Online stores are simply a great way to get your product out there to the masses. They require the bare minimum investment and almost anyone can set one up — as long as you’ve got something that people want to buy, you’re pretty much guaranteed sales. Of course, there are many ways to do this: eBay being one of the most notable, however in this case you are tied down to a particular site — having to follow their rules and regulations. The greatest flexibility comes when you set up a store on your own website.
Tictail believes it can help you set up a simple online store on your own website with the absolute bare minimum of input required from yourself. The site has already received accolades from popular sites such as Wired, TechCrunch and The Economist, so I decided to take it for a test drive to see what AppStorm’s take on things were. Here’s what I found out.
To get your own online store set up with Tictail, you’ll need to provide either an e-mail address or you can connect your Facebook account to your new online retail presence. As I’m quite fussy about which apps can access my Facebook data, I decided to use my e-mail address, though the setup procedure is still entirely the same.
Your new store gets its own Tictail domain name (as you can see from the screenshot above, mine is http://jamescull.tictail.com), though you can always integrate it easily with your own site later on.
The next step is to choose a shiny new theme for your store. There are 9 built-in themes to choose from and you can always change them later if you’re not happy with it. You can click on the Preview link next to any theme to see an example of it in action and all of the themes are professionally designed and look the part. I went for the Coco theme, as I thought it looked the best, but no matter what it is your store is selling, Tictail has a fitting theme in there for you.
As Tictail is designed and built in Sweden, the interface features the colours of the Swedish flag — namely blue and yellow — and is delightfully minimalist, which I admired as a reviewer. After you’ve chosen your theme, you are redirected to the setup screen, which guides you through setting up your store step by step.
During the setup process, you’re asked to define your store’s currency, the country in which it is located and you can also connect your company’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. I was impressed by the fact that Tictail automatically recognised the sales tax rate in my home country (the UK) correctly as 20% and there’s an option to choose whether shipping charges are liable for sales tax as well (in the UK, for example, they aren’t). You can always skip individual steps and return to them later if needs be.
Adding and Managing Products
Of course, a store wouldn’t be a store without any products! Luckily, Tictail makes it really easy to add your precious inventory to your new store — and you don’t have to add every single tiny little detail (dimensions, weight, chemical composition and so on) either. Product fields include the title (upon which the URL for the product’s page is based), its price (in your store’s default currency — there’s no support for dual currencies as of yet), any pictures of your product (and yes, you can add more than one), a description and the quantity you’re selling. If you’re selling items that come with a number of different options (e.g. sizes or colours) then you can add these too.
You can also customise where your products belong in your store and organise them into categories via the Navigation pane. This is especially useful if you’re selling a wide range of products that don’t necessarily fall into one category, or if you want to split a range of products into sub-ranges (clothes, for example).
Managing Your Orders
Any new orders that you receive show up in your Orders screen and are assigned a unique number based on the order in which they arrive. Tictail will alert you by e-mail (to the address you provided when you signed up) of any new orders and you can search for individual orders and set a unique status for each one.
You can also export a list of all your orders either to a CSV file or an Excel spreadsheet — this is extremely useful if you want to create sales reports based on the data within Tictail.
Administering Your Store
The Settings section of Tictail is where you can alter all the settings related to your store. Not only can you change the initial description of your store but you can also set its language, add your PayPal account (so you can accept online payments), customise your store’s shipping options and add any important terms and conditions and your returns policy.
You may have noticed that up till now, I haven’t mentioned anything about Tictail’s pricing. This was intentional of course, because unlike most other online store services, which often set a monthly fee, Tictail lets you pay for the features you actually need. The basic service, which includes your own store, unlimited product uploads and full PayPal integration is completely free (with no annoying adverts as well, which I admired) however extra services will cost you — though not very much, of course.
At the moment, Tictail offers three different “apps” — or additional services — such as the ability to use your own custom domain with your Tictail store (€1 monthly fee), the ability to offer discounts (€5 monthly) and password protection for your store (again, €5 monthly). As the developers are Swedish, you can also integrate your Klarna account with your Tictail store (this service is free, although a Klarna account will set you back SEK 299 a month (around $45), with a SEK 995 ($150) entry fee). The good thing about these apps, though, is that they all offer a 30-day free trial (though you’ll have to provide your credit card information beforehand) so you can try before you buy — under no commitment, of course.
Tictail impressed me greatly, not just as a service but also as a business model. The tiered pricing makes the application a lot more attractive to people who just want to set up an online store but don’t want to have to deal with complicated billing procedures or lengthly contracts — and Tictail is so delightfully simple and easy to use that it makes setting up and running your own online retail presence a lot easier.
Tictail therefore gets our highly commended 9 out of 10 rating and I believe that if you’re looking to flog a few of your creations online, then this is the best way to do it. The whole interface is so minimalistic, whilst at the time oozes that Scandinavian sense of design, and doesn’t overwhelm in the slightest with endless menus and customisation options. I found it a joy to use, and I would highly recommend it to anyone. Yes, it does have its limitations and imperfections (such as no dual currency support), but for a free app with no adverts, Tictail certainly does pack a powerful, Swedish punch. And that’s saying something.