Monthly Archives: April 2008

Improving HoR – Day 5 – HackerSafe Symbol

A nice guy called me out of the blue one day, and did his sales pitch. It was good, I had been thinking about, so I took the bait and signed up.

He was selling the HackerSafe logo occasionally seen on larger websites, it looks like this:

He got me to sign up for a $187/month service plus setup fee on a business that costs a total of $350/month to run. Must have been a damn good sales pitch!

Anyhow, I’m on a cost reduction/improvement phase for House Of Rave, so right now I can’t justify DOUBLING my monthly expenses to put up that logo. Kind of a mistake to sign up at this point….despite the wonders they claim the logo can do. I do like having the logo there, but the numbers simply don’t work in my favor:

They gave me a free trial period, but so far I haven’t seen any direct effect on sales. I’m still skeptical that simply showing this logo can increase sales (on a website this small). Rather at this point in HouseOfRave’s life….product selection, improved usability etc. would be more effective at increasing sales. For a small business like HoR, I just don’t think the HackerSafe logo is right at this time.

Now maybe if it were something reasonable like $50/month….

Improving HoR – Day 4

One of the very unfortunate drawbacks to dropshipping like House Of Rave is the lack of your own marketing and branding materials that are physically sent to each customer in their order.

With my old supplier, each order had SOME marketing materials as they would simply print out my customized invoices and send orders based on that. It was easy to tweak information on the invoices. Now my orders are all electronically sent and things got a little more complicated.

Now when an order is received by a customer, they get an invoice…but it doesn’t say “HouseOfRave” anywhere. That doesn’t help people remember the name…and sometimes actually confuses customers.

To combat this I designed some front/back 4″ x 6″ flyers and had several hundred printed out:

So whenever an order is sent from the supplier on behalf of HoR they will toss in one of these flyers. This makes sure the customer remembers HoR, makes HoR look a little bigger, thanks the customer for their order and also contains return instructions in case something doesn’t work.

I only printed out several hundred the first time since the text can use some modification over the next few months. I also might want to initiate a call to action on the flyer by offering a 10% discount or free shipping on the next flyers…see how it works.

In the future I hope me and the supplier can somehow customize my order invoices electronically as that would be the easiest and cheapest method to branding. Theoretically I can simply email customized packing lists to the supplier for each order, but this involves more work on my end and his end.

So come Monday I’ll send these flyers to the supplier!

Improving HoR – Day 3

Day 3 of improving HoR consisted of changing some more product image layouts like on Day 1, then some new things like adding cross-sell products to some of the popular items.

I still have a lot to do, but when someone looks at certain products, they see “Related Products” which they also might be interested in. So if someone’s searching for high intensity glowsticks and lands on the House Of Rave search result, they will see other types of glowsticks they might be interested in like this:

Another thing I picked up again today was the Search Engine Optimization of HoR. I’ve done many contracts for larger companies on this in the past, but never applied it to my own stuff before. So I charted out some keywords to go after and have actively started tracking them using the SEO tracking software I used for other companies.

This will be a several-months-long project as SEO is relatively slow moving, however the software did make me aware I didn’t have proper description tags on many of my section pages, so I went through and changed (or added) most of them.

Improving HoR – Day 1

Day 1 of my effort to improve my online business HouseOfRave.com started with me re-doing a bunch of products with a new Add-To-Cart template.

Previous all the products on HoR had the shopping cart buttons at the bottom of the page, like this:

As you can see it’s often not centered, different product image sizes throw it off, and it’s just more confusing in general.

To cure this I had a top-right-centered template made for Shopsite, so I’ve been going through and changing product pages to this more standard Add-to-Cart layout:

In theory I can simply select all the products in the catalog and mass-edit them to the new template in one action…however many of the products on the old template required me to insert a lot of breaks so the formatting around the images was correct. This causes problems now since the layout is different, and if I blindly apply this template, it leaves many of the products with a lot of wasted space like so:

So there’s the unfortunate job of going through all the products and removing that code. The upside is once this job is done, I can make new templates without worry about ghetto-ized code messing everything up.

So today I’ve gone through several product sections and cleaned up code, re-sized a lot of product images, added bulk pricing information to certain products as well as updated shipping cost information.

Improving HoR This Month

For the remainder of April I want to dramatically increase the quality of my online business House of Rave.

I’ve decided for this month not to contract work out and simply focus on one thing. Of course lots of other things go on at the same time, but I’d like to pin-point my focus on HoR.

So for April I will post daily about progress I’ve made. I’ll do this every day, even if the changes are relatively minute.

Some visual and content things I need to focus on:

  • Shopping cart re-positioning.
  • Header re-design and changes.
  • Footer Changes.
  • View Cart button re-positioning.
  • Shopping cart layout optimization.
  • Update shipping information.
  • Cross-selling items.
  • Upsell items at checkout.
  • Update return information and policies.
  • All over more professional feel to the site.

Some more “shopping experience” things I need to focus on (which I’ve never focused on before):

  • Checkout process.
  • Differentiate normal checkout from Google Checkout.
  • Order confirmation email and text.
  • Tracking number email and text.

Feel free to suggest possible upgrades and point out confusing portions of the site throughout the series of posts.

Inch by inch, it’s a cinch.