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Setting up a basic e-commerce website - advice required

Kako 11 159
2 Feb 2009 5:10PM
Hi all,

am thinking seriously of setting up a basic website that initially might just be an online catalogue for retailing goods to local buyers, they would email or ring me and pay cash on delivery. If this took off i would like to be able to add an online payment facility. Have absolutely no experience of web design but fancy the challenge of doing it myself probably by using 'freebie' templates and customising these to keep the cost down. Has anybody any useful experience of this already and which software did you find useful?

As for Web Hosts, I did a search which brought up top 5 to include:- HostPapa.co.uk
1&1 UK
UK2 Hosting
UKHost 4U

Anybody any experience of these companies?
Any comments or advice would be very welcome. Thanks in advance.


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robob 14 1.0k England
2 Feb 2009 7:24PM
Hi, I run a retail website, I use a host provided by the guy who does the design work for me, I get a good price as I spend a fortune with him.

Why not implement a payment system from the start, you can easily add Paypal or google checkout, these can now be intergrated to look very proffesional, in fact a lot of people now prefer to pay with Paypal as it's a brand they trust, and it's very easy to get a merchant account.

Also, I don't think you will do too much business on a website with local pick up only, you're drastically limiting your market.

Good luck.
User_Removed 11 2.2k 3 United Kingdom
2 Feb 2009 8:52PM
I use 1and1 and in the past have used UK2. No problems with either.
digicammad 14 22.0k 39 United Kingdom
3 Feb 2009 8:22AM
I have used osCommerce on a couple of websites, including PhotoDimension (in my profile) and find it to be very reliable, powerful and with a good support base. Even better it is free.

The app works straight out of the box but you can customise it as much as you like (look and feel as well as functionality).

Kako 11 159
3 Feb 2009 4:48PM
robob; thanks for your comments. Cost was the main reason for not including a checkout from the start, as it will be more expensive to implement and maintain. Also i have to balance the benefits of extra sales against the cost of dealing with P&P and paying commision. I currently sell on a local basis using several leaflet drops per year. I just thought that an online catalogue initially would allow me to put out more offerings and change stock details more frequently. Also i could include full colour pictures more extensively, more cost effectively than having them printed.
Over time i would hope that 75-80% of my customer base would use the online catalogue rather than rely on a leaflet.

ChrisGilbert; thanks for your comments. Its always good to have comment from someone who has used a particular product/service.

digicammad; thanks for that link- i will definitely look into that later on tonight
IanA 14 3.0k 12 England
3 Feb 2009 5:19PM
Another vote here for Oscommerce along with Paypal. They work! Smile
As for a host, I use United Hosting who are exceptionally reliable and their support is truly 24/7!


robob 14 1.0k England
4 Feb 2009 7:42PM
Oscommerce for me too, though mine is so heavilly modified you would not recognise it. Easy to use, free and when you do need work doing evryone knows how to mod it.
Kako 11 159
5 Feb 2009 4:55PM
IanA, thanks for your vote of confidence in Oscommerce too.I will also look at your link to United Hosting. Once the basic site is sorted then choice of webhost becomes all important.

robob, thanks again for your extra contribution. I looked at Oscommerce the other night and was really impressed with what i saw - it almost looked too good to be true, which is why i value comments from people with experience of it. I'll probably download it and start to tinker over this coming weekend.

Many thanks to you all again.

digicammad 14 22.0k 39 United Kingdom
5 Feb 2009 6:05PM
osCommerce is one of the few occasions on which if something looks too good to be true it actually is. I was going to say look at Rob's site to see how customisable it is, but he doesn't have a link to it in his profile. I'm not sure how PhotoDimension compares to his site but it is pretty heavily customised, particularly the product info page.

Response times from the support forums are not as speedy as ePz (but there again very little is) but they get there in the end.

digicammad 14 22.0k 39 United Kingdom
5 Feb 2009 6:18PM

Quote:if something looks too good to be true it actually is.

True I mean

GaZn 11 176 Wales
5 Feb 2009 9:25PM
If its all new to you all i say is please research and make it clean and don't try to do to many bells and whistles!

If you need a hand PM me and I can help!
SuziBlue 15 16.2k 10 Scotland
16 Feb 2009 10:04PM
Talking of 1&1, has anyone used the Spreadshirt shop facility yet? if so what's the quality like? I've got a plan for a couple of commercial items and if the printing is good I might give them a go.
Henchard 13 2.7k 1 United Kingdom
17 Feb 2009 8:01AM
When I operated my own online shop I found Mals free cart the business. It really was very good, fairly simple to integrate in any site and even had free online secure servers for collecting credit card data (as well as loads of other payment options).

Well worth a look.
slimtim 14 191
17 Feb 2009 11:38AM
I'm trying to do this at the moment too. I have been playing with Jalbum and plan to modify a skin to my requirements and then integrate a shopping cart system (paypal or OsCommerce probably) into it so that uses can have options from a drop down to buy different size prints.

My question would be (and I hope this helps out Kako too because I don't want to hijack here...):
How does the shopping cart system integrate with the site? How does it know which image the person is buying?

Henchard, this question is mainly directed at you as I know you have experience of this...can a shopping cart system be integrated with a jalbum skin so that jalbum can generate galleries with the shopping cart included? I just see there being problems with auto generation of galleries.


CaptivePixels 10 343 2 Scotland
17 Feb 2009 12:15PM
I don't know about Jalbum and Oscommerce but Zen Cart integrates very well with Gallery2. Fairly easy to get the Zen Cart side looking the same as the Gallery2 side.

Purchaser selects the photo in gallery and adds it to their cart (Zen Cart). Checkout using Paypal or other provider - quite nice the way it works.

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