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How to Create an Online Store?

MSMEs or entrepreneurs like you need to have an E-Commerce website to continue serving both local and international markets as business opportunities remain huge despite this Covid-19 pandemic.

But the problem is that MSMEs either don’t have the manpower, resources, or maybe the technical background to start the E-Commerce website. There’s also the fear and worries that they might experience the “dark side of eCommerce”. Samples are scammers or bogus buyers, poor logistics service from couriers, chargebacks for online payments, product returns, and among others. There’s also the feeling of uncertainty that eCommerce may not work for their business, to begin with. In fact, there’s this belief and misconception among MSMEs I’ve met before that a certain product, like a “kakanin” or delicacy can’t be sold somewhere else and online. These are only few scenarios that make MSMEs wary and cautious about investing in E-Commerce. Particularly having their own website or online store. And when you don’t invest in E-Commerce, you’re missing a lot of opportunities that your competitors are probably enjoying already.

We don’t want that to happen, right? We also want a share of the pie.

E-Commerce can just do so much for the growth of any MSME’s business. You can always mitigate the risks once you have transformed your business into E-Commerce. If you’re an MSME and you’re new to this, it’s just a matter of understanding the process, following the blueprints and guides from experts, and of course executing the right digital strategies for your specific business.

Just a little back story, I have a close friend who runs a business here in Cebu. He’s selling tires, and he has like 4 store branches. Just like anybody else, he was also very eager to have his business run through eCommerce. But he was so confused and clueless on how to go about it.

It was only during this Covid-19 quarantine period when he finally got his eCommerce website created, and it’s now partially up and running. He didn’t pay someone to do the eCommerce website for his business. Of course, he invested a little money for it, particularly for the domain name and web hosting service, plus the course tutorial. He simply followed the step-by-step guides I shared with him, and that’s it.

It’s very common to hear different myths and wrong perceptions from MSMEs about E-Commerce. We often hear things like:

    • “using Free Website Builder is enough”,
    • “I already have a Facebook Page; I don’t need a website anymore.”
    • “Domain Name and Web Hosting should be cheap because GoDaddy is selling it for $1”,
    • and among other similar misconceptions.

I think before an MSME can transform it’s business to E-Commerce, it’s important that they’re able to change the mindset first that the tools and platforms they’ll use aren’t cheap commodities. If you want growth, you have to invest in it. In one way or another, your investment can be in the form of Time or Money.

If we’re to look at the available options today for MSMEs in creating an online store, the popular options are (in no particular order):

    • WordPress + WooCommerce
    • Shopify
    • Lazada
    • Shopee
    • Magento
    • Mini-Apps (Messenger Chatbot with shopping features)
    • Facebook Shops (coming soon)

On top of the costs, it’s important to consider that when creating an online store, we have to choose a platform that provides support and ease when it comes to integrations of:

    • Online Payments
    • Shipping and Logistics
    • Product Inventory Management
    • Taxation
    • Accounts Management
    • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
    • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Analytics
    • Email Marketing / Chatbots
    • Social Media and Blogs
    • Web Security
    • Ownership

These factors may intimidate you as it appears to be too complicated to put these things together. But it’s actually not. A lot of entrepreneurs, business owners, or MSMEs have done this already, and as I’ve said earlier, it’s only a matter of learning more about them.

For most MSMEs, particularly those who are starting out, the most viable option is WordPress + WooCommerce. These platforms are ideal for testing products for a certain market segment, make it easy to scale, and cost-effective.

Going back to the story of my friend for instance, he only invested more or less Php 3,000 and he already got Domain Name registration and decent Web Hosting service for 1 year.

For you to get started, I have listed all the things you need to build your online store with WordPress and WooCommerce.

Basic Commodity:

  1. Domain Name (.com, .net, .org, etc.)
  2. Web Hosting Service
  3. SSL

Main Software and Plugins:

  1. WordPress CMS
  2. OceanWP (Theme)
  3. Elementor (Page Builder)
  4. WooCommerce (Store Plugin)
  5. WordFence (Security Plugin)
  6. Yoast SEO (SEO Plugin)

Other Tools and Platforms:

    • HubSpot (CRM)
    • Google Analytics
    • Facebook Pixel
    • ManyChat (Chatbot)

Online Payments:

    • PayPal
    • Paymaya
    • DragonPay
    • GCash
    • Payo (COD)

There are lots of tutorials available to put all these together. It’s all over YouTube or even on my Facebook Page.

The only problem with YouTube is it has too many contents there, and it’s hard to find a channel that discusses all of these aspects.

More often than not, you’ll get lost along the way and waste a lot of time.

That’s why I also put up a detailed step-by-step guide which you can find the links below:

To create the kind of digital presence that is required for an MSME business to succeed in today’s world, a dedicated website isn’t just a nice-to-have, but it’s a necessity.

Again, sometimes at first, it may feel overwhelming for you to build your eCommerce website or online store. But once you have put it in there and it’s live and running, the opportunities of growing your business are just endless.

Bert Padilla

Brainchild and ninja of TekWorx, a Digital Agency based off Cebu City, Philippines. An eCommerce technopreneur, and Certified eCommerce Trainer, Bert also co-founded AdWorx, an Outsourced #AdOps agency for Media companies and Publishers. His solid working experience in eCommerce and Digital Marketing equipped him to help foreign businesses, local MSMEs, and entrepreneurs transform their online goals to reality. Offline, he's a dedicated family man, a loving husband, and father of 3.