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How to Sell My Stuff?

lemonadeLast week we looked at the pros and cons of selling products online. In this and the rest of the posts in this series, we’ll assume you’ve made the decision to tackle e-commerce, and that you’re going to be selling through your own Web site as opposed to renting space on someone else’s site.

Our question today, then, is: what platform is the best for selling your wares?

There are a lot of e-commerce platforms out there, and as is so often the case, each has its own strengths and weaknesses. We’ll break down some of the platforms we’ve worked with the most over the years.


The world’s leading content management system can also be adapted to process orders. Various plug-ins exist to turn your WordPress site into an online store, including Shopp and Woo Commerce. Some themes also are built to natively offer e-commerce capabilities, however it’s best to leave advanced functionality like that to a plug-in. (More on that in a future post)

The same can more or less be said for competitors, Joomla and Drupal.

PRO: Mostly easy to use out of the box. Most plug-ins blend seamlessly into your existing site design.

CON: Every plug-in seems to have some bug or another; there’s also no comprehensive solution that does absolutely everything you might want it to do. WordPress was never originally intended as a shopping platform, and so there are naturally some holes that just don’t get filled.

Zen Cart

Zen Cart is an offshoot of the older platform osCommerce.

PRO: Fairly easy to manage your store once it’s set up. More features available than most WordPress plugins.

CON: No real content management capabilities. The store’s the thing, and if you want to include a blog or any other CMS features, you’ll need to also install WordPress or another CMS and tweak the design of both platforms to match each other.


Magento is owned by eBay, so you know right off the bat that it’s built for hardcore e-commerce. There are three versions: Community (free to install on your own site), Go (monthly fee for using their site), and Enterprise (starting at $15,550 per year).

PRO: Very robust shopping cart tool. Capable of including non-shopping pages as well.

CON: VERY steep learning curve just to get the hang of administering the site. Menu system is very cumbersome to edit. If you’re not a programming expert, don’t even think about tinkering under the hood, or you risk irreparably breaking your site. Updates are also dicey at best, and can easily wreck your site.

Which platform is best? It depends on your needs. If you need a quick and relatively painless solution with minimal features, a WordPress plugin might be the answer (especially if you have a WP site already!). If you have in-depth e-commerce requirements, and you have the time and budget to hire an expert developer, Magento might be your best bet.

If you’re overwhelmed and need to talk it through with someone, contact us and we’ll be happy to make recommendations, and even help build your site if we’re a good fit!

Next week, the thrilling world of payment gateways…

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