Thursday, February 26, 2009

Back in Business

I've officially re-launched an old online store of mine. Back in college I created and sold a do-it-yourself electronics kit. It was a small niche product for hobbyists who like to modify their computer case. For those of you who are curious about the finer details, you can check out the site at

Since closing up shop in 2005 some things have changed which are making my life as a small store operator better.

PayPal has always had an easy to use "Add To Cart" button system. Now they can track your inventory as well. I only have a limited number of kits to sell, and I can set up my PayPal account to keep track of what's been sold and how many are left, and prevent me from selling when I run out. However I did learn a lesson on shipping pricing on PayPal. I hand't planned on doing international shipping at first, so I didn't set up a pricing scheme for international. To PayPal, apparently this means that international shipping is FREE. One of my first orders was from Canada and they got free shipping. So my oversight was their gain... but now I have some international pricing set up for next time.

The US Postal service's Click & Ship program is new to me as well. Back in the day I used to have to pack up all my shipments and wait in line at the Post Office to ship out my stuff. All I needed now was a digital postal scale. I found a nice non-USPS brand scale on eBay. This time around, I just weigh my package, print out postage, schedule a pickup, and it's done. Very nice. I can also order priority mail boxes delivered for free through the USPS, which is a great convenience. One thing I did stumble on was that my favorite PDF viewer, Foxit, is not compatible with the USPS click & ship program. The images they put on the postage label (barcodes, postmark, etc) do not display on the document when viewed or printed through Foxit. I had to switch to a computer with the standard Adobe Acrobat PDF viewer for this to work.

Pay attention to international shipping. It took me awhile to get it all straightened out, but there are VERY specific boxes I have to use in order to get the cheaper rates. A bit of a learning curve, but really not too bad now.

So far so good... I emailed my past customers about the new store and ended up selling a couple units. Now I just have to find some ways to promote the site.

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