Starting an Online Retail Business - Hosting and DropShipper Help!

Discussion in 'Making Money Online' started by Rebelyell, May 3, 2009.

  1. Rebelyell

    Rebelyell
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    ...I received a severance package so we're not starving....yet. I want to start an online retail sales business that focuses on the "backyard living & entertainment space." Starting out I plan to use a drop shipper to save on start up costs and to make sure I can make a go of it before investing a ton of money in inventory. I have been researching this for a little over a month and the 2 biggest questions I have not been able to answer for myself are:
    1. What host should I go with? Understanding that I would gladly pay more for a good one but don't want to spend so much that I could rent a dedicated server. Basically costs in this area wouldn't be my first concern. ( I am leaning towards 'VodaHost" unless someone believes this would be a HUGE mistake.) Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    2. Which drop shipper? Of course I am wanting all the things anyone would want. Best profit margins, most reliable etc. In this I have been looking at "WorldWideBrands" or maybe "Salehoo." I'd consider any other that someone here has had good success with. Once again any suggestions would help.

    I doubt I have any knowledge that would help anyone since I am just starting out. But if I can help with my limited knowledge I most certainly will.
    Thank-you all for allowing me to be a member of your community and if you have any questions please ask. It's not like I have to get up early in the morning to go to work. :D
     
  2. Fergal

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    You are right to be concerned about your choice of host. A bad host can absorb a huge amount of your time and energy as well as being detrimental to your business. If you are selling online and your hosting account goes down you don't have a business until they get your site back up and running. You are right to be prepared to pay a bit more for a good host because in the scheme of things hosting will not be a major cost factor in your business.

    When evaluating a particular host, have a look at their public support forums to see how quickly they respond to customer requests for help. Also don't be afraid to send them a few pre-sales questions at different times of the day, to see how quickly they respond and if you enjoy dealing with them.

    VodaHost's website and forum looks quite attractive and obviously sells their hosting plan in a good light. However, if you look at these VodaHost reviews you will see that they have had some very negative feedback that would be cause for concern.

    HostGator are a mainstream host that you might want to consider. They host hundreds of thousands of sites and the support through their website is quite good.

    You might also think about using a local hosting company for your requirements - this will give you the added benefit of being able to pick up the phone and talk to someone you know to get support. However, you should be careful to check what their support hours are - e.g. do they provide 24/7 support or business hours only. If it's business hours only you could run into problems if your site goes down on a weekend.

    It's always good to have your domain name registered with someone other than your hosting company. This makes it much easier to move hosts if you are not happy with your current provider.

    I personally haven't used drop shippers but have seen some good reviews of both the suppliers you mentioned. You would probably find it quite informative to do a few searches on Google for reviews on those suppliers e.g. search for "Salehoo reviews".

    You might also want to take a look at http://www.doba.com/, they appear quite expensive but they do offer a free trial.

    Good luck with it and please keep us updated as to how you are progressing and let us know if you have any further questions.
     
  3. Nazreen

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    As for your question on a drop shipper, you should look into product catalogs to see which wholesalers/drop shippers sells the "backyard living & entertainment space" products that you want to sell. When you google "wholesalers" or "drop shippers", you would normally come out with a lot of results and these are not even real drop shippers but they're usually middlemen or retailers. Have you checked to see if WorldWideBrands and Salehoo if they're really drop shippers and if they're selling the products that you want to sell?
     
    #3 Nazreen, May 4, 2009
    Last edited: May 4, 2009
  4. Rebelyell

    Rebelyell
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    "You might also want to take a look at **w.doba.com, they appear quite expensive but they do offer a free trial."
    I can't remember exactly where I found the information but my notes say that "Doba" is very expensive and that I suspect they are a "middle man" for other drop shippers. This may or may not be true but they are expensive. I do appreciate the advice though. The link you provided for Vodahost reviews was very helpful. A bit depressing but helpful.

    "Have you checked to see if WorldWideBrands and Salehoo if they're really drop shippers and if they're selling the products that you want to sell?"
    According to my notes I have found nothing that would indicate "WWB" or "Salehoo" are middlemen. Of course I have digested an incredible amount of information in the past 30 days and my brain is a little "mushy" at this point. There are tons of "Drop-shippers" and even more tons of reviews in which 50% say they are the best thing since sliced bread and the other half saying they are not. Do you know of a way to determine for sure, or with reasonable certainty, what type of company you are dealing with? I'm quickly getting to where I'm going to have to make a decision. Does anyone here know of someone who is actually using a drop-shipper? I don't mean to be bothersome but this decision can be the deciding factor in my success...or failure.
     
    #4 Rebelyell, May 4, 2009
    Last edited: May 4, 2009
  5. Fergal

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    Unfortunately Doba are expensive and to be honest I'm generally wary of anyone who charges a high membership fee for this type of service. However, the fact that they offer a free trial gives me some confidence - it allows you to take a test drive and if they don't offer what you need you can leave the program without it having cost you anything.

    They are a middleman of sorts, but I've heard that they are different to other middlemen in that they provide access to a range of products that you can't source anywhere else.

    Just to add, I'm not trying to sell Doba or anything, I've never used them myself and I've no affiliation of any kind with them.

    Sorry but I haven't used any drop-shippers myself.
     
  6. Rebelyell

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    I've pretty much completed my research for a suitable web host. I considered everything there was to consider I think. Customer service, price, e-commerce functions like SSL and shopping carts, web building tools and assistance, customer reviews from many sources as well as professional reviews by industry experts and up-time. And the winner is.....Inmotionhosting.com.
    I have put an incredible amount if time into researching this part of my plan and I am totally exhausted. But I am confident that I've made a wise decision. I will actually commit to this in the next couple of days. If anyone has some info that I've missed and think I should consider please let me know. Otherwise I'll keep you updated on how satisfied I am after I get up and running.
     
  7. Fergal

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    Good luck with Inmotionhosting.com, I've seen some good reports on them and I hope it works out for you.

    Have you made any decision regarding a dropshipper?
     
  8. Rebelyell

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    None yet. There aren't quite so many drop shippers as web hosts....but it's close. I'll post something when I do. (I realize most people aren't interested but if anything I post might help someone in this situation in the future then it's worth the time to post it.) Of course if anyone has any advice in this area I'll be more than happy to consider it. :)
    I have set what I believe is an ambitious time line considering this is all brand new to me. Just building the web site is going to be a monumental undertaking for me (I may end up having to hiring someone to do that part but I want to at least give it a try) and I took way too long to make a decision on the host. I'd like to be up and running by July 1st. We'll have to wait and see by how many months I miss my target.
     
  9. Kay

    Kay
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    Hi Rebelyell, welcome to BAF. :) I don't know anything about drop shipping I'm afraid but if you're learning to build a website from scratch and want it fast, I'd suggest a CMS (Content Management System). It gives you the foundational framework of a website where all you have to do is add your content. You don't need to be a coder to build one and you can add a shopping cart to it no problem.

    I used Joomla in the past and liked it. There are others like Drupal and Mambo but Joomla I think has the best community support , which is vital when you're new to something, and the best range of add-ons (called modules or components). Those add-on extensions are the bricks that build upon your foundation to expand its capabilities. There's a few shopping cart add-ons for Joomla but the only one I'd consider using is the Virtuemart shopping cart, because it's well known and has many payment options within it.

    Joomla is open source which means it's free and you can add many extras to the basic sites via the free modules/components. You also have thousands of free templates to choose from. (You can buy them too but honestly, the free ones are such high quality you probably won't need to.) Installation of both once the site is set up is a breeze, you simply download the zip and upload it to your database then publish it.

    I know very little HTML but have used this no problem. It does take a bit to grasp the basics but after that, it's plain sailing. Content is very easily added, edited or removed and you can change the entire look of your site with the click of a button. I can't praise it enough.

    This is the Joomla site: http://www.joomla.org/. You can find out all about it there. I'd recommend the Getting Started page first. The add-ons are in the Extensions directory part.

    It's something to consider anyway. :)
     
  10. Fergal

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    We are always interested in hearing how startup businesses are progressing and we are delighted to help with any advice or suggestions we can.

    Why have you decided to build the site yourself? There are many excellent web developers with many years of experience who could build the site for you on quite a low budget. This would free your time to work on other aspects of the business set up and management, such as business planning, marketing and promotion, sourcing suppliers, dealing with customers, etc.

    I understand the attraction and sense of achievement you could get from building your own site, but it's worth asking yourself if you can design one as good as a professional with many years of experience and overall which is the best approach for your business.

    Good luck with it and please do continue to keep us updated on your progress.
     
  11. Rebelyell

    Rebelyell
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    Yep. You pretty much pegged it Fergal. The only reason I was wanting to do the website myself was for the personal satisfaction. I probably will have to end up paying someone because from just the little I've seen it's extremely complicated. My wife is kind of artistic and I've asked her to make up a logo for me. I think I'm going to play with it for a little while longer before I admit defeat. I suppose then I'll google web developers and see what pops up. Inmotionhosting actually offers this service but not for e-commerce sites.
    Kay,
    I saw your links in your post. "Hill Holler" and "Cuckleburr." Sounds like you may be from my neck of the woods. Somewhere in the Appalachians. I've actually registered the domains "Appalachianworkshop.com, net and org for another idea I had.
    Inmotionhosting has a "premium" web builder called Plesk Sitebuilder. which I am allowed to use for one site, and they also have Fantastico which has on it's side menu: Drupal, Geeklog, Joomla 1.5, Joomla, Mambo, PHP-Nuke, phpWCMS, phpWebSite, Post-Nuke, Siteframe, TYPO3, Xoops. For Blogs: b2evolution, Nucleus, WordPress. For Classifieds: Noahs Classifieds. For Customer Relationships: Crafty Syntax Live Help, Help Center Live, osTicket, PerlDesk, PHP Support Tickets, Support Logic Helpdesk, Support Services Manager. For Discussion Boards: phpBB, SMF. For E-Commerce: CubeCart, OS Commerce, Zen Cart.
    F.A.Q: FAQMasterFlex. Billing: Hosting Billing, AccountLab Plus, phpCOIN. Image Galleries: 4Images Gallery, Coppermine Photo Gallery, Gallery. Mailing Lists: PHPlist. Polls and Surveys: Advanced Poll, LimeSurvey, phpESP. Project Management: dotProject, PHProjekt. Site Builders: Soholaunch Pro Edition, Templates Express. Wiki: TikiWiki CMS/Groupware, PhpWiki. Other Scripts: Dew-NewPHPLinks, Moodle, Open-Realty, phpAdsNew, PHPauction, phpFormGenerator, WebCalendar. Extras: Language, Side menu appearance, Email notifications, Installations overview.
    Now that's a lot of stuff that I, for the most part, have no idea what to do with. I think I chose well in going with Inmotionhosting. (if anyone out there wants to go with this host wait 'til I get my affiliate so I can increase my income a little. I am very poor and my kids need new shoes. :rolleyes:) You mentioned "Joomla" which I have access to but would you choose that over any of the others listed? I have only gained access to these tools a couple days ago and have only played with what they refer to as their "PREMIUM" sitebuilder. Plesk. Since I'm laid off and technically have nothing to do but mow the grass and weed the garden occasionally, I'm going to play with this stuff until I'm so frustrated I'm ready to keel sumpin and then I guess I'll follow Fergal's excellent advice and hire someone.
    I really appreciate you guys responding to my post. It makes me feel like there are people out there I can ask a question of or try to get some advice from when I need to. And by now I'm sure you know I really need advice. :D
     
  12. Fergal

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    Please do keep asking questions Rebelyell, we're delighted to help when we can.

    Anyone who is wants to put websites together and how they work could benefit from understanding HTML, it is the code that the Internet is built with. When you use site-building tools and blog tools you don't get to understand the basics that all sites are built on. HTML is quite simple to learn and you won't need to purchase any tools or software to start building sites with it.

    W3Schools have excellent tutorials on the subject. I read Ian Lloyd's Build Your Own Web Site The Right Way Using HTML & CSS and I couldn't recommend this book enough, for anyone who wants to learn how to build websites. Lloyd caters for complete beginners in a user-friendly and helpful format.

    It's really not that difficult to put together a nicely designed site using HTML. Even a basic knowledge of HTML will allow you to understand how any of the site-building tools or blogs are displaying your site on the web. This can save you hours of frustration later on.

    HTML is the foundation that websites are built on and I've never heard of anyone who regretted the time they spent learning it.
     
  13. Rebelyell

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    That's very good advice. I just ordered the book from Amazon. thank-you. Who knows, my true talents may be in building web sites. This could be the start of a whole new career.
     
  14. Fergal

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    Good luck with it Rebelyell, I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did. If you've any questions as you are working your way through it, please post them here and we'll do our best to answer them.
     
  15. infinityweb

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    Identify your target market then make use of all the available resources to market your business.
     
  16. wildfox

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    i'm not sure who will be your intended customers, but i'd like to share the wonderful experience of my friend with you. It's an easy way to start an online business, she created an online store and buy from China Taobao, it's like Ebay, but much much more cheaper, and earn the price difference. She works with a taobao agent named taobaoring , they buy from her and ship the parcel to her. It goes so well. If i have more time, i will run my own business, as it's so cheap to buy from China's taobao. She told me it only takes less than 20 days for her to receive all the clothes after she place the order on taobaoring's site, they are fast, which makes her feel so good. Jealous!
     
  17. daytrader

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    There is an existing drop shipping network that I'd like to be involved with but I'm not sure if it be safe and worth.

    I've just contacted and replied quick to me.

    are the discount rate fair as a reseller?
     
  18. jiashia

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    have you seen alibaba.com good place to start from
     
  19. scottmaria14

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    Good question. A retail business has truly a need of effective business planning that should make the business more prosperous and profitable. You must think about your investment and ROI. In this concern I may suggest the name of OGS Capital for an effective business strategy, as they have provided me a better one for my own. Thanks for the conversation…
     
  20. tsbusinessplan

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    Better analysis of online retail business. I think the planning will be the same but there will be special aspects of the c-commerce. Your post is truly worthy in the matter. In the advanced era, most of the businesses are based upon online chassis. So, in this concern the planners should have to be more updated. In this concern I may suggest the name of TS Business plan as they have provided me once a better planning strategy for a online business. Thanks for the conversation. :)
     

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