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This entry is a guest post from Max Hartmann, who has been developing and designing websites since 2006. Max’s web development agency has built and managed 1,600+ websites, across 4 continents, in over a decade.
We all want to become entrepreneurs.
We daydream about running our own business; having complete control over our time and stream of income. Perhaps you were just thinking of starting a side business that would augment your monthly salary.
But what if that dream or side business could grow to become a million dollar enterprise? Is there such a business in the first place?
If you’ve always wanted to become an entrepreneur but did not know when, where or how to start, E-commerce is the way to go so read on. We will show you how to set up an E-commerce website in 15 minutes and become an online entrepreneur!
I know where I speak from because I’ve been an E-commerce entrepreneur since 2006. In the last ten years, I have launched a total of 20 websites.
Currently, I am managing five websites that average US$15,000 to US$20,000 in revenue each month. I can tell you for the fact that E-Commerce is a viable and highly profitable business idea.
I created this guide as a platform to share my experiences with budding entrepreneurs. Like many of you, I went through a period of trial and error. I tried setting up E-Commerce sites in a variety of ways, and at times, the experience was costly.
In my years of experience, I became more proficient and realized that you don’t need to spend so much time and money in building a highly-effective and fully functioning E-Commerce website.
This guide sums up all the knowledge and experience I gained in building E-Commerce websites. I wrote this, so you will avoid making the same mistakes I did when I was starting out.
The Future of Retail is in E-Commerce
There are several reasons why E-commerce has grown to become a US$1.9 Trillion global industry.
For one, people have become more mobile dependent. There is a 65% probability that you are reading this article from your smartphone. With today’s technology, the answer to your questions is literally in the palm of your hand!
Second, an E-Commerce business is easy and inexpensive to set up and manage. You only need a website, and you can run it anywhere with Internet connection.
Third, an E-Commerce business runs 24/7. Holidays, weekends or nighttime; these are all great opportunities to make money.
Finally, by 2020 it is estimated there will be 6.1 Billion smartphones operating in the world. That means more people will be transacting online. The global E-Commerce industry is expected to earn US$4 Trillion by 2020.
If you’ve been thinking of starting an online business, you are on the right track for entrepreneurial success!
Why This Guide Is For You
The best way to manage a business is to understand how it works from the ground up. For E-Commerce, this means you have to learn how your website runs.
Just like a successful restaurant owner goes through the process of learning every station and piece of equipment that runs his business, so must you learn everything about your website. After all, your website is your business address online.
But don’t worry! You don’t have to be techy to understand this guide. I wrote it to be accessible to everyone and anyone who wants to start an online business. Technical jargon is not used, and I took great pains to break down specific terms into plain English.
If you don’t have a business in mind, it is perfectly fine. You can always go back to this guide once you have a definite idea of what your online venture is going to be. This guide applies to any type of online business.
Now let’s go to the nuts and bolts of this article, building your online store!
How to Build an E-Commerce Website
There are two ways to build an E-Commerce website:
- Customized – This means hiring a professional website designer and developer to build your E-Commerce website according to your specifications and requirements.
- Off-The-Shelf – This is why you are reading this article. You can use E-Commerce platforms such as Shopify that will provide you the templates and tools to build your website.
I’ve had the experience of using customized and E-Commerce software services. There are pros and cons to both methods:
- Unique design
- Optimized pages
- Functions are specified to your business needs
- Scalable to meet future needs
- Low cost
- Faster development time
- Availability of beautiful template designs
- Availability of plug-ins to improve functionality
- Needs coding skills for proper maintenance and upgrades
- Issues on using proprietary graphics
- Other people will be using the same template
- Template may not be optimized or accessible by other browsers.
As I mentioned, I went through periods of trial and error. In my opinion, using an E-Commerce software service is the best option for building your website.
By choosing E-Commerce platforms, you have the option of using professionally designed website templates. Even if others use the same template, your branding strategy and content will differentiate your website from others.
While customization is limited, the available plug-ins can still provide the functions your business requires. Website templates are not difficult to maintain, and it is the best way to learn how websites work.
And you’ll save more money!
Two Best Options for Building Your Online Store
Why WordPress + WooCommerce Plug-In?
Without a doubt, WordPress is the most popular Content Management System (CMS) in the world. More than 74 Million websites can attest to that.
WordPress has downloadable templates that are SEO-friendly, navigable and come with an assortment of plug-ins you can use to build your website. You will need to use the WooCommerce plug-in to make an E-Commerce website.
WooCommerce is a plugin designed for WordPress users that have product and inventory management tools. But some technical skill is needed to install the WooCommerce plug-in to a hosted WordPress website.
Use WordPress + WooCommerce if:
- You want some customization to your E-Commerce website.
- You are tech-challenged.
- You want more input to the look, feel, and function of your E-Commerce website.
Shopify is an E-Commerce software solutions provider where you pay a monthly subscription fee to use its tools and services. It is a fast and convenient way to set up your E-Commerce website. Select a template, upload your products and services then you can start selling online!
Use Shopify if:
- You want to forego hiring costly website developers.
- Your knowledge of programming is limited.
- You want to scale up your business as soon as possible.
Regardless of your choice of E-commerce software service, WooCommerce and Shopify are proven brands in the market. Shopify will be easier and faster to set up as it does not require programming.
As you will see in the next section, you can configure your E-Commerce store using Shopify in only 15 minutes.
Setting Up Shopify: Your E-Commerce Website in 15 Minutes
For entrepreneurs who wanted an E-Commerce business, setting up a website seemed like a daunting task. If they didn’t have web design and coding skills, the next option would be to hire a professional web developer. But for those with limited funds, hiring a professional web designer would be very costly.
It’s the main reason why Shopify is a godsend for E-Commerce entrepreneurs. It has simplified the process of building a website.
No coding skills? No problem!
A few clicks and a bit of typing and your first-ever E-Commerce website will be up and open for business.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to set up your Shopify E-Commerce website in 15 minutes:
Step 1: Go to Shopify.com
Go to the Shopify website, put your email address, and click on the Start free trial button.
Complete the entries: e-mail address, password and the name of your E-Commerce store. Then, click Create your store.
Next, you will be asked to Add an address so you can get paid.
Fill in the required information: your full name, address and phone number.
Shopify will use this information to configure the appropriate tax rates and currencies. Once you’re done, click Next.
Shopify will ask you about your business. Inform Shopify if you’re already selling and how much you plan to sell.
When you’re done, click Enter My Store.
Step 2: Set Up Shop!
Now you are at the backend of your E-Commerce store.
This is the part where you add the products and services you plan to sell to your market. Shopify provides a simple and easy way for you to set up shop.
Shopify will ask you to Add a Product, so click on that first.
Shopify’s Add Product page will ask you to fill in required details: title, description, price, and vendor.
Remember to save the product once you are done.
Repeat the process until you have uploaded all the products or services you plan to sell.
Step 3: Design Your E-Commerce Store
Return to the main dashboard and click on the Customize Online Store button.
You can customize the look of your store from its logos to its colors once you’ve clicked the Customize theme.
You can also find both free and paid templates for your new store by clicking Visit Theme Store.
You can browse through Shopify’s large collection of themes and designs.
Take your time and figure out which theme best captures the look and feel you want for your Shopify store.
Step 4: Select Your Domain
Once you’re done designing the look of your E-Commerce store, it’s time to set up your domain so you can be on the Internet.
Return to the main dashboard and click on Add a Domain.
Shopify will ask you if you are planning to transfer an existing domain or register a new one.
If you choose to register a new one, select your option then go through the process of making the purchase.
You may need to specify which Shopify payment option you would like to use.
Once this has been activated, visit your domain and see your website.
But there is one more step you need to do before you can officially open for business!
Step 5: Select Your Payment Processor
Your payment processor allows you to accept payments and transfer these to your designated account.
On the left side of the main dashboard, click Settings then select Payments.
Shopify provides dozens of payment processing options such as Stripe and Authorize.net.
Of course, Shopify has its payment processor which is very easy to use. Just follow the directions, and you’re good to go!
Now comes the moment you’ve been waiting for: Opening for Business!
Simply click Online Store at the left side of the admin panel and go to Preferences. Remove your storefront password and click Save.
You now have a fully-functioning E-Commerce store that’s ready to take on the market.
Whether you did it in 15 minutes or more should not matter.
What matters is that you did it on your own without the need for a professional web designer.
Would you ever have thought it was possible to set up your own online store a few months ago?
Now you know you can. With Shopify, you have a proven website that is easy to set up and manage.
Ready for your Next Step? Check out these other guides out: