IP Think Tank

Entrepreneur. Writer. Creator. Blogger. Those four words pretty much sums up what I do for a living. Future endeavours include becoming an artist and film maker. If only there were more time in the day. Oh, yeah... I run a web site dedicated to independent comics, mini-comics, and graphic novels called Independent Propaganda (www.independentpropaganda). But this is where I will talk about running the site, entrepreneurship, comics, and Web 2.0. But not necessarily in that order.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Talking Shopify!

Part of the reason I started this blog is to chronicle the running of Independent Propaganda (for those who don’t know, Independent Propaganda is a web site dedicated to indy comics, mini-comics, and web comics & their creators/publishers). Doing this, I hope, will serve as a learning tool not only for myself but also for others who may consider doing something similar. Not only will I be discussing the behind-the-scenes adventures of running the site, but I will also be talking about new Web 2.0 stuff which I may find useful in either running IP or some other projects I have going on.

I’m also hoping to get some good back-and-fourths going with visitors here. So don’t be afraid to pipe in if you have something to say.

Think I’ll lead off by talking about a new Web 2.0 e-commerce solution now in beta but should be going live this month. It’s called Shopify! and it’s why I have been holding off on adding the online store to the Independent Propaganda. Up till I first heard of Shopify! over on the excellent Web 2.0 news site, TechCrunch , I had worked with a variety of e-commerce open source programs to build the future IP online book store myself. I initially began with just building a typical site in HTML and integrating PayPal into it to pay for the products. But the problem I ran into was some sellers who initially signed-up to sell through the site used different discounts for the number of books ordered. Well, you can’t program PayPal’s buttons to reflect this discount. So I had to scrap that idea.

So I thought I would give osCommerce a try. I studied up on the program by reading reviews, checking out sites which used osCommerce, and such. Despite the negative reviews and the sites using osCommerce having the same “feel”, I gave it a whirl. After a month of frustration and lost time, I gave up on using it. It’s great that there is open source software, the con- at least with osCommerce- is some people will develop add-ons (called contributions in osCommerce’s case) which add additional functionality to the program. That is great and all- if they work together. I lost count at how many times I added contributions to the initial install of the program only to install a contribution which totally screwed everything up. I know, I know you’re suppose to back-up before adding a contribution- and I did. But it got to the point where it was just turning into a big headache, leading me to question myself about this whole online store idea.

From osCommerce, I moved on to ZenCart. ZenCart, like a number of other open source e-commerce packages, is a mutation of osCommerce. The difference being it’s built with some added features already added, cutting down on having to install contributions for more functionality and such. Despite the many similarities to osCommerce, I found working with ZenCart a lot easier and less frustrating.

It was during this period when I read about Shopify! and stopped work on the ZenCart version of the store. If Shopify! delivers on what they promise on their site and in various interviews, then it has the potential to be something others like myself are searching for- an easy way to sell merchandise online without having to worry about messing with code, installing updates, orders not being processed correctly, and a big one for me- calculating the correct shipping costs through Canada Post.

Now if they would only come out of beta testing. I’m ready to get the show on the road.


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