A HIPPO Internet Marketing Training blog by Corey Creed

The Jungle Map, your guide through internet marketing

Archive for the ‘eCommerce’ Category

Hippo Internet Marketing is Opening Again!

Three years ago, on January 15th, 2013, I announced here that HIPPO Internet Marketing was closing.  After ten years, I decided to stop taking clients and focus on my e-commerce sites.  Shortly after that, I went to Ephricon as their Director of Client Services for about a year.

Two years ago, after Ephricon became Straight North, I took some Internet marketing clients, but mostly just those that I already had a relationship with already.  I never opened up Hippo Internet Marketing in the sense that I started taking clients.  But now, after three years of being “closed”…

HIPPO Internet Marketing is Open again!

In fact, I’ve started to redesign our website at www.HippoIM.com!
(I love the fact that my office is the main picture on the home page.)


Our New E-commerce Site in 3 Months!

In early September, I made the decision to start investing in switching our e-commerce websites over to the Shopify platform.  Historically, we’ve used several platforms, most notably Volusion.  However, it’s becoming more and more evident that Shopify has come out as the strong leader in e-commerce platforms.

Basically Shopify is to e-commerce platforms what WordPress is to blogging platforms.  There are several others out there, including Volusion and Big Commerce.  But Shopify is not only leading, but making a strong push to drive far ahead of the others.

I’ll post my thoughts and feelings on Shopify on my newly recreated consulting site soon.  But in short, I’ll say that it’s amazing easy to build a site on this platform.  It’s also easy to extend it to do all the extra things you want to do with their Shopify Apps system.

The whole process was extremely painless and we were able to go live in less than three months.  Not bad for an entirely new site with about 200 products, new images and new content.  The new site is named Bellman Cart Specialists.  Although we’re trying to sell online, the real push for this site is to promote that we are expert consultants on the topic.  We’re hoping for more leads as opposed to online orders with this site.  We’ll see.

Tools for Working on an E-Commerce Business

WebToolsAs I stated earlier, I’m spending considerable time right now on my own e-commerce websites in an effort to improve their marketing, product range, conversion rate, and more.  This is long overdue.  These sites make pretty good money and just improving them by 10 to 20% would be a significant benefit to our business.

In the process, I’ve started to come up with a list of tools I use that help me.  These are not just tools for e-commerce, but most are good for marketers in general. too.  I am hoping this will spur some others to write similar posts so I can see what they use.  Here goes…


We Need a Charlotte Area Freelance Web Designer

Here at Hippo Internet Marketing, we’re looking for a local web designer with e-commerce design experience.  (Technically, the Hippo Inc side of my business is in need, not the Internet marketing training side.)

We’re not looking to hire, and it’s not a big job.  However, we are doing more and more with Magento in particular.  So, we’d like to have someone local that we can call upon.  

What we need…

Although we have some specific work now, we are really hoping to find someone that we can call upon for years to come as things come up.

For now, we have a couple of specific projects in the pipeline.

One is pretty much done, but we could use a little more help with fine-tuning our product pages and creating more of a custom look for them.

The other site is in need of a new template overall.  We’re entering all the data quickly and will need someone to take the basic ideas we have and create a new overall design and implement it.

As time goes on, we may need some help with designing some of the content-heavy pages also.

Bottom line?  The work will be off and on, but if you are good, fairly quick, and offer a reasonable price, we may work together for a long, long time.


1.  Freelancers only please.  We’re not looking to hire a company, but a person that can be available to help us when we need them (within reason).

2.  You must have experience in working with Magento e-commerce.

NOTE:  We’re primarily looking for a designer, not a programmer.  We have a good programmer on board.  We need a designer, but with some Magento experience.

If you are interested…

Please drop an email to Corey@Hippo-Inc.com.

  • Include your basic contact information (or a link to it).
  • Include your history & experience in e-commerce web design.
  • Include examples of sites you’ve worked on (or a portfolio link)
  • Include your typical cost structure.

NOTE:  Please don’t bother calling me.  For those of you that know me, you know why.  If you don’t know me, you can learn why it’s no use calling me on March 4 here.

Should we Move to ECommerce Island?

St Croix is now calling themselves “ECommerce Island”.  They are hoping that businesses will think seriously about the tax advantages of relocating to this US Virgin Island.

If you are a profitable business online, you know that taxes can get quite expensive.  So, relocating your business to the USVI can save you as much as 90% off your taxes.  They have a website you can review for more info at www.EcommerceIsland.com.

Chief Marketing Officer of this Virgin Islands economic initiative is Steve Rohrlick.  In this interview, he explains that many years ago, billions of dollars of undersea fiber optic cables were setup under the ocean to connect the US to the rest of the world.

These cable assets needed to be checked periodically.  It just so happened that the island of Saint Croix is where they put their cable stations.

St Croix has the second largest concentration of bandwidth second only to New York City.

St Croix is also the largest island in the USVI.  They are a territory of the United States and are close to the US mainland.

Ready?  Who’s with me?  Let’s all move to the USVI and work on our e-commerce and online businesses while enjoying island life.

(Wait.  Maybe I should ask my wife first.)

How to Get an E-Commerce Website

Since my podcast on e-commerce, I’ve received a lot of questions on how to get started.  This especially came up in yesterday’s Blogging class.

There are two ways to do this.  You can get the parts you need and put them all together or hire someone to do it all.


1.  The program (back-end) you will use
These days, I recommend investigating Volusion or Magento Ecommerce.

2.  The design
Some programs offer free templates.  But if you are serious at all, you need to go hire a designer.  Mine is Jon Bolden.  The guy is awesome.

3.  Configure the program
No matter what program you use, you will need to setup shipping, sales tax, and your gateway/merchant account.  How you do this will depend on which program you use.

4.  Add your products
This is different for each program too.  It can be a ton of work.  Or it could be as simple as an import.  Do it yourself or hire someone.

5.  Market your site
This is the hard part.  Rewrite pages with SEO in mind, get links, etc.


If all of the above seems like a lot of work, you’re right.  But it’s the only “good” way to do it unless you have thousands of dollars to spend.

If you are ready to drop several thousand dollars or more on a vendor that will do most of the above, you can investigate JanMedia, FastPivot, or any number of other businesses that do so.

(I would still recommend you do most of the marketing yourself.  Marketing is not part of owning a e-commerce business, it is the e-commerce business.  Don’t out-source it.  It’s too important. – IMHO)


Honestly, I don’t have a lot of experience with the above e-commerce providers.  I do my own stuff.  So if anyone has good experience with one locally or elsewhere, please leave a comment below.

Please be sure to comment on why my students and colleagues should choose your business or a business you have used for building an e-commerce store.


Be Careful if your Business Handles Credit Card info

For any business that accepts payment with credit cards, you need to think about PCI compliance. 

PCI stands for “Payment Card Industry”.  What are PCI standards?

PCI standards are not laws, but regulations imposed by payment card companies.  In order to accept Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or American Express, you have to fulfill certain contractual obligations to ensure the safety of customer data.

For small businesses such as e commerce businesses, it especially comes into play if you accept phone orders.  After all, the e-commerce orders through your website probably are secure.  But what if someone calls you on the phone?  Do you just write credit card info on a piece of paper before processing it?  What do you do with that paper?  What should you do?

If you are local to the Charlotte area, you may want to consider attending a free seminar from JStengel Consulting.  They have a free information seminar coming up at the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce on April 1st.  (No, it’s not an April Fools joke.)

We are not affiliated with JStengel in any way.  We met them at the Lake Norman Expo the other week for the first time.  Yet, three from our office will be attending their meeting.

This is important to us.  If you handle credit cards, it should be to you also.

Here’s a pdf whitepaper with more info on the meeting.

User reviews are important to e-commerce

An interesting report was mentioned in MarketingVox today on how important user reviews are to retail websites.

Almost all (98 percent) of surveyed shoppers said they read reviews prior to making a purchase.

Many (65 percent) read reviews “always” or “most of the time”.

Some (34 percent) seek out reviews on other sites such as Amazon.

Good things to think about if you sell online.

Product Ads: Advertising on Amazon?

Amazon_logoI just got an email from Amazon that announces a new arrangement for listing products you sell on Amazon.

Up until now, if you wanted to have your products listed on Amazon, you would need to upload your products information.  Then if someone bought something, Amazon would actually handle the financial transaction and send you the money (taking a cut along the way).

UPDATE:  More info about Amazon Product Ads at this link now.