eCommerce and Web Burgers

One thing that helps representing every computer system is a stacked diagram of all the components. They have various pedantic names, but with the help on some colouring coding, you can draw what I call a Web Burger Press.

Thinking about your WordPress Installation this way lets you memorise the “moving parts” of your burger (sorry…website)

professional-web-burger-press

So here you are, your website is primarily a bun made of WordPress and the Internet at large. How your burgers taste and look like is up to you as the WordPress user.

All the fillings and toppings are of your own creation.
The advantage of WordPress is that it provides you  room to add your own or reuse existing ones. For instance, your patty can be what you want (meat, fish, vegetarian…), you can make one or use one that is already made. Same for the cheese and sauces and pickles.

The Professional Website is the best scenario if you you want is to maintain a few pages and publish news from time to time.

Don’t underestimate its power though!

  • It has a great search facility built into your site.
  • It allows you to categorise and tag your pages and blogs for even better search.
  • It integrates both ways with Social Media of your choosing.
  • It allows you to chose from hundreds of free or paid look-and-feels.
  • And it has many “widgets” you can add yourself to provide maps, contact forms and much more.

You don’t pay for any of this software.

What you pay for is

  • A one off fee for us to start one up for you, explain the bits and pieces, help you chose what you want and teach you how to do things.
  • Hosting fees, that you will pay to web superstars “Amazon Web Services”.
    These are the same people you get books from, except that here they have created the  best cloud service imaginable.
  • DNS names as usual.

dynamic-web-burger-press

The Dynamic Web Burger has an additional layer of javascript sauce.

This allows you to spice up your website with page effects that are not available in your chosen theme. Examples of popular javascript components are sliding panels, accordions, graphs…And alternative sliders if you don’t like the standard ones.

advanced-web-burger-press

The Advanced Web Burger is a serious piece of software.

We are now talking about extending what WordPress can do by creating new data types, their attributes and relationship; and custom pages to deal with them.

This kind of website is harder to plan for and more expensive.
It will also cost you more to maintain; that said you don’t have to sell the car for it.

Imagine you have a showroom with hundred of items in stock, which you rotate for display. This would appear in an art, science or nature centre (museum, gallery…) but you can imagine that in more industrial settings (Automotive, Engineering…).

In this case, the standard categories and tags can be used up to a limit after which the visits become erratic and you may want to “guide” the visitor.

Example: from an exhibition to the showcased items, or to their maker; and back to the exhibitions, or exhibitions of that maker, or other items of that maker…
Possibilities are endless; but you are in charge of what goes in or not, so you control your spend.

With this kind of website, the data you gather becomes an asset over time.
It is very well organised and can build up in an orderly fashion.

You also have the opportunity to stand apart and create Intellectual Property as your custom pages are absolutely original and support your brand.

ecommerce-web-burger-press

And here is a big eCommerce Web Burger, drawn here as an Advanced Web Burger with two underlying layers of eCommerce fillings.

You could have eCommerce fillings in a simple Professional Web Burger, but I thought it would be nice to draw the “Web Burger With the Lot”.

The eCommerce layers are provided by a WordPress extension called WooCommerce.
This is a popular, time tested extension, that is both powerful and easy to use.

How about money?

  • You do NOT pay for software
  • You pay for hosting with Amazon Web Service
  • You pay for DNS as usual
  • You pay us a one off fee to assist you in defining, setting up and training you on your new site (professional, dynamic or advanced).
  • You pay us a one off fee to assist you in defining, setting up and training you on your new shop.

Voila!

I hope you are now hungry for a web burger.
Bon appétit!

 

 

 

 

Checkout: Simple Click to Collect

Woo Commerce has no-non-sense implementations of inventory, shopping cart and checkout. In this post we talk about the checkout and how you can get started with a simple and efficient click-to-collect that does not require electronic payment.

You can start with this simple method and start selling even before you get acquainted with electronic payment methods available to you.

The idea always looms of being overwhelmed by online sales, the fear of looking terrible for not having enough stock, handling backorder, track orders, track payments…

I really wish you get 10,000 sales on the first day. I really do!
But it won’t happen.

Rather, sales will build up as the result of your hard work over several years, several months if you are lucky.  So you will start small. You main concern in the first few weeks will be to get people to know you website is around.

With that in mind, you can set up your catalogue using Woo Commerce (we will talk about that in another post) and you will count every item for each product (stocktake) and record this in Woo Commerce. You will configure Woo Commerce to not accept backorders.

With that simple setup, customer will be able to add items in their carts if it has stock.
As a result, every order can be fulfilled.

Now for Click-to-Collect. The word sounds like it is all hard an automated. In fact nothing is and that is why it is so easy.

proceed-to-checkout

From the shopping cart, people will use the “Proceed to checkout Button”, which may look like this.

The only ‘shipping’ option is ‘Local Pickup’.
People will come to your counter and pay there.

All you have to do is prepare their order. No finding a shipping agent and calculating fees.

The customer will “Pay in cash”, which allows you to take cash or use an EFTPOS machine if you have one. The point is, this all happens over the counter.

Once the customer has confirmer her order, she will see a confirmation which may look like this one.

local-pickup-order

At the same time, two emails are sent.

new-customer-order-email

The first email is for you.

It let’s you know that an order was placed.

The order is also saved in the database so you can process it later (prepare it, hand it over and record payment…Even cancel it!)

The customer details are listed at the bottom of this screen and are not shown here.

 

 

thank-you-for-your-order-email

The second email is for the customer records.

This email can be customised. Here I chose to use the default template and simply play with colours to match the shop’s colour scheme.

Here too, customer details are listed at the bottom of this screen but not shown here.

 

 

 

At some stage, the customer comes to pickup the order.
They hand over the cash(or pay by card on your EFTPOS machine), you give the goods and you mark the order complete in the order management panel.

order-management

Detailed this way, it ‘feels long’, but it is really fast.
As far as you are concerned, you receive an email at some stage and a bit later you spent a minute over the counter, taking money, handing out items and recording the sales completion.

voila! You can sell.
With that out of the way, you have time to review electronic payment methods.
I will had a post about that later.

Getting ready for a shop

I am adding a new eCommerce Web service to Compomentis offering.

Forget about how much the software costs (it is free-beer anyway),
This is all about time and knowledge and someone to bounce ideas with.

For those who think software makes it all.
I opted to add the W00 Commerce plugin in WordPress.
I will elaborate on the benefits of doing that in the product page a bit later.

 

Now…
Regardless of the software components you use (and there are many good ones), you need to think about your sales.
You need to be crystal clear about three all-important things.

  • Your products and services
    Number, gender, variants, sizes, core and options…
    We always describe ourselves with a title, usually short and adjective sounding.
    In reality, we provide a lot more than our headline implies.
    For example, no-one goes to a “baker” that only make one style of bread.
  • Your customers
    Are they “just thoroughfare”or “neighbourhood customers”, do they travel an hour to come to your shop? Are they wealthy or on a budget? How old are they?
    There is little point marketing a bakery to a car repair shop.
  • How you want to sell
    Will people pickup your goods? Attend a class in your office?  Or will you deliver the goods? or will you use a third party shipping company? Or send a trainer to their premises? Do you sell and forget? Or do you supply an ongoing service? Are bookings essential? Is there a lead-time? Do you supply finance or pay as you go?

That is a lot of work for a small business owner and you know the drill…
In business we are all talented at two or three skills that create the opportunity for business, but we reluctantly have to perform ten or twelve other time consuming jobs we are not good at and need to be done and weigh on the moral.

That is our eCommerce Web service.
Again…

Forget about how much the software costs.
This is about time, knowledge and someone to bounce ideas with.

 

Fourth Interview

D has car shop specialised in 4WD.

He sells accessories and vehicle transformations.

D is very well educated and had a successful career in management.
He chose Magento himself and knew exactly why. In fit he had an entire web and cloud strategy figured out from the start.
He found his hoster and setup his eCommerce website himself.
He developed all procedures, organised its marketing and his catalogue.
In addition, his website looks great and is pleasant to use.

After a few months of running this setup, he came to the conclusion that Magento was not for his business. He has no hard feelings about it, he only realised that Magento is fantastic but often requires the intervention of a programmer.

So D did for his website what he would have done for any piece of equipment he has in his business, he decided to change it and find one that serves him better.

He went back to his initial goals, thought abut the shortcomings of his still relatively new website and set out to find a solution that ticked all the boxes. He also decided to focus less on the “web design” aspect, realising that there are many great and affordable templates and one is bound to be useful for his business.

After some research he selected Neto, an eCommerce platform developed by an Australian company a point that mattered so that he could easily access help from them.

Neto covers all his needs, he can do everything himself including managing complex shipping costs scenarios using eight warehouses. He requested some user interface changes directly from the Neto People. In particular he had in mind a type of menu for his customers to quickly access his catalogue and ask Neto people to do it for him, which they did for a few hundred dollars.

What he achieved is a great looking site, simple to use and that integrates with his business as he also uses a cloud accounting system.

D is the perfect demonstration of what we are doing here; he focused on his business needs first and uncompromisingly selected a solution that meets his needs.
Then he picked from advanced offerings and took advantage of all advances in terms of cost, capabilities. The great thing is that he has a great web design in the end anyway.

D is not your average business owner, he had a comprehensive corporate management career prior to starting in business. So what he achieved alone is not to be under estimated. Another small business owner can achieve the same result like everything is achieved in business, by buying the service. The service here is not so much the web, but the initial reflection and solution assembly.

 

 

Third Interview

A is an artist and showcases her work on the wen using a range of social media and a website, she also maintains a blog of interviews with other artists. She is highly educated and a confident user of computers, both Windows and Mac.

She wrote her website herself, sourced a hoster for mail and web…She’s a Power Internet User. She is entirely capable of doing it again.

Now, she is now at a point where she needs to reorganise her hosting and rethink her website. She has no time and little money for it. What she has is the stress of going through hosters plans again, trying to make sense of the marketing, figuring out the same plan cost 3$ here and 19$ there…Trying to second guess technical limitations…

She has no time and no energy…

A has not got 800 dollars to get help for it.

This is for people like A that we provide tips in our Free DIY page so she can get find solutions that will cost her a few dollars a month.

 

Second Interview

K runs a showroom with regular exhibitions.

She has a custom made WordPress (a custom theme) to handle dynamic page builds.
For example, she has a list of exhibitions and when you click on one in particular you will see the list exhibited works during that exhibition and you can jump to the artist’s web page etc…

The whole thing costed North of 35K over the years.

While K knows her website back to front and uses computers all the time she is not a techie and has other things to do that spend time on a website.

She recognises the value of changing from time to time, both on the design front and from the technical perspective as well.

She has no preconceived ideas about what should run, she just cares about what should be in the website; because she has a customer focused approach.

I think this is the right approach. This said, K is a successful business person who can invest more than the previous interviewees.

The way one can help K is by understanding her websites and identifying gaps between what she has and what she wants (or needs) for herself or her customers.

First interview

N has a building design business and no web presence at all.

After 5 years of knowing him, I did not know his company name and was unclear about what he was actually doing.

Business background

The business spawned from the ashes of another business which folded after its founder faced serious health issues. A new business was created to finish a large project that would otherwise have collapsed. From that initial project the studio started a few more projects by word of mouth.

In other words, this business never needed a marketing strategy.

If you google the name, all you find is an entry in the list of businesses occupying the same building. That entry only has a telephone number.

Awareness

N is absolutely aware of the “web gap”, which in his case is quite an abyss.
He seems to genuinely regret it. No website, no Facebook page, nothing at all.
N is generally a hard working and very smart person.
His studio is full of complex and detailed designs that attest it.
The studio is clean and orderly, nothing seems to be missing.
Nothing looks “slack”.
It becomes even more interesting to understand what is at work here.

Time indeed

“At times this is so busy here we cannot even answer the phone”

Fair enough…When your trade is around web or software or marketing, chances your trade itself brings you lots of webby information. But here, he never needed marketing and the web is is a marginal tool, like a printer or paper clips…

The french wine factor – over-marketing

As much as IT is “easy”, there is a bit of contextual information to gain. If you don’t have it and try to find it, you are faced with a gigantic and fragmented marketing machine, each trying to differentiated a 25 years old offering with some arcane argument.

In the end, you are so confused that it seems hard.
I call that the French Wine factor. French wine is good, people tend to agree with that.
but what is “Chateau du bouillon” like? Is it red? Is it sparkling? is it dry? What exactly is the award “Prix d’or des amateurs de planche voile”? No idea? Me neither and I am French. Whereas, a “Barossa Valley Riesling” sounds like a white, not too dry and not too sugary and I like Riesling, so I suppose I will like it.

The French Wine problem is easily solved by asking someone who drinks a lot.
“I plan a beef roast with roasted potatoes and Rosemary, I want to treat my guests” calls for “You can’t go wrong with a Pomerol, try a Chateau des Jacobins”. You have not chosen the wine, but your feasts will be a success. Because you know that, you don’t go for cheap, you just spend the right amount for the quality you wanted.

All that to say, I use a lot more IT than I drink wine. Ask me.

Cost perception

Information Technology prices drop so fast that it is difficult for non-IT people to keep up with real prices. This is true in small and large organisations.

During our conversation N said he could start small with a front page and a couple of pictures and grow from there. That is a sensible proposition.

Now, I asked him how much he thought to would be worth and the answer came into three parts.

Part 1 – 5 or 6 thousand dollars

May be in two thousand and one…Today this is more like…zero.

Part 2 – May be more if it is more complicated

OK, fair enough. But complicated is a subjective and fast moving term.
If you want dynamic lists build on the fly with sub-selection this can be expensive.
But not always, in fact some very sophisticated and affordable eCommerce platforms allow you organise a super neat catalogue with pricing and multiple categorisation (by brand, by department, by product type, by price range…) out of the box.

Part 3 – When I look at some of my prestigious competitors…

 

OK, but imagine you are looking for a new place to lvd and you go to a real estate website.
For most of us, visiting toprealty.com is a waste of time as a customer. And listing a one bedroom suburban apartment there is a waste of time as a supplier.

When I said to him he could have a website like one of his “prestigious” competitors for a few hundred a year without upfront cost and at the speed he wants, I could tell he was feeling happy about it.