The art of building an e-commerce site

The artist Voltori in his studio in Stratford. Contributing photo.

OMovArt is one of the newest local e-commerce sites to go live (, created by the Stratford-based artist known by the mononym Voltori as a digital showcase for his paintings. Launched on May 18, it was created by the artist in what he described as a trial and error manner.

“I worked on the website for about a year,” he recalls. “It was all a learning curve for me. I constantly stumbled over obstacles and had to research and learn on my own how to overcome them.

Voltori has learned enough about building an e-commerce site to feel comfortable building MovArt after a long period of beta testing. Nevertheless, the artist-turned-entrepreneur is getting into a tough market with his MovArt site.

According to data from, a software company focused on the WordPress platform, there are between 12 and 24 million e-commerce sites in the world, but less than a million of these sites generate more than 1,000 dollars in revenue each year. It’s not due to a lack of demand – Statista reported that there were 900 million more online shoppers in 2021 than there were in 2020.

And, of course, there’s that digital elephant in the room: Amazon. Statista also reported that 59% of consumers say they always or often start their purchases with a trip to Amazon.

So what can businesses and entrepreneurs do to ensure their self-driving e-commerce sites find buyers online?

For starters, it helps to have a clear understanding of where the new e-commerce site will fit into the digital scheme of things.

“Starting from scratch, you have to do a lot of research into the buying habits of your target consumers and the type of marketing your competitors are doing,” said Scott Johnson, president of Brookfield, headquartered in Mack Media Group.

After looking at the larger environment, the next step is to look at the goals of the e-commerce site.

“You have to think about what you’re going to sell and how you want your customers to be able to buy,” explained Michael Loewenberg, director of New City-based MESH Business Solutions Inc.. “It’s more interesting to think about how customers buy than how you sell, because that’s what will really make or break your website.

Loewenberg noted that it doesn’t matter what is being sold, as the basics of e-commerce span the entire spectrum of online retail.

“I’ve built sites for restaurants selling food that gets delivered, and I build websites for customers who want to sell things, widgets,” he said. “What you need to talk about are the products you have and how you build them – whether it’s simple products that you buy something as is, or if there are variations, options for these products. And it increases the complexity and also the way products are displayed on a website on how people buy.

In Voltori’s case, the reasons why people would want to buy his works weighed in his decision on how to present his output for potential purchase.

“I uploaded all of my artwork and presented it in different environments,” Voltori said. “Since everyone’s home or office is different and unique, I thought I would show viewers what my work would look like in different types of rooms. If you look at the website, you can see it – I’m super happy with it.

Inventory issues

For businesses selling a complex product line, Loewenberg recommended having a website that can accommodate a large inventory, especially with merchandise that varies widely.

“If you have a shirt with two sizes and five colors, that’s 10 products,” he said. “And if it’s long and short sleeves, that’s 20 products. And then you have five types of toppings, that’s 100 products. And if you have 10 sizes, that’s 1,000 products – and each of those items is an individual product.

With a larger inventory, Loewenberg suggested moving beyond the DIY aspects of sites like Wix or Shopify and working with “someone who understands the building mechanics of more than just products.”

Of course, e-commerce is not limited to the online store. Rob Kissner, GaelVentures program manager at the Hynes Institute at Iona College in New Rochelle, cautioned that things can get tricky when the process goes offline.

“I saw the real growth inhibitor for an e-commerce site that sells everything physical as the execution side,” Kissner said. “Let’s say you’re selling handmade jewelry and someone buys an item. Obviously, you want to make sure you have the items in stock. Do you pack this? How is it packaged? You need to get it to the post office in a timely manner, and all materials used in packaging and shipping these products have a cost associated with them.

Kissner raised the question of whether the e-commerce site owner will need to hire a fulfillment company to handle packaging and shipping if the site gains popularity, adding that shipping and handling costs must be taken into account before any sale. take place.

“In terms of selling a piece of jewelry, how much does it cost to make, package and ship, and is the sale of this piece of jewelry more than all of these expenses combined?” He asked. “Because if you’re just earning or breaking even or making a few percentages of a profit margin on that, it’s probably not even worth doing it in the first place. Whereas if you have a good profit margin built into that, it’s obviously worth it. But it takes forethought to plan what all those expenses, including your time, are going to include.

If you build it

Another off-site issue that the e-commerce site owner needs to consider is making the site stand out from the competition.

“People still search a lot for their products on Google, but the search volume on Google is still insane,” said Johnson of Mack Media Group. “There’s the digital marketing stuff – social media, SEO, Google AdWords, Google Display – and you want to incorporate all of that into your buying model.”

For applicable products that could fit into Amazon’s product universe, Johnson recommended setting up a store on that site – noting that while Amazon’s steep cut in percentage of sales would dilute any rush immediate benefits, it would still help build brand awareness.

“I find myself going to Amazon for sheer convenience,” Johnson admitted.

And then there’s the issue of cybersecurity — after all, no one will want to buy from a site where financial data can be easily hacked.

“Every website should have an SSL certificate that makes it HTTPS,” Loewenberg said. “Google negatively impacts your search engine results page rankings if you don’t have HTTPS. If you’re going to give your credit card to a site that doesn’t have HTTPS in the URL, I don’t wouldn’t.

“And credit card processing must be PCI compliant. It’s run by the credit card processors, and they’re compliant – they have security built in.

Another financial item to consider is taxes on items sold on the site.

“The IRS is really cracking down on general transactions that involve collecting sales tax,” Kissner said. “For a new business that’s just started an e-commerce site or someone who may be starting a side hustle, this might not be something they want to have to think about.”

For artist Voltori, one piece of advice he shared based on his experience building an e-commerce site was to emphasize a positive emotional element.

“It’s huge: you have to have love for the product and enjoy the process of creating everything,” he said. “The reason I say this is that you will encounter obstacles, whether professional or personal. There will be days when you feel like giving up on the project. If you love the process and love your product, you don’t But a lot of people give up because their number one goal in the first place is money, and it shouldn’t be.


Comments are closed.