The Ultimate Ecommerce Platforms Comparison

Types of Platforms in This Guide

Copy-and-Pastable Buttons

Do you have a pre-existing website you would like to start selling from?

If you only have a few products to sell or your stock does not change often, “Buy” or “Add to Cart” buttons might be the quickest and easiest solution for you. Using them is about as simple as copy-and-pasting some code wherever you would like a button displayed.

All the technical aspects– creating the payment form, and ensuring that it is secure– are handled for you, as your customer is taken to the button provider’s site for checkout (this is called “hosted checkout”).

Just keep in mind that product pages are not automatically created for you through this method. You are required to set up the page that sells your product, that you’ll then copy-and-paste the button into.

The table below compares popular services of this kind but does not account for the costs or requirements of your pre-existing domain name, web hosting, and/or website software– just those of the e-commerce functionality you’d be adding.

PayPal The PayPal website (paypal.com) says: Finally, a payment gateway and merchant account in one easy solution. It’s all you need for all the ways you do business. Start selling on your website with our secure payment buttons. You can set up your button in about 15 minutes. It involves little more than copying and pasting a few lines of HTML onto your site.
Live Example Sites: Nice Ops: Freshly Implemented, Aspire & Grow, Laura C George
Total Cost Also Requires Brandability / Professionalism Main Pros Main Cons Automated Digital Product Delivery Extra Features
2.9% + 30¢ per credit card transaction

(Though I always end up paying a few cents more in fees to PayPal than I do with other services claiming the same numbers. Haven’t found anything concrete on this)

Nothing PayPal’s default button graphic can be replaced with your own custom images

However, customers are transferred to the PayPal website for checkout

PayPal is a widely recognized company

A lot of people prefer to pay with PayPal (/perceive it as more trust-worthy than other forms of payment)

Again: takes your customer away from your site to checkout

Though most businesses have no trouble with PayPal there are a good many horror stories online— mostly in regards to having funds frozen unexpectedly

No Invoicing

Credit card swiping device for in-person sales

Subscription functionality (recurring payments)

Donation functionality for verified non-profits

WePay The WePay website (wepay.com) says: If you can embed a Youtube video, you can accept payments with WePay. It’s as easy as copy-and-paste. “Add to cart” buttons let you sell multiple items, “donate” buttons help you raise money, and “register” buttons make registration simple. Payments are made on your site. Your customers never have to leave. Just embed the button, and we’ll take care of the rest.
Live Example Sites: WePay’s own demo (Best I could find. If you know of one, please let me know so I can feature it.)
Total Cost Also Requires Brandability / Professionalism Main Pros Main Cons Automated Digital Product Delivery Extra Features
2.9% + 30¢ per credit card transaction

1% + 30¢ per bank account transaction

(US residence) Because checkout takes place in a lightbox overlay on your website (like a popup but not its own window), it doesn’t give your customer the impression that they’ve left your site at all Checkout is slick and modern

Does everything PayPal does, thus making it a viable replacement (for the many people who dislike working with PayPal)

Not all that popular yet, which I suppose is why I couldn’t find any live examples showing the buttons! No Invoicing

Can take credit card numbers over the phone or in person

Subscription functionality (recurring payments)

Donation functionality – With a widget to publicly display progress towards a goal

Event registration

E-junkie The E-junkie website (e-junkie.com) says: E-junkie provides shopping cart and buy now buttons to let you sell downloads and tangible goods on your website, eBay, MySpace, Google Base, CraigsList and other websites. For merchants selling downloads, we automate and secure the digital delivery of files and codes. If you are selling tangible goods, we automate the shipping calculation and inventory management. Our shopping cart has a built in sales tax, VAT, packaging and shipping cost calculator.
Live Example Sites: Abby Kerr & The Voice Bureau, Hamptons Honey, Virtual Staff Finder
Total Cost Also Requires Brandability / Professionalism Main Pros Main Cons Automated Digital Product Delivery Extra Features
$5/month and up

(This price is for 10 products and 50MB storage space)

PayPal fees: 2.9% + 30¢ per credit card transaction

PayPal account Typically pops up as a lightbox overlay on top of your site when an item is added to cart

Using the standard settings, however, it will take your customer to PayPal.com to go through the actual checkout process

Is known for its automated digital goods delivery, though it will work for a mix of digital and physical products The seller’s admin space is dated-looking

Does not connect to many payment gateways other than PayPal

Yes Built-in affiliate tracking program so that others can promote your products and earn a commission on sales they send your way
Gumroad The Gumroad website (gumroad.com) says: Creating is hard, selling shouldn’t be. Upload your work and pick a price — and start selling in seconds. Share your product directly with fans and followers. They’ll be two clicks away from buying your work. Sit back and let Gumroad take care of everything else. From the secure payment all the way to the delivery.
Live Example Sites: ThinkTraffic (example button in post), Brandiing, CameraSim
Total Cost Also Requires Brandability / Professionalism Main Pros Main Cons Automated Digital Product Delivery Extra Features
5% + 25¢ per credit card transaction Nothing The whole checkout process takes place in a lightbox overlay on your site, so your customer never has to leave Delivers digital products expertly

Really smooth, professional checkout experience that looks great even without customization

Not for physical products

The percentage cut may seem steep depending on how many sales you typically make

Yes “Pay what you want” functionality

Choice between having your link open as an overlay over your site or a separate product page hosted by Gumroad

Sales analytics

Magento Go The Send Owl website (sendowl.com) says: We know what it’s like to be a creative. You want to create products and leave the details of selling online to someone else. And that’s why we created SendOwl – to leave you free to do what you do best. SendOwl securely stores and distributes your files. Files are only released to buyers via a timed or download limited link, the exact details for which you can configure precisely to your needs. There’s no limits on where you can sell your products from, whether that be on your sales website, Facebook or anywhere else. And with the SendOwl checkout buyers are automatically shown pages in their native language. SendOwl is universal and local.
Live Example Sites: Etsy Pro, DEG Consulting, Sidestone Press
Total Cost Also Requires Brandability / Professionalism Main Pros Main Cons Automated Digital Product Delivery Extra Features
$9/month and up
(This price is for 10 products and 1GB storage space)

PayPal or Stripe fees: typically 2.9% + 30¢ per credit card transaction

A PayPal and/or Stripe account You can enable more than one payment gateway at a time. If you enable checkout with PayPal, your customer may leave to check out at PayPal.com

If you enable checkout with Stripe, your customer is taken to a SendOwl page for checkout that you can customize with CSS to match your own site

Advanced features for digital product delivery

No added transaction fees on top of PayPal and Stripe’s cut

Not ideal for physical products. Because SendOwl was built for digital delivery, they never worked out some of the kinks with shipping options Yes Automatic license key generator for software sellers

Product bundles/packages

Add email addresses to MailChimp or aWeber lists

Subscriptions, PDF protection, and affiliate program included with $15/month accounts and up

ShopLocket The ShopLocket website (shoplocket.com) says: ShopLocket easily drops into any website platform, and can support multiple products. Not to mention it’s fully customizable to suit your design needs. ShopLocket will grow with you from pre-orders to a full shopping cart and is packed with powerful features to support your business.
Live Example Sites: Learn to Code Day, Nomiku, Dash Wallets
Total Cost Also Requires Brandability / Professionalism Main Pros Main Cons Automated Digital Product Delivery Extra Features
2.5% per credit card transaction

PayPal or Stripe fees: 2.9% + 30¢ per credit card transaction

OR

$99/month

PayPal or Stripe fees: 2.9% + 30¢ per credit card transaction

PayPal or Stripe account The entire checkout process takes place in a lightbox overlay on your site, so your customer never leaves your site Really slick, modern checkout

Good for someone selling a mix of physical and digital products

On the expensive side, though if you regularly sell more than $1800/month, you’ll save by switching to the monthly option Yes Pre-order functionality

Product variants (like sizes and colors)

Choice between selling from an overlay on top of your site or a separate page hosted by ShopLocket

Amazon Payments The Amazon Payments website (amazonpayments.com) says: Activate a complete checkout flow on your site with a simple HTML button. If you’re selling and shipping goods online and want an easy checkout solution that helps you manage your orders, you can add a button on your site to start accepting Amazon Payments. To get started, register and follow the online instructions that explain how to add our HTML to your site.
Live Example Sites: I couldn’t find any! If you know of one, please let me know so I can feature it here.
Total Cost Also Requires Brandability / Professionalism Main Pros Main Cons Automated Digital Product Delivery Extra Features
2.9% + 30¢ per transaction over $10

5.0% + 5¢ per transaction under $10

US residence

Legal business name

I believe it is a lightbox overlay but am not sure since there is no demo on their website or anywhere I have looked (can someone confirm?) Fee structure is designed to save you money on small payments (under $10)

Customers can choose to check out with their Amazon.com billing and shipping info

Buttons can be used for purchasing one item at a time– no “add to cart” functionality

Requires a registered business name

Also they hold a small reserve in case of chargebacks

No Customers can checkout using existing Amazon.com shipping and billing information
2checkout The 2checkout website (2checkout.com) says: Online businesses around the world sell more every day with 2Checkout payment processing. We’re here to help you truly “go global” and offer a local buying experience to your customers. Our checkout experience maximizes conversions by adapting to local languages, currencies and payment methods. It also reflects your brand, which buyers trust.
Live Example Sites: A screenshot on 2Checkout (Best I could find. If you know of one, please let me know so I can feature it.)
Total Cost Also Requires Brandability / Professionalism Main Pros Main Cons Automated Digital Product Delivery Extra Features
2.9% + 30¢ per credit card transaction in the US

5.5% + 45¢ per transaction for sellers in other countries

Nothing You can choose between checkout that pops up as an overlay on your own site or a separate checkout page with colors of your choosing There are a lot of features especially for international sellers, such as a wide variety of language and currency options Unfortunately,as much as 2Checkout likes to say they have no hidden fees, I don’t find them particular trustworthy

International sources online have said it can cost up to 8.5% in fees, and that sometimes another 5% goes into a special reserve that 2Checkout holds onto for a while

No Invoicing

Subscription functionality (recurring payments)

Embedded Shopping Carts (Currently Just One)

Do you have a pre-existing website you would like to start selling from?

If you have a a variety of products to sell (or a stock that changes frequently), an embedded shopping cart might be the quickest and easiest solution for you.

You simply copy-and-paste some code wherever you would like your store displayed on your pre-existing website. Once this code is on your site, an iframe (you may think of it like a window) appears, with your store inside.

This makes it look as though the store is on your website, though technically speaking, the store you see is hosted on someone else’s website. The illusion makes for a completely cohesive design, whereas the hosted checkout means you don’t have to deal with creating a payment form or securing it yourself.

The table below does not account for the costs or requirements of your pre-existing domain name, web hosting, and/or website software– just those of the e-commerce functionality you’d be adding.

Ecwid The Ecwid website (ecwid.com) says: Free plan is always available. Can be easily integrated to any existing site in minutes. Can be mirrored on many sites at the same time. Add your store to many sites, manage from one place. Run your own store on Facebook, mySpace and many others. Simple to use and maintain both for store owner and for customer. Lightning fast. New-gen technologies make Ecwid much faster than usual shopping carts despite which hosting service you use. Seamless upgrades.
Live Example Sites: Hello Magpie, Embe Shop, K&K Broadway
Total Cost Also Requires Brandability / Professionalism Main Pros Main Cons Automated Digital Product Delivery Extra Features
FREE for under 10 products or $12.50/month for 100 products, unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth

payment gateway fees: typically 2.9% + 30¢ per credit card transaction

Payment gateway account, such as PayPal Because the whole shopping experience is embedded right into your own site, your customer never leaves your website Can simultaneously display store on multiple websites

Inexpensive

Very fast page load time

Because the store is generated by AJAX code, it is hard to get products indexed in search engines (Instructions here)

Also I’m not a huge fan of the way categories are displayed before products– see examples

No Product variations

Stock control

Realtime shipping quotes

Tracking code on “Thank you for your order” page

(Full list here)

Hosted Shopping Carts

A hosted shopping cart is its own standalone website, therefore you’re not required to have a pre-existing one already online.

(However, if you do have a pre-existing site, you can easily make your shop and blog design look reasonably similar and just link them to each other in your navigation bar, so it seems like one cohesive site. For example: Megan Auman – using WordPress and Big Cartel)

How you use your hosted shopping cart account will be similar to how you use your Facebook account– when you sign up, you’ll get a login username and password, and a default website will be there for you to fill in and customize. You never have to see web code if you don’t want to.

With hosted shopping carts, a recurring monthly hosting fee is to be expected.

Shopify The Shopify website (shopify.com) says: Shopify is perfect for beginners and experts alike. You don’t need to have any technical or design experience to easily create a beautiful online store. Simply choose a stylish ecommerce website design, easily customize your online store, add products, and you’re pretty much ready to accept payments. Whether you already have products, are looking to sell digital goods or are interested in drop shipping — Shopify has a complete solution for you.
Live Example Sites: Magical Game Time, So Worth Loving, CXXVI, Hard Graft, Tattly
Total Cost Also Requires Brandability / Professionalism Main Pros Main Cons Automated Digital Product Delivery Extra Features
Domain name

$29/month and up (This price is for 100 products, 1GB storage, unlimited bandwidth)

2.9% + 30¢ per transaction

Nothing if you use Shopify’s own payment gateway Your design is 100% brandable A reputation for having the most gorgeous e-commerce themes anywhere

Slick, modern admin area

I see a lot of sellers switch to Shopify after trying other platforms

Doesn’t come with some of the advanced features built-in that others have

Add-on apps can become pricey

Yes, with a paid app Built-in blog functionality

Credit card swiping device for in-person sales

Analytics

(Full list here)

Big Cartel The Big Cartel website (bigcartel.com) says: Big Cartel is a simple shopping cart for artists. It’s easy to use, customizable, and awesome. Who uses Big Cartel? Over 400,000 clothing designers, bands, record labels, jewelry makers, crafters, and other artists. We offer affordable (or free!) pricing plans to fit your needs and budget. We don’t take a cut of your sales.
Live Example Sites: Megan Auman Studios, Bandito Design Co, Jessica Hische, Creepy Cute
Total Cost Also Requires Brandability / Professionalism Main Pros Main Cons Automated Digital Product Delivery Extra Features
Domain name

FREE for under 5 products, with 1 image each, and bigcartel.com URL or $9.99/month and up (This price is for 25 products, 3 images each, your own URL)

PayPal fees: 2.9% + 30¢ per credit card transaction

A PayPal account Your design is 100% brandable Very simple and straight-forward

Good-looking minimalist free themes that can be customized with HTML/CSS if you like

Limits on number of product images

Bare bones store functionality

Yes, beginning at an extra $6/month Inventory tracking
Bigcommerce The Bigcommerce website (bigcommerce.com) says: We have more built-in marketing tools than anyone else, including promotional campaigns, coupons and newsletters. Our clients reign supreme on Google, Yahoo and Bing because their stores are built to rank higher from the start. The second you sign up, you’ll have access to features like SEO, analytics and product reviews. And it’s all included – there are no hidden costs.
Live Example Sites: Thirty Seven West, Torie & Howard, Revolution
Total Cost Also Requires Brandability / Professionalism Main Pros Main Cons Automated Digital Product Delivery Extra Features
Domain name

$24.95/month and up (This price is for 100 products, 1GB storage)

Payment gateway fees: 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction

Nothing if you use Bigcommerce’s own payment gateway and shared SSL certificate Your design is 100% brandable Most advanced store functionality built-in

Beautiful store designs that rival Shopify’s and can be customized with HTML/CSS

Your own SSL certificate costs extra

The admin space can be a bit overwhelming

I have heard that Bigcommerce was caught employing false advertising / endorsement, which has tainted my opinion of them since :/

Yes Product image zoom

Product reviews

Advanced product options

Advanced rules to control pricing, weight and availability of products

(Full list here)

IndieMade The IndieMade website (indiemade.com) says: IndieMade offers the simplest, most affordable way for indie entrepreneurs to build an online presence. For a low monthly fee, IndieMade helps crafters, artists, photographers, DIYers, and artisans of all types easily produce creative websites. If you have an email address, you can get your own website, right now, risk free for 30 days. No credit cards. No contracts.
Live Example Sites: Jesika Jack, Ear Jeans, Vintage Renewal
Total Cost Also Requires Brandability / Professionalism Main Pros Main Cons Automated Digital Product Delivery Extra Features
Domain name

$4.95/month for 10 products, 2 images each, indiemade.com URL or $12.95/month for 100 products, 4 images each, your own URL

PayPal fees: 2.9% + 30¢ per credit card transaction

A PayPal account Your design is 100% brandable Simple and straightforward

Features meant especially for crafters

Template designs are one of the least polished out of the platforms I’ve profiled

Limits on number of product images

Bare bones store functionality

Yes Simple blog

Image galleries

Event calendar

Storenvy The Storenvy website (storenvy.com) says: Storenvy Stores are a new kind of e-commerce platform. Set up a store in 5 minutes. The Storenvy Store admin panel was designed to be simple and fun to use. We believe you should be able to focus on running a great business, not learning how to use complicated online store software. The Storenvy marketplace is what makes Storenvy Stores truly different. When you list something in your store, it is automatically added to the marketplace where shoppers can discover, share, and buy it without ever visiting your store. Some Storenvy stores have seen more than 50% of their total sales come through the marketplace — over twice as many sales as they would have made on their own.
Live Example Sites: Noirlu, Dolly Dynamite, Mucho
Total Cost Also Requires Brandability / Professionalism Main Pros Main Cons Automated Digital Product Delivery Extra Features
Domain name

FREE if you use a storenvy.com URL or $5/month to use your own URL, unlimited products with 5 images each either way

PayPal fees: 2.9% + 30¢ per credit card transaction

A PayPal account Your customer is taken to a Storenvy page for checkout— modern and neat, but nonetheless Storenvy-branded Very inexpensive

Free default theme looks great since the last update, plus it can be customized with HTML/CSS

Can have your products seen through the attached Storenvy marketplace in addition to having your own branded store website

Not everyone wants their products to show up in a marketplace like Storenvy’s

Storenvy-branded checkout

Discount codes are an extra $5/month

Yes, with a paid app “Envy” and “Watch Store” buttons for marketplace shoppers

Inventory tracking

Facebook store

Squarespace Commerce The Squarespace website (squarespace.com) says: Whether you need simple pages, striking galleries, a professional blog, or an online store, it’s all included with your Squarespace website. Best of all, everything is mobile-ready right from the start. Squarespace powers millions of websites across hundreds of industries for people just like you. Everyone on our Customer Care team is an experienced Squarespace user and works in our office. Nothing is ever outsourced.
Live Example Sites: Luke’s Lobster
Total Cost Also Requires Brandability / Professionalism Main Pros Main Cons Automated Digital Product Delivery Extra Features
$24/month when purchased for the year, $30/month month-to-month
(This price is for unlimited products, unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth)

Stripe fees: 2.9% + 30¢ per credit card transaction

US or Canada residence, Stripe account Your design is 100% brandable Built for the design-minded with beautiful themes, store templates, free Typekit fonts, in-browser image editor, etc. Squarespace Commerce is bare bones when it comes to actual store functionality

In my research I came across several Squarespace sites linking up a Shopify store instead of using Squarespace Commerce to get more shipping options, etc.

Yes Full-featured blog

Slick gallery displays

Portfolio functionality

Calendars

Free Typekit fonts

(Full list here)

Volusion The Volusion website (volusion.com) says: Make your site shine in less than sixty seconds by choosing from any of our high-quality ecommerce templates. With a wide variety of free templates to choose from, you’ll have a stylishly professional site that’s sure to impress. Give customers a crystal clear view of your products with our innovative vZoom tool. Highlight all of the colors and textures of your products with our built-in Color Swatch feature.
Live Example Sites: Swoon Jewelry Studios, Nalgene, Walls 360, Rosenthal
Total Cost Also Requires Brandability / Professionalism Main Pros Main Cons Automated Digital Product Delivery Extra Features
Domain name

$15/month and up
(This price is for 100 products, 1GB storage)

Payment gateway fee: 2.17% per credit card transaction

SSL certificate: $79/year

A payment gateway like PayPal unless your application allows you to use Volusion’s

An SSL certificate if you don’t want to use Volusion’s shared one

Your design is 100% brandable Most advanced store functionality built-in

The company was one of the original hosted shopping carts

Free templates are not as polished as some other platforms’

The overuse of tables in their web code is out of date and can potentially slow your site down

Your own SSL certificate costs extra and it’s a pricey one, there’s a large $99 one-time fee for applying an SSL you bought somewhere else

You could potentially rack up extra bandwidth fees if you got a huge surge of traffic, though they are secretive regarding the details of these fees on their public-facing website

No Product image zoom

Advanced product options

Daily deals

Customer wish lists

(Full list here)

Magento Go The Magento Go website (magentogo.com) says: Build a better online store with the eCommerce platform trusted by more than 150,000 merchants. We know that every business needs to compete effectively online. That’s why we created Magento Go, our hosted eCommerce solution for small businesses with big ambitions. Magento Go offers the power and flexibility of Magento – the platform chosen by many of the world’s most respected brands – at a price that every business can afford.
Live Example Sites: Oth, The Grain Mill, Vizi Di Gola
Total Cost Also Requires Brandability / Professionalism Main Pros Main Cons Automated Digital Product Delivery Extra Features
Domain name

$15/month and up
(This price is for 100 products, 200MB storage, 4GB bandwidth)

Payment gateway fee: 2.9% + 30¢ per credit card transaction

A payment gateway account like PayPal

An SSL certificate if you don’t want to use Magento Go’s shared one

Your design is 100% brandable Magento is a respected name in e-commerce

Lots of advanced features

You’re own SSL certificate costs extra– and the ones they offer are very pricey, $99 fee for buying it somewhere else

Magento Go appears at times to possibly be resting on its laurels, because its name comes from one of the world’s most popular enterprise-level shopping carts

One of the six real-life example sites on the front page has now switched over to Shopify

No Product image zoom

Advanced discount rules

Recently viewed

Gift cards

(Full list here)

WordPress Plugins

Do you have a pre-existing WordPress website you would like to start selling from?

While copy-and-pastable buttons or an embedded shopping cart might work for you, another option is a shopping cart plugin made specifically for WordPress.

This route works best for those who have a variety of items to sell or a stock that changes frequently, and who don’t mind their ecommerce operation using the same internal WordPress notification and login systems as their blog.

The table below compares popular services of this kind but does not account for the costs or requirements of your pre-existing domain name and web hosting– just those of the e-commerce functionality you’d be adding.

Etsy Pro From the Etsy Pro page: Etsy Pro looks + functions with all the professionalism of complicated shopping cart software, but it takes just minutes to install. And it updates as your Etsy shop updates, so there’s no need for upkeep. As an Etsy seller, perhaps you’ve heard all the reasons why you should have your own website independent of Etsy.com, but you just can’t bring yourself to create one since all your products are already displayed on Etsy. The Etsy Pro WordPress plugin can help by streaming your entire Etsy shop onto your WordPress website– even single product pages.
Live Example Sites: Pincurl Girls, Betty Octopus, Bundle & Stow
Total Cost Also Requires Brandability / Professionalism Main Pros Main Cons Automated Digital Product Delivery Extra Features
$39 one-time flat fee A live Etsy shop Streams your Etsy shop items onto your WordPress site, giving them the appearance of being for sale through your own website

When a product thumbnail is clicked, a single product page is auto-generated, complete with description text, shipping table, and “Add to Cart” button

When the “Add to Cart” button is clicked, the customer is directed to Etsy.com to pay

Copy-and-paste, ready-in-seconds easy

A helpful jumpstart for your WordPress site content-wise, so you direct people there instead of to your Etsy.com URL

Bridges the gap between needing your own site but not being ready for your own shopping cart yet

Updates as your Etsy shop updates

Customizable with CSS

Dependent on your Etsy shop to display products No
WooCommerce The WooCommerce website (woocommerce.com) says: A WordPress eCommerce toolkit that helps you sell anything. Beautifully. Transform your WordPress website into a thorough-bred eCommerce store for free. Delivering enterprise-level quality & features whilst backed by a name you can trust. Say hello to WooCommerce.
Live Example Sites: Cozilee, Wise Blue Lotus, Laura C George
Total Cost Also Requires Brandability / Professionalism Main Pros Main Cons Automated Digital Product Delivery Extra Features
FREE

Payment gateway fees: typically 2.9% + 30¢ per credit card transaction

A PayPal account Your design is 100% brandable Free!?

Actively updated by the WooThemes team

Gorgeous compatible WordPress themes are available (free and paid)

Comes with some pretty thoughtful, detailed features

Getting it to look good can be very easy or very difficult depending on the theme you’re using– must give it a whirl to find out

Might be more complex than a lot of sellers need

Requires a paid extension and SSL certificate to use a payment gateway other than PayPal

A lot of advanced functionality requires paid extensions $50+

Yes Customer can sort by price, rating, recency, or popularity

Stock management

Automated thumbnail size options

Product ratings

Site-wide store notice text

Can ensure there’s no way around the secure “https” checkout

Jigoshop The Jigoshop website (jigoshop.com) says: Elegant, lightweight code built upon core WordPress functionality. Detailed order and stock reporting via graphs and dashboard widgets. Add functionality your Jigoshop with our premium themes and extensions. Create a unique store using built in widgets and shortcodes. Attentive Community member forums & Blisteringly quick premium technical support. One-step-checkout, filterable products, bundles of short codes & widgets. Oooh yeah!
Live Example Sites: Loot + Law, Mimal’s, Slavna
Total Cost Also Requires Brandability / Professionalism Main Pros Main Cons Automated Digital Product Delivery Extra Features
FREE

Payment gateway fees: typically 2.9% + 30¢ per credit card transaction

A payment gateway account like PayPal Your design is 100% brandable Can purchase priority support at $39.99/month if you need it

They provide a live demo on their site, complete with admin login, so you can kick the tires before you commit

Not compatible with the Disqus comment system or the NIVO slider

A lot of advanced functionality requires paid extensions $50+

Isn’t known to well with every WordPress theme out-of-the-box

Yes Sale scheduling

Related products

Reviews

Cart 66 The Cart 66 plugin website (cart66.com) says: Cart66 Cloud is more than just a plugin for WordPress. You get a bunch of extra services that make your life so much easier including all the security you need for a safe and PCI compliant WordPress store. You host your own WordPress site on any server you want. Cart66 Cloud will host and secure your customer and e-commerce data. When you use Cart66 Cloud all your sensitive data are safe in your own slice of the ultra secure cloud. So, if your site ever gets hacked, your customer and e-commerce data are never exposed to the hacker. Just restore your WordPress site, reconnect to Cart66 Cloud and you’re back in business!
Live Example Sites: Artios, Pure Nintendo, Identity Web Host
Total Cost Also Requires Brandability / Professionalism Main Pros Main Cons Automated Digital Product Delivery Extra Features
$25/month or $199/year

Payment gateway fees: typically 2.9% + 30¢ per credit card transaction

A payment gateway account like PayPal Your design is 100% brandable Cart66 embeds the checkout pages into your site (so they look like part of your site, even though they are hosted by Cart66)– so you don’t need to worry about an SSL certificate or security of any kind Not very much information on Cart66’s website about how to customize the cart’s buttons and design elements with HTML/CSS, though it appears possible Yes Invoicing

Customer follow-up messages

Membership

Recurring billing

MarketPress Plugin The MarketPress eCommerce plugin website says: MarketPress is the easiest to use, best designed and most powerful ecommerce / shopping cart plugin available for WordPress today. Developed from the ground up to make it simple to set up a stylish online shop, MarketPress has all the features you need, including: Multiple payment gateways, works great with any WordPress theme and looks great with AJAXy goodness, fully internationalized by the WPML crew, sell real objects, or digital downloads (with limits and tracking!), with ease, shipping, coupons, Google Analytics eCommerce, sales pricing, unlimited product variations, and so so much more!
Live Example Sites: I couldn’t find any! If you know of one, please let me know so I can feature it here.
Total Cost Also Requires Brandability / Professionalism Main Pros Main Cons Automated Digital Product Delivery Extra Features
$19 one-time flat fee

Payment gateway fees: Typically 2.9% + 30¢ per credit card transaction

Payment gateway account like PayPal I believe that checkout is a popup overlay over your site Has a dedicated team of WordPress experts working on the plugin

Integrates with the BuddyPress and Multisite plugins– which means you could theoretically build your own marketplace à la Etsy or Ebay if you put all of this software together and had the help of a web developer

I had this plugin a while ago, and it would NOT stop flashing a big red notification in my WordPress admin area telling me to upgrade to an ongoing membership with WPMU Dev. I don’t know if it’s a good service or not, but I found this very misleading since buying the single plugin for a flat fee was the option presented

You only get upgrades of the plugin (including bug fixes) for a short period of time when you’re not an ongoing member

Yes Stock management

Customizable URLS

Lots of shortcodes, widgets, and customization options that require no coding

Ecwid The WP e-Commerce website (getshopped.org) says: WP e-Commerce remains the most popular, most robust e-commerce plugin for WordPress and is the ideal way to sell products, downloads or services online. Whether you are setting up a WordPress store for yourself or are a WordPress developer setting up a store for a client, WP e-Commerce offers the most features and capabilities of any store plugin. Start by downloading our plugin for free- fully functional with no limitations. Upgrade if you’d like additional capabilities, display options or premium support.
Live Example Sites: Dawn Jackson Blatner, Journeys of the Spirit, lightspeed
Total Cost Also Requires Brandability / Professionalism Main Pros Main Cons Automated Digital Product Delivery Extra Features
FREE to display 1 image per product, $47 for Gold Cart upgrade that allows multiple product images

Payment gateway fees: typically 2.9% + 30¢ per credit card transaction

A payment gateway account like PayPal Your design is 100% brandable One of the oldest and most well-known e-commerce plugins for WordPress

Has a large library of documentation and tutorials

Has a reputation for being a little clunky and a huge hassle to customize, as just HTML/CSS won’t do it– you’ll need some PHP knowledge as well

You’ll need an SSL certificate to secure the payment form as it will be on your own site, not theirs

No Flexible coupon/discount pricing rules

Multi-tier pricing for quantity discounts

Search Engine Friendly URLs

Cross-sells on product pages

(Full list here)

Disclaimer

Unfortunately, I can’t guarantee that all of my information is accurate or complete. The last update was made on 9/5/13, though services like these will always be evolving.

I have used affiliate links in this post, so if you sign up for any of these services I will get a commission. Nonetheless, my reviews are always my 100% honest feelings.

Now how about heading home?




Should I Sell On Etsy or My Own Site?

Marketplace websites such as Etsy, Artfire, Meylah, and Society 6 are awesome for handmade and artisan businesses. Mainly because they are the fastest shops to set up and there’s already a huge gathering of buyers and sellers there.

From the sellers’ perspective, sites like Etsy can be a great place to start– and test– a business with minimal commitment. See if your business concept is one that attracts people. Try out different pricing. Gather information about what does or doesn’t sell.

Further, sites like Etsy can be incredible marketing channels. Driving traffic is a major hardship for most new businesses, but Etsy already gets tons of it.

That’s not to say you get the benefit of Etsy’s traffic without any work at all. You need to be selling something that stands out in the crowd, you need to know how to use keywords, and be able to jump on seasonal trends– since catering to the time of year or pop culture trends will help snag e-mail and front page features.

At least all of the conventional advice says that if you manage to do the above you’ll see success through the site.

1. Why Using Etsy Exclusively is A Mistake

But here’s the thing.

I did some research on the featured sellers from the Etsy blog’s “Quit Your Day Job” posts— the ones that highlight all of Etsy’s most successful sellers.

One by one, I started checking them out, asking lots of questions like: How much $$$ is their average sale? How many sales did they make in the last year? How much money does that add up to? (And what kind of profit might be left after basic costs?) What is this seller doing that most others are not?

Sure, this wasn’t anything close to an exact science. But after putting some time into it, I felt confident enough to draw these conclusions about these Etsy superstars and their respective shops:

  • Though the amount of money was usually significant, many of these Etsy sellers (who are described as having quit their day job) were not making anything close to a living wage from their Etsy sales alone.
  • Every featured seller had some form of social media presence helping to drive sales.
  • Every successful seller profiled owned their own website in addition to their Etsy storefront.

So… in a nutshell, the biggest secret of Etsy’s elite seemed to be that they went beyond the Etsy “walls.”

2. The Non-Negotiable, Controlled-By-You Website

The most important takeaway from this is that every serious Etsy seller has their own website.

Turns out, whether it’s made of up of just a few “about us” pages, a blog, or a full-featured e-commerce store of its own, having your own website in addition to your Etsy shop is key to escaping amateur-ville and becoming a real player.

There are many huge reasons for this beyond the now-obvious “All the cool kids are doing it!” And most of them have to do with simply taking your business seriously enough to think about its future:

  • many entirely well-intentioned sellers have had their Etsy shops shut down, without warning or explanation. Having your own website is insurance that your best customers will be able to find you again, even in the chance that your Etsy shop goes MIA.
  • Having your own website allows you to build up your SEO (search engine optimization) cred now, so that it will pay off later if/when you decide to move your store away from Etsy or expand into your own e-commerce store. Printing your “your-company-name.com” web address onto all of your marketing materials and generally training potential customers to find you there first is key to this.
  • Journalists and their publications take businesses more seriously when they have their own site. Therefore, you’re open to more opportunities for exposure. Not to mention, with your own website at your command, you can carefully craft a “Media” or “Press” page full of all the juicy deets about you, your product, as well as some gorgeous high-res images, to make your business all the more press-ready.
  • See a shop with a fiercely loyal following, and I’ll show you an e-mail list. Unfortunately, Etsy doesn’t accommodate the sort of opt-in box you need to collect e-mail addresses from customers in a straight-forward, legal way, so you can’t easily continue contact with them in the future and win their repeat business. Having your own website means you can use opt-in forms wherever and whenever you like.
  • Finally, by having your own site, you’re showing contacts you meet in-person and on social media that you are your own brand– not just a minuscule drop in the bucket of Etsy. And from a psychological perspective, that means they’re more likely to remember you and view your goods as high-value.

3. A Fast and Easy “Cheat”

It used to be impossibly difficult to have “the best of both worlds.” That is, an Etsy seller could easily get a simple “about the company” website that links to their Etsy shop. But there wasn’t a way for them to have both an Etsy store and their own website store without putting in a ton of work.

Today, there is one very easy option that I know of.

First, get yourself a pretty blog website by signing up with Bluehost (the no-bells-and-whistles plan), then taking advantage of their 1-click WordPress install.

Second, get the Etsy 360 WordPress plugin. This will quickly stream your entire Etsy shop onto your site, automatically creating individual product pages and everything.

Here’s a quick graphic to better explain what this plugin does:

Learn about the Etsy 360 plugin for WordPress

It’s extremely easy to set up, maintain, and it’s very inexpensive as well. You can learn more about it here.

4. Conclusion

If an Etsy business is the right fit for you, follow the pros’ lead and get yourself hooked up with your own “your-company-name.com” website in addition to your shop. Even if it’s just something simple for the time being.

To explore other ecommerce options beyond Etsy, I suggest you simply head on over to The Ultimate Ecommerce Platform Comparison.

Photo credit: Helga Weber / Flickr




This post contains affiliate links. Rest assured, though, that I don’t recommend any companies that I haven’t used and experienced for myself.

The “Getting Started” Guide for Selling Online

Everywhere you turn, there’s an ad for some e-commerce platform saying, “Build your own website today! Be selling in less than an hour!”

Yet the idea of setting up an ecommerce website still elicits fear and overwhelm. Because your experience tells you it’s never quite that simple.

Here, I’ll give you everything you need to know up-front, so you don’t run into major confusion later.

The Moving Pieces

Here are all the moving parts that make e-commerce (“online sales transactions”) happen.

You don’t need to memorize this list. Just bookmark this page and refer to it later, if you need to. Here they are:

1. A server to hold website files, called a “host”
2. Website code for store-like functionality, AKA “shopping cart software”
3. Payment form security, called an “SSL certificate”
4. A credit card processing service, called a “payment gateway”
5. A special bank account to gather your profits, called a “merchant bank account”
(Optional) 6. An instant download delivery service for digital products

Putting It All Together

Now, here’s the single most important thing you need to know: You can handle each of the above parts separately, or you can choose services that handle several for you at once.

I can’t think of a single service that handles all of these. But some come close.

Shopify and Etsy, for example, can cover #1-4. Whereas PayPal is the most popular service among small businesses for handling #4-5.

So the next time you see an ad that says, “Start selling in less than an hour,” take note of which pieces that particular service is covering to gauge how easy it really will be.

Onwards and Upwards

And that’s it. Having this level of familiarity, you are now ready to explore which options are best for you. To help you with that next step, I suggest checking out Should I sell on Etsy or my own site? or the Ultimate Ecommerce Platform Comparison.

Photo credit: Peat Bakke / Flickr




This post contains affiliate links. Rest assured, though, that I don’t recommend any companies that I haven’t used and experienced for myself.

The #1 Mistake Creatives Make, and Other Business Wisdom From My Interview With Cory Huff

I’m excited to present you with today’s post– a Q&A with art business expert, Cory Huff, of The Abundant Artist. He’s a guy who knows what he’s talking about and doesn’t shy away from the tough questions. I hope you enjoy!

1. So, Cory, could you tell us about your website (The Abundant Artist) and how you work with artists?

Cory-HuffI started The Abundant Artist as a blog to explore the relationships between creativity and money. I grew up working-class poor and really didn’t understand how people made money. After working in Internet marketing for a few years, I began this blog as a way of applying some of what I’d learned to the Arts.

As I blogged more, my friends and new readers started asking me to teach some group courses. I did that and then that turned into pre-recorded courses. Then people started asking me about one-on-one coaching. So I started doing that.

Basically, the whole thing evolved very organically. To my surprise, a three year side project turned into my full time gig about a year ago. Some of the artists I started working with in the very early days have had what most artists would consider a lot of success. It’s been really fun to experience artists discovering that they can do what they love and get paid for it.

2. When did it click for you that you could pursue your passions through online entrepreneurship (and help others do the same)?

About two years ago I realized I had a thousand email subscribers. That’s when I realized that I’d hit a nerve with talking about how artists can make money. It was around that time when I decided that I was going to turn this into my full time business.

I was working for a software company at the time, doing marketing strategy. It was a great job, but the thought of working for myself was really enticing. So, I would get up around 6 AM every day and write for an hour before going to work. After work I would go home and work for an hour. On Tuesdays I would work for the entire night.

In early 2013, I woke up one morning and realized that I literally had so many artists asking for coaching that I couldn’t possibly do that and do my job. I had a little mini breakdown and called my wife. We agreed that I would quit my job and pursue TAA full time. I walked into my boss’ office and let him know.

3. What is the #1 mistake you see artists making when they set out to sell their work online?

An Old Mac

Photo credit.

Perhaps lack of research.

Artists need to understand that not everyone is going to enjoy their art, and that’s totally normal. The artist needs to do some research and see where they fit in relationship to other artists. This includes pricing, which websites you’re being featured on, who your target collectors are, and what kind of language you use to talk to your target collectors.

4. What advice can you give to someone who just can’t seem to make sales?

Call me. Let’s talk.

Most likely the problem is that you’re not well positioned. You don’t know who your target audience is, or you’re not speaking to them effectively.

For experienced artists that are seeing a dip in sales, I’d take a look at one of two things. Your mindset or market changes.

Some artists get burned out by their art careers and need to make a change in what they create or how they sell it, but they’re too afraid to rock the boat so they watch their sales slowly dwindle away. Some artists are just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Their gallery closes due to unforeseen circumstances or they aren’t adapting to modern marketing techniques.

5. How does an artist distinguish between the slowness of starting a new business vs. perhaps needing to sharpen their skills and create a better product?

[This may be one of the trickiest aspects of being a creative in business, because everyone feels self-conscious from time to time. So, on one hand, an artist needs to develop confidence in the face of criticism. But, on the other hand, taking criticism seriously can be valuable for developing a product that people will buy. How would you recommend someone begin to investigate this?]

The truth is that good entrepreneurs are always learning because they never know enough. There’s always a way to screw it up, so you just do the best you can. Art doesn’t have to be amazing to sell. You have to learn to embrace failure as a way of experimenting with your business. Make little tweaks all of the time.

Get feedback from your audience. What do they like? What do they dislike? Ask them why. Talk to your audience. They will tell you what works and what doesn’t.

On taking criticism: If people give you specific criticism on what you can do better (I’m not sure how to pay for your art on your website), that’s helpful. If someone criticizes you generally (you’re art sucks), that’s not helpful. Don’t listen to the latter.

Also, if the critic is someone who, as Brene Brown puts it, is in the arena with you, then you can value their criticism more. If that person is doing similar work or is another artist trying to make it, then their advice is probably valuable. People sitting the bleachers watching have no idea how hard it is.

6. In your experience, what kind of timeline do you think a fledgling creative entrepreneur should be prepared for?

Jewelry Artist Toiling Away

Photo credit.

[In other words, how long do you think is reasonable to toil away without seeing a return?]

Assuming you are at the skill level of the average art school graduate, probably 1 – 2 years before you begin selling consistently, and 3 – 5 years before you can make a living from your art.

There are artists who do it within a year. These are usually artists who either 1) got lucky and were accepted into a high-end gallery right out of school or 2) have a background in business and had a plan for how to market their work.

There is no shame in having a support job while you build your art business.

7. What technology do you use and/or do you recommend to other artists?

Well Stephanie, you’ve done a great job of distilling this down for creatives, but here’s my partial list of day-to-day tech tools.

WordPress for websites. There are literally thousands of WordPress themes for artists that work with WordPress. Also, a huge community of users means lots of tutorials and plugins, many of them free.

My iPhone. I use it for taking pictures, for staying in touch, and for coaching calls with clients.

I’m a Mac. I’ve never been a big fan of Windows operating systems. I learned how to use a computer on those old colorful Apple iMacs. I’ve been an Apple fan ever since, but I’m not crazy. Use what works for you.

Gmail is the best email app. Period. It does everything every other email app does, plus a bunch more. Here’s a good run down of stuff that will blow your mind about Gmail. My favorite tip: keyboard shortcuts. I can use a single key to send, archive and move to the next email. My inbox rarely has more than 20 – 30 emails in it, and I get hundreds of emails a day. Okay, one more: canned responses. I have a list of emails I commonly send, and Gmail saves those for me. Two clicks and I’m done.

Evernote. This is my second brain. Everything I do or think about doing goes into Evernote. I jot down blog post ideas there in one notebook. Another one contains all of my coaching session notes. My favorite art in another one. Many artists I know keep a separate note for each of their pieces of art, with progress pics and notes on what worked & didn’t work. Bonus: it syncs between your phone and your desktop.

8. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given about entrepreneurship?

Fail Harder

Learn to fail hard and fast. Try stuff quickly, and stop doing it quickly if it doesn’t work. Seriously. Fail Harder.+

That wraps the Q&A. Thank you, Cory, for being so generous with your advice.

If you enjoyed this post, I hope you’ll hop over to The Abundant Artist and get on Cory’s email list. His brand new course, Content Marketing for Artists, is just about to close its doors, so make sure you get a chance to check it out!

Photo credit: martinak15 / Flickr




Feeling Abandoned? 4 Reasons Your Customers Aren’t Rolling All the Way Through Checkout

4 Reasons Your Customers Are Abandoning Their Shopping Carts

Photo credit.

{Today’s post comes from guest writer, Hannah Alvarez, who’s tackling one of the most common problems for online shop owners– cart abandonment. Are your customers adding items to their cart, but not getting all the way through checkout? Hannah’s got a rundown of the most common reasons this happens, and what you can do today to steer your visitors towards the register. –Stephanie}

Baymard Institute shows that the average documented online shopping cart abandonment rate is 67.89%. That means the average store owner has better odds of correctly guessing a coin flip than coaxing a shopper to buy the items in their cart.

However, what I’ve learned through my job at UserTesting– where we’ve watched thousands of videos documenting the frustration customers go through while navigating online stores– is that there are 4 main reasons this happens. (And most can be prevented with just a few simple tweaks.)

1. It’s not you, it’s me

Nobody likes to hear these words, but in the context of your relationship with your customers, it’s possible that it’s simply too early for the customer to commit to making a purchase.

One of the best things about shopping online is being able to hop from store to store in a matter of seconds and without ever leaving your seat. While this is great for consumers, online store owners like you probably don’t feel the warm fuzzies when you think of customers leaving your site to hunt down a similar product elsewhere.

What to do?

Since comparison shopping isn’t going away anytime soon, the best way to keep customers on your site is to offer a great experience. Make sure to let your brand’s personality shine through. For new visitors, the first time they visit your site is like a first date. If they like what they see, they’ll come back when they’re ready. You can’t force them to commit– just make sure to leave a good impression.

2. Difficulty Checking Out

Whether it’s the lack of a guest checkout feature, confusing sign-in options, or the inability for a customer to use their preferred payment method, there are a number of potential pitfalls that can frustrate a customer into abandoning ship as they’re checking out.

What to do?

  • Don’t require registration. Many customers don’t want to go through the effort of creating another account with another password they have to remember. If you have to make your visitors register, consider using shopping cart software that will let them register using their social media accounts to make the process faster.
  • Accept as many payment types as possible. We’re not just talking about popular credit card types, but also popular online payment methods like PayPal.

3. Lack of trust

Part of the challenge of running an e-commerce store is easing customer fears. Customers already have a sense of detachment because they can’t physically touch the product they’re buying and they have to wait for their order to be shipped. There’s also the worry that sensitive payment and personal information can be compromised.

What to do?

  • Use security icons and trust symbols. These little icons go a long way toward building customer trust.
  • Make it easy to contact you. Make sure your contact information is handy for when your customers need it most.

4. Shipping surprises

Have you ever gone through a site’s checkout process only to find that shipping effectively doubles the total purchase cost? On top of that, the delivery will take five days to get to your doorstep. If that’s the case, odds are that you abandoned your cart.

What to do?

  • Make shipping costs predictable. Give customers the easiest possible way to estimate shipping costs based on their zip codes, and spare them any surprises prior to checking out.
  • Give realistic delivery estimates. Tracking codes are also a great way to build customer trust, so be sure to shoot them over as soon as they’re available.

Closing thoughts

Making the checkout process as easy as possible, proving your trustworthiness, and removing shipping surprises are a great place to start reducing shopping cart abandonment. We’ve also learned from thousands of user tests that customers can easily be distracted away from their purchase if you try to upsell them with too many impulse items or if you use popup banners indiscriminately.

Even equipped with this information, there really is no magic formula to prevent customers from abandoning their carts, because every online store’s customers have different needs. The only way to be certain of what works is by testing yours regularly.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that the likelihood that a customer will make a purchase is based on his or her experience on your site. If you provide an easy, enjoyable experience, you’ll see fewer abandoned carts and more happy customers!

Hannah is a Marketing Associate at UserTesting, where she spends her time creating content to share with people. As a former nonprofit professional dedicated to making the world a better place, she’s passionate about improving people’s experience on the web. You can follow her on Twitter @hannahkalvarez.




2 Crucial Things You Must Know To Keep Your Customers’ Credit Cards Safe

All You Need to Know About Your Website's Security
Photo credit.

There’s a few things people can mean when they say a website’s been “hacked.”

Often it’s that a hacker got access to a website’s code files and changed them. This usually happens when a website owner has a weak password (tip: longer is better, special characters better yet) or has been ignoring software updates for a while (mostly WordPress.org sites).

Another way a website can be hacked, specific to e-commerce sites, is when credit card information submitted through a payment form is intercepted. And just like it sounds, it’s pretty serious.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be an expert in internet security to make sure your website’s safe. Or let the fear of dealing with credit cards keep you from selling on your own site.

There’s just two simple things that every online business owner with an e-commerce component on their site should have straight.

1. Is the payment form on your site or someone else’s?

Crucial Things to Know About Your Website's Security
Photo credit.

If you have, say, a PayPal button on your website that takes customers to PayPal.com to pay, the payment form is not on your site. This means you don’t have to worry about security– PayPal’s got that covered for you.

On the other hand, if the payment form that takes customers’ credit card info is located on your own site– at www.yourdomainname.com/checkout, for example– chances are the security responsibility is on you.

You should be able to find information about this through an e-commerce platform’s website before you choose to use it, or else you can go to a website that uses the platform you’re interested in to check.

Because of how beautifully slick some e-commerce platforms are these days, sometimes it’s not obvious at first glance whose website the payment form is on. For instance, some e-commerce platforms– Gumroad and Shoplocket, to name a few– offer a pop-up payment form that appears to the customer as if it’s on your site though it’s actually coming from theirs. An illusion, if you will.

Gumroad pop-up payment form diagram

When in doubt, you can always right-click close to the payment form and choose the menu option “View source.” (Unless the option “View frame source” exists, in which case click that one.) That’ll open a new tab or window, and there you can see in the address bar whose domain name is hosting the form.

2. Are you using an SSL certificate?

Crucial Things to Know About Your Website's Security
Photo credit.

If your payment form is on someone else’s website, you don’t need to worry about an SSL certificate. If it is on your own site, however, it’s illegal not to.

Let’s talk quickly about what an SSL certificate is.

The way credit card information is protected when transferred electronically is by encryption. This means distorting the data, so it looks like a jumbled mess to hackers trying to get it.

The mechanism we use to encrypt websites is to install an SSL certificate– a special key unique to your site with which to scramble and unscramble the data.

Luckily, setting up an SSL certificate can be incredibly easy. That is, as long as you buy the SSL certificate from your own web host. Almost all of them offer automatic SSL certificate installation, so you just look for where in your admin space you can buy one, purchase it, and let their tech team do the rest.

If you were to buy an SSL certificate from another website, let’s say NameCheap.com, even though your website is hosted by Bluehost, configuration will be more complicated. Not impossible, of course, but there’s just some steps to go through. You can search your host’s “help” section to find them.

Finally, be sure to always include the “s” (as in “https://”) in the link for your checkout page, since this is the only way the SSL certificate will be used and the credit card information protected. Some e-commerce platforms, such as WooCommerce, will have a checkbox in your settings for “forcing SSL.” This automatically switches the url to “https” for anyone visiting the site, so be sure to use this if it’s offered to you.

And that’s it! That wasn’t so bad, huh? If you have any questions regarding website security or SSL certificates, be sure to leave them below.

Further, if you’re curious to know exactly which e-commerce platforms require an SSL certificate or not, you can always save yourself the research by checking out my Ultimate E-Commerce Platform Comparison. :)