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Set up an online store in minutes to sell on a website, social media, or marketplaces.

How to Sell Online as a Beginner: Part 3 “Opening a Store"

13 min read

In the last installment of our series all about opening an online store as a beginner, Bad Asta Vintage found its name and sourced some inventory.

Now comes the fun part, everyone. The part you’ve all been waiting for: creating a shop to actually sell your stuff on. In our case, an Ecwid shop.

Now, I’m not going to take you through a tutorial of how to open an Ecwid shop. Why? Because we already have a bunch of articles like that over at our Help Center. I even used a couple of those myself (more on that in a minute) to help navigate this process. Instead, you can think of me as your friend in the trenches as you take on your own version of opening an online store. I have been there, and I am here to share my “wisdom” or, lack thereof.

As I’ve said in previous articles, I’m one of the least tech-savvy people I know. I blame having multiple other tech-savvy people in my life who have functioned as my own personal IT-people over the years. But hey. My lack of tech skills means if I can successfully open a store, you can too.

The Journey to Ecwid Selling

It was really easy to open a free account with Ecwid—though, this being the 2020s, I think it probably would have been a little sad if the interface was anything except completely hassle-free and intuitive.

As you would assume, I used our company email address “Bad Asta Vintage” to create an account. Easy. Everything on Ecwid is controllable through a single dashboard, which yeah, looks a little technical, but really isn’t difficult to get the hang of.

A screenshot of our control panel. It’s even easier to use than it looks.

What’s extra cool is that it was incredibly easy to download and start using Ecwid’s corresponding mobile app (more info on that can be found here). They literally sent a link to the app to my phone from my laptop, taking the guesswork out of looking through different apps in the store to find the right one and then guided me through the set-up process step-by-step. How kind.

Working with Instant Site

A nice thing about Ecwid is that they offer a variety of options for integrating your store with an existing website. If you don’t have a website, you can also take advantage of their Instant Site which is optimized for easy set-up.

It’s here that I hit a bit of a snag in the process: we have a WordPress website already, which we set-up to enable us to make little blog posts about our clothing items. But we weren’t able to integrate our free WordPress with the Ecwid plugin. It took me a while (and some help from our Help Center) to track down the problem, but it ended up being that WordPress requires you to have a paid Business plan or higher to be able to install any plugin at all, something which is on our list to get, but not a part of our current budget.

So, rather than be left websiteless in the meantime, we decided to try out the Ecwid Instant Site. This little site has everything we needed to list our inventory and get started. This gives us the ability to sell now, and the option to switch over to a WordPress integration when we decide we’re ready for a WordPress Business upgrade.

I found the Instant Site interface incredibly easy to use (though, if you’re struggling, you can find some more info here). There were a bunch of site templates to choose from, eliminating the need for fancy knowledge of coding, etc.

I am somewhat tech illiterate, but found this pretty smooth sailing, witn one notable exception: there was a glitch in the system so when I activated our templated theme, even though I uploaded a new image with our logo, the stock image of a gloved hand holding a donut persisted for about five minutes. I kept asking by business partner Kate to check for updates, and she kept texting me back:

“Lol, still the big donut.”

It turned out there was just a slight delay in the updated image upload, and it fixed itself pretty promptly. All in all, at the end of the day I was happy to report to Kate that about 30 minutes in, we had a dreamy little site all ready to sell things! She drafted an instagram post to celebrate. I wanted a donut.

Our Instant Site’s landing page

As it turns out, in the time since I started opening my store, a newer (arguably even better) version of the Instant Site has been launched. This version uses buildable blocks instead of templated themes, allowing for even more customization, and fixing the delay I encountered.

No matter what Instant Site you use, the overall process was pretty easy, and we were pretty happy with the result (though I might go back at some point and play around with the new version, just to see how it works).

Listing Our Inventory

Now, the Forever Free plan that Ecwid provides only allows you to list a relatively small number of products, so we are thinking of upgrading to a Venture or Business plan to unlock more inventory. We’ve already budgeted this into our business action plan, in fact, so by the time this article is live, we might already have more listings up and running.

This inventory feature wouldn’t be necessary if we were in the business of selling one type of item, but since each piece of our inventory is unique and we want each one to have its own description for measurements, fabric descriptions, and condition, it presents some, shall we say, unique issues.

Having the mobile interface was incredibly helpful because, at the moment, we lack fancy camera equipment for professional inventory photoshoots, so most of the pictures of our inventory are on my phone. It was super nice and hassle-free to be able to upload inventory drafts to my phone, and then switch over to my laptop to edit them to type out more detailed product descriptions. I found the overall process easy and not confusing.

I think there’s just something nice about a platform that is mobile-integrated in this day and age. It makes me feel like I don’t have to choose between uploading on my computer or my phone, and has the benefit of making it easier to upload inventory from my couch while I watch old reruns on Netflix (oops).

Some of our successfully listed inventory

I did this with approximately 6 items before I got tired (no matter how you slice it, uploading inventory takes time and energy). I also got Kate in on the fun. She’s not tech-savvy either, but also managed to add a few items without any stress. We noted how long it took to list each item (about 2-5 minutes, honestly) so it would be easy to budget time for finishing the task later, and plan on listing a couple of items a week until we have all our current inventory accounted for.

Listing the inventory itself, like it said, was easy, especially with being able to switch back and forth from mobile to laptop versions of the control panel. I think this will also come in handy/when we decide to explore some of those fancy social media integrations, so we can sell directly through Instagram or Facebook (no more “dm for purchase”!).

Other Bits and Pieces

Even though I’m just operating with an Instant Site, there’s still space on the site for a little “About Us” section and some other customizable places for text and even a photo of your team. Luckily, Kate and I had spent one of our weekly meetings building an “About Us” description that we think does a good job of telling the world our little story so far and outlining where we want Bad Asta Vintage to grow from here.

All About Us

But it’s worth noting that if you don’t have these things, or haven’t thought about them, now could be a great time to start. An About Us/Contact page is more than just a place to list a phone number and your names: it’s another step in the direction of creating a brand. A place where you can highlight what makes your store, your crafts, your brand, special, and how you want oncoming traffic (which will hopefully be a lot!) to be introduced to you. In other words, the more thoughtful you make this little blurb, the better.

Ideally, this “About Us” story also works with the design of your website. Being thoughtful with design, from fonts and colors to photos, can help guide you later as you start to zero in on exactly how you want your brand to look and feel.

Learn more: How to Write an “About Us” Page if You’re Not a Copywriter

Up and Running

Kate and I still have a long way to go to getting Bad Asta totally on its feet. But in the meantime, it feels good to have a real-live site up and running. A piece of internet real-estate to call our own, if you will. If you’re interested in tracking our progress, you can check it out here. And feel free to let us know what you think so far in the comments section.

We’re pretty proud of our work. And we haven’t even made a sale through the site yet!

Some Key Takeaways from Today

Plugin Peril: if you are in love with your current website and interested in adding an ecommerce platform as a plugin extension, be sure to see how your hosting site handles plugins, as there may be an upgrade involved.

Mobile-Friendly Wins the Day: If your photo studio is just you with your iPhone or Android, I highly recommend an ecommerce solution which has its entire control panel in mobile. This probably saved me an hour of time uploading pictures, not to mention the annoyance of having extra files floating around my laptop and never knowing if I can delete something in one place because it already exists in another.

Of course, if I had more storage room on my iCloud account, this might not be an issue. But part of the fun of opening your own business is making space (literally and virtually) for your business, and finding ways to make that space fit into your current life.

Doing the Thing: Sometimes, the best way to get/stay inspired with your business is just to take a step forward, no matter what that is. Building this site gave us a jolt of inspiration. So, wherever you are in your ecommerce journey, take some time today to do something for your store to keep moving forward!

Also in the series:

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Sell online

With Ecwid Ecommerce, you can easily sell anywhere, to anyone — across the internet and around the world.

About the author

Nicole is a writer and Content Marketing Manager at Ecwid. As newcomer to e-commerce, it’s her goal to provide informative and user friendly articles that are accessible to all stripes of sellers. She is based in Southern California, the perfect place to chase the sun and watch old movies.

Ecommerce that has your back

So simple to use – even my most technophobic clients can manage. Easy to install, quick to set up. Light years ahead of other shop plugins.
I’m so impressed I’ve recommended it to my website clients and am now using it for my own store along with four others for which I webmaster. Beautiful coding, excellent top-notch support, great documentation, fantastic how-to videos. Thank you so much Ecwid, you rock!
I’ve used Ecwid and I love the platform itself. Everything is so simplified it’s insane. I love how you have different options to choose shipping carriers, to be able to put in so many different variants. It’s a pretty open e-commerce gateway.
Easy to use, affordable (and a free option if starting off). Looks professional, many templates to select from. The App is my favorite feature as I can manage my store right from my phone. Highly recommended 👌👍
I like that Ecwid was easy to start and to use. Even for a person like me, without any technical background. Very well written help articles. And the support team is the best for my opinion.
For everything it has to offer, ECWID is incredibly easy to set up. Highly recommend! I did a lot of research and tried about 3 other competitors. Just try ECWID and you'll be online in no time.

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