Is your company opening an online storefront or are you a new business owner looking to sell your products online? If so, exploring your options are available for Ecommerce is your next step.
Hosted / Managed Ecommerce Platform
If you’re a small business just starting out (and want to minimize risk), this is where you’ll want to be.
Services like Shopify already have products, carts, and checkout built into their websites. You can pick a theme, modify it, and you’re good to go. Depending on what features you need, you’ll pay anywhere from $14/month for a starter site (with limited bandwidth and no perks) to as much as $179/month (with unlimited bandwidth / support / lots of perks).
Magento Go used to offer a similar set of features, but it will be shutting down this plan on Feb 1, 2015 in order to focus more on its Community and Enterprise packages.
Self Hosted Ecommerce Platform
If you’ve established yourself and see growth, but still are hesitant about adopting a licensed platform, you’ll want to move toward a platform that has a lot of community support and options for customization with themes and plugins.
Magento Community Edition (also known as Magento CE) is a free, open source ecommerce platform. It’s perfect if you’re a developer, tech-savvy business owner, or someone that has access to a developer. It’s a favorite among small business owners because it can be modified with themes, plugins, and custom code. It’s also very extensible with a large amount of support from the community.
To get Magento up and running, you’ll need to have a website & hosting company that supports Magento’s minimum requirements.
The downside is that, because it’s a free and open source solution, customer support isn’t included. You might spend some time looking up answers on Google. If you can’t fix an issue yourself, you’ll need to pay a developer to help you.
Licensed Ecommerce Platforms
A licensed platform often comes with benefits like dedicated tech support, a partnership with a solution provider, and a higher level of out-of-the-box reliability. While the pool of themes and community contributions might be lower, the quality of the code and platform itself is much higher.
AspDotNetStorefront is one of the cheapest licensed ecommerce platforms starting at just $599 and going up to $4950. The company started in 1997 and has a lot of experience.
Kentico comes close to AspDotNetStorefront with a small business licenses starting at $1499. Despite the low price, it’s very flexible and extensible. So it can grow with your business without requiring a lot of upfront risk that’s commonly related with adopting this class of platform.
Magento Enterprise Edition (also known as Magento EE) is a licensed platform that aims to compete with companies like WebSphere and JBoss. Licenses in this range start at $15k+