Hey friends, this is my first blog here. I am a PHP developer and recently joined Soigné. It is just amazing how quickly online shopping websites are becoming popular in India and worldwide. I keep getting questions like “What is the best way to go online with my store?” As a programmer / service provider, I would always be tempted to suggest you to use one of the many available Open source ecommerce packages, such as Prestashop, Opencart or Magento, and I have my reasons.
As a developer I get the flexibility to customize the features of a store the way I want! But that’s a techie’s perspective. What about the business perspective? Let’s talk here about the small stores for now. What is the best solution for them? Most people would argue that Open source is still the best for a small player as it comes free! Does it? Not exactly. You cannot use an Open source solution the way it’s distributed. You must customize the design and the features in order to make it more professional and relevant for your business. All this would require you to hire a developer which comes at a cost. That’s not the tricky part though. The real trouble begins when you start running the store. You are busy running your shop and here comes a technical issue! Who takes care of that? So, now you have to hire an agency to provide you technical support, cost of which is way beyond your budget. So what do you do?
Ever heard of a hosted solution? There are companies which provide you off the shelf solutions with tons of features, a very quick time to market and ongoing support on a fixed monthly cost!! Go check Bigcommerce, Volusion and Shopify (there are many more). Of course there would be some initial investment for customizing the look and feel of the shop to suit your business but then on all you have to worry about is running your shop and leave the technical aspect for the service providers to handle. They also take care of your hosting and related support and what more the payment gateway comes integrated (mostly PayPal).
So, if you are small shop looking to go online quickly at low cost, hosted solutions is a way to go.
You should choose a hosted solution if
- You are a small shop with limited products to sell
- Your requirements are not very specific and can fit in with the standard online selling procedures (categories, sub-categories and products with shopping cart and payment gateway etc.)
- You are looking to get to the market quickly and do not want to be bothered about the technical issues while running your shop
On the other hand you should choose an open source system or go for a fully customized solution if
- You want the flexibility to customize the store as per some really specific requirement of your business
- You do not want to be locked in with one vendor
- Have the budget to hire a professional agency to build and support your store (technically)
- Have a huge store with many products and the products have unique set of information
Hope this has been useful in making your decision in your selection. Some of my recommended solutions are:
For any further information you can mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check this space for more on the latest in Ecommerce and PHP.