This is a general post about the eCommerce world.
What is an eCommerce website?
An eCommerce website is basically a website on which you can sell stuff ranging from physical products such as Electronics, Clothes, Tools, Toys and so on to virtual products such as Books, Photos, Software and the list goes on.
Ecommerce websites have some specific features that differentiate them from other websites such as: shopping cart, user account management, order registrations, payment processing, automatic invoices, wishlists, product comparison, refund system, setting up products with different options and prices, manufacturers, suppliers and many other features.
There are a lot of eCommerce platforms out there from which you can choose, I will list some of the best: Prestashop, WordPress with Woocomerce plugin, Magento, Zen Cart and many others.
How easy it is to set up?
Setting up an eCommerce store can be done in less then an hour nowadays. Thanks to all the eCommerce platforms out there you can install and quickly configure an eCommerce website in minutes. And you don’t have to use all the features they have to offer, only focus on what is really important for your business.
If you want some custom functionality and you don’t know how to code you can hire a freelancer to code it. Websites like Freelancer and Elance offer high quality services for decent prices.
How much does it cost?
You need to take into account the monthly cost of hosting, this is where you website files will be stored; a domain name such as yourbusiness.com so that people can access your store in a browser and an eCommerce platform such as PrestaShop.
A shared hosting usually costs around $8 per month.
The domain name for .com costs round $10 per year.
The PrestaShop eCommerce platform is free. If you want you can look for themes to change the default PrestaShop if you are not satisfied with how it looks, or a module that does a specific feature that you need.
So the final cost is around $9 per month to run an eCommerce website.
However if you want a specific design for your store and custom functionalities, prices for the design and coding usually start at $3000 and can go as much as $10.000 in the e-Commerce world, depending on how complex the tasks are. Another alternative is to search for a theme you like and purchase it. A theme is a prebuilt design which you can purchase for a fraction of the cost of developing from scratch. Themes are usually customizable from and administration area and don’t require extra coding.
Basically if you want to sell some stuff online there is no excuse for laying around, the clock is ticking and we are in the digital era. Just for a small price per month, $9, you can have the potential of earning much more.
Once you start earning you should consider investing in the appearance and functionality of your store by purchasing a good looking theme or a module which helps customers purchase faster or have a greater user experience on your store.
How to make money with it?
Making money with your eCommerce store is probably the most important aspect, we all want to make money right?
Setting up your store and optimizing it is just a part in the path of a successful website. You also need to learn how to attract the right clients and how to convert these into sales. There are tons of marketing ideas out there and there is no one rule to fit all, you must experiment and see what works for you.
The most effective way to bring people over to your store is using Google Adwords, unfortunately this can be an expensive method for some.
Others ways might be creating a community by blogging about what you do and sharing on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Linkedin and others depending what your clients are more likely to use.
Use Google Analitycs to see how much traffic you have and what they are looking for.
You might want to hire a photographer to take some great pictures of your products. The more accurate and good looking the more chances of selling.
Ecommerce options, why Prestashop is better than others?
We use PrestaShop to power premiumpresta.com, it’s beautifully set up and it’s blazing fast.
The best part of PrestaShop is that it’s modular. You can add or remove functionalities in different parts of your website like you would move a couple of boxes around.
The PrestaShop community is awesome, you will always find people on the forum helping you out in case you run into issues.
We are working with PrestaShop for about 3 years, since it was version 1.5 and along the time it has been improved greatly. The new PrestaShop version 126.96.36.199 looks great both the front office and the back office, moreover it is responsive.
There are also a lot of free themes and modules with various functionalities to add to your PrestaShop store just in a few clicks.
The eCommerce world is fascinating and complex, to be succesful it requires lots of knowledge and little bit of luck 🙂