If you are thinking about selling something online then you will need a website with a shopping cart and eCommerce platform. With all of the options out there, which one should you use? My suggestion is either WooCommerce or Shopify. Which one of the two depends on your budget and what you will be doing with it. Let’s have a look at them both in more detail.
WooCommerce and WordPress
I’m starting with this platform because I have been a WordPress theme developer for the past several years and therefore I am more familiar with it. A lot of the bespoke themes I have coded incorporated WooCommerce. From a developer’s point of view, it is definitely the most user friendly and the most customisable (of course I became familiar with the WordPress structure and code, so that may be the obvious reason).
If you are selling your own products (as opposed to dropshipping which is discussed below), whether they be tangible or digital products, then WordPress and WooCommerce are the best option.
All you have to do is get hosting and a domain through your favourite hosting provider and install WordPress. If you choose hosting on a Linux server (recommended) and the host provides cPanel (recommended) then you simply log into your cPanel, scroll down to the one-click installs and install WordPress. Put in a few details and it’s a simple easy process.
Once you have your website setup with WordPress, you can then install a theme. There are many options from free themes in the WordPress repository, or you can buy a theme from many different places, such as ThemeForest. Because you are going to use WooCommerce, look for a theme that is compatible. If you do have money to spend then go to WooThemes. These themes are built with WooCommerce in mind as they are the producers of WooCommerce (started by a South African by the way).
You will also need to go to plugins and install WooCommerce. All of the above, apart from the hosting which is a small cost, is free (WordPress is free, which has free themes that you can use, and WooCommerce is free), so if you do have a tight budget to barely even anything, then this is a great option.
There may be a learning curve involved, but Google is your friend. No matter what it is, you will find the answer on Google, from how to use your cPanel to how to install a theme and a plugin. You will also find that there a lot of free plugins that can do just about anything. For more in-depth and complex functions that you might want to introduce to your site, you can find premium plugins which you pay for, but costs are usually quite low.
Although WordPress encompasses any form of company, person and website, being able to build literally any kind of site you want, it began in the blogging sphere, and so when it comes to blogging and content creation, which is a very very important factor to online marketing, then apart from having an eCommerce site, you can also include a blog and many other options that you may want to build into your website. The sky really is the limit with WordPress, and quite frankly, beyond that sky to the universe beyond.
Shopify and Oberlo
Now, if you do have some money to spend each month, and especially if you are thinking of setting up a dropshipping site, then definitely use Shopify.
With Shopify you won’t need to find hosting to give you server space or a domain, Shopify does that for you. When you sign up you will get a 2 week free trial and then the plans start at $29.99 per month.
It is very user friendly, especially for someone who is not familiar with a CMS (Content Management System). Because Shopify is focused on eCommerce it makes a lot of sense to use it for an online store. If you are considering dropshipping then it makes even more sense.
When I started my other dropshipping store a few years back I sourced my own suppliers and was inputting the products manually. This took a great amount of work and time that could have been avoided.
Check out Oberlo. With this platform, created by Shopify and working specifically with the Shopify platform, you can search for any product that you want to sell, find a good supplier that is selling that product and sync it to your Shopify store with just a few clicks. No need to manually upload each image, variant and price for each and every product, it’s all automated. It will also keep track of stock from the suppliers and update your store (which was a huge pain with my first store).
uAfrica for South Africans
To make things even easier, check out uAfrica. If you are in South Africa and selling your own products then they have courier options available, without having to set up an expensive account with the courier’s themselves. It has a 30 day free trial and plans start at R99.
Why use uAfrica? Apart from their courier options, you can also sync your Shopify or WooCommerce store to bidorbuy (kind of like South Africa’s own version of eBay). This makes things even easier.
If you are dropshipping, then you start with Oberlo, find the product you want to sell, click a couple buttons and it uploads everything to your Shopify store. Then uAfrica syncs all of that information to your bidorbuy store to sell directly to your South African customers on one of the biggest eCommerce platforms in SA. Sooooo much easier.
If you have a look around I am sure there are options to do the same thing with eBay, but at the end of the day there are options out there which can make your life simpler and easier through automation.