Get a Free Web shop for the Holidays

Transition to a hosted Web store to cash in on holiday sales without spending a fortune.

Online sellers and small merchants know the value of simple and free. With the holidays just around the corner it’s not too late to move some excess merchandise to shops if you’re using only eBay and other online marketplaces to sell.

Online Web shops are easy to set up, and many offer a free trial and integration with the auction and fixed-price listings you’re already serving online.  You might have missed Free Shipping Day, but you still have a couple weeks to cash-in on holiday sales and entice the fifty-two percent of consumers who plan to spend $500 or more on gifts this season to purchase your products.

Here are three options that will provide you with a complete ecommerce hosting package and a professional-looking Web shop in minutes. For the many entrepreneurs, home-based businesses and eBay sellers out there, these Web shops are easy-to-use, all-in-one packages.

Volusion: Hosted Stores with Social Tools and Mobile-Optimized Sites

Volusion is a name that is well-known in ecommerce circles. The company boasts that more than 30,000 stores use its platform, which offers everything you could possibly need to get a store up and running online -- except the product, of course.

One of the biggest benefits to entrepreneurs and home-based business owners is that when you use Volusion -- and most hosted storefront solutions -- you don't need to have a background in IT. There is no HTML or code involved (unless you want that option), and you can quickly and easily design and launch an online store.

With Volusion you get everything you need in one package including hosting, tools to design and manage your store and the shopping cart software. As an added bonus, mobile-optimized versions of your store, social tools and even a social store to list products on Facebook are free features, regardless of the subscription plan you choose.

If you plan to launch your own Web store in time for the holidays, Volusion is absolutely free to try for fourteen days. After the free trial, you can choose one of five subscription plans starting at $19 per month. Volusion doesn’t charge per-transaction fees on top of your subscription fee.

ProStores: Top-Notch EBay Integration

ProStores has become a popular choice for eBay sellers. If you’re not online selling already, you can launch a new store using ProStores, but it also offers top-notch integration for eBay sellers – which is not surprising, since ProStores is an eBay Company.

ProStores provides a complete ecommerce solution. You can opt-in for hosting, storefront, shopping cart software (that integrates with services including PayPal and Authorize.net), plenty of tools to help you manage your online store and lots of features to promote it.

ProStores offers 30 days of service for free and a number of subscription plans, starting at $29.95 per month. In addition to the subscription fee, ProStores charges merchants a 0.5 percent transaction fee.

Miva Merchant: Lots of Merchant Tools and Third-Party Integration

Miva Merchant is also a strong solution for online merchants. The ecommerce platform provides quick and easy access to the design and hosting of your new ecommerce store, right through to providing the tools you'll need to manage your business including customer accounts, order management and Internet marketing.

One thing to note about Miva Merchant is that the platform scales from small business to enterprise, so the tools and options are there as you grow your online business. Another area where Miva Merchant does well is in third-party integrations. Typically you can expect eBay, PayPal and similar integrations in a hosted storefront service, but Miva Merchant works with many of the big names in ecommerce, including Google, Amazon, Intuit and Chase.

I know we said "free shops" in time for the holidays, but we couldn’t pass on Miva Merchant for a buck -- and that’s what the first month of service will cost you. After that you can choose one of four subscription plans starting at $49.99 per month.

More Hosted Storefront Reviews and TipsFrom beginner guides to expert tips, our selection of hosted storefront tips and articles can help you to better manage your ecommerce business.

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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