As someone that spends most of their working hours on a computer, I guess you could easily call me a nerd, and I probably wouldn’t take offence!
In fact, I admit I enjoy it so much that I’ll often find myself setting little weekend online projects just for fun.
I guess it’s a bit like those people that enjoy doing crosswords. I hate crosswords, so I build websites for fun.
Last weekend I noticed my wife spending hours searching through numerous websites just to try and find the product she wanted. She must have viewed at least 15 sites before she found it, and then she had to determine if they were in Australia or international, if they delivered free, if she could trust them, and so on.
I was watching her carrying out a task that would have probably been much easier just to get in the car and go to a shopping centre, but she enjoys the ‘challenge’ of shopping online so I didn’t say anything. But just watching her made me exhausted, and I was saying to myself, surely there is a better way… a better way to find what you want in Australia, via a trusted merchant, without having to go to countless sites to do so.
So my weekend plan for myself was to create an online site that did all this..combine thousands of popular products from her favourite brands and fashion labels all into one website, and allow her to still purchase from a trusted merchant.
Sure, it might sound like a lot of work, but actually the process actually took less than 10 hours and less than $100 to do it.
And sure thats a lot of crosswords I could have completed in 10 hours, but a crossword doesn’t make you money!
So, I worked on a gameplan to create my site, which I decided to call Shoppalot.com.au…
Obviously I didn’t want to have to stock thousands of products as that would take a lot of storage and money, so I decided to connect with Commission Factory, one of Australia’s leading affiliate networks, who just happen to be based here on the Sunshine Coast. They have plenty of Australia’s leading online stores offering affiliate programs, such as The Iconic, Globe Shoes, SurfStitch, Katies, ShowPo, Millers, and plenty more.
All I had to do was sign up, select the merchants I wanted to advertise and I could then sell their products instead of having to purchase any products. When someone buys them from my site I make an easy commission! So my outlay for products was zero dollars!
Creating a website
Ok, so most people are going to say an online store is hard work to create, costs a packet of money and takes ages. All untrue!
The website was built on a free platform called WordPress. WordPress is one of the world’s leading web development platforms now, and it’s 100% free.
You simply download it from WordPress.org and with a little online guidance you can install it into your hosting reasonably effortlessly.
Alternatively, sign up with a hosting package from Hostgator for less than $10 a month and you simply click one button in the control panel of your hosting and WordPress is installed in less than 30 seconds! Bingo..the initial hardwork is done.
So next you need to build a nice looking site, but you might think you don’t have the skills for this. Wrong again!
My Shoppalot website theme was purchased for around $55 from Themeforest.net. Themeforest is a directory of amazing WordPress themes which are all pre-designed, so you simply purchase them and upload into WordPress and then follow their instructions to set up the theme, and usually within a couple of hours you have a fully functioning website.
The theme I used has a page builder and also integrates seamlessly with WooCommerce, another free plugin which turns your site into a shopping cart. The theme I chose actually had Woocommerce added, so the install was so simple.
You can change the look and feel of the site very simply without any real knowledge of web development.
Adding the Products to your site.
Ok, so I currently have around 11,000 products on my site, so you can imagine this takes some time to add to the site, right? Wrong again!
It probably took a total of 4 hours, which was mostly spent selecting the products. I actually didn’t have to add one product myself, I used a data feed service to do the hard work for me.
Datafeedr is a cost-effective service which simply plugs into your site and pulls the products from your Commission Factory, and other networks, into your site via a product feed supplied by the merchant. So as the Merchant changes products or prices, they will automatically change in your website as well.So basically you don’t have to do any work but select the products.
The text, prices and product images all feed direct into your site and are stored on your website hosting as if they were your own products. So you can then optimise each product for better search engine results if you like or edit the content as much as you like.
One you have the products in place your website is ready to go!
I did do a little additional customisation of my website such as sliding customer logos, and will probably continue to tinker with it, but basically the site was designed in a day and for under $100.
Now anyone can shop online from many retailers all at once at Shoppalot.
You might find you’ll be building websites instead of doing the crosswords next weekend!