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The thing that is bugging me is "is there any point in small guys trying ecommerce in 2006"?
I mean, there are a zillion sites out there - getting hits from Google is bloody hard.
You are driven therefore to PPC - which can cost you most of your profits.
Idiots in Nigeria trying to constantly steal from you.
The big boys really own the market nowadays, they have good fraud measures in place - better thwn ours, they have exclusive deals with google to pay less on their PPC than the small guy.
I mean most of the stuff I may want to buy is on amazon anyway - their prices are LOW, there isn't much point even shopping around IMO, you order from Amazon and it arrives, free shipping ect. And if you want a cheap item try Ebay.....
The google sandbox really kills most new stores for a year anyway.
I an thinking of seeing my wife again, sitting infront of the telly and getting a life - no more money to adwords, ect, ect.
I may want to buy is on amazon anyway - their prices are LOW,
we drop ship for amazon...same items may be purchased for much less on our own website. amazon really introduces new customers to their drop shippers. subsequent orders are typically direct.
to answer your question...it takes an enormous amount of time to develop an online business. either you pay someone else to do it for you, or work on it on the side while you keep your day job. it can be done, but the good ole days a decade ago of putting a website up and getting rich quick are gone forever.
we were in it from the beginning (1993)...today it would take 1000 times more capital investment to do what we did back then. small players breaking into the e-commerce market today have to find a niche without much competition and chip away slowly to break down the walls to get in the game.
I don't consider myself a bigboy, yet I'm now in the thick of it with them in my industry. They probably do ten times the sales we do but I'm a real happy camper after three years of working like a dog on my site. It's really become a niche as oldpro mentions, yet we sell the same products. We quit using Google adwords last August because we didn't need it anymore. Now it's all free search traffic. Guess you could say all the eggs are in one basket, but I'll take it for now. I do see how it looks extremely difficult for new sites to get the kind of rankings we now have, but I was there once. If I were to start new today I couldn't expect anything like this for at least five years.
It takes patience and ....
"an enormous amount of time to develop an online business"
No, you can't compete with the big boys, but if you've done your research beforehand (did you?), you shouldn't have to.
For example: things not to try to sell online:
The only way to succeed in this game nowadays is to create highly targetted, professional looking sites that are simply _better_ than your competitors'.
If your site is in a small enough niche (although not so small that you generate no interest), you should be able to carve out a good size customer base and maybe even name recognition in a few years.
Don't expect to be making any noticeable amount of money for several years, though.
It's a tough world - without perseverance you'll get nowhere.
It WILL NOT happen overnight.
Ecommerce is not like a brick and mortar store. You're working with technologies that are relatively new (as opposed to .. oh say a cash register!) and far more complex. Mistakes online can cost you big. While some people jump right in because of the plethora of free/cheap cart solutions and the numerous mfrs willing to drop ship, I encourage my clients to see the realities. They have a learning curve in front of them that no SCORE representative can help them with. And with that learning curve come mistakes. Build slowly and learn what you need before you commit to each level of building your business. If you don't want to learn it, find people you can trust to build/manage/fix/sell/support it.
And as for the Big Boys - the only reason they exist is to teach you. They didn't get to be big overnight either.
To clear up another misconception...
they have exclusive deals with google to pay less on their PPC than the small guy.
we also use adwords, companies like ours with strong brand recognition naturally attract much higher CTRs. simply because the surfer recognizes it is a brand that they would strongly consider to purchase. With adwords the higher the CTR, the higher the sponsored listing at a lower cost. no doubt negotiated deals do exist, but are still subject to quality and performance standards. With adwords the playing field is as level as it can get for both the small player as well as big hitter. Compose an appealing ad, be prepared to bid very high for a couple of months, get your CTR up...then you can lower your bid and at the same time get you effective cost per click down to an acceptable level for profitablity.
Contrary to your assumption, Google gives the little guy a fighting chance.
on the other hand...YSM is solely based on high much money you can afford to pay for position. YSM is where the big players can eat your lunch and there is nothing you can do about it. we love YSM...so avoid our niche, we will eat your breakfast and dinner too.
With YSM in most market niches will have 4 or 5 big players that no matter what the remaining small players bid...the big boys will make sure they stay in the least desirable positions...simply because they have the funds to do so.
Compose an appealing ad, be prepared to bid very high for a couple of months, get your CTR up...then you can lower your bid and at the same time get you effective cost per click down to an acceptable level for profitablity.
This is what i do. You nbeed a little bit of money in the bank, but you CAN start from scratch
I ban every IP address from Africa, Israel and some satellite providers that I can find.
I think there is some solid advice out there to be followed in the threads.
I do think we need to put our brains together and come up with one solid "101 steps to a quality ecommerce operation" thread. What say?
Looking though them they kind of confirm my point - all you guys have been doing this for quite a few years. one even since 1990's - old timer :)
What I was saying is can a newbie really get anywhere in 2006, sure you guys have done, but that was say 2-4 years ago, when it was easier to get established and search engines gave sites a chance.
Everyone is right when they say go niche - but you also say you need a reasonable amount of cash to get started - the two things are not compatible - small niche sites will not have the cash to invest to get stared, there must be thousands of low traffic sites sitting out there losing money.
The two excellent quotes to start a quality thread as mentioned above that I read are:-
"The only way to succeed in this game nowadays is to create highly targetted, professional looking sites that are simply better than your competitors'. "
"Incease CPC for a few months to get top positions and higher CTR, then lower it"
Many thanks for the interesting replies.
ecommerce is still growing rapidly so plenty of room for new players
but to succeed, you've got to "do it right"
no good doing everything on the cheap - no good using frontpage and paypal then waiting for money to come in before upgrading to a proper setup
get a professional looking website, properly laid out, properly optimised, with a proper shopping cart and proper payment system and promote the site properly - you'll then get the traffic AND convert the traffic into sales
and the latest on amazon ....
I didn't start with much. In fact July of 2003 was when I started and didn't know a hill of beans about websites. I was living on paycheck to paycheck. I built a website from what I knew, or the type of business I was in. I wrote in a way that was different from the others. More upfront and personal, based on what I learned in my niche. It was more of a guide than anything. I didn't think of sales until people began asking me "why don't you sell widgets?"
A few things I've learned:
1- Believe in content. I kept writing more and would complain and moan(under a different screen name) like others do everyday in the Google forum. It was very frustrating, then I worked on links and it all came together. I'm amaized how it has paid off. I didn't think I could top X amount of visitors in one week a year ago. Since then traffic has doubled and keeps going up.
2- You have to love what you're doing. If it's more like a job and find yourself not wanting to work on the website(s) you probably won't get far. Sure, we all get into writing blocks but if it bores you find another occupation.
3- Take it slow as others have mentioned. You can get into a bunch of trouble if you go head first.
4- Believe in content.
5- Believe in content.
I found WW in November of 2003 and that was all that I needed. I did find an excellent website design/marketing forum that helped a great deal as well. Now instead of being nearly homeless four years ago I recently paid cash for a $ 35,000 vehicle and may pay cash for a home next year.
Believe in content!
Thank You WW!
"no good using frontpage"
Works for me!
but you also say you need a reasonable amount of cash to get started - the two things are not compatible
this is a little off topic, but...
an important key to success with any business venture is this, you must place a value on your time. as i said earlier starting an online business takes a great deal of time. This time has value...it costs you. This time could be devoted to pursuing another venture that is almost certain to succeed, or a second job with which you could be earning money. Furthermore, it takes time away from your loved ones.
Always remember...TIME IS MONEY.
I'm excited about the new e-commerce store I'm opening. I started building it back in early December and I'm am STILL building it. Just to add more than just the products - guides, definitions, how-tos, history, etc. Give more so I can possibly have repeat customers.
Its a heck of a lot of work! Yes, I want to start making money NOW. I am honestly desperate for money. I'm unemployed, no job in the foreseeable future (long story), bills piling up, yadda yadda yadda... but the store is goign to tank fast if I just do a half-fast job and cut off my foot before I can begin to walk - type thing.
I ban every IP address from Africa, Israel and some satellite providers that I can find....
Does anyone happen to know of a good list for this.
I have done some wide range blocking with the CIDR format (ie: 220.127.116.11/16) but hard to find a good up to date list of places where fraud is common.
I currently have much of Africa totally blocked out, but some others - like the satellite providers - are much more elusive for address ranges.
If you're selling more than a handful of products, you may want to consider an eCommerce software package as a starting point. I've used AspDotNetStorefront for the past few years, because it comes with a boatload of features that I'd have a hard time re-creating with FrontPage.
And yeah, there definitely is a point to starting the journey, just as there's a point to practicing your scales; someday, if you persist, you could play Carnegie Hall. Little me from my living room consistently ranks number one for a slew of money keywords in a hypercompetitive field, and we're kicking the big boys' behinds. How? Maybe it's the efficiencies and maneuverability that come from being small*.
*"Small" ie: capitalization >US$1 Billion
And just keep in mind that entry doesn't require that kind of money, at all. You need what to live on, and you need product, and it will be a hard go without paid advertising (although it can be done). The rest is labor, and lots of it. Make sure you're obsessed, be sure of your belief/vision that you have a better angle (whatever it is) and be prepared for a journey through rough seas and calm. The mantra of this thread is to know what you're in for, but yeah, it is definitely worth doing if you have something worthwhile to offer the marketplace.
[edited by: tedster at 1:56 am (utc) on Feb. 10, 2006]
I tried to use MS PF many years ago (probably, 95-96 or something tike this).
It produced then about HTML 70K page for a simple layout with just some text.
Since then, I consider Front Page sux (c).
I do not have it installed now, so I cannot check or prove it. Probably, they have improved it.
Just try to create a page in FP with simple table layout:
¶ HEADER ¶
¶ C1 ¶ C2 ¶
¶ FOOTER ¶
To see how much will it weight.
HTML layout code for it, created in Notepad, had less than 1Kb.
Well, I did that, and this is the entire page:
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01//EN"
<meta http-equiv="Content-Language" content="en-us">
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=windows-1252">
<title>New Page 1</title>
<table border="1" width="100%" id="table1">
Considerably less than the 1k you say you are getting with notepade, and I even added an extra pair of cells.
Perhaps testing a program from 12 years ago, and basing all of your comments on FP from that one experience for the rest of your life should be rethought.