Tiny business web hosting needs
February 21, 2005 1:13 PM   Subscribe

My wife knits, sews, etc, and wants to sell her stuff online. We're looking for a web host, and I'm confused about the options.

Many places offer e-commerce plans, but they include site building wizards and such that we don't need. We're going to create the site ourselves, and we just need to allow credit card/Paypal transactions. So do we go for a basic hosting plan and use a third party for the e-commerce bit? If so, what must the hosting plan include in order for us to add e-commerce functionality? ASP, PHP, mySQL, etc? Or is a one-stop solution -- like this one -- the better option?
posted by schoolgirl report to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)
The cheapest and probably most direct way to do it is to get a basic hosting account with PHP/mySQL (IF NEEDED) and use Paypal. You can use Paypal easily WITHOUT the PHP/mySQL combo, but having it means you can take advantage of opensource ecommerce apps that give you a little more flexibility (like inventory tracking).

I recommend http://textdrive.com for hosting (I run a hosting company as well, email is in my profile) and http://oscommerce .com for the ecommerce functionality (again, if needed - you can do just fine with HTML and Paypal).

Good luck!
posted by annathea at 1:22 PM on February 21, 2005

Seconding OScommerce - it's a great shopping cart, and on Dreamhost at least it is but a moment's work to set up yourself (minus a few minutes' wait when you set up the database). They've got check-out modules for most of the common credit card processors, Paypal included, which makes that easy to set up as well.

And I like Dreamhost for hosting. Plenty of space, database, emails, and domains/subdomains for whatever you might need. They've been good to me for many years.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:25 PM on February 21, 2005

Response by poster: Excellent, thanks to you both. I love the idea of an open source e-commerce solution.
posted by schoolgirl report at 1:34 PM on February 21, 2005

Dreamhost is a great company indeed! Their tech support (via email) is great and they have always gone the extra mile for me, even teaching me some HTML.
posted by mds35 at 1:35 PM on February 21, 2005

Once you have established your site... use tradeshows and flea markets to sell and distribute cars for your site.

This is the only way for this to actually work without...
posted by bamassippi at 1:39 PM on February 21, 2005

Response by poster: That's definitely part of the plan, selling and promoting offline as much as possible. But we need the online part up and running asap before we start the promotional blitz.
posted by schoolgirl report at 1:49 PM on February 21, 2005

No need to go with an e-commerce package. My partner sells her purses online from a Movable Type-based site, coupled with a PayPal account. It was professionally designed and built, so it wasn't cheap, but even a far simpler design could work smoothly while still looking sharp.

For promotion, consider buttons in addition to cards.
posted by me3dia at 1:50 PM on February 21, 2005

I can't speak to the efficacy of buttons, but I'd like to plug Busy Beaver as well (me3dia linked to them). I got some buttons from them a few months back. I'm a big big fan. So if you go with buttons, go with Busy Beaver.

Oh ... whatever. I can speak to their efficacy. A really good investment, as they're so dang cheap. And, again, BB is a great shop.
posted by Alt F4 at 2:49 PM on February 21, 2005

Response by poster: So PayPal will take credit cards directly? Man, I really need to keep up with this stuff. That'd make things loads easier.

Thanks for the Busy Beaver links, buttons are a must.
posted by schoolgirl report at 3:27 PM on February 21, 2005

Paypal will do a lot for you if you want them to; their cart's pretty comprehensive and if you get a business-level acccount they'll let you process any credit card holder whether that person has a Paypal account or not. Plus the forms they use are pretty open, so it's easy to use a script to generate "add to cart" buttons and similar.

As for hosting, I second the Textdrive recommendation; if you don't mind paying a little more per month for your hosting they're simply the best around. If you want pretty good hosting and a lower price, sign up at Dreamhost before the end of the month and get the $7.95/mo special.
posted by ubernostrum at 3:49 PM on February 21, 2005

If you're looking for something very straightforward (ie, any idiot can do it) for online retail, try FreeMerchant.
Disclaimer: I am employed by FM's parent company and I'm not really an expert on it. I just know what it is.
posted by BradNelson at 6:22 PM on February 21, 2005

Another vote for Dreamhost. I've been with them going on 4 years and they have been very supportive, reliable, great with communications on maintenance or problems. Highly recommended.
posted by yoga at 4:59 AM on February 22, 2005

My favorite web host: NPSIS. I use them all the time. They seem nice.
posted by amtho at 9:43 AM on February 22, 2005

Ignore previous NPSIS link. This is better: NPSIS.com
posted by amtho at 9:45 AM on February 22, 2005

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