Notes Building an e-commerce at no cost

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In 2021 I finally launched my first retail font Tranemo. A sans serif typeface in two styles with seven weights for each style. With this release, I also launched my own foundry – Nymark Type.

Screen shot home page for Nymark Type

For many reasons I wanted full control and exclusivity for my type foundry. And to avoid platforms like Myfonts. For this, I decided to launch an online shop for my fonts. This is the story of how I skipped Shopify and other e-commerce solutions and launched my own at no cost.

Why not a …

There are several free e-commerce options available. The free plan for these usually comes with a fixed number of products, no personalized domain, and/or other limitations. I tried a few. With 14 different fonts in Tranemo, it’s already more than most free ties allow. Additionally I wanted to provide a range of bundles. And each font and bundle comes with three different licensing options. Already I have 50+ products.

Screen shot with different font and bundles available for the font Tranemo
Tranemo is sold as single weight as well as bundled with other weights.

What I did consider (and tried)

I had been looking for a good, ready-made system for quite some time. Kirby CMS is my preferred CMS, and with the Merx plugin, it was an option. This path seemed more difficult to set up; I was looking for an out-of-the-box solution that offered digital goods and handled VAT for different countries.

I initially chose Perch CMS in conjunction with the shop plugin. This felt very Kirby-esque and straightforward. However, Perch CMS died gradually, with unresolved Stripe bugs that needed to be fixed before proceeding.

So I opted to build something myself.

Static files, Paddle and Mailgun

Having previously assisted clients in developing e-commerce using javascript cart solutions, I decided to create my own by patching external services where needed.

All pages on Nymark Type are static files, generated with a simple Gulp-solution to include navigation and partials.

I chose Paddle for the actual checkout – getting money in the bank – and Mailgun to deliver fonts to the inbox. Both of these have no cost until anything is sold. Paddle takes a percentage, and Mailgun lets me send 1 000 free emails per month.

My cart solution was constructed without any frameworks. This way I could build it in any way I wanted and control the information required from the customer.

After the checkout is triggered, the Paddle checkout modal takes over. A webhook callback after a successful purchase sends the fonts via Mailgun with links to downloads hosted on Paddles servers.

And that’s it.

Besides making more fonts, the next step is to build a login area. As it is now, users need to keep the email including the download links. I would prefer is the user could log in and download again.

So, go buy some fonts at Nymark Type.