Every year, the accessibility to be able to build your online store improves, what that means is that you no longer have to invest tens of thousands into web developers and having to wait weeks for you to start making sales.
So how much does it cost to build an e-commerce website? Well if you use WordPress and Woocommerce which are both free to use, you could build an online store for the cost of hosting which can be as little as $4.95 a month and the domain name which depending on what name you choose, would cost around $10 a year.
You now have the ability to put together your own online store in a single afternoon with simple tools.
What you’ll need
- WordPress plugins (Woocommerce)
- WordPress theme (Storefront)
WordPress is a free open source content management system, what it does is structures your website and lets us build out our pages and content without having to do any coding, not only that, you don’t have to hire expensive developers to build or maintain your website.
Most hosting companies will give you the option to easily install WordPress on your domain.
WordPress is by far the most popular content management system powering website, because of its popularity, most third-party software solutions will easily integrate with WordPress so you can increase its features.
Another major benefit of WordPress is decentralization, let’s say you choose Shopify to host your online store if you don’t like the way Shopify does something, you’re kind of stuck, if you want to change your hosting or shopping cart there is nothing you can do and you’ll have to rebuild your website on another content management system. However, if you want to upgrade your WordPress host, you can do that in an hour and your customers will be none the wiser, or if you don’t like Woocommerce, you can integrate a different shopping cart without having to rebuild your entire website.
Hosting will be the main expense when you get started, the main thing you need from your host if you plan on selling online is an SSL certificate, an SSL certificate will help protect your customer’s credit card information and transferring data.
Most hosts will offer free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates, this can be easily installed and is
I have some hosting companies that I recommend available here at Hosting, if you buy your hosting through my link, I’ll send you some bonus training and tutorials for free which will show you how to take your store to the next level.
The base version of WordPress doesn’t have a lot of functionality so you can add plugins to increase the features.
The main plugin used to turn WordPress into an e-commerce website is Woocommerce.
Woocommerce is a free plugin that is built by the same parent company as WordPress (Automattic).
Woocommerce is a little bit different than other e-commerce solutions where you pay a monthly fee and you get access to all their features, with Woocommerce, the free base version has limited features and you can pay a one-off price for premium plugins which makes Woocommerce a pick an mix where you only pay for what you use.
The best place to find Woocommerce plugins, is at the Woocommerce website, you can add features such as:
- Weight-based shipping
- Product add-ons
- This adds features such as gift wrapping, engraving, etc
- Product bundles
- Much much more
There are a range of free plugins available, however, because there is no financial incentive for developers to keep the plugin updated which means it’s a security risk, make sure the plugin receives plenty of updates and check the reviews, if the plugin hasn’t been updated in a year and
A theme structure the appearance of your WordPress site, there are thousands of themes out there to choose from.
There are both free and paid themes available, generally, I would recommend avoiding free themes because the developers have no financial incentive to keep it updated which can leave it vulnerable to security threats. The only exception to that is Storefront, the Storefront theme is a free theme that is built by the Woocommerce team to specifically integrate perfectly with Woocommerce.
Storefront, like Woocommerce, is a pick and mix theme, so what that means is that the free version is perfect for getting started and as you grow and want to add more features to your website, you can purchase the specific add-ons for your business.
The Storefront theme is a little different to other themes such as Divi, it tends to be a little more restrictive and not as customizable. Personally, I think that is exactly why it is perfect for beginners, I often find that beginners get swept up into the marketing of these highly customizable themes such as Divi, don’t get me wrong, Divi is amazing and I use it for all of my clients, however, for every amazing Divi site, there is an awful Divi site because it hands you every tool you could possibly need to design an amazing website, but if you don’t know how to use them, you could end up disheartened because you don’t know what you’re doing. What I’d recommend is that you use Storefront to get started and if you want something that looks different, then reinvest into a web designer.
How long does it take
The problem with outsourcing web design is that there is a bottleneck, every decision and direction has to be passed between the web designer and the client.
On average, it takes me about 3 weeks to build a website for a client assuming all the circumstances are perfect, however, in the real world it can take months to get assets and progress reviewed.
But with the way technology is going with increase accessibility, it’s possible that you can build your own website with a theme such a Storefront in an afternoon, that means you no longer have to wait months until you start generating sales.
The opportunities available to you today is amazing, you can build your own website for the price of a cup of coffee a month.
The main reason I recommend WordPress, Woocommerce, and Storefront is that they are built to compliment each other perfectly and because they’re all so popular there is plenty of resources out there. I’ll often find something I’m not sure about but I can easily find plenty of content for free that fixes it easily.
If you want to learn how to build an online store from scratch, I highly recommend my article on how to build an online store, I designed it to be