After reading Pradeep’s article about Open source Shopping Carts, I decided to write article on the same topic but with further helpful information.
Most Open Source shopping cart suggested by Pradeep requires customization and need to be hosted on secure or reliable server. If you do not have technical expertise, you got to rely on technically proficient professionals, which I believe are pricey. Furthermore, Payment Gateway is an area of big concern when it comes to open source. You have to hire experts who can install payment gateway for you. Imagine your online store gets huge traffic, scaling/monitoring your hosting becomes another big issues. Above all, you got to buy expensive SSL certificates to secure your online store so that your customer shops from your online store with confidence.
Let me tell you, all of these comes at a cost and when you sum total the cost + the hassles that you have go through with open source, its much more than you can imagine. My take on this is Open source is definitely not a cup of tea for small businesses who often have little budget to start.
The good news, now you can get all the sophistication of professional e-commerce minus the hassles of open source with a new bread of so called ‘Hosted shopping carts’. Imagine, starting an online store in literally few minutes! All you need is signup online, select pre-designed theme, and select the payment gateway for your choice. Yes, you heard that right. You can now start your e-commerce store in just few minutes without worrying about Hosting, Payment Gateway, Design or any other Technical Part. You just have to upload products, select some preferences and you are done. Boom, you are on your way to start your business.
The best part is it doesn’t cost hell lot of money like so called open source shopping cart.
Here are few hand picked hosted shopping carts that I think worthy of trying.
Volusion is a decade old company who provides online hosted shopping cart solution. Volusion was one of the few companies who introduced one page checkout feature which is now most essential feature of E-Commerce Industry. Vousion is feature rich shopping cart and great for feature buff users. Getting around volusion can be tedious initially, but if you are a power internet user and know all the e-commerce jargon, you will have great time using Volusion.
Shopify is one of the know name in hosted shopping cart stores. Like others, shopify provide plenty of features like Customizable Design options, Admin to manage transactions and products. It also provides pre configure payment gateway like volusion. Shopify provides free and paid themes to get started. If you want to use additional features of shopify, they have a marketplace of software that you can purchase by paying additional cost. Moreover, they charge upto 2% transaction above the standard monthly subscription fees.
39shops is a next generation hosted e-commerce platform, it comes with 256 big SSL secure one page checkout and well known for its clean and easy to use interface. Like shopify, 39shops offer free designers themes to get started. Unlike Volusion it doesn’t charge for bandwidth or data transfer and it doesn’t even charge a percentage of sales like shopify. The best part is there is no charge to get started, it’s FREE! Search engine friendly clean URL, Unlimited CMS pages are other highlights of 39shops.
Hosted e-commerce is a great way to start online store, with virtually no risk, you can test run your online business without having to worry about technical stuff involved in open source shopping cart. Moreover, these ‘hosted shopping carts’ scales as your business grows. I firmly believe that gone are the days of open source shopping cart. The future of e-commerce is Hosted e-commerce software.