Seeking smooth integration of ecommerce services

Hi all! I know this is my first post in this forum but wanted to say hello. I’m seeking the cost efficient but smart way running the ecommerce site. I’ve been tweaking and researching the blueprint of running my ecommerce store with my business plan and the types of products I sell. Running an ecommerce site is a different story.

I’m torn between going with open source shopping cart like Zen Cart or ecommerce hosted shopping carts like 3DCart, Yahoo! Merchant or Shopify. Between the two, hosted ecommerce sites you have to pay monthly fee depending how many products you have in the store while the open source carts you don’t to have to pay monthly fee except for modules and extensions that I’m looking for to make it run smoothly. I heard a lot about Magneto but requires payment if I choose either Professional or Enterprise edition. I don’t know if it’s worth to pay Professional fee if I’m just a start up?

My start up budget is small so I’m leaning towards open source carts because I have a career background in web design and front end development so I can do CSS and other tweakings myself.

Second, I’m looking at fulfillment service to do the storage and shipping rather than doing it in-house since I’m home based web storefront merchant. I noticed that paid hosted ecommerce or Magneto has integration with major fulfillment services. Zen Cart has limited options regarding fulfillment services. I’m looking for something automated so the fulfillment center will get the orders from the store after a customer orders something. I’m going with both third parties like PayPal and Google Checkout to not concern myself being PCI compliant. But I’m also looking at Costco Business Merchant services as well.

Would it be costly if I started out with open source cart like Zen Cart with no monthly fee with paid fulfillment service and then upgrade to something more sturdy, offer more features, and that can handle much larger orders down the road? Again, I’m looking at making a profit so I don’t want my expenses to overcome my ability to make profit down the road. Feedback would be appreciated!

I’d jump in and get started. Pick one of the free carts, set it up, integrate a 3rd party payment processor and start selling. Don’t even think about merchant accounts until you have validated your plans by establishing consistent revenue. Once you know you’re on the right track and have more than educated guesses about revenue, conversion rates, profit margins, and the work involved in running your business you’ll have the information you need to evaluate all those paid solutions.