For most of us, the biggest advantage of e-commerce is upfront affordability. The internet has given entrepreneurs an unprecedented opportunity to launch businesses without substantial investment, warehouses full of inventory, employees, or brick-and-mortar shop fronts. It is possible to start a successful company today with little more than a good idea and a strong work ethic. But as competition intensifies daily in the online marketplace, the accessibility and affordability of ecommerce seem farther and farther out of reach for many. Hiring web designers can cost a small fortune; the price of dedicated server space is on the rise, and maintaining a healthy site in the constantly evolving digital landscape has become almost as expensive as it is daunting.
Fortunately, however, there are still low-cost options available for would-be online business owners. Launching an ecommerce site through WordPress is often the easiest, cheapest, and most practical. Here’s how:
Server Space, Domains, and .Org
There are two basic ways to use WordPress. With the first, you go to http://wordpress.com, open an account, choose a theme, and start customizing your site and while this is the most common way to use WordPress, it isn’t right for those looking to build professional online business platforms. Instead, you should first rent server space and a domain. Shop around on sites like GoDaddy, HostGator, or Blue Host to find the cheapest and most reliable web host.
Obtain a domain name (something easy to remember that will clearly identify your company). Now that you have a website and a web control panel, you can visit wordpress.org to upload templates directly to your site. This way, you not only achieve a domain name that doesn’t end in .wordpress.com, but you also have much more control over the template you use, along with plenty of room for expansion and customization. If your traffic suddenly explodes, you can always get more server space from your provider, and won’t be limited by the boundaries of typical WordPress accounts.
One of the many advantages of using WordPress templates without using the .com site is that you can control your site from two platforms. While having access to WordPress’ user-friendly posting and customization options, you can also manipulate, backup, and refine your site via the control panel. As you do so, remember to upload all your content into files in cPanel (or whatever control panel you happen to use), while also posting them through WordPress. If the site ever crashes or gets hacked, you’ll be glad you did.
Also remember that WordPress regularly updates its themes, so any changes you make directly to the theme coding will be erased when the next update debuts. To avoid losing your customizations, make all of changes via Child Themes.
If you don’t have much coding experience (and don’t know what Child Themes are yet), don’t worry. All the info you need can be found with a quick Google search or visit to the WordPress support forums. Because it is so popular, there is a wealth of information online to help you use and manipulate WordPress.
Choosing a Theme
E-commerce WordPress themes are usually sleek, elegant and contemporary which are enticing factors for online shoppers. When choosing a theme, you must make sure it represents your brand and products well and generally shows off your company to its full potential. Given that the world of online shopping is fast moving, you must grab potential customer’s attention within seconds.
Make sure the theme you choose allows from strong product photography and most importantly, your homepage must be vibrant, engaging and easy to navigate.
In recent years, WordPress has vastly expanded its support for users looking to start ecommerce sites. Plugins like Jigoshop, WooCommerce, and Shopp are excellent solutions for building versatile and secure ecommerce sites. And don’t forget that PayPal also offers great business solutions for getting paid quickly, easily, and safely.
Of course, when you create an ecommerce site it comes down to the elements that make individual ecommerce sites effective, there is no ‘one-size-fits all’ solution. Every page, regardless of whether or not it uses the same WordPress theme as others, must be unique. But all web entrepreneurs will nonetheless benefit from taking the time to analyze the competition, consult a web designer, and carefully craft a site with a great flow. You want to intuitively direct visitors from the products to the sales page. Sites need to be fast, visually evocative, and informative. While it may not be easy to build a successful ecommerce site, WordPress certainly makes it easier and more accessible than ever.
Kirsten set up her own handmade silver jewellery business and decided the best way to sell her products would be using an online platform. When initially launching her business in January 2011, she was unable to budget for a bespoke website so she turned to WordPress. WordPress was a great option as there were vast resources online to help her set up her website easily.