So You Want To Sell Stuff Online,...

Ecommerce, the selling of stuff online, is a BIG subject. If you are selling a product that can be delivered online like an ebook at a preset price, your needs might tend to be different than someone that sells a physical product that also requires some level of customization before shipment.

If you are Steven King and the ebook is your latest novel - the 1st to sell exclusively online, then the physical setup that's ok for most small businesses would be a disaster for you. On the flip side, it's unlikely that most small business people would want to invest 10s of thousands of $$$s on the initial setup for an ecommerce site.

For now let's cover the stuff that is going to be important to you starting out.


PayPal Buttons

One of the simplest ways to sell stuff online is with PayPal Buttons.  PayPal has an automated process that allows you to create Product or Service Buttons in your PayPal Account. If this is of interest you will want to ensure your provider has PayPal Button Support.

The PayPal Button process creates a form which needs to be put on a page on your website, typically inside a table. It's not overly difficult and PayPal has easy instructions, but there are even easier ways to accomplish the same tasks.

Some of the 'easier' ways require more set up time, it's always a trade off. Generally the more products you offer and the more details you require per sale the more likely you will benefit from a more advanced shopping cart, more or less.

As your needs increase beyond simple PayPal Buttons there are many layers of options with varying levels of effectiveness and a wide range of pricing options.


Add A Shopping Cart To Your Website

One of the easiest we've seen and are using on this website is J2Store, with the J being short for a Joomla! Website. Products like J2Store integrate a shopping cart into your website. J2Store's business model revolves around a central free product that provides base functionality and various payment plugins options in the $10-$25 dollar range.

Physical demand aside, there is no need to pay a lot of money to set up an ecommerce solution. J2Store is just one example. There are many options. The following table shows the number of e-commerce extensions available in the JED for Joomla! 3.x (March 2014).

Joomla extensions

 extensions. extensions/ advanced- search-results/ 1156068

This should be a typical example of what's available in a CMS. A quick WordPress search for ecommerce returned 500+ results.


Add A Website To Your Shopping Cart

If you feel your business is more 'shopping cart' than 'website' you might want to consider an open source shopping cart like OpenCart. OpenCart works toward the same goal from the opposite direction, they start with a great shopping cart and build a website around it. OpenCart has the same basic requirements as Joomla! & WordPress so most sites that offer support for these would likely be ok with OpenCart too. Ask if it's important. OpenCart is not the only other open source shopping cart, it's just one we've played with. Like most open source software, shopping carts also have their own top ten lists.


Pay A Monthly eCommerce Fee + (% of your profit)

Sites like Shopify offer ecommerce solutions for a monthly fee + transaction fees. Shopify is not alone in this market as this top ten list demonstrates. Sites like & have similar monthly pricing to shopify with smaller or no transaction fees, it pays to pay attention to the details.

NEXT: Logos & Templates



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Websites 4 Small Business, designs, builds and hosts websites. We specialize in small business websites.

When it's possible, practical and cost effective, we use Open Source off the shelf software to get your site up and running fast. Our philosophy is simple:

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