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Advise a new start up on carts & payment processing

Thanks in advance for sharing what you have learned



11:28 pm on Dec 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I will launch a new ecommerce website this Spring / Summer.

Please look at my plan and suggest what you think i need to hear. I'm pretty green on ecommerce and have 10 years experience in buying ppc traffic and building cpa affiliate programs.

I'm entering a big competitive market (pet meds) but i choose a narrow area and will have less than 20 items for sale.

I just want to have a header with my domain name and then picture the packaging of each product, all items on one page, with an add to cart button.

One of my competitors uses mals-e.com and i like magentocommerce.com and i wonder if there might even be some simpler way to do this. I will farm out the tech portion as I am lame on that. For less than 20 items, what would you recommend cart wise?

I think most payments will be made with paypal but from what i read here, i best offer an alternate for those who don't like paypal. Or as paypal and shopper have matured by 2010, would i be OK to just use paypal alone?

I will be serving USA shoppers only to begin with and quite possibly only USA permanently. Plus i plan to offer free shipping on all orders.

Thanks for your advice,


12:52 am on Dec 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hi Slim,

Good luck with your new site in 2010! I use mals-e.com (haven't used anything else yet) and its pretty easy for me to use given I don't have previous ecommerce experience. I used it when I had less than 20 products and now still use it with more. I only serve USA shoppers and offer both flat fee and free shipping options.

I cant wait to see what others have to say.


1:57 am on Dec 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks for your perspective CarlaR, it's always good to get the opinions of others.


2:00 am on Dec 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

So you want a cart - what else do you want it to do?

Will you sell wholesale?
Return shopper, or guest checkout only?
Automatic repeat orders?
Free shipping only, or autocalculator for UPS/USPS worldwide?
will you be running your own affiliate program?
Will you need a cart, or are customers only going to buy one thing at a time?

Zencart is free and (kind of) easy
Paypal buttons are very easy (and allow automated orders) but over 20 items is a pain
Magento is powerful but complicated

And there are another 100 or so choices. The nuance comes into play with exactly what features you need and don't need. What else can you tell us about your needs?


2:37 am on Dec 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Great Questions

1) Retail Only
2) Return Shopper + Guest Checkout
This industry is easily good for returning customers and even so, i wonder about the value / wisdom of requiring shoppers to create an account. I do a fair amount of shopping online and to me, it just looks like another hurdle to jump through and i don't see any value to me as a seller by requiring them to create an account. I will have no promotional prices lower than everyday prices and never expect to add additional items. I plan to sell 14 items and never add another ever.
3) No Automatic repeat orders ever
4) Free shipping only
5) Eventually will run an affiliate program
6) Customers often buy 2 different items at the same time
but i don't have the numbers on how often that happens. Perhaps 20% of the time and i might be off either way. Since i offer free shipping on every order, maybe it would be wiser to streamline and not use a cart, i hadn't thought of that, but i do like simple and any step you eliminate is always a good idea. I'm liking that possibility a good deal.
7) Some of my competitors never charge sales tax. All my sales will be online. Must i collect for residents of my state (in USA) or since all sales are online, can i slide without sales tax. What's the definitive rule on that?

Thank you so much :)


5:14 pm on Dec 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

7) Some of my competitors never charge sales tax. All my sales will be online. Must i collect for residents of my state (in USA) or since all sales are online, can i slide without sales tax. What's the definitive rule on that?

If your state/county/city has a sales tax, then you must charge it appropriately. Customers in other states are required to submit appropriates sales/use tax to their local authorities when they purchase something out of state, but nobody does.

3) No Automatic repeat orders ever

Why not? I set up a friends trash collection business with a one page website that has recurring order paypal buttons on it. He loves it - his customers love it. The money comes in every month, his customers don't have to do anything, and he just does his weekly service. You would have the same concept with Fido's meds. I don't think people decide if they love their pet month-to-month, they may prefer some automation.


4:37 am on Dec 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

You seem very sure of how many products you are going to sell, but just remember...things do change.

Don't lock yourself into a small box from the get go and not be able expand without major pains. Have a plan if sales do grow.


2:28 pm on Dec 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hi Slim,

I highly recommend Magento, however, the platform will probably be too complicated, overwhelming and 'overkill' for your needs. That being said you should consider future needs and expansion now. It's much better to have too much cart now, than to not have enough in the future. This would cause you to rebuild your entire site on a different platform and in many cases would mean losing much of your organic rankings - unless you know what you are doing and are comfortable with htaccess files.

For your needs, I would look into Joomla with VirtueMart or possibly Drupal with Uber Cart. Both would be fairly easy to operate and get going, but should also allow for future expansion.

For payment systems, paypal would be fine for your first year but I would recommend looking into authorize.net and a merchant account as well. You can negotiate better processing fees than you would normally get with paypal - helping to cut costs.


2:21 am on Dec 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks for all the great replies. Lots of great input :)

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