With plug-and-play ecommerce systems and site builders, it's easier than ever to launch an online retail store to offer items and services. First, you must develop a company concept and select things to offer. Then, decide on an ecommerce platform, create your retail website, and decide on an order fulfillment approach. Because retail businesses are visual platforms, you'll need good product pages as well as a marketing strategy. Plan on spending roughly $100 to start up your internet business (not including products). In this post, we will show you how to set up a retail store and how much does it cost to build a retail store.

1. Steps to create a retail website for free

In seven stages, here's how to launch an internet store:

1.1 Choose a Business Concept

Building an online retail business begins with developing a concept for the things you want to offer. When deciding what to market, start by deciding on an overarching concept by establishing which sector or industry you want to focus on. Personal interests or commercial prospects may inspire this concept.

Rather than selling a large range of generic stuff, it is easier to target people who come to your retail website with a certain interest and sell things that specifically appeal to them. Choosing a specialization will also provide you with a clear starting point and make it simpler to build a strong brand. A dog lover, for example, could wish to create an internet business selling pet supplies. A better business idea, though, is to address a market hole or demand, such as organic dog food designed exclusively for pit bulls.

  • Select a Business Model

Once you've decided what you want to sell, you'll need to figure out how to sell it. Among the business models are:

  • Launch a dropshipping company (instead of stocking inventory)

  • Create and produce unique things.

  • Create a private label brand.

  • You must pack and ship orders yourself.

  • To store goods and deliver orders, use a third-party fulfillment provider.

Begin by considering how much time you are willing to devote to your ecommerce enterprise. How much storage space do you have or are willing to purchase for inventory? If your internet business is a side hobby, it may be more reasonable to sell and offer a limited number of things. Alternatively, you can only offer items that are dropshippable, eliminating the need to fulfill orders or pay for a third-party service.

However, if you want to expand your retail business, you'll probably want to create bespoke or private label items and stock a large portion of them yourself. This strategy entails establishing a separate garage, room, or storage facility for handling inventory and packing orders, and then transitioning to a fulfillment firm when your business grows to the point where you can no longer fulfill orders yourself (read our guide to the best).

  • Design a Brand

You'll need to create a brand once you've decided what you want to sell and how you want to market it. This involves deciding on a company name, website, and logo. Do this early on in the process of creating a retail business since you will need to obtain a domain name. Your domain name should either match your brand name or contain a variation of it. Away luggage, for example, has a website at awaytravel.com (away.com is already taken).

When selecting a domain name for your retail business, keep the following in mind:

  • The ".com" extension is the most often used; however, select an extension (.biz,.us,.net, etc.) that best represents your shop.

  • Make it simple to spell.

  • Make it as brief as possible.

If you're having trouble coming up with a name for your company, try our business name generator. If you need assistance coming up with domain names, we've created a list of domain name ideas to get you started.

If you're having trouble coming up with a name for your company, try our business name generator. If you need assistance coming up with domain names, we've created a list of domain name ideas to get you started.

  • Apply for Licenses and Trademarks

While you're working on your brand, it's also a good time to think about the legal stuff—outline the licenses and legal protections you'll need to get started. Anyone selling items must get a resale license, also known as a reseller's license or sales tax ID, from the tax authority in their state. You must apply for this in each state in which you have a physical presence (such as a warehouse).

If you are manufacturing or creating items, you should apply for a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) if your products meet the requirements. You should also trademark your company name to prevent others from selling under your brand name.

1.2 Source Your Products

When your company strategy is complete, the following step is to source your items. It will take some time to identify the correct vendors and ensure your satisfaction with the end results. Plan on spending many months and thousands of dollars obtaining sample orders from several suppliers, especially if you are personalizing your items in any manner, such as with a unique formula, design, or branding.

Finding a supplier you can trust to provide excellent items on time and at the correct price is arguably the most difficult aspect of opening an online company. There are several approaches that new firms may use to identify the best one for them. Begin by learning about the manufacturers that your rivals use. You may also request samples from many vendors at once using Alibaba or other wholesale directories situated in the United States. The most conventional method is to attend industry trade events in order to meet with suppliers in person.

One of the first measures you may do to identify a supplier is to investigate your competition. Purchase a handful of their items and investigate the information on the product label. Many of them will provide the production location or other information that you may use to do a Google search. There are now smartphone applications available that will scan product barcodes and provide information about the maker. On a trip to the mall, box shop, or boutique, you may get a lot of manufacturing leads with your smartphone and these applications.

  • Connect With Manufacturers Through Alibaba

Alibaba sells millions of items from tens of thousands of manufacturers. You can locate suppliers to manufacture items, create private labels, or buy ready-made products to resell on Alibaba. The site is a household brand in product sourcing, making it simple to search for specific items and filter results by price, minimum purchase, or browsing top-ranking suppliers. If you have a product that you wish to imitate, you may even search by image.

  • Use a Directory Service to Find US-Based Suppliers

Aside from Alibaba, there are numerous other directory sites that provide largely ready-made items. Some directory sites include links to external vendors, while others include an interface for placing orders.

Wholesale websites that are popular include:

  • Faire: One-of-a-kind goods from tiny fashion, gift, cosmetic, and home product manufacturers.

  • The Grommet Wholesale: One-of-a-kind gifts from independent makers and producers.

  • Worldwide Brands is a wholesale supplier directory with hundreds of listings.

  • Wholesale Central is a free online directory that lists thousands of wholesale providers.

  • Attend Trade Shows and Wholesale Marketplaces

Attending trade exhibitions is the most effective method to test a large number of items firsthand and is a wonderful way to identify vendors you would not have found otherwise, especially if you exclusively search online. There are several permanent showrooms where you may locate vendors and items all year. Other exhibitions are only transitory and attract thousands of merchants all at once.

Among the most popular trade exhibitions are:

  • Atlanta's AmericasMart sells gifts and housewares.

  • Gift, lifestyle, handcrafted, and home products are available at NY NOW.

  • Toy, collectable, and children's items are on display at the Toy Fair.

  • Skincare and beauty goods, including private labels, are available from Cosmoprof North America.

  • ASD Market Week: General goods, garments, accessories, and vendors with bespoke and private label offerings

  • MAGIC: One of the largest garment and accessory shows in the world.

  • Consider Designing a Private Label Brand

All successful retail stores that have private label brands are items produced by one business and sold under the retailer's brand name. Private label items assist businesses in developing a strong brand and preventing buyers from searching for your products at lower costs on other internet marketplaces. Create a logo and packaging for a basic or slightly modified product from a manufacturer or distributor to begin a private label brand.

Starting a private label brand when you have a retailing website, such as cosmetics and beauty items, is a nice compromise between making a specific product and purchasing standard wholesale goods. Private label goods offer distinctive branding, SKUs for product listings, and, in certain cases, distinctive formulations or design components. Nonetheless, the procedure is far less difficult than creating and manufacturing a whole new product.

1.3 Choose an Ecommerce Platform

After you've found the right things to sell, it's time to choose the right platform to offer them on. Some ecommerce systems include templates with simple add-on features that may be customized using drag and drop. For people who want to incorporate their own code features, there are various platforms with greater flexibility. For companies who want to monetise their website by selling things, there are shopping cart plugins that can be added to existing websites.

Selling on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, as well as marketplaces such as Etsy, eBay, and Amazon, is another possibility. Most retail enterprises prefer to sell in their own online shop while also integrating with social media platforms and marketplaces to expand their reach.

  • Using a Template vs. Designing From Scratch

Before deciding on a platform, the first option to make when creating a retail website is whether to utilize a templated store design or develop a site from scratch. Each has perks and cons. Larger companies with in-house developers may profit from a bespoke shop. However, most small firms who do not have a developer and wish to run their own website would be able to do so with a templated design.

  • Ecommerce Platforms in Use

Many small companies utilize one of many popular ecommerce systems to learn how to construct a retail website. Some of the most popular systems for new businesses and shops wishing to expand online include Shopify, BigCommerce, and Square Online. All of these applications include templates, differing levels of inventory management capabilities, reporting, and payment processing choices.

These platforms also include native or plug-in solutions for selling and advertising on social media, selling in person, linking a blog, and selling on third-party marketplaces like Amazon and eBay. They also provide several programs for enterprises of various sizes and sales volumes.

  • Shopify is the best all-around ecommerce platform for small enterprises.

  • BigCommerce is the best ecommerce platform for expanding enterprises.

  • Square Online: The most popular retail website builder for cafés and curbside pickup.

  • Ecwid: The best shopping cart platform for current websites.

According to our findings, the decision of an ecommerce solution for the majority of small businesses generally boils down to BigCommerce versus Shopify. Shopify is our top-recommended small-business ecommerce platform. BigCommerce, on the other hand, may be better suited for larger-revenue enterprises, particularly those with sophisticated inventory or who wish to save money on processing fees. View more 10 Best Ecommerce Platforms Compared & Rated For 2021

  • When Should You Use a WordPress Site?

If your company does not have a specialized retail website, but rather a blog, coaching, or publishing site that also sells items, you may wish to construct a WordPress site and install a WooCommerce or other WordPress shopping cart plugin. Businesses may also use these plugins to convert any current WordPress site into a retail website, making it a viable alternative for companies wishing to sell items or grow into best online retail sales.

View some WordPress website by CMSMART:

1.4 Build Your Website

Following the selection of a platform, the next stage is to develop your retail website design by picking a theme, adding payment processing, implementing security measures, and acquiring any necessary add-ons. Refer to your brand design and any bespoke items or packaging you have for inspiration when selecting a color scheme, typefaces, and overall style for your site. Consult to How To Design An E-Commerce Website Make Happy Customers

  • Choose a Theme

Whatever ecommerce platform you select, all of them feature a plethora of free and paid templates or themes, generally with many versions. There are also several free and premium WordPress ecommerce themes for various shopping cart plugins.

When selecting a theme for your retail website, consider the following:

  • Invest in quality: Don't be afraid to purchase a premium theme; go for the one you believe is the finest. It is possible to alter themes later, but it is preferable to choose the proper one from the start.

  • Choose a responsive theme: Because mobile browsing accounts for a big amount of online purchases, ensure your theme is mobile-friendly.

  • Prioritize the following navigation features: A good user experience requires easy navigation, so make sure your theme includes a good header, search, and similar product navigation elements.

  • Examine product pages: Conversions are aided by high-quality product pages. Choose themes that allow for a large number of high-quality pictures and/or images, a variety of product descriptions, and other dynamic material.

  • Integrate Payment Processing

Payment processing integration is a routine yet crucial aspect of developing an ecommerce website. You must select a Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant payment processor as a retail website. Many ecommerce systems offer built-in payment processors or a few suitable payment partners. PCI compliance will be required for any built-in payment processors. Square, Shopify Payments, Stripe, and PayPal, for example, are all PCI compliant.

The built-in payment processor is the most convenient solution for most small enterprises. Payment processing rates are frequently comparable amongst ecommerce platforms. However, when your business grows larger (processing more than $15,000 a month), it may be wise to actively seek for a payment processor that can provide lower rates, or negotiate a lower fee with your current processor because you may be eligible for volume discounts.

  • Adding Alternative Payment Methods

As an online vendor, having the option for customers to submit their credit or debit card information is crucial. However, additional user-friendly choices, such as one-click and e-wallet payments, PayPal, and installment options (buy now, pay later), are critical for improving conversions and sales. Most major ecommerce systems include a direct PayPal payment interface. Many accept Apple and Google e-wallet payments as well.

Installment payments are often provided by a third-party processor who pays the merchant in advance but collects monthly payments from clients, resulting in buyers paying only a percentage of the entire cost up front. Many of these firms do not charge interest or conduct stringent credit checks on consumers.

These payment methods appeal to customers who do not use regular credit cards. AfterPay, Klarna, Splitit, and PayPal Credit are some of the most popular suppliers.


Rose Helen

Shop Owner
Rose Helen is a highly accomplished Ecommerce Project Consultant with a strong background in managing and guiding successful e-commerce projects. With her exceptional expertise and strategic mindset, she helps businesses achieve their goals in the digital marketplace.
With years of experience, Rose Helen possesses an in-depth understanding of e-commerce platforms, technologies, and best practices. She works closely with clients to analyze their needs, develop tailored strategies, and execute effective project plans that drive growth and success.
As an Ecommerce Project Consultant, Rose Helen excels at overseeing project lifecycles, from inception to completion. She ensures projects are delivered on time, within budget, and with the highest level of quality. Her exceptional project management skills enable her to effectively communicate with stakeholders, manage resources, and mitigate risks throughout the project journey.
Rose Helen is a strategic thinker who leverages her extensive knowledge to identify opportunities for improvement and innovation. She provides valuable insights and recommendations to optimize e-commerce processes, enhance user experiences, and increase online sales.
With her strong communication and collaboration skills, Rose Helen builds strong relationships with clients and key stakeholders. She fosters a collaborative environment, working closely with cross-functional teams to ensure seamless project execution and alignment with business objectives.
Beyond her technical expertise, Rose Helen is dedicated to delivering exceptional client service. She goes above and beyond to understand her clients' unique requirements and provide them with personalized solutions that drive tangible results. Her commitment to client success is evident in her approach and the long-term relationships she builds.
Rose Helen's passion for e-commerce, coupled with her extensive experience and project management skills, makes her a valuable asset for organizations looking to thrive in the digital landscape. With her guidance, businesses can navigate the complexities of e-commerce projects and achieve their objectives with confidence and success.