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Recommended Host for ShopSite
What is ShopSite?
If you’re thinking of creating an online store, and you’d like to host it at your own website, then ShopSite is a solution you should consider. ShopSite is self-hosted shopping cart software that you can purchase and have installed on your domain. ShopSite bills itself as the easiest shopping cart software for small and medium sized businesses, and also boasts that you can have a store up in only 15 minutes.
ShopSite comes in four different versions:
- Express: This is the free version of ShopSite. It does not include a complete site builder like the other versions of ShopSite, but it will allow you to sell up to 10 products, insert “add to cart” buttons to your existing website, and allow for your customer’s to checkout using PayPal. So if you have a site, and just want to sell a few products using PayPal, this is an easy free option to get started.
- Starter: This entry-level site-builder version of ShopSite supports up to 15 products, and allows up to 5 pages. You also have over 50 themes to choose from and 25 payment options.
- Manager: A great option for growing stores. Once 15 products and 5 pages aren’t enough space, moving to the Manager plan removes both product and page limitations. If you have that many products you’ll also need a search feature, which Manager provides.
- Pro: This version adds a few nice features you would expect to see offered by modern online retailers such as product reviews, a Facebook store, and promotional options (quantity discounts, coupons, etc).
The great thing about ShopSite is that it can grow with you. So you can start at with the Starter or even Express option and gradually move up to the Manager and Pro versions as your product mix and volume increase.
What is unique about ShopSite?
The Express version of ShopSite is quite limited and only allows you to add a shopping cart and checkout functionality to an existing site. With the exception of the Express version, all other versions of ShopSite come with a robust set of features to help you get your complete eCommerce site up and running. As you move from the Starter, to Manager, to Pro versions of ShopSite additional features are added on. So if you purchase ShopSite be sure to review each version carefully to make sure the option you want is included with the version you select.
ShopSite offers a large range of Store Building Tools such as an intuitive browser-based interface with a store setup wizard. This means there’s no special software to install, and the wizard will get you up and running fast. You also have lots of themes to choose from and the ability to adjust those themes to your liking. All versions of ShopSite include a slideshow feature to show off your products, and search-engine friendly pages.
ShopSite will also make managing your business and inventory easier with built-in Catalog and Business Management Tools. Features that will help make running your business easier include easy order printing with customer notes on the orders, store statistics, and secure order management.
Never miss shipping an order with automatic merchant notification as part of ShopSite’s Customer Service Tools. In addition, ShopSite will provide automatic customer receipts, taking that extra step out of your hands.
ShopSite stores are also secure. The most recent versions of ShopSite are PABP/PCI-DSS certified. So if you configure your store according to PCI Security Practices you can be sure that your customers and your store are receiving strong protections. Other Security and Reliability Tools include encrypted storage of order details, card verification value (requirement to provide numbers off the back of the credit card), and human verification images (Captcha).
Robust Shopping Cart Tools are also supported by ShopSite. Among the most important shopping cart features offered by ShopSite are real-time credit card processing, the option to set minimum order values, order confirmation pages so your customers know their order has been places, email address validation so you can be sure your customer hasn’t mistyped their email address, and optional acceptance of separate shipping and billing addresses.
Reaching customers through effective marketing is critical to the growth of your store. That’s why ShopSite offers great Merchandising Tools. All ShopSite versions offer WordPress integration, so you can integrate your store into your company or personal blog. Even if your blog or company website isn’t powered by WordPress you can still integrate ShopSite by adding order buttons and product descriptions with the use of simple copy-and-paste HTML. In addition, ShopSite supports email marketing so you can keep your customers updated.
One of the most intimidating parts of setting up a self-hosted website is payment processing. ShopSite makes processing just about any type of payment easy. All versions of ShopSite offers Commerce Tools that will allow you to accept PayPal, credit cards, eChecks, Checkout by Amazon, and other payment options. If you have a payment option in mind, it’s likely ShopSite supports it. ShopSite can even help you take care of shipping and taxes, and the Manager and Pro versions of ShopSite even support real-time shipping quotes from USPS, UPS, and FedEx.
What does ShopSite cost?
ShopSite Express is free, but it only provides support for 10 products and you have to already have a website to post the product images, descriptions, and “add to cart” buttons.
ShopSite Starter, Manager, and Pro are all paid versions of the ShopSite software and as of May 2015 ranged in price from $5.99 per month to $59.99 per month. The cost of the ShopSite software is in addition to your hosting costs. ShopSite does not offer hosting, so you’ll have to set up your hosting separately, and then install (or have someone else install) ShopSite on your hosting account.
What are some alternatives to ShopSite?
If you’re looking as self-hosted shopping cart options there are lots of options to consider. ShopSite is one great option you should give serious consideration, however here are a few others to take a look at before making a commitment:
- WooCommerce: The undisputed leader of self-hosted eCommerce sites. WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin, that when paired with the right theme can create a very powerful online store.
- Magento: An open-source content management system designed for eCommerce websites. Magento is the second most popular solution for eCommerce websites and probably the most popular option for large eCommerce sites.
- OpenCart: An open-source direct competitor to Magento. OpenCart is a great solution that is ready to go “out of the box” and requires only minimal input to get a store up and running.
One of the main factors that will come into play is the amount of technical expertise you bring to the table. ShopSite will require very little technical knowledge to get a store up and running. All of the other options listed will require more technical knowledge. If you’re already a WordPress pro, then WooCommerce is one you’ll want to give a very serious look. If you’re starting from scratch, and have some design and development ability to throw at the project, then take a serious look at Magento and OpenCart. If you don’t have many technical skills and want to get a store set up ASAP, then ShopSite may be your best option.
ShopSite does not publish their hosting requirements, but they do state that “ShopSite is designed to run on several different server platforms”. We can also surmise from the list of hosting partners listed on their website that hosting requirements are pretty standard and that just about any hosting provider will provide servers that can run the ShopSite software.