In the past if you owned a store chances were that you would sell your product to a very limited market. Most stores throughout history have served an area about the size of a small town, with only the biggest companies going national. Times have changed, thanks to the internet and vastly improved shipping infrastructure it is now possible for just about anyone to sell products over the internet. With low startup costs and sky high potential, ecommerce has been the dream of would-be entrepreneurs and existing business owners alike, but in the past many people gave up on those dreams because the process of setting up an online store was so complicated.
If you’re interested in ecommerce and you have a WordPress site or are thinking about starting one then you are in luck. It’s easier than ever to set up an ecommerce site thanks to the flexible design of WordPress and the many ecommerce plugins built for WordPress.
Decide On An Ecommerce Plugin
If you’re looking to add any sort of functionality to your site, whether it’s an ecommerce storefront or Twitter feed, your first step should be checking out the WordPress plugin directory. This page is home to thousands of programs that can be added onto WordPress sites with button clicks. With a simple search you will find dozens of plugins that might serve your purpose. Look for plugins with a large number of positive reviews that have been recently updated to get an idea of where to start. You don’t want to add just any plugin to your webpage.
If you want to keep searching, start with the the two most popular ecommerce themes as of this writing, WooCommerce and WP E-Commerce. Both plugins are available for free but not all of the features are available to free users. If you want the most professional store possible you should be prepared to invest some money into your business. As IG Webs is not affiliated with either of these ecommerce plugins, or any other for that matter, we can’t tell you which to download, check out these and more and decide which offers the features you need at a price you’re willing to pay.
Once you’ve found a plugin that looks right for you, simply download and install it on your site. If you don’t know how to do this check out our guide to installing WordPress plugins.
Set Up Your Store
After you have downloaded and installed your e-commerce plugin it’s time to get it up and running. The mechanics of this process will vary from plugin to plugin but the general idea is that you will be giving the program information on how to receive payments and ship the products you’re selling.
There are a number of ways to receive money online but the most popular as of this writing is PayPal. With a properly set up PayPal account you can quickly and easily receive or send money online. One of the biggest draws for anyone selling products online is how most e-commerce plugins work with PayPal to automate transactions to keep them as simple and easy as possible. You don’t have to have a PayPal account but you will have to find some way to handle the money if you want to set up your store properly.
Setting up the financial side of your store can be a bit technical but fortunately once that’s done you can move on to the fun stuff. Here is where your sales skills come into play, you are going to be adding products to your store along with anything you think might be useful. Pictures and product descriptions are the most obvious things to add, even if you are selling a digital product people are still unlikely to give your product a chance if it can’t catch their eye. The upside of selling online is that you can sell to the whole world but the downside is that you’re competing with the rest of the world too. That’s where your marketing skills come into play. You’ll want to advertise in any and all the media you can afford to do so or somehow to let people know about your site and the products you are selling. You can look into IG Webs’ Local Marketing to start with or do your own.
If you just want to get your store up as quickly as possible you can probably do it all in under a couple of hours, but quicker isn’t always better. Before your store goes live for the general public to see it’s best to take time to make sure everything is set up properly and that your products look as appealing as possible. Also remember that you can make changes as time goes by, if tweaking your product images and descriptions might increase your sales then experiment with different things until you find what works the best. Whether it’s e-commerce or a business website, it should never be considered complete, there are always experiments and changes you can use to try and increase your profits.
Putting Your Plan Into Action
At this point you should have a better grasp of how to get started on your new eCommerce site but don’t worry if you’re still a little confused. WordPress has really done everything they can to make adding plugins as simple as possible, if you find a well reviewed and documented plugin and follow the steps it will almost certainly be easier than you were expecting. The important thing to remember is that setting up an online store is just the start, the real work begins when people start ordering.
The biggest mistake people make when entering the world of e-commerce is failing to plan ahead. It’s easy to get so caught up with the site itself that you don’t put enough thought into the workflow you’ll be using to go from order to shipment. Unless you are selling a digital product these last steps can be some of the hardest to do quickly and consistently.
Thanks to the internet, WordPress and the many people out there producing e-commerce plugins, it’s easier than ever to set up your own online storefront. Don’t forget the value of professional design to save you time and frustration, which is just what we offer at IG Webs. If you want to build a successful online business or expand your existing business online the key thing is treating your site as seriously as you would a store, and your online customers like any customer you might meet in the flesh. With the right tools and the right attitude you’ll greatly improve your chances of e-commerce success.
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