If you've chosen to use the free version of doomby's e-commerce pack to make an online store, then you'll know how easy it is to set up your products with just a few clicks. On the other hand, if you've chosen to subscribe to the full e-commerce pack and get unlimited products for your online shop, then you may find it a lot easier to use a spreadsheet like Excel or Numbers to quickly add information for a large number of products in one go. Or if you are transferring your store from another e-commerce platform, perhaps you already have an existing online store catalog just waiting to be imported.
One of the biggest hurdles facing e-business start-ups is ensuring the webmaster or online store owner remain motivated. It's not always easy to make an online store and to keep it running, or to stick with it long enough to ensure its financial success. It takes time to build website traffic, and to transform that traffic into sales and a loyal customer base for a new e-commerce website. And it can be disheartening to have spent time and effort to make a website with an online store, only to be rewarded with an empty bank account and a trickle of visitors.
Though it's vital to stick to a plan and to do whatever it takes to remain motivated as your online store grows, there are a few essential things you can do to give it a really good start, and to ensure you develop a successful e-commerce business.
It's rare these days that you come across free things online that are genuinely useful. I mean, sure, there's free stuff that's also neat, handy or interesting (like jedi cats). But little of what you'll find online manages to combine usefulness and gratuity, without you running the risk of ending up with a hefty fine, jailed, or both. Unsatisfied with that sad status quo, today's Earth-shattering doomby annoucement is our response. Today, we're giving you something for nothing that will actually make you money, won't see you in jail1, and is super-useful2. Ever since our e-commerce solution came out (you know, the thing you can add to doomby's free website builder to make an e-commerce website that rocks), we've been all like "ohhh" and "awww" (but you hadn't noticed, right?), because we've been really pleased with what we developed. Well, we like it so much that we wanted to share it with everyone. Free. Yes, now everyone can create a website and make an online store, and rest soundly knowing it won't cost a dime.
Call us crazy, but we were partly inspired by the vertiginous drop in the euro, figuring if we didn't make it free, the new peso of the north would soon be at a level where – for the price – we'd practically be giving it away anyway. So that's just what we decided to do.
I've been thinking a lot about Jedi cats since last week, and about how I'd been living with a master of the Force for all these years without my even noticing it (though, with hindsight, his name – Yoda – was a fairly obvious clue). With just a stare, he can stop anyone dead in their tracks, forcing them - against their will - to drop everything and rub his belly. Like his namesake, he is truly a Jedi master.
Disappointing to me though it may be, not everyone seems to share my passion for feline mysticism. Nicolas is one such individual, and rather than spending his time pondering the levels of midichlorians in the blood of domestic pets, he's actually been doing something useful this past week, and has preferred spending his time thinking about online store stock management.
Imagine it: your online store looks great, you've set up your killer products with unbeatable pricing to leave the competition in your wake. You've spent hours taking multiple images of each and every item against a white sheet you hung up on your living room wall, so your customers can get a good look at them from every possible angle. You've painstakingly adjusted every single aspect of your product page design to fit perfectly with your website design, and have now built the world's most amazing (dare I say, magical) online store; not only have you learnt how to make a website that rocks, but you now have an equally brillant e-commerce website.
You are an overnight e-commerce success story.
Until you run out of stock, that is.
It's been a busy week here at doomby, and not only for our awesome website development team, fantastic support staff and brilliant managers. Even Starey the cat has been out and about, celebrating the end of a long winter (though it may actually have been fear of the great Icelandic ash cloud of 2010, or the substantial volume of fresh neighborhood roadkill, that did it).
Most of the productive buzz emanating from the far side of our offices these last few days has centered on the latest updates to our e-commerce website solution. The focus of these updates has been on improving the online store experience for your e-commerce clients, and on facilitating store management and layout to better leverage sales opportunities. As always, the goal of these latest additions is to provide new ways to create a website to really maximize revenue growth and opportunities.
Given the rapid pace of my colleague's recent programming exploits improving our free website builder, you could be forgiven for thinking he was either:
- junked up on caffeine (or worse), or
- a truly conscientious workaholic.
Although he does drink more coffee than I do, I couldn't reasonably describe his consumption as excessive. And as I'm not convinced he's the type who'd take illicit drugs (nor have I really taken the time to examine his pupils lately, what with being busy and all), I'll go for the second option (maybe he wants a raise – a car that old must cost a fortune to repair).
In any case, he's been feverishly working on fleshing out improvements to our e-commerce website tools and online store website manager, and it's really starting to bear fruit: yes, it's now even easier than ever to make a website with doomby. We really like what he's done - in fact, I'm even tempted to make a business website and build my very own little online shopping mall. Well, almost – it's a little hard, since I really haven't got a clue, and have nothing to sell*, save for a billion or so cottony hydrangea scale and about as many cat hairs (wanna buy some, cheap?).
As I mentioned at the end of last week, our development team has been feverishly working away on additions and overhauls to doomby.com and our free website builder tools. In last Friday's post, I detailed doomby's latest social networking additions (or social bookmarking, if you prefer), enabling you to create a website with easily sharable content through Facebook and Twitter integration.
This week we'll have a quick look at the latest improvements to our e-commerce website module, designed to help you make an online store that looks just the way you want it to, with a stack of new web design tools to provide greater control over the look and feel of your store's product presentation.
Our new online store website design editor is all about enabling you to make a business website that looks even better, by editing your store's CSS without needing to have the slightest idea of what CSS is, and giving your store a easy makeover you can be proud of (and that will keep your customers coming back for more!).
For those of you who actually do have an in-depth understanding of CSS, you can edit your store's CSS code directly - just as you can with your website design CSS - to achieve the same effect (and feel a whole lot cleverer).
Over the last couple of days, I've been surfing around trying to get an idea of exactly how small businesses (those with 1 to 20 employees) have embraced e-commerce. I wound up spending a lot of that time focusing on Canada – partly to honor the Olympic spirit, and partly because their results just ranked better in Google. Though I wasn't that surprised by what I read, its implications for small businesses are truly startling.
To give you an idea why, let's go back a few years to 2007 – that being the latest year for which I have a full set of figures at hand. First, the facts: although some 85% of Canadian small businesses had access to the internet, only 36% deemed it necessary to make a business website of their own. Worse still: 45% made online purchases, yet a mere 6% fully embraced reciprocal e-commerce by building an online store1.
Partly inspired by the lasting image of last week's illustration (I swear that'll be engraved in my memory forever), and partly because my internet connection is going haywire, I thought I'd write a little about getting the most out of your online store. Specifically, how to ensure your e-commerce website attracts customers willing to stick around long enough to buy something. If you're making a business website, and your goal is to use it to sell stuff, then the last thing you want is for people to do a WIWO (walk-in, walk-out – and yes, I made that up) within the first few seconds of their arrival.
First impressions last, and getting your visitors to hand over their plastic means you really need to make sure you know how to make a website that inspires confidence – it's not enough just to have great stuff to sell.
Yeah, I know, by the time you've finished reading you'll have figured out that there are actually 7 steps, but I was hoping the first – subscribing to our e-commerce solution – was a given.
I was secretly hoping to invite Nicolas to write this article (mostly out of sheer laziness, but also because since he's taken to wearing a hat, I have so much more respect for him). But then he called in sick, so it's “6 steps to attaining e-commerce nirvana for your business website” ... by me.