Editor’s Note: Ecommerce service providers frequently launch new, interesting products, or issue upgrades to existing ones. We address these new products and upgrades periodically, and in this installment Contributing Editor Lisa Morgan explains eBay Prostores’ new upgrade to its hosted ecommerce platform. If you have a new product or upgrade that could interest our readers, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
eBay’s ProStores has just issued a new upgrade to its hosted ecommerce platform. ProStores 10 simplifies store design and management, and makes it easier to run automated on-site promotions. According to ProStores, the new upgrade puts more power in the hands of merchants, so the non-technical businessperson can now accomplish more tasks that previously required assistance.
“ProStores 10 is a major upgrade that enhances store design,” said Lin Shearer, head of marketing and revenue for ProStores. “It brings big retailer tools to small and medium businesses. ProStores primarily targets merchants that are small to medium sized businesses who are selling or have the potential to sell from $100,000 to $5 million online. This includes
eBay sellers looking to expand to additional online sales channels, independent brick-and-mortar retailers looking to start selling online, or experienced entrepreneurs looking to start an e-tail business.”
Creating Professional Storefronts Is Easier
Small and medium retailers often wish there was a way to avoid the time and cost it takes to engage a designer, developer, or webmaster just to make simple changes to a web store. ProStore’s new PageBuilder tool makes it easier for business owners and managers to create and edit key store pages. Instead of having to code changes in SSML or HTML, merchants can update the look and feel of their sites using pre-set layouts or drag-and-drop panels that can be used to rework page layouts. Colors can be placed in and around panels and there are also options for rounded and blended borders. There is also a new theme available that provides horizontal category navigation.
Most shopping carts and ecommerce platforms provide tools for designing websites, but typically users have to choose between pre-built design templates or custom-coding their sites. According to Shearer, ProStores 10 is somewhere in between because it gives users better control of page design and editing than the usual templates. As an example, it’s easy to include or exclude product information fields such as quantities and manufacturers simply by toggling the option on or off, rather than hand-coding changes.
BigCommerce, another shopping cart vendor, also boasts simple site design and editing. Like ProStores it also provides drag-and-drop design capabilities, although it is not targeted at eBay sellers.
Pre-built templates are good for novice or non-technical users, and drag-and-drop capabilities provide more flexibility. Template design can often turn out to be “strait-jacket design,” although site-building tools are generally getting easier to use, more flexible, and they are providing more options than they have in the past because that is what customers are demanding. ProStores is following that trend.
Runs Compelling Site Promotions Automatically
PageBuilder includes another code-saving feature called Advertising Banners. It allows merchants to create banners tied to promotions that can run automatically on the site. The banners can be programmed to rotate or they can be presented in a grid format. Previously merchants had to hire a designer that would create a Flash promotion and then upload it to the site.
“The advanced panels are new,” said Shearer. “Before, you could code them but they had limited promotional use, so it wasn’t easy to make customers aware [of special offers].”
Simplified Store Management
ProStores also has some operational enhancements that make is easier to navigate, find, and make changes to catalogs, orders, and invoices.
The new catalog management features simplify the management of large catalogs, and enhance assigning products to categories. There is also better eBay integration that allows merchants to remove all inbound listings or convert them into products in a single action. Merchants can also synchronize inventory between ProStores and eBay Selling Manager Pro.
Order and invoice management have also been improved so merchants can more easily locate an order, process phone orders, and revise orders. It is also easier to change a line item, apply a discount or override shipping after an order has been placed. You can also add notes to an invoice and search for orders by customer name.
“ProStores makes it easier to drive more sales, sell more, and save time,” said Shearer. “The improvements have all been driven by feedback from merchants.”