Forum OpenACS Q&A: Yahoo Store vs. OpenACS Ecommerce?

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Posted by Andrew Piskorski on
A friend of mine would like to open a simple and cheap Ecommerce site, to do mail orders for a small bakery. They don't really need anything fancy, some static HTML pages for a few products plus an Ecommerce system with shopping cart, credit card billing, etc. should do the trick.

Anyone have feedback on using Yahoo Store for this? Anyone know if you get an ssh'able account for your $40/month (plus 1.5% cut of your sales)? Comments on any other competing services?

How do these managed services compare in ease of use and power to doing it yourself with the OpenACS Ecommerce package?

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Posted by Matthew Geddert on
Yahoo Store will be WAY easier than doing it yourself with the openacs ecommerce package, plus you would also need to pay for a credit card processing service with openacs ecommmerce which costs a portion of your sales, plus hosting, and all the time and hassel of maintaing it. Last time i checked it out yahoo store did not give you an ssh'able account. If your friend is a baker why would they want to complicated their lives with software development and maintenance? OpenACS Ecommerce is more flexible but most people don't need this flexibility for smaller services.
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Posted by Andrew Piskorski on
Using OpenACS Ecommerce may not be a practical option for that one user, but I'd still like to understand trade-offs in general between using it and hosted apps like Yahoo Store.
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Posted by Matthew Geddert on
Hosted apps like Yahoo Store do not allow complete customization of all pages and interfacing with other business systems. For example, with openacs (and ACS before it) you can interface with computer controlled manufacturing equipment, so no human intervention is needed between order and manufacuturing products (ArsDigita did this with a devision of Levi's). One can integrate ecommerce with classes/events and charge users that attend, once paid one can see XYZ on the website, etc. All without human intervention. But these are large site services and not small ones. For small services ecommerce can definitely be useful as well but you need to decide wheher or not the hassels of having a specific to your needs custom solution outweigh the tradeoffs of a not so custom solution.
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Posted by Luigi Martini on
Have you tried Paypal?
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Posted by Luigi Martini on
Ooops, I was not aware of such things.
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Posted by Andrew Piskorski on
Apparently, Yahoo Store's $40/month and 1.5% cut of every sale does not include credit card processing! They bury the info, but apparently in order to accept credit cards with yahoo store, you must have a merchant account with a separate provider or institution (not Yahoo). And the one they integrate with Yahoo Store, Paymentech, costs $23/month and 2.69% + $0.20 per transaction! Thus this all seems substantially more expensive then they initially lead you to believe.

Seems you can find of lots Appache + PHP + MySQL on Linux providers offering "Ecommerce enabled" hosting for $10 or $15 per month. Annoyingly, even the hosting providers that actually provide useful credit card merchant account info all seem to still purposely obscure the fact that you also have to pay someone else for credit card processing.

I suspect Yahoo Store is more of a managed application, but, given their substantially higher costs over the run of the mill PHP hosting shops, just what do you get for your money?

You folks who have done Ecommerce sites in the past, I realize most such readers here were probably doing much more sophisticated custom sites with OpenACS. But what would you recommend for the smallest, simplest, and cheapest of Ecommerce sites?

Perhaps atypically, this small ecommerce site is going to be run by people who are more or less utterly computer ignorant, but who do have a few computer-savy friends and family members whom they could occasionally call in to answer questions, give advice, or fix disasters.

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Posted by Don Baccus on
Why would you expect to be able to do credit card settlement without having your own merchant account? I wouldn't expect a small ISP offering LAMP e-commerce, in particular, to offer a paypal-like service. And paypal removes much of the consumer protection benefits of traditional credit-card payments, so a "good" merchant probably wants to be do "real" credit-card settlement anyway.

And most real merchants with real stores already have a merchant account anyway, doesn't your small bakery-ownding friend accept VISA payments already? If so, the extra cost comes from the transaction fee associated with the online payment gateway (remember, no mom-and-pop ISP is going to be allowed on the internal bank network used by VISA etc).

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Posted by Andrew Piskorski on
Yahoo portrays themselves as one stop shopping for small business owners, yet they obscure the fact that your actual costs with them are going to be about twice what they advertise. Obviously, I myself was until recently mostly ignorant of how small-business credit card processing really works, but I have to think that this lack of forthrightness must have confused more than a couple mom and pop operations.

No, this small bakery does not currently accept credit card payments at all, and never has over their many years of operation. That's my understanding anyway.

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Posted by Torben Brosten on
I have found that many (most?) of the shared web hosting services that offer shopping baskets tend to become pretty slow about the time that most consumers are browsing sites and wanting to make purchases.

We have created solutions (for artists and other small-time operators) by cutting to the basics. Use the advantages of shared-hosting while limiting their drawbacks as much as possible. Keep the shopping-basket static, except for maybe some javascript UI friendliness.

Create a page that summarizes all the items for sale, allows buyers to choose/fill quantity, automatically provides totals, and collects credit card and other data. On submit, an email is sent to the proprietor to get an order from the admin page.

The proprietor logins to an "admin" page consisting of 2 frames, 1 with instructions (how to print other frame) and a button to delete the orders. The other frame displays the order data, where each order's info is appended to the file.

Essentially, the web orders are treated like any other fax order.

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Posted by Torben Brosten on
Another choice is to create a dedicated OpenACS ecommerce "mall" of multiple vendors and share the expenses.

This gives extra significance to a Farside cartoon by Gary Larson that shows a billboard advertising croissants and fill dirt from the same place. =)

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Posted by Scott Smigler on
Yahoo! Stores actually can be customized... completely. Like any platform that requires some programming. There are a number of developers who specialize in customizing these stores.

For small businesses that don't require customizations, they will find nice templates, and they will probably appreciate the fact that they don't have to worry about much else than populating their store with content. No hosting nightmares, etc.

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Posted by Torben Brosten on
Scott, you're right 2%.

To start with, Wikipedia has a nice list of potential problems: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_commerce#Problems

Considering the topic, I would add these following problems (which have have been experienced by *some* Yahoo customers as well as others):

1. problems with advertising metrics "click fraud" (and billing accordingly),

2. billing nightmares (repeated attempts to cancel service --took a year),

3. problems with domain handling

4. search engine indexing issues