5 Easy Options to Set Up Your Online Store

by: | November 17, 2011

There was a time when the idea of having a store on the Internet was absurd. “No one will shop online” was the familiar refrain. Fortunately for all of us who love Amazon and eBay, these people were proven very wrong. These days, anyone can set up an online store for physical products and, of course, even digital products.

If you sell any physical or downloadable products, you will need a reliable online store system that you can set up yourself or affordably hire a developer to set up for you.

Here are five favorites for you to consider.

Top 5 Online Store Tools

Paypal Shopping Cart

Starting by offering an easy way to pay for eBay purchases, PayPal has branched out and created a simple way for business owners to accept money online for products. It’s by far the easiest on our list for business owners who already have a site and only have a few products to sell. They allow you to create product listings, put together a shopping cart, and make “buy now” buttons. You can also set up shipping options, taxes, payment notifications and more. The only requirement from you before you set it up is creating a merchant account with them.


For businesses with more than just a few products, Volusion offers a robust, easy-to-set-up online store system. If you don’t have the budget or simply don’t want to deal with the hassle of building a fully customized store, Volusion is a great alternative.

It’s easy to get started with a free trial, set up your products with a ton of details and selectable options, plus unlimited product photos. They give you a slew of free templates to choose from, or you can buy one of their premium templates that look awesome. They make it easy to market your site, too, with features like coupons, daily deals through email, SEO tools, reviews, and wish lists.


Like Volusion, Shopify offers you a fully hosted online store system. They handle all the hosting and setup requirements, leaving you to just set up your product listings and marketing. It comes with a complete CMS, customer accounts, blogging capabilities, and a huge list of templates to choose from.

Using Shopify, you can get started selling online very quickly and affordably. They also offer the ability to buy from your iPhone! Take a look at their fantastic marketing options like discount codes, email marketing, and online promotional abilities combined with services like Google Adwords.

WordPress eCommerce plugin

If you already have a WordPress site and want to add e-commerce functionality to it, this plug-in is the best option. It offers the most payment gateway options; they take PCI compliance (security for you and your customers) very seriously, and they have a very good shopping cart functionality. It gives you complete customizable control over the look and feel of your store.

The downside to this plug-in for the average business owner is you will most likely need a designer and/or developer to set it up properly and get it to really look good on your site. If you access and budget to spring for this tool, however, it is a great option. If you’re running your own marketing, you also have complete control over the pages and functionality of your store in every part of your site.


For larger companies and fully-fledged online stores, Magento is the trusted source for e-commerce. A lot of recognizable brands use it to sell their products. They offer hosted and enterprise solutions, meaning you can get started with a fully hosted store immediately. They offer a 30-day free trial to see if you’d like it before you completely pull the trigger. The hosted solution is just like Volusion and Shopify in that you can get started without having a current site. The enterprise version is a powerful self-hosted solution that you control on your own servers.

Magento is a great choice for your online store. They offer a lot in the way of marketing from cross promotions to coupons, social media integration to email marketing, specials to Adwords management, and more.

Whether you’re looking for a full-service hosted solution or an installable, fully integrated store on your existing site, any of these systems will get you started and selling in no time. Marketing with any of them is easy with strong calls to action that result in conversions.

If you’re selling online already, what system are you using? Did I miss any good ones? Let me know in the comments!Marketing Zeus

Posted in: B2C, Branding, Content, E-Commerce, Email, Mobile Development, Social Coupons, Usability

About the Writer:

Born in England and raised in the U.S., Charles Forster is the marketing director and partner at Vine & Grain, a company that creates management technologies for bars and restaurants. Prior to that position, he ran a graphic design company, Call Me Chaz, in Philadelphia, PA and Orlando, FL. He focused on branding, websites, print, video and marketing for small business clients up and down the east coast. He's a self-prescribed car nut and foodie. He's also the curator for This Is Visceral, a site devoted to poster art.

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