> Do the free [shopping carts] (such as ZenCart and OsCommerce) do an
adequate job  ?
I once did a ZenCart job for a friend and found it extremely confusing.
ZenCart has hundreds of options and if you're new to the software you
should prepare for a lot of searching on the net. That said there are
solutions for probably all of your problems and the community is
ZenCart's template system is unusual as it requires you to create a
separate folder with your project's name for each template you want to
override -  a scattered approach which adds to the confusion. You need
to thoroughly document what you're doing or you will be searching again
if the client needs changes in a few months time.
I have spent many unpaid hours trying to figure out ZenCart. It's no
surprise that there's a busy market of experts (or wannabes) who offer
templates and solutions for you.
My friend populated the shop at the time because he was savvy with
Photoshop and could do all the image work himself. But you could as well
end up doing that too if your client hasn't that knowledge.
I think you should weigh your time vs. the fee your colleague charges.
You might want to learn ZenCart or another eCommerce solution so you can
do it in the future.

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