eCommerce growth in 2020 has been phenomenal for many industries in Australia, and there has never been a better time to start an online store.
With changes to the economy due to the COVID19 pandemic, more people are ordering online, whether it be for delivery or in store pickup.
In this article, we’ll explain how you can get started with an online store of your own for under $40AUD.
Online Store Sales Channels
A great attribute of online stores is being able to connect to multiple sales channels. This can include but is not limited to marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Catch.
Other sales channels can include social media shops like Facebook and Instagram shopping, or search channel marketplaces like Google shopping.
Being able to connect your website to these sales channels means having exposure to a wider audience that your website alone may not be getting through your current marketing channels.
Features like product tagging in photos and posts, as well as search result direct links can all help get you more traffic to your site and sales.
Setting Up Your Online Store
For the point of this article, we will assume that you already have a registered business name and ABN for your store.
The first thing we need to do is decide on the web address for our website, or the domain name.
As an Australian business, you have access to the “.com.au” domains which represent Aussie businesses. You can register an Australian business domain name for $12.95 per year . If you have hosting with another provider, you can update your DNS there. If not, you may need to add DNS management to your domain for $14.50 per year.
Once you have registered your domain name, we need to have a web server to host our store.
We recommend the latest technology in hosting – cloud hosting.
It is fast and reliable, backups are simple, as well as global distribution and access of your site. It also makes it future proof with features like instant vertical scaling of services and auto-healing.
For Aussie businesses, we recommend Cloudways as your provider. They have amazing support services, as well as offer access to cloud providers: AWS, Google Cloud, Linode, Internode and Digital Ocean.
Using a provider like Cloudways does away with the complexity of setting up directly through a service like AWS which can put a lot of people off.
Select Linode as your service provider, choose the smallest plan, and select Sydney as your primary datacenter. This will cost around $24 per month on average, depending on your site usage.
Once your server is setup (in a matter of minutes) you will have access to a server that is replicated in datacenters around the globe. It is also non-dependent of specific physical servers and is what is called a virtual service.
Backups of this server are images of the files and settings, meaning when things go to sh#t, you can reimage with your last backup. As mentioned, a lot of these services include self-healing where the server itself tries to correct the issue to avoid downtime.
Once setup, its a matter of selecting the applications tab and creating an application. In this case, select WordPress with WooCommerce.
This is free software, and the system will install the popular content management system WordPress, as well as the ecommerce plugin WooCommerce.
Once again, in a matter of minutes, it will be all setup and running and you will be provided with database details and admin login. You will also receive FTP access for remoting into the server to access files. Keep all this handy, or at least know where to find it in the Cloudways interface.
At this point, we have a domain name (web address), a cloud hosting platform, and an empty uncustomised online shop website.
To move forward with your online store build, you will need to add the domain to your cloud hosting. You can do this under the applications tab where you will see the option of Domain Management.
Once added, you can log into your DriveSocial Domains admin panel and add an A record to your domain name’s DNS. This will be the IP address of your WordPress server which you can find in your Cloudways admin.
The DNS records are what tells browsers where to go when a domain name is typed in or clicked. For example, when you click on our web address, it tells the browser to go to our cloud hosting and display this website, or email clients to go to Gsuite to handle DriveSocial mail. It also includes other records that verify security and identification, and handles sub-domains like podcast.mydomain.com.au
DNS updates can take around 30-120 minutes to propogate. Once this has occurred, you can type your web address into a web browser, and if everything has worked correctly, you will see your WordPress website.
Now it is time to customise your store, add branding, products, shipping and payment gateways, and content.
There are lots of guides on using WooCommerce. We recommend starting on their website at https://docs.woocommerce.com/
Post Setup Steps
Once your online store has been setup and is live, make sure you run a trial sale and ensure you have optimised the site for search and user experience. We recommend our site audit tool.
Having a website is great, but if you don’t have any visitors, does it really even exist?!
There are lots of ways to get traffic. Whilst most marketing agencies will point you towards pay per click advertising, we recommend optimising your website for search engines to find it, and making use of directory listings and authority building.
When you are ready to get started with an SEO campaign, get our team on the job. Book a free strategy session to go over your site audit results, and discuss SEO campaign options and pricing.
A solid SEO strategy can have your site ranking on page 1 of Google search results in around 90 days depending on the industry competition, your site setup and domain authority.
We hope this gets you excited and shows you how inexpensive it can be to start an online store. Please consider your goals before moving ahead with this scenario as it can become costly when you require further services to achieve what you need. Talk to our team today and learn more about online stores and SEO.