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6 top e-commerce platforms for do-it-yourself small businesses

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff | June 17, 2014
Ecommerce business owners cast their votes for the shopping carts and ecommerce platforms that are most tailored to the do-it-yourselfer -- no design or Web development team required.

Pro plan:$16.50/month

6. 3dcart

"When people come to me for advice on launching an ecommerce store on a shoestring, we recommend 3dcart, the platform we have been on for four years," says Mitch Rezman, CMO, Windy City Parrot, experts in bird and parrot care, providing food, treats and toys for exotic birds.

"Although many people rave about ecommerce plug-ins for WordPress, they fail to look under the hood. [And] for as little as about $20 a month you get a cart with built-in linking to Google analytics, social media sharing and what's really important is a host of triggered emails based upon the actions of users," Rezman says. In addition, "abandoned carts, product reviews and so forth can all be set to deploy automatically. So if you are looking for an entry level cart with a robust set of features, I strongly recommend 3dcart."

Mini plan: $19.99/month

One Last Piece of Advice Before You Buy

"Even though there are a lot of free open-source platforms out there (e.g., Magento, xt:Commerce), it can be time-consuming to install and maintain them," warns Robert Brandl, founder and chief tester at WebsiteToolTester, independent experts who help business owners find the right website builder for their needs. "They are more powerful, but in my view a small business will almost always be better off using a hosted store solution," he says.

With hosted solutions, "there are no manual software updates required and technical things like security issues are being taken care of in the background," Brandl says. Moreover, downtime is typically not a problem. And "beginners usually appreciate the fact that these providers also offer personal support."

If you do decide to go with a hosted solution, however, before you give them your credit card number, try it out. Most ecommerce platform providers offer a 14- or 30-day free trial. This way you can play around with the different themes and features and determine if it is the right solution for you.


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