I have a website that has grown steadily for the past several years without any ecommerce. This past December I wasted a fortune trying to buy and setup StoreFront's crappy software by LaGarde. To date, it has not exectued a single trouble free transaction. For unknown reasons they just shut it down because I never registered the site, because it doesn't work. I am wondering what the price range is for a basic site. Well, its not that basic. Here are the MUST HAVES!
#1 - Ability for up to 3 levels of volume pricing. You can see the current site and how my prices are arranged. If the look and feel is just like I have, it is OK with me. Even though my site looks plain, I get lots of compliments on how neat it looks and how easy it is to understand. If someone can just add a buy now checkbox at the end of each line in my table with a field for them to enter quantity and carry forward that info to the shopping cart and check out - it would be a great start.
#2 - By designing it the way I have, I have achieved my #1 goal of high visibility in the search engines. The search criteria that I feel best represents my unique items always finds me in the top 3 in Google. OF course, I'm not in the top 10 or even top 100 for the general term - magnets. That is not my goal. The appropriate use of HTML text and text information that is consistent with what teh customer sees on the screen is what helps my site the most. About 40% of all visitors stay over 1 minute on the site and over 25% stay over 5 minutes. Any new design must keep this important feature.
#3 - The checkout options should be using the PayPal web payments pro certificate. I have been paying for that since February - even though the sorry StoreFront site doesn't work at all. Upon checkout the customer and I should get an email detailing what has been bought. It would be super fantastic if there was an order management screen for me to see all the orders placed and click on them to print the packing list and monitor the order status - such as a check box for "Shipped". It would be great if I could look at the details of an order online and indicate which item, if any, might be on backorder. I know a full system would manage inventory and tell the customer the status at teh time they click on it, but I can consider that in a future revision unless someone already has the module built and it is not hard to adapt. Of course, I would like to have some way to keep track of customers and retrieve customer's previous orders and possibly send a customer database an email advertisement. Since I only have done this a couple of times so far it is not a big item but I can think of several more usues for it if it were easy to do.
#4. Shipping - the complexity of pricing magnet shipping around the world creates a nearly impossible process to price. I will not consider shipping as a percent of order or a fixed amount - neither applies. I can consider a field in the database where I can enter surcharge amounts on an item by item basis and then have a basic rate that would cover 70% of my orders. The code would have to add the surcharge to the total if the order contained that item. Larger magnets require shielding with sheet metal and steel plate. My options for shipping are numerous - in the US - Priority Mail, Priority - Flat Rate (only $8.50 regardless of weight - it just has to fit in the box); UPS ground, FedEx ground, FedEx and UPS over night, Postal service - overnight - EMS & flat rate ($14.40 - if it fits). International shipping includes UPS standard to Canada, but nowhere else, EMS (postal service) to most countries, Global Priority Mail - Flat rate (if it fits in the small envelope, Global Priority Mail - Variable Rate - if it doesn't fit but it weighs less than 4 pounds and can fit in the 8" x 10" x 8" box; Airmail for countries that the postal service can't ship to by global priority and if EMS is too expensive. As you can see this is quite a tedious process to handle but I can just look at an order and tell what shipping method it will need and in a few minutes I can give the customer the correct price. Even if the process is for the customers to place their order and then I manually add shipping and forward teh final invoice back to them to proceed to checkout, it would be a huge improvement over my current email only system.
#5 - there are a number of my customers who are in the database who are resellers and I have a different pricing strategy for them and I would want them to see their correct pricing when they buy. I could see this as having an online application process where I set their discount level. But it would be nice if they had a login that let them be the only ones seeing their prices.
#6 - I do take purchase orders and would like for the system to allow me to email them an invoice against the po or print it out to mail it to them.
#7 - I get a number of phone in orders and I would need to be able to manually enter in a phone in order locally.
Hopefully this covers most of the info. Additional information - it must run on my IXwebHosting site - I currently have the site name [url removed, login to view] site name forwarded to my current working site at [url removed, login to view] and the site would have to be built and operate under the ip address until fully tested and operational and then i would remove the url redirect. If someone has been gifted with success on StoreFront's crappy software and can easily fix the several hunder problem areas, that might be a viable option as long as StoreFront never gets anymore of my money.
Points of no compromise - I will not sell items in packaged sets at group prices - such as 10 pieces for $14.95 instead of $1.49 each. I want customers to be able to buy 37 pieces if they want to and they should get the price per piece for 20-100 pieces x 37. I will not let some users subsidize the shipping cost of others - shipping should be based on each customer's actual shipping costs or very close to it. I am interested in hearing what thoughts the experts might have.
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