How to Build an ecommerce Store – Part 1.

By: Chad Bell
So you have decided to save some money and build your online business yourself.

Good for you!

Here is a guide outlining the logistics of eCommerce development.

1. Finding the right open-source software for your business.

Very rarely will a developer write an eCommerce store from scratch. It would be too time consuming and inefficient. This is why open-source software companies such as ZenCart, Prestashop, and OScommerce, etc. exist. They have created “eCommerce templates” which help you with the “basics” of setting up.

ZenCart, Prestashop, and OScommerce are similar and I urge you to review each one before moving forward. Not spending time to evaluate which template is best suited for your needs will cause a major headache down the road when you realize, for example, your merchant account (you do have a merchant account setup right?) or email marketing is not supported.
(pro: strong user support forum, lots of plugins
con: very technical coding)
(pro: admin section is very user friendly
con: early stages, little support)
(pro: strong user support forum, lots of plugins
con: very technical coding)

All of these templates are written in PHP, CSS, HTML.

Also check and make sure your hosting server can run the software – Godaddy and Blue Host have worked for us.

Once you have found the right choice, you will want to download and install the files to your server.

In the next post we will go over the information you will need  to install the files.

Survival of the Strategist

By: Chad Bell
Once upon a time, social media were just means to more efficiently conduct public relations for businesses. Nowadays, they not only provide one-way marketing communication in the form of a push strategy, but also allow for companies to pull the desire for products or services from potential buyers. As the distribution chain becomes less dependent on consumer reactions and more focused on interactions between buyer and seller, companies have also adapted.

The old saying that a happy customer will tell one friend, while an unhappy one will tell ten no longer applies in the giant sphere of the Internet. As a response, businesses seem to be increasingly cautious with how their message is translated through social media. Significant as it may be, learning how to aggressively market without seeming obnoxious or saturating media channels will prove futile without a core strategy. A successful policy depends on a shift in focus from the hows to the whos and wheres of social media.

To know your target market is to understand whom it consists of. While demographic factors such as age, sex, and income have provided researchers a means of categorization for industrial (traditional) media, they must not be overlooked in current applications. Findings revealed in reports, such as the 2010 Marketing Trends Study by Anderson Analytics and A Collection of Social Network Stats for 2010 by Web Design, provide meaningful statistics for targeting consumers on the social media map. Organizations with a global strategy benefit from publications such as Ignite, which highlight social mediums and their respective demographic data by geographic prominence worldwide.

While consideration for etiquette should always be a contributing factor of conducting business, the alignment of marketing goals with that of its target is imperative. In determining the most effective channels to communicate via social networks, buyer behavior analysis can reveal generation gaps, demographic trends, and adoption patterns. No matter the projected end, the means to a successful social media policy depends on strategic audience insight.

Zen and the Beauty of WordPress

By: Chad Bell
One of the most common requests I get from customers is the ability to add/edit/delete the content of their website without knowledge of HTML. Most hosting accounts have an HTML editor, but fewer have a text editor that allows users to add/edit/delete written content on their site, and if they do, the ability to add images and styling to the content does not exist. For example, Godaddy has a text editor within the control panel, so if you are feeling adventurous you can log in to your account, navigate through the maze of Godaddy’s website, access the control panel, locate the html file you want to edit, open it in the text editor, and finally make changes to the text. A rather simple process if you are a web developer or just Internet savvy, but what if you would rather stick pins in your eyes than have anything to do with the tech side of the web? Well, WordPress is the answer to all your problems. In case you are not familiar with the extremely popular blogging platform the website accurately describes it as a “powerful personal publishing platform.” I would alter this definition slightly to include “a powerful and easy web publishing platform.”

So, back to the common request that I receive from clients, well, my common reply is WordPress because building a website using with this platform gives clients the power and freedom to personally manage their web content after the website goes live. If a client has an existing site we simply copy the existing design into WordPress, thus saving the time and money of designing a new site.

You can see that the Admin section of WordPress looks and functions just like a text editor. Simply choose the page you want to edit, Home page for example, and edit the text. You can change font type, size, color, and add images too. You can even add pages to your site with a few clicks of the mouse. All of this without the need for a web designer or any knowledge of HTML/CSS. So, if you want to take more control of your website it might be time to try the content management powers of WordPress.