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GOLD! Ask me anything about eCommerce (2012)

biophase

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Hey everyone, I've been getting alot of PMs lately about my ecommerce stores so I thought I'd just start a thread where you can post questions abouy anything ecommerce (suppliers, platforms, credit card processors, SEO, dropshipping, etc...) and I will try to answer them here.
 

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frenchy

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Great post. I do have a few questions to ask you then (sorry If i do some english mistakes...):

I'm launching a new e-commerce website in France. I built the whole website by myself because the idea is a bit special as regards to the payment process. I built the entire code so that every purchaser can set their own price for the product they want. Every time a purchase is done, the website automatically updates the statistics and reckon what is the best price (according to the demand) that gives the best profit. At the end of the selling period, a table comes out with all the bets done by all the purchasers, showing for every price (or price range) the demand and profit. Thus, the best price (which gives the highest profit) is automatically reckoned and the seller can easily figure out at what price he can make the highest profit. The purchasers who have set a price equal or higher to the best-profit-price win the product at the price they set; the ones who have set a price lower loose the product and nothing is debited from their credit card (their payments are unlocked). I must say that all that code is working perfectly now, it's on the internet now and doing very good.:cool:

Therefore, when I sell a product on my website, I would like to "lock" or to "hold" the payement done by the purchaser until the end of the selling period (which varies according to the product - let's say 2 or 3 days in average). It's not allowed to debit the credit car unless the purchaser has won the products, hence the need to hold the payement until we know if the purchaser has won or not.

I would like to know if there's a payement website (like paypal) that could enable me to "lock" the payment until the end of the sell, and then debit the credit card (if the purchaser has won the product) or "unlock" the payment in the case where the purchaser has lost? Do you know anything that could help me as regards to that?

I hope everything is understandable, let me know if something is not clear ;-)

Thanks
:thumbsup:
 

puckman

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sure, can you tell us your background, your experience/success in ecommerce?
 

Phantom

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Hey everyone, I've been getting alot of PMs lately about my ecommerce stores so I thought I'd just start a thread where you can post questions abouy anything ecommerce (suppliers, platforms, credit card processors, SEO, dropshipping, etc...) and I will try to answer them here.
Thank you for doing this! For finding dropshippers, do you use big eCommerce warehouses like world wide brands or do you contact companies in the niche that you're interested in and try to set up an agreement.
 
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biophase

biophase

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Therefore, when I sell a product on my website, I would like to "lock" or to "hold" the payement done by the purchaser until the end of the selling period (which varies according to the product - let's say 2 or 3 days in average). It's not allowed to debit the credit car unless the purchaser has won the products, hence the need to hold the payement until we know if the purchaser has won or not.
You can do this by setting your payment processor to authorize a transaction instead of a capturing a sale.

Basically it's a what a rental company would do for your deposit. They charge $1000 on your card so that amount is put aside on your card and when you return whatever you rented they can either cancel the charge (it never shows up on your card) or send the charge through (if you damage what you rented).

To do this you need a real credit card payment processor, not paypal or google checkout, etc...
 
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biophase

biophase

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Thank you for doing this! For finding dropshippers, do you use big eCommerce warehouses like world wide brands or do you contact companies in the niche that you're interested in and try to set up an agreement.
I've found WWB to be decent but it's better to just directly contact companies. If you have a niche, then you have no need for WWB. In fact, I don't dropship anymore so I would rather find companies that don't dropship.
 

MJ DeMarco

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Kenric, how about some photos of your operation and warehouse? I think it furthers evidences that you are actually out there, living it, and doing it - not talking about it. Thanks for this thread.
 

frenchy

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You can do this by setting your payment processor to authorize a transaction instead of a capturing a sale.

Basically it's a what a rental company would do for your deposit. They charge $1000 on your card so that amount is put aside on your card and when you return whatever you rented they can either cancel the charge (it never shows up on your card) or send the charge through (if you damage what you rented).

To do this you need a real credit card payment processor, not paypal or google checkout, etc...
Thanks. Would you advise me to do that directly with my bank or with a particular payment processor on the internet?
 

Whole Paradigm

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Kenric,

When running multiple ecommerce sites, what types of systems do you have in place to help keep track of sales, emails from customers, etc? So that it's less overwhelming and easy to maintain...


Thanks for starting this thread,

Cory
 

puckman

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thanks.

1) Would you recommend using Magento for a 1 man shop? Magento was a giant pain when we rolled it out, across a team. Now that I am on my own, starting stores, I am wondering if its too much for a small operation like mine. I would initially build the store and back end, with occasional help. Most good Magento guys I know charge $90/hr, not cheap. From my experience Magento is a giant undertaking, not sure if its good for small operations.

2) Whats your POV on Wordpress ecommerce stores? Worth it? Again, I am a small operation, building a lot on my own.

3) At what point in an ecommerce company lifecycle do you introduce marketing(SEM, FB ads, Display ads, etc)? From my experience we were live and grew quickly for two years before we spent any money on marketing. We were in a high growth niche with lots of exposure from sponsorships and events. Now its our largest expense.

4) What do you do to identify new trends in retail? Example, in the next few years, wireless electrical charging is going to be huge. It will be in the iphone, and I imagine a cottage retail industry to be created. Do you have any voodoo to spot these quiet potential retail opportunities?
 

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PatrickP

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Kenric, how about some photos of your operation and warehouse? I think it furthers evidences that you are actually out there, living it, and doing it - not talking about it. Thanks for this thread.
Great thread and great idea.

I have often thought of how nice it would be to have drop shippers but it seems Kenric started that way but not buys his stuff upfront and then ships it out.

Question Kenric, Was it tough to build up the money to buy, warehouse and ship out all the items you sell on your websites as opposed to having companies drop ship for you?
 

LightHouse

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Nice thread! 2x on what Mj said, the warehouse is impressive.
 
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biophase

biophase

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Thanks. Would you advise me to do that directly with my bank or with a particular payment processor on the internet?
You need to sign up for a merchant account and get a payment processor. I use Chase paymentech with authorize.net. But there are tons out there like First data, group ISO. All of them should be able to authorize and not capture a sale.
 
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biophase

biophase

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Kenric,

When running multiple ecommerce sites, what types of systems do you have in place to help keep track of sales, emails from customers, etc? So that it's less overwhelming and easy to maintain...

Thanks for starting this thread,

Cory
The backend of most stores can keep track of everything for you. I recently started using Webgility to manage sales, shipments and quickbooks stuff.

All the phone calls come to a single line. I'm just using Gmail and its labels to organize everything. I was going to go to a help desk ticketing system but it wasn't user friendly enough. I could see me going there in the future.
 
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biophase

biophase

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thanks.

1) Would you recommend using Magento for a 1 man shop? Magento was a giant pain when we rolled it out, across a team. Now that I am on my own, starting stores, I am wondering if its too much for a small operation like mine. I would initially build the store and back end, with occasional help. Most good Magento guys I know charge $90/hr, not cheap. From my experience Magento is a giant undertaking, not sure if its good for small operations.

2) Whats your POV on Wordpress ecommerce stores? Worth it? Again, I am a small operation, building a lot on my own.

3) At what point in an ecommerce company lifecycle do you introduce marketing(SEM, FB ads, Display ads, etc)? From my experience we were live and grew quickly for two years before we spent any money on marketing. We were in a high growth niche with lots of exposure from sponsorships and events. Now its our largest expense.

4) What do you do to identify new trends in retail? Example, in the next few years, wireless electrical charging is going to be huge. It will be in the iphone, and I imagine a cottage retail industry to be created. Do you have any voodoo to spot these quiet potential retail opportunities?
1) I'm not sure what the hang up is. Magento is pretty powerful. Being a one person shop doesn't mean you would need less features in a cart. I don't use free software because it is normally a pain so I just pay for commercial software and then you get their support.

2) I think WP carts are getting pretty good. Professional software is so cheap these days, I always wonder why people starting stores are too cheap to shell out their money. If you don't have enough confidence in yourself to make back the $300 or the $30 a month, you should not be starting a business.

Now, with that said, if you don't have the money, then go with a free cart until you can afford a paid one. I did that for 6 months. I should have done it from the start. You will probably think the same thing once you start free and go to paid.

3) I instantly start SEO and PPC from day one. Even when I rank #1 on google, I still spend on PPC. It's marketing, people constantly see your ad and your website name every time they search.

4) I don't do much of that now. I'm not looking to expand with more stores or niches. I'm changing gears a little this year.
 
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biophase

biophase

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Great thread and great idea.

I have often thought of how nice it would be to have drop shippers but it seems Kenric started that way but not buys his stuff upfront and then ships it out.

Question Kenric, Was it tough to build up the money to buy, warehouse and ship out all the items you sell on your websites as opposed to having companies drop ship for you?
Dropshipping is nice. But it limits your stores. Imagine you sell shoes and Nike and Reebok tells you that they don't dropship. Only Addidas and Puma dropship. Now you have a store that is limited to 2 brands. At some point you need to decide if you are happy selling only 50% of the possible products in your store. If you are, that's fine. But how do you grow that way?

So you then decide that you sell enough Addidas and Pumas that you can afford to buy a truckload of Nikes. Bring them to your house and BAM now you got 3 of the 4 brands. Sales increase, and you bring in Reebok. It's a natural progression.

The shipping out part is easy. No real skill involved with that. I just got a Fedex account, bought boxes and started shipping. In many ways, this is much better than dropshipping because you know what you have in stock. You don't have to call your dropshipper every time somebody asks a question.
 

hedgehog757

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1) I'm not sure what the hang up is. Magento is pretty powerful. Being a one person shop doesn't mean you would need less features in a cart. I don't use free software because it is normally a pain so I just pay for commercial software and then you get their support.

2) I think WP carts are getting pretty good. Professional software is so cheap these days, I always wonder why people starting stores are too cheap to shell out their money. If you don't have enough confidence in yourself to make back the $300 or the $30 a month, you should not be starting a business.

Now, with that stand, if you don't have the money, then go with a free cart until you can afford a paid one. I did that for 6 months. I should have done it from the start. You will probably think the same thing once you start free and go to paid.

3) I instantly start SEO and PPC from day one. Even when I rank #1 on google, I still spend on PPC. It's marketing, people constantly see your ad and your website name every time they search.

4) I don't do much of that now. I'm not looking to expand with more stores or niches. I'm changing gears a little this year.
Great Thread! Thanks for posting it. I use First Data with Authorize.net for my current business. Although I have never captured a credit card without charging it. I never had reason to as of yet, so I have no idea how to do that.
 

puckman

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1) I'm not sure what the hang up is. Magento is pretty powerful. Being a one person shop doesn't mean you would need less features in a cart. I don't use free software because it is normally a pain so I just pay for commercial software and then you get their support.

2) I think WP carts are getting pretty good. Professional software is so cheap these days, I always wonder why people starting stores are too cheap to shell out their money. If you don't have enough confidence in yourself to make back the $300 or the $30 a month, you should not be starting a business.

Now, with that stand, if you don't have the money, then go with a free cart until you can afford a paid one. I did that for 6 months. I should have done it from the start. You will probably think the same thing once you start free and go to paid.
cool, from what I know the all in one paid solutions are limited in features, and migrating to a bigger platform(magento) is challenging. cost is no concern.

What do you recommend for paid solutions?
 
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biophase

biophase

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Great Thread! Thanks for posting it. I use First Data with Authorize.net for my current business. Although I have never captured a credit card without charging it. I never had reason to as of yet, so I have no idea how to do that.
You can set this in your authorize.net admin panel when you log in.
 

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PatrickP

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Dropshipping is nice. But it limits your stores. Imagine you sell shoes and Nike and Reebok tells you that they don't dropship. Only Addidas and Puma dropship. Now you have a store that is limited to 2 brands. At some point you need to decide if you are happy selling only 50% of the possible products in your store. If you are, that's fine. But how do you grow that way?

So you then decide that you sell enough Addidas and Pumas that you can afford to buy a truckload of Nikes. Bring them to your house and BAM now you got 3 of the 4 brands. Sales increase, and you bring in Reebok. It's a natural progression.

The shipping out part is easy. No real skill involved with that. I just got a Fedex account, bought boxes and started shipping. In many ways, this is much better than dropshipping because you know what you have in stock. You don't have to call your dropshipper every time somebody asks a question.

Thank you for the info.


I imagine you have to have tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in inventory correct?
 
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biophase

biophase

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cool, from what I know the all in one paid solutions are limited in features, and migrating to a bigger platform(magento) is challenging. cost is no concern.

What do you recommend for paid solutions?
Which all in one paids solutions are you talking about?

bigcommerce, volusion, cs-cart have tons of features.
 
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biophase

biophase

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Thank you for the info.

I imagine you have to have tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in inventory correct?
I have decent inventory, but not that much. I could always have more. It's a balancing act.
 

puckman

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Which all in one paids solutions are you talking about?

bigcommerce, volusion, cs-cart have tons of features.
thanks, online retail is my background, and in the past startups and larger co's I have worked with/for, it was all home grown and dev'd. Unless of course you use a shop like Alexander Interactive.
 

PatrickP

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Thanks again Bio for taking the time to do this.

Very generous of you with your time and your experience.
 

frenchy

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You need to sign up for a merchant account and get a payment processor. I use Chase paymentech with authorize.net. But there are tons out there like First data, group ISO. All of them should be able to authorize and not capture a sale.
Thanks for the info. :thumbsup:
 

Whole Paradigm

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Bio,

Have you ever had success in convinving a manufacturer to dropship for you when they normally wouldn't? If a manufacturer didn't dropship or wasn't familiar with the model, how would you go about asking them/explaining to them how to accomodate you?


Cory
 

puckman

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Have you ever had success in convinving a manufacturer to dropship for you when they normally wouldn't? If a manufacturer didn't dropship or wasn't familiar with the model, how would you go about asking them/explaining to them how to accomodate you?
Isnt that essentially Affiliate Marketing?
 

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