A Brief Overview and Welcome

This is my first post! It’s actually just the content from the “About Cam” page but I’ve ingeniously used it again here as a blog entry. Allow me to welcome you to my newest blogging venture: Cam on Commerce. I’m your host, Cam. I’ll be talking about- you guessed it (and if you didn’t then you may want to bail here)- Commerce!

I’m using this website as a venue to collect innformation I hope to use in a book one day.  At this point the book doesn’t have a name or anything fancy like that. I’ll frequently make references to the “book” so you have to pretend that what you’re reading is printed material (and you you want to print out this blog you have my blessing).

Feel free to send me questions about ecommerce subjects- I’ll do a Q&A section for some posts (and then cleverly work the into my book to create the illusion of substance!). So, without further ado, let the “book” begin.

First things first: I want everyone to know who this book is for. Far too often people pick up a book and they scan page after page desperately hoping the book can help them. They buy the book, they read it, and discover that they are not the book’s intended audience (It turns out “Asymmetric Cellular Division” wasn’t about why AT&T and Cingular sucked).

This book is for anyone who has any interest in ecommerce (specifically geared toward smaller private endeavors- not things like Amazon). You may be curious about what running an ecommerce website entails. It may be your first time setting up a commerce oriented website or it may be your second or third (indicating you need this book). You may already be successfully running an ecommerce website (you still need this book, dammit). You may have a brick and mortar store and be considering and Internet presence. Again, it’s for anyone with any type of entrepreneurial ecommerce itch (not to be confused with a tick bite).

I try to cover anything relevant to small scale ecommerce. I start at the beginning with “the urge” (which is the initial idea that eats at you until you do something about it). We move onto product or service selection and competitive advantage. We work through creating an identity, building a website, creating a fulfillment framework and then cover advertising and website traffic. Finally we talk about what to do if success hits, what to do if success is MIA and touch on growth strategies and exit strategies. If this sounds dull go find yourself a comic with some pictures.

So what makes me qualified to talk about any of this? I have a computer, some spare time and can type pretty darn fast with only two fingers. Also, for the last five years I’ve been involved with the development of ecommerce software and I’ve started several websites (using that software) that are now multimillion dollar companies. I don’t mean to toot my own horn but if my claim to fame was that I’d spent the last five years eating oatmeal in a sensory deprivation chamber to achieve inner peace I might be the wrong guy to listen to. Toot toot.

About Me:

My name is on the front of this book. I’m not so self centered that it needs to be repeated here (after all it’s on the front cover of this book! Just getting myself psyched up- remember I said this was going to be a book). I’ve been programming since I was fourteen. Unfortunately I can’t program any better now. Luckily this book isn’t about programming, it’s about commerce, specifically ecommerce. I’ve been involved in commerce since I was seven years old. How about that?

My grandmother used to operate a health food store. For some reason I thought if I drew pictures of Grimace, the purple McDonald’s character of years past, hiding in the forest people would want to buy them. I put them for sale in the health food store. No takers. Not much later I got a copy of Print Shop for the Apple IIe and tried my hand at designing birthday cards. Nope. So I began printing out signs advertising my willingness to mow lawns for spare change. Nothing. Weeding? No. Babysitting? Nada. It wasn’t until I began hauling my sister’s toys down to the street corner and selling them to kids who were coming back from school that I found my calling. Retail.

EBay was thrilling for me. From the moment I learned of its existence I was an avid user and proponent. This was my first real experience with ecommerce. I sold anything I could get my hands on and became quite obsessed with the whole idea of Internet retailing. I decided at the early age of fifteen that my destiny involved some type of ecommerce retail business. I used eBay for years until one day I read something about webstore technology. How wonderful! I could bypass eBay, the seller fees, the non-paying bidders, the lack of control in my listings. I enlisted the help of a good friend and we created our first website for selling pocket knives (sell what you know).

Our original website was incredibly basic- we could showcase items and people could add them to a cart a checkout. We kept track of orders on a spread sheet and everything was a wonderful mess. We spent a considerable amount of time looking for more powerful ecommerce software but really didn’t have any luck. And then it hit us! We would build our own ecommerce solution and our website could be the perfect testing ground. People who actually used the ecommerce software they designed to run a retail Internet store! What a novel idea.