Some retailers launched online deals well in advance of Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
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Using widget technology from Cartfly, Norton set up an account at Cartfly.com. Through an interface on the web site, he entered promotional text describing the business, uploaded the store’s image, uploaded product images and text describing the products, entered apparel sizes and prices, and clicked finish. The site then displayed HTML code he copied and pasted into BlackEyedSaint.com’s home page and the merchant’s MySpace page and began selling.
He then sent e-mails and MySpace bulletins to customers, artists who create designs for apparel, punk rock bands, and punk fans who also are fans of Black Eyed Saint through regularly seeing Norton and his apparel on the concert circuit. Even though they do not share in the profits, many of these people used the HTML code and posted the widget on their sites.
Norton set up his widget shop online a year and a half ago. Today he’s doing $500 a day through the widget. In March he shuttered his lone shop, getting rid of the bricks-and-mortar overhead to focus on e-commerce and selling at events. “I don’t need a store anymore because I have online stores all over the Internet,” he says.
Shoppers place orders through the widget, which accepts PayPal. Customers’ funds are deposited directly into Black Eyed Saint’s PayPal account. PayPal charges a 3% transaction fee. Cartfly charges a 3% commission on all sales, billing Norton on a monthly basis.
Cartfly sends order information to Norton via e-mail. Norton is responsible for order fulfillment, which he manages from a small warehouse and office. Black Eyed Saint staff manually enter all orders into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, used for all order management tasks and inventory (manually conducted once a week). Staff members manually create mailing labels. The business soon will be migrating from Excel to Intuit Inc.’s QuickBooks.
“The widget was an easy way for me to establish the store in the e-commerce world. We’ve done more business in the past three months than we have in the past two years,” Norton says. “I don’t have the time to manage an e-commerce site. Now, the widget handles online shopping for me.”