One of the most frustrating and time-consuming things any new online business owner has to deal with is finding a good eCommerce system for selling goods and services online. There are hundreds of ecommerce companies to choose from and dozens of variables to consider when looking for the best solution for your website. It’s completely possible to purchase or to start using one ecommerce solution, only to find that it does not have all the features you need or that it requires in-depth programming knowledge in order to configure for your site. When this happens, you often have to go right back to searching for the right ecommerce solution, while precious hours are wasted in the process.

Thankfully, this is something that can be easily avoided, provided that you are armed with the right knowledge. This article will provide you with detailed information on how to find the best ecommerce solution for your website and therefore save hours that might have been wasted finding one by trial and error.

Determining the Best Solution

Before selecting an ecommerce solution, it’s important to determine what kind of features you’re going to need to accomplish your objectives. Here are a few questions to start with:

What Types of Products Will You Be Selling?

The first thing to determine is if you are going to be selling downloadable products, shippable products, or membership products that require ongoing monthly, quarterly or annual membership fees. This will determine whether you’ll need an e-commerce solution that can protect your digital download products, protect members-only content on your website, handle complex shipping details, tax options and set up multiple currencies or all of the above.

Will You Have an Affiliate Program?

If you think you might be recruiting affiliates to help market your products at any time in the future, it’s a good idea to choose an ecommerce solution that has its own affiliate plugin or add on which you can easily set up in the future. If not, you might get stuck having to find and purchase a separate affiliate program that integrates with the ecommerce solution that you’re using. This might sound simple, but integration between ecommerce solutions and affiliate programs can get very complicated very fast and might require you to either hire a professional web programmer or to spend hours working out the integration yourself.

What Kind of Budget Are You Working With?

One of the most important things to consider when looking for a good ecommerce solution is budget, and there are basically three types of options that you’ll have to choose from:

1. Pay monthly fees for a hosted ecommerce solution

This is option is potentially more cost-effective in the beginning, but less cost-effective as time goes on. However, the other advantage of using this option is that you don’t have to worry about the installation of your ecommerce solution. Most hosted solutions also come with their own autoresponders and affiliate tracking programs which makes it easy for you to get started quickly.

2. Purchase a software license for a flat fee

This option costs more money upfront, but if done right it eliminates the need to make future payments for your ecommerce solution. If you choose this option, it’s important to make sure that your solution comes with ongoing technical support and free upgrades. Otherwise, you might end up struggling to install and configure it yourself or spending money in the future to upgrade or renew your license.

3. Free Plugins

The advantages of this option are obvious, no payments now or in the future. However, this potentially the most costly of the three options in regard to time invested in installing and configuring the software. It’s also likely that sales will suffer due to unprofessional design appearance or lack of advanced features for upselling, easy checkout, and efficient payment processing. It’s probably best to consider this option only if there is no other choice.

Top-Notch Ecommerce Solutions

Once you’ve determined what your needs are in regard to product types, budgeting, and affiliate marketing features, it’s time to select the best ecommerce solution. The following are some suggestions based on product types, budget, and affiliate plugins:

1. Options for Building Membership Sites

WordPress Member and WordPress Wishlist are two of the easiest to use plugins for building a membership site using the popular WordPressblogging software. Both of these can be easily integrated with the Aweber autoresponder, WordPress Affiliate Manager and WordPress e-storefor handling digital product sales and upselling features using Paypal. This option is especially efficient for business owners who have only a small budget to work with and who think they might have trouble getting a merchant account. With the exception of the Aweber autoresponder, all of these require plugins only a license purchasing fee to get started. The builders of these solutions also offer free ongoing support and upgrades.

2. Popular Hosted Ecommerce Solutions

1Shoppingcart and keap are two of the most popular and feature-rich hosted ecommerce solutions. Both of them have their own autoresponders, affiliate tracking programs as well as options for selling digital downloadable products, shippable products, or processing recurring membership fees. They both also have options for upselling and for tracking marketing statistics, as well as options for processing credit cards with your own merchant account.

3. Licensed Solutions

Shopsite and keap both offer licensed solutions that have their own affiliate tracking programs, options for selling digital products, processing ongoing membership fees, and for setting up complex shipping options. When choosing one of the licensing options, it’s important to keep in mind that you may also need a merchant account for processing credit card payments. However, they also both integrate with Paypal 2Checkout. It might also be a good idea to pay the additional fee upfront to have the software maker set up and configure the eCommerce solution, that way you don’t have to install and configure them on your own.


Although most online business owners are working with a small budget, it’s important to remember that choosing a poor eCommerce solution is one of the most potentially costly mistakes that can be made in online marketing. Use the above guidelines and make sure that the solution you choose is going to put you in a position to succeed in making your site profitable.