Posts Tagged ‘ecommerce’

Don’t Be Part Of An Online Virtual Mall

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

eCommerce is now so easy and so inexpensive that it really makes no sense to be part of anything calling itself an online virtual mall. We love Volusion. They have so many excellent features, and the pricing is certainly fair. Unless you need extensive eCom customisation (which we can do), Volusion should be a great solution for most sellers. We don’t get paid by Volusion to say that. We’re just happy to design Volusion sites for clients.

But once upon a time, I incurred some wrath…

Years ago, a website came onto the scene. It was called Bonanzle, later changed to Bonanza. I didn’t think the model made sense, so I openly said that people should not spend their time trying to make a Bonanza “booth” or bring traffic to a site where you might have competitors. The site billing itself as the friendliest shopping site online (because of its active discussion forums) went on a campaign to try to smear me.

That was surreal. But didn’t distract from the truth. Every time I asked somebody how their Bonanza sales were, I got either no information, excuses, or the truth that it was nearly zero. People who were making sales admitted that they were mostly coming from other Bonanza sellers trying to support the site. They would tell me the site needed time to get shoppers. I said that without serious marketing, how will anybody know to shop there? Who has heard of it? What is Bonanza doing about that other than waiting for you to bring traffic to the site?

People told me I was just a hater, and I was just an eBay cheerleader. I was neither. I was and am someone who looks critically and honestly at companies’ business models, how they market, etc… Sorry but Bonanza never seemed like a winner to me, and I didn’t think it was worth my clients’ time and effort. Yes even after they installed a module to import everything you had on eBay into Bonanza. Many of my clients’ eBay listings link to their eBay stores and make references to eBay… that has to look awfully weird on a non-eBay site.

I don’t hear about Bonanza anymore, and that’s just fine. But I decided to pop by Alexa, which has stats on websites, to see how they’re doing. I got two 2-year charts. The first measures the estimated number of internet users around the world visiting this site:

ScreenHunter_30 Feb. 06 08.03

The second chart shows the amount of time users tend to spend on the site. This chart clearly shows a decline. People visiting the site are spending less time on it than they were before. Obviously, a website would hope that over time, MORE people come there and spend MORE time. These charts show stagnation if not drops. Can we call this one yet?

ScreenHunter_31 Feb. 06 08.03

What’s the lesson here?

If I had to give you a takeaway tip, it would be that not every eCommerce effort is worth your time. Focus more on the sites that have great traffic, or on how to generate traffic to your own site. Don’t send traffic to anybody else’s site, and that includes eBay. If you have control of traffic, send people to YOUR site. Forget online malls, and for now, forget selling from Facebook as it’s been a non-starter even for big companies (future blog post).

Your own eCommerce site at your own dot com. It’s cheaper and easier than it’s ever been, and of course, we can help. Just ask. :)


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Magento Has A New Hosted Store

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Magento is now offering new “Go” stores. Check out the tour and features here. If you are shopping around for hosted solutions, this is definitely one to check out. Our clients also like Volusion.

Of course, As Was can design and customise these shopping carts, and many more.

Many online sellers ask me the difference between a hosted solution and one where you get all the code. A hosted solution is more turnkey. You turn it on, it’s installed, you can start using it, and as the company updates features or fixed bugs, you have all of that automatically. When you get the source code, like the full version of Magento, you have to install that on a server. You have to admin that server or hosting account. As there are updates, you have to have someone install them. If something breaks, you have to find someone to fix it as Magento doesn’t want to troubleshoot your custom install of their system (well, not for free!). So it can be more work and more expense, but the result is something that you can nearly limitlessly customize.

A third option is one I hear from time to time, which sounds something like, “I found a guy who’s going to build me my own eCommerce system.” In nearly all cases, this is a bad idea. Unless you are a giant marketplace with needs and requirements that no system could come close to fulfilling, then maybe that’s a good idea. But 99% of the time, it sets you up for two things: 1) Being beholden to this guy for all of your maintenance, upgrades, etc…, and 2) feeling like your eCom world fell apart when you can’t find the guy or he goes and gets a real job.

So remember, for most businesses, a hosted solution is a good way to go. A solution where you get the code, like the full version of Magento, can be right if you don’t mind running your own server, maintaining that code, and finding people to install your updates. It’s nearly never a good idea to have some guy or some company build you your own eCom system from scratch.


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