For most clients who need to accept payments online, a full-fledged e-commerce solution is overkill – and it adds a lot of new costs and potential security issues to your project. The good news: there are some great solutions for small and medium-size clients who need e-commerce that are reasonably priced and take the big security concerns off our hands.
In this 18-minute audio consulting session, I discuss the five solutions I use to help designers avoid the biggest pitfall of e-commerce: trying to build your own Amazon.com. I also addressed this question in my recent Designer Q&A Workshop -- check out the recap and audio, which also includes discussion of SEO and social marketing.
- PayPal (4 minutes): We recommend this for clients who need a safe and simple way to accept payments from their visitors, but who don't need a full-featured shopping cart. PayPal is a free and flexible solution that you can use to sell products, subscriptions, memberships and more. Like all these solutions, the actual credit card processing takes place on a third-party server, so we don't have to worry about security. The drawbacks: there can be a bit of a barrier to entry on the checkout pages, because PayPal encourages (or in some cases forces) your visitors to create an account.
- 1ShoppingCart and E-Junkie (9 minutes): These solutions take it a step further, allowing you to provide lots of products, recurring payments, affiliate programs and more through simple links to their hosted checkout pages. They take the security and administration of e-commerce off our hands, and are a popular choice for selling digital products like e-books and subscriptions, though they work for physical products too. They come with a small monthly fee attached, and you can hook them up to PayPal or your own credit card processing merchant account.
- Shopify and Volusion (13:15): These hosted shopping cart solutions are full-featured online stores, so they're a great choice for clients who really do need to replicate the features you'd find on a site like Amazon. They are the most robust of the options here, and they still save us from the security liabilities and costs of hosting our own e-commerce site.