Checkout Friction

With a creative product, the first thing that happens at the checkout is that the emotional brain says that you want the product. It’s pure emotion. And if we go ahead and buy it, then afterwards our logic brain steps it. It will tell us why it was a good idea that we bought the thing.

During the process of buying, however, your logic brain will be screaming that you don’t really want that thing. And the longer and more difficult the process between deciding you want the thing and being able to complete the purchase, the more likely it is that you will just abandon the purchase.

All the studies say this is what is happening inside our heads. From personal experience I know it is true; as a customer I have done that exact thing many times.

Every demand you make of your customer in order for them to complete the purchase makes it more likely they never will.

A good platform is one that speeds you through the checkout process. The Shop payment system from Shopify recognises you as soon as you add your email address. Apple Pay and Google Pay do similarly. Add your details once, and then it knows you whenever you check out.

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Selling On WP.com

You may wonder what you can and cannot do when if you want to sell something on WordPress.com.

A basic site on WordPress.com is free, and you cannot sell anything on a basic site. That is, you cannot add a button for a potential customer click to complete the buying process.

But there are paid plans on WordPress.com. They are the Personal, Premium, Business, and eCommerce plans, with the cheapest being the Personal plan.

I have a Premium plan on Extra Twigs (https://extratwigs.com) and until a Premium plan on Photograph Works (https://photographworks.me).

It’s an article for another day, but in brief there are now far fewer premium themes included with the Premium plan than previously, so you may not see the attraction of paying for that level of plan.

I still like the paid plans though because they get rid of the often horrible ads that WordPress allows advertisers to place between your posts. And you can use your own domain name rather than a name that reads for example https://photographworks.wordpress.com. In fact, if you click that name (it will open in a new tab) you will see that it redirects to https://photographworks.me because I have a paid plan.

And with the Premium plan you can play around with the CSS and change the look of themes. I like to do that where needed, so I pay the difference.

Back to the point of this article, which is that both the Premium plan and the Personal plan allow you to use a Pay button (that connects to Stripe payment processor) and a Paypal button to sell things.

Self-Hosted Websites

In this article I am talking about sites hosted on WordPress.com. But I just want to note that there are also self-hosted websites. That is where you rent space from a web host.

A web host is a commercial business that rents space on its servers. You rent space on the server and build your website yourself (or get someone to build it for you).

Tamara and I have a self-hosted website built on WordPress and WooCommerce. We could run the site on the Business plan on WordPress.com, because with the Business plan you can install plugins, and WooCommerce is a plugin.

That option didn’t exist when we built our store, and if we were starting again today, I would be tempted to choose the Business plan.

Self-hosted websites give you freedom, but you have to maintain the setup.

With the Business plan on WordPress.com, you can set up a WooCommerce e-commerce store and the WordPress team maintain the site. You just have to write the content. It’s a tempting proposition.

Back To The Paid Plans On WordPress.com

For the purpose of this article I am interested in exploring what I can do with a paid plan on WordPress.com.

Here in the back end of Extra Twigs I can see the ‘Earn’ blocks in the Block Editor. The Payments button works through Stripe payment processor, and the Paypal button works (obviously) with Paypal.

We use Stripe on our self-hosted WordPress site, so I am familiar with it. We also use Paypal on another site built on a different platform, so I am familiar with that too.

I would like to see the two buttons ‘in action’ here.

Remember, these are simple ‘Buy’ buttons, so it is not possible to limit shipping destinations or offer different shipping rates for different countries.

And you can’t add shipping as a separate cost. So you have to factor that in to your selling price. And you have to be OK with the same shipping cost to all countries. That’s very limiting

Of course, if you are selling downloadable digital products then the customer’s country is irrelevant.

Let’s say you are selling physical products and that you are in the UK. What happens if you base the prices for your products on the cost of postage within the UK and you get a customer based in Australia?

You can see that having to cover the cost of postage to Australia, is going to dig into your margin and maybe leave you with no profit at all.

Of course it depends on the cost of the item compared to the postage. If you sell a ring for £500, then the cost of postage is just a drop in the ocean of the overall cost.

But for most things one might sell, the cost of postage is a factor. The thing is that with the Buy button, I don’t see any way to stop a customer from a country you DON’T want to sell to, from clicking to buy a product.

You could put up a big notice near the Buy button saying something such as ‘I only ship within the UK’.

But if someone ignores the notice then you can’t stop them purchasing.

I wouldn’t like to have to tell a customer that they missed or ignored the notice. And I wouldn’t want to have to go through the messy business of refunding the buyer.

One way I can see out of this is to sell a product that ships from a Print On Demand house that ships to different countries for a standard cost. That widens what I can sell – from T-shirts to designed phone cases.

Decision Time

I am going to start with the Paypal button. Perhaps later on I will connect my Stripe account.

The print will be printed on heavy paper and colour safe for decades.

Exhibition Road

Digital print of a view on Exhibition Road that runs between the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Natural History and Science Museums in London in the United Kingdom. IMPORTANT: THIS ITEM SHIPS TO UK ADDRESSES ONLY.

£12.00

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What Is The Best Place To Start Selling Online?

There are so many different options for selling online that it can make your head spin. What is the best place to start selling online?

Starting on someone else’s platform is the easiest route. It’s the easiest because you don’t have to understand, build, host, or secure anything. It is all done for you. All you have to do is to pay the monthly fee to the platform supplier, upload images of your products, write the descriptions and set the price.

I wrote a long article about which platform is the best when you are just starting out selling online. I cover marketplace sellers and standalone stores run on software as a service, (SAAS) platforms. It’s not about recommending particular platforms but about understanding what the benefits and downsides are for different choices you might make.  Take a look.

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