I think this depends on what your role is in this situation and where you are coming from.
Sometimes, in fact I would go so far as to say most of the time, businesses need more than just a web "designer". Let’s face it there are lots of people with artistic flair, who can have a go at making something pretty. On the other hand, the number of people who can actually understand business needs and translate that into something that works for the business is far, far smaller.
Cost is an issue for them. Well here’s news for you. Cost is an issue for everyone! Of course I’m not telling you anything you didn’t already know, but the major factor in costing is not actually how much you spend it’s your Return On Investment (ROI). So what if they have 5 year hosting with GoDaddy, that’s what $600? That means nothing until you know what there projected sales are. It sounds to me like they made a mistake and purchased the wrong plan or chose the wrong supplier – that happens in business, especially with technical decisions, and it’s all the more reason to get someone like yourself involved sooner rather than later.
One of the most important jobs as an Internet Consultant is not to get sucked into the mistakes of your clients.
My advice to you would be to go back to your client and re-assess there needs and see how that fits in with your knowledge and expertise. Over the next 1,2,3 years how many transactions are they expecting, how much does that represent in sales dollars, how much is online, what is there budget? If they can’t give this sort of information I would question if they should even be starting up.
Your expertise (or area you desire to work in) is with Magento and ZenCart so obviously if they are going to be doing getting a sufficient ROI you should aim them towards a custom solution on a host of your choosing with a reputable e-merchant account. If their projected sales won’t justify that cost, or they don’t want to spend the money, don’t compromise yourself by trying to come up with a solution using the scraps they throw you – try taking a different approach altogether. Selling to consumers and want a low cost solution – think about an e-bay shop. Want a custom solution where you don’t commit to a lot of upfront cost – try FoxyCart. By applying some of the creative thinking that you use in your design work you can give the client what they need without compromising yourself.
I’m sorry for the rather long post but this happens to be something which I’m rather passionate about. I wish you all the best, and please do tell me what you decide to do and how it is going.
All the best