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Old 20th July 2009, 20:50   #1
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Default E commerce website - What does one need to know?

Hi

I know there are quite a few IT professionals and experts in here who can help me out in improving my knowledge. I am looking at partnering with a friend in an e-commerce venture. However, am a complete novice when it comes to understanding the technical aspects of developing and maintaining a website. My knowledge is zilch when it comes to aspects such as hosting services, software platforms, website technologies,payment gateways, shopping carts, data security, etc. that are important for such a venture.

On the operational aspects we want a website that allows us to easily and regularly update the product line up,prices, etc

We will shortly start the process of identifying a few vendors. However even before we start this process we would like to go well informed with what to look out for and not get shortchanged.

Would appreciate it if you all shared some of your knowledge and help me improve mine.

Thanks in advance
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Old 20th July 2009, 20:58   #2
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Hi Pranava999,

Basic things required to start-up:
1. Website Design & Development
2. Shopping cart software/solution (readily available solution)
3. Hosting Provider - To host your ecommerce site (Here I can help you. PM me your contact details)

Regards,
Neeraj
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Old 20th July 2009, 21:06   #3
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Hi Pranava
Difficult to give you a "everything you wanted to know about e-commerce sites" in a post. But hereare some basics.
-There are several open-source ecommerce platforms available like OS-Commerce, Virtue Mart, Zend Cart so that you do not have to reinvent the wheel. Being open source means no license fees and not being held to ransom by a software developer whose code only he can customize. Also reduces the overall development cost substantially. Also they come with easy integration with several payment gateways. The payment gateway you select should be based on your geographical markets.
- Most of these platforms have very user-friendly admin panels which will allow easy and regular updates of products/prices/images.
- Most people looking for websites ( ecommerce or otherwise) tend to give too much importance to technologies and software etc. IMHO, the emphasis should be on how to drive traffic to your site. How do you rank high enough in search engines so people find you, how do you create a good web presence, should you use Pay-per Click advertising.
- A small tip, use a domain name ( website address ) which is a heavily searched for keyword/keyphrase.

If you have any specific questions you would like answered, post here/pm me. I will then have a good business reason to be on Team-bhp!
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Old 20th July 2009, 21:27   #4
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@Niraj . @ pragmites - Thanks those tips were very helpful. I like the idea of opting for open source software platforms.

For a shopping cart and payment gateway have come across a provider called CCAvenue. Seems like a pretty viable option as it offers quite a few payment options.

Is it good to host the website on an Indian hosting service such as Net4 as this allows one service backup, etc.?

Last edited by pranava999 : 20th July 2009 at 21:31.
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Old 20th July 2009, 22:08   #5
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Hello Pranava,

* Be sure to go with a service provider that is dependable and has a reputation. The importance of uptime is quite critical for any e-commerce site as you would definitely know. Usually Indian ISPs tend to be resellers who "source" their server space from hosting companies elsewhere (though there are many exceptions these days).

* Whatever be it, ensure that you have timely back-ups (data back-ups) with you locally because you cannot afford to loose a years worth of data because a HDD crashed. Most managed servers have RAID and even have their own backup strategy in place for back-ups to be moved to a separate storage location at set intervals. Having said that be on the safer side.

* Choosing a Open-source product is fine but first checkout if you prefer to have a Linux or a Windows based hosting because both come with their own set of advantages. There are many service providers who give you very intuitive control panels like C-panel with "pre-loaded" e-commerce scripts like what osCommerce etc which indeed pretty mature and safe shopping carts.

* While choosing a service provider, depending on the "criticallity" of your service, demands SLAs (obviously will cost you more). Demand a no-obligation trial period and satisfy yourself that the service is what is being advertised.

* Be sure to check during the trial period, the effectiveness of the customer support. Unless you are planning to get yourself an unmanaged server (which I dont think you are planning to), the CS is critical. An incompetant cutomer service personnel can easily put your service down for a unacceptably longer period.

* As with payment gateways, it may even depend on your targe audience. Obviously checkout paypal and most of the said opensouce products easily integrate paypal.

* Foresee your bandwidth/ server space/ uptime requirement and plan accordingly to pick a service provider with whom you would be able to scale your service as required.

Always understand that Opensource does not mean that it is free. Quality comes at a price so pay it so that you are able to extend the same service levels to your customers.

I wish I could have commented on CCavenue but I do not have authoritative first hand interaction with those guys to be able to confirm on their suitability.

Good luck with your new venture, Pranava,

Kris
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Old 20th July 2009, 22:54   #6
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Another query? How much would such a website based on an open source platform cost?
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Old 21st July 2009, 13:02   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pranava999 View Post
@Niraj . @ pragmites - Thanks those tips were very helpful. I like the idea of opting for open source software platforms.

For a shopping cart and payment gateway have come across a provider called CCAvenue. Seems like a pretty viable option as it offers quite a few payment options.

Is it good to host the website on an Indian hosting service such as Net4 as this allows one service backup, etc.?
CCAvenue is one of the few options available as a payment gateway if your primary market is India, because it integrates easily with most ecommerce scripts. I would not use their shopping cart.

Hosting with a reputed American service provider is in most cases cheaper, with better uptime and excellent online support. With most Indian hosting providers you get a lot of politeness and very slow action.
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Old 21st July 2009, 13:21   #8
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Got a tip for you, Pranav. When you don't know too much about a particular industry, stick to established brands / service providers. Spend your time in developing the business rather than sorting issues with your host / software.

1. OSCommerce software. Check our new store out.

2. Hosting : Bank on reputation. Pair networks, wiredtree and liquidweb. You can't go wrong with either of them.

3. Backups & Tech Support : Any host will set this up for you.

4. Design & installation : Look up support forums (of the software you choose) and research on the internet. Plenty of ready-to-use design templates available. Find a technie who can install your software and have it up & running in 24 hours.

Last edited by Rehaan : 3rd August 2010 at 18:29. Reason: Updating Team-BHP store URL to the new one. :)
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Old 21st July 2009, 13:40   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Got a tip for you, Pranav. When you don't know too much about a particular industry, stick to established brands / service providers. Spend your time in developing the business rather than sorting issues with your host / software.
Very apt advice. I would elaborate further by adding:
  1. At this point DO NOT spend anything on IT
  2. Build your Business first
  3. For IT (Web/Payment processing/Security) needs "outsource" it to sites like Ebay /Rediff / Indiatimes and so on.
You would have eCommerce Hosting and back-end would be by some other E-Store. Basically your smaller E-Store inside Ebay or other site.

They will eat ~5 - 10% from revenue, but that would bring IT cost to Zero for you.

Once your business picks up volume, then you this 5 - 10% would become significant and then you can move to your own platform (Site + Backend + Payment processing etc).
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Old 21st July 2009, 16:44   #10
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Thanks GTO and the others for some really wonderful advice and suggestions, am considering each one while planning the biz.

My respect for this forum just keeps increasing by the day.
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Old 21st July 2009, 18:22   #11
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Sure thing. Start off with a shared hosting package....should not cost you more than $7 - 12 per month. Upgrade as per your websites traffic (always keeping 25% capacity in reserve).
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Old 21st July 2009, 18:53   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pranava999 View Post
Another query? How much would such a website based on an open source platform cost?
I am also working on a e store, it should probably be through soon.

I would like to know how much all the above said would cost too, as the person I am in dialogue with comes in my dreams, sorry nightmares at times.
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Old 21st July 2009, 19:01   #13
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Oscommerce, Zen Cart etc are good.

Another option is to use Joomla and Virtuemart. Joomlart(.)com has some good shopping cart templates for Joomla.
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Old 21st July 2009, 21:06   #14
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Not sure if it helps, but you might find opensourcecms[dot]com useful in checking out a few of the opensource shopping carts.
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Old 27th July 2009, 18:18   #15
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I'm having one doubt...Suppose if I'm running a ticket booking site(like IRCTC) with SSL.

In IRCTC they've partnered with a number of banks & credit card companies like VISA/Mastercard for net-based transactions.

If I want to implement such a net-based transaction system on my site, what's the cost involved ?

Will the banks & credit card companies make my implementation painful because of any red-tapism ?
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