Category Archives: E-commerce

Magento Developers – Module Reviews

Continuing onwards, I’m going to discuss the modules I’ve used and the developers involved in it:

Aheadworks:  Very, very good modules.  I haven’t actually contacted them for help because their modules just work.  That simple.  My go to guys if I have to buy / get a module because their modules just work.

Fishpig: I’ve only used their WordPress module.  IT works most of the time till it didn’t.  Then I paid for support – and got very little.  Weeks before they replied to try to fix it, when they ‘fixed it’, they broke the production site and never sent what files they fixed.  HORRIBLE support – stay away.

ManaDev: Decent modules, code is a bit sloppy though.  Support is pretty good, though when conflicts happen they will stop providing support, so expect to have to use your main developer to find the problem.  Overall, okay.

Mageworx: Their tweaks module is good.  Overall support isn’t bad,  though I wish they’d help out a bit more when there are conflicts.

OneStepCheckout:  Good checkout, but has a lot of conflicts that happen.  However, they are generally very good with support and will help out with conflicts if it has to do with their module (and sometimes outside of it).  Still the best OneStepCheckout option there is out there though.

Sweet Tooth: I got in when they were selling the module at a fixed price.  Support is decent, though every upgrade means a ton of bugs.  Their go-to support request is ‘update to latest module’; which then creates even more bugs so be careful.  The module itself is decent.

TinyBrick: Another system that just works.  No comment on their support because I haven’t needed it.

Webtex: Great support, love their gift card module.  Works very well though occasional checkout conflicts.

Magento Developers – A Review

Running a webstore on Magento, we’ve had to develop quite a bit of custom code as well as using various modules.  I’m going to tackle the custom developers first, then go on to module developers next:

Collins Harper –  these are my main developers.  I use them on a very regular basis.

Pros: Some great modules that just work (their local pickup, Canada Post Pro and gateway modules).  Coding is good, fast and reliable when custom development is required.  Generally, they solve issues even other developers have problems with.

Cons: More complicated modules like the CP 2.0 modules have occasional bugs and require more maintenance.  Can be slow in getting to you due to high demand for services.  Also, their hourly rate is up there – though it’s often balanced out by efficiency of work done.

Hatimeria: I used them to do the redesign of the website as well as providing some basic coding services during the site redesign.

Pros: Cheaper than CH.  Coding is generally okay, not great but serviceable.  They have a good designer they work with.

Cons: Very busy – I haven’t been able to get onto their docket for more work in a while.

Choosing the right product

Now that I’ve been in this business for a while, I’m realising more and more how important it is to choose the type and kind of product you sell carefully.  There are a few reasons for that, but here are the major factors that will affect your performance:

Market Size – how many people demand the product

Fragmentation of market – how easy is it to get hold of these people? A market may be huge, but if your market is highly fragmented, it’ll be much harder to market to and devleop

Average Order Value (Product Value) – all things being equal, a higher value / priced product will generate more revenue than a lower priced / value product.  Go too high though and you’ll see conversion rates drop, but within the $100 – 200 range seems to be pretty good from hearsay.  Our experience has shown that if your products average around $40 – 50; you’ll almost double your average cart value compared to products in the $25 – 50 range.

Competition – not much required to discuss here

Uniqueness – if you have a product that others can’t find / locate / buy anywhere else, you have a much higher conversion rate than others.  This is great when you can manufacture or otherwise sole-source a product which has high demand and often the reason for breakout successes fir small companies.

Adding products to your site

One of the most time consuming aspects of running this business is adding new products to the site.  Now, unless you are able to hook up your site to your manufacturer(s) or distributor(s), you’ll need to do most of this input by hand.  Which means it takes time.

In addition, there’s always the consideration of SEO.  Unique content is a must, and that means rewriting your product descriptions as much as possible.  However, to do that you  need time and expertise.  It’s not enough to just throw up some content and hope it’s good – you need ot make it both good and relevant.

So, what can you do?

Contract it out – you could hire some writers to work for you.  A writer with copy-writing (and web writing) experience could rewrite product descriptions.  It’s not a bad idea, after you input the product basics.  Costs would probably be in the $0.10 – 0.25 range per word; so not too bad unless like us, you have a constantly increasing amount of products / rotating products.

In-house – you could train people to do it in-house.  Of course, the question then is how good the training is.  Still, it gives you better control of what is happening in your business.

Copy & Paste – take a selective approach.  Rewrite the one’s that make the most sense, the one’s which have the best sales once they’ve done well. The rest – just copy and paste.  After all, not all pages have to rank – just the one’s that will give you funds.

 

Finding your passion

So, let’s talk about passion.  If you are starting a new e-commerce business (or a business in general I guess); you should consider doing a project that has you passionate about it.  Or at the very least, excited

You can obviously buy and sell any product you want (within reason, liquor, drugs, etc can require more start-up / legal requirements) but the simple truth is, for the first few months if not years you’ll be earning no money from this business.  In light of that, you want a business that you’re interested in, even excited about.

If you launch a business you aren’t interested in, it’ll go nowhere.  Trust me – I know.  I’ve launched a dozen side projects which I never got off the ground, partly because I didn’t have the time or funds to do it properly and partly because I just didn’t have the desire to push it through.

Quick wins happen, but mostly you are looking at the long grind.

So find a business or type of business you are interested in and launch that.  Don’t launch something just because it might make you money – it’s not good enough.  Not if you’re going to dedicate years of your life into it.

 

E-Commerce – A Real Business

So. you want to run an e-commerce store eh? Well, if you do you should start thinking about the various parts of the business you will have and how you wish to handle them.  Specifically:

  • Web Development / IT
  • Hosting
  • Administration
  • Accounting & Bookeeping
  • Legal
  • Human Resources
  • Stock
  • Shipping
  • Customer Service & Sales
  • Marketing
  • Purchasing

We’ll talk about each of these factors one by one, but you’ll want to think about how you want to handle each of these areas if you have an e-commerce business.