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  1. #1
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    What would you suggest for my web store?

    Hello, I am new to web design but I recently built a pretty good website layout for my clothing store through html/css/js. Now Im not completely done with it. Ive sorted out all the content and pictures so what I need to do now is just make the sub pages and add the respective content, but the main layout and everything is done.

    So now my question is, what route would you suggest for me to take to build this store. I dont know the first thing about how e-commerce works, so is it even possible for me to do this on my own? Ive seen some of the free shopping carts but before I tried anything I wanted to talk to some experts.

    This is how I want my store to be: basically I want thumbnails of my products with options underneath such as 'color' 'size' 'add to cart' etc... But heres the complicated part, I also want them to be able to click the thumbnail to get a better view of the particular item in either a new pop up window or just some type of popup in the same window. Soon I am hoping to have thousands of items on my website which will be for sale. Will I need to make a separate page for each item? If so, will I need to go and make each separate page individually? Is there anyway to simplify the process? Any advice would help...Thanks a lot for your time.

    Notes: I am familiar with positioning, formatting, linking etc... in html/css. I am NOT familiar with PHP, but if that is what is necessary for this store I can get myself familiar enough with it to follow instructions like I did with Java Script. I just need you to give me your expert advice on what would be the most efficient way to do this.

  • #2
    Master Coder
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    oh boy ... I think you will need to hire someone to do PHP/MySQL programming as well
    as the gateways for credit cards. That's the first thing you need to decide ...

    Who will process the credit cards (what CC merchant will you choose)? Some have
    monthly fees plus per transaction, some have % of transaction, some work directly
    with your bank account, others keep your money until you transfer it.

    You need to pick a CC merchant and pay all of the set-up fees, account stuff,
    and how the transactions will work. You're going to find this process to be really
    important to which shopping cart (ecommerce) program you decide to use.

    There are two transaction methods that most CC merchants offer ...

    SIM - simple integration method (like PayPal). You don't need a secure server.
    The user leaves your website to enter their CC information.

    AIM - advanced integration method. You will be required to have a secure server,
    and that will cost you more money. The user never leaves your website.

    ==============

    So, just that part alone ... I'm sure your head is spinning.
    That's my point about hiring a professional to do all of your programming.
    Anything you spend (and it might be expensive) will be a business expense (for tax purposes).

    ==============

    Now, let's say you have the credit card, banking portion completed ...

    Someone has to take all of the photos, upload each item, description, cost, etc.
    When purchases are made, someone will be spending at least 40 hours per week
    running the online store. Billing, packing, shipping, inventory control, return of
    merchandise, problems with shipping, problems with billing, answering emails,
    answering phone calls, lost items, damaged items, items that don't fit, etc.
    Remember, this is all done online ... no fitting rooms, and the customers will
    be from all over the place. Everything is UPS, FedEx, or USPS.

    Do you have a full-time person to do those things?

    =============

    And finally ... will people buy your clothing without trying them on?
    Is the clothing "standard" enough to where people can determine the correct sizing online?

    I would expect you'll be spending $1000+ on the website development alone, not counting
    the expenses for webhosting, domain hosting, and credit card / banking merchant fees.

    If in the U.S., you'll be dealing with sales tax also (for items purchased in your state?)
    Find out how the tax laws work for your state. That has to also be part of your online
    ecommerce software.

    And I'm not including advertising ... throw another $1000 in for that too.
    There are a gazillion sites online selling clothing. Nobody will be visiting your site by mistake.
    You'll need to advertise (a lot!) It could take months before you even see yourself on any
    type of decent Google ranking ... if at all.

    That full-time person I mentioned will be hitting all social networks (facebook, twitter, etc) to
    promote the clothing line. After friends and family are sick of hearing about it, you'll have to
    start advertising using other methods, online and offline advertising.


    good luck.


    .
    Last edited by mlseim; 04-30-2012 at 03:14 AM.

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  • #3
    UE Antagonizer Fumigator's Avatar
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    +1 what mlseim says... And just to add-- When learning a language such as PHP, I would definitely not make my first project my dream project. You need some throw-away projects to make all your mistakes on first (and you will make plenty of mistakes). Once you have enough "aha!" moments and build up some expertise, then you can think about tackling your dream project.

    Oh and P.S. you'll need to know how to design a database.

  • #4
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    Exclamation

    Quote Originally Posted by mlseim View Post
    oh boy ... I think you will need to hire someone to do PHP/MySQL programming as well
    as the gateways for credit cards. That's the first thing you need to decide ...

    Who will process the credit cards (what CC merchant will you choose)? Some have
    monthly fees plus per transaction, some have % of transaction, some work directly
    with your bank account, others keep your money until you transfer it.

    You need to pick a CC merchant and pay all of the set-up fees, account stuff,
    and how the transactions will work. You're going to find this process to be really
    important to which shopping cart (ecommerce) program you decide to use.

    There are two transaction methods that most CC merchants offer ...

    SIM - simple integration method (like PayPal). You don't need a secure server.
    The user leaves your website to enter their CC information.

    AIM - advanced integration method. You will be required to have a secure server,
    and that will cost you more money. The user never leaves your website.

    ==============

    So, just that part alone ... I'm sure your head is spinning.
    That's my point about hiring a professional to do all of your programming.
    Anything you spend (and it might be expensive) will be a business expense (for tax purposes).

    ==============

    Now, let's say you have the credit card, banking portion completed ...

    Someone has to take all of the photos, upload each item, description, cost, etc.
    When purchases are made, someone will be spending at least 40 hours per week
    running the online store. Billing, packing, shipping, inventory control, return of
    merchandise, problems with shipping, problems with billing, answering emails,
    answering phone calls, lost items, damaged items, items that don't fit, etc.
    Remember, this is all done online ... no fitting rooms, and the customers will
    be from all over the place. Everything is UPS, FedEx, or USPS.

    Do you have a full-time person to do those things?

    =============

    And finally ... will people buy your clothing without trying them on?
    Is the clothing "standard" enough to where people can determine the correct sizing online?

    I would expect you'll be spending $1000+ on the website development alone, not counting
    the expenses for webhosting, domain hosting, and credit card / banking merchant fees.

    If in the U.S., you'll be dealing with sales tax also (for items purchased in your state?)
    Find out how the tax laws work for your state. That has to also be part of your online
    ecommerce software.

    And I'm not including advertising ... throw another $1000 in for that too.
    There are a gazillion sites online selling clothing. Nobody will be visiting your site by mistake.
    You'll need to advertise (a lot!) It could take months before you even see yourself on any
    type of decent Google ranking ... if at all.

    That full-time person I mentioned will be hitting all social networks (facebook, twitter, etc) to
    promote the clothing line. After friends and family are sick of hearing about it, you'll have to
    start advertising using other methods, online and offline advertising.


    good luck.


    .
    Hey thanks for the detailed response. Most of what you mentioned has been accounted for. Its a couple of us brothers who have very flexible schedules with our other affairs and are working together so we've gotten all of the financial and day to day aspects sorted out.

    The reason I really wanted to do this myself and not through a professional was to get familiar with the PHP/MySQL database for a different idea I have been entertaining and wanting to start within 6 months. I know, I know, I shouldnt be experimenting with my brothers business, but I really thought that, since I was doing pretty good with html/css/js, all self-taught, that I may be able to pull this off too. But after spending the last 2 days doing heavy research Im beginning to agree with what you said.

    Now I am wondering something... I want to hire a someone to take my existing website, add a PHP database, and create the store and also show me how to manage it. My question is, do you think that this is possible? Can a developer come in, start the database and store, configure all of the merchant info, et... but only add a few categories, few pieces of merchandise and few prices on the database? Just by taking instructions from him/her and watching the process, can I finish the rest of the store on my own? And by that I mean, add different sections(sports, television, etc...). Let the same t-shirt be accessible from 2 different categories without making 2 different files. Etc...

    I do know some people experienced with PHP and Im sure one of them would be willing to 'teach' me for fair compensation but the question is, CAN it be done? Can I finish a PHP databe on my own? Im a very quick learner if Im given proper instructions, or is there just so much that I wouldnt be able to learn enough in just a few hours to manage the store on my own?

    ***IF this is possible, please tell me how long(hours/days?) it would take one to get the the store and database ready for me to fill up***

    Thanks again for your help

  • #5
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    It'll take you 2 - 3 years to built a decent web store. There is a ton of security involved.
    Been a sign maker for 7 years. My business:
    American Made Signs

  • #6
    The fat guy next door VIPStephan's Avatar
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    OK, first some relief (hopefully): You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. A lot of people have thought about selling stuff online before and a lot of people are already selling stuff online so there are already software out there that do that. No need to design a database and program it from scratch yourself. The more popular systems that come to mind right now and that are free (as in “free beer”) are PrestaShop, Magento, osCommerce, and OpenCart. There are more solutions out there, some free and some commercial (like Shopify or ProStores), each of which have their pros and cons.

    Now, with those mentioned ones, it does help to have some understanding on how a database works and interacts with the system and it does help to know some basic PHP to implement themes and additional functionality but you don’t have to program everything yourself. Good systems allow for theming and are modular so you can apply your own design completely to the software and you can extend the software as you need (like, different shipping carriers, different payment methods, etc.)

    I tell you what: go to http://www.opensourcecms.com/scripts...gory=eCommerce and check out the live demos of the systems so you get an idea of how it works. It’s still gonna be quite some work, depending on how different from the default installation/setup your shop is gonna be, but as said, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

  • #7
    Master Coder
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    I had the impression they wanted to create their own online shopping cart script.
    Of course, using an existing one is the way to go. I must have read the OP wrong?


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