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Old 01-23-2008, 06:24 AM   #1
Tim Lodge
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Default E-Commerce Ideas Please

Hi Everyone

It seems a long time since I last visited this Forum. I'm still alive and still working on websites, although perhaps a little less frantically than before!

Up to this point in my web design career [if I can call it that!], I've managed to avoid implementing a shopping cart system, but it looks as though I'm now going to have to do one. One of my existing clients has set up a new venture - a publishing company that will publish a novel he has written. He has, incidentally, had two previous novels published by Hodder & Stoughton, so it's not just a vanity project. He has just set up a merchant account with Streamline, so he will be able to take credit card payments by phone and letter, but he also wants to take online orders.

It seems most sensible to use an existing package. My hosting provider recommends OSCommerce. Wouldn't that be overkill as we only have one product line?

   
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Old 01-23-2008, 09:53 AM   #2
Kelvyn
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Hi Tim

I would certainly not use OsCommerce for a small site. It can be a real pain to configure and is very difficult to template. Also development of the program has been slow and fragmented.

I use Joomla! with VirtueMart for e-Comm but that would really be overkill for a few products - it works well with 5,000 items, though.

If you don't need to use a Content Management System for the site I would suggest you look at using Mals-eCommerce system. I have used this for eight years now for small sites with no-problems. All the cart stuff runs on Mal's system and the selling site uses direct links or forms to call the remote server. You can interface the cart to a card processor or use the system to store card info for off-line processing - and that basic system is free. Mal's server sends out order & confirmation emails and also stores the order details. The best part is that you can build the site as you would normally and just add in the cart links.

I have got an eight year old site running that sells garden furniture with an annual turnover way in excess of our VAT threshold. I have had other sites that started on Mals and have now moved to larger carts.

   
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Old 01-23-2008, 12:44 PM   #3
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Kelvyn

Thanks for that. I remember you mentioning Mals-eCommerce system years ago and having a look at it then, but I'd forgotten all about it. I'll go and have another look.

The site I'm planning won't need a content-management system - it's only 5 pages and the content is not likely to change very often - so that rules out VirtueMart. Incidentally, I decided to go with Etomite rather than Joomla, and I've been pleased with the results on the two sites I've built with it.

Anyway, thanks again. I'll take a look at Mal's site and your garden furniture site.

   
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Old 01-23-2008, 01:04 PM   #4
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Kelvyn

I've had a look at Mal's e-commerce and it looks just the job. Setting it up for credit card payments is going to be interesting as neither I nor my client has been involved with that before, but it looks possible.

   
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Old 01-23-2008, 03:50 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Lodge View Post
Setting it up for credit card payments is going to be interesting as neither I nor my client has been involved with that before, but it looks possible.
You may also want to consider something as simple as ebay. All you need is a paypal premier/business account (free) if you want to accept credit cards. An ebay store costs $15/month. A store listing (ie, your book), with a gallery picture, costs 6 cents/month (he could put his other books there for 6 cents each). If you actually sell a book ebay takes 10% and paypal takes 2.9% plus .35 cents. With the basic ebay store you get 5 pages for whatever html you want. You can download Googlebase Store Connector free from google, which automatically uploads your store items into google.

You may want to compare the economics of ebay versus having a Mal's site with your monthly credit card payment processing costs (not cheap).

The only problem with Mal's site and the like is the lack of traffic. Ebay is the largest, busiest online marketplace, with millions of people visiting every day. If you can't sell your book on there, well ...

Also check out lulu.com, which specializes in selling self-published books.

Finally, I haven't looked for a while, but paypal used to provide a button with its html, that you can place into your own html pages. When the user clicks they are taken to paypal to pay. Assuming you already have some web space with your emial account, this costs nothing except 2.9% + 35 cents if you happen to sell something.

   
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Old 01-24-2008, 12:36 AM   #6
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You may want to compare the economics of ebay versus having a Mal's site with your monthly credit card payment processing costs (not cheap).
The client already has a Streamline account which means that card processing will be cheaper than using PayPal. Also it would not be a Mal's site, but a distinct site which just connects seamlessly to Mal's server for order processing and checkout.

The client's site can be fully optimised and promoted in its own right.

   
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Old 01-24-2008, 08:45 AM   #7
Tim Lodge
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Kelvyn

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Originally Posted by Kelvyn View Post
The client already has a Streamline account which means that card processing will be cheaper than using PayPal. Also it would not be a Mal's site, but a distinct site which just connects seamlessly to Mal's server for order processing and checkout.

The client's site can be fully optimised and promoted in its own right.
I had a look at your garden furniture client's site. It all looks very straightforward and simple, which is what I need for the site I'm doing.

I gather from Mal's site that it's possible to capture and store credit card (CC) details securely and then access them to process offline once you've had the order email. Reading Streamline's documentation, it looks as though we still have to get their agreement to our taking online orders, but this seems like a simple way to start, assuming volumes are low, without going the whole hog and using payment processors. Have you any comment?

   
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Old 01-24-2008, 04:15 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Tim Lodge View Post
Kelvyn

I've had a look at Mal's e-commerce and it looks just the job. Setting it up for credit card payments is going to be interesting as neither I nor my client has been involved with that before, but it looks possible.
Consider using PayPal. I added it to a site someone else developed, and after a bit of struggle, we got it going.

They have a "Sandbox" for development, and a developers forum.
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Old 01-24-2008, 08:20 AM   #9
Tim Lodge
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Thanks to the two of you for suggesting PayPal, and to roaryg for suggesting eBay. I'll take a look at those options, but as Kelvyn pointed out, my client already has a merchant account for taking CC payments over the phone, so I think the additional cost of handling online sales shouldn't be prohibitive.

All the paperwork about Streamline arrived from my client today, so I'm working through it. It appears we also need a Payment Services Provider as well as Streamline - I guess I'll understand it all eventually!

   
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