At first, it may seem like a simple thing, put your products (and services) online for people to purchase. And in the end the idea behind it is very simple, but getting from the initial vision to a full service online store is fraught with some pretty complex technologies and systems.
Since most of the companies we work with are local businesses, I like to create a proof of concept or a minimum viable product. This can mean many things, but for our purposes, what I am talking about is finding the easiest, quickest, cheapest way to start selling online. I’ve worked with just about every ecommerce platform out there, selling products through Ebay, Shopify, Volusion, Amazon, etc. Until recently, there hasn’t really been a nearly free option for getting started in online sales.
We had circled around a couple of the simply online cart systems like ejunkie, but they tended to be more for selling digital products (ebooks, etc), and proved cumbersome to manage once an order was placed. (here’s an example of an ejunkie store)
When we found ECWID, it almost seemed too good to be true…an online shopping cart system that had a free level that was actually FREE, and because it’s free, there are certain limitations…but it is definitely a free online shopping cart.
Before I go any further, it should be mentioned that there are fees involved, but not from the store itself, but we’ll get into that.
Most of the time, a free thing online means you will be severely limited and there will be a constant push to upgrade to their paid levels to “unlock” certain features. While there are upgrades and paid levels, the nice thing is, you don’t have to do any of that to run an online store. The only real limitation is that you can’t have any more than 10 products.
Ease of Use
We have setup a couple of these stores recently, and yet to have run across any major issues. The dashboard is very self explanatory, and getting your first product setup is really easy. They take complex settings like shipping and credit card processing and make them really easy to get configured .
Processing the Transaction
The one thing that ECWID does not do is actually process the transaction. This is where the only real fees come into play. You have to setup a service that can authenticate and process credit cards. The majority of stores we create end up using paypal for this. Their fees are currently 2.9% +$.30 per sale. The only time this can cause problems is if you’re selling products for less than $1 or $2 (example: for a $1 product, you would pay 30 cents plus 2.9 cents for a total of 33 cents (read: 33% of your sale). That’s a pretty hefty cut, so make sure you include these fees into your profit margin calculations. If you are anti paypal, they can integrate with just about every major processor I know of (list here).
Once you’ve completed setting up your account, created your products, you can simply copy and past the widgetized code on your website. As an added bonus, you can embed the store on your facebook page, so you can sell without making people ever leave their facebook.
ECWID Store Examples We’ve Built
- fishing45.com – Clarksville based company selling their own line of bass fishing lures.
- franklinstreetflorist.com – Local florist here in Clarksville
- the same store embedded into their facebook page
If you’re feeling adventurous and want to build your own store, click here to sign up and get started.
Otherwise, click the banner below to get us on your team building a new online store.