Recently, some events in the world have forced many brands and stationery stores to switch to the Online world. At the same time, a large number of customers had to learn to buy online quickly. This has made having Your own Ecommerce Site the priority for many entrepreneurs who have yet to do so.
If you are reading this article, you are probably considering setting up your own Online Store for free.
Free Ecommerce site is able to Earn money for You with some limitations in functionality. In general you can build an online shop with no money but after that, You will need to pay for hosting or some paid plan for using your site. It will be really hard to pay nothing and success in E-commerce.
Building an Online Store is only the beginning of the process that leads to the emergence of sales. Let’s dive into the topic and check, where you can save when building an online store, and what you will have to pay for in order for your Online Store to work properly.
Can You make an eCommerce website for free?
This question is tricky. On the one hand, the construction of the Online Store itself is only a part of a longer process. On the other hand, if you are only interested in the stage of building the Store itself, you can say yes, it is possible.
Naturally, on the market, you will find solutions that offer you free solutions for building an Online Shop. However, if you are not a programmer and you do not have your own hosting, then at some point you will have to spend some money on the development of the store and its functioning.
On the way, you will face hosting and domain fees if you are building your own sales platform or choosing an open source solution.
In the case of SaaS (Software as a Service) platforms, you do not pay for the domain and hosting, and you have free website design tools available, thanks to which you can completely build a website at the visual and functional side.
However, to start using what you created, you need to choose a paid plan. There are several paid plans to choose from, and each of the more expensive ones allows you to take advantage of more advanced features and solutions.
You can read more about the type of SaaS platforms in this article
Can You build an eCommerce website on your own?
When we want to build an online store, the first and most obvious question arises whether we are able to do it ourselves or do we need someone to do it for us.
And unless you are starting a large eCommerce project, the answer will be to build it by yourself. There is nothing wrong with that and many people choose this solution.
You can build eCommerce website on Your own. How you do it will depend on your competencies and skills as well as your Ecommerce strategy. When building an Online Store, take into account that the store should develop and expand over time.
How long does it take to build an Ecommerce website?
Depending on what type of platform you are using, this is how long it will take you to build the Online Store. Below, I present to you the 3 most important types of Ecommerce platforms. Each of them is characterized by a different level of knowledge needed to build a store and a different time needed to spend on this.
In general, you are able to set up your store on SaaS platforms the fastest. These types of platforms are a kind of a “bag of blocks” that you just have to put together. In extreme cases, you can do it in one day.
Here, the basis or the “main core” of your Store is already coded and you only dress it with the options selected by you. There is a reason why many people choose such a solution for them. It is simple and quick to do. Those were pros, and what about the cons?
The downside of these solutions is that they are the same for everyone. This means that if you need some functionality outside the basket of solutions offered by such a platform, you probably won’t get them.
However, in order not to scare you, you can build very interesting and large stores on SaaS platforms. Many brands operate on such platforms. It is important that you have an established development strategy for your store and if the list of needed functionalities does not contain any that would not be offered by the SaaS platform, then you can easily start a business on it and earn money.
Open Source Platforms
At the time of writing this article the 3 most famous platforms of this type are Prestashop, Magento, and WordPress.
You have more options here. If you are a beginner, you will probably choose one of the themes offered on the market, upload it to the server, and then use ready-made modules to be installed. The whole thing will take you a few days, up to a week.
The difference is that if you want, you can choose a theme and plugins/modules completely free, and mor or less it will be ok. However, because the source code is open, there are a lot of themes, overlays, plugins, and modules written by external companies on the market or a team of the platform itself, which you can buy and increase the functionalities of your store. Here are (almost) no problems with not being able to do something anymore.
The most famous brands are often built on such platforms, which shows how much you can recode in such a platform to your needs.
As for the time of building a more advanced store on open source platforms, it may reach six months or even more to do so. It all depends on your requirements, needs, possibilities, and fantasies.
Of course, everything takes place on the “guts” of a given platform and it happens that while developing your store you will encounter a technological glass ceiling. However, all the source code is available and editable, so if you have a little programming skill you can do quite a lot on your own.
The third type are platforms built from scratch on request, most often by a software house. Usually, such solutions are chosen by a few large players who have peculiar needs to have something unique and tailored. There is no speed here.
The process of building a dedicated Ecommerce platform begins with the arrangements and preparation of a plan and design. Next, negotiations and contract preparation continue, followed by the process of order fulfillment and its tests. The whole thing may even take you up to a year.
Setting up dedicated platforms is a tedious and complicated process. You have to be really convinced that this is the solution you want to use.
How can You start ecommerce with no money?
Ok, Let’s assume that really You are in need to set up an eCommerce business with no money. Let’s play this mind game then.
If I were you, I would, first of all, use other, less obvious solutions than building my online store. Of course, you can do it traditionally, but the chances are that at some point you will be faced with the choice of “pay or stop.”
It is much better to use the already existing places on the Internet where there is already a large group of people in one place. It would be best if this group was also specific. Only then, it is possible to select certain characteristics that connect them.
It can be a group on Facebook, a group of fans on TikTok, Instagram, or YouTube. Publishing on these media costs nothing and you can immediately start advertising your products and publish advertising texts appropriately adapted to a given group.
Not only that, the specificity of a given group allows you to properly choose the group of people you want to reach and who may want to buy something from you.
Believe me, I myself worked in a company that previously was selling products only on Facebook for a year, without even having a marketplace launched. This way you can build the capital needed to create a real online store.
The second way is to bet on Marketplaces. The main feature of these places is that they are a gathering of people who want to buy something. There are no other people there than those who are interested in some products and thinking to buy them.
An additional advantage of such places is that you pay for customer acquisition from the bottom, not upfront, as is the case with google ads. Thanks to this, completely free of charge, you can display your products and pay for their advertising only from the profit from the sale.
And Believe me, you can build really solid, multi-million dollar businesses on Marketplaces.
Both previous ideas assume you have your products. What if you have neither money nor products? For our needs, let’s skip the possibility of selling services.
Most often, if you do not have the goods and you do not want to buy them and build inventory, you are left with the Dropshipping option.
Dropshipping is a kind of intermediation in the sale of a product. You advertise a manufacturer’s product and when a customer wants to buy it, he pays you and you send the money to the manufacturer, who in turn sends the goods to your customer.
Your profit is then the difference between the price of the goods at the manufacturer’s and your price, less advertising costs.
A lot of people use this option, thanks to which there are a lot of wholesalers and manufacturers on the market that give you the dropshipping option. You just have to be careful because dropshipping has its advantages as well as pitfalls.