I am in the process of building a Grails application for a client and happened to start the development using a development instance of MySQL already setup and configured. The client has decided that they want to use their own M$ SQL Server 2005 database, so we need to convert over.
A neat thing about Grails out of the box is that you can setup an environment, like dev, to automatically update the database when there is a database schema change (see DataSource.groovy dbCreate property). This feature is great for dev, but when it comes to integration testing and especially production, I want the changes in a SQL script that follows some change control process. To get the base script to start working with, I wanted to use Hibernate’s DDL export tool, but I didn’t know how to access this from within a Grails project. Fortunately, I found a fantastic Gant script that does all of the work for me called SchemaExport.groovy. I dropped that script into my /scripts/ folder and from the command line executed: grails prod schema-export and just like that I had a ddl.sql file in my root project folder that was in SQL Server dialect.
One thing to note about this script is that you need DataSource.groovy to have the proper setup for the environment that you want to export from. The Schema Export Gant script will actually check the dialect type, login to the database and do some more checking of one sort or the other. Go to http://burtbeckwith.com/blog/?p=59 to read more about Schema Export Gant script.
Btw, Groovy + Grails + Gant is the future!
Posted in Grails, Groovy | Leave a Comment »
Internet marketing is just as difficult and can be just as expensive as traditional marketing.
Anyone selling retail or wholesale who doesn’t have much experience selling on the Internet often have the misconception that putting up a website or online store will instantly make you a millionaire over night. I hate to burst your bubble, but… POP!
There are many people who have made millions on the Internet, but it takes time to get your website or online store visible to your target online audience. Depending on how competitive your business sector is, you could be looking at 6 month to 2 years of hard Internet marketing and advertising before you are achieving the traffic that you want.
Kick-start your sales by targeting your existing customer base.
If your company already has existing customers, then the best way to kick-start your sales and website traffic is to let them know of your new service. One of my customers understands this perfectly and staged a big traditional marketing blitz to all of their past and present customers. It was an excellent tactic in immediately driving business to their online store.
Expect to pay for Internet advertising.
Start your Internet advertising as soon as possible so that you can get into the search engines and start the slow process of working your website higher on the charts. Many people do not understand the constant jockeying of website positioning amongst the trillions of pages in search engines. It’s an endless battle that must be relentlessly fought.
An faster way of jumping to the top of search engine listings is to pay for advertising. All of the major search engines sell advertising, and it can cost as little as $0.10 per visit to your website but as much as $10 per visit depending on how competitive your products or services are.
If you plan to spend as little as possible, then you won’t see results. I company I have worked with spends $800/mo on Google advertising and they say they gladly pay that fee because they make way more than $800 a month from those referrals.
The Food For Thought
In conclusion, marketing on the Internet or via traditional tactics is tough work and will most likely cost some money if you don’t have a year or two to spare. If you have an existing customer base, let them be the first to hear about your new website. Be relentless in your pursuit of higher search engine rankings and plan to spend some money on search engine advertising to bring in some immediate visitors.
Posted in Online Stores, Small Biz | 2 Comments »
Your business domain name(s) are your identity on the web. It it vital to have power over your domain names so that you can always be in control of your identity. Do you have power over your domains?
Many businesses will offer you the service of registering your domain name(s) for you. They do the work of purchasing them through a third party provider (godaddy.com, Network Solutions, etc…) and managing where the domain name points to. This is okay as long as someone within your business is registered as the Administrative contact for the domain. The Administrative contact has the power to take control of the domain at any time for any reason (like you want to switch hosting providers).
I strongly recommend that you first purchase your domain name using your own account at your favorite registrar (godaddy.com). Then work with your web design/hosting/e-commerce business to help you manage the domain name(s) within your account. If you end up dropping the company that is helping you, then you can always change the password on your account to lock them out (do this BEFORE you tell them you’re dropping them).
If another company has already purchased the domain name for you or you don’t mind them having control of the domain name, then IMMEDIATELY request that the domain(s) be updated with YOU as the Administrative Contact, if you are not already. Don’t wait until relationships go sour because it will be too late then.
With the domain in your control at all times and/or with YOU as the Administrative Contact, you will always be able to decide who is in control of your web identity. If your domain(s) are not in your control or under your name, then YOU DO NOT have power over your identity.
Posted in Small Biz | 1 Comment »
I’ve been working hard on my latest online store and thought I’d share what it takes to setup an online store for a medium sized company. The online store is for Bouquet & Co, which offers a large catalog of gifts and decore. Bouquet & Co has always sold their products wholesale, but they want to start selling direct to the consumer through the web. NOTE: The store is not live yet. Their new website/store will be open within the next two weeks.
The actual store website was easy to setup since Renown Merchant can auto-magically creates it with a click. The default Renown Merchant template uses a CSS framework that allows the designer to change the site to look very customized.
Here is a list of what had to be done with the store once it was magically created by Renown Merchant. These lists are specific to the Bouquet & Co store, but is considered a typical setup.
- Update the existing website with a new look.
- Update the Renown Merchant template to match the new website design.
- Transfer the domain name http://www.bouquetandcompany.com into the control of Bouquet & Co (was formerly in the control of their old website host, which was a sketchy situation).
- Purchase and install a SSL certificate for secure browser to sever communication.
- Identify which products will be sold retail.
- Collect (and write) product descriptions, dimensions & weight, SKU’s.
- Collect product imagery (this was difficult since the image names didn’t specify which product SKU it matched).
- Define the category structure and assign products to the categories.
- Enter the products in by hand (the preferred way is to auto-load the products, but this store needed manual entry).
I would say that the most time consuming part of this process has been compiling the product information and organizing it. Other than the compiling of the product info and loading the products by hand, the other setup tasks were done within a few days.
The next major step is marketing!
Posted in Online Stores | Leave a Comment »
I went to a networking group where people are overtly extrovertish and start off every conversation with “What do you do?”. I ran into some very interesting people who might actually have mental issues… no lie.
A guy I met that definitely had it together was the owner of IdealsInc.com, Jason Hopp. IdealsInc.com is an online service that offers companies the ability to post coupons for their products or services and for provides a nice interface for people to search for coupons. The business is very new, but Jason has been marketing this fast and furious and has gained a lot of support within the Twin Cities, MN area.
Posted in Recommended, Small Biz | Leave a Comment »
I was referred to a good e-commerce blog by a friend today. Check it out at http://peat.wordpress.com. Peat has a good article about PCI-DSS compliance and what to do if you are a store owner or e-commerce provider and need to be compliant with the handling of credit card information for Visa, Mastercard, American Express, etc…
Posted in Online Stores, Small Biz | Leave a Comment »
The Internet is hot with evil doers wanting fast money at the expense of anyone’s credit card balance. These spawn of satan really make it hard for the do-gooders, like us, to focus on making honest money. No, instead we have to spend our valuable time fending off the attacks of those with lower ethics instead of selling the products/services that make us successful.
For the last two months I have been very discouraged at the number of fraudulent orders that have been placed on our company store Twin Cities Technology Equipment (http://www.tchightech.com). We have been aggressively marketing our products from this store on Google Adsense, Google Base, Froogle, ebay, Price Grabber and few other places. Our click rates have been decent and we’ve manage to sell a number of units. Two months ago we received an order placed from Singapore for roughly $4k. We thought that it was highly suspicious and upon further investigation found out that the credit card that was being used was stolen. Okay, no problem. We caught that trickery and realized that we need to really be on the alert for others like it. Within the following weeks we received a number of new orders that appeared legitimate, mixed in with orders that were ridiculously fraudulent. We kept killing the fraudulent orders and sent back e-mails to these fraudsters saying that “lying makes the baby Jesus cry!” in hopes that what little morality they had will be perked by the thought of baby Jesus crying. Aparently the baby Jesus crying had no affect on them for they kept placing fraudulent orders.
After some analysis on what we were doing wrong, I recalled that we don’t ask for the credit card CVV2 number (on the back of most credit cards) during the checkout process. Our bank wanted to charge us extra for this feature and I stupidly declined. I figured that we would try not having it to see if it was an issue. Hindsight is 20/20, of course, and I learned a valuable lesson that I hope that everyone can learn from. We have since switched over to use Paypal Website Payments Pro, which requires the CVV2 number.
While this did prevent further fraudulent orders from the particular syndicate that was attacking my store, I am still feeling the sting of their bite. Last week I received a notice from my bank saying that a customer of mine is charging back their order because they didn’t place it. I was shocked because I know we double checked the incoming orders to make sure they weren’t fraudulent, or so I had thought. What happened to us was a distraction technique that caused us to focus on the obvious fraudulent orders while the fraudster placed little orders that were very legitimate looking. Upon further investigation, we found that the IP address associated with the fraudulent orders was the same IP address associated with two other orders we thought were valid. THE BASTARDS!!
These theives are smart and can cost us not only in time, but also in our hard earned money. Nothing feels more gut wrenching than when someone steals your money. I never want this to happen to me again and I for sure want to prevent this for my customers, so I have commissioned my group to develop a rating system for Renown Merchant (http://www.renownmerchant.com) that will analyze incoming orders and determine how likely the incoming order is fraudulent. We will also have a tutorial on how to prevent fraudulent orders and what to do when you have a fraudster knocking on your door.
Please let us know if you have fraud stories that might help out the community of online retail and wholesale companies.
Posted in Online Stores, Small Biz | 3 Comments »