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Ecommerce Websites

Sep 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Don Kreski

Is adding a shopping cart right for you?

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Though Graham and others at the firm spend much of their day creating drawings and equipment lists, they do the designs at no charge, taking their profits from the equipment sales.

"The key here is to be at a point with our manufacturers where we're buying at their best rate," Graham says. "There is a threshold where someone will spend a little more if he's confident he will get help with a problem, but it's not a lot more. We also hand-pick the products we sell. We need to keep our five-star rating on Yahoo Shopping, and we can do that only by selling products that we know will work."

Graham draws on a background as a security system designer and integrator, but the online effort, now 10 years old, has been so successful he no longer does installations.

Building an Ecommerce Website

Tron Fu, founder and owner of web developer Riverwatcher Studios, says that building an ecommerce website is far less difficult and expensive than it once was.

"In the old days, people were charging hundreds of thousands of dollars for an ecommerce shopping system, but now I'd be surprised to see anything more than $15,000," Fu says. The price of buying and adapting an off-the-shelf product, he says, may be as low as $2,000 to $5,000.

On the other hand, if you're considering a shopping cart, he suggests you ask yourself what your specific market space is like. What are your customers' expectations? Do you have a competitor who offers a really smooth shopping experience that you must somehow distinguish yourself from?

That is to say, if you can offer a product or service that's unique, you may be able to get away with a fairly standard website and shopping cart. If not, then you need something more.

And that's really what each of these Internet sellers is doing. Projector People is large enough to compete on several attributes—personal service, price, convenience, information, and availability—and it has invested in a website that's strong on many levels. The others, with less overall market power, choose to focus on specific strengths.

It's a traditional marketing equation. What is it that your company is best at, and how can you translate that knowledge and ability to an ecommerce strategy?

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