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How to promote hosted shopping cart - SaaS

saas, cart, ecommerce

5:29 am on Mar 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I have been running one hosted shopping cart that allows subscribers to create their ecommerce store.

The bitter truth is i had failed to get a single subscriber for my service so far. I have been receiving targeted natural search traffic from search engines ....but only 4 of them bothered to asked my about my services.

I dont know why this happened i guess;

- I dont have pool of money fr aggressive online marketing that is required for brand building and leads.

- Peoples are afraid to pay online unless they are sure that i am popular brand.

- For few months i have been trying to create a tiny version of desktop software similar to my online offering. my plan is distribute it freely and gain some popularity

- Here again .NET and JAVA apps are problematic for end users due to their .NET/JVM prerequisite etc.

- I dont know what to do i have been waiting for 6 months to get single customer i also offered Trial service but no help. i get visitors but no leads....it is not that my site is bad..i have shown it to many peoples and they were impressed by the functionality and looks

--- Can someone guide me in this gloom
5:19 pm on Mar 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member httpwebwitch is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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you're in a very competitive market.

6 years ago, finding a great SaaS e-commerce solution was difficult. There were a few popular "stores" online where you could list goods for sale (like eBay), and only a handful of white-label solutions from folks like Yahoo - where the price of starting up was a barrier to entry. There were also a few boxed solutions for PHP and .NET, none of which were very good.

It was an obvious gap in the marketplace.
Since then, many entrepreneurs have stepped in to fill it. Lots of stores have opened where you can buy and sell your own things, and brand a little piece of their market as "your store". Many are niche-targeted, for example, Etsy.

None of the new players require you to pay an activation fee up front. They monetize in other ways.

The recipe for success in a competitive market is an arcane, bottomless topic. I'd say this is just a starter checklist:

1) your app has to be really good looking. First impression must be WOW.

2) your app needs to communicate its strengths consisely, convincingly, in language that the seeker understands (hint: most people have no idea what the acronym "SaaS" means)

3) Eventually some people may try it out. It must be easy easy easy easy easy. If your app requires someone to be a web developer, to know HTML, or understand how to recrop an image, your audience just shrank by an order of magnitude

4) Up-front activation fees are a barrier to entry. Remove them.

Assuming your app is all that, still no one will love it if they never hear about it.


- leverage social media. Instead of making a desktop version, spend your time on a Facebook app

- bite the bullet and buy some ads. If you really believe in your app, you can spend $1 a day on it to get a trickle of visitors

- prefill the service with some of your own products and stores. Use it, so that others may use it, see it, know it.

- work on your SEO. Get some backlinks.

- offer an affiliate commission for new subscribers. Find other people to market your product for you

- do some old-school PR. Write a press release. Call your local newspaper and chat them up for a interview for their "local business" section. Do something incredible and get featured on Oprah.

Good luck webroot!
2:57 pm on Mar 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Thanks httpwebwitch for eye opening post,

I really thought there is not many options for store owners to sell online. My Service allows them to run their independent website however people may go for popular services like Ebay which is cheap also.

The other market player who are offering very similar services are charging heavy setup and monthly fee where mine is fraction to that. But i need some brainstorming on whether to remove all direct fee to merchants.

One reason I was afraid to make my service free was an example of free hosting companies which are not success and mostly attract non-serious users.

Handling the payment on others behalf has several risk involved and not possible at my level but i would definitely try some of tips you mentioned

Thanks once again
8:28 am on Apr 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

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why don't you become a reseller for the payment gateways you support and then offer a free version to people that sign their credit card processing accounts through you? Not a whole lot of money at first, but you would at least be creating revenue that you could reinvest in pay per click / social / affiliates as http web witch mentioned.
4:05 pm on Apr 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I know someone here who does it very well with a baic saas cart - organic seo, its all about
the images and messages being right for the users.

i have shown it to many peoples and they were impressed by the functionality and looks

Not webmasters were they ?

These solutions sell best to non-techie site owners, Id never buy one :)

You are competing against paypal not rentacoder or protyx, so need to have copy and images in the right style
4:05 am on Apr 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

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As httpwebwitch says, find a niche. What do you personally have a lot of knowledge about? Make a niche for something that you understand and offer a very basic free version and a monthly fee deluxe version. Look at what Artfire has done with that model.

I know from personal experience that the automotive niche is poorly handled because of the need to keep up with make model year variations. Clothing has its problems too - sizes and colors make things very complicated very quickly. Any niche with its own jargon and way of organizing the products would qualify. But it is best to stick with subject areas that you personally know.