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Discussion Starter #1
Apologies in advance for the length of this message - I'm trying to be specific, so it's quite verbose.

I'm currently in the planning stages of opening an online shop. The thing I am having the most trouble with is finding a good payment solution - cart software or a merchant account or etc. I'm in Australia, which makes things a little more expensive and difficult for me (admittedly it doesn't make much difference). I'd prefer to take payments in AUD, but will use USD if need be.

So far I've considered PayPal's cart system, CCnow (and other similar services), or a proper cart and merchant account setup.

I plan on having an incredibly slow ramp up. I want to get the site up as soon as possible, and work on getting it right. Basically I want to treat it like you would a savings jar - make some stock here, do some design there - and eventually I'll have something worth launching properly. I'd expect only a slow trickle of sales (at best), so I'm trying to avoid per month charges. I already have a full domain hosted anyway, so that is effectively not costing me anything extra.

I'm not interested in fulfilment services, as everything I sell I will be either making or commissioning locally myself. I need an actual commerce website.

Ideally what I want is:

1) No monthly charges
2) Low or no once off setup cost
3) Transaction fees on the order of about 0.50c + 5-6% per transaction
4) More or less complete integration into the website

Is that at all realistic?

Merchant accounts only really seem suited to much higher volume sellers. Setup costs are quite high, as are ongoing monthly charges. Protx, for example, seem pretty good - but at 20 pounds a month they're best suited to larger entities than myself.

CCnow seems to have a fairly good service, but it's more than I'd like to spend - for international customers it's $12/month and 11% per transaction. I also don't like how their cart system is completely separate to the originating website.

PayPal's (apparently new) "Website Payments Pro" is only available in the US, plus it has a $20/month fee.

The only option that I'm aware of that's left is PayPal's regular cart that we're familiar with.

I already have a premium account with them, so I'm not disadvantaging myself by upgrading (I've already done that :)). They don't have monthly fees, etc. and their transaction fees are below what I'm willing to pay. They accept payment in AUD, and I can transfer funds from PayPal to my bank account. All good so far. The reason I'm not seeing it as a complete solution as such (yet) is that their cart system is, as far as I'm aware, incredibly poor.

You can't specify more than one postage cost (e.g. Australia + Europe + US, etc.), it's quite ugly... in general it doesn't have many features (but it's free, so I guess that's more than fair).

So...

What I want/am hoping is possible/think is realistic is this:

I want to setup shopping cart software on my website. I don't want to have to make my website SSL compatible, because I don't want to pay for a fixed ip, etc. (that could be a problem?). (obviously the actual payment procedure would be encrypted - that's further down the line). I want to have cart software in which I can specify different scales of postage. Discount coupons would be a big plus. I'd want to be able to handle sizes on the order page, not make customers select the size in the cart. I want to be able to specify my stock levels, and have the cart display things as sold out without me having to intervene manually. That may sound like a lot, but it's all pretty standard stuff.

I want the cart to be able to handle the entire ordering process in other words. Then I want the cart to pass the payment amount through to PayPal, I want PayPal to take payment in whatever forms they accept including credit cards from non-Paypal-members (I believe it can do that?), put the money in my account, and either the cart software or PayPal to send me the appropriate information so I can fulfil the order (preferably PayPal so I don't get spoof orders).

Is this possible?

I've heard good things about Zen Cart, will it integrate like that? My host (Dreamhost) offers Miva Merchant licences if I upgrade my account (something I'd consider doing for that and other reasons) - would that be a good option?

If this isn't possible (or even if it is), does anyone have any other recommendations?

As for my level of expertise (which is going to affect which options I can go with)... I don't know how to program, and I have very little experience with web development. Any scripts that require advanced configuring are likely to be a problem. That said I am comfortable at least trying to install server side scripts, and with a good set of instructions with the product I can give it a red hot go. I understand the basics of using a CLI/FTP etc., so I'm not completely lost at sea. I also have a few friends who know more than me, so I'd consider more complicated solutions if they were going to be better in the long run.

To summarise, what I'm after is: good shopping cart software, which can handle the order, sending only the total to PayPal to handle the payment, relatively seamlessly.

If I'm being unrealistic in my expectations I'm happy to reconsider/reassess. My most important preference is no ongoing per diem fees, so ideally I'd consider less features, higher transaction fees, and a higher setup cost before that.

If anyone has any advice or recommendations that would be greatly appreciated, thanks.
 

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How well something is integrated depends on your web development skills.

For payment processors that fit your criteria, you might as well do Paypal or http://www.2checkout.com. ($0.45 per Sale + 5.5% sale amount, also 49 one time sign up fee).

For shopping cart there's also http://www.oscommerce.com which is free. Oscommerce has several gateways for popular merchant accounts and what not so if you use paypal or 2co then it's easily integrated. The oscommerce site has alot of community contributions and what not to help you customize your site.

There's good and bad to each product. I've only used oscommerce however and it was fine.
 

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Solmu said:
1) No monthly charges
2) Low or no once off setup cost
3) Transaction fees on the order of about 0.50c + 5-6% per transaction
4) More or less complete integration into the website

Is that at all realistic?
I think Paypal costs a _little_ more per transaction (if those cents are US cents), but not much.

Solmu said:
I already have a premium account with them, so I'm not disadvantaging myself by upgrading (I've already done that :)).

...Then I want the cart to pass the payment amount through to PayPal, I want PayPal to take payment in whatever forms they accept including credit cards from non-Paypal-members (I believe it can do that?)
Yes, it can, as part of the merchant account set-up which you say you've already upgraded to. Purchasers have the option to not sign up for a Paypal account.

Solmu said:
I want to have cart software in which I can specify different scales of postage. Discount coupons would be a big plus. I'd want to be able to handle sizes on the order page, not make customers select the size in the cart. I want to be able to specify my stock levels, and have the cart display things as sold out without me having to intervene manually. That may sound like a lot, but it's all pretty standard stuff.

...and either the cart software or PayPal to send me the appropriate information so I can fulfil the order (preferably PayPal so I don't get spoof orders).

I've heard good things about Zen Cart, will it integrate like that?
Bingo. Zencart (free, open source shopping cart software from Zen Cart) is what I'm using and it can do everything you've listed here. You can check the order information in the Zencart backend to see exactly what people orders and such.

Solmu said:
My host (Dreamhost) offers Miva Merchant licences if I upgrade my account (something I'd consider doing for that and other reasons) - would that be a good option?
No idea on this one.

Solmu said:
If this isn't possible (or even if it is), does anyone have any other recommendations?
Some people are using the OSCommerce cart software. I didn't like the fact that it isn't really updated any more, so I looked elsewhere.

Solmu said:
As for my level of expertise (which is going to affect which options I can go with)... I don't know how to program, and I have very little experience with web development. Any scripts that require advanced configuring are likely to be a problem. That said I am comfortable at least trying to install server side scripts, and with a good set of instructions with the product I can give it a red hot go.
Now here is where you'll hit problems. If you want to customize the look and feel of your website with zencart, you'll really want to be able to work with php. Personally, I didn't find it all too hard (I've never worked with php before using zencart, and to be fair a friend of mine did more of that portion than I did), but I have more of a programming background so it probably comes easier. It IS, however, usually a lot easier to edit something already in place rather than make it from scratch, at any rate, so you can work off the base code until you get what you want. The zencart forums are very active and should be able to answer a lot of your questions (but search the archives first, most of your questions have probably been asked before), and there are any number of sites you could find to give you some better information on using php.

So, if you're willing to work and learn quite a bit, zencart should do the trick for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the responses.

I was going to go with ZenCart as a first option, then try osCommerce if I ran into any problems.

I downloaded ZenCart and went to setup an SQL database to run ZenCart on, only to find that osCommerce is in the "one click install" area of my host's website... making it very very easy to setup.

So I ended up going with osCommerce. It installs without a problem, though I'm having a few problems trying to get 3rd party add-ons to run. I've got a couple of friends who can probably help out though, so I'll probably be able to get that done in return for the buying of alcohol ;)
 

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I use 2checkout.com.

$49 one time signup fee
$0.45 per Sale
5.5% of Sale Amount
30 Day money back guarantee
No application fees
No monthly fees
No statement fees
No leases
No SSL certificate to buy
No fees for ACH deposits to U.S. or participating Canadian bank accounts
Check Payment or Low Cost Wire to Non U.S. Bank Accounts
FREE shopping cart
FREE code for your web site
FREE on-line tech support
 
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