E-Commerce Times Talkback
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Small-business entrepreneurs looking to make a splash on the Web need not drown in
massive site construction costs. According to experts, if site builders are willing to
start out with a no-frills approach, they can keep costs below US$1,000. "Your best bet
is to pick those sites and products that provide some basic templates for different types
of businesses," Giga Information Group analyst Steve Telleen told the E-Commerce Times.
Folks – You get what you pay for! Are you one of those people who get excited when people like me tell you that you get unlimited email addresses with your hosting?? Custom Internet development is not cheap, especially if your business is so far behind in IT that your sales staff is taking orders with a pen and paper. My advice is this: Consider first finding a competent employee. Then, pay him what he's worth. Next, listen to his experience in web application development, not what your 13-year-old nephew tells you. If you follow these things, you will not only get a great website for under $1,000 but a full-time employee who knows YOUR business and can always build you custom solutions. Not to mention train the next developer who comes on board because your employee helped you grow your business to the next level.
As an experienced Internet applications developer who is just getting started with a small biz ecommerce site, I concur about the difficulty of setting up a quality site from scratch. I did have the technical skills, at least. I'd hate to think I was trying to set up a website without knowing how to do it. But, I have been surprised at how tricky online marketing is. Do this, don't do that. Affiliates, search engines, directories, email, etc. I've spent an enormous amount of time studying online marketing just to feel competent. Having done so I've decided to start an ecommerce marketing consulting firm for small businesses with two of my coworkers. I see what you all see - it is very hard to have a successful small business website. As for shopping carts, I've decided to use Mal's Ecommerce (www.mals-e.com). The basic version is free, the premium is only $7 / month and it has some great features.
look at it the same way as starting a retail store- can you start and run a retail store for $1000? No, but you can get a table at the local flea market- ask yourself if this is where you want to be- if it is, great!
PS good point about the rent-a-carts- biggest ripoff on the net.
I spent months trying different versions of the above mentioned e-commerce engines, namely WebSphere and bcentral. Although I found value in the MS product, I cringe at the idea of securely operating an IIS 5.0 server. I LOVE LINUX and so I sought out something in the Open Source arena, I found a few and the one I now use VARDIS. I feel this is an average article because it fails to do much more then advertise for MS and IBM, so I will do my two bits for Open Source.
Check it out.
The true raw potential of the Internet for small business e-commerce is minimized when viewed merely from a "web-site" centric perspective.
The highest use application of the Internet is still e-mail. Why? Because people value the "communications" capabilities of the Internet more than any other. Therefore, SMEs would be wise to explore the full potential of the Internet as a tool to enable new borderless dialogues that wouldn't otherwise be possible or economically practical for a small enterprise.
FYI, the Economic TeleDevelopment Forum has launched the GeoBridge Project to reseach the evolution of commercial networking and partnering via existing and emerging Internet-related tools.
For further details, visit the following web page http://geocities.com/dhdeans/gbridge.html
David H. Deans
Economic TeleDevelopment Forum
Small business owners SHOULD take advantage of all of the business opportunities afforded to them by the Internet.
Establishing a Web presence by using services like those noted above is much better than anything they could produce on their own and, oftentimes, better than something produced for them by so-called "web designers" that detract from the work we professionals provide.
It's true, you get what you pay for and those off-the-shelf solutions are limited in functionality and appearance (i.e. template look). However, once a small business owner has tried the Web as a lead source, sales avenue, etc. chances are they'll want to upgrade and seek a professional Web design or marketing services company.
Having a Web site has become a validator for businesses. Some of my clients are now seeking Web services because clients and even potential employees don't want to do business with them if they aren't on the Web.
If cost has provided an obstacle for your small business then this is something worth checking into - but keep in mind that you're likely to reinvest in a more comprehensive site later. www.marketfundamentals.net
If you're looking to build a decent ecommerce site for less than $1000, just remember: You get what you pay for. We've tried both bcentral and Yahoo stores - both are extremely limited and offer very little customer support, if any (we were only able to get in touch with bcentral customer support when we finally unsubscribed). bcentral in particular is a waste of money.
For our clients first getting involved in ecommerce, or considering it, we recommend starting out with a PayPal shopping cart system in order to make sure ecommerce is even going to work for their business. Then, if it does seem to be panning out, we look for a service that suits both their needs and the ROI that they're looking for. There is no such thing as a blanket solution. Neither Yahoo nor bcentral are cheap, either - despite what the analysts say. There are all kinds of costs involved in each that you really don't find out about until you're in the midst of building your site. Basically, these analysts haven't a clue.
Don't get suckered into a service where you pay for an e-commerce site monthly. Solutions like PDG Shopping Cart can be purchased and installed to the site. PDG also offers plug-ins for several WYSIWYGs (I used the Dreamweaver extension) so no development/programming is required.
Suckered hardly, PDG is not what I would use to create a site that had an individual look and feel to it. Sure it is simple but what kind of business support does it offer? NONE. I found that opening an e-store is easy but managing the orders/shipments/customer relations becomes a nightmare, that is if you ever get customers as PDG does not auto-generate any tags for you. The easiest cart I have found is VARDIS.. Value Added Retail Distribution Information Server