Stock and Load With Shopster

By Michelle Megna | Posted August 31, 2006

There's a new e-commerce player in town worth checking out — Shopster.com. After two years of development, the Calgary, Alberta-based company is open for business, offering Web retailers an easy way to get started by taking care of payments and shipping, and offering an inventory of 700,000 products that you can sell.

The hosted solution costs $29.95 a month after a one-time start-up fee of $99 and lets you set up a customized storefront, stock it from the Shopster.com "virtual warehouse" with up to 1,000 products ranging from electronics to collectibles, set your own price and begin selling.

You can add more products and get live feeds to shopping sites like Froogle for another $9.95 a month. Each month you get a check for the profits you make, which is the difference between the price you pay for items from the virtual warehouse and your selling price.

One-Stop Shop Set-Up
"We allow anybody to become an online retailer by giving them all the tools they need," said Sarath Samarasekera, Shopster.com CEO. "The only thing we don't do is market the site for you, because we believe you as the shop owner know your market better than we do. We let people customize their site to suit their audience and give these small businesses all the capabilities of a giant Web store."

These capabilities include the following:

  • Coupon Creation Functionality.
  • Automatic Cross Sells.
  • Automatic Best Sellers.
  • Optimized Search Engine Optimization.
  • Logo Creator Software.
  • Unlimited categories, custom pages and feature pages.
  • Search and browse order history of your customers.
  • Search statistics.
  • Customer Reviews on your products.
  • Customer Service on all of your orders.
  • Dispute resolution.
  • Payment System.
  • Secure checkout / SSL.
  • Branded e-mails to your consumers.
  • Fraud detection on your orders.
  • Fifty dollars in free keyword marketing with Yahoo Search.

Samarasekera says Shopster clients can take advantage of a new trend in online commerce, called affinity groups, whereby sites are set up to sell to a community that knows all profits go to a dedicated cause, whether the local church, school or youth group, though regular storefronts are also seeing success.

Testimonials: Can I Get A Witness?
For Heather Smiarowski, a former marine biologist with two children who lives in Connecticut, Shopster was the perfect place to start her online store, The Nautical Shop.

"With nothing to lose and very low start-up costs, I jumped head first into the Shopster experience," she says. " I was amazed at how easy it was for an e-commerce novice to use, and I learned a staggering amount in a few short months from their on-line community. One of the best features is that if you join knowing almost nothing about on-line stores, you can use all their tools and templates to get up and running right away. As you learn more about Web site design, you have the flexibility to customize your store."

Bob and Rhonda Pizor, of Pennsylvania, who were beta testers and operate Shop Nickys, among other Shopster stores, say they like the fact that Shopster offers brand-name products that they feel confident selling. "We went to work on our first store and within a week or so had sales coming in," says Bob. "We now have seven stores with Shopster and we have had sales coming in every month since joining in March, and we have yet to really start a major advertising campaign as we are still setting up our stores with the look and feel we want."

Other Shopster vendors sell kitchen gadgets, jewelry, women's accessories, electronics, Hello Kitty and Star Wars items and watches. You can try before you buy with Shopster's free two-week trial.

Adapted from ECommerce-Guide.com, part of Internet.com's Small Business Channel.

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