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Do I go with an eCommerce service provider or build?



3:37 pm on Jun 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I have a client with a very basic book website that sells through alibris and others. They want to upgrade the site to be able to sell directly as well.

While I'd love to make money upgrading their site to an ecommerce site, but i really don't have enough experience with ecommerce websites. I thought it might be better to hook them up with a pre built ecommerce website provider like Volusion, Shopify or others and collect a consulting and setup fee.

I don't have any experience dealing with pre built ecommerce website providers.

I could use some advise on which route to take; whether to just buy a ecommerce template and hook it up to paypal or go with a full service ecommerce site provider. If i do go with a full service ecommerce site provider, which are the good ones?



7:14 pm on Jun 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hello nelsonm,

Ecommerce service providers are a great choice for your client because they include the shopping cart software, web hosting and support in one monthly fee. Volusion, Shopify, Bigcommerce and Yahoo! Stores are the leaders here.

Although they include the shopping cart and hosting, I would not consider them "pre-built" because even when using a template there is still plenty of work to be done with configuring the store, adding products, and setting up shipping and payment methods. These providers do not provide any setup services.

Volusion and Shopify offer premium templates at a cost and Volusion also offers a custom design service. Volusion customization is limited however and I don't like that Shopify charges a transaction fee. Yahoo Stores! is considered outdated. My preference is Bigcommerce. I use it to design and setup websites for my clients as I found them to be best suited to my clients needs and I can have full control over the design.

If you know HTML you can create or edit the templates but there is a bit of a learning curve. I recommend reviewing the available templates and try making some basic modifications to customize it for your client. All the providers have a free trial so you can try them out and see which you are most comfortable with.

Here is a link if you would like to try Bigcommerce

[edited by: lorax at 5:24 pm (utc) on Aug 27, 2013]
[edit reason] no links pls [/edit]


7:26 pm on Jun 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

thanks for the reply...

yes, i know that you will still have to make some modifications to the template site as well as "load" the products and/or services and connect a payment gateway to the site.

I do have HTML experience, but why reinvent the wheel when you can just modify an existing one.

1. How is the product or service data that needs to be loaded stored, do the template sites come with their own db and administration page?

2. Does Bigcommerce offer templates, it does not seem so?


7:38 pm on Jun 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Right, no need to re-invent the wheel!

All of the service providers have an online admin interface in which you do all the setup and management. Some admins are better than others. You don't typically have access to the databases directly. Products can be entered one at a time or they can be imported from a spreadsheet.


9:00 pm on Jun 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

You should consider the projected sales figures before signing on to the full service cart. For shops with a multitude of products it makes sense to use a complete solution. For shops with a limited inventory, such as an author offering books you need to consider the overhead. If using a "full service" provider is going to land the shopper in PayPal, you might as well work with PayPal's solutions to start with. They do have better tools these days.

Unless this author will have a Merchant Account and a processor account (like Authorize.net or Verisign) and doesn't mind considerable overhead whether there are sales or not, they could be very unhappy.


3:25 am on Jun 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I've been doing a little more research and getting a better picture of the whole ecommerce thing.

How would you guys compare Shopify, Volusion and Bigcommerce to the ecommerce templates i found on Simavera.Com?

These templates appear to include everything i need, they are already integrated with credit card merchant services and can be installed (by Simavera for free or by myself) on my own hosting server and you can choose between osCOMMERCE and OpenCart templates for the CMS.



2:23 pm on Jul 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Has anyone used and have a opinion on Simavera ecommerce templates?

It looks like they offer every needed to get up and running...

- free installation
- no monthly fee
- no transaction fee
- already integrated with credit card merchant services
- admin control panel
- no support

but after that, you are on your own.

[edited by: lorax at 1:55 pm (utc) on Oct 12, 2013]


10:14 pm on Oct 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

No answer on Simavera. In the past I've found you often get what you pay for, or you get less than you pay for. Of the above mentioned, I like BigCommerce the best. Not perfect but so feature rich there's little you can't do with it and they don't take a cut of sales.

Every time I do a cart for a company I research again to see what's new and how these products change. So far BigCommerce has been ahead of the curve.


10:20 pm on Oct 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

I have my own question on this issue. I'm not talking about a small business but rather a medium-sized business and we're trying to decide between a really good SAS cart (most likely contender is BigCommerce which I am well acquainted with) or having a custom cart designed for us. The vendor we are looking at for the custom cart is well-respected and equipped for enterprise customers.

However, I'm having a hard time justifying the considerably larger expense of going custom given our sales.

Here's the deets:
1. We are a manufacturer so direct online sales is not our primary channel and we sell at a higher price than many of our retailers do.
2. I'm building for two brands with about 50 skus each, then mirroring each site for Canada for a total of 4 sites.
3. Traffic is modest most days but we have historically had tremendous traffic spikes that last anywhere from a day to a few weeks.

I know I can use BigCommerce, add a few select plug-ins I'd use either way and plug in Channel Advisor. Again, I'll need them either way.

The custom solution is about 5-6 times the total start up cost but only slightly more on a monthly basis.

How do I know which way to go?


4:22 pm on Oct 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

I always go with the SAS version unless you really know what you are doing. Tried and true software along with support and less worries on your end. Big Commerce and Volusion are both really good. I like Volusion better because of their API integration.


4:14 pm on Oct 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thanks. I've worked with most of the big and some of the small SAS carts. I definitely prefer BigCommerce over Volusion.

We're a big company and I do have an in-house developer. One of the differences for us is that my in-house developer and I can do pretty much any kind of update needed with BigCommerce.

If we go custom, we'll have to pay a contractor to do any kind of change, update or addition including adding features. While we get to own the code, including the cart software on a custom solution, that comes with maintenance needs we won't be able to handle in-house so there's an ongoing expense there.

Still undecided here.

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