Shopping carts for website sales
Wow, Wrustle's recent thread on web host sites was perfectly timed and saved me a lot of typing! Thanks Russ!
The only difference is the new site I'm intersted in building is for selling a new product of mine, so I need to figure out how to best extract the cash from the customer.
I've owned the domain for years and will most likely use Go Daddy to host the site. I'm also considering using there site builder and modifying a template just too get things started. I don't have the time nor funds to pay someone or deal with the learning curve of a more featrued CMS. (Read, I'm trying to limit my risks on a product I'm floating out there on a trial.)
PayPal has been recommended to me by one of my customers who says he has had no problems and found them to be competitive. So I'm thinking of using them for the BuyNow/Shopping Cart button and card processing.
Any thoughts on what I've outlined would be great!
I'm a bit new to the slinging my own product thing, but after years of being a job shop, I want to take some steps towards what seems to be the Holy Grail of shop owners, my own product.
I use paypal for payment processing for a couple of years now and everything has been fine. And their buttons might be the simplest way to get your foot in the door.
OTOH, I tend to think they might hurt your conversion rate. Seems like all the sites that only use paypal buttons always seem to also have the most dated, un-user-friendly designs as well -- it's a workable solution, but I don't think I have ever seen it used on a website that looked professional. And that fly-by-night impression has to hurt sales.
Might look at one of the e-commerce platforms like Magneto, but there again you're looking at investing some time or money into it as you would be with e.g. Wordpress.
Limiting risk is obviously a valid concern, but you don't want to shoot yourself in the foot by doing a half-assed job of this.
I have successfully been using paypal for several years to handle the back end of the shopping cart. I disagree that it creates a shoddy looking site. Take a look at mine:
and I think that you will find it relevant to the needs of my product and the ease of use by the customer.
Just another opinion.
Lee (the saw guy)
The good thing about Paypal is the upfront cost is free. Assuming you've got a Paypal account, you're all set, just go to Paypal and generate the buttons. Cut and paste after that. The only costs is the usual fees, and conversion rates if selling overseas. The customer will see "Paypal" logo and be directed to Paypal to complete the transaction, but they do not need a Paypal account to purchase. I'd just let them (the customers) know that on your website.
Paypal also offers taking credit cards directly, the last time I checked it was about $30 a month for the service, which is fairly inexpensive. You don't do anything with the credit cards, again, it's all thru Paypal, but it's more invisible to the customer this way, and looks a bit more "professional", if that matters. I think they also let you take cc payments over the phone as well.
I'm very concerned about the site appearing half-assed as well as the customers feeling of security doing business with me online. I have found products online which I considered buying but was reluctant because I didn't feel secure with their checkout. Thats the first reason I have for considering PayPal.
Oldster, you have a very nice, professional looking, website which I see was built by one. I'm hoping to build something comparable on my own. When you say they handle the "back end" I assume your shopping cart is not PayPal. Who notifys you of the sale and sends you the shipping address?
I'm still learning who's responsible for what, what does what and what do I need! Uff da!
One thing to be aware of for paypal is what you are selling, my thing is gun stuff and paypal decided they didn't like it, and let loose on me and froze everything, (even though nothing violated their terms of service) The thing is how their terms are worded, they can pretty much decide what they do and don't like.
Ended up going through Chase for credit card payments with the buyers being directed to a secure connection on the payment gateway.
If you do it with SSL and accept credit cards directly on your site, beware that runs into some money there!
I'd highly recommend starting with ebay or other auction sites to see if there is a demand for your product first before doing all the work of making an online store.
Yea, I know about their position on gun stuff, which I definately have a problem with, but this product is not firearm related. It does rub me a bit but I think I will do what makes the most business sense for the particular situation.
I do have other ideas which are gun related so it could become an issue in the future. If they don't want my business at that time that will be their loss.
I do my business banking with Chase, so that is something to look into.
When I referred to the "back end", I was meaning to the cart itself. I have no control over any of it (unlike the main site) and I like it that way. I do not have any of the customer's card information, and pp is responsible for the security.
In an earlier company, I had the terminal in the office, and took card info directly over the phone. I was personally liable if someone hacked into the computer. Not good.
I get the customer's order in my email, with all of the pertinent infomation that I need to complete the order. The order is always maintained in my "small business account" with yahoo (who works with pp and the set-up was all free). They make their money in the fees. Since I already had a pp account for purchases that I would occasionally make on ebay, it just rolled over into the new format.
When the account gets up to some reasonable amount, I transfer most of it to my bank account, unless I am planning on a purchase on ebay.
You can log on to your account and get history, etc. The only down side is that my bookkeeper says that it is pretty slow in downloading info for accounting.
Le (the saw guy)
No, using paypal doesn't make a website look shoddy. Many shoddy looking websites use only paypal as the shopping cart. No company who has spent money on website development uses it, so it instantly brands you as a very small shop who spent little if anything on their web presence.
Originally Posted by oldster
This isn't necessarily a problem, maybe your potential customers prefer a one man shop to a faceless corporation and you can make that work for you. But I strongly suspect that the sites for whom a paypal shopping cart and a table-based layout from 1995 yield a better return on investment than a current looking website with a standard shopping cart are very much in the minority.
This is contrary to my experience. With only a paypal option, I have had customers back out because they don't have a paypal account. There are a lot who don't realize you don't need one. I offer both paypal and process credit cards on the website, and almost all transactions go through the website rather than paypal.
Originally Posted by NJGunnar
Yes, it's convenient and I use it all the time, but if a customer doesn't use ebay and doesn't have a paypal account, some won't be comfortable paying via paypal. I don't know how well that describes your customers, though, for some this matters more than others. That said, it does take some setting up.
I would rethink your reluctance to dive into using a CMS like Wordpress. You've got some learning ahead of you no matter what you do. Might as well learn something you can build on and as you go develop a nice website. It's the easiest way to develop something that looks good, as well.
Here is a couple threads on the issue:
1) Question for those that have a website
2) Online Presence - Opensource Website(Etomite1.1) and Online Store (OpenCart)
Here is what I wrote in the first one:
Originally Posted by TurboFabSupply
Take a look at 3D cart. It is easy to set up, has a ton of high end features, and looks professional. You can customize it to look like your site. They handle all of the security and have 24/7 support. It starts at $ 20 a month and integrates with paypal as well as many other payment systems. It also has the ability to integrate with a shipping system and has a built in inventory system. I work for a company that does web design, and we use it for our customers. 3dcart.com
Also at this point (2012) hand coding web sites and building your own shopping cart is comparable to using manual equipment for high volume production jobs when you own CNC. Example: hand coding a contact form takes 3-4 hours. WordPress with a plugin, 5 minutes.
I just happen to have a couple of hundred website shopping carts stacked up in the warehouse. I'll sell 'em cheap
In you are using a CMS, there are plenty. I mentioned Joomla in the other post. Here are the shopping carts that integrate easily
Shopping Cart - Joomla! Extensions Directory
I used the GoDaddy website tonight and their shopping cart to get started. Still going strong after about 18 months. I also use PayPal for payments and have had no issues so far. My sales have gone up about 5x after opening online sales.
Yes shopping cart is seperate from web site. I reread you OP and I think you were on the right track. Use a template to get started and use something like 3d cart to get started. Godaddy can support you on one side and the shopping cart company can support you on the cart side. Godaddy may have a simple shopping cart as well. That will give you some time to do some additional research. Websites change all of the time so changing later is not an issue.
For security reasons, I recommend a hosted shopping cart, instead of software like zencart or xcart that runs on your own server.
It's easy to have a secure web site, on your own hosted service like godaddy, because it's just a bunch of static pages.
Much harder to ensure that shopping cart software running on your server is actually secure. Hackers find bugs and exploit them, the software maker releases patches, you have to stay on top of it, not doing that is like running windows without updates or anti-virus software, except the stakes are higher. Now if you have a kid around who's really on top of that and can keep after it for free or for $12/hr, that's different, but I don't, and I don't want to deal with it. Foxycart isn't great, but it's probably the cheapest hosted cart service out there, and it has worked well for me for 3 years.
My setup is a web site hosted by godaddy, that has product pages and 'add to cart' links to a shopping cart hosted by foxycart, and with foxycart giving the customer the choice of payment using either a credit card or paypal. Each one has its own monthly vig, total is around $50/mo, but the bigger name alternatives are more.
For credit card processing, I use a bank separate from paypal, that is the only way to take credit card payments over the phone. Otherwise if you are hooked up only with paypal or google merchant or one of these other closed systems that requires the customer to log in, only the customer can enter their card #, there is no way to take phone orders.
I agree with your comments on sticking with a host cart for both security and support.
Phone orders are something I want to be perepared for. It would be frustrating not to be able to set the hook on a sale from a phone call.
I looked again at PayPal and they do offer "Vitual Terminal" for phone,fax and mail. It first requires approval of your business credit which may be common with all such services, I don't know.