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Thread: Client Appt tomorrow 300,000 products

  1. #1
    rlhanson's Avatar
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    Default Client Appt tomorrow 300,000 products

    As the title suggests, I have a meeting with a client tomorrow afternoon who sells roughly 300,000 promotional products and is looking for a website...

    I'm assuming this amount of products would require a dedicated server, correct?

    Any recommendations for the shopping cart that would most reliably handle this?

    Thanks!
    Thank you,
    Lynne Hanson
    RL Hanson-Online

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    charlesh's Avatar
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    Be cautious of that many products. I've been suckered into adding lots and lots of products before and not having been compensated. Clients will always say that they want you to build a cart and teach them to load the products. Though, it never quite works that way - they never have time and then they come back to you to load the products. I would have something that if they want to load products and then they ask you to do it, charge them an hourly maintenance fee or something that will make it worth your while, then get 6 of your friends with laptops, rent a lower-end hotel conference room with internet for a day, bring a small router and have a product loading party. Next time I get stuck with a large ecom site, I am planning to do this and going to charge a flat fee for all the products that need loading.

    However, it sounds great. Shopping carts are not that difficult and you'll have plenty of help around here with SSL and AIM integration if that's the way they go.

    Without a doubt, CS cart is the best cart out there right now and you can thank Matt for the lead on that. Zen cart works but is not easy to use and forget about do-it-yourself-ers with Zen cart. OS commerce much the same way. Magento is supposed to be great and I tried it once, but would be hard(er) to customize than CS-cart. Nancy's Green Elephant is the site I built in CS-cart and it is wonderful with a lot of great features that make loading thousands of products easier than most of those other carts.

    Hope the meeting goes well,
    Last edited by charlesh; 11-11-2008 at 06:40 PM.

  3. #3
    charlesh's Avatar
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    For the dedicated server, you may be well justified in doing so, but may be surprised. The website above gets the most traffic of anything I host, but is only around 10GIG/month transfer.

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    Nice site Charles!

    I usually do an installation fee and then work out a per hour fee, that way my clients can pay what they can afford and send the prioritized items to be added. When I hit the payment limit, I stop and re-schedule them when they make another payment.

    It works best for me that way as I've also had the "Show me how and I'll do it" scenario. One client didn't even know how to change her email settings and by the end she actually was entering in the products. Her husband was so impressed with the training I did with her that he wanted to meet me. lol

    I honestly hate to enter products into a cart - and will be looking to outsource this end of it anyway. The initial investment in time to teach someone else to do it will alleviate my frustration in the long run for sure!

    Good advice Charles - thank you!
    Thank you,
    Lynne Hanson
    RL Hanson-Online

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    charlesh's Avatar
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    I hate to do it too, but charge a premium, especially after I show clients how to do it and they still don't want to.

    I was thinking about it - charge them a dollar a product.

    Charles

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric4 View Post
    Yes, I agree product input is painful, and I charge $15 per product.
    That is more like it. A bit steep but it all depends on the work. If you are doing it yourself and guaranteeing quality, I think it is about in line. Would be nice to make $4.5M but that ain't gonna happen without proper infrastructure.

    If you are doing 300k products, I have no clue how one person would enter that into the DB by hand, nor how anyone could afford to pay 1 dollar per product, yet still require an Open Source cart??

    Sounds like you are getting low-balled or "felt out" for your operational capacity to me


    They want a free cart that supports 300k products? If you enter that by hand, assuming an average of 5 mins per product and no typos are involved, that comes to 1,500,000 minutes.

    25,000 hours

    1041 days

    2.83 years of non-stop data entry at a rapid pace.

    Hopefully all the product info is already in a DB and all you need to do is modify it to work with your cart of choice, then slam it in a MySQL database for said cart.

    If that is the case, charging 10 cents per product yields $3000 USD but even then I question if it is worth it with all the fixes that will need to be done with that DB.

    There will be typos, random characters, and product descriptions that do not match product titles, dupes, etc.

    Spend 40 hours on fixing that stuff and it boils down to $75/hour. Not bad, but not good and a best case scenario for a web developer given the details provided so far.

    Given the details so far you'd be at it for a month at least! Now that $75/hour turns into $18.75 plus all the free things you have to do, not to mention the actual part which you specialize in, which is design...

    We must be missing some important info here.

    I don't buy that they have 300k products already typed up still and don't have an ecomm solution. You sure they are legit?
    Last edited by Matt; 11-14-2008 at 03:48 AM.
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  7. #7
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    $1 a product @ 300,000 is pretty good to me, but then, as Matt stated above, it is physically impossible for that to happen with one person. You would need to fly to Bangalore and hire a hundred people to do 3,000 products each.

    I usually figure around 3-5 minutes per product, once I get everything set up, so I base my estimate on that, but don't charge by the hour for product entry.

    If you're charging $15 per product, it seems a little steep at $300/hr, but if you can swing that, have at it. With a store of 2000 products, you'll be making $30,000 on product entry. Again, a small to mid-size business with 2000 products prob. doesn't have the budget for $30,000 on top of whatever you charge for the set-up.

    This is a great thread, thanks Lynne. How'd it go?

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    Well...remember the thread "clients don't have a clue" .... lol

    I loved the suggestion of $1 per product Charles!

    I'll give you all some info and then the way I handled it:

    This client is the owner of a small "mom & pop" store here in Kansas that provides engraving for trophies, plaques, glassware, pens, etc. What he has is ACCESS to 300k products through his vendors. He has about 100 products in house at all times with the other items being ordered on an as-needed basis.

    With my experience being a label/stamp reseller, I know most promo vendors offer sites available to their resellers, usually at an affordable rate with their entire inventory available, their own payment processors, etc. You just receive a check at the end of the month or after reaching a certain threshold from the vendor.

    I basically started asking for info about their most popular vendor, whether they offer the service mentioned above, and what the goal was. The client has this idea that he could get 5 or 6 sales people working on a commission type basis - as well as his web designer - to sell these products and he could grow his business to 400k a year.

    Realistically, he doesn't have the support personnel in place to accomodate that many orders, has trouble getting reliable/qualified help, and in my opinion would grow himself right out of an exisiting successful business.

    Plus, if I was going to work on a commission basis, this would require Search Engine Optimization like crazy, constant modifications, specials, articles, etc. just to get the site to render results above all the other promo product sites. I couldn't make enough commission for that type of marketing. Let alone, the time invested - I mine as well do it for myself and throw in the towel on my current business.

    So, what I did was negotiate a consultation service for contacting his current vendors and determining the best solution offered.
    One vendor offers a site with the capability of adding your own additional products for $1295, a $99 set-up fee for the payment processor (plus 2.1% on sales) and $15.95 a month hosting. I couldn't touch that price for a custom site solution with the amount of products they offer.

    I also offered a contracted product input for the current products in store. I haven't actually given a price on that yet as I am still feeling out the amount of work - like how much editing will need to be done on each product image (saturation, exposure, etc).

    I, personally totally dislike inputing products. I have trained and paid other people needing some extra work to perform this at a rate that I make a little off the actual hours invested. I would rather design the site, install the cart solution and let whomever is interested to input products. Can't stand it and kind of groan whenever I have a call for ecommerce site. lol

    The reason I don't do a per product fee is because of exactly what was mentioned, you end up doing a lot of free work making sure everything is configured properly. Not to mention adding product options and shipping charges.
    I do offer per hour as I can start my quickbooks timer, and start dedicated work to populate the cart (usually very late at night - lol) and when I have reached the payment limit for hours - I stop.

    I tell my clients to figure out what they can afford to spend per month, prioritize as to what they want input first, and require product images, descriptions, prices, options, etc. be provided by them. If they cannot provide the information and it's available from a vendor site - I charge a minimum of $25 per hour just to gather the info. That price is usually a good incentive to receive what I want from them.
    I encourage my clients to gather this info for 2 reasons: 1) I can't afford to invest that kind of time into one client, and 2) I want them to understand the time consumed in providing this type of service.

    So, in a nutshell - I am contacting the vendor sites to obtain a solution which will fit their budget, will perform contracted product input for an hourly fee, will upsell enewsletter blasts for marketing, and possibly SEO.

    btw: If he really had 300k products - I probably would have gracefully declined as I can't afford to fly to Bangalore!

    What do you guys think?
    Thank you,
    Lynne Hanson
    RL Hanson-Online

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    I think whoever invented the $1295 cart idea is a genius, and good idea on your end to look for such a thing.
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    When I was in College (can you believe it?) I got a job on campus in the basement of the library processing in books. I loved it. You had a stamp and ink-pad and a magnetic security strip and once you got going, could process a couple of shelf fulls of books in good time (that is, if you didn't get caught up in reading one or two). So, about 3 or 4 months into it, I trained a new person to help and after two weeks, he stood up and said, "I can't do this anymore - I wouldn't give this to my kids for punishment." And, he left.

    Point of it is, yes, product entry is terrible and punishing, but you can get a system going and when you do, will surprise yourself. I'm still all about getting together 3 or 4 people in a hotel conference room for a day's worth of work, the next time I have over a thousand products to load. At this point, that would be a good problem to have, come to think of it...

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