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First, what will this online store offer?
Do you have the items in your inventry or will you just use it as a link between the manufacturer and the customer? and you will not keep any inventory at your place?
Alot of people are selling stuff through wordpress.com and facebook. You can either do that, which will be free of charge. Or contact a company to book you the domain name and then you can choose from ready temples the layout you want to use.
The most important thing in managing an online store is keeping it simple, easy on the eyes and direct. It is also important to sit with the creator of the website and learn how to upload pictures yourself so that you will only pay the company yearly fees of not more that 50$ for the domain and you can do the rest.
Also mention that when you book a domain, to create info@domain and orders@domain and link them to your email so if anyone sends you anything, you will be able to reply quickly (better customer service).
Hope this was helpful.
Let me know if you need any more help.
I am a professional webdesigner and would like to learn more about your website project before providing more input. How many products will you sell, are you the manufacturer or the retailer or a wholesaler, perhaps a bit of all these? What field are you in and what is your direct competition doing on their websites?
One of the first steps after you answered these few questions is to brainstorm over what would be the best domain name for your business, and keep in mind you can secure several to protect your idea or business trademark. So for example if your business is called ABC Industries and sells door bells in San Antonio you may want to have abcindustries.com because it's your business name but for marketing purposes you would also consider securing sadoorbells.com it's easy to remember and offers keywords people would use to find someone selling door bells.
The next step is creating a design based on your existing marketing material: logo, colors, vehicles, brochures. If you have none of these then focus on what you sell and to whom you sell and go from there. Stay away from pre-built templates, everyone has them and no matter how good they look when you see them once your custom content such as photos and text is there things just don't work out that well. Plus your company is unique so should your website be.
The next step since you want to sell your products online is to determine how advanced your shopping cart should be and how you will be taking payments. If you want to take payments online you have several choices: I'll cover two which are Paypal that allows you to accept online payments without having to pay monthly fees. And a regular merchant account which together with a few other tools allows your visitors to pay directly by entering their CC details on your website. This method is the best of course but usually comes with contracts and fees attached. So again it's a matter of looking into it in detail.
Concerning the shopping cart, I also recommend going custom made because this way it will be streamlined for what you need and easy to update and keep your inventory. Pre-built carts are an option if you're on a tight budget but won't be as flexible.
Once all of these are ready then you just need to host your website usually for around $4 or $5 a month for low cost servers but it depends on how much traffic you are expecting it may be better investment a few more dollars and getting more room to grow.
Then you should be good to go live, start marketing your website online and offline and adjusting the search engine optimization over time.
I hope these few lines were helpful, I don't personally believe in building your own website as it's very time intensive and will greatly delay your online business... Plus your website is the first thing some of your customers will see and it should look professional and work as per your business requirements. Sometimes it's better to determine a budget you can afford at this time and ask a professional what you can get for that amount with a list of priorities. I can send you an estimate no strings attached and links to my extensive portfolio of custom made and affordable e-commerce websites if you'd like. :)
Have a great evening and best of lucks with your project!
thank you for the details.. in the same boat. I was looking at corecommerce but having someone do a custom design, it seemed they offered a lot of extra stuff like linking and uploading directly on facebook, or instant chat with customers, world wide tax options, gift wrapping, and many more options. of course being new to this i might when i understand more know this was all just fluff and the true meat of the system might be terrible! it has api so should be able to work with the fulfillment house as well.
any thoughts would be very helpful before i commit anywhere.
we will be selling supplements online, will only have about 5 products, and also maybe one or two download books. we will also have another products but this is with other investors so it will be on another site with just two products. though would be cool if people can order from both and check out once.. doubt that could happen.
Hello there Healthnut,
Thanks for the reply, well first I'd like to mention that my opinion on hosted solutions is that they are the worst 'good' solution out there. I am biased against them lets say. The main reason why is that I almost view this as fraud, they lure customers with a plethora of features that most people will never actually use in their everyday business and then lock people with a monthly fee - forever. As soon as you wish to grow in a different way than what they offer or want to leave their servers you loose all of the material and efforts you put into your website since the files belong to them - if you have a custom design it is yours but since it was created for their platform it will cost you to have it recreated for another system - maybe more than to create another fresh design.
Now considering you're selling under 10 products I would say you will derive little benefits if none from a large scale (and perhaps bloated) pre-built solution such as corecommerce. Pushing to social networks from your system is interesting mainly when you manage a few hundred or thousand products and cannot take the time to personalize the management of each item. Honestly how much work are they saving you with this tool? The copy/paste of a link into your facebook account whenever you want to advertise your products? You still have to do the real work which is finding new 'friends' and get them interested in your products. :)
In your position I think you would derive more benefits from a custom made system that would offer flexibility to customize each one of your 5 products and 2 books and make sure the navigation flow in the website converts to sales.
Let me give you an example, you have 5 products and 2 books so in commercecore this will translate into 2 different categories that people will have to click on to access your products. As I am guessing your products and books are related I feel cross-selling would be more efficient and perhaps having a double display right on the home page with your products and your books side by side to make the offer more cohesive and get people to click on that add-to-cart without having to click two or three times before seeing your range of offers. I'm not saying this cannot be achieved through commercecore but their system was not conceived for small catalogs such as yours, their most basic plan expects catalogs of 100 items.
Also for a niche catalog such as yours a custom solution would probably stay under $500 or less including custom design and custom ecommerce so I'm not sure how much you would be saving after 1 or 2 years by choosing a hosted solution. If you really want to keep initial investment under control then pre-built systems you host yourself would be a better option such as prestashop or oscommerce or magento - there are many interesting solutions for small budgets.
I hope this helped some, again I am biased against hosted solutions because of the lock they have on clients but this is just my opinion! :) Let me know if you have any other questions or if you'd like for me to help in any way - I offer free estimates I would just need to know more about your products and business.
Thank you so much,
Also I'd like to add as a side comment that there are ways for your customers to be able to order from two different websites and checkout once. This is possible if you use the same database for both websites for example and let people transition from one to the other with the same user accounts etc. Let me know if this helped :)