How-To Setup A Simple Online Store Using Paypal

When creating an online business, one of the main items to think about is the shopping process; mainly, the shopping cart.

For many of small business owners, an extensive shopping cart is simply too much to handle and not entirely needed for their websites. Paypal offers us a quick and easy way to to setup your a simple shopping cart for your online store.

The following post will give you a crash-course on how to setup a simple online store using Paypal.

The struggles of a small business: sound familiar?

In my spare time I’ve been creating a website for my friend’s family bakery. I took this on as a side project because I knew it would not only allow me to work on the design and coding but also test out the grounds for an online store.

My Fathers Bread is a local bakery which offers a range of homemade breads. Because the online store didn’t need an extensive shopping cart, I got to work trying to find the best possible solution for the limited amount of products.

In total, there are less than a dozen total products.

A large shopping cart like ZenCart was essentially overkill for this project much like many other small business owners – perhaps even you.

After doing research, hitting the “duh” no-brainer point in the store’s creation, we decided that Paypal could handle the shopping process for the online store – it was simple and easy to implement.

Why Paypal for your online store?

When I began researching Paypal I knew I needed a few major elements:

  • Credit card/debit card processing
  • Easy integration into an html/css site
  • Simple backend for order processing
  • Receipts to each customer
  • Secure, online payments

Easily enough, Paypal offers all of these features.

Other concerns when considering Paypal were:

  • The monthly costs for using the service
  • The percentage required for each transaction
  • Quick and easy setup with the bank

If you own a small business, chances are you only offer a few products or services just like the break bakery’s online store I’ve been working on.

In my opinion, Paypal is quite perfect for a small business which is run from your home or as a side source of income.

Let’s say you’re opening your own online store

open for business

If you have products or services to sell, you probably had the main concerns about Paypal as I did: costs.

Because we want to setup a shopping cart for our simple online store (avoiding monthly charges), Paypal offers a free version but it does take out a small percentage of each sale (keep that in mind).

Just think of it this way: the longer you sit on your ideas the greater chance competitors may jump on your idea – reaping all the rewards.

Due to competition, I think it’s better to at least get your shop online sooner than later.

Sometimes simple works.

Simple online stores let you test out the market; they allow you to jump right in and begin making money from your store without having to wait months during larger development.

The main features of the free version of Paypal Website Payments Standard are:

  • Free to use
  • Shipping labels for your orders
  • Accept credit cards online (without Paypal login)
  • Accept paypal payments
  • Shopping cart integration (if you upgrade later)
  • Phone and email support
  • Credit card data security

With each of these taken for consideration, let’s get down to business setting up a free online store using Paypal.

Setting up your first online store

Now we’re getting there – I’m sure you’re beaming with excitement!

Imagine, you can now open your own online store, start processing orders and make that bank selling your own products and services.

You’re in business now baby!

Getting your stores design

If you’ve yet to design or buy a shopping cart template, Themeforest has a great collection of templates which are inexpensive and full of functionality – perfect for your small online store.

Alternatively, you can grab some great templates from Elegant Themes which offers some of the most beautiful and functional WordPress themes:

If you’re willing to sport additional money you could seek out a web developer but for the purpose of this tutorial and to get you started quickly, stick to a template for now but keep it in mind when your business expands.

Setting up your domain and hosting

After you’ve picked your website template from one of the above sources or had it custom designed, it’s time to move on to setting up your domain and hosting.

I’ve recently wrote about both of these topics which you can learn in full detail:

Creating your product pages

The next important part when setting up your simple online store is to create three major elements:

  • Seo-friendly web pages. Before you start slogging away at your web pages, research your keywords using tools like Wordstream, Worktracker or Google Keyword Tool. Find the appropriate keywords for each product and use them throughout your pages.
  • Product pictures. Product pictures can make or break your online store. Since people can’t pick up and touch the product, the next best thing you can do is to have great product pictures. I recommend using a digital camera, lightbox and a little editing with Photoshop or Gimp then study picture guide.
  • Web copy. Your not done yet, you still need to write your web copy. A previous post about creating compelling copywriting is right here on Murlu – use some of these tips to get started with writing attractive web copy for your products and services.
  • Shopping cart. Paypal will be used for the shopping process; your add to cart and checkout button should incorporate a clear call to action. In the next section we will be going into more detail about integrating Paypal.

Because you don’t have many web pages on your online store, you may also want to consider setting up a business blog to help bring in free traffic through search engines.

Setting up your Paypal shopping cart

Alrighty, now that you’ve got your domain & hosting, design and pages setup, now comes the all important part of setting up your shopping cart.

As previously mentioned, I found that Paypal can be extremely simple to integrate and doesn’t have the costly overhead & heavy back-end like other payment processors.

So let’s add our payment buttons.

  1. Visit Paypal and sign up for an account (preferably the Website Payment standard to accept credit card payments without a Paypal account).
  2. Fill in your important contact details and bank information – then wait the 3 to 5 days for your bank and Paypal to be synced up and ready to go.
  3. Within the Paypal options, click the ‘create a button’ which you’ll be placing on your page. At this point, if you have multiple items you’ll want to create individual buttons for each product. By creating individual buttons, you can set separate prices, shipping and so much more.
  4. Add your buttons to your web pages. Copy the code Paypal provides and find the section on your web pages where the payment button will be appropriate – often next to a product picture and before the description.
  5. Ta-da! You’re done!

Really, setting up is very simple as I found when putting together the website for my friends’ family. The longest wait is the time when Paypal and your bank sets up your account so in the meantime, you could be working on putting together the site, building backlinks and ramping up your marketing campaign.

Before you launch your website remember to:

  • Test
  • Test
  • Test

I mean test everything. Make sure the website navigates correctly, no broken links (use the W3 checker), the shopping cart works, your email alerts and receipts are setup correctly. Test out every little aspect of the website before you launch it live.

Setting up Google Adwords

Yes! You’ve done it. You’ve completely setup a simple online store and you’re ready to make some money selling your products.

The next portion of running your online store is going to be setting up a marketing campaign – we’re going to use Google Adwords.

Google Adwords gives you a simple advertising platform which the basics can be learned in a few hours. For this post, we’re going to have a crash course through using Adwords to advertise your new online store.

  1. Okay, first things first, sign up for a Google Adwords account.
  2. Use Google Keyword Tool, Wordstream, Wordtracker and Spyfu to get an understanding what keywords and advertisements your competitors are using.
  3. Fund your account with some mone (bonus: you can use your new Paypal account to send over some funds!).
  4. Create your ad copy, a killer headline and link it all back to your website. Create new ads for each product and service you sell – remember: target the long-tail searches.
  5. Start up your ad campaign.

(You may want to read these 25 Adwords tips to optimize your campaign)

Adwords takes a little time to get used to but the interface is very intuitive and Google provides plenty of tutorials on how to best get started.

A quick recap

To this point, we’ve:

  • Setup a domain & hosting
  • Implemented a website template
  • Signed up and added Paypal
  • Started a Adwords campaign

I know this has been a bit fast but we want to setup a store with the minimal amount of time. The online world is fast, we can’t afford not to get online today!

Last words of encouragement

Believe me, there are many more things about running an online store than just these main points but in time you’ll learn them all (or by subscribing to Murlu).

With a minimal amount of headaches, you’re now well upon your way to running your own online store. It’s your duty to drive your business with passion toward everything you do and for your customers.

Hopefully this crash-course guide will get you on the path to starting your own simple online store.

12 Responses to “How-To Setup A Simple Online Store Using Paypal”

  1. July 14, 2010 at 9:40 am #

    Thanks marry nice post. But here in bangladesh we don’t have any way to use paypal. So we are very unlucky.

    • Murray Lunn
      July 14, 2010 at 12:03 pm #

      Oh, that’s unfortunate Alamin :(

      Maybe there could be a work around if you had family or friends in another country. You could set up the account through them, work out a little deal and then later transfer funds through banks or via checks.

  2. July 21, 2010 at 5:00 am #

    Thanks murray for this useful tutorial.

  3. September 4, 2010 at 6:54 am #

    I’ve played with Elegant Themes and it’s a great solution for people who want a small shop with, say, less than 50 products.

    • Murray Lunn
      September 7, 2010 at 9:37 pm #

      I was just recently looking at Elegant Themes just recently – agreed, can be great for those small shops; fits perfectly because most small businesses may only have 50 or fewer products anyway which is why it’s almost completely unnecessary to have these large systems you’d see on major eCommerce sites.

  4. March 23, 2011 at 11:29 am #

    This is a helpful article. Paypal gives small business owners or startups a chance to gain entry in the world of ecommerce.

  5. Agustina Haegele
    June 22, 2012 at 4:09 pm #

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  6. Dee
    July 17, 2012 at 10:24 am #

    great info thanks!
    one thing though..What exactly does paypal charge per sale, refering to the “small percentage ”

    • Murray Lunn
      July 24, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

      I’ve notice it to be around 2% – 5% or so which you’d find in a lot of credit card transactions. So, for example, if $300 dropped into your paypal account, you can expect to get about $280ish of it.

  7. NAYF
    October 20, 2012 at 10:18 pm #

    Thanks for the tutorial! I’m just starting to think about setting up a store for a family business.

    I’m am curious. If you use Paypal as the shopping cart, it there any sort of simple inventory control? That is, if you’re selling items that are one-ofs, how do you prevent an item from being sold multiple times? Does Paypal let you deal with this? Do the scripts in the themes take care of this? Or do you need to use a full-on cart approach line Zen to deal with this?

    Thanks, again…

    • Murray Lunn
      November 5, 2012 at 6:46 pm #

      To be honest, I haven’t dug that deep into Paypal in that sense but I believe there are third party tools that integrate with PP which allows you to do inventory control. I’m using DPD which does have this kind of feature of setting “caps” on how many items are sold, it’s not as robust as the bigger shopping carts but it could certainly work for a smaller business.


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