E-commerce solutions range from setting up a fill-in-the-blanks store front at Amazon.com/Ebay/MSN shopping to customized platforms. Prices range from minimal to thousands of dollars a month. Technical expertise required ranges from none to moderate.
If this is your first e-commerce venture then getting your feet wet with a storefront may be the answer. There's no programming necessary and usually no fee or a very minimal fee. You don't have to worry about maintaining a website. The downside is customers won't find you unless they're looking for similar products at, say, MSN Shopping for example.
Template platforms are e-commerce solutions for a business that wants to maintain its own identity with a website, offer a limited number of products, and doesn't need customization. The template is usually offered with hosting, a shopping cart and payment processor. This is a good e-commerce solution for a business starting up online, or offering an online version of a bricks and mortar store. The disadvantage is there is little to no integration with back office systems and not much flexibility.
Custom e-commerce solutions are necessary when a great deal of customization is necessary and integration with back office systems such as accounting, shipping and inventory control. The downside is the expense.
Choose your e-commerce solution based on your current needs but keep in mind what you'll require in the future.
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