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Web Design: What is an Alternative to Adobe Photoshop That is Free?

The answer is GIMP!

GIMP is a free graphics program which is comparable to Adobe Photoshop. GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) runs on Windows, Mac and Linux.

I am often asked what graphic programs are good to use for basic graphic design. GIMP is a pretty good candidate for this. It can even save files in Photoshop format.

Shopping Carts: Could your shopping cart be penalised from Google?

Did you know that Google penalises websites for duplicate content? If Google thinks you have copied content from elsewhere on the Internet, you can get banned from Google.

If you sell the same products as other merchants, are your descriptions of your products unique or copied from the manufacturers website?

Did you copy your content?
If they are copied directly from the manufacturers website or from a competitor, you run the risk of being banned from Google or at least penalised with your search engine rankings.

Make your product descriptions unique
The benefit of having unique product descriptions may give your website a better ranking. Having your own product description that you wrote means you can make it more targetted for specific keywords giving you more control of your ranking.

Search engines love content that is unique. Customers like reading product descriptions that say more than what’s your competitor websites.

Wrap Up
Make your product descriptions unique!

David Lim: Transition From A Hobby eBay Seller To Fulltime Small Business Entrepreneur

timberbitsAuthor : “Pen Kits & Pen Blanks –

Most people dream of handing the letter to the boss that says “I quit!” However the reality is very seldom realized.

Starting your own small business is very daunting and traditionally, doing so means mortgaging the family home or borrowing from family and friends.

Where to start.

Ebay has now the perfect vehicle to test and develop you business model and skills. With a few click and some loose change in your pocket, you can compete in a level playing field with the big boys in town.

Should your sales start to pick up and you get into the rhythm of selling on ebay, you will very quickly notice the advantages and disadvantages of eBay.

Pro’s and Con’s

The main disadvantages of eBay is mainly

1. the enormous fees that it charges, and

2. the price wars and race to the bottom which quickly erodes profits.

The next level.

Once you have developed a customer base, it’s time to start to lead them to an environment that you control. Lead them to a place where the big corporation can’t dictates how much their share is (before your even earn a cent), away from the “hand of god” that can delete all your listing because of a complaint of a righteous customer, away from a place which shares all your business statistics with your competitors.

By leading your customers to your own web site, you take back control and you also save a lot of money in the process.

Your website is your shop – give it some street appeal

Have you ever visited a web site that looked like it was done by a 8 year old or a newbie to web design? You wouldn’t get a dodge carpenter or a friend of a friend to fitout your retail premises – we all know this is the case we walk into some shops, why do the same with your web site?

With the invent of the web – small business can compete with the big boys in town. Spend a bit of money up front and get a professional to do the job. To fit out a retail shop professionally expect to pay over $250,000. A professional website is less than $1,000.

I always get complimented for how professional Pen Kits & Pen Blanks – looks. It cost me less than a $700 to get started – that’s less than 1 months of eBays fees. Now my website’s volume has grown to more than 5 times what I sell on eBay. I now save thousands of dollars a month just on eBay fees, not to mention the time and frustration on eBay.

My word of advice is as soon as you start selling more than 20 transactions a month on eBay, start to invest in a website. When you do build a website, don’t go cheap – we all know what those websites look like, pay a professional because you get what you pay for.

Online Stores: Are Your Product Descriptions Accurate?

globe-in-shopping-trolleyYou’ve setup your online store and your selling lot’s of products. But are your product descriptions up-to-date? Are they accurate? Are the products exactly as they described in the product description on your website? What about the warranty and refund information?

Word-of-mouth can be one of your most effective mediums for spreading the word about of your services. The problem is that if a customer has a bad experience, the bad news is going to spread even faster ( 10 times faster!) and you’ll have to work hard to repair the damage.

Deals Direct LogoDeals Direct Example
The online department store – Deals Direct, are in trouble with the ACCC this week. The ACCC has received a large number of complaints about bogus savings claims, and inaccurate or misleading product descriptions on their website. They promised to clean their act up but is the damage already done?

This got me thinking about our customers and other online stores. Too often I see online store managers who copy and paste information about the products they sell from other online sources. But is the product information correct, up-to-date and accurate?

The same rules apply
Online retailers often forget that the same rules apply to them as do the brick and mortar retailers. Online retailers need to check their refund and warranty policies for the products that they offer and stand by them when required.

The costs of complying with the required law is offset by the reduced risk of the ACCC taking action against you and help with the goodwill you will give your customers.

Spending a few minutes ensuring that your product descriptions including warranty and refund policies are correct will ensure a good relationship with your customers. Customers will know where they stand if there is a problem and the relationship can continue on with problem resolution is clearly documented.

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Hot Online Products for the Holidays

The holiday season is soon approaching but what are online retailers going to be pushing so they sell the most through their online stores?

Would you like to know what consumers are looking at purchasing during this holiday spending season? Well we’ve received research sourced from Google/OTX Consumer Intentions for Holiday 2009. This is very interesting data because it shows you the type of people that are now doing online shopping by the category popularity.


Plan to Purchase by Category Analysis
It is surprising to see clothing and fashion having such a high purchase intention. For many years, online retailers and shoppers complained that clothing and fashion would not sell very well on the Internet. This results shows that customers are now ready and comfortable purchasing clothes online without feeling or trying on the clothes.

This proves that online shopping has moved passed the early adopters stage and into a more mature marketplace as everyday people are now making many purchases online.

Entertainment items have always been popular with online shoppers because the logistics of delivering the items is relatively easy. Retailers can easily email items such as tickets or mail DVDs without many problems. The return rate I imagine would be very low which equates to cheaper and more competitive prices compared to brick and mortar retailers.

I think buying toys online has been popularised through eBay which has had quite a success in selling toys through their online auctions and eBay sellers’ online stores.

Picture 7

Technology Categories Analysis
Video games are popular again these holidays especially with the rise of the Nintendo’s Wii Game Console, XBox and Playstations.

Digital cameras are now much more affordable and incredible specs these days. The internet used to be a great tool to compare digital cameras but it is interesting to note that people are now looking at making their digital camera purchases online.

Amazon has now launched their ebook reader on a world wide basis plus they now have added competition from Sony and other product manufacturers. I think they were anticipating that ebook readers would be a hot item this Christmas but it appears to be off the radar for these consumers.

What is your online store going to do?
Is your online store ready for the Christmas Holidays? Please tell us in the comments below what you have done to prepare your online store for the upcoming holidays.

Launch of Google Merchant Center & Google Data Feeds

googleDid you know that you can submit your products to Google and put into their search index? Google will accept your product submissions and add it to their search index.

You can do this automatically using a Google Data Feed through your shopping cart software. Whenever you add, delete or modify any products in your shopping cart, they are updated in Google automatically. Ask you shopping cart software provider how to set this up if you are unsure.

Introducing Google’s Merchant Center
Google has now made it even easier to manage what products you have in their index by using the Merchant Center. You can also check the status of all the products that are in the index as well. You will need a Google account to use this service but it is free to sign up.

Visit the Google Merchant Center to get started today.

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The importance of quality product images

product2We have seen different shopping carts and eBay listings but what is one of the most important things you’ve noticed about the products and listings? There is the layout of the site, the functionality and then there is the quality of the product images.

Do your product images look professional? Do they say ‘buy me’ to the viewer?

The Benefits of Great Product Images
Having high quality product images for you shopping cart and website can make or break the success of it. Too often I see websites with poor to average photos of products. The business has done a lot of work to the website in getting it ready and spending money to drive customers to the website, then they display poor photos of their products.

Have a look at the flyers that come in your mail box from Woolworths, Coles and other retailers. All the product images are perfect. They want you to buy their products so they have the best product images. You too can have great product photos by spending a few dollars or buying the equipment and doing it properly yourself.

product1Do-It-Yourself Photography
If you want to do this yourself because you have a large number of images, a bit of time and a turnover of products, you can invest in some photography tents by searching through eBay. Most digital cameras today can take high quality photos if you know how to. There are a lot of resources on the Internet to show you how.

Professional Photography
If you have a limited number of products that you will have on your website, it may be better to use a third party photography studio. You can send them your products, they’ll take the photos, optimise them, send you quality images and send your products back.

With your new high quality product images, you will be selling more products immediately.