Lots of good ideas on my last post, thanks! Tonight I explored my options for hosting an online shop. Not exhaustive, but here are 3 main options.
1. Host it myself. I recently upgraded my Dreamhost account to their ‘Code Monster’ package, which includes a license for Miva Merchant, an e-commerce software product. When I read that it includes “built-in shopping cart and payment processing”, I thought great! I can take credit cards easily. Nope, it just means it integrates with many Merchant Accounts. Still, it’s pretty powerful – This would be the most customizable option, but it will have the steepest learning curve. Unfortunately, I didn’t upgrade to the next hosting level which includes an SSL Secure certificate and a dedicated IP address (both needed to properly accept credit cards).
Cost Estimate: $200/year for SSL License, $5/month for dedicated IP (Merchant Account: ~$100 Setup, ~$20 a month + % fees)
2. eBay Stores. If you’re looking for an instant audience, eBay Stores is one way to do it. That way, anyone searching for ‘dog toy’ has the potential of ending up at your site. No need for other advertising. Of course, you will be paying 3-5% of purchase price in eBay fees, PayPal fees, not to mention it’s harder to build a brand and a loyal customer base. Not sure how well PayPal would work as a full-service credit card processing provider. But, they do offer a free 30-day trial.
Cost Estimate: Starts at $15.95/month, Ebay % fees, PayPal % fees
3. Yahoo! Small Business. You see a lot of Yahoo Stores [example] out there as well. They tend to look the same (and ugly), although now there is more customization out there. But they do offer everything in one package – webhosting, shopping cart and order management, stats, etc. You also have to get a separate Merchant Account to take credit cards. Another annoying thing is that they charge a 1-1.5% transaction fee on all your purchases, which makes it like eBay.
Cost Estimate: Starts at $39.95/month, Setup fee currently waived, Merchant Account % fees
Nothing looks awesome out of those three, but we’ll see. I’m open to suggestions as usual!