Monday, February 24, 2014

10 Ecommerce Solutions for Small Businesses

Launching an online store doesn't have to be rocket science. With the right tools, anyone can sell online - and be successful at it, too. From do-it-yourself (DIY) ecommerce website builders to online marketplaces and merchant services, there is a plethora of ecommerce resources available. These tools make starting an online business easier and more affordable than ever. If you've always wanted to sell online, now is the time. Here are 10 ecommerce solutions to help you get started.

1. Shopify

Start selling online with Shopify's DIY online store builder. Merchants can easily create an online store with no website development skills necessary. Simply choose from more than 100 website designs and add your products. Websites are fully customizable and include a secure shopping cart that can accept VISA, MasterCard and American Express. Merchants can also sell their products anywhere with Shopify Mobile (Shopify's own mobile credit card reader) and Shopify POS (Shopify's iPad point-of-sale system). Shopify starts at $14 a month with zero transaction fees. A 14-day free trial is also available.

2. 3dcart

Build an online storefront fast with 3dcart's shopping cart software and online store builder. Just choose and customize your template, upload your logo and product images, and add descriptions and pricing - no HTML or programming expertise required. The 3dcart program accepts all major credit cards, as well as PayPal, Google Checkout and Checkout by Amazon. Merchants can also sell via social and mobile commerce with 3dcart's built-in Facebook Store and mCommerce app. The 3dcart service starts at $9.99 a month. A 15-day trial is also available, and new members will also receive $50 in Facebook ads credits. [REVIEWED: Shopping Cart Software 2014]

3. Volusion

The Volusion all-in-one ecommerce solution provides all the tools companies need to start selling and growing their business online, such as an ecommerce website builder, shopping cart and Web hosting service. Features include professionally designed ecommerce templates; easy inventory management, order processing and returns; built-in search engine optimization (SEO); social media tools; 24/7 support; and more. Volusion plans start at $15 a month with no transaction fees. Try Volusion with a 14-day free trial.

4. Square Market

Need an ecommerce website ASAP? With Square Market - from the creators of the Square iOS and Android credit card reader and POS system - business can set up an online storefront in minutes: sign up, list products, set up shipping - and you're ready to launch. Sell everything from tech to fashion, health, beauty, art, design, books, baby products, home items and even food. Features include personalized store logo and images, flexible Coupon, adjustable tax rates, size and color options, social media links, online marketing tools, mobile-ready storefronts and more. Square Market accepts all major credit cards, and payments are deposited in 1-2 business days. Unlike other ecommerce store builders, Square Market charges no monthly fees - merchants only pay when they make a sale at a rate of 2.75 percent per sale.

5. Etsy

If you sell unique products, check out niche ecommerce marketplaces like Etsy, which you can use to sell all types of handmade, vintage and other goods all over the world. Product categories include art, jewelry, men and women's clothing and accessories, home and living, mobile accessories, weddings, and more. Sign up for free, and start selling your creations from your own Etsy shop. Fees include a 3.5-percent transaction fee for each sale and a listing fee of 20 cents per item.

6. Doba

Want to run an online store, but lack the resources to purchase your own inventory? Or maybe you don't have the time or patience to pack and ship orders all day. Doba's drop-shipping marketplace connects online retailers with wholesale suppliers that process and ship orders under your business name. Choose from more than 2 million products and list them on your website, or automatically push them to eBay and other marketplaces. You only pay for products when you make the sale, and Doba's suppliers take care of the rest. Doba pricing starts at $59.95 a month, and discounted annual membership plans are also available.

7. MobiCart

Go mobile with your online business. MobiCart turns your ecommerce store into a mobile commerce (m-commerce) app to attract customers that shop using their mobile devices. MobiCart is fully customizable to fit your brand, and works on its own or links to your existing website. It integrates with more than 45 shopping carts, such as 3Dcart, Volusion and Shopify. This service comes with a native mobile app builder for iPhone, iPad and Android, as well as HTML5 Web apps accessible via mobile browsers. MobiCart is free to use for up to 10 products. The basic plan starts at $15 a month, or get two months free with a yearly plan.

8. Dwolla

Small businesses can take a hit from credit card processing fees. Dwolla offers a fast, secure way to move money for online transactions - and aims to do so at the lowest cost possible. Dwolla charges only 25 cents for transactions over $10, while transactions under $10 are free. Money transfers between Dwolla's payment network and your bank or credit union are also free. You can access Dwolla via the Web, iPhone and Android mobile apps, the Dwolla Merchant Kiosk, and any Dwolla-enabled point-of-sale system.

9. Forter

Selling online isn't without its risks. Forter provides ecommerce merchants with a simple plug-and-play solution that combats online fraud and delivers 100-percent chargeback protection. This tool eliminates the time wasted manually reviewing orders and the headaches of implementing and managing multiple security features. Instead, Forter automates the process by using profile data, behavioral data and cyber intelligence to instantly detect fraudsters and decline or approve customers in real time. And in the event that a bad transaction falls through the cracks, Forter promises to cover all resulting fraudulent charges. Contact Forter for pricing information.

10. Zendesk

Top-notch customer service keeps shoppers coming back. Zendesk is a support ticket platform designed to help you deliver excellent customer support. It offers a streamlined customer service system that gathers emails, tweets, Facebook posts, and phone and live chat inquiries into a single platform, so you can answer questions quickly and efficiently. Other features include reporting and analytics data, full customization to fit your brand and customer feedback to gauge a customer service team's performance. Zendesk pricing starts at $1 a month per customer service agent.

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