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E-Commerce

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In this post, I am showing you the best way to start an eCommerce website. There are many ways in starting your eCommerce store(like shopify,woocommerce,magento,bigcommerce, other shopping cart softwares etc). I assume you want to start an online ecommerce store, but you are not that sure about how to start it. This post helps you to start your eCommerce website in the best way.

So whats the best way to start your e-commerce store?

Answer: Bluehost+WordPress+Woocommerce+Woocommerce Theme.

Hmm… So what made me come to such a conclusion?

I am a Web Developer and has been working with various eCommerce platforms like Magento,Shopify, Opencart,Bigcommerce and many others(for 8 years) for various clients. I have also developed a shopping cart software. My judgment comes from this solid experience working in the eCommerce sector.

These are the factors I’ve considered in coming to this conclusion

  • Pricing – Woocommerce is totally free while for hosted shopping carts like shopify, bigcommerce etc , you need to pay life long(also a small amount of your sales as fee). Consider long term, even if you are using the most basic plan of shopify, you have to pay $3,480 (for 10 years). If you are going for higher plans you have to pay $35,880(plus the per sale fees). Keep in mind that its real hard to change the ecommerce platform once its chosen(you have to re-add the products, keep the url structure and all, believe me, its a real pain).
  • Design – I’ve developed some woocommerce themes for themeforest. And I can confidently says that woocommerce themes are the most good looking themes available in the industry. Themeforest wont approve sub standard designs, and you can see that a number of new woocommerce themes gets uploaded day by day in themeforest. All the designs are highly competitive, code is well written and highly secured.
  • You keep your code – If you are running an offline store, its better you be the owner of your own property right? By using woocommerce, you can achieve this. All the code, transactions etc will stay on your own server.
  • Light weight and fast loading – One of the biggest mistake in my life was to start an ecommerce store in magento for one of my important online business. Magento was notorious for slow loading speed and complexity, yet I decided go with magento(as my partner was a fan of magento, there was a general conception that woocommerce is suitable for small scale online business). But after 1 year of launch and facing lots of issues(like slow loading, bad feedback about design(we were using a magento theme), hacks(the store was hacked regularly)) we decided to change the store to woocommerce. Things got better afterall, the store loaded in seconds and the sales improved.
  • A wide range of plugins and easy customization– The WordPress plugin library is filled with woocommerce extensions. There are lots of free woocommerce plugins for many functionalities. Also, when it comes to customization, its far easier to customize woocommerce compared to magento and all.

So hope you are convinced with what I said from my experience.

Now, let’s have a look at 4 steps in starting an eCommerce store

Step 1: Register a domain and setup a hosting

The first step is to register a domain. You need a domain name for your e-commerce store, if you are not sure about your domain name, this article will help you in picking the right domain name for your ecommerce store.

Luckily, bluehost offer a free domain name along with their hosting, so that you can have it all in one account.

So, these screenshots will help you in setting up your bluehost account

1: Select the Pricing Plan

Bluehost does have 3 major plans(basic,plus and prime). To set up your first eCommerce store, I’d recommend you to take the basic plan. Initially, your blogs wont be having that much traffic so that the basic plan will be the perfect one to start with. Later on, once you build some traffic(visitors) to your blog, you can updgrade to bigger plans(this can save you some good money). The basic plan is $3.95 while plus and premium plans are $5.95 per month.

Well, you can go ahead with the plus or prime plans if you can get good amount of traffic initially. I am not at all against these plans, but what I meant is that you can always upgrade to higher plans anytime you want. This might probably save you some bucks.

Recommended: Basic Plan

bluehost-basic

2 :Register the domain

Enter the domain you want to register for your e-commerce store. You can enter a domain if you already have one, bluehost will show you how to transfer the domain to bluehost server.

bluehost-1

3: Fill in your details and the payment details.

bluehost-2

I am highly recommending you to uncheck the following options(which can save you some good money). Moreover, you don’t need this in the initial stage.

  • Domain Privacy Protection – Only select this if you want privacy for your domain,. Means you dont want to disclose the identity of the domain owner
  • Site Backup Pro – Your blog wont be having tons of contents intially. So that, it wont be hard for you take backup initially. You can easily take your blogs backup using the Backup WordPress plugin. You can always select this option later(if you need this)
  • Search Engine Jumpstart – This is not necessary, you always have the yoast seo plugin to make your blog seo friendly
  • Site security lock – Not needed intitally, you can use this later once your blog gets established. This can save you some money

I am saying this because I dont use any of these additional features for my eCommerce store and everything is super cool for me.

Again, its all up to you, if you think you need privacy and backup feature, just go for it.

Approximate Pricing for Bluehost: 45-72 USD a year

Step 2: Install WordPress in your domain

Now you’ve set up the domain and hosting. The next thing is installling the WordPress in this domain in your bluehost. The one click install of bluehost makes this process so easy(like installing a software in your pc). If you want a complete guide about installing WordPress in your bluehost account, read this tutorial . I’ve given a quick tutorial below about installing WordPress in your bluehost using 1 cilck installation.

1. Login to your bluehost and select the Install WordPress option.

step 1 installing wordpress bluehost

2. Click the Install Button

step 2 clicking install button wordpress bluehost

3. Select the domain you want to install WordPress
step 3 selecting domain to install

4. Enter the WordPress site title, username and password(to access the WordPress admin dashboard of your website)

step 4 setting wordpress user name and password and installing

5. Completing the WordPress Installation

step 5 installation complete and logging in

6. Logging into the admin dashboard using the admin URL
step 6 logged in wp panel

Step 3: Install Woocommerce plugin in your WordPress

Now lets set up the WordPress ecommerce (Woocommerce) store.

1. Select Plugins>Add New
Once you log in to the dashboard, select the Plugins> Add New button

woocommerce1

2. Search for “Woocommerce” and Press enter

This will prompt WordPress to search for the Woocommerce in the WordPress Plugin Repository. The Woocommerce Plugin will be shown in the list. Click the install button to install Woocommerce
woocommerce-install

3. Activate Woocommerce

After all you need to activate the Woocommerce. After activating woocommerce, you will be directed to a small survey page. You can select the Not Right Now(which can save 3 minutes of your life time) or complete the survey.
woocommerce-3
That’s all! You are done! The store functionality is ready.

Step 4: Buy a Woocommerce theme and install it in your WordPress website.

The next step is to buy an apt Woocommerce theme for your woocommerce store. I would only recommend themeforest woocommerce themes as they have the best quality and the most good looking and high quality WordPress themes available in the industry(I’ve developed many WordPress themes for themeforest and their quality guidelines are top class).

Download the WooCommerce theme(installable zip file) and upload it to the WordPress theme directory.

Go to Appearance>Themes>Add New>Upload Theme

 

theme

 

Once the theme has been uploaded you have to Activate the theme.

Approximate price of WooCommerce theme – 50$

Step 5: Integrate a Payment gateway in your WordPress-Woocommerce store.

After uploading a Woocommerce theme, your store will be ready. Now you need to integrate your payment gateway into your Woocommerce store. You have to take an account some payment gateway which is convenient for your like(stripe,braintree or whatever).

You’ll get WordPress integration plugins for the payment gateway you are using. For instance lets try an example with stripe.

Go to Plugins>Add New and search for “Stripe” and press Enter.

stripe

 

Select the right plugin you are looking for and install it. Here you can use the first one and second one(I prefer the second one).  Make sure, the plugin does have good start rating (I’d say something above 3.5).

Install the plugin and Activate it.

Configure the payment gateway plugin

You can configure the payment gateway at Woocommerce> Settings > Checkout > Stripe Payment

 

stripe-payment

I am saying about Stripe here. If you are installing another payment gateway, you can take the settings of that payment gateway.

You have to enter your stripe account credentials here, like Secret Key, Publishable Key, Live Secret Key, Live Publishable Key etc. There are two modes Test mode for test transactions and Live Mode for live transactions.

Any payment gateway should have these basic configurations.

How to integrate Paypal with Woocommerce.

Go to the same Woocommerce payment checkout settings

Paypal comes default with Woocommerce, so you don’t need to install any separate plugin for that.

Woocommerce> Settings > Checkout > PayPal

You can enter your paypal email, paypal receiver emails etc.

Once you’ve saved the settings, you can see the payment gateways integrated automatically in your checkout page.

Have a look at how I implemented paypal and stripe in my checkout page.

woocomerce-checkout

 

You can select your preferred payment gateway and make the payment and complete the purchase.

That’s all with setting up your first eCommerce store! And all under 100 $.

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial in setting up the best ecommerce store for you using WordPress and Woocommerce.

You can contact me to help or implement an e-commerce website for you (I won’t be charging for the first 50 enquires).

 

 

Looking forward to start an e commerce website? Which platform is apt for you? Hosted or Self hosted shopping carts? I am writing this article with a motive of helping non technical people who don’t have much experience in online/e-commerce business. Your start should be perfect, selecting the right e-commerce platform plays pivotal role to success of your e-commerce store. Have a look at the worlds biggest and most successful e-commerce websites.

There are two kinds of shopping cart platforms

1. Hosted shopping carts
2. Self Hosted Shopping carts.

[steps number=”true”]1[/steps] Hosted Shopping Carts

Hosted shopping carts are those ones hosted by the providers. You don’t need any kind of technical knowledge to use a hosted shopping cart software. You don’t need to worry about hosting,installation,maintenance,security in the case of hosted shopping carts. What you need to pay is a monthly subscription fees and the providers will take care of the rest.

So what all are the best hosted shopping cart platforms?

[well]

1.  Shopify
2.  BigCommerce
3.  Volusion[/well]

shopify

Have a look at my detailed article about selecting the best hosted shopping cart software and advantages of one over other. You might also be interested in creating a shopify e-commerce website in 5 minutes.

[steps number=”true”]2[/steps]  Self hosted shopping carts

These are shopping cart softwares that need to be hosted on your server. You need to worry about installation and setup.
You very much need to worry about some steps if you are preferring a self hosted shopping cart to hosted shopping cart(given below).

  • Buying a hosting/server space to host your website.
  • Downloading and installing the shopping cart software(Magento,Opencart etc).
  • Setting up the right e-commerce theme.
  • Need to worry about data security and backup measures.
  • You may need to hire a web developer for support(Most of the Hosted shopping cart service gives you 24 x 7 customer support ).

What all are the best self hosted shopping carts?

[well]

1. Magento
2. Opencart
3. PrestaShop

[/well]

I could have flooded this list of self hosted shopping carts with the available ones(like, zencart,cs cart,xcart,oscommerce,tomatocart etc). But I wish my readers could make a choice (rather than getting confused). Becuase of this specific reason I’ve shortlisted the whole self hosted
shopping carts into four(The best and practically useful four)

For sure first rank holder among these self hosted shopping carts would be magento.

[steps number=”true”]Rank 1  [/steps] – Magento

magento ecommerce

[alert style=”green”]Why and  When should you use magento?[/alert]

1. Wide Range of features.

Magento is feature rich, you will get all or more features than you require in Magento. The powerful extensions offered by Magento can make your store more powerful.

Visit Magento Store

2. Ideal for large scale business.

The bigger your business, its very much likely to use magento as your ecommerce platform. I’d recommend opencart for small business as it is very light,fast loading
and less complicated. But once your business gets big you’d be forced to use Magento . Opencart lacks many of the awesome feature magento does have. It
would really be complicated in migrating from one platform(opencart) to other(Magento). So, its always better using Magento in terms of long term benefits.

3. Great Support and theme availability.

Magento does have the support of a big community, where as opencart and prestashop doesn’t. If you need customization or some kind of error fix,you can ask the
help of the vast community of magento.

Lots of sexy magento themes are also available in the industry. As you all know,if you have a good looking website the half job is done.

[steps number=”true”]Rank 2[/steps] – Prestashop or Opencart

opencart prestashop

[alert style=”green”]Why and When Should you use opencart?[/alert]

1. Ideal for small scale business(minimalist features)

Well, if you are about to run a small scale ecommerce store ,I’d highly recommend opencart for you. Opencart is the lightest ecommerce platform you’ll ever get.I did use
opencart for my online artificial flower store and it is doing good. I’m very much satisfied with the features provided by opencart for this particular website(I don’t require much, I am not planning to take this store that big).

2. Better loading time compared to Magento

This is were Magento turns out to be a villain. As , someone said, Magento is good in theory but bad practically. Magento is an extremely heavy platform.
It does have more than 330 database tables (WordPress have 15 tables only!) Magento, with all those heavily coded library ,takes much more time to load compared to opencart.

3. Ease of use and low cost customizations

[alert style=”green”]When Should you use Prestashop?[/alert]

All the above mentioned features are applicable to Prestashop also.

1. Advanced backend features than opencart

I would put Prestashop and Opencart in same position but if you need a little more advanced back end and management features and paid support, go for Prestashop.

Visit Opencart Store

Visit PrestaShop Store

[steps number=”true”]Rank 3 [/steps] – WordPress E-commerce using WooCommerce

wordpress and woocommerce

[alert style=”green”]Why and When Should you use WooCommerce?[/alert]

Majority of the worlds website uses WordPress. 1 out of six websites runs in WordPress. Many million dollar business websites have been setup in WordPress.

Ok , I said too much about  WordPress , but this was just to let you know how strong is the WordPress Community and users.

It wont be a bad idea to start a shopping cart in  such a globally approved platform. Moreover WooCommerce plugin does have all the essential features demanded
by a shopping cart software. Being WordPress, the product management and customization will be easier. The vast WP community all over the internet can give you awesome support plus
woocommerce extensions are always there to make your ecommerce platform much better.

The best advantage of using woocommerce is the large availability of WordPress Woocommerce themes. Woocommerce themes are one of the most sold themes in themeforest now.

Are you familiar with WordPress?

Dont know much about WordPress ? Read this detailed article about the advantages of starting an online business in WordPress.
If you are already familiar with WordPress platform you wont find using Woocommerce any hard. So , Woocommerce would be a wise choice for you if you know WordPress very well.

Download WooCommerce for WordPress

Conclusion

The selection of the right platform depends on your business. If you are less technical and have some additional money to spend go for hosted shopping carts. You dont need to worry about the security,installation and all.If you are in a tight budget, go for self hosted shopping carts. Go for magento if your store is big. Use Opencart,Prestashop or Woocommerce for small scale business. I am always happy to help. Contact Me if you need some assistance in setting up your eCommerce store.

I’ve used many shopping carts (both hosted shopping carts and self hosted shopping carts) and have reviewed the popular ones , Shopify seemed like the easiest one to start. Shopify provides free trial for 2 weeks, so don’t hesitate, try out their demo. Here in this post I am providing a beginners tutorial guide to set up a Shopify website in 5 minutes, yes very much in 5 minutes! 🙂

Shopify is really good, but if you want to save money read my blogpost about best method in starting an ecommerce store by yourself under 100 USD.

Section 1 – Creating a Shopify account.

1.1 Get into Shopify Login and select the Create Your Store Now Option. Signup to the store entering your personal details(email,username,address,phone etc).

1.2 After signing up into the store, you’ll get the web address to your store mine was (linjo.shopify.com). Once the store is created select the Manage My Store option.

step 1

Have a look at my store front end,

shopify -2 store front end

Section 2 – Explaining Shopify Dashboard

The major sections given in the Shopify admin side are

  • Orders – Here goes your orders section, all your processed, non processed orders will be listed here
  • Products – Product management section goes here, you can add a new product to your store from here.
  • Discounts, Gift Cards – If you want to give a gift card or particular discount to your products you can set it from this section.
  • Reports – Reports section will show you the visitors flow to your website.
  • Blog Posts – Shopify allows you to create a blog for your ecommerce website and you can manage your blog posts from this section
  • Pages– You can add custom pages (say an about us page)to your ecommerce store from this section
  • Themes – Through this section you can navigate to your theme store where you can select good looking themes(free/premium) for your website
  • Apps – Like your android/ios phone apps Shopify also have its own app store from which you can download Shopify apps and can install into your store . Example : A popup window application which displays notifications in a popup
  • Settings– Here lies your store settings like adding a new domain, managing shipping, checkout etc

Section 3 – Adding a domain to your Shopify ecommerce store .

Well, you’ve seen my temporary domain (linjo.shopify.com ), adding a new domain to your Shopify account is that easy.

Go to the Settings section and take the Domains tab and select the Add New Domain option in the right hand side (check screenshot)

shopify add new domain

You can register a new domain name or can link an existing domain to your Shopify account(very easy than you think :)). Just enter a domain name and add it to your account (by purchasing it or by pointing your ip into domain registrars admin section). Contact Me, if you have any doubts regarding this.

shopify add new domain
Section 4- Adding Products to your store.

Adding a new product in Shopify should not take more than 60 seconds (it is that easy). Get into the Products Menu and Add a New product. You can also Add a new product from the dashboard(right hand side) itself.
shopify add products

shopify add new product
Section 5 – Adding a new theme to your store

The default Shopify theme is too ordinary and for sure no one will buy from your store if you are using that 🙂 . You need to select a new theme for your store from the themes section. Both free and premium shopfiy themes would be available in different niche . Select one according to your preferences

shopify theme store

Thats all with the basic tutorial for Shopify, clearly you can start a descent e-commerce store following this tutorial. Hope you enjoyed this Shopify Tutorial.