HubSpot’s content management system (CMS) is a system for managing website pages, forms, landing pages, and all the other HubSpot content features with which you’re familiar. You may have noticed that, within HubSpot’s software, there is no eCommerce / “add to cart” functionality in HubSpot’s content management system.
The purpose of this post is to show HubSpot customers how they can add eCommerce functionality to their HubSpot-hosted sites. Readers who are not fully hosted on CMS Hub (HubSpot’s CMS) should note that you can still follow the below instructions, as the outlined methods and considerations will work with nearly any modern CMS like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Django, etc. even though some of these systems have in-platform eCommerce solutions available.
Setting up eCommerce Functionality with a HubSpot-hosted Website
There are two relatively straightforward methods to sell online with a HubSpot-hosted website. There are other, more complicated methods but these two are typically the most straightforward.
Method #1: Set up an eCommerce platform on an existing page
Who should sell using this method? If you are a consulting company with a few books for sale, or a software company looking to sell t-shirts and mugs, you may not need a fully featured eCommerce solution like Shopify or Volusion, which are set up on a subdomain, as described below. These are highly robust platforms with tons of functionality that might be more than you need.
If you have just a few SKUs (items for sale), and are looking to achieve greater reach and a modest additional revenue steam, consider an on-page / embedded cart.
What is it? On-page shopping carts can be embedded on most any webpage – HubSpot-hosted pages included – and allow you to sell product without additional infrastructure or overly-complex software. Services like Ecwid and Paypal make it easy to place buttons or embedded cart items on your site and get up and running quickly.
If you want to sell a small number of products on your existing website, this is a great way to get your feet wet cheaply and easily.
Method #2: Set up an eCommerce platform on a subdomain
Who should sell using this method? If you’re looking to do complex online sales with a variety of products and categories and features, this is the way to go. For companies with more than a few dozen products (SKUs), you likely need the configurability and robustness of a full-fledged shopping cart platform.
What is it? eCommerce platforms you can host on a subdomain are part content management systems, somewhat similar to the CMS parts of HubSpot. The important difference from HubSpot is that a shopping cart is database-driven and specifically designed for selling online.
HubSpot can NOT do things like process credit card payments, display database-driven shopping cart pages, or integrate with warehousing; software like Shopify, Volusion, 3dCart, and Magento are specifically designed for functions like these that are needed to sell effectively online.
If you need full-featured eCommerce, investigate a hosted eCommerce solution on a subdomain of your HubSpot-hosted site.
Important Considerations when Starting to Sell Online
What should I think about before starting to sell online? If you add eCommerce functionality to your site, it will add complexity to your online presence as well as to your business as a whole. eCommerce involves incorporating a new revenue stream to your business that you will need to plan for such as fulfillment (how are you going to ship your products, anyway?), dealing with returns (what happens when you ship the wrong size?), customer service (who is going to answer emails and the phone for online orders?), and a whole slew of financial reporting and tax implications.
I’m ready. What do I do next? Start free trials of all the software in your consideration set. Almost every shopping cart available has a free trial – use one! Get into their tools and see how you like them. Not ready to start a free trial? Get out the pen and paper and begin planning.
If you’re used to the simplicity of HubSpot, some of the eCommerce tools listed in this article are going to seem needlessly complex. Some software packages, like Magento, are an order of magnitude more complex than your basic CMS, and will require a developer to be fully implemented.
Integrating HubSpot with eCommerce Functionality
If you simply use Paypal, Ecwid, or Google Checkout to add buttons to an existing HubSpot site, the below instructions will typically not apply to you (unless you integrate Paypal with HubSpot for Medium and Large HubSpot customers). That said:
All HubSpot customers can place the HubSpot tracking code on non-HubSpot-hosted shopping cart pages to track traffic to, from, and through these pages. If you are on a HubSpot Small subscription and cannot see the appropriate link in Settings, please contact HubSpot Support for details on how to get this code.
Also for all HubSpot customers, you will want to link to your products from your existing, highly trafficked website pages. This means a button linking from a homepage or a relevant blog post, website page, or even thank-you page (after a landing page). Create a call to action and get linking! This is a great way to introduce new products to existing traffic.