You won’t go far wrong if follow this strategy to select an e-commerce software and developer or designer.
- Decide on the Features & Specification you want >
- Agree on the Budget you have >
- Determine the Launch Date >
- Check and Scrutinize example sites they have built and request testimonials from their users >
- Request a mock design >
- Select software/provider. But do not pay in full. I pay 25% max up front. Pay in segments as the site gets developed and delivered.
Whether you opt for an SaaS (Software as a Service) AKA PAYG (Pay As You Go) monthly rented software or a fully paid outright bespoke website the exact same thing applies, it’s important to check the flexibility of the software. Can you modify the software if required and how much restraint does your provider put on this. You may wish to add your own bespoke modules at some point and if you can do it, at what cost?
Ecommerce Software Options:
Option 1: Paid Outright Bespoke Ecommerce Site
Full up front investment whereby you buy and own the website and intellectual property so can sell in the future if this is your exit strategy. Typically costing £2K upwards or for the increasingly popular and eBay owned software Magento, you’re typically looking at £5K plus. You can pay less if you go to Elance, ODesk, Freelancer, etc where you’ll typically get it cheaper.
Magento Options: (now owned by eBay and the most popular ecommerce software online) http://www.magentocommerce.com/
Magento Option 1: Opensource just like WordPress (free) where you’d need to hire a Magento designer to set it you, add a bespoke theme and add all of the features you require and train you.
Magento Option 2: Paid via Magento where they host it and you pay them to design it and train you. With this option you get more features and more up to date with the best support as its through Magento. But it can be costly.
Random list of Magento Developers: (in no particular order)
Option 2: Hosted Ecommerce Site
The website is not yours, you pay a monthly fee and are essentially renting it, PAYG = Pay As You Go, just like a mobile phone) – May end up costing more long term. Because this is an SaaS (Software as a Service) arrangement you are effectively renting the software. You may find it harder to sell the website or business on.
Various Hosted Ecommerce Software: (in no particular order)
- Magento Go – http://go.magento.com/
- BigCommerce – http://www.bigcommerce.com/
- Shopify: http://www.shopify.com/
- Volusion – http://www.volusion.com
- Amazon Webstore – http://webstore.amazon.com/
The advantages to PAYG Hosted ecommerce software is the cheaper start-up costs, plus free site feature additions when the e-commerce software company adds them. Some of the hosted solutions have a huge feature list that is being added to weekly. But be aware, you don’t own the website, code and all intellectual property rights. Its sold a SaaS = Software As A Service. If you have the intention of selling one day, then pay monthly is not the best option as I believe it would devalue the website, unless a new owner wants to continue your arrangement and pay monthly.
Option 3: Marketplace Options
If you also wish to feed your product data out to Amazon Marketplace and/or eBay which I highly recommend then check that all of these offer that solution, be it from the companies themselves or via a 3rd party company as an add-on module. If you want to test the water further with e-commerce (and depending on the product) I’d highly recommend setting up an Amazon Marketplace account and possibly an eBay account and get some products listed. With Amazon you only pay when a sale is made (unlike eBay which has a monthly shop fee and a listing fee per item for sale) so it’s a good way to get started as you have a massive audience with credit card in hand. This may be a good option for you to start to test the water, then you could roll out a dedicated ecommerce store if the products sell and sync the 2 (e-commerce and Amazon and/or eBay) for optimum automation.
Amazon Webstore: If you also sell on Amazon via their Marketplace you could go for an Amazon Webstore that integrates the lot on and off Amazon. http://webstore.amazon.com/
If you are looking for a dedicated e-commerce site that you have full control over, Magento is where I would start for sure. It has the widest open-source development and support required. It’s massive right now and is a great feature-rich software.