How to use an ecommerce platform
It’s never been easier to get started in business. Thanks to the internet you can now get up and running almost immediately – and if you’re a startup, you no longer need to worry about expensive design costs and coding. Ecommerce platforms such as Shopify and Squarespace are now here to make your job easier, incorporating sales functionality as well as sweet design.
Squarespace are leaders in the ecommerce field, and so who better to ask about getting going with an ecommerce platform? We asked Squarespace’s Director of Product, Natalie Gibralter, to tell us more.
Get a domain
“With Squarespace Domains, you can plant your flag on the web by buying a unique name for your online home for just a few pounds a month,” advises Natalie. “Even if you’re not ready to launch your site yet, you’ll be equipped with a beautiful landing page that will serve as a placeholder until you’re ready to start building.”
Getting a domain ASAP doesn’t just mean you can set up a website – it also prevents other people getting that domain name first. Remember that it’s really important to stay consistent with your brand name in order to avoid confusing customers, so try and keep your domain name and social media handles the same.
Pick a commerce template
One of the best things about using an ecommerce templates is that it doesn’t matter if you have no knowledge of coding or design – there are ready-made ones available with most ecommerce platforms, so you can get a professional-looking design quickly and easily.
“Head over to Squarespace.com/commerce to pick a template that works for you and your needs. Remember that you can change templates at any time, so no need to fret. Once you’re ready to subscribe, prices start at just $26/month,” Natalie recommends. “You can customize fonts, colors, and images to make your chosen template truly your own. Oftentimes, consistency is key when it comes to great design, so try to keep to a single color palette or design aesthetic. More helpful tips and tricks can be found here.”
When the design is ready, it’s time to get stocking up your online store – and organising it so people can find everything they need easily (and hopefully buy more!)
“You can easily sort, organize, and manage your products with our drag-and-drop sorting tool, tags and categories, and visibility and scheduling settings,” says Natalie. “Consider a more editorialised approach by adding product blocks to blog posts, lending a narrative to your products.”
Set up payment
“Set up payment processing to accept all major credit cards in just seconds via our integration with Stripe,” advises Natalie. “Getting started is easy, and you can also select the appropriate currency for your online store.”
A big benefit of using an ecommerce platform to handle your transactions is that it simplifies the process, and enables trust in your buyers – you won’t have to grapple with encryption or ensuring you’re compliant with fraud laws.
Set up shipping
If you’re confused by how much you should be charging for shipping, ecommerce platforms can also help simplify this process.
“You can create shipping options like flat rates, rates by weight, Carrier Calculated shipping, and free shipping. And with Squarespace’s Shipstation integration, fulfillment is a breeze,” says Natalie.
Add the fine print
“Add terms of service, tax rules, and a return policy so that customers have everything they need to start shopping,” advises Natalie.
This is vital – always ensure you have a solid set of fine print and terms and conditions that firmly outline things such as your refund policy. If in doubt, sit down with a lawyer to go over them – it’s worth it in the long run.
Promote your site
“Create a lookbook and blog to spotlight your favourite products in compelling ways,” recommends Natalie. “Take advantage of Squarespace’s social media integrations, and begin posting products, sale information, and more across platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.”
If using an ecommerce platform, make sure you’re getting the most out of the features. You might not think you need a blog, but actually writing long-form content about your product or industry will help establish you as an expert in your field, and drive traffic via SEO. Nice.
“Once you’re ready to start selling, publish your site and share your creations with the world!” says Natalie.
And you’re off – but remember you can only sell when it’s live. As tempting as it is to keep adjusting the design and editing, get it up sooner rather than later. You can always tweak things later as you learn more about your customers’ responses to the site.