Melanie Loveland and her son Dan built a business together around a mutual passion — snowboarding. What started as a small, brick-and-mortar store in Portland, Ore., has evolved into a full-fledged multichannel merchant. It was a process the owners didn’t foresee when the business started in 1995.
Their business has seen dynamic change in the seven years since it launched a website. Daddies Board Shop now generates 80 percent of its sales through online channel and only 20 percent at the Portland store.
Dan was the driving force to get the business online. However, as is the case with most small operations, the endeavor required the owner to roll up his sleeves and do it himself.
“I bought [web design software] FrontPage and took a shot at it,” Dan said.
The original incarnation of the site was thin — about 25 pages of HTML that displayed snowboarding and skateboarding content. Once Dan put products online, however, orders began to roll in.
“About two years later we added Cart32 shopping cart software to the website, and in the first hour after we integrated it, we had orders for skateboard products,” he said. Cart32 did the job for Daddies Board Shop for three years before its limitations began to show.
“We had gained about 500 products, and my HTML site was getting to be a bear to update and maintain,” Dan said. “I then found MonsterCommerce. From that point, our online business really took off.”
The Critique Team
Five firms reviewed Daddiesboardshop.com and offered a critique. The firms participating in the complimentary review were:
- Search Engine Optimization: Netconcepts, Stephan Spencer, President.
- General Internet Presence: Red Door Interactive, Reid Carr, President.
- Site Search: SLI Systems, Shaun Ryan, CEO.
- Pay-per-click Advertising: Key Relevance, Christine Churchill, President.
- Customer Experience/Usability: Optimal Usability, Richard Kerr, Usability Consultant.
Though Dan’s do-it-yourself approach had served the company well, he realized he was near the limits of his knowledge about site design; something more was needed to propel the online operation to the next level. In February, when Practical eCommerce offered a once-in-a-lifetime complimentary website critique to one lucky recipient, Dan (along with many other website owners) petitioned for the critique.
After seven years of “reading ASP, CSS and HTML books, I would love to get some professorial insight as to what I am actually doing on the site — what is good or bad and how I can improve on the design,” Dan wrote in his petition. “I am super-busy managing the site and advertising it on Google, Yahoo!, etc. When you are this busy, you can overlook some really important stuff.”
As part of the critique, five firms took an intensive look at Daddiesboardshop.com to analyze its problems, the opportunities for search engine optimization, its general Internet presence, site search, pay-per-click advertising and customer experience/usability.