We get a lot of questions on the forums asking for the best ecommerce solution, and why members to tend to promote their favourite, I thought I would I would write up a post on the options available to you... What are the types of ecommerce solutions There are 3 main types of ecommerce solutions available, Hosted, Open source / pre-built and Custom, all offer their own advantages over each other, and below is my run down of these. Hosted Solution: A hosted solution is where a company run the website for you, you have a part of their website for your needs and they take the hassle away the technical expertise on running an ecommerce store. It's primarily aimed at new ecommerce stores, pricing ranges from free to £100 a month, you get a customer support line to speak to someone (this might be an extra add on) and some form of ticketing / forum system where you can get support from the company or other users of the software. The biggest players in the market are EKM Powershop, Big Cartel, Shopify, Bigcommerce and Magento Go. All vary in pricing and features. The main advantage of this option is the lack of technical expertise needed, you are just left to run the website (adding products etc) while they do all the bits you just don't want to do. You're limited to what you can do to your store though, you will be able to change how the store looks but adding new features is normally a big no. Pre-built Software A Pre-built solution is an off the shelf system which has already been built and you can either buy a license (paid) or use it for free (open source). The paid software normally comes with some form of customer support and the free versions normally have some form of forum for users to help one another. This type of solution is primarily aimed at the developer market, allowing website developers to offer a low cost solution to website owners to get an ecommerce store, the choice of which software to use will depend on the developers preferences. The software normally needs a understanding of development to do customisations although there are websites which sell themes and plugins for most of the common carts. Paid Software options include Cubecart and CS Cart, open source software there is Opencart, Prestashop and Magento The main advantage of these options is you get the source code, and you can literally do anything with the site, you want to build new features, go ahead but you will either need to be technical minded or have someone who can do it for you as you will need to install and set yp the site, and do the general maintenance. Custom This is where you go if you have a totally unique idea that no system will currently do, it might be a new way to do a certain function or to link it to other software you use in the business (fulfilment etc). You're in the land of the big bucks and this is primarily aimed at growing businesses which just need something more than what other systems offer. Costings can range from a few thousand into the millions, depending on your idea and who you get to build it. Conclusion There is no right or wrong answer in which type of system to go for, all have their advantages and disadvantages and every websites needs are unique, no website will ever be the same as another. So how do you decide which one to use? Research, look at the options they all offer, work out how much you could afford to spend on the solution and work out which one fits into your website projections (no point getting option #1 if you grow out of it in 3 months etc). Finally test your website solution (trial or demo basis) before signing up, testing will tell you if the solution is the right fit for you.