Absolute beginners: What do you need to start an ecommerce store?

Hosting service

An ecommerce store is a software application that runs on a server connected to the Internet. The application must run on a platform designed to handle the product management, payment transactions, shopping cart, and checkout functionality necessary for a smooth customer experience. Good platforms also include other functions such as email notifications, stock management, sales reports, and more.

There are plenty of ecommerce platforms available to choose from, but the two most popular are WooCommerce and Shopify. WooCommerce is an extension that runs on the very popular open-source platform WordPress, while Shopify is proprietary software. WooCommerce/WordPress can run on any hosting service, while Shopify only runs on the company’s own servers.

When you choose a hosting service, consider such factors as:

  • Speed. A faster store ensures a better customer experience and helps you rank higher on Google searches.
  • Reliability. You need your store to be available 24/7, without any dropouts in service.
  • Security. Your store must utilize encryption, secure checkout (SSL), and be hacker-free.
  • Support. If some problem occurs, you will need someone who knows what they’re doing to help.
wordpress hosting service
Hosting service

Domain name

On the Internet, every connected host is designated with a numerical IP address, such as But of course, no one can remember these numbers, and that’s why we use the domain name system. This translates a rememberable name into an IP address. For example, the domain name of this website (optimizewp.co) translates into the IP address listed above.

The domain name is the part you see after “www” on website addresses. It will also be used in your email address, in the part that comes after the “@”. The part before the “@” is completely optional and can be chosen by you.

When you choose a domain, think of one that reflects your brand name or service, and try not to make it too long. Sometimes it’s necessary to be creative, as many names are already taken. Domains ending with .com are usually preferred, but others such as .io, .me, and .net can sometimes be useful too, especially if the .com domain is unavailable or overly expensive.

To register a domain name, we recommend you use Namecheap.

Email account

An email account is needed for some important functions of your ecommerce store. First, as a means for any potential customers to contact you with questions. Second, for sending out order, payment, and shipping information to the customers who order from your store. And finally, for sending you notifications of new orders, products going out of stock and customers signing up for services, etc.

You can choose to use one of the free email service providers out there, such as Gmail, but it usually makes more sense to create an account that uses your own domain name, as explained above. This ensures that customers know the emails are coming from your store, and not a spammer. If you’re using Cloudways hosting, their Rackspace Email Addon is a good option.

Payment service provider

The payment service is what enables you to receive payments for products and services in your ecommerce store. We recommend that you at least offer credit/debit cards and PayPal as payment options in your store, as these are by far the most popular terms of payment for most people.

The payment service provider you need will depend on your market location and where your company is registered. If you are in the U.S., we recommend Braintree or Stripe. If you’re in Europe, we would go with Mollie. And if you are in South-East Asia, good choices include Omise and 2Checkout.

ecommerce payment methods
eCommerce payment methods

Tax registration

When you’re running a business, you need to pay taxes. For ecommerce stores, this is usually sales tax, or value-added tax (VAT). The tax rate will vary by state or country, and you will need to register with the correct local authorities first. After registration, you will be issued a tax identification number. On the ecommerce store, you will need to configure the right tax rate and decide whether to include or exclude tax in your pricing.

Store content

There can be no store without content, of course! What we are talking about here are the product names and descriptions, product images and videos, plus all the general content that goes on other pages such as the front page, about page, and contact page.

The front or “home” page is the landing page that most people will see first when they come to your store or website. It’s important that this page can grab the customer’s attention and also quickly convey what your store is selling, or what your website is about.

On the “about” page you can introduce yourself, tell the customer about the values of your brand or company, and the story of how and why it all started. And on the contact page give the customer several options to easily contact you through a form, email, phone call, or chat.

You can even add more extra content, such as FAQs, blogs, picture galleries, or social media feeds. Interesting content keeps the customer engaged, interested, and less like to quickly leave your website. Rich content also makes search engines such as Google value your website higher in search rankings.

Putting it all together

Setting up everything necessary for a new ecommerce store can be daunting, especially if you don’t have extensive experience in the field. Luckily, OptimizeWP can handle everything for you! Contact us now for a free proposal of an ecommerce store, plus a monthly hosting and maintenance plan. We can also register and configure a domain name and email account for you if needed.

You will need to provide us with the store content, including product images and descriptions. We will add all products to the platform and set up and configure all additional functions, such as email notifications, payment gateways, and tax rates. Please note that we will need you to register your company with a payment service provider beforehand.