How to get started in online retailing.

There are many options available for online retailing. There are many factors unique to your business that will determine the best path to take when creating your e-commerce presence.  If you follow this guide you will avoid many of the costly mistakes retailers make when starting out.

An overview of your options.

The fastest way to get your shop online is to use third party shopping sites. This includes Amazon, Ebay, Facebook Marketplace, Google Shopping, Gumtree, etc.

The Pros:

  • Easy to get started
  • Large existing audience

The Cons:

  • Competition
  • Listing Fees
  • Hard to stand out among established sellers

If you are thinking “but, I want my own online store” then we hear you and will guide you through how to choose the best e-commerce platform for your business.

Introduction to e-commerce platforms.

We will be looking at three different e-commerce platforms to give a cross-section of which platform would be ideal for you.  The three we will be looking at today include:

  • WooCommerce – A widely used platform that is based on the WordPress website platform
  • Shopify – A very popular dedicated online retailing solution
  • Neto/Maropost – A feature rich retailing solution with added benefits

What is the price?

If you are only starting your business the price may be the determining factor for you. We recommend considering your potential growth and your store requirements as well before making the final decision.


  • Free plugin

  • Requires a WordPress website

  • Requires paying for website hosting

  • May require web developer fees (or understanding how to use WordPress)

  • Requires set up and fees with payment gateways (Stripe, PayPal)


  • Starting from $29 USD

  • Free and paid themes available

  • Extensive plugin and add-on ecosystem available (Free and Paid)

  • Has internal payment system (transaction fees)

  • Includes hosting of your webstore


  • Starts at $109 AUD per month (Tier 1)

  • Price subscriptions based on revenue of store (Tier 1 is up to 70K per year)

  • Free and paid themes available

  • Base package comes with extensive range of features

  • Has an add-on and plugin ecosystem.

  • Requires set up and fees with payment gateways (Stripe, PayPal)

  • Includes hosting of your webstore


What are the features and setup requirements?

It is important to use a platform that is suitable for your business requirements. The three options are all suitable solutions to starting your online store. It just depends on your business circumstances. Consider your own internal operations, the number of inventory you hold, the requirements for customisation of products, warehousing, preparation, and distribution.


  • Basic Inventory listings

  • Limited customisations (without web-development skills)

  • Limited shipping features


  • Improved inventory system

  • Easy to upload and manage unlimited number of products

  • Included Shopify payment system

  • Customisable shipping settings

  • Some added features including: Gift cards, cart recovery, discount codes


  • Complex inventory and warehousing system

  • Easy to upload and manage unlimited number of products

  • Extensive marketing with discounts, gift vouchers, cart recovery, and other features as standard

  • Customisable shipping settings with scheduling and lock out date features.

  • Avoids relying on third party plugins as many features are included in the base product

Online Retailer

The final verdict.

If you have only a few products and don’t require much in the way of inventory management and shipping then the clear choice is to use WooCommerce with your WordPress website.

For most small businesses that have a larger amount of inventory, but don’t require many features beyond an online store presence; the base package by Shopify is a clear choice.

The biggest issue with this platform is when you start including third party developed plugin and add-ons to your store.  Integration issues, limited technical support, and limited customisation issues arise.  The cost of plugins can quickly add up and you may be paying a lot more than if you went with the third option discussed below.

Neto/Maropost is the clear winner for online retailers that have higher amounts of inventory and the need for complex inventory and distribution management. Since most features are included in the base package, you can avoid many of the issues associated with third party plugins.  The tier 1 pricing is reasonable for what is included.  The scalability of the platform makes it the best choice for those that expect their online store to take off.

Alchemy Accountants are experts in the online retailing/e-commerce industry. If you are looking for a bookkeeper/accountant that understands your business, please reach out to us. If you only see your accountant once a year, it may be time to find a new one.

We will work closely with you towards business success. Contact us for a FREE consultation.

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