It took Lisa Zawacki 58 seconds to earn her Atlanta-based small business a complete ecommerce site makeover and other services worth $20,000. That's the running time of the video she produced in an ecommerce makeover contest that asked entrepreneurs to describe why they needed help selling online.
Zawacki is founder of Gorilla Sacks, a company that makes a line of tote bags, slings, handbags, laundry bags and more from the recycled vinyl of defunct billboards. She says her old ecommerce platform calculated shipping charges incorrectly, costing her money. Paypal integration never worked, and she couldn't make changes to the site herself. In short, it was a mess.
So she made her 58-second video and submitted it to the BigCommerce (www.bigcommerce.com) makeover contest via YouTube and walked away with the grand prize. BigCommerce provides ecommerce sites, services and software for small business.
Zawacki's online travails and her determination to do something about it hold lessons for other business owners.
Gorilla Sacks (www.gorillasacks.com) was already a successful online and offline retail business. But Zawacki knew that to take her business to the next level she'd need a more professional and full-featured website. Gorilla Sacks takes the durable, heavy-duty vinyl used in giant billboards and cuts it to make the bags; each one unique. Colorful billboard vinyl is made to survive all weather conditions, is UV protected and almost never wears out. Improving her online presence became especially important for Zawacki when she decided to pursue partnerships with larger companies on their recycling efforts.
For any small business in a similar position, recognizing you have a problem is the first step. A great way to get ideas on how to solve ecommerce site problems is to see what other business owners are doing, and the features and benefits offered by various ecommerce platforms.
A search for "www.business.com) will give you a quick and easy list of highly targeted vendor and platform choices.
Search for "BigCommerce eCommerce Contest" on YouTube to see other small business owners describe their own ecommerce problems in videos they produced. Contest finalists included:
- CoastCityStyles.com, a maker of comic-themed T-shirts and merchandise;
- KettleBellsUSA.com, which sells kettlebells and other weight training items;
- LatinPopShop.com, Latino-American and Latin-themed arts and gifts; and
- OverTheMoonRibbons.com, which carries ribbons for design and craft projects.
BigCommerce is one fast-growing provider which claims to be signing up over 1,000 small merchants weekly. This site aims to help business owners set up and maintain an advanced ecommerce site simply. It's part of Interspire, a major provider of shopping cart software.
Another lesson from Zawacki's winning experience is the value of being involved in social media, and knowing how to create and upload a simple video about your business -- whether it's on your own site, an online Yellow Pages site such as DexKnows.com (www.dexknows.com) or YouTube.
The five finalists' videos in the BigCommerce contest were posted on the company's website and Facebook page where visitors could vote for their favorite. BigCommerce then evaluated the three sites with the most votes and selected Gorilla Sacks as the grand prize winner based on the company's potential for growth and their inspiring story.
Business owners who actively participate in social media -- or at least monitor the sites regularly -- have the edge in finding new ideas and learning about solutions other entrepreneurs are discovering every day.