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    7 Replies Latest reply on May 17, 2008 3:31 PM by ciordia9

    Getting ready to open on-line store

    2sisters Wayfarer

      I am new to this forum, but have already gained great insight from reading postings and articles. Thanks so much!!


      My sister and I own a brick & mortar retail scrapbooking store in upstate NY. We have been in business for almost 4 years and our small business is holding it's own. We have gone from being one of five somewhat local scrapbook-type stores to being the only one in a large area and have seen great increases in our sales in the last year. We have been encouraged by our loyal customers to jump on the e-commerce band wagon and stop missing out on what we could do on the internet. We are looking to open an on-line store but in a limited capacity... at least at first. We have a couple of items that we have developed "in-house" that are very popular and would be perfect on-line offerings. We have a great web-site that is used more for communication with our current customers but has the on-line store capabilities built in.


      My question is this... Since this on-line portion of our business is likely to start slow, should I be looking for a more independent on-line store creator to help us get started or go with something well established like Yahoo Business (for example). There is so much out there. Anyone who has used a company to set up and help manage their on-line store/sales that can give advise, we would appreciate it. Thanks.

      is our web-site if you would like to take a look. Right now, it is not set up for sales, it's a web-site for our brick & mortar store.
        • Re: Getting ready to open on-line store
          SecondCoats Newbie
          I personally went with an independent web designer, as I was not overly impressed with the templates offered and I didn't want just another cookie cutter site. Plus, I needed a lot of customization work done. However, my company is only online and not B&M. As it sounds like you're going to do online on a very limited basis at first, I would go with a cheaper option and do something like Yahoo! Business.

          On the flip-side, if you see the site as something that will be heavily utilized long-term and you have large plans for it, it may be worth it to invest in a site that's more unique and that fits your overall plan better than a template--this way, you can grow the site and adjust it as time goes on, without wasting money up front on something you'll trash. I think it just depends first on your long-term plans and secondly, on your budget. It is very easy to spend a lot of money in getting a site designed (one very custom module for my site alone costs $30K--and no, that wasn't a typo), but it might be worth it if you're cornering the market in your area and can see a great deal of expansion opportunity online.

          Another thought you may want to consider is using eBay stores--not too expensive, large audience that includes your target, and it'll give you a good feel for e-commerce. The downside to it is the fee structure for both eBay and PayPal. Again, it just depends on what your long-term outlook is.
          1 of 1 people found this helpful
          • Re: Getting ready to open on-line store
            nMoncrief Adventurer
            Your site looks great, especially if this was your first attempt! I'm confused about what you are needing. You said your website has on-line store capabilities built in. Does that mean you already have a shopping cart? If you have a shopping cart and you're computer savvy-enough to manage loading and maintaining it, you're almost there. You simply need to add a payment gateway and an SSL certificate. There are other avenues you could take as well, including the Yahoo store approach and PayPal. I talk to a lot of merchants who want to stop being a Yahoo store; but I never see any who want to become a Yahoo store. You need to know that Yahoo stores are expensive. They take 1% of your sales volume as "fees", in addition to the discount rates, etc.

            Here's a link to an article I wrote for merchants in your situation. It explains what's required to make the leap to e-commerce.


            If I misunderstood your question and you DO need a shopping cart, there are many inexpensive ones available. One that I'm hearing great things about is Magento ( It's all open-source and it's totally FREE. Since it's open source, you can modify it to do whatever you need, but it does require some programming knowlege. It also includes order management features, which is important in e-commerce for maintaining customer lists, inventory, sales data, etc.

            Feel free to contact me directly if you'd like a bid for your merchant account. Best of luck!

            Neil Moncrief
            1 of 1 people found this helpful
              • Re: Getting ready to open on-line store
                2sisters Wayfarer
                Thank you so much, your answer and advice is extremely helpful. I will take a look at your article. I do not have an active shopping cart. My site is hosted by C-Panel which is an Open-source company and they offer Agora (I think?) I'm able to maintain my web-site at the moment, which is mainly a source of communication for our customers, but as far as setting up the store through the open source programs is beyond my computer skills. I do have a nephew who does that sort of thing and I am going to tap into that resource as well. Thanks again for your advice. (What I meant by the store being built in is that we have links established at the appropriate places (A visual readiness, I guess is what I meant!)
              • Re: Getting ready to open on-line store
                Lighthouse24 Ranger
                The best option now depends on the ultimate goal or vision you have in mind -- at one end of the scale is site that supplements your local store and helps you better serve local customers, and at the other end is probably an enterprise like or Michaels.

                It will make it easier for members to suggest good-fit solutions if you can describe: (a) the scale you have in mind (number of products/SKUs, the anticipated traffic volume, etc.), (b) other functions or transactions you want to include on the site like blogs, video, or on-line training classes, (c) your general plan for bringing traffic to website (what will prompt or lead people to visit?), and (d) your competitive vision (i.e., are there existing on-line businesses or sites that you see as competitors, and that you want to pull traffic away from -- and if so, how do you plan to reach those customers and what do you want them to experience on their initial visit to your site?).

                Welcome to the community! Best wishes.
                1 of 1 people found this helpful
                • Re: Getting ready to open on-line store
                  visualframes Newbie
                  We can help you get started with eCommerce levaraging the power of a new and extremely promissing open-source ecommerce platform called Magento.

                  Magento launched end of March 2008 and is already generating a lot of buzz in the ecommerce industry.
                  We current offer estore branding and customisation as well as eStore configuration and setup services.

                  Feel free to check our website at:
                  • Re: Getting ready to open on-line store
                    ciordia9 Wayfarer
                    You've got a clean easy to navigate site, that's great. The way I explain online to may of our clients is that it is a lot of little lego blocks stacked together to form a larger whole. People usually look at the whole and go, 'wow, I can't fathom that', but the reality is all the smaller comprehendible pieces that made it up. Meaning that with time and effort you can learn anything in the online space.

                    You've got a simple site I would recommend you look into housing your eCommerce solution in something like It is a site, a blog, and it integrates your products. Your products are sold through your merchant account or through paypal. Since you already have a theme you would just need to port it over and by the looks of it, that wouldn't be very difficult at all. They also have some pretty good forums for finding others to help you in any challenges you face.

                    Then you just need to start learning how to market effectively and make sure you get a return on it all. It is a lot to learn, but it is important if you want to succeed in the long term to patiently understand it.

                    Good luck and here's to great endeavors,