Sunday, June 13, 2010

Five Best Places to Set Up Shop Online [Hive Five]


Five Best Places to Set Up Shop OnlineWhether you make stuff as a weekend hobby or you're set on making a business out of selling your wares, it's never been easier to set up shop and sell things online. These five sites are a great place to start.

Photo by jhall.

Earlier this week we asked you to share your favorite site for setting up shop online. Now we're back with the results and an overview of the five best places to establish a web-based shop and build your online presence.

Big Cartel (Web-Based, Basic: Free/Premium: From $9.99 per month)

Five Best Places to Set Up Shop Online
Big Cartel is an easy-to-use store building and shopping cart service marketed towards artists. They've designed their setup and control panel system with the attitude that you'd rather be creating stuff and working on your business instead of tinkering with your web site. The pricing structure at Big Cartel makes it easy to test the waters without an up front cost. You can set up a storefront and list up to 5 products with basic customization for free. From there they have the Platinum plan for $9.99/month and the Diamond plan for $19.99/month offering an increase in volume of products and level of customization. Big Cartel doesn't take a percentage of your sales with any sort of fees. Check out their example page to see the variety of designs their users are using—the shot above is from the storefront of Backseat Vintage.

Shopify (Web-Based, Basic: $24 per month /Professional: From $59 per month)

Five Best Places to Set Up Shop Online
Shopify is a scalable storefront and shopping-cart system that can handle everything from a store with 100 products with the $24 per month basic package to a whopping 50,000 with the $699 per month Premier package (don't worry there are three budget-friendlier options between those two). The biggest difference between Shopify is completely customizable with full HTML and CSS tweaking, so while you can just grab one of their polished templates and get started, you can also edit that template or start from scratch to get the exact look you want. Transaction fees at Shopify range from 2.0%-0.5% and drop off to 0% if you've upgraded all the way up the chain to Premier. Check out their examples page to see examples ranging from corporate shops to single-owner stores—the screenshot above is from the storefront of Sugar Baking.

Self-Hosted (Web-Based, Variable Cost)

Five Best Places to Set Up Shop Online
Lifehacker readers tend to be a DIY/roll-your-sleeves-up crowd, so it's no surprise that various self-hosted shopping cart systems got nods in the nomination process. With self-hosted carts you need to have a web server and the know how to install third-party tools on it. If you have those two things you can check out popular self-hosted shopping cart systems like Zen Cart, Magneto, and XCart among others. You can check out this enormous set of charts and comparisons courtesy of Wikipedia to really get an in-depth look at do-it-yourself shopping cart software. Photo by pastaboy sleeps.

Etsy (Web-Based, $0.20 per item listing)

Five Best Places to Set Up Shop Online
Etsy is a community marketplace focused on handmade and vintage goods as well as crafting supplies—you can find yarn for a sweater, handmade sweaters, vintage 1960s era sweaters, but no machine-spun sweaters from factories. The site is strongly geared towards crafters, artists, and DIYers. Store setup is a zero coding affair, so whether you specialize in handmade Transformers cosplay masks or terrariums, you don't have to specialize in web-design to get started. Signing up for Etsy and setting up your store is free, you pay a $0.20 listing fee to list your product for four months and then a 3.5% transaction fee when the item sells; no other costs are incurred using the Etsy shopping cart system.
Check out the Editor's Picks page to see examples of stores and products. The screenshot above is of WarmCountryMeadows, an Etsy store specializing in moss terrariums.

Sell Simply (Web-Based, $1 per item)

Five Best Places to Set Up Shop OnlineSell Simply occupies the ultra-simplicity niche in this week's Hive Five—much like TinyChat did in the Best Web-Based Conferencing Tools Hive Five. If you want to have a web presence to sell things, you want to do it simply, and you want to do it with tools you already use, Sell Simply is a great choice. Sell Simply let's you list items via Twitter and have them appear on Sell Simply. The only cost associated with Sell Simply is s $1 listing fee. Everything else is handled by PayPal. If you're already using social media to promote yourself and you want to sell things easily and on a small scale, Sell Simply makes it dead simple and hassle free. The sample site in the screenshot above is Lisateso's, a wedding and portrait photographer.

Now that you've had a chance to look over the top contender's, it's time to vote for your favorite:

Which Is The Best Place to Set Up Shop Online?online survey

Have a favorite tool that didn't get the spotlight here or want to offer more insight into one of the tools above? Sound off about it in the comments. Have an idea for the next Hive Five? Shoot us an email at with "Hive Five" in the subject line and we'll see what we can do.