Feb 27, 2008

Mall Downtime

Babylon Mall will be unavailable for approximately 15 minutes on Thursday, Feb 27, 2008 at about 6pm EDT. The server is having a memory upgrade.

Feb 26, 2008

Hive it!

If you haven't already done so, I would encourage you to have a look at Stylehive, which is a social networking website all about shopping. If you create an account, you can add items to your "bookmarks" in your own little "hive". You can "follow" others, and you can have others "follow" you (for example, follow me here!)

Each item on the mall comes with it's own "Hive it!" button, which will let you add the item to Stylehive using their cool graphical interface, making the item available for everyone on the hive to see. The "Hive it!" button looks like this:

It basically gives your items more exposure to a wider audience interested in shopping - for free! So I encourage everyone to sign up on Stylehive and start hiving your items today!

Feb 25, 2008

I signed up for a shop. Now what?

Well you did it. You finally signed up for a mall shop, got a username and password, logged in, now... huh? Where do you start?

I get this question quite often, so I thought I would list the things you need to do to get your store up and running.

First of all when you login to your mall account, you will see the What do I do next? link, under the general section. Click the link, and it should step you through everything you need to do to have enough data entered to get a shop up and running.

I will go through the things that the script checks for, which will hopefully give a better understanding of the big picture and help people who maybe are thinking of signing up but haven't yet...

Step 1. Edit your profile and just check that your email address etc is correct. Also check that the notifications are set the way you want - if they're all set to yes, you will get weekly emails. The "what do I do next" script doesn't check for this.

Step 2. The script checks that you have entered payment information. You can choose Paypal, Google Checkout, or Paypal Layaway. With Paypal Layaway, you set the terms - the downpayment now and the length of time in months to finish paying.

Step 3. Optional: Enter store departments.

Step 4. Add a new store. You can go back and edit your store as often as you like once you've created it.

Step 5. Play around with the theme manager a bit. This is where you can choose from pre-existing themes or make up your own. Here you will be setting the fonts and colours for different areas of the pages. It works with the store formats from step 4, and is set on the very last field of the Format section from the edit store page.

Step 6. Go back and edit your store, and choose a template that you like. Also make sure to specify a category for your store, this will ensure that it shows up on the Shop Page under the appropriate section, as well as under "All Stores."

Step 7. Add items to your store. Go to the items link and click the "Add New Items button." If your store is not yet open, it is safe to mark all your items as "on sale", this specifies that they will show up in the listing, not that they are offered at a discount. They won't show up in the listing of any closed store. If your store is already open, mark your items as "presale" until you are finished working on them.

Step 8. Preview your store. Check that the theme and format work ok for your logo and setup. Check that you can read the font against the background. Check that the payment methods are working - especially in the case of Google Checkout. You can do this by clicking on the Payment button (obviously don't buy your own item - Paypal won't let you, Google checkout probably won't either). If everything looks ok, you can open your store by going to the edit store page, and setting it's status to "Open". It's the 4th field down under the General tab.

Hopefully this will be helpful to some people. I will cover other topics such as the USPS Shipping Calculator and the Theme Manager in more detail in later posts.

Feb 24, 2008

Tip of the Day - Got a blog?

If you have a blog, chances are you can add RSS or data feeds to one of the page elements. With Babylon Mall, your store automatically has a data feed of your latest items, which will change over time as you add new stuff.

Try this: go to any mall store (chichichambers will do), but preferably your own. See the little XML image? It looks like this:

Click the image, and save the URL from your browser's address bar.

Now go to your blog, and plug the URL into your data feed element, and voila. Instant listings!

USPS Shipping Calculator

Today I added back the First Class mail option to the shipping calculator. I removed it back in July following an email from the USPS. Go figure.

The main quirk about the shipping calculator is that when you add a store, and click 'Yes' to using the USPS shipping calculator, you must first save the store, then go edit the store again before you will see the shipping methods.

Also, if the USPS changes any of their mail service names, I will need to go in and edit code. I may redo the code at some point to make it easier for me to maintain, however it does work just fine.

Feb 22, 2008

Tip of the Day - Your Website and a Mall Store

I had an idea (I bet you smelled wood burning!) that maybe a tip of the day would be more interesting than my babbling. So without further ado...

Many people have their own websites these days. Some mall sellers will set up their Babylon Mall shop to look as close to their website as possible, and then add a link on their website to their store.

The mall offers a "theme" manager with the ability to define all your colours and fonts. It also lets you choose a format for your store and a layout for items. The format and the theme work together, so there is lots of flexibility when it comes to the look and feel of your store.

Feb 21, 2008

MySpace & Google Checkout

If you got here by clicking the MySpace link on the Mall home page, I do apologize! Haven't had time to make a new image that says 'Blog' instead. It's been months at least since I've been able to login to MySpace, and it keeps telling me I've had too many login attempts. No kidding.

So I decided to break away and do my own blog. We'll see how that goes.

Anyway, since I'm here complaining about stuff, let's talk about Google Checkout and why they only offer seller accounts to the US and UK. Why not Canada? The mall offers payments using Google Checkout but only to sellers. So you can't pay mall fees using Google Checkout because I live in Canada, but you can happily accept payments (if you live in the US or UK) using Google Checkout on the mall, even from Canadians, and it integrates with the various methods of shipping that we offer too (flat rate, 3-tiered, or USPS). But really, Google, get it together!

Feb 19, 2008

Customer Service

I don't know how interesting or relevant this blog will be to anyone, anywhere, but who knows. I haven't really blogged before, although I have been known to write copious volumes of email.

After several months of trying in vain to login to my MySpace account, I figured I should just start a blog instead.

Lately I have had all kinds of customer service problems from the likes of MySpace and Google. I am ecstatic to report my problem with Google was solved very quickly once I actually got in touch with a real human (which took 13 days). MySpace on the other hand, I think I give up.