5 Hosted Ecommerce Storefronts for eBay Sellers and SMBs
Small business owners looking to start online sales face a big challenge: how do you get your products or services online, offer a shopping cart and manage inventory without hiring IT professionals or spending a small fortune to get started?
This is also a challenge for entrepreneurs, home-based business owners and eBay sellers who are interested in managing their own ecommerce website. For these reasons many will look to start their first ecommerce venture using a hosted storefront solution.
Reasons to Choose a Hosted Ecommerce Storefront
In choosing a hosted storefront service a small business owner can test the waters and spend less money to obtain ecommerce website functionality and IT support. With a hosted storefront, there is no need to spend money on hardware (the server) or the software to manage the ecommerce site. You also benefit from having little IT costs as hosted storefront providers will also offer technical support.
Another issue that small business owners face in managing their own ecommerce website is security and compliance issues. To run a professional ecommerce website you must comply with industry ecommerce standards and regulations in order to accept, store and process customer credit cards online.
The right hosted storefront provider will take care of all of these key functions and provide Web space, assist with domain name registration and SSL certificate registration tasks (if you dont already have this). It will also handle the task of securely backing up your website and data.
Choosing a Hosted Storefront Vendor: Make a Checklist
When choosing a hosted storefront vendor, it's important to do your research and to have a good idea of what features and functionality you will need for your online business. For example, do you need inventory management, shipping tools, contact management or email marketing services?
Make a check-list of your specific requirements, and then find a vendor who meets those requirements within the price range you can afford just starting out. Remember that your ecommerce business may be small now, but make sure that the vendor you choose can also meet your future ecommerce business needs.
Hosted Storefront Vendor List
The following vendors offer complete ecommerce hosting packages. To find the right online storefront vendor for your business, be sure to look for the key features you think are important, look at per-transaction fees that may be charged in addition to the monthly subscription fee before signing on with the service. Also, most storefront providers will offer a free trial so you can try the service before buying into it. Here are five reputable online storefronts to start your research:
1. BigCommerce is a storefront solution that lets you create your own storefront, plus you can sell on Facebook and eBay. Some extra features includes multi-channel retailing, mobile commerce, SEO and easy upselling (see all features). Accounts start at $24.95 per month for listing 100 products and can be upgraded, depending on how many products your store has and how much bandwidth you need (see pricing). Learn more about Big Commerce in this Small Business Computing review.
2. Miva Merchant offers full ecommerce hosting and provides everything you need to start an online store in one package (see feature list). Small business accounts start at $49.95 per month with unlimited products. Accounts can be upgraded as your business grows (see pricing).
3. ProStores lets merchants quickly and easily choose a store design, add products, set up payments and shipping so that they can be open for business right away. ProStores also offers ecommerce packages tailored to eBay sellers. Online stores start at $29.95 per month plus a 0.5 percent transaction fee. Plans can be upgraded for larger businesses (see pricing). You can learn more about ProStores features in this Ecommerce-Guide review.
4. Shopify provides everything you need to get your online store up and running. You can accept credit card payments, use your own domain and customize your store design. The hosted service also features built-in analytics that help you track your store's progress over time, or you can integrate third-party services such as Google Analytics (see all features). Pricing starts at $29 plus a 2.0 percent transaction fee for a basic storefront with up to 100 products. Plans can be upgraded based on your business needs (see pricing).
5. Volusion is an all-in-one ecommerce solution that lets you design and manage your online storefront, plus it provides tools for marketing, merchandising, CRM and more (see features). Small business pricing starts at $29 per month for up to 100 products. Plans can be upgraded with additional features to suit larger businesses (see pricing).
More Hosted Storefront Reviews and Tips
From beginner guides to expert tips, our selection of hosted storefront articles can help you to better manage your ecommerce business.
- Shopping Cart Software Tips and Reviews
- ProStores 10 Offers New Design, Promotional Tools
- How to Pick the Right Web Host Provider
- E-Commerce Tools: Five Ways to Sell Digital Goods Online
Vangie Beal is a veteran online seller and frequent contributor to ECommerce-Guide.com. She is also managing editor of Webopedia.com. You can tweet with her online @AuroraGG
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