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so how did you get started in the ecomm game?

starting ecommerce, ideas and experience



3:10 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


Can others share there experience on how they got started with ecommerce?

How much initial investment went into purchasing product stock (if you had stock?)?

How long did it take to get things rolling, is this something that took time and trust in the industry?

Common frustruations? (e.g. credit card fraud, returns etc)


3:40 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I got started because I saw all these other people making money and being what I considered to be very unprofessional. I thought even though I didn't know jack about ebiz, I could still do better than that, and I was getting real burned out at what I was doing for a living at the time. I wanted my hobby to become my living, and it did.

My initial investment in stock was $35. I had a selection of five different widgets, and my website had three pages on it. Now I have over 400.

The first two years I had to keep my day job, as they say, although I was self-employed then too. Everything that came in through the ebiz I reinvested into the ebiz, and I worked extra on the day job to get money from that to invest in the ebiz too. The third year I was able to cut back on the day job substantially. The fourth year I was able to quit it. I never borrowed any money.

My biggest frustrations are keeping track of inventory and doing taxes.


4:25 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

We started as a strict SEO firm. We got tired of listening to how quickly our clients investment on our services were paid back with dramatic increases in revenue... so we opened a "Case Study" ecom site. First month we saw profits and it has stayed the same since. We have been doing this for 3 years now. We still do SEO for some select clients, but our agency mainly focuses it services on our own ecom sites.

The most difficult part was to find the right industry and to convince suppliers to work with us. It is becoming easier since the Internet is becoming more commonplace and we have built our brand.

I hate doing shipping and managing employees and taxes! Other than that, it's great.



5:49 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I got started when I read a free eBook on dropshipping. I had one of those ah HAH! moments and knew that I had finally discovered the secret to getting rich online in my spare time. Ahem. I invested $300 in fees associated with setting up an online store. Then I proceeded to spend the first year learning all of the lessons that 100% dropshippers learn. I spent the next year changing to a completely different product line that I actually knew something about and deciding that I was going to have to start stocking and shipping my own inventory if I was ever going to make a decent profit. I spent the next 1 1/2 years building up my business until it is where it is now - a successful ecomm store which is about 1/2 dropship, 1/2 stock 'n ship.

After almost 4 years of essentially working two full-time jobs, I was able to quit my day job to work full-time at ecommerce. Get rich quick...yeah right. :)


10:12 am on Aug 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member essex_boy is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Having grown up around people who were always buying and selling I found teh internet to very intriguing.

At first thought it would be a luaghable fad so didnt pay it much until around 1998.

Opened my first ecom store in 2000.

I find it really annoying that people think you require no skill or knowledge of teh subject but can still be a success.

get rich quick it aint.


10:29 am on Aug 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I started e-commerce - selling on the internet - when I was probably 14, on eBay. At first I sold a few personal things, then I found a market for things I could sell many times. And it turned into a business. I sold my first main item for about a year on eBay. Demand for that dropped off and I found a new item which I sold again, for about a year. Then I found a 3rd item which I sold. It was all on eBay for 3 years.

I was amazed at the power of "global commerce". Sending out 5 padded envelopes a day to people all over the country (and world) while in 9th grade felt GREAT.

I wanted to get rid of eBay and paypal fees. And I didn't like dealing with the bombardment of emails from uneducated ebayers who were probably never going to reply or purchase.

So I set up a very simple cart (agora) tied to paypal payments and it worked for a while. I added a few more products that I would buy wholesale.

Then I switched to oscommerce and hacked it up to meet my needs.

Now I am building my own system: accounting, inventory, product, and store/cart

I've never had a paycheck, so e-commerce is all I know.

Initial investment:

With my "first" product, probably about $50. It was a box of 100 clear overhead projector transparencies. I bought some PDA screen protectors on eBay for my PDA. I realized how simple they were, and that I could make them for pennies. I took the 100 screen protectors to Kinkos (now the fedex store) and stood there for an hour cutting them to size for PDAs. And I made a few thousand dollars with that for a year.

Next few products initial inventory was pretty small too... just a few hundred dollars. Couple years later, I was debating whether I should buy $5000 worth of a product. I finally did it and it turned out to work well.

I can now figure out whether it is worth the risk of buying a certain quantity for a certain price. I have a sense of how much I can sell, and what would happen if I couldn't sell it.

Now I buy $30,000 without worrying, since I know I can sell it.

Things will not start "rolling" over night. It will take time. Started out with less than an order per day, and now it is almost 9 average.

Things will get rolling if people can find your site, and you sell a good range of products that are easy to navigate, get info about, etc. And if your site is simple to use and professional. Word of mouth will be great, but it takes time. You can spend money on advertising, but make sure the site is ready.

The industry is quite easy to enter into. Trust mostly comes from the design/layout/professionalism of your site. Do you have an 800 number? Are you easy to get a hold of? Are your images good? What about the product descriptions? People will tell their friends, and people will talk about sites on forums, so if you've been around for a long time, this trust will certainly be greater than if you just started. The trust can be build fairly quickly.

Credit card fraud has not be a huge deal for me. Try to setup policies and checks. If an order looks suspicious but you feel greedy and think it will work fine, dont ship it! Call the customer. If the number you call is disconnected, cancel the order. I can figure out pretty well just by looking at the contents of an order whether it is fraud. I know what an abnormal order looks like. And if it is like that, I will investigate further.

Returns haven't been a big deal. Try to sell good quality products.


6:53 am on Aug 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I got started (Jan 2004) as I thought I could do a better job than some of the awful eCom sites out there, and was bored with my day job. My wife has supported me so far, but hopefully she can join me full time early next year.

We soon found out chosen area was a hard sell, and it was only when we expanded to related areas that sales really started. It may seem obvious, but we soon learnt that more products = more sales.

The biggest frustration I have found is suppliers who are stuck in the past and won't supply us as we are online only (one supplier even blamed the internet for destroying communities).


5:33 pm on Aug 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I started as because my Mum and Dad run a small store and felt they were missing out on 'this internet thing'. We had no stock investment issues because we get it off the shelves. After three years we make money but I'm not sure that it would be a viable online only business, but then having the b+m shop probably blinds me to some elements of what I could do on the web.

By far the most difficult thing was organising the shipping - it's just really expensive. The other thing was accepting payments. We have a physical pdq machine, we switched to an epdq system that didn't work for which we were hideously overcharged and now we are back with the old pdq system. Banks and payment providers are struggling, in my opinion, to get something which is secure but usable. At the moment they are siding with secure but I don't think that will last for ever.

The most annoying thing is customer's focus on security. I think that internet security is hugely overblown, but perhaps thats because I'm in a low risk area. People seem to think that all merchants are cooks - as if it wasn't hard enough work to earn an honest days wage, let alone trying to rip you off.

Give it at least two years, everything is seasonal.


6:43 pm on Aug 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member essex_boy is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

all merchants are cooks?!?! - I cant boil an egg.


11:05 pm on Aug 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

It seemed a logical extension to the paper catalog we'd started producing for our event and convention customers. Well, logical to us...

"Real" business people kept telling us that websites were just a waste of time and money. I distinctly recall one business owner who was adamant about "that email address thing" on our business cards being a waste of space which would just confuse people - this despite our explaining that many of our customers were college students. We certainly don't hear things like that anymore, and a good 95% of our sales are directly from the internet now. :-)


7:53 am on Aug 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

After reading great views and experiences of all the above has really given a good insight.

Reading this thread has certanly impressed me and had inspired to open up Online Store now!

The only big bar I can see is the country I live in - India. I wonder what percentage of IT friendly people would be buying online. But I'm very sure that very soon I'll also try out selling online.

Wish Good Luck to all the Online Merchants....


4:10 pm on Aug 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

wow i'm checking this thread today and boy you guys responded pretty fast!

it sounds like its a struggle for many initially (like most things in life), but it does pay off in the end.

unlike affiliate marketing, there is usually more physical work involved to making a buck (shipping, returns, 1-800) etc.


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