First steps in eCommerce

image of a vintage toy cash register

And boy do I mean first steps…  I didn’t shout about it here a few weeks ago when I opened my Etsy shop, although I did on social media – I simply haven’t found the time to sit down and write yet.  This is one of the first things I need to change, which is why I suspect my first big investment in my micro-mini-business will be my own personal computer.  Sharing a laptop no longer works if you both need it out of hours!

Anyway, I decided to take myself a bit seriously and get a proper shopfront.  I did a bit of research on eCommerce platforms, and narrowed it down to two;   Shopify or BigCartel.

Shopify is the current darling of the eCommerce world, and small-to-medium businesses favour it heavily.  Both have a scale of costs – Shopify’s embeddable products package is just $9 a month.  Embarrassingly, although I’m sure it’s not rocket science, this seems like one step up hassle-wise…  An online store comes in a bit pricier at $29/month.  That, frankly, is still incredibly reasonable for anyone making a living out of online retail, but for someone yet to make a sale, not so much.

BigCartel, on the other hand, will set you up on a very small scale, with a full ready-made online shop, for free.  Obviously there is a catch.  Several, in fact – you can’t have more than 5 products, for a start.  More annoyingly, you can only use one picture per product – a feature almost guaranteed to have you upgrade your plan sharpish.  Also, the functionality is limited, for example you can’t add custom coding, or even custom links to your menu.  That said, it is completely free, and everyone has to make their money somehow, even eCommerce platforms, so fair enough.  Once you move to a paid plan, many more features become available.

Where the two differ most of all, in my opinion, is scale.  BigCartel’s top-level plan ($29.99/month) only allows you 300 products in your store, and once you have more than 100 products you’ll be paying that top rate, so if your product range is between 100 and 300 items, cost won’t be a deciding factor.  Shopify has no limit on the number of products you can stock.

There’s a reason for this, though.  BigCartel markets itself squarely at ‘the maker’ – someone who will be making highly individual items in small numbers.  For someone like that, the sliding scale really makes sense – if you only have 25 different products in your shop at any one time, you can pay $9.99/month but still have a fully-functioning web-shop.  It’s probably worth mentioning that all payment plans have the same features, the only differentiating factor being the number of products you stock.

So, which did I go for….. Pop on over to my new shop to find out ;)!  I went with BigCartel.  I’m in the very very early stages with this whole thing, and it is absolutely not worth paying out nearly £30 a month for what I imagine to be very little return in the near future.  Of all the advice out there on how to start your own business, the one that resonates most with me is ‘start small and don’t get into debt.’  I know it’s not super-exciting, but it works for me, especially as I know growth will be slow, for the simple reason that the time I have to focus on it is very limited.

I hope that soon I will be paying that $9.99/month, and that at that point it will be worth it!  Let’s raise our mugs to hopes and dreams, big or small,

take care of yourselves,

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2 thoughts on “First steps in eCommerce

  1. V good! Is this on F book yet and will share and encourage to do same So many in same boat!!! Xxx

    On 4 Dec 2016 9:13 p.m., “the barricades of heaven” wrote:

    > Lucy Turner posted: ” And boy do I mean first steps… I didn’t shout > about it here a few weeks ago when I opened my Etsy shop, although I did on > social media – I simply haven’t found the time to sit down and write yet. > This is one of the first things I need to change, w” >

    Like

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