|2009 - Mid-Sized Ecommerce Solution Review|
It's hard to post about this topic...again. It seems like there's a few threads that cover this topic but they are either outdated OR not applicable to my particular ecommerce scenario. I think the hard part about talking about "ecommerce solutions" is that there are a near infinite combination of scenarios that are important to people and their ecommerce venture.
One thing I've found is that as more orders come in (25-50 orders /day, both B2C and B2B, in my case), the critical functionality shifts from the front end to the backend (accounting, CRM, multi-warehosue distribution, administration).
With a background as a developer, I feel pretty capable of building a 3rd iteration of my ecommerce site and backend, but doing that while running an existing site is a bear. It's almost impossible to focus while customers are calling. I feel like the there has got to be some good solutions out there and I'm curious what we can find.
So far, what I've found is solutions in the $50,000 setup range and $20,000 a year to maintain. Generally what you get with this is something that works pretty well, and is missing some critical customizations.. And as you move to customize it, it gets seriously expensive. This scenario isn't really good because once you pay for the setup and maintence, you're at the service providers mercy. And SO far, I haven't found a service provider which I've felt really comfortable with. In generally, it seems like the providers are savvy with making and selling ecommerce software but they aren't savvy with ecommerce itself, which makes a big disconnect.
I often wonder if a really good ecommerce solution is out there.. Because if it was really good, the people who built it would be using it and not trying to sell it.
|I often wonder if a really good ecommerce solution is out there.. Because if it was really good, the people who built it would be using it and not trying to sell it. |
I believe there are and in many cases are open source. With some effort you can set them up and customize them. Customize the code is the key in my opinion and of course you won't find a ready custom solution for sale as it is just that, custom.
You are probably aware that many of the open source packages are solely supported by users who contribute addons from time to time. With some programming knowledge these addons can be modified and integrated to your own site.
Becoming part of an open source community is the first step I think as you gradually can be aware of the features and recent developments of an app. If you deal with a popular package and you don't have enough time, you can always find and assign the work to someone else when needed.
There is a possible solution for you that combines the best of both worlds. It is an off-the-shelf system that many merchants can use as-is, but it is written in Microsoft Access and VBA and supplied with mostly open source code, so it is very customizable. The price range is $2,000 to $6,000, plus $500 to $1,500 annually for support and updates, but it competes with the higher-priced solutions you have been looking at. At 25-50 orders per day, you would be at the low end of our typical users, most of which are in the 10 to 500 orders-per-day range. We have others shipping 4-5,000 orders per day, so you also have room to grow. I don't think I'm allowed to mention the name of the product here, but if you email me I will be glad to discuss it with you.
After re-reading this thread, I realized that I was not quite clear: what I described in my previous message is a back-end business management system for ecommerce companies. It does not include the front end (the Web shopping cart), but it does interface with most of the popular ones, including Open Source carts.
Perhaps since you are a developer you could hire someone to deal with the customer service aspect and turn your attention to coding.
We built our own front and back end. It works well for us and has allowed us to add features as required. We have two .Net developers that take care of maintenance and new features. For accounting purposes we use Quickbooks and we use UPS or Fedex software for shipping. We feel like it is our competitive advantage but it has taken a long time to get it there.
I think in the end it comes down to managing risk vs. reward. If you are specialized then the risk to build your own is high but the reward is also high if successful. Buying or leasing has smaller risk but perhaps less reward.
Check out Stone Age if you haven't. We also have a competitor running Netsuite which is worth looking at.
Uhhh - that's Stone Edge, not Stone Age.
Oops! Thanks, Barney.
Wow I am in your exact same position.
I have used a modified version of Candypress 2.x for the past 4-5 years which has seen me go from 10 orders per day to 75-100 orders per day. Lots of integration has streamlined my processes, such as integrating UPS worldship, Endicia Galaxy Ship, barcoded receipts, a quickbooks importer script to eliminate data entry, etc.
My winter recession project is to migrate to a new cart software. I am an ex-programmer and have done most all customization and integration myself.
I am currently playing with CRE loaded, having played with OScommerce and some other variants as well. The way I see it, there is no all-in-one solution yet that handles front end, back end, and fulfillment, as well as all the TLA's.
My plan is to extensively customize an OS solution as I can't see paying $20K-$50K just to have to teach their developers what works in an E-commerce/mail order business. Of the ones I have spoken with, the sales guys always say, "oh, my tech guys will sort out all the details once we get started" In my opinion, those "mid level" solutions are for people who don't know any better, sort of like SAP for the big boys. If I felt I could spend $50K and have a cutting edge full package deal, I would pay up in an instant.
My biggest obstacle currently is the success of the business (or as I see it, the shortcomings of my website). The phone rings off the hook all day long. It is really hard to code between phone calls. I have 3 lines and 4 sales people, yet still can't seem to get 15 minutes of distraction free time. (This last paragraph is just me complaining)
I am still looking for that solution that requires the least modification, as well as has lots of 3rd party support so I can purchase many of the mods rather than coding them myself.
I was saying that you guys should have a look at k-eCommerce.
They are great with mid-range eComm B2C/B2B and they do real integration with ERP/Acounting package plus shipment provider/Payment gateway etc.
Hope you guys finds what you need.
[edited by: lorax at 9:54 pm (utc) on Sep. 29, 2009]