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Best E-commerce website solution

Posted on 2014-02-24
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2014-02-27
Hi to you all experts,

Our website is now very slow and dusty. We want to move on to another solution, that is featuring nowadays tools and ressources.

We would like to go with a solution like Magento/prestashop etc. BUT! Our main selling activity is wholesale and bulk sale, and a little retail. We are then looking for a wholesale solution more than a retail solution, even if both are needed.

Also, we want to process payments offline on our warehouse machine, and not with Ogone or else.

WHat would you recommend yourselves ?

Also we do bulk import Stock as customers, have 3 prices for 3 types of customers and 3 currencies, worldwide shipping.

Many thanks for your suggestions and ideas.

Best regards,
Question by:adam1h
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LVL 54

Expert Comment

by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
ID: 39882240
"Best" is very subjective.   OpenCart is very good and you can install it on your own server.  There are plug ins for wholesale http://www.opencart.com/index.php?route=extension/extension&path=5&filter_search=wholesale

You don't have to use the online payment.  There are invoice plug ins as well http://www.opencart.com/index.php?route=extension/extension&filter_search=invoice

You can probably do the same with Megento as well.  

It sounds like either way you may have to do some programming to get exactly what you need.

How many products do you have and how many customers/invoices per month do you process?

Author Comment

ID: 39882260
Hi Scott,

Thanks for your comments. Best is indeed subjective, maybe translate like 'Most convenient'.

We have an in house programmer that could deal with some programming tweakings if need, but we want to avoid this as much as possible to concentrate on sales and sales tools.

We have installed and are trying Magento, it is quite a job to start with, but hopefully could work properly.

It is just that before going for a solution, I'd rather go for 'the most convenient' for what we have than install a few carts and waste a lot of time.

We use a system at the warehouse and all the invoicing/shipping is entered in that system, the website is jsut a matter of displaying products with different prices and currencies and then collect orders. The rest is done at the warehouse anyway.

Many thanks for your help already Scott,

Author Comment

ID: 39888225

We have over 7000 products and about 300 active customers, but not over the website anymore, the hosting and problems we experienced have ruined the sales.

We want to build ourselves a better reputation now, and our choice was to remake a brand new website in coldfusion or get a ready made website.

We have a coldfusion programmer that works with us on a regular basis and this is where a choice needs to be made.

Now, we could fix our actual website and make it work better, but on a shared CF hosting, we have recurrent problems we do not want anymore.

I hope this clarifies our choices to be made. Magento could work well, but  again, time is the essence of this choice.

What would you advise ?
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LVL 54

Expert Comment

by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
ID: 39888423
Since you seem to have your heart set on  Magento, I would set it up locally and have your programmer test it out if the proper add ons and customization can take place.   http://magento.com/resources/technical

>the hosting and problems we experienced have ruined the sales.... and our choice was to remake a brand new website in coldfusion or get a ready made website.

Your choice should be to remake a brand new website or get a ready made site. Why coldfusion?  That may be part of your problem, plus there are going to be a lot more people that can help you if you use php or .net.

I was exploring coldfusion myself a long time ago and I was told by the help desks at a couple of shared hosting providers CF was the most problematic as was Microsoft front page  extensions.  However, there are CF developers here that will argue the other way.

I wouldn't count out whatever you were using in the past as the problem more so than if it was in CF or PHP or ASP.  It could have been the custom build. Small changes in building a database query for instance can make a big difference in how the site reacts and especially in a shared hosting environment where you may get limited resources to a shared database used by 1000 other's.

What you want to do is not rocket surgery but probably not directly out of the box either.  My guess is Magento is probably overkill for many aspects of what you need and at the same time not needs add ons or customization for other parts of your business.   When I searched for wholesale on the Megento site, I saw a result for another business to customize as a sample, 2nd result was an extension for 7,500 British Pounds and a 3rd showing it is partially there https://collaborate.magento.com/magento/topics/wholesale_and_retail_in_one_store_front

If it were me, I would say creating something custom from scratch would get you what you need in the same amount of time as learning how to customize a program like Magento.  

Start by defining what you need and if the out of the box solution does not cut it and you are going to spend significant amount of time or money to customize, weigh against a custom build.  I don't think you should limit your custom build choice to CF though.  You already experienced a sales drop because of what you did the first time and I have to imagine in this day and age not being on line can't help.  It is worth the effort to do it right to save your sales.

Front End
- Search for products  
- Display products
- Display product detail
- Only show retail prices unless logged in.  Otherwise, display price based on the type of customer that is logged in
- Add items to cart
- Generate invoice

Customer Portal
-Log in
-View order history
-View payment history

Back End
- Add/Edit Products - images, description, price, bulk edit, hide from website
- Add/Edit Contacts  - contact info, pricing levels
- Add/Edit Invoices - generate manual invoice
- Add/Edit payments
- Allow departments to mark invoice item as shipped
- Report of sales
- Report of payments
- Report of open invoices (not paid)
- Track backorders
- 'Talk' with inventory system
- 'Talk' with credit card processor (even if you process offline)
- 'Talk' with email marketing system (MailChimp)
- Email invoices, thank you's, reminders

Author Comment

ID: 39888581
Hey Scott,

That is a great and complete reply. Magento might not be the one, maybe not. The reason why we went for CF was due to the first version of the website written in CF. And that is why we kept coldfusion. That was 8 Years ago.

In between all those 'ready' solutions came up.

Our in house programmer has redone a website that is not finished, and that will never be finished due to a lack of motivation and time.

This is made in a 'state of art' way, using proper CSS and programming in the best practise.

It is just that we will have to abandon this project. The 'old' website is taking a lot of time to work with, and the new one is too far from beeing finished.

Since our in house programmer has spend the past 10 years into Coldfusion, we sort of want to stick to it. If a ready made solution is there, then he will have it easier to modify/adapt for our custom needs than finishing it.

Magento or else, but again wholesale is what we do and from what I can read in your answer, Magento might be quite slugish to install...

Are you yourself building websites in coldfusion still, if not which language do you use?

Thanks a lot
LVL 54

Accepted Solution

Scott Fell,  EE MVE earned 2000 total points
ID: 39888660
I never used CF although I started to try about 10 years ago and quickly abandoned it. I have used mostly asp classic for 15 yrs and changing to php.  Actually, I think it is best to shoot for as much html/css/js as possible and use webservices in the background.  That can give you an easy port to mobile.  

>and that will never be finished due to a lack of motivation and time

It is important to recognize there is a difference between a right brain designer that also does some programing and a left brain techie that can dabbles in design.  Nobody can really do both well.  On the tech side, there are great programmers but that does not mean they will be good at creating html websites and vice versa. Or even understanding how to manage data.

If your in house programmer is on other projects, maybe the real issue is this is not meant for him.  Your website and backend system is your lifeblood and you are saying sales are suffering.  Perhaps it is time to look outside to have this done for you.  Then have your in house guy take it over once completed.   What I outlined should be at most a 1 - 2month project from starting out, testing and going live.

If you get out of CF, you will have a lot more choices in hosting and who is available to help work on projects.

Author Comment

ID: 39891649
Hi Scott,

Thanks for your precisions.

What did you mean by
Actually, I think it is best to shoot for as much html/css/js as possible and use webservices in the background.  That can give you an easy port to mobile.

Actually which parts do you put in webservices ? Do you put the products part in this way ?
+ Do you implement yourself the webservice or you use existing ones ?
LVL 54

Expert Comment

by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
ID: 39891819
I am at a bit of a crossroad myself as how to best work on projects.  Do you continue with relying on serverside code?  Or create end points that can be used by both web and mobile?  

On the front end, this would mean pages created only using html/css and javascript.  To grab data use an ajax call to an endpoint. The web service is used to view/add/edit/delete.  

If you go the Magento route, this is set up http://www.magentocommerce.com/api/rest/introduction.html

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