I'm setting up a new website (already designed), and part will be dedicated to selling products. Looking at abount 10 products with each having 4 or 5 options. Not sure what I should do from here and would be interested to know the best options i.e.:
Go for a hosted ecommerce site?
Have a programmer install an off the shelf product?
This site is hosted by a 3rd party ISP so I have limited options on what can be done with the server installation. Payment processing will be through a merchant processor (don't want to store any financial details). Not looking at lots of $$$ (would be nice but I reckon about 100+ sales per month).
Any help on this and potential pitfalls would be of great help! Very confused as a real novice to this part of development process.
I'm a big advocate of managed ecommerce platforms for standard smaller stores [i.e. you're not doing anything out of the box so why would you need the cardboard die-cut]... they're not as flexible but the upfront work required to get to a sellable state is far lower, changes rollout to you, hosting is managed through to site uptime not just server uptime,.
All this means that you're able to spend your money on UI, photography and copy rather than installs & development. Tempting as it is to use one of the major open source platforms you really need a better reason than _it's free_ or _it's customizable_ to take that route. Selling is not about cutting corners and as mature as ecommerce is getting, shoppers are increasingly wary of the small-business looking style.
Lots of options too... BigCommerce, Shopify, CS Cart [hosted], Volusion, etc.
As for which to pick you'll want to look at styling & customizing options, built in features that you'll use, plugins to your merchant, plugins to your product inventory, plugins to your accounting and of course price.
I would tend to agree with Ted, especially for the number of products you are selling. Some of those hosted ecommerce sites are pretty impressive—such as Shopify and Goodsie.
With various ones, such as Shopify, you can create your own HTML and CSS (A Book Apart is a nice example) ... but as said, you don't have to worry about all the hosting and management issues that you'd have (or have to pay for) if hosting it yourself.
Another option between a fully hosted site and a self-hosted site is a hybrid, where your site is self-hosted but the shopping cart parts are hosted elsewhere. There are many examples of this, such as FoxyCart, where you can style the cart pages to look just like your own site, so that visitors are not aware that they've even left your site. In this scenario, you won't have to change your current site. All you do is place Add to Cart buttons on the site, which take the visitor to the hosted cart.
Thank you both. The hybrid version sounds more favorable as the site is already designed and I would like to intergrate the shopping as a sub-component. I liked the Foxycart option. How different is something such as Foxycart to say a Googlecheckout?