Choosing Your eCommerce Solution

I probably don't need to tell you that starting an online store is a great way to supplement your income, and – overtime – to hopefully generate a full time income while working from home.

People have always been drawn to the idea of working from home and being their own boss. The best thing about an online store is that the risk is minimal – unlike a brick and mortar store, your initial investment can be very low.

After two years of a shaky economy, more people than ever are looking into opening an online store. If you’re one of them, one of your very first decisions is which ecommerce solution to use.

Building your own ecommerce system

This option provides you with the most control of course, but it's not a viable choice for most small businesses because it's very expensive. While building a custom online store is the best way to make sure your store looks and functions exactly the way you want it to, going this route will require you to either have programming skills or to hire a programmer, and programmers are expensive.

Even the most basic custom store will cost you at least $10,000, and in most cases, it will cost you much more. For most small business owners, it makes much more sense to use an existing ecommerce solution.

Using open source e-commerce solutions

Open source ecommerce solutions such as osCommerce and Zen Cart are widely accessible, and supposedly free. But are they?c OsCommerce states on their site that their solutions "allow store owners to setup, run, and maintain online stores with minimum effort and with no costs, fees, or limitations," and Zen Cart say that other solutions – not theirs – are "complicated programming exercises" that are "nearly impossible to install and use without an IT degree."

But these open source solutions are not as simple as they seem to be. While the software itself is free, and while the hosting you would need to purchase is cheap, most business owners would have difficulty handling the installation and customizations by themselves and would need the help of a software developer.

Open Source eCommerce Platforms

1. Magento (free)
2. osCommerce (free)
3. Zen Cart (free)
4. X-Cart ($115)
5. CubeCart (free)
6. VirtueMart (free)
7. Ubercart (free)
8. PrestaShop (free)
9. LiteCommerce ($109)
10. Spree (free)
11. Avactis (free basic version, otherwise $19.95 per month or $199)
12. AgoraCart (free)
13. WordPress e-Commerce Plugin (free)
14. OXID eShop (free)
15. Digistore (free)

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