The latest from Amazon

Web King Amazon.com has just announced the Amazon All Business Center, which includes WebStore by Amazon, an interesting looking hosted e-commerce application. The pricing on WebStore is $59.99/month, and you can list your own items which you will fulfill along side Amazon.com items that they fulfill. This is an extension of the existing aStore offering, where affiliate marketers (called “associates”) can list Amazon items and get referral fees.

Each of the two store options has a different look and feel, with some different configuration options. You can check out a demo aStore at http://astore.amazon.com/demostore-20 and a demo Webstore at http://atthetrailhead.com/.

Here’s the press release on the All Business Center from Amazon.

KonaKart updates

KonaKart – one of a small number of Java based carts, just announced a release; InfoQ discusses it here. I spoke to John Hornsby of KonaKart about the advantages of using Java (versus PHP) for cart development. My thinking was that the biggest win was the elimination of bugs up front because of Java’s type-safety, but John’s take was much more expansive:

“Different people will have different reasons for choosing Java over PHP but generally it gives you a far richer, more-elegant, multi-tiered development environment than PHP and offers much greater scope for scalability, security and performance.”

The abundance of formally trained, professional Java software developers can’t hurt either. It will be interesting to follow this work as it develops. Good luck to the KonaKart team!

Allowing Comments in your Blog?

It’s a classic question: allow comments, trackbacks, pingbacks, or not? There really is no right answer; it really depends on your motivation for blogging. Let’s look at some common justifications for answers one way or another, and then I’ll provide my thoughts.

And on the flip side:

My thoughts on the topic:

  • If your motivation behind blogging is to build a community, then allowing people to have their say-so (within reason) is imperative.
  • If you’re a WordPress user, run Akismet. It greatly reduces the amount of comment spam you will have to manage. (Aside: if you value your time, and Akismet saves you time, please consider supporting Akismet financially.)
  • Steve Pavlina argues he gets enough feedback by email. Fair enough – but if you’re not Steve Pavlina (or someone equally well known), you probably shouldn’t rely on this.

MMM: Golfing with one leg

Sean Lewis lost his right leg in a mortar attack in Iraq. He found his prosthetic leg got in the way of his golf swing, so he took it off and now golfs with one leg. The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) wrote about Lewis and pro golfer Jim Estes, who volunteers to help wounded soldiers learn to golf as part of their physical therapy.

You can see a picture of Lewis golfing here.

You can read more about the PGA and their involvement with Wounded Warriors.

Motivational Quote:

“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” — Epictetus (55-135)

Preparing your cart for Christmas

A interesting post from Palmer Web Marketing.

I really like idea 1 (emphasis mine):

Offer Bounce Back Discounts: Think about how much traffic your site will receive during the holidays. How can you harness that traffic to create year long business? Consider offering a good discount incentive for customers to come back and shop in January. You can automatically email them a coupon after each order, or send one along with the package. Make sure that this coupon is not valid until after the holidays.

Idea 7 is a great trust-builder:

Prominent “No Hassle” Return Policy: our return policy should be easy to find. Consider re-packaging it as a ”no hassle” policy in order to calm the fears of first time buyers.

And idea 25 … well, That Software Guy is all about upsells disguised as discounts. :)

Bundle Products: Gift selection is much easier when related items are grouped together in some sort of gift basket or bundle.

Cultural trends that change business

Here’s a great post from Nametag Guy Scott Ginsburg called “35 cultural trends that (should) change the way you do business.” My favorite? Number 18, which I thought really should have been called, “Trust is a must.” Checklist for online vendors:

  • SSL certificate not just for checkout, but for account creation and login?
  • Contact information (esp. telephone number) all during checkout?
  • Physical address at the bottom of the page?
  • Following up on emails within 24 hours?