My head is overloaded with information.
This is Day 2 of my search for an e-store site.
I almost, almost paid for an upgraded plan at Ecwid, which is the link I shared yesterday. I really like the professional look and friendly support there. However, I decided to do more research this morning to make sure I understood everything before I committed. I googled “best e-commerce sites,” and “best hosting sites,” and “reviews,” and all sorts of foreign words and incomprehensible concepts. I used chat support on a couple of sites to ask tons of questions. I let them know I was a “techno-dummy” and needed simple explanations. The support people I talked to were very patient in explaining things to me.
If I understand it, there are a range of different types of options for different types of people. Some people like to have the flexibility and control to do their own computer coding, create their own templates, provide their own security, and so forth, so everything is exactly the way they want. Those people are knowledgeable about computers–graphic designers and such. I think that the companies that hosts these sites don’t provide much support, probably because they figure people know what they are doing.
There are also people who already own their own websites but they just need a hosting site. I didn’t know what a hosting site was, but I learned that a hosting service provider is a business that provides the technologies and services needed for the website or web page to be viewed in the Internet. Websites are hosted, or stored, on special computers called servers. Most hosting companies require that you own your domain in order to host with them. I tried to move my WordPress blog to a new hosting site yesterday morning, but had problems importing my content and finally decided to remain where I am. I do really like most of WordPress’ features.
Then there are people like me, who just want to have a company that provides the website, the hosting, the security, the support, and everything else. I want the store to be easy to set up and operate, and I want it to be a good experience for my customers. I think of it as renting a store in a mall. The mall provides the store, the security, the consumer traffic, and everything else. I just have to move in, list my products, and open the door.
Some services are very expensive. I think they are for very high-volume businesses. I saw one upgraded plan that cost $299 each MONTH. My business is low-volume because I can only crochet so much in a month so I have to keep my costs as low as I can, while also having the store, the templates, the security, and the support I need. I learned that some sites appear to be low-cost, but there are hidden costs–like you have to buy plugins for functions like a shopping cart or payment and shipping methods–and those costs can add up. And some sites have very poor support services, a limited number of products you can list, or very limited storage space.
I looked at several sites–I even got an account with some of them and began to set up shop. However, when I began to look more closely at them, I felt they wouldn’t work well. For example, one site seemed really good, but it required users to set up a VERY complicated and confusing shipping matrix. In searching for help, I read that many people got discouraged by the matrix and moved on. Including me. Another site seemed really good–it was family-oriented and for handmade crafts–but it didn’t look very professional to me. I want the “mall” that my store is in to be attractive and appealing. I loved the look of Ecwid at the link I shared yesterday, and their support was awesome, but in chatting with their representative this morning, I felt their focus was more on providing hosting for people who already had their own sites. I considered just upgrading to a WordPress Business Plan, but they prohibit the use of some plugins and features. While I don’t think I would be affected by those limitations, I do want to make sure that I’m not locked in and that I have the freedom to use features that I might possibility need in the future.
So I kept looking, reading reviews and comparisons. I finally went back to the site where I had tried to unsuccessfully import my WordPress blog yesterday morning. I read that they are a really good, reliable, and affordable site. I went to their chat support and asked a representative tons and tons of questions to see if they had other options I could use, other than connecting my WordPress blog to their service. I told the guy that I no longer wanted to import my blog into them but, instead, I wanted a separate estore and I wondered if they provided a store (domain) I could occupy, and what were ALL their costs and fees so I wouldn’t be surprised, and did I have to buy the plugins to operate my business, were there any hidden costs or fees, was their set up simple and easy, and did they provide security and good support? I even asked the guy if there was anything he could tell/teach me that I was too ignorant to ask about. The guy was amazingly patient in answering my questions and finally recommended their starter plan, which looks really good to me. I only pay $6.95 if I subscribe for three years, which is very inexpensive. It goes back up to their regular price after three years, but that should give me time to build my business.
I am going to ask EJ what he thinks about it tonight when he gets home. I value his input.
I shared the link yesterday because I really thought I was going to use that place for my store. But now I’m not. Probably. I’m not going to share any more links until I know absolutely, positively, for sure, that that is where my store will be. I’m not any place until I am–until I sign the lease…er, subscription. Stay tuned….