Guys, it’s mid-August. Do you know what that means?
I bet you’re thinking “back to school sales,” right?
This is your last chance to launch your online store before the most profitable time of the year – Christmas.
“But it’s only August!” – you say.
Well you see the thing is – though the main online buying action might happen during the second half of November, you have to start planning and setting up processes now. These things range from figuring out how to attract traffic to setting up thoughtful and converting automatic emails, and most importantly, setting up and planning the biggest sales events of the year – Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Launching your store may seem like a daunting task, but when you break it down it becomes simple and manageable. On top of that, we’ve put together this guide with all of the shortcuts to launch your online store fast. Here are some of the things we’ll cover:
- The fastest ecommerce (aka sales) platform to set up
- The fastest ways to set up a payment processor to accept sales
- The easiest way to get a product up for sale
But first, let’s talk about why it’s so important to get your store up and running (and bug-free!) as soon as possible.
Launch your store now to reap the benefits of the seasonal spike in sales
Putting aside the inspirational aphorisms of living in the present, now, aka end-of-August and beginning-of-September, is the last time in 2017 that makes sense to launch your online store before the holiday season.
Any later and you’ll be risking launching a half-baked product, a buggy website and an undeveloped user experience.
$91.7 billion was spent in online sales during the 2016 holiday season. That was an 11% growth over the previous year, which clocked in at $82.6 billion. If this online growth rate continues (which it is likely to do based on the development of sales over the years), then we’ll be looking at well over $100 billion in online sales this year.
The “holiday season” in ecommerce and retail is considered to be the months of November and December. This means that by November, your store should be up and running, and you should know what your best selling products are (so that you can craft really appealing sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday!). You should have a solid idea of which distribution channels bring in the most sales and have an established list of email subscribers so that you can tell them all about the amazing deals you have going on in your store.
We’ve gone through the process of launching online stores countless times – we’ve got it down to an art. Here is the absolute fastest way to launch your online store, step by step.
The fastest way to launch an online store
When it comes down to it, any online store consists of 3 main elements: the sales platform, the payment platform, and the products.
The fastest ecommerce platform to set up
The internet is flooded with ecommerce platforms that have been popping up like mushrooms after rain. Printful integrates with the majority of the largest platforms, but we’ve narrowed it down to the absolute fastest to make this process easiest for you. Here’s what we found:
Shopify – our nr. 1 pick
Shopify is our nr. 1 pick for a multitude of reasons – it’s incredibly user friendly and understandable, simple, and ready-to-use. You can buy a domain for your store (the address, eg. www.yourstore.com) directly from them and choose from their plug-and-play store themes (that’s the part customers see), which leads to ultra quick setup. At the same time, the platform can later be customized to suit your new, growing needs.
The shortcuts you take when you set up with Shopify:
- You don’t have to find a hosting provider – Shopify hosts stores on their own servers.
- You don’t have to waste time figuring out how to get your store onto your hosting provider’s server – Shopify also does that automatically for you.
- You don’t have to worry about setting your store and theme – choose from one of the already available, mobile-friendly themes. Just add your products, logo, texts, and your store is ready to go.
Arguably, other platforms offer similar features as Shopify (such as themes and usability). But what really puts Shopify above the rest is their unbeatable customer service. They are quick to answer, helpful, and available 24/7 through their online chat feature. If you run into a hiccup along the way while setting up your store, you can be sure that you’ll have personal assistance available to you whenever you need it.
Shopify’s only con is that as opposed to platforms such as WooCommerce for WordPress (free) and BigCartel (free-$29.99/month), Shopify is on the pricier end of the spectrum. To launch an online store, you’ll have to make your peace with $29.99/month for the most basic plan. This price tag, of course, is offset by the many positive features and high-quality customer service of Shopify. The price tag should also not be a problem since by following this guide, your store will be up, running, and making a profit in no time.
If Shopify is not an option for you, other quickly set up platforms include TicTail, BigCommerce, Weebly, and Ecwid. Click here for a full list of ecommerce platforms that integrate with Printful.
Domain name and hosting
For the fastest domain name setup, it will be in your interest to buy your domain directly from Shopify. By creating your store on Shopify, it will automatically be hosted by Shopify as well, thus, minimizing the time needed to set up.
To buy a domain name from Shopify, go to your store’s admin section, and under “Online store” click on “Domains”. Click the button at the top right that says “Buy new domain”.
You then enter the domain you’re looking for and if it’s available, you can register the domain to your name. The purchase will last for one year, and you can choose to automatically renew it after a year so you don’t accidentally forget to do it yourself and thereby lose the domain.
Hosting is by default included with any Shopify store – they offer both domain and hosting as a package deal. Other platforms don’t include this in their services, which means that you have to find both a domain name and a hosting provider, which are two separate services that you then have to connect. Having Shopify take care of this for you is particularly helpful for those who haven’t done it before (though it is, by all means, doable), as it can considerably slow down the launching process.
The fastest way to set up an online payment processor
One of the fundamental building blocks of an online store is being able to accept payments. It’s an integral part of business, yet often overlooked by budding entrepreneurs. Setting up a payment processor in some instances takes more time than originally thought. Though this may vary based on the country you’re in, here are the fastest ways to set up payment processors.
If you’re located in the USA, Canada, Ireland, UK, Australia, New Zealand or Puerto Rico, Shopify Payments will be the fastest way to get your store in business. Shopify Payments lets you automatically accept all major credit cards.
To set it up, you’ll simply have to indicate your banking information, and Shopify will deposit any income directly into your account. Shopify Payments doesn’t require you to be registered as a business to set up payments, so if you haven’t set up the legal aspects of running a business yet, Shopify Payments won’t slow down the process.
Here’s a detailed guide to setting up Shopify Payments.
If you’re in a country that doesn’t support Shopify Payments, your fastest setup option will be PayPal.
By integrating PayPal into your store, you’ll be able to accept both PayPal and credit cards. Though it might not be the most elegant solution (every time a customer wants to make a payment, they’ll be sent to an outside site to enter their payment details), it certainly will be the fastest. Since PayPal is a well-known and reputable brand that people trust, these small inconveniences will be insignificant.
When setting up a PayPal business account, you’ll be offered one of three options:
Pro, Standard or Express.
For the sake of setting up quickly, we suggest choosing the “Standard” option.
Note: Only the “Payments Pro” option lets you process the payment without taking your customer away from your site. That means the process is not as seamless, but it does get the job done and has you accepting payments instantly, which is our fundamental goal.
Requirements to sign up for a PayPal Business account:
- Your name
- Your official business name
- Your business address
PayPal doesn’t ask for your business registration number, which means that technically you can set up your PayPal business account before you’ve actually founded a company. This will help you start your online store faster.
Note: If you choose to opt for another payment processor in the future, such as Braintree, you will need to have a registered business to set up an account with them. Braintree is a convenient and flexible platform to use and lets you accept payments on Shopify without taking your visitors away from your page. This makes it worth your while to register your business.
Easiest products to implement
No store would be complete without the main attraction – the products themselves.
Printful has an ever-increasing array of products you can choose from to sell on your store, but we’ll narrow it down a bit to have you selling online as quickly as possible.
There are two steps to implementing a product on your store:
- Creating a print file
- Uploading the image to your store & syncing it with Printful
Here are some pro tips to help you choose which products to sell:
- Choose a print product, as opposed to an embroidery product. It will be easier to design for in the beginning, and the design will fit on other print products as well.
- If the European market is important to you, choose from the products that can also be printed in our European facility. That will reduce shipping time and costs for European customers.
Print products in the mockup generator are t-shirts, wall art, mugs, all-over (sublimation) t-shirts, totes, leggings, pillows, phone cases, socks, dresses, skirts, beach towels.
1. The fastest way to create a print file
Once you’ve chosen the product you want to sell, you’ll need to think of the design that will go on it.
Print file = the document that contains the image you’ll print on your product.
This step is entirely up to you, and you can get as creative as you want.
Here are some resources that might help you come up with an idea and turn it into a print file:
- 115 niche market ideas – niches will help narrow down the topics you’ll be designing for and may provide some ideas
- Design ideas for $0 – when you have neither Photoshop skills nor money to invest into creating a design
- How to find a designer – if you have a little bit of money and just need a designer to implement your ideas
- How to create the perfect print file – when you have Photoshop skills and you just need pointers to make the file match Printful’s requirements
2. Turn that image into a sellable item
Once you have a file that contains your design, go to your Printful account.
Here you’ll have to “Add a store.” Go to “Stores,” choose “Connect to an ecommerce platform” and follow the steps to add your Shopify store.
Once you see your store in your Printful account, go to “Stores,” then next to your Shopify store, click the “Add” button.
Choose which product you want to sell in your store, then in the mockup generator area, upload your design print file and configure your product. You’ll have to choose which colors and sizes of the item you want to make available on your store.
Once you proceed to the next steps, you’ll be provided with a ready-to-go product description that will show up next to your product in your store. You can either edit it now in this step, or you can publish it as is. In the interest of launching quickly you can leave them at first, however, for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) needs, it’s recommended that you customize them for your own niche. You can always edit your product description by going to your Shopify admin section.
At the next step, you set the pricing for your product. Once you’re happy with your pricing and profit margin, hit the last step – “Submit to store.”
Once the product is successfully submitted, it will be published in your online store.
Simple as that – you’re ready to accept purchases.
Welcome to ecommerce ownership – you’re an entrepreneur now!
Having your own online store is a major milestone in your life – you go from passive consumer to proactive entrepreneur. And now, it can be done in a matter of hours. There’s no better time to take off and skyrocket your new business than the holiday season. So do future you a favor, take the evening to set up your online store. You won’t regret it – that much is sure.
Once your store is fully functioning, you’ll naturally be pumped for taking your store to the next level. Here are some articles we suggest for further reading:
- Email marketing – 4 strategies you should try
- Social media marketing – The basics and tools for effective social media management
- Increase sales – 85 ideas to boost sales when you feel stuck
- Product descriptions – How to manage customers’ expectations and have them buy more
- Marketing on a budget – Marketing your online store on a $50 budget
- Your store’s analysis – A beginner’s guide to Google Analytics
Looking for even more info on how to get your online store up and running? Read our ebook!