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12-11-2011, 09:40 AM #1
Question for those that have a website
Someone asked me recently why I didn't sell directly from my website with a basket as so many do.
I gave several reasons for not doing so but I've kept on thinking about it and is it me that's just being stupid and are my reasons valid or just feeble excuses?
1. As what I make and sell is for the most part specialized, then customers usually contact me (email or phone) for advice before ordering anything. Most of what I regard as standard is in stock but about a quarter to a fifth of the orders I get has to be made.
2. I almost always invoice a customer after the order has been delivered and received. If it's specially made parts (as opposed to standard) then I'd have to trust the customer before going ahead. I might require an advance.
3. I'm simply not knowledgeable enough about computers to make my own "basket type" website. My current one is done by me and I've seen those that are much better LOL. Still it does work. I've tried paying a couple of web designers to make what I want but the sad part is that they might be good at web designing but they aren't technical and explaining what I want and need can take weeks! I'd want one that I could update myself no matter what.
I guess my main question is, are there any members that sell from their website and get prepaid as is the case with basket? I just can't imagine it working for me because of my main product line.
12-11-2011, 12:07 PM #2
Yea you should definitely have a shopping cart and your reasons are bad
My thoughts on:
1) It automates the shipping process of those things that are standard and allows people to buy things more easily. It gives them less of a chance to cross shop other stuff or put off ordering because it seems like a hassle. It will also make them feel better kept in contact when your shopping cart system thanks them for their order, updates them when it ships, etc. Really just better all around.
For non standard stuff you dont have to put a price. You can have a base model price then have add ons on the same page from a drop down menu or if its a custom thing you can advertise and then just put call for price.
2) I am not quite sure what you mean here or how a shopping cart would affect this. You can always allow them to order something without requiring a payment immediately by allowing COD or check or whatever. Also just because you use a shopping cart to advertise and have a site that looks decent does not mean you have to only accept orders this way.
3) You dont have to take down your current site while you build a shopping cart and figure out the software. You can completely 100% finish your cart and then "go live" with your new site with just the flip of a switch when you're ready. I personally love ZenCart. It is free, easy to install and use, etc. You can just pick a directory where the cart will go and start figuring it out, adding on products, etc. etc. Customizing it with addons and modifying the pages can have a decent learning curve but just getting started and maintaining it is easy. However you'll want those addons and customizations as that makse your site look professional and there are lots of free ways to automate advertising and making mass updates to your site as well as getting listed on google shopper, yahoo, ebay, amazon, etc automatically. Seriously incredibly cheap and useful for driving buyers to your site.
That said, here in the USA there are lots of young web designers or programmers who could easily and happily setup a website for you and would be ecstatic to get paid $12/hour to do so and train you on the ins and outs of the software for a few weeks.
You can both get pre paid for somethings and not get prepaid for others. You can set your site up to do basically whatever you want. You can require a phone number and call every customer to personally thank them and tell them how handsome they are and make sure they ordered what they want. A shopping cart style will still make your website way easier to use and I bet will pay for itself in just a few extra orders.
Any yes, your website is simply bad as are most on here. A website is an advertising tool to make money. Just ebcause youc an get one for free doesnt mean it wont be worth it to drop a few hundred on a good advertising campaign and that means good websites, hiring an SEO/SEM professional for a good ad campaign, etc.Generally these things are not terribly expensive and even if they fail miserably, which they almost never do if you have a decent profit margin on your stuff, you aren't out a whole lot.
12-11-2011, 12:33 PM #3
12-11-2011, 01:16 PM #4
Because I don't want the responsibility of handling customer credit cards and the possible hacking of the site, I use paypal to collect the money. Customers order from my site ( Knew Concepts - Fine Metalsmithing Equipment Designed for Artisans - The Red Saw - Santa Cruz, CA ), go through the cart process, and choose either to pay with paypal, or use their card.
I never see their card numbers.
Paypal emails me the order, along with all pertinent information, and I have a paid invoice in hand.
I also get some special requests by email, but the final transaction goes through paypal. Granted, I do very little "one off" items, so my usage of this format will differ from yours.
Lee (the saw guy)
12-11-2011, 02:01 PM #5
I think its silly not to have a website where people can buy directly if your selling something. Unless you are the manufacturer and don't sell to the public only distribute to suppliers.
I too have some custom items, since they are similar to the main item, the customer just purchases it and then there is a section for them to fill in the details. Plus they can still always contact you, as they have been doing and discuss it or order it that way.
I would say 95% of my orders are placed without the customer ever even asking a question or any other contact. I have very good and detailed descriptions to cut down on the unnecessary questions. If they still have a question, the contact info is easy displayed on the website for them to contact me.
Many people buy on impulse, and if its the right thing want to buy it now. Plus if you don't let them do that, you just opened the door for them to keep looking and buy from a competitor.
I would say 75% of my orders come in after regular business hours. You would be amazed at how many orders come in between the hours of 10pm-4am buyers time.
Plus there is nothing better than waking up in the morning looking at my phone and seeing I have several orders from overnight. For some reason my breakfast and coffee always tastes better on those days.
Personally if I know what I want, I don't want to have to call someone and place an order.
1) half the time I browse at night, so I would have to call in the morning.
2) I hate giving address and credit card info over the phone, much higher chance for mistakes and its just annoying to read everything out ten times when I could type it in 2 min.
3) I hate talking to phone operators and have them try to push another product or something, when I know what I want.
When I have gone to a website and it requires me to call or email them to place an order, I skip right by them, and usually don't even consider it.
If you go through a shopping cart program that is template based it is super easy to make a good looking site, I think its easier than a non shopping cart site. I had not one bit of experience making web sites, and made what I think is a good looking site.
I use 3dCart, for up to 100 items its only $20 a month, and if you need more items can just upgrade. That includes free tech support and everything. Sure there are free ones but I am not a website designer so its worth the small monthly fee, for when I have a problem.
12-11-2011, 04:23 PM #6
Thanks for the replies Looks like I'm going to have to put my thinking cap on.
12-11-2011, 05:28 PM #7
There are several companies that specialize in shopping carts. You pay a monthly fee and they do all of the hosting and security. They have templates that you can customize as much or little as you desire. They are simple enough, you can do it yourself. I work for a company that builds web sites, and we don't even want to mess with the problems associated with running shopping carts. We use Big Commerce and 3D cart. I'm sure there are others.
12-11-2011, 06:46 PM #8
I believe that the simpler it is the easier it will be to maintain over the long run.
take a look at http:// All My Products it can't be much simpler. Each product has it's own page, every page has a link to send me questions via email, PayPal is the only thing I accept on the web, part numbers and shipping are there for the buyer to see.
It really suites my purpose and I do get orders from all over the world. All of my products are very specialized, and I do a lot of custom built stuff as well. Some of it, as you can see, ends up on its own web page and create repeat sales as well.
Definitely a low immanence site, and I do it all myself.
12-11-2011, 07:07 PM #9
By a standard of what's available 100% free like zencart your website is still really bad. No offense, it just doesn't offer what a cart does and the layout isn't easy and you tell people to paypal you stuff which makes buyer think you don't know how to make a website or care to invest in a real one.
12-11-2011, 10:04 PM #10
I have the carts on my website and people almost never call or email they just buy it and my wife ships it. When they do call it is usually because they dont know how to use paypal. I dont take credit cards I only do paypal or check or cash. I have had people mail me cash and I have shipped stuff out before they even paid for it. I have never been burned.
12-12-2011, 09:52 AM #11
I don't know how applicable this is to Denmark, but we've been using a service called CC Now for a number of years... The deal is pretty much like someone described for PayPal, without the "take over the world" feeling of PayPal. CC Now provides the "shopping cart", we provide the links to the product pix and descriptions. They handle the credit card transaction... we never have card numbers on our site, so don't have the security liability. CC Now sends an invoice/packing list for each order via e-mail.
We've been very happy with the arrangement.
12-12-2011, 12:33 PM #12
Would you be ecstatic to get $12 an hour for what you do? A bit patronizing.
I don't think anyone's professionally doing basic websites anymore, as that market is saturated with "template" web design provided by a myriad of third parties vendors catering to the do-it-yourself crowd.
To the OP;
A bad website is better than no website.
But I think the quality of your web design should match the quality of your products.
If the product line is too specialized to warrant a "shopping cart" approach, emphasize your personal service, application of your product, attention to detail and actual examples used in the field. I looked at Gordan's site, and came away throughly confused. Also, please give an indication when linking to a PDF file.
A retailer (shopping cart experience) and a manufacturer (highlight the product) have differing approaches that may not be compatible, necessitating a much bigger website if both aspects want to be incorporated.
12-12-2011, 12:39 PM #13
I didn't intend to be patronizing. The entry level pay for in college students in that field is around $8-11/hour here in Florida. Also I got paid $12/hour as an engineering intern about 2 years ago and was happy for the resume boost it gave me. Probably wouldn't have gotten a significantly higher paying job without it.
Setting up a shopping cart is easy peasy for someone with decent programming skills and good experience.
EDIT: Actually its so easy I would highly highly HIGHLY encourage Gordon to just go here: http://www.zen-cart.com/
Download the software
Make a new folder to install to to use as a test site
Follow the instructions to install into that test folder
and just see how far you get until you give up. I bet it will be farther than you think.
Also make sure to google how to setup redirects. Do not just let all your links get broken, it is bad juju for google.
12-12-2011, 01:04 PM #14
I do web design and development work professionally, I got a little nauseous when I read that. My standard rates START at $50 an hour and range up to $150 an hour depending on what's involved. Go get someone to do it for $12 an hour and talk to a professional when it craps out, someone asks if your middleschool kid did it or the like.
Though I can't really complain, 90%+ of my contracts come from businesses who hired the kid you mention and realize they need it done right.
NO, before anyone asks, I'm not soliciting. I do not solicit work, I work solely on referrals, word of mouth and direct inquiries (usually from one of the two sources mentioned). If I have to sell someone on my services I don't want the contract. Aside from that, I'm booked solid for the next few months. I was just trying to make a point, the logic behind all that is the same logic that has machine shops closing because someone is undercutting their legs out from beneath them.
12-12-2011, 01:22 PM #15
Maybe you should reread what I am posting about in this thread, I have not claimed anywhere that professionals should make that amount. I am claiming he does not need a professional to install a very basic cart. That is my entire point. It is a DIY-able project until you get going with it and THEN you seem a professional.
He doesn't need a professional to:
1) Install an off the shelf cart
2) Setup very simple redirects
3) Edit 6 lines of php code to change the title and basic config
4) Upload files then copy paste some SQL into the installer to install pre made plugins
5) Do data entry
6) Show him how to add categories/products using the form page or excel.
These can be done with a $12/hr person. Hell, these can be done himself.
He probably DOES need a professional to:
1) Do SEO/SEM (this is where there is the most money to be made long term, IMO)
2) Make a decent template/layout that is not off the shelf and doesn't look crappy
3) Write any plugins that are not off the shelf or make any sever side programs
4) Make any significant changes to the PHP/SQL code
These require a professional and are almost always worth the cost especially the SEO/SEM. If theres anywhere what quality is the most important thing it is web marketing.
12-12-2011, 02:04 PM #16
I wouldn't chastise a shop for doing something in-house (or him doing it himself) my comment was that your recommendation was akin to someone in manufacturing advising a shop to go to China because it was 1/5 the cost.
I teach at the college level, and I wouldn't have my students do that on their own, with someone, yes, after some experience, yes. There are some that could, but you're talking about your business. A poorly functioning eCommerce solution is worse than none at all. It conveys an unprofessional appearance, can raise trust issues and, as a former client learned, can cause legal liabilities when patches aren't done or 'mods' are made that open it up to hacking. (former, as I dropped him when he refused to do updates to patch holes in the system, he didn't want to change some things and I wouldn't be party to his lack of security).
If you note, I posted at the same time you posted your explanation. I might have phrased things differently had I read your 'not meaning to patronize' explanation, but overall, what I said, I believe.
12-13-2011, 12:57 PM #17
Whoops what have i started! Im the one that made the original comment that started this thread. Theres no deniying specials are not easily web sallable, but the basic regular stuff is, even if you only sort of use it like a bated hook, to help catch the specialist orders.
As to examples, have a look at Frank Mari's web site, www.maritool.com Hes a member here and is well known over in the cnc section. I have bought from him, but that's my only connection, and that links not meant as spam, just a example of a nice easily navigable website with sales capability.
All said and done your making some nice bits that solve some unique problems, so good luck.
12-13-2011, 01:02 PM #18
12-13-2011, 05:04 PM #19
Paying in Europe is different than in the US
We have wiretransfer system over the web that is really cheap or even free for private persons Even between countries with a SEPA transfer it is cheap Much cheaper as paypal
In Holland we have the Meastro system Perhaps in Danmark too I don`t know
Basicly it helps you to do a wiretransfer
Peter from Holland
12-14-2011, 01:46 AM #20
Gary, I have a question for you. You looked at my site and came away thoroughly confused. To avoid that when I do eventually change it then I'm open to suggestions.
At present I have 4 columns. The first and last columns are just "info" and pictures.
Column 2 is product detail information and prices
Measuring Equipment (Imported)
FMS Price List
and column 3 is
Possible Useful Links
In column 2 all "Printable Information" is on PDF so what is it that confuses you? I'm not trying to be sarcastic or arrogant as you are probably right, but why is it confusing and how can it be simpler?
Especially the measuring range of the thread inserts is to many so inconceivable that an explanation is necessary.
Many of my products aren't "obvious" at a glance and I doubt that they will be for a long time to come, so the customer in a hurry probably won't take the time to do the search and research.
I've had the customers that order what they feel they need but it's 50/50 between them ordering more than they need as to not ordering enough. it get straightened out quickly