With online sales skyrocketing over the past few years, now is the time to give e-commerce a shot. Here are some options to get started.
If you’re a small business owner looking to sell products or services online, you’ve come to the right place. With online sales skyrocketing over the past few years, now is the time to give e-commerce a shot. There are 5 main options for creating an online store. We’ll discuss each below and also give you an approximate cost for each option.
1. Simple PayPal Button
The easiest way to set up a basic online store is to simply use PayPal’s standard payment option, which is included with every free PayPal plan. Basically, if you have a PayPal account, you can download PayPal’s HTML code that allows you to put a payment button on your website pages. You can change prices, and if you have multiple products/services, just add additional buttons. When customers click the button, they will be sent to PayPal’s site to checkout and pay.
For $30/month, you can upgrade to PayPal Pro, which lets users pay with their credit cards or PayPal directly on your business website.
Cost: Free setup + 2.9% and flat fee of $0.30 per transaction ($30/month for PayPal Pro)
2. Use a site like Etsy or Facebook
Probably one of the easiest and cheapest ways to set up an online store is to use Etsy.com. With Etsy, you simply put in some information about yourself or your business, add items, and then start selling. It’s a bit more complicated to get sales, but it gives you an idea of how it works. There are no monthly fees. However, Etsy is a much more product-focused site, especially for handmade items and crafting supplies.
You can also create an online store via Facebook; although it will cost you a bit more than Etsy (unless you only want to sell 10 products or less). If you have a Facebook page for your business, you can directly integrate your store on this page. Some dedicated website builders and e-commerce sites (discussed in more detail below) include a free Facebook Shop when you pay for their traditional online store service.
Both Etsy and Facebook have built-in customer bases and have already created a shop for you. Just plug in your products and go.
Cost: Etsy = 0.20 per listing and 3.5% of the total transaction. Facebook costs vary, depending on the store service you use (around $15-$30/month + credit card processing fee per transaction)
3. Website Builder
If you want to build an online store for yourself, a website builder is your easiest and cheapest option. Although creating a website used to be reserved for experts, today’s drag-and-drop builders allow anyone to create an attractive website in less than an hour with little technological know-how.
Most website builders allow you to sell 1-5 products on their free plan (if they have one). However, almost all website builders also have an online store/ecommerce plan, which allows you to sell more products and gives you dedicated ecommerce tools. Of course, it also costs more (around $15-30 per month). Here is a comparison table of the main website builders.
Cost: Around $15-$30/month for plans with online store/e-commerce features
If you’re tech-savvy and want to create a highly personalized online store for your business, WordPress gives you the most options. You can modify almost every aspect of your business website and online store. Moreover, by using WordPress plugins, you can add almost any functionality to your site through third-party sources.
However, there are a few drawbacks. First, WordPress has quite a steep learning curve and is not intended for people with reduced mobility. Second, you need to set up the hosting and custom domain yourself. While it’s not too difficult, it’s more of a process than with a self-hosted website builder. Third, e-commerce functionality is provided through plugins; it is not integrated with WordPress. Although most e-commerce plugins are very well integrated, there is still one step to understand.
If you’re willing to do the extra work and hassle up front, you can create a unique and compelling online store.
Cost: Free platform but ($5-$15/mo for hosting and custom domain)
Related article: How to Develop an Ecommerce Strategy
5. Dedicated e-commerce platform
If you’re a business looking to make online sales a major goal of your business, a dedicated e-commerce platform (e.g. Shopify, BigCommerce, etc.) may be right for you. These online store providers are sales-oriented, and their features and services reflect this focus. Although the basic plans are similar to a general website builder’s eCommerce plan, their premium plans include a variety of sophisticated tools.
Abandoned cart recovery is one such feature. It automatically sends a coupon to the customer when he added items to his cart but did not actually get paid. Additionally, premium plans have real-time shipping calculators for all major shipping methods, integration with other online selling platforms (e.g. Etsy, Ebay, and Facebook). ), highly advanced reporting and top notch customer support.
In other words, if you want to become an online sales force to be reckoned with, dedicated e-commerce platforms have all the features to get you there.
Cost: $20 – $200/month (depending on the level of features and services provided)
For most small businesses, website builder e-commerce plans are a good balanced option. However, there are many services and platforms to meet the needs of businesses with selling needs on the minimum or maximum side of the spectrum. Most manufacturers/sites offer a free trial period. Use it and see if you like what you get before committing to it long term.