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So, You Want to Setup an Online Store?

You’ve probably thought of it before. You’ve got a cool idea to sell something online, maybe it’s artwork, t-shirts, crafts or items you bought at wholesale. Before you sink a lot of money into it, test it out with the following hosted eCommerce store engines first.

So, where do you start?
There are a quite a few options available, if you’ve done any research into this you’ll find that hosting providers often offer osCommerce, Miva or some other tool. They take varying levels of technical knowledge to get going and are generally ugly as sin until you put some work into the design.

I’d like to point you to a couple options and outline what I like about them and why I think they’re better for aspiring eMerchants to cut their teeth on. They lower the barrier to entry so that almost anyone can get an online store setup in just minutes and look professional out of the box.

Shopify (example store)
Shopify LogoPerfect for boutique sellers, Shopify provides plenty of tools for you to get started quickly and realize success. One of their most interesting benefits is their customization tool that allows you to take any of their already incredible themes and make it yours. They offer a wide variety of payment options, but are not the cheapest with their 3% commission on sold items rate. The good thing is, if you don’t sell anything, it won’t cost you a dime.

Big Cartel (example store)
Big Cartel LogoGet started for free and never worry about losing any money to Big Cartel on commissions. Their pricing structure is the most “growth friendly” – though they have a limit of 100 items. They’re no slouches on the design side either, Big Cartel starts with some excellent looks that are fully CSS customizable. Get immediate marketing traction with their Stores Directory, where others can search and find you.

RightCart (example store – sidebar)
RightCart LogoRightCart is the wild card in the mix. They offer an eCommerce/Store widget that you can place on your website or blog. This is particularly intriguing and useful for individuals whose blog is their main point of contact to the world. The widget fits in your sidebar, which you can customize to fit your look and feel. You can upload your own items to sell and make them “public” or “private” to allow other RightCart users to sell them.

Others to keep your eye on:
E-Junkie – Perfect for those who only sell digital products.
Wosbee – Just released in Jan 2007, this looks like it will be a top-notch product.
Flying Cart (Still in Beta and was unable to test it, but it looks promising)
MeCommerce – Similar to RightCart

9 Comments

  1. Thank you! I am going to check these out. Great resources and sites to have on hand.

  2. Great post. No prizes for guessing what I’ve dreaming of selling 🙂

  3. I’m surprise you didn’t mention Yahoo’s small business website builder. What’s your opinion on it?

  4. Ke, I’m familiar with the Yahoo offering, but I was trying to highlight services that are free to get started on and Yahoo charges $29.95/month.

    It’s probably a decent platform for established businesses to work on, but definitely not something I would recommend to someone who wants to test the eCommerce waters.

  5. An update from Robin at e-Junkie (via email):

    I’d like to point out that E-junkie is a complete shopping cart system now and not just a digital delivery system.

    I will urge you to check http://www.e-junkie.com/fatfreecart which is an installation free cart which works “inside” a merchant’s website.

    Regards,
    Robin

    It appears that there have been some new features added at e-Junkie since I was last reviewing their service. If their fatfreecart is as good as their digital services, I’m sure it’ll be worth testing.

  6. Thank you for adding our Wosbee to your nice (really good looking) site/blog.

    I just add that wosbee is based on our long-developer (7 years) e-commerce platform, so even it is new release the software is througly tested.

    – Tapio / Wosbee

  7. cafepress might be a different kind of option…

  8. Wosbee was just updated. Its getting more mature!

    See http://wosbee.com/node/620

  9. I think setting up the shop is the easy part. Getting traffic to your site, and having the site setup so that it is user friendly and converts visitors into sales is the hard part. Just like any business this is based on good customer service and marketing.

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