Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Quick Update on SurplusCameraGear.com

I promised I would be blogging regularly on SurplusCameraGear.com's progress, and while I haven't had the time to write an in-depth post, here's a quick update on some progress made.

I was able to find the original RAW image file for the Linhof 4x5 in Technika III, Type 5 Technical Field Camera as well as that for the accompanying Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar 1:5,6/150mm 1:12 265 lens in a Linhof branded, chrome-faced Compur shutter. Since I had only had the earlier, small 070926_0381.jpg version of the main camera image originally used on eBay, I was now able to open the files in Photoshop Camera Raw at full size, so when uploaded into ProStores I can now have all three image size options available for visitors to look at (200 pixels, 400 pixels, and 800 pixles).

Having high quality product images is critical to increasing Ecommerce Conversion Rates. To quote Peep Laja at ConversionXL:
If I’d have to pick one single thing that would sell a product online, it’s images. 
You *technically could* have an ecommerce site with just images, and no product descriptions (I don’t recommend it). It wouldn’t work vice versa. 
People want to see what they’re getting. The grandfather of boosting ecommerce conversion rates is having high quality photos of your product. The more the better. Show the products from different angles, in context, make them zoomable.
I also replaced the Product Detail page in Fauxlaroids.com for the listing Linhof Technika III, V5 with redirect code going to the new listing in SurplusCameraGear.com. If you go to Photographic: Cameras and click on the Linhof link, you'll see new code in action.

I also added a related product to the catalog, a Schneider-Kreuznach Tele-Xenar 1:5,5 / 240mm Large Format Lens in Linhof Synchro-Compur Shutter mounted on Linhof Technika III Lens Board. The Tele-Xenar came with the Technika in an immaculate kit I bought on eBay several years ago. In keeping with the topic above, I'll need to get my Dyna-Lite strobe units out and take some images to replace the place-holder graphic I added temporarily.

This is equally true (or more so) for the three placeholder products I added to the store for Gitzo, Graflex, and Sinar, that I added to the store in order to fill out the Our Brands table displaying Manufacturers' Logos at the bottom of the Home, About Us and Store Policies pages. The OEM table is being fed from the Manufacturers List in the store admin's Product Manager. If the manufacturer was configured with a logo, it will appear in the table automatically (also on the Product Detail page).

You'll notice I fleshed out the About Us page copy, and linked through to it from the Home Page welcome text. I still need to customize the copy on the Customer Service page (standard ProStores at the moment), and come up with some policies unique to my store.

Regrettably, many ProStores merchants skip over these pages, but they are indexed by the search engines and their content is important to Search Engine Optimization as they provide room to repeat keywords, to positioning yourself as an expert in your product line, and show shoppers you are a reputable merchant who can be trusted.

But we'll save that topic for another post!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

1st eBay Listing from SurplusCameraGear.com

Listed the first real item from our new ProStores, SurplusCameraGear.com, to eBay today, the DeJUR 8mm Movie Projector Instruction Manual for Model 750 and Model 1000.

The process is simple enough. I used the List on eBay button on the Product Information page, and selected Category 4684, Cameras & Photo\Manuals & Guides. As the manual is for a vintage brand, there was nothing to select under the Recommended Item Specifics Compatible Brand drop down menu, but I selected United States under Country of Manufacture, and added a Custom Item Specifics, Brand: DeJUR.

I left Title & Description, Item Photo, and Listing Upgrades at their default settings (you'll see below that I could have made edits here that would have saved me revisions in eBay later), and skipped over the Listing Designer and Free Page Counter altogether.

I listed the item as a 7 day online Auction, starting at $4.95, with a Buy it Now price of $24.95 (Format, Duration, Pricing).

Under Product Attributes I had to make a selection of which one of the 3 attributes on the ProStores product I wanted to associate with this listing: Download, Printout or Original  (no eBay variations on Auctions). I selected the Original Manual.

Left Return Policy and Item Location at their defaults, and entered Shipping Information, Domestic and International USPS First Class and Priority options.

The Payment Options were set to PayPal by default, but the email I opened this ProStores account with, which is automatically populated in Store Settings > Payment Prefs >  PayPal Payments (and subsequently in the eBay Listing Template), was not the one associated with my PayPal account. I updated it to the correct one in the listing as well as Payment Preferences.

I kept the Submit Listing at the default Submit listing to eBay now and clicked the Submit Listing button.

eBay Listing Confirmation DeJUR 8mm Movie Projector Instruction Manual

Since only the primary image on the ProStores product will be sent over to eBay, I logged into my eBay account and revised the listing to add the additional 3 images, as well as edit the title and description to remove the reverences to the other 2 attributes (Download and Printout) that weren't being offered in this auction. As noted above, I could have edited the title and description before listing it to eBay.

Ebay will flag that the item has been revised with a link leading to the details:

Note that there are two PictureURL: Pictures Added/Deleted entries. In my first attempt I used the eBay Picture Uploader, but after submitting the revisions I still only had one image on the auction!

I looped back and used the Basic add pictures option, this time with success.

Note that after uploading the images, eBay is flagging them with the recommendation to upload images that are at least 1600 pixels on the longest side. This ties into eBay's new Picture Quality Requirements:

eBay now requires a minimum length of 500 pixels for the longest side; setting your camera's default to High or Medium picture quality will ensure your pictures are large enough. For the best possible display of your listing on all eBay pages, take pictures with a 1600-pixel dimension on the longest side.

eBay has a short demo on determining picture pixel size, and have created a Top tips for taking great photos  PDF document as well.

In my case, the images were set to the largest size in ProStores, which is currently 800 pixels, which meets the minimum eBay requirement.

Here are links to the final listings in ProStores (surpluscameragear.com) and eBay:

DeJUR 8mm Movie Projector Instruction Manual for Model 750 and Model 1000 - Free Download
DeJUR 8mm Movie Projector Instruction Manual for Model 750 and Model 1000

Monday, June 17, 2013

Make the Most of this Day

"I cannot know what the future will bring.
My best hope is every bit as likely to occur as my worst fear,
so I have no reason to give more weight to my negative assumptions.
All I can do is to make the most of this day."

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

PST32: Using the <object> Tag to Remove Content from an eBay Description

We've just added a new ProStores tutorial, PST32: Using the <object> Tag to Remove Content from an eBay Description (when creating a ProStores product via Inbound Listings). Go to to Fauxlaroids.com to see the demo product, HTML code samples, and eBay listing.

It is a common practice for eBay sellers to include information about their shipping, payment/billing, return policies, etc. within their listing descriptions. Since eBay is its own beast, so to speak, there is little negative impact on eBay itself, other than when a merchant has more information in the description about their shipping and policies than the actual product they are selling (this is all too common on eBay)!

However, if you are a ProStores merchant pulling in your listings from eBay to create your online catalog, this extraneous information (shipping, payment/billing, return policies, etc. — henceforth referred to as chafu) will negatively impact the Search Engine Optimization value of your content.

To distinguish your items from the thousands of others on the web, you need the best product descriptions possible. The content should be unique, original, well written (readable), pertinent, accurate and keyword-rich (not keyword SPAMed).

Product descriptions matter. The role of product copy is to give buyers enough information, so they could convince themselves this is the right product for them. Clarity trumps persuasion. The best sales copy is full, complete information. No hype needed.

Google actively looks for duplicate content in an attempt to show relevant and unique content in their results. If they see the same content pop-up on a new site they tend to lower the new site’s relevance in search (first come, first serve).

They are looking for content people are interested in finding on a page, so consider the content on each page carefully. Many good pages on a site will help the site overall by providing many contact points to your product pages.

In the context of the chafu noted above, Google's advice is to "Minimize similar content: If you have many pages that are similar, consider expanding each page or consolidating the pages into one..."

This is why a free-standing eCommerce site like ProStores has an About Us, Policies, and Customer Service pages, so pertinent information can be presented to visitors in a single location, not scattered across all of your product descriptions watering-down their SEO value.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A New eCommerce ad-Venture

June 22nd will mark our four year anniversary supporting ProStores eCommerce Solutions. August will witness the fourth anniversary of launching Fauxlaroids.com — Your State-of-the-Art ProStores Test Site. Over the years we've used Fauxlaroids to create sample eCommerce products as well as ProStores Tutorials to help ProStores' merchants optimize their sites for maximum effectiveness.

To build on all of the key learnings in eCommerce of the past four years, we are embarking on a new adventure by launching a new venture, SurplusCameraGear.com.

Initially SurplusCameraGear.com will be a venue to sell superfluous cameras and other photographic equipment from our collection, and, in time, it may never be more than that! However, the real object of the venture is to apply all of the eCommerce knowledge we've accumulated over the past four years to a site that is, admittedly, a David among Goliaths. This is, after all, the ProStores' experience for many merchants — the small retailer competing with the Amazon.com's of the world.

We'll be blogging throughout the process to share our strategies and implementations with others. Check back often, and feel free to share your ideas as well.

Peter Paul Rubens 1577 – 1640
Oil on canvas (123 × 99 cm) — ca. 1616

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

PST31: Add a "Sold" Flag to Listing

We've just added a new tutorial at Fauxlaroids.com, PST31: Add a "Sold" Flag to Listing, illustrating the custom ProStores SSML conditional code used to flag an item as sold when the quantity drops to zero (0).

<ss:if test="$product.quantityInStock == 0">
    <ss:image source="$storeVersion.images['sold_250.png']" vspace="10" />
    ... original template code relating to Price, Add to Cart, etc. ...

See more eCommerce product samples in our Footware Category at Fauxlaroids.com, Your State-of-the-Art Prostores Test Site.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

New Tutorial...! PST30: Custom Product Title Tags

We've just added a new tutorial at Fauxlaroids.com, PST30: Custom Product Title Tags. This tutorial outlines—with screen shots and code samples—how to change the dynamic ProStores title tag to feed from the product's custom text field, allowing the merchant the flexibility of tailoring their product titles as they see fit, without modifying the products name. There's even a Sample Product configured to illustrate what can be achieved in just 2 simple steps!

Visit Fauxlaroids.com, Your State-of-the-Art ProStores Test Site!

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