I try to help out on various networks I’m involved with for free. Not all to do with wine retail, marketing and the internet – here’s my response to do with retail ecommerce. Also see my other posts on wine eCommerce.
Jonathan Poston a member of the LinkedIn group Shop.org asked the following question,
“What’s the best e-commerce store? I’m betting on Yahoo, as our FastPivot.com developers say it’s the most affordable and in general easiest to work with…agree or disagree? Why or why not?”
Here’s my response:
“I looked at this for myself last year. [Bruce – whoops I meant 2008]
Firstly if you want custom graphic design then it will get expensive. I suggest you try to stick with templates to minimize this cost. I reckon you’re looking at US$1000-5000 for a fresh design alone.
Then it depends on the number of products and amount of traffic. If you have a few products, a little traffic and want something up fast then Yahoo or Volusion would be fine. Yahoo charges a % of sales which can be expensive though. (A WordPress plugin might be okay but I’ve kept away from that so far).
Next step up is open source (i.e. free) software such as Joomla Virtuemart. Great for scores of products and medium traffic. You need to have some basic software experience but not too much. Also need to pay about US$20-30 pm for hosting.
You could also look at the commercial software such X-Cart of Miva Merchant (and 100s of other companies). Bit more expensive than Yahoo. Just as easy.
If you have 100+ products and/or a high traffic store I’d start to get a bit more serious.
I’ve chosen to work with magento – magentoecommerce.com – using the community edition. It’s free, hosting costs between US$25-$100 depending on your desired speed and it’s won numerous awards (e.g. Souceforge). But it can be a little technical. I also find the design tricky to maintain on upgrading the software (slowly getting better, the new version may fix this).
Then there are the likes of Nexternal and other companies that seem to charge $1000+ and look fine.
You have the big guys – IBM etc which are generally $2000++. I’m guessing you’re not looking at spending more than $10K.
However if you’re using a web developer and are happy with their performance then it may be best to leave it up to them. They’ll have experience in one ecommerce product already and you’ll pay for their learning curve on a new product.”
What would you advise Jonathan?