Ecommerce platforms are a popular choice for those who need an all-in-one solution for online sales. They’re relatively easy to set up and they have everything you need to start and grow your ecommerce store. However, there are circumstances that may make a self-hosted, stand-alone shopping cart a better choice.
How to Choose the Best Shopping Cart Software
You might choose to go with shopping cart software installation because:
- You have an existing website.
- You want to choose your own website host. This can become an important consideration in Canada because legally, any customer information you receive must be stored on Canadian servers. If it isn’t, you have to notify customers that their information is not kept on Canadian soil. If you choose an ecommerce platform you’ll have little control over hosting, including where the host’s data centres are located.
- You have so many products using a hosted ecommerce platform is too expensive.
- You require a highly-customized or exceptionally dynamic solution.
- You want to be able to work on your store offline.
- You have special requirements like drop shipping suppliers or digital downloads.
How Much do Ecommerce Shopping Carts Cost?
Ecommerce platforms usually offer monthly or annual packages based on how many products you’re selling. Adding additional features and functionality (usually through plugins) may increase that cost.
Stand-alone shopping cart software is usually a one-time purchase or ongoing license. However, they may charge a fee for transactions, updates, tech support agreements, and additional stores/sites. Plugins for added functionality may be available too.
The cost of shopping cart software can range from $500 to several thousand dollars in a one-time software purchase scenario. It’s more common to license software for a monthly or annual fee. When it comes to self-hosted ecommerce software, I prefer licensing as the updates and fixes seem to come through faster. That can be of critical importance, especially when security or compatibility are involved.
The good news is, some website hosts have free ecommerce software ready to go on your server when you purchase hosting from them. They can be installed with a quick click or two. Our host, GreenGeeks, has over 25 ecommerce software options and you can be hosted on Canadian servers to ensure legal compliance.
Alternatively, you can buy the software of your choice and upload it to your website for installation.
Will the Shopping Cart Work for a Canadian Website?
Not all shopping carts will be suitable for Canadian use, so you’ll have to do some research. Most can now process sales in Canadian currency, but you’ll still have to make sure they have Canadian shipping options, bilingual options, and Canadian data centres for privacy law compliance.
You’ll also want to check for any integration you require, such as inventory or accounting software. Many will list their integration compatibility on their website.
The Best Ecommerce Shopping Carts for Canadian Small Businesses
The best shopping cart option for your business will depend on your requirements and preferences.
- If you’re looking for a hosted ecommerce platform, you can’t go wrong with Shopify.
- If you want stand-alone ecommerce software for your website, check out options like Shift4Shop (which offers both hosted and non-hosted options).
- For easy, one-click website installation, we usually go with X-Cart (free for small stores) on Canadian servers via GreenGeeks.
- If you’re using WordPress, you can start with their WooCommerce plugin free of charge but you’ll eventually need functionality or capacity that comes at a price.
- If you need a highly-customized, self-hosted shopping cart for your website, you’ll probably have to hire a programmer. Check your options first though, as most existing ecommerce platforms and shopping carts have more than enough options for the average Canadian small business.
Note: Website designers, programmers and others will often receive commissions for things like hosting and ecommerce software, so make sure you research recommendations on your own.
Are you going with a self-hosted online shopping cart or an ecommerce platform? Please share the reason for your choice below, or join us for a discussion in the Online Business Canada Facebook group.
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