Businesses who are just starting their journey into eCommerce may find it challenging to know where to start. An online store builder can help them create their own webshop from scratch in just six steps.

How to create an online webshop

You’ve been thinking about it for years, and now you’ve actually decided to go ahead and do it. You’re interested in building your own website store, also known as a webshop or webstore, with that top product you’re so passionate about. Considering the uptick in online shopping amongst Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s never been a better time.  

You have already defined your product, niche, purchasing system, and shipping platform. You may feel ready to start building your website right away – but wait! Starting a webshop doesn’t mean just developing a website, as there are several steps you’ll have to follow. Read through this step-by-step plan, and you’ll have your shop made using a website store builder up and running in no time.

1. Register the domain name for your online website store

A domain name is the Internet address of your online store. It’s advisable to use your company name as the domain name. It is good for website visibility and how your shop will look online.

It’s important your domain name should match your product and the expectations of your target audience. Invite your friends around for an evening of brainstorming. Write down all your ideas, sleep on them – and Eureka! – you’ll have found the perfect name.  

Once everything is in order, register your domain through a registrar. Some domain name registrars also offer various add-ons, such as hosting, website building, and email services.

Before your creativity begins to flow and you start designing your online store, think about the part of your Internet address that comes after the dot. Which TLD (Top Level Domain) will you choose as your domain? Should you just focus on the Canadian market? Will “.ca” bring in enough business? Or do you have international plans?

If so, you could perhaps register a generic extension (gTLD), such as “.com” or “.org.” Also, bear in mind that geotargeting will affect your ranking.

Tip: Register your domain name first, and only then register the business with the Chamber of Commerce. Once you register at the Chamber of Commerce, your name will become public, and someone else could quickly register it before you.

2. Register your business with the Chamber of Commerce

Now you are ready to register your domain name and business with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Trade Register. After registration, you will immediately receive your Chamber of Commerce number. You are legally obliged to indicate this number on all your business letters, orders, invoices and quotations, as well as on your website. You will also need this number to open a business bank account, take out insurance policies, obtain business subscriptions, or buy a company car.

3. Build an online store and make sure to comply with online selling regulations

There are rules that all e-stores must comply with. For example, as an online retailer, you will need someone’s name and address details to be able to deliver a product. When this happens, customers must be informed of their rights to privacy.  

You do this by putting a privacy statement on your site. For example, customers have the right to view, delete, or change the data your website stores about them. So your privacy statement must inform customers about these and other rights and indicate how such rights can be exercised.

Tip: If you have any doubts about whether your website is Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA)-compliant, there are compliance resources available for businesses. All company information must be complete and available online, including your email address, telephone number, name and address, Chamber of Commerce registration and VAT number. In addition to your webshop name, your trade name must also appear on the site. It is advisable to leave a header link to a ‘contact’ or ‘about us’ page, in which this information is mentioned.

4. Choose the right webshop software

Now that all administrative matters have been taken care of, you are finally ready to start on the real work: becoming an online store builder! Before you start comparing all kinds of providers, it’s important to first decide what kind of platform you want to work with. Do you want a ready-made hosted solution? Open-source webshop software? Or do you plan to build the site yourself from scratch? Your choice will largely depend on your computer knowledge. So, here are those three options:

3 different software options businesses can use to build their website

How do you choose the right online website store builder software for your webshop?   Depending on your product, you will have to pay attention to many things, such as:  

  • The ease of use
  • Links — find out in advance whether your chosen package can link with other essential software you plan to use, such as shipping platforms, payment systems and marketplaces.
  • Design — does your choice include the kind of designs you had in mind?
  • Subscription costs per month/per year — does this amount fit your allowed budget?
  • Available languages — are you planning to expand internationally?
  • SEO-friendliness — are there sufficient options to make your online store SEO-friendly?
  • Mobile optimization — consumers are increasingly making purchases via their mobiles or tablets, so is your mobile version properly optimized for the task.
Tip: Use the list of website builder software on Capterra to compare and review the different options available. Read the verified reviews to check out the experiences of other business users who have worked with these different software packages.

5. Decide on your branding

You’re now ready to decide on your branding – the aesthetics of your brand. First, it’s important to

determine your buyer persona

and the kind of atmosphere your shop should portray to welcome them. Is your brand chic? Or is it cool and edgy? Pick a few adjectives that clearly describe and define your brand. Choose a font that matches that look. Then choose two or three brand colours you wish to reflect in your logo and

website design.

6. Create your first online store pages

Now you’re ready to start creating your first online store pages! Choose a template that matches the aesthetics of your online store. Picking a white background with coloured accents is usually best if you want a modern look. Use a single font throughout all the pages on your site to create a uniform style.  

You can start with a homepage and a product landing page, with links to all the individual product pages, a contact page, a privacy statement, and your business terms and conditions. You can then set up integrations with the payment systems you have chosen and with any shipping providers and online marketplaces that you plan to use.

Looking for online store builder software? Check out our catalogue!