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Jun 13, 2006: Advice on web storefronts?

I'd really appreciate any input on web storefronts.

Rosenfeld Media needs to be able to fulfill advance orders by this fall. We'll ultimately be selling books in both print and as PDF files.

Naturally, we have a limited budget, and little idea as to what it would cost to design and build a storefront from scratch. Existing commerce services like eSellerate and Yahoo Stores grab about 10%-15% per transaction, which seems high, at least for the long run.

Here are a few back-of-the-envelope requirements:

  • Apply Rosenfeld Media's branding to the storefront (and ideally originate from the rosenfeldmedia.com domain)
  • Accept and, to some degree, manage discounts; discount codes would need to set to expire by a certain date or after a certain number of uses
  • Securely accept payment via Visa, MasterCard, and American Express and integrate easily with a merchant account provider (e.g., Authorize.net)
  • Generate output that can be used to submit orders to a fulfillment center for print books, and generate and send customized PDF books
  • Provide basic reports
  • Provide support by phone

Assuming there's no obvious solution, I'd love any pointers to good reviews of existing services, the name of a consultant who helped you do something similar. Where would you start?

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Comment: Lou (Jun 13, 2006)

Bill Bullman pointed me to a few possibilities:

* Shopify.com - (rails-based storefront, that is relatively inexpensive and extremely customizable.)
* OS Commerce - (open source and very customizable as well)
* Monster Commerce -(Inexpensive and also good customer service.)

Anyone experienced with any of these?

Comment: Andy B (Jun 14, 2006)

I second Shopify, a very slick service! And will get you bonus pts with the cool kids (as it's a rails app). :-)

Comment: Lou (Jun 14, 2006)

Shopify sounds exciting, but it just launched about ten minutes ago or something. And from what I can tell, no support for discount codes. At least not yet. Any way to find out if they're planning on doing this soon?

Comment: Rob Brooks (Jun 15, 2006)

Zen Cart is a branch of OS Commerce with a bit more standards support (not much though).

I've used it for one project and you get what you pay for - usability is not the primary focus of its development. It does work though, and is reasonably cost-effective for simple storefronts.

I've had real trouble finding an open source system that produces anything near good quality html, almost all are still stuck with tables for everything.

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