If you’ve had a website for some time and have started to gain traction in your niche, you are likely looking for ways to monetize your online efforts. There are many different methods that you can take to earn money from your site and one of the more popular methods is through eCommerce.
What is eCommerce?
eCommerce is the trading of products or services using the Internet.eCommerce retailers typically provide a virtual storefront of sorts that allows customers to browse and purchase a brand’s products or services.
The first documented eCommerce sale occurred in the early 1970’s when a cannabis sale was arranged between students at Stanford and MIT. However; it was not until 1979 that the first online shopping platform was demonstrated by Michael Aldrich.
Challenges of Selling Online using eCommerce
While most of us purchase products and services online all the time, when it comes to setting up the infrastructure to sell your own products, this process can be difficult and expensive. There are a variety of shopping cart platforms such as Shopify, Volusion and Magento that allow you to sell your products online, but many of these present several challenges.
- High costs: Many eCommerce platforms have steep monthly fees, which are cost prohibitive for small business owners who are just trying to test the waters of eCommerce.
- Complicated back end infrastructure: Similar to some web design platforms, eCommerce platforms can be overwhelming for novices to navigate.
- Payment integrations: Most people who purchase items online will want to pay by credit card. Accepting credit cards online requires a merchant account as well as a payment gateway that securely handles the transfer of customer data. Setting up this infrastructure can be quite complicated and, if it is not setup correctly, you may have to deal with data breaches in the future.
- Labor intensive: When you are setting up an online store to sell your products you have to take pictures, write product descriptions and ensure that each item is listed correctly on your website. This can take significant time and is not something that can happen overnight. This is especially the case if you have a large number of products that you plan to sell online.
- Mobile optimization: When choosing an eCommerce platform it is imperative to choose a solution that is mobile friendly. With more people accessing the Internet from mobile devices each day, you need to make sure that your users can view and purchase all of your products with ease from their mobile phones.
- SEO: Each product page on your eCommerce site offers you a chance to improve your SEO rankings. It is important to create product descriptions with unique content to improve your chances of ranking higher with major search engines like Google and Bing.
Creating an eCommerce Store With WordPress
One way to save money when it comes to setting up an eCommerce store online is to use the popular content management system WordPress. This CMS offers thousands of plugins that allow you to create a website with all sorts of custom capabilities. One of the most popular categories of plugins that integrate with WordPress is eCommerce. These plugins work directly from within the WordPress dashboard, allowing website owners to quickly add product descriptions, photos and pricing without the complicated coding that is required from many shopping cart platforms.
MarketPress Plugin for WordPress
One of the most popular eCommerce plugins for WordPress is MarketPress.
This plugin allows anyone with a WordPress site to quickly begin to sell products on their site without any coding background.
MarketPress offers a variety of features that allow website owners to easily begin to sell products online including:
- Support for payment gateways: MarketPress offers full integration with all major payment gateways.
- Support major currencies: Sell to customers around the world with multiple currency options.
- Multiple shipping options: Customize your shipping options to include options from all major shipping carriers.
- Stunning themes: Ready to go themes can be customized without any complicated coding.
- Widgets: WordPress offers widgets that allow you to easily insert interactive elements throughout your website. MarketPress takes full advantage of these widgets and allows you to instantly place product clouds, product lists and product categories throughout your site simply by dragging your mouse.
- Product thumbnails/images: MarketPress allows you to easily upload images and the plugin can create thumbnails on the fly. It also offers lightbox zoom options to give your customers a true close up look at all of your products.
- Detailed documentation: MarketPress is designed to be simple, but if you run into problems you have access to a robust set of documentation to understand exactly how to setup your eCommerce store. In fact, MarketPress even offers a step-by-step guide to get you up and running in no time at all!
- Established community: Because MarketPress is one of the most popular eCommerce plugins for WordPress, there is a large community of people who have significant experience with the plugin. These individuals are often willing to help others who are having trouble setting up certain aspects of MarketPress. WordPress offers a variety of online forums, which make communication between MarketPress users remarkably easy.
- Coupons and discounts: Looking to offer your customers coupons or special discounts? This functionality is already built into MarketPress!
- Lite and Pro versions –MarketPress offers a lite version for small eCommerce stores which is free as well as a Pro version which includes a variety of enhancements including:
o Google Analytics eCommerce integration
o Integrated shipping modules (UPS, USPS, FedEx, store pickup)
o Full suite of payment gateway options (Lite version only supports Simplify, manual payments and PayPal)
The Sky is the Limit With WordPress Plugins
WordPress plugins offer a wide variety of easy to install add-ons which can quickly turn your website into an eCommerce store. One additional plugin that may be beneficial for your eCommerce store is a WordPress module from TikiLIVE that allows you to showcase your video content alongside your products. Think about how beneficial it could be for you to highlight some of the benefits of your products through videos. For more information on embedding videos in your WordPress site, contact TikiLIVE today!