Practical Ecommerce
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The (Ecommerce) Corner Office

  • How we increased our international business 40%

    April 18, 2012 •

    We increased our international business 40% recently. Our international packages, prior to this change, represented approximately 9.6% of all shipments. Since we made this change, they now account for 13.4% of all packages shipped. We accomplished this by lowering our shipping prices.... Read Full Column »

  • My Love/Hate Relationship with Product Reviews

    March 7, 2012 •

    I don’t have product reviews on my website. I may add them at some point. However, I’m quite conflicted about it. My stance may seem odd since the big players in that space would cite years of research showing that adding product reviews to your website will increase your conversion r... Read Full Column »

  • There is no magic bullet for success.

    February 9, 2012 •

    Soap box time! I feel like ranting a bit today. I really bristle when I read articles claiming “The 7 Tips to SEO dominance” or “10 ways to effectively market your business” or “Top 5 Mistakes That Will Kill Your Business”. It’s as if there are magic potions to running an online busines... Read Full Column »

  • My favorite tools and services

    January 25, 2012 •

    I use a variety of software in my day-to-day activities running an e-commerce company. Here is a list of my favorites. Hopefully, it’s useful to you as well! Photoshop - If you don’t know how to use any flavor of image editing software, you shouldn’t be in the e-commerce game. As I’ve ... Read Full Column »

  • How we achieved 99% accuracy in order fulfillment

    December 21, 2011 •

    No matter how much time, effort, and money you put into promoting your business and converting visitors into buyers, you’ll never create repeat customers if you screw up fulfillment. This is partly why I hate out-sourced fulfillment and drop-shipping. Once you lose control over this mo... Read Full Column »

  • No Video is (far) better than a bad video

    November 6, 2011 •

    I know a few things about video. While my formal schooling taught me computer science, my father is a professional cinematographer. He taught me how to take photographs and eventually how to shoot and create video. Before I got involved in e-commerce, my business (for about 7 years) wa... Read Full Column »

  • The Death of Free Shipping

    September 21, 2011 •

    My highschool economics teacher preached, “There Ain’t No Such Thing as a Free Lunch”. This holds true for shipping costs. In fact, the costs of shipping are rising faster than inflation. I see our shipping rates rising much faster than increases in the cost of our products. So, if you... Read Full Column »

  • How to Make Your Customer Service Shine

    August 19, 2011 •

    As a small e-commerce store, you can’t compete against the big boys in many arenas. However, one arena where you can outduel them in is customer service. By definition, you are a specialist in your product category and therefore should be an expert in all things that you sell. You can... Read Full Column »

  • Mistakes I Wish I Had Never Made

    July 20, 2011 •

    We all know the saying, “If I knew then what I know now, I’d be much better off”. I was thinking about that the other day and decided to put together a list of mistakes I’ve made during my e-commerce life. I had to shorten the list to just 6 items because there’s only so much room on th... Read Full Column »

  • Top 7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Outsource Fulfillment

    June 10, 2011 •

    The allure of outsourced fulfillment (such as Amazon’s FBA program) is strong. But, don’t get sucked in by the hype! In any business, you never outsource anything that you can do better or more efficiently yourself. If you don’t think you can make your fulfillment operation more effic... Read Full Column »

  • 8 ways to uncover hidden money in your business

    May 18, 2011 •

    Increasing the “top line” of your business is always critical, especially for small businesses that might still be struggling to reach that magical break even point. But even if you’re making a nice profit, cutting expenses or finding ways to save money should be a monthly exercise. S... Read Full Column »

  • Pros and Cons of Checkout by Amazon’s Inline Checkout

    April 19, 2011 •

    Checkout by Amazon allows your customers to use their Amazon login credentials to make purchases on your site. There are several different ways to integrate this into your store. The best “experience”, in my opinion, is their inline offering. In this method, your customers never leave... Read Full Column »

  • How to Detect Online Fraud

    March 22, 2011 •

    Every online retailer will, at some point, be faced with fraud. It is as inevitable as taxes, but far more sinister! Your credit card processor is going to give you two pieces of information to help combat fraud: the 3 or 4-digit “security code” and an AVS response. The CSC code shoul... Read Full Column »

  • Stop obsessing over your search engine rankings

    February 15, 2011 •

    As the owner of an e-commerce store, my number one piece of advice to anyone with an online store is to stop obsessing over your search engine rankings. Instead, focus your attention on building your brand. In the real world, we buy stuff from people that we like. The “better” car sale... Read Full Column »

  • You’re backing up more than your data, right?

    January 12, 2011 •

    Every website owner should be backing up their website and database on a daily basis. If you’re not, set that up immediately. However, this is not what I’m referring to when it comes to backups. I’m referring to all of the critical aspects of your business. Here are some questions to as... Read Full Column »

  • You Gotta Have Something to Sell

    October 31, 2010 •

    Happy Halloween! Before the ghosts & goblins and droves of trick-or-treaters descend upon our neighborhood, I've managed to find some quiet time to write. I recently returned from the 2010 iHobby Expo in Chicago, which is the largest trade show in the radio control and model hobby... Read Full Column »

  • Back on the Front Line

    August 31, 2010 •

    As a business owner, there are many times when you have to do it all: hire, fire, answer phones, solve UPS problems, pick & pack orders...you name it! Some of the most challenging parts of my job is not the business aspect of running the company but instead the people aspect of it.... Read Full Column »

  • Highlights from the Internet Retailer Conference

    June 24, 2010 •

    I recently attended the Internet Retailer Conference in Chicago and it was a terrific show. If you are able to attend only one show per year, I highly recommend going to this one and if you are not able to get to any shows because you are too involved in your business you need to find ... Read Full Column »

  • Why I Love My Job

    April 9, 2010 •

    Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. For years while I toiled working as a buyer and merchandise planner, I longed for being in a position to work for myself and to control my own destiny. I liked the work that I was doing but I hated the politics and the fact that my colleagues... Read Full Column »

  • Why Free Shipping Works

    February 5, 2010 •

    There has been alot written on Practical eCommerce and elsewhere regarding free shipping and whether or not it makes sense for merchants to offer. I'd like to share my experience with it and tell you why it makes sense for eHobbies. For years, we rarely offered free shipping promotions... Read Full Column »

  • Hello 2010

    January 1, 2010 •

    The holiday orders have all been delivered and hopefully we have made thousands of children and adults happy with their gifts of toys and hobbies. Whether it was an RC car, train set, model kit, model rocket set or slot car set, hours of fun were spent together with friends and family ... Read Full Column »

  • UPS vs. FedEx vs. USPS. Which is best?

    November 20, 2009 •

    The holiday craziness begins a week from today. But long before the anticipated ramp up in sales takes place, experienced merchants have already taken a look at an important component ... Read Full Column »

  • Goal Setting with our Teams

    October 7, 2009 •

    As merchants, entrepreneurs and business drivers we all wear various hats during the course of the day, week or month that sometimes are not part of any job description. One of my principle responsibilities is to set the overall direction and strategy for our company, both long term an... Read Full Column »

  • Prioritizing for the Holidays

    September 1, 2009 •

    I'm a merchant at heart. I love merchandise. It probably goes back to over 20 years ago when I was an assistant buyer for May Company department stores. Part of our responsibility was to work out in the stores during sale periods in November and December. It gave me a chance to get ... Read Full Column »