I've been working with ecommerce applications since 2001. Both hosted, self hosted , free and paid applications. I recently answered a few ecommerce questions and also helped the users outside of pro webmasters. I'm familiar with Magento, CS-Cart, Interspire, and Volusion. The last time I used osCommerce their template system was very difficult to work with. Compared to the smarty template system of cs-cart which I think is much easier to work with.
Magento has a learning curve and is as advanced as they come, the earlier versions used up a lot of resources and you needed specialized hosting to make it work fast, it's much better now but not a cart I suggest to beginners. Interspire is difficult to work with when you have a lot of products, especially with options. The interface is old and doesn't let you work efficiently, and the URL structure is not very SEO friendly.
Back when CS-Cart came out X-Cart was a popular cart but they charged for addons which came free with CS-Cart and that was a big deal to save a few hundred bucks.
I'm sure I could write a decent article to help guide people to a cart that suits their needs.
Topics could include
- Hosted shopping carts (Free, Freemium, Premium)
- Self hosted (Free, Premium)
Basic pros and cons of each, links to their site as well as directly to the demos