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Ecommerce

We've become increasingly frustrated with Digibuy's HUGE 13% transaction fee for selling our software, so Fog Creek is looking for alternatives.

I already have a merchant account, a payment processor and an SSL certificate so the easy stuff is taken care of.

Now I need to generate a little engine that lets you order products, and then download them after you've paid.

I'm interested in anyone's ideas on either good or bad interface issues that they've seen while buying things.  Remember that I'm selling software, so order tracking and fulfillment don't really exist (once the order is complete, you get the software, so there's nothing to track and fulfillment is immediate, or am I overlooking something?)

The only features it needs to have are accepting payment (CC, PO, maybe PayPal) and coupons.

Also anyone that's used DigiBuy or is using DigiBuy if you have any comments on the interface for "Store Owners" [the place where you put in the order form and all the reg codes and available coupons, get reports, etc.], let me know about them too since that will be part of the spec.

Michael Pryor
Thursday, December 13, 2001

As much as I'd like to recommend PayPal, it may not be the right service for you, or at least, not on an exclusive basis. I think the biggest problem is that the non-US user experience is mediocre. You might consider trying it out for the Home edition or for up to 2 copies of the Professional edition (users new to PayPal have a $1000 spending limit until they "verify"). I'm not sure what sort of copy protection you are using if any at all. PayPal handles the transaction only, so any registration keys, secure downloading, etc. would need to be handled by you. Have a look at our payment interface: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=p/xcl/rec/resources-outside

Don't hesitate to contact me with questions. That goes for anyone else reading this!

Patrick Breitenbach
Thursday, December 13, 2001

Yes, our use of PayPal wouldn't be on an exclusive basis.

I must admit the recent slashdot thread caused some concern over even allowing PayPal as a payment option at all...

Michael Pryor
Thursday, December 13, 2001

You have got to be kidding! Let me know if your merchant account provider eats chargebacks. We'll start using them in a second if so!

2.2%. No collateral. No setup fees. No monthly minimums. Credit cards, bank transfers and ecash. Fraud rates 2-10x lower than others. Daily settlement. Interest. Debit/ATM card access to your funds. Let me know what else you want!

Patrick Breitenbach
Friday, December 14, 2001

Patrick --

I'm in a similar situation as Michael, and I've been considering PayPal, but I've heard a bunch of horror stories (accounts locked for *months* with thousands of dollars frozen) which make PayPal seem like a really shady place to keep my money. 

At http://www.paypalwarning.com/ there's about four or so pages of people's complaints about PayPal, and it's enough to make me not want to do business there.

As someone from PayPal, do you think you could respond to what's being said about your company?  Why are so many people getting accounts frozen for no reason, and why is it taking so long to get those accounts unfrozen?  Why does PayPal freeze the *merchants* account when there are fradulent *buyers*?

TIA, Jacob

Jacob Kaplan-Moss
Friday, December 14, 2001

A good P.O. , Purchase Order, program will be very important for B2G and Multinationals to buy CD, etc.

P.Pinzon
Friday, December 14, 2001

Perhaps Kagi? (www.kagi.com).  Not sure exactly what you're looking for...

David Sachs
Friday, December 14, 2001

Kagi is like DigiBuy - but with a lower percentage fee... wish we had known about them before...

But even 5% is too high, considering that with yahoo store they only charge .5% (plus your discount rate on the CC transac - ~2.5).

Metrowerks uses yahoo stores... any downsides to that?

Michael Pryor
Friday, December 14, 2001

Oh, man, at the risk of entering a no-win situation...

Firstly, as I'm sure everyone is aware, it's a certainty that widely used services will have their share of complaints. For example:

http://www.google.com/search?q="paypal+sucks"
http://www.google.com/search?q="yahoo+sucks"
http://www.google.com/search?q="amazon+sucks"
http://www.google.com/search?q="ebay+sucks"
http://www.google.com/search?q="microsoft+sucks"

It's quite rare for a whole account to get restricted and in those cases the evidence of fraud is extremely compelling. It's never "for no reason". In reviewing the slashdot and ppwarning messages, you'll see that it's usually just a single transaction in question. There are, in fact, 2 pages of complaints at ppwarning for a grand total of 31 complaints. For reference, we process 250,000 payments per day for 12 million accounts.

I'm surprised you would think us "shady". Unlike many of our competitors, we make quite a bit of company financial and other information available through public SEC filings. And there are numerous articles written about us:

http://search.news.yahoo.com/search/news?p=paypal
http://www.techreview.com/magazine/dec01/schwartzall.asp
http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/9.09/paypal.html
http://www.fastcompany.com/online/52/paypal.html
http://www.commerce.net/research/ebusiness-strategies/2k1/2k1_14_r.html

Ironically, the PayPal system actually alleviates one of the major concerns in transacting with a very small business online: payers need not provide their financial information to the merchant.

We have to look at both the buyer and seller because 1) they may be the same person, 2) they may be in cahoots or 3) we may be able to catch it before goods are exchanged.

The PayPal system is quite a bit different from virtually all other payment services in that the hurdles for senders and especially recipients are extremely low. Remember, we enable virtually anyone to send money to virtually anyone with an email address. Most of our competitors have gone out of business or crippled their service to control fraud. We wish to avoid that.

Patrick Breitenbach
Friday, December 14, 2001

Maybe Amazon zShops, then?  I've seen a few software vendors sell this way (mostly simple components), but it may not have all of the features you're seeking.

The fees do appear to be lower than Kagi/DigiBuy for Fog Creek's price points.

You're charged $40.00/month as a "Pro Merchant Subscriber," and per transaction fees are, according to the page linked below:
"If your item sells for $0.01 - $25.00, Amazon collects a 5% closing fee.
If your item sells for $25.01 - $1,000.00, Amazon collects $1.25 plus 2.5% of any amount greater than $25.
If your item sells for $1,000.01 or more, Amazon collects $25.63 plus 1.25% of any amount greater than $1,000."

(This may be a personalized URL of some type--it's hard to know with Amazon.  So my apologies if it doesn't work....)
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/browse/-/537918/102-8184254-1090507

Apologies for the formatting.  Good luck.

David Sachs
Friday, December 14, 2001

I work for a credit card processor and Yahoo Store seems to be pretty popular.  I don't have any personal experience, but I haven't heard any complaints either.

Matt
Friday, December 14, 2001

Yahoo! Stores has some really nice backend tools. Also, you can actually remove the Yahoo! button to the left.

Guan Yang
Saturday, December 15, 2001

Ha! It's easy: pick Paypal, they are the ones who have someone here answering your question :)

Aaron Lawrence
Sunday, December 16, 2001

(Uh, just saw the grey warning not to use HTML tags. Sorry! :-))

Let me see if I can answer your question. (-: If I understand, you already have a merchant account. You just want a front-end design. I'm mulling over this myself. My page, so far, is at www.hard-code.com/Products/Compress/purchase-fc.htm. (Don't worry. It's not live and this won't be the final URL.  You can click submit.)

Things I thought of when designing:

** 1) I don't like multiple pages of questions if avoidable.

(Some sites (like www.swreg.org) have a shopping cart, then a shopping cart verification, then name and billing and shipping addresses, then more verification...)

** 2) I like the order form to look like the main web site.  I like the small company to take my info.

I certainly appreciate a clean order form.

I expect some to disagree, but I don't want a third part pay system.  My feeling is that there is more of a chance of spam or credit card fraud with a so-called major company than with a small guy.  But that's my two cents.  Think of egghead and the credit card problem.  Or think of Amazon changing their privacy policy after accepting personal info (and not providing a way to remove your profile).

If it has to be done through a third party, I don't find any charm in knowing about it.  On to 3...

** 3) I don't want to be a "member."
I dislike Yahoo and PayPal because they want the customer to become a site "member" with the main benefit of "membership" simply being that they will hold your credit card and address info.  It's just a matter of time, IMO, before something goes afoul.  Not only do I not feel comfortable with this, it is a distraction when I was trying to buy a piece of software and now I'm diverted to signing up with an unrelated company.

I'm sure others feel different, but I wonder if the technically savvy feel more like me?  And won't that be the probable customers of FogCreek?

In other words, I'd just make the user enter his info every time rather than make him a "member" in any way.  How many times will she buy from you anyway?

** 4) I don't like questions that don't apply to me.
If there is only a product or two, I don't want a shopping cart.  If it isn't something you ship (as you stated) I don't want to see a shipping address.  If I prefer applying by phone, I don't want to see the credit card blanks.

And most importantly, if these questions don't apply to me, they clutter up the interface and require explanatory text.  Again, I appreciate a clean order form.

After some thought, I'm questioning the value of anything but on-line credit cards.  Are people's trust really as low as some think?  Sure you can design an order system with pages that are based on different ordering mechanisms, but is it worth it?  If you just take cards, you can make a one page form.  (See my site above and see what you think.  Any feedback appreciated.

** 5) I'm impatient.  I want the full version NOW!
Here was the show-stopper for me as the vendor.  All payment sites worried so much about fraud that the customer would often have to wait 24 hours, at least, for the key.  In the meantime you get an email without the key explaining why you have no key.  Bzzzzt.
One vendor got in on the paranoia and sent me a temporary key that was good for a few days while I waited for my main key.  Bzzzt.  What if Wal-Mart made you come back the next day to pick up your stuff after you paid with a credit card?

I don't want to remember to put in keys multiple times.  As the customer, I don't want in on the vendors fraud scheme.  I'm being inconvenienced.  As the vendor, should I really worry that much about fraud of a soft good?  Should I worry enough to make a customer jump through any hoops?

** 6) As the vendor, I want key generation.
If you decide to use a third party payment system, you should probably get one that accepts a key generator.  To my great shock, this is almost impossible!  I guess you are supposed to handle every order by receiving an email from the payment system, then you write the customer with a hand-generated key code.  Bzzzt.  I'm lazy.

bmtmicro.com went up from $2 to $4 per sale (of $15) to use a key gen.  I never got it working.  It would have to be through them.  swreg.org charges the flat $1.75 per order (of $15) but simply couldn't get a little information to my keygen.  regsoft.org charges $3.00 per order (of $15), and we did get it working, but not quickly or in a friendly manner.

I suggest keeping the keygen on your own site to keep them honest.  (-:
They also don't seem to think of this, but I try to get them to promise that their system that calls my keygen won't move around, so I can check the IP Address before spitting out a key!

** 7) As the vendor, I want to be able to test the system!
Surprisingly, several sites don't offer a real test of their system.  The exception was regsoft.org.  You can type in the handy fake credit card number and get a sale as long as the email address you supply is your companies!
Unfortunately, being your own merchant has the same problem but at least the tests will be cheaper.

** 8)  As the vendor, if I'm going to put an intermediary between me and my customer, they better be damn friendly!
One of my peeves about these sites is the first email saying you will get another.  This email is almost always deluged with rules and regulations about why you don't have a key, NOT to try the order number as a key, not to bother them (!) unless a week has passed and you haven't heard back (thus putting the onus of finding problems on the customer.)  Bzzzzt.

Also, the on-line form is typically full of subtle threats about fraud and little comments about how to fill in fields.  It almost turns me off of buying anything.  Finding a hack would be much less work.  (-:

So if you make your own system, make a very friendly email with the sales information and no odd excuses.

** So what does this leave?
The best interfaces I've seen don't ask too much and ask it all at once.  They always are "merchant accounts" (belong to the small company).  They provide a phone number if you want to order by phone and leave it at that.  Otherwise they assume a credit card. 

They ask for product quantity, billing info, email, credit card on one page.

In the days of javascript, it would be nice if the page can show running subtotals, and verify the user input.  Since you will not ship, it will be nice when you can skip the "shipping" questions "if different from billing."  If you do decide to ship, I'd suggest only a checkbox on the first page (that asks if your shipping address is different) and then provide a second page for that info.

I suppose a single "verification" page is nice, but I wonder if it is necessary.  People are probably paying close attention as they type for a purchase!  You can catch silly mistakes with javascript.  But I think I'll use a verification page that shows the customer all of his choices before submitting.

I'm also worried about passing the page form through to the credit card processor straight out.  Someone sneaky probably knows how to adjust the (javascript created) price fields on the page.  So I will probably go through a cgi script to check the prices on the way to the real merchant server.

I eventually went with CardServices (www.cardservicesonline.com).  My salesmen was cool, laid back, and technically savvy, Frank Hanano.  Mail me if you want his email.

It will cost me a max of 75 cents (of $15) a sale instead of $1.75 or  higher, and I will get the simplicity, customer service, options, and no whining that I want which wouldn't have been possible otherwise!

Charles Patterson
Tuesday, December 18, 2001

I don't like reading r e a l l y long replies to email messages.

And I don't agree with the argument about having to sign up with PayPal and yes I am technically savvy as you put it.

Why would it be better spew out your personal inflormation to dozens of companies than just once to PayPal. I think the more things there are to break the better chance something will get broken.

Carl GRaff
Friday, March 29, 2002

Regsoft is not recomendable,
I have sended the money to buy a prog,
one month ago but I haven't received the prog.
and I do not know where my money is.
The worst tha regsoft do not fucking care about their customers,
I three weeks I have been sending them Emails, with no fucking answer!
The worts is that an their site there is written that their are going
to answer your emails within 24 hours  but that is a barfaced lie.

Do not buy software there

Baretto

Baretto
Saturday, August 31, 2002

I use ikobo.com for my online store's credit card processing. Shopping cart of ikobo can also be a better alternate to paypol and oscommerce shopping carts.
For ikobo shopping cart, no CGI Scripting is required and its integration into your website is quiet easy.

Omer
Friday, April 09, 2004

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