Need help: How To Hire & Build e-commerce site. CONFUSED!

Hello. I was wondering if a few professional Web developers could help me understand how to hire someone to start a website for my apparel business. I own several clothing apparel stores in New York and need to get started on an online market/store to reach customers outside of my state and country. I’d like to hire someone to

  1. build the website from scratch
  2. help me maintain (sale items, feature items, upload item photos, etc.)

Honestly, I’ll be completely blunt and would appreciate it if you would be blunt with me! I have no idea how or where to start. Not so sure how the money is maintained through the website either.

I did meet with one designer, but he wanted a share of my profit coming from sales, and I was very unhappy and skeptical because he sounded almost like someone who was trying to take advantage of me for not knowing anything about building or maintaining a website.

What do I need? How many people will I need to do what?
*How much should I expect spend? How should i pay the designer(s)?

PLEASE HELP! :confused:

LOL, New York is awash with some of the best web dev companies in the world, and you instead found this character! Jeesh.

How much you spend on this is up to you, but most web design outfits would get this done no problems. There’s a myriad of online selling options, and your developer would work out the best solution for you.

It will cost a lot to do it well, though—in the tens of thousands. If that’s outside your budget, you can easily do it yourself by signing up to something like Shopify. It’s a service that enables you to set up a nice-looking online store, sell products, and just pay a low monthly fee (around $30). So there are lots of options available, for all budgets.

Thank you so much for your reply @ralphm !

Unfortunately, I am not in the city, where I believe these designers are. Either way, I wouldn’t even know where to look for one.

I do have a medium-sized budget, but more importantly, I want to play smart. I would like to keep it under $50,000 or under $30,000 would be better.

What kind of “online selling options” should I be on the lookout for?
When I met with that designer, he spoke to me as if sharing the profit was my only option. All he heard was my yearly profit revenue of $xxxxxxx and lit up. Hence, my skepticism. I can’t hide the fact that I really do not know anything about online commerce or Web building.

@ralphm I really appreciate you taking the time to respond! I was worried I would not get any answers and help

@Jessica1j @Connor @Mittineague @cpradio thoughts? Advice? @John_Betong @CoderQuest @aspaeth

Is that the budget of the initial development of site? Making continuous changes after launch (maintenance) will be additional cost from the initial development effort. It sounds like you are really after an individual usual to take over the ecommerce marketing efforts of your business. Someone who knows how to develop a site, workflow, and marketing associated with it. You’re not going to get that from a freelancer maybe an agency but probably not with that budget. I think your best option is to hire someone experienced in ecomm dev and management probably on a full time basis. That will allow you to focus on running your business while the other person handles all the long term and daily ecommerce operations. If I were that person I would probably try to keep the dev costs low using an existing ecommerce platform but focusing customization efforts on design, maintainability and flexibility in terms of making common operational edits to the site with minimal/no programming. Anything less is probably going to result in some dude whom you need to hand feed requirements and not knowing the ecommerce realm yourself is going be a wash.

I actually think giving a portion of profits can be a viable option.

But have a Lawyer write / scrutinize all contracts

The Con is you are promising a share of profits on an ongoing basis.
The Pro is that person becomes more than a contractor or employee. In a way they are more like a business partner.
They will be less likely to abandon the project as they will have a financial interest in its success and growth.

If it was only the “build from scratch” I think a profit share would be an unrealistic offer.
But there was also the “maintain”. This suggests a long term business relationship.

True, as a contractor or employee, the employer has more liberty to terminate the relationship, but so does the contractor / employee.

Nah, that’s crazy talk. Web developers are like plumbers. They are paid to do a job. You wouldn’t expect a plumber to say he’d fix your pipes if you shared half the profits of your business. You pay a web developer to build you a site. That’s it.

It depends on the size and nature of the business, but in most cases, I’d consider that massive overkill. It’s very common for a small to medium business to get a site developed with functionality that allows the client to add products, upload product images etc. and run the online side of the business perfectly well themself. There are many ecommerce solution s that do this out of the box, like Magento, Zen Cart and so on. These systems are free, so the cost is mainly in designing the site, setting up the payment systems and so on.

The cheaper option, as I said, is to use something like Shopify, pay by the month, and set it up yourself—quite a viable option even for a medium-sized outfit.

In terms of the actual payment processor, there are lots of services, and you don’t really need to worry about that, as the web developer will probably have a preferred one (possibly based on the ecommerce solution being used). It’s all much of a muchness, though one standout in the industry is Stripe. But of course, even PayPal fills this role.

So what you’re looking for is a web designer/developer (perhaps agency) that specializes in ecommerce sites. There are lots of them.And in this online world, there’s really no necessity that they be based in the same city or even country as you, although I personally like to be able to meet the people I’m working with in person—at least occasionally.

Ugh, yeah, no. I don’t think that is a good way to go at all. As you’d want that person doing more than running an ecommerce website. They should be more like an CIO and if you are looking for that, then yeah, that’s a smart move, but if you aren’t, then you need to just hire a team.

@Curious101, I’d personally look into some web agencies in your area. Some that exist in my area and are nation wide would be Cohesion, Improving, TEKSystems, HMB, Cardinal Solutions, and I’m missing some, but the company I work for have utilized all of them and have little complaints with them. They can staff someone(s) in your office to create a ecommerce team, or they can handle the work on your behalf (so you are not actually hiring anyone, they handle the technical meetings, business requirements with you, etc.)

All of them will probably fit in that budget, it is a healthy budget (or so I think) for such a task. But the other good thing is you can meet with them, interview them, treat them like you would be hiring a member to help your company. If they aren’t a good fit, you are not required to pursue their services. Have them show you examples of other ecommerce sites they did with your budget in mind (don’t get drawn into things they may have done with larger budgets).

That’s my 2 cents on the matter. I think you really should look at hiring an agency to handle this. If you feel the on-going maintenance is going to be necessary for you to hire someone to help maintain it within your business, you may want to ask them for advice/help on finding that person.

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