Cloud-hosted solutions take a lot of the complications (and admittedly, features) out of the picture when setting up your online shop. Shopstar is a very solid contender for those with a limited amount of products, a limited budget and limited design/technical skills (the latter optional). They have some interesting add-ons, such as point-of-sale, local shipping integration and stylish, clean theme designs.
Registration is simple and since you get a 30-day free trial, you don’t need to enter any payment details to get started.
Setting up shop
You’ll be asked to go through a checklist of items:
- Settings (which includes your logo, name, social media, domain and Google Analytics)
- Products (including description, images and variations)
- Shipping (including the option for local pickup)
- A shopfront (the skin or theme – they’re all responsive and really well designed, see the image below)
- Pages (such as your T’s & C’s, Contact and About us pages)
If you have all your content ready, it should be ready to roll out. Some of their shopfronts, below:
Shopstar operates on a pay-as-you-go system: after your trial period you’ll be required to purchase Stars which get deducted from your account, very much like prepaid airtime.
It costs R200/month if you have up to 25 SKUs (unique products or stock keeping units), R450 for up to 100 SKUs and R1000/month for an unlimited SKUs.
Features & services
Shopping carts are finding it harder and harder to differentiate on standard features, as most carts tend to check similar boxes with regards to fees, setup, analytics and so forth. Notable features:
- Beautiful designs
- Responsive & mobile friendly
- Analytics and social integration
- Simple setup
The place where Shopstar really shines, however, is their efforts to expand in other areas related to eCommerce. They have POS (point of sale) integration, allowing you to process “real world” orders on an iPad or laptop, should you have a physical retail space. They also partnered up with DPD Laser Group, a courier company, and are working at building a fully-integrated logistic solution for their customers, with flat-rate prepaid shipping, parcel drop-off in Cape Town (more to be added soon), online tracking and more.
Sellers who need a lot more control (over the design, features, hosting and add-ons) for their shopping cart, should probably look for another solution. Those who have a heavy emphasis on minimalist and clean design (most of Shopstar’s customers seem to be those selling jewellery, arts and crafts), those who are a bit befuddled by things like purchasing domains, hosting and installing (or developing) carts and those with a manageable amount of products who might (or might not) have a physical retail space, should definitely consider giving them a try. Their support is top-notch and they seem to be interested assisting sellers in getting their sites to have, within reason, the required features made available.
Have a look at some of the shops running on Shopstar below and let us know what you think of it (and how it compares to other cloud-hosted solutions out there).
Thanks for reading!
The Team @ PayFast