Help on planning a Europe based store

I really need help here!

I’m trying to outline an online store for a family member that will sell ceramics. He’s a long time craftsman based in the EU and finally decided to do this after years of thinking about it.

The idea

The products will be a couple of permanent collections focused in houseware ceramics with multiple item types per collection. The collections will differ in material/color, e.g. These products will be for "the masses" and will probably be the only ones worth spending ads on. And although I say for the masses, we would not be competing with IKEA but instead for a higher price range.

At the same time we will have a parallel section to sell his unique art work sculptures, as well as a portfolio page to display solutions for certain segments (ceramic panels for architecture, dinnerware solutions for restaurant owners, etc) and a Workshops/Classes section.

My skills

I’m a noob in all this but can learn. I have some skills to build a brand ID, design the site (without programming), handle the SEO, create and manage the social media, take care of the respective marketing with ads campaign in facebook and instagram, MailChimp. But i’m not a full stack professional with a lot of experience. What I understand is the amount of work this will generate and I’m up for it.

My research for the implementation

It looks like Shopify seems the way to go for my case, no? If I was comfortable with programming and design I would go for WooCommerce or even WordPress. And the main reason I don’t consider them is things like payments and shipping that seem scary when you’re on your own.

I realized later that creating a Shopify store outside the US and Canada is a huge disadvantage because of all the cool features only they have and obstacles we have (No native shipping integration for fulfillment delivery, Weird EU VAT taxation, etc). It’s not impossible but it will be a pain for sure. Even so Shopify seems to me the best non-programming way to create a solid and trusted e-store.

There is virtually almost no insightful content that helps specifically EU based stores in how to sell worldwide. I would value a lot any shared experience from someone in this situation.

It’s also hard to understand what concepts and practices are used in a small business like this because most of the time there’s lack of scaling examples in the support pages.

I need to understand stuff like if I can (or should) reach out to the carrier companies to get custom contract prices (because EU i’m based) or if I just need to install an app like Packlink PRO. In in either case, will they have standard packaging, will they pickup my orders on spot, will it be even viable to ship to US since 30 Kg costs like 100€?

The only thing that makes me hopeful is a tiny chance that I can actually ignite some initial sales through the pre-existing network we already have, that has a lot of organic potential (99% national traffic).

We’re willing to give it a try and invest in it for at least 1-2 years. But the part that scares me most no matter what is payment and shipping.

I have tons of questions still but I can’t even grasp the notions to be able to ask them I think.

Thanks for reading!

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