Starting an e-commerce store is hard.
But no, it’s not a clickbait title and yes, starting with $100 can get you an actual running store.
In this article I’ll go through every step you need to take to get your store up and running and explain the costs involved.
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1. The Product
It may feel odd that I would approach disclosing how to luch $100 store and start with the item yet. Truth is, the site, space, logo all should be custom-made to fit the item you are attempting to sell. The achievement or disappointment of your business will depend on your capacity to choose the right item and the correct market so don’t skirt this progression.
Here’s a quick way to validate your idea: Go to Google Trends and type in a word that describes your product, eg: “phone case” or “headlights”. You’ll see in a graph below how much interest there is in a particular region like the US. Keep in mind you can also see the results of Worldwide searches but if you are going to target a particular region I’d advise you look there. Look for trends going up or have a steady above 40 interest. That’s what you are looking for.
A couple of years ago I launched a business selling baby and toddler related toys, clothes, etc. When I looked at Google Trends I remember doing around 40 different searches and seeing what my audience was looking for to get a proper understanding of what my target audience looks for and what types of products I need to add to the store.
A second, yet just as important step here is to look for what your competition does, how they address their customers and look for negative feedback from their users. See what they do wrong and aim to improve on those aspects specifically.
2. The Domain for your e-commerce store
So you discovered your item and market. Bravo. Presently you need to get the area that will get your herd of steadfast clients and however it may sound unimportant, the space can truly hurt you on the off chance that you don’t get the correct one.
So what makes a decent area name?
Great inquiry. It’s difficult to choose if you need to get something brandable or get a few watchwords in the area name. On the off chance that you wind up utilizing catchphrases in the space name, you’d give your watchers a reasonable thought of they’ll get when seeing your store yet. Imagine a scenario in which you need to turn. Imagine a scenario in which you discover a half year in, that the store is selling something other than whatever your watchword in the area is. In the event that your point is to fabricate a solid brand, definitely, put your image name in the space.
In regards to the TLD (Top-level domain) you choose, get a “.com”. If your audience is worldwide, and go local if you are targeting a specific country. It’s as simple as that.
Other than that, keep your domain name short, be unique and unless you have no other choice, avoid hyphens.
3. The Platform (Self-Hosted Solution vs SaaS)
I could probably talk for the next hour on why you should pick one CMS or another, why you can go serverless or use a traditional hosting or even if you should go for a SaaS option or not, but I won’t go into that much detail. Instead, I’ll touch briefly on each subject and only talk about the main “players” in each category.
We’ve seen, the past few years, an explosion of E-commerce SaaS options, some better than others yet the fact that almost every week you hear about a new SaaS in this segment makes me think there’s still room for innovation.
What are the benefits of having a SaaS? Basically, you get to launch your store exponentially faster. You basically signup, add your products, set up payments and delivery options and you are good to go.
Before I get swarmed by angry mobs yelling at me for not talking about their favorite e-commerce platform provider, I want to point out that I’ll limit this article to only two SaaS platforms, that I think, are different enough to give you a wider perspective on how far you can actually go choosing an e-commerce SaaS.
Number 1: the king of e-commerce SaaS: Shopify, an easy to use platform that will make sense for most people needing a simple shop with no need for a whole lot of customization. There’s a ton of support for it, themes, plugins and customizing your shop is really easy.
Number 2: a newer player in the SaaS space, yet special: Zentoshop, a simple to use SaaS, similar to Shopify in this regards, the difference being that behind the curtains, there a fully functioning Magento platform doing the heavy lifting. (I’ll talk about Magento as a self-hosted platform below.) The main benefit of Zentoshop is the scalability of the store, something lacking from all other providers and an aspect that’s incredibly important.
Self-hosted solutions are dime a dozen and they differ from one another by a number of differences but perhaps the most important one is the community surrounding it. This is a crucial factor for you and your store. Since you are reading a “$100 e-commerce site” article you probably can’t rely on a big team of in-house developers that you can breed, educate, and have lying around until that inevitable time when your site will go down.
And it will. It will crash in the most unexpected way at the most inconvenient time…
Cost: around $50/month
…that’s why I’m going to only talk about the two biggest platforms, Magento and WooCommerce. They are both immensely popular with crazy big communities around them, testing, developing and pushing the platform to the limits.
Number 1: Magento has been around since 2008 and it quickly became a favorite amongst developers even if, at the time, there were bigger and more popular e-commerce CMS. Magento is not going to be for everyone, hosting costs are going to be higher, development is more complicated but in return, you get a versatile store with a lot of room for customization and it scales gracefully so when your business grows, your store can grow with it handling hundreds of thousands of products without a problem.
Number 2: WooCommerce is on the other side of the spectrum, easy to install, development is easy and you get a ton of free plugins and themes. Since it runs on top of WordPress development is cheap and it’s relatively easy to find developers to work on the store adding extra features. Compared to Magento, the management of inventory and orders is faster and easier but after about 50K products added to your store, you’ll have to think about upgrading to something like Magento.
Both self-hosted options described above will need a hosting company before they can see the light of day. I personally recommend going with hostgator.com or siteground.com but there are a ton of great choices out there.
Installing either platform is easy as both hosting providers offer tools for installing Magento or WordPress through a simple point and click wizard. No more messing with the console, creating databases and editing confusing PHP files.
Cost: $0 for the platforms, between $10 — $25 / month for hosting
I’d be remiss not to mention serverless in this discussion as this is something that has been talked a lot about in the recent months and we’ve seen big names in E-commerce move their operations to the cloud, companies like Zalora.
Zalora moved everything to AWS, website, mobile apps, warehouse operations, everything is running off of EC2, S3, Lambda, and RedShift. They are the biggest retailer in Asia with over 20 million users and yet, their entire infrastructure development team is composed of 3 people, which for anyone understanding the difficulties running such a large website can say it’s amazing!
This is done through AWS Lambda, a service launched by Amazon that lets you upload small pieces of code that work as microservices, called functions — hence the term Functions as a Service or FaaS. They basically do a very specific task that your website triggers, returning a simple result. The technology behind it promises to allow developers to build websites and apps without having to worry about the backend or the infrastructure, all while keeping the costs at an all-time low.
There are three big reasons for switching to a serverless framework: cost, development speed and scalability. There are companies saving tens of thousands of dollars a month after switching to serverless and an average of 77% faster delivery speed of the products. Check out this case study on how serverless saves money in comparison to traditional hosting solutions.
Poor website performance is now measured in terms of lost customers and revenues
– Tom Lounibos, CEO, SOASTA
If I’d somehow happened to say marking is significant I’d be horribly downplaying it. I will say that a strong logo and marking will make up the establishment of your effective store. So how might you construct one that mirrors your organization’s picture while as yet looking proficient? Indeed, the simple way is toss cash at it, however we don’t move like that, so we’ll do this without anyone else’s help.
The primary spot to begin is to search for motivation and you do this by going through plan and marking sites taking a gander at the latest things, instructional exercises and any tips or deceives that will help you in this undertaking. My idea is start with destinations like hipsthetic.com or designoholic.com and afterward attempt to grow your hunt to Pinterest.
Okay, you presently have a thought of what you need however you’re not going to a few hundred dollars each month for Photoshop on the grounds that that will blow the whole spending we’ve set for ourselves. So what we do is we join with Canva.com. It’s free and it will kick you off very quick. In the wake of watching a 1-minute instructional exercise you’ll be prepared to begin making your first logo.
Try not to stop at one. Make a few and show them a few companions to get criticism. In the wake of picking the victor return to Canva.com and make a couple of more: one that has straightforwardness; one that is all dark; and one that is all white. You can utilize the shading one for your site and the rest you’ll use to watermark inventory pictures (I don’t actually suggest utilizing watermarks on item pictures yet in the event that you totally need to, place them in a corner someplace) business cards, online media posts, and so on You get the point.
5. First Marketing Steps
Alright, we almost made it. There’s only one little step ahead of us. And by little I actually mean the most important thing you’ll end up doing for your e-commerce.
Here are the best articles we made about setting up your e-commerce business: