Friday, 17 June 2011

Easy. Yeah. Of course.

As zm14you may have noticed (due to the obvious lack of a blog post declaring my victory over the online shop setup and testing), the webshop is not running yet. Of course.

Have you ever stumbled across those ads promising you to set up your own online store in just a few minutes, free! or for such a low price! It only takes a minute! Go do it now! - have you? Well, let me tell you... it's not that easy, and it will definitely take more than a minute.

If you want to do it properly... much more than a minute.

First of all, there's always the choice whether you want a pre-hosted "rental" shop or whether you want to host and run your own software. Rentals are easier to set up, yes, but they will charge you a monthly amount or severely restrict your product number. A self-hosted shop means you will have to familiarise yourself with the software (once you chose one) and get it to run smoothly and properly. In my case (as you may have guessed), I have opted for self-hosting, and I have actually managed to install both the basic CMS and the shop module after reading up on and fumbling with different softwares for three days.

Then it's down to the shop itself. Design the surface (or at least adapt the template a little and construct a good menu), insert all the products complete with their tax rate, price, description, title - oh, and photo. I haven't taken the photos yet, by the way. If the shop is supposed to come in German and English (at the moment I'm working on the German version), all the text has to be translated as well.

Then there's the payment stuff. Figuring out which payments to use (by the way, what do you prefer? I'd be grateful for a comment!) and getting an idea about how much of the price will go to the payment service as service fee.

Then there's shipping and handling. And that means divining a shipping fee with which the customers will still be able to live, but which will cover a) the cost of the actual shipping fee by the shipping company; b) the cost of packaging materials; c) the time required to drop off the package or the cost of getting it fetched.

And that, my friends, was the easy and straightforward stuff. One thing is still missing: Revering the Holy Saint Bureaucrazius. Because, you see, we're in Germany here... which means that for opening an online shop, you not only need a trade licence (got that), you also need proper, waterproof, non-dissuadable Terms and Conditions. Well, preferrably. And then you need a Privacy Policy declaration. And a declaration of return and withdrawal rights for the customer, because it's a "remote buy" process.

And finally, because the recipient of the package will probably toss the box it came in into the trash, you actually need to pay a fee to cover the recycling costs of the cardboard or plastic or whatever you use for packaging, unless you can prove that the recycling fees for them have already been paid by somebody else. Which is a real bummer if you do not expect to sell a lot of stuff.

All that paperwork-ish work and all the setup work required has thus lead Sabine from the Wollschmiede and myself to wonder if we shouldn't just team up for the online shop and make a common one. Now... we'd only need to figure out how to do that technically, logistically and bureaucratically - because if we do it together, it might even induce some more official paperwork.

Welcome to Germany.


Anonymous said...

Let me know when the shop is ready. I, sadly, broke my beautiful hand made needle I got from you at the first textile forum, and need to replace it at some point.

It was such a perfect needle for sewing, but I knew that one needed to resist the impulse to pick at threads with it, and I forgot, once...

Suzanne Spruijt said...

There are quite a few webshops I use frequently that simply ask for a bank transfer for payment. It seems to me that this saves you a lot of paperwork and fees.

As an alternative way to pay you could offer something like PayPall, which anyone from around the world can use.

Usually paying by bank transfer results into a little discount and that of course is an incentive to go for the option that costs you the least.

Good luck, I can't wait to come shopping.

Anonymous said...

Bank transfer abroad is not easy to do from the UK. I don't know how much of your market is there, but it costs us a fair bit of money. I would probably also recommend PayPal, which avoids paying too much to credit card providers. Of course, not everyone is happy using PayPal. I am, but I'm also unlikely to be buying your stuff so I may not count as market feedback.

Suzanne Spruijt said...

As far as I know, bank transfer is free between all EURO-countries...