Practical Ecommerce
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The (Ecommerce) Corner Office

  • 7 tips for building your YouTube channel

    April 10, 2015 •

    My company’s YouTube channel has roughly 1.2 million subscribers. Here are seven pointers that have helped us reach that number. 1. Determine Your Goals for the Channel First, it’s important to decide ... Read Full Column »

  • Should merchants accept Bitcoin?

    September 1, 2014 •

    I was recently asked if ecommerce merchants should accept Bitcoin. My answer is a resounding “yes.” I can think of only a few minor downsides and many major upsides to ... Read Full Column »

  • 7 ways to lose less money on shipping

    June 27, 2014 •

    Shipping sucks. It’s expensive, time consuming, fraught with peril, expensive, undervalued by your customers, and did I mention that it’s getting more expensive by the day? You can thank Amazon for ... Read Full Column »

  • You’ll always lose a price war

    May 6, 2014 •

    Competing on price is a stupid tactic because it’s easy. Any idiot can undercut his competitors. Making money with this tactic, however, is rare. Only a few companies can pull ... Read Full Column »

  • Beware retargeting

    March 5, 2014 •

    Advertising is a pain in the butt. It’s expensive. It requires constant maintenance, and it’s not always measurable. In our industry, though, we tend to think that we can determine ... Read Full Column »

  • Please start shipping internationally

    January 17, 2014 •

    Our international orders represent approximately 15 to 20 percent of our total sales. That’s huge. We achieved this level of success through a variety of simple tactics, which I’ll outline ... Read Full Column »

  • Are you using social media all wrong?

    October 30, 2013 •

    Social media is probably the worst advertising vehicle for small ecommerce merchants I’ve found. Well, perhaps advertising on a park bench would be worse, but social media is pretty darned ... Read Full Column »

  • Sell banner advertising? Yeah. Sell banner advertising.

    September 19, 2013 •

    You should sell ads on your e-commerce site. I’ve yet to find evidence that putting banner advertising on your e-commerce site to be a bad thing. I know it sounds counter ... Read Full Column »

  • Content is King and Time is Your Queen

    August 23, 2013 •

    In your business, you must focus on two things: content and time. They are both equally important and inextricably intertwined. Great content will never go out of style. Seriously, there’s a ... Read Full Column »

  • Thinking of starting a business? Think again!

    July 31, 2013 •

    I’ve been running my own small business for over a decade and I often speak with people who are thinking about starting their own business. Listening to their expectations usually results in my shaking my head later and thinking, “They have no idea what they’re getting themselves into!”... Read Full Column »

  • Credit Card Processing Sucks

    June 20, 2013 •

    Credit cards are cool. They make online shopping possible. But credit card processing, the system by which money moves from a customer to a merchant, totally sucks. It sucks for three reasons: cost, liability, and security. Let’s outline each in their stunning absurdity. Credit card ... Read Full Column »

  • Internet Sales Tax Isn’t About Fairness

    April 26, 2013 •

    If you listened to the politicians tell it, the story of main street retailers needing online stores to charge and collect sales tax is all about fairness. To again quote McEnroe, “You cannot be serious!” Here’s the “argument” presented by stupid politicians as proxy for the main stree... Read Full Column »

  • Why we abandoned Amazon and eBay

    March 26, 2013 •

    In business, you must always be on the lookout for so-called Black Swan events. This may seem a bit illogical, but the point is that everything you rely upon in business has the potential to completely upend or destroy your business. Many years ago, my business sold a driver’s educatio... Read Full Column »

  • Is Affiliate Marketing Dead?

    February 22, 2013 •

    This is going to be a short blog post and for that I will apologize up front. But, I intended for this to be more of a comment-driven exploration than a “this is how you do this” type of blog post. Recently, we switched affiliate network providers (to one of the most respected in the ... Read Full Column »

  • How to negotiate successfully

    January 20, 2013 •

    In business, almost everything is negotiable. The key to successful negotiating, however, is figuring out when to spend time and energy negotiating and how to maximize your negotiations. In the business of e-commerce, your biggest expense is typically COGS (cost of goods sold). And as ... Read Full Column »

  • Building traffic the right (aka hard) way

    November 16, 2012 •

    Building an online business starts with traffic. Without traffic, you have no purpose. So, how does one do this? It will take a long time, a lot of hard work, and probably a bit of luck. But you can do it. My website currently receives nearly 50% of its visitors via direct traffic. Thi... Read Full Column »

  • Mimic Amazon at your own peril

    September 20, 2012 •

    Amazon is the largest internet retailer. Copy them and you, too, could end up just like them. Do this at your own peril! In their most recent quarterly results (Q2 2012), Amazon turned in “impressive” results of $7 million in net income on $12.83 billion in sales. That’s the equivalent... Read Full Column »

  • The Free Traffic Myth

    July 6, 2012 •

    The obsession over search engine result page (SERP) placement stems from the erroneous thought that traffic gained via this source is free. It isn’t. The cost associated with ranking well for competitive terms is outrageous. Not only will you spend countless hours researching keywords,... Read Full Column »

  • You’ve got a search box, right?

    July 4, 2012 •

    Users who use search on your website convert at a much higher rate than those who don’t. On my website, the difference is striking. Visits with search convert about 500% higher than those without search. Please remember, though, that correlation does not imply causation. The simple ac... Read Full Column »

  • 10 Ways to Make Your Video Not Suck

    May 15, 2012 •

    As I’ve pointed out in previous blog posts, I know a few things about video production. Photography and videography are a passion of mine. So, listen up, please! Nearly every tutorial that explains “how” to create a video is dead wrong. Crumple them up and toss them in the bin. Why? Be... Read Full Column »

  • 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 »