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I am newbies in field of internet marketing. I am a small businessman, dealing in gifts, toys, and home decorative items. I have a catalog of around 700-800 products. I am looking for a good hosted shopping cart solution. It must facilitates catalog management, online shopping cart, support for all online payment methods, customer management, sales notification inforamation system, proper reporting system, product inventory, easy to maintain administrative panel, professional look of website.
I heared about hosted shopping cart solution particularly monstercommerce and b2bparadise, but i am confused, i think such type of solution provides little flexibility.
Please suggest me the appropriate solution.
Hosted commerce solutions like the two you mentioned are appealing to beginners because they take care of the backend (the database, the SSL Cert, the coding for the cart and the Credit Card gateway, etc...) for you. All you need to do is to plug in your products and dress the templates up to fit.
The disadvantage of these solutions is a lack of flexibility. You cannot make modifications to their code and/or templates.
Sometimes it makes sense for a newbie to go this route to start. It's hard telling not knowing though. If you happen to be a good at PHP or ASP or some other script language then maybe building your own cart makes more sense - a few more headaches for a lot more flexibility and control.
Using a ecommerce solution provider is a good way to get your feet wet and to learn about what you want and don't want in a store. If you keep reading threads here you'll learn about the tricks of the trade and perhaps (hopefully) many things you didn't even know were possible but would make your life so much easier. Then you can compare what you learn with the limitations of the ecommerce solution you're using. At that point it will be pretty easy for you to develop a wish list and start shopping around for a developer.
Just starting out, your internet retail investment need to be the least of your concerns...get your site up and start taking orders. If you need a push out of the gate, hire a decent web marketing consultant (should cost you no more than $120 - 150/hour and should take you no more than 1 week). If you have a "webmaster" (Content engineer would suffice) they can execute the marketing plans created by the consultant.
I recommend a Yahoo store. Decent solution, good payment processing, moderate design freedom (some PHP would be appropriate), and EASY administration (adding updating, changing SKUs. Yahoo does lack in analytics, some of the cool "bells and whistles" (product comparison, reviews, more) and most check out process are identical for Yahoo stores (though not bad - a 4 step check out)...still, it takes orders, statuses orders, and conducts a nice transaction (free particiapation in Yahoo shopping is a nice perk as well).
Internet retail is a path, and Yahoo will HELP you start out on the right foot. In time, when growth (revenue and shopper base) justifies the move, then start looking at developers, platforms, and more…and when that time comes, email me:)
Yahoo has one of the worst support/admin systems.
Don't change the credit card you are using for a Yahoo store. It may not get updated in their records, even though you submit the change. Once your payment is late your store is deleted. Sure you can try to call them and update the card before or after the fact, but many have tried and were not successful.
When we designed our cart, we made sure that we could easily go in & tweak it for our customers. I would have thought MC did the same thing because no two customers are alike.
I have set up a website with Yahoo! All I needed was just some simple html to get my business going. It took us about 2 months to get everything setup and going. Yahoo! works just fine for us since we do not have any budget for developer.
The only thing I disliked about Yahoo! is the shopping cart checkout. I was unable to customize it to look like the rest of our website. Though, I do know of some websites where I have seen some customization. Search for RTML on google, you will see some developers offering service to customize certain aspect of Yahoo! features.
Hope this helps!
Happy New Year! I have not tried b2bparadise. Yahoo! was a natural choice for us given the scale of our operation. We needed a total package solution, ie, hostings, shopping cart, merchant tools.... from one provider. Helps to save time and hassle.
It is true that Yahoo! charges a percentage fee per order. It is something you have to decide if you are comfortable with. Given the scale of our sales, we concluded that the extra charges to be neglibible to our business.
I think, you have a list of negatives about hosted shopping cart solutions. Please can you elaborate these negatives and share with us.
After your comment, I am bit confused, because I have created my mindset either go for b2bparadise.com or monstercommerce.
Other problems with the solutions you mentioned are they are proprietary software (right?), so you are very limited in what you can do to customize the software without depending on them. Almost all big stores eventually end up becoming very customized to the customer. By using one of the above mentioned, I believe customization will be more limited and more expensive.
I always recommend using OSCommerce, because it is free, and because there are more developers for OSC than any other cart, so you are guaranteed of getting support and custom work at a reasonable price.
[edited by: lorax at 1:16 pm (utc) on Feb. 10, 2005]
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Consider the complex cryptography requirements of Visa.
Consider security concerns to protect your website, your data, your customer information. That's not just server security, but network security.
Consider availability, whether you are clustering though the os, or a network device, it takes skill.
Consider disaster recovery.
Consider future growth, the scalability of your solution (not simply software & hardware, but staff).
Consider what you solution needs to look like in 2, 3, 4, years out, when your eCommerce site needs to integrate to your email marketing solution, CRM packages, order management solution, inventory control, and marketing solutions…all in real time. It’s what today’s modern merchant is starting to demand.
Look, a self hosted model is a great path for a business that has the infrastructure in place to support and (more importantly) justify such a solution. You do have more control over features and functionality, but you also have to look beyond "software costs". Salary and G&A for even smaller websites float right around $160,000/year…a business that is doing it “right” will be double that. I usually see this in smaller merchants who listened to their IT staff verses their CFO/CMO. Their developers or IT team electing for job stability over their employer's best interest…problem is their employers ALWAYS find out.
I have taken more than my fair share of business away from home grown solutions...the reason...it's not the cost of a shopping cart, but all of the ancillaries that start adding up. I have never failed to illustrate superior ROI on self hosted solution for small/mid market merchants.
Just some thoughts on a Rainy Sunday here in the heartland.
That is why PAYPAL had to partner with a real payment processor (Paymentech - major launch this spring, but available now) to get a footing in the traditional internet retail space...I recognize that fact and and I'm a Paypal proponent!