Choose from the best eCommerce & shopping cart business solutions
"How do I build an eCommerce website?" It's easy. Building an online store, integrating eCommerce features into an existing website, or using a third party shopping cart software is now easier than ever.
There are plenty of excellent eCommerce software platforms that provide a huge range of features for entrepreneurs and small business. The trick is ensuring that the one you select is going to be a perfect fit for your business requirements now, and as the business grows.
This article discusses how to identify your major business objectives and requirements, and find a suitable online store solution to meet these requirements.
Analyzing your business' eCommerce requirements
Before we say anything, it's important to note that most modern eCommerce solutions don't require you to have any in-depth technical web development experience. You will be able to implement a full-featured store without necessarily having to know much about PHP, HTML, MySQL, CSS, SSL, and so on.
You do need to ask yourself the following questions:
- Does the eCommerce or cart software need to integrate with an existing blog or website?
- Do you intend to sell digital or downloadable goods?
- Do you require comprehensive fulfillment capabilities - payments, returns, delivery, etc?
- How many products do you intend to sell?
- How much time, money and effort can you expend on developing the store?
- How highly do you value flexibility in the store configuration?
- Do you value advanced features like eCommerce support for mobile?
Once you know what you need from your online store, it's time to go ahead and explore the right solution for your business.
The best eCommerce cart applications sorted by features
Here's a list of the major eCommerce solution available today. The list is divided according to the level of sophistication of the cart/online store platform.
If, for example, you are selling a single product and don't need much more than a "buy this now" button, then look at the first list, if you are selling a range of products, with special requirements then look at the later solutions.
Basic eCommerce solutions (suitable for small or simple business requirements)
- PayPal: Free. Simple. Relatively high transaction expenses.
- Drupal + UberCart: Free. Requires hosting and manual setup - probably a bit of HTML, CSS or PHP experience too. Flexible, full featured and powerful.
- WordPress + eShop: Free. Requires some setup. Modest feature set.
- osCommerce: Free. Poorly coded. Not recommended - although many legacy eCommerce stores still use it.
Fully managed eCommerce solutions (suitable for businesses without in-house technical expertise)
- Pinnacle Cart hosted eCommerce solutions: Paid. From $60 and up. Full featured. Flexible. Powerful. Often comes with a free trial.
- Quick Shopping Cart® from GoDaddy.com: Paid. Limited products. No Web experience required. Suitable for smaller online stores.
- BigCommerce: Paid. Flexible. Full-featured. Integrates with 3rd party platforms like eBay, FaceBook. Suitable for entrepreneurs and niche businesses.
- Shopping Cart by Web.com: Paid. Social media integration. Geared towards marketing. One month free trial available.
- shopify: Paid. Flexible design. Great features including mobile. Extensible using apps.
Advanced eCommerce solutions (suitable for specialized requirements or larger businesses)
- Pinnacle Cart licensed eCommerce solution: Paid. Once off fee of around $800. Full featured. Additional support plans available.
- Pinnacle Cart enterprise VPS eCommerce solution: Paid. From around $250 per month. Complete eCommerce solution. Suitable for larger businesses.
- Magento: Free & Paid options. Well established. Flexible. Powerful.
How an eCommerce store operates
Before finishing, I wanted to list some of the major features of an online store so that you understand exactly what will be required of you, and what will be handled by third party eCommerce providers.
Depending on which eCommerce platform you choose, different features are handled in different ways, but in general:
- Product page design follows template layouts and styles. They are often customizable using drag and drop.
- Payments need to handled securely and require the use of a payment gateway service. This may be handled on your behalf by certain hosted eCommerce solutions, or require you to sign up with a payment gateway service - many people use PayPal.
- Stock control can be configured and customized according to your requirements. A good eCommerce solution will automate much of the day to day operational fulfillment.
- Tax handling can be configured for your state and country in most good eCommerce platforms.
In effect, most good eCommerce solutions will manage your operational requirements, such as stock taking, transactions, payments, and so on. However, growing the business is up to you. While marketing, SEO, social media, may be integrated into the eCommerce platform, it's still up to you to drive customer engagement and market.
Share this great article with people you like!
Get all the latest from WSM4B!
Follow WSM4B to keep tabs on the best business ideas, plus tips to build & market your business.
Get free help for your business on everything from building websites to marketing & SEO.