Start an online store without breaking the bank

Starting an online store takes time, money and energy. If you are starting such a project, this article is for you. In order to help you avoid spending a fortune in the first few months and think about the type of solution that best suits your situation, I present an overview of some of the possibilities on the market. They were offered to me by Quebec Internet merchants.

Know first that choosing your online business platform should not be based solely on your budget. It must also take into account your business objectives, your current resources and your knowledge of e-commerce, both in terms of technology and management. You must know what is good for you. Among other things, you must ask yourself the following questions: Do you plan to sell a dozen products or more than a thousand? Do you want to sell on a limited network or resale on a large scale? Do you target an international or local clientele?

“There are several solutions adapted to each of the realities: budget, vision, business development, etc. It’s about choosing the method that suits you. All the ways of doing have their place and are as good as the others. Everyone has different needs and a market to meet them.

Here are three types of solutions available to you: marketplaces, hosted solutions and custom-built platforms.

Market places

This is a place on the web that is very popular with buyers and sellers. By displaying your products on recognized market places like Ebay , Amazon or Estyyou expose your products to an increased level of traffic because they already have an established reputation. The one that was most recommended to me is Esty which is very popular with craftsmen who make their own products. The downside however of the marketplaces is that you are limited with the proposed platform. Also, if the site is having problems, your shop will be affected. On the other hand, if you do not know the programming language and you do not have the budget to further develop your shop, it may be a great way for you to get started and become familiar with the online business. “I started Morin Knotty” on Etsy. The platform is not free. It costs 0.20 cents to place an ad and Etsy takes 3.5% of the sale thereafter. To promote my collection, I also opened a Facebook page. I gained visibility on Facebook, but purchases were mostly on Etsy or in person.

Hosted solutions

It is a turnkey tool. Once your profile is completed and you are registered, all you have to do is add your products to the system and you’re ready to sell online. There are several solutions. The one that was most recommended to me is Shopify , but it is also interesting to also consider Quebec solutions. The majority offers a trial time and I strongly advise you to test them before you commit to it. (I will come back to it in detail in a future article).

What’s nice about a turnkey solution is that you can customize it to your image. Some platforms even allow you to use a .com address.
“I chose Shopify mainly because I’m not a programmer and I do not want to waste time with more open-ended solutions that require programming knowledge. So the idea of ​​having a plug’n play platform is a must for me. I bought a $ 100 theme and was able to modify it as I please from the Shopify dashboard without any programming. »Dany Marquis, coffee roaster and chocolate maker at

You should know, however, that this solution is “shared” with other shops like yours. Which means that there may be some slowdowns during sales periods, for example. Also, if you wish to modify it to your liking, it is possible that you have to pay for updates whose intellectual property does not belong to you. It is very important that you trust the selected solution. You must also make sure that it will continue to evolve.


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