What is the best ecommerce platform for a handmade jewelry shop?
April 14, 2017 12:36 AM   Subscribe

I have an Etsy shop selling handmade jewelry/accessories (mostly OOAK) but I wish to have my own website as a backup. I like Shopify but the pricing is beyond my budget. Is there a better alternative?

My requirements:
-easy to use (I am not tech-savvy)
-my own domain
-unlimited number of items (in practice probably <400) I will be selling physical items
-good customer support
-payment processing through paypal and credit cards
-I do not expect to sell offline so probably do not need POS features

Thank you!
posted by whitelotus to Work & Money (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
There are many. Zen Cart. OS commerce. Magento.
I would give Open Cart a try.

-good customer support
All these are open source solutions. If you want real customer support you have to buy a commercial system.

-payment processing through paypal and credit cards
Paypal is always possible. For CC processing you need a CC merchant account. For a commercial system, this may be provided "as a service".

Good luck.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 1:04 AM on April 14, 2017

I don't think you're going to find good customer support without pricing similar to Shopify. If you're not willing/able to roll your own, go with Shopify or SquareSpace.

Otherwise, Wordpress/WooCommerce meets your needs.
posted by humboldt32 at 2:38 AM on April 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Etsy now lets you make a custom website out of your Etsy shop if you want your own domain.

posted by hyperion at 4:37 AM on April 14, 2017

Seconding Wordpress/WooCommerce. You'll probably want to hire someone to set it up if you're not tech-saavy, but once it's up it's easy to use.

Last time I checked. wordpress.COM doesn't allow plugins such as WooCommerce, so you'd need your own website hosting, too, so you can install your own version of Wordpress.
posted by chocolatepeanutbuttercup at 1:15 PM on April 14, 2017

If you are not tech-savvy, any ecommerce website solution you choose is going to cost more money - you can pay in dollars, or you can pay with your own time by becoming tech-savvy. If you anticipate generating enough monthly sales to cover the fees, you can look at Wix or Squarespace - they are apparently easy to use, but I don't personally know anyone who uses them so I can't recommend one over the other, I don't know much about them.

Me, I've used ZenCart for several years. But you'll have to take a look at the other ecommerce software out there for yourself; they all have their own quirks and the sort of software I'm comfortable with may not be the sort of software you like to use. There will be a steep learning curve whichever system you decide to go with, so take some time and browse around on their support forums to get a feel of what sort of folks hang out there. A friendly support forum will be your lifeline when you've utterly borked your site at 2:00 am (please don't ask me how I know this). Be prepared to feel stupid and confused; that's perfectly normal and perfectly fine, don't worry about it.

You will have to pay for a hosting service, and again you might want to choose them on the basis of what sort of support they offer. I use a relatively small hosting service because it was important to me that they offered very good personal support, they use carbon offsets, and they donate part of their profits to charity every year. They are not the cheapest but they tick off all my boxes, so. (Note: avoid Go Daddy - good grief they're terrible.) You will have to pay for a security certificate; if you have a good hosting service, they'll help you out on this. By the time you've paid for your domains - you'll probably get a couple based on your business name, including .com and any common variations and misspellings - your hosting costs, and your security cert, you've probably spent a couple hundred bucks already. And you'll be spending that every year.

Paypal: obviously you have an account already if you're selling on Etsy. Customers can also use credit cards directly through Paypal even if they don't have a Paypal account; it's not strictly necessary for you to pay for your own credit card processor separately (unless you want to - but it costs, usually monthly fees). Me, I also use Square - they'll provide you with a swipe reader and you don't have to pay a monthly account fee; they just take a percentage off the top. I keep a Square account for local credit card sales (shows and such) and for the occasional customer who refuses to use Paypal in any way.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 6:51 PM on April 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

You may be able to make Magento work for you. There are a few Magento hosts out there that provide enough initial support to get you going (often for a fee), but whose ongoing costs are less than Shopify.

That said, you probably really do want Shopify if you can make room in the budget. I don't have personal experience with it, but I've had a lot of prospective clients (I do Magento setup/customization/dev work, among other things) choose Shopify over Magento and they tend to stick with it. I've even had a couple switch a year or two over from setting up their Magento store.

I've migrated people from a lot of things to Magento, but Shopify is not one of them. One of those people used (and liked) BigCartel, but found them to be too expensive once they got over about 300 items. Depending on the size of your catalog, that could be an option for you. It seems to be a decent "more than Etsy, but too small for Shopify" option.
posted by wierdo at 11:25 PM on April 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thank you to all who answered. I will discuss with family to see if I can come up with the money for Shopify. If not, I will probably go for a simpler, no-frills e-commerce software with a lower monthly cost.

Thanks for warning me against GoDaddy Mary Ellen Carter because it seems to be pretty popular. I am considering Dreamhost.
posted by whitelotus at 5:26 AM on April 17, 2017

I do not think that Magento will work for you unless you are a tech-savvy or your budget allows you to hire Magento developers to do the job for you. The system is too complicated for a newbie to set up.

Have a look at Wix.com. It is a hosted solution like Shopify, but is less expensive.
posted by magecom at 5:19 AM on May 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Magento would be great! Its basic package is free. However, it requires some PHP knowledge. It is not difficult to acquire and, eventually, you will be rewarded with a substantial ecommerce solution that will be able to handle enormous amount of products.

Magento is even capable of managing several separate online-shops. Shopify is great in terms of structure and performance and it does not require technical knowledge. If you currently cannot afford it, remember that there is always an option of platform migration. In the future, when your business grows to be successful enough, you will be able to change the initial platform easily. Many established entrepreneurs did that!

This article tells much more about both platforms' pros and cons and successful experiences of platform migration - https://opsway.com/blog/ecommerce-platform-migration-how-five-founders-made-it-work-them

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