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Aftermarket Auto Parts Help
jwhansen




msg:3839448
 1:57 am on Feb 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hello all,

First of all, let me be clear. When I am reading some of your posts from across this site, it is like reading a foreign language! Which means, I am wet behind the ears when it comes to this stuff. So, with that being said here is my question / problem:

My brother and I have been in the performance industry for a while...I decided to start a site. Well, this is where my problems began.

I was referred to a Houston local designer by an associate. I talked it over with him. I Got comparable pricing. He was in the middle. So, I went with him. I told him what I was needing / wanting. He designed a good site that I was happy with and I paid for it. I also paid for 6 months of hosting up front...the whole nine yards.

He taught me how to upload products and so forth. After 3 months of uploading products one by one, I only had about 75 done (I have a full time job). I knew there had to be an easier way to get this done. So I posted a listing on CL for order entry person. Within 30 minutes, I had probably 100 responses. Deleted the ad, and after speaking with some, picked a guy from Houston....To make a long story short....Wasted $450 (first payment of $900). He never did anything. Ripped me off. No big deal, My own fault....cost of doing busines.

Are there any companies that I can go to that have this info done? My fear is this: I spent a descent amout of $$ for the first site, which now I think will be wasted and I'll have to start over b/c somone told me it was written wrong? I have no clue! ANY help is appreciated. Thanks.

Joseph

 

ken_b




msg:3839455
 2:04 am on Feb 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

somone told me it was written wrong

Why did they say this? Are you getting any orders from the existing site?

Not having time to enter products is one thing. Having a site that doesn't work for some technical reason is a completely different issue.

lorax




msg:3839474
 2:28 am on Feb 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

Greetings and welcome to WebmasterWorld jwhansen!

Unfortunately there are no easy answers to your dilemma. You're green enough not to know what questions to ask so allow me to frame this up a bit - hopefully I'll write it in an easily digestible format.

Re: web design and development. It's done and up for now. As long as it's functioning leave it be and move onto the missing pieces. There IS a lot more here but move on for now.

Re: missing pieces. Uploading those products, with images, descriptions, etc. 2 options jump to mind (more exist). 1) hire a college or mature high school student to work along side of you in your home office. Show them how to do it and pay them well for good performance. 2) If the data is in a spreadsheet have a programmer look at it and see if the data can be uploaded to your website (into a database or file on the server). You'll probably have to massage it some afterwords but you'll be a heck of a lot closer to a final product.

Re: all of the Greek you've been reading here. You've got a steep learning curve to overcome. There's no way around this one. Brute force - read, try it, trip up, read more, try again. Caveat - find a damn good developer, strategist that you can trust. How can you tell who's good and who's not? Ask them to fill in the blanks. If you feel like there are holes in what they're saying to you then you're probably right. A good service provider won't leave questions hanging. They'll answer them ahead of you asking them. Be sure the last question you ask is "what haven't I asked you that I should have asked?"

jwhansen




msg:3839503
 3:21 am on Feb 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

I had someone that knows more than me look at what I have and then look at what I need. He stated is was written in "PHP". He said the would not work. He didn't tell me what would either though!

buckworks




msg:3839505
 3:25 am on Feb 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

Lots of effective websites are written in PHP. That person needs to be a lot more specific about both the problem he perceives and how to fix it before you should take him seriously.

Wlauzon




msg:3839532
 4:38 am on Feb 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

He stated is was written in "PHP". He said the would not work. He didn't tell me what would either though!

That makes no sense. Some of the largest and most successdul ecommerce sites in the world are written in php.

My advice, in addition to all the rest you have gotten here, is don't listen to anyone that is not in that field and actually making money at it.

Shoot me a sticky or email with the site address and I will take a quick look and see if it is at least usable.

[edited by: Wlauzon at 4:40 am (utc) on Feb. 1, 2009]

jwhansen




msg:3839540
 5:15 am on Feb 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

I understand what you all are saying and I thank you.

My problem is that I rushed into something too quickly w/o doing a lot more research. It will take me a while to figure out how this all works.

Jwh

jwhansen




msg:3839542
 5:22 am on Feb 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

I am not currently getting anything from the site yet b/c it is not "live". The guy I hired to upload the info deleted everything i had done so it would all be uniform.

Lorax - Thanks for welcoming me.

I am glad I found you guys!

Jwh

buckworks




msg:3839545
 5:36 am on Feb 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

Let us know how it goes!

lorax




msg:3839669
 1:35 pm on Feb 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

Re: not "live" - understood. Why not? Is it complete enough to make live? Is it fully functional e.g. could someone put a product in their cart, submit their CC and shipping details and the transaction would be completed - money from their account goes into yours?

Seems to me you need someone to evaluate your site for functionality, fix what's left and make it live. Then you can move onto filling in the gaps of your knowledge while you work on it a little bit at a time. You really do need to do some serious learning! :)

jwhansen




msg:3839723
 4:01 pm on Feb 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

Lorax - If I added products to it and completed all of the admin info, the site could go live today. The site is not live b/c there are no products uploaded on it. I have everything else done....shopping cart, merchant account...etc

In this 14.5 Billion dollar industry, there are probably well over a million products. Not that I would carry all of them, but to upload them one by one would take years. I just thought there would be an easier way.... and I found a company last night that catalog's parts. You pay for an initial set-up and a maintenece fee per month. They send the manufactures products in an Excel format.

I was informed the site would have to be tweaked a little to include (Thanks to Wlauzon for looking at it)the yr/make/model search.

I know I need to learn quite a bit...but that is why I came to the experts!

jpman




msg:3839732
 4:34 pm on Feb 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

I also do a fair amount of aftermarket performance parts business. The problem with performace parts is that you have to do each and every part that you want to carry or have the ability to order for your customers. There is no short cut to that. Here is what you got:
Major car makers...Toyota, Nissan, Honda.
Each car maker makes lots of cars....You got Supra, GTR etc.

For each car, you got 100s of parts makers, tuning companies and the official parts makers.....Nismo, TRD etc etc.

You have to have a very clear mind on what you want to do and what you can do. The most important point here is to get started with a solid base and that means a decent website. Once you have a decent website, you can go from there.
I know your pain. My best wishes to you.

Wlauzon




msg:3839787
 6:28 pm on Feb 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

Just a personal observation - if you have limited time to update and run the site, perhaps you need to scale back to start off with.

Specialize on perhaps only 1-3 brands in depth maybe.

If there are a million parts, then entering 10-20 a day will take centuries. By the time you get to the end of the first maker list it will be obsolete.

We only deal with about 10-12 thousand items, and keeping up with price and other changes just on those is a 20-30 hours a week job.

[edited by: Wlauzon at 6:30 pm (utc) on Feb. 1, 2009]

Rugles




msg:3840631
 8:40 pm on Feb 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

Wlauzon has a good suggestion. Focus on a couple brands or models and then expand the site as you get time to do it.

They send the manufactures products in an Excel format.

Big problem, because your text will be the exact same as everybody else who cut corners too. Therefore you will not stand out on Google, which will be the driving force in your venture.

We have 13 000 products on our website and we had to enter each individually with pictures, descriptions, measurements and technical information. It was and still is a huge undertaking and very labor intensive. But I have seen dozens of competitors come and go in the last 10 years and I am sure they all cut corners.

[edited by: Rugles at 8:41 pm (utc) on Feb. 2, 2009]

jwhansen




msg:3840743
 12:03 am on Feb 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

I am not listing all of those parts by any means. I will focus on probably 20-30 manufactures to start with.

I do have time to devote to the site. I am just not very fast at doing it! That is the major problem.

I have been talking to a company today that has all the products in a catalog software. My designer is currently working on an upload system to see if he can match his system up with theirs. If he can do that and rewrite somethings on the site, then it is open for business!

This is a lot more work than I thought, but it will all be worth it in the end.

If anyone else has any more suggestions.....all are welcome! Thanks for everything so far!

Joseph

HugeNerd




msg:3841252
 3:49 pm on Feb 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

Re: Uploading product

I am going to assume you live near a community college...
Sign up for their job posting site and recruit 2, 3 or 4 people from an IT class to hand enter the data. If you can find one who has knowledge of cars, that's a bonus. Personally, I'd make the pay scale based on performance -- between $1.25 and $2.00 per entry (assuming they can maybe upload 10-12 products per hour). It's not cheap, but if you hire correctly, you will get unique product descriptions -- a HUGE PLUS given that Search Engines (i.e. Google and Yahoo!) prefer unique content as opposed to scraped or copied content.
The reason I'd hire a few of them simultaneously: I wouldn't let them work more than say 20 hours per person, per week, to try to keep them from getting burned out. Data entry is long, monotonous work and you'll go through several sets of these kids.

Rugles




msg:3841284
 4:26 pm on Feb 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

This is a lot more work than I thought

That is a good thing, it means there is a barrier to enter the market to compete with you.

Or ... like my Mom used to say .... if it was easy, it would not be called "work".

jwhansen




msg:3841767
 4:25 am on Feb 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

I do live very close to a community college. I have thought about that route and is something I might want to reopen.

My mother used to say...if it were easy....then everyone and their dog would be doing it.

Thanks for the suggestions again!

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