Do I go with an eCommerce service provider or build?

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?


Establishing a good e-commerce site is a huge piece of work that requires you to care

To have a good SEO, products, channels and other aspects

A good website needs a good team to support

I recently built an e-commerce Web site: <snip/>
Hope to learn with you.

Hi Mark,

I recommend Volusion because that’s the ecommerce site I’ve worked with. My opinion may be biased but the best advice I can give is to demo the top providers to see which ones work best for you. Volusion, Shopify and Bigcommerce all provide free 14/15 day trials and have different user experiences so see what fits your work styles.

I like Volusion because it’s really easy to set up stores, has a huge support base for any questions you may have through the process and has zero transaction fees. If you can build a website on your own you will have no problem using a pre built ecommerce platform.

Let me know if I can answer any questions.
Good luck!

I think its better to build site of our own, so that we can customize all the functions of our own.

Its good to build site your own because you can update and customize the things when ever you want.

It is always better to build the own ecommerce site.
you can flexibly sell the products
You can have complete control over the online store
It gives more professional appearance.

If your website is built with WordPress go with wp-ecommerce or Cart66 plugin. If you are looking for a hosted solution, Shopify, in my opinion is good and easy one, however it has monthly and even tranzaction fees. Another interesting WP platform that will be launched soon is GOSUSell but I don’t know much about it.

Hi Mark, I suggest you keep it real simple at first. Do they sell a limited selection of new books, or an ever changing selection of used books?

You said they already have a website and I assume it either has individual pages for their limited selection of books, or some sort of list or table of their used books.

If they have the limited selection, I suggest using UltraCart since they provide the ability to put BUY buttons and VIEW CART buttons on any existing html website - AND they have an affordable full featured checkout system. So all you would need to do is create the book items in your UltraCart catalog, then copy and paste the button code where you want it on their current website. It is pretty easy to customize the cart to make it look like their current website. If their sales volume is low, just use Paypal as the payment processor and skip all the expense and hassle of a credit card merchant account. I use UltraCart for my two stores. Just search for easydigging or bestdryingrack if you want to see the cart in action. My carts are pretty heavily modified, so see the UltraCart site for more stock examples.

If they are a used book store, it may be easist to just use Paypal’s system completely and just generate a new button each time they list another used book on the site. The used book route would be quite a maintenance chore. Best to see if Paypal has “single use” Buy buttons since we assume there is only one copy of each used book…

Before I respond let me first say that I too have been in similar situations with clients, especially very early in my web development career. While the natural inclination is keep all the business for yourself or firm. However the “right” thing to do is be upfront about your limited experience in ecommerce solutions and possible sub out the work or if you can’t refer it out. I know this is counter intuitive but our industry suffers terribly from inexperienced developers and designers giving our industry as a whole a bum rap.

Once these prospects get burned so to speak by inexperience masquerading as professionalism it not only comes back to bite you but many other experienced freelancers as well. Sure there’s nothing wrong with getting paid for a project to “learn more” and earn experience but I encourage you to take the high road. I’ll likely catch some flack for my take on this but at the same time those who have mad their living in this industry development & design know exactly to what I’m speaking.

Ask your self the golden question? Am I truly delivering the level of quality and professionalism this client deserves and/or is paying for? I make this a habit nowadays. Doing so I am always walking away from a completed project with a great sense of satisfaction and integrity. If your in this for the long haul that’s just my suggestion. Also of relevance is the number of products, sku? How large of a product base are we talking?

Definitely choose one of the existing (better OpenSourse) solutions. If your store is simple and medium sized use one of WordPress solutions. If your store is quite large and has multiple sites use Magento.

With the help of eCommerce CMS system you can easily design the site for your client, you can try Magento or OSCommerce there are many eCommerce related templates and plugins that will your work easier.
We have worked on both the CMS systems, it’s really cool.