Looking for suggestions on a small online store

I am looking to redesign a website for my boss. I have been working on a few design ideas, but I am hoping to get some suggestions/information on the commerce platform options before I take any ideas to him. I need to make sure I can make the site appear relatively close to the design we choose. The website will essentially be a small store strictly selling sunglasses. We will be selling what frames we currently have in stock and once we sell a frame, the likelihood that we would have it again would be very small. I would like to keep as much freedom to design the appearance as possible. I am pretty capable using html, php and css.

Some information that might be helpful:
• The site will be on shared hosting
• We will be selling physical products only
• We currently have an inventory of around 300 items I believe
• Shipping/fulfillment options would be very helpful
• Would like the ability to waive shipping if 2 or more frames are purchased at once
• Sales tax options would be nice
• Would like the site to be a flexible design allowing for easy use on mobile and tablets, as well as desktops

My hosting plan already offers PrestaShop and OpenCart. I wanted to get your opinions on whether either of these options would be suitable for what I am trying to accomplish, or if you have a better option. I need to keep a small budget on this project. I built a very basic ecommerce site from scratch in the past, but it was very restricted in is its capabilities took quite a bit of time to build. I would like to avoid that approach if at all possible.

Suggestions? Any insight would be helpful and appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

PrestaShop is a good option since it is already provided by your host. It will be free since it is not a SaaS solution so there will be no extra monthly cost. Prestashop is also open source so you have the flexibility of modifying it to your needs in addition to many many plugins. The draw back is it is self managed so you will need to know it well enough to leverage its power. Another idea for self hosted would be WooCommerce is you know Wordpress - but it is fairly limited.

If you are looking for more of a turn key solution there are many monthly paid platform out there, the two that come to mind for design flexibility is BigCommerce and Shopify. BigCommerce is naturally feature rich and it has a well structured template system. Shopify is more simple out of the box but they have a plethora of add-ons you can purchase (buying all your features adds up to a lot however) also the template structure uses Liquid so it a bit different and needs getting used to.

If you want barebones, get started in less then an hour - then take a look at Celery (trycelery.com) or FoxyCart. Those are super simple, almost plug and play solutions - they rely on you to build your own static site and plugin the their shopping cart. They don’t have extensive features but enough to cover a basic store.

I recommend Woocommerce because it is one of the best shopping cart platforms being used by countless small and big online stores. It is not only a feature-rich shopping cart solution, but also has a visually tempting interface. Plus it is a search engine-friendly and easy-to-use platform.

Other Woocommerce features that you may find suitable for your online store are:

  • A multi-currency platform with limitless product categories
  • Product reviews
  • Automatic image resize
  • More than 20 payment gateways and 8+ shipping methods
  • Templatable

Since your items will be many “one-of-a-kind” frames with inventory that is rapidly depleted, you may want to skip the typical ecommerce platforms that are built for thousands of SKU’s with lots of inventory.

You said you are good with basic coding, so if you create a website that “looks like” a conventional store site you will be able to add and subtract frames from the pages without always creating new pages. Churning pages (creating them and shortly later deleting them) will create hell for your SEO efforts. Keeping a set of selling pages forever and just adding and subtracting content from them will make your SEO success much easier.

But you do still need BUY buttons and a Cart to do all that. Check out UltraCart for that. It lets you add HTML Buy buttons and View Cart buttons to conventional pages (or even to social media posts). And those buttons take the customer into a checkout system (Cart) that you can modify to match your site. You can also run their system like a typical ecommerce system with catalog generated pages, if you decide to do that later.

I use UltraCart on my two ecommerce sites. You can see one at EasyDigging(dot)com