With shops shutting up and with everyone going into lockdown, we are noticing a lot of businesses scrambling to get themselves set up with an online store as quickly as possible with as little cost as possible.
So we thought we’d put together this resource to help to get you going with being able to sell your products and services as soon as possible.
It’s important however to consider whether your time setting up an online store yourself would be better spent on marketing and business planning and then bringing in a professional developer/designer to work on the website. The thought of forking out money at this time may seem daunting – we get it. But given the circumstances, we are working a lot more flexibly with clients at this time and we are sure there are other developers out there willing to work with you, whether that be through providing payment plans or reduced rates.
If you have a strong following, you may not need to worry too much about having a slick, “pretty” website. Provided it’s easy to use and it’s super easy to purchase from you, people will probably be a bit forgiving at this time. In the long run, we suggest investing in a website that reflects your brand but in the short term, we understand the need to just get something up and running that does the job and continues to earn you revenue.
Things to keep in mind
You can’t just build an online store and expect people to magically come. Be sure to spend plenty of time marketing your new online store. Leverage your email list. Don’t have one? Then get yourself an account with an email marketing tool such as Klaviyo, Mailchimp, Omnisend or Active Campaign and start building your email list.
Keep marketing your business on social media – once you have an online store set-up, you can get Instagram and Facebook shopping set-up, enabling you to tag products in your posts & stories and make it easy for your social media followers to buy from you without having to navigate all the way to your website.
And be sure to leverage community Facebook groups – people will support local businesses and help spread the word about your new way of selling.
Let’s get started…
If you have a WordPress website, you will need to install the WooCommerce plugin (it's free), which will enable eCommerce facilities on your website.
Once you install and activate the plugin, you will be guided through a wizard set-up where you'll do things like set your store location, currency and payment gateways.
Setting up ability to take payments
WooCommerce lets you use an array of payment gateways from PayPal, Stripe (credit card payments), AfterPay, Zip Pay, Square, even bank deposit. At a minimum, we suggest you enable PayPal plus 1x credit card payment gateway such as Stripe. If you were already using a POS system like Square in your physical store, then definitely enable it on your online store.
After that, you'll be able to start creating and uploading products, which once published will be loaded on to a "Shop" page (the link should be something like https://yourwebsite.com.au/shop).
You can set up categories to organise your products in a logical way and make it easy for your customers to find what they're after.
By default, WooCommerce lets you have "Simple" products, where it's basically a single product with a single price. There are also "Variable" products which let you have attributes (e.g. a t-shirt with different sizes or colours). Finally, you can have virtual products which are emailed to a customer upon purchase (e.g. downloadable files).
If you are wanting to do something a bit more bespoke such as memberships or subscriptions, WooCommerce offers a range of premium plugins, which you can check out via this link.
Setting Up Shipping
You will also need to set-up shipping rules. Australia Post provides a plugin that ensures you are charging the right rates. Most delivery services (e.g. Sendle) should provide a plugin so you can get the right pricing. These plugins also provide tracking codes for your customer so they can easily keep track of where their order is at.
By default, WooCommerce provides cart and checkout facilities as well as customizable email templates for order processing, order completed, order cancellation and order refunded emails. You can also set-up coupon discount codes for customers to use.
Resoures to Help Get You Started
For more in-depth steps and help with setting up WooCommerce on your WordPress website ,check out the following resources:
To set up an online store on you Squarespace website, you will need to upgrade to a Basic Commerce plan ($34 AUD p/month).
Setting up ability to take payments
Squarespace offers 4x types of products: Physical products, Digital products (e.g. downloads), Gift Cards and Service Products (e.g. products that don't need to be shipped like attendance at classes or events or consultations). Squarespace Commerce also offers subscription services so you can charge people a recurring fee for a product or service.
Squarespace allows for adding variants to your products such as size and colour.
Cart and checkout facilities are built into Squarespace Commerce plans. Flat rate and weight based shipping is also enabled in Squarespace. For more complex shipping requirements, check with Squarespace support.
Resoures to Help Get You Started
Shopify - best for product-based businesses
If your business is predominantly product-based then we suggest getting set-up on Shopify - it's quick and easy especially if you plan to DIY. Just select a template, set up your products and you're away! A basic Shopify plan is $29 USD p/month.
Shopify provides their own payment gateway called Shopify Payments, which makes it super easy for you to start taking payments without worying about retrieving credentials from a third-party gateway. You can also connect your Shopify store with other gateways such as PayPal and AfterPay.
Extra Functionality - Apps
Shopify provides an array of free and paid apps to add extra functionality to your website.
Resources to help you get started
- Shopify Academy Courses
- Shopify Help Centre - Getting Started
- COMPLETE Shopify Tutorial For Beginners 2020 - How To Create A Profitable Shopify Store From Scratch (YouTube Video)
If you're a service-based business or offer a combination of both services and products, you may be best off with a WordPress website. WordPress has more of a learning curve but offers endless amounts of flexibility and possibilities in regards to both design and functionality.
To get started with WordPress, you will first need a web hosting plan. We highly recommend SiteGround due to their affordable plans, good website speeds and amazing support (jump on a phone call or online chat).
You will then need to install WordPress, followed by the WooCommerce plugin to enable online selling. For more information about setting up an online store with WooCommerce, check out the information above under the "I have a WordPress website and would like to add an online shop to it" heading.
If you already have a website, check what capabilities your platform provides to let you set up an online store quickly and easily. If you don’t have a website, the world is your oyster but we generally recommend Shopify or WordPress.
Be sure to really leverage your community (both online and in real life) and make your website super easy to buy from. It’s all well and good setting up an online store but if you don’t tell people about it and you don’t make it easy to use then there really is no point.
And don’t be afraid to just get something up and running and work on it continuously over the coming months. The business that moves the quickest will win.
Have you already set up an online store? Check out our blog post listing 20 ways to optimise your online store for more traffic and sales.
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