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  1. #1
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    Ecommerce Development Advice

    Lets say you get a job from a large company composed of smaller sister companies. One of their sister companie's websites has a shopping cart ready and everything. They want me to re-design and update a different sister companie's website (that doesnt support ecommerce).

    If you know php but never programmed a shopping cart/checkout system before would you still programme it from scratch.. or use the other sister companie's shopping cart system or free shopping cart scripts available out there?

    Also, how much would you charge them based on your answer from above? (This is a big company by the way)

  • #2
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    Good question, and the answer is "it depends".

    I will say this, after spending the good portion of February working for a client to evaluate and analyze several Open Source and License based php shopping carts, I've come to the conclusion that there are very VERY few carts that will be any client's needs right out of the box.

    Whether your talking about how to handle attributes, specific checkout flow, or some other aspect, each client has different needs and therefor each cart on the market will have different benefits and different drawbacks. So, from my perspective, you have 2 options...

    1) You can use an existing cart application as a "base" and customize it. I'd suggest that you take a week or so to play around with some of the more popular ones to get a feel for what it can and can't do out of the box. Then settle on one and customize it. Keeping in mind that customization can take quite some time. Keep an keen eye on the code when you evaluate. Is it documented? Easy to understand / commented / well written? Those are factors that will effect how easy it is to customize.

    or...

    2) Build a custom solution from scratch. There are lots of proven code snippets out there to handle the actual credit card transactions for you. Almost every merchant processor has sample code to start with. So that's not going to be the big issue. The big issue here is time. It's usually (though not always) going to take longer to build a custom solution. The benefits of this though are that you and the client get EXACTLY the system you want. There's no extra fluff that is part of a bundled product that the client needs to ignore and the UI can better match the clients expectations.

    As far as what to charge, I think there are two approaches to look at. You could approach this from an "all I want is to be fairly compensated" approach and ask for an hourly rate. If you've got 3-5+ years of solid PHP experience in similar projects (CRM, e-Commerce, CMS, etc) then it's not unheard of to ask for $50 - $100+ / hour for this type of work. The later approach is to look at this from a value-added aspect. Do some financial analysis on the client, determine potential revenue from the site, and complete a full ROI (Return on Investment) report. Then charge such that the ROI is acheived within 3 months or some other reasonable time period. This can potentially make the cost of your project very high, and very lucrative. It is not immoral to take this approach either. Obviously, if you can legitimately say that the client will generate a revenue stream of $25k profit / month with the site - asking for $50k for the project isn't out of the question.

    Hope this helps.

  • #3
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    Thanks for your informative response. My php experience with ecommerce is kinda low so I dont think I could charge that much but I do have alot of experience in web design/css. And their site is still using table-based layouts, inline HTML presentation tagging (such as <font>), frames etc. So that side of their site is terrifying. It will need a complete overhaul.

    What are your experiences with the free shopping cart scripts vs the paid for ones? Is there a noticeable difference that is enough of an incentive to purchase the licensed ones?

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    Quote Originally Posted by vanraizen View Post
    What are your experiences with the free shopping cart scripts vs the paid for ones? Is there a noticeable difference that is enough of an incentive to purchase the licensed ones?
    That is completly dependant on the client requirements. Some clients can get away with a standard osCommerce install and live happily ever after. Others may have complex checkout processes, upsells / cross-sells they want, funky attribute management and more that may already be built in a licensed shopping cart. So, there's really no magic bullet solution to this project.

    My recommendation is to install 2 or 3 free carts, then play with the online demos on some of the licensed products and evaluate what hits the mark better for your particular situation.


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