After coming up with the idea for The Shiok Shop last year, I initially attempted to set up a Shopify store – most of the brands I work with are on Shopify, and I wanted to follow in their footsteps. I signed up for its 14-day free trial, and proceeded to attempt to tinker with it. Unfortunately, I quickly realised that I was much more adept at writing than website design and I called it quits after a few days. Sure, there were plenty of templates on Shopify, but I really wanted a webshop that reflected the fun colourways of Wah So Shiok.
Fortuitously, Exabytes reached out to me shortly thereafter and asked if I was interested in any of their web services (hosting, website design, e-commerce, etc). I did a quick Google search, and realised that Exabytes is one of the largest web hosting companies in Singapore and Malaysia. They currently have a respectable 4.3/5 Google rating from over 440 reviews, and have been in operation for over two decades.
Exabytes currently offers three different eCommerce plans – the Lite, Standard, and Business. As the setup fee (a substantial $499) is waived for the Standard plan, I was leaning more toward it over the other two options. Prices are par for the norm, with the comparable middle-of-the-road Shopify plan being $79 USD (~S$108) monthly. And unlike Shopify, the people at Exabytes will actually help you design your webstore based on your requirements. It’s still based on templates – having a new webstore coded from scratch would cost a pretty penny – but you can relay your preferred aesthetic and the team will try their best to cater to it.
I’ve never sold anything online before, and was next to clueless about how to set up and run an online store. So before I committed to the plan, I decided to make use of the free consultation that was advertised. I met with Ee Lyn, Janice and Briana on a Zoom call, and they took me through every single detail needed to set up the webstore. They brought up matters that I had not considered before: for example, if the webstore should use a new domain (e.g www.theshiokshop.com), or a sub-domain (e.g shop.wahsoshiok.com). After listening to my plans for the webstore – i.e The Shiok Shop was meant to be a curation of the favourite things I’ve reviewed on Wah So Shiok – they suggested the latter in order to make the webshop more recognisable as being part of Wah So Shiok brand. It apparently helps in the SEO as well, though I’m not quite sure how. The above was just one of the many things we discussed during the video meeting, and I would say that I definitely ended the call with a clearer sense of what was needed to set up my own webstore. After some mulling, I took the leap of faith and opted for the Standard eCommerce plan.
After being onboarded as a client, I was sent a comprehensive Google sheet. In it was all the necessary information needed to build the webstore. I remember being taken aback at just how much information was needed – building a webstore wasn’t as easy as it seemed. I first picked a theme, and relayed it to the Exabytes team to have it tweaked to reflect the Navy/Yellow palette of Wah So Shiok. I managed to do up some banners for the webstore (you can find them on the homepage), but was stuck on creating a new logo. I ended up requesting Exabytes to provide me with a new logo that’s based on Wah So Shiok’s font – which they did at no extra charge – and after a few iterations we landed on what I thought was the perfect one (see image below). I requested their help in writing the FAQ and Terms & Conditions section as well, and they also guided me through setting up a Stripe and Paypal account to be integrated with the webshop.
Once again, I admit that I’m very much a tech noob. That’s perhaps unsurprisingly given my penchant for mechanical watches and sartorial tailoring. What this meant though was that I was heavily reliant on the support rendered by the Exabytes team, who hand-held me throughout the entire process of setting up the webstore and took care of most of the technical bits. This allowed me to concentrate on what I was best at – doing reviews on Wah So Shiok, and reaching out to my favourite brands to get them listed on The Shiok Shop. Business development, if you will.
Overall, I have to say setting up The Shiok Shop with Exabytes was easy and straightforward. I’m happy with my decision – having the Exabytes team guide me through every step of the way saved me an immeasurable amount of time. If you’re like me and don’t have much experience in eCommerce or are simply a tech noob, I highly recommend opting for Exabytes over Shopify (which requires you to be much more independent).
The caveat is that the store runs on Exabyte’s proprietary eCommerce platform named Easystore, instead of a more established one (Shopify, WooCommerce, etc). I didn’t find it an issue however, and found the functionality of Easystore to be more than enough for my needs. It allows me to sell on Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Telegram, WeChat, Shopee, Lazada, and even Tiktok if I wanted to! It also integrates with hundreds of apps, such as Mailchimp, Google Analytics, Lalamove, Quickbooks and more. In terms of payment gateways, Stripe, Paypal and bank transfer are accepted, with “buy now pay later” options such as Atome and Hoolah also available. They even have Favepay and Grabpay – impressive to say the least.
As the icing on the cake, there’s even an Easystore mobile app for users to be notified real-time on orders, analytics reports (views, orders, sales amount, etc) and add/remove/edit products from their mobile phone. The app is very user-friendly, and everything was intuitive.
All in all, I’m very appreciative to the Exabytes team for helping me bring The Shiok Shop to fruition. They made the process as hassle-free as possible, and were always only an email away should I require any assistance. Emails were replied promptly too – they never failed to reply to me within 24 hours on business days. And whenever I asked for help/changes they would inform me of a deadline, and often they delivered well before the deadline they set. For example, I recently requested Exabyte to redesign the stock customer invoice template to reflect the navy/yellow colourway of the webstore, and they fulfilled my request within 2-3 days – much sooner than the week they quoted me. I have nothing but praise for Exabyte’s support, and in my opinion it’s what set them apart from their competitors.
Those interested in engaging Exabytes for their services (they provide web domain, hosting, design and server services) can receive S$10 free credit on their first purchase, and get an additional 5% Rebate if a Business Mastercard is used during checkout. If you’re thinking of setting up your own webstore, I recommend speaking to Exabytes’ web design specialists on a free consultation as I did – no commitment is needed anyway.
View Exabyte’s full range of services here.
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wah so Shiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!
P.S.S.S Shiok is a common word Singaporeans use to express admiration or approval. As of 2016, you can find the definition of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary.