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Steve 16-11-2005 16:28

Selling through your website - advice needed
 
I am in the middle of designing a website for my photography and have hit a slight stumbling block with the shop part. I need to offer some way of selling my prints and other stuff in various sizes and formats through the site but don’t know what route to take.

Does anyone here offer any products through a website and if so how do you do it, how do you collect the money, how is the shop integrated into your site and if photography based what do you do about getting the prints sorted and dispatched to the customers.

Absolutely any help, advice or examples would be great.

fingerz 16-11-2005 16:35

Shopping baskets are one of the most complicated bits of any website. They're also the bit that could land you in the most trouble (legally) if they screw up or get hacked. Bear in mind that you are largely responsible for the security of any payments made through your website.

If you have a PayPal premier account (free) then you can use a PayPal shopping basket. No idea how good it is but it's an option.

There are lots of pre-written scripts for it on www.hotscripts.com but using a pre-written script or third party solution will always compromise the seamlessness of your website, usually manifested by a lack of continuity in the 'look and feel' of the site.

If you're only planning to sell small amounts I'd make it as easy as possible for people to buy your stuff without actually having a proper shopping basket. Have details for them to email/call you or something.

Matt 16-11-2005 17:09

Photobox have some code that can be added into each page of the site.
It allows customers to buy prints directly from the site, without you getting involved in the transaction.
This will give you much more time to get the shots to fill up the site.

I think you have to pay for the code initially though.
Last time I looked it was £250.

JWP 16-11-2005 21:50

.. Hi I am doing the same thing as you, but I have set up a Worldpay account. I will be able to accept all major credit cards and debt cards. The main advantage over Paypal is the customer does not have to register. They can shop and buy.

. When the customer has chosen their photos they go to the checkout and pay.

Once I get notification that they have paid I will send the order to my on line printing company and within 48 hours I get the photos back check them and send them on to customer.

My site will also allow me to create gallaries for other photographer to display and sell their photos on line. Via my worldpay account. There is also a secure area on the site which can only be accessed via user id and password. I plan to use this for events, portraits and wedding etc, so customer can see their photos on line anywhere in the world.

This site is not live yet, but will be by the end of November. I am just selecting which on line printing company I plan to use. Also I have to look at a number of legal things.

milou 16-11-2005 22:26

Quote:

Originally Posted by fingerz
If you're only planning to sell small amounts I'd make it as easy as possible for people to buy your stuff without actually having a proper shopping basket. Have details for them to email/call you or something.

I was reading that this is what http://www.charliewaite.com/ does. He calls the prospective client to get to know them and their requirements [and everyone who has ever bought a print gets invited to his latest show etc. Must admit I'm tempted by http://www.charliewaite.com/gallery/view.asp?id=17 as the clouds match the bales)

fingerz 16-11-2005 22:33

Quote:

Originally Posted by milou

God that's good. And even the clouds in the far distance too.

Gandhi 17-11-2005 00:27

I'm about to embark down the same route. However, I've just submitted my test Images to a stock agency, and once they're on the site, I'll just link to that as a) it'll be easier and b) it'll make more cash. Hopefully. But probably not.

Integrating web-sales is all very well and good, but you then have to start worrying about security etc. All far too complex for my liking. I would suggest you look at some stock photo agencies and market your work through them, It's certainly saleable enough and most of them don't filter images on their artistic content, just the technical clarity. e.g. a set file size, resolution, grain/noise, dust/hairs on scans, focus etc.

Gandhi 17-11-2005 00:28

P.s. sorry, just re-read my post and it sounded a little like I was saying the artistic content of your images wasn't up to scratch. Far from the truth and quite the opposite actually ;)

Steve 17-11-2005 06:46

Thanks for the suggestions gents :thumb:

I will be doing the stock agency submissions as a matter of course to tap into that market but as I have outlets via some shops in Munich and plan to do some of the fairs and markets over Christmas I want to be able to point the potential and repeat customers to my website and hopefully "catch" them while they are there, hence me wanting the inclusion of a shopping cart.

I do like the idea of having contact with people so that I can then keep them informed about where I might be offering my work for sale in the future, be it a market or (being optimistic) a show. The drawback with that is unless they hit the buy now button and pay, they can always sleep on the decision and that could possibly lose me impulse buys.

Getting all this sorted has now become a priority and is not easy; all I wanted was to be a photographer ;)

Steve 17-11-2005 06:46

Quote:

Originally Posted by gandhi
P.s. sorry, just re-read my post and it sounded a little like I was saying the artistic content of your images wasn't up to scratch. Far from the truth and quite the opposite actually ;)

Don't worry about that, I didn't read it that way :)

SammyC 17-11-2005 09:40

Quote:

Originally Posted by fingerz
God that's good. And even the clouds in the far distance too.

Cripes! That almost looks photoshopped! That's what you call skill or luck! lol

Matty 17-11-2005 10:05

there are plenty of php CMS type things too, OScommerce is one, you can link them with gallery and the like i think, though i havent looked at it in great depth, i looked at ocsommerce for work, at the moment its shelved though as its to blimming complicated for me!

Steep 17-11-2005 19:14

Listen to JWP, I've bought 'stuff' and paid through them, they take all credit cards and other means, process the payment for you for a small fee (less than you'd pay the cc companies 'if' you could get an account with them).

Steve 17-11-2005 19:54

I have just checked the Worldpay site and it seems like they could fleece me with all the charges they list..

Quote:

Pricing is based on your merchant profile, and may vary depending on the risk sector you operate in and your trading history and background. As an indication, charges are likely to include:

* Set-up fee. A one-off charge collected at the time of application.
* Initial fee. A one-off charge (6 x Monthly Fee) for the initial 6 month term, collected at the time of application
* Monthly Fee. Payable each month (after the initial 6 month term).
* Annual charge. A recurring, annual charge. (EMEA and AsiaPac regions only)
* Transaction Service Charge (TSC). Charges for processing UK debit card transactions are made on a “pence per transaction” basis. All other card transactions are charged at an agreed percentage for each online transaction amount.

In addition to these charges, you will pay for other service charges on your account, such as settlement of transaction funds to your bank account, payment in additional currencies and chargebacks.

Prices for our additional, supplementary products, Internet Terminal, Repeat Billing, Fraud Detection and Fraud Protection are charged at a separate additional charge to your basic account and service charges.
So a general question to JWP if you don't mind me asking, how much did they charge you to set up your worldpay account?

Sonsey 17-11-2005 20:33

Not posting any advice, just commenting on WorldPay.

I've come across quite a few decent reatailers that use them, BlankDiscShop and Cd-Wow to name just two. I've used them quite a few times to make purchaces, they're easy to use and I've never had a problem going through them... If it works out as good value to you Steve then they could be a good option.

And no, I don't work for them :D

Matty 17-11-2005 20:36

the banks charge a fortune for taking CC too, any potential price savings are wiped out by the bank charges.

CT 17-11-2005 21:43

I've dealt with some customers via mail for my photo restoration stuff, and I've always been paid by personal cheque and waited till it cleared.

On a practical note Steve, you'll find packaging prints safely for posting can be a big PIA, especially larger prints which are prone to getting bent and creased. For larger prints I used to use those cardboard picture tube thingy's, available from Staples etc.

SammyC 18-11-2005 07:44

Yep, and prints larger than 10" have always arrived in a tube.

PS. I personally feel a bit happier when a site states that it uses world pay. Seems a bit safer than cheques and PayPall to me.
:)

Steve 18-11-2005 08:37

Thanks for all the advice gents.

After much searching and fumbling around I think I am going to display a page showing my prices for work and offer to accept either a personal payment (cheque or direct bank transfer) and also offer Paypal for those wishing to pay by credit or debit card. I am hoping that the majority of people will chose to make a personal payment and for the few that choose to pay by CC I will just bear the fanatical hit myself.

Obviously I will continually re-assess the situation and may have to change my stance at some point in the future.

With regard to sending out prints safely, I will be getting the prints done professionally and posted to myself. Once they arrive here I will open, inspect and repack (mostly in the same packing) before posting them on to the customer. That way I can ensure the quality of the prints are up to the standard I expect and that the customer will be happy when they receive their goods.

SammyC 18-11-2005 09:06

Sounds like a sensible start there mate.

Skintt 18-11-2005 09:09

Quote:

Originally Posted by SammyC
Cripes! That almost looks photoshopped! That's what you call skill or luck! lol

Known in the industry as 'skiluck'

Has anyone had any experience selling prints through ebay? I see a lot of them for sale ranging from pretty cheap to outragously expensive! I guess the only advantage to selling on ebay is the huge customer base.

JWP 18-11-2005 10:43

Hi Steve,

I paid £180 set up and £30per month. You have to pay 6 months upfront. It might look expensive, but I have been testing it and some have my friends and it works very well.
It is easy to manage and track transactions

Steve 18-11-2005 12:22

Quote:

Originally Posted by JWP
Hi Steve,

I paid £180 set up and £30per month. You have to pay 6 months upfront. It might look expensive, but I have been testing it and some have my friends and it works very well.
It is easy to manage and track transactions

Thanks for the reply, it is much appreciated :thumb:

As I suspected that is just not viable for me especially as a new buisness with no predicted income. I think I would have to be certain that I am loosing a great deal of credit card custom to justify that sort of outgoings just to take payments.

Dave 18-11-2005 20:48

In real terms that is cheap to have the facility of accpeting credit cards. In addition you need to look from the customers perspective :-

a) People still have big concerns paying for items ordered over the net. If you can pay by credit card the buyer is protected.
b) A site that doesn't accept credit cards comes across as amutuer setup
c) Any form of art is usually bought on how someone feels about the item at that point in time.....if the moment is delayed , the sale may well fall through
d) People expect quick turnaround on goods bought. If they can't pay immediately to ensure quick P&P they may go elsewhere.

At the end of the day Steve if you are serious about this & have faith in your photography to succeed, then don't cut corners. £30 a month will seem like nothing when you look into advertising etc......so go for it is my advice :thumb: "Straight talk over now" ;) Best of luck matey

Dave 18-11-2005 21:09

On a side note, are there no packages / services out there for people to use for selling Photography ? . Having not looked in any great detail I assume the lack of bespoke customisation puts people off ? Any people have more experience on this ?

Mark Grant 25-11-2005 11:32

Quote:

Originally Posted by JWP
.. The main advantage over Paypal is the customer does not have to register. They can shop and buy.

. .

Paypal must have just changed, as when I log in to Paypal I get this :

Easy Checkout: Buyers Don’t Need A PayPal Account
PayPal has made your customers’ shopping experience even easier than before.

With a recent improvement to Website Payments, PayPal no longer requires new buyers to create a PayPal account when they send you payments.

Buyers who visit your website can pay for an item without signing up to PayPal. Once the payment is complete, they can decide whether to save their information and sign up to PayPal for future purchases. That makes the process smoother, resulting in more completed sales and more satisfied customers.



That makes paypal the best option for low volume sales I guess, as no set up costs or fixed monthly costs.

( I use a merchant account at my bank and Protx.com as PSP for my cable website,
not cheap but works well and with a real banks merchant account you are considered to be a 'proper' company :) etc)


Hope that helps !


Mark.

Marcel 25-11-2005 11:37

Paypal have had that option since sometime last year IIRC.

Mark Grant 25-11-2005 11:55

Thats good then :)

Last time I checked on this it was not for UK accounts, or there was limitation about accepting different currencies than your bank account currency or whatever.

Not much point in a small trader using worldpay then!

Worldpay wanted me to pay money up front, then keep me waiting 60 days for the money collected from customers to be paid into my bank....

With a real Merchant account I get the money the next day.


Mark.

Matty 25-11-2005 18:47

that is very good, i will look at that for work!


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