Your online store. Your portal to online sales to the whole world! Exciting, isn’t it?
But is it hard to build?
Absolutely not. It takes a few minutes to configure, but it’s not difficult. Let’s walk through step-by-step how to create your online store, starting with the very beginning, and ending with a fully designed & functional online store!
To keep things relatively simple, we’ll focus on setting up basic products in this installment and move on to photo prints & packages next week. Then we’ll follow up with other options for coupons, campaigns, gift cards, reporting & sales tracking to fully complete your online commerce strategy.
Your goal is to get paid. To do that, you’ll need a payment merchant to deliver your customers’ credit and debit transactions to you. While your website is your store, the merchant is your cash register.
Now the choice is up to you which merchant you want to work with. You can choose between Stripe, Paypal, Authorize.net, PayJunction, Payflow Pro, or Itransact.
Each has its benefits and associated fees (PhotoBiz takes NO extra commission, unlike the majority of our competitors) and you’ll want to choose the one that works best for your business and your sales volume.
Once you’ve zeroed in on your choice, head to PAYMENT >> MERCHANTS in the ecommerce builder. Select a NEW MERCHANT and follow the on-screen instructions to connect your merchant.
The next step in completing your sales process is configuring your shipping and taxes. These settings will help keep your books tidy for tax time, and cover you if your products need to be shipped.
To configure shipping, go to PAYMENT >> SHIPPING. There, you can enter as many shipping methods as you like for your customers to choose from.
Shipping can be a flat fee or a percentage of the total order amount (over a minimum).
This is the base shipping price for each method and will cover all of your products in your store.
You will have the option later to further customize your shipping costs and attenuate individual products for additional shipping costs (for instance, if something is extra heavy, fragile, perishable or requires extra handling fees).
Next, we’ll configure your tax rate. Go to PAYMENT >> TAXES within the ecommerce builder. Here you can set up the tax rate that your customers will pay on the products they purchase if you choose to charge it.
You also have the option to charge different taxes based on your customer's location (if you're shipping internationally or out of state, for example). You can configure those additional rates here and get as specific as you need to – even down to the county-level.
When the user checks out, the appropriate tax rate will apply based on their location. Note that this level of detail is OPTIONAL! You can absolutely use one global tax rate if you choose (or none at all!).
Whew! Now we’ll do the last bit of work before we can get to the really fun stuff. Time to complete your customer receipts.
Setting up your receipts is hugely important for customers, so they can get the full professional experience from your business. When a customer checks out, they’ll be emailed an automatic receipt. You’ll want that receipt to include your logo, contact information, and perhaps a cheerful “thank you!” message so your customers feel secure in their purchase.
You’ll get an email notification for every sale, so you can start to ship the order. It will be automatically sent to the email on your account. But if you want it to arrive at a different address, pop one in SETTINGS >> GENERAL >> GLOBAL SETTINGS. No big deal.
Think about how you want your store to be arranged. If you have lots to sell, making categories for your products can help your customers easily navigate your store and find what they’re looking for.
There are lots of ways you can arrange your store. If I’m selling clothing, I could group my products into men’s & women’s apparel. Or I could segment by clothing type – shirts, shoes, pants… I could even group by season.
Making a category is easy. Just pick “New Category” and type in its name. Drag and Drop your categories to arrange them, and you can move products between them by dropping them on the category name if you want to change things up later. No sweat!
Maybe you want to make a page later for items that “make great gifts” or ones that are “on sale!” Tags are flexible groups that allow you to make special groups that include products from several different categories. Your items can be in two places at once!
(We’ll get to running SALES later in this guide. Just for now, be aware it’s an option :)
Here you can upload as many images as you want of your product. It’s often worth it to have more than one image, showing the product at rest, in use, in detail, or with different add-ons and options. High-quality imagery can make your product much more appealing to customers.
Add-Ons and Options
If your product has options, you can head to that tab to give your customers choices for personalization.
The shirts I’m selling come in several sizes. I don’t want to make a bunch of individual products – instead, I’ll just make size an option. Easier that way. I’ll just put in “Size” … and create sub-options in Small, Medium, Large, etc. If the options change the price of the item, put in the difference.
Maybe I’m selling hardcover and paperback copies of the same book.
I can set the overall base price to the (lower) paperback price, and give them an option to upgrade (for an additional fee) to the hardcover.
Next, let’s configure the SEO & search data for this product. Your SEO metadata is automatically generated based on the title and description you’ve already entered. But if you’d like to fine-tune it, you can choose the “custom” SEO option and enter it there.
LAST in item configuration, you can set up automatic stock tracking. This is great if you have limited quantities of items and don’t need to deal with the headache of overselling yourself.
I have 24 small shirts, 10 medium shirts, and 4 large shirts left. I don’t want to accidentally sell more than I can ship!
Because I set up my options, the system knows these are different products that need to be tracked. It’s pretty smart. It will generate a SKU number for each of your products and allow you to enter how many you have to start with. When a product sells out, the system will not allow a customer to buy the sold-out product. You can get alerts when you’re running low, so you can top up your shelves.
Click YES if you want to enable stock tracking for this item, and any options if applicable. Then input the starting stock levels. NOTE! You can track all of your stock levels in one place under Tracking >> Stock
One product down! It’s basically rinse/repeat from here on out. Good news is, you can shave off a lot of time if you’re posting similar products.
In addition to my T-shirts, I’m also selling sweaters. All I have to do is COPY the T-shirt listing, and make a few tweaks.
Hit COPY and all I’ll have to do is switch out the title, description & price, then upload my new images. This is great if you’re re-using the same options (small, medium, large) for a number of products and don’t want to set them up each time. HUGE time-saver. And the SEO auto-updates, too. (Oh! And remember to set up SKUs for stock tracking!)
Even if products need to land in different categories – you can just copy and tweak a similar item, then drag it to the correct category.
Choose A Design
Ecommerce configured? Check. Products in and organized? Check. Now it’s time to dress the windows and open for business!
Start by adding a product page in the site builder and selecting NEW PAGE >> PRODUCTS.
Ta-DA! You have a store. Just like that, it's ready to go.
Now let’s change your product layout. In the top left portion of the builder, you can click CHANGE to see all of the layouts available to you. Pick one to try on a new style and preview the page to find your favorite.
Here's a few I tried out:
Nothing to it! Just save your favorite design, and your store is totally set up and ready to go.
So that’s the basics of getting your store up and running! We now have a fully functional store, neatly organized and stuffed with products that customers can order, starting immediately.
Stay tuned for the second installment, where we'll set up prints, digital images, packages, custom albums! Everything to do with your ONLINE PHOTOGRAPHY store!