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Whether you operate a brick-and-mortar store and you want access to the entire world’s shoppers, or you’re looking at starting a new e-commerce site, you need the best shopping cart software to deliver a world-class shopping experience to your customers.
For many small business owners, building an online store and shopping cart can seem like a daunting task. Do you need experience with coding? Do you need to hire new staff to manage your online platform? How much will all of this cost? Those are just a few initial questions that can come up.
Luckily, starting an e-commerce online business is not as challenging as it may seem. With many of the best e-commerce shopping cart software platforms, even someone with minimal website design experience can set up and launch their online shopping cart in just a few minutes.
Why does your business need shopping cart software?
E-commerce shopping cart platforms are designed with small and medium businesses in mind. Many of these solutions try to be as plug and play as possible to save you time, effort, and money when setting up your online store.
Save on costs
Managing an online store without the help of a shopping cart platform would require a lot of time and investment from your business.
In many cases, this cost would be too much for a small business to take on. You would need staff to manage product inventories, process payments, handle every aspect of shipping, organize the store inventory, and design an online shopping website. The salaries for these employees can add up fast. Even if you had the skills to do all of this yourself, there is only so much time in the day. You would likely still have to hire other staff to manage other aspects of your business.
Gain access to new retail channels
Simply having a brick and mortar store isn’t enough. A website with an online store is just one piece of the puzzle. Consider an e-commerce shopping platform for your business that gives you access to more than just one online retail location.
With many shopping cart platforms, you can also be present on major shopping sites like Amazon and Facebook. With more channels to reach customers, you can secure more sales and watch your business grow faster than if you had simply opted for a website shopping experience only.
Some platforms allow you to add buy buttons to your Facebook page, list items on Amazon and set up an integrated eBay store. While you could do all of this individually yourself, it’s much more convenient to have a single hub where you can manage all of these channels at once.
Most of the top platforms provide a payment gateway for customers. This brings everything you need, from inventory management to payment solutions, into one convenient package. Once you have set up the shopping cart there is no need to mess around with money, credit cards, and invoice generation. All of this is automated for you.
The alternative to this would be to partner with a payment platform that can integrate into your online store. While that’s not a bad solution, it does add another moving part to the machine, so to speak. It also means you’ll be paying for online store management as well as a payment solution. For most businesses, especially those with limited budgets and man-hours, having everything in one place is a much more preferable solution.
This is especially important if your business has multiple locations or retail channels. If you have a physical retail store then you likely use some sort of point of sale solution to help you manage inventory and take payments.
When you move into the online space and use an online shopping cart platform you can manage inventory for all of your channels, including physical retail sales, with one solution. This can be a huge cost savings as you no longer need physical POS services in addition to your online shopping cart platform.
With a one-time fee, you can manage inventory no matter where you’re selling. Best of all, inventory numbers are instantly updated so if you sell a product in your store then someone shopping online won’t also be able to buy the same item if you’ve run out.
Many platforms take the small, time-consuming tasks out of your hands so that you can focus entirely on growing your business. Things like invoice generation, shipping label creation, and even email marketing lists can all be managed by the platform. All you have to do is make sure traffic is being driven to the store and let the platform do the leg work.
The best shopping cart software platforms
- Very easy to use
- Free tier with no upfront costs or monthly subscription costs
- Competitive payment processing from 2.9% + $0.30
- Advanced tier offers reduced rates of 2.6%
- Accept payments via credit card, PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and more
- Solid eCommerce checkout and shopping cart features
- Solid marketing features, including social media marketing
- Inventory management features – with synced brick-and-mortar inventory
- Pickup and delivery options
- Good for just about any type of business
- Mediocre customer support
- Less full-featured compared to some eCommerce solutions
Square Online is a division of Square, one of the most popular payment processing firms out there. Square Online offers simple tools to create websites, online stores, and full-blown eCommerce operations. It’s a bit of a one-size-fits-all web solution, as it offers tools for eCommerce entrepreneurs, restaurant owners, and service-based business owners alike.
Uniquely, Square Online offers a free tier that is fairly useful. It allows new companies to start a basic website or web store without any upfront costs or monthly fees. The only cost is payment processing, at 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction (which is fairly standard). For more advanced features, expect to pay between $12 and $72 per month, depending on the tier you choose. This cost includes web hosting, as Square also acts as your host.
Square does offer good eCommerce features, but it’s not quite as advanced as some dedicated eCommerce platforms. That said, it’s an incredibly versatile choice, which can be well suited to the needs of many different types of businesses.
See the full review of Square Online here.
When it comes to website building, Squarespace is about as close as it gets to a household name. Their e-commerce platform is incredibly easy to use and you can have a custom website up and running with your own product listings after putting in just a few hours of work.
Their wide range of available templates and third-party addons make Squarespace a great place for beginners to start designing their own website and adding product photos. The fully hosted solution means that everything you need is included in one package.
However, Squarespace is a website design platform above all else and it lacks some of the more advanced e-commerce features that you may be looking for. For example, there is no native POS integration available which means you will still need a separate POS platform for physical sales. This can add a layer of difficulty when it comes to managing your inventory.
In addition, they don’t offer quite the same range of social media integration which makes launching stores on other popular websites like Etsy a challenge. If you want ease of use with a competitive price, Squarespace is a great option. However, if you want more advanced e-commerce features, you may need to look elsewhere.
- You can manage multiple storefronts from one login/admin panel
- Offers a 14-day free trial
- Competitive pricing (from $25/month)
- Sell retail and wholesale on one platform
- Integrates seamlessly with 100+ software and apps
- Integration with 40+ payment processing services
- Intuitive interface
- Advanced e-commerce features
- Customer support has limited operating hours
- Limited selection of prebuilt themes and templates
- Limited resources and features for international sales
AmeriCommerce is a full-scale e-commerce solution, in the form of a slick software package. It features all the necessary tools to help entrepreneurs sell products online. While not as popular as alternatives like Shopify, Americommerce has over a decade of experience, and many top-tier clients.
Business owners can use Americommerce to build, operate, and analyze e-commerce operations. From setting up the first store to managing your 100th launch, AmeriCommerce can be helpful at every stage of the e-commerce journey. One of its biggest selling points is that it allows users to manage multiple storefronts from one admin panel, which can be a huge time-saver for some businesses.
There are a variety of prebuilt templates available, which make it simple to launch a new project. AmeriCommerce has many powerful features and tools built-in to the system, so it doesn’t rely too heavily on third-party apps.
Plans start from $25 per month and scale up to $300 per month (depending on the size of your operation). AmeriCommerce also has payment processing available, at a cost of 2.9% of the transaction, plus $0.30 per transaction. Alternatively, the system integrates with 40+ payment processing platforms, including PayPal, Stripe, and others. So, you don’t have to use AmeriCommerce’s in-house payment processing, but the option is there.
Overall, AmeriCommerce is a powerful and versatile e-commerce platform for any online entrepreneur. It may not have all the bells and whistles of some flashy new competitors, but it offers a quality product at a fair price.
See the full review of Americommerce here.
- No monthly fee plan covers all features (just pay transaction fee)
- An easy way to sell digital products
- Recurring membership features
- EU VAT handled automatically for EU customers
- Only for digital products
- Transaction fees do not include payment processing fees
Payhip is a shopping cart software specifically designed for businesses that sell digital products and memberships. It’s a perfect option for digital artists, authors, designers, software developers, and online membership community owners.
Payhip helps power the business models of more than 130,000 entrepreneurs around the globe. They focus on membership-based businesses that have recurring revenue streams. Payhip makes it easy to allow customers and fans to subscribe to a membership model, and the software handles all the ongoing billing, membership cancellations, etc.
Of course, you can also use the platform to sell any sort of digital product, from eBooks to albums. Payhip helps you upload and store the digital content, and makes it easy for customers to download their goods once they have completed the purchase. It can also be used to give products away for free, to build a subscriber base or attract new customers to paid goods.
To be clear: Payhip is only for digital products. It does not support true e-commerce and has no features for shipping or the selling of physical products. It’s also not optimized for services, as the primary delivery method is digital downloads.
Payhip has a budget-friendly pricing model, as well. Its free plan costs $0 per month, and simply charges a 5% transaction fee (plus applicable Stripe/PayPal fees). The free plan comes with all features and does not limit the number of items you can sell. If you sell a lot on the platform, you can upgrade to a paid plan to get a lower transaction fee.
GoDaddy is one of the top names in domain name registration but their website builder and e-commerce platform have been growing in popularity in recent years. This all-in-one solution gives businesses a complete e-commerce solution that includes everything from hosting to domain registration to payment processing and more.
GoDaddy’s website builder is a middle-of-the-road offering that doesn’t quite match up with some top website building companies. However, with that said, it is a powerful platform that gives you plenty of customizable themes to choose from. However, some of the additional features that put other platforms near the top are lacking with GoDaddy.
For example, GoDaddy doesn’t offer POS integration which means it won’t be able to step in and work seamlessly with your physical retail locations. If you are operating online-only then this may not be a major concern. Their locked-down API is also a challenge and means there are limited plugins available for the platform and no ability to create your own developer tools to integrate into your website.
The ease of use, however, is what makes GoDaddy a great solution for inexperienced developers. The website builder is simple to understand, the ability to create a Facebook page with a few clicks is unique, and there is quality customer support to back it all up.
- Free to use, with options to use paid extensions
- Built for – and by – WordPress
- Relatively easy to use
- Tons of customization options
- Integrates with most payment processing options
- Also offers its own payment processing with competitive fees ($0.30 + 2.9% of each transaction)
- Open-source software means that there is a thriving community of developers
- Functionality of the basic shopping cart is limited (paid extensions expand functionality)
- Costs can add up if you start adding many add-ons
WooCommerce is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms on the market. It’s built specifically for WordPress websites – in fact, it’s owned by the same company that owns WordPress itself. It’s simply a plugin for WordPress, which you can install with the click of a button.
Like WordPress, WooCommerce is open-source. This means that anyone can download it, use it, and even make changes to it as they see fit. This means that there is a wide variety of third-party extensions and plugins available, further expanding the functionality of WooCommerce.
The biggest unique feature of WooCommerce is its pricing structure: At its core, WooCommerce is free. You can use the plugin without paying a dime and use the free WooCommerce WordPress theme (or other free themes) to build your store. You’ll pay a per-transaction fee for payment processing, but this is true of any eCommerce solution.
The basics of WooCommerce are relatively simple, and functionality just covers the basics that you’ll need. To expand its functionality, many store owners will wish to purchase paid add-ons or themes. But the beauty of WooCommerce is that you truly can use it for free, and make small upgrades as needed.
See the full review of WooCommerce here.
PayPal is a top choice for many when it comes to online shopping cart services. The name alone carries with it some importance and many people already know and respect the PayPal name which makes it ideal when trying to build trust with customers. People who have personal PayPal accounts can use the PayPal checkout option to spend their PayPal balance, pay using their linked bank account, or use a credit card. This wide range of payment options makes PayPal a top choice for many when choosing an online shopping cart experience. Best of all, the simplicity of setting up a PayPal checkout portal is easy.
One thing many people don’t know about PayPal checkout is that it can integrate into many POS systems which makes it an ideal choice if you have both online and physical retail channels. However, their fees are higher than some of the competition and, if you find you are doing significant sales of more than $20,000 per month, you may discover that PayPal is not the best option when it comes to fees. Other PayPal features like their loans with installment payments, make it easy for customers to make a buying decision and give you their business. As far as ease of use goes, enabling PayPal checkout is one of the most user-friendly shopping cart setup experiences there is.
Shopify is one of the most well-known names in e-commerce and for good reason. This company has helped pioneer the online shopping experience for small and medium-sized businesses that want a simple, all-in-one solution. Their platform gives you exceptional inventory management for both your online platform as well as your physical retail locations. In addition, they also manage your payments both online and in-person. With their POS terminals and mobile card readers, you can do business anywhere.
The Shopify app store adds a ton of additional features and functionality from third-party developers and there are always new apps being added. In terms of features and flexibility, Shopify is definitely in consideration as the best online shopping cart software. Their pricing is competitive but definitely not industry-leading. However, with the number of features you get and the level of support they offer, Shopify is well worth the cost of admission.
Big Cartel isn’t as well-known amongst the likes of Shopify but it is quickly building a reputation as an easy to use platform that provides competitive features with some of the bigger names in the industry. Their free plan is limited to 5 products but includes a number of features that you would typically have to pay with if you chose another online shopping cart provider. For example, Big Cartel’s free plan can integrate with physical POS systems to integrate all of your shopping channels. The hosted platform means that everything you need is available right through the service and there is no need to piece together other things like web hosting or domain registration from other providers at additional cost.
If you step up to the paid plans then you will have access to more advanced features like the ability to create discount codes for your customers, manage inventory across all channels, track and print shipping labels through the dashboard, and make use of their advanced SEO features to help your site rank on popular search engines. For ease of use and customer support, it’s hard to find another platform that’s competitive with Big Cartel’s low pricing and impressively featured free plan.
Selz is one of the lesser-known names on this list but, with their very competitive pricing, Selz should be near the top of your list when it comes to online shopping cart providers. The free plan is very limited but a great way to start selling a few products online. However, most businesses will find that they need at least the Lite plan for what they plan to accomplish. This plan adds professional themes for building a website, a Facebook store, customer support, and more. Apps and integrations are also available with Selz to help add additional functionality to the platform.
Perhaps the most attractive feature of Selz is the transaction pricing. On the Lite plan, the transaction fees start at 2%. On the highest tier plan, Selz users won’t pay any transaction fees which is especially nice for high volume businesses that don’t want to lose a lot of their revenue to paying transaction fees. Selz also works for users around the world with worldwide shipping estimates and rates. This truly opens up the online world to your business regardless of where your customers may be located. Plus, if you would like to enable other features like PayPal payments or another third-party merchant service, you can do that with Selz. Flexibility is an important feature of Selz and something that many users should appreciate.
PrestaShop is an open-source shopping cart platform that can be downloaded for free and installed on an existing website or you can also use their hosted solution for your online store. The huge number of features and customizations makes PrestaShop a great option for someone who wants to get their hands a little dirty and make a truly unique online shopping experience for their customers. For example, PrestaShop offers unlimited product listings, gift packaging, international selling, and marketing tools like abandoned cart notifications that are typically only available on the most expensive e-commerce platforms on the market.
The web templates that come with PrestaShop are stunning but they aren’t free. At a minimum, you can expect to pay $50 for their customizable themes. Some themes can cost hundreds of dollars. While PrestaShop may be free to download, you should expect to pay for many of its features and integrations to get your e-commerce store to the level you expect it to be. This is probably not the best solution for someone with no design knowledge but it still strives to be a very user-friendly experience while still offering a number of advanced features.
Magento is an open-source e-commerce software that is among the most popular solutions available to businesses today. Its powerful, customizable platform provides you with a number of essential features. Plus, best of all, Magento is free to download. However, it should be noted that there are still costs associated with Magento since you will need to find your own web hosting, domain name provider, and more. Essentially, Magento should be looked at as a DIY solution for someone who has the experience and know-how needed to make the most of the platform.
That brings us to the major downside with Magento; its ease of use and customer support. Since this is an open-source, DIY solution there is no customer support to speak of. You will also be required to develop your own website in order to use Magento. For those who want the lowest cost platform possible, Magento is a great option. However, if you lack web development skills and the ability to troubleshoot issues yourself, Magento may prove to be more frustrating than helpful. Their enterprise platform does help bridge this gap but it is designed with larger businesses in mind and the cost is prohibitive for smaller businesses.
The “os” in osCommerce stands for open source. This e-commerce platform has been around for nearly two decades and, as a result, has a fanatic user and developer community behind it. However, it requires a lot of learning and experience to make the most of it. While its price may look nice, there are a number of places where you should expect to spend time and money to get your osCommerce store up and running.
It’s important not to overlook the benefit of having over 7000 integrations for this open-source software. You can use these integrations to customize your store and make it truly yours. However, past security issues and the learning curve required make osCommerce difficult to consider over the various other best online shopping cart software solutions available today. Doing things like managing SEO fall onto you and there is no easy way to optimize your SEO within osCommerce. Plus, their web design tools are subpar when compared with the competition. If you have used osCommerce in the past then you may be comfortable with the platform and the pricing is difficult to beat. However, if you are new to e-commerce then there are many other solutions with comparable features and friendlier user interfaces.
When does your business need shopping cart software?
There are essentially three main scenarios where you may find yourself shopping for and comparing the many different online shopping cart solutions available to you. Each situation is unique and depends a lot on the current state of your business.
Moving existing business online
The first, and most obvious, situation where you may explore these solutions is if you’re interested in moving your existing business online. In this scenario, you already have an established business but you want to make your products and services available to a greater number of potential customers. Creating an online presence is the obvious way to do that but it can be difficult putting the plan into action.
Having a platform that can bring everything you need into one place makes it easy to bring your existing business online. The cost for the platforms is far lower than what you would need to pay to hire the staff needed to build an in-house solution. And, best of all, many platforms offer significant levels of customization to make the online store look and feel like it was built just for your business. In other words, you get everything you could possibly want or need at a fraction of the cost of doing it yourself.
A lot of platforms will even help you manage your inventory across all channels where you do business. This means that your in-store sales and online sales can sync and update automatically so your inventory numbers are always accurate. When you run out of stock, your online store can indicate this to customers and notify you so that you have the opportunity to restock without having to do a physical count of your inventory. It’s important to know that e-commerce platforms don’t always mean you have to do business online only. In fact, they can make doing business in a physical retail store easier than ever before.
Launching a brand new business
Another situation where you may want to consider online shopping cart platforms is if you’re launching a brand-new business where you will be focusing your efforts in online sales. The process for setting up this kind of store is similar to if you had an existing business but you have the benefit of starting with a clean slate and choosing the perfect solution for your needs.
For businesses with no current web presence, many e-commerce platforms offer website-building tools to help get you online fast with professional themes that you can customize. Listing your products is only half the battle, you need to make sure you have a professional website for customers to visit and get to know you. In addition to adding product photos you may also wish to add features like a blog, for example.
One nice feature that many platforms offer is the ability to choose between available tiers that are best suited to your budget and store requirements. As you grow, you can opt for higher-tier plans with more features. This flexibility is great, especially if you’re launching a new business on a limited budget. There’s no need to put down significant amounts of money up-front for your shopping cart platform of choice which allows you to invest in other areas of your business and keep everything within budget.
Already have an online store but are unhappy
Some subpar solutions may not offer important features like social media integration, inventory management across all of your channels, and marketing capabilities. Just because you already have an online store doesn’t mean you have to settle for less. Shopping around for a new online shopping cart software could be a good idea if you aren’t currently satisfied.
Luckily, it’s often very easy to switch between providers. There may be some initial setup required but there may also be the opportunity to transfer some data from one provider to the other to make setup smoother.
Check out our guide to E-commerce Order Fulfillment and Shipping
How to choose an e-commerce shopping cart software
\Many platforms offer similar features but finding the right platform with the right combination of features is important to ensure you get the level of service for both you and your customers that you expect.
Hosted e-commerce platform vs. plugin
The first feature you will need to consider is whether you want to use a hosted e-commerce platform or a platform that plugs into your existing website. This can be a major decision and it depends a lot on how you feel about your current website or if you even have a current website at all.
Many platforms offer a fully hosted solution that gives you everything you need to launch an online shopping experience in one package. This includes essential features like website building in addition to online shopping cart features like payment management and invoice generation.
The website building functionality of a hosted solution is a very nice addition if you need to create your own website in addition to offering a shopping cart payment portal. Many of these platforms have very easy-to-use website building functions and you don’t need to know code or have a background in web design to create a professional website. This helps keep costs down and gives you the ability to quickly launch a website with a shopping cart payment portal so you can begin earning money right away.
If you already have a web presence then you may prefer to opt for a plugin that simply adds a shopping cart to your website rather than building an entirely new website from the ground up.
For example, if you have a WordPress website then there will be several e-commerce plugins that you can choose from which enable many of the same features as a hosted e-commerce solution.
This is probably the most important feature to consider when looking at shopping cart platforms for your business. Many solutions offer the ability to manage inventories across multiple channels including brick and mortar retail.
As your business grows, being able to manage inventory easily is going to be important. Not only do you need to be able to add new products and edit existing products, but you also need to have inventory numbers updated instantly to ensure that customers are aware when a product has sold out. This can eliminate poor customer experiences where they later find out the product they wanted is unavailable or back-ordered. For you, it also means that you can easily see which inventory you’re running low on without having to do a manual count of inventory.
Most of these platforms allow you to accept credit cards and other common payment methods for a small fee. We will get more into fees and pricing later but you should always check which payment options are supported by the platform before making a final decision.
Having other payment options like PayPal, for example, in addition to credit card payments makes it easier for customers to do business with you.
Finding a platform that helps you create, manage, and accept gift cards or offline payments can seamlessly bring all payment options to you with one solution.
For example, there are a number of e-commerce companies that offer POS terminals for your physical locations. This means that you don’t need additional services to manage offline sales. Everything is packed into one package and you can manage all payments through a single platform. This level of convenience can also help you reduce costs and stress since you don’t have to deal with multiple companies to provide a single service.
Help with marketing
Some platforms will collect the email addresses of customers and allow you to create marketing communications to easily connect with customers and drive additional business. Having this as part of your e-commerce platform is nice because it means you don’t need to find an additional service to manage your online marketing which would cost you even more money. Finding an all-in-one solution can be very convenient and cost-effective.
You may also want to have the ability to create and accept coupons as a part of your marketing efforts. Most e-commerce platforms give you this capability which can be a helpful and easy way to increase your marketing efforts and grow sales. With just a few clicks of your mouse, you can have custom coupon codes created, set expiry dates, and more. All of this is an essential part of your overall marketing plan.
Apps or plugins
Many platforms also offer apps or plugins for both iOS and Android phones that can be used with their services to enable additional features and functionality. Some platforms even allow third parties to build apps for their e-commerce shopping cart software so you can gain access to services that may not be directly built into the platform.
Having these apps and plugins available gives you the ability to customize your experience even more. One popular app you may find on some platforms could be an abandoned cart app that automatically follows up with users that have filled a cart with products but failed to complete the checkout process. To help them take that final step and provide payment you could set up the app to automatically email customers with abandoned carts and provide a small discount coupon.
Social media integration
Social media integration is also an important feature to consider, especially if you plan on selling on other platforms beyond just your own website.
For example, Facebook is the most popular social network and it has become a popular place for people to connect with businesses. Instead of redirecting customers to your website to complete a sale, many e-commerce platforms offer you the ability to add a button that allows them to check out right through Facebook without having to be redirected. The same concept applies if you hope to list on other websites like Etsy or Amazon.
Why limit your sales channels? The best e-commerce shopping cart software solutions give you the power to sell wherever your customers are.
While many of these platforms are easy to use, there is no guarantee you won’t run into challenges at some point. Look for providers that offer 24/7 support as well as a variety of ways to contact them that are most convenient for you.
While sending an email is convenient, it may not be the best solution if you need an answer right away. Is support available by phone or live chat? This is an important thing to consider before beginning your e-commerce journey.
Ease of use
You want something that is going to be convenient for you. Many platforms offer different levels of convenience features that may or may not apply to what you’re looking for.
Examples of this could include pre-built templates for web design, mobile apps for editing or monitoring your online store, a blogging platform to provide content to your customers, and more. Determine which features are important to you and then shop for an e-commerce platform based on those needs.
The cost of having an e-commerce platform
Prices can range quite significantly depending on the features that you need and the cost of processing payments. Generally, there are two ways that you will pay for your online shopping cart service:
- monthly or annual subscription fees
- transaction fees
Subscription fees are often the first cost you will have to consider.
These fees are typically paid on a per-month basis although some platforms may require annual plans. You may also have the ability to choose an annual plan in order to save money when compared with the monthly cost.
For a fully-featured e-commerce platform, you should expect to pay around $20 per month at a minimum. For additional features, there could be higher subscription fees depending on the provider. Of course, the base subscription fee may not meet all of your needs. Most online shopping cart providers offer tiered plans that increase based on the number of features offered within the plan.
Another factor that can determine the cost of your subscription and the tier that you sign up for is the number of products you plan to list.
For example, you may find that a company’s base plan only allows you to list 20 products. For some businesses, this may be fine. However, other businesses that plan to list hundreds of products initially may need to opt for a more expensive pricing tier. It’s important to check on any limitations like this before making your final decision.
Customer service can also determine how much you pay for your shopping cart software.
You may find that some platforms offer VIP customer service that puts you at the front of the queue when you reach out for help. If you aren’t experienced in operating your own online shopping platform then you may want to opt for this additional level of service at a higher cost. On the other hand, if you’re confident in your skills and don’t feel you will need instant access to customer support, you may be able to save some money with a lower pricing tier.
One feature that can drastically affect the price you pay is the ability to pay for a professional designer to build your website for you.
Many shopping cart platforms with a built-in website editor will offer the option to have one of their staff build your e-commerce website for you. This can be a significant cost but it’s still far lower than hiring your own in-house web designer. It’s important to keep in mind that many of these platforms are built to be easy-to-use even for inexperienced designers. With that said, if you would rather pay to have the job done right then there is the option to do so.
The second aspect of the cost comes down to transaction costs when processing payments.
This is where the volume of business you do can have a huge impact on how much you pay to have an online shopping platform. In most cases, shopping cart providers will charge you a fee per transaction. This fee can vary wildly from provider to provider. Generally speaking, there are two different fee structures. The first structure uses a minimum amount plus a percentage of the transaction. For example, you may pay 25 cents per transaction plus 1.5% of the total value of the transaction.
Other companies will charge you no initial fee but may charge a higher percentage on the transaction. For these companies, you may see a transaction fee upwards of 3%. How you determine what is best for you will largely depend on the value of your items. If you sell lower-cost items then a higher transaction fee with no initial amount may be preferable. However, if you sell more expensive items, a lower transaction fee could save you a lot of money on every transaction.
You may also notice that some shopping cart platforms offer lower fees based on the tier of subscription you opt for. This is where you may need to do some math to determine if the value is right for your business. For example, a lower transaction fee may seem enticing at first. However, if the monthly subscription fee is significantly higher to earn the lower transaction fee then you would need to do enough volume in order to justify the savings on the lower fees when compared with the increased subscription cost.
What’s important to understand about pricing when it comes to e-commerce solutions is that you should always be assessing whether or not you are getting the best pricing available to you. A new business may not do enough volume to justify paying for a higher-tiered plan in order to get lower transaction fees. However, as the business grows, the number of transactions may increase to the point where moving to a higher tier plan is a smart idea.
Be sure to monitor how much you are paying for your shopping cart software subscriptions as well as how much you are paying for transactions and adjust your plan accordingly as you see fit.
It should be mentioned that there are some free e-commerce platforms available on the market.
These platforms are very good but they do require a lot of leg work to get up and running.
While some platforms may have higher fees associated, they do include things like domain name registration, web hosting, and customer support. Free shopping cart platforms typically do not have these features and you will find yourself spending some money in one way or another. With that said, if you have the experience to make use of a free platform then you may be able to save some money in the long run.