If you are starting an online store and you find yourself at a crossroads as to what your first steps should be, consider these options carefully before jumping in:

Open Source eCommerce
With options like osCommerce, Magento, and ZenCart available, getting a simple, bare-bones eCommerce site up and running quickly and affordably is fairly easy. Open source platforms are not as secure or flexible to customize as a custom system but do offer an entry-level approach to the world of eCommerce.

Custom Built eCommerce
Custom built eCommerce websites are typically more costly and time consuming to get up and running but the benefits typically outweigh the consequences. With a custom eCommerce system, your functionality and flow of the site is not dictated by a pre-built framework. You have the ability to decide how your visitors find your products, add items to their cart, check out, etc. There is also greater control of the appearance of the website, an important factor in convincing shoppers to stay on your website.