Affordable Online / E-commerce trading platform





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  1. #1
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    Default Affordable Online / E-commerce trading platform

    Good day all,

    I need to take my small one man business to the next level in order to increase exposure and hopefully increase sales.

    I have done all the basics / quick and easy marketing methods that have served me well and given me a foot in the market. But if I have any hope of growing my business I need to look at new options. I feel the next logical step would be to create some form of online presence and include a decent e-commerce trading platform. Ideally I would like to be able to develop and maintain the site myself to avoid excessive expense.

    I have looked at offerings such as Shopify, Wix and other various platforms. They are very attractive in terms of setup and integration - but in my opinion they are hellish expensive.

    I am sure many business owners here on the forum have already been through this exercise, so I'm hoping to tap into that pool of experience and knowledge.

    What are the other options out there that I could look into? Hopefully something locally based and more reasonably priced. Should I look at using a commercial platform (something like Shopify) or do I go ahead and create something from scratch? It is very important to me that the end product looks and behaves professionally - there is nothing worse than a site or platform that looks like it's been quickly thrown together and doesn't inspire much confidence in the product or service being sold.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Affordable Online / E-commerce trading platform

    What business do you have?
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Affordable Online / E-commerce trading platform

    Have a look at Wordpress and Woocommerce, mostly free. What will cost money is if you use a premium theme like Divi by Elegant themes. There will also be the cost of hosting, which largely depends on who you host with and just how busy your site will be. As with most things, when it comes to hosting, you will get what you pay for.

    https://woocommerce.com/

    https://www.elegantthemes.com/

    As you say you want it to look professional and not thrown together, you may have to put some money in to it, but seeing as you want to give it a go yourself, this is where you can save a lot of money because pro web developers cost lots of it. Maybe once the business takes off, hiring a pro is something you can consider. Either way, the capital outlay in starting a basic website/e-commerce platform these days is not huge.
    Last edited by Naes-Landy; 2020/06/06 at 01:46 PM.
    A sure sign that there is in fact intelligent life elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has bothered contacting us.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Affordable Online / E-commerce trading platform

    I was here 2 weeks into lockdown and am planning on going live with me B2B ecommerce site within the next week.

    There are incredible tutorials on YouTube. I will post a great link when I am behind my pc again.

    To say I have learnt alot during this lockdown would ne an understatement.

    It is most certainly do'able, but takes alot of determination dependent on your abilities.

    You are welcome to get in touch if you want a chat. Or even better still give the Big bossman of the forum a call, this is what he does!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Affordable Online / E-commerce trading platform

    Woocommerce (Cape Town boytjies nogal) has a free theme called shopfront, which is a great place to start.
    Quote Originally Posted by Naes-Landy View Post
    Have a look at Wordpress and Woocommerce, mostly free. What will cost money is if you use a premium theme like Divi by Elegant themes. There will also be the cost of hosting, which largely depends on who you host with and just how busy your site will be. As with most things, when it comes to hosting, you will get what you pay for.

    https://woocommerce.com/

    https://www.elegantthemes.com/

    As you say you want it to look professional and not thrown together, you may have to put some money in to it, but seeing as you want to give it a go yourself, this is where you can save a lot of money because pro web developers cost lots of it. Maybe once the business takes off, hiring a pro is something you can consider. Either way, the capital outlay in starting a basic website/e-commerce platform these days is not huge.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Affordable Online / E-commerce trading platform

    Quote Originally Posted by Mosasa View Post
    Good day all,

    I need to take my small one man business to the next level in order to increase exposure and hopefully increase sales.

    I am sure many business owners here on the forum have already been through this exercise, so I'm hoping to tap into that pool of experience and knowledge.
    Here is a bloke who makes his living out of teaching people to DIY'it. You could follow one of his videos to the letter and have your site up quicker than you think.

    https://www.darrelwilson.com/

    WooCommerce tutorial:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrEG5Std2xI

    This is the route I went, Flatsome Theme with WooCommerce

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKBSrdKWb4Y&t=7941s

    GO FOR IT!!!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Affordable Online / E-commerce trading platform

    I wouldn't suggest Wix or Squarespace etc for your website. They don't rank that well with the search engines. (What's the point of having a website if nobody sees it)




    Shopify is good (easy and straightforward), WordPress is better (you have more freedom).




    Make sure you go with wordpress.org and not wordpress.com


    The second will give you youresite.wordpress.com (lookks very unprofessional) whereas with the other one you will have yoursite.com




    As you said, it has to look professional, so when you buy your domain and hosting, make sure you get an SSL certificate. That is that lock you see next to the web address. If you don't have it, when people visit your site they will get a message that says their connection isn't secure. (It also affects your ranking with Google) You can buy your domain name and hosting from https://xneelo.co.za/ (former Hetzner). They are a South African company so it makes quite easy. (Although My hosting is all done by international companies)




    With the design aspect, again, like you said it has to look professional. Yes someone can do it themselves, but it might end up looking like you did it yourself. (It's like building your own first coffee table from wood. Yes it might look like a table, and it might work, but if you don't have woodworking experience, it will show)




    Elementor is a nice drag and drop website builder, it has a free version, but you get a lot more functionality with the paid version. Most website designers are using Elementor these days (Lots of youtube tutorials on it as well)




    Some quick design tips:


    For your typography

    • Font size between 15 and 25 pixels looks best
    • Use really big font sizes for your headings
    • Line spacing of 120% to 150% of the font size looks the best
    • Make sure you only use 45 to 90 characters per line
    • Use good fonts (Fonts that displays well across all devices and browsers, preferably sans-serif).
    • Use only one font



    Colours

    • Use one base colour
    • Your other colours should work well with that colour, so use a colour picking tool to find colours that work well with it
    • Don't use pure black (it does not look good). Use dark grey.



    Images

    • Put text on the images
    • Overlay the images with a little black gradient (makes the text pop)



    Icons

    • Perfect for listing features or steps
    • Don't go overboard
    • Icons should be recognizable, and make sense



    General tips

    • Use a lot of whitespace
    • Define where you want your audience to look, and what they should do next





    As you mentioned, it should look professional. This is not the time to let your creativity run wild and make cutesy websites or intricate animations and effects. Your website is there to sell. It's like a salesman that works 24/7.


    If you want, after you have designed your website, I can give it a once over and give you some constructive suggestions?

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  9. #8
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    Default Re: Affordable Online / E-commerce trading platform

    So here is my brutal honest opinion. There is no way a competent person cannot get it right, there are sufficient tutorials.

    That said, there are also tutorials for me to sort out my leaking roof at the office, fix the plumbing, and sort out the electrical problems, but I do not do that, I get a roofing contractor, a plumber and electrician to do that.

    Why? Because that is their business, that is what they do, so it leaves me time to focus on my business, and what I do.

    So first ask yourself, do you have the time, can you afford to play with Woocommerce etc or will you time be better spent doing what you are there to do?

    If you insist on DIY, I would also recommend Woocommerce, but stay as close as possible to standard, the moment you start getting involved with adding all sorts of plugins you are going to either have a problem or be hacked in no time. Also do not for one moment think this is a free ride, it is not. Woocommerce out of the box lacks some functionality some stores likes to have, you will have to pay for those plugins, and from Woocommerce they are a typically about $59 if I recall correctly.

    Then you need to add a reliable host, that will cost you probably R200.00 per month.

    If I was in your shoes I would go with Shopify, let somebody else worry about the technical side of things. $29, call it R500 per month, they worry about the backups and making sure your store runs. You worry about stocking your store, and the logistics of delivery.

    Think about it.
    Last edited by Dirk; 2020/06/06 at 09:26 PM.

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  11. #9
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    Default Re: Affordable Online / E-commerce trading platform

    Make sure you go with wordpress.org and not wordpress.com
    The second will give you youresite.wordpress.com (lookks very unprofessional) whereas with the other one you will have yoursite.com
    This is incorrect. You can use your own domain with Wordpress as well.

  12. #10
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    Default Re: Affordable Online / E-commerce trading platform

    Thanks for all the excellent tips and advice - this is a gold mine of information for me and has given me a lot to think about on how best to proceed.

    My business is actually very straight forward - I deal in the retail of meats - primarily Karoo Lamb and Mutton, but will be expanding into Beef soon. Also going to supply Biltong and Droewors (which will include Game as well). I receive orders from clients around the country and then arrange delivery to them. The concept is not new by any means, but it has worked well during the lockdown.

    I have an abattoir with cold storage etc. on the farm that I will register once I am permanently there (hopefully in 3 months time) and will then process the carcasses myself. Well that's the plan anyway.

  13. The Following User Says Thank You to Mosasa For This Useful Post:


  14. #11
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    Default Re: Affordable Online / E-commerce trading platform

    Quote Originally Posted by Dirk View Post
    This is incorrect. You can use your own domain with Wordpress as well.
    My mistake.

    I see now that it's an added extra on WordPress.com

    Thank you for clarifying.
    Toyota Hilux 2.7i


  15. #12
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    Default Re: Affordable Online / E-commerce trading platform

    Quote Originally Posted by Mosasa View Post
    Thanks for all the excellent tips and advice - this is a gold mine of information for me and has given me a lot to think about on how best to proceed.

    My business is actually very straight forward - I deal in the retail of meats - primarily Karoo Lamb and Mutton, but will be expanding into Beef soon. Also going to supply Biltong and Droewors (which will include Game as well). I receive orders from clients around the country and then arrange delivery to them. The concept is not new by any means, but it has worked well during the lockdown.

    I have an abattoir with cold storage etc. on the farm that I will register once I am permanently there (hopefully in 3 months time) and will then process the carcasses myself. Well that's the plan anyway.
    Get cracking, share the url, you have a goldmine of customers right here!!!!!

  16. #13
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    Default Re: Affordable Online / E-commerce trading platform

    I was contemplating putting an advert on the forum.

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