Home – New Forums Selling online online shopping cart 101

  • This topic is empty.
Viewing 11 posts - 1 through 11 (of 11 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #982314
    Anonymous
    Guest
    • Total posts: 11,464
    Up
    0
    ::

    I consider myself to be pretty tech-savvy but setting up an online shop is doing my head in. it seems there are so many variables in each platform/option/product and I am finding issues with all of them.

    would love any feedback people have based on the things I’d love my shop to be able to do:
    – manage inventory/stock levels
    – give options for size/colour for some products if needed rather than having a listing for every seperate colour/option
    – option to show or hide an item in my store depending on if something is in stock or if I just want to hold off selling an item for a while (rather than saying ‘out of stock’ just hide it etc
    – product search and menu options based on brand categories or general search terms
    – have it so when they sign up to checkout they are subscribed (or at least given the option) to newsletter
    – other payment options if I don’t wish to use paypal??

    I’m not sure if these are all ‘shop’ functions or some of them website options and the two are not the same thing I guess.

    thanks for your wisdom!

    #1136161
    ozcart
    Member
    • Total posts: 19
    Up
    0
    ::

    Hi,

    The main commercial shopping carts on the market will generally do all of these things. There are a lot of options between different carts so it’s a good idea to try out the demos of the cart software or if the provider has a free trial use that to see if it works the way you want them to. Then get in contact with the Sales team of the provider(s) you are interested in, to clarify any questions you have.

    Some comments on the various points you have raised:

    Managing Stock Inventory levels
    Most open source and commercial shopping carts will allow you to manage stock levels, but one thing you will need to determine is how you want to track your inventory. Do you want to keep track of the overall number of items or keep track of them by combination. For example, if you are selling clothing you might want to keep track of the total number of shirts with a particular style you have in stock or you might want to keep track of them by product option combination (e.g. how many Small/Red, Small/Blue, Small/Green, Medium/Red, Medium/Blue etc you have in stock).

    You might also want to check if the provider has an import/export feature so you can import stock levels if they change in bulk. That’s a useful feature if you have a physical shop and want to keep your inventory in sync.

    Options for colour/size:
    I don’t know of any commercial carts that wouldn’t allow you to add product options. As in my example above, if you also want to manage stock levels check if the cart allows you to keep track of combinations or just add options independently. Some carts also allow you to set rules for options so that some combinations can/can’t be selected together.

    Hide/show products that are out of stock:
    One thing you’ll want to know is whether you want to turn off the product completely if it’s out of stock or just hide the “add to cart” button for out of stock items. Some carts also allow you to add the item but do the stock checking on the checkout page, so you will want to clarify how the one that you are looking at works. You can generally see this in action in the cart’s demo.

    Search menus based on brands:
    If you mean shop by brand, this is implemented in different ways in different carts Some let you add brand tags to products which can then be automatically filtered. You’ll see this on sites where you click on a manufacturer or brand and all the items that aren’t from that brand disappear. Another way some carts do this is to set up a category for particular brands called “Brand” and then put the various brand names as subcategories. You can then cross reference the products when you create them into the various brand categories.

    Some carts have “search as you type” options on their search as well as options to go to an advanced search page where you can search for various elements.

    Subscriptions:
    The law in Australia requires that people choose to receive a newsletter, so whilst you can present the option on checkout you can’t automatically choose “yes” for them – you have to get them to explicitly choose it. Most carts will give you this option but some of the international ones might not have the same rules as Australia and have select automatically as an option. So make sure that your cart can do this.

    You will also want to look at whether your cart will allow your customers to check out as a guest or whether they have to be signed up. This should be driven by your business processes, and most of the commercial carts will allow you to choose either way of processing signups.

    Payment options other than Paypal:
    This is one to check. Many non-Australian carts do not have a wide range of payment methods that are supported for bank-based credit card processing.

    The pros of a payment method like Paypal is that it’s easy to set up compared to bank merchant accounts but the downside is that the money does not go into your business account so it has to be drawn out and cleared.

    If you don’t want to use Paypal you will need two things:
    – a bank merchant account
    – a payment gateway provider (these are services that sit between the shopping cart and shopping cart and actually “do” the processing).

    The banks can offer you all in one service (merchant and payment gateway services) or you can split them and go with a specialist.

    Don’t overlook security – there are VERY stringent requirements that you must meet to process credit cards so make sure that whoever you choose for your shopping cart provider has secure servers, encrypted checkouts and can give you a certificate to show security compliance to your bank (this is called PCI DSS compliance if you’re familiar with web security).

    Hope this helps! You’re right that there are a lot of options and it pays to ask questions to make sure you’re happy with the provider and that they’ll give you support for your website shop as well. Even the most tech savvy of people will have some questions on setting up a shop once they get started. That’s what support teams of shopping cart providers are for after all.

    Brooke

    #1136162
    QuickOnTheClick
    Member
    • Total posts: 9
    Up
    0
    ::

    Hi KAK

    This may or may not be relevant for you, it depends on what type of website you have. I work solely with WordPress and the online stores that I build for my clients are built using Woocommerce.

    The advantage of setting up the online store on your website is that you own it. When you sign up to other shopping cart websites, you are locked in to monthly payment plans which may not have all of the functionality you need. You are also bound by their terms and conditions and if you choose to move your shopping cart from the website, you need to start over from scratch elsewhere.

    I believe that investing some time initially to learn how to use your own online store will hugely benefit you in the future. If you would like any further assistance or advice, please don’t hesitate to message me.

    Thanks :)

    #1136163
    ozcart
    Member
    • Total posts: 19
    Up
    0
    ::

    There is always a trade off between outright ownership and a hosted monthly solution. Which is best for you will depend on your experience and business needs.

    Outright solutions are great if:
    – You have the time to take responsibility for keeping the system secure and up-to-date. WordPress based systems have an admin-based update in this regard but are not without problems and difficulties.
    – As well as keeping your WordPress installation up to date, you have to take the time to keep your hosting environment PCI compliant. In today’s world secure hosting is a must for the banks and customers expect to see the padlock on checkout (which means you’ll need SSL encryption on your checkout – which is not included free in most hosting packages). Shared hosting environments are not often optimised for the specific needs of PCI security testing and will not pass a security audit out of the box. Never underestimate the importance of security in your website.
    – You will need the skills to resolve issues when they arise. Open source systems rely on the support of their community and you may or may not get the answer you need when you ask.
    – If you have the up front investment to pay for the initial development or web design, then outright solutions can be great. You will also need the money to invest in purchasing the specific add-on components that you need to complete the functionality that you want. The cost of add on plugins can add up quickly depending on the platform you choose.

    Hosted solutions are great if:
    – You need fast, personalised support. Part of what you pay for on commercial shopping cart systems is access to their support teams. Some offer phone based support or live chat support or ticket (email) based support depending on the company and the way they work.
    – You want to lower your initial investment in your site. Shopping cart providers are offering their cart system to a wider base of people, thus lowering the costs to you as an individual buyer. This means that instead of paying thousands or tens of thousands for a site, you may be able to get started for a fraction of that. If you shop around you can get a good mix of the features you need.
    – You want the peace of mind of service accountability. If something goes wrong with your site, then you have someone who actually cares as much as you about getting it back up and running. If your site goes down at 3am in the morning, who will help you resolve it?

    In short, if you have an IT background, have a developer in your business and the time and money to keep everything up to date yourself, then an own-outright solution could be for you. Otherwise, a hosted solution might be the way to go. Be sure that whatever route you choose you’re clear about what you do and don’t get before you start so you don’t get bogged down trying to resolve issues once you start loading your products and setting up your site.

    You’ll want to make sure that you have a platform that you can grow with so you don’t have to change carts later. Hosted solutions will let you export your product and customer data in most cases if you want to cancel your store, but you won’t be able to move the entire thing somewhere else. Most hosted solutions will have a demo or trial period for you to get to use their product and nowadays few have long lock in contracts.

    Whatever store platform you go with, spending time up front understanding your objectives and what you might do with it in the future is a good way to go. There is always a compromise regardless of what you choose.

    Brooke

    #1136164
    AngelaGirl
    Member
    • Total posts: 330
    Up
    0
    ::

    ECWID is another one to try out. Simple to use and has lots of features and integrates easily with WordPress and other platforms. Like any cart though, it has it’s pros and cons.

    I totally agree with Brooke when she wrote re: “spending time up front understanding your objectives and what you might do with it in the future is a good way to go. There is always a compromise regardless of what you choose”

    #1136165
    Tony Pfitzner
    Member
    • Total posts: 213
    Up
    0
    ::

    If you are setting up a cart your number one issue is going to be profitability i.e. buying traffic, generating organic traffic, and engineering cost effective conversions. For this reason I am in favor of WordPress integrated carts like WooCommerce. It’s just a much stronger and more flexible marketing package.

    Product attributes and gift vouchers and coupons are pretty standard fare and are supported by WooCommerce including table rate shipping (add on), complex tax calculations, security etc etc. So – unless you are Dick Smith Electronics :) – you are probably better off going for a solution that enables you to focus on getting the marketing right and improving conversion.

    A lot of the more mature cart solutions are pretty inflexible and use “old” technology that has been hacked around over the years. On the other hand WordPress/WooCommerce is easy to integrate with social media, SEO, and a zillion other plugins – and the WooCommerce module is well engineered.

    PCI compliance is only an issue if you are accepting credit card data on your site, and you probably don’t need to do this at first e.g. you can use a PayPal module and bank transfer payment options.

    Later on, if you want to install a gateway, you can get a fixed IP address from your host company together with a security certificate and get PCI compliant without too much fuss – but do this after you have demonstrated the economic viability of your site.

    (A security certificate -such as extended validation – always looks good and will probably help conversion even if you don’t accept cards on site.)

    I wonder how my affiliate application with WooCommerce is going – I had better go and check…

    #1136166
    MatthewKeath
    Member
    • Total posts: 3,184
    Up
    0
    ::
    ozcart, post: 155144 wrote:
    Shared hosting environments are not often optimised for the specific needs of PCI security testing and will not pass a security audit out of the box. Never underestimate the importance of security in your website.I wouldn’t stress about this. There are a range of solutions that can help. For a small business it’s probably easier to use a payment gateway that takes care of this for you.
    #1136167
    Zava Design
    Participant
    • Total posts: 1,463
    Up
    0
    ::

    I think it’s 100% reliant on the particular store/project as to which solution is “best”. A hosted solution isn’t the best solution for every project, nor is WordPress/Woocommerce, nor is Magento, Opencart …etc.

    Each of them has their strengths and weaknesses, and to try to use one of them for all projects is – to me – potentially doing a disservice either to yourself or to your client.

    #1136168
    Tony Pfitzner
    Member
    • Total posts: 213
    Up
    0
    ::
    Zava Design, post: 155162 wrote:
    I think it’s 100% reliant on the particular store/project as to which solution is “best”. A hosted solution isn’t the best solution for every project, nor is WordPress/Woocommerce, nor is Magento, Opencart …etc.

    Each of them has their strengths and weaknesses, and to try to use one of them for all projects is – to me – potentially doing a disservice either to yourself or to your client.
    Most smaller online shopping projects have a more or less similar spec that can be covered by just about all carts, although I agree there are situations where this is NOT the case e.g. where the cart needs to be synchronised with a POS system in a bricks and mortar shop, barcode integration, freight calculations are particularly complex, need for integration with a particular accounting or inventory system etc.

    My point is that owing to the essential similarity of most smaller online retailing and wholesaling projects there are considerations other than the technical features of the cart itself that come in to play when determining a solution.

    Trying to sell a WooCommerce solution to a high volume retailer with POS and real-time inventory integration would certainly be doing them a disservice. I am just trying to shift the discussion away from shopping cart features and onto broader considerations.

    The features that drive 90% of a particular cart’s business value for smaller projects – e.g. Aus Post freight calculation, product attributes (size, colour, whatever), vouchers and coupons, SEO, basic inventory management – are pretty much common to all carts that would be seriously considered.

    So if there are other important factors – such as a fit with publishing objectives and ease of conversion testing – that can be accommodated, maybe we should be looking at these as primary drivers in our decision making rather than some cart feature of secondary importance.

    The internet is littered with dead shopping carts. Most of these businesses failed because of a lack of effective marketing – not an inappropriate selection of cart technology.

    #1136169
    Zava Design
    Participant
    • Total posts: 1,463
    Up
    0
    ::

    Most smaller online shopping projects have a more or less similar spec that can be covered by just about all carts

    Well we can agree to disagree. Every small business ecomm project I’ve ever worked on has quite distinctive requirements, meaning I’ve felt the need to utilise Woocommerce, Opencart, Megento, Shopify and on a couple of occasions referred them to someone else with the skills suitable for their particular requirements.

    Working on a project right now where on the surface, it was a client needing a “simple, standard” (their words) ecommerce solution. But dig a little deeper, and they have a couple of specific requirements that have completely changed the solution I recommended for them.

    The internet is littered with dead shopping carts. Most of these businesses failed because of a lack of effective marketing – not an inappropriate selection of cart technology.

    Mostly agree. Selection of suitable technology needs to go hand in hand with a good marcomms plan/strategy, and vice versa.

    #1136170
    eWAY
    Member
    • Total posts: 524
    Up
    0
    ::

    Hi there KAK,

    The list of requirements you have set are pretty standard across the board. Any modern shopping cart will support this, if they don’t then they’re probably on the way to being obsolete!

    Some other things you may need to consider:

    – Anticipated traffic. Think where you expect your business to be in the next 1, 2, 3 years. A lot of our customers look at websites as at least a 2 or 3 year investment so make sure the system you choose is scaleable. If you’re expecting to have large traffic then a WordPress based cart may not be best for you as once you add in all of the plugins it becomes very database intensive.

    – Local service integration. Do you need to integrate with a local shipping carrier?

    – SEO. Can you easily perform you’re own SEO on your products? It’s important to be able to view Google Analytics info on your site traffic and change product descriptions etc when you see a pattern of certain content working better than others.

    – Social Media. Are you in an industry that benefits from Social Media sharing? Eg a T-Shirt business where a customer can post on their Facebook wall that they just bought from you.

    – Maintenance. Do you want to have to handle store upgrades yourself or would you be willing to pay a slightly higher monthly fee for it to be handled for you?

    Most importantly…

    – Budget. What is your budget for upfront and ongoing costs?

    I hope the above has given you some more food for thought and I’ll be happy to recommend something for you if you provide some more info. At eWAY it’s my job to stay on top of every shopping cart etc that integrates with our gateway so you name it, and I’ve used it.

    Maclean

Viewing 11 posts - 1 through 11 (of 11 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.