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E-Commerce - small to big, grow fast and be sustainable

7:18 am on Jan 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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

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My daughter and son-in-law are driving a very successful business importing and distributing widgets online. It's a great personal story, like many others who are creating new and interesting business'.

Everything they've done has been on the fly, which means they didn't have much idea when they started, and they got little advice regarding the e-commerce side of things from me because my online experience has never involved the shipping and marketing of goods online.

Currently they have a mixture of responsive friendly Magento and open source platforms. It isn't pretty [ technically and process - wise ] , but they are doing well. When time permits they will modify the clutter that's developing.

So I can see that things are working to a point.

I need to come up to speed fast, as I want to mirror their success and help them out to, and I'm no book reader. Hands on is what teaches me quickest. So to experiment I want to have some folks put up an e-commerce site, that can do the range of options required, one easy step at a time e.g.

- drop ship
- warehouse stock
- wholesaling
- affiliate / partner with other drop shippers etc
- courier tracking
- anything else that's important

For a hassle free, steep yet simple learning curve, , what do folks recommend in terms of e-commerce platforms and strategies, to minimise risk, optimise personal capability and learn on the run ?

What's the ABC from a practical standpoint ? What made you successful ?

Please talk about your experience and how you could enhance it for others.
7:35 am on Jan 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Congratulations to them ! But maybe you helped them a bit already :-)
8:50 pm on Jan 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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It's not what you asked about, but figuring out how to economically drive buying traffic to your site is, in my opinion, more important than anything else.

I'm a PPC consultant, so I'm biased for sure, but I'm actually not talking about just PPC - I mean any source of traffic.

Let me make an analogy... constructing a car dealership location is a valued skill set - but knowing how to hire and train car sales people, and knowing how to get people interested in buying cars onto the lot in the first place, makes the car dealer site construction details pale.


Right behind that, I'd put attribution and analytics. Owning an online store is like owning a car (oh no, another car analogy!) that doesn't have one gas pedal and one brake pedal - instead, it has 100 gas pedals and 40 brake pedals. It is no simple matter to understand which pedals to push, and how hard to push on each of them.


If you already know how to drive buying traffic, and how to use analytics, oops, sorry, my post here wasted your time.
3:08 pm on Jan 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

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For platforms I've tried a bunch. I'm technically competent but I found the open source platforms to be not as well organized and takes a long time to get up to speed. I found that commercials services were much better. BigCommerce and Volusion are both very good. Volusion won for me due to the API allowing easiy update of inventory and orders. It is not super cheap, about $100 a month per site. If you have few products, another solution may work better. I'm looking at creating some micro sites and trying to find a cheaper option.

Drop shipping you have to be careful. There are very low margins because everyone and their brother drops ships and some people will sell at a loss to try to drive competitors out or just to try to gain a regular customer. Additionally, you have no control over the customer experience when dropshipping. I only dropship larger items that I do not sell much of in any case and where I have an established relationship with a vendor that I stock other items from regularly. This way they have some skin in the game on my dropshipping orders.