Since this is my first foray into the online game officially, I thought I might test some e-commerce ideas. I’m still in the process of writing Automate My Life’s business plan and thought I may browse WordPress’s e-commerce plugins. That’s right folks, I’m writing a business plan for AML. Why bother doing something if you are not going to do it well? I have quite a few tech blogs in the queue – one being a word cloud generator for my Twitter stream – and that brought me a product to potentially sell.
Why I’m Starting to Love WordPress
It turns out WooCommerce makes it incredibly easy to add e-commerce to your website. If you haven’t noticed already, I have a few new pages to click on at the top of your screen – Shop, Cart, Checkout and My Account. These pages were auto-magically generated by the good people at WooCommerce. Eureka! WordPress really does make creating an online business easy. The problem is that I need a product to sell. There is a blog forthcoming where I will teach you how to extract words from a given website – namely my own – and create a word cloud. If you don’t already know what a word cloud is, take a look at the picture.
It would be very useful to extract words from our own blog to drive keyword searches and Adword purchases in the future. In fact, I’m sure other bloggers would be interested to have a helpful word cloud to supplement their SEO strategies. Let’s talk about how we can turn this into a product to sell through e-commerce.
Selling Analysis and Research
Now that we have a product to sell, what will be our strategy to make money? Taking a few points from Gartner.com, we could start selling knowledge and analysis. On the other hand, there are multiple word cloud enthusiasts that give them away for free such as Wordle. The problem I found with Wordle was that I had to already have a list of words that are used. What if I don’t have a list of words? What if all I have is a web url or a Twitter account? That is what inspired a future blog post on word clouds and a slightly different product to sell.
I have already setup some test products on Automate My Life under the “Shop” hyperlink at the top of the webpage. As you can tell from the below picture, the WooCommerce plugin makes it easy to create a new product with very little effort. I was able to upload a product picture, create a product name, description, set prices and add items to a cart in less than 10 minutes. After selecting the Alice word cloud, we can see that it’s on sale for Free!
WooCommerce also integrates with PayPal and Stripe for online payment. I have not set up a PayPal or Stripe account for e-commerce transactions yet, but I imagine it is quite easy to do. After selecting “add to cart”, the user can navigate to his/her cart to see what products are available to purchase and how much the total is. Users have the option to add additional quantities of the product and even apply coupon codes. The user can confirm that the price for Alice’s word cloud is $0.00 and will proceed to checkout.
Billing information is gathered before finalizing the transaction and placing the order. Thank you WordPress and WooCommerce!
E-Commerce From Scratch? Maybe later…
With these flawless options from WordPress, I would find it illogical to build an e-commerce process from scratch. It would take a number of man-hours to generate and test the product selection to payment process alone. The highest risk of developing your own system is the security of customers’ data. I would not want to be solely responsible for encrypting users’ data in transit. PayPal is probably one of the most well known online transaction companies to date, so a lot of times using larger firms lowers risk for small businesses.
Expanding Outside of Word Clouds
One thing we are missing from the word cloud generator is the ability to attach a URL to the product order. We can use the “additional information” section so the customer can copy and paste a URL for the order. Our strategy will be providing a selection of word cloud images/shapes to be used with the provided URL. Once the customer pays for the word cloud image, we can create a process that extracts the words from the website and generates the word cloud in the shape they requested. Additionally, we can keep track of new image shapes so that everyone can have access to a growing pool of images. Another possibility is to create word clouds based upon Twitter streams but that may be a bit more complicated for now.
Once More Into The Fray.