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E-commerce information for beginners



8:08 pm on Oct 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

I have tried doing some research, and I am not done yet, on starting an e-commerce site.There are many issues to consider when opening your own e-commerce.

Do you need to create or hire someone to code the website? How do you find someone adequate and trustworthy to fit your budget? Do you need to hire separate people, to design, build the site, and to create your shopping cart?

If you can't code or pay someone / people to create the website, what are your options? Do you give up and use Ebay till you can afford it? Possible use a CMS (Content Management System) site to create the website by following their set up steps? When using a CMS, what are things to look for one when decided which is the right one for your goals?

Security is a major issue when opening a store, as well when starting your e-commerce site. Is an HTTPS over an HTTP enough of a security? Do you need an SSL Certificate, such as Verisign? Is having a secure shopping cart system enough to secure your customers and yourself?

These are general ideas / questions I would assume people have when deciding to start their e-commerce site. I am looking to start my own small e-commerce site, expecting to make a profit under $10,000-20,000. My knowledge of code is limited to html, css, and a very basic understanding of Jquery. I want to use a CMS to create my e-commerce site but I don't know which to use. My starting budget is ideally under $500. I am planning to only sell within the US, not to Alaska and Hawaii. At least for the beginning I am not set on having my own system to process payments, I will offer paypal and google checkout. I am fine with them being the only form of payment options, unless eventually I see I could have my own and increase my profit significantly.

Any information, advice, or references will be greatly appreciated.
Thank you!


8:24 pm on Oct 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

If you use a CMS the only important rule is: start now !

You will find problems later, and it's useless to try to think about everything first.


8:31 pm on Oct 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

I would like to launch it in 2-3 months. Running into problems is inevitable, it gets worse when you jump in with out doing any real research.


1:38 am on Oct 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'd recommend you concentrate on product selection (or production) and marketing. Choose an ecommerce platform that comes in the complete package - Volusion, Network Solutions or similar. They provide complete hosting and support. I believe you can even do a paypal only shopping solution which would avoid the SSL and security issue. I'd also recommend keeping your design simple and easy to use. Otherwise your time and money is better spent on product and marketing. It is relatively easy to have a website. It is much harder to get people to actually visit and purchase than it is to set it up. Good luck!


3:26 am on Oct 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

Thank you-

If I choose paypal and google checkout as forms of security, your saying I wouldn't need to worry about security? I feel that people will still want it, to feel a sense of security.

Before I think about advertising, I want to focus on how to get a website. Once I figure that out, I will look into advertising before launching the site.

I have an idea of the design and I am taking a web design class now.I hope I can design a decent site after it.

I have heard of Volusion and Network solution. I do not know which one to use or if I should use another company.


1:41 pm on Oct 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lorax is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Welcome to WebmasterWorld skald89.
For $500 count on doing the work yourself. You can setup a relatively quick/painless ecommerce site using WordPress and an eComm plugin.


2:40 pm on Oct 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

I do plan on doing the work myself. I know wordpress is good for many things is it a good option for e-commerce?


6:22 pm on Oct 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lorax is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

For a small ecomm store it works just fine - in fact it will save you a huge number of headaches if you choose the right plugins. But if you really want to have hundreds of products, it will take a lot more work to implement - not impossible but you would be better served looking into a more robust eCommerce solution.


6:57 pm on Oct 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think it will be significantly under 100 items. At most it would be 200 items. A few would be custom orders. Allowing people to submit their name or text and depending on the amount of letters, the price would change.

What I want is control over the layout. Preferably with click and drag or selecting options from a drop down menu. If I have to I could go and change the css code to edit the layout, not the end of the world.
A simple option of letting customers type how many orders of a single product they want.
The ability to add to cart while browsing / shopping for other items.
Item numbers for each product.
The ability to store basic contact information, name, phone number, and address.
Emailing and storing purchase details.
Ability to change amount of items or delete items from cart.
A review option, which if I use wordpress it should be able to add that function. It is mainly, from what I see, used as a blog CMS.
I think these are very basic things.


8:03 pm on Oct 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

Why not use a prebuilt site like big commerce or something similar templates can be customized SEO is built in and so are many other sales avenues such as ebay pay per click sites and google shopping. For the cost per month you cant go wrong.


8:14 pm on Oct 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

I was looking into using a prebuilt site from big commerce or competing companies. I don't know which to use though, there are very few reviews I found and theyre mixed reviews.


11:48 am on Oct 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lorax is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

You'd do fine with WordPress / Ecomm plugin combination. WP is also very good with SEO and you'll have a lot more flexibility while you learn the ropes - because you will make mistakes and change course.


12:20 am on Oct 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

Wordpress provides an e-commerce plug in? If not, which would you recommend or what site would you recommend to pick from?


4:47 am on Oct 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

I use Big Commerce personally for many of my ecommerce sites.
Once you learn the ropes the sites are easy to set up there are a number of templates to choose from and the websites are fast to load. They update regularly adding fixes and new features along the way. The were ready for the new google merchant changes before they went into affect and changing the products and categories were easy to do and there was no need to edit a xml spreadsheet. If you want to look at one of my sites hosted on there send me a PM and I will send a link. The site is basically a default template with a few bits of artwork added. Up and going in less than a week and stocked with inventory.


5:31 am on Oct 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

I would NOT recommend a hosted solution such as BigCommerce or Volusion, we had such a bad experience with those.
Basically the store does not belong to you and most importantly all your custom changes will be lost forever once you leave them.
the Big MINUS with those hosted solutions is that you can never put your store on pause, never! They would kick you out and you when you come you would have to restart from zero!
I'd strongly recommend buying your own shopping cart, a good one such as Magento or myEbiz.
We use myEbiz and we are so happy to have that sofwtare.


[edited by: lorax at 12:20 pm (utc) on Oct 16, 2011]


3:07 am on Nov 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

1) focus on a solution that enables you to add/delete/mod products easily. plenty of open source shopping cart with built in CMS for you to choose from. IMHO better to use this than getting a CMS with addon shopping cart.

2) Dont worry too much on SSL stuff unless you're processing credit card yourself. if ur using 3rd party pay processor (ie. paypal/moneybookers.. dont have to bother getting SSL.

3) Dont put too much emphasis on design. Get your shopping cart up and running with its basic design, add the products and start selling... get a professional to design and redesign your site. (btw design of a ecommerce site is a recurring procedure (yearly perhaps)

4) Consider using implementation which is ready-to-use, infrastructure ready, identity ready and preconfigured to suit the country where you do you business in..


[edited by: lorax at 12:24 pm (utc) on Nov 1, 2011]


7:52 pm on Nov 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

I assume your major target is selling online using your eshop rather using it as an assist tool. In this case the number one priority is marketing. Prices, can you offer better deals than the rest of merchants for the same or similar merchandise?

For the technical issues you asked
Do you need to hire separate people, to design, build the site, and to create your shopping cart?

Typically you need a designer to create an original theme for the site. Some people on low budgets prefer to get a low cost ready template or a free template. The problems with that, is the themes won't easily much your requirements. And you will need to spend time to do changes yourself taking high-res pictures learning how to use photo-editing and design, s/w apps, match colors, putting pictures together to create a solid theme.

Once you have the theme in place you need to decide on the ecommerce framework. That is also very important. Bloated packages with all kinds of features you will never use they just waste resources in general and complicate customizations. Once you decide on the framework you have some choices. You could find someone who's proficient with the framework's code and pay him to integrate the theme. You could also spend time learning the s/w and integrate it yourself.

But now you also need to decide what you want to do. Do you want to be a merchant and specialize on the merchandise how to market it and how to sell it or you want to start learning s/w to build your eshop. I have seen startups failing simply because of that. They put time and effort thinking they save something by doing it themselves, but what they do is they ruin their business overtime. It takes long time to be an expert in a discipline. Best to do what you know most. If you want to be a merchant, concentrate on the marketing requirements for your merchandise.


2:17 pm on Nov 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Use Drupal Ubercart and start now.

You are wasting your time if you haven't started.

And also you will never do well with only 100 products, how are you going to keep your shop alive if not permanently adding new products ? Another solution is to write daily blog posts.


4:15 am on Nov 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

I will suggest you to choose complete shopping cart package, where you don't need a designer to design or developer to create your website, no setup or extra fee just for hosting your store. You can add unlimited items/categories and pages without paying extra.
Security is the major part of online business as mostly customer use credit cards for online shopping. If your store is capturing a customers credit card information a secure connection is always used to ensure that their information is never compromised. so always check that your shopping cart builder have secure ssl certificate. This SSL certificate will protect your customers sensitive information using a 128 bit secure connection which is the highest level of security available commercially.



8:44 am on Nov 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Good info, but I feel like a lot of this is sort of 'cart before the horse'. Just get started... I guarantee that whatever you decide to do now... half of it will change as you go anyway. There's not much point in over thinking it. Since you're starting from scratch, use a CMS such as Drupal or one of the others. Learn it... just start building. Don't worry so much about payment types and all that. Don't worry about being perfect. Worry about having something that people want. That's priority #1. The rest will fall into place. People will buy something they want from a site that is less than perfect. People won't buy something they don't want from perfect site. No matter what you do, you will be unknown to start. There's no "build it and they will come" thing that's going to happen. It will take hard work. And the only way you'll know for sure what works and what doesn't, is testing the waters. So details are not imperative. The number of items you sell is not imporatnt. There's thousands of different scenarios, everybody is different. Sounds like you might be offering your own products, so that's good. That automatically distances you from thousands of other retailers fighting it out. Focus on connecting with people in your niche... Make your presence known to that community. Offer more than just stuff... Offer an environment... a 'club' for people into that niche. Don't obsess over SEO or ad tactics. Just build a great site that has something to offer. A lot of the rest will fall into place.

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