So anyhow, my journey into the world of e-commerce continues.
This weekend I signed up with Dreamhost. I was going back and forth of whether to do the expense for a while, but it is only $120 for the next year and I get a lot of stuff (web hosting, mail, ssh etc.) so I just jumped in and did it. Then LA has a blackout the next day! But they recovered nice and did a quick fix for an NTP problem I had complained about, so I'm happy.
I set up osCommerce there. They have a pushbutton way of doing it, and it was pretty easy. Hopefully I will be able to delay the need for SSL and a unique IP. The Post Code thing bothered me so I changed it to Zip Code and made some other changes. So now I have to figure out what I'll do for the credit card backend (we'll probably use Paypal to begin with), and perhaps I'll sign up for an account with USPS. With that done we'll do a test purchase or two, then start looking for real customers. No big rush though - I haven't even set up any mail yet, all of my e-mail is still going over Yahoo Mail for this.
Most of my sales have been over eBay thus far. Later on we'll try to drive sales to the web site through various methods. I've been analyzing sales on eBay for my little niche. I didn't like their watchlist system so I designed my own. My system uses a MySQL backend. I grab information on auctions with a PERL script. I display the results via PHP on my private Apache web server. I'm just trying to get an idea of what sells, and for how much. If something sells consistently, at a price I can make a profit on - I buy.
Which brings me to suppliers. Finding and dealing with them is a bit of a pain. We are low budget, because that seems like the smartest thing to be, we want to put off spending as much as we can - these people sometimes want to do a credit check on you before they even tell you what products they sell. They expect me to have a fax number as well as a regular number. Also, eBay is cut-throat - in my little niche, I can't offer a competitive price on most of the stuff that sells on eBay. We have found a handful of items we can make money on though. As we find more suppliers, buy in more quantity and so forth we'll probably do better.
I noticed eBay has an API interface which allows several thousand free queries of their database per whatever. I signed up for it but have been too busy with other things to look into it much.
Doing sysadmin work for the dot-bombs and later Fortune 100 financial companies, I made over $80k a year. I have been working full-time on this for the past few months, and am looking forward to getting up to the point where I'm making $20k a year. Yes, it is less money, but I do not have to answer a pager, I do not have to worry about being laid off, I do not have to listen to a boss and all of that junk. I do expect to eventually get back up to my former salary though, and do it working for myself, which, now that I'm in my early thirties, is more important to me than working for someone else and making more money. I think over the long run, you only make more money when you're working for yourself anyway.