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John T. Unger

The Ultimate Guide to Blog Commerce Coming Soon

John T. Unger July 11, 2007

I had a revelation not too long ago which has sparked some interesting conversation with the folks at TypePad about integrating ecommerce into blogs. This has been one of my long-running areas of interest here since I make most of my income over the web these days. My original ideas about how to do this revolved around two basic concepts:

  1. Building catalogs and product pages by hand in HTML and incorporating them into the blog to take advantage of the content-management tools, categories and natural SEO of blogs. This works, but it's a lot of work.
  2. Trying to get TypePad to create and implement a blogstore set of templates, with a compose page that had fields to create all the files needed for both catalog pages and individual product pages. This would make creating a store easy for us, but it's a lot of work for the design team at TypePad.

Then I had a better idea. Why not talk with existing ecommerce providers about building a JavaScript solution to bring a hosted store into the blog the same way that Amazon's aStore  or PrestoGifto's embedded CafePress stores work. Yeah, that seems doable. In fact, today I'm playing with E-junkie, which appears to do just that! I wish I'd found them before I spent the entire week testing, taking notes and building examples of exactly two dozen current ecommerce-related products, services and hacks! On the other hand, I've definitely learned a great deal in the process and will be sharing all of it here in the near future.

Here's a list of the services covered in the upcoming post: PayPal, Google Checkout, RightCart, E-Junkie, TypePad Tip Jar, Etsy, PrestoGifto, eSnips, aStore, PopShops, Bravisa, Zlio, Shoplinc, ThisNext, Wists, StyleHive plus five custom hacks. There's also a brief look at: eBay blogs, Shopify and terapad.

Because it's probably the longest and most detailed post I've ever attempted for this blog, I'll probably end up breaking it into sections and posting it over a week's time as a series… but I want to wait until I've finished the entire thing before I start so I can be sure that the structure of the study is as clear as possible.

That said, here's a teaser for you that I want to show off just because I'm so pleased with it: I built a really cool new template module that I'm using on all my art blogs to display best-sellers on every page. On the index page it displays between the featured post and the rest of the entries. On archives it displays at the top of the page. On individual entries it displays at the bottom of the page, below the footer and FeedFlare but above Technorati Tags and comments.

Here's what it looks like:

41_inch_fire_bowl
Great Bowl O' Fire 41"
$998 ($749 plus S+H)

37_inch_fire_bowl
Great Bowl O' Fire 37"
$874 ($649 plus S+H)

Firebowl_30inch_002
Beach Burner Bonfire 30"
$748 ($549 plus S+H)

Isosceles_firepit0
Isosceles Modern
$395 ($300 plus S+H)

New_pot-de-feu2
Pot-de-Feu Grill
$80 (free S+H)

Wave_37inch_firebowl_1
Waves O' Fire 37"
$874 ($649 plus S+H)

                   
Firebowl_24inch_001
Beach Burner Bonfire 24"
$548 ($449 plus S+H)

Font_o_fire_firepit1
Font O' Fire
$510 ($400 plus S+H)

Welcome to John T Unger Studio, home of The Fire Line: World-famous fire pits & fire bowls hand-crafted from 100% recycled steel
Click titles for more info. Click images to purchase securely using RightCart right here on the blog, or use PayPal's secure shopping cart.
Looking for something a little different? I can create a custom Fire Bowl to meet your needs! Get in touch to discuss your ideas.
Most of my firebowls can be converted to clean-burning natural gas or propane. Follow the text link below the image for more info.

I think I have a little bit more to do to make this truly functional… The problem I foresee is that currently the thumbnails load an item into the RightCart shopping cart, which is great, but possibly confusing. People probably expect them to link to the extended description instead (despite the instructions in the box, which I bet no one will read).

Anyway, I hope to start running the ecommerce feature within the next week or sooner. Just thought I'd give all y'all a head's up since it's been so quiet here lately.

   

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Comments

David Ward says:

sounds great, I can't wait to read it and learn how to apply it to my blogs.

Philip Voice says:

I am all for helping to monetise my site but I have one major gripe.

No disrespect but why do British based sites always have to embed code that links to US commerce?

It is probably the failing of the British code providers but it does not look good on my site to see products, which I want my British readers to buy, being advertised in $$$.

It would be a challenge for e-commerce providers to be able to decipher location and add products that display in that counties currency.

Bob says:

I'd love to see something done with 1shoppingcart.com. Any possibility of that?

justiNYC says:

I've been playing around with the idea for quite a while for using the photo albums as a platform for setting up a shop to sell prints...have you found anyone as of yet to do such a thing? thanks for hitting the subject.....Ejunkie seems like a good option and the "Fat Cart" as well

richk says:

Another embeddable shopping cart is Payloadz, which focuses on digital content.

I've used Payloadz, and e-junkie seems similar. The problem with these is that they seem to drive e-commerce through things like PayPal, which forces *your* customer to set up a password with another site, which can be confusing and less than professional looking.

That's the case with Payloadz. E-junkie too?

john t unger says:

Phillip,

I think there are some shoppingcart solutions based in Europe that might address your needs… I can understand the frustration, but perhaps the simplest solution is to list the prices on your site using your native currency, and then let the shopping cart do the conversion in the background if needed. I know that when I've bought or sold items in other currencies, PayPal was able to do the conversion pretty seamlessly.

Robert,

It is possible to use 1ShoppingCart with TypePad… Many of the shopping cart systems out there require you to host files or code that isn't TypePad compatible, so that's a point in their favor.

I haven't tried 1ShoppingCart, and probably won't since it seems a bit expensive to me. I did take a look at their site and finally called their sales dept. to see how integration works: basically, they provide an HTML link that can be applied to text or an image and which opens their site in another tab or window to complete the transaction. Since many of the other shopping carts I've been looking at do the same thing for less money (or even better, process the transaction within your site) it seems a bit high-priced to me. If you do try it, please report back and let me know what you do or don't like about their cart.

justiNYC,

I have abuilt example of several ways to use photo albums to create a store which will be detailed in the article. I'd like to see what yours looks like if you send me a link. E-Junkie is the best solution I've found so far, and yeah, the free Fat Cart is nice too.

richk,

Thanks for the tip on Payloadz.

As far as sending ecommerce through another provider, I would disagree that it seems unprofessional… In the end, all transactions on or off line pass through *some* kind of payment system, and I think people are often more comfortable going with a provider that they've heard of who provides some kind of buyer/seller protection.

I do agree that forcing a customer to set up an account before purchase is a bad practice. PayPal allows customers to purchase without setting up an account, Google Checkout does not. So far, most of the solutions I'm looking at focus primarily on Paypal… I like best the ones that provide multiple options to the customer and allow them to choose.

moe says:

I like this idea and am looking forward to your advice.

I would like to incorporate a store into my site: some products would be affiliate links to multiple vendors, others would simply route a visitor directly to the seller's own site (specific sellers who I know and trust and would have an honor-based payment system worked out with).

Something that allows a single store of products from a variety of sellers would be best!

I use an astore now, which is just meh - it works, but getting people into it isn't that easy to do. I was thinking of splitting a page with content column on one side and an astore column down the other.

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