E-commerce website for our services and products to sell online.

MAS
MAS used Ask the Experts™
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I would like to setup an e-commerce website for online service, infrastructure services and products to sell.
Maybe I will integrate with Single authentication source like AD if possible.
Any suggestions would be highly appreciated.
Thanks
MAS
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Hi,

Opencart https://www.opencart.com/ is a good and flexible solution and allow to sell product, services and digital goods.
Several modules are available.

I'm using this for several years with no problem.

There are AD login extension https://www.opencart.com/index.php?route=marketplace/extension/info&extension_id=25443

Magento can be a strongest option but you will need to code a lot and  it require more ressource & hardware.
Scott FellDeveloper & EE Moderator
Fellow 2018
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
You can use paypal and simply send out invoices and take advantage of recurring payments.   Or just use the supplied code to embed a button.  

For your site, use something easy like squarespace.com.  Otherwise, some of the IT management tools like Zoho.com have multiple options including crm, website and managing it.
MASEE Solution Guide - Technical Dept Head
Most Valuable Expert 2017

Author

Commented:
Thanks Scott and lenamtl.
Let's wait for other suggestions as well.
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David FavorFractional CTO
Distinguished Expert 2018

Commented:
Expand your description about what you'll be selling.

For example, high ticket items or low ticket items.

I'm with Scott about using PayPal. I have all my clients on recurring PayPal subscriptions, then send out ad-hoc PayPal invoices every Monday for any additional work done.

PayPal == Simple.
MASEE Solution Guide - Technical Dept Head
Most Valuable Expert 2017

Author

Commented:
-->Expand your description about what you'll be selling.
I have services (Consultation), products (e.g.laptops), subscriptions (e.g.Antispam, O365), SSL certificates etc.
Scott FellDeveloper & EE Moderator
Fellow 2018
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
MAS, are you using an MSP now?  For instance, ConnectWise has a billing feature https://www.connectwise.com/software/manage/time-tracking

But if you are working with a small number of clients and that type of thing is out of reach you can simply send out invoices via paypal.  Customers don't have to pay using paypal, they can do so using their own credit cards.

The problem with using something like open cart means you would have to manage a website.  Sites like squarespace or volusion.com make it easy so you don't have to manage a web site per se except for initial set up.  

What did you have in mind to make this work?
MASEE Solution Guide - Technical Dept Head
Most Valuable Expert 2017

Author

Commented:
-->MAS, are you using an MSP now?  
Recently started.
MASEE Solution Guide - Technical Dept Head
Most Valuable Expert 2017

Author

Commented:
I tried WIX and Shopify but that all charging us for each transaction in addition to hosting.
Scott FellDeveloper & EE Moderator
Fellow 2018
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
Anything you use to collect payments will charge you for transactions.  Typically it will be about 3%.  While that hurts, it is cheaper then managing your own billing system and trying to collect bad debt.  

If you don't want to pay a monthly fee for Wix or Shopify, then PayPal is a the best solution.  No need for a website, just log into paypal and create an invoice that will be emailed or you can gab a link to send to clients. This is what I use myself.
MASEE Solution Guide - Technical Dept Head
Most Valuable Expert 2017

Author

Commented:
I was told the payment gateway charges monthly.
Anyway I try check Paypal, Payment Gateway and 3rd party hostings as well to understand the difference.
Seems like opencart is an option for me to start with.
Scott FellDeveloper & EE Moderator
Fellow 2018
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
Opencart is just a cart, a way to show products.  You still need a payment processing service.  Most payment processors will charge you monthly plus the transaction fees.  I don't pay a monthly fee with paypal.
MASEE Solution Guide - Technical Dept Head
Most Valuable Expert 2017

Author

Commented:
Do you mean integrate Paypal with Opencart?
Scott FellDeveloper & EE Moderator
Fellow 2018
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
You could. But opencart requires a hosting service. With the type of service you provide just using PayPal invoices should work.
David FavorFractional CTO
Distinguished Expert 2018

Commented:
Slightly off topic + maybe useful...

You listed your items for sale, "I have services (Consultation), products (e.g.laptops), subscriptions (e.g.Antispam, O365), SSL certificates etc".

You can certainly do this + consider...

1) Laptops - you'll have to maintain inventory, unless your drop shipping + someone will always undercut your price.

2) Subscriptions - someone will always undercut your price.

3) SSL certs - these have been free for... geez... years now... so tough to compete a $0 price.

4) Consulting - This is pure profit. Zero competition, if you market correctly. No inventory.

If you focus on one option... your One Big Thing, chances are good you'll make more income for far less work.
David FavorFractional CTO
Distinguished Expert 2018

Commented:
Scott brings up an important point.

If OpenCart requires stable hosting for it to run well, this is a consideration.

If your hosting tech skills are high, this consideration is easily handled.

If not, might be best to stick with other cart options.

Also as Scott said, you'll still require a Payment processor.

People constantly complain about PayPal. For me, PayPal has been rock solid for the 10+ years I've used them. Start with PayPal + if you think you require some other payment processor, you can explore them at your leisure, while PayPal rumbles along flooding your bank account with sales.
MASEE Solution Guide - Technical Dept Head
Most Valuable Expert 2017

Author

Commented:
Thanks to all. All very helpful.
Me too used Paypal for a long time.
I have seen our customers using online shops for a margin of 5% with an inventory of 5,000 items which is not a big number for me. Then we decided to start this in full fledge way.
I'm using Opencart from several years, this is a free and lite (not required a lot of hardware resource) application compare to other cart.

First, I run Opencart on very basic share hosting without any problem, it does not required anything special.

Opencart include several payment method and gateway, also COD, and other custom payment.
You can set subscription easily.
Of course Paypal and other gateway cost some fees.

There are several shipping method and ways to calculate fees.

Using Opencart will save you time, this help when we want to start to sell rapidly.
So everything is there you just need to set it up.

This is very easy to set, and this is very flexible as you can do retail or wholesale, physical and digital goods.
Opencart is secured as it is tested using netsparker.

Product attribute is one of the most flexible as you can do easy custom way to set your product and calculate the fees.

It is also easy to add Custom code (using their method) and will not break the core.

There is a lot of extension free and premium, this is multi-language, multi-currency and the community is great to get help..

The best way to find out if this is for you is to test it, you can install it locally using Wampserver or check their demo https://demo.opencart.com/
Scott FellDeveloper & EE Moderator
Fellow 2018
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
I have seen our customers using online shops for a margin of 5% with an inventory of 5,000 items which is not a big number for me. Then we decided to start this in full fledge way.

I think I am confused.  Are you selling your IT Services? or something else?  While lenamtl is right in that OpenCart can be easy to set up and run, but as David points out, that is if you are already familiar with hosting, php and mysql as well as some light web dev with html/css. If that is not your gig, then a ready made site will be the way to go.  However, you still need to use a payment processor with a gateway.  How you display your items and how you sell them are two different things and often are thought of as one.

With a traditional payment processor you would apply through a financial institution or other processor that may work independently.  An example of a traditional processor would be Chase PaymentTech https://merchantservices.chase.com  is one (not an endorsement).  You don't need to have your business or personal account with Chase, this is independent. The merchant processor is the one that brokers your charges with your client's banks/card service.  They manage payments, providing statements, handles charge backs etc.  

You still need a gateway. https://www.authorize.net is one payment gateway. The gateway is the service that actually makes the connections and "talks" with your customers banks.    You send a charge via the gateway. The gateway knows by the account number which bank needs to authorize the charge and makes the connection.  The bank returns either an authorization or denial with a reason code. That information is sent back to you electronically.  I  happen to like authorize.net because their api is well documented. There are some gateways that have very poor documentation on how to use their service.

There are some services that act as both merchant processor and gateway all in one.  Paypal is one of those options as is stripe.com.

One important feature I look for is service.  Everybody claims they have good service but don't do a good job of defining that. You don't know how good or bad it is until it is needed and by then it is too late. I will say with Paypal, the customer service for me has been very good. I have run into issues that were solved in a manner I expected. All else being equal, I will stick with using Paypal because of the customer service.  

No matter which way you go, you will have to pay a transaction fee and sometimes a small monthly fee. Getting quotes from some payment processors is as bad as trying to buy a used car. There are a lot of choices and different ways they charge, but in the end it will come out the same unless you are billing millions of dollars a year, getting a small fraction of a discount will not affect you.

The takeaway is if you have a few products/services you are billing for and don't care to manage an online presence, then any type of shopping cart is going to be overkill.  A service like paypal will have billing features you can use.  If you are using Quickbooks or Freshbooks, you, those will also have a billing option where you can plugin your gateway credentials to the software and let it handle payments. This is actually a good option to integrate with your accounting software.

If you do have 5,000 products to sell and have a need for customers to review  your products, look at pictures and read descriptions, then using a cart system be it opencart or shopify is what you will need. There is a big difference between the two. One requires you to manage your web presence AND your items. The other just requires you to manage your items but will cost a little more.

On a side note, do you mean 5% margin as in profit?  In other words, you buy an item for $100 and sell it for $105, you made $5? that seems very low unless you are selling a lot of one item.
MASEE Solution Guide - Technical Dept Head
Most Valuable Expert 2017

Author

Commented:
Thanks to all

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