In this Sportswear Inc. article about how to build an online shop you will learn how to create a cost-efficient e-com store for your apparel brand. There is no need to pay large sums for design and development of your site. Set up your e-commerce in no time with an existing, well established open source systems.
Most if not all businesses today have their own website and most apparel brands also have their own e-commerce site. Whether or not to have an e-commerce store and how big part of the business it should be is a strategic decision. There are several advantages of selling online, but don’t underestimate the cost and effort to acquire customers. The customers won’t find your shop without help from your side.
Before starting your online shop you should take a look at this article: Don’t Start Your Online Shop Until You Read This.
A – The easy way
If you don’t have much interest in the tech side and if you want to spend as little time as possible dealing with IT, we suggest you take a look at Shopify. Shopify is an e-commerce platform that helps you with the design, hosting, functionalities, and support. They work with a subscription model and you will always have someone to turn to. This is a good solution if you just want it to work, but have little time and interest to invest in it.
B – They way to be in full control
In case you like to be in full control, fully understand all processes, and want to be able to adjust your site according to your needs and demands without involving, asking or paying someone else, we suggest you take another route. This route is less costly money wise, but more time-consuming. You can actually set up your e-commerce store for free and only pay as little as USD 30 per year for hosting. That’s an extremely low cost for having your own online shop. They only issue is: how do you do it? Well, we are here to help, so we will tell you exactly how to do it.
Build your shop with WooCommerce
There are many systems out there that you can use to build your website and e-com store. You can build fancy, advanced, and customized systems that will do the job for you. We have already mentioned Shopify as a great option. What we will describe is a way that is cost-efficient and user-friendly. There is no major set-up fee. You can do it almost for free. In this article we tell you how to build your shop using the open source platform WordPress, a free or premium theme, and the plugin WooCommerce.
Step 1 – The domain name
Pick the name you want for your domain and see if it is free. In order to see if it is free you can visit one.com and use their tool on the first page. There you can see which domain endings are free for your name and which ones are taken. You can also type the name you want directly into the address field on your browser to see if it is taken. If the domain is taken you can ask to buy it from the owner, but the easiest way is to alternate your domain name a bit and see if it is free. Be creative and change up your desired name. It is great to have local domain endings, e.g. .de, .co.uk, and so on, especially if those are your target markets. If you a re going global, try to get the .com version of your name.
You will need to think about SEO, search engine optimization, when starting a website. Try to pick a name that stands out and that is not too popular. Let’s say you have a brand and domain name that includes ”New York”. Then it will be really tough for you to end up in the top search results on the search engines. You will compete with all (already established) sites taking about New York, including hotels, travel, fashion, and more. So google your brand name a bit before deciding what to choose, and see what people will find when searching for you. The easiest way to buy your domain is in conjunction with getting a web host.
Step 2 – The host
You will need to find someone to host the servers that your site will be running on. The more advanced and the more traffic the site has, the higher requirements on the host. We can recommend one.com as a host provider. They are reliable, easy to administrate, and have great support. The pricing starts as low as USD 3 / month. As mentioned earlier, you can search fo available domains on their front page, and the domain name is included in their packages. With the domain name you will also get unlimited email addresses that are easy to handle on the admin page. You don’t need to be a techie to set it up. This email can be accessed from the web, from your mobile or from the mail program on your computer.
Once you have registered your domain you will get login to your admin panel. Here you can set up your email, and they also have tools for creating a website or an online shop. We haven’t tried those functions, so we can’t really say much about them. In this guide we are talking about a different approach.
Step 3 – CMS System
When we created our first website, we coded each page separately, which was quite time consuming and cumbersome when it was time for changes. Today it is so much easier to create a website. You can use a CMS system. A CMS system is a content management system making it easy for you to publish and handle content. You have a ”backside”, or admin page, where you easily can manage how you want the ”frontside” of your site to look like. WordPress is a free, open source, software system that is great for creating websites with. You can read more and download it for free at wordpress.org.
If you have chosen one.com it is really easy to install WordPress. Just log in to your one.com control panel, and they have a one click install function. Meaning that you just click on a button and WordPress will install itself on your domain.
Once installed, you have a first website that you can modify. Either you can familiarize yourself with the system or you can take a look at any of all the videos about WordPress on Youtube. But, don’t do any of that yet. You probably want the site to look good. And it wouldn’t surprise us if you have a strong opinion about it. The good news is that you don’t have to spend a fortune on it.
Step 4 – Site design
The trick to keep the design costs down is to use themes. A theme is a pre-made design for your website that you can use together with WordPress. There are different elements that you can turn on or off, depending on if you choose to use it or not. You can usually change colors, fonts and minor things easily. So you need to spend a little time looking for a template that matches your demands. Just google ”woocommerce theme” and you will get loads of results. Add free, simple, creative, 2017, best or any other term to get better hits. You can find a lot of free themes, but you don’t have to pay more than USD 60 for most themes. Make sure the theme is responsive, meaning that it will adjust to a mobile screen. More people are using mobile devices to surf and to shop, so make sure it looks good no matter which tool they are using.
Step 5 – The e-commerce functionality
WordPress is a frame work and comes with basic functionalities. To get added functions it works with plugins. If you want a better image slider, a pdf-viewer, better statics or anything else you get a plugin for that specific function. To build a web shop you will get the free e-commerce plugin WooCommerce. This is easily done from the WordPress admin panel where you choose plugins and search for WooCommerce.
Step 6 – Payment solution
You will need to install plugins for the different payment options you like. All the major payment solutions have plugins that work with WordPress. You will need to register on the payment provider’s website and read up about the fees and services. Three providers that we can recommend are PayPal, Stripe, and Mondido.
Step 7 – Running your shop
Now you are ready to start creating the e-commerce site and giving it the look and feel you want. Familiarize yourself with the system and how to change the look of your site. Don’t forget that Youtube is a fantastic source if you need help to navigate and understand how WordPress works.
There are 3 ways that the customer can find your shop; brand recognition, SEO, and paid advertising. Read more about that and important components to incorporate in the article Don’t Start Your Online Shop Until You Read This.
A few more things you should think about when running your site are:
- Keep all the information updated, such as prices, products, and policies. The more updated and relevant information you post on your site, the better it is for your customers and SEO.
- Keep your site technically updated. You will receive indications in the WordPress admin panel when it is time for updates. Make sure you install all updates for your site to run smoothly.
- Backup your site. There are two kinds of users. Those who backup their data, and those who never have experienced a crash or never have been hacked. Most people have to learn the hard way before they start taking backups. Backup your site regularly so you easily can restore it in case of a virus or such.
- Make it easy to use. It should be clear to customers what you offer and what they need to do to get it. Make the purchase process easy with as few steps as possible.
- Think about the site speed. Using too large images will slow down the user experience. If you have Photoshop you can edit the photos to the size you prefer and then choose ”save for web”. This way you can control the image size.
You now have an e-com site to a low cost, and if you maintain it you don’t need to spend much time running it. Good luck with your online shop and hope you sell loads of products and get happy customers!