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10 Ecommerce Solutions for Creating an Online Store

2011 November 4
by Jay

Shopping Cart imageWhether you’re looking for an alternative to eBay’s restrictions and fees or just looking for a place to sell your art online, setting up a storefront website is just one of the options you have.

As for which online store creator you should go with, there are lots of different sites that will allow you to create a store, list your items and provide an shopping cart just like the other big name brand sites you’re accustomed to when you shop online.

Of the many sites that allow you to ‘set up shop’, you’ll find that they all have different features as well as different user experiences. The bottom line is that they all pretty much do the same thing. Just be sure to do your due diligence before you get attached to any particular eCommerce provider.

Below, I’ve rounded up some of the well known sites for creating an online store so you can make a choice as to which is best for you.

10 Sites That Let You Create an Online Store

1. Shopify (www.shopify.com)

Possibly the best known store creator at the moment, Shopify boasts over 15,000 stores that have been created using their easy to use eCommerce platform. Brand name clientele include Angry Birds, Evernote, Foo Fighters, Beastie Boys and LMFAO.

Shopify offers a simple set up with an easy to use interface and your store is highly customizable from the admin area. With hundred of templates and a theme store, you shouldn’t have much of a problem getting your store to look attractive.

Just check out the features page on Shopify for lots of other cool features such as:

  • Stats so you can see where your customers are coming from
  • secure shopping cart with SSL encrytion
  • powerful web hosting
  • Google-friendly optimization
  • discount codes
  • Apps that add functionality and help you customize your site even more.
  • lots more

Shopify currently has 4 plans starting at $29/month with some limitations but if you want to start small then grow, you can always upgrade at any time. You can test drive their system for free the first month and cancel at any time.

Go here to try Shopify for free.

2. Salehoo Stores (www.salehoo.com/stores)

While Salehoo’s Stores is possibly the newest to the market, Salehoo has been around for a while now and they do know exactly what they’re doing.

The New Zealand based company has been around since 2005, offering training to online sellers and connecting them with legitimate wholesalers, distributors and dropshippers worldwide.

The recently launched Salehoo Stores is still quite new but simple to use and if you have any questions, you’re sure to get lots of answers from the forum or via email. You’ll also have access to the Salehoo directory.

On top of this, they also offer training on how to market your store and there are no setup or transaction fees to worry about.

Salehoo Stores come with 3 plans starting at $27/month.

See if Salehoo Stores is for you.

3. Big Cartel (www.bigcartel.com)

Big Cartel is another hugely popular store creator. It seems to be highly favored by store owners who just want a simple solution to sell their art, t-shirts and hand-made items but can be used for any type of store.

I really liked the simplified but artistic look and feel of Big Cartel’s set-up but there were two things I found issues with. First, non-fans of Paypal will be disappointed since they can only use Paypal as a payment gateway. The other issue was that the top plan limited you to 300 products. However, I understand that this won’t be a problem for most people and Big Cartel says that they only cater for smaller shops which to me is fair enough.

Other than that, you can do almost everything you want to do with Big Cartel including:

  • adding discount codes
  • automatically track inventory
  • use your own domain
  • customize your theme (or change it)
  • get quick support
  • and more

Big Cartel has a free option that is very restrictive. You can’t use your own url and you’re only allowed up to 5 products. Other than that, they’re pretty affordable, starting at $9.99 per month but remember, they’re catering for smaller shops so you’re going to have to check the terms of each plan for the limitations.

See what Big Cartel has to offer.

4. Highwire (www.highwire.com)

Highwire is another feature-packed hosted storefront solution. Formerly known as BuyItSellIt, they began as an alternative to eBay for merchants who wanted to sell their stuff online.

I was really wowed by the amount of features available from Highwire Commerce that I didn’t see in other solutions. For example, there are built in social marketing tools – you can open a store on Facebook, automatically tweet your products to Twitter and all sites are optimized for mobile.

There are four plans with flexible pricing and by that I mean, if you start with the $19.95/month plan, once you hit the sales volume cap for that plan, it is automatically adjusted to the next plan so you grow without any interruptions.

Highwire Commerce has a 30 day trial so you can test drive the system.

Start your Highwire free trial today.

5.  Magento (go.magento.com)

Another eCommerce provider with lots of features is Magento Go. If you’re doing research on Magento, you’ll find mentions about it being an open source (free) software. Well, there’s Magento (the software) and there’s Magento Go – the hosted platform you can use to create your store just like the other providers mentioned above.

Although there are many features, many of which are absent in other providers, there are quite a bit of reviews claiming that Magento Go isn’t as user-friendly.

If you want to try it out for yourself, Magento Go offers a free 30 day trial that doesn’t require a credit card. There are 4 plans available starting with the Get Going plan at $15/month and SKU limits depending on which plan you choose.

Go try Magento for 30 Days.

6. Yahoo! Stores (smallbusiness.yahoo.com)

One of the first eCommerce providers I came across when i was just getting started online was Yahoo! Merchant Solutions. Not a big surprise. Yahoo has been around a long time and is a big trusted brand so it’s not a surprise either that they would also have a lot of big name users.

If you’re just going to sell your handmade stuff online for example, then I’d suggest going with something like Shopify or Big Cartel. Yahoo! looks like something for larger stores. The monthly fee for each plan is also based on your sales volume as they do charge a transaction fee which is added in with the price for the monthly plan.

Plans start at $39.95 but there is a discount for the first 3 months.

See what Yahoo! Merchant services has to offer.

7.  Volusion (www.volusion.com)

Volusion is another store creator site that has been around for a while. They boast a user-base of over 30,000 stores and gets just as much mention as Shopify and Big Cartel. Volusion is also feature heavy and has lots of options for:

  • merchandising – product zoom, comparisons, unlimited product photos,  etc.
  • marketing – daily deals, seo-friendly, coupons and discounts, wishlists,  etc.
  • social & mobile marketing – facebook store, like, share & tweet products,  etc
  • management – inventory tracking, etc.
  • security – content delivery network, admin restrictions etc.
  • support – 24/7 support, knowledge base, personal coach on some plans etc.

Volusion comes with 5 plans starting at $19/month as well as enterprise level solutions for stores that require much more than the biggest plan offers.

Try Volusion’s Free 14 day Trial.

8. 3d Cart (www.3dcart.com)

3d Cart is another store creator that I was really impressed by. It is also very feature rich and has some features I think others should have.

My favorite feature was the ability to create a blog on your store. If you wanted to do this with other software you’d have to do it on a subdomain which would hardly give your store any SEO benefits from having a blog. Also you’d have to either try to recreate your store’s theme or blog with a theme that looks very different from your store. 3D cart lets you use your existing store’s theme.

3d Cart also allows you to create a Facebook store and has various other social elements integrated into your store like bookmarking, widget creation and sharing.

There are plenty of other great features you can try out with the 15 day free trial 3d Cart offers. If you decide you’re “gonna give it a shot”, there are 5 plans starting at $19.99/month with limitations, of course.

Try 3d Cart for 15 days free of charge.

9. Network Solutions (www.networksolutions.com/e-commerce)

I’d compare Network Solutions’ eCommerce platform to that of Yahoo’s. Network Solutions is known mostly for being a domain registrar and web hosting platform. They do offer nsCommerceSpace™ which is their store creator platform.

Many of the features are standard and they while most of the store creators here waiver the set up fee, Network Solutions does have a set up fee. They however do not have a transaction fee so you won’t have to pay anything additionally apart from your monthly fee.

Network Solutions has 3 plans starting at $29.95 and although there are no free trials available, you can hit the “How it Works” link for a “test drive” or see a live store demo and more.

Check Out Network Solutions eCommerce space.

10. Flying Cart (flyingcart.com)

Flying Cart provides and easy to use store creator. If you’re already accustomed to using community store sites like Etsy, you’ll probably feel at home with Flying Cart. On their site they explain why you should use a hosted store solution like theirs and it makes perfect sense.

From Flying Cart:

… as your hobby grows into a business you’ll find that you want to stand out. So instead of just being a small fish in a big pond, Flying Cart lets you have your own fish tank. Your own domain name, a snazzy logo and a sharp custom layout go a long way to make your website memorable and unique.

Flying Cart is great for small shops to larger stores so there’s something for everyone and their plans start at only $9.99/month. You can get started with a 30 day free trial if you just want to try it out.

Try out Flying Cart with a 30 day free trial.

There are many more store creators I could have listed but I think you can find a great one that meets your needs with these 10 popular ones. Since most of these sites have some type of free trial, don’t be afraid to try each of them to find one that fits you perfectly.

 

8 Responses Post a comment
  1. December 16, 2011

    Hi Jay,

    thought I’d stop by and say Hi & thanks for commenting (so generously) on my email overload post.

    Just when I thought I had enough on my to-do list, along comes you with your online stores 😉 – I’m giong to get back to this and have a look, not something I’d really considered if I’m honest with you.

    One thing you don’t mention above is the products – do all of the above stores work with a drop-shipping type of arrangement for example (I don’t much like the idea of carrying physical products myself),

    cheers,
    Alan

    • December 16, 2011

      Thanks Alan.

      Sorry I left out that info. I’m gonna do another post to address this.

      To answer your question some do and some don’t. 3d Cart handles this very well. Shopify, Volusion and Yahoo Stores have drop-shipping integration and some of the others can handle it but they use extensions that are rather pricey.

      You can always ask a sales rep how drop-shipping is integrated with their cart and decide if it’s good enough for what you need to do.

      Hope that helps. More details in an upcoming post.

  2. Mary permalink
    May 16, 2013

    HIGHWIRE SUCKS!!!

    Highwire just changed their prices. They DID NOT! email their customers, they posted a form on line for you to find. Instead of going with similar billing plans, they bumped you up to the next without any consent from you. When requested for a refund- I had to fight with their customer service for 5 days to get a $10 refund for the original cost of my plan. When asked for a full refund for the month of increase because I was very upset with the service-they told me no. It was $20 bucks.

    Highwire has the WORST customer service-they have no phone number so work is only via internet/email. Tomas Salas and Tim Sisung who are supposed to be the heads of whatever were absolutely not helpful. I’m amazed that over $20-they couldn’t just refund the money and call it a day. Now I feel obliged to let everyone know not to use HIGHWIRE.

    • May 16, 2013

      Hi Mary,

      I’m sorry you’re having trouble.

      I’m going to address a couple of things in your comment.

      From the way it looks, it seems that your sales have exceeded what they were previously. Highwire likely DID NOT change their prices but rather moved you up to the next billing plan after you capped the sales volume for the plan you started with.

      From Highwire:

      “Premium pricing is based on your gross monthly sales volume. Your account will automatically be upgraded or downgraded based on your previous 30 day sales history on your billing period.”

      Again, they did not raise their prices. The more you sell, the more you pay. That’s just how it was with Highwire all the time.

      This is a good pricing strategy because why should the little man who sells 10 items a month have to pay the same as the guy who sells 1000 items per month?

      So I could understand why they didn’t want to refund because by signing up you agreed that you understood their billing (even if you did not read that fineprint).

      I don’t know about the customer service that you’ve had to put up with but there is a phone number on the site that operates from 8:30am to 4:30pm PST. It’s right at the bottom of every page on the site.

      Again, nothing wrong with the pricing, just a little misunderstanding it looks like.

    • May 31, 2013

      Well it looks like the number is for sales only and not support. My bad.

  3. Benjamin Allen permalink
    May 30, 2013

    Below is a chat conversation with Highwire support after a bug in their platform deleted all of our live listings from ebay:

    Heather
    Hello Ryan Gardner. How may I help you?

    Ryan Gardner
    Ok

    so have you fixed the problem and how are we supposed to recover the listings that did not get auto relisted by my other features

    other platform i should say not features

    Heather
    Here is the reply the techs gave me. Hello,
    Here is what our techs have recommend. Delete all items, turn off the inventory synch rule, re-import, check the quantities, then turn the rules back on.

    If you have imported listings then deleted them and re imported again it could have caused the issue you are having.

    I updated the ticket request with the reply.

    The recommended following those steps.

    Ryan Gardner
    Yes I can see that

    but

    the system ended over a 1000 listings so if I reimport

    it will not pull in those listings that ended and did not get auto relisted

    Heather
    You can pull in all the listings active and closed. You can select all and it will bring them back in.

    Ryan Gardner
    WE changed that setting for “end items when item is out of stock

    Heather
    The most import thing to turn off is inventory synch rule.

    Then import them back in.

    Ryan Gardner
    WE never turned that feature on in the first place

    if we wait another 3 hours for an import and it happens again we are fucked

    Heather
    Did you import before and then delete items and then reimport them again?

    The techs think this is what caused the issue with the listing.

    Ryan Gardner
    yes

    but we are about to do the exact same thing according to your instructuions

    This is absurd

    why can I speak with a tech person

    Heather
    We do not have phone support we only have a sales number. Techs only reply in the ticket requests.

    Ryan Gardner
    That IS NOT TRUE TIM IS THE ONE THAT DEMO’D US

    Heather
    Tim is the platform manger. He is not a system tech.

    Gotomeetings are part of the sales number.

    Ryan Gardner
    Well that is who I want to speak with

    Tim

    You rated our customer service as bad.
    Your vote has been cancelled.
    You rated our customer service as bad.
    Your vote has been cancelled.
    You rated our customer service as bad.
    Your vote has been cancelled.
    You rated our customer service as bad.
    Your vote has been cancelled.
    Heather
    I will pass your ticket over to him and have him talk back to you in the request. I am not sure if he can set up a phone call today but if he can he will let you know in the ticket.

    Ryan Gardner
    Okay

    Thank you Heather, Please have a great day

    Heather
    You too thank you 🙂

    Ryan Gardner
    one moment heather

    Heather
    Did you import before and then delete items and then reimport them again?

    The techs think this is what caused the issue with the listing.

    3:29 pm
    Ryan Gardner
    yes

    but we are about to do the exact same thing according to your instructuions

    I’m confused, if this is what caused the issue, why are you telling me to do it again?

    Heather
    For example if you imported items then listed them from highwire to ebay then removed them. Then imported them back from ebay.

    Ryan Gardner
    But just now I imported, then listed from highwire to ebay, then am going to remove them, then will import back from ebay

    thats the exact same thing that I am going to need to do and thats the exact same thing that caused this issue, no?

    Heather
    In our last chat you stated. It is ending the listings because your importer did not pull in the quantity and it things everything is out of stock

    I just shut that feature off

    3:38 pm What feature did you turn off?

    Ryan Gardner
    I shut off the feature that is supposed to end listings if their quantity is zero, I did this half way through this issue

    Heather
    Yes, when you reimport this time you will need to have that option turned off. Then check the inventory and turn it back on.

    That is what is going to be different when you re import.

    Ryan Gardner
    You do realize that the issue here is I’m trying to integrate all of my 3k listings to your platform and have been unable to do this for the past 3 weeks because each time it happens we come across a new bug in your system

    and this half assed support doesnt even care enough about our business to get on a 5 minute phone call to fix the problem?

    Heather
    I am sorry that we do not have phone support. I have passed the request on to Tim. For you.

    Ryan Gardner
    so telephones do not exist in Seattle?

    or wherever you are

    Heather
    Our company is Located in Gilbert Az. We do not provide phone support. Our service has never offered the feature. We have live chat and the ticket system.

    Ryan Gardner
    Is Highwire affiliated with inkfrog?

    Heather
    Yes. Owned by the same company.

    Ryan Gardner
    And you work for Highwire, right?

    Heather
    We all work for both systems.

    Ryan Gardner
    Okay, And who owns the two companies

    Heather
    There are more then one owner. Greg is the main owner of the companies.

    Greg Sisung

    Ryan Gardner
    Ahh I see

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