This is a follow up to 10 Resources to Help Build a Cheap SEO-Friendly Site, and is a exhortation as to why there is no reason to spend thousands of dollars on a full-blown eCommerce site. Unless you have the customer base that Amazon does - and you probably don't - you can seriously bootstrap your next online store. This is a quick tutorial on how to set up an online business with almost no money. It's up to you to market your web based business though.
I recently created a site for a client. The entire site, to include payment gateway and shopping cart, cost about $120 (not including the cost of my expertise and time, of course). That's pretty good considering there are a lot of so-called eCommerce solutions out there where companies charge thousands just to get your store up and running, hit you with monthly fees, and look horrible.
Magic of WordPress
As mentioned many times before, WordPress (self-hosted) is the bomb! After years of content management systems (CMS) coming and going, WordPress has consistently been the leader. There is just so much that you can do with it that it's scary. I used a premium theme from WooThemes that cost around $70 for 3 of them. The cool thing was that the theme came with everything you needed to make buttons, featured images, and so on. That being said, it made it very easy to make the site look like a store.
Paypal Website Pro
In order to truly take online orders you need to have an efficient way of taking credit cards. You can use payment gateways out there, and all of them have varying pricing schemes. I chose PayPal Website Pro for the time being, it's $30 a month plus a percentage of the product sold.standard with Foxycart, but it's clunky and a bit confusing for customers. There are a lot of
Aside from my web host (which is Bluehost, and they are awesome) that's all that was needed in order to create a fully-capable online store. So if anyone comes at you trying to sell you an eCommerce solution for $3000+, you can politely decline because you now know how to start an online business with almost no money yourself.