Starting out in E-commerce

  wutzy 13:33 09 Jan 2005

Hi there,

I run a small business and want to have a go at selling on-line.

Question is this:

Having spoken to a couple of web designer/developer types I can see it could cost me thousands to get started with a bespoke site but as a relative novice, I don't want to get conned into spending money that I don't need to on this part of the project.

I know also, that there are off the shelf packages such as Actinic that could be used as the back end of such a site.

At this stage I'm not whether the whole project will work or I'll end up spending a lot of money for very little result.
On the other hand if it goes as well as it might, I don't want to end up having committed myself to something that is not up to the job after a short time and then have to spend more on it a second time.
I think they call it "Catch 22"!

If anyone has some impartial advice I'd really be very grateful.

Many thanks


  Forum Editor 14:17 09 Jan 2005

and although it's far from cheap (£445 for the starter edition) it's almost certainly going to be less expensive than a bespoke system - and possibly better, too.

click here and take a look - it takes a lot of beating. If your business lifts off and you need to upgrade you can move to the high-volume version at just about double the price. By the time you need this version cost won't be the main consideration however.

  Forum Editor 14:24 09 Jan 2005

on this question of cost. Once you've bought the software and configured it to run on your server (extremely easy) and integrated it with your site the main influencing factor is the size of your catalogue.

On several occasions I've embarked on an e-commerce site design for a client, only to find that we have to stop and organise photo-shoots before we can proceed. This is because the client doesn't have appropriate images for the on-line catalogue. Good images are absolutely essential - people buy with their eyes to a large extent, and poor images (or none at all) can make the difference between healthy sales and no sales. Make sure that you have factored in the cost of obtaining these images when you're assessing site development costs.

  PurplePenny 16:03 09 Jan 2005

Are you willing/able to do any of the work yourself? If so take a look at OsCommerce; it is a free, open source e-commerce package:

click here

There are several other free e-commerce packages, many of which are very similar to OsC., but they will all require some effort on your part.

Some web hosts offer e-commerce as an option e.g. Freezone:

click here

(I'm not particularly recommending them, I just happen to know that they offer an e-commerce deal.)

Couple of other points to think about:

How will payment be made? You will need an Internet Merchant Account to be able accept credit card payments online even if you can already accept them in the real world. A cheaper alternative is to use NoChex (click here) or PayPal (click here).

Trading Standards have an online leaflet giving useful advice about selling online with links to the Office of Fair Trading, the DTI and the Information Commissioner for more detailed information about the applicable regulations.

click here

(Just in case that is too long and gets mangled use this click here )

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