If you have a small business, or any business for that matter, there might be untapped potential on the internet for your business to expand its reach and grow. The beautiful part of the world we live in today is that anyone can create a business anywhere and start selling products. If you already have a business, you should take advantage of this and see what opportunities you have.

I am talking about an e-commerce website.

It might sound like this would be overwhelming thing to accomplish, but with a little guidance, its actually quite easy. I am not only going to provide you with two options, but will help answer questions about which one is right for you and how I can help guide you through the process.

How An E-commerce Website Can Help Your Business

Say you run a gym or yoga studio. You can expand the functionality of your traditional website to sell memberships online, add the ability for people to buy memberships as gifts, sell merchandise like t-shirts, hoodies, water bottles and equipment like jump ropes, yoga mats, etc. People can go to the gym and buy them right there, but a lot of time people at the gym just want to get their workout in and get out. This gives them an opportunity to buy from home and have it delivered to them.

What about a small boutique? If you own a small shop, why not create a digital storefront for the customers who might not be able to drive an hour to get to you or don’t have time this weekend to come to the store. You aren’t going to drive customers out of your store because the majority of customers are going to your physical store because of the experience. What you would be doing is providing another avenue to gain additional customers. You already have the products in your store so all you need to do when an order comes in is print a shipping label slap it on the package and throw it in the mailbox, or depending on how your store is setup, you can have it ready for pickup.

It is about expanding your business and providing the an alternative for your customer or would-be customer.

So What Are The Options?

There are two main solutions that I help implement at Creative216; Shopify and WooCommerce.

The solution for your business varies, depending on if you already have a website that you looking to add the functionality to or whether you are creating something brand new. Are you strictly selling products or are you providing a service and want to add the ability to also sell other things online?

I will walk through two of the best options to add shopping cart functionality to your website and provide your customers with the ability

What is Shopify?

Shopify is a cloud-based SaaS (software as a service) website shopping cart solution. It is an all-in-one website solution that creates an online storefront and shopping cart where your customers can purchase products from your store. It acts like a website but has the functionality of a store. Using the Shopify service, you have access to an easy to use admin panel where you can manage your products and inventory, process orders, update your store data, and leverage analytics to learn more about the activity on your store.

How it Works

Shopify is a subscription service, meaning that you pay a monthly fee to use their shopping cart solution. You build your website using a variety of free and premium themes, or have a custom theme built for your website. The Shopify admin page and shopping cart solution is already integrated, so you just need to setup your store and optimize it.

The Pros:

All Inclusive – It acts as a website and storefront. You don’t need to redirect users from your website to another commerce solution, which often causes confusion and may make them weary of what website they are buying from.

Admin Dashboard – Shopify is one of the best products for e-commerce. Their platform has everything you need from setting up shipping, managing products, collecting emails, email reminders and all of the analytics you need.

Get Up and Running – Rather than spending months building your store from scratch, you can get up and running in a short amount of time.

The Cons:

Limited Theme Options – There are a limited amount of theme options in the Shopify store, but on a positive note, these can all be customized. Creative216 can help you modify your theme to get it to work and look the way you want, so it aligns with your brand.

Monthly Subscription – You have to pay a monthly subscription. Is this actually a con? I would personally just consider it the cost of doing business, but none the less, it is something to consider when using the platform.

Plugins and Apps come with a cost: On top of the monthly subscription, if you need a lot of additional features or integrations with third-party applications, you will have to pay a premium for them.

Third party apps and plugins help extend the functionality of your Shopify store. There are a lot of free apps but the downside is that most of the useful ones come at a cost in addition to your Shopify subscription. The functionality of these apps ranges from product review apps, product bundling and email marketing all the way to recurring charges functionality. However, any of these premium apps will add to your monthly Shopify subscription. Most of the functionality comes ready to use out of the box but as your store grows, your needs may grow.

What is WooCommerce?

WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin that extends the functionality of your website to include an e-commerce storefront.

The Pros:

It’s Free – Although it’s a free plugin, you still need to have a WordPress website developed to run the plugin on. But no monthly subscription and no hidden fees!!

Turn any WordPress Website Into a Store – This is the biggest pro of them all. If you have a blog or website on WordPress, you can quickly get your store up and running. No need to build a new site (unless your current site is poorly designed and not optimized).

Open Source – Open source software means that it is free to take the plugin and modify the source code of it. This allows many developers to create modular plugins and enhancements to it which in turn creates a strong community and following.

Optimal Security – With a large community of developers, the platform is always kept up to date when it comes to security.

Multiple Payment Processors – Collect money through Stripe, PayPal, Amazon Pay, Square and many more.

The Cons:

Doesn’t have everything you need – Even though it is a free plugin, there may be additional costs with premium plugins to get all of the functionality that you want or need. Advanced logistics and complex inventory management may force you to accrue additional costs.

Customizations Take More Technical Knowledge – If you are looking to modify templates then you may need someone more technical. If you have a web developer that you work with, this won’t be an issue but if you are doing this all on your own, you may be limited to how much you can modify it without cracking open the code.

Steep Learning Curve – WooCommerce is pretty powerful, but its not as user friendly as Shopify is. You’ll have to watch tutorials and read through documentation to understand all of the little nuances that come with the plugin to get it to behave the way you intend it to. On the positive side, there is a large abundance of documentation and forums available because it has such a large community of users.

Performance Heavy – As you add extensions and plugins, it could come with a degradation in formation and website speed. This has always been the knock against WordPress. However, if this can be prevented with a well designed website and great hosting such Flywheel.

So What E-Commerce Solution is Best?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to e-commerce and there are multiple options depending on your current situation and business model.

If you have a WordPress website, WooCommerce is definitely the best solution because you can leverage your existing website.

If you are just looking to create a stand alone store, Shopify would be a great option. You will have everything you need to get up and running quickly.

A WooCommerce store allows you to add store functionality to a more robust website built with WordPress.

Both options have costs associated but they are reasonable compared to a custom shopping cart solution.

I hope this post was helpful and you were able to learn more about how to add a shopping cart to your website and sell products online. If you would like more information or to discuss your options and learn what would be best for you, schedule a free consultation with no obligation. I would be more than happy to help your business learn and grow.