Ecommerce websites have been around on the Internet almost since its very inception. Certainly, you could buy items from the Internet long before schemes such as ‘affiliate marketing’ become popular forms of generating business. Nowadays, the ecommerce website is still very much alive and kicking.
What this shows is that when they are well designed, ecommerce websites are a great way to sell items over the Internet. They are a positive boon for any business as they are easy to understand, easy to buy from and because your visitors are already looking to buy from you, there is little need to purchase expensive copy for the site.
So if ecommerce sites are so easy and potentially profitable, why hasn’t everybody developed one? The answer is that for many years, the sheer difficulty in developing such a website put many people off.
Building an ecommerce site from scratch used to require the skills of a competent developer or programmer and it would take them many weeks of hard work to even produce a relatively simple site. This often proved expensive for many individuals.
Nowadays though, you can build yourself a fantastic ecommerce website with just a few minutes to spare and using nothing more complicated than a few clicks of your mouse button.
The development of CMS platforms such as WordPress, as well as add-ons like scripts like Magento and hosted solutions like Shopify have made it easier than ever to process and set up an ecommerce site, even for those with limited or no knowledge of web programming.
The aim of this article is to examine the range of options available that people can select from when developing their own ecommerce website, as well as looking at a few additional key details which can make your site stand out from the rest.
1. Do you even need an ecommerce website? What do you want to sell and in what volume?
This is an important question to ask as the requirements for an individual who is just seeking to offload some of the items that they have accrued around their home or from their shed and garage, is very different to an individual who has a large-scale, bulk volume sales operation.
If you are just seeking to sell a few items in an ad-hoc manner, then you may not even need to go to the time of developing a fully-featured ecommerce website. In this instance, a simple WordPress website, integrated with a popular form of Internet payment service (such as PayPal) is a quicker and much simpler option.
This is incredibly easy to do; once you have set up your website, then all you need to do is visit the PayPal website, enter the details it asks for about your account and site and PayPal will generate the code you need to copy and paste to your website.
You can personalise the buttons, so that only the options you want (buy now, add to cart, donate etc) are shown thus ensuring you get the right type of purchase system in place.
You can find out more about PayPal payments and buttons for your website by following https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_singleitem-intro-outside
2. I feel that I do need a ecommerce website; which is the best choice for me?
When deciding which is the best choice of ecommerce website for your needs, there are two things you need to consider foremost – the budget and what you need from the site.
- Low budget, low volume option
For the majority of sellers, unless you are going to sell a huge number of products, then the quickest, cheapest and easiest option is to run a WordPress-based website, complete with an ecommerce theme and/or plugin.
There are plenty of free WordPress themes available, though their reliability isn’t the best and if your site goes down for any time, this can prove costly. I’d recommend purchasing a theme which offers guarantees about its support and compatibility. These do not have to be costly but safeguard against the problems you may face with a free theme.
Check out the likes of Impulse, Breeze, Shopsimple, Fancytheme, Kallyas, Camy, Prostore and Cumico for starters and if you need more, a quick Google search will bring up thousands of possible alternatives.
To see what a WordPress site looks like with the eShop theme installed click on the link below:
One issue to remember here though is that due to its popularity as a small ecommerce site tool, WordPress CMS has, unfortunately, been subject to frequent attempts at hacking. This can have implications for your site and its security, so it is a good idea to ensure you have stringent security measures in place on the site to protect your own and your customers data.
- Higher budget, higher volume options
If you have slightly more money to play around with to develop your site, or you need a long term site that can deal with large volumes of sales, then you have two high quality options available.
Shopify is the first platform to consider. This is a very versatile tool and it is a good way that businesses can avoid costs by not having to pay for hosting or their own ecommerce theme. You can scale your shopify-based site to almost any size, with any number of products, with virtually no decrease in the performance of the site.
Shopify also loads very quickly and is compatible with WordPress blog, which is a very useful tool for marketing purposes and is an option that many ecommerce website owners use often.
Shopify offers new users a 14-day trial free of charge which is plenty of time for you to set up a basic site and see how it works, to see if it matches your requirements.
The second option you can consider is Magento. In truth, Magento is a site that is best suited to sellers who are planning to shift a high volume number of items. It does require a large amount of work to set up properly which can be time consuming and the set up time therefore is much longer than using WordPress or Shopify.
It also requires a dedicated server on which to run and this is an additional cost which users will need to factor in.
Despite this, if you are a seller who is aiming for high volume sales quickly and with planned growth in the future, Magento is worth considering. It is very easy to scale for your business and once your site is organised, it is user-friendly to maintain. Over time, it can also prove to be a cheaper option to maintain than Shopify.
3. The Conclusion?
In truth, what the best ecommerce site is for you depends on what you need at the present time and also what you are going to need in the future. Migrating an ecommerce site from one platform to another is extremely tricky and time-consuming, so it is a good idea to have a clear vision of how you want the site to progress before committing to any single platform.
For a low to medium sized ecommerce site, WordPress is a great value option in terms of price and customisability, however it isn’t easy to scale into a site able to deal with a higher volume of items. In this case, Shopify is an good solution, if perhaps the most expensive option long term, while Magento may take longer to set up initially, but is great value for money and is excellent at dealing with greater volume of sales.
This trio of ecommerce solutions are undeniably the best and easiest for budding entrepreneurs to begin selling and hopefully the information in this article will allow you to make an informed choice as to which is best for your business.