It seems as soon as you finally make a decision on something, a hundred other options suddenly show up. I have had this experience with my decision about going with Shopstar as an an e-commerce platform. I'm planning to write a little more about why I made that decision later on so stay tuned.
Right now though I want to talk about a free online shop platform I came across today called Tictail.
What is Tictail?
Tictail is an e-commerce platform founded by four Swedish entrepreneurs in May 2012. Currently they host over 250 000 000 products from more than 125 000 online stores, all this built by 59 team members. Pretty impressive, right? Here's what they have to say about themselves...
This was possibly the most painless and intuitive experience I've had with an online commerce solution. It was a dream! They make everything as simple as possible for a new user, and there's no need to know about coding or web design or any of the backend stuff to create a really professional and minimal looking store.
Sign up to going live took me 15 minutes in total. The site leads you through registration, connecting to your social media, bio details, adding a logo and listing your products in a straightforward and unbelievably simple manner. I had no problem knowing what should go where, and at what stage of the process I was at any given point.
A few observations
- The platform itself is FREE for unlimited products
- There are the usual drag and drop options
- It was super easy to upload images
- There are over 15 themes to choose from
- It has a very minimal and appealing design aesthetic
- There is the option to follow other shop owners
- There was no option to pay in South African rands
- Paypal is the only payment gateway options for South Africans
I had a look at their support features and noted that they have a very helpful looking blog to support their shop owners with articles like:
- How to run an instagram giveaway
- Styling tips
- Photography guide
- Getting ambassadors to back your brand
Now this is where it got quite interesting. The platform itself is very 'bare bones' and absolutely free to use for as many products as you like. They have opened things up to third party individuals to develop apps that all users can then purchase to add extra functionality to their store like:
- Use your own domain ($1.50 per month)
- Add a contact form ($5 per month)
- Add featured products to your home page ($2 per month)
- Display prices in multiple currencies ($1.50 per month)
- Product "upsell" ("if you like this, you might also like this") app ($7.50 per month)
- app which sends email notifications about updated stock ($20 per month)
That's already $37.50 per month, or R575. And thats without any analytics or integrating email marketing.
Where does that leave me?
As a South African small business owner and someone who is on the lookout for helpful solutions for other creative small and medium businesses, I think this is a beautiful, well designed, clean, no-frills option. Especially if you want an immediate shop front solution. If you're okay with pricing your goods in US dollars (or UK pounds for that matter), and you're fine with only having PayPal as a payment option then you'll do well to use it.
There's also the social shopping element. Like Etsy or Gumroad, there's already a growing community of people who are looking for products on Tictail, and you can tap into that market by listing your products here. Most of the products are independent designers, artists and illustrators, so if that's you, perhaps this is an option for you. And maybe you'll do some shopping for yourself while you're there.
I would have some hesitation though about all the add-on costs. If you are serious about growing an email list, about featuring products, about SEO, analytics and all the other things that can go into building an online business, then your costs are going to escalate quite quickly. Many other e-commerce solutions have these features already built into the price point.
Those are my thoughts for now. If you have any questions, suggestions, or things to add, I'd love to hear from you.
If you're interested in reading more about social selling, I've also written about my experience of using Gumroad - a social selling platform - over here.