Practical Ecommerce

Lessons Learned: Practicalsports.com Owner Byron Tabor

“Lessons Learned” is an occasional series where we ask seasoned ecommerce professionals about their mistakes and successes. For this installment, we’ve asked Byron Tabor, owner of Rooms Delivered, a company that sells sporting goods and camping equipment on its sites Practicalsports.com and Roomsdelivered.com. Rooms Delivered is based in Dallas, Texas and has been in business since 2006. Tabor is its only employee, and he works with his drop shippers selling over 400 unique products, although he hopes to have 1,000 by next December. Rooms Delivered has annual revenue of $42,000. Here we give you Tabor’s experiences and suggestions.

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On general advice would you offer new ecommerce merchants


“You need to learn as much as possible before your start. Research your niche and set up a well thought out plan. Find the people and information that will help you succeed. This will help you make wise decisions. Keep learning, keep growing and keep moving forward. Keep your website simple. Complex websites do nothing except confuse your customers, and they will leave your website, costing you money and time.”

On business resources


“You must be very careful who you listen to; you can make some very bad mistakes. It’s a pretty safe bet getting advice from the faculty at StomperNet. They have been invaluable to my business.”

On shopping carts


“I think my biggest mistake here was trying to save money by using a cheap service. If you a serious about making a successful business online, I can think of no easier way than Merchant Solutions from Yahoo! Since I have no formal training in programming or HTML, Yahoo! has been invaluable to my business.”

On hosting


“Being a web-only company, hosting was a great concern to us. With Yahoo!’s reliability and prominence, I was assured of a quality hosting service.”

On employees


“Being a sole operation, I consider my drop ship suppliers as my employees. It really pays to work with the best wholesale drop shippers you can find. One of my biggest mistakes was working with a furniture company here in Texas that decided one day that they no longer wanted their products to be sold on the Internet by small dealers. This almost put me out of business. One of my greatest learning experiences: never rely on one large supplier for most of your business.”

On marketing strategies


“Social marketing can be a great advantage to your business. Make friends, get noticed, and this will help generate traffic and hopefully sales to your website. Place a blog on your website, and keep your visitors informed about what’s new and happening with your business. Search engines love this type of content.”

On pay-per-click advertising


“In the early days, you could just put up an ad and get great traffic, then came the bidding wars. I found that a well-written ad with a great landing page would get you higher rankings at a lower price. Content is king.”


On search engine optimization (SEO)


“Being online since 2000, I was sure I knew enough to make my business successful. Many things change quickly on the web, and if you don’t keep up with SEO, you will fall behind very fast. It took some time before I realized my biggest mistakes were listening to so-called SEO experts who really don’t have a clue what they are saying.”

On expense control


“My advice is to do what you can with what you have. Do not charge things you cannot afford and get into debt. This only puts hardships on you and your business. Start slow, build your business and plan your next moves. You cannot get everything you want overnight.”

On shipping


“At first I used any shipper I could find, always looking for the cheapest price. That was the wrong thing to do. If you plan to stock your own products, set up an account with FedEx and/or UPS. For large products you need a reliable freight company that handles your products correctly. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to reship a product because it was damaged during shipping. I use FedEx exclusively for any stocking products and my drop shippers usually use UPS.”

On order management and back-end automation


“Yahoo!’s order management and backend supplies everything we need.”

On accounting software


“I used QuickBooks for retail, and for me this was a nightmare. It was very time-consuming to set up and use. I do most of my accounting by hand with a spreadsheet, and this works very well for me.”

On credit card payments


“Start with a quality service provider. The first few processors I had never knew what my business needed and could not supply the type of service I wanted. I presently use NPC and have never looked back.”

On general business attitude


“It can be very frustrating at times, but it’s such a ongoing learning experience, and I have always enjoyed learning new things to get ahead of the competition.”

Brendan Gibbons

Brendan Gibbons

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  1. Legacy User July 8, 2008 Reply

    Thanks for the very helpful information.

    Best Regards
    Arpit Kothari
    http://www.softwebsolutions.com

    — *Softweb Solutions*

  2. Legacy User July 10, 2008 Reply

    Thank you so much for your input. Horses are my world and SEO is taking over. I'll be working for an "A" report card – Your great info and insight will take me another step closer. I'll be back to show you the progress.

    — *Owner – English Habit*