Whether you make stuff as a weekend hobby or you're set on making a business out of selling your wares, it's never been easier to set up shop and sell things online. These five sites are a great place to start.
Photo by jhall.
Oz ed note: It's no surprise that (just as with web hosting companies) this list is dominated by US operations. If you have goods to sell to an online audience, that's not necessarily an issue in practical terms; the main problem is the foreign currency transaction fees you'll rack up when paying small US dollar amounts for the services. We'll revisit Australia-based shopping hosts for small operators in a future feature.
Big Cartel (Web-Based, Basic:Free/Premium: From $US9.99 per month)
Big Cartel is an easy-to-use store building and shopping cart service marketed towards artists. They've designed their setup and control panel system with the attitude that you'd rather be creating stuff and working on your business instead of tinkering with your web site. The pricing structure at Big Cartel makes it easy to test the waters without an up front cost. You can set up a storefront and list up to 5 products with basic customisation for free. From there they have the Platinum plan for $US9.99/month and the Diamond plan for $US19.99/month offering an increase in volume of products and level of customisation. Big Cartel doesn't take a percentage of your sales with any sort of fees. Check out their example page to see the variety of designs their users are using—the shot above is from the storefront of Backseat Vintage.
Shopify (Web-Based, Basic: $US24 per month /Professional: From $US59 per month)
Shopify is a scalable storefront and shopping-cart system that can handle everything from up to a 100 products with the $US24 per month basic package to 50,000 with the $US699 per month Premier package—don't worry there are three budget-friendlier options between those two. Shopify is completely customisable with full HTML and CSS tweaking, so while you can just grab one of their polished templates and get started you can also edit that template or start from scratch to get the exact look you want. Transaction fees at Shopify range from 2.0%-0.5% and drop off to 0% if you've upgraded all the way up the chain to Premier. Check out their examples page to see stores ranging from corporate shops to single-owner stores—the screenshot above is from the storefront of Sugar Baking.
Self-Hosted (Web-Based, Variable Cost)
Lifehacker readers tend to be a DIY/roll-your-sleeves-up crowd so it's no surprise that various self-hosted shopping cart systems got nods in the nomination process. With self-hosted carts you need to have a web server and the know how to install third-party tools on it. If you have those two things you can check out popular self-hosted shopping cart systems like Zen Cart, Magneto, and XCart among others. You can check out this enormous set of charts and comparisons courtesy of Wikipedia to really get an in-depth look at shopping cart software. Photo by pastaboy sleeps.
Etsy (Web-Based, $US0.20 per item listing)
Etsy is a community marketplace focused on handmade and vintage goods as well as crafting supplies—you can find yarn for a sweater, handmade sweaters, vintage 1960s era sweaters, but no machine-spun sweaters from factories. The site is strongly geared towards crafters, artists, and DIYers. Store setup is a zero coding affair so whether you specialize in handmade Transformers cosplay masks or terrariums you don't have to specialize in web-design to get started. Signing up for Etsy and setting up your store is free, you pay a $US0.20 listing fee to list your product for four months and then a 3.5% transaction fee when the item sells, no other costs are incurred using the Etsy shopping cart system.
Check out the Editor's Picks page to see examples of stores and products. The screenshot above is of WarmCountryMeadows, an Etsy store specializing in moss terrariums.
Sell Simply (Web-Based, $US1 per item)
Have a favourite tool that didn't get the spotlight here? Sound off about it in the comments.