Your goal right now is to build an ecommerce store as quickly as possible to see if anyone’s actually going to buy what you’re selling.
You have a product and someone to buy it. You could flog it on eBay, Amazon or Etsy but you’d like to own your own piece of digital real estate, your URL just in case they decide to not like you next year.
So the next most exciting thing in the World is building your new ecommerce store.
But remember, your ecommerce store won’t look the same in 12 months time. The only thing that may be the same is your logo and if you’re anything like me, even that will change.
So think about this, use an off-the-shelf platform with a monthly subscription and don’t buy anything.
There is no point spending money up front building your first store.
If you have time, do it yourself. This is ideal if you’re a digital tinkerer as it helps you understand what’s involved when you eventually do hire someone to do it (and you should, just not now).
If you really don’t have the know how or time to do it, find a friend or relative to help you. And if that fails, there will be plenty of people round here to help. But keep these principles in mind when you do:
Off The Shelf Platform with Monthly Subscription
Most ecommerce platforms offer a free trial period before they start billing you. So try before you buy and get that site built over the weekend. The payment trigger is usually when the time is up or you take your website ‘live’ – to make it publicly visible via your URL or domain.
We use Shopify because since 2013 when we changed our store over to it from WordPress (and before that Magento), the Shopify platform has been 100% solid for us.
Never use a separate hosting provider for your store. There’s really no need now. Instead use an all in one ecommerce platform where hosting is included.
No studying text books to figure out CPanel or FTP just to get started. No extra hosting costs or cheap unreliable providers and no sleepless nights when your site goes dark. So pay your monthly subscription fee and leave all that nonsense and headache to your platform’s technical team.
The platform you choose should be readily updatable by you personally and ideally have a ‘Drag and Drop’ design function, use ready made ‘Themes’ or Templates and be easy to get around for a beginner. You’ll find that with most platforms their free templates are usually good enough to get you started. Because there’s no point in starting from scratch when someone else has done most of the work for you.
The good platforms invest in savvy designers and developers who spend months creating good looking and conversion optimised templates. Use them. It’s cheaper than hiring your own (for now).
Spend Little, Spend Often
The idea here is to spend little and spend often. This helps your cashflow and leaves your capital in the bank where you’ll need to get your hands on it later on.
Be Scalable Up & Down
The other advantage of established ecommerce platforms is that with monthly subscriptions, your business is scalable up or down.
So in times of growth, we just increase the subscription for more functions and add-ons and when times are lean, we can easily scale things back to a more modest monthly spend until we figure out what the heck we’re doing and if we really should be in this business at all and waking up at 3am thinking ‘oh god, what have we done…’. You get the idea.
Get something already made. Monthly subscriptions. Be lean & flexible. You’re off to a good start.