The internet and the world of opportunity it offers, beckons everyone to make money online. Everyone dreams of becoming an entrepreneur and existing businesses wish to expand online so that their business too has an online presence. But the entrepreneur is rather skeptical about taking an online plunge, not knowing where to start and how to go about developing an ecommerce website for his business and prepare it for the future. Questions in his mind that he seeks answers to, include, what payment gateways mean, where he should host his site and what kind of shopping cart he should consider.
There are multiple options that can resolve these questions. Some information on shopping carts and the options available will be helpful in the final decision making process.
Turn-key hosted shopping cart
A turn-key hosted shopping cart is ideally suited for startup businesses, under which the system is hosted on the servers of the provider, but does not provide access for modifying or editing the source code, which would help to develop a unique set of features for your business. Also called Software-as-a-service, this offers numerous facilities to new entrants in the field of ecommerce. It would prove useful for all newcomers as well as those already in business with brick and mortar stores wanting to create an online presence. This is because such people are not ready to take on the responsibilities and complexities involved in a stand-alone or full-service solution. The turn-key cart has all the features needed for a quick start of a website without much effort and at a very low price.
Turn key carts minimize costs which are zero or rock bottom, are available as short term contracts and with a recurring monthly expense of around $50, they make perfect sense for the new business. While scalability and personalization are an issue, these can be resolved over time once the ecommerce business is up and running.
Advantages of Turn-key carts
- Complete solutions that help startups with everything from template designs to payment gateways
- Low cost or no cost solutions make it easy to get started without a financial drain, and a monthly expense of $50 in exchange for a huge business potential is easy to afford
- Quick solution since it can have the website started in a matter of hours
- Minimal effort and expertise required to start off with no investment into market research, branding initiatives and other advanced features needed to customize the business
Disadvantages of a turn-key website
For all the benefits of a turn-key website, it comes with its fair share of disadvantages that can prove to be a big minus to the website directly or indirectly.
- Lack of originality since pre-designed templates have to be used and these could be used by multiple sites
- Customization is not possible and this prevents the website from being unique or being able to stand out among others
- It can be tough to scale upwards if the business grows since new additions or new features cannot be incorporated
- No support available to resolve problems if any crop up once the website is up and running
However, despite the flip side of turn-key websites, they are still worth considering when the business online is a side business and does not have a detailed formalized business plan to stick to.
Other options available to those who reject turn-key websites include:
- Stand-alone shopping carts
- Full service ecommerce solution providers
Stand alone shopping carts are meant for those who have a detailed business plan in place, have a clear cut idea about what they want, have some experience in ecommerce, and this business is going to be the main source of earning. They can be bought or even downloaded online and built from the scratch before being hosted on your own server. It offers the flexibility of modifications and customization as per the requirements of the ecommerce business. But it requires a lot more involvement at every stage from conceptualization and designing to programming and maintenance.
Full service ecommerce solutions providers are specialists who will provide the whole host of services needed for the ecommerce business online. Also called Software-as-a-service providers, they use their core ecommerce system to build your business, but will incorporate your customized requirements and preferences into it. Thus they provide the necessary expertise and have dedicated account representatives to look into all your needs, provide a well designed and coordinated website and use the right methodology for implementing the processes, while also providing consultancy services.
With the various options available, it is for the ecommerce entrepreneur to decide on his needs, his budget and his constraints before selecting which shopping cart solution will work best for him.
This is a Guest Post by Neil Jones, head of marketing for eMobileScan. One of Europes leading providers of handheld computers including the Symbol MC55 and Datalogic Memor