How do I create an online store for free?

Happy smiling woman sitting on sofa, couch and using laptop to create an online store for free

If you own a business, building a website for your ecommerce store is the best way to expand your company. Considering that ecommerce sales are predicted to make up to 17.5% of retail sales globally by 2021, the world of ecommerce offers endless opportunities for you to help your business and brand grow. 

However, ecommerce sites can often be expensive. Most website builders charge extra if you want an additional ecommerce add-on with your website, although with Go Sitebuilder we offer it as part of our affordable and high quality package. However, if you’re new to the world of ecommerce, there are ways you can test the waters by setting up a store for free! 

Use social media 

Although you can’t make payments directly via social media, using platforms such as Instagram to show off images of your products is a great starting point for your ecommerce store. This is a good way to advertise your products, as it gives you the opportunity to get creative with your marketing: you can post short videos on how to use a certain product, or put together a collage of your best selling products. 

Social media is also a trusty source to turn to for a free ecommerce option as it gives the buyer the freedom to share their views on your products. For example, you can encourage people to comment on your posts with their views on your products – if what you’re selling is of good value for money, or is a quality item, the chances are the feedback will be positive, and can therefore prompt other potential customers to enquire into purchasing your products. Social media content is also easily shareable, which could help gain increased visibility for your ecommerce business. 

As most social media platforms have direct messaging services, a buyer can contact you if they see a product they like, and then you can arrange a simple payment via Paypal, or they can make a bank transfer. The downside is that there is no security for the buyer – although your business might be 100% genuine, there is no way for them to know that you’re not a scam. This could deter potential buyers from making a purchase with your business. 

Focus your attention on local sales 

Facebook marketplace is a great way to build your local reputation, which is ideal if you’re planning to build an ecommerce website which is mainly targeted at selling to individuals within your area. People on Facebook marketplace often know  what they’re looking for, so it is important to include relevant keywords and tags in your product descriptions. This way, your items are more likely to appear  in users’ search results. 

If you’re unsure of your pricing strategy, Facebook marketplace is also a good price comparison source – most offer discounted prices, as the products are second hand. If you have good quality photos of your products, and they are brand new, then you could get away with charging a bit more. However, you’ll need to really justify the reason for the price difference: make sure you write a great product description, and emphasise that you are a local business to really connect with potential customers. 

The downside to Facebook marketplace is that it is a fairly saturated market: most people will be on it to find the cheapest bargains they can find, and you don’t want to reduce your profit margin excessively by competing with other sellers who offer very discounted prices. Nevertheless, the platform is a good way to build your reputation as a local, trusted seller, and is a good starting point for your ecommerce business. 

Use a free ecommerce site 

Using a website builder with a free ecommerce section is perhaps the best way to build an ecommerce site for free. Most website builders will offer the option of having an SSL certificate, which shows buyers their details will be protected, although you might have to pay extra for this option. 

Building a website to advertise your products is also the best way to make your ecommerce site seem professional and high quality. This is because it allows potential customers to find your products easily by having them in categories, and gives you space to provide high-quality photos and in-depth product descriptions. 

The problem with free ecommerce sites is that they will often have hidden costs along the way, or have features which make your site seem less professional for the user. Freewebstore lets you create an ecommerce site for free, but its backend is complex and fairly restrictive, making it difficult for you to create a site with a web design which is right for your business. 

Webstarts is also another free ecommerce option, but it doesn’t give you any SEO options, such as a personalised URL or title tags and descriptions for products. If you want your website to rank on Google’s search engines, these factors are key: without them, Google’s algorithms won’t be able to see if your products are relevant to a search engine result, consequentially giving you a poor ranking on its search engine results. 

The best option for an ecommerce website is picking a website builder which offers all of the necessary features for your ecommerce site, at a low-cost price. Go Sitebuilder is an incredibly cost effective option, as we offer ecommerce features, SEO optimisation, SSL certificates and more within our bundle. And, with our 14-day free trial, you can see if it’s the right site builder for your ecommerce business free of charge!

How do I find a niche for my online store?

Asian woman using smartphone with happy mood smile face in shopping mall niche market

An online store can help you make some cash on the side, or it can be the start of a great new business venture. Either way, to make the most of your online store, you’ll need to put some research in at the beginning to make sure that you are supplying a product that will sell! If you’re still looking for a website builder, make sure you do your research and choose one like Go Sitebuilder that doesn’t have any hidden fees for selling products online. 

What is a niche?

Choosing a niche can mean several things, but the aim remains the same; providing a product or service that is different from others. Choosing a niche in general means deciding on the area you want to specialise in; that is, instead of DIY products in general, choosing kitchen DIY products, or painting products. This comes down to the old adage of being a jack of all trades and a master of none; if you specialise in an area, then people are more likely to trust you and your knowledge than if you sold many different products. 

This concept applies to a niche product – where you choose a specific type of product to specialise in (think leather shoes rather than all shoes) and to a niche market. A niche market is when you design a product for a specific market and then focus your marketing efforts on that small community. 

Why do I need a niche for my online store?

If you don’t choose a niche then you’re setting yourself up to disappear among the thousands of other online stores that are selling the same things as you. In 2020, competition is fierce in the ecommerce industry, product markets are saturated and consumers are becoming more and more demanding in terms of the convenience and speed of service. 

Choosing a niche product means that you won’t be in direct competition with huge competitors, who will be able to provide a faster, more convenient service. Because of their infinitely larger resources, this is not a competition you will be able to win. If you have a niche, however, you are more likely to appear higher up on a search engine results page when a user is looking for a specific product. More clicks – more revenue!

How to choose a niche product

Many niche products are unique, handmade products that cannot be replicated, so if you make jewellery or ceramics then this is a good area to move into. You’ll still need to focus on a niche though – in handmade industries it’s a good idea to focus on your brand to help you with this. Is your jewellery made with precious stones from a certain area? Do you have a certain glazing technique that makes your ceramics stand out? This is what you’ll have to rely on to set you apart from others. 

Other niche products are designed due to personal experience. Is there a gap in the market that you think needs to be filled? For example, Hatch is a clothing brand that was created by a mother who was looking for dressy maternity wear for events such as weddings and parties, but couldn’t find anything she liked. This company focuses on two niches; maternity wear and formal wear, making it a great example of a niche product. 

How to choose a niche market

A niche market, on the other hand, focuses on the consumer rather than the product itself. This makes your marketing easier, but also gives you more freedom in the items that you want to stock and sell. A niche market can be defined by its own unique needs, identity or preferences in comparison to consumers in general. 

A good example of this is conscious buyers. These are people who want to make less of an impact on the environment by reducing their waste and plastic use, and are looking for more sustainable solutions. Once you’ve decided on a niche market, it can help you decide on other things that are important for your ecommerce strategy. 

For example, how much would you charge for your products and how old are your audience likely to be? People are more likely to spend more on sustainable goods rather than traditional ones, and Gen Z and millennials are more eco-conscious than baby boomers. Once you’ve decided on a niche market, everything slots into place. 

Other considerations when choosing a niche

Make sure you carry out research when deciding on your niche; you don’t want to spend ages elaborating your ecommerce plan and then find out someone has already had the same idea! It’s also a good idea when you’re starting out to choose a product that will have high profit margins, as otherwise you might not make any profit at all after subtracting your time, website builder costs, delivery fees and potential return fees. 

There are lots of things to think about when choosing a niche for your ecommerce business, so why not have one less thing to worry about? Choose Go Sitebuilder as your website builder; we’re one of the cheapest website builders with a free integrated ecommerce platform, and no limits on the number of products you can sell. Try our 14-day free trial today to see how quick and easy it is to get your website up and running. 

What are the best payment tools for your online shop?

Be trendy. Joyful young pretty woman researching the best payment tools for her online business shop using tablet and credit card.

When you’re opening your online store, it’s easy to get sidetracked by creating a stylish web design, uploading your beautiful product photos and publicising your ecommerce business. However, it’s also important to think about the most important bit – how you get paid! There are a multitude of ways you can get customers to pay for your products, and the most popular are payment gateways. 

What is a payment gateway?

A payment gateway is a third party service between sellers and buyers. It takes money from the buyer and sends it to the seller’s bank account in a secure way. Essentially, it’s the virtual equivalent of a till that you’d find in a physical store. 

Why do you need one?

Although it is possible to have an ecommerce store that is reliant on bank transfers and cash on delivery, most online retailers opt for a payment provider instead. They are easy to add to your website, and many website builders – like Go Sitebuilder – already have many integrated into their platform. 

From a buyer’s perspective, a payment gateway offers convenience and efficiency; often they can pay with just one click, rather than having to get up and hunt out their card details from their wallet. This is likely to drive sales as there are no boundaries to them ordering your products. Online payment gateways also allow you to reach clients from all over the world, rather than being limited to one country. 

Using a payment gateway also generally has a lower transaction cost, but most importantly they provide highly effective security and anti-fraud tools that keep both you and your customers safe. Although a bank transfer might seem easier, there are no security protections and having a PayPal or Stripe account will incite much more trust than just handing over your bank details for them to pay you.

One drawback of payment providers is that your customers will need to have an internet connection to be able to pay you, and they’ll need to input some of their personal data to be able to carry out the transaction. Read our blog on privacy policies to make sure you are protecting your and your customer’s data. 


Paypal has over 87 million active accounts in 190 markets and 24 currencies worldwide. This makes it a great option for small businesses because it’s easy to set up and use, your clients will already be familiar with it, and they have cheap fees. You also don’t need a specialised merchant account to sell things online with PayPal, which removes another set-up hassle. 

However, due to their popularity, it can be difficult to reach their customer service department, and if you breach the terms of use they can suspend your account. Be aware that PayPal’s Seller Protection policies don’t cover digital goods, so it might not be the best option if you’re selling technology. 


Stripe is rapidly joining PayPal as a leader in online payment gateways. The two have the same fee per transaction, and offer basic plans with no setup costs, monthly fees or contracts. Simple to set up, Stripe allows you to offer your customers discounts and coupon codes, lets you pro-rata charges and makes it easy to rebill a customer without having to store their credit card details. 

It has a seamless checkout experience, that enables the buyer to stay on your site when making a payment, rather than being redirected to a third party site. It even gives you a clear interface of graphs and charts so you can keep track of your finances. 

However, Stripe has the ability to freeze or cancel your account with little notice. If it decides your account looks risky, they can hold your funds or shut your account down completely, although this isn’t common. It also has a suite of complex tools and functionalities that you are unlikely to use.

WorldPay Online

WorldPay is the largest processing company in the United Kingdom, handling over 40% of all card transactions. It accepts 116 currencies, PayPal and all major credit and debit cards, is optimised for mobile and tablet use, and has strong security features. Unlike PayPal and Stripe, however, it does have an online setup fee of £25.

If you haven’t set up your website yet, WorldPay online does offer a pay by link option, where your customers can pay you securely just by clicking a link. They don’t have their pricing and transactional costs published online as they vary depending on your volume and business type, but you can request a quote.

There are a multitude of online payment gateways available, but if you’re just starting out with your online store, we recommend going with the simplest option, and ideally one that is already integrated with your website builder. At Go Sitebuilder, with just a few clicks you can decide whether you want PayPal, WorldPay Online, Stripe and 2Checkout, but we can add others if you need them. At £9.99 per month our package includes an integrated ecommerce platform with no restrictions on selling, meaning we are one of the cheapest website builders in the UK for ecommerce. Don’t take our word for it – try our 14-day free trial today! 

What are 10 things I should know before I open an online store

Happy woman doing online shopping at home using an online shop

Your fingers hover above your mouse, ready to make that final click so that you can start your online business. However, before you rush to start up your online store, there are a few things that need to be considered first. Just like everything, having some form of plan or method behind your website building can make the process a lot smoother and easy to manage. Luckily, the level of planning you need to do isn’t rocket science: we’ve put together 10 things that you should know before you start up your online store.   

Blog, blog, and blog some more

Blogging is an incredibly useful way for you to become visible on the internet: if done correctly, it can increase your Google rankings by 434%! By using keywords in your blog, Google’s algorithms can index your site highly on its search engines, as it can see that your content is useful. 

By writing new blogs each week, Google repeatedly reindexes your site: it’s a bit like always reminding Google that your content is of high value, and that it should be ranked highly on its search engines. 

Focus on the customer 

Really consider what your audience wants. Of course, you will have built your business with a service in mind, but really think about who you want to target. For example, if you’re setting up a website for your yoga classes consider ways to appeal to your target audience. Is there an age range which is more likely to attend your classes? Is there a certain niche that your online business can fall into? Considering these factors will help you tailor both your website design and the services you offer, so that you can reach out to your target audience online. 

Less is more 

You don’t need to be a professional website designer to build your own site with a visually appealing look – keeping the simple mantra of ‘less is more’ in mind can ensure you end up with an aesthetic site which anyone would want to stay on. Considering that 38% of people will be put off your website if it is unattractive, focusing on your website design is incredibly important. 

However, this doesn’t mean you should cram your site with countless different fonts or images: having a simple, sleek design is the best way for you to appear professional, and attract the user to your online store. Luckily. Go Sitebuilder makes the design process extremely easy: our ready to go website designs allow you to create your dream website within a few clicks. 

Navigation is key

Once a user clicks on your website, they want to be able to find all the necessary information within a few minutes. By making your headers easy to read, and increasing the font size of the key bits of information, the user can navigate themselves easily around the website. When building your website, try to include an FAQ section – this provides quick answers to common questions, and stops your inbox from being inundated with unnecessary questions.

Choose your domain name wisely

Having a unique domain name is the only way that people can find you. It’s important to get creative here – using a domain name that’s individual to you means that people are much more likely to identify with your brand and your website. Our website builder makes creating a domain name incredibly simple or, if you already have an existing domain name, you can easily transfer this over to our site builder. 

Don’t ignore social media

Considering that 90% of Instagram users follow a business, not utilising social media could be damaging to your company. Linking your social media platforms to your website means that you can create a personal, direct way to reach out to your current customers, as frequent posting of deals or latest updates constantly refreshes your image within their minds. 

Sort an email list

Being able to put together an email list is another personal way to reach out to your customers. You can encourage them to sign up to your email list by offering them high value content in return, such as first updates on special deals, or a free ebook. By emailing your customers each week, you keep them conscious of your website, and capture their interest, making them more likely to return to your site. 

Be active

Constantly updating your site so that it fits in with the latest trends, or has the most recent information is key, as it tells Google that your content is still relevant, meaning it is important for SEO (search engine optimisation) purposes. 

Actively working to fix any bugs or issues within your site is also key: if your site takes too long to load, then people are more likely to click off. This can be damaging for your online store: considering that 40% of people abandon a website entirely if it takes longer than three seconds to load, you want to stay active on your website to ensure any problems are ironed out straight away.

Product descriptions are important

Just like blogs, product descriptions are another way to include keywords within your site, which is great for SEO purposes. By including the keywords within product description, your product is more likely to be highly indexed by Google, as you’re essentially telling Google that your product is relevant to whatever is being searched.

Prioritise your landing page 

Your landing page is the first page that everyone sees, which is why it must be strong. Not only does it need a striking website design, but it also needs to include most of the keywords that your business can rank on. This ensures your homepage is more likely to come up in Google’s search engine when someone searches the type of service you provide.

Although it is key that you consider these steps, you don’t have to start from complete scratch if you want to build your own website: our website builder has everything you need, and more, to create an online store perfect for you. And, with our free 14-day trial, you have all the freedom you could need to start designing your own site today!

How to start a small independent online store

Online store owner writing an address on a package

The number of small independent stores creating an online presence is ever increasing. With a wide range of potential customers to reach and easy cost-effective ways to reach them, there has never been a better time to start an online store.

Although the thought of starting an online store may be daunting for some, the benefits for your business are worth the time. Whether you are selling arts and crafts or high-end trainers, an online store can help you promote your products, increase brand awareness and establish a loyal customer base. Online stores can also help in building customer profiles and creating a rapport, through emails and offers tailored to them. If you want to build a successful online store then read on!

Choose your Product or Speciality

You may already have an idea of the type of product you want to sell, or maybe you know exactly what your company specialises in. Either way, deciding on your product or speciality is a vital step in creating your online store. When deciding on your product is it important to think through the following points:

Supply chain – will this product be something you make yourself (and if so where will the materials come from?) Or are you selling something on from somewhere else? 

Price – the price of your products is central to how successful your product may be. The best way to scope out price is to take part in some market research, look up similar products and their prices. Alternatively ask people who you feel may use your product how much they would be prepared to spend.

Know your audience – it is key to know your target market. Does your product appeal to teenagers or avid sports fans? It is important to know who you need to market your product at so as to achieve the most sales. 

Gaps in the Market – with such high numbers of online stores selling an incredible range of products, how will you make your product stand out? Additionally, even if you can make your product stand out, is there a demand for it? There is little point investing time, energy and money into something which has no potential to develop a strong customer base.

Creating a Platform to Sell your Product

Once you have decided on what you are selling, it is now time to think about how you will sell it. The best way to do this is to create a website where customers can browse the range of products. It is also crucial for your website to have ecommerce features such as a shopping cart, pages for customers to view products and a method of securing payments. Many website builders will provide this if coding is not your speciality! 

When creating your website it is also important to think about how your website portrays your brand image and the products you are selling. Aspects such as photographs, colours, fonts, layout and logo can all have an impact on whether customers return to your website or continue browsing once they find the site. 

Think about how your Products are Displayed

In order to get the most out of your website, it is important to market your products correctly. Key aspects to consider are: 

Photographs – these should be clear, high-resolution pictures that clearly display your product from multiple angles. They should be bright images that are well composed in order to attract customers’ attention.

Product Description – having an accurate product description will help you promote your product and avoid any customer confusion. Consider including key specifications such as size and material of the product.

Policies – what is your returns policy? Ensure that you are clear with each product what the returns policy is and state the policy with every item.

Creating an Effective Marketing Strategy

Marketing can help improve how many visitors see your website and therefore how many products you sell. There are a few methods which your business can use to increase brand awareness and product sales. 

The first is utilising social media. By creating pages on sites such as Facebook and Instagram, you increase the range of people you can reach and communicate with. There are also features on these sites which allows you to link products to photos, creating an easy way for customers to find your products. 

Another way to increase brand awareness is to use Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) tools, which boost your product up the ranks in Google search results. Many website builders have this feature as part of their package to help you boost sales easily. 

These steps can help you build a successful online store with a wide customer base and high visitor numbers. 

If you are looking to build a website for your company, then look no further than Go Sitebuilder! Our simple design means you can have a professional-looking website up and running in minutes, and eCommerce features are included as standard. Try our 14-day free trial today.