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  1. #1
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    Howdy!

    I am starting my first e-commerce endeavor to sell new & used auto/truck parts (www.UsedAutoPartStore.com) and want some suggestions on how to go about building the online version of our catalogs

    The Used part section is already handled, but I was hoping on finding some pointers on how to speed up the process of creating the new part pages

    I have already found someone who can remotely do the shopping cart and credit card transaction processing for (what seems to be) a good deal. They said that once I get the tables built up listing the parts (they will be a simple table with a description of, say, the fender you want, and form fields for QTY & "Add to Cart" button), that I will just need to cut/paste the HTML form code that directs the information about the customer choices to to their cart server.

    What I was hoping to get from you folks was either a bit of utility software that would help "automate" some of the repetitive entry of the HTML code the cart processor needs to have, or tips on how could quickly cut/paste the information in an HTML editor. Remember, the HTML is pretty much the same for each item, and any variables (such as size, price, shipping cost/weight, etc) will be entered for each item as I input the description into the table.

    While typing this message, I did think of doing the data input of the description, weight, price, etc. in something like Excel since that would allow me to do some organizing of the data (sort into major groups like fenders, hoods, exhaust manifolds, and sub groups like Chevy, Ford, etc). Next to the information that needs to be in the "Input" fields of the cart form, I could put a "code" that could be searched/replaced later with the HTML that is required. This way I can cruise through the data entry, and then let the computer do a massive search/replace entry of the HTML.

    Do you think that would work? Do you have any better ideas? Let me know, please!!

    Thanks bunches!!!

    --Loki

  2. #2
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    Seems like a lot of work.. How do you store your available parts lists now?

    I would put it into MS-Access then use MS SQL Server or MySQL to drive the site once it is up. You will let the site maintain quantities for you that way. As far as building HTML snippets and cutting and pasting, that way of doing things has gone the way of the Dinosaur and the Dodo.

    You should build templates and wrap them around the database information. This entire Forum system works that way as well as sites from Amazon.com, EBay, Wal-Mart and other large retailers. The technology is available you should use it.
    Wayne Luke
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  3. #3
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    Thanks for the reply.

    Right now, I have not really begun to type in the parts lists. I will be entering them straight from the catalogs I use in my brick & mortar store.

    Actually, my situation is simpler than that. The products that I want to offer on my site are actually ones that I DON'T keep in inventory, but am able to order and ship the same day I receive the order from my customer. So, while your suggestion of using a database for maintaining inventory levels is a good one, it doesn't apply to my case.

    After doing some more digging, I have found that for a reasonable fee, most cart software providers are willing to take a comma delimited file (CSV) of my product list and help me build the HTML & CGI neccessary to make the items be "buyable" on my pages.

    Now for the next question....(and I'm sure it's a common one) Just who in the heck do I choose to host & process the cart?? Is a remote system (they host the CGI and the secure gateways) preferable over a local (on my server) solution?

    What should I expect/demand on fees & features?

    Any other tips on e-store setup (behind the scenes stuff)?

    Thanks!

    --Loki

  4. #4
    Don't get too close, I bite! Nicky's Avatar
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    I am actually looking into building an ecommerce site too. At the moment it looks like I will probably be using PHP with HTMl templates. However, I could do with some tips on settting up the credit processing side of things.

  5. #5
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    Well if your paying more than $5000 a year to have your site built and hosted then your paying to much. I could do it for about that price as long as you maintained the catalog.

    Maintenance is the best reason to use a database. Then you could add or delete items through a simple web-based form. None of this hard-coded HTML and CSV file updates.

    By the way... A CSV file is basically a flat-file database and can be used to build a SQL database with all the features.
    Wayne Luke
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  6. #6
    Don't get too close, I bite! Nicky's Avatar
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    Wayne, what about credit card processing? Is it the same in each country or do you have to specify what country you are trading in?

  7. #7
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Nicky
    Wayne, what about credit card processing? Is it the same in each country or do you have to specify what country you are trading in?
    Each country has their own banking regulations and reporting procedures so you'll have to check on that. My suggestion is to try and find a processor for your country. Then you won't have any hassles when the deposit is made into your account or you have to cash a check. A local provider will also be able to help you stir clear of local regulations and taxing issues.

    As far as credit cards themselves are concerned, they should automatically handle exchange rates so you shouldn't have to worry about that end of it.

    I don't want this to sound superior or anything but the three currencies you should consider pricing your goods in for international sales are US Dollars, English Pounds, and Japanese Yen. Alternatively you can add Canadian and/or Australian dollars. These are the dominant countries in E-Commerce right now but the others will catch up. If you have to choose one, choose US dollars because it is the most commonplace currency in use on the 'Net. If your site has a "country code" domain i.e. myhouseofstuff.co.uk then use your local currency.

    The final thing to consider is adding a third party currency conversion calculator so patrons can get up to date information on the current rates.
    Wayne Luke
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  8. #8
    Don't get too close, I bite! Nicky's Avatar
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    That may be true, however, I think for the particular client I have in mind they will only be selling in the UK. I will do some research into this and let you all know what I find out. You never know, I feel an e-commerce article coming on .


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