Lately I've been strongly considering starting up my own online store. My initial thoughts have been to start up an online store selling music gears (eg. intruments, loops and samples), because, firstly, I have a strong interest in music, and secondly, the margin seems to be quite reasonable. Recently a friend also asked me if I'd be able to set up a small online site, where he could sell a few products. At first I thought it'd be easy, but then I realized that there was much more to it than I'd given credit for.
I'm comfortable with the layout and design of a site, but building in shopping cart functionality in a way that customers find usable and trust enough to make a purchase from is probably beyond my coding skills at this point. So, I'd all by resigned myself to putting these projects on the back burner (aka. the too hard basket) for a while, until I was confident in my nerd skills.
Then, while browsing Commission Junction for any cool new products, I was struck by an epiphany. I have to admit, I would have breezed right past ProStores, had it not been for the "an ebay company" badge in the logo.
What is ProStores?
ProStores provides users with all they will need to setup and run there own online store. They take all the hard work out of it. It's perfect for someone with absolutely no coding/technical skills whatsoever.
The quick and cheapest option is ProStores Express. This is the perfect option for individuals with a range of up to ten different products. The ProStores Express option includes secure online check out and can be easily upgraded if you find your business growing unexpectedly. This is the one Iâ€™m recommending my friend go for. As of writing this, for $6.95US per month, everything is taken care of, website hosting and setup, ability to build the store without the need for any technical knowledge, sales and merchandising assistance as well as the opportunity to integrate with eBay.com and eBay Stores listing formats. This is a huge bonus that gives store owners the ability to tap into a marketplace of 147 million customers directly.
If you want to go one step further, ProStores Business is entry level customizable e-commerce solution for small businesses just starting out online. Whilst, as of writing this, the Business solution costs $29.95US per month, it includes a lot more of the bells and whistles that web users expect to see. These include:
- Website hosting with 5 GB storage space
- Personalized domain name registration
- Up to 50 unique email boxes
- 50 GB/month data transfer
- 180 easy-to-use customizable design templates
- Ability to integrate 3rd party functions (including Dreamweaver, Flash and MP3s)
ProStores Business includes advanced payment and sales features, shipping and inventory management (integrated with major shipping companies such as FedEx and UPS) and advanced marketing features. This option is the one youâ€™d go for if youâ€™re chasing a more professional look and feel, without spending a fortune.
There are two more plans that take things to the next level again, however, for a beginner like me, Iâ€™m thinking they might be overkill. But then again, if you were running a small online business full time, then they might be the sort of solutions youâ€™d need.
ProStores are currently running a promotion where you can have a free one month trial, and if you join up to the Business level or above, theyâ€™ll throw in a free domain name for 12 months.
Try any ProStores tier for one month and pay no subscription fee. Sign up for ProStores Business tier or above and we'll also cover one personalized domain registration for one year.