Starting a (small!) online store, need advice
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Thread: Starting a (small!) online store, need advice

  1. #1
    Consummate Brushlicker Jericho's Avatar
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    Default Starting a (small!) online store, need advice

    Hello everybody,

    I've got some ideas for launching a small online store, and I was wondering just how much it takes to set up and run one of these things. I have done a tiny bit of web design type stuff before, but nothing remotely similar to this, with secure payments and all that other stuff.

    In addition to web stores like we have here on CMON, I see Joek has done a simple Paypal store setup for his company (found here).

    Any advice on what I should be looking at setting up, and how much these things cost? Many thanks in advance.

    <edit>
    I see that Studio McVey uses Highwire.com, which seems to have a bunch of allegedly automated and robust features. Click here if you want to take a look. I don't know how this compares to other options
    </edit>
    Last edited by Jericho; 03-01-2011 at 10:01 PM.

  2. #2

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    I looked into it, but truthfully I gave it up because of two simple words. Canada. Post. Our delivery prices are way too high to compete I think. When I see boxes coming from the states for 2$ and to return the package costs me 8 for the same service it looked WAY too tough to make a go of it.

    So I have no other info or tips. Except that if you do get up and running I'll gladly do some business with you!

  3. #3

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    If your store has 10> products, a Paypal store is a good place to start. It's basically just putting a bunch of HTML static buttons on a web page. These will add to cart until the customer is ready to pay you, and everything is paid at one shot. The main disadvantage is there really isn't a back end for shipping or inventory management, whereas most "proper" carts will be able to pay for and print your postage etc at one shot.

    This thread has a good summary of the available products: http://forums.shopify.com/categories/2/posts/41004
    It appears Highwire is a good choice if you are ok with $25 a month and do not intend to do extensive customization, which is very reasonable. Shopify is good as a hosted solution if you really want to control the look of your store.

    That said, you need to pick the solution suited to your technical skill set if you are just starting out, since the cost of your cart will be dwarfed by design and customization fees if you can't do the labor yourself; I would pick the easiest system to use first and move on if necessary when your business grows. Take advantage of all the free trials provided by the companies listed above and see if you can design a shop to fit your needs.

    Finally, I would not advise hosting your own shopping cart from the get go, especially if you're new to online retail. Upgrading is a significant drain in time that requires a corresponding return on investment, which is unlikely if your store is small in the beginning. You cannot afford to skip the upgrade process and keeping on top of security issues, and since you do not have the server admin skill set this is something to be avoided (Zencart, OsCommerce, Cubecart, Xcart, Magento etc).
    I like it firm and fruity!

  4. #4

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    I have been building web sites and ecommerce solutions freelance for years now.
    I am even getting my bachelor's in web development, (you know flashy interactive stuff)
    If you'd like, I can help you with building your look/functionality.
    Instead of the hosted services.
    I recommend using godaddy.com for hosting your site and SSL certificate.
    If it's small to start with, building a scalable database and integrated shopping cart (we can use paypal to start) is probably your best bet.
    And since I am still technically a student, I can keep the cost down as a "portfolio project" rather than a professional service.

  5. #5
    Consummate Brushlicker Jericho's Avatar
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    Many thanks for the excellent replies! I have a lot of planning to but I really appreciate the valuable input here.

    @Scott yeah Canada Post is terrible. I am hoping most of the orders would be domestic so I don't have to beg customers to combine orders with friends to keep shipping rates down

    @Chern I was hoping you'd chime in with your wealth of experience (this is your site after all!!) and you gave me way more than I was expecting

    @Jesterz I just might take you up on that. Sounds like an ideal solution and I have always tried to support students. A previous business idea was built around supporting local fine art students but I had no desire to raise the capital needed to open a coffee/art shop in the trendy areas near campus. Having students for staff and all the decor (including some feature furniture) commissioned to BFA and BDesign students might be a plan for after I win the lottery.

  6. #6

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    Our domestic rates are even worse man. It cost me 11$ to send a package surface to Ontario. Same package to Poland by air... 8$. Guess which got there first.

  7. #7
    Consummate Brushlicker Jericho's Avatar
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    Haha that's fantastic. Note to self: Make a few calls to FedEx etc. to see what they can offer small business.

  8. #8

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    Yeah, I'm curious to see what you find out. I was very, very serious about starting a little something for myself (not dissimilar to JoeK's model) but after looking at shipping charges it was just not feasible for me. If you had a big start up and the nuts to do a more all encompassing style thing than 10-15$ shipping for bigger lot's of mini's wouldn't be so bad, but I think if you're planning on most people buying 1-3 mini's from you at a time (that was what I was thinking of for myself) then it's just not easy to tack on 8$ish for shipping plus the materials to physically put the mini's in. It sucks, but hey at least we get all the snow and cold weather some of those other places don't get! I'm looking at you CMON shop... nestled in your southern cradle free from weather reports being summarized as "Your skin will freeze in ___ seconds if exposed"!

  9. #9

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    Ya know, Scott, it would almost, almost, be worthwhile to just drive down the states and mail it from there. Looks like you're just a bit too fart fer that, tho.

    Wonder if the USPS would let me open a branch store in Canada? Wouldn't that be a hoot.
    "Reality, she's a mathematical bitch from hell.", MaxedOutMama
    Wanna be bored? Watch me twitter. --<>-- Still have neurons? Watch my YouTube channel on painting!
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    To judge how far to follow my advice, consider this: ---<>--- Slappin' paint on minis since 2006

  10. #10

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    Hi, I've had a small online store running for a while now. I am not very web design literate so I created it with dreamweaver and use paypal shopping buttons. So far its worked a treat.'
    Cheers,
    Vic.
    http://www.victorialamb.com/store.html
    Last edited by victoria; 03-04-2011 at 06:13 AM.

  11. #11
    Consummate Brushlicker Jericho's Avatar
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    So, the money I was expecting to get my hands on 2 months ago finally came in. Sadly not quite the amount I was hoping for either, but finally my stress and worry is over and I can start seriously looking into funding this little project again.

    Still need to do my homework on the shipping side, but before too long I'll hopefully be placing an order for my first batch of products... I really need to do this ASAFP because I want to be selling crap by July

    Many thanks to Victoria for the suggestion as well, sorry I didn't see it sooner Your website is plenty good enough for the job and I have been very tempted to order a bunch of stuff off there on more than one occasion. The halfling cowboys, Spanish Inquisition etc. are brilliant The Dwarfs and the Noble are all very nice too. Just need an excuse to buy more minis when I have hundreds that need painting for armies that I'm allegedly building at the moment!
    Please feel free to check out my hobby blog, IMMATERIUM PRESS. Rumors, hobby articles, community building and tournament organization. Many thanks

  12. #12

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    i know its been mentioned by Chern, but i also do NOT recommend oscommerce, i find it a complete pain in the backside to use.

    DB

  13. #13

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    Avoid ZenCart for the same reason as oscommerce. Magento is meant to be very comprehensive, however I ended up just creating a online store with back-end tool for the company I work with that we sell as part of our site packages.

    pete.

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