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  1. #51
    SitePoint Zealot csi95's Avatar
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    aspen - You seem to be missing the point here. You're using your personal experience as the basis for advice. The question isn't whether you can build a successful ecommerce site with under $5,000, it's whether an average person could do so.

    The average person doesn't know oscommerce from a hole in the wall. They don't know where to buy a design template, or what to do with it when they've got it -- because they don't have Photoshop or expertise in it. They don't know a dozen high school students whole are proficient enought in photography to take quality product photos, and they know nothing about SEO. That's why they hire an expert, and that costs $$$.

    This is no different than any other industry. Do you repair your own car? It could be cheaper that going to a mechanic. Do you grow your own food? It's cheaper than the Grocery Store. Did you build your own home? It would be cheaper than buying one. Do you dry clean your own clothes? Mix your own soda? Build your own cell phone? Make your own shoes?

    Of course someone with the right skillset can do it all on their own -- cheaply. Most people don't have that experience, however. They have to pay for it, and as with anything else in life, you get what you pay for.

    You are living proof that it can be done for under $5,000, but you're the exception, not the rule. The o.p. needs realistic answers, not "if all the stars align, and you have to know everything I know" answers.
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  2. #52
    SitePoint Member Laker_Fan32's Avatar
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    Hi there,

    I've had 1 project in the past with regards to OS Commerce...Installing added modules, etc is not that difficult, however, I had one HECK of a time with the design...

    I would also suggest looking at some OS commerce templates, I know of a couple sites that have some really beautiful ones...(runs about 170-200)...let me know if u need the site's name/address...

  3. #53
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by csi95
    aspen - You seem to be missing the point here. You're using your personal experience as the basis for advice. The question isn't whether you can build a successful ecommerce site with under $5,000, it's whether an average person could do so.

    The average person doesn't know oscommerce from a hole in the wall. They don't know where to buy a design template, or what to do with it when they've got it -- because they don't have Photoshop or expertise in it. They don't know a dozen high school students whole are proficient enought in photography to take quality product photos, and they know nothing about SEO. That's why they hire an expert, and that costs $$$.
    No, actually, you're missing the point.

    We're not talking about Bubba Smith here, owner of Bubba Smith's feed & farm supply in Springfield Oklahoma. The same Bubba Smith who only got a PC last year so he could email with his grandkids.

    We're talking about a SitePoint forum member who has posted asking if he specifically could do this. This is a member who must have some technical skills, because he is a member here. Looking at his signature, he writes photoshop tutorials. In his original post he mentions OScommerce already, and estimates his expenses (accurately I might add). But then... someone told him he had it all wrong.

    I don't post here expecting it to apply to everyone on Earth, I post here expecting it to apply only to those likely to read it.

    For my new ecommerce site everything I'm putting into it could be considered a direct result of my membership here. I found the designer/programmer through these forums. I am getting a merchant account from another forum member. And marketing can be learned by reading here as well, or reading articles on SitePoint's main site (or other sites, like mine).

    So, in short, this thread is not about Bubba, its about people like you and me. And yes, we can produce an attractive functioning successful ecommerce site for less than 5 grand. In fact, everyone who reads this should be able to, and when I get my blog post done everyone who reads that definitely will be able to.
    Chris Beasley - I publish content and ecommerce sites.
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  4. #54
    SitePoint Enthusiast oswebhosting's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by forexample
    Also osCommerce is a bad idea, if you want open source then go zencart.org
    Care to explain why OS Commerce is a bad idea? the ZenCart fork may have some more elegance to it but I would'nt say OSC is a BAD idea.
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  5. #55
    SitePoint Wizard LeoWebDesign's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aspen
    No, actually, you're missing the point.

    We're not talking about Bubba Smith here, owner of Bubba Smith's feed & farm supply in Springfield Oklahoma. The same Bubba Smith who only got a PC last year so he could email with his grandkids.

    We're talking about a SitePoint forum member who has posted asking if he specifically could do this. This is a member who must have some technical skills, because he is a member here. Looking at his signature, he writes photoshop tutorials. In his original post he mentions OScommerce already, and estimates his expenses (accurately I might add). But then... someone told him he had it all wrong.

    I don't post here expecting it to apply to everyone on Earth, I post here expecting it to apply only to those likely to read it.

    For my new ecommerce site everything I'm putting into it could be considered a direct result of my membership here. I found the designer/programmer through these forums. I am getting a merchant account from another forum member. And marketing can be learned by reading here as well, or reading articles on SitePoint's main site (or other sites, like mine).

    So, in short, this thread is not about Bubba, its about people like you and me. And yes, we can produce an attractive functioning successful ecommerce site for less than 5 grand. In fact, everyone who reads this should be able to, and when I get my blog post done everyone who reads that definitely will be able to.
    I agree with you about threads/posts here being for "us".

    His point is also moot though. I don't see any reason why someone couldn't hire a designer/developer to create a decent e-commerce site for under $5k, especially using an out of the box solution. So yes, even average Joe can "do" it.

  6. #56
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    Just a quick plug for my friends business:

    He built it using some help from:

    www.instantestore.com - Payed 500 dollars, and a 50/Month Fee - The 50/month fee gets him all the stats you could ever want, a dedicated team to code things for him on request, for example Amazon wanted to list his products and he needed to code the feed, well it just so happened that the folks at instantestore helped him with that, at no charge.

    He outsources everything else - 24/7 Tech Support, SEO, You name it. He does very well, making 40k in revenue in december, and pocketing 2-4k.

    Money aside, he is making it work, and for less than what I have seen you guys state.

    See his site at www.pawsuppetsupply.com

  7. #57
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeoWebDesign
    I agree with you about threads/posts here being for "us".

    His point is also moot though. I don't see any reason why someone couldn't hire a designer/developer to create a decent e-commerce site for under $5k, especially using an out of the box solution. So yes, even average Joe can "do" it.
    Actually I don't think the Bubba Smith, Grampa Joe example is relavent here because .Simplicity stated that this is a first business venture. I have looked back at .Simplicity's posts and if I read them correctly .Simplicity is "n00bish" in the realm of everything eCOmmerce. That said, I don't think anything said here will put him/her off their game plan.

    I think that most of the responses here are more to open ones eyes to what is involved and how much things really cost if you hire a professional to do the job.

    Nobodys going to get rich building eCommerce sites for $300 a piece and believe me you won't get rich doing them for $3000 either but if I'm going to build a site, I charge for the time involved regardless of whether I am consulting with you about how to read your stats, building you a payment gateway or skinning an x-cart.

    After the site is launched and you are rolling in the cash we don't share in the profits so we have to charge for our time accordingly.

    $5k sounds like a good starting point but $200 for design and $300 for development is going to get you a pretty basic site with a default skin and I expect you'll be responsible for preparing and uploading products, screenshots and thumbnails.
    Andrew Wasson | www.lunadesign.org
    Principal / Internet Development

  8. #58
    SitePoint Wizard LeoWebDesign's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by awasson
    Actually I don't think the Bubba Smith, Grampa Joe example is relavent here because .Simplicity stated that this is a first business venture. I have looked back at .Simplicity's posts and if I read them correctly .Simplicity is "n00bish" in the realm of everything eCOmmerce. That said, I don't think anything said here will put him/her off their game plan.
    I'm not really sure what you are saying. Bubba Smith is also "n00bish" so it seems to me it would be relevent. Actually I'm not even sure if you were disagreeing with me???

    I think $5k is reasonable to get started, not including advertising. That would be development only. You could start out with a minimal ad budget though, use Adwords and increase as you build.


    I don't think it would be wise for someone to start their first ecommerce site with a super expensive, fully customized solution. It would be like renting a 10,000 square foot warehouse for a start up home based business. On the other hand you can't start with a piece of crap either or it won't take off. The important thing is to know how and where to spend your budget. That's why alot of people (not developer types like members here) cut their teeth using a Yahoo! store.

  9. #59
    SitePoint Zealot icantsurf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by csi95
    aspen - You seem to be missing the point here. You're using your personal experience as the basis for advice. The question isn't whether you can build a successful ecommerce site with under $5,000, it's whether an average person could do so.

    The average person doesn't know oscommerce from a hole in the wall. They don't know where to buy a design template, or what to do with it when they've got it -- because they don't have Photoshop or expertise in it. They don't know a dozen high school students whole are proficient enought in photography to take quality product photos, and they know nothing about SEO. That's why they hire an expert, and that costs $$$.

    This is no different than any other industry. Do you repair your own car? It could be cheaper that going to a mechanic. Do you grow your own food? It's cheaper than the Grocery Store. Did you build your own home? It would be cheaper than buying one. Do you dry clean your own clothes? Mix your own soda? Build your own cell phone? Make your own shoes?
    Well put..
    I however consider myself a less than average coder. My skillset has improved over time thru practice and developing very small projects. But I am an artist first, a coder about 137th.

    I was able to figure out oscommerce on my own, skin it and get it up and running with credit card processing and an SSL. It wasn't easy. It took me the better part of two months but I pulled it of by reading the !@#$ manual and checking in with the forums when I had more specific questions. If people understand basic html they can get osCommerce or a similar product up and running. the question is will it be attractive and or visualy distinctive, and will the market be appropriately marketed to. product v price v service/value.

    So I agree with you both. It can be done for under $5000. It can be done for under $2000. and more money isn't exactly the solution. Webvan had 42 million dollars of VC and were doing everything right meeting and exceeding goals. The market just ran away from them or dissintegrated out from underneath them. VC got scared and pulled out. Now Safeway and Albertsons are doing the whole delivered online grocer thing. Charging more and delivering inferior product.

    So even good marketing research, a successful business madel and a buttload of money isn't going to ensure success. You need to be patient, brave and lucky too.
    Sig under construction. . .
    please keep checking back to see if I update it.

  10. #60
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeoWebDesign
    I'm not really sure what you are saying. Bubba Smith is also "n00bish" so it seems to me it would be relevent. Actually I'm not even sure if you were disagreeing with me???
    I'm not. .Simplicity referred to himself as someone who would ask n00bish questions on one of his other threads so we can probably expect they he is not a web development savy individual.

    I was referring to a post where the author suggested that by virtue of .Simplicity being a member of SitePoint that they would have the technical knowhow and experience to build a site out of thin air.

    I was suggesting that was probably incorrect.

    Cheers,
    Andrew Wasson | www.lunadesign.org
    Principal / Internet Development

  11. #61
    SitePoint Zealot dereko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Will Kelly
    just somebody mentioning osCommerce sends me into a fit..

    ..one fit later...

    Definately avoid. If you don't want to develop one from scratch buy a half decent one (sorry can't give any advice on that, I've always gone the custom route).
    JShop : http://www.jshop.co.uk

  12. #62
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    I was referring to a post where the author suggested that by virtue of .Simplicity being a member of SitePoint that they would have the technical knowhow and experience to build a site out of thin air.
    I meant no such thing. This thread has mostly not even been about doing it yourself, it has been about hiring others. So I didn't mean that all/most members here can do it themselves. I meant that all/most members here can easily get an ecommerce site up and running for less than $1000. The reason being that these forums are such a helpful resource, and there are many developers here from countries with low costs of living who can do the work for relatively little.
    Chris Beasley - I publish content and ecommerce sites.
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  13. #63
    SitePoint Zealot dereko's Avatar
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    Arrow

    First off, building a website and thinking a your most of the way there is crazy.. like building a shop in the middle of the Sahara desert... it can be the best shop in the world but no one will find it. ecommerce is about marketing first and foremost... not the traditional marketing but pay-per-click and seo etc. (this may be obvious but i think it needs to be said.)

    50% of time and money should be allocated to marketing at least.

    Also, while dropshipping is a great option really you should buy stock if you have any confidence in selling your products.

    Some possible steps to consider when building a online store with jshop for example (substitute oscommerce if you like)
    1. Hosting & Domain Name Registration
    2. JShop license and installation
    3. Merchant account & Payment Gateway Setup
    4. Training on how to use the administration area
    5. Product and data entry
    6. Design Website look and Feel
    a. Logo Design
    b. Site Look and feel
    7. JShop Customisation and extras
    a. URL Rewriting (SEO friendly urls)
    b. Landing Pages
    c. Banners
    d. Payment gateway integration
    e. Statistics and tracking
    f. Blog Software
    8. Add store to Price Comparison Directories (e.g. Froogle, Kelkoo, Pricerunner, etc)
    9. Pay per click marketing campaign
    10. SEO
    a. Keyword Analysis
    b. Competitor Analysis
    c. On site keyword insertion
    11. Link building
    12. Maintenance.

    This doesn't include,
    Accounting, purchasing stock and shipping products and more i haven't thought of.

    Time is a real cost as mentioned earlier.. while you may buy stock, build a website and market it for 5k you won't do it without sacrificing a large proportion of your time...How much is your time worth?.. value it on an hour basis... lets assume you don't value yourself very highly and you think your time is worth $20 an hour.

    A store like this built right for 5k could take 3 months of your time almost completely. That's 10k worth of your time. So in reality it cost you 15k. If you pay a consultant and they do half the work for you then isn't it worth 5k to you? I'd imagine you could do other things in the mean time.

    Its all about ROI(Return on Investment) and understanding time really is money no matter how you slice it.

    The money & time required to market a store is directly proportionate to the competitiveness of the market. So if your trying to sell ipods then you'll have to pay a hell of allot to attract attention. The demand then determines your potential revenue.

    Naturally there are smarter ways of doing things which give you the advantage. The question you have to ask is do you have an advantage over anyone doing well in the market currently?

  14. #64
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by dereko
    ecommerce is about marketing first and foremost...
    Not sure I agree. I believe, first and foremost, ecommerce should be about setting up the site to have a high conversion rate. Unlike marketing which tends to involve ongoing expenditure and resources, ensuring your site has been developed to enhance conversion rate is something that works for itself over the long term. There's no point chunking money into marketing if the site itself cannot convert effectively. Make the most of your existing traffic and watch your income increase dramatically.

    Let's say your average punter sets up an ecomm site and gets a 0.5% conversion rate and 100 visitors a day, which represents 20,000 a year to him. What's better - spend 1000s on trying to get a 600 visitors a day, or instead have ensured that your site had a more reasonable conversion rate in the first place. Just having a 3% conversion rate will increase income 6-fold. And that's a change they should stay there while you then start worrying about increasing traffic. Even a small change like adding a 'checkout trail' can boost conversion dramatically. But even before that, I would first suggest you look into web analytics and make sure you are ready to measure and collect the right statistical information so that the right ongoing changes can be made.

    If I were to prioritise things, I'd say

    1. Set up site for good conversion
    2. Set up site to encourage large order sizes, upselling etc
    3. Install correct web analytics
    4. Start targeted marketing campaigns
    5. Begin analysis and tweaking to ensure you make the most of your existing traffic

    BTW - good call on JShop Server It amazes me how that software just gets completely overlooked around here.

  15. #65
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    Can anybody shed more light on selecting the right product?

    To me, that is key. You could have an amazing website and seo, but if your product is already saturated in the market, you are gonna have to work a lot harder to compete.

    I am not interested in stocking the product at the moment, for various reasons. Though I might consider a fulfillment centre.

  16. #66
    SitePoint Member AverageGal's Avatar
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    Wink Here's my two cents

    Hi,

    I am not a programmer, and although I can design an OKAY website, I am not a web designer by trade. I have personally downloaded, installed, added contributions, and tweaked the design elements of osCommerce for an ecommerce site I needed. I have also done all my own work on an "out of the box" directory software package that I customized for an online Pet Lost & Found database.

    Over the past 7 - 8 months of attempting to make money at these ventures, I have learned some important lessons that I would like to pass on to you, some of which have already been said before, but here they are again:

    A. If design is important to YOU, and you have neither the time nor the skills to set up an initial design that you like, then hire someone to help you with it. If you first at least attempt to do as much as you can yourself, perhaps someone will be willing to do some "tweaking" for a lower price. You can get by with a clean, basic design to start out and build on it as money permits. If your venture fails, it isn't as likely to be the site design that kills it as the traffic problems, or product issues.

    B. osCommerce is an okay out-of-the-box ecommerce solution, it's free, it's pretty sophisticated, and it has an extremely active user forum where tons of answers to any issue you may have can be found. If you know anything about html and a basic understanding of what programming is supposed to accomplish, then you can probably install it and get the basics set up yourself (if I can do it, pretty much anyone can). There are instructions available to help you with the set up. You can maybe even stumble through and set up some of the contributions (add-ons that others have created and offer for free) that are available, if you even need any of them.

    Once your basic "back-end" is set up, perhaps on an "as-needed" basis you can hire someone with programming knowledge to fix things you might mess up, or not understand. There are tons of people that advertise OSC solutions, and many of them understand the budgeting issues of newbies.

    C. Having the prettiest site, with the slickest products and the most polished ecommerce setup WON'T do you any good if no one can find your site. In my humble opinion, your money is best spent first and foremost finding out which products are going to sell (i.e., market research), and second, exactly how you will get lots and lots and lots and lots of people to visit your site regularly at advertising prices you can (i) afford to pay on a regular basis each and every month and (ii) still make a profit.

    D. If I had your $5,000, I'd spend it on PPC and CPM advertising with Google, Yahoo, and the like, and start off with a site that's not as beautiful as some that have been making bucks for several years, and still maybe even needs a tweak or two to polish up the ecommerce programming, but that has enough of the basics to get by. Then, when the profits begin to roll in (because enough people have found you due to the advertising you've done)--and by the way, the profits should begin to roll in within a relatively short period of time as long as the product works and the advertising is in place--I'd set aside a bunch of that profit to continue building the look and feel of the website, in addition to continued advertising, link building, content creation, and the like.

    E. Don't forget about Google Adsense and the Yahoo thingy too! They're sources of passive income that helps.

    But, that's just my two cents, and I don't know much about anything.

    Good luck--I hope you give it a try!

    Regards,

    -AverageGal.

  17. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by aspen

    So... just ignore the people preaching high expense to protect their own paycheck. You can build a successful ecommerce site on a budget.
    Comeon, man. You are just like those people on that "design on a budget" show that end up redecorating a whole house with $500 because they end up making all of the furniture and art themselves using high end equipment and specialized skills.

    You've been doing this for years. You already know where to go, how the system works, how to admin the site, what needs to be done, etc... You manage the whole process yourself.

    To the average joe that isn't a pro web developer, paying $500 for an e-commerce site is the equivalent of setting up a lemonade stand in front of your house. Anyone who builds a site for that amount isn't going to spend time training the person, performing usability testing, server load testing, etc...

  18. #68
    SitePoint Enthusiast Labrocca's Avatar
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    So I guess my oscommerce site that I designed for under $200 and modded myself with the help of OSC site and making over 250k a year in sales is fiction?

    Get a clue you $5k charging designers and programmers...you are not needed.

  19. #69
    SitePoint Zealot dereko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Defender
    So I guess my oscommerce site that I designed for under $200 and modded myself with the help of OSC site and making over 250k a year in sales is fiction?

    Get a clue you $5k charging designers and programmers...you are not needed.

    Did you actaully read the thread... i could make an online store for absolutly nothing in terms of cash bar the cost of the domain name and payment gateway.

    whats your point.. do you not value your time or something?

    Also if you can mod oscommerce then you don't come into the lay man category.

    What a ridiculus comment.. if the designers in here are getting anywhere from 5 - 100k to do online stores there is a reason for it.. doesn't suit everyone but try build an online store selling ipods for your price..

    how do you get traffic to your site... does it magically appear there for free?

    $200!! what a load of crap

  20. #70
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Defender
    So I guess my oscommerce site that I designed for under $200 and modded myself with the help of OSC site and making over 250k a year in sales is fiction?

    Get a clue you $5k charging designers and programmers...you are not needed.
    You're such a hero, I suppose that you'll build .Simplicity's site for him, mod it and generate the traffic as well for the low, low price of nothing.

    Where do you get off telling anyone that they are not needed. You might want to read the rest of the thread. Nobody's demadning 5k for a site. They're trying to enlighten the initial poster of what is involved in building a site from an uninformed perspective.

    From the look of your links it's easy to tell you haven't had any design help.
    Andrew Wasson | www.lunadesign.org
    Principal / Internet Development


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