[thelist] ecommerce, shopping carts, etc.

Alessandro Alessandro at bodytrends.com
Thu Sep 7 14:23:05 CDT 2000

> I'm a database dummy & an ecommerce dummy.  Why?  Because I've never
> worked on sites that involved either of these things.
> "So I make these cute little (insert item here) that no one else
> makes, and everyone tells me I should sell them on the web.  How do I
> do that?"
> any helpful hints?

Hi Erika,

I would love to tell you a little bit about it, but you'll have to take an
e-commerce/html test first.

Until I get the results back, I will tell you a little story.
A few months ago, this client of mine had the cutest little items to sell.
He registered the domain name at register.com and came to me saying: "I
think I should sell these on that Intersomething thing"
'Ok, no problem', I said. We talked timeline and money and off I was to
Intersomething land.

Simple site. Simple recipie. Here's how it went:
I made the site. I found him an host. I transfered the domain. Bam! He is
selling the product.

But what about the details?
He wanted to sell his product online and have real time cc processing, so
what he needed was an host with a secure server (SSL encryption). He also
needed a SSL certificate from a company like verisign or thawte. This is a
recurring yearly fee. The certificate is used to 'unlock' the secure server.
If you find a host who will let you share theirs, that will work also, but
make sure that you don't get pop-up windows which say 'This certificate was
not issued to this URL...'. This will really scare your potential e-buyers
Many e-commerce hosting packages will come, well, e-commerce ready, which
usually means they set you up with a SSL certificate (I think, I have never
done it any other way than the one I described above) and they include a
handy-dandy shopping cart program, usaually Miva or Shopsite. The more you
pay per month, the more space, bandwith (and usually more 'commercial'
version of the shopping cart) they give you. The problem with these shopping
carts is that they are not very customizable. The pro is that they are
fairly easy to use.
Your alternatives would be to license another shopping cart form some other
company, find one that's free (and usually buggy) or write your own. Being a
control freak and a bit of a programming geek, I tend to stick with the
homemade shopping cart. In this story, his gadget being the only product he
wanted to sell, his shopping cart was just really a form on the secure
server. Yet it does things bundled shopping carts don't do, such as verify
cc info, make sure required fileds are there and calculate tax, volume
discounts and recognize distributors' codes.

Well, what about the online card processing? My client got a merchant
account and then signed up with a real time cc processing company. There's a
gazillion out there.

The info in the shopping cart is passed through them, they run the card,
authorize and pass the code and info back to a custom cgi on my client
server (oh, yeah, I had to write that too, but it was simple)

I don't recommend all of this if you've never done it before, maybe you can
work up to it.
Or <shameless self plug> get me to help </shameless self plug> :)

What you'll have to deal with:

1. Design: Client:'I really, really like the animated gif of the cow
drinking milk while jumping through a flaming hoop over the blinking BUY NOW
Try to compromise, chances are you won't be able to change their opinion too
much, but don't insult them either. "Are you kidding?" Is not usually the
proper response. Remember, they are paying YOU, it's THEIR site, but it
still is YOUR name behind it and they are also paying you for your

2. Ranking: Client:'So, my site has been up for two days and I look for it
on altavista and it's not first or even second!'
Hmmm... one word, TACT (and sometimes big technical words)

Hope this helped a little bit,

Web Research and Development
Alessandro at bodytrends.com

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