When you ask someone else to do all of the work for you, then it is only fair that you pay them for your time, right? While Magento CE is an excellent choice as a cart for your web store, it is a full-featured shopping cart and it is free (Enterprise editions start at about $12,000). The $1700 was a quote for a custom theme based upon custom design, right?
If you don’t need a custom design, then sure, going with a hosted cart is an easy choice. However, did you consider going with a pre-made theme for Magento? There are many excellent themes for Magento already pre-built, just install, create your categories and product descriptions, upload your logo and product images, fill in the sales copy, add payment methods, and launch. It’s pretty much the same amount of work as you will encounter when you go with a hosted solution.
It only becomes expensive when you start paying someone else to do the work for you. Did you know that there are many excellent Magento themes that can be purchased for $50-$100, and even a handful of really good themes that are free?
Themes – Magento Connect
260+ Magento Themes & Templates | ThemeForest
Premium Magento Themes | Magento Templates | HelloThemes
Magento Themes | Magento Templates | Template Monster
EMThemes – Magento Themes / Magento Templates
Magento Themes, Magento Templates, Magento Theme, Magento Template
Magento Themes | Magento Templates
Magento Themes & Templates | Templates Master
Magento Themes | Magento Templates | Magento Extensions
Premium Magento Themes – Premium Magento Templates | GalaThemes
Magento Themes and Magento Templates by aheadWorks
Magento Themes | Magento Templates
Themer (MG) – Products
Magento Themes and Magento Templates by MageWorld
FREE Magento Themes – High-quality, Fresh Designs!
I just built 2 new websites recently on Magento CE, took less than an hour to set up the hosting account, install the Magento script, purchase ($80) and download the theme, add my logo and store information. I couldn’t have done it much faster, or for less money, if I had used a hosted solution.
The point being, just because you can hire a programmer to build a custom theme doesn’t mean that you need to, or that you should. I am constantly hearing people say that Magento is an expensive way to go, and it just isn’t accurate. The fact is that Magento CE is an open-source (free) software. Professionally designed themes for Magento are readily available, and very inexpensive.
The one thing that you do need to realize about Magento is that it is a full-featured shopping cart, and since it has many features it does require more learning time to master all of those features.
The bottom line is that you will likely need only a small fraction of the features that are already built into Magento, all for free, and you can get everything you need for free or very little money, as long as you are willing to do the work involved. Just ignore what you do not need and Magento will be just as easy as any other platform.
One thing I sometimes do for clients is I disable all of their user account permissions for features that they are not using. They only see menu items for the features they actively use, and Magento’s admin panel is super simple to use this way.
In the long run, if you are successful in eCommerce, you are going to end up customizing many things in your quest for ever higher conversion rates. So you might as well plan for this and start with a platform that will support your future plans, else it will be like starting over having to learn a totally new cart.