Setting up a storefront on the web can be intimidating for most small businesses. There was a time when it was indeed difficult and required a lot of technical know-how or patience to put a web-store together.
Today, though, nothing could be easier. And with more people than ever out there buying goods on the Internet, there is a vast untapped market for any small business with a killer product but a small geographic reach.
You can put together a storefront which will compete with the largest companies on the web in less than a day. The secret to this easy, profitable idea is WordPress.
WordPress has long been known as software for bloggers. But it has evolved into a fully featured and capable content management system which is both free and easy to use. About twenty percent of all websites today are powered by WordPress. You have probably purchased goods from a WordPress storefront site and never even realized it.
Are you ready to build your own?
Buy a domain name. Is ExtremelyAwesomeWidgets.com available? Go snap that bad boy up before your competitor gets it. Namecheap.com is a well-respected and reliable domain name registrar with affordable prices. Don’t buy your domain name through your web-hosting company, as tempting as it may be to keep all your services under one account. A dispute or accident will leave you with no recourse to rapidly switch to a different service if problems should arise.
Get a WordPress hosting account at your favorite web-hosting company. Almost every website hosting company offers WordPress as a simple add-on option these days. Installation is usually accomplished in one click and less than 10 minutes.
Pick a theme! Your theme will determine how your site looks and how your products are shown. A large number of themes are available for free in the Appearance, Add Theme menu from your dashboard. Alternatively, you can pay a little money and download a theme with more options and even prettier colors from a third-party theme developer. Look for a theme that is compatible with the WooCommerce plugin.
Download WooCommerce. It’s available in the Plugins library; just click on Plugins, Add New in your dashboard and search for it. There are a lot of competing e-commerce plugins available for WordPress, and you might be tempted to shop around. Don’t bother. WooCommerce is free (although you will certainly end up spending money for extensions and extra features) and has deep support and integration options. It looks good, too.
Sign up for PayPal, if you don’t already have a business account. PayPal has some drawbacks as a payment processing service but no one beats them for ease of setup. They handle all major credit cards and you can easily switch to a different service later on if you need to scale up.
Configure WooCommerce to accept payments using your PayPal e-mail address. PayPal is one of the standard payment options included. You can get going as quickly as you click WooCommerce Settings, click on the Checkout tab, and pick the PayPal option and fill in your e-mail.
Put in some products! You’ll find the options under the Products tab. Click Add Product. Give it a name and type in a description. Be creative. There is a Product Data tab below, which you can use to input details, such as how much the product costs. There are a lot of options here but don’t waste your time putting in anything that isn’t pertinent. For example, if your product is virtual, you probable don’t need to put in weight or dimensions or shipping information. You should add an image; images sell, even for virtual products. Click on Featured Image to upload a thumbnail. Click Publish and you’re done!
Congratulations … No one knows it’s there yet, but your first product is now for sale on the Shopping page.
Marketing your goods is a whole other story. There are also many, many options for tweaking your site and adding features like ratings, shipping and tax calculations, and more. But those are all details. You’ve accomplished the most important part of the task: you now have a product storefront for your goods on the web.