E-Commerce Experiment: I Now Have a Complete System

After a lot of work, I now have a complete end-to-end ecommerce system. Is it perfect? No, far from it. Each stage of the system can be improved quite a bit, but if I wait until everything is perfect, I’ll never get started. Firstly, no system is ever perfect. This is even more true on the internet where things change hour-by-hour, quite literally, as I will explain in a moment.

Let’s review what I consider to be a complete end-to-end system at present, noting that complete means the bare minimum to conduct business on the internet, not comprehensive with every imaginable feature one could throw at an on-line business .

Firstly, I have a product, in this case an ebook. Delivery involves a download .

Secondly, I have a website to sell it from. I’m still not revealing the website or the product, simply because I want to conduct and experiment that excludes search engine optimization .

Thirdly, I have a way of taking payments. To keep things easy in the beginning, I am using PayPal , and PayPal only. It accepts credit cards without the need to register.

Finally, I have a marketing method. To begin with, I am using Google AdWords exclusively.

Producing the product was a lot of work, but it was straightforward. I am using someone else’s content (legitimately and legally I might add), but I did have to put a great deal of effort in to turning it into an attractive pdf that is worth buying. This took a lot of work the first time, but it will be much less work the second time. Still, it is time consuming and takes certain skills and talents.

Developing the platform also took a fair bit of work, even though I used freely available software. I used a WordPress plugin, but it didn’t work quite the way I wanted it to, and didn’t look at all the way I wanted it to. I worked at it until I had something that was good enough to get started.

PayPal is not hard to use, but it is not very well documented. And the ecommerce software isn’t documented at all. I bought my own product about four or five times to verify that the system works, and works as well as possible, given the limitations of all the various components. I set my product price very low to keep transaction costs to a minimum, since transaction costs are what it costs me to buy my own product.

If you are considering the idea of getting in to ecommerce at some point, get a PayPal account right now . You need to have one for at least 90 days before you can make full use of all of its features.

For marketing , I am using Google AdWords exclusively. For now. Although setting up and using an account is straight forward, AdWords has some very strange characteristics that I am just learning about. For example, I chose a key word that worked pretty well, but then Google, in it’s infinite wisdom, or lack there of in some cases, upped the bid price on my key words, citing quality issues, in other words the Google system determined that the best key phrase did not very well match the landing page or the ad.

For about 6 to eight hours, I was getting my ads served and very inexpensive clicks, but as I say, Google decided to change the price on me. Things change that fast. One phrase went up by five times, then later up by ten times. Another went up by 50 times. I’m not planning to bid that high at present, I’d rather see what it takes to get the bid price down again. As much as Google changes the rules hour-by-hour, I may change my mind as to what I bid, what ad network I use, and what other promotion techniques I use hour-by-hour.

This is all very interesting. And eventually profitable, that is why I am doing this. The question is: how to make it profitable?

I got a few clicks yesterday, and a few people downloaded the sample chapter. The next challenge is for visitors to buy the book! There are endless adjustments I could make to the website to get it to convert better, including reducing the number of steps to go from landing page, to shopping cart , to checkout.

Each of the above paragraphs can be expanded into many many posts. I’ll certainly be sharing some of what I learn as I go along.

Note that since there is so much I could write about, but won’t be spending all of my time writing this blog, your comments and questions will help direct what I write about next.

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One comment:

[…] As noted in a post of just a few hours ago about advertising my new ecommerce site, my first impression of using Yahoo to advertise my site was tainted when I failed to get the $50.00 credit I was promised. […]

Discover Doug » Archives » First Impressions of Yahoo to Advertise / April 12th, 2007, 10:44 pm / #

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