Practical Ecommerce

Lessons Learned:’s Jonathan Juriga

“Lessons Learned” is a biweekly series where we ask ecommerce business owners to share their experiences and advice. For this installment, we interviewed Jonathan Juriga, the president and owner of J&J Furniture, Inc., and based in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Juriga also owns an Internet development company, 14 East, which supplies most of the technology and advertising necessary for his online stores.

Juriga and four employees run the two stores, which have been online since 2005. The stores offer more than 1,000 individual products between them, garnering approximately $350,000 in annual revenue. Here we give you Juriga’s experience and suggestions.

Jonathan Juriga

Third Party Business Resources

“I own and manage an Internet development company that supplies most of the technology, Internet, and advertising needs that we have. If it wasn’t for that, I surely would have spent a lot more money and time getting set up.”

Shopping Cart Software

“There are so many shopping carts out there to choose from. We use an shopping cart called Cartweaver. My Internet development company has been using this software since version 1, so it was the first cart we looked at. That’s not to say that we didn’t do our due diligence with research and comparisons. But in the end, the very reason we chose Cartweaver years ago is the reason we stick with them now—scalability and customization. We noticed early on that we would have different products from different manufacturers shipping from different locations. This posed our biggest issue: How would the shopping cart software allow for multiple distributors to log in and fulfill the orders without seeing the SKUs [stock keeping units] shipping from different manufacturers? We modified and customized the shopping cart application, as well as the database layout, to support multiple distributors. After a lot of planning and programming, three versions later we have a very scalable solution that can be rapidly deployed for a new store in a different industry.”


“We used a Ft. Lauderdale company to host the development company until 2005, when Hurricane Wilma shut down South Florida and our servers were down for ten or eleven days. We lost some clients over that. After a little bit of research, we decided to use dedicated servers at Rackspace, located in Dallas, TX. We’ve had no downtime, and they have really good tools, alerts and monitor systems. You get what you pay for. When you know people are looking out for you and your business, you sleep easier at night.”


“This is the single hardest aspect of running a successful business. Good employees can make or break your goals. I’ve learned to be patient but firm in what I expect. As long as there is mutual respect and everyone’s on board with the business goals, there can be a fun and rewarding environment to work in. It is ultimately my job to select the people that will make that happen. The vetting process is difficult but vital to the success of your business.”


“It is so important to have a marketing plan. Too often I hear of people who fail at the marketing aspect of business because they didn’t formulate a plan. But remember, once you make a plan, you have to follow it. Marketing for an ecommerce store has been interesting, to say the least. We use SEO [search engine optimization], PPC [pay-per-click], affiliate networks, classifieds, traditional print advertising, and some not-so-traditional methods that have proved to be very effective. It’s always best to have a diverse plan and not pin your hopes on one single method.”

Pay-Per-Click Advertising

“Like anything, you must learn how to effectively use the tools that are available to you. Once you learn how to use PPC advertising, it can be a very rewarding form of advertising. You have to find the perfect blend of keywords and ad copy. For us, geo-targeting proved to be very effective.”

Search Engine Optimization

“I’ve always said that SEO is like math class as a kid: Miss one day, and you’re behind the eight ball. SEO is such a rapidly-changing field. What was all but a guarantee for first-place rankings three months ago may not be effective today. You have to read a lot and be knowledgeable about all the aspects of SEO, both on-page and off-page. Sign up for all the newsletters you can, and be sure to read them.”

Accounting Software

“QuickBooks works just fine for us.”

Order Management Software

“Our shopping cart solution handles our order management needs. Perhaps if we were not a drop ship company, and had an inventory and shipping departments, we would have the need for something more.”

Shipping and Order Fulfillment

“We are a drop ship business. In the beginning, it was a little frustrating to rely on another company’s shipping and distribution schedules, but it gets better with time. One thing is for certain, if the customer does not get their product in the anticipated period of time that you have promised, there is trouble on the horizon. Unless you want to constantly be in the red for shipping, I suggest you get this down from the start.”

Credit Card Payments

“Have I mentioned the term ‘necessary evil’ yet? Because my Internet development company specializes in credit card processing for all types of businesses, and I was personally certified by NOVA Information Systems as an agent, I know the ins and outs of the business. We’ve been hit with fraud and hack attempts over the years. Chargebacks can single-handedly bring your business to a halt, so minimizing the opportunity for chargebacks is a great necessity. We utilize a lot of the fraud detection suite tools that are available in’s backend as well as the McAfee Secure (formerly Hacker Safe) service to be in PCI [payment card industry] compliance.”

Social Media

“We have just started to utilize social media sites and tools as an advertising medium. I would love to update you all in six months or so and fill you in on the impact it has made here.”


“Our blog hasn’t been updated in a long time. It was mostly unsuccessful, but it did help with some incoming link strategies. It was very time consuming, and the marketing game changed for us. If I gave it a try again, we would write copy for people, not search engine spiders.”

Customer Service

“You must offer quality customer service. Angry or less-than-satisfied customers can do more damage in a day for your name or brand than the good you can do in years of building it up. Treat every customer with the respect that you would appreciate if you were the customer. One more thing: Be honest with them.”

Brendan Gibbons

Brendan Gibbons

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Comment ( 1 )

  1. brianp March 5, 2009 Reply

    Thanks for the insite…especially about how you’d treat your blog differently. We did the same and found it to be a waste of time as an SEO strategy.