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There are so many options out there it's unbelievable and a bit overwhelming.. I was looking at starting a yahoo ecommerce site and having a professional web designing company modify it..
I was looking to hire a web designing company start from scratch...
At this point I don't know where to turn. I know links aren't allowed in here so I don't know how you could help or show me examples..
But from all the experience you all have I would love some imput.
First - figure out if you want a hosted solution or a cart on your own site. Usually on your own site is better because you have a bit more control over it. You can usually easily move it to another hosting company if something were to happen.
Then determine what language you would like and what database.
Then figure out what all you would like to offer (i.e. real time shipping, what taxes to charge, affiliates, etc) and see what carts might be able to offer those add-ins.
Look for simple basic functions like credi card processing, stock management, etc.
I advice you not to try to get the most complete shopping cart that will allow you look like Amazon.com as you will end up using only the basic functions at first. Remember that Amazon has millions of customers and they do need all those gadgets, add ons, and tools, but you probably will start with less than 20 customers, and won't need all those tools.