Building a website, an online business, an e-commerce store isn’t what it used to be. I was reminiscing with a friend and former business partner the other day about Southern Baklava versus the business that we built back in 2003. Back in the day, we built and ran an e-commerce business that required an always available software developer. Today, the tools of the trade for creating, launching, and operating an e-commerce store are firmly in the hands of the marketer or entrepreneur. Here’s what we’re using to power SouthernBaklava.com.
- WordPress – I’ve built lots of WordPress websites, starting with cwnp.com way, way, way back in the day. It’s only gotten easier. Anyone can build their own website today in just a few hours. Here’s a simple tutorial to get you from 0-60 today. I bought the southernbaklava.com domain at Godaddy.com for $12. Hosting is $3/month (paid annually) and I chose a free WordPress theme.
- Shopify – I remember scouring through the world of shopping cart software, payment gateways, payment providers, and all the other crap you had to do to “take credit cards online” just a few years ago. Now, it took literally less than 30 minutes to signup, setup, and open a store with Shopify. The “Buy Now Button” costs $9/month.
- Stripe – We are using Stripe, but we didn’t have to touch it because it’s baked into Shopify. We pay a fee plus a small percentage of each transaction.
- MeetEdgar – You probably haven’t heard of this one, but Edgar is a serious tool for social media marketing. One of the biggest struggles that new marketers have is posting to all their social channels every day. It takes time. Edgar does it for you. Forever, for just $50/month. Yes, you still have to create the original (or curated) content, but Edgar sends it out to Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin all day everyday so you don’t have to.
- Landing Lion – I love a good startup, and after using Unbounce for several years to create dedicated and high converting landing pages, I discovered this Atlanta startup, and switched. You get your first 100 page views for free, then you pay a monthly fee. Landing pages are a huge deal in the land of digital marketing. Think of them as your online business’ “welcome mat” that is specific to every invitation you send out.
- Mailchimp – Another great Atlanta story, Mailchimp is the number 1 email marketing tool in the world, and its free! Not just for sending email newsletters, though it does that better than anyone ever, Mailchimp now offers free marketing automation for e-commerce. It’s simple, beautiful, and powerful.
- Canva – Every picture and graphic we use is created in Canva, again, totally free. It makes me look almost proficient at creating specific targeted images.
- Fiverr – How’s $5 for a professional quality logo? Good. We came up with the general idea for the Southern Baklava logo, then handed it off to a pro at Fiverr. Five dollars later, we have a print-quality logo.
- Shipstation – When we’re ready to ship (we’re about to start our “beta program”), we will need to charge different amounts for shipping to different locations and print labels for every order. Shipstation does that for you, and connects directly into Shopify, which sends out the email confirmations using Mailchimp.
- TaxJar – Fulton County, Georgia charges a certain percentage for sales tax. Denver County, Colorado charges something different, as does Manhattan or Columbia or Dallas or South Bend. Who has time to figure all that out…and then PAY IT?!? I used to have to do that manually for every item we sold from cwnp.com. What a nightmare. TaxJar does it all for you, and also hooks directly into Shopify and Quickbooks online.
- Quickbooks Online – I am not a bookkeeper. I am not a bookkeeper. I am not a bookkeeper. But I have to keep the books. Shopify dumps every order, shipping charge, and tax charge directly into QBO. I’m still not a bookkeeper, but now I just call one once a quarter, and we’re all good.
Notice anything similar about all of these tools? Yep, they are all “in the cloud”. In other words, to start and run an online store, the only thing you need is a computer, the interwebz, and something to sell. It really is easy, and anyone can do it. The key to standing out is your product and your brand.