Homestead Review: E-Commerce (4 stars)
E-Commerce Through PayPal or ProStores
There is no easy statement about Homestead's e-commerce system because there are two. One is a simple PayPal based system that is easy to use, though time consuming to create an entire catalog. The other is the full-fledged ProStores shopping experience with all the tools you can imagine. But since it's entirely different technology, it takes time to learn the new system.
Using PayPal - Not Quick But It Does the Trick
For people who only want to sell a few items on their website but not make e-commerce their primary goal, Homestead is a great option. It's simple enough to add the PayPal shopping icons to a page as long as you don't have too many to put up. But if you have more than a few items, it takes a lot of time to set up since you have to create each page element manually. However, you do have the choice of putting up as many products as you want.
We created this nice catalog, but we were glad we only had 3 items to put in.
No Integrated Shopping Cart in a SiteBuilder Website
When a customer buys a product on a site built with SiteBuilder, a new window opens with the PayPal shopping cart ready to go. It's not as professional-looking as a fully integrated cart. To get one, you'd have to buy one of the Storefront packages. Alternatively, you can get one SiteBuilder package and one Storefront package then link to your store using the SiteBuilder site as your main website.
No Options of Any Kind with SiteBuilder Websites
When you use SiteBuilder to create your products, you can't offer any product or pricing options. You can only create a very basic catalog. If you want to use a variety of options or have store management tools, you'll have to pay for a Storefront package. Same thing goes if you want to use a merchant account to sell through your site.
ProStores Technology for Full E-Commerce Capability
If you want to get more heavily into e-commerce, you'll have to use Homestead's Storefront (a third website builder), which is really just ProStores's technology re-packaged. It is one of the most advanced e-commerce systems available, covering everything from shopping carts to buyer membership programs. Click here to read the full review of ProStores's e-commerce system. Note that Homestead doesn't have transaction fees, though ProStores does.
If you want to use it in conjunction with the features in Homestead's downloadable builder, you'll have to pay for two separate packages then link the storefront to your other website.
The biggest problem is that the set-up is entirely different from Homestead's other builder, meaning you have to learn a whole new system to set up your storefront. It's also harder to learn than the other builders, so if you go this route, you've got your work cut out for you!
Homestead is ProStore's Lone Re-Seller
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