Pick a P, any P Outsource e-commerce fulfillment with Shipwire

Posted by tom klein March 12, 2008 at 2:30 am

We might be biased, but we tend to think that all of the fun in e-commerce is in the marketing and selling – not putting stuff in boxes and handing them off to the guys in brown. Or whatever color you prefer.

That’s why a company like Shipwire can be so helpful. If you sell something online, they can help handle all of the warehousing and shipping. That way, you can focus on things like optimizing for search, improving your merchandise and merchandising, and even investing your time and effort in marketing. To get things going, first you arrange for your inventory to be sent to one of their warehouses (there are several). Then, once you’ve integrated with their service, when you close a deal on your site, they will handle the processing and shipping. So, is there any catch?

Nope. Unlike many other services, all you have to do is pay a monthly fee for storage, and then a per item fee for shipping. Do you want to sell something, but not deal with the hassle? Here’s how.

Want to see how it works? You can take them up on their offer of a free trial. You can see how their system works by having them handle the warehousing and shipping for 6 of your items.

There’s something that’s maybe even more important than having someone else handle warehousing and shipping. By spreading your inventory across multiple locations, this service can also reduce the time your customers wait for delivery. That might even be worth paying more for.

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  Speed to market Create a simple, well-designed store with Shopify

Posted by tom klein February 19, 2008 at 2:30 am

Even if you’re just getting started with selling something on your site or just have a small business that’s finally ready to move beyond a brochure, it doesn’t mean that you want to sacrifice your sense of style.

Nor will you have to, thanks to the e commerce offering from Shopify. You can create a store in about 5 minutes. Provide the requisite email and password, then choose a domain, then pick your initial design. There, you’re done. You have a store and administrative sections where you can add products, set up advertising, or even enable coupon codes. While this sort of e commerce option won’t give you everything, it can get you moving quickly with a basic set of options for managing your online sales. In addition to the setup, you will also need to choose how you would prefer to process payment – every merchant’s favorite part.

Oh, and best of all, you can set up a store and sell up to 10 SKU’s for free. Otherwise, the system takes both a transaction fee and a monthly charge. Try the free system – it’s a great way to see what happens behind the scenes and build your own skill set. Why not dive in?

This service provides a simple set of steps that explain how to set up an online store. Start with your store, upload your items, and choose a payment method, then a shipping method. The back end steps are clear, so you can focus on the design and merchandising.

While the design options provided in this system are simple, what’s important to note here is that you can have your shop designed to look as you like. It’s usually worth it to engage a web designer who knows about usability and can make sure your customers can close the deal.

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  Ether bunny Create instant phone service revenue with Ether

Posted by tom klein January 31, 2008 at 2:30 am

When you’re looking for a way to generate incremental revenue but don’t have much leeway to charge more for your products, what can you do?

Try creating a new stream of service revenue with Ether. It’s a simple system that lets you charge your customers when they call your Ether phone number. When you sign up, you indicate your rate (either by the hour or the minute). The service provides you with a free phone number / extension that you can then publish as part of your new service.

When customers call the number, they’re charged by the system. The system makes money by taking a 15% cut of what your customers pay.

Whether you want to turn your free customer service or support into a paid version or maybe want to add something special for a targeted segment, here’s an easy way to get into the service business in just a few minutes.

For an example of what you might accomplish with this service, take a look at Luminent Counseling, a counseling-and-therapy directory using Ether to handle paid phone sessions.

The secret to driving service revenue usually depends on your knowledge of your targeted segments. There are probably segments of your market that actually want to pay for a higher level of service. You may need to do some work to figure out which segment(s) those are.

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  Score a kilo... of bytes Sell electronic downloads with e-junkie

Posted by tom klein January 18, 2008 at 2:30 am

So many service companies think that e-commerce just isn’t relevant for them. Not true. Your company may be expert in the production of electronic assets and need an easy way to sell online … and then download.

E-junkie is a service that lets you sell downloadable merchandise directly from your website. Just about any electronic media is fair game, with no bandwidth limitations. E-junkie stores your files on their secure server. When a buyer makes a purchase (e-junkie provides an integrated “fat free” shopping cart), they are routed to a payment processor, like paypal or google checkout . When the transaction is completed, the processor pings the e-junkie server, which notifies both the buyer and the seller via email, and and starts the download process. Voila! Buyers get their merchandise instantly, with very little effort on your part.

Are you sitting on electronic assets (reports, research, software) that might earn a few dollars? What’s the risk in hanging it out there for sale?

What does all this cost? E-Junkie charges based on the number of products you sell and the storage you need. This system charges a monthly subscription fee (starting as low as $5) but no bandwidth or per transaction fees.

So much of self-publishing assumes one simple thing - it’s usually going to be for free (such as … this article). However, this tool can help you turn articles, research, poems, artwork, or just crazy rants into dollars. See their self-publishing guides for some ideas about how to get going.

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  Let's talk shop Build sales from word of mouth with BazaarVoice

Posted by tom klein December 19, 2007 at 2:30 am

Word of mouth refers to the sometimes mysterious way that one customer might contact or influence another potential customer. From the beginning, the web has been a powerful vehicle for referring a friend … to just about anything.

Now there are tools that can help you go beyond a simple email referral, such as BazaarVoice. It’s a service that lets businesses put user-generated content like comments, ratings and reviews to work with no help from your IT department. While it does take some IT effort to get it implemented, this company will actually host all of the content and do the heavy lifting. The point here is that it doesn’t take much to let your customers provide reviews and feedback.

If you want to build an Amazon-like customer community, here’s how. Relevant and credible customer-reviews influence online purchasing more than traditional marketing channels. Just talk to your friends.

The reason why it takes about 20 hours to set up the service on a simple site is their ability to integrate the design of the reviews with the design of your site, including elements like rating icons and product attributes.

Word of mouth is often the most powerful friend (and enemy) of a marketer. With new social networking tools like Facebook, what used to be limited to casual conversation can now be broadcast across thousands of “friends” with no effort.

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