Home – New Forums Selling online eCommerce basics – need urgent answer – hosting country/fees/hosted vs WordPress

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  • #990750
    Eastern Connection
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    Hi guys,

    I hope for some quick answers because I am a single parent who only gets very little child-free time:) Today is the day and I am spending my entire Saturday on working on my biz. I need help with some fundamental questions.

    I am planning for a soon-ish launch of a website selling imported homewares and interior decoration items. I target urban shoppers in Australian capital cities. Design-minded customer.

    I have some experience running blogs/adding Woo-commerce cart and enabling Paypal payments.

    However, I thought that for the store, I would try an e-commerce solution like Shopify. I do have immediate questions.

    1. It is hosted in US, am I right? Isn’t this detrimental for SEO, i.e. Google wants to show Australian-hosted sites to Australian consumer? Correct me if I am wrong.

    2. I am a bit dismayed by the transactions fees. Like, why?! Just because I use your software and hosting? Is it common for all e-commerce providers, charging transaction fees? I don’t want to pay that, as it will be on top of payment solution provider fee, like Paypal.

    3. If I do it myself with WordPress/Woo-commerce combination, then what hosting provider should I go to? Anyone recommended among Australian hosting companies? Should it be some specific e-commerce plan?

    4. Any recommendation for WordPress e-commerce theme?

    5. If I used my existing shared hosting plan that I use for my blogs (bluehost. com), would it work for my shop as a starting point?

    Thanks so much in advance! If you could enlighten me on the basics of e-commerce hosting/self hosting, I would be so grateful. I will send you some nice chocolates!

    xxx

    #1178422
    ozcos
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    Hi

    Just thought i would quickly response to a couple of your questions,

    Regarding questions 1 & 2 – I’ll leave this space for somebody else.

    regarding:
    “then what hosting provider should I go to? Anyone recommended among Australian hosting companies? Should it be some specific e-commerce plan? “

    Pop over to wphosting.com.au – have a chat to the guys there they will certainly be able to sort you out.

    Based on my experience (and not saying that these guys are “the best” I have just never discovered any reason to change hosting)
    My company manages and operates many clients websites and e-commerce (wp + woo only ) wphosting is our only approved supplier, our clients are required to employ wphosting.com.au before we take on work.
    the simple reason is – lowest costs / no hassle solution – all production time is invested in growing clients business rather than “sorting out back end hosting / IT problems” + 24 hour / phone / email / chat / ticketing support with zero (or near zero) wait time.

    (Note: zero affiliation or business partnering what so ever with wphosting)

    There may be many other hosting companies others can suggest for worthwhile look in.

    Regarding shared hosting – normally it can be something I don’t recommend for e-commerce site depending on your long term strategy, however shared hosting can be fine for a starting place if choosing a suitable supplier as above wphosting is perfectly fine for shared hosting to get started.

    I have no experience with bluehost.com

    and regarding themes – If this is a diy project why not stick with a woocommerce theme? I would consider it to be odd if you have any conflicts and compatibility issues then + full support if in need.

    other than that feel free to yell out if you need some further direction.
    cheers,

    #1178423
    John Debrincat
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    Eastern Connection, post: 207812 wrote:
    Hi guys,

    I hope for some quick answers because I am a single parent who only gets very little child-free time:) Today is the day and I am spending my entire Saturday on working on my biz. I need help with some fundamental questions.

    I am planning for a soon-ish launch of a website selling imported homewares and interior decoration items. I target urban shoppers in Australian capital cities. Design-minded customer.

    I have some experience running blogs/adding Woo-commerce cart and enabling Paypal payments.

    However, I thought that for the store, I would try an e-commerce solution like Shopify. I do have immediate questions.

    1. It is hosted in US, am I right? Isn’t this detrimental for SEO, i.e. Google wants to show Australian-hosted sites to Australian consumer? Correct me if I am wrong.

    2. I am a bit dismayed by the transactions fees. Like, why?! Just because I use your software and hosting? Is it common for all e-commerce providers, charging transaction fees? I don’t want to pay that, as it will be on top of payment solution provider fee, like Paypal.

    3. If I do it myself with WordPress/Woo-commerce combination, then what hosting provider should I go to? Anyone recommended among Australian hosting companies? Should it be some specific e-commerce plan?

    4. Any recommendation for WordPress e-commerce theme?

    5. If I used my existing shared hosting plan that I use for my blogs (bluehost. com), would it work for my shop as a starting point?

    Thanks so much in advance! If you could enlighten me on the basics of e-commerce hosting/self hosting, I would be so grateful. I will send you some nice chocolates!

    xxx

    Hi there,

    Questions like this have been answered a few time so maybe checking those out will help – http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/forums/selling-online/32392-cost-setting-up-online-store.html#post202448.

    I am bias as we provide an Australian based solution. The issue with overseas hosting is not really SEO but quality of service, access and maybe cost. Google is favouring local search more and more but you can use the tools in Google to get the right result pretty easily

    Over the last 6 months or so the Australian Dollar has gone down so now services like Shopify cost 30% more in Australian dollars. Remember you pay in US $ which is now about 0.77 exchange rate and you also will pay foreign exchange fees. That applies to both the monthly cost and the transaction cost.

    You have to pay transaction fees for your payments to PayPal or the payment gateway but those fees are in Australian dollars, paying a US$ transaction fee to the overseas online shop provider is not necessary and creates an uncontrollable expense to your business. Go find an Australian provider who doesn’t change transaction fees or use your WordPress / Woocommerce capabilities. Depending on your requirements it might be easier for you.

    Also this thread has some interesting information – http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/forums/selling-online/33334-building-website-whats-cost.html#post206795.

    Good luck and come back if you have questions.

    John

    #1178424
    Eastern Connection
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    • Total posts: 20
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    John Debrincat, post: 207825 wrote:
    Hi there,

    Questions like this have been answered a few time so maybe checking those out will help – http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/forums/selling-online/32392-cost-setting-up-online-store.html#post202448.

    I am bias as we provide an Australian based solution. The issue with overseas hosting is not really SEO but quality of service, access and maybe cost. Google is favouring local search more and more but you can use the tools in Google to get the right result pretty easily

    Over the last 6 months or so the Australian Dollar has gone down so now services like Shopify cost 30% more in Australian dollars. Remember you pay in US $ which is now about 0.77 exchange rate and you also will pay foreign exchange fees. That applies to both the monthly cost and the transaction cost.

    You have to pay transaction fees for your payments to PayPal or the payment gateway but those fees are in Australian dollars, paying a US$ transaction fee to the overseas online shop provider is not necessary and creates an uncontrollable expense to your business. Go find an Australian provider who doesn’t change transaction fees or use your WordPress / Woocommerce capabilities. Depending on your requirements it might be easier for you.

    Also this thread has some interesting information – http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/forums/selling-online/33334-building-website-whats-cost.html#post206795.

    Good luck and come back if you have questions.

    John

    Thank you, you are right, those fees will really bite now, due to the exchange rate. If I make $20 on an item, paying 30 US cents + 2% = almost a dollar just to shopify, and another few dollars to Paypal. It could amount to almost 10% of mark-up. That’s just too much to give away, now that online solutions are so numerous!

    #1178425
    John Romaine
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    Eastern Connection, post: 207812 wrote:
    1. It is hosted in US, am I right? Isn’t this detrimental for SEO, i.e. Google wants to show Australian-hosted sites to Australian consumer? Correct me if I am wrong.

    No, it makes no difference where you host.

    Eastern Connection, post: 207812 wrote:
    2. I am a bit dismayed by the transactions fees. Like, why?! Just because I use your software and hosting? Is it common for all e-commerce providers, charging transaction fees? I don’t want to pay that, as it will be on top of payment solution provider fee, like Paypal.

    Run your own site then. Use Woocommerce. You’ll only have hosting and domain renewal fees.

    Eastern Connection, post: 207812 wrote:
    3. If I do it myself with WordPress/Woo-commerce combination, then what hosting provider should I go to? Anyone recommended among Australian hosting companies? Should it be some specific e-commerce plan?

    I recommend LIquidweb https://www.liquidweb.com

    Eastern Connection, post: 207812 wrote:
    4. Any recommendation for WordPress e-commerce theme?

    Use one that doesn’t over complicate things. Less is more. Avoid clutter, and anything that could potentially distract from visitors from actually buying something. If you’re not sure – seek professional advice.

    Eastern Connection, post: 207812 wrote:
    5. If I used my existing shared hosting plan that I use for my blogs (bluehost. com), would it work for my shop as a starting point?

    Depends how serious you are. If you intend to run this as a home based hobby – bluehost.com will probably be fine. If you want to grow it and run a legitimate business – then forget cheap shared hosting.

    #1178426
    Eastern Connection
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    • Total posts: 20
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    Thanks all. Things are clearer now. I get the point of Shopify and everything else.

    I understand about having a dedicated server. The thing is, this is a REALLY lean start up. I really want to try selling without having to invest into IT infrastructure. If the host location is not detrimental to SEO, then I will probably install a shop with a WP e-commerce theme on Bluehost, where I already have an account. That’s the power of internet, isn’t it? Anyone can have a go.

    Once I prove my concept, and see that I can sell the stuff I want to sell, I will be in a position to invest into a better IT setup.

    I am quite tempted to setup a Shopify account as it does look so easy, but I think I will stick with my original plan of doing it myself. It will be a small, specialised store. I need to generate just a little cashflow so I can reduce my office work commitments and start working on my business in earnest. (This is just one direction for me).

    #1178427
    DaveN
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    • Total posts: 37
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    Eastern Connection, post: 207880 wrote:
    Thanks all. Things are clearer now. I get the point of Shopify and everything else.

    I understand about having a dedicated server. The thing is, this is a REALLY lean start up. I really want to try selling without having to invest into IT infrastructure. If the host location is not detrimental to SEO, then I will probably install a shop with a WP e-commerce theme on Bluehost, where I already have an account. That’s the power of internet, isn’t it? Anyone can have a go.

    Once I prove my concept, and see that I can sell the stuff I want to sell, I will be in a position to invest into a better IT setup.

    I am quite tempted to setup a Shopify account as it does look so easy, but I think I will stick with my original plan of doing it myself. It will be a small, specialised store. I need to generate just a little cashflow so I can reduce my office work commitments and start working on my business in earnest. (This is just one direction for me).

    Sounds like a good plan, I like learning so I’m not at the mercy of one platform or another. Once you have your catalog under control it’s quite easy to export all and move to another if you’re unhappy for one reason or another.

    Download a few, or sign up for the trials. Most have free templates included and you really need to look at the backend and how easy it is to manage your store. Things like are reports built in for free? Is it easy to add 20 images to 20 products? (Shopify is very clunky as an example as you have to open every single product unless you link product via an image hosting site which is also clunky). These things you’ll only find if you have a bit of a play first.

    Try Shopify, Woo, BigCommerce and Prestashop (now free cloud version also). Most of these have a lot of templates from 3rd parties and isn’t hard to apply them. Some hosting providers also have Installatron or something along those lines for one click set up of the DB, install files etc and you can just apply the template afterwards.

    Check how much their 3rd party apps are for things like eBay, Australia Post, Zoho, Xero etc as this can be quite an added cost to your lean startup site.

    They tend to have different naming conventions also, so do a test product import .csv and see how the platform responds. Do you get a lot of duplicates or no products at all?

    #1178428
    Eastern Connection
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    • Total posts: 20
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    DaveN, post: 207901 wrote:
    Sounds like a good plan, I like learning so I’m not at the mercy of one platform or another. Once you have your catalog under control it’s quite easy to export all and move to another if you’re unhappy for one reason or another.

    Download a few, or sign up for the trials. Most have free templates included and you really need to look at the backend and how easy it is to manage your store. Things like are reports built in for free? Is it easy to add 20 images to 20 products? (Shopify is very clunky as an example as you have to open every single product unless you link product via an image hosting site which is also clunky). These things you’ll only find if you have a bit of a play first.

    Try Shopify, Woo, BigCommerce and Prestashop (now free cloud version also). Most of these have a lot of templates from 3rd parties and isn’t hard to apply them. Some hosting providers also have Installatron or something along those lines for one click set up of the DB, install files etc and you can just apply the template afterwards.

    Check how much their 3rd party apps are for things like eBay, Australia Post, Zoho, Xero etc as this can be quite an added cost to your lean startup site.

    They tend to have different naming conventions also, so do a test product import .csv and see how the platform responds. Do you get a lot of duplicates or no products at all?

    Ah, the back end. Xero. That reminded me I still need to do the tax for last year! (I generated small income by running events). Does anyone have an answer already, how well those things work with Woo or Shopify?

    #1178429
    Anonymous
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    John Romaine, post: 207843 wrote:
    No, it makes no difference where you host.

    John,

    it doesn’t make any difference re SEO, but it does make a lot of difference re speed, and that does end up impacting indirectly on SEO. As a rule of thumb, the speed to a host outside of Australia is 1/10 of the speed to one inside Australia. I have checked the link speeds several times and found that to be fairly consistent. As an example, a site created by a friend of mine hosted in the US takes 13 seconds to load from scratch. Mine takes 2 seconds.

    Your comments is correct with respect to SEO, but there are other considerations as well.

    Darryl

    #1178430
    John Romaine
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    darryl, post: 207906 wrote:
    John,

    it doesn’t make any difference re SEO, but it does make a lot of difference re speed, and that does end up impacting indirectly on SEO. As a rule of thumb, the speed to a host outside of Australia is 1/10 of the speed to one inside Australia. I have checked the link speeds several times and found that to be fairly consistent. As an example, a site created by a friend of mine hosted in the US takes 13 seconds to load from scratch. Mine takes 2 seconds.

    Your comments is correct with respect to SEO, but there are other considerations as well.

    Darryl

    This notion that because you’re in Australia, you have to host in Australia is simply not true.

    You can host anywhere so long as you satisfy three core fundamentals.

    1. Uptime/reliabilty
    2. Speed
    3. Support

    I host my own site in the US as do all of my clients. The reason? Because most hosting companies in this country are rubbish. It’s expensive and the support is awful. Not to mention reliability.

    Ive seen some “big name” hosting data centres (or so they call them) If you saw them you’d be shocked. I’m talking a single server rack covered in cables and dust with milk crates full of wiring and garbage, with servers hanging off unprotected power boards from Kmart.

    I could go on about hosting all day, but in this case, it DEFINITELY won’t matter. Its obvious the OP is only setting up a hobby site in an effort to learn and gain experience.

    If you really want to get nit picky you can start talking about CDN’s. I don’t think we need to go there.

    #1178431
    Eastern Connection
    Member
    • Total posts: 20
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    John Romaine, post: 207907 wrote:
    This notion that because you’re in Australia, you have to host in Australia is simply not true.

    You can host anywhere so long as you satisfy three core fundamentals.

    1. Uptime/reliabilty
    2. Speed
    3. Support

    I host my own site in the US as do all of my clients. The reason? Because most hosting companies in this country are rubbish. It’s expensive and the support is awful. Not to mention reliability.

    Ive seen some “big name” hosting data centres (or so they call them) If you saw them you’d be shocked. I’m talking a single server rack covered in cables and dust with milk crates full of wiring and garbage, with servers hanging off unprotected power boards from Kmart.

    I could go on about hosting all day, but in this case, it DEFINITELY won’t matter. Its obvious the OP is only setting up a hobby site in an effort to learn and gain experience.

    If you really want to get nit picky you can start talking about CDN’s. I don’t think we need to go there.

    Thank you but why ppl keep referring to my to-be website a hobby site? :) It will be small but look presentable and have some VERY cool stuff on it:) I HAVE to generate a cashflow there!

    #1178432
    Anonymous
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    John Romaine, post: 207907 wrote:
    This notion that because you’re in Australia, you have to host in Australia is simply not true.

    You can host anywhere so long as you satisfy three core fundamentals.

    1. Uptime/reliabilty
    2. Speed
    3. Support

    I host my own site in the US as do all of my clients. The reason? Because most hosting companies in this country are rubbish. It’s expensive and the support is awful. Not to mention reliability.

    John,

    I’m glad for you that your experience has been good, however every time I have checked out an overseas hosting site, the loading speed has been noticeably slower than an Aus based server, and the stats I mentioned earlier are typical of my experience.

    Darryl

    #1178433
    JohnW
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    Hi Eastern Connections,
    The BIG problem for any e-commerce site is how to attract and convert site visitors into customers.

    IMHO, forget your worry about the e-commerce system. At this stage, you don’t seem to know enough to ask the important questions to select one. (Sorry if I offend.)

    1. E-com Software
    It is not so much the software that is important, it is the knowledge of the developer who installs it and the direction given by the site owner.

    A focus on questions about which shopping cart or content management system (and theme) to use suggest to me you don’t have enough info to make a success of your venture.

    2. Where the site is hosted
    This is such a minor technical issue. As long as you have Google Webmaster Tools installed and admin access you can define your site’s target country.

    This question is important in so far as it suggests to me the level of support you need.

    3. Support for the distribution, banking and accounting functions
    These can be mission critical areas for an e-commerce site. You only address a small number of potentially mission critical factors. Do you know what the others are?

    If I can suggest, start with pulling together a team who can help educate you before you attempt to make implementation decisions.

    I’d definitely put John Debrincat on my list of people to call about support and training services for e-com websites.
    Regs,
    JohnW

    #1178434
    Eastern Connection
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    Thanks all. I’ve got most of my questions answered. JohnW, I will be all right, it is a very small venture to start with, so I will manage it myself, slowly.

    I don’t think it is wise to direct whatever scant startup capital I have towards learning concepts that can be learnt online, for free! I’d much rather spend money on adwords consultancy.

    #1178435
    Eastern Connection
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    Also, if someone can recommend what the best payment gateway to use, would be great!
    Paypal fees are going up to almost 3%!

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