How do I go about starting an online store?
1. Which platform to use
There are plenty of blog posts out there on this topic.
However upon reading them, it doesn’t take long to realise they are written by web developers and programmers who don’t quite get that store owners….. well…. are not programmers.
You don’t care about what “application programming interface” you can use. You don’t care about a “control management system thingy”.
You want an online store that will be safe, fast, secure and effective.
You want to carry on with your daily life without worrying about what’s happening in your site’s code.
You want peace of mind that your customers are happy with the site’s functionality and their credit card details are secure.
You want to be one year into your online store NOT thinking “damn this platform is a nuisance, why won’t (insert one of many website frustrations) work?”
WordPress, magento, shopify, wix etcetera etcetera etcetera. Have you googled which is best? Don’t worry too much about it, we’ll trim down your options.
So, overall you have two main options:
Build it yourself or hire a developer
You can do it yourself, just like you could change the engine on your car or replace your gas underground plumbing yourself with enough coffee and youtube tutorials.
Obviously we may be biased because we build ecommerce websites and online stores for people but one thing we’ve always found is those who choose the cheap option of doing it themselves end up regretting it and have the hair loss to show for it.
Platform hosted options: This means the shop platform also provides (and locks you into) their own servers and hosting.
Platform hosted options:
GoDaddy, just don’t
GoDaddy will entice you with cheap prices and to be fair, their speeds are pretty good.
Sooner or later you are going to need something they cannot give you in your site. Wix is the same but they will start charging you extra monthly charges for simple features I could code with my eyes closed. You won’t realise this until your site is half built and you’re already invested. Quite sneaky…….
Frequently web developers will call GoDaddy “NoDaddy” because they’re a nightmare.
Shopify are decent enough until something goes wrong. The time waited will be costing you business and hard-earned search engine rankings as customers will simply get fed up and leave.
Search engines monitor this and call it “bounce rate”. The higher the bounce rate, the lower your site will rank.
Shopify aren’t the worst and we have seen other articles praising shopify for good support. The clients we’ve taken from shopify say otherwise but obviously the satisfied customers aren’t coming to us.
But if you must go with a hosted option, choose shopify.
If you really want to get above the competition, hire a developer. We can help you get your store up and running or you can google others in your local area but woocommerce is generally the best option for most integrated with a wordpress backend then configured correctly.
A full, fresh code application
If you are a larger company then maybe invest in a developer to code your online store with magento, again we can do this for you or you can find others in your local area.
DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS YOURSELF! (programming a full code site yourself)
Yes there are youtube tutorials but be warned. Even seasoned programmers hurl their laptops into low orbit over some simple set-up bug when using video tutorials. I myself have taken two hours once to install a laravel framework due to it’s dependencies(DON’T ask) only for it to be solved by the old “off and on” technique.
So, forget the other posts as it’s that simple: woocommerce/wordpress or magento depending on the size of your company. Shopify is a decent option too if you really want to do it all yourself.
2. Purchasing the domain name
There’s a lot more such as domain name and how to buy one. It’s best to register for one yourself or arrange this with your web designer, we walk our clients through the process of registering it themselves and it is in your best interests.
You DO NOT want your web designer to “own” your website’s address as you could be easily handcuffed to them and they may not care about responding to your website’s problem. To go elsewhere you will need to register a new domain name and start from scratch which sacrifices your hard earned search engine rankings which is a long campaign of a process to develop and maintain.
Again, we insist our clients buy the domain name themselves and we help them do it. It keeps everybody honest.
Arranging a website host is a vital decision, but before we go any further: Every year just like your house insurance, some hosting companies will bump the price up for auto-renewal hoping you won’t be bothered or question it. You need to contact them and threaten to move elsewhere to get a good price.
Your web hosting is where your website lives, speed and security are the main two considerations.
Platforms like Wix, GoDaddy and such will only let you use their hosting, which is convenient but traps you with them. This allows all sorts of headaches to develop for your profits.
The hosts we recommend are siteground (cheapest), flywheel(for wordpress/woocommerce specifically) or purchase hosting off us to have your website on it’s own server which is by far the fastest and most secure option for peace of mind.