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Old 03-11-2009
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Default Case Study- Free E-commerce site w/cart- step by step

Hey all,

It's been a while since I last posted. I have been busy on Ebay and Amazon selling. I just got a bit of time to set up a new e-commerce enabled website.

The interesting thing about this, was I did it for free. ( ex the cost of hosting and Domain name reg).

here is the site I made - Music and Concert Posters » Concert Posters.Biz

Note - you could do it all for free if you went with a free host. But since this is a site I will probably be promoting, I want to own the domain and control the hosting.

Okay, brass tacks - I used wordpress for the site build-cms and mercantec.com for their free cart.
-Wordpress because of the seo advantages, all the great free software plugins and because it's free.

- mercantec.com because they are very easy to use, they integrate Amazon payments, Google checkout and Paypal, plus they are free.

Step 1 --- Installing WordPress--
-assuming that you have a hosting account, there are 2 ways to install WordPress.

A - If you host on Godaddy, dreamhost, Host gator etc.. Just go to the free applications section on their site and those hosts will install Wordpress for you easily from there.

B - For hosts that do not have autmatic WP integration, go to wordpress.com and download the wordpress file to you computer. Then go into you hosting account, look for the database section and set up a database (easier than it sounds). You will need to take note of these things
-DB_NAME--- the name the host gives your database
-DB_USER--- your username
-DB_ Password ---
-DB_Host -- the url of the database, something like 222mysql.host.net
after you have the database up go into the Wordpress file, find the wp-config file and add in the above info.

-- Then just upload the entire WP file. You can upload to the main directory or a lower directory. I recommend using the main site directory. from there just type in your url -you will get an email with your password, put that in and then change it.

Setting up Wordpress

-- For the main page you have 2 options-

#1 - you can display your last few posts or

#2 - you can display a set page.

- I recommend using a set page, if you are using the site as a store.



NEXT -- Choosing a Theme.

Go here and choose one you like.

WordPress › WordPress Themes

-- I chose this theme --- WordPress › Default Enhanced « WordPress Themes I picked it because it was solid and light (a version of the default) plus, this is easy to customize with your own graphics. The main graphic is 980 x 176 pixels. To change it to your own logo, go into your image program and put your logo or graphic you want into a 980 x 176 jpg, then rename that graphic - banner.jpg. Then go into to host file system > wp>theme>images> and change out banner.jpg- poof you have a custom logo

example --- http://concertposters.biz/wp-content...ges/banner.jpg

That should give you a few ideas on an easy customization.

Plugins
One of the great things about Wordpress is the free software you can get for it.

I recommend these plugins


Google Analyticator - sets up googleanalytics for your site
Google XML Sitemaps -- gives you an xml sitemap automatically
HeadSpace2 -- gives complete control oftags titles and keywords
Redirection -- easy redirection- no more struggling with 301s
Robots Meta -- adds easy index and follow tags conserve your link juice
seo friendly images - Google images can give good traffic too
sociable -- make easy for people to bookmark and submit your stuff

On seo you also peruse this article for ideas

WordPress SEO - Yoast - Tweaking Websites -- excellent source

Last edited by The_Cynic; 03-11-2009 at 10:40 PM.
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After you have the plug ins setup, you can now think about the cart.

I use these guys Free Shopping Cart Software for Google Checkout and PayPal - Mercantec.com

They integrate Amazon Payments, Google Checkout and Paypal.

see it in action, set quantity at 1 and click the buy button on this page

AC/DC Posters » Concert Posters.Biz »

The beauty thing is that you just move right through to checkout, input your email and ID on paypal etc.. and you are done.

It doesn't require you to fill out a long form, just a couple clicks and you are done.

IMO requiring a customer to fill out a long form before buying, just KILLS your conversion ratio. I know for myself, if I kind of ... want something, I may click the buy, then see I have to spend 5 minutes filling out a form, that kills it for me, and I just end up moving away. Whereas if it was one click, I would have bought.

Plus, why make someone fill out a form on your website ? You get all that info from paypal etc.. anyway. If you want to harvest emails, there are tons better ways to do that than killing off your conversion ratio with a form before buying. IMO

I should also mention that Word Press has several FREE shopping cart plug-ins. I checked them out and This one was the best and easiest to implement.

WordPress › eShop « WordPress Plugins

I chose the mercantec over this one, because with the e shop plug-in you are are limited to using Paypal only. UGHHH!!

Last edited by The_Cynic; 03-11-2009 at 07:14 PM.
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Old 03-11-2009
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Not bad for a wordpress site... but why not use a full free shopping cart?
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The mercantec can be configured to a full shopping cart, I just took the easy option to load a few things and get up and running quick.

- I almost used the e shop plug-in, that is a full shopping cart too, very easy to implement and has a google base file option. The problem was that they only allowed paypal and I wanted to see if the Amazon payments would help with conversions.
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Old 03-11-2009
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I see, is this just a test site for you, or are you trying to make money with this?

If you're serious about it, take a look at CS-Cart.. it's one of the best carts I've seen.
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Not a test site. I just added the full cart. see it here it here.

AC/DC Posters » Concert Posters.Biz »

I looked at CS Cart but the price $265, put me off a bit. I also looked at OS cart which is open source and free, but I kinda felt like CS-Cart and OS-cart were more of full site cms solutions built around carts.

They seem to be hard to customize in the way I wanted, plus they can't touch wordpress for seo value (linking). Because of that, for my cart, I needed either an add on like Mercantec or a plug-in like e shop for wordpress.

Plus wordpress spoiled me on how easy it is to add post and pages, I have very little desire to mess around learning a new cms system like cs or os cart.

Also, I recently I had a post of mine on another blog make the front page of dig. With the sociable plug in and comments enabled you could write blog posts and promote them and maybe hit something. Forget about that with os or cs cart. WP is much more flexible and easy, I'm not going back.

Aspkin, do you think cs-cart is better than os-cart?

Last edited by The_Cynic; 03-11-2009 at 11:00 PM.
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Okay, the next step is now to set up a google base file.

The first step to that is register for Google base. Google Base

You really need a Google base account because it will drive extremely targeted traffic to your site for free. I know this for a fact because on my ebay listings I use the google base store connector.

You can go into Google base and see just how many clicks they sent to your listings. Last month Google base sent my ebay listings 2500+ visitors for free. If I had to pay for that traffic via PPC it would have cost me at least $600. If you just throw away free traffic you are a fool. That is why you MUST have a Google Base feed. Plus, it's not that hard and it's free.

Google allows you submit your items in one of 2 formats - XML or or a tab delimited text file. When you use the Google base Ebay store connector they use an XML feed. For me, however, I find it easier to just convert a spreadsheet to a text delimited file and just upload that. I operate off of a master spreadsheet list anyway.

Now to set up a spreadsheet you do NOT need to buy MS EXCEL, there is a perfectly good free program out there . Open Office Calc.

Calc download it get started.

--- To start, on the first row, you type in the attributes. Google requires at least 5 attributes -- ID, Title, Price, Description and Link

However you add can a bunch more attributes. I recommend you add at least --

-Image Link
-product_type
-condition
-and upc/isbn if your product has one

a few other attributes to consider--

impn weight quantity shipping tax

Google even made a video to show you how to do this. simple.

Open Office video

After your spreadsheet is converted to a .txt you then have to register the feed

and the just upload it.

Last edited by The_Cynic; 03-11-2009 at 10:47 PM.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Cynic View Post
Not a test site. I just added the full cart. see it here it here.

AC/DC Posters » Concert Posters.Biz »

I looked at CS Cart but the price $265, put me off a bit. I also looked at OS cart which is open source and free, but I kinda felt like CS-Cart and OS-cart were more of full site cms solutions built around carts.

They seem to be hard to customize in the way I wanted, plus they can't touch wordpress for seo value (linking). Because of that, for my cart, I needed either an add on like Mercantec or a plug-in like e shop for wordpress.

Aspkin, do you think cs-cart is better than os-cart?
I think CS-Cart is the best cart out there.. I've done a ton of research on this, and it has everything a person would need and it's very search engine friendly.

It cost money, but it's worth it.

There are free carts out there too, some are good, some aren't. I haven't done a lot of research into them.

I just think your cart is limited in what it can do. Can you setup an affiliate program, send newsletters, setup autoresponders, have an inventory, etc etc?

Here are just a few features that CS-cart has:

• Single-page checkout to avoid customer confusion
• Smarty template driven, completely customizable
• Unlimited products, and nested categories
• Unlimited product options (i.e. color, size) with optional surcharges
• SEO: Custom meta tags per product and category
• SEO: Static html catalog generation
• SEO: Sitemap generation
• Inventory tracking
• Promotions, coupons, gift certificates and gift registry
• Return management
• Listmania addon lets you create bestseller lists, featured products, etc.
• Over 50 support payment gateways
• Real-time shipping rates from FedEx, UPS, USPS, Australia Post, DHL and Intershipper
• Highly configurable tax system
• Built-in affiliate/referral system
• Extensive statistical reports

View a comprehensive feature list at the CS-Cart website.
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Thanks for that reply, I took a second look at CS-cart. The price still puts me off a bit, but I can see why you like it. I have no doubt that it is a great system.

I especially like the idea of the affiliate/referral system. And the seo capability seems good.

I agree it is a very good overall choice and in comparison the mercantec probably seems a bit barren.

However, they don't allow Amazon Payments, I did not see any Google base integration, I already have an inventory system, I am thinking of using aweber for email, and the idea of this post is to set up a e-commerce site w/cart for free.

Something else I forgot to add. There is another free site solution I tried recently which I really liked. • Create a Free Website - Jimdo I checked it out and set up a very site nice in minutes. The seo looks good on it too. The point, Jimdo is a VERY easy Free solution for anyone who wants a site. Plus jimdo just added a feature to allow you to "Steal" the template of any site you like.

Steal Our Site Template With Jimdo

I haven't tried that yet but it looks interesting. and it's FREE

Last edited by The_Cynic; 03-12-2009 at 12:10 AM.
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Old 03-12-2009
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I see, I do believe there is a Google Base feed, and other shopping comparison feeds for cs-cart, I haven't mesed with it in awhile I'll have to check.

Here are some other free carts you might want to checkout then:

·Presta Shop
·Open Cart
·Magento
·Cube Cart
·Agora Cart
·Zen Cart
·OSCommerce
·Store Sprite
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Thanks for the list.

That's a nice resource.

I have heard good things about zen cart. I will give that a look.

Cheers!
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Old 03-12-2009
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Above I mentioned that one reason I went the mercantec was to try Amazon payments.

The logic of it seems very strong to me. 80 million Amazon customers, the most trusted e-commerce name in the world - a good portion of the people who see your store will be Amazon customers- offer those Amazon customers a way to check out from your site by paying Amazon instead you.

Benefits

Instant Trust
+
Vast pool of customers

=

something Google checkout never had, It could be the paypal killer. Plus it should help your conversion ratio.

Anybody actually using amazon paymernts on their cart? If you are, what has your experience been like. I am dying to know.

If no one answers I will let you know on my site. But I have high hopes.

Last edited by The_Cynic; 03-12-2009 at 12:43 AM.
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I just recently heard about Amazon payments, no research done it, let me know what you find when you use it. I'm interested as well.
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A bit of a rant here, but something I wanted to say.

I think that before you spend dime one on ppc, you should have a google base feed set up and you should do everything humanly possible to increase your conversion ratio.

I can't tell you how many times I was looking to buy something and I will click on the top google adwords ad, then click through to buy the thing, only to run smack dab into a huge form I have to fill out sometimes Twice- billing and shipping info-. man when that happens I go back to google or I just go to ebay or amazon to get where I know I can check out fast.

That's me though. I am sure that I am lazier than other people. But hey, the purpose of this thread is for me to be a shameless blowhard and kinda document my the process I am going through setting this up.

Cheers! thanks for listening.
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I agree, that's a good way of doing things... hmmm.. makes me think about the way I have my new eBook setup.. with option one of Going Live.. marketing a ecommerce website with PPC... a whole 40 pages of solid ppc information.

Maybe better do a little ppc to get you started... then keep tweaking your sales page until sales do better.. and of course continue the SEO.. and other marketing efforts..

Google Base.. Is that what you mostly do?

Do you do article marketing, blogging, even auto blogging, social sites, or other marketing techniques?
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Mostly I have just been selling on ebay and Amazon. I am active on some of the social Media sites.


I have about 5 websites, (a couple local sites, a blog about posters and this) plus a few domains I could develop.

With these websites my main goal is how to make money from them

-- So yeah, all those things interest me, but for now since I have my own products to sell I just want to get up and running on that. Basics first.
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Cynic,

Do you need to purchase any of these when you set up with Go DADDY

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Old 03-13-2009
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I don't recommend GoDaddy hosting... they're bad..

HostGator is much better.. and the uptime is very high
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Thanks, I'll check them out!
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Old 03-13-2009
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Yes GoDaddy sucks, they dont upload templates correctly (had to add a redirect to my site) && their customer service reps are just as educated as i am when it came to building the site
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I am going to go with hostgator as per recommendations. Thanks for keeping me from making a mistake with GO DADDY.
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Old 03-15-2009
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I have to agree on Godaddy hosting sucking bad. I hosted with them a while back and they were awful. Plus they nickel and dime you for stuff that should be free. .htaccess does not work on their servers, so forget about 301s.

I came across another free site that will give a free site-cms with free cart.

buyitsellit - Free Online eCommerce Store Builder

They look okay, they offer Google, Paypal and amazon and they are free. The only problem I see is customization if you are a newbie.
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