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  1. #1
    Non-Member .Simplicity's Avatar
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    eCommerce... For me? or not for me?

    Well, basically I have a budget of $5000, I was going to use osCommerce, get a designer for around $350, get a coder for around $200 and then use the rest of the cash on advertising.

    I thought this would be ample for my first business, but I have been told that it's not.

    Also I was going to just use numerous dropshippers, but I have been told that it's silly, and you lose alot of cash because of that.

    Also, I was going to create a site focused on Electronics, 'Mobiles, MP3s, DVDs, CDs, etc' but I have been told that I should just focus on one topic.

    Can you please direct me

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by .Simplicity
    Well, basically I have a budget of $5000, I was going to use osCommerce, get a designer for around $350, get a coder for around $200 and then use the rest of the cash on advertising.

    I thought this would be ample for my first business, but I have been told that it's not.
    IMO, your $5000 budget isn't even enough to cover design and development, let alone advertising.

    There's more to ecommerce than just using off the shelf solutions and cheap labour. We regularly consult and develop ecom sites and the time you need to set up the site correctly is outrageous - consultations, market research, careful planning of site features, developing specific navigations from specific landing pages, understanding target audience, setting up the correct web analytics, marketing plans, continued analysis, customer support systems, correct hosting, payment service costs, etc etc.

    If you skimp, you greatly reduce the chances of your site being a success. There's no point in spending $1000s on advertising if the site itself was built on a paultry $500 budget - if the site doesn't convert, it really doesn't matter how much you spend on advertising. Better to spend more on development, get the site set up correctly and reap the rewards of a high conversion rate.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by .Simplicity
    Also, I was going to create a site focused on Electronics, 'Mobiles, MP3s, DVDs, CDs, etc' but I have been told that I should just focus on one topic.
    if you don't have the budget for a large inventory focus on a specific niche
    better to have a variety of small genre so you can cover it fully
    instead of a variety of large genre and random stocking certain things

  4. #4
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    A $550 eCommerce site is possible, but it needs to be a really really special eCommerce site. As in, you probably spent the other $4450 in market research to find a niche that will let you sell goods with any degree of success from a crappy $550 website.

    The ecommerce site you're trying to build over on this forum goes by the name of "A $200 Amazon.com clone", and it's something we constantly make fun of.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Guru wii's Avatar
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    IMO the backend is not that important, if the site is easy to use and offer something that is not available anywhere else / or few places (which I setup for one of my customers), it can be very successful.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Zealot talash's Avatar
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    Post i think it is possible

    Hello,

    I think this is very much possible.

    If you plan to sell a category of product and can focus on the niche and bootstrap the project, I think it is not difficult to build up an e-commerce business.

    But you must "know" how to promote a website and do things right the first time since you might not get a second opportunity if you make a major mistake.

    Try to use an innovative marketing method, which can get great conversion. Work on targetted traffic and referral network to build.

    Best of luck.


    Abhishek
    My Blog - Business strategy, Usability, India and Ideas
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  7. #7
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    Good luck in finding a coder that will install/configure osCommerce for you for that little money. Let alone finding contributions, testing,... I once made an oscommerce, and asked way more than that, at least 5 times. Like shadowbox said, there is much more to do for the coder/desinger than 'simply' install the system.

    M

  8. #8
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    Don't start with electronics, find something that only certain groups of people want, think off-the-wall different and find a drop ship wholesaler that will do drop shipping for you. Electronics is a seriously competitive market online and I doubt you will have any initial success with that type of budget.
    Full-time student dropshipper
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  9. #9
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    Firstly, as others have suggested, forget about electronics. It is too competitive. If you want to compete on price, you are going to have to deal with grey market goods. These are authentic products, but were not made for sale in the US. So, they will have no warranty.. etc... etc.

    Secondly, yes I think it is possible to do an ecommerce site for that much. I haven't done it myself, but there are others on here who have knocked up a site for a few hundred bucks and are doing quite well with their sites. You can at least get it going for that much and then as revenue starts coming in you can work on improving the site.

    There was a guy on here not too long ago who was offering Oscommerce templates for under $100 and they looked really good. Do a search on the site for oscommerce and you should find him.

    Focus on your efforts on two things..
    1) Finding the right product. and
    2) Getting traffic to your site.

    Based on my research those are the two key things.

  10. #10
    Non-Member .Simplicity's Avatar
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    Thanks for the advice, I'm really grateful.

    Keep it coming, so I can hear more opinions.

    Also, any recommended dropshippers? (UK) and any recommended products?

    Thanks all.

    p.s. Highlighted discussion of the day!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowbox
    IMO, your $5000 budget isn't even enough to cover design and development, let alone advertising.
    What do you do for a living? Are you a webdesigner? Of course you would say that.. LOL

    There's more to ecommerce than just using off the shelf solutions and cheap labour. We regularly consult and develop ecom sites and the time you need to set up the site correctly is outrageous - consultations, market research, careful planning of site features, developing specific navigations from specific landing pages, understanding target audience, setting up the correct web analytics, marketing plans, continued analysis, customer support systems, correct hosting, payment service costs, etc etc.
    That is all well and good. But, some people just don't have the budget to go big. Are you saying that it can't be done without all this? Of course it would be nice, but a lot of succesful websites have discovered these things through trial and error. It takes longer, sure. But, some people have more time than money to throw at a website.

  12. #12
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    I have to agree with most, as a web developer and programmer I charge a fair amount of money for making a ecommerce site. I have a site called www.visionXchange.co.uk, dont worry its not trying to attract comsumers, Im busy enough as it is, but if you only want to pay about $500 for the site, you either need to employ an out of work student who isnt experienced in this field (advertise at your local Uni, never know students always desperate for cash), or someone who will do a very dodgy job. There is alot to consider when making a good solid ecommerce site and I wont build one for less than $5000, but then I can pick and choose. Good luck though, sometimes you can find gem programmers and designers at universities who are willing to do it for little
    thats the advice i would offer.

  13. #13
    SitePoint Enthusiast willow1872's Avatar
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    It is most certainly possible. I used to use oscommerce but have changed over to CubeCart because of its simplicity and excellent support. Ive also had a fair amount of success using dropshipping, one of my main suppliers is The Select. Their prices are competitive and they will be happy to give you some sample prices if you email them as their prices on site are retail prices.

    You will find it very hard (in the UK atleast) to find wholesalers that will dropship for you and unless you have 10-20.000 to spare you will find it hard to go down any route other than dropshipping. You could also take a look at http://www.thewholesaleforums.co.uk/forum/ for more advice.

    osCommerce is a nightmare for anyone to re-design and very expensive because its sooo difficult, take a look at www.cubecart.com , its not opensource but only costs $69 for a licence or can be used for free if you keep their copyright info in the footer. Also take a look at www.cubecartskins.net (my site) for some different skins.

    Good luck
    Quote Originally Posted by .Simplicity
    Thanks for the advice, I'm really grateful.

    Keep it coming, so I can hear more opinions.

    Also, any recommended dropshippers? (UK) and any recommended products?

    Thanks all.

    p.s. Highlighted discussion of the day!

  14. #14
    SitePoint Addict Corobori's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowbox
    IMO, your $5000 budget isn't even enough to cover design and development, let alone advertising.
    It all depends on your market.
    In my area this kind of money is what a few big companies would be willing to spend; local medium and small size businesses couldn't afford that much.
    Jean-Luc
    Corobori WebDesign
    Working in the Concepcion area, Chile, since 1999
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  15. #15
    SitePoint Addict n0other's Avatar
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    I don't know about the design for $350, but you want a backend coded for $200? What a joke, multiply it by 10 and maybe you'll have luck finding a good programmer. You'd probably find someone to accept your offer on freelance sites, but honestly, these are full of people who post their default template as a bid, without reading the description. In the end, I think $5k would be enought to launch an e-commerce site, but as others have said, forget about the electronics niche, way too saturated.

  16. #16
    SitePoint Evangelist Will Kelly's Avatar
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    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).

  17. #17
    Grr. Arrgh. Mr. B's Avatar
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    You should spend some of that sweet cash on content. There are people out there that can set you up with some great unique content for a decent price. I'd keep it in mind.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. B
    You should spend some of that sweet cash on content. There are people out there that can set you up with some great unique content for a decent price. I'd keep it in mind.
    Yeah, I think one of the better ways to get an ecommerce site going would be to find a very specific niche and establish yourself as the authority in that niche with some content.

  19. #19
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    I find this thread funny.

    Of course the people selling you services will tell you that you need to spend a gazillion dollars.... the more you pay the more they make. The truth is you can get a good ecommerce site for far less than $5000.

    I'm going to dedicate a post to this very subject in my SitePoint blog soon, based on my most recent ecommerce creation. I'm getting a customized version of Oscommerce, including all the contributions I wanted installed, and a really nice design, for $500. The merchant account will be around $150 to setup. The SSL cert is $49.

    Anyways... this is more expensive than my first ecommerce site. I did the design and installation/customization of OSC myself. The merchant acount and SSL cert were about the same, then I bought around $1000 in inventory. All told I started the site for around $1200. I didn't spend anything on advertising, instead using organic SEO, which obviously takes advantage of my own expertise.

    Anyways... this "cheapo" site, involved no meeting with consultants, no market research (other than basic keyword research and looking at selling patterns on ebay... which anyone can do), no focus groups, etc. This site brought in 5 figures in it's 3rd month of existance, 6 figures in it's first December, and in total brings in $500k a year. The only thing stopping it from getting bigger is my reluctance to carry more products.

    So... just ignore the people preaching high expense to protect their own paycheck. You can build a successful ecommerce site on a budget.

    As for finding a product... let me echo others and say stay away from electronics. It doesn't fit the mold of a good ecommerce product.

    See here for more:

    http://www.sitepoint.com/blogs/2005/...for-ecommerce/
    Chris Beasley - I publish content and ecommerce sites.
    Featured Article: Free Comprehensive SEO Guide
    My Guide to Building a Successful Website
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  20. #20
    SitePoint Member Namedelivery's Avatar
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    Selling electronics is a mistake as pointed out. VERY competitive and the keywords at the major search engines are extremely expensive.

    The budget is fine to get started. I started one of my many retail/ecom. sites in 2001 and we were featured on "The Morning Show" on October 22, 2005. That site cost me a grand total of $1000 to launch. It was running on free miva merchant from our host back then and is temp. on OScommerce. We ahve now developed our own solution in house and it is being tested on one of our other ecom. sites.

    A couple of years ago I set up an ecommerce site for $39 per month. Cant remember the name of the host but they gave you the cart and hosting for one fixed rate. Not the best solution but we did about $70,000 in business in one year from that crappy cart. And it took me one night to enter all of the products and images and I am not a designer or programmer!

    A friend of mine does about $1xx,xxx per month on her website. She is a designer and uses OScommerce. She laughs at how her site isn't very good but when you are selling $1xx,xxx worth of plumbing supplies online per month with a huge margin who gives a rats..... what the site looks like.

    I could go on and on. $4k can get you a nice domain name with type in traffic and the other $1k will get you a usable site and ok design. Have a contest. I have one going on here right now and the entries are awesome.

    And .Simplicity pm me if you want to know the addresses of these sites so you know I am not just blowing smoke.

    Have a great weekend everyone!!!

    John

  21. #21
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    Promotion tru contest. How to get the excited?

    Quote Originally Posted by Namedelivery

    I could go on and on. $4k can get you a nice domain name with type in traffic and the other $1k will get you a usable site and ok design. Have a contest. I have one going on here right now and the entries are awesome.

    When you are not very well known, how do you leverage the attraction power of a contest? We put $75,000 into a contest ourselves. I'm not sure though how to make the most impact. After all, the internet is full of scams. And our forums is pretty empty ( since it's new ).

    Maybe there are tricks on how to tweak a contest to interest the target customers more? What gets developers passionate in your opinion?

    Wikitoo
    Enter the $75 000 Widget Making Contest! - Rent-a-Widget.com

  22. #22
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    Quote Originally Posted by .Simplicity
    Well, basically I have a budget of $5000, I was going to use osCommerce, get a designer for around $350, get a coder for around $200 and then use the rest of the cash on advertising.
    I'd suggest you first do some market research and work out a business plan.

    You'll be in a much better position to invest that money you worked so hard to put aside!

    -Costas

  23. #23
    SitePoint Zealot
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    Quote Originally Posted by .Simplicity
    Well, basically I have a budget of $5000, I was going to use osCommerce, get a designer for around $350, get a coder for around $200 and then use the rest of the cash on advertising.

    I thought this would be ample for my first business, but I have been told that it's not.

    Also I was going to just use numerous dropshippers, but I have been told that it's silly, and you lose alot of cash because of that.

    Also, I was going to create a site focused on Electronics, 'Mobiles, MP3s, DVDs, CDs, etc' but I have been told that I should just focus on one topic.

    Can you please direct me
    One thing you have to learn, is most people here, and on most forums will discourage you from doing stuff, at times you just have to go with your gut feelings. This is one of those times. There are alot of reasons to not do it, but 5000 is a pretty good sum, just get started and see how it goes, learn the ropes. Then if sucessful invest more. There's no point in investing 10s and thousands of dollars when you don't have a feel for the market. So just ignore all these people here and do what you feel is right

  24. #24
    SitePoint Addict Pavel_Nedved's Avatar
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    You can certainly get an osCommerce site set up and customized for under $5,000, but I'm not sure $550 will do it.

    I've done osCommerce sites for as low as $2,800 CAD (that's about $2,400 - $2,500 US). That was our first ecommerce site though.

    You can get it done for cheap, but you will be sacrificing quality. Most good companies/freelancers will be looking for around $5,000. We now charge $5,500 CAD for the most basic ecommerce sites.

    I'd budget for at least $2,500 US to get a reasonable job done. Try Elance.com or these forums for willing designers/developers).

    Hope that helps.

  25. #25
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    Quote Originally Posted by thebillionaire
    One thing you have to learn, is most people here, and on most forums will discourage you from doing stuff,
    No disrespect intended, but that's a ridiculous thing to say. Why would 'most people' who visit forums be out to discourage him?

    at times you just have to go with your gut feelings. This is one of those times.
    You're saying he should follow his 'gut' if it's telling him to invest $5k in a website without having thought out a product & market?

    I think well-researched plans go a long way when it comes to succeeding at anything (especially business).

    -Costas


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