How To Create An E-Commerce Store
This is an easy one for Wealthy Affiliate members. Most are using a WordPress based theme for their blogs and niche websites, so they can very quickly use some plugins I will discuss to have their shop up and running literally in minutes...
You have already completed all the setup procedures for your website, and using some special free plugins you can add the features of a shop to that website. It will do all the hard labor for you and track orders, customers, product, etc.
Of course there are other options that you can consider if you want to have a separate store apart from your affiliate marketing website, and I will cover briefly some options out there, but I want to focus for Wealthy Affiliate members on the easiest and fastest way to get their store up and running after I mention them here...
Hosted/Self Hosted Solutions
As a member of Wealthy Affiliate, you can set up your website right here and save additional costs that other store owners will have. This would be a self-hosted website/shop that is not using a framework from a service other than your host SiteRubix and WordPress.
If you decided to go with a hosted service, on the other hand, your shop will be stored on an external website other than your own. The domain may be yours or it may be a sub-domain the host provides you.
In reality this is kind of like adding a profile to a social media site. You will have less work to get it all stood up, but it also means you’ll have a little less flexibility and more expenses likely that will go up as you grow your store.
There is one more consideration about using a hosted service - you do not own the store. Anything could happen and you could lose your entire store in a minute. Using the solution I am going to recommend, you control the store and its data and products, and can back it up and restore it any time.
Here are some of the top hosted platforms:
Shopify is by far one of the most popular ecommerce solutions around and is one that nearly everyone has heard of. Like WordPress, it comes with a huge amount of support, plugins and themes meaning that you can tailor it to your exact needs and meaning that there are plenty of ways you can boost your sales.
Some of these plugins let you do powerful things like tracking your visitors and integrating email marketing, or like selling digital products and delivering them automatically. They are handy and help you appear professional to the online shopper.
It does lack some of the customization of self-hosted solutions however. For example, there’s no option to create your own custom checkout page. These limitations may not be apparent at the start, and when they do pop up, you will have to decide if changing platforms is worth the effort...
In terms of products, Shopify can support up to 5,000 different items, which is more than enough for most purposes. The basic Shopify membership is free but you likely will need to pay as you upgrade to more advanced features that you will want. Also as your business grows, your costs will too. Still, it’s not prohibitive.
Bigcommerce is hosted much like Shopify and is also suitable for up to 5,000 products. It’s another solid choice but falls a little short of Shopify thanks to a higher price point. Moreover, Bigcommerce is less well-known than Shopify.
This means that it doesn’t have quite the same number of plugins or features. If you want to create a store that is in any way unusual, you should probably check first to make sure that Bigcommerce can support whatever it is that you’re planning on doing.
Bigcommerce has one big advantage though and that’s that it provides excellent support for international payments out of the box. This might be a big deal if you plan on selling to the US and the UK for example and don’t know whether to display your prices in dollars or GBP.
I have stores that sell globally and operate out of Europe and Asia, so it is very important that this feature is included for the shoppers. They may come from Germany (where our company is based) or Thailand (where the sister company is located) to anywhere else between...
There are also some self-hosted solutions other than Wordpress I will mention you could consider...
Magento is one of the best hosted solutions around in terms of its customization and features and is an excellent choice if you want to build something very unique with lots of power under the hood.
This is the option that the big businesses with lots of money and tons of stock will want to use. If you have aspirations of taking on Amazon (you’re mad), then Magento is the best non-custom-built option.
Magento supports up to 50,000 items and is installed independently from your WordPress site on your server (likely not possible from SiteRubix BTW)...
The downside of this platform is that it’s very fiddly and confusing if you’re a new user. In other words, unless you have a good development team behind you or you’re a developer yourself, you should probably stick with something easier at least to begin with.
And this is where I add a couple of points to ponder:
(1) When setting up your business always think about the ‘path of least resistance’. Don’t make extra work for yourself just because you want the pride of taking the less easy route – it’s not good business.
(2) Focus on keeping your overheads (time and money) low and getting quickly to the point where you can reliably start making money. Don’t let ego get in the way of good business sense!
That brings me to my recommended solution for Wealthy Affiliate members...
WooCommerce is the self-hosted option that I would recommend for you. What makes this such a great choice is that it is actually a WordPress theme if you chose to create a totally different website. You just install the free WooCommerce base theme as you would do any other WordPress theme and from there, you’ll have your store!
If you did choose to move to this theme, the store that is created will ‘replace’ the website you already have. You might want to use a subdomain or a separate secondary domain for your shop and create a separate website, then link the two together rather then install the entire theme on your current blog website. Note that even if you do replace your site theme you can still have a blog on the store too.
Like WordPress and like Shopify, WooCommerce has tons of support and an endless number of themes and plugins. This will make running your store significantly easier and makes it another great choice from a business perspective. There are many features you can add to your store using plugins to make your store look professional and unique.
One limitation of WooCommerce has though is that it can only stock 500 items max as of this tutorial and from my understanding. This won’t be a problem for most of you starting out but if you have plans to expand over time it’s something you certainly might want to consider.
In my case, with our stores we are focusing by region so do not envision going over the 500 product threshold in the forseeable future. It is something that I and my partner discussed as we were planning our e-commerce business...
Other Options To Look At...
Volusion is a WordPress plugin but I’s also somewhat unique in a number of ways. That’s because it isn’t just an ecommerce but is also an email autoresponder and more. Volusion lets you track our visitors and your leads and see who is looking at your products and who is reading your emails.
Volusion is something that many internet marketer types might feel quite at home with but note that it’s not particularly powerful or feature packed when compared with other ecommerce solutions and is really only suitable for small numbers of products.
MY NUMBER ONE CHOICE FOR WEALTHY AFFILIATE MEMBERS - THE WOO-COMMERCE PLUGIN
On many themes you can simply add the free woo-commerce plugin and using it create store pages on your current website quickly. It is best to check prior to installing and activating the plugin to make sure that you will not break your site.
That plugin will take you through a set up process and within 5 monutes you can have the pages automatically created and added to your website, and then add in your products and payment service (i..e. PayPal)...
For most Wealthy Affiliate members this is the ultimate option I would recommend. It is fast, easy, simple to use and understand, and it plain works (and again, it's free)...