The idea of selling things online can be somewhat intimidating when you think about having to set up a shopping cart method and credit card processing. In the past, having an online store was a daunting process involving programming and ongoing technical support. However, today, many shopping cart solutions are available that allow you to build, edit, and maintain your online shop, and bill and collect payments without any coding at all.
The plethora of choices is a good thing except that it can be difficult to know which path to choose and where to begin. There are many variables to consider when choosing an online shopping method.
This week I want to go over a couple of simple choices for people who’d like to sell a few products on their own branded business websites or blogs – without a lot of fuss or muss.
If you already have a website one of the most basic and relatively easy solutions for selling a limited number of products on the site is the PayPal buy button. Using a PayPal button saves you from having to add checkout functionality on your website since all of that is handled on PayPal’s site.
PayPal offers several options to handle different types of transactions. The most common is a Buy Button for single-item purchases. There is also an Add to Cart button for multiple item purchases, a Subscribe button for setting up recurring payments, and a Donate button for collecting contributions from donors.
You’ll need to have a page on your website with an image and description of your product. You’ll then add the PayPal button directly under or adjacent to the product and description. Once they choose to buy, they are directed to PayPal which prompts them to log in to their PayPal account or enter a credit card. When the buyer has a PayPal account, they can select their billing and shipping information rather than having to add it again during checkout. When the transaction is complete, PayPal will send the buyer back to your website.
PayPal buttons are easy for non-programmers to be able to create the buttons on the Paypal site, copy the embed code and paste it into the text view of a page or post of a website.
If you’re looking for a more polished way to present and sell your products on your website, without a full-blown e-commerce store, I recommend you look into Shopify Lite. The Shopify Buy button is the main feature of Shopify Lite which doesn’t provide you with a stand-alone e-commerce site, Shopify Lite allows you to add products and descriptions into a store enabling you to upload them into your website for viewing and purchasing using the Shopify Buy Button.
Our client, Anne Byrne uses the Shopify Lite Buy Buttons to sell her newer products on her popular website, Cake Mix Doctor. The links to purchase Anne’s older books take you to Amazon where they are available for sale.
Another great feature of Shopify Lite is that when you get your products loaded to the Shopify Lite site, you’ll also get a Facebook Store which will appear on the Shop tab on your current Facebook Business page. The products you add or edit through Shopify Lite will automatically sync to your Facebook Store, and Shopify provides a checkout interface right there on Facebook. Some people start out selling products with a store on Facebook before thinking about putting up a website themselves.
Another bit of Shopify goodness is the fact that when you have a Facebook store, you can also add your products to Instagram with the Shopify integration. Shopify was one of the few select companies Facebook chose to partner with when building and testing the Instagram shopping experience. They are still very much involved with each other as evidenced by the fact that Facebook provides support for Shopify Light.
If you are successfully selling products with the Shopify Buy buttons on your website, along with selling on Facebook and Instagram, there’s no need to set up and pay for a full Shopify website. The time to do that is when you’re selling hundreds of products and need the added features and functionality, a comprehensive website platform can provide.
The third option for adding a few products to your WordPress website is to use the Woo Commerce Plugin which is free and powers over 40% of all e-commerce sites around the world. We do use Woo Commerce on many of our full e-commerce sites such as Wild Alaska Salmon and Seafood, Camerons Seafood, and Elaina Designs. However, we don’t recommend using Woo Commerce for smaller projects where e-commerce isn’t the focus of the site especially if the website owner isn’t technically savvy.
Woo Commerce is a lot of work. It’s overkill for businesses that don’t need a full e-commerce solution and even then, it may not be the best solution. Why? At a minimum, using Woo Commerce requires that you upload at least three additional plugins, a Payment Gateway plugin, a Shipping Plugin and perhaps, a Sales Tax plugin. This is a pain in the neck. First, you’ll need to research multiple options in order to choose each plugin. Some of them will require you to purchase a yearly license which typically is between $29 and $79 dollars per year. These plugin fees can quickly add up when you need to add additional features to your online store. The good news is that PayPal, Stripe, Square, and Amazon Pay are free and are typically all smaller stores will need. Once you buy the plugins, you’ll need to install, configure and test each of them.
Managing Woo Commerce on an ongoing basis is more work than most end users want to take care of since they would be responsible for backing up and updating the WordPress versions along with each of the plugins, at least once a month. Sometimes the various e-commerce plugin updates are out of sync with each other and cause conflicts that need to be handled. As I said, Woo Commerce is a lot of work. It’s too much work when you realize that PayPal and Shopify will handle all of the tech support for the store items and checkout for you.
So there you have it. This should help you make a decision.
Have you wanted to add a few products to your website but have been stopped thinking it was too much to take on? I hope you have a better idea now that it isn’t as difficult as you thought. Go ahead and give it a try.