What kind of shopping cart system should I get for my website?

I am often asked why I should spend money on a custom site when I can buy a shopping cart software package. These packages range from a couple to a few hundred dollars and then plan on spending a lot of time trying to configure. I myself am not a fan of these packages because I believe you are boxing yourself into a product in which you have no control. Imagine, for a minute that the company goes out of business or you are told you can’t do it because of product limitations. I’ve had many clients who tried to take that route of using a bought shopping cart only to later give up and doing a customized site. I had recently one client who was so sure about the shopping cart product and he told me he would have it up in a three weeks. So, he went out and spent $1200 dollars on the software. He hired a person to configure it and nothing. It’s been almost six months and his site is still not up. His website looks terrible! It looks like a template no design web site that an inexperience person through together. It has no curb appeal. It lacks features he needs and it is problematic for SEO efforts. So, add up that time and you have spent over twenty thousand and he could have had a site built for ten thousand or less dollars. The site would have contained a professional and custom fit look for his business. The code could have been easily manipulated by any programmer. He would have had all the features he needed for his site and he would be up and running. The lesson learned “penny wise pound foolish”. A website is a major revenue stream for your business. Do it right and don’t cut corners. When you want to build or design a house. Would you rather have a prebuilt model or a custom house designed for the way you live?