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September 13, 2012

The challenge of moving into ecommerce


I’ve been running various rock night events in Inverness over the past few years – that’s rock music, not rock climbing, btw. :)

Added to this my love of alternative fashion and gothic clothing, and after many months of preparation I’ve now opened up my long planned venture into gothic clothing.

Developing the ecommerce site proved an incredible pain, though.

The first problem was Magento. By all accounts, it’s supposed to be the most powerful and comprehensive ecommerce platform out there. And it’s free.

However, after multiple attempts to build a store, buying a help book, and hiring freelancers to help, it became apparent that Magento was built to be as user-unfriendly as possible.

There is nothing user-friendly in the system – everything from the wrong checkboxes checked to slow product upload, no import/export with images, “foreign keys” in the database to make copying dbs a little more difficult, and an upgrade process that requires pages of command line prompts to do safely. A template system that is counter intuitive and all over the place, a user interface that has no normal short cuts. User friendliness is simply not built into this.

That’s why it’s free. Because you have to pay for developers to support you – even for simple issues that should be easy for the user to carry out.

That can be the only reason why developers recommend it.

So I looked at Woocommerce for WordPress, and the difference was remarkable.

I was able to set up the new store with Woocommerce easily, and thanks to the user-friendly WordPress frame, I’ve been able to complete the set up of the Alternative X shop and finally launch it.

The real frustration is that it’s taken me so long to finally reach launch, not least because I listened to developer encouragement that Magento was the first choice for ecommerce.

Woocommerce isn’t perfect – it’s still immature as an ecommerce platform, not least because there’s no option to enter trade cost on products, to make management accounts easier when stock-taking. However, it takes a few simple clicks to create a new custom field in the user-friendly WordPress front end, so it was easy to build that functionality in.

In the meantime, while the store is now launched, I’m looking at previous good advice I’ve posted online to try and make the whole customer experience much better – not least this list of 100 Ecommerce Tips.

I’m also bearing in mind some of my previous customer experiences. :)

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"The challenge of moving into ecommerce":

  1. Nice to see another post on the blog after so long! :)

    I also wasted far too much time on Magento for a client’s site and wouldn’t rush to use it again. One day I might spend some more time on it but I’ve not got the time to invest in training when other E-Commerce solutions exist.

    I usually use Jigoshop for client stores now (Woo commerce is based on Jigoshop), helped by knowing a few of the team behind the project :D

    Does this all mean a new lease of life for the iBrian blog?

    Comment by Joff — September 13, 2012 @ 1:34 pm

  2. Life is busy – blogging normally feels a luxury these days. :)

    Comment by Brian Turner — October 9, 2012 @ 12:00 pm

  3. I have had good experience with It has a good structure for seo also.

    Although I have been out of the ecommerce biz for a while.

    Like the goth gear, looks like it would do well on Pinterest and Tumblr

    Comment by Lyndon Antcliff — October 24, 2012 @ 9:49 am

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