Adding products to your site

One of the most time consuming aspects of running this business is adding new products to the site.  Now, unless you are able to hook up your site to your manufacturer(s) or distributor(s), you’ll need to do most of this input by hand.  Which means it takes time.

In addition, there’s always the consideration of SEO.  Unique content is a must, and that means rewriting your product descriptions as much as possible.  However, to do that you  need time and expertise.  It’s not enough to just throw up some content and hope it’s good – you need ot make it both good and relevant.

So, what can you do?

Contract it out – you could hire some writers to work for you.  A writer with copy-writing (and web writing) experience could rewrite product descriptions.  It’s not a bad idea, after you input the product basics.  Costs would probably be in the $0.10 – 0.25 range per word; so not too bad unless like us, you have a constantly increasing amount of products / rotating products.

In-house – you could train people to do it in-house.  Of course, the question then is how good the training is.  Still, it gives you better control of what is happening in your business.

Copy & Paste – take a selective approach.  Rewrite the one’s that make the most sense, the one’s which have the best sales once they’ve done well. The rest – just copy and paste.  After all, not all pages have to rank – just the one’s that will give you funds.

 

E-Commerce Business: Web Development / IT Thoughts

If you want to run an e-commerce store, one of the major factors is that your entire business runs off a bunch of code.  You could run a B&M store without a single piece of electronic equipment in the store, but there’s no way you could do that with E-Commerce.  As such, you need to start considering how you want to manage the IT side of the business.

Within this, you have 3 major areas:

  1. Web Design – what your website looks like.  The HTML / CSS / Javascript side of the business for the most part.
  2. Web Programming – sometimes, it’s not a matter of adding new design elements to the site but adding new features.  Upsell / Cross-sell options, new payment gateways, new shipping methods, etc. all fall under this.
  3. Hosting – where your website lives on the Internet.

When considering each area, it’s worth considering whether you want to go to a:

  • in-house solution
  • contracted solution
  • Software-as-a-Service (hosted) solution

Your choices will vary depending on the amount of in-house expertise you have, the reliability of your contractors (and their expertise), your available funds and the frequency of updates in each area.

My personal recommendations generally boil down to keeping hosting contracted and varying between in-house and contracted solutions for web design & development depending on the size of the business.  If you are starting out, and don’t have the skills to back it up, SaaS systems are probably the best option.

Not to sound alarmist or anything…

Has anyone else noticed that this Christmas season has had a slow start? Normally, right after Rememberance Day; like clockwork we get this huge surge of sales on our site.  It goes up by 1.5 to 2x and just keeps climbing till a week or so before XMas.

Right now, it’s gone up but not to the same amount. I’d say we are at 1.3x our normal sales volume.

A bit worrying since we have been banking on a good Christmas to cover some bills.  Anyone else feeling the heat yet?

E-Commerce Perceptions

It’s strange working in the e-commerce field talking to disparate groups.  If you talk to your ‘run-of-the-mill’ general folk, once you explain what you do ‘sort of like Amazon‘; most of them nod their head sagely and go ‘oh yeah, great field; you are the next big thing‘.

Then you talk to people who work in Brick & Mortar stores, people whose livelihood are impacted by our new venture, by the Internet and you get a completely different point-of-view.  We are predators, we are everything that is evil and wrong with the world.  We destroy local businesses and savage communities. In short, we are the enemies of all the right thinking men.

It’s a huge contrast, from a quiet ‘yay, you’ to ‘death to the heathens’ attitude so many bring.  Sometimes, you’ll see it couched as other forms of discussion, how we are really ‘irrelevant’ or unimportant, how we are a small part of the economy.  If we are (and we are to some extent); why are you bothering to even comment?

It’s funny sometimes standing in the middle, just trying ot make a living.

SEO is Dead. Long live SEO

Every couple of months we see a new post decrying the death of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).  There’s actually some very good reasons for these posts, but when you’ve heard the boy cry wolf for over a decade, it can get old.  Yet these days, I think they’ve got a point…

Black Hat & White Hat

Let’s be clear – black hat SEO seems to be doing well.  It’s mostly white hat’s that have been hammered by Google.  If you did everything they said you should do, you can still find yourself in a really hard place – unable to develop the authorship, the link profiles, the relevance and authority that you need by playing their game especially with new properties.

On the other hand, going down the black hat route is fraught with danger.  Make a mistake and you can wipe out – completely.  You could lose everything you’ve built up, or worst – build up in anticipation (or with current sales) and see it all disappear in a blink of the eye when Google catches you.  Not a great thing… I’ve seen it happen before.

So, is SEO dead? Is white hat SEO dead?

Just A Name Change

Not really. What’s happened is a name change – a rebranding.  Now all the white hat SEO’s are calling themselves ‘inbound marketers’.  They’ve expanded their game, from pure manipulation of on-page content and on-page information to include things like content creation, Public Relations and events and the like.

It’s not new – it’s been happening for a while now, but the focus has continued to expand so much with the changes Google has forced us on all that it’s now the thing.  You can’t drive links in anyway other than via PR or good content creation.  You have to plan for some real ‘whiz-bang’ in your marketing now, or else it’ll just die.

It’s possible to do it other ways, to do it slow and quiet; to get guest posts and to reach out to bloggers and the like.  Yet, that’s still PR – just in the guise of link building.  It’s certainly made start-up costs much, much higher.  Now, you’ll have to be willing to shell out real money to get content and views; all in the hope that somehow it’ll get you what you need.

The game’s changed, and frankly; it’s not for the better I think.  Capital needs have definitely gone up.