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Ecommerce Forum

This 68 message thread spans 3 pages: 68 ( [1] 2 3 > >     
Is there any point to starting the ecommerce journey today?
Don't the big boys have it all locked up?

 9:06 pm on Feb 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

Hi, I am not a novice and have a couple of stores - disapoining sales.

The thing that is bugging me is "is there any point in small guys trying ecommerce in 2006"?

I mean, there are a zillion sites out there - getting hits from Google is bloody hard.

You are driven therefore to PPC - which can cost you most of your profits.

Idiots in Nigeria trying to constantly steal from you.

The big boys really own the market nowadays, they have good fraud measures in place - better thwn ours, they have exclusive deals with google to pay less on their PPC than the small guy.

I mean most of the stuff I may want to buy is on amazon anyway - their prices are LOW, there isn't much point even shopping around IMO, you order from Amazon and it arrives, free shipping ect. And if you want a cheap item try Ebay.....

The google sandbox really kills most new stores for a year anyway.

I an thinking of seeing my wife again, sitting infront of the telly and getting a life - no more money to adwords, ect, ect.




 10:33 pm on Feb 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

I may want to buy is on amazon anyway - their prices are LOW,

very wrong

we drop ship for amazon...same items may be purchased for much less on our own website. amazon really introduces new customers to their drop shippers. subsequent orders are typically direct.

to answer your question...it takes an enormous amount of time to develop an online business. either you pay someone else to do it for you, or work on it on the side while you keep your day job. it can be done, but the good ole days a decade ago of putting a website up and getting rich quick are gone forever.

we were in it from the beginning (1993)...today it would take 1000 times more capital investment to do what we did back then. small players breaking into the e-commerce market today have to find a niche without much competition and chip away slowly to break down the walls to get in the game.


 12:33 am on Feb 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

"The big boys really own the market nowadays"

I don't consider myself a bigboy, yet I'm now in the thick of it with them in my industry. They probably do ten times the sales we do but I'm a real happy camper after three years of working like a dog on my site. It's really become a niche as oldpro mentions, yet we sell the same products. We quit using Google adwords last August because we didn't need it anymore. Now it's all free search traffic. Guess you could say all the eggs are in one basket, but I'll take it for now. I do see how it looks extremely difficult for new sites to get the kind of rankings we now have, but I was there once. If I were to start new today I couldn't expect anything like this for at least five years.

It takes patience and ....

"an enormous amount of time to develop an online business"

Well said!


 2:30 am on Feb 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

From what I can gather, there are too many people thinking they will make a fortune by knocking up a quick templated store and stocking it with cheap dropshipped tat of the kind that Ebay is overflowing with.

No, you can't compete with the big boys, but if you've done your research beforehand (did you?), you shouldn't have to.
For example: things not to try to sell online:
video games
cheap tat

The only way to succeed in this game nowadays is to create highly targetted, professional looking sites that are simply _better_ than your competitors'.

If your site is in a small enough niche (although not so small that you generate no interest), you should be able to carve out a good size customer base and maybe even name recognition in a few years.
Don't expect to be making any noticeable amount of money for several years, though.

It's a tough world - without perseverance you'll get nowhere.


 3:13 am on Feb 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

I sell electronics and I know it's a hard industry to get into, but that's the one that I know the most about. I just got off the best year yet (in the 4 we were open). There are a lot of larger "E-tailers" out there but if you do a professional job, be honest and work hard, you can get the traffic you need to make it all work.

It WILL NOT happen overnight.

Stand tall.


 3:23 am on Feb 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

One of the very first measurements I use to gauge the sanity of a new client is their understanding of how long it takes to achieve success online.

Ecommerce is not like a brick and mortar store. You're working with technologies that are relatively new (as opposed to .. oh say a cash register!) and far more complex. Mistakes online can cost you big. While some people jump right in because of the plethora of free/cheap cart solutions and the numerous mfrs willing to drop ship, I encourage my clients to see the realities. They have a learning curve in front of them that no SCORE representative can help them with. And with that learning curve come mistakes. Build slowly and learn what you need before you commit to each level of building your business. If you don't want to learn it, find people you can trust to build/manage/fix/sell/support it.

And as for the Big Boys - the only reason they exist is to teach you. They didn't get to be big overnight either.


 4:34 am on Feb 5, 2006 (gmt 0)


To clear up another misconception...

they have exclusive deals with google to pay less on their PPC than the small guy.

we also use adwords, companies like ours with strong brand recognition naturally attract much higher CTRs. simply because the surfer recognizes it is a brand that they would strongly consider to purchase. With adwords the higher the CTR, the higher the sponsored listing at a lower cost. no doubt negotiated deals do exist, but are still subject to quality and performance standards. With adwords the playing field is as level as it can get for both the small player as well as big hitter. Compose an appealing ad, be prepared to bid very high for a couple of months, get your CTR up...then you can lower your bid and at the same time get you effective cost per click down to an acceptable level for profitablity.

Contrary to your assumption, Google gives the little guy a fighting chance.

on the other hand...YSM is solely based on high much money you can afford to pay for position. YSM is where the big players can eat your lunch and there is nothing you can do about it. we love YSM...so avoid our niche, we will eat your breakfast and dinner too.

With YSM in most market niches will have 4 or 5 big players that no matter what the remaining small players bid...the big boys will make sure they stay in the least desirable positions...simply because they have the funds to do so.


 4:51 am on Feb 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

Compose an appealing ad, be prepared to bid very high for a couple of months, get your CTR up...then you can lower your bid and at the same time get you effective cost per click down to an acceptable level for profitablity.

This is what i do. You nbeed a little bit of money in the bank, but you CAN start from scratch


 5:25 am on Feb 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

>> Idiots in Nigeria trying to constantly steal from you.

I ban every IP address from Africa, Israel and some satellite providers that I can find.

I think there is some solid advice out there to be followed in the threads.

I do think we need to put our brains together and come up with one solid "101 steps to a quality ecommerce operation" thread. What say?


 10:16 am on Feb 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

I do think we need to put our brains together and come up with one solid "101 steps to a quality ecommerce operation" thread. What say?


I think that's a great idea. I have some input for the thread.


 10:47 am on Feb 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

Wow - there are some good comments in this thread, more than I was expecting.

Looking though them they kind of confirm my point - all you guys have been doing this for quite a few years. one even since 1990's - old timer :)

What I was saying is can a newbie really get anywhere in 2006, sure you guys have done, but that was say 2-4 years ago, when it was easier to get established and search engines gave sites a chance.

Everyone is right when they say go niche - but you also say you need a reasonable amount of cash to get started - the two things are not compatible - small niche sites will not have the cash to invest to get stared, there must be thousands of low traffic sites sitting out there losing money.

The two excellent quotes to start a quality thread as mentioned above that I read are:-

"The only way to succeed in this game nowadays is to create highly targetted, professional looking sites that are simply better than your competitors'. "

"Incease CPC for a few months to get top positions and higher CTR, then lower it"

Many thanks for the interesting replies.


 12:38 pm on Feb 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

yes there is a place for newbies

ecommerce is still growing rapidly so plenty of room for new players

but to succeed, you've got to "do it right"

no good doing everything on the cheap - no good using frontpage and paypal then waiting for money to come in before upgrading to a proper setup

get a professional looking website, properly laid out, properly optimised, with a proper shopping cart and proper payment system and promote the site properly - you'll then get the traffic AND convert the traffic into sales

and the latest on amazon ....


 2:56 pm on Feb 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

"but you also say you need a reasonable amount of cash to get started"

I didn't start with much. In fact July of 2003 was when I started and didn't know a hill of beans about websites. I was living on paycheck to paycheck. I built a website from what I knew, or the type of business I was in. I wrote in a way that was different from the others. More upfront and personal, based on what I learned in my niche. It was more of a guide than anything. I didn't think of sales until people began asking me "why don't you sell widgets?"

A few things I've learned:

1- Believe in content. I kept writing more and would complain and moan(under a different screen name) like others do everyday in the Google forum. It was very frustrating, then I worked on links and it all came together. I'm amaized how it has paid off. I didn't think I could top X amount of visitors in one week a year ago. Since then traffic has doubled and keeps going up.

2- You have to love what you're doing. If it's more like a job and find yourself not wanting to work on the website(s) you probably won't get far. Sure, we all get into writing blocks but if it bores you find another occupation.

3- Take it slow as others have mentioned. You can get into a bunch of trouble if you go head first.

4- Believe in content.
5- Believe in content.

I found WW in November of 2003 and that was all that I needed. I did find an excellent website design/marketing forum that helped a great deal as well. Now instead of being nearly homeless four years ago I recently paid cash for a $ 35,000 vehicle and may pay cash for a home next year.

Believe in content!

Thank You WW!

"no good using frontpage"

Works for me!


 4:06 pm on Feb 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

but you also say you need a reasonable amount of cash to get started - the two things are not compatible

this is a little off topic, but...

an important key to success with any business venture is this, you must place a value on your time. as i said earlier starting an online business takes a great deal of time. This time has value...it costs you. This time could be devoted to pursuing another venture that is almost certain to succeed, or a second job with which you could be earning money. Furthermore, it takes time away from your loved ones.

Always remember...TIME IS MONEY.


 9:24 pm on Feb 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

but you also say you need a reasonable amount of cash to get started

you must be willing to invest in your business - you don't have to sell your house, your car, your wife and kids, just use common sense and get a decent website, proper payment systems etc - doesn't cost a fortune .....


 10:20 pm on Feb 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think the BIGGEST think for a newbie, like myself, to have is... PATIENCE!

I'm excited about the new e-commerce store I'm opening. I started building it back in early December and I'm am STILL building it. Just to add more than just the products - guides, definitions, how-tos, history, etc. Give more so I can possibly have repeat customers.

Its a heck of a lot of work! Yes, I want to start making money NOW. I am honestly desperate for money. I'm unemployed, no job in the foreseeable future (long story), bills piling up, yadda yadda yadda... but the store is goign to tank fast if I just do a half-fast job and cut off my foot before I can begin to walk - type thing.


 6:29 am on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

I ban every IP address from Africa, Israel and some satellite providers that I can find....

Does anyone happen to know of a good list for this.

I have done some wide range blocking with the CIDR format (ie: but hard to find a good up to date list of places where fraud is common.

I currently have much of Africa totally blocked out, but some others - like the satellite providers - are much more elusive for address ranges.

Expected Man

 8:40 am on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

It' is definately still possible for newbies to make money on e-commerce. Basically you see the online community growing fast...
I have being doing SEO for quite a few years now, it is harder to rank nowadays for competitive terms because of many reasons, competivity, sandbox etc
But believe me if you know what you doing, you're patient, I say you'll make it.
Whats good about maintrean is the Conversion ratios are pretty decent, don't get me wrong, target well your pages, if you selling red widgets, don't show up for widgets, it'll definately make a difference.
As long as there is searches for a given item, there will ne sales.
Key of success: A well customized oscommerce site, a good shopping card, easy to navigate on, simple and easy to find what you looking for.
seo, seo ,seo is very important, you gotta know how to make it search engine friendly, that is very easy, thanks to the contributions.


 8:50 am on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

We may not be individually beating the big boys of retail, but altogether we are taking a good bite out of their behinds and thats worth something.


 7:22 pm on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

There's nothing wrong with FrontPage; it's good for user interface design; not so good for behind-the-scenes stuff.

If you're selling more than a handful of products, you may want to consider an eCommerce software package as a starting point. I've used AspDotNetStorefront for the past few years, because it comes with a boatload of features that I'd have a hard time re-creating with FrontPage.


 9:11 pm on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

OK, thank you for the clarification. I am using Frontpage AND an ecommerce for the back-end. I just use the Frontpage to edit and update.

Thanks again for clearing that up. I was under the impression that it was just bad altogether.


 2:33 pm on Feb 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

Business is Business it doesnít matter how you define it whether it is online or at your local shopping center you see the small guys come and go and the big guys hold their position. You donít have to compete with them on their terms write your own and start with customer service and give it and back it up people talk and if they talk about you then your one up on them for a start. The big guyís employees donít care for much except Fridays pay and wouldnít that suck if thought the same way as them. So if you kick back watch and TV enjoy it donít worry about it but remember it take more guts to give it a go. Thereís room for us now and ten years time Business is Business.


 8:05 pm on Feb 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

I agree build a great site that is better then your competitors and the biggest thing you can do is invest in PR and get an offline buzz. One good placement on TV or a major publication can give you enough capital to advertise for a year.


 12:16 pm on Feb 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

I remember reading that the average startup doesn't make money until its 4th year of business. Look at Amazon as a prime example. They lost something like $600 million/year for -what was it?- their first 6 or 7 years of business. I've seen similar stats for a slew of online retailers. I used to think that was insane....until I started experiencing the profitability and marketshare part of the journey lately. Nice.

And yeah, there definitely is a point to starting the journey, just as there's a point to practicing your scales; someday, if you persist, you could play Carnegie Hall. Little me from my living room consistently ranks number one for a slew of money keywords in a hypercompetitive field, and we're kicking the big boys' behinds. How? Maybe it's the efficiencies and maneuverability that come from being small*.

*"Small" ie: capitalization >US$1 Billion

And just keep in mind that entry doesn't require that kind of money, at all. You need what to live on, and you need product, and it will be a hard go without paid advertising (although it can be done). The rest is labor, and lots of it. Make sure you're obsessed, be sure of your belief/vision that you have a better angle (whatever it is) and be prepared for a journey through rough seas and calm. The mantra of this thread is to know what you're in for, but yeah, it is definitely worth doing if you have something worthwhile to offer the marketplace.

[edited by: tedster at 1:56 am (utc) on Feb. 10, 2006]


 12:47 pm on Feb 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

it is obvious there is a point.
ask most WebmasterWorld members what they are doing. i bet half of them are inventing and starting new things.
what I learned is that internet business requires much more time than an in-real-life one. it will work at the end as everything that is done properly (from a regular kiosk selling cigarettes to large company offering widgets worldwide). the only question is "how far that end is?"


 1:03 pm on Feb 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'd have to refine that idea that an online biz requires more time than a real-life one. A website requires a ton of work to set up, but it's one-time-only work. Once you do get a certain functionallity set up and running right, that part will just run itself automagically. Whereas, by and large, with a brick-and-mortar biz, a specific task will just repeat and repeat every time, and it never ends.


 2:59 pm on Feb 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

LuckyChucky not so i could cook fish and chips for the next 200 hundred years and it will be the same as today but not so with the web look around the corner tackle the next online buzz you think will work.


 4:30 pm on Feb 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

I really do feel that it is much harder now than a few years ago. In those days, you can just list your site in Yahoo directory and expect a decent amount of traffic. You do not have to worry about SEO. Back then, the term Sandbox did not exist and you did not have tons of scrapper sites and Made of Adsense sites competing for SERPS.


 5:20 pm on Feb 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

I tried to use MS PF many years ago (probably, 95-96 or something tike this).

It produced then about HTML 70K page for a simple layout with just some text.

Since then, I consider Front Page sux (c).

I do not have it installed now, so I cannot check or prove it. Probably, they have improved it.

Just try to create a page in FP with simple table layout:

¶ C1 ¶ C2 ¶

To see how much will it weight.

HTML layout code for it, created in Notepad, had less than 1Kb.

Well, I did that, and this is the entire page:


<meta http-equiv="Content-Language" content="en-us">
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=windows-1252">
<title>New Page 1</title>


<table border="1" width="100%" id="table1">
<td colspan="2">Header</td>
<td colspan="2">Footer</td>



Considerably less than the 1k you say you are getting with notepade, and I even added an extra pair of cells.

Perhaps testing a program from 12 years ago, and basing all of your comments on FP from that one experience for the rest of your life should be rethought.


 8:35 pm on Feb 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

Just like any venture, or business it's not going to work by it's self. You only get what you put in to it. Hard work is what makes anything become successful Ií am a newbie at ecommerce don't really know
a webmaster from, a web designer but I know that with hard work a determination anything is possible so just as the big boys who started from a beginning so can I.

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