Recently in E-Commerce

This is a pretty good ad

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It may be a little too specific for the general public - but if you are in the business of marketing and selling online you'll get it:

All In

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So it looks like I am having a frustrating run as an commerce consultant for a small brand come to an end. The client isn't happy - and I am not happy. The reasons are many, probably there are plenty of fingers to point, but the thing that phrase that keeps coming to mind is` "all in".

As in you have to be - you absolutely have to be all in if you are going to sell fashion (and many other things - everything eventually) online. There is no "let's try this", "let's try that" - you want to advertise online, you go to the top, Google. You want to use the Google system, you have to get past AdWords text ads and go all in for the Google Product Listing Ads. And then you have to go all in there - better photos, better descriptions, better prices! You can't sleep in online retail, because the competition isn't. You have to retarget - Criteo, Google, others - you don't like it? You think its creepy? So what - the other guys are doing it and they are killing you.

Don't post to all your social media channels everyday? May as well give up. Don't stay on top of new trends? Don't have all the latest market research? Etc. etc. etc. It never ends online. You can't use the bricks and mortar model at all - and you can't have a real physical store and just want to have a small presence online, unless you are prepared to only ever sell a little bit of whatever it is you sell and spend a lot of money doing it (there are some industry/business type exceptions of course but this post is really about global fashion).

There are lessons here for small brands and labels - don't compete against yourself is the number one take away for me. If you are small, and you already have wholesalers and retailers carrying your stuff, let them do the selling. You concentrate on making the best products you can make and building your brand - not stealing sales from your partners.

Anyway - an end of year rant... on to bigger and better things!

Continued consolidation in social shopping sites

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Following on the heels of the Stylefeeder deal, ThisNext has announced their acquisition of StyleHive. Good times if you are a social shopping start up I guess, but I wonder if the cashing out by these companies means they were starting to hit a wall on growth and/or operating costs?

We make websites

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Starting in 2010 (so that would be now) we are back in the website business. For various reasons I wasn't taking on outside work (other than that of people I already knew) but for various reasons we are back in the marketplace.

I prefer to focus on things that hold an interest to me personally and fit in with my expertise - destination travel, the Caribbean, Italy, wine, etc. For example, I don't want to make a website for a candle shop - anywhere. We specialize in travel and tourism marketing/destination content, with a sprinkling of food and wine, and some art, architecture and history sprinkled on top.

We prefer to use available tools, are into LAMP, like to try to code to standards, and must work in an environment with a CMS (preferably Movable Type). We can give you everything you need, but we'll work to keep the price real. We can start small and grow with you, from a flat site with a few pages, to dynamic sites with all the latest tools, bells, and whistles. E-commerce is also available at various levels of sophistication. SEO is built in. Reporting is by Google Analytics. Social networking is available.

If you have any interest we opened up a business card type of site here with an example of our work and contact info - I will be adding links to more client work soon.

Happy 2010 -

Anthony

I guess Amazon didn't get the memo

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top-logo._V11874419_.gifNew feature in my in-box this morning about being able to tweet Amazon products using your Amazon Associates account... sounds ripe for all kinds of bad stuff to happen:

Dear Associate,

Today we are excited to announce the launch of a new feature called Share on Twitter. You can access Share on Twitter from the Site Stripe and post to your Twitter account from Amazon detail pages in just two clicks.

The Share on Twitter feature is easy to use. Simply log in to your Amazon Associates account and then visit any detail page on Amazon.com. By clicking on the Share on Twitter button in the Site Stripe, a new window will open and an Amazon-generated message is pre populated in the 'What are you doing?' text area of your Twitter account (you may be asked to log in to your Twitter account). That message will include a shortened URL that already includes your Associates ID. You'll have the option to edit this message or simply hit the 'Update' button to post to your Twitter account. When Twitter users click on the link in your post and make a qualifying sale, you'll earn referral fees. That's it.

And I guess Amazon doesn't see any issue with the new FTC rules?

Travel Affiliate Trends

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Something I am seeing a lot of lately and not liking is travel affiliates cutting their programs - sometimes cutting things out all together (like cruises), shortening cookie length from 45 or 30 days to 7 days or less (one well know regional travel site recently cut their cookie life to one day!), to of course lowering commissions.

I know travel is hurting, but when you take a content partner blog or website, and suddenly give them no reason to promote your sales - well - you are going to do even less business, and anything you might think you are saving is actually going to disappear. Plus it leave a very bad taste in the publishers mouth going forward. In mine anyway...

Have you been seeing your commissions or terms decrease in value? Leave a comment and let us know.

Hosting a secure image for PayPal checkout

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PayPal is constantly fighting off fraudulent attempts by hackers to gain access to their system and/or their users information. At some point there was a genius who managed to do something nefarious through the PayPal users logo image, so now this image must be served from a secure server (a website/server starting with https, meaning the data transfered is encrypted in transit).

Of course, many people are using PayPal because they don't have a secure server, so unless you want the generic PayPal logo over your checkout pages you have to find one to be able to use a custom logo.

SSLpic is here to solve that issue - this single function website allows you to upload your image, which is then hosted on their secure server. You get the code back to enter in PayPal, and voila, you're done.

PayPal secure server down!

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Wow - sort of surprising to see a generic Apache error page from someone like PayPal:

Picture%202.png

This was about 5:30 AM EST - I guess they are working on something.

Yahoo! Merchant Solutions

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We use a Yahoo! store for our shopping and e-commerce solution (I still call it a "store" - they now call it Yahoo! Merchant Solutions - which shows you how long I have been doing this!). Using a Yahoo! store also gives us a gateway for charging our advertising customers (we did already have our own merchant account, but no terminal). I did a lot of shopping around and comparing of what else was on the market before I picked the Yahoo! solution. Overall, I would have to say that we have been pretty happy with it - it is very powerful, and if you get into their special flavor of mark-up, a lot can be done as far as customizing the look and feel of the site, etc. Another reason I was extremely happy I choose Yahoo! was that I almost choose a solution from FedEx, which they then stopped offering a couple of years later. That would have been a major hassle to have to suddenly have found another solution and to have all the time invested in it gone to waste.

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