Q&A: Owner comes clean with ecommerce insights you can use


Maggie Hanus along with Mike and Jory can be found just outside Austin, Texas tending bars –all natural soap bars. This family owned business has been running since 1995 and they are focused on eco-friendly business practices and making the finest organic soap that’s good for you and the earth.

Serving retail customers online and via distribution agreements as a wholesaler, A Wild Soap Bar is a great example of homemade success. And when it comes to ecommerce and selling online, Maggie calls it like she sees it.

We asked Maggie to share her thoughts on running her AmeriCommerce store and this is what she had to say.

How do you describe A Wild Soap Bar and what kind of customers do you serve?

A Wild Soap Bar's mission is to provide truly natural body care products handmade with real ingredients that are safe for all living things and a joy to use while raising awareness of the many benefits of using wild-crafted and organically grown botanicals. We serve both retail and wholesale customers who are looking for natural and organic products.

What success did you experience in 2012 and what made that happen?

We had a 22% sales increase over 2011 which we attributed to an improved economy in general, to increased holiday sales at Whole Foods Market, and also to our new Americommerce website.

How did you first get started selling online and what about it surprised you?

I built our first website in 2000 and was surprised to learn that no one actually visited it for months! I'd eagerly check for sales every day. It was a huge let down.

What do you feel has made your site successful?

We're on the first page of Google for our targeted phrases which is great. The site is visually pleasing and customers tell us all the time that it's very easy to navigate. They get in there, find what they need, and then use the one page checkout system. Anything that saves time is valuable to today's shoppers.

How are you addressing web marketing challenges like SEO, Social Media, Email Marketing, and Paid Search?

Having relevant content and writing good copy is essential for SEO. But I initially used a piece of software called Internet Business Promoter that helped land us on the first page of Google for 3 important keyword phrases. I haven't had to use it much since moving to AmeriCommerce because I think AC has good SEO practices built right into its platform. We continue to rank highly so I'm pleased. I was worried about how the changeover from our previous site builder would affect our ratings, but I was very happy to find that we had little to no loss of search engine ranking during the transition to AmeriCommerce. That was a big relief! We use Constant Contact for our email marketing with a sign up button on our site which works well for us. We're also active on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You pretty much have to be these days. We use the social share buttons that AC provides and those help create a buzz for our products.

What are some of your most effective parts of your online store or shopping experience and why?

We have the shopping cart set up to give free product whenever their total reaches $25 and again at $50 (which we advertise on the home page) and this definitely bumps up sales and builds customer loyalty. We also offer free shipping whenever their total reaches $75, but we make them work a little for that one, they have to enter the discount code that's also found on our home page. I think the product picture's zoom feature helps to close sales too. People like to see something up close and personal before making a purchase.

What have you done on a regular basis to promote your site?

Our monthly newsletter always contains an exclusive discount code and that drives sales. We also run a Rafflecopter giveaway every month on Facebook and we post to Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest on a daily basis. Yes, it's time consuming, but worth the extra effort. We send free product to qualified bloggers in return for reviews and giveaways. And we post about once a week on our own blog which is linked to our website and to our social media sites.

What advice do you have for beginners who are interested in getting started selling over the Web?

Find your niche and offer a high quality product. Without that you have nothing. Then get your website up sooner rather than later so that search engines can find it. Start off with a good quality full featured site builder such as AmeriCommerce. Just because you don't need a particular feature now, doesn't mean you won't need it in the future. And having to switch later is a major pain in the you know what! If you're not proficient in design, marketing, writing copy, or photography...pay someone to help you! Believe me, it will be money well spent. You only get one brief moment to make a good impression online. Be sure your website is uncluttered, easy to navigate, well written and eye catching. AmeriCommerce has some nice new standard themes now. Use one of them and you'll be off to a good start.

What developments do you foresee over the next year that will have an impact on the world of e-commerce?

It's all about the smart phone these days, so the continued growth of the mobile platform will have a big impact. AmeriCommerce makes it easy to offer a responsive site that actually converts visitors to sales.

What are some of the challenges AmeriCommerce has helped you overcome?

AmeriCommerce provides a reliable, easy to use site builder with stellar customer support and unlimited opportunity for growth. That's real peace of mind.

To learn more about A Wild Soap Bar go to https://www.awildsoapbar.com/