There are many ways to start an online shop. You can do it the hard way, or the easy way. If you have more time than money, we can first try the hard but free method.
Set up your online store for free
Assuming that you don’t plan to spend a buck, but you want to open your online store, we will try to follow that direction. Typically, an online store somehow requires an online presence. That basically should include web hosting (the storage space to host your store), and domain name (your website address). You can get both web hosting and domain name for free. But, yes, there is always a “but”. Rumours have it that search engines don’t like websites with a free domain name, it would be hard to get listed on search results. The reason is simple; if it is too easy or cost-free to run an online store, scammers will take advantage of that. On the other hand, free web hosting providers usually have restrictions on resources. When there are too many free users on the system, that means your potential customers will find it difficult to load your web store.
In case you want to play around, and you don’t care much about your website performance, and free web hosting and domain are good enough for you for the time being. Next, you would need software to build your store. WordPress is one of the popular CMS you can use. With WordPress plugin such as WooCommerce, you can set up a storefront with the most basic features. WordPress is free, and WooCommerce is also free. Advanced features are always available at a cost.
Since you prefer to run your online shop at a minimal cost, obviously you don’t want to keep inventory. In this case, you need to find suppliers that can drop ship the product for you. Here is how dropshipping works. When your customers visit your store and order something, you receive the order. You order the items at your dropship suppliers, and they will ship the package for you, sometimes, even using your company’s shipping label. You can find a list of drop shippers on this page. Searching for the right suppliers could be time-consuming, but in the long run, it’s workable, and you can maximize your profit.
Set up your online store fast and easy
If you can afford a little budget, don’t want to set up everything by yourself, you should check out the “Shopify + Oberlo” solution.
With a monthly fee, Shopify will handle the website storage, shopping cart, and payment solution for you. And Oberlo is a plugin for Shopify, which would connect tons of products for you to select. In other words, Oberlo found you the suppliers that you need. Based on your search criteria, the database will generate a list of products for you to choose from, and each product has many variants. Here are some more pricing details.
There are 3 plans: $29/month, $79/month, and $299/month. The main difference is the payment processing rates. For example, about credit card rates, Domestic: 2.9% + 30¢ for Basic Shopify, Domestic: 2.7% + 30¢ for the Shopify, and Domestic: 2.4% + 30¢ for the Advanced Shopify.
There are three plans: Free, $29.90/month, and $79.90/month. The main difference is the product limits. The Starter plan has a 500 limit, the Basic plan has a 10000 limit, and the Pro plan has a 30000 limit.
Shopify offers a 14-day free trial, but I bet 14 days would not be enough for many store owners. Since there are so many features, it does take time to learn and fine-tune everything. I found it extremely easy to search for products; I get my store running within minutes. Next, I would check out the themes store to get a paid storefront. After all, we don’t want our stores looking all the same right? 🙂