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Building Your Online Business And Store From Scratch

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Estimated reading time: 5 mins

Forming a business is never easy. There are so many questions to consider.

What sort of business should I create? What is an LLC? Do I need to establish myself as one? How do I report my taxes? How do I accept payments? Should I sell online?

The list goes on, and on, and on!

If you do want to establish your business online, the first thing you need to do is actually create your online store presence. 

The vast majority of ecommerce solutions are going to require payment in some form. However, there are two solutions that have free plans, which are genuine. So, we will explore this to help you get started. 

Big Cartel 

Big Cartel can be quite challenging to use, and the templates are not very flexible. However, we can hardly expect the solution to be perfect when you consider that it is free!

There are some impressive sales features on Big Cartel, so it’s certainly not a case of all hope being lost!

On the free plan, you are able to sell five products. If you want to sell more than this, you’re going to need to pay. So, if you have a small number of products and you have no plans to expand in the future, Big Cartel could be just the solution you need.

There are a number of other features you can get with the free plan, including the following:

  • Sales tax autopilot
  • Product option groups
  • Shipment tracking
  • Offer discounts and run promotions
  • Use a custom domain
  • Real-time statistics
  • Sell in-person and online
  • Free customizable themes
  • One image per product

Sales features

There is only one place to begin, and this is with the sales features that you will get on the free plan when you choose Big Cartel. 

One of the major benefits of selecting this platform is that Big Cartel does not charge any transaction fees. However, you will still need to pay fees to the payment processor you choose to use. Nevertheless, unlike a lot of the other ecommerce building solutions on the market today, Big Cartel is not going to take a cut of your sales, ensuring you get to keep the money you make. 

As you would expect from a free product, though, there are some drawbacks when it comes to the sales features on Big Cartel. For example, it is only possible to sell up to five products. You cannot sell anymore. You also cannot upload images of the item for a number of different angles; only one image is permitted per product. 

In addition to this, it is also not possible to sell downloads of artwork and other digital items without using a separate app.

Design

You want an e-store that looks great, right? While the themes on Big Cartel are stylish, they are incredibly difficult to customise, which can be a problem for a lot of people. Plus, you may find that they lack a bit of originality. Yes, they are professional and simple, but are they really going to enable your e-store to stand out from the crowd?

Ease of use

This is one of the weaker elements of this software, meaning it is not simple and quick to get online. 

The themes on Big Cartel are not very customisable unless you have some coding knowledge. And, even if you do, you can’t really do much coding on the free plan in any case. 

Square

If Big Cartel does not sound like the right platform for your needs, you may want to think about using Square instead. 

So, let’s take a bit of a more in-depth look…

Sales features

There is only one place to begin, and this is with the sales features provided by Square. Square is a great option if you’re only just starting to dip your toes into the e-commerce space. If you are already using the POS system provided by Square to process payments, it makes sense to use Square to build a store, as integrating it with your website is a breeze.

There are some great sales features that you can expect on the free plan provided by Square, including:

  • You can set flat-rate or free shipping, or you can customise shipping based on order cost, quantity, or weight
  • Straightforward and easy inventory management
  • Add products with different variations with ease
  • Automatic tax calculator (but only for those in the US)
  • Sell an unlimited number of products

It is certainly worth elaborating on the final point. It is incredibly rare to find an e-commerce plan that will enable you to unlist an unlimited number of products free of charge, but that’s exactly what you are going to get with Square.

You may be wondering why Square is willing to provide this free of charge. Well, there is one catch, and this is the fact that you are only allowed to use the in-house payment processing system offered by Square. 

This isn’t the end of the world, as the system is a high-quality one. However, you won’t be able to offer the likes of Apple Pay or PayPal, which can be a little bit limiting, especially as a lot of customers like to pay with these methods today. 

Designing your e-store

One thing that no one can deny about Square is that it is very easy to use. All you need to do is select your template and you are pretty much good to go. The templates look good but the customisation options are limited. 

Of course, you can make some changes. You can upload photographs, import your brand logo, reposition elements on the page, choose fonts, and change the colour scheme. However, if you are really looking for a high level of customisation so that you can create something that is completely unique to your brand, you won’t find it here. 

Ease of use

It is very easy and quick to set up a store on Square, so if you want to get your online store up and running as soon as possible, this really is an excellent choice. 

The reason why Square is so efficient is that it makes the most of ADI, Artificial Design Intelligence. This means that you simply need to answer a few questions and it will automatically create a website for you based on your responses.

 

About the author /


Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Truthsayers Neurotech, the world's first Neurotech platform servicing the enterprise. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development and Associate Member of the Agile Business Consortium.

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