Shopping for Storefronts for Your Online Business - dummies

By Shannon Belew, Joel Elad

After you know which features you want and figure out what you want to pay, you’re ready to find a storefront solution for your online business. Here are some possibilities to look into:

  • Quick Shopping Cart: You might not know it from its name, but Quick Shopping Cart is a complete storefront solution from GoDaddy. What makes this choice popular is its price. The economy plan is only $9.99 per month, including hosting, but it supports only 20 products. The next level supports 100 products and costs $29.99. For $49.99, you receive unlimited product support and 50 GB of disk space.

    There are no setup fees, and you get ad credits (or dollars) to spend on Google AdWords, Facebook, and others. All plans include mobile-optimized storefronts. The Quick Shopping Cart is a good deal for the price, but it doesn’t have as many features as other solutions and the number of photos you can use per product is limited.

  • nsCommerceSpace: Offered by Network Solutions, this is another e-commerce solution with an appealing price range from a recognized hosted provider. The base-level plan starts at $7.95 per month for 20 products, and the mid-tier plan costs $9.95 per month for 300 products. Even the premium plan is only $19.95 per month for up to 100,000 products.

    That’s super inexpensive! Each level has setup fees. This solution includes mobile-ready templates, but some advanced features, such as bulk import and export and QuickBooks integration, are available only with the most expensive solution option.

  • Volusion: This storefront offers five pricing plans, ranging from $15 per month for as many as 100 products to $135 per month for unlimited products. All prices include hosting, unlimited storage, and no transaction fees. All plans also include mobile commerce and social media tools.

  • Shopify: Launched in 2006, Shopify already serves more than 90,000 e-commerce sites. Shopify has over 100 design templates and include three primary pricing plans ranging from $29 to $179 per month. Each plan supports an unlimited number of products and provides 24/7 live support and mobile commerce functionality. Another interesting feature is Shopify POS, an Apple iPad point-of-sale system for your retail location.

    The list of features is too long to include here, but rest assured that plenty of impressive functionality and lots of marketing tools are included. The exception to this rule is a starter plan that costs $14 per month and supports only 25 products.

  • BigCommerce: BigCommerce has become an industry leader, gaining kudos for being a simple, powerful solution with an impressive list of features for the money. Plans range from $34.95 to $199.95 per month and support an unlimited number of products and unlimited storage and bandwidth.

    The list of features that apply across plans is impressive, including social media tools, real-time shipping quotes, built-in blog and SEO, over 60 payment options, and coupon and discount functions. The advanced plans do not charge transaction fees, include cart abandonment features, and provide a higher level of support.

  • WordPress e-commerce plugin: If you use WordPress, the free blog software, for your site, you may also choose to use a plugin for your e-commerce solution, such as WooCommerce, WP e-Commerce, MarketPress, and Aptiva.

    The downside of using a WordPress plugin is that it may have fewer features and payment gateway options than the non-free solutions and may require more work on your part for setup or customization (with limited, if any, technical support available). The best way to explore your options for a plugin solution is to do a search for ecommerce in the WordPress Plugin Directory.