Our First Online Store!
Recently, Orion Web Services took on the project of creating the online store, Chronos Emporium. It was an interesting and eye-opening experience to craft an online store on a tight budget! Here are some tips and things to consider when creating your own store!
1. Choose the Right WordPress Theme
As much as I love the Shopify platform and would definitely recommend it, some people can’t afford the monthly recurring payments. It’s better for them to pay a higher fee once-off and then only worry about hosting (which, with BlueHost, is just $3.95/month).
Choosing the right WordPress theme will largely dictate your customization options and the overall look and feel of your online store.
Personally, I love the X theme. It integrates incredibly well with WooCommerce and has four professionally designed stacks to choose from. They also include a handy checkout editor with the bundle of plugins included with the theme!
This theme also has tons of customizable elements which you can experiment with from a handy dashboard (see the picture below). Their page builder is also easy to use and highly functional. Choose between classic elements (less customization) or advanced elements which include many options to easily craft an individual design.
The X theme is mobile friendly and is wonderfully responsive. There is some custom CSS that needs to be added to make it 100% perfect on mobile but it’s still pretty good as is. I tend to add a lot of custom CSS but the normal level of customization you have access to here is remarkable.
The customization menu of the X theme
2. Choose the Right Plugins
Another fairly obvious tip, but here are some plugins that work really well and are free! These are besides the obvious WooCommerce plugin.
Sumo: Your one-stop plugin for pop-ups, email forms, analytics, share buttons and now, even live chat! There are many payment tiers on this plugin, but they do offer a free version which includes basically everything you really need.
Conversio: This plugin is very useful! It handles marketing emails connected to cart activity (among other things). If someone abandons their cart, Conversio sends them emails to remind them they have items left. It even includes a coupon code in the 2nd follow-up email! It also sends a confirmation email after a purchase and can also be used for other email marketing needs. They do have a free plan as well as a paid option.
Jetpack: We all know and love Jetpack by now and it’s definitely a must-have plugin. I disable any features I don’t want, just to save some space and improve site speed.
DEFINITELY: disable Jetpack mobile theme if you’re using X. They do not play well together.
The main reason I love Jetpack is the useful widgets which can fill up the sidebars with all the most relevant content from your site and social accounts.
Yoast SEO: This plugin is a no-brainer. SEO is essential for your store. Pay particular attention to your product and category descriptions. This is the perfect place to include keyword-rich text which will help your products (and online store) be easily found on Google.
The comprehensive array of apps on the Sumo plugin
PayPal Express: the payment gateway was a particular challenge when developing Chronos Emporium because of budget and location restrictions.
If you have some cash to spend (and stay in the right country) then purchase the WooCommerce Stripe integration or the PayPal Payments Pro integration.
However, when on a budget, I recommend the PayPal Express integration (which is free) and make it the only checkout option. Customers can pay with credit card or their PayPal Account and do not need to register for an account if they don’t want one.
Personal tip: Use this in conjunction with the WooCommerce cart tab plugin. Remove the “checkout” button to funnel the customer to the “basket page”. Here, the summary of their pending purchase will be displayed along with the PayPal Express payment button. This initially avoids the “checkout” page and allows the customer to pay first before filling the checkout forms out.
The reason: PayPal will sometimes force a user to register an account with them before paying based on their country, even if guest payment is allowed in your settings. Paying before entering this info into WooCommerce circumvents this bug and allows guest payment.
Make the entire process as painless and easy as possible!
The finished cart tab
3. Choose your products and prices well
Drop shipping is a popular form of e-commerce and it’s easy to understand why. No inventory to keep track of, no shipping to worry about. Wait for an order, place the order at your supplier and sit back while the money rolls in.
The reality is that you probably won’t make a lot of money this way (at least initially), simply because there are so many people doing it.
Shopify already has over 400 000 users and there are thousands more using WordPress and other solutions.
Should that discourage you? Of course not, but think carefully about how you’re going to position yourself in the market.
When drop shipping, ensure that you curate a collection that has not been seen before in other stores of similar nature. You store can also stand out by its design, accessibility, its story and, of course, its prices.
Also, ensure you have a solid marketing strategy, particularly social media marketing. This could net you big sales if you use it well and offer great value to your followers!
If you want to try drop shipping it’s a great way to make money and I say go for it. BUT! Go into it with realistic expectations and ignore the articles and people convincing you that you’ll be making millions in short order. It will take time and effort like everything else.
That’s a Wrap for Today
I hope these tips will spark a few ideas! There’s always more to talk about when it comes to setting up a successful online store so keep an eye out for future articles!