Feature

Customers get the commission

The portals shoppin.net and igivealittle.com get sales commission from stores and pass it on to the shopper

Setting up two shopping portals to over 550 stores around the world provided Robert Moorehouse with three months of dedicated evening and weekend development work, writes Martin Couzins.

However, these are no ordinary portals, as Moorehouse explains. "Shoppin.net pays its members the sales commission that sites pay shoppin.net. For example, StreetsOnline pays up to 5%, so members buying from the site have up to 5% of the net sale credited to their shoppin.net account. At the end of each quarter cheques are issued to all members that have a balance on the account."

The igivealittle.com portal works on the same principle, with commission paid to any organisation that has registered on the site. This could be a charity, school or individual.

Moorehouse says shoppin.net is a success, with high numbers of page impressions and members from as far afield as Australia. However, he is keen to get charities on-board igivealittle.com to make the site take off.

The concurrent portal projects provided Moorehouse with the opportunity to write and develop the sites from scratch, from the design and functionality to the actual scripting of the site. The site server runs NT and IIS using Active Server Pages (ASPs) and a little Javascript with numerous access databases.

Moorehouse says that using ASPs allowed him to use the same pages on both sites, with the ASP determining which site is being accessed. The pages generated would then show the correct images, hyperlinks and text.

ASPs are also used within the site for generating automatic e-mails issued to new members, sending password requests and, from next month, allowing members to send e-mails from the site via a single page. "With all the pages being ASP-generated, the tools used were Visual Interdev and a plain text editor. Initial design and layout was run through Front Page," Moorehouse explains.

He says the best moment came when users started to register. "Getting the first member then the first sale then sending out the first cheques, even though one was for just 2p, were all a highlight.

"The worst moment was seeing criticism of the site in a news group one weekend. This is what prompted the first redesign of the layout, and as yet there have been no further bad reports that I have found."

With hindsight, Moorehouse says he would have looked for financial backing to enable a big launch. He also says a partnership with an ISP or bank would have been good, as would a cash-back Visa card option. "But what's done is done and I am happy with the sites."

Curriculum vitae

  • Name: Robert Moorehouse

  • Age: 30

  • Qualifications: law degree, Chelmer Law School

  • IT skills: NT (Exchange, SQL Server, IIS), Visual Interdev, VB, VBA, ASP, HTML. Currently learning Java

  • Hobbies: home cinema

  • Favourite pub: Black Horse, Skipton

  • Favourite book: Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien

  • Moorehouse on Moorehouse: Ambitious, hardworking, persistent


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    This was first published in August 2000

     

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