How to Start an Online Store

Today nothing drives more sales than a unique and convenient online shopping experience. But creating your own online store can be a frightening undertaking – especially if you’re a little technologically impaired. 

If this is you, don’t worry. Below you will find a full guide on how to build your online store using WordPress. We will also introduce you to its latest handy ecommerce plugin- SureCart

What Do You Need to Start an Online Store?

Starting an online business has never been more ideal than it is today. If you have your own PC and a stable internet connection, you can get up and running in a matter of minutes. 

The most important things you need to start your online store are:

  • Your business concepts. Obviously, you need to be familiar with your business, what you are offering and how much your products or services cost.
  • An idea for your domain name. In other words, the online store’s name. Preferably this would be your business’ name followed by an extension like .com or.co.za 
  • A web hosting account.
  • Paying close attention to the rest of this article

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You will be able to create your own online store using WordPress in just a few minutes. Let’s guide you through it. 

Setting Up WordPress

When you first login to your WordPress website, you can set up your business name and description. The latter being completely optional so you will have time to think about it. Now you can set up a theme or design for your business site and move on to creating your store when you’re done with the nitty-gritty. 

Very Important

WordPress’ hosting package comes standard with a free SSL Certificate. This certificate has already been installed for your domain name. You will have to organise your WordPress as it needs to load as https.

To do this go to Settings. Click on the General Page and change your WordPress Address and Site Address to https.

Remember to click on the ‘Save Changes’ button to keep your new settings.The main WordPress setup should be completed now. 

More About WordPress Themes

Themes give you freedom to design your WordPress site however you want. You obviously want your site to be as attractive and appealing to your customers as possible, so spend some time on this. 

You will be able to pick from thousands of paid and free WordPress themes  that will help you design a captivating online presence.

Just be cautious seeing that not all WordPress themes have been designed explicitly for eCommerce stores. 

As soon as you have decided on a theme you can modify its appearance to your own needs. 

Simply click on “Appearance” and then “Customize Page”. This will launch the themes customizer where you will be able to change the settings of your theme. Let’s get to setting up that online store.

Setting up Your Online Store Platform

There are many exceptional online selling platforms on the market. The most popular being WooCommerce. However, we will tell you more about WordPress’ latest addition, SureCart.

Setting up SureCart is quite easy, and it is no different from any other WordPress plugins. After you have installed and activated it, you can find SureCart in your WordPress Admin navigation.

When you click on it, you will start the sign-up process.

SureCart’s handy servers take care of all the backend stuff. This means that you will go through a quick and simple procedure to get started. First you need to sign up for a free account, this is where SureCart will ask you for the details of your store. 

From there you need to connect to one of the available payment processors. When that is completed, you will receive an API key to copy over to the plugin settings.  Now you are basically done setting up SureCart.

Setting up Payments for Your Online Store

SureCart gives you the option of choosing between three payment options. You can choose from getting One Time Payments, Subscriptions, or setting up a Payment Plan. 

One Time Payment

A One Time Payment is self-explanatory. You will also be able to set your prices on how much you want to charge.

Even though you can allocate a predetermined price, you may also consider allowing customers to pay what they want. With this option, your customers will be able to make customized donations or determine how much they want to pay.  

Subscriptions

The subscriptions option lets you have more than one predetermined per product. For example, if you have a membership site, you will be able to charge R99,00 for a monthly subscription. You may even be a little generous and give one month free if they subscribe for an entire year at say R1000 for the year.

Payment Plan

When it comes to the Payment Plan, you will be able to choose how often and how long these payments are needed.

You can be flexible with your pricing options while also having total control over what reflects on the customer’s checkout form.

Adding Your Products 

Now that your site is ready, and you have decided on your payment plan let’s add your products. Simply go to the WordPress Admin then click on “SureCart”. Frome there you simply click on “Products” and “Add New”. In this section you will be free to name your products and choose from the pricing options. Remember to save your changes when you are all done.

Upgrade Your Online Store Using Plugins

By this point, you are well on your way to launching your digital shop. By adding a few extra features, you will be able to create an incombustible online store. 

For example, you will be able to reach more clients through the use of social media channels. That is where useful plugins will come in handy.

Luckily WordPress lets you easily supercharge your website with fantastic plugins and extensions.

You might be overwhelmed with the multiple choices available, especially if you are a beginner. 

We have carefully sifted through two of the best picks for indispensable plugins that you should have in your online store.

OptinMonster

With this nifty plugin you can easily entice website visitors into paying customers. By using nifty tools like lightbox popups, sticky header and footer banners, countdown timers, and more.

These tools are designed to help upsurge your conversions, increase sales, expand your email list, and lower the chances of shopping cart abandonment.

You will be able to get your hands on a free version of OptinMonster  when signing up from inside the OptinMonster WordPress plugin.

AffiliateWP

Word of mouth is still an effective way to gain business exposure with AffiliateWP you can set up add affiliate program to your online store. From here you can partner up with affiliate marketers who will do the groundwork of promoting your products. 

This is subject to an agreed commission. You will be able to track your affiliates, it does not charge you any transaction fees while easily detecting any fraudulent activity. 

SureCart and Starting an Online Store FAQ’s

Many budding entrepreneurs are riddled with questions about starting their own business with an online store. Below we have looked into answering some of the most commonly asked questions.

Where do I find products to sell on my store?

Multiple ways currently exist that give you the ability to source your products. In the digital landscape, many trade in products such as software, digital art, music, and various other downloadable products.

You also have the option of sourcing products from local or offshore vendors through using online marketplaces. If handling your own inventory or shipping isn’t an ideal option for you, then you could consider starting a print on demand shop or dropshipping.

Can I start an online store for free?

Some eCommerce platforms offer partial free trials but after that you will be expected to pay. While SureCart itself is free, you’ll need a domain name and a web hosting account to run it which can cost a lot of money.

How much does it cost to start an online store?

Starting an online store is largely dependent on your business plan and budget. You can start with SureCart’s beta version and rely on free plugins and themes to minimize your expenses. We recommend that you start your business small and then spend money as it expands.

Can I create an online store without shipping products?

Yes, you can. As an example, you can create an online store using dropshipping plugins or by creating an Amazon affiliate store. You should also consider using the same online store to sell external products as well as your own products.

Who Does SureCart Integrate with?

According to their website, SureCart give you two kinds of integrations. The first is what can be referred to as purchase syncing. This is used to synchronise the purchase with another plugin installed on your website. The second kind of integration is by using SureTriggers. 

This is a fully automated engine that mechanizes what happens after purchase or refunds. You will be able to automatically have a sequence of actions happen, such as enrolling in courses, memberships, etc. 

What payment gateways can I use?

In SureCart’s  current beta version, you can use either Stripe or PayPal. With the release of its pro version, other gateways such as Mollie,PayStack, RazorPay and more are expected to make an appearance. 

Conclusion

Today anything can be sold online these days from digital art to courses, home-baked items, and the list goes on. It’s clear that creating an online store is easy when you follow the simple steps above. It won’t cost much and will help you start your own business very soon.

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