Digital Toolbox: sales. How to set up your web-store

In the seventh instalment in our Digital Toolbox series, our authors tell you how to start selling your products online.

For start-ups or social enterprises thinking about bringing their business online, the first question to ask yourself before looking at the tools below is whether you should opt for a hosted or an open-source eCommerce solution.

The answer is simple. If you have someone to support you technically you’ll save money using free open-source solutions which offer great flexibility. If not, you’ll be better off paying a fee to save time and get going with a hosted solution offering the support you need.



Shopify is the go to hosted ecommerce platform, particularly for small businesses. They have 30 free preconfigured templates and 24/7 phone support to get your store setup. Shopify handles everything from marketing and payments, to secure checkout and shipping.

BigCommerce is a great alternative to Shopify for the less tech-savvy as it has a drag-and-drop editor which makes it very simple to customize your ecommerce platform. It also integrates with MailChimp which can be very useful for CRM purposes.

3dcart is a good option for small to medium size organisations as it has no transaction fees and is very user friendly. Less customization available but it accepts Bitcoin for those who want to offer this payment option.


Open Source

WooCommerce is an open source WordPress shopping cart plugin. If you’re used to working with WordPress already, WooCommerce should be your go to option. It’s fully functional right out of the box and requires little customization.

PrestaShop is a rather unique open source solution as it is actually a for-profit company. Code is available for download for free and an entire shop of add-on integrations and modules, some of which are free, and some of which are available at a one-time fee. They offer training, development, and support services when needed.

OpenCart is a free open source ecommerce platform with a marketplace featuring 13000+ modules and themes to jump-start, grow and expand any online business. 

Photo Credit: Samuel Zeller