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eCommerce Website Development

The eCommerce stands for electronic commerce i.e., the process of buying and selling products online is called eCommerce. eCommerce allows consumers to buy, sell or expand business without geographical barriers. Over past decade, the eCommerce has developed exponentially.

In early 1960s, IBM has introduced the process called OLTP (Online Transaction Processing), that facilitates and manages application for transaction processing. Semi-Automatic Business Research Environment (SABRE) was one of the major applications, then, which was developed for American Airlines for online ticket reservation. However, the first ever generic eCommerce transaction was registered on 11th August, 1994, where a man named Don Kohn sold a music CD to his friend on his website NetMarket. From then, officially, the term eCommerce took pace and has been extended over every possible point in making business.

In order to provide these online services, a platform is needed, which is nothing but an eCommerce website. There are many eCommerce websites available. Examples are Amazon, Alibaba, JingDong, Zalando, Flipkart, Jabon, Myntra etc. These are colloquially called online eCommerce stores. eCommerce has become a business model as soon as online transactions over past two and half decade increased.

Types of Online eCommerce stores:

The eCommerce business models can be classified usually into 5 types, as follows.

Business-to-Business (B2B) model:

A transaction is assessed as Business-to-Business model when both the seller and buyer are business entities. Usually, there are three cases in the B2B model.

  • A business buying a product from another business for production purposes. For example, a bike manufacturing firm buying iron from a metal firm for production of bikes.
  • A business buying a service from another business for operational purposes. For example, an IT company acquiring security services of a security agency.
  • A business reselling products bought from another business. For example, a supermarket buying products from different manufacturers.

Business-to-Consumer (B2C) model:

A transaction is assessed as Business-to-Consumer model, when the buyer is the end user. As mentioned in the third case of B2B model, a supermarket buys products from manufacturers. These product are sold directly to the customer, which is nothing but B2C model. If this buyer also maintains an online eCommerce store, then it is the B2C eCommerce model. Usually, B2B is followed by B2C model. The transactions made by an end user in a shop fall under the B2C model.

Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C) model:

A transaction is assessed as Consumer-to-Consumer model, when both the seller and buyer are end consumers. For example, you want to sell your bike. So, you choose to sell it on an online platform like OLX or Craigslist i.e., as a consumer of an end product, you are able to sell the product online. Typically, when a user wants to sell an already owned product, the business model is defined as C2C model.

Business-to-Administration (B2A) model:

A transaction is assessed as Business-to-Administration model, when the transaction is between a business and a public administrative body; anyone of them can be a buyer or seller. This is also called Business-to-Government (B2G) model. E-procurement is the most common example that falls under B2A model. The procurement process has three elements, which are usually denoted as RFx. RFx stands for Request For x, where x can be information, proposal or quotation - RFI, RFP or RFQ. When all the transactions made for these elements are online, then this is denoted as eRFx - electronic-RFx.

Consumer-to-Administration (C2A) model:

A transaction is assessed as Consumer-to-Administration (C2A) model, when one of the seller and buyer is the end user and the other is public administrative body. Whenever we pay bill to the service provided by the government, the business model is classified as C2A model. Paying the current bill, telephone bill, tax filing etc are the examples of C2A model, where the government is the seller and the end user is the consumer. On the other hand, in the contexts like road expansion, the government acquires land from the end user, where the end consumer is seller and the government is the buyer. If all of these transactions are made online, then they fall under the C2A eCommerce model.

Elements of Online eCommerce store:

When you own an online eCommerce store, there are certain requirements to be met, in order to run the store smoothly. These are usually written as elements of online eCommerce store. With the inspiration drawn from the online eCommerce websites like Amazon and Alibaba, many online stores came up. But, they couldn’t continue their services for a long time. Here are the list of elements to establish a good online eCommerce store.

Product Management:

Product management involves in a series of steps that allows a store to deliver a complete product to the customer. It also involves in understanding the reception of the product in the market and taking necessary actions when the product is not well received by the consumers. All of these activities are taken care by the Product Manager (PM). A PM works for the amplification of the sales revenue and profit margins of the company. The PM also analyzes the market trend, requirements if the consumer and the effect of the product over the market. The PM is also responsible for shutting down the supply of a product if it is not performing well in the market.

In an online environment, the PM is responsible for several other factors. Online store can be made available to the consumers in different forms - through an online website or mobile app. The PM takes care of both of these platforms, the payment gateways and other problems involved in online transaction.

Shopping cart:

Shopping cart should be simple for the user to checkout easily, may be within very few clicks. It should provided necessary checkout options. It should provide the options adding and removing multiple products at the same time. On the other hand, it should also provide the options like wishlist and save for later, as the consumer may not be completely up to buying the product at the instant. In simple words, the online shopping cart should be as flexible as the offline cart we carry in a supermarket.

Payment gateway:

Payment gateway is the service provided by the merchant, that facilitates, accepts and approves payment via different means - credit card, debit card, wallet payments, internet banking, PayPal payments etc. All of these monetary transactions should be secure. Hence, the payment gateway provides security using different encryption algorithms like SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption. CC Avenue, PayU Money, EBS and Instamojo are the most common payment gateways available in India.

Logistics and Delivery:

Logistics is the management of product that facilitate delivery of the product from the source to the destination. When a consumer orders a product online, it is to be delivered on time, to the location mentioned. Logistics involves in packaging the product, transporting and collecting at warehouse. Delivery is the extended part of Logistics. There are two types of logistics - Inbound and outbound.

Inbound logistics involves in movement of raw material and inventory, that are helpful in manufacturing a product whereas outbound logistics involves in the movement of a complete product to the end user. For example, the logistics of movement of iron from the iron suppliers to the bike manufacturing units fall under inbound logistics whereas a delivery agent delivering the product, which was ordered online, to the customer falls under outbound logistics.

Supply chain management:

Supply Chain (SC) is the flow of manufacturing an end product out of the very raw materials. Managing the flow of Supply Chain is called Supply Chain Management (SCM). It involves in several steps. Following are the generic steps of SCM.

  • Raw materials - Gathering raw materials required for manufacturing the product.
  • Supplier - The raw materials are to be sent to the supplier in order to start production.
  • Manufacturing - With a complex procedure, a final product is manufactured.
  • Distribution - The final product is distributed among the retail stores in order to reach the end customers.
  • Retail location - Once acquiring the order, the end products are shifted to the retail location so that the original business can be initiated i.e., selling to the end customer.
  • Customer - A customer visits the retailer and purchases the product.

Once the customers start using the product, the sales of the product decide the success factor of the product. As mentioned earlier, the Product Manager follows up the product trend in the market.

eCommerce Government Regulations:

As eCommerce has become the most common mode of purchasing commodities, the Govt. of India has imposed certain regulations in order to provide a transparent and stainfree electronic payments. These eCommerce regulations are applied to the business on-top-of general business regulations.

Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007

The Payment and Settlement Systems Act 2007 nominates the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to enable online payments. There are three terms defined in this act - ‘Payment System’, ‘System Provider’ and ‘System Participant’, where these terms are defined in the sections 2(i), 2(q) and 2(p), respectively, as follows:

  • A Payment System means a system that enables payment to be effected between a payer and a beneficiary, involving clearing, payment or settlement service or all of them, but does not include a stock exchange.
  • A System Provider is defined as a person who operates an authorized payment system.
  • A System Participant is defined as a bank or any other person participating in the payment system and includes the system provider.
Payment and Settlement Systems Regulations, 2008

If a firm wants to set up a payment system, then it has to comply with the Payment and Settlement System Regulations, 2008, after which an “authorization certificate” is issued. It takes a maximum of six months in order to complete the process of acquiring the authorization certificate, where RBI reserves the rights to commission an inquiry in order to verify the authenticity of the information provided in the application. If the verification results are negative, RBI reserves the right to cancel the application.

There are other RBI guidelines to be followed, under Section 38 of Payment and Settlement Systems Regulations Act 2007. The norms like Know Your Customer (KYC), Anti Money Laundering (AML) and Combating of Financing of Terrorism (CFT) were also introduced to provide secure online payments.

These are just the basics of the eCommerce government regulations. There are many sections and subsections that provide different aspects of eCommerce regulations in India.

Why to build online eCommerce website?

There are many advantages in building and maintaining an eCommerce website, here they are listed.

Expanded reach - Internet has no barriers do does eCommerce i.e., the products sold on the eCommerce website can be across the globe. This helps to reach more potential customers when compared to offline business. When more customers are coming in for purchase, the business can be expanded easily.

Ease of targeting customers - With the help of tools available on the internet, a product can reach the target customers, which results in effective and more possibly potential business. For example, men are the target customers for a shaving cream, so women are for lipsticks. With the help of internet, it can be made sure that the shaving cream advertisement reaches only men and lipstick advertisement does women.

Acquire goods on order - In real-time we never know the requirement. For an offline business, if a customer needs high volumes of delivery of a quantity, then it’s not possible to accommodate those goods before hand. For an online business, there is hardly a need to maintain a product in stock. The goods can be acquired as soon as and as many as the customer orders.

Eliminate need of cash - As the world is evolving digital, online stores eliminate the need of maintaining in-hand cash, when you want to shop. No more bulky wallets or cards to carry.

Low financial cost - The cost of starting up an online business is very less when compared to that of an offline business. All the cost need to setup the physical infrastructure can be invested into advertising the business. All it takes is an eCommerce website, a payment gateway and maintenance of the website. In the modern day, building and maintaining an eCommerce website has become so easy that they are available as readymade services, at pretty affordable prices.

24/7 income - When it is an offline business, at least a day off is needed for any reason. But in an online eCommerce business, there is no need to take an off, as the online store or website will be available 24/7, which is becomes a potential income and business.

Option to display best sellers - In an offline business, it becomes hard to display the best seller, though it is not guaranteed that the product is really suitable to a customer. But in online stores, the target customer and their interests can be identified. This helps display the best sellers to the customers based upon their purchase history.

Personalised shopping experience - For example, a customer is visiting your eCommerce store just for buying a specific category of products, then it becomes easy to personalise the products based upon the category of the customer choice.

Lesser man power - For an offline business, the maintenance is a big deal. But, in the online eCommerce business, the maintenance is only in terms of software i.e., maintaining the web servers and the website can suffice. This ultimately results in lesser man power requirements, when compared to that of the offline stores.

Lesser advertisement effort - With online eCommerce stores, there is no need to advertise on physical medium like newspapers and on streets. Digital advertisement is enough, where the advertisement can reach maximum of the target customers within a stipulated time.

How to architect an eCommerce website development?

With all these advantages of online eCommerce website, the next land is on architecting and eCommerce website development. There are nine generic steps to follow in creating a successful eCommerce website. Most of the modern day eCommerce websites follow these steps to start their business with an eCommerce website.

  • Create your product - You first need a product or a set of products for your eCommerce website. You don’t need to invest some more bucks in order to create yet-another-amazon like eCommerce website. Do some research to launch a product that has good demand and really needed to be sold online. Gather opinions and check out if there are any similar products available. Estimate and establish market for the product. Finally, make sure that you are selling a not very common product.
  • Determine the pricing - Pricing play a major role in the market for a product and so is to be the effort put into it. Observe similar kind of products available in the market and enquire the prices. Study the production of the and the methods to minimize the production cost of the product so that you can sell the product with at least break even price. For fixing the price consider the parameters like price for website development, price for hosting, price for payment gateways, price for advertisement, shipping cost and above all, a minimal profit percentage at the initial stages. If you are launching a new product, do a tight research about the requirement and market of the product to fix the price.
  • Choose shipping option - Shipping is also a major factor in an online eCommerce business. For example, if a customer from abroad buys a product from the Indian store, the cost for delivering the product is high. So, first decide the delivery range and then decide the method of shipping. A research says that more than 45% of the customers dropped purchasing the product just because of high shipping cost.
  • Choose web hosting platform - There are many hosting service providers like Godaddy and Hostgator, that are specific to eCommerce applications. But all of these platforms charge different fees. Choose one of them based upon the budget and the requirements like expected visitors and size of the list of products.
  • Choose a perfect domain name - The domain name is going to create the impression that lasts ever to a customer. This is the brand that you are going to live your store. Think of a unique and creative name that reflects your product and the brand. If you want to start an international store, prefer the .com extension otherwise prefer the regional extensions like .in, .au etc. Yeah, sometimes, fancy domains cost too much but stick to your budget and select a domain name accordingly.
  • Build the eCommerce website - Usually, the hosting platform you choose comes up with applications that help you develop an eCommerce website without putting much effort or develop from the scratch. If you are not satisfied with the available desing or tools, then go for a custom development but stick to the budget, as sometimes it may cost too much. Develop the content that crystal clearly explains your motive establishing the eCommerce website, the products available and their speciality, and everything that add value to your website.
  • Setup a merchant account - In real-time, the customers may choose different methods for payment. As a merchant, you should be able to accumulate the payments, irrespective of the method of payment - a merchant account is exactly what you need for the purpose. The big brands like Chase and PayPal and the budget brands like BluePay and PaySimple can help you maintain transaction via a merchant account.
  • Get SSL certificate - With respect to frauds taking place over the internet, the standard encryption to provide secure transactions, SSL helps. An SSL certified eCommerce website enhances trustworthiness upon the website, as the SSL encryption hides all the sensitive information about the transaction. Personally, I don’t prefer a website that has no SSL certificate.
  • Start selling - Once you complete all the steps mentioned above, you are ready with an online eCommerce website to start your business.

Apart from these generic steps, there are other specific steps that add value to you online eCommerce website. For example, you can add the facility of coupons for promotions. You can add referral points for maximum mouth publicity. You can add discounts or cashback when you tie up with particular payment gateway or with a particular banking medium. It all depends upon how dynamic you run your eCommerce website.

Technologies for eCommerce website development:

Though there are different applications for creating eCommerce website on-the-go, not every time it is possible. So, depending upon the requirement, you may wish to develop the website from scratch. The next section deals with the most popular eCommerce website development technologies. PHP, Python and Ruby are the technologies being discussed.

PHP: Hypertext Processor:

PHP is one of the mostly used platform independent server-side scripting language. The major advantage of PHP is that it is compatible with most of the web applications. PHP provides standard templates and plugins that are extremely helpful in the development of an eCommerce website with ease. It uses a Model-view-controller architecture, which helps it to develop effective user interfaces and helps in speeding up the development process.

PHP provides a wide range of frameworks that support online eCommerce website development. OpenCart, Shopify, X cart, osCommerce and Magento are the most commonly used PHP frameworks for the development of an online eCommerce websites.


Shopify is also a PHP framework that allows the developers to create customized eCommerce websites. It is a completely cloud-based framework, which make the merchants relieve from the hectic maintenance and upgradations. Following are the features of Shopify.

  • Accessible from any location
  • Provides extensive social media sharing options
  • Supports wide range of local languages
  • Supports custom domain name
  • Require very basic or no knowledge about software development
X cart:

X cart is an open source template engine, developed from PHP. It is distributed as an SaaS model i.e., Software-as-a-Service model. Following are the features of X cart.

  • Supports easy integration with shipping carriers
  • X-payment module allows 39 more payment providers
  • Supports fraud screening for payments

osCommerce is the PHP framework for eCommerce, distributed with GNU General Public License. It can function on any web server that is installed with PHP and MySQL. Following are the features of osCommerce.

  • Supports unlimited products and categories
  • Supports physical and virtual products
  • Supports sending newsletters
  • Analytics for merchants
  • Automatic updation in currency rates

Magento is one of the most commonly used PHP frameworks for eCommerce, with more than 30k merchants using it. It offers flexibility and control over each of the functionalities of an online eCommerce store. Following are the features of Magento:

  • Supports localization
  • Supports wide range of currencies available across the world
  • Different roles can be allocated, instead of making a direct admin
  • Provides web services APIs for easy integration with the third party apps
  • Provides flexible tax management system complying the international market
Following are the advantages of PHP eCommerce website:
  • Lesser investment - As PHP is an open source language, there is no need to pay for licenses. This completely cuts the development cost with respect to licenses.
  • Rich frameworks - The PHP frameworks allow the developers to develop responsive, customizable and scalable eCommerce websites.
  • Secure in nature - PHP comes with built-in security. It supports data security through encryption algorithms like SSL.
  • Analytics - The PHP frameworks allow the merchants to get the analytics like geographical location, gender, age, device used etc.
  • Community support - PHP has one of the largest communities for support, across the globe. With such huge support community, any issue can be easily resolved.

Python for eCommerce website development:

Python is the most commonly used general purpose programming language, as it is easily readable. Python supports wide range of frameworks. Django, Shuup and Cartridge are the most commonly used Python frameworks.


Django is an open source Python framework, which is very well used for eCommerce website development. Following are the features of Django framework.

  • Supports any kind of product types
  • Provides wide range of catalogue support
  • Supports customizable products
  • Supports comprehensive dashboards
  • Supports split payments and batch shippings
  • Supports wide range of payment gateways, including PayPal

Shuup is a community driven open source PHP framework designed especially for eCommerce websites. Following are the features of Shuup.

  • Supports local currency and taxation systems
  • Supports notifications to the customers
  • Supports different types of discounts

Cartridge is a shopping cart application developed from Django. In order to provide simple mechanism for developing an eCommerce website, it does not support every possible feature. It supports the most commonly used features for eCommerce website. Following are the features of Cartridge.

  • Supports hierarchical categories
  • PDF invoice generation
  • Facilitates stock control
  • Thumbnail generation
  • Supports smart categories
  • Supports configurable checkout steps

Ruby for eCommerce website development:

Ruby on Rails (ROR) is the framework developed from Ruby, which uses the MVC pattern. Convention over Configuration (CoC) and Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY) are the principles of Ruby.

  • Object oriented - Just like Python, Ruby also considers everything as an object. The most primitive entities like strings and boolean values are also considered as objects. This means that everything is a class in Ruby, which has a superclass.
  • Dynamic - Unlike C and similar languages, Ruby is capable of modifying the values when the program itself is running. This is called the dynamic nature of Ruby.
  • Singleton classes - Every object in Ruby comes with two classes, by default - regular class and singleton class. A singleton class that has single object at a time is called singleton class. These singleton classes are nameless and are created by the Ruby interpreter itself.
  • Metaprogramming - Ruby is capable of accepting another Ruby program as data, which is usually called Metaprogramming. This enables Ruby to be a dynamic programming language.
  • Flexibility - Ruby allows methods to be added to the existing classes without the need of creating subclasses. This can be used for redefining the behavior of the program during runtime.
  • Variables and Scope - The concept of variables and the scope does not exist in Ruby. A variable can be declared on-the-go and can be used as soon as it is declared.

Ruby on Rails, Padrino, Sinatra, NYNY, Nancy, Cuba and Grape are the most commonly used frameworks developed from Ruby. All of these frameworks provide wide range of business utilities in order to create a good website.

Content Management System (CMS):

The term Content Management System is pretty explanatory itself i.e., it the method used for managing the digital content available in a website. A CMS should allows the user to publish the content, modify it, maintain content modification history and index the website for search engines. The web content may contain different types of data along with text data - images, videos, maps, cliparts, audio etc. A CMS should enable the user to integrate different kinds of content into the website, in order to provide a complete information to the end-user. A CMS has two components.

Content Management Application (CMA) - A CMA allows a user to work on the content of the website, even with least possible technical skills.

Content Delivery Application (CDA) - As CMA provides an interface to input content to the website, the CDA updates the content to the website in real-time.

There are different CMS platforms that allows user to develop, manage and deliver content effectively. Following are the most commonly used CMS platforms.


Magento is a partially open source CMS platform that offers increased control over the content to the user. Pages, staging, design, content blocks, banners and widgets are the building blocks of Magento as a CMS. Following are the advantages of using Magento as a CMS.

  • Robustness - Magento is capable of providing hosting for 5,00,000 product per single eCommerce website. It can provide unmatched services at the rate of 80,000 orders per hour.
  • Dynamic search options - Magento provides wide range of search options, that can be changed based upon the product category.
  • Supports third party apps - Magento supports installation of third party apps and plugins for enhancing the user experience.
  • Supports mobile eCommerce - As the technology is progressing, mobile eCommerce is also growing extensively. Magento supports mobile eCommerce utilities also.


Prestashop is an eCommerce solution developed under Open Software License (OSL). Being developed in PHP, it uses MySQL as the database management system. The features like its support for themes and modules help it to become one of the most used eCommerce solutions. More than 2,50,000 shops powered by Prestashop are available across the globe, varying over 60 languages. Following are the advantage of Prestashop.

  • Easy setup - Compared to other CMSs, setup and installation of Prestashop is very easy.
  • Appealing backend interface - The backend interface of Prestashop is very appealing and provides easy options for management, when compared to other CMSs.
  • SEO friendly - Prestashop provides full control over the details like URLs, titles, keywords and metatags.


OpenCart, developed with MySQL database and HTML components, allows the merchants to provide cart system to the users, with a minimal cost possible. Following are the advantages of OpenCart.

  • Easy to use
  • Supports coupon code built-in
  • Search engine friendly built-in
  • Free community support
  • Supports wide range of modules and themes


Zencart is a PHP based eCommerce CMS, with MySQL as the database management system. Following are the advantages of Zencart.

  • Fully customizable
  • User friendly
  • Better performance
  • Supports automatic tasks


WooCommerce is a Wordpress plugin that allows the merchants and developers a complete control over the data available in the website. Following are the advantages of WooCommerce.

  • Shipping with no restrictions
  • Extensive payment options
  • Extensions galore
  • Supports subscriptions


Just like many other CMSs, VirtueMart was also developed in PHP with MySQL as the backend. It is the extension of Joomla! It supports unlimited categories of products with unlimited products. It also supports virtual products like music and books. Following are the advantages of VirtueMart.

  • Easy setup and installation
  • Provides wide range of extension and plugins
  • Easy purchase history management

Drupal commerce:

Drupal is an open-source eCommerce software that can be used along with the Drupal CMS. Drupal commerce comes with all the features that are required by a modern day eCommerce website. Following are the advantages of Drupal commerce.

  • Supports developing from scratch or as modules
  • Supports high scalability
  • Less development time
  • Large support community
  • Supports modules as a part of CMS
  • Provides security through encryption
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