Recently, a number of clients asked me to add a store or shop to their website. They are selling a combination of services and products, and are currently taking payments via bank transfer, cheque, or in person, which is a big drain on their time.
Taking payments like this is fine when you're first starting off a business, but over time, chasing down bank transfers, people forgetting to bring cash, or even the regular trips to the bank add up (especially as you get more and more customers).
On the other side, waking up to see several people have purchased something while you're asleep or on holiday is a pretty amazing feeling!
So, how do you do add a store to your site, and what are the best tools out there to do it?
When you set up a store on your site, you actually need to set up 2 (maybe 3) things.
- The store itself - more on that soon.
- Some software to handle payments, like charging the credit cards every month if it's a subscription, refunds, disputes etc. Usually, there is a way to connect the store software to the payments system - if there isn't, my advice is not to use it.
- If you sell physical products, you may want some software to handle shipping, labelling and so on - though this may not be necessary.
Ok, that makes sense, so what are the options?
There are a couple of options that I've used with clients:
- Shopify - designed from the ground up for e-commerce and selling online. They have payment systems like Stripe, and their own system (Shopify Payments) built in, and you can also embed your site in your own site if you like.
- Squarespace - Designed more as a general website builder with a store built-in as an add-on.
- Wordpress - If you have an existing site (in Wordpress) and want to add a store, there are a large number of options for you.
Which of these is better/best for me?
The answer is, as usual, that it depends. From my own experience, however, this is what I'd recommend (assuming you're not very technical).
- If you only want a site for selling products, not a large website with hundreds or thousands of content pages, then Shopify is best for you. If you are in the US, Australia or Canada, they also offer shipping support. Pricing starts off cheap (but gets more expensive the bigger you are.
- If you do have a lot of other pages, and don't have very custom design needs, then I would recommend Squarespace. It's quick and easy to add pages and if you need a store/shop on your site, it's quick to add it, and cheap at around $30 a month all-in. The page designs on Squarespace are really nice, but limited in how much you can customise them.
- If you do have a lot of other (non-shopping) pages, and do have very custom design needs, then I would recommend Wordpress. It's quick and easy to add pages - if you need a store/shop on your site, it's quick to add it, and you can make the design as custom as you like.
What about the payments systems?
There isn't much difference under the hood between the payment systems, the three that I've seen used the most are:
- Shopify Payments
Personally, I find Stripe the most 'friendly' and useful, though I've heard great things about Shopify Payments too.
Ok, I've decided what software I'll use for my store, how do I set it up?
I'm going to create guides here for each one as they're different for each type of software - I'll add them over the next few days.
- Adding a store to your Squarespace site (with Stripe).
- Adding a Shopify Store to your own website.
- Adding a store to your Wordpress site (with Stripe or Shopify).