10 Ecommerce Solutions for Creating an Online Store
Whether 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 600,000 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.
- drop shipping integration
- and 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 with their 14 day trial and cancel at any time.
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 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.
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.
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.
5. Magento (magento.com)
Another eCommerce provider with lots of features is Magento. If you’re doing research on Magento, you’ll find mentions about it being an open source (free) software.
Once upon a time there was Magento (the software) and there was Magento Go – the hosted platform for creating your store just like the other providers mentioned above.
However, Adobe bought Magento for $1.68 billion and now you simply have Magento for Small Business.
Although there are many features, many of which are absent in other providers, there are quite a bit of reviews claiming that Magento isn’t as user-friendly.
If you want to try it out for yourself, you have to schedule a demo with a Magento sales rep to see what Magento can do for you.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.