A Widget eCommerce System

By Des Menz posted in SELLING STRATEGIES


After Trying Different eCommerce 

And Shopping Cart Systems, I 

Then Found What I Was Looking 

For ...


In This Article …

Why you need an eCommerce System

21 places where you can sell

Finding a shopping cart to suit your requirements


Let's Start With A Re-cap

There are basically two main ways where and how you can sell your products ... either on marketplaces that handle the whole sales and payment process, or through your own shopping cart system.

To re-cap, have a look at these articles about 9 systems where you can sell.

Two Easy Ways To Sell Your ebook

Where Else To Sell Your ebook 

More Places To Sell Your Product


Why Do You Need A Shopping Cart Or eCommerce System?

If you have just one product - whether it's an ebook, report, software, images, photographs, or any other digital info-product, you'll need a way how to to process your sales transactions.

As you continue to create and publish more digital products, you'll then be building a STORE … a shop with a digital bookshelf. And that's when you'll need a Shopping Cart system to allow your buyers to add a number of items to their shopping bag or cart and to checkout with a single transaction.

EVERY store needs a system where products can be listed and sold. 

But what if you only have a single product and no website from which you can sell that product?

You could list at marketplaces like Clickbank, JVZoo, Tradebit, Click2Sell, or any of the many other marketplaces. The whole sales transaction is done for you.

Write To Prosper ebook

Except for Click2Sell, these ecommerce systems were described in WRITE TO PROSPER, and because this book is continuously updated then more methods about selling are being added.

Remember … Write To Prosper is a single purchase. You pay no more for getting updated versions, whether it's in one year or five years' time, or more.



If you have several products, you can still list them at the above-mentioned marketplaces. 

What if you wanted to start selling from your own blog or website, in addition to selling at these marketplaces?

If you want to sell anything online, you have to have a payment processor at the very minimum. Let's look at some of the alternatives.


eCommerce and Shopping Carts

Other places where to sell your products include e-Junkie, Cartloom, Paygear, amongst many others - these perform like a shopping cart. 

e-Junkie and Paygear also have integrated affiliate systems - as does Click2Sell, JVZoo, Clickbank and many others - and this is a big advantage because others can sell your very own digital products for you for a slice of the price. Both you and your affiliate benefit.

Want to know more? Becoming An Affiliate Stripped Bare gives a practical example of how you can do this.

Three kick-start methods

PayPal is a payment processor, it is not a shopping cart system. But if you're just starting out and want an easy, no-fuss way to collect payments for the sale of your digital products, then PayPal is arguably the best to begin with.

PayPal's fees vary marginally, depending on you country, but they are generally about 2.4% + 30 cents per transaction.

See here for more about PayPal's digital sales fees

Perhaps the next step up is to use systems that are inegrated with PayPal, and this is where Gumroad comes in.

Strange name isn't it, but it's a very easy system to set up, ideal for new entrants into ecommerce and online business, and is focused on making the sales process as simple as it can be. 

If you want to sell ebooks, music, film, digital comics, or Photoshop plugins, Gumroad could be your best option. It is in continuous development, and has improved significantly since I last visited the site. 

Gumroad's fees are 5% + 25 cents for each transaction.

Click this link for more about Gumroad.

FatFree Cart is another method that integrates with PayPal, and has been briefly mentioned at More Places To Sell You Product.


Other Shopping Carts

Other shopping cart systems include Mals-e, Vibralogix, and Datalogica (suitable for Sandvox sites). These are less well-known

Of course, there are the big shopping cart systems such as Shopify, Big Commerce, Prestashop, Volusion, and the numerous open source systems such as Opencart, Zen Cart, x-cart, cs-cart … the list is huge.

Some of these are paid, some are free, some are suited to digital products only, some are suited to hard goods, some allow both digital and non-digital sales.

It can all be very confusing and a problem if you're seeking a good platform that will enable you to grow with it as the number of your products increases.


Ending The Confusion

I've spent hours and hours trying a number of the ecommerce and shopping cart systems mentioned above, but there was always something that I wasn't comfortable with. 

I won't name them, except to say that I have written about several of them in previous articles.

I'm going to spell it out loud and clear … I LIKE SIMPLE AND EASY!

I don't think I ever got "Simple and Easy" with the systems I tried, regardless of the sales pitch at various websites. 

Perhaps if I had tried Gumroad at the outset, then I would have found something close to what I was seeking. But maybe not … because what I wanted was a system that I had total control over and one where I could BUILD A SHOP.

And that's where I began searching for a "Widget".

If you're not sure what a Widget is, then read this excellent article at Wikipedia.


Why Did I Want A Widget?

The simple explanation is in the About page here at NTHB where I've mentioned several other websites that I've created … and there are more on the way. I also sell several ebook products on their own sales page and at Clickbank, JVZoo, and Tradebit.

Because I've created multiple products in widely varied niches, I wanted to not only have a common way of selling all of these, but also a way to create a shop where they can all be on display. 

To achieve that I needed a WIDGET. I needed something, a snippet of software, that I could insert on to all of my sites where I could have total control of my shopping cart system. 

Eventually, after considerable time, much searching and trying at least four alternatives, along came my answer.


ECWID … The ECommerce Widget System

ecwid might not be for everyone, but for me it is almost the bees knees! 

As a widget-based system, it is very easy to add to your website or blog, particularly to one such as mine that uses the Sandvox site builder app.

If you go to the Store, click on any of the images, and scroll to the bottom of the page, there will be a shopping cart image such as this one …


This is created in my Ecwid Shop, the backend of which is very logical. About the most difficult parts are uploading an image of your product(s) and deciding which currency to use for your shop!

Because I run three Stores (at the time of writing), all I had to do was enter the details of my products, get the html code, and paste them into my sites.

Now, the code can be pasted into any blog site or an html website, and for me it is very quick and easy.

It is simply a matter of selecting a Raw HTML "Object" in my mac site builder app, and then adding the code. It really is that easy. Ecwid then generates the product details, just like the image above.

This works for any html system, whether it's Windows or Mac or Linux or whatever.

Of course, there is a little bit of setting up to do for each product, but all this means is  as adding a few descriptive words, and adding your PayPal details to your Account Settings.

If you're interested in finding out more about ecwid (this is a "Web Partner" link) I think you'll be surprised at the ease and power of this alternative shopping cart system.


Advantages Of The Ecwid Widget Shopping Cart

Shown below are the main features of the first two plans available at Ecwid. Compared with a number of other shopping cart systems, Ecwid is much more generous. Allowing 100 products to be listed for the equivalent of $12.50 per month is the best deal that I could find.

Cartloom comes close, but when I initially tried it there were a few things that I just couldn't get my head around. 

Ecwid is cost effective compared with many of the ecommerce and shopping cart platforms that charge a percentage of sale + flat fee, or a more expensive monthly fee, or a monthly fee + percentage of sale.  

There's the ability to have a separate store for different components of your business. 

For example, to see what my shop looks like in Ecwid click this link - THE PLAN & BOOK SHOP.



This includes three separate stores and allows me to integrate and control all products in one place. 

As of writing, there are 9 Categories and 18 products.

More Stores can be added to my account if needed.

Ecwid's support is also very comprehensive - there's the Ecwid Control Center and FAQ's that answer just about any query that might arise.

Also, Facebook integration allows a greater potential audience to be reached.

Some systems such as e-Junkie and Cartloom only allow one site from which digital products can be sold. Ecwid allows you to sell from many sites.


Three Possible Downsides To Ecwid

SEO. Ecwid is a different type of shopping cart system compared with many of the big names. There are some criticisms about it being an "Ajax" application and the effect on SEO, but I think these criticisms are diminished by what Ecwid's Knowledge Base provides as an explanation about this aspect.

In other words, there's a work-around. As I have done here at NTHB Store, it is simply a matter of creating a separate page on your website for each of your products. This makes a lot of sense, because ultimately we all need to strive to create the best possible visitor experience we can. 

Affiliate marketing. This is not so clear-cut as the affiliate systems are at sites such as e-Junkie, Paygear, JVZoo, Clickbank. Again, the details about affiliate integration  of your Ecwid Store are well-described in the Knowledge Base, but the issue is that a 3rd party platform will be needed to run affiliate tracking.

Currency selection. Another downside is which currency you select for your Store. Here's an example.

The majority of my products (house plans, how-to reports) will ultimately be for my Australian audience, although they could still have an international appeal. But I have chosen AU$ currency for relevancy.
My other digital products - some of which are listed on Clickbank and JVZoo and are shown in US$ - are shown in AU$ by default on my Store, because Ecwid does not yet have the ability to show multiple currencies.

This is potentially a significant problem because of currency differences (presently around 10%) and currency fluctuations.   


Summary

For me, the advantage of Ecwid is that I can deliver my storefront to numerous blogs, websites, and social networks simultaneously because all my products can be delivered dynamically to a visitor using Javascript.

Remember, if you have up to 10 digital products that you want to sell, then it can be totally free at Ecwid. Consider this - 5 different info-products on 5 separate sites (e.g. sales page) plus 5 more different products at your own blog or website - all for FREE!
And with the power and simplicity of one shopping cart system.

If you're looking for an alternative shopping cart system, and you have an existing site, and you want a very cost-effective way to sell your own products, then the Ecwid system could be your answer.


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