WordPress is a platform that’s grown exponentially over the years. What was once just another blogging site, has blossomed into an ever-growing ecosystem of every kind of website you can imagine. Far from being the refuge of eccentric musings, avid collectors and hobby enthusiasts, WordPress is now the go-to place for all manner of bloggers, webmasters and businesses looking to build a functional, beautiful website.
When it comes to using your WordPress site to sell however, the water’s a little murky. What options are available? How do you choose? How much will it cost? Today I’m going to clear some of those questions up for you, with the aim of showing that any WordPress site can be turned into a successful online store.
1. Consider What You’re Selling
- 1 1. Consider What You’re Selling
- 2 2. Research Your Options
- 3 3. Check Out User Reviews
- 4 4. Read The Small Print for Fees and Hidden Costs
- 5 5. When Was It Last Updated?
- 6 6. Is It Secure and Quick?
- 7 7. Make Sure It’s Easy for You to Use and Install
- 8 8. What Level of Customisation Does It Offer?
- 9 9. Get an Overview of Payment Methods, Gateways and Merchants
- 10 10. Will Customers Be Able to Use It With Ease?
- 11 Bonus- Use Social Media Platforms
- 12 Final Thoughts
It’s easy to jump into this whole “selling your own stuff” business with gusto. It’s an exciting prospect after all. Yet without knowing what type of product you’ll be selling, it’ll be difficult to choose an option that works well for you personally.
This is why it’s vital to know what you’re doing from the off-set. Define your products – will they be physical, digital or a service that you’ll offer to your readers. If it’s digital you also need to think about the file size, whether you’ll want the customer to receive multiple files or to stream a video. Once you’ve got that cleared up, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision on what route to go down.
2. Research Your Options
You might already have a platform or tool in mind for selling your products from your WordPress website. That’s not a bad thing, however it’s still worth looking around to see what else is available.
There are countless new plugins, platforms and websites being released on a daily basis. Keep an eye on the WordPress Plugin repository for new updates. One of those may just be what you’re looking for, without you even realising it. Create a checklist of what you need. Then make a shortlist of the top 3 solutions to take a closer look at. You don’t necessarily have to follow the herd and use the most popular – choose one that best fits your needs.
3. Check Out User Reviews
Similarly user reviews are a great way of finding out more details about a plugin or platform before you flash the cash and buy it. To really figure out whether something’s worth buying, check out sites like the one you’re on now.
Blogs that regularly review ecommerce plugins and solutions will be able to provide you with much more detail. They’re also likely to give you a full walkthrough with screenshots and a list of pros and cons to help you decide. Give them a go yourself if free to use or if they have a free trial available. You wouldn’t buy a car on someone’s recommendation without giving it a test drive yourself, would you?!
4. Read The Small Print for Fees and Hidden Costs
One thing to really think about when turning your site into a store, is whether or not there are any sneaky hidden fees buried away in the small print. Now I’m not saying that every platform out there is out to trick you. What I am saying is it pays to get your facts straight.
The last thing you want to do is sign up for something and then be stung with huge fees, resulting in you losing the majority of your profits. A bit like what happened with Udemy changing their payment structure. Some people ended up with 70% of each sale going into Udemy’s pockets! This highlights another reason why turning your WordPress site into an online store makes long term sense.
5. When Was It Last Updated?
If you’ve decided to use a plugin such as WordPress Simple PayPal Shopping Cart, for instance, to sell via your WordPress site, check when it was last updated. It’s easy to run blindly into downloading something, yet it could result in compromising your site’s security.
WordPress is constantly being updated with new and better versions. If plugin developers can’t keep up with these changes and adapt their plugins to suit, it opens up doors for hackers and bugs. Make sure you’ve got the most up to date version of a plugin possible. If it hasn’t been updated for over a year, chances are you’ll want to leave well alone.
6. Is It Secure and Quick?
Making sure an ecommerce plugin is regularly updated is only part of the problem when it comes to security. If you’re selling products whereby a credit card payment is being taken, security is crucially important.
You also need to take into account your site performance and reliability when opening an online store. One of the potential issues with downloading an online store onto your WordPress site that uses your hosting plan is the potential impact on your site’s speed. 57% of customers will abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Any drop in loading speed will ultimately mean lost sales.
A popular alternative to hosting it yourself is to use a hosted ecommerce solution. You can still embed the buy buttons, shopping cart, or store on your WordPress site. You can also link seamlessly to an online store from your WordPress site. The difference is that they are not installed on your site, but are hosted by the ecommerce company on their servers. This means you don’t have to worry about security, speed and reliability. That’s their job.
You should check with each potential solution whether you will need to obtain an SSL certificate for your site. Some solutions, like Selz, save you the expense and hassle getting a SSL certificate. They handle it all securely for you using their certificate.
Choosing a hosted solution is a good choice if you want something that requires the minimum setup and hassle. It means you can focus on promoting your site and gives your customers that extra peace of mind.
7. Make Sure It’s Easy for You to Use and Install
With you selling your own products from your store, the chances are you’re going to be starting out on your own. If you don’t have much technical know-how, this might prove tricky when using more comprehensive plugins such as WooCommerce. WooCommerce is popular with developers because it is so flexible with lots of extensions for different tasks. However, with flexibility often comes complexity, and there are simpler and quicker alternatives for setting up an online store.
If your knowledge is limited, opt for a solution that does all of the hard work for you. The simpler and easier the better is best. It might be as simple as adding a “Buy Now” button to a page on your blog or adding a navigation link to your store. The key is to make it as easy as possible to get you up and running.
8. What Level of Customisation Does It Offer?
One hurdle I’ve personally had to overcome in the past, is making my store look and feel like it’s a part of my WordPress website. I have a distinct style and colour palette, therefore any deviation from that will ruin the user experience for my readers.
Look for something that allows you complete control over how your store looks. The WooCommerce plugin does this incredibly well by integrating seamlessly with any theme that supports it. The downside of this, is if your current WordPress theme isn’t WooCommerce ready, you’ll either need to change to one that is, or dig into your code and make some changes yourself.
9. Get an Overview of Payment Methods, Gateways and Merchants
When looking at how you’re going to accept payments via your store, it’s important to not overlook how you’ll take care of the payments and the checkout process. A staggering 1 in 5 customers abandon their purchase if the checkout process takes too long or is confusing.
WooCommerce allows you to accept PayPal right from the get-go. This isn’t always the best choice if the image you’re trying to create for your store is a professional one. It’s best to look through the catalogue of extensions for a payment gateway that will suit you better. Factor in the costs for choosing a payment gateway and check the transaction costs charged per sale. WooCommerce payment gateways are generally $79 to install and typically the payment gateway will charge around 2.9% + 30c per sale.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a fan or critic of using PayPal, the fact is there are over 144 million PayPal users online and you should offer customers the option of buying with PayPal. It can increase sales by as much as 25%.
There are some solutions, like Selz, who make this all very simple by doing it all for you including handling credit card or PayPal payments within one small flat fee. Selz is one that I have used to start selling services from my own blog. It was really easy to use, only taking a few minutes, and looks really swish and includes a free Facebook store.
10. Will Customers Be Able to Use It With Ease?
Lastly it’s important to consider the end user in all of this. Your customers are going to be the people actually using and navigating your store on a regular basis.This means ensuring your store is clearly navigable, uncluttered and quick to get from A to B.
If in doubt, scout out your competition and see how they’ve got things set up. You don’t need to copy them, but seeing what works well for one store will give you an idea of how doing something similar will work for you.
Bonus- Use Social Media Platforms
Use Social media platforms to reach out to your prospects. Reach out to them, Engage with them, Help them to solve their problems, and sell them.To know about how to reach out to your prospects and boost your social reach for business, check out this handful guide.
It’s no easy thing to plan and execute a successful WordPress store. However, it doesn’t have to be impossible either.
There are multiple options open to you – you simply need to do some legwork before you settle on any one solution. By taking onboard these tips, you’ll hopefully be on the right track with a store paving the way to your success. Feel free to leave a comment below, and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.