I have a client that uses my webhosting services and they approached me the other day with a unique issue. They run their own small craft business and have just started to go online. Currently they are selling alot of items on eBay but want to migrate to their own website.
The husband has detailed that he wants the ability to have customers purchase items from their webpage, he wants to have me or his wife or someone make updates that appear immediately on the frontpage (like adveritsing a special or something). My feeling is to follow the K.I.S.S. princple with this meaning no FTPing (that would be horrendious on me) and just give the husband and his wife a simple http://www..../admin.php type of login area.
That way they can log in, use a straight web console area and manage their inventory, shopping cart, frontpage area, etc. Personally I do *NOT* have the time to code this, plus they do not have the finances to go out and drop $1000+ on fancy management software.
So that brings me to you guys... does anyone know of something that would fit this bill? They aren't the most computer literate people int he world, but they can use Quickbooks and basic softwar elike that.
My initial response is that this husband/wife team could certainly run an open source ecommerce solution, like osCommerce or Zencart (both php carts). Anyone could probably do this sort of simple solution with tens or hundreds of parts and a small volume of orders. There's a learning curve for the unprepared, but it's doable.
Typically, however, what people spend money on isn't the technology, but rather the benefit of someone's experience in leveraging the available technologies to meet a given business need. If the need is an end to end ecommerce solution, you're not just talking about content management and a shopping cart. You're also talking about pricing models, data imports/exports, currency exchange rates, tax issues, order management, shipping, returns ... the whole shebang. If they're already running a business, they'll aready have dealt with these issues - though maybe not in an automated, web-based application. Work with them to identify as clearly as they can (mainly for their own benefit) exactly what portion of their current business needs to be on the web, ands what portions are "back office" activities (read - someone typing). If it's just the cart, cool - go with something open source, and advertise the heck out of it. If it's more - the $1000 they spend today may pay for itself many times over.
Well the good news is that they have been in business for 20+ years either in this craft business or in other business ventures they have accomplished. Currently they meet, work, and deal with everything from having the crafts designed and created, all the way upto dealing with shipping/returns/product orders, etc.
Their goal is to get away from the craft magainzes that have limited viewership as well as migrating away from those pre-printed order forms in those magazines. They would like to simply move the ordering process from paper over to web-based application and then still advertise in those magazines, but say "hey here you can cut your wait time from ordering to receiving."
Right now they really have nothing but a static html site that displays what they have, but has no backend for payment processing, has no backend for inventory management online, etc. They already use Quickbooks for their main office app and financial management, so the only thing they really need is some sort of web-app that will display inventory online. Plus will let them update inventory, change the prices of their inventory, and have it connected with a shopping cart.
In short they want to use their website to allow customers to place orders.