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 Post subject: E-Commerce/Online Gift Shops
PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2020 4:27 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2018 7:13 pm
Posts: 1
Hi All,

First time poster, long time lurker... I'd like to know if anyone on this board has had experience with E-commerce/online gift sales. Considering that a lot of places are closed due to COVID, I'm curious if opening a web store would be an effective way to fundraise in the interim. Since some organizations don't have a brick-and-mortar gift store (i.e. big steam operators), are on-line gift sales a significant amount of revenue? And for the museums/tourist railroads, do online gift sales generate comparable revenue to brick-and-mortar sales?

Thanks,
Justin


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 Post subject: Re: E-Commerce/Online Gift Shops
PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2020 4:43 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:54 am
Posts: 845
Location: New Franklin, OH
Justin - Welcome to the Interchange.

That’s a good question. Primarily, I see the question as does the benefit surpass the cost. Online sales is a good way to chip into the kitty if you garner enough sales. For us, I’m just about ready to pull the trigger on a self-managed online store so the only additional costs, other than inventory, would be the yearly tighter security certificate and possibly a payment module (one time cost). If you can’t load and manage your own software, then you have a cost for someone to host and manage it for you. I’m curious as well how others are doing in this department.

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Orrville Railroad Heritage Society
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https://orrvillerailroad.com


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 Post subject: Re: E-Commerce/Online Gift Shops
PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2020 4:57 pm 

Joined: Fri Sep 20, 2013 2:34 pm
Posts: 149
Online sales can be a great additional source of revenue. In a non-profit I was involved with, about 25% of our revenue came from our online sales operation.

I think the key is to have items that are unique to your operation. Selling the same books, puzzles and toys that everyone else has will not generate much in the way of sales.

Take a look at the WW&F Railway Museum's offerings. They have a lot of unique stuff and on occasion they are not afraid to offer limited run high priced items.

You can check out my company's website as well http://www.phoebesnowco.com. We offer a lot of unique products that we can customize for a specific location/museum.


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 Post subject: Re: E-Commerce/Online Gift Shops
PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2020 5:10 pm 

Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2009 3:07 pm
Posts: 629
Location: B'more Maryland
The CRHS has used its online store heavily over the past decade.
It's an important tool to have in the toolbox for a number of reasons and I can't imagine running an operation without one.

Unless you have someone with significant technical knowhow in the digital commerce world, I would highly recommend going with one of the "Software as a Service" (aka "Cloud") turnkey options like Squarespace or Shopify. They can help you from having to worry about things like PCI-DSS compliance, data security, GDPR and all those other things that make online commerce challenging or risky for small operations.


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 Post subject: Re: E-Commerce/Online Gift Shops
PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2020 9:26 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jan 20, 2007 5:40 pm
Posts: 385
Location: Hamilton, Illinois
Keokuk Union Depot has a modest "Gift Shoppe" where we sell Depot souvenir items, clothing, etc. We use the PayPal "Add to Cart" buttons for online sales. Not a big operation, but it works for our clientele.
https://www.keokukuniondepot.org/shoppe.html

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 Post subject: Re: E-Commerce/Online Gift Shops
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2020 10:22 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 9:48 am
Posts: 360
Location: Clayton NC
If your org does on-line ticket sales, it is very possible whomever your vendor is for that service will also offer e-commerce solutions.

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 Post subject: Re: E-Commerce/Online Gift Shops
PostPosted: Mon Aug 03, 2020 8:43 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:54 am
Posts: 845
Location: New Franklin, OH
To be a bit more definitive to my previous post, I’m looking at Open Cart (open source) for the store hosted on our website and using Square as the payment portal module since we already use their POS service and it’s PCI-DSS compliant. This route will keep the costs down to a minimum and maintain customer data security. The Shopify Buy Button is another payment route being considered as a low cost solution.

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Eric Schlentner
Orrville Railroad Heritage Society
Car Knocker, Gandy Dancer & Hog Jockey
https://orrvillerailroad.com


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 Post subject: Re: E-Commerce/Online Gift Shops
PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:28 am 

Joined: Fri Sep 20, 2013 2:34 pm
Posts: 149
jayrod wrote:
To be a bit more definitive to my previous post, I’m looking at Open Cart (open source) for the store hosted on our website and using Square as the payment portal module since we already use their POS service and it’s PCI-DSS compliant. This route will keep the costs down to a minimum and maintain customer data security. The Shopify Buy Button is another payment route being considered as a low cost solution.


Our website is set up on Wordpress. We use Woo Commerce which I think is a fairly easy to learn/easy to use sales platform. There are a lot of add on features, call Widgets that allow things like generating labels, calculate best shipping rates, creating custom reports, etc. There is a Widget for Square which automatically ties your sales into your Square account.


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 Post subject: Re: E-Commerce/Online Gift Shops
PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2020 3:53 pm 

Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2009 3:07 pm
Posts: 629
Location: B'more Maryland
jayrod wrote:
To be a bit more definitive to my previous post, I’m looking at Open Cart (open source) for the store hosted on our website and using Square as the payment portal module since we already use their POS service and it’s PCI-DSS compliant. This route will keep the costs down to a minimum and maintain customer data security. The Shopify Buy Button is another payment route being considered as a low cost solution.


Be really careful there.

Even though Square's POS service is compliant, depending on your site's situation, you may or may not be in compliance.

Unless you've got a solid hosting situation (ie, not a shared hosting co), you might be in for a surprise.


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 Post subject: Re: E-Commerce/Online Gift Shops
PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2020 6:16 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:54 am
Posts: 845
Location: New Franklin, OH
I’m also looking at VPS hosting and an EV SSL certificate. An upgrade to VPS will mean only a slight bump in cost from our current high speed shared hosting. I can’t justify the cost of a managed dedicated server.

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Eric Schlentner
Orrville Railroad Heritage Society
Car Knocker, Gandy Dancer & Hog Jockey
https://orrvillerailroad.com


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 Post subject: Re: E-Commerce/Online Gift Shops
PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2020 6:56 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2004 2:46 pm
Posts: 2168
Location: Pac NW, via North Florida
So few museums have gift shops open for internet sales. That's really said, too.
Heck, if you call even some big museums, they won't know what to do if you ask if you can buy something they sell.
I'll never forget the hat I didn't buy at one place I'll not name here. I brooded on it and eventually called. It took some time for the nice young lady on the phone to figure it out, but she took down my credit card info and the hat showed up days later...
But the postage she'd used cost them more than what I'd paid for the hat!
By just saying, "Come see our great gift shop" with a small photo of the stuff on the racks on your website is seriously missing out on revenue!

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 Post subject: Re: E-Commerce/Online Gift Shops
PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2020 4:54 pm 

Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2009 3:07 pm
Posts: 629
Location: B'more Maryland
jayrod wrote:
I’m also looking at VPS hosting and an EV SSL certificate. An upgrade to VPS will mean only a slight bump in cost from our current high speed shared hosting. I can’t justify the cost of a managed dedicated server.


I'm a bit rusty on my PCI standards, but before you invest in that approach you'll want to make sure it will be compliant.

If not, bite the bullet and go with one of the SaaS offerings. It'll save you a lot of headaches and some potential liability.


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