What is eCommerce Website Development?

Retail and eCommerce websites are an ideal solution for both existing businesses and new start-ups. Thanks to low set-up and running costs (compared to a brick-and-mortar business) and the many options available, eCommerce website development can get your product out there more easily than ever.

Check out the benefits of retail and eCommerce websites to learn more about why we think your business needs a retail and eCommerce website, or read on to learn about eCommerce development.

What Is eCommerce Website Development?

eCommerce website design and development involves creating a website with the primary goal of allowing visitors to purchase products or services online.

Internet retail sales have been steadily rising in the UK since the early noughties, but they took a spike in early 2020 and remain significantly elevated over pre-coronavirus levels. In fact, online sales currently make up around a quarter of total retail sales in the UK, although they peaked in early 2021 at 37.8%. That’s a lot of internet sales!

All this is to say that eCommerce development allows you to tap into an enormous, ever-expanding market, and the best way to ensure your business stands out is by having a high-quality, consumer-friendly retail and eCommerce website.

The Process of eCommerce Web Design and Development


The first thing you should do when developing a retail and eCommerce website is plan what you’re looking for. If you’re planning to use an agency for eCommerce web design and development, this is a great time to write a specification to explain what you’re looking for and hash out what your goals are with your new website.

Check out our guide on how to write a website specification for more information.

Purchase a domain

This might sound intimidating, but it’s actually very easy to purchase a domain, and not very expensive. As a web hosting agency, we can host your website and offer domain and hosting packages too. If you’re planning to host elsewhere, you can purchase a domain from as little as £10-£20 a year.

Choose a hosting platform

When it comes to hosting platforms, there are a lot of different options. Some common platforms include Shopify, Magento and WooCommerce; some will require you to design and build your site separately, while others will come with prefab options you can choose to keep or use as a base and edit. You can learn about the differences between a theme installation and custom design on our blog.

As we mentioned above, we are also set up to host your website if you would like to keep your eCommerce website design, development and hosting all in one place!

Develop your website

Probably best to leave this one to the experts. Remember that website specification you came up with earlier? Send that to a crack web development team, and you’ll be able to talk about what you need and hammer down the details of developing your retail and eCommerce website.

They’ll be able to code your website, create it to your preferences and hand you the (proverbial) keys.

Design your website

Once you have the skeleton, you – or we – can design your website. It’s useful to have some brand guidelines for this – colour schemes, fonts, image styles etc. You’ll want to make sure your site is consistent and professional, as well as optimised for User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX).

You might also want to consider designing your website for accessibility to ensure your website is available to as wide an audience as possible.

Populate your site

At this stage, you want to fill your retail and eCommerce website with your products (or services) and any other content.

Last checks

Once your eCommerce website has been developed, take one last look over it and ensure everything works as it should and that you like the design. If you’ve hired an agency, they’ll usually test your website for you from a functionality and quality assurance perspective, so all you have to do is make sure you’re happy with it.

Launch day!

Yes, you made it! Set your website live and simply watch the orders pour in.

Okay, it might not be quite that easy. But your shiny new website is all ready to go!

Maintaining your eCommerce site

As nice as it would be to be able just to leave it there, your website will need maintenance. If you need to change any elements or if there are any problems, you’ll need a developer on hand who can fix them.

If you don’t have anyone in-house, your best option is to hire a digital agency. They’ll have people who specialise in different elements of maintaining your website to ensure all you have to do is fill those orders.

Responsive Design

According to CyberCrew, by the end of 2020, around 66.7% of all UK shoppers were using their mobile phones to order new products. While this number may have declined slightly since, it’s a good indicator of how prevalent mobile sales (or mCommerce) are in the modern world.

If your eCommerce web design and development are responsive, you know you can meet the demands of your buyers. A responsive website also means you won’t need to run separate mobile and desktop websites, and mobile-friendliness is an important ranking factor for Google.

Plan Your Peripherals

There are a few other bits and pieces you’ll need to keep in mind when developing and designing a retail and eCommerce website to ensure it all goes smoothly.

Content and SEO

To ensure your business gets found online by the right people – that is, your target demographic – you’ll want to make sure your site has lots of high-quality content and is optimised for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). Basically, this is what you do to get your page ranking highly in the search results.

Security and GDPR

When you’re running a retail and eCommerce business, your customers will likely input sensitive information such as personal information and bank or credit card details. It’s up to you to ensure that you’re keeping that data secure and encrypted and that your website complies with all the relevant GDPR precautions.


It’s not practical or cost-effective to code every single thing on your website; you’ll likely need to integrate some third-party systems or tools. This might be for text translation, currency exchange or payment options, like adding PayPal.

If you’re on OpenCart, check out our top 11 OpenCart extensions to see how easily you can augment your website!

Running a business is complex, with many different avenues to consider alongside eCommerce website development. With Welford, you can ensure your website is created, designed and maintained to your specification, all in one place.

We can help you grow your business.
Contact us today.