendor

Finding a company that knows how to build an eCommerce website from scratch and all the ins and outs of the best eCommerce practices is the most important part of any eCommerce store development.

When looking for vendors, take the following aspects into account:

  • experience in providing excellent software development services
  • successful eCommerce websites they have developed
  • reviews of previous customers
  • consider whether they provide ongoing development and support

Do you want to know how to choose the best web development company?

Check out our article Outsource Web Development Wisely: Useful Tips, where we have carefully described the process of eliminating the risks during web development outsourcing.

7. Decide on the eCommerce website features

Along with the eCommerce web development company, create a list of features for the first version of the website, as well as for further iterations and upgrades.

8. Set up a scalable eCommerce project architecture

While you might want to start with a small or medium-sized store, do everything with the future in mind. Web developers should know how to build an eCommerce website from scratch based on a scalable project architecture that will sustain high loads and will not interfere with business expansion.

9. Create a customer-centric UX/UI design for online store

Make an eCommerce website that is not only visually attractive, but that has a user-friendly and feature-rich design. Experienced web designers will know how to create an eCommerce website from scratch and design the best purchasing process that will increase the chances of converting visitors into customers.

Wondering how much you will need to spend on website design?

In the article Ultimate Guide to Website Design Cost we have reviewed the main steps of the design process and the main cost-forming factors. Check it out!

10. Plan and start a marketing strategy

Building an online store is not enough, as you need to make it easy to find it among thousands of other stores. Start building a marketing strategy long before you make the first steps to build an eCommerce website from scratch.

The general recommendations include:

  1. Start with SEO techniques and keywords that should be woven into the content throughout your website
  2. Create a strong digital marketing strategy, including advertisements, special offers, discount programs, etc.
  3. Start and build strong relationships with media
  4. Conduct personalized outreach
  5. Participate in, or organize, events, etc.

The goal here is to make your potential customers aware of your store. It is crucial to include this step if you want to know how to build an eCommerce website from scratch and make it successful.

11. Test, deploy, and launch your eCommerce website

These aspects are crucial as they are the final steps before a website goes live. For instance, thorough testing will allow you to spot any problems or bugs and fix them before they create any problems for customers and prevent them from proceeding to the checkout page.

12. Connect with your shoppers

After you successfully build a web store and have it up & running, do not stop!

Connect with your customers, invite them to share their opinions, study their behavior, and use the collected data to plan further online store development and improvement.

During this stage, you might get valuable information on how to build an eCommerce website from scratch and which features should be added in future stages.

Want to know each and every detail that makes up the success of online projects?

Our team has evaluated top strategies, 100+ reports & statistics, as well as applied our 10-year experience as a software development company to create the following Guide on How to Make Your App Successful: A Detailed Step-by-Step.

How to Build an eCommerce Website from Scratch: Option Comparison

While there is no doubt that a new eCommerce website has some huge potential for growth, the choice of the optimal development method is still debatable. Let’s find out the best way to build an ecommerce site with the help of a ready-made solution or by doing a custom-build.

How to Build an eCommerce Website from Scratch: Most Popular Website Builders
How to Build an eCommerce Website from Scratch: Most Popular Website Builders

eCommerce website builders are more suitable for small and mid-sized sites without plans for extensive scalability, usage of new technologies, or an innovative online sales approach.

Here are the most popular solutions that are used to build an eCommerce website from scratch with the help of available software.

1. Shopify

This is one of the most popular eCommerce website builders and is characterized by ease-of-use and features that are specifically sculpted for eCommerce. Its annual cost ranges from around $350 to $6,500 and can extend beyond this due to an additional fee for each sale you make.

With Shopify, you can also integrate your store with hundreds of apps from its app store. Many of these apps are paid and could thus add to your monthly expenses.

2. Magento

The platform is delivered in three versions. Magento Open Source is the free solution, while Magento Commerce and Magento Commerce Cloud are paid solutions, with the latter being hosted. The prices start at $22,000 and $40,000 accordingly and depend on the revenue a business generates, and thus can reach up to $125,000 and $190,000.

Friendly advice: When asking how to create an eCommerce website from scratch with Magento, calculate how much you will need to pay for its set up and development, even if you decide to use the open source version.

3. WooCommerce

Very often when business owners are exploring how to build an eCommerce website from scratch, they come across this name. WooCommerce is a very popular eCommerce platform that is attractive thanks to the fact that it is free.

However, the provided functionality is quite limited, which is why you would need to buy additional extensions to implement the necessary features. The price varies greatly, and the final amount that businesses pay directly depends on the complexity of the store being built.

4. BigCommerce

This eCommerce website builder is also quite popular among those who are looking for ways to build an eCommerce website from scratch. When compared with competitors, you may notice a shortage of available apps and free themes. The price ranges between $359 to $2,700 per year. Each plan has a limit on online sales per year that curbs business growth.

You may wonder which website builder is best for eCommerce and which one to choose. There is no exact answer due to different needs for each online store. The table below compares Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, and WordPress eCommerce website builders and shows their main specifications and costs.

Note: Do not make preliminary judgments, as we will further explain why it is more reasonable to custom develop an eCommerce website rather than with the help of the following web builders.

Shopify Magento WooCommerce BigCommerce
Application small & personal online shops medium & big stores small & personal online stores a proprietary platform for small & medium stores
Free option 14-day trial yes yes 15-day trial
Subscription cost ~$348 - $3,588/ annually $22,000 - $190,000/ annually free, requires installation of paid extensions plans: Standard - $29.95; Plus - $79.95; Pro - $249.95/month
Domain cost $14/year $10-15/year for new domain hundreds or thousands for an aged domain $14.99/year $12.27+/year
Hosting included $4-100+/month for Magento Open Source & Magento Commerce
included in Magento Commerce Cloud
$3.95 - $5,000/month included
~ Total Cost$ (annual) ~ $350 - $6,500+ ~ $22,000 - $190,000+ ~ $350 - $7,000+ ~ $400 - $3,000+

When considering how to create an eCommerce website from scratch, it might be a good idea to keep in mind the following disadvantages of eCommerce web development with the help of ready-to-use eCommerce website builders.

  • Not all website builders are designed for eCommerce
  • Bottlenecks while you build an eCommerce website and the inability to scale an online business
  • Need for coding experience and technical knowledge when using some eCommerce website builders
  • Expenses like hosting, domain, themes, plugins, development, etc, are still required
  • Need to hire an experienced web development specialists
  • Limited set of provided functionality
  • Website design choices can be limited to what the tool has to offer
  • eCommerce websites are very similar and do not necessarily transfer the unique feel and touch of a brand

When thinking about how to build an eCommerce website from scratch, keep in mind that custom websites stand out thanks to highly customized and exceptional UX/UI design and sets of features that are tailored to meet all business requirements.

Custom eCommerce websites are created to meet the specific needs of a business and are developed from scratch with a modern tech stack to handle high traffic loads, as well as apply a unique and user-friendly interface.

Here is the list of possible technologies needed for customer eCommerce website development:

Website front-end Technologies
Markup languages HTML5, CSS3
Programming languages JavaScript, TypeScript
JavaScript frameworks Angular (recommended), React, Vue, etc.
Website back-end Technologies
Programming languages Ruby (recommended), Elixir, Python, PHP, Java, etc.
Web frameworks Ruby On Rails (recommended), Phoenix
Database servers PostgreSQL (preferred), MySQL
Web servers nginx (preferred), Apache
Cloud server platforms Amazon Web Services (AWS, EC2, S3, etc.)
APIs Description
Payment gateways Braintree, Stripe, PayPal etc.
Social media integration Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
Delivery services EasyPost, FedEx, etc.
Maps & Navigation Google Maps, etc.
Analytical tools Flurry or Google Analytics; Firebase or MixPanel, etc.
Email marketing integration MailChimp, etc.

Note: It is important to stress that even though this list of features looks huge, even if you build an eCommerce website from scratch and add all of them, the user interface should look clean and simple. The most work is done on the back-end (behind the scenes) and the end-users should not see the key operations.

Custom web application development for online shopping has the following benefits:

  • Ability to cover specific eCommerce business needs
  • Easy scaling and feature customization
  • Easier website support and maintenance
  • Faster and easier bug fixing process
  • Unique design instead of templates or themes with no room for customization
  • Opportunity to be unique and apply interesting interface and design elements (illustrations, animations, branding)
  • Adaptability of eCommerce website to different device sizes (responsiveness)
  • No issues with load times, thus lower bounce rate [consider that 40% of users leave a site if it does not load within 3 seconds]
  • Unlimited functionality of your choice
  • Possibility to quickly adopt the latest technologies and stay one step ahead of competitors
  • Ability to build an eCommerce website from scratch and make it unique by adding an attractive and innovative interface along with design elements
  • Complete ownership of website code and design
  • Ability to choose the best hosting provider that will sustain your load

Do you want to develop a custom eCommerce website?

Our team has a vast experience in building eCommerce projects from scratch. We can explain to you all the details involved in this software development process, technical aspects, and provide you with the website cost and timeline estimate.

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How to Create an eCommerce Website from Scratch: Custom Development

Returning to the technical implementation of an eCommerce website, the question - “how to build a marketplace website?” - is still open. Generally, the eCommerce website development process consists of the following services involved in custom software development:

  • Business analysis services (project backlog and functional specification creation)
  • UX/UI design for web
  • Web back-end and web front-end development
  • Quality assurance and testing
  • Project management
  • Ongoing support and development

Custom Software Development Process at MLSDev
Custom Software Development Process at MLSDev

Do you want to know all the ins and outs of the cost-forming factors of web development?

Check out our article How Much Does it Cost to Build a Website where we have reviewed all aspects of the development process and provided a detailed cost estimation for a custom website.

How to Build an eCommerce Website from Scratch: Key Considerations

The guide on how to create an eCommerce website from scratch would not be complete without mentioning these important aspects influencing development, namely :

  • Domain name – a short and descriptive domain name that users will be able to easily remember
  • Hosting – an important part of any website, as the right choice of hosting influences the overall performance of a store and its security
  • Server set-up – well-planned backend that will be able to handle a mass amount of eCommerce data
  • Security – HTML protocols and SSL certificates that will ensure the safety of your store, personal data of customers, and their payment details
  • Website localization – depending on whether you are building an eCommerce website site for a local or international market, you might need to translate its interface into a few languages and add the support of different currencies
  • Content marketing -by giving your customers free value in the form of education and engaging blog posts, e-books, or guides, you an increase website’s visibility. If interested check out also: eLearning Website Development l Functionality, Tech Stack, & Costs.

Key Reasons to Build an eCommerce Website from Scratch

If you are wondering how to build an eCommerce website from scratch but still have doubts about whether the efforts are worthwhile, take a look at the statistics above.

How to Build an eCommerce Website from Scratch: The Most Promising Regions
How to Build an eCommerce Website from Scratch: The Most Promising Regions

The following are aspects that support the idea of creating your own eCommerce website, namely:

1. More purchases

People prefer to buy online. In fact, the number of digital buyers will reach 2.14 billion worldwide in 2021. Retail eCommerce sales worldwide are predicted to reach $6.54 trillion in 2020. This means that there is a huge opportunity for growth that should push business owners to think hard about how to create an eCommerce website from scratch.

2. Lesser investment

If you compare the prices for building an eCommerce website with the cost of opening a physical storefront, you will notice a tremendous difference in budgets. This is often the main reason why business owners start asking how how to build an eCommerce website from scratch.

3. Convenience

Convenience is why online shopping has gained traction during the last decade. You should keep this aspect in mind when trying to figure out how to build an eCommerce website from scratch.

4. Reach a wider pool of clients

The vast majority of customers start product searches online. If you do not have an online store, there is no way for these customers to find your merch. SEO combined with digital marketing helps to build an eCommerce website from scratch and increase its chances for success.

5. M-Commerce

In 2017, mobile sales accounted for nearly 58.9% of all digital sales. When wondering how to create an eCommerce website from scratch, consider adding the development of a custom app in one of the next project phases.

6. Use of innovations

The integration of VR and AR in shopping will definitely change the way we shop in the near future. If you build an eCommerce website from scratch, think about this aspect.

To sum things up: These thoughts on how to build an eCommerce website from scratch are justified by the enormous market and amount of money that is circulating within the industry. Despite the high competitiveness, there is still a lot of space for new players, so we will explain further how you can conquer the world of online sales.

Are you ready to create your own online store and start selling products worldwide?

Get in touch with MLSDev for a consultation and free quotation to help you decide how to build an eCommerce website from scratch. We have broad experience in the eCommerce industry and know how to apply innovative technologies to create stores that will be able to keep up with the competition.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

🤔 Who should not use ready-made tools to build websites?
If you have a successful offline business, it’s not just an idea, it is seriously recommended that you build a website from scratch instead of using solutions like Magento, WordPress, or Shopify. In most cases, the functionality of these tools is basic and too limited for advanced and custom elements.
💰 What is the price for the advanced version of Magento?
The price of an advanced version of Magento starts from $22,000 - $40,000 per year and depends on the revenue a business generates. Thus, the cost can reach up to $125,000 or even more annually.
💡 What are the advantages to building an eCommerce website from scratch?
Custom websites are created to meet the specific needs of a business and are developed from scratch with a modern tech stack to handle high traffic loads, as well as apply a custom and user-friendly interface. Custom eCommerce websites are completely unique and totally correspond in their functionality to the business specifics.
⏳ How long does it take to make an eCommerce website from scratch?
The time required for custom eCommerce website development depends on the software development vendor hired (local or outsourced, its hourly rates), design complexity and level of customization, the scope of functionality and its complexity, integration with third party services. In general, it may take 3-5 months to build the basic version, 6-9 months to create a medium version, and 9+ months to build a large and complex eCommerce site.