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imgresThis week, we are proud to announce new information on our merchant growth from 2013. As e-commerce continues to grow and inspire entrepreneurs to start online businesses, we are dedicated to helping make that dream a reality by powering easy to use online stores.  In 2013, we added many new features and integrations, from being one of the first e-commerce solutions to offer cutting edge responsive design templates to the addition of Emma, Stripe, AbandonAid and more! Here are some great stats from our overview of 2013:

  • Over one billion dollars in merchant transactions since 2008
  • Most popular CoreCommerce categories in 2013 were fashion/apparel, jewelry and home decor.
  • In 2013, CoreCommerce merchants processed more than 834,000 orders, totaling $183 million dollars, an 11% increase over 2013.
  • The average order amount in 2013 was $218.94, growing by 8% over 2013.

Read the full press release here!

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Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 5.14.37 PMIf you’ve been following Nashville in recent years, you know there has been a big tech boom here, with hundreds of growing startups and a fantastic entrepreneur community. CoreCommerce is proud to be part of this great entrepreneurship movement. That’s why we are excited to share a recent podcast interview with ETPcast featuring our CEO, Matt DeLong. Our friends at ETPcast showcase a variety of entrepreneurs, best selling authors and business experts with insightful interviews.

Click here to listen to Matt share his story and advice as an entrepreneur.

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iStock_000031058108SmallAs any seasoned e-commerce business owner will tell you, sometimes it’s necessary to venture beyond strictly online promotion, especially if you have your own product line. There are a variety of ways to boost your company’s growth offline by introducing your products to a new groups of potential clients.

  • Pop up shops. All the rage in major cities, pop up shops are just that–small shops that pop up for a very limited time in a specific space. Pop up shops can be a great option for generating buzz your products and interacting with potential customers. The location and the targeted demographic are two big factors in considering if a pop up shop is a good option for your business. Many successful pop up shops feature clothing, jewelry and specialty products. Interested in learning more? Check out this article on how pop up shops work and getting started with it here.
  • Professional trade shows. Attending professional trade shows as a vendor is a good way to introduce your product to hundreds of buyers looking to purchase unique items for their retail stores. Trade shows can initially be costly, between securing your booth and creating visual displays. However, it is often an investment that can really pay off with repeat orders and helping you get your products into retail stores.
  • Create a rep program. Depending on your product line, you might want to consider developing a program for fans of your brand to sell independently as a rep. By empowering a group of reps to sell your products, you essentially grow your own motivated sales team.  These reps can purchase a starter kit with the most popular products you offer and use it to promote and sell by hosting home shows, selling to friends and more.

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We are excited to debut our newest video featuring Ordinary Hero, a great nonprofit that uses CoreCommerce to sell merch online to raise money for adoptions and outreach. Our video team caught up with Kelly Putty, Ordinary Hero’s founder, to learn about what inspired her to start a nonprofit and how having an online store has helped them achieve their mission.

Do you work with a nonprofit? Find out how we can help you start an e-commerce store here!

2013 made of sparksWe can hardly believe 2013 is almost over! As this year comes to a close, we’ve rounded up highlights from 2013, from winning two Stevie Awards to awesome new features and integrations. Here are a few of our favorite highlights from this year:

  • Pinterest proved to be a great tool for e-commerce businesses. This year we introduced Pinterest Rich Pins for CoreCommerce, featuring special pins that automatically show product information such as price and availability.
  • We integrated with e-mail marketing partner Emma and featured helpful tips such as the best days to send e-mail marketing.
  • Our team was proud to be one of the first e-commerce solutions to introduce responsive web design templates, perfect for reaching online shoppers on any device, including smartphones and tablets.
  • Another great integration from 2013 was with abandoned cart remarketing tool, AbandonAid. E-commerce merchants can effectively use AbandonAid to engage with customers who abandon their shopping carts during the shopping and checkout process. Learn more about recovering the first $500 in revenue for free here!
  • This year, we featured new CoreCommerce videos, including a video featuring country artist and CoreCommerce user, Darryl Worley!
  • 2013 was the year of creating content to reach potential customers through the research and purchasing process. Our team put together helpful tips and blog posts on unique ways to use content to grow e-commerce.
  • Some of our best inspiration comes from CoreCommerce merchants! We compiled our favorite seven lessons we’ve learned from CoreCommerce entrepreneurs, featuring fantastic advice on getting started with and growing an e-commerce business.

Thank you for making 2013 a great year at CoreCommerce. We look forward to introducing more tools and innovations in 2014 to help you start and grow your online business!

 

SEO - search engine optimizationSEO is an ever changing component of e-commerce, with various factors directly impacting your site’s ranking with major search engines. At CoreCommerce, we make basic SEO best practices simple when it comes to your store, from adding meta tags to using Google Analytics and Google Adwords with your store. Here are five quick SEO tips that you can easily do yourself:

  • Be sure to have internal links from the homepage to all important pages of your site, such as your About Us page and blog, for example.
  • Include text with keywords related to your store or product on your homepage, above the fold. This helps search engines understand what your site is about to rank it properly.
  • Original content on each page is very important when it comes to SEO. Major search engines don’t value duplicate content.
  • A blog is a great way to grow organic site traffic, especially by posting blogs that use long tail phrases and questions or information consumers search for during the discovery and research phase. Learn more about how to use the blog feature that comes with each CoreCommerce store!
  • A healthy social media presence is no longer something to approach as an afterthought. Search engines keep tabs on your “social signals”, assessing how relevant your brand is, how many followers and interactions there are and more. This will continue to play a greater role in coming years so start growing your social presence now.

Need help with your SEO strategy? We offer services from trusted SEO experts especially for e-commerce businesses!

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If you’re looking for Christmas gift ideas, you’ve come to the right spot. Today we’re featuring a roundup of some cool products our CoreCommerce stores sell on their sites. From the best bread you’ve ever tasted to handmade candles, here are some of our favorites:

    • Spark Living’s Lego USB flash drive is the perfect gift for any techies on your list!
      LegoUSBYellowShrunk
    • The handmade, aromatherapy soy wax candles from Pure Scented Candles is perfect for holiday traveling and stress relief!
    • Our friends at Pop on Posy have beautiful, vintage inspired hair accessories for all the ladies on your list!
    • Buying for a musician on your Christmas list? Check out AirTurn, an awesome company that has products designed for musicians to read music from their tablet device. From hands-free pedals that turn pages to tablet stands for performances(or practice!), this is a great gift for any musician.
    • Need a gift for a busy mom? In A Pikle has a variety of small clutches designed to carry anything you need for life’s emergencies, from bandages and hand sanitizer to a travel sized sewing kit and  mini screwdriver. Our staff members can attest that their Pikle pack has gotten them out of a few pickles!
    • For the tea lover on your list, head over to Old Wilmington Tea Company. They are passionate about tea and offer an amazing variety of high quality tea and accessories. We’re dreaming about a hot cup of Georgia Sunrise right now!
  • 421When it comes to sending an awesome gift to clients or coworkers, look no further than Breadwinner Breads. Their bread has been featured on the Today Show and Food Network—and was a big hit at CoreCommerce when we sampled their Better Than A Bubble Bath Mocha Chocolate Chip bread.

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At CoreCommerce, we’re dedicated to helping entrepreneurs get started with e-commerce and grow a successful business. One of our favorite stories of entrepreneurship is Kelly Nishimoto, who took her love of fashion and developed it into a well-known brand. Like many entrepreneurs, her success wasn’t overnight but was built upon years of perseverance and hard work. We recently caught up with the busy fashion designer for an interview, which we’re sure will inspire you!

1. Kelly, you’ve had an impressive career–from growing up in Georgia, conquering Miami’s fashion scene and debuting a collection at Fashion Week to moving to L.A. and developing a successful fashion line. What are your greatest influences in both fashion and business?

My influence in fashion was really having the freedom to express myself. I did that through clothes and the way I dressed. I always took that very seriously. Of course I was also influenced by some amazing designers–my favorites are Balenciaga, Yves St. Laurent and Alexander McQueen! Another influence was the desire to break out of the small town I grew up in and be successful. I grew up in Roberta, Georgia, with a population of 800. I loved it but fashion and small towns don’t really exist together.

As for business, I always wanted to model my business after Juicy Couture. Seeing how they started and where they are today has really influenced my decisions and business direction. Another influence is my surroundings and what I want them to be. I like to create an environment that makes people feel something, and I enjoy people’s reactions to the environment I’ve created. So I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m influenced and inspired by what I can create both in fashion and in feeling.

2. What were some challenges you faced as you were starting your career?

For me, it was money and lack of industry knowledge. My parents couldn’t afford to send me to design school but offered to pay for community college. I wanted to do something creative and, in my mind, there was nothing creative about community college. I packed up my sewing machine and moved to South Beach. I created a mini collection from colored Reynolds plastic wrap(yes, from the grocery store!). I threw my own fashion shows around town but I never really tried to sell anything. It wasn’t until I moved to Los Angeles five years later that I started thinking of turning my creativity and designs into a business.

I began my business by making corsets that were reversible. My first big sale was a custom corset for the singer, Anastasia. She was battling breast cancer and a friend ordered it for her. It was pink silk on one side and a crazy paisley on the other. After that, I ended up making corsets for a number of celebrities including Gwen Stefani, Demi Moore, Brooke Burke, Madonna and more. My business grew and I launched my first full collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in 2005. Since then I’ve shown many collections on many runways, dressed a ton of celebrities, started an online store and opened my own boutique in Downtown Los Angeles.

Cute-Booty-Pants-p20Thirteen years into my business, I still face challenges. Coming from a small town in Georgia, I just expected people in the fashion business to be honest and hard working like the people in my hometown. That mentality is still haunting me. I like to see the good in people and give too many people in this business the benefit of the doubt. It’s difficult because there are so many copycats and no laws to protect designers. People say imitation is the highest form of flattery but stealing ideas is not flattering unless you “PAY THE LADY!”.  I’ve also found that it’s always more expensive to run your business than you think…and everything takes twice as long.

3. Your products have been featured in top magazines such as InStyle and People Weekly. Do you have any tips or advice for other entrepreneurs who want to be showcased in major fashion magazines or on a national level?

It’s all about PR and marketing! Most new designers take that for granted and don’t budget for proper marketing. With the popularity of social media these days, I think it’s a little easier. But if you want to take your brand to another level, you need a PR company. They have the contacts and relationships you need to get your product and brand out there. Also, never stop creating! Stylists, celebrities and magazine editors like new things. They are constantly on the hunt for what’s next so keep the ideas coming and keep your brand fresh!

4. Within the past year, you’ve started co-hosting your own tv show on TLC, “Something Borrowed, Something New”, with celebrity stylist Sam Saboura. What has been your favorite experience as you’ve worked on the tv show?

First of all, I’m in love with Sam! He’s my TV boyfriend–ha! I’ve never had such chemistry with a co-host. He’s everything you see on TV and more. We’ve really bonded and it’s made my journey on TV so much more amazing.

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I love getting to play dress up and getting paid for it–you can’t beat that! The whole experience has been so positive. The dresses and the families have been so animated and it’s an honor to help these brides along their wedding dress journey. At the end of the day, it’s always more than a dress. It’s a family coming together for a special moment and there are always tears! I filmed the upcoming  season pregnant so this time around it was a completely new journey and just as amazing as the last. I really love TLC! They truly support me and for that I am extremely grateful.

5. As a successful fashion designer and entrepreneur, how do you stay inspired?      

I have found that my inspiration is constantly changing. In the beginning, it was wanting people to know my brand and who I was. I just wanted to create beautiful clothes that inspired women and helped them appreciate their bodies and curves. I wanted those clothes to be seen by everyone! When times were tough, making money and being successful inspired me. These days, I find my inspiration is providing for my family and creating a business with longevity. I’m sure it sounds cliché, but I just had my first child so my perspective on life and what’s really important to me has changed. At this very moment, I’m inspired by the life I created! I want to work hard and smart for him. I also want him to be well dressed!

Brass-Knuckles-Phone-Case-p240My brand is still all about women being comfortable with their curves. That will never change. That’s just what I do…make clothes that help people to look their best. And now I’ve expanded into making maternity and baby clothes!

6. Do you have any advice you would offer to other entrepreneurs that want to follow in your footsteps?

Don’t give up. Success is rarely an overnight thing. It takes time to build a business! Find what you like, what you do best and stick to it. How can you fail forever? Impossible. When you fall down, pick yourself up and keep going. Success doesn’t have an age or an expiration date. People can’t say no forever. And you should never say no to yourself! If you believe in yourself, others will too. Also, always have a contract! Don’t take on any work without a contract. That was a hard lesson for me, and if you ignore all other advice, don’t ignore this one.

Special thanks to Kelly Nishimoto for sharing her story and great advice! Learn more about Kelly’s products here or catch her on TLC’s “Something Borrowed, Something New”!

If you’re looking for e-commerce business ideas, you’ll love our newest infographic! To get started down the right path for you, we identified a few areas of projected growth, added in some creative business ideas to get your creativity flowing, advice from real entrepreneurs and threw in a few tips to help you stay on track. Find an online business idea that works for you!

BusinessIdeas_infographic_600

 

 

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At CoreCommerce, you’ll find that e-commerce is a passion of ours. We’re proud to power over 13,000 online stores worldwide and be an advocate for e-commerce entrepreneurship. Behind each CoreCommerce online store is a unique story of entrepreneurship that inspires us to do what we do. Today we’re sharing seven important lessons we’ve learned from our CoreCommerce entrepreneurs over the years:

  • Inspiration is everywhere. The story behind each CoreCommerce store is really inspiring, complete with ups, downs and victories. From life events to fulfilling a long time dream, the “aha!” moments are as unique as the entrepreneurs themselves. Look for business inspiration in every day life, from product ideas to better ways to do business. Use these experiences to connect with your customers and set your business or brand apart.
  • Taking the initial steps to starting a business can be the hardest. Starting an online business isn’t a complicated process in itself but making time in our busy, everyday lives to start can be intimidating. Alex of STAY VOCAL encourages would-be entrepreneurs: “Honestly, I think the best piece of advice that I can give is to not just talk about doing it. DO IT. Make that first step. That’s the hardest one. I know too many people who have numerous ideas for businesses but never go forward. And these days, it’s so incredibly easy it to start an online store”.
  • Developing a product line takes time. From creating a product prototype and filing a patent to perfecting a great product idea, the process often takes time. Amy of Buttons Diapers, an innovative eco-friendly cloth diaper, notes, “It took about seven months of comparing a number of different types and styles of diapers before deciding on the best features”. If your product is proprietary, don’t get discouraged in the development and manufacturing phase. “Finding the right manufacturers that met our quality standards, and to ensure that all of the inside contents fit perfectly in our In A Pikle organizer, was a complex obstacle,” notes Tamara of In a Pikle. In the long run, you’ll have a product that is all your own–and that’s something to be proud of.
  • Find a niche. A common mistake businesses make is trying to sell to everyone and every demographic. Instead, find a niche and pursue it. Pop on Posy owner Jody offers great advice on the matter: “You will find your opportunity in a little niche of what your competitors are not doing. Don’t try to be everything to everybody. Plug away, slowly building…”. Be yourself, develop your brand identity and know your audience.
  • Do your homework. “Find something you love and make sure you know as much about it as possible. Then spend as much time as possible planning your business model and researching the market,” suggests Kit of Old Wilmington Tea. Preparation can go a long way as you put your business plan into action. Spend time assessing the overall market for your product/s and competitors in that space.
  • Love what you sell. Being inspired by and excited about your product line is a great motivator. “I’ve been interested in retail and drawn to design in all forms–from graphic design to product and package design. Spark Living is where are all of those interests meld together and I’m able to share it with people who have the same interests,” Merrideth of Spark Living. Still can’t decide on an e-commerce business idea? Tim of Minnesota Workwear advises: “Do your research. Most everybody has an area of expertise or interest they can start with”.
  • Stay creative. Running a business often requires an entrepreneur to wear multiple hats. Don’t get so busy taking care of business that you don’t make time to be creative. Staying creative is essential to keeping your business healthy and successful–even something as simple as getting out in your neighborhood. ”I get inspiration from Victorian details like paint color combinations throughout the city,” offers Kelly of San Francisco based Elizabeth Street Cosmetics.

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