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Setting up your E-commerce website

The first step to opening an e-comm store is your website. Before 2012, setting up your e-comm website was really hard but over the last few years, OpenSource* e-comm platforms have made this really easy. The challenge here is making the decision of what platform or service provider to use because of unlimited options.

  1. Hosting

You can either choose a Hosted Solution* or get your own hosting and set up a website on it. Hosted solutions are generally cloud* based, Shopify is an example of a hosted solution. A hosted solution is very easy to manage and you generally do not need any programming knowledge or experience. Starting cost is very low, for example, Shopify starting price is $29 but as you grow bigger it can become very expensive. Another additional cost for hosted solutions is transaction fee which can range anywhere between 1-3%.

 

Recommended Hosted Solutions

Shopify

BigCommerce

 

Hosted solutions in Pakistan

Fishry.com (Bramerz) Starting price Rs5000web

Webx.pk

 

Self-hosted solutions

A self-hosted solution is where you buy your own hosting and set up a website on that server. To do this you need some programming and platform knowledge. You pay a monthly fee for hosting and then you use an open source platform to build your website. Open source platforms are free but you will have to engage a developer to set up the website. Here, it is not a good idea to go to any developer, you should look for a development house or a developer who has e-commerce experience.

 

  1. Platforms

You have literally unlimited options here but we are going to talk about only 3 platforms. Opencart, WordPress & Magento.

If you are small-medium business and looking for an easy to manage good solution then Opencart and WordPress are your options. Depending on who you go to and your requirements the price of setting up your e-comm website on Opencart and WordPress is anywhere from Rs25,000 to 100,000. Both are fairly easy to customize, themes are available fora very low cost.

For businesses with a large number of Sku’s and expecting a lot of traffic should opt for Magento. Keeping in mind that Magento development cost and maintenance is much higher compared to Opencart & wordpress.

 

  1. Mobile

When deciding on a theme for your website. Remember that 90% of your customers will be visiting your E-commerce store on their mobile. Your desktop website literally doesn’t matter. Look at your website on your mobile and then ask if it looks good and does it have a clear and easy checkout process.

 

  1. Website design ( themes )

Biggest benefit of working with open source platforms is designing. Gone are the days of someone designing a website on Photoshop. You can find absolutely brilliant themes which for every platform. These themes are really easy to implement and you can change it anytime you want. Price for a theme can range from $0 to $80.

Also, keep in mind that themes are essentially a structure, it’s your product images and banners which make the website look good. When choosing a theme look for product categories, product page, buying process and other features rather than the design. Remember it’s about the layout of the website.

 

Recommendation:

If you don’t want any hassle and want to self manage your website, a hosted solution like Shopify & Bigcommerce should be your choice. If you want more control over your website and the ability to change things via code then go for Woocommerce which is fairly easy to manage and plenty of freelancers available.

The 3 most widely used platforms in Pakistan are Opencart, Woocommerce and Magento.

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