Whatever you're looking to sell online, setting up an e-commerce site just keeps on getting easier. Of course, you could depend on selling your wares on eBay and Amazon, and you can certainly do that. Those are great platforms and reach huge audiences.
However, having your own site, is a great third option. This allows you to control your customer follow-up by having all their details. And ideally having a site that people order from again and again.
So let's talk through how you can quickly and easily set up your own e-commerce site:
Managed or Self Hosted?
Well, first of all you need to decide whether you're happy to pay a third party service to look after the day to day running of your site. Or if you prefer to have more control but potentially more headaches running the site?
There's many fully managed solutions like Shopify or Volusion. These can be straightforward to set up. And the more you dive into them, the more flexibility you have regarding layout, look and functionality.
However, you will be paying a monthly fee to keep your site online, and that could potentially get quite expensive. Plus of course, if the company you've chosen decides to put their prices up, there's not a huge amount you can do about that. You can try to move your site, but once you've set everything up that's easier said than done.
And of course, if the service you've chosen ever goes out of business, chances are your site goes offline. However, if you choose a reputable service that's quite unlikely to happen.
Self Hosted Options
There's many self hosted options, and they can get progressively more technical. You could of course hire a consultant to help you set it up and manage it. But that can involve ongoing costs, although with more flexibility as mentioned.
For example, you can start with WordPress, and install WooCommerce on top of that to turn your site into a shopping site. Quick and easy to set up and manage. Although it does depend depending how customized you'd like to make the site. This can very much get progressively more complicated.
There's also a free version of Magento you can download and install. However, one thing everyone says about Magento is it's hugely powerful. But also hugely complicated, and the learning curve can be significant. You may need to hire an experienced Magento Enterprise Agency to help you work with this, as this is more specialized than working with WordPress.
There's also plenty of further options like OpenCart and X-Cart. Some are free, some paid. And paid software you download and install on your site generally comes with more support. At least when compared to an open source solution like WooCommerce or Magento.