Back when I started HouseOfRave, simple eCommerce solutions were relatively scarce or really expensive. I remember for my initial draft of HouseOfRave I downloaded a pirated piece of software which rendered the webpage on the computer, then would FTP files to the server.
My home computer at the time was very slow at the time, so I would mainly build my page after school everyday at my high school using the brand new, state of the art 40o Mhz computers (Ha! 400 Mhz and “Fast” in the same sentence sounds funny now :-)
BUT….I had several hundred items to sell, so a dedicated eCommerce site was neccessary. However if you’re only selling between 1 and 10 items, you might consider just inserting PayPal or Google Checkout payment buttons on each of your products rather than using a full fledged eCommerce solution.
If you have several hundred items to sell, creating a site yourself is daunting unless you’re great at programming…and even then you’d just be re-inventing the wheel since there are literally thousands of solutions for e-commerce already out there (many of them free)!
HouseOfRave currently runs on the Shopsite Ecommerce platform which has worked well for me, but it requires you have your own server, and will cost around $2,000 to install.
For my latest eCommerce project called BodyMonkey.com I chose a fully hosted solution (Yahoo Stores) instead of hosting it on my own server. I did this to:
1.) Hedge my losses in case my server crashes, at least ONE business will still be running.
2.) They take care of everything including SSL security certificates, payment gateways, hosting and they constantly update the system which means new features for free.
There are lots of hosted solutions but the two I recommend are:
Yahoo Stores – I’m using this for BodyMonkey.com. This is a great system, but a little difficult to design. A HUGE plus for this is you get linked into the Yahoo Shopping system which brings in a decent amount of sales, even if you’re not fully ranking on Google yet.
Volusion.com – I’d suggest this solution if you don’t know much about setting up a freeware solution on your own. I’ve tried them before, and they’re pretty good about getting you setup with a decent looking store made with proper search engine optimization techniques and lots of other cool features. You must pay a monthly fee every month, but it includes pretty much everything you need to start selling.
If you know very little about e-commerce, I’d suggest something like Volusion.com to get started. All you really need to do is add product photos and descriptions and you’re up and selling. However you do have to pay them monthly and they take a small cut of revenue.
If you know a little more about the web, have some web hosting of your own and can do things like change a DNS or FTP files, you can probably get a FREE store setup on your own pretty simply.
Once you get your store running, it means NOTHING. Now the actual hard part comes: Getting people to your website.
My gimmick with House Of Rave was the rave videos and rave pictures. I gave them away for free (not such a big deal anymore after YouTube and Flickr), and it got lots of people to the site. Less than 1% of the people who would come for the free videos ordered stuff, but at least it got people to start visiting, linking and discussing my website.
You don’t necessarily need a gimmick like that, because I know of many websites that don’t have any attractions yet still make lots of sales, but it really helps get the ball rolling.
The moral here is don’t think that setting up an online drop-shipping business is all that easy. It’s just like any other real store, it requires a lot of attention at times and lots of effort to get people through the doors.
The House Of Rave .com Story
Part 1: The Beginning
Part 2: Finding Something to Sell
Part 3: Finding A Drop Shipper
Part 4: Getting A Site Setup
Part 5: Pros and Cons of Drop Shipping
Part 6: How It All Works