Hold my hand through the world of e-commerce.
October 11, 2007 7:25 AM   Subscribe

What inexpensive web hosting would you recommend for my super small business? Oh, and how does the shopping cart thing work anyway?

So far I have: a product (for a very niche market); a domain name; most of my web site done using SiteSpinner. Now I need: hosting with a shopping cart and either PayPal or secure credit card payments (or both?). As far as I know I don't need anything complicated like a hundred email addresses and databases, but I don't really know anything about this aspect of the biz. How much can I expect to pay right off the bat? Per month? Who do you recommend; what else should I know?

Midphase seems to be the cheapest I can find, at $7.95/month, but they say I need a business checking account. Is that true? I'm not expecting to make a living off of this, just something to do as a creative outlet for fun and maybe make a little mad money.

What say ye, hive mind?? Thanks for your time!
posted by infinityjinx to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
posted by doomtop at 7:39 AM on October 11, 2007

I recommend getting an SSL certificate for security. Many people won't make an online purchase through an insecure site.

I also recommend getting a Merchant account to accept credit card payments via your website.

Although PayPal may not be a bad option, I recommend that you take a look at PayPalSucks.com before you make your decision to go that route.
posted by doomtop at 7:44 AM on October 11, 2007

Nearly Free Speech
posted by phrontist at 7:51 AM on October 11, 2007

I use hostmonster for my webstore. It's been great so far -- huge amounts of storage and bandwidth, and extremely simple installation of ZenCart (open source cart software) and bunches of other nifty php tools. It's crazy cheap ($6/mo), and you get nice freebies, like $50 or so towards Google AdWords.
posted by katemonster at 7:53 AM on October 11, 2007

I believe GoDaddy is a decent webhost although I don't use them myself.

If as you say your business is super small and you are looking for an inexpensive solution then I would argue that getting an SSL certificate and a merchant account is not your best option.

I use PayPal for my own small business and they offer a shopping cart too that you can easily integrate into your website. They also in my opinion offer a secondary benefit of consumer trust as people are more willing to trust PayPal with their credit card information than they are some small retailer that they have never heard of.
posted by electricinca at 8:00 AM on October 11, 2007

Since it's a super-small business, I would second paypal. Once you have the paypal account, paypal should walk you through the steps of creating the button to sell the item through your site using them.

Plus, on the web, by using someone like paypal, people will be a little less wary of buying from you (as they might be if you just have a shopping cart).
posted by drezdn at 8:30 AM on October 11, 2007

@ doomtop

GoDaddy is good for domains but I would keep the domain and the hosting separate. This gives you much more control even if it costs an additional $10 per year.
Just tried Gator Host and liked it so far.

If you use Penpal you might not need a shopping cart. If you do try Zen-Cart.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 9:35 AM on October 11, 2007

2nding Nearly Free Speech -- they're responsive and a nice price, and work well for my minimal web stuff. I've heard sucky stuff about GoDaddy (no personal experience there, though).
posted by anadem at 9:46 AM on October 11, 2007

A Small Orange.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:04 AM on October 11, 2007

despite some of the occasional nightmares I have had with them ... I would still recommend the mediatemple.com for the depth of services they provide, the ability to reach a customer service rep 24-7 and attention to detail they provide in the interface to their services. Should you need to grow they may be good option. I have heard good things about dreamhost.com as well.
posted by specialk420 at 10:14 AM on October 11, 2007

Tigertech is totally awesome - inexpensive, and their customer service is incredible. They actually respond to you, and quickly. I've used them for years, for dozens and dozens of domains.

As for the cart/processing: if it's something simple, you can make do with Paypal, or perhaps Shopify. For more control, try CubeCart - free, but you might need some development assistance.
posted by jbickers at 10:39 AM on October 11, 2007

Definitely 1 and 1.
posted by Bjkokenos at 12:15 PM on October 11, 2007

I have been very happy with GoDaddy.com Their sites are scalable and they have excellent customer service. They are very reasonably price. I am also very happy with Media Temple - Very reliable and great customer service as well, but, may be overkill for your objective.

Please be wary of little hosting services who are actually virtual servers hosted on another reseller. I have had clients who have gotten into such arrangements. They were as happy as clams until their first problem with mail or dns, then it was a nightmare getting assistance. Typically, the owners of these type of services are not knowledgeable as they should be and trust their host to know what they are doing (which may not be the case). Let's face it, anyone can be a web hosting service - so go with someone who is reputable.
posted by amphigory at 12:53 PM on October 11, 2007

With regard to GoDaddy, I have no experience with their hosting but their DNS service while acceptable in quality has one of the most annoying management interfaces known to man. They continually try to upsell everything from email to web page design (!) which gets frustrating and doesn't exactly inspire confidence.
posted by Skorgu at 1:08 PM on October 11, 2007

Seconding Nearly Free Speech (+ 'bradsucksdigitaldownloadstore') Made by MetaFilter's own frenetic
posted by acro at 1:12 PM on October 11, 2007

You could also use eBay for your shopping cart. It costs more but also provides a great way to market your product.
posted by jsares at 2:03 PM on October 11, 2007

Second A Small Orange their fully-featured "tiny" account may be enough for you and it's only $25 a year.
posted by JPDD at 3:01 PM on October 11, 2007

I'm a big fan of A2 Hosting.
posted by JDHarper at 5:32 PM on October 11, 2007

Google checkout seems to be becoming more popular. (Also, I've had good experiences with Nearlyfreespeech.net with multiple websites.)
posted by imposster at 8:16 PM on October 11, 2007

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