It’s important to look good. Imagine you get to have a meeting with all of your potential customers for the next two years. That would be you, and several hundred or thousand people right? You wouldn’t show up dressed in rags would you? You’d probably wear an appropriate, semi-professional outfit that’s branded with your company logo.
Today, that outfit is your website. When your customers are searching for pet stores or items your pet store offers, you want to show up and look good while you’re doing it. Your website is your first point of sale.
Part 6 of our Freesource series for pet store marketing is going to focus on the importance of having a beautiful, functional, informative website that draws online visitors toward your pet store rather than repelling them. Today, we’re going to touch on website builders such as Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, and Wordpress.
If you haven’t had a chance to check out the rest of the Freesource series and all of the amazing tools, tips, and data wrapped around each of them, you can do so here.
At this point, there are dozens of ways to build a small website for your pet store. You can create a microsite through Google, you can use a popular platform with free or paid plans, and we’ve even seen pet stores simply using their Facebook Business Page as a website from their Google Business listing. We’re going to go over four of the more popular ones in the hopes of informing pet store owners of the options that are available and why you would go with one rather than another.
At Pet Engine Marketing, we build our client’s websites on Squarespace. The website you’re on right now is built through Squarespace, so if you like the look, feel, and layout of this site, give us a shout and let’s see if we can upgrade your pet store’s website and online marketing presence.
We build on Squarespace for a number of reasons, including but not limited to:
It’s aesthetically pleasing and the interface doesn’t complicate things
The wide variety of templates are a great starting point
Adding content is remarkably simple
Strong eCommerce capabilities and analytics
Highly qualified and competent support team
Easy SEO, MailChimp, Google, and Social Media integration
Pricing: Although Squarespace isn’t free, plans for websites start out at $12/month and go up to $40/month if you’re in need of more powerful eCommerce options. As a verified Squarespace Circle member, we can get you a better deal on the website hosting as well!
Websites through Squarespace are a great piece of any pet store’s marketing strategy and that’s why the majority of our clients are running their sites through it.
Weebly is another online website builder that allows you to build a website through templates without the need for any coding knowledge or ability. Like Squarespace, you don’t need to download or run any external software to edit your website as it is fully hosted and protected. With lots of built in features, Weebly is a popular choice among DIY website building platforms.
However, Weebly doesn’t allow for any coding to create customization and unique pieces on your website. There would be no need to hire a developer or designer to add features so you are pretty much stuck with what you have through Weebly. The platform also charges a 3% transaction fees on every purchase made through your eCommerce store. You’ll need to upgrade to their business plan to avoid these additional fees.
Pricing: Weebly comes with a very basic free plan so it fits right into the Freesources setting, but basic paid plans start at $8/month and go up to $25/month. The basic free plan is a decent option for pet stores as although it limits the features and functionality, it works as an informational signpost on the internet and is easy enough to publicize the bare bones of necessary information online.
Wordpress is the world’s most popular website building platform for a number of reasons. Over 28% of all websites on the internet are powered by WordPress. Due to its powerful features, scalability, and ease of use, it’s clear why many professional developers and designers go with Wordpress.
WordPress is a free and open source website builder. This means that you have maximum control over your website compared to any other builder in this list. Unlike other website builders, you will need a WordPress hosting account and host your own website (this is a lot easier than it sounds).
WordPress gives you complete control on every aspect of your website. It can be used to build any kind of website. For example, an eCommerce store, community forums, a social network, a membership website, and more.
There are thousands of pre-made WordPress themes that you can use for your website’s design, along with drag-and-drop builders (similar to Squarespace) that allows for easy page creation, and countless plugins to improve your website. Nonetheless, there tends to be a rather steep learning curve associated with Wordpress and although it allows you great flexibility, as a platform it can seem less user-friendly.
Pricing: WordPress software is available for free, but you will need a domain name and web hosting which typically costs $14.99/year and $7.99 per month respectively. For growing pet stores that want a fully customized site, Wordpress is the best option. Most of our clients do not find a need for Wordpress as the main priority’s for the standard pet store’s website should include information, SEO capabilities, photos, and a calendar. These are easily doable without toiling through Wordpress.
Last but not least, Wix is a popular website builder that focuses on ease-of-use in order to build friendly, attractive websites. Wix websites come with access to dozens of free and paid apps that can be installed on your website, allowing you to add an impressive array of features and functions to your site.
You also get a free SSL security certificate with all Wix plans, but you will need to turn it on for your website.
One of the downsides of building with Wix is that the free plans show Wix branded ads on your website and in order to remove them you’ll have to upgrade to a paid plan. Transferring or moving your website away from Wix is a complicated process as well, another downside.
Pricing: Wix offers a limited free plan with a Wix branded sub domain. You can connect a domain for $9.16 per month. Their combo plan starts at $14.95/month and will get you a free domain name. The eCommerce plan costs $26.25 per month. Wix is a decent option for pet stores as their pricing is among the lowest of the platforms we’ve mentioned in this post, but it has a few major cons that make us reluctant to build there.
Choosing the Right Platform
Although a part of your decision could be down simply to aesthetics and how it looks, at Pet Engine our decision to build sites through Squarespace comes from a marketing, aesthetic, and business-oriented mindset.
We dig deep into your pet store’s business and focus on what makes you unique, why you are in business, and what drives people to your store. We build websites that focus on and promote those differentiators in your pet store, creating a powerful marketing tool that builds brand awareness and drives conversion.
Nonetheless, there are times where even we will admit that Squarespace is not the best platform for you to have a website on. It doesn’t happen often, but with pet stores that are focused on shifting their business heavily towards eCommerce, or creating a new/separate arm of their pet store in the digital space, we would recommend a platform like Shopify or BigCommerce.
At Pet Engine Marketing, we offer an upgrade to your marketing tools, platforms, and expertise by taking it off your hands. We build through Squarespace because it allows us to do everything we want it to do: easy SEO content creation, social media integrations, immersive page creation that looks and feels good, customization to make your website unique, and build fully responsive mobile-ready websites.
To put it simply, if your pet store’s marketing strategy hasn’t included a professional website, in today’s day and age you’re losing customers before they even know you. A quality website is one of the leading criteria in deciding where to purchase among younger demographics. If your pet store’s website isn’t up to date, we should talk!