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Friday, June 10, 2011

BigCartel, Folksy, Etsy and Dawanda Shops need Alternatives Too!

For all you artsy folk, crafters and the like. I'm sure you've been making due with the niched solutions BigCartel, Etsy, Folksy and the like bring. They open you up to a great audience, but they don't give you that level of customization, brand presence and flexibility that other products can bring you.

Sell Online with Hosted Commerce Solutions

The aforementioned products do their job, and I'm sure they do it well. You pay the fees, you upload the product info and they give you exposure. But why not add to that? Why not have a store created soley for you where you can have tons of products (with no fee per product like Etsy and others have). It's a great addition to your arsenal for selling your product online.

Coming from Etsy and the like, I can see most of you would prefer a nice clean, easy to use interface, so I would highly recommend you give Shopify or Highwire a spin around the block. You can create a store for free and see if you'll like it. You may even replace your current solution completely.

Once you've tried it out, let me know what you think and how these solutions have helped you expand your selling artillary.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Shopify Review

Shopify is one of the strongest hosted e-commerce solutions out there. Its strength lays in its simplicity. You can sign-up and set up a store in less than 10 minutes. Granted it will be a default template, but that gets the job done for most people starting out. But that's not the only reason why you'd want to use Shopify.

Smooth UI - Ease of Use

The pure aesthetics of the Shopify admin area and frontend area are extremely user friendly. They are easy on the eyes, simple to use, and have a modern looking web 2.0 concept going. And honestly, I'm telling you now, once you look at some of the other options out there, you will not take this easy interface for granted.

I also have to mention, their checkout process is so clean and smooth. You can tell it will convert so nicely into sales.

Liquid Templating Language

While creating a simple store with Shopify is a no-brainer, getting to customize and modify the templates might be a bit of a learning curve for some. For developers and designers who are used to templating engines/languages such as Smarty PHP, using Liquid should be a walk in the park. As a developer myself I found it quite simple and refreshing. However if this templating stuff is all new to you, there will be a learning curve, but its worth going through, because the way they go about it is quite common in alot of systems, so the time spent is not wasted!

Supported Payment Gateways and Methods

Shopify has a great amount of payment gateways to chose from. So whether you'd like to receive payments with Paypal, Google Checkout or by Check, Credit Cards etc... it can be done easily. If you already have a payment gateway you can check out my "Comparison Chart - Shopify vs Highwire vs Big Commerce vs Core Commerce" page to see if its supported.

Performance

I have not seen or heard of any performance issues with Shopify except for a fishy comment that promotes one of Shopify's competitors. This comment seems genuine the first time around, but not so much the second time!

The stores they host load really fast, and they have some big brands on there. Just by looking at the code of their base templates I can tell they know how to code light and clean. They also host their stuff on a CDN which ensures better performance to most of the world (depending on what CDN provider they're using)

Shopify Pitfalls

Every system has its shortcomings, such as missing features that you may need. While Shopify does have its limitations, their app store helps fill in the gaps, but then again on the down side these apps cost an additional monthly fee. This is a profitable business model for app creators, but not so much for you, the end user.

As for their price point, it's a bit steeper than some of their competition. Starting at 29$, while some start at 19$.

To Be Concluded...

To sum it all up, Shopify is a great choice to create your online store. It satisfies most basic needs and does so in such a slick way. They also have a free trial so give it a whirl, and see if it's right for you. If not, I will have more reviews coming in for other solutions that may meet your needs.

Until then, take care, and please do leave some feedback. Let me know if there's something you like or don't like about Shopify and I'll be sure to add it in.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Hosted Commerce Stores - From Highwire to Shopify to CoreCommerce

As promised, here is a list of the highest quality hosted commerce solutions. This list will be updated as I find and review more.
Highwire - Online Stores Made Easy
Shopify
Big Commerce
CoreCommerce

All of these services have thousands of users/stores and are being updated frequently. Just sign-up and get your online shop up in no time.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Simple Web Stores - The Beginning

Hey guys and gals, welcome to Simple Web Stores, a blog dedicated to reviewing and informing you of the best hosted ecommerce stores out there. For those of you who are not sure what hosted commerce shops are, let me give you a brief overview as well as point out why they are the cheapest and most flexible solution to getting an online store up and running.

Already Hosted vs. Custom Hosted e-Commerce Software


Traditionally to sell your products online you needed to buy a domain, find hosting, install software or hire a company to install, customize and design your online store. Here are the pros and cons of the original solution.

Custom Hosted Pros

  • Flexible in Customization
  • Cheap Scripts already exist.
  • Can be low cost if you are a web developer and designer.

Custom Hosted Cons

  • If you are not a programmer customization is a pain or expensive.
  • Hiring a company to design and create your store is a big expense.
  • You have to pay hosting costs on top of the initial design/implementation.
  • As your online store grows, hosting becomes a pain and a big cost to manage.
Nowadays there are services, that I'd like to call "already hosted stores", that immediately let you build up an online shop for a small monthly fee and alleviate the headaches that the traditional approaches bring. There may be a few cons depending on which one of these services you chose, but generally here are the pros and cons of the solution that is currently extremely popular.

Already Hosted Pros

  • Cheap startup cost (as low as 9.99$/month). 
  • No hosting headaches and setup. 
  • Anyone can do it. You don't need to be a programmer or designer to get started.
  • No programming maintenance. These services always add more features over time and you don't have to do anything to get these updates.
  • If your online shop gets more popular scaling technology is taken care of, just watch it grow.
  • Many services to choose from so you can find what you need at an optimal price.

Already Hosted Cons

  • Some of these services have sharp learning curves to using their system. 
  • Not all of these services are perfect and they themselves have different pros and cons over each other.
The above cons are minor and my goal here is to educate you to chose the service that is best for you. As a programmer myself I can tell you that these hosted commerce services save a lot of headaches and money especially if you're just starting to sell online and testing the waters.

My goal here at Simple Web Stores is to list and review the best online hosted ecommerce store solutions to help you chose which one is best for your business. We will be giving full detailed reviews and definitely accepting user reviews as well.

Simple Web Stores is your one stop community and information site for hosted ecommerce shops, so stick around for a great user experience and lots of updates!

Still to come: My next post will be listing the top already "hosted" services, so stay tuned and if you have any questions or feedback please let me know!