I need to design and build an ecommerce site for my startup business selling (technically I will be renting) 3 unit "kits". Prospective customers would gather 3 different variations of my product and place them in a shopping cart for checkout. The kits are sold at a fixed price. I'd like them to be able to select the products from my inventory via drop down box. Once a customer selects three products, they will be able to checkout.
I'm looking for some guidance/advice on the below:
1) Where to host? I currently have an account with iPage. It is cheap - that's about all I can say about it.
2) Best service for my needs to accept credit cards (more detail on that below)
3) What to use to design the site? I have a Mac with iWeb 08. I own no other software.
4) What to use for the shopping cart/ecommerce portion of the site? I would like to tie #3 and #4 together if possible.
5) How and where are people with limited/zero experience in website/ecommerce learning to to create ecommerce sites?
What I have done so far: I started out with non ecommerce enabled website that invited customers to contact me to place orders. The site contained two pages 1) the landing page and 2) the inventory list. Customers were encouraged to email me with the three products for their kit and I would email them an invoice via Paypal. I was about to release the site last month but I decided that I want to integrate ecommerce/shopping cart into the site prior to launching the business.
Here are the details on what I'm looking for in a website -
- I'm starting small, no more than 25 products to begin with
- I'd like one "landing page" that gets the concept of my business across
- I'd like one "about us" page
- I'd like one "contact us" page
- I'd like one "Returns/Customer Service page"
- I'd like one "FAQ"
- I'd like one "Inventory List" Page
- I'd like one "Order Now" Page
As for the actual ecommerce part, again I am selling, or rather renting, a kit containing 3 products. I'd like users to be able to select 3 product varieties to build their kit. Here's what I envision from an ecommerce perspective:
- The Order Now page will be very simple. There will be three drop down boxes that are linked to my inventory list, from which a customer can select each product variant to build his/her 3 unit kit. There will also of course need to be an "Add to Cart" button.
- I'd also like the ability for a customer to add products to his/her cart from the Inventory page.
- I'd like to find a way to prohibit customers from checking out with an incomplete kit. The customer must have 3 products in a cart to enable checkout.
- I'd like to address how to structure and present the pricing. The kit price is $99. Each component product shouldn't have a price when it's added to the cart. Rather, the customer should see a total of $99 and be forced to have three components in the cart before it will allow him/her to checkout.
- I do not have a merchant services account. I am looking for suggestions. I am open to using Paypal, Google Checkout, etc. I'm also open to a merchant services account.
- I would like the ability to put a hold on a credit card for the value of the "kit", similar to a deposit on a rental car/hotel/etc, to help ensure the products are returned to me. I talked to Paypal and I need a Pro account to do this ($30 a month + fees).
And the key part of all of this is as follows:
I don't want to sink money into a high tech website before the concept is tested and proven. I'd like to have a respectable (I know that's an arbitrary term) site that has basic ecommerce functionality described above, and really focus on selling and marketing. If my concept succeeds, I can invest more money in a more robust ecommerce solution.
I have no experience in designing websites. I'd like to do this myself. I'd like to do it for free, or very low cost. I have read articles on entrepreneur.com and other sites referencing volusion, corecommerce, bigcommerce, shopify, etc. I've seen joomla and oscommerce mentioned as well, among others. I'm looking for feedback on the 5 points I mention above. Certainly any other information/advice is appreciated.