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All-in-One Merchant Solution vs. custom eCommerce site?
georgei




msg:640380
 3:29 pm on Jan 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

Hi,

I'm at a point where i'm not sure if it's better to go with a All-in-one Merchant Solution, such as Yahoo (http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/merchant/), Monster Commerce (http://www.monstercommerce.com/).. or to have a customer eCommerce site build with a shopping cart and connect to a merchant account.

The All in one solutions usually charge a monthy/yearly fee, which includes hosting, domain name, shopping cart and the whole site basically.. but you pay for a merchant account separately.

I'm experienced with web design/development, so I'm not afraid to deal with code when I need to...

If you have experience with both, could you see the Pros and Cons of both for me.. and the differences you've noticed over time?

I'd appreciate it.. Thanks.

 

Aircut




msg:640381
 9:17 pm on Jan 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

i think it all boils in the end to WHAT DO U NEED?

since you did not layed out your needs, how can someone answer you?

stevenmusumeche




msg:640382
 9:30 pm on Jan 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

If you have the coding skills and experience needed to do it right, then definately build it yourself. You can adapt it as your company grows and really make the technology your competitive advantage.

georgei




msg:640383
 11:09 pm on Jan 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

I don't have the coding skills to build my own shopping cart, or even heavily customize an existing cart, but I can make easy modifications.

My needs are to be able to sell products online, accept credit cards, and have SEO friendly pages.

earthskater




msg:640384
 6:10 pm on Jan 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

Hi,

I think the choice is easy. A custom Ecommerce solution is your only option. The only way to truly differentiate yourself from your competition is to have full control over your Internet presence. This means you must be able to continuously optimize your ecommerce site from all vantage points inluding features, usability, marketing, results tracking, and advertising.

I think the future of Ecommerce depends on custom Ecommerce web site development. My advise would be to find a solution provider that provides full service for your Internet business. Choose a provider with firm roots in Internet technology as well as Internet marketing and advertising. Your provider should give you the facts, proof, and multiple options to build your Ebusiness. As consultants they should advance your Ebusiness from all points at once.

The success of your self made Ebusiness will increasingly depend on having a perfect site.
Remember, this is the "Internet", and we are talking about Internet businesses, Internet marketing, and Internet advertising, all of which must be seen as "Interconnected" to take full advantage of your "Ecommerce site".

Contact me to talk about this further.

Sean
Earth Skater

Wlauzon




msg:640385
 7:01 am on Jan 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think the choice is easy. A custom Ecommerce solution is your only option.

In fact it is FAR from the only option. Most ecommerce sites are not all that difficult to customize - even the Yahoo stores.

We have tried both - and in the end the custom site became far more time and money intensive than our "rent a space" one. And did not get any more traffic (less in fact).

IMO, there is a point at which it makes sense to move to a custom site, but that point is pretty high up there unless you either have a lot of time to program or want to contract someone out to make needed changes all the time (and there WILL be changes).

sniffer




msg:640386
 8:55 am on Jan 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

Just buy one 'off the shelf' and adapt it to your own needs. All the hard (boring) work is done. I think most PHP/MySQL ones would be quite flexible if you know you coding

And, some of them have support forums which often have great little ideas that you may never have thought of

sun818




msg:640387
 9:24 am on Jan 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

Do you want to design, develop, and code or would you rather run a business?

ecomconsultant




msg:640388
 5:50 pm on Jan 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

I agree, growing your business and doing everything (development, marketing, advertising) at the same time is too much to handle.

My advise would be to find an Ecommerce company that is willing to advise/guide you and provide you multiple options to build and grow your business. Look for a trust-worthy one-stop shop providing full service.

Cookie cutter sites like Yahoo stores will continue to decline as custom ecommerce takes over and competition grows. To take full advantage of your website usability, Internet advertising, and optimally market your business, you must have the full knowledge of E-business that an Ecommerce consultant has.

PS: It is my experience that most ecommerce buyers have been taken advantage of in the past. Now as consumers are becoming more educated, they are realizing they need custom service, in the least, and cookie cutter sites / companies don't cut it.

Wlauzon




msg:640389
 6:11 am on Jan 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

Do you want to design, develop, and code or would you rather run a business?

People tend to forget this. I have seen would-be ecommerce moguls time after time spend more time on the details of the website than on the business.

So unless your business IS site development, get something that needs as little maintenance as possible and makes it easy to add/change products, prices etc.

Cookie cutter sites like Yahoo stores will continue to decline as custom ecommerce..

I disagree with this, and the fact that Yahoo now has something like 323,000 stores would tend to reinforce that opinion. Not to mention the fact that Amazon and Ebay have also either opened or will soon open their own "cookie cutter" versions of online stores.

Custom solutions definately have a place, but to say that the average Joe that is just getting their feet wet in the business should have one is .. just wrong. One should not spend a lot of time and money on a site before they even find out if they have the business smarts to make a go of it.

And as a matter of fact, I know several people that have BOTH, or more - one I know has almost the same store on Yahoo, Monster, and two custom built sites, and they all do fairly well.

ecomconsultant




msg:640390
 2:25 pm on Jan 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

What everyone seems to assume is that custom ecommerce is TOO EXPENSIVE... this will increasingly change due to the competitive ecommerce development market. I think Yahoo will decline, the number of clients they have now is mostly due to advertising/promotion. I am willing to bet many of their small business clients fail in the first year because of lack of education and guidance. Yes, the turn-key Ecommerce providers get you online fast but that's about it. This is why affordable custom ecommerce will take over as business owners realize they need personal support and service to build and grow their E-Business.

jwolthuis




msg:640391
 2:34 pm on Jan 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

... Yahoo now has something like 323,000 stores ...

323,000 cookie-cutter stores, and the only differentiator is the price of a blue widget. Expect that number to continue to grow.

Set the barrier-to-entry low enough, and anyone who can get their hands on product can run an operation out of their basement.

Soon, the number of Yahoo! Stores and eBay Stores will number in the millions. Everyone will have a store, with product pricing a nickle less than yours.

How do you compete? Have a fully-customizable solution, with a better checkout system, better user experience, and international appeal. Accept orders in their currency and language, run a user forum, offer live chat, be extremely responsive to emails and phone calls.

Beat them with technology and service, because you won't be able to compete strictly based on price.

Wlauzon




msg:640392
 4:10 pm on Jan 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

(Yahoo) I am willing to bet many of their small business clients fail in the first year because of lack of education and guidance.

I am sure that many of their small business clients fail. I am also sure that any other solution has nearly an equal number of failures.

There are two different issues here - the business side of it, and the website side of it. I have seen owners with the knowledge and skill in business succeed with a totally crappy website, and I have seen total flops with owners of the "best looking" websites. Let's not confuse apples and oranges.

Something like 90% of ALL small businesses fail in the first two years - but that is only slightly related to what ecommerce platform they use.

I am not saying that Yahoo or any similar off-the-shelf solution is the best long term - but in many cases it may be the best way to TRY OUT a business and get started.

[edited by: Wlauzon at 4:21 pm (utc) on Jan. 30, 2006]

Wlauzon




msg:640393
 4:20 pm on Jan 30, 2006 (gmt 0)


How do you compete? Have a fully-customizable solution, with a better checkout system, better user experience, and international appeal. Accept orders in their currency and language, run a user forum, offer live chat, be extremely responsive to emails and phone calls.

And again, you are mixing apples and oranges.

In one sentence you state that there will be millions of competitors selling at a nickle less, and in the next your solution is to have a better checkout system.

How is having a better checkout system going to get around the fact that they are selling for less? And I don't seen where any of the other solutions tell me why a custom site is any better than a "cookie cutter" one. Of all the things you stated, only one - the checkout flow - has a thing to do with the platform. The rest could apply to any business site - even those that are not selling online.

ecomconsultant




msg:640394
 4:58 pm on Jan 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

Here are a few points for why Custom Ecommerce is a necessity. Most importantly an Ebusiness's continued success will depend on personal service and support.

Benefits of custom Ecommerce:

1) Service, support, and guidance to build your store
2) Ability to customize shopping cart / checkout process (optional)
3) Single point of contact for website development, optimization, and marketing
4) Single point of contact for Internet advertising
5) Continued guidance to expand / grow your business

jwolthuis




msg:640395
 6:35 pm on Jan 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

How is having a better checkout system going to get around the fact that they are selling for less?

By itself, nothing. But you hacked my comment.

I also mentioned live help, multi-currency, a better user experience (e.g., also-bought, product rating system, multiple product views, etc).

If all that mattered to shoppers was "who has a blue widget for cheapest", then I guess I'm in big trouble.

Yahoo! Stores (or eBay Stores) are great for those that want to try out eCommerce. But they're also cookie-cutter, relatively expensive, and limited to Yahoo! Store capabilities.

sun818




msg:640396
 7:04 pm on Jan 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

Personally, I don't like Yahoo! Stores because they don't provide a shipping quote until you enter in your billing details. Having said that, there is value in mimicking checkout flow of the big sites (e.g. Amazon, Yahoo! Stores, eBay) since buyers are "pre-trained".

> What everyone seems to assume is that
> custom ecommerce is TOO EXPENSIVE

For any individual looking to sell online there is no budget for a consultant. Businesses are not so different that an off-the-shelf cart could not handle most of your biggest needs. Its not like your requirement is unique. There's a shopping cart already that probably handles it. You as the business-owner also need to be flexible and make adjustments in your business processes as well. Yeah, that would be a nice feature but can you live without it?

idolw




msg:640397
 7:21 pm on Jan 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

why don't you put down your needs on a piece of paper and ask for a quote?
why don't you then compare that quote to the price of the Yahoo! store?
why don't you figure out how much money you are supposed to make in 1st, 2nd and 3rd year of operation?
if Yahoo! store is cheaper than your own solution, why don't you add Yahoo!'s price to the cost of moving to your own solution after 1 or 2 years (which you will definitely need anyway if you ever go higher than one-man business)?
why don't you finally decide whether you can afford your own ecommerce solution now or not?

sun818




msg:640398
 7:27 pm on Jan 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

> cost of moving to your own solution after
> 1 or 2 years (which you will definitely
> need anyway if you ever go higher than
> one-man business)?

Can you explain why a business would have to move off of Yahoo! Stores if there is more than one employee?

ecomconsultant




msg:640399
 7:39 pm on Jan 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

For any individual looking to sell online there is no budget for a consultant

That's not absolutely true, I am an affordable consultant providing custom service and guidance for both newbies to Ecommerce and existing owners transferring from turn-key providers.

I know the "big" Ecommerce providers do not really offer much in the way of personal support and service. Find a provider that does gives you the best opportunity for success now and in the future.

You want to be in business growing a year from now, not looking for a new provider with better more encompassing services.

The price is mainly an advertising point for the "big guys" to draw you in; it is not inclusive of the true cost to be successful online.

Ecommerce is not a commodity, it is combination of products and services to be successful in business online.

palomar55




msg:640400
 8:03 pm on Jan 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

Some of these posts are about Yahoo stores are complete nonsense.

When you sign up for a Yahoo Small Business you can use their templates (what I suppose others here call cookie cutter stores) or you can develop your own custom store using Dreamweaver, FrontPage, Notepad, or whatever and FTP the whole thing to your Yahoo hosting account. Yahoo has special Dreamweaver integration tools that make store development a snap. I used Front Page to custom make our store and it was pretty simple. Yahoo has step by step instructions on how to do it with either of these tools or with a non WYSIWYG HTML editor. No Yahoo store business has to be a cookie cutter store unless they want to be one.

The other important element that is not being discussed is the hosting infrastructure. Yahoo also has a *real* ecommerce hosting infratructure with redundancy which is rare with budget hosts. Our store has never been down in 5 months and we monitor it via a third party tool. Mention RAID to a budget host and they invariably say "we have nightly backups." Nightly backups don't keep the store online when the disk drive goes boom and your budget host has to spend 6 hours rebuilding the box and then restoring your (and 300 other shared) ecommerce site on the new drive. Been there, done that.

Is Yahoo expensive? For $40/mo plus 1.5% of sales you get a real hosting infrastructure, human beings on telephones for support (or emial if you want), very simple merchant account and real time UPS set up. In my opinion it's quite reasonable. Should we reach the point where that 1.5% is serious money then we would probably look at alternatives. For the small (but serious) business I would recommend Yahoo.

jwolthuis




msg:640401
 8:28 pm on Jan 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the info. I didn't know they had that flexibility, because I run across a lot of stores that have the Yahoo! Stores "look" to them... apparently the default skin.

How are their rates for their merchant account? How quickly do funds settle?

Also, do they offer services, such as a Froogle feed, or multi-currency support?

A few of my products ship in a 6-foot tube; do they have support for UPS Oversized packages?

palomar55




msg:640402
 9:21 pm on Jan 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

Well, even though they work together, the store is one thing and the merchant account is another. You need to apply to a financial institution for your merchant account. Yahoo has a recommended vendor, although I don't recall who it is. We happen to use Wells Fargo Bank but there are many vendors out there. It's similar to how UPS real time shipping is integrated with the store but you still have to sign up for your own UPS account to use the integrated shipping tools. Yahoo will walk you through this on the phone if it's new to you.

How fast the funds clear depends on your merchant account vendor. A couple of days is typical.

They offer a feed to Yahoo Shopping but not Froogle. Can't answer the tube shipping and currency questions as I don't have those needs. BTW, Yahoo/UPS have an arrangement such that Yahoo store operators get a discount on UPS shipments initiated though the Yahoo store. For us it amounts to a few bucks per shipment.

Wlauzon




msg:640403
 2:49 am on Jan 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

if Yahoo! store is cheaper than your own solution, why don't you add Yahoo!'s price to the cost of moving to your own solution after 1 or 2 years (which you will definitely need anyway if you ever go higher than one-man business)?

This is nonsense.

We have been on a Yahoo store since 1997. We have about 20 employees. We sell around $9 million a year just on our Yahoo store.

Please tell me why we should move to a "custom solution"?

And as someone noted above - in the almost 9 years that we have had a Yahoo store, we have had less than about 6 hours TOTAL downtime.

Some other comments:
1. I don't care about multi-currency. 95% of our sales are in the US or Canada. We let VISA do the math on currency conversions.
2. "Live Chat" is a loser for most businesses. We tried it, and know others that have tried it. It takes up a lot of time and ties up an employee. That is what telephones are for - call our 800 number or email us - we answer all email within 4 working hours.
3. Shipping rates are a hassle with ANY platform I have seen. And if you think you can use the UPS rate program and Fedex program on the same site - think again - both companies have stipulations that only THEIR automated rate system can be on that page. So if you have UPS, USPS, Fedex, and DHL - you need 4 seperate pages to figure shipping costs.

Personally, I don't like Yahoo! Stores because they don't provide a shipping quote until you enter in your billing details.

A valid complaint, but wrong. For almost two years now, Yahoo stores have had the UPS shipping program built in - so you can get a shipping estimate on the first page without entering any details at all but your ZIP code.

ecomconsultant




msg:640404
 3:09 am on Jan 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

Since you can afford a custom solution I would recommend it, possibly, to save X% on merchant fees such as 2.29% or lower which is available for Visa and Mastercard. (not sure what your rate is)

More importantly, there is the opportunity to fill the holes in your business model.

I would recommend a custom approach that treats your business as a whole from development and optimization to marketing and advertising. This could provide increased revenue as well as deliver greater return on advertising investment.

Wlauzon




msg:640405
 3:16 am on Jan 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

You might also want to look at the new GoDaddy store - have not tried it, but have heard good things about it for a beginning ecommerce site.

All platforms suffer from SOME kind of problem or issue, to a large extent it is more a matter of which failing is the least important to you - the lesser of all evils.

Even though we have used Yahoo for years, and I sometimes find myself defending them, they are not perfect. Their USPS integration has been "coming soon" now for months. Their customer service, while good, is sometimes slow.

But I think you will find that anything you look at will have some kind of problems, and a lot depends on how much actual programming etc you want to do.

Wlauzon




msg:640406
 3:24 am on Jan 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

Since you can afford a custom solution I would recommend it, possibly, to save X% on merchant fees such as 2.29% or lower which is available for Visa and Mastercard. (not sure what your rate is)
More importantly, there is the opportunity to fill the holes in your business model.

We pay 1.4% (1.23% on swiped cards). But that is not really the issue. The Store Fees are somewhat of an issue, but not a big one.

Your last sentence however, is the real kicker, and I think one of the best reasons to look at other platforms. I know several large Yahoo stores that also have "satellite" non-Yahoo specialty stores. For example, the main store might sell pet supplies - but the other store is set up as a specialty store to sell only pet TOYS (actual example).

One thing that a lot of people new to ecommerce don't realize is that there is no reason you cannot have more than one store, and they can be in different places on different platforms aimed at different audiences.

ecomconsultant




msg:640407
 4:12 am on Jan 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

One thing that a lot of people new to ecommerce don't realize is that there is no reason you cannot have more than one store, and they can be in different places on different platforms aimed at different audiences.

That is an excellent point, especially, for existing Ecommerce site owners interested in more options and custom features.

derekwong28




msg:640408
 8:46 am on Jan 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

"We have been on a Yahoo store since 1997. We have about 20 employees. We sell around $9 million a year just on our Yahoo store.

Please tell me why we should move to a "custom solution"?"

I thought saving $135,00o in Yahoo charges would be more than a good enough reason.

But seriously, one of the main reasons why I would not use is hosted solution is this. If a company makes a complaint, however spurious that you are selling goods that may have infringed copyright. They often complained to the webhoster directly who may terminate your account without a court judgement.

e2solutions




msg:640409
 9:46 am on Jan 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

Off the topic of the 'ecommerce store' itself is the backend integration of how your business will be able to handle cross integration into your other systems in a realtime capacity (which yahoo, volusion, or any of these merchants dont give you).

Within this area there are multiple players than can fulfill this for you. Evolution, Interprise Suite (in beta - final release March 1), Everest Software, and Netsuite are a few. Interprise will provide the best bang for the buck in the SMB marketplace as they are setting up to offer a 3 user version of the sofware for FREE with the ability to upgrade to more users for by comparison reasonable rates. The key to all these systems mentioned is that they all seemlessly cross integrate CRM, Accounting, Purchasing, Sales Order Management, eCommerce, Inventory Management, UPS/FedEx/USPS shipping modules, and a host of other things.

The reality of the SMB marketplace within the coming years (as someone suggested already) is not being able to have your widget online but instead have your widget online is the easy part, its having tools that integrated cross integrate the backend systems and automate that will be the real success players.

The majority of clients that we work with in this space are SMB type customers where after settings systems such as these in places there were able to increase their revenue to employee ratio to about 500-750k per each employee. While the costs to get into some of the packages may be high - find the right channel partners who can deliver results and with 3-6 months you can see ROI.

This 36 message thread spans 2 pages: 36 ( [1] 2 > >
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