OpenCart and Journal Theme

If you are familiar with how OpenCart works, you would have realized by now that getting your OpenCart up-to-date can be a very overwhelming task.

Each time the folks at OpenCart announces a new release, everyone starts popping champagne because someone’s finally going to fix the critical bugs, but lo and behold, each new releases also introduces a new swarm of bugs.

That’s Open Source for you…

Anyway, if you are using Journal Theme for your OpenCart, always remember to update the Journal theme right after you updated OpenCart. It doesn’t matter if there’s no new version for Journal, but just proceed to update your Journal with the latest version you have on hand so that you overwrite the files on the freshly updated OpenCart. If you don’t update your Journal theme and proceed to access the admin pages, you might lose some or all of your Journal theme settings, which can be a pain-in-the-ass.

You will not get any warnings from your Journal theme. I learned this the hard way. You’ve been warned!

2015-06-05T00:50:26+08:00June 5th, 2015|E-Commerce, OpenCart|1 Comment

WooCommerce Now Part of WordPress

WooCommerce Now Part of WordPress

On 19th May, one of the most popular e-commerce WordPress plugins – WooCommerce becomes officially part of the WordPress family.

Some fast facts on WooCommmerce as of May 2015.

    Founders: Mark Forrester & Magnus Jepson
    Number of Employees: 55
    Downloads: 7 million with approximately 1 million active installed base
    Market Share: 30% of All Online Stores Worldwide (In comparison, my favorite e-commerce platform OpenCart has about 7.13%)
    Acquisition Cost (Speculated): USD30 million (Source:

It’s Automattic’s biggest acquisition so far. With WordPress backing up WooCommerce, we know that:
1) e-Commerce is important to bloggers, and to Automattic.
2) Plug-ins development can be a lucrative business model.
3) Besides banner advertisements and sponsored posts, you can monetize your content on WordPress by selling physical goods

I have personally not used WooCommerce, only got around installing it 3 years ago on one of the blogs I manage. I didn’t like the interface and I had a difficult time convincing myself how a plug-in could turn WordPress into a full-fledged e-commerce platform- equipped with invoicing, payment, inventory and logistic features. Call me an old fart, but I am in the camp where if you try to do too many things, you start to compromise on your real strengths.

2015-05-31T21:53:38+08:00May 31st, 2015|E-Commerce|0 Comments

eBay Gets a Taste of Its Own Medicine

If you’ve been a seller on eBay for some years, you would have experienced eBay’s notoriety in protecting their buyers, often at the expenses of the sellers. Not only that, policies and algorithms changes in eBay has always been kept secret and it’s always up to the sellers to figure out before their sales vanish into oblivion.

So, it’s nice to know that eBay is not all that invincible after all:

Things really hasn’t been going very smoothly at eBay recently:
eBay Wants You To Change Your Password After Huge Hack

2014-05-23T02:09:04+08:00May 23rd, 2014|E-Commerce, Traffic Building|0 Comments

Purchasing and Sourcing

Both activities get products into your store.

One should be automated, the other one needs a bit more intervention from you.

Purchasing is a formula built using a few variables- stock status, historical purchase, sale’s growth (or decline) etc. You should have a system that tells you this automatically. Your time is better spent elsewhere.

Sourcing is a bit more intuitive. A bit of trials and errors, hits and misses. Having a budget will also help reduce the risk. You get better the more you do it.

2014-05-16T02:59:38+08:00May 16th, 2014|E-Commerce|0 Comments


They are generally 2 types of online selling platforms.

Type A: One that allow others to sell on it (eBay, Lelong, Rakuten,, Taobao) and ,

Type B: One that sells directly to customers (Amazon, Home Depot).

Note to merchants (sellers) who are offered both platforms from the same company. If you don’t manufacture your own products or owns the brand you sell, it’s a matter of time before your sales is ‘usurped’ by the company because they know exactly what you sell and who your customers are.

That’s what big companies do. They eat the small ones to get bigger.

Read about how Amazon utilizes 3rd party sellers (The Everything Store by Brad Stone) to gain insights on market trends and demands.

2014-03-04T23:51:34+08:00March 4th, 2014|E-Commerce|0 Comments

Stock What You Sell

Selling your products online may sound easy, but if you are going to make it a full time job, then be prepared to go through the same survival-of-the-fittest challenges that will be thrown upon you.

The reality is much tougher than it looks. You may have heard of the term ‘drop-ship’, where you actually sell something that is not in your own inventory. Instead, you actually ask your supplier or manufacturer to drop-ship your orders for you. This may sound like a very good arrangement, but very often, your customer service’s quality will be compromised. Speed of delivery is out of your control. The way the items are packaged is out of your control. The stock level is out of your control. With so many things out of your control, you are risking your reputation.

Yes, drop-shipping may help to alleviate your cash flow issue, but it also introduces many problems into your operation. When you drop ship, you don’t receive the goods in your warehouse hence causing your stock level to be negative. You then setup a virtual warehouse for each of your suppliers to solve the goods receiving problem. And virtual warehouses can become an administrative nightmare when it comes to tallying your stocks.

So, I can only tell you this- if you are indeed serious about selling your products, stock them. Stock just enough to last for a 2 weeks if cash is tight. If possible, stock up to 30 days.

Why are you not stocking them now? Probably you are not confident about selling them. If so, talk to your suppliers and ask them for consignment. If you can’t get consignment, ask them if you can exchange the goods with similar value products. If you want to return the stocks for good, is there a restocking fee (usually 10-15%)? Some suppliers demand cash on delivery, but if you can find suppliers who can provide you with 30 days credit, then you get yourself some breathing space. When we started, one of our suppliers was kind enough to give us 120 days credit. That was one of the critical factors that allowed the company to last till today.

Back to the stock issue. Since you don’t have all the money in the world (at least not yet), you cannot stock everything you are selling on your website. So, the key in stocking up is priority. Naturally, you want to stock the items that you sell the most, but starting out, you probably don’t have the data to back you up on which item would be in demand, and most importantly, if certain demand trend is picking up, or dying off.

This is where your intuition plays a big role. Yup, logic can only help with facts and figures, but if you are trying to look into the future, you have to start using your sixth sense. By that, I don’t mean you are gambling. Real entrepreneurs don’t gamble, because in a game of chance, they know the odds are always against them.

There are a number of factors that will cause your product to sell like hot cakes or turn your hot cakes into cold turkeys. Here are a few reasons I can think of:
1) competition; some is good, too much or too little is no good
2) stock availability; if it’s easy to get anywhere, it’s probably more challenging to sell
3) profit margin; the higher the profit, the better you can wage a price war, but don’t get addicted as the winner of a price war means you just created a low profit business for yourself
4) mass appeal; if given a choice between selling chicken eggs or a Bugatti Veyron gearbox, always choose the eggs.

But the most important factor, more than any of the ones listed above, is your opinion towards the product itself. Simply because your opinion on the object you are selling matters. Are you already sold on the product yourself? Would you disown your own family members if they don’t buy from you? Would your friend associate you as the ambassador of the product you are selling? If you don’t have a favorable opinion on the product you are selling, you won’t go the extra mile in pushing them to the market. No, you cannot be neutral about it either. In fact, you have to be extremely biased.

So, you now know how to get the right product to stock. Now, go sell it.

2014-01-21T02:29:25+08:00January 18th, 2014|E-Commerce|0 Comments