Case Study: Learning eCommerce the Hard Way

You’ve seen them – companies that do all of their business online. It looks easy, right? Getting from idea to execution doesn’t exactly happen overnight. Here’s how one company went from an idea to a functioning eCommerce website.

Trade Your Blades began as a service in need of scheduling software that had the ability to process orders online. The mission of the Lake Park, Florida-based company was to swap out dull pet grooming clipper blades for sharp ones – a simple concept.

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The requirements were simple too: Build a website that would allow for online orders; shoppers would agree to recurring credit card charges, implement a few auto-responders for order confirmations, and finally share sales transactions with QuickBooks. Here’s the story of how this all came together.

Creating the website: There were two unsuccessful attempts to work with custom designers. We visited advisor forums and software evaluation sites and, two weeks later, we found one that seemed to be the perfect fit. Installation had begun. We eventually implemented WIX (a build-it-yourself) solution.

Adding Merchant Services: We spent two weeks shopping for a merchant services provider. Believe it or not, Intuit had the best rates, along with the open API that we needed for our Opencart and for QuickBooks.

Back to Square One: The next step was to trash what we thought had been the perfect solution and start over with a desire to have a custom built solution. We paused the project to find a technical guru using Upwork.com in the Ukraine with the goal of having a custom-built Opencart shopping cart. We had chats, filtered through resumes, and finally found an expert with all the desirable skills. Hired him, and the project was resumed.

Testing and tweaking: The custom site was implemented, tested, retested, and tested some more. The design was tweaked until we got the right look and feel, the shopper experience was tweaked until we reached the level of simplicity we were looking for, and we integrated Intuit Merchant Services, PayPal, and QuickBooks.

Adding features: We started our hunt for the ability to incorporate and print RETURN shipping labels with every order. After investigating several shipping label apps, we learned that most do not offer the option to print RETURN labels that are only charged if used. We finally found Endicia, and luckily, our Ukraine guru was familiar with that app.

The Customer Experience: We still need email responders, a customer portal, and customer relationship management features. We investigated several apps, tried to find one within our $10,000 budget (got laughed at a lot), made more phone calls, called every friend I had and made some new ones, but we were stuck. We took a break for a few days, and then, reenergized, started looking again.

The bottom line (at this point)? This is and conceivably always will be a work in progress. The cycle continues, the learning continues, I’m building my network, and I’m learning I need a bigger toolbox. But I’m not drowning as much, and my client loves my willingness to persevere.

 


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