With the dwindling economy and no signs of any real progress, I keep saying that the best business to get into is eCommerce. With the rise in online sales, with digital marketing made easy through social media
platforms, and with the convenience it offers you to be your own boss and work from anywhere, there’s no reason not to have an eCommerce business…except for the cost.
Even though eCommerce eliminates the need for a storefront and overhead, there’s still a considerable expense when you factor in a well-oiled website that can offer a (1) clean, engaging, audience specific layout, (2) blog capabilities, (3) cart (4) credit card/PayPal acceptance.
My top pick is WordPress. So many users are already familiar with WordPress’ clean design, easy to navigate functions and adaptable style. You can either design a brand new WordPress site through either templates or coding with custom HTML or CSS, or you can fast forward to a plugin that you can upload to your existing site.
The latter option of simply uploading a plugin is great if you already have a site that thrives but want to be able to sell select products from material goods to digital content. I recommend the GetShopped
plugin. It converts into a useful marketing tool by allowing flexible coupons/discount pricing, sales, quantity discounts, search engine friendly URLs and a new product widget. Users can also cross-sell and implement a “Share This” button. There are some desirable features that GetShopped boasts about, but that are still in development, including integration with Facebook and Marketplace.
After a very easy checkout process, the burden falls in your lap. You have to make sure you’re on top of all the orders. The plugin makes it easy to do that with overview features on your WordPress dashboard, an order history, email notifications and the option to print invoices and packing slips. I also really like that you can export orders and customers into a CSV format.
When it comes to shipping, and area where small business owners often struggle, GetShopped excels by offering varied shipping rates based on domestic/global rates, flat rates, table rates, weight rates – all of which can be calculated with built-in shipping calculators. If you’re thinking about going international, you’ll be limited to Australia (unless you fork over a little more for an upgrade).
After the plugin is installed, users can add products much like they would add a new post. It’s the same layout, so it makes it really easy to catch on no matter how computer or software challenged you might be. GetShopped also accepts all major payment options including Google checkout, PayPal, Authorize.Net, SagePay, PayStations, DPS Payment Express, eWay, iDeal, BluePay and Chrono Pay. Customers have the satisfaction of knowing their transactions are secure with PCI security.
Keep in mind that this is the most basic of online shops. For any extra perks, you’ll have to pay between $25 to a $100 dollars for services you think would be included, such as search filters, Fed Ex Shipments, etc.
This is why the free download is best for the most basic of shops or those offering digital content. For anything more, try the free plugin if you’re just starting out. There’s no point in paying so much out of pocket for a starter business.
If you’re been in the eCommerce trade for a while or have been thinking about it, then consider that the cost of the upgrades is still cheaper than a programmer. The downside is that you’ll be spending valuable time sorting it all out. I recommend you do treat it like a project and do it yourself. In this way, you’ve built your own system and know it from the ground up rather than relinquishing control and hard earned dollars to expensive designers.