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Are you going to need to source ecommerce shopping cart software for your new online home business? If you are planning to sell 'stuff' online, it is a very real possibility that you are going to be looking for some software, an app or a hosted shopping cart solution for your website.
You have quite a few choices when it comes to building an online store, and those choices will depend on a number of different factors. Like, the platform you are using for you website and whether or not you want the store embedded into your site.
Are you going to have your own merchant facilities (or paypal) to process payments or do you want the payments processed off-site?
Your choice will also be determined in part by the type of goods (or services) are you planning on selling and the way in which you source your inventory.
Third-Party (Hosted)Store e-Commerce Shopping Cart Software Platforms
Sometimes it does not make much sense to have a fully integrated shopping cart on your own website and you might be better off investigating third-party store platforms.
With these platforms, your store is essentially a page or pages on their website. Usually they handle payment processing, offer the equivalent of passing trade (as visitors to their site search through all the listings to find what they want), and in some cases also manage order fulfillment for you. Some even give you the ability to create/design products that they produce and sent out if and when a customer makes a purchase from your listing.
As an example of this type of platform, I have an Etsy store in which I offer electronic downloads of machine embroidery designs and a variety of hand-crafted bits and pieces. The range of goods on offer is varied and they do not fit comfortably into one site concept keyword, so having a shopping cart embedded into a website would not make sense.
An Etsy store is relatively easy to set up, they handle all the cash exchanges and store all my electronic goods on their servers. The fees are also very reasonable compared to some other store providers. So it is perfect for my needs, but it might not suit everyone as this particular platform is focused on finished hand-crafts and craft supplies.
Other platforms you might like to consider include:
Simple Plugins for Your Website
If you have a static website (you write your own html) and your online sales are only a part of the monetisation for your online business, a simple plugin might be sufficient for your needs.
Basically this involves the storage of your (usually) electronic goods on the providers site, payment processing and sometimes fulfillment are managed by the provider and they give you a snippet of code that you add to your pages where-ever you want to link to the listing.
For example, I have an ebook on one of the sites that I manage that is hosted on eJunkie. The file is stored on the eJunkie site, when someone clicks on the link on my site they are taken to a payment processing page on the eJunkie site where they can purchase the ebook and pay using paypal.
I don't have to actually do anything. The visitor purchases the ebook and the money magically appears in my paypal account. It is easy, convenient and perfect for sales of a single downloadable item.
Simple Plugins for Your Wordpress Site
Plugins are great, aren't they? If you go to the WordPress site you can search for and find a plugin for more functions than you will ever need and one of the is WooCommerce.
This plugin enables you to incorporate a fully functioning shopping cart/store into your Wordpress blog. It is relatively easy to set up and manage and there is no additional cost for using the software/plugin. You will still have to pay transaction fees etc (which will vary depending on the payment processor you use), but you can create listings for your goods and services right there on your self-hosted blog.
Stand Alone Self Hosting eCommerce Shopping Cart Software Applications
If you have a hosting account you can generally install your choice of several eCommerce Shopping Cart Software applications and start building your online store.
For example on my hosting account I can choose to create an online store on my domain name using:
The only one that I have used is ZenCart. I choose this one as there was a "how-to" manual available for the software at the time and the support/forums seemed to be the most useful to me. I used the software for a number of years to operate a succesful online knitting supplies store. The store was hosted on my bluehost account on one of my domain names. I had complete control over the software and the content of my store.
Payment processing happened on my site using a paypal business account and API tokens. Customers could order the yarn that they wanted and pay for it using their paypal account or a credit card, I received a copy of the order via email, packed the goods and mailed them out. And it worked really well.
But it was a lot of work to update and maintain the thousands of listings I had in the store. The software did exactly what I needed it to do and as I say able, I had complete control over the store settings and the content. If you are planning on managing your e-commerce business yourself, this type of set-up can work well but you need to weigh the functionality against the amount of time and effort it is going to take to keep your content current.
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