How To Build Your Own Online Store
Having a product to sell is worthless if you don’t have a place to sell it. You may get lucky with getting customers to your doorstep with mouth of word method. But it is not sustainable in the long run. If you already have a physical building that you use to store and sell your products, then good. But have you thought about what happens if you build an online store to sell your products?
Online store gives you the capability to reach people who are interested in your product around the globe. If they see your products and understand how it will help them to solve their problems, then you will get a customer and a sale which you won’t get in your local business area.
That’s why having an online store is so powerful if you want to expand your business globally. But as a total stranger to the online store concept and don’t have any idea how it works, it can be so overwhelming for you. But in this article, I will explain how you can build your own online store without any knowledge about coding or any previous experience.
There are many places which gives the opportunity to people for creating online stores. Each platforms have unique features of their own. Sometimes the service provider’s offer too many options that you won’t even need as a beginner. So, for your ease of understanding I have selected a perfect platform for creating an online store.
In this article I am going to explain how you can build an online store using Big Cartel. It is a platform which helps many small business owners to open online stores without any complications. And they are very good at providing you with every feature that needs to be included in an online store.
The best thing is, Big Cartel has a FREE plan which allows you to include 5 products and gives the ability to use a custom domain. Real-time statistics, discounts, shipment tracking and sales tax auto calculation features are also included in this FREE plan. So if you are a beginner or a small business owner this free plan will be best suited for you.
Now, let’s jump forward and learn to build an online store using Big Cartel.
Sign Up for Big Cartel
Firstly, you need to go to Big Cartel.com and create a account. To do that you can click on the “Open your store” button.
Then you will be directed to the following page which shows the pricing of Big Cartel plans. There are 3 plans you can choose from. The best thing about Big Cartel is that it has a FREE plan which gives the opportunity to create a 5-product store. Meaning you can list 5 different products and sell via your store for free.
For the sake of this article, I will go with the free plan. After you get experience and scale your online store, you can change your free plan to a paid plan which has the ability to list more products.
In the free plan, click on the “Sign up free” button. In the next page fill out the email address and give a good strong password.
When you are filling the “Shop name”, the Shop URL field automatically fills with the “bigcartel.com”. It is the URL of your Big Cartel site.
Since we are creating the store with a free plan, they gives the site address included with the “bigcartel.com”. But the free plan allows you to include a custom domain. So, later you can change your site address to a domain name you have.
Fill out Account Information
After you log in to your Big Cartel account, you will see your dashboard with a checklist to fill.
Now, in here you must add your location details because it helps Big Cartel to calculate taxes for each order.
Then you can fill the payments options. Big Cartel lets you accept orders with both stripe and paypal. If you have both be sure to add those details. So your customers can have the flexibility to pay you with a preferable method.
After that you can include shipping profiles according to weight or country. You can also create rules for specific products. Big cartel has flexible shipping options you can try and test with your products.
Also, you can allow following preferences if you like. It all depends on what you need.
Remember, the inventory tracking isn’t available in the free plan. So, you might want to use another method to keep track of your inventory.
Add products to your store
Since we are using a free version, we only can add 5 products to our store. But it is enough for you to test out the progress of your store and confirm whether Big Cartel actually helps you achieve your sales goals.
You can start adding a product by clicking on the “Add product” option. Then you will have to fill the necessary details of your product such as,
- Adding a product image
- Product name
- Description about your product
- Category of the product fits
- Selecting the status of the product (Active, Hidden, Sold out, Coming soon)
- US tax code if applicable. (Sales tax is required for US for some products)
After filling the required details you can click on the “Save” button and your product will be listed.
Creating discounts for your products
Offering discounts for the people buy from you is good for your entire business. You can create discounts in Big Cartel whether you are using a free or paid plan.
There are many options to create discounts in Big Cartel. To do that, click on the “Discounts” icon in the dashboard. And proceed with add a discount.
In the next window, you have the options to give create a discount based on conditions. For an example, if a customer buys x value of products and you can define to give them free shipping or give a percentage discount for their order or for a specific product.
In the left side, you can set a discount name and brief description for your discount. After that you can click on “Save” button to finish the discount creation process.
Designing and launching your online store
Now you are done with setting up initial steps, this is the time to design your online store and launch it.
To do that, click on the “Design your shop”. And select “Design”. In the next page you can design your store’s look and start customizing it. You can change your theme, add pages and change color schemes.
After doing the changes and finally when you are satisfied with your design, you can hit on “Publish”.
The site is in maintenance mode, you can remove the maintenance mode option and finally launch your site by clicking “Launch your shop” and selecting “Launch option”.
Okayyy! Now you are all done with your online store. Like I said there is no need to pay for subscriptions to start an online store. Bigcartel offers the ability to build an online store for free. You can upgrade to a paying plan if you are satisfied with the service they provide.
How profitable is an online store?
An average amount of big online stores earns about $150,000 – $300,000 per month. But for a starter, if you follow a strategic method and sell high demanding products you can at least reach half the amount big brands earn. The most important thing is to provide value and customer satisfaction to those who purchase from you.
Because your online store is virtual and no need of a physical space to rent out as a retail store, you have the ability to scale your store as you wish. The only physical space you need is to stock your inventory.
What is the cost of setting up an online store?
Cost is mainly depending on which platform you use to create the online store. There are many platforms which offer free trials and start charging you after the trial expires, In my opinion its very unwise to keep paying to a subscription plan whether you are making sales or not making sales from your online store.
For a start, I suggest you to find a service that allows you a forever free plan like Big Cartel does, and keep testing and improving your store until you are confident enough to subscribe for a paid plan and start making big money.
For your information, if you are considering to build an online store under your control, you will be spending about $100-$300 including domain name, web hosting charges and other necessary tools.
Read How to Create a Website for My Business
If you are not comfortable with managing an online store with all the hosting and other complex tech stuff, I suggest you to build your online store with a platform which allows you the hosting space by their company. In this method you only have to build your online store and connect the domain.
Deciding to build an online store is a crucial decision if you want to sell online. Unlike brick and mortar retail stores, you won’t need to spend huge chunk of money to build an online store. Because of the fact that there are many platforms giving the opportunity to build online stores you can choose one and start making your online store.