Big Time E-Commerce

Recently we’ve had several clients, prospects, and partners asking us about building e-commerce web sites. Instead of your typical web store with perhaps two dozen products, they’ve been people looking to peddle tens of thousands of products.

So it’s an interesting thing because immediately you must ask “who is going to add all of those products and what about the product images?” Then you get into all of the different types of products and their associated sub-products or sub options. For example, “if I buy this wheel, can I get it in 17″ rims and can I get this in blue?”

Then you have to look at shipping. Most companies have one or two places they ship from so you can normally come up with a shipping model that will work for the store (and calculate from a known zip code), whether it’s flat rate shipping, or it calculates it using FedEx and UPS calculators. Last week we spoke to a company that wanted to sell 7,000 products (to begin with) and they were all car parts.

The CEO told us that he wanted to be able to expand to 15,000 plus products within a year. Then they told us that they drop ship everything and have 50 or so drop ship locations. Immediately we were thinking about the shipping calculation and the fact that we would need to calculate shipping from dozens of locations. Added to this, many orders would ship separately.

Mark responded before I had even finished this post (I posted an earlier draft) and the thought came to mind that I’d ask: What are your tips, tricks, and techniques for managing large scale web projects?

My friend sent me a link to the McMaster-Carr web site and wow, is that ever a huge site. They say they have 410,000 products for sale. Not quite as many as the big guns like Amazon or, impressive nevertheless.

2 responses to “Big Time E-Commerce”

  1. theres loads you can do… we did which has 10’s of thousands of products, dont over-complicate it, leave the logistics to them and unless theyre paying you a fortune, set the terms on which the project is developed otherwise you’ll be chasing them for decisions forever and a day.

    we always start em off with some starter products in the inventory and then leave it to them to maintain, if you’re doing the lot then make sure the timescales are viable and give your self enough time to re-shot stuff (or get them done professionally)



  2. May have a solution ready to roll for you to address all the drop-shipping logistics … PHP/MySQL based if that’s a workable model. Shoot me an e-mail if interested.

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