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Can the small guy still start a new site and see success?
BaseballGuy



 
Msg#: 4435634 posted 6:13 pm on Mar 31, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hello,

6 months ago I purchased an (women's apparel) eCommerce site that was 8 years old. The original owners had not changed the atrocious design in over 8 years.

I got the site for a steal, as they were barely making 1 sale a week and have pretty much given up on it.

Flash forward 6 months, almost $20k in coder/designer fees (and $10k more in inventory) and my Google traffic is the same as it was back when I purchased it.

The site still makes *maybe* 2 sales a week.


I set up a Facebook/Google Plus/Twitter account 2 weeks ago and try to update them semi-regularly.

I'm very familiar with SEO (made a small fortune doing affiliate marketing) and have gingerly been building links here and there coupled with the occasional press release.

I'm in the process of adding new products from new manufacturers.


My question is this: Am I being too impatient, in thinking that the sales/traffic should start coming immediately? Even though they aren't?

What's new:

1. New inventory

2. New and better site redesign

3. Better navigation

4. Better product descriptions

5. Better banners on the home page

6. Approved by the BBB and have their logo and the Comodo logo pointing to their respective pages.

7. The site looks "trustworthy".

8. Lowered the prices on some items, raised the prices on others.

Yet.....still maybe 2 sales a week? Anyone familiar with the women's apparel industry? I only sell "off brand" names, as do my competitors. My competitor's websites look like trash....yet they are ranking on the 1st page of Google for highly competitive keywords.

My site just "came together" a few weeks ago....it's been a long hard road to get it to this point.

I don't know whether this post is a rant/bitch/plea for help?


thanks if you guys can give me some hope. Or is eCommerce getting harder and harder and only the top dogs will survive? Can a small guy like myself make it?

All of my competitors (with the exception of 3-4 "big box" brand names) are all "mom and pop".....albeit "mom and pop who are making $30-$60k/month"


/edit: I accidentally a parenthesis.

 

Wlauzon

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4435634 posted 8:23 pm on Apr 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

One thing you have to watch for - a "steal" or not - on older sites is the repuation. I know of one similar situation that took over a year to start gaining traction.

But of possibly more importance is this detail on a Google search for women's apparel "About 69,700,000 results.."

Ecommerce is alive and well, but probably the only area could possibly have more competition is cheap jewelery/fashion accessories or shoes.

You need to have something that your 9 million or so competitors don't have.

BaseballGuy



 
Msg#: 4435634 posted 8:33 pm on Apr 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

Yes, well I sell a specific type of women's apparel....and yes, I have a few competitors.

My "something" is the following:

1. low prices
2. outstanding customer service
3. more customer inter-action
4. "as good, if not better" selection of brand names and product types.


Luckily (and this is the reason I bought the site), most of my competitor's websites look extremely "mom and pop". Like they were designed in the 1990's and they haven't updated the design since.

I'm hoping my new "2012 design" will be the key factor in pushing me up to the top of the heap.

RhinoFish

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4435634 posted 1:51 pm on Apr 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

i've seen so many "small guys" completely misunderstand attribution, and have seen them pursue horrid partnerships as a result. learning analytics isn't enough, you need to understand beyond the report reading level. today's internet biz ecosystem reminds me of little red riding hood, except there's no lumberjack, and there isn't just one disguised wolf. so if by "small", we mean naive and trusting like LRRH, she's gonna get eaten.

raijen



 
Msg#: 4435634 posted 3:29 am on Apr 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm a woman, so I'll tell you what I look for on clothing sites. Great pictures of a real person wearing the clothing - front, side, and back images. Detailed measurements since sizing can vary so much. Product reviews from real people commenting on the sizing accuracy and quality of the piece. Good return policy so that I can easily return items that don't fit or look good.

If these elements aren't there, I move on to another shop.

BaseballGuy



 
Msg#: 4435634 posted 3:47 am on Apr 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thanks Riajen....that actually reminds me:

For certain categories on my site.....I only have 19 products. Whereas my competitors have upwards of 100.

Could "limited selection" be a turnoff for you?

I also have many items that are out of stock (I was given the inventory I have now and am selling it on consignment.....however I did do a very small $5k buy a few months ago).

These out of stock items are....out of stock, and the pages are still live. In some categories, on page 1 it's all "in stock" items...flip over to page 2 and it's all "out of stock".

The reason I keep these pages live....is because they still drive a very very small amount of traffic via Google Merchant.


What do you guys do when a product goes out of stock (and the mfg no longer makes it)?

Do you delete the web page? Or do you have so much inventory that it doesn't matter if you keep it live?


thanks

BaseballGuy



 
Msg#: 4435634 posted 3:50 am on Apr 12, 2012 (gmt 0)


i've seen so many "small guys" completely misunderstand attribution, and have seen them pursue horrid partnerships as a result. learning analytics isn't enough, you need to understand beyond the report reading level. today's internet biz ecosystem reminds me of little red riding hood, except there's no lumberjack, and there isn't just one disguised wolf. so if by "small", we mean naive and trusting like LRRH, she's gonna get eaten.


What is attribution anyways?

As far as partnerships....I'm fairly confident that I can strike up a few good biz dev deals with local brick-and-mortar shops as well as a few other ideas for getting my company website out there in front of the eyes of my preferred demographic. I like to think "outside the box" and have a couple of avenues I'm pursuing at the moment. (completely unrelated to Google/search engines/advertising buys in the traditional online sense).

raijen



 
Msg#: 4435634 posted 4:11 am on Apr 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

BG, I don't mind a limited selection at all. I'm usually searching for something specific, so the search engine will often point me directly to the product page I'm looking for. I might not even notice how many products are in your categories.

I also don't mind out of stock products being listed - as long as they're clearly marked out of stock and as long as the number of out of stock products isn't a ridiculous percentage of your offerings (it gets frustrating searching a site where every other product is out of stock). If you're planning on getting more in, a restock date is great, as is a place to put my email address to get a notification of when it arrives. If you aren't getting more stock in, an alternate suggestion is a good idea, especially if the suggestion is a close style match.

Another thing I'd like to see on more clothing sites is suggestions for "outfits". For instance, if I'm looking at a pair of pants, show me some pictures of how it would look with some of your shirts (make sure you give links to the shirts so that they're easy to find/add to cart). If customers like the way an outfit comes together, you could easily increase your total sale amount.

Oh, another thing I thought of that also touches on product images and measurements - some sites will give you the model's measurements and let you know what size she's wearing so that you can get a better of idea of how the product will look on you and what size you should purchase.

For clothing sites, the more pictures and info, the better. 90% of clothing sites miss the boat on this, and I'm willing to pay more when I find sites that provide it, as long long as the return policy is good.

RhinoFish

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4435634 posted 2:08 pm on Apr 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

What is attribution anyways?

Understanding what really drives your sales.

I'm fairly confident that I can strike up a few good biz dev deals with local brick-and-mortar shops as well as a few other ideas for getting my company website out there in front of the eyes of my preferred demographic. I like to think "outside the box" and have a couple of avenues I'm pursuing at the moment. (completely unrelated to Google/search engines/advertising buys in the traditional online sense).

Your lingo tells me that you're likely the type I'm talking about. :-) Many "partners" today can make reports look like they're driving biz for you, when the misattribution they cause is actually impinging on your other channels.

I should find someone who is uninformed, do a series of "did you know this about your partners" deal, but that kind of public attention is of no interest to a "victim", and it invites collateral damages that slow real progress. In fact, I used to be more vocal about these things, but people with their confidence in hand didn't listen, and the unwanted attention was then focused on just me. That's a time suck.

If you're the type who wonders about their partners, where to turn then... that's a good question. Whose interest (besides your own) would it be in to work on these issues with you? Likely, that answers eludes these types as well - since their approach generally has blinders on.

You don't know, what you don't know.

So it continues, somewhat unabated.

Unless you trip across someone who is both interested in working with you -and- is affected by the choices you make in your other buckets. Since most 3rd parties aren't willing to be affected by your other choices, good luck with that. :-)

Yes, sounds kooky and grassy knoll'ish... but it does go on, and the evidence is public, though most think they aren't affected.

Ignorance isn't actually bliss, it's just perceived as that.

Digmen1

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4435634 posted 6:22 am on Apr 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

The OP said how many sales he was making a week.
But it is the number of unique visitors that he needs to get up first.
Then can concentrate on converting them to sales.

20K is far too much to spend on coding if you are not making sales.

How many women's apparel sites are there out there ?
Ebay is concentrating on womens apparel
Bonanza is concentrating on womens apparel.

Do you have a Niche ?

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