Starting An E-Commerce Site Complete Guide

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Complete Guide To Starting An E-Commerce Site/Store

A few days back, Megha shared an exclusive guide on launching your first online stock. Today, I’m carrying the series by sharing this complete guide for Starting An E-Commerce Site/Store. There’s a ton of work that goes into setting up an e-commerce shop, but it’s worth the try. Offering your products online, means they can extend to anyone with an internet connection.

It also means that more people will be capable to discover you, maybe from a Google search, or from social media. Whether you’re selling physical goods (T-shirts, posters) or digital goods (e-books, illustrations), an e-commerce website will help you find your customers.

Thanks to WordPress, building an e-commerce website is easy. With the proper tools, your online shop can launch in just a few days — or even a few hours.

WordPress has provided two major e-commerce platforms for creating shops online:

  1. WooCommerce
  2. WP eCommerce

In addition to these two, hundreds of plugins have been created to add extra functionality to each of these programs. It can be overwhelming to generate started with the technical side of building an e-commerce website, so it’s good to start with the basics.  You can figure out later, which extra features or functions you want to add to your online store.

Best WordPress E-Commerce platforms:

Platforms refer to the application, tool, or plugin you’ll be using to hunt down your shop.  There are many e-commerce platforms, but just a few are worth using for the long haul. Each business owner receives a different need, so it’s important to understand one’s needs before choosing a platform.

1- WooCommerce

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is the most popular and most user-friendly platform for WordPress e-commerce sites.  It’s easy to use, supports both physical and digital products, and delivers lots of add-ons and plugins. In 2015, 78.4% of e-commerce sites built on WordPress used WooCommerce.

In addition to its user-friendly interface, WooCommerce is packed with excellent characteristics and constant product improvement.  The newest version of commerce is probably the best one so far.

2- WP eCommerce 

WP eCommerce

With WooCommerce leading the pack, why would anyone want to practice something like WP eCommerce? Because features like advanced checkout and table rate shipping are free, while you have to purchase an add-on to use the same features in WooCommerce.

Some business owners might find that while WP eCommerce is not their primary alternative, it may be more beneficial to their selling process.

3- Easy Digital Downloads Plugin

Easy Digital Downloads Plugin

While the first two programs allow you to sell both digital and physical products, Easy Digital Downloads focuses on digital products only.  This platform suits artists, writers, and other entrepreneurs who sell non-physical products like e-books, digital art, and music.

Downloading products require a specific way of purchasing, and this plugin makes that process as uncomplicated as possible. It supports multiple and repeat downloads, as well as payment gateways like PayPal, Stripe, and Amazon.

4- Shopify

Shopify

If you want the most comfortable and fastest way to build an online store, Shopify is your best option. Not only does it provide you with simple steps to start selling in minutes, it also offers free hosting.

This means you simply need to buy a domain name for your shop, and Shopify will give it a home on the web.  This service is provided with a monthly subscription, starting at $13/month. With the basic account, you get unlimited product uploads, unlimited file storage, and 24/7 customer support.

E-Commerce Payment Gateways:

A payment gateway is the feature that allows payment for your wares.  This is normally done with PayPal, credit card, or online payment services like Stripe or Braintree.

Not all platforms provide the same payment gateways, so you need to look at this feature when selecting a platform. Some platforms require an add-on to include specific payment gateways.  For instance, you necessitate to purchase a $79 extension to add Google Wallet to WooCommerce.

PayPal

The most common payment gateway for e-commerce is PayPal. It’s free to use, and anyone can sign up for the service.  Most platforms have a built-in PayPal payment gateway so you can use this feature directly.

If you’re not using an e-commerce platform, you can embed PayPal buttons anywhere on your website with the code provided by PayPal.  If you use WordPress, there are even more mutations of the PayPal button that you can set up via plugins.

Authorize.net

Authorize.net is a payment gateway for direct credit card payments — without the demand to create a PayPal account.  Payments can be attained with a credit card or with an electronic check.  The amount is then transmitted to the seller via a bank account.

Authorize.net supports all major credit cards like Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diner’s Club, and JCB. It also supports PayPal, Apple Pay, and Visa Checkout.  The service also provides automated billing for monthly subscriptions, as well as fraud prevention technology.

While all these things sound great, Authorize.net is a costly payment gateway.  It’s great for an established business, but not for little businesses or solo entrepreneurs.  It costs $49 to set up Authorize.net from your website.

Stripe

Stripe is a complimentary alternative to Authorize.net since it also allows credit card payments.  It does, however, charge a flat charge per unit per transaction (2.9% + 30 cents).  The flat rate is charged only when a transaction takes place. Stripe doesn’t require a monthly subscription, and it’s a free extension to WooCommerce.

But do note that your website needs to have an SSL certificate to ensure that your customers’ credit card information is safe.  Another downside is that Stripe is only available in a few countries (including the US, the UK, Canada, Germany, Ireland, and the Netherlands). You can see if Stripe is available in your country on this page.

Shop Customization

Any shop owner wants their shop to look nice, and then it is expected that many plugins for WordPress are created with this purpose.  Customizing an e-commerce store is more complicated than a regular website, as there are many other things to look at.

  1. Does the shop look clean and organized?
  2. Can a customer easily find an item?
  3. Are the products presented in the best means possible?

Here are some tools to help you make a beautiful online store:

Themes:

There are many themes designed specifically for e-commerce websites.  WooCommerce offers free and premium themes on their internet site.

There are also many themes that work with any e-commerce platform. You can also search the WordPress directory for root words that suit your e-commerce platform’s design.

Choosing the right theme helps establish your brand’s image while improving client experience.  WooCommerce Storefront Theme is free and appears clean and polished.

woocommerce storefront theme

Product interaction:

The stars of your shop are your products, and then they should be clear and easy to interact with.

Plugins like WooCommerce Image Zoom and WooCommerce Image Hover allows users to take a closer look at your wares.  WooCommerce Quick View allows a user to find a bigger image when hovering over an image.

Some customers might want to see more products on the same cover, so plugins like WooCommerce Product Slider can give your site this feature.  You’ll give away even more gallery customization options when you search the WordPress plugin directory for a specific feature.

There are also plugins that take care of the overall feel of your store.  One example is a Customize WooCommerce Shop, which allows you to modify the design of your shop’s product, checkout, shop, and shopping cart pages.

Advanced Customizations and Extended functionality:

While e-commerce platforms try to offer basic (and some advanced) features, these are sometimes not enough for a shop owner.  For instance, non-US sellers might want a customized shipping rate calculator for their state.

Sellers with digital goods might not require to use the default Add to cart button and would prefer a Download button instead.  Maybe some sellers want to apply a discount to their products during a limited time. This is where useful plugins like Booster for WooCommerce and WooEnhancer can help you out.

booster for woocommerce

These “boosters” are a way to disable default features found in the e-commerce platform while adding more features.  Most of these plugins offer features for free, but some advanced configurations may require an ascent to a Pro version of the plugin.

Creating an E-Commerce Website

Setting up an online store can be a long and slow process, but it’s a great learning experience.  It’s important that you are aware of how one platform is different from another, and then you can create the shop that you really want for your audience.

You want to make sure that you’re producing the best possible store that your customers will find both informative and easy to navigate.  Learning about the many tools available (from design to functionality) will assist you decide what you want your store to be.

In the end, offering your products online should be a trouble-free experience for your customers.  This way, you’ll bring loyal customers who will keep coming back for more.

Are you an e-commerce entrepreneur?  What tips would you like to add to this inclination? Please let me know in the comments below.

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