Ecommerce Evolution

The highly competitive ecommerce arena has begun to see an evolution in the paradigm of packages prices and shopping cart platforms. Many ecommerce management software providers are successfully bundling their ecommerce software with storefront templates, shopping carts, and complete marketing services making it easy for the inspired entrepreneur to start an online retail business.While the internet itself always provided a revitalized, virtually unlimited opportunity for making money, there still existed – as with most pursuits – numerous challenges and a somewhat slippery learning curve. Foremost among the obstacles for excited proprietors and transitioning companies, was adapting an existing local retail business to the web: stores without stores, displays without bulky shelving comprised solely of pixels, customers service departments replaced by phone agents, and the unending yearning to create significant brand awareness in a market that had no regional boundaries.However, the advantage of the internet was the profusion of readily available information, and the game began to change slowly, and then rapidly, in a historically unrivaled communication of knowledge in the form of everything internet, from html tutorials to shopping cart solutions, all for the taking for those willing to eager to learn – and to pay. And, so the future and ecommerce were born, fast and unrelenting. The merchants of small town life often seen sweeping the steps of their shops each morning, tidying their stores for the days traffic, spent more time in front of their computers, changing the graphic on their banner ads, as the first, obvious element of online business was recognized. Though online retailers would still require consistently reputable customer service departments and quality products to sustain repeat buying and avoid dangerous complaints from newly sprung online review sites, proprietors foremost need was for a presentable online location – a good website – and ten thousand web design companies responded on cue in a Starbucks-sustaining din, accented by the sound of fingers-flying across Dell keyboards and the exuberance of freshman classes filling the seats of newly-created college web classes.A good web design, a user friendly shopping cart, the right niche products, and successful SEO and cost-per-click marketing quickly arose as ingredients of a winning web formula that companies had to struggle to discover, understand, and master. And, inevitably, as the necessary components of online business become more clearly defined, the opportunity to make money servicing those trying to make money selling was handsomely seized by ecommerce programmers, web developers, and web marketers.It is somewhat dizzying and mathematically staggering, looking back now in 2010, to remember just how fast the internet rose since its dawn, first cresting the technological mountains. Now those musing starting an online business over their cappuccino the morning after graduation can sign up with a monstrous drop-shipping conglomerate offering thousands of products, carefully select a design company promising exceptional custom work for a few hundred bucks, hire an inexpensive SEO firm promising first page results, and barrel head long into an unknown, optimism-laden online business future.Unfortunately, like falling stars on an August night, the sight of once-bright entrepreneurs burning out from their web dreams has become a regular statistical vision, and the reality considered by this article. Namely, how viable is creating an online business? And specifically, have ecommerce companies succeeded in delivering the services that give you a better chance of succeeding than failing?Sure, we’re way past the early ’90′s when everybody was jumping on the internet as it sailed away from it’s brick-and-mortar harbor, but ecommerce still has no end in sight and is, perhaps, more appealing possibility than ever for Americans analyzing the future of their financial well-being in a lengthening recession.Online adaption has taken place though, and while early internet pioneers faced a more uncertain journey – having less affordable options available for web services – modern web mavericks will face a different primary problem: themselves. There’s just too many people doing the same thing and the competition can be fiscally suffocating. It’s in the choices made during that critical growing stage that will play the largest role in being able to jump to the next milestone without drowning out. Like everything, to succeed online will, without question, require some investment, but spending little enough to put all the pieces in place – a dependable hosting solution, an appealing, dependable site, successful CPC and SEO marketing strategies, efficient ecommerce management tools, etc. – and getting a large enough return in the form of purchasing consumer traffic while make or break a new generation of potential web tycoons.Enter the aggressive arena of ecommerce and you’ll find numerous ecommerce software providers and web development companies standing by the gate ready to equip you for the battle for a nominal fee, themselves engaging in a tense contest to earn your money as you pass by. But choose wisely, young maverick, because paying too much for the wrong service could leave you strapped when you get the marketing gauntlet and have no padding left. There are specialized web designers, shopping cart providers, SEO gurus, custom programmers, and hosting giants all dangling their goods before you with appealing phrases like “scalable”, “custom”, and “#1″, vying for your selection. Other companies promise to do it all for peanuts, and while tempting, leave you with a nagging anxiety that may be getting less than you paid for, which is very little. Then there is an aisle of ecommerce giants that are well adorned, and seem stronger and more experienced, holding a long list of previous champions they’ve supplied, and they would likely be an excellent choice except that the young business warrior would suffer a debilitating loss just paying for the goods, before ever seeing their brand’s flag waiving in the arena.Though some may come to the ecommerce table with a sizeable sum and a wealth of business management experience, I am most interested in the plight of those who do not. For those weary occupational travelers, business confidence may fall sharply as hard earned start-up capital diminishes, and success will be carefully garnered by monitoring spending.For sake of those e-commerce combatants, we’re most interested in the growing breed of ecommerce providers who offer complete services – hosting, design, shopping cart, store management tools, analytics, seo marketing, ssl certificates – basically everything you need – at an affordable price. These vendors bring a ray of hope to the prospect of starting an online business, and can certainly bring forth operational proof of other companies they’ve assisted numbering in the tens of thousands. Which begs the question, with so many advanced yet simplified tools available and so many companies already enjoying success, how easy is it really? Does anyone with a desire, some cash, and a willingness to succeed really have a shot at the modern American dream – making a viable income working from home as an internet retail proprietor? A home-brewed latte, some checkered pajames, and a picture window for office adornments are the stuff of dreams for many office-scorched blue collar Americans.So, just how well do total ecommerce providers succeed at helping you succeed?There are numerous good ecommerce players out there – Volusion, BigCommerce, Shopify, and 3DCart are a few notables – that can provide your store with a site, hosting, ecommerce platform system, shopping cart, customer support, etc., however, they can vary significantly in quality, ease-of-use, and price – all factors that can affect the reality of online success.The question is, in a rush of e-commerce competition, have packages become like so many package products, appearing to include everything you need but lacking in fundamental quality. Children’s fishing sets are available at discount retailers that provide a pole, reel, lures, weight, bobbers, and an assortment of neon-colored tackle for under $15, but many Dad has faced crying toddlers after arriving at the vacation destination to discover that the reel jambs and the lures don’t work. When it comes to your ecommerce provider, you don’t want to be a victim of that old adage, getting only what you paid for. After all with competition and technology increases, can’t we demand that the functional value of our purchases exceed their cost, or at least exceed another product of the some price.Some ecommerce companies offer relatively cheap shopping carts and management tools, but their site templates are crudely commercial – replicas with differing color schemes – and obtaining a custom design is an additional service costing hundreds or thousands more. Once you enter into a deep-digging, nuts and bolts comparison you’ll discover the variety in price, quality, service, usability, is great even among competitors. Ultimately, selecting the right company will depend upon your particular business, target market, product catalog, knowledge level, experience and budget, with the latter likely holding more weight than all others.One of my favorite new ecommerce comapnies this year is AWDCommerce, (http://www.awdcommerce.com) an emerging Montana based e commerce software developer and a subsidiary of American Web Design, for their quality, cost, and small-town style customer support. They offer over 500 customized storefront designs for numerous industries of very high quality for a professional site, robust ecommerce management tools, exceptional small-town style customer service, shopping cart, unlimited products, support, and hosting for $39.99/mo. What I liked most is AWDCommerce combination of price, quality, and support – they provide everything, with friendly small town support to back it up, for under $40 a month. The storefront designs offered a superb quality against comparable templates – providing entrepreneurs with a truly, professional appearance – plus they offer agent-assisted assimilation and customization of logos and graphics, making the site formation easy for the unsavvy. Rather than offering “scalable” plans labeled like Olympic medals, they allow up to 10,000 products so you have room to grow without seeing a higher monthly bill. AWDCommerce developed ecommerce platform didn’t look as nice as some, but was very easy to use and offered a strong array of professional management features. The company also offers custom programming for any required app development and organic SEO and cost-per-click marketing services to help spread your brand wings.I wouldn’t be surprised to see AWDCommerce show significant growth in the e-commerce market this year, and are a good example of a smart, all-inclusive provider for proprietors with limited pockets seeking to get the most bang for their buck.There are many good companies out there able to provide a website, hosting, shopping cart, web-based management tools, analytics, and marketing and I would assert that, more than ever before, they do indeed make it possible for proprietor’s with the right niche product and work ethic to successfully launch an online business with as little as a few hundred bucks. One things remains certain though: choosing carefully in the selection of web services will have a measurable impact on your business once you enter the arena and find yourself before the cheering crowd, with internet royalty like Google and Yahoo watching your emergence with a robotic efficiency.So be encouraged. The merchant games have always been tough, and though the intensity may have make a daunting plateau, there may have never been as much help available or potential gain as now.As a previous cash-strapped, green-footed web proprietor myself, I wish all a happy deployment and good showing in the games.

Why You Should Travel Young

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”-Henry MillerTraveling is simply a brutality of humanity, it is when we travel that we see things for what they truly are and not how we imagined them to be. Traveling also lets our imagination run wild without expectations, it lets us see things from a new perspective, without the alleged prejudice of the world. And while all of this seems to be an adequate reason to travel, many are still naïve to the idea of traveling.But just as many are left in the dark to wonder and wander, some are out there exploring and enjoying what the world has to offer them, for it is in that brief moment of youth that we can truly experience life, as we know it.Now the question of many remains, “Why Should I Travel Young”? Personally, I can give you a hundred, even a thousand reasons why you should travel when you’re young but if you’re desire to see the world begins and ends with your “Wish to See the World” then I’m afraid no amount of reasoning would suffice to convince you to go after what you want.You see, traveling as much as it is a form of recreation is also a commitment, a vocation for some, but ultimately, it is a responsibility. A responsibility you should be willing to take onto yourself. Many people say that the young are lucky to have the health and the wealth to see the world but what they do not realize is that the young are often distracted, deceived and sometimes, deluded.So if you’re one of the young’uns who wish to unearth the world’s greatest places and learn life’s most valuable lessons, but are afraid to make it happen, read along, maybe I can convince you to travel while you still have the gift of youth.
Traveling teaches you a sense of adventure- Don’t quote me on this one but based on my experience, traveling allows you to have as much as fun as you want without having to worry of what other people will say about you. You don’t have your peers or parents to warn you and judge you, so you can be young, wild and free. Life is an adventure and traveling lets you experience that.
Traveling teaches you to be compassionate- Other than the photos, the souvenir and the life-long memory that traveling gives you, it also edifies you of the real situation and teaches you to care for other people, sometimes not of your own kind.
Traveling allows you to be culturally diverse- If you think traveling is all about sight-seeing and marveling at the wonders each country has, then you’re right. But there’s also something more important that traveling teaches us, it allows us to be culturally diverse. Whenever we travel, it is important that we follow the local practices of the country/destination we are going to. As the old saying goes, “Respect begets Respect” If we learn to respect and even appreciate the culture of other nationalities then we become more aware of our own. That’s the mutual benefit we get from traveling.
Traveling makes you more attractive as a person- they say that the most attractive people in the world are those that have seen it. Do you agree? I do. It is because of the invaluable and immeasurable life experiences we have with our travels that make us a better person, and when you feel you’re better, you become more attractive.
When you travel young, you travel more- let’s face it, we’re all bound to grow old and lose our health. But while we’re young and at the peak of everything, it’s best to take advantage of it and start traveling, after all, you’re only allowed until your 30s to hike a mountain or ride the rapids of the river.
Traveling makes it easy to make friends- if back at your hometown you tend to cling to the same group of people bound by a circle of friendship, then maybe you should travel more often. Traveling has been proven as one of the best ways to gain friends and build bonds, after all, you are all strangers to one another at one point but because of your common interest to see the world, you are bound by it as well. And get this; wouldn’t it be nice to have friends in all parts of the world? That would be way cool, way cooler than your friends back home.
Traveling makes you a better storyteller- You might not get this now but when you have kids or grandchildren, you will. Those who travel young have more opportunities to experience everything there is to traveling. With the many countries that you’ve visited and you’ll be traveling to is a story waiting to be told. Traveling gives you things to share over breakfast, lunch or dinner. When you travel, you will never have a hard time thinking of a topic to talk about; not to mention you’ll keep everyone with your story.
Now if for some strange reason, after citing all these reasons why you should travel young and you’re still not convinced; it’s pretty obvious that you have a fear inside you that you’re just trying to hide so everyone won’t think you’re a coward who can’t face it. Is it fear of heights? Fear of the unknown? Fear of being independent? Whatever it is, know that traveling, especially alone, will help you address that fear. You just have to take the big leap of faith and make the first step to make your traveling dreams a reality. You only live once; and you’re only young for a short period of time, if you don’t travel now, when?

What is Debt Management?

Debt management is a topic most people will have to deal with at some point. Debt is acquired by not living within your means. Living within your means is simply that you do not spend more than you make. Debt management is controlling and managing debt responsibly. To reduce or eliminate debt and create a cash flow that keeps you out of debt is debt management. To completely control your debt you need to make a budget, reduce expenses and focus on paying debt. This is the essence of debt management.To start your debt management program and make a budget you will need to know all of your expenses and income for a set period of time. Most budgets are done on a monthly basis. You should record your monthly income and expenses on a sheet that will allow you to subtract your expenses from your income. You need to have a few sections for expenses because there are a few different types of expenses to consider in your debt management.Fixed expenses- These are expenses, like rent, that are always the same amount or around the same amount each time they are due. These expenses are also ones that must be paid. Good debt management prioritizes expenses.Variable expenses- This type of expense changes from month to month. They are also expenses that you can change the amount of if need be, like groceries.Debt- Debt can be either fixed or variable, but is different because you do not pay the full amount each month. You can chose how much you want to pay or have a minimal amount you have to pay.These three types of expenses should be noted on your budget as part of your debt management. Once you have drawn up your budget you need to balance it. Balancing your budget is also a necessary part of debt management and means that your expenses do not exceed your income. This is very important in any debt management program.You may find that your budget is not balanced. If this is the case you will need to try to find ways to reduce your expenses. While fixed expenses are the same month to month and you have to pay them, there are still ways to reduce the amount. You should comparison shop to find the best price you can get. You can do this with utilities, especially extras like cable TV and phone service. Look at the companies that offer service in your area and find the one with the lowest price. Variable expenses are easy to manipulate and this is most likely where most of your budget cutting will happen. Reducing your expenses will not only balance your budget, but give you some more money to pay off debt quicker. Debt management will pay off with a little planning and self control.Debt can hang around for quite some item. Most debt comes with interest charges that just keep adding up. You can try getting a lower interest rate. By calling the company you have a debt with you may find they have better payment plans or can offer you some savings. You should also always make a point to pay more than the minimum amount due, especially on credit card debt. The minimal amount due is usually mostly paying interest and not your actual debt. Be aware of creating new debt also. Pay your bills on time so you do not get extra charges applied. Debt management requires that you keep good records and stick to your budget so debt doesn’t get out of control.Debt management may seem like a difficult task, but if you keep records and stick to your budget it actually can be easy. Try to cut expenses and remember to always live within your means. Once you get a credit card paid off do not start charging again unless you can pay the balance off in full when the bill comes. That is the simplest way to stay out of debt. Start your own debt management program and not only get out of debt but stay out. Remember, for debt management to be effective you must stick to your plan.