Monday, November 03, 2008

My Store is Solid, Solid Like a Cactus

You want to port your retail business to the Web or start an online business selling products you know will fly off the shelves. So, what do you do? Rent office space and start interviewing programmers? Take the cheap-charley approach and build your own site using bargain software you found at the office supply store? Naw. What you want is a Yahoo! Store from Solid Cactus.

Solid what? Solid Cactus. That enigmatic name happens to be one of the top 500 fastest growing private companies according to Inc. 500 Magazine. Like Google, they happen to have their own restaurant to serve their 150 employees. It's Saguaro's Cafe. You might get the impression that Solid Cactus is a great business in Arizona. But it's actually been awarded the title of "One of the Best Places to Work in Pennsylvania." Pennsylvania? Go figure.

What Solid Cactus does is build Yahoo! Stores for their clients. They've designed lots of them. More than 3,500 Web sites built to date. Sure, you can go off and build your own store. But why take the hard road when you can get a professional result quickly with help from Solid Cactus.

A Yahoo! Store is an ecommerce platform offered by the same company that is a main player in the field of Internet search. What you get with a Yahoo! Store is a online storefront that can handle anything from a few to a few thousand different products. You get a shopping cart, tax and shipping calculator, gift wrapping options, and the ability to accept payment from credit and debit cards or PayPal. You'll be able to print invoices and shipping labels and use major carriers like UPS, FedEx, and USPS to get the goods to your customers.

Yahoo! Stores are built upon a platform called RTML or Real Time Markup Language. It was designed by Viaweb and later sold to Yahoo! as a means to create Web pages too complex for standard HTML programming. You can learn RTML to customize or modify your store pages, or you can let a developer such as Solid Cactus handle that for you.

Solid Cactus has taken the basic store templates that Yahoo! offers and added additional features. Some of the features you can get are multiple photos of your products on a page, reviews written by your customers, send-page-to-a-friend, display the money saved when buying from your store versus retail, randomly displayed best sellers, mailing list sign-up, randomly displayed testimonials, and LivePerson's live chat and contact center.

There are other enhancements designed to improve search engine optimization so you can be easily found on the Internet. Online marketing as well as website development is a key expertise of Solid Cactus. In fact, the owners of the company got started with their first Internet based store in 1994. That was long before the popular retailers you find online today were doing anything on the Internet.

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