Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Enterprise Nation - brochure website for shedworkers

This week's column from Emma Jones of Enterprise Nation looks at the pros and cons of brochure website packages on offer.
This was the question on the Enteprise Nation forum that started a chain of responses:
“We are currently setting up our home business and sourcing products to sell via a website. We will be selling home accessories, gifts and seasonal products. We have had some quotes for websites of which are out of our price range, we want the website to act as a brochure for our products then to sell using Paypal or something similar. Does anybody know of or has used a product we can buy to create our own website to get a professional finish?"
The responses started well. Mike from Mike’s Computers was the first on hand to help and did so by suggesting that Steven and Zoe check out www.oscommerce.com. So far, so good. Friend of the forum, Emily Coltman was next to step in but with a warning. ‘Beware of template websites’ she wrote ‘they have a nasty habit of looking like they came out of a box and can spoil the individuality of your business.’ Point well made. At this point, Steven and Zoe may have started to wonder which way to turn. So let’s try to offer some clarity.

Box-set versus Pro-designer
In the 20 odd responses to Steven and Zoe’s original question, it was about 50/50 in terms of who suggested a package versus professional designer. The main points were:
* Buying a website package means having to build the site yourself. This can take technical know-how and pressure to keep up to date with changing technologies so your site stays up to date
* Turning to a professional designer will cost you more but think about the time saved and the fact you’re outsourcing what could be a key element of your business to an expert.

Package options
What also became clear is there are a number of packages on the market. If you do decide on the DIY route, here are the ones mentioned:

Oscommerce - an Open Source online shop e-commerce solution that allows store owners to setup, run, and maintain online stores with minimum effort and no costs or fees. Recommended by Mike Sheppard

Wordpress - Wordpress with an ecommerce plugin. Comes complete with a tutorial on Youtube on how to set up your store in less than 5 minutes. Recommended by Edward Robson

Cube cart – e-commerce shopping cart used by >1 million store owners. Recommended by Sarah Barnard

UK2.net - uses wizards to set up your site and ‘for a starter website, it's been pretty good’. Recommended by Lol Lowe

Shopify.com - a hosted system (you don't need your own hosting for the website although you will for email) that can link in a number of payment options (PayPal etc.) and the admin section of the site allows you to easily manage all your orders.

Trading Eye – a highly featured ecommerce package which costs in the region of £350 + VAT (a one off cost) which comes with a simple template design. Both recommended by Andrew Armitage
Emma Jones is Founder of Enterprise Nation, the home business website, and author of ‘Spare Room Start Up – how to start a business from home’

1 comment:

  1. Personally, I use RapidWeaver with the GoogaLoom and PayLoom addons. Both cost money, but have been great, as you get drag and drop simplicity, but can also code if you want.