Home » How to start an online store using a website builder?
How to start an online store using a website builder?
Have you been meaning to use the Internet as a sales channel for a long time, but setting up an online shop has always seemed like too much of an expense?
Relax – you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for a web developer. It’s really easy to set up your own basic Internet store using an online website builder.
Its catalogue of features allows you to pick and choose whichever functionalities you need: from different payment methods and delivery options to automated stock management.
very easy to use
small to medium-sized online shop (fewer than 1000 products)
sell digital and/or physical products
automated ordering system
range of standard payment options available (PayPal, credit card, etc.)
low or no transaction fees
compliant with e-commerce legislation for USA/Canada/UK
search engine optimized
blog and social media integration (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
fast and reliable technical support
use of discount coupons
ecommerce tracking options
cost: $0 – $30 per month
You don’t need
Shopify – the online store that can make you a champ
Shopify allows both beginners and real pros to create a professional online store that should leave no wish unfulfilled. Why? Beginners can set up an online store without any programming skills and advanced users will be able alter everything due to the very flexible “Liquid” framework. Included are professional features such as cart abandonment emails that can be set up very easily.
Even if your business grows really rapidly, chances are that you will have no reason to move it to another platform – unless you want to run a truly global store. Shopify doesn’t support multilingual web stores. Other than that, it gives you all the necessary tools you need to start smoothly and then set your path to rapid growth.
You can try Shopify 14 days for free to convince yourself. No credit card needed! If you are happy with the design and don’t want to change the template, the plan “Starter” for US $14 is available. The other plans offer more features, like telephone support, better statistics, template modification, and much more.
If you already have a website made with Weebly and you don’t want to struggle with a complicated setup process or source code, then you should consider taking a closer look at their built-in e-commerce solution. The online shop works as easy as the rest of the website editor.
Weebly Free allows you to sell up to 5 products. That’s not much, but it’s free; if you don’t need ALL the bells and whistles, it should do the job. If you want to sell more products and need features like vouchers, then you have to pick their “Business” plan for $24. Weebly is made for beginners that want an easy solution. Because of this, you won’t find advanced features, like dozens of international payment gateways or customer accounts.
Weebly brings out regular updates that provide more features and help you to create a better online shop.
Squarespace – the web store that’s also a great blog
Squarespace offers an online store in all three of its plans. The question is: how much do you want to sell? The smallest plan, called “Personal,” is a bargain at $8, but it only allows you to sell one product. If you want to sell more than 20 products, you have to pick the “Business” plan for $24, but you’ll also receive some extra functions that could come in handy for bigger online shops, such as real time carrier shipping, integrated accounting by Xero, and much more.
Squarespace has a very good blog and it’s also possible to integrate offers from the online store directly in your latest posts. That makes shopping for your customers much easier. What we’ve been really missing so far is the lack of PayPal integration in their range of payment options (well, actually the “range” is limited to Stripe so far).
Ecwid – the addon that turns your existing site into a fully-fledged store
Ecwid is a particularly attractive option if you already own a website that doesn’t have an e-commerce feature. It includes an impressive range of functions, such as a massive number of integrated payment gateways for credit card payments, PayPal, and even voucher codes for special promotional offers.
You can also sell both physical and digital goods. Varying VAT rates between different states are no problem here either. The only drawback with Ecwid is that there is no real easy way for Google to index your product pages.
To get you started, please feel free to download our eBook “Website Creation for Absolute Beginners,” completely free of charge. This will help you plan your business website and get things right from the outset.
Robert Brandl is the founder of WebsiteToolTester and he has been analyzing the market of website builders since 2009.