What are my options for setting up an online store?

Short answer?

Get a PayPal button!

paypal_logoAssuming you already have a website, adding a standard-account PayPal button can be a simple solution for basic transactions and invoice payments. PayPal is considered safe and legit by most online shoppers.

For a more robust online store (with shipping, invoicing and tax options) consider a PayPal Business account.

  • Upside: A free standard account is a simple, small scale do-it-yourself solution.
  • Downside: No real check-out or shopping cart functionality without an upgrade to a business account.

Cost: Free. A Standard account allows you to accept Visa, MC, AMEX… etc. No monthly fees.

Add $10/mnth for customized check-out (Advanced account) -or- $35/mnth for the Pro package!  Fee details.

Transaction fees: 2.9% plus .30 per transaction.

WooCommerce

woocommerceIf you already have a website running on WordPress, setting up a store, invoicing and shipping options can be done pretty quickly (with a little WordPress knowledge – or – the help of a Freelance website manager).

Here’s an example of what your WooCommerce store might look like.

  • Upside: It’s “free” and it’s all yours! The store, the software, everything is on your site.
  • Downside: Regular maintenance and updates are required to keep things running smoothly and securely.

Cost: WooCommerce is a free plugin, however special shipping, invoicing or taxation add-ons can cost anywhere from $19-$129.

Transaction fees: Regular credit card fees apply depending on which payment method you choose (example: Paypal  = 2.9% plus .30 per transaction).

Try Shopify!

shopify-defaultYou don’t even need an existing website. You build your online store from the templates available and you’re ready to sell. Shopify will even register and setup your domain name. Shipping and tax options are built-in.

  • Upside: Easy to use. Built-in POS.
  • Downside: Cost. Less flexibility.

Cost: $29/mnth (for a Standard account). Shopify is pay-as-you-go, so you can cancel anytime.

Transaction fees:  2.9% plus .30 for credit card transactions (2.7% for in-person transactions).

Ecwid

ecommerce-plugins-ecwidTake a look at Ecwid  (pronounced as “eck-wid”, short for “e-commerce widgets”) to instantly add a store to your existing website. Ecwid ingrates really well with WordPress, Joomla and Wix. Store pages (shop, cart, check-out) are created inside your own site. Ecwid also integrates well with your Facebook page.

  • Upside: Ease of use. Lots of built-in invoicing, shipping and taxation options.
  • Downside: Cost.

Cost: A starter “Venture” account (up to 100 products) is $15/mnth (plus 12.50/mnth paid yearly).

Transaction fees: None.


Things to THINK about…

  • Start small. Start with just a few items and grow your store over time.
  • Don’t just sell. Your store should offer more than just your products, you should also provide information about your products, how-to videos, customer reviews and comments (and even a blog).
  • Just having a store won’t bring customers, you will need to advertise (Facebook, Google, YouTube… etc).
  • Be descriptive about your products to improve SEO. Search engines read words not pictures.
  • Hire someone (like a freelance website manager) to keep your store secure and manage updates.

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