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Choosing the right platform!


Guest ufoldager
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Guest ufoldager

Hello everyone!

My boss and I have been toying with the idea of creating an online store to sell our products. This has lead me (who's responsible and in charge of the development of the store) to do a little research on different kinds of eCommerce platforms. And since it's a jungle out there, I am starting from scratch by visiting the community forums to ask for advice and hopefully have some of my questions answered. I have spent quite some time investigating into this topic, but it certainly wont help to talk with others out there who have been starting in my position.

Our store and product ideas are faily simple. I work as a graphics artist for my boss (it's only him and me in our little company), and almost all of my work are graphical illustrations (known as "Infographics" in a more professional term). Our infographics include everything from business diagrams, charts, frameworks, methodologies, etc. We also write leading-edge articles, powerpoint presentations and other kinds of research and scientifically oriented materials.

We use our different kinds of material to instruct and educate our clients in different aspects of business development. This is generally done through physical meetings (ie. powerpoint presentations for company executives, etc.) or through live websessions.

Now, obviously, we have managed to create quite alot of material over the last couple of years, and instead of just letting it all gather dust, we thought it would be worth a good shot to try and sell our work online through a webshop. We have different ideas as to what to sell and how to sell it. But obviously, it's quite a challenge to find an eCommerce platform that would fit our specific needs.

Almost all of our products would be purchased and downloaded through the webshop. In short, our range of products would be something like:

- Infographics as PDF files for download upon purchase

- Posters as physical and/or PDF files for download upon purchase

- Powerpoint presentations on particular topics available for download on purchase

- Video's for download/online view available on purchase (we are discussing whether to begin creating educational video's much like www.lynda.com does it)

- Video's that can be viewed through an active subscription

- Articles as PDF files for download upon purchase

- Seminars, courses and events (our packages usually include 3 x 5 days workshops) should also be possible to sell. These events will be held at the client's location, so we don't need an event managing system, per say.

- Other items available for download upon purchase

- Etc.

It is very important to note that while most of our Infographics are general-purpose items that will fit most corporations, most of our material are always being tailored to the specific needs of our individual clients. This means that our customers should have some sort of way (a special feature maybe) to request a customized product for their specific company. Usually, this requires a meeting of some sort (websession meeting or physical meeting) to dicuss the client needs and wishes. In fact, maybe you could just place a "Request customized model"-button on each product page?

We're not sure if we would need a seperate type of system somehow if we were to include a subscription fee in order to view our video's online. We would sell our video's, but are not sure if it's a bad idea because people could copy and distribute the video's to other people.

To begin with, we would only sell a few of our posters in physical form, and I can handle that manually in the beginning (we don't expect to sell several posters each day in our start-up phase). This means that we don't need shipping courier in the beginning, although we obviously need a way to calculate shipping prices and various country taxes into our product pricing.

We have a website at www.valueteam.biz. We are going to update this website soon and build our new website on the WordPress platform. This means that our new webshop will be available through www.valueteam.biz/shop, but I don't suspect there should be any problems between our upcoming webshop and WordPress.

Phew! I think that was it for the time being. I'm sure I will come back here with more questions and whatnot, but for now, this massive wall-of-text will have to suffice, lol.

Thank you for your time. Any help will be much appreciated!

Yours sincerely,

U.F.

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Hi UF,

I think most cart systems will be ok with the physical and digital (PDF/Artwork) purchases.

If you are thinking of offering an option of Physical poster, or PDF then this will need to be 2 different products.

Obviously, there is not a problem linking between the 2, from the product description.

The problem comes with the video and subscription aspects, and I feel this will need custom development work.

The courses can also be classed as digital products, but may need some custom development work (but less than the video and subscription)

For CubeCart, there are a few options for shipping, and good 3rd party modules if you need more flexibility.

I'd suggest looking at cubecartforums.org as there is a good community of 3rd party "add-ons", and also experienced developers who can either point you at existing modules, or give you a budgetary quote.

I hope this helps,

Jason

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Guest ufoldager

Excellent answer, Jason. Thank you very much!

I am fairly certain, though, that we will go with a way of directly selling the digital downloads/versions of our videos. At least to begin with.

The whole idea with the subscription business model would be based on providing another backend system that will function as a video conference/player area. And that requires another system. And a quite powerful system, at that. At the very least, quite a lot of work. I have toyed with the idea of learning Adobe Flash and just spend some quality time and build a web-based video player platform, but that too is extremely time-consuming. We are not in a rush, mind you, but I think it's better not to make things too complicated in the beginning.

And yes, creating two different product versions of the same product (digital and physical) seems like a fairly good idea, actually. I don't think it would be a nuisance from a customer POV to have product items categorized into different versions of the same items.

The courses are much the same as the digital products, except that we (for example) need to add a way for the customer to add/edit X amount of attendees to the course. The courses we will display for sale will be priced towards 1 person (maybe we can decide a price for groups of people), and that person will usually be an executive. Our courses usually consists of groups of executives, so we need to find a way to do this properly.

Thanks for the link, mate!

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