If you are looking to set up an online storefront, there are plenty of great shopping carts and services to help you get started.
However, free solutions often come with their own set of headaches and problems. Since they are usually offered as downloadable products that you need to set up and install, you are responsible for the setup, configuration, maintenance and security of your shopping cart.
This can be tedious, time-consuming and costly. For many, especially those who are just starting out with small store fronts, it may actually be cheaper to go with a paid, hosted solution that takes care of these problems for you.
With that in mine here are five, such solutions that will help you save money and attract new customers.
Aimed at those wanting an extremely robust ecommerce solution, Bigcommerce has a slew of features ranging from the fairly standard ones such as customization and multiple payment processor support, to more unusual ones such as mobile versions of the store and automated email marketing.Perhaps most compelling, Bigcommerce integrates directly with eBay, letting you manage your eBay storefront and your main shop from the same backend, eliminating confusion.
Though extremely feature-complete, the price of Bigcommerce is certainly toward the top of the pile. It’s basic “Bronze” account only offers 100 items 2 GB of bandwidth and 250 MB of storage for $25 per month plus a $50 setup fee. A more robust account, with 1,000 products, 5 GB of bandwidth and 1 GB of storage costs $80 per month.
Shopify focus more on simplicity and speed than anything else, creating a shopping cart system that is amazingly easy to use and fast to set up. Shopify also features unlimited bandwidth with its content delivery network, ensuring fast loading of pages and no worries about bandwidth overages. Shopify also has an app store, which enables users to extend the functionality of their stores through third-party applications, built using Shopify’s API. However, as with Bigcommerce, Shopify’s price may be a bit much for some. It’s basic $29 account offers only 100 items 100 MB of storage. However, it’s $99 plan has 10,000 items, 1 GB of bandwidth and also adds in discount codes, real-time stats and carrier shipping.
Most concerning, however, is that Shopify charges a transaction fee on top of what your payment processor likely charges. That fee can be between 2% and 0% depending on the size of the account you have.
Highwire offers a feature-complete ecommerce solution that places a heavy emphasis on marketing including Facebook, Twitter and email newsletter integration. Highwire also offers a clean, easy-to-use interface and a low-learning curve environment.
However Highwire’s best feature is, most likely, it’s price. Offering the cheapest accounts on this list, Highwire’s plans start at just $7 per month for 25 items and 100 MB of storage. However, its “Professional” plan costs just $25 per month and offers 500 products and 5 GB of storage.
Ideal for those who want a feature-complete, but inexpensive shopping card solution.
UK-based Volusion has dedicated much of its resources to creating the best buyer experience possible. With a product comparison tool, social media integration, gift registries and more, Volusion makes it easier for your customers to find out about what they are purchasing and make them more likely to buy.
With price points similar to Spotify, it costs $29 for a basic account with 100 items and 2 GB of bandwidth (no limits on storage) However, the $99 plan offers 5,000 products, 15 GB of bandwidth and also has a social store builder for integrating your storefront with Facebook.
Corecommerce provides a complete, if still somewhat standard, list of features that includes coupons, gift certificates and real-time shipping. There are also less-common features such as eBay integration and real-time chat software included in some plans. Corecommerce also focuses strongly on its hosting, ensuring that every store is on a robust server in a secure environmment.
The pricing of Corecommerce may, for many, be significantly cheaper than other plans, especially at lower levels. It’s “Beginner” plan starts at $20 per month though it only offers 100 products, 100 MB of storage and 1GB of bandwidth. However, it’s “Pro” account is $130 per month and offers 5,000 products, 1 GB of storage and unlimited bandwidth.
Most like a great for solution for those with smaller storefronts that want or need eBay integration.
All in all, determining which of these solutions is the “best” is going to come down to the specific needs of the person buying the service. Considering that all five share the same core features, it is more a matter of determining what your needs are and which of the above services will meet it for the best price.
In short, any of these services will save you time and money, they key is finding which one is best for you and that, in turn, is a deeply personal decision.