To get the catchy title out of the way, the reason that an online store is hotter than Jennifer Lawrence is because you can make money from one which isn’t the same for a famous person you’ll likely never meet. Now, moving swiftly onto online stores…
An online store is a way to sell either digital or physical goods from a web site. The store can be one provided on someone else’s platform entirely, a store provided by a third-party that runs on your own hosting package, or by using WordPress and a special plugin that instantly adds e-commerce capabilities to sell physical or digital goods right from an e-commerce store on your site.
The advantage of running it under WordPress is that you don’t fall under the yoke of a third-party with their rules about what you can and cannot sell (though payment processors like PayPal will also have their own rules about that too).
Setting up an online store with a third-party site is fairly easy to do. You just have to find a suitable place that can offer a storefront for you. Usually, third-party storefronts provide a hosted environment which takes that part out of the equation. The process of building an online store is made easier through their website usually with either a sub domain (mystore.storefrontforyou.com) or you may be able to use your own domain name just to run the store (usually with a premium account).
Business people sometimes prefer using a storefront system that’s handled separate to their own website or because they don’t have a website and only wish to sell products or services online. For eBooks, there are specialist sellers to provide a way to sell the eBook and possibly take the payment on your behalf too (or you’ll still need a PayPal account).
Shopify provides a way to use their platform to promote your own products. You can get the shop created and get up and running. It does tend to become a bit complicated after a while with their platform. There’s also a strong arts and crafts focus to many products sold via their system, so it depends what your product is whether you can sell it on Shopify or if it will look out of place.
In terms of selling services and wanting to use a shopping cart process, that isn’t usually what people buy through the Shopify system. It’s mostly a physical goods business and nothing else. As such, the service is good for some things, but not for others. If you plan to sell a range of goods across different categories – some of which may not gel well with the platform or its regular audience – then you may wish to start an online store using WordPress and WooCommerce instead. It provides far more independence and flexibility to sell whatever your heart desires without needing Shopify’s brand approval first.
The WooCommerce plugin for WordPress creates a fully functional e-commerce store to sell any kind of physical or digital product that you like. It slots right into an existing WordPress site, so there’s no need to buy a separate domain, arrange hosting, and so on. You can get setup very quickly and you’re still within the WordPress architecture when you do. Just this fact alone gives people new to online stores a bit of confidence going in.
It’s important to know that the WooCommerce plugin requires that an SSL certificate is installed. This can be provided with some web hosts via the free Let’s Encrypt program or with other hosts by buying a security certificate through them and they set it up on the site for you. Adding products to the cart system is simple. It’s not more difficult than adding a new post or changing a widget on your WordPress website. Instructions are provided to install the e-commerce plugin and get started. There are also some specialist hosting packages that offer automatic e-commerce compatibility using WordPress or you can set it up yourself manually too.
When you want to start making money selling items online, the more you reach for simplicity and things done for you, the greater amount of control you give up over the end result. When using someone else’s platform, they’re free to decide what’s acceptable. Payment processors also have their say about what goods or services they will not process payments for; you don’t want too many organizations having a say about your online business operations. WordPress and WooCommerce provide the best option because it retains greater control over more of your business.