In my opinion, and because I have first-hand experience with it… My number one recommendation for an eCommerce store builder is… (*trumpets*) SHOPIFY!
Shopify totally gets 5 stars from me for many, many reasons – and most of which will have to be covered over several different blog posts.
Lets say you have an interest in hobby train sets (which is a profitable niche by-the-way). You don’t need to buy any inventory to get started you just need to put up your store and have an agreement with someone who DOES have inventory.
Just for this example I will make a few assumptions.
- 1a. You and your local hobby/craft shoppe have a good relationship.
1b. The owner is willing to let you sell some of his/her stock and will drop-ship your sales.
1c. They give you decent wholesalers pricing so you can re-sell and make a profit.
2a. You are enough of an enthusiast in this hobby niche that you have some great ideas for digital products as well.
2b. Collecting their email (whether they buy something or not) will allow you to re-market to them about upcoming events and deals that you can also profit from.
For Example: “Sign up to get the FREE PDF on How to Build a Model Bridge From Old Authentic Railway Ties.”
3a. You like making money and want a successful eCommerce business.
How do you figure out what to sell?
Answer: Simply find a niche and go from there.
Shopify – the Nuts & Bolts
Why use Shopify and not just a blog or any of the other eCommerce platforms? Simply because of it’s simplicity.
Yes – you will see other eCommerce web-builders saying they are cheaper or “no hidden fee’s” insinuating that Shopify does have hidden fee’s. They don’t. AND – the only way the others are cheaper (on fees) is if you bring your own merchant account.
If you want it simple then just go ahead and start up a Shopify Store.
Using PayPal to collect money is ok for some things. You can even integrate your existing PayPal account with Shopify. People accustomed to buying from eBay have a PayPal account – but – not everybody does. When selling online people need to feel secure about using their credit cards. They want the process to be simple too. Having your prospect repeatedly prompted to open a PayPal account all while they are trying to buy – can, and does, cost you sales.
This means that you can collect money at an exhibition, or demonstration, even at social gatherings.
Suppose you sell computers and electronics on your Shopify store. You also decide to sell web design and hosting packages.
Now just assume you are at a party and
“Hey, that’s great – I NEED what you are selling. Give me your card and I’ll call for a consult.”
Then you never hear from them again.
The NEW way the conversation can go is:
“Tell you what, give me your credit card and I’ll book you for next Tuesday…”
Online Store Builder
I like the simplicity of the online store builder. There are a tonne of free themes that are perfectly fine as well as a bunch of paid themes that are great too.
Speaking of – if you are a designer of apps or themes – Shopify is a great way to make money using your skills. Find out more about that in the post How to Make Money with Shopify.
If you already have a blog or website and want to tie it in you can do so by just making a simple redirect inside the portal. OR use one of their apps and connect directly from a blog post to your checkout or shopping cart.
Shopify Support Rocks!
One of the biggest reasons I am completely sold on Shopify is their support.
I tend to work on things late at night or the wee hours of the morning. This means I often screw things up or have a question I need answered around 2 AM. The great people at Shopify are awake and answering their phones. Also – they have one of the most extensive help documentation collections I have ever seen.
No matter what bells and whistles you want your store to have – there is probably someone who has already figured it out and has already posted the solution on the docs or in the manual.
Blogging With Shopify
If you don’t already have a website you don’t need anything other than your Shopify site. It has all the features of blogging and it gets indexed in the SE’s including Google.
One potential drawback used to be the inability to migrate your Shopify store to your own blog but is now seems as though someone has made a plugin for that.
If you want to move your blog to Shopify – Shopify has a free app for that too!
There are three very close competitors for the DIY eCommerce market that do deserve a mention.
~ Volusion – which has been around for a very long time and deserves a close look.
~ Network Solutions has a great eCommerce platform as well as much more. Go here for a full review of Network Solutions and,
~ BigCommerce Which is more like Shopify than the other two.