Archive for November, 2007

For a good part of one of the busiest online shopping days of the year, the Yahoo Stores system was reportedly down, causing shoppers and merchants alike a great deal of frustration. Check out this snapshot from the Yahoo Merchant Services system log:Yahoo Stores Down on Cyber Monday

(Source: http://updates.smallbusiness.yahoo.com/)

Looking at their timeline, it took over 24 hours for them to finally say that the issue had been resolved – ouch!!

CNBC has a full story here on this issue that has generated quite a bit of angst among a certain segment online businesses (and another article here). Sounds like there are a *lot* of unhappy merchants this morning. Here’s a quote from a merchant that had SIX online stores that were down yesterday: “All of a sudden, the bedrock of our company has been replaced with quicksand. I guess its time to diversify our merchant platform.” (Tom DePrato, quoted in the CNBC story).

I’m not one of those unhappy merchants this morning, though…

My ecommerce software and hosting combination is rock-solid, and all of my online stores worked flawlessly as they processed more orders yesterday than any other day of the year. It’s been rock-solid each and every year, and I must admit I never gave it much thought — until I heard about the pain many of my fellow online merchants have been experiencing with other solutions.

So, I’d just like to take this opportunity to say…

“Thank You, ShopSite and Lexiconn!!”

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When I’m out and about, trying to complete my holiday shopping, it’s easy to remember how quickly I’m running out of time to get it all done. The traffic, the crowds, the incredible (and time-sensitive) sales all help to reinforce my sense of urgency. However, I find that when I’m at home, at my computer, shopping online, the sense of urgency tends to fade and take a back seat, giving me a false sense of “having plenty of time” to get everything done.

As an online store owner, though, I want to remind my visitors of the proximity of the holiday, and do what I can to recreate a similar sense of urgency. It’s even more important online than in the “offline” world – the choice of online stores is nearly infinite in comparison to the brick-and-mortar choices within a reasonable driving distance. Also, when you factor in shipping times, it’s even more important for the customer to buy now rather than waiting. If they’ve made it to my website, it is imperative that I do everything I can to make the sale before they are off to the next site.

A subtle, but powerful, way to increase the sense of urgency to buy now is to put a countdown timer on your site. Here is a snapshot of the timer that I’ve put on all my ecommerce sites (and even my eBay listings):

Holiday Countdown Timer

It’s a flash-based timer that continually counts down the time left until Christmas day. I used a similar timer on the run-up to Halloween, and saw a significant increase in sales. It’s pleasant to look at, non intrusive, and yet reinforces the idea (through the continual ticking off of the hours, minutes and seconds left) that time is running out.

If you’d like this timer to put on your own site, it’s free! I created the timer myself, so I’m giving it away to my subscribers. Subscribers to this blog will get free access to the timer, all necessary files to set it up, and instructions. An email will be going out later today to current subscribers with the link. (Not a subscriber? It’s easy – fill in your name and email in the form at the upper right, and be sure to “confirm” when you receive the confirmation email. The link will then be emailed to you).

Happy Holidays!

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Nov
05

ShopSite Version 9.0 Released

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ShopSite just released the latest major upgrade for their award-winning ecommerce software – ShopSite version 9.0. I’ve been beta testing it for a while and it is a great update; I’m using several of the new features on my ecommerce sites. I highly recommend getting this upgrade as soon as possible (either by asking your hosting company or by going to them direct).

Below is the press release that has the details. I’ll be posting more soon about specific features that I’m using and how they are benefiting my business.


E-Commerce Vendor ShopSite Announces Version 9.0 of Leading Shopping Cart System

-Popular software adds Cross-sell, Free Shipping Coupon, and support for buySAFE.

October 31 2007, Orem, Utah — ShopSite, Inc., a leading provider of e-commerce shopping cart and catalog software for small to medium-sized businesses, announced the release of its new ShopSite Version 9.0. ShopSite® is an industry leading e-commerce software option for web hosting providers, for new or existing Internet merchants, and for Web designers.

“We are extremely excited to join forces with ShopSite, a true leader in making e-commerce work for both merchants and shoppers,” said Jeff Grass, buySAFE CEO. “By integrating into a premier e-commerce platform like ShopSite, buySAFE is better able to increase confidence in shoppers, which benefits ShopSite merchants and online commerce as a whole.”

“With buySAFE and several other new features, version 9.0 adds functionality to enhance sales for merchants as we enter the holiday shopping season” said CEO David Hills. “At the top of the new feature list are Cross-Sell, Free Shipping Coupons, improved Product Search, and integration with buySAFE and USPS.”

Cross-sell

The new Product Cross-sell feature in ShopSite Pro allows merchants to show additional products in the cart that a shopper may wish to purchase. The products displayed to the shopper will be related to the product that the shopper just added. For example, if they add a DVD to their cart, other DVDs by the same director or the CD containing the sound track can also be displayed for purchase.

In addition to the Product Cross-sell, there is a Global Cross-sell option. Here the merchant can list their “best sellers” or “today’s specials” and have those products be displayed in the cart for possible purchase.

Free Shipping Coupon

The Free Shipping Coupon feature allows ShopSite Pro merchants to create a coupon to allow customers free shipping on qualifying orders. Merchants can select free shipping for a selected shipping method (e.g. ground) when creating the coupon, as well as coupon options such as a minimum purchase amount and an expiration date.

Product Search

Product Search in ShopSite Manager and Pro has been improved with better relevancy, search logging, and sort order. The merchant can now indicate what product information should have a higher relevancy ranking such as the Product Name or Description. With search logging merchants can now see what products shoppers are looking for that they do not carry. For the shopper, once the results are displayed they can click to have the results sorted by relevancy, price, or alphanumerically.

buySAFE

ShopSite Pro and Manager now support buySAFE’s product bonding for shoppers. For a nominal fee shoppers can have their purchase guaranteed by buySAFE. buySAFE puts merchants through a certification process and continues to monitor the merchant so that shoppers can be reassured when they see the buySAFE seal on a merchant’s store.

USPS

Similar to ShopSite Pro and Manager’s current integration with FedEx and UPS for real-time quotes, ShopSite now is integrated with the newest API from U.S. Postal Service – USPS Web Tools.

The complete list of new features can be viewed at this URL:

http://www.shopsite.com/help/9.0/en-US/new-features.html

ShopSite is sold by hundreds of reseller partners, including hosting companies such as NTT/Verio, PowWeb, FatCow, LexiConn, pair Networks, Globat, YourHost.com, and BroadSpire. The thousands of merchant Web sites using ShopSite include the Getty Trust Foundation, Hometime, Ben Sherman, Avia and many others.

About ShopSite

ShopSite, Inc., is a private company based in Orem, Utah and has provided electronic commerce software for the small to medium-sized business since 1996. The company’s software is an online catalog and shopping cart system that is extremely powerful and easy to learn. With ShopSite software, merchants can manage their online stores entirely, regardless of their technical background—there’s no HTML coding required.

The ShopSite family includes three products:

  • ShopSite Starter™ for merchants just starting out or stores that don’t have many products.
  • ShopSite Manager™ offers an unlimited number of products and pages, Custom Templates, data upload and download, Store Search, and more.
  • ShopSite Pro™ for stores that need advanced features such as Coupons, Digital Downloads, Gift Certificates, Customer Registration, Inventory Tracking, Volume Discounts, and Associates.

A comprehensive list of features in all ShopSite products can be found at http://www.shopsite.com/scchecklist.html.

ShopSite is server-based software that works with existing Web browsers, which means that merchants do not need to download or install anything on their desktop in order to create and manage a ShopSite store. Merchants can preview a demo version of ShopSite and obtain pricing information by visiting www.shopsite.com.

Categories : Ecommerce, ShopSite
Comments (5)

One of my ecommerce sites was contacted by a major television network today for an overnight order. They need it there by tomorrow – and they are on the other side of the country.

Overnight orders are stressful, somewhat complicated, and expensive if mistakes are made. For a while, I didn’t offer “overnight” for those exact reasons.

Then, I decided to take the long view, and focus on what’s best for the customer instead of what’s most convenient for me.

If I weren’t offering overnight / expedited shipping, I would miss out on many first time orders, and any potential repeat orders from customers who needed or wanted their merchandise quickly. And, more important to the subject at hand, today’s order would not have happened at all.

It’s worth it to trade a little convenience on my part for the sake of my customers (and ultimately my business). The long view in action.

To take it a step further – I shipped two complete orders to them, via two different carriers, at my own expense. (My experience with overnight shipping reliability is somewhat spotty – enough so that I don’t have 100% confidence in it). I’m hedging my bets, spending out of my own pocket so that I don’t miss this golden opportunity.

To what end?

I want to make sure that this major TV show gets my merchandise in time so they can use it on their show as intended… and then I can say “As seen on [major TV show]” on my site. That level of credibility and publicity is worth far more than the extra product and shipping costs.

The short-term view would be that the extra money has been wasted, and that it’s impossible to know whether it ever directly results in future sales. (This inclination is a close relative of the sensation I experience whenever my alarm clock goes off).

The long view recognizes this “expense” as an investment for the future. That if the first package doesn’t make it in time – and there is no backup plan — it will cost far more in lost sales than it costs to send two packages.

The difference really comes down to why I’m doing ecommerce in the first place. The short view would be fine if this were just a hobby. But I’m in business therefore, the long view must prevail.

What do you think?

Categories : Ecommerce
Comments (19)