No. For real!
Yes. It is going to be handy having some experience as a store owner. It would also help having knowledge of how online shopping works, but you don’t need that much to start an online store. If you have your stock and you have done your market research, then you can jump ‘head first’ into setting up an online store without any real issues. Let us tell you how!
Why you do not need experience
The great thing about starting an online store is that a lot of the hard work has been done for you already. Obviously, it is not everything that you need to do. You still need to put your research into ensuring that you get the right stock, market it in the right way, etc. (a core part of all store running, not just eCommerce). By ‘hard work,’ we mean that the website has been set up for you. Well, you will need to change a few settings, but it will be minimal work.
The best software will enable you to add products quickly and easily to your site. Obviously, this is the most important part because if you do not have products on it, you are going to have nothing to sell. The applications that we are going to discuss in a short while make adding these products a breeze. It takes a couple of minutes and is much the same as if you were writing something in Microsoft Word. In fact, you can write the product descriptions in Microsoft Word if you wish and then transfer them over.
Take the advantage of the plugins
The main reason as to why you want this ‘ready to install’ software, however, is because it makes the whole running of your website a breeze. You will have the shopping cart in place. Also, you will get the way to accept payments in place and you will even be able to configure the software to receive discount codes and calculate the correct postage. Mostly, it will take the minimum amount of effort, which is something that you are going to love. With your list of products ready to go and the right piece of software by your side, you could be selling products online within an hour. You do not need any coding experience.
Of course, owning an online eCommerce store is not really a case of ‘build it, and they will come’. You can have the best-looking website in the world, set up correctly and all, but you still need to market yourself. You will need to have a small amount of experience or here outsource it, but this should not be that much of an issue, hopefully!
The Options Available
Now we move onto the ‘meat’ of what we want to talk about. This is the solution that you can use on your website. There are hundreds of options out there to choose from. We want to focus on two of the most popular, though; WooCommerce and Shopify. You may have heard of the latter, so let’s start by talking about that one.
Shopify is a ‘hosted’ solution. This means that you do not get the software to do as you please with. You go to the Shopify website, enter your payment details, and then click a couple of buttons to set your site up. It takes a few minutes, and you are ready to go.
The main reason as to why people opt for Shopify is because it is so easy. This whole system has been built up as being marketed for beginners. If you have absolutely no coding experience, then this is the route to go down. The number of features that come packed into the package will surprise you. Because Shopify is so popular, if you ever do run into an issue, then somebody will be there to answer any questions you have. In fact, it is likely that someone has already responded to the issues in the past for you, so you can solve any problems within minutes.
We must stress that Shopify is a ‘paid’ solution and you will have limited control over what you do on your site. There are also some limitations due to the fact that it is a hosted solution, but that is out of the scope of this guide.
The second option is WooCommerce. This is a plugin for WordPress, and it is 100% free. Once you have WordPress installed (which is incredibly simple), you install it as a plugin, change some configurations, and you should be good to go. There are a plethora of add-ons for this software too which can extend the functionality of the platform although, to be honest, you should be okay with just the base installation of the plugin.
You do have a lot more control over your WooCommerce installation as you will be able to tap into the site’s code and change whatever you like. However, you will need to have an understanding of how certain programming languages work (HTML, PHP, and CSS form the basis of WooCommerce). However, if you can nail those programming languages, then managing your site should be easy. But, as I said, you could just stick with the base installation. If you do have any questions, then the plugin is popular enough that you should be able to find the answers to everything online without too many issues.
Honestly, if you have no experience with the world of eCommerce or even web development, then opt for Shopify. It is far easier to use. You need to know nothing about coding, and you can have your site set up in minutes. Yes. There is a cost involved, but you are going to be paying that money for a website hosted elsewhere anyway, so it is not going to be that much of a big deal. Your website can even ‘grow’ with you going forward, which means you can enjoy a site that serves you well for many, many years to come. It’s a great investment if you put some of your time in it.