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  1. #1
    SitePoint Addict
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    E-Commerce site. Preliminary steps?

    Hello all,

    I'm thinking of starting up a small e-commerce site within the next little while. I was just wondering what preliminary steps you go through very early on in the development stage. So I'm talking, what do you do for a business plan? Do you write a formal plan, a simple plan, no plan? Is there a program you use that makes this process easier for you? What other steps do you take before setting up payment gateways, getting stock, etc. I'd like to hear your thoughts on going from an idea, to seeing it begin to come together. The very early stage.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    East Lansing, MI USA
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    You need a formal business. I'm not sure what it'd be in Canada, a Limited Company perhaps? You don't need something so formal, but its a good idea. You need a business checking account, my processor required a business phone line (that you answer like a business). You also need to register to accept sales tax.

    You need a place to store the merchandise, you need to know how you will ship the merchandise. I use UPS and have a daily pickup, I recommend their services. A daily pickup actually ends up being cheaper than going to one of their offices to ship.

    You need things like a postal scale to weigh the packages, tape, boxes, packing material. I recommend Uline.com for US people, they have warehouses all over and get things to you quick. Not sure for Canadians...

    My setup also includes a cheap PC (refurbished dell approx $300) and a laser printer that sit down with my inventory for shipping. Wirelessly networked to my main system. Its in the basement so I needed some high gain antennas.

    Shelves, I spent probably $600 on shelves. I got some heavy duty 2500 pound per shelf units to hold the chain mail armor I sell, but mostly just get the Plano (thats a brand) plastic 125 pounds per shelf ones -- much easier to put together.

    Research your field heavily. Does anyone else sell these items? What do they charge? Do people sell these on ebay? For what price?

    You need to setup hosting and software. Unless you use a third party shopping cart (Paypal, 2 Checkout, etc) you'll need an SSL certificate of your own (~$45, I recommend Geotrust through Ev1servers.net). Also unless you're using a hosted solution (Paypal, 2 Checkout) you'll need your own shopping cart. I use OScommerce, but I hear good things about Zen Cart. You'll want to make sure it integrates with the payment system you're using, and you may also want to make edits to the default setup. For instance my OScommerce install has probably about a dozen hacks installed to make it both easier to use and more search engine friendly.
    Chris Beasley - I publish content and ecommerce sites.
    Featured Article: Free Comprehensive SEO Guide
    My Guide to Building a Successful Website
    My Blog|My Webmaster Forums

  3. #3
    SitePoint Addict
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    wonderful. thanks.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Zealot
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    you'll want to consider things like phone support since you are a newbie. You certainly want a shopping cart that has that. You will want a shopping cart that provides reports like sales tax reports. Since you are in canada you will need one that can handle GST/PST/HST etc.


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