The software for your webshop can be absolutely free! Read here how you can get started yourself and which steps you need to take to ensure the success of your new webshop…
In a world ruled by Amazon and bol.com, it is crucial for any company to have a webshop to reach a wider audience and to remain competitive, also in Belgium. However, setting up an online store can be challenging, especially for entrepreneurs with a limited budget. That’s where Stormlabs comes in – we help you create an affordable and successful online store, regardless of your budget. In this article we briefly explain the most important steps in building a free webshop. After reading this post, you can choose whether it is something for you to do yourself, or whether it is better to outsource it to us. We will of course only discuss the web shop side of the ecommerce process here. Don’t forget to think about logistics (storage, shipping…) and the legal obligations such as setting up a company and the tax burden.
1. Choose the right platform
There are plenty of software options to start with online sales: there are various webshop platforms available, such as Shopify, Magento and WooCommerce. For those who want to start an online store in a cheap way, we recommend using WooCommerce. As an open-source and free-to-use platform, it offers a customizable and scalable solution for your webshop. In addition, the extensive library of plugins allows easy integration of essential functions. Magento is also open-source and free to use, but is a much more technical challenge to start with. Magento is a good choice if you are going to offer many different products (>1000). Shopify is probably the simplest solution of all, but you may quickly run into limitations or higher operational costs here. WooCommerce is in many cases the ideal happy medium. Read more about the comparison of different platforms here.
2. Domain Name and Web Hosting
Ok, in addition to the technical choice of the platform, the choice of a good domain name is possibly even more important: Choosing a good domain name is essential to establish your brand identity. Look for a domain that is easy to remember, relevant to your niche, and available for purchase. Once you’ve secured a domain name, it’s time to find an affordable hosting provider. But watch out! The cheapest plans often also have limitations in processing power and memory, which means that your WooCommerce site, or other package, may be too slow or even no longer work properly. Many hosting providers offer budget-friendly plans designed specifically for WooCommerce websites. Do you choose a platform like Shopify? Then hosting is included in the monthly price you pay. At Stormlabs we work together with a hosting provider that offers more than enough computing power and memory to keep even the most complex webshops running smoothly.
3. Designing your webshop
The design of your webshop plays a crucial role in attracting and retaining customers. Are you a shop that mainly offers products at competitive prices, or do you want to give a premium feeling. Do you want to show the customer that they have come to the right place for expertise and professional knowledge? All this depends on a modern design that matches the house style of your company or brand. So it must create the right feeling for your customers. Start by choosing a theme that aligns with your brand, but don’t do this until you’ve chosen a platform! At Stormlabs we are specialists in quickly designing websites and webshops based on a house style and a certain atmosphere. This gives your website a unique touch.
Then customize your store using free and premium plugins to add features and improve the user experience. Also, don’t forget to do mobile optimization as a significant number of online shoppers use their mobile devices for browsing and purchasing. We are often that things dare to go wrong here. A proliferation of plugins that is installed and before you know it you can no longer see the wood for the trees and it takes 10 seconds to load a page. To avoid this, you can rely on our expertise. Sometimes it is also appropriate to provide certain functionality through custom code instead of installing (another) plugin. This is of course specialist work and not for someone without knowledge of programming and the WordPress environment.
4. Payment and Shipping
Don’t miss this step. Whether your sale goes through or not depends on how easy it is to make payments and your shipping policies…
To ensure a seamless checkout experience, integrate popular payment gateways such as PayPal, Bancontact or credit card processing services. This makes it easy for customers to complete their purchases. In addition, set up shipping options and costs to provide accurate shipping estimates and delivery timeframes. In Belgium it is very easy to integrate WooCommerce with Mollie, which offers the most popular payment options in the Benelux, but there are of course other options. Payment by bank transfer is also still popular, but it entails a different workflow.
Then it is important to figure out how your shipment will work. Some questions to get started: Are you going to ship for free, from a certain amount? Are you going to transport large goods? Apply different rates for different regions? Maybe you want to deliver orders in your immediate area yourself? How do you calculate the correct shipping costs: per box, per piece, per weight or per size. We often see that this is a difficult issue that is not thought about until late in the process.
5. SEO – Search Engine Optimization
To be successful, your webshop must be visible to potential customers. Implement basic on-page SEO techniques such as optimizing meta titles, descriptions, and product page content. It is also possible to integrate products with search engines such as Google and Bing.
Don’t underestimate this, everyone wants to be number 1 in Google. If you use WooCommerce, this platform is certainly already optimized for SEO, but at Stormlabs we have some techniques to further improve this.
Some popular plugins that can help you with SEO are: Yoast, AIOSEO and RankMath. Mind you, these are just tools, your own input is 90% the determining factor in the success of your optimization.
6. Launching your webshop
Test your webshop’s functionality before launching and fix any issues to ensure a smooth shopping experience for your customers. Once your webshop is live, use social media and email marketing to generate traffic and drive sales. Offering promotions and discounts is an effective way to attract new customers and encourage repeat purchases.
In addition to SEO, we can also help you with SEA, such as Google Adwords and social media campaigns. Certainly for certain product categories, social media may have become even more important than search engine optimization.
How Stormlabs can help…
Starting a cheap online store is certainly possible with the help of WooCommerce and a little help from Stormlabs. And with Stormlabs by your side, you can rest assured that your webshop is tailor-made, optimized and ready to serve customers from all over Belgium and beyond.
By making smart choices in terms of hosting, themes and plug-ins, you can build a successful webshop without having to spend a lot of money. With enough time and insight, it is doable to achieve this yourself. But why lose time and focus when you can avoid pitfalls? Ecommerce is about so much more than (technically) setting up a webshop…
At Stormlabs, we specialize in creating affordable and successful webshops that are tailored to the needs of your business. Our expertise ensures that your webshop is ready for success from the start. In addition, we offer comprehensive support and maintenance services to keep your webshop running smoothly, so you can focus on growing your business.