Category Archives: Uncategorized

New Domain! (The virtual kind!)

We've moved to http://blog.17thandRiggs.com!!   Click here to visit us there!

We've moved to http://blog.17thandRiggs.com!! Click here to visit us there!

We’ve moved to a new domain!  Please visit The View here!

Choosing an Accent Wall

Part of our design project here is to choose new paint colors for our kitchen/living/dining room combined area.  I’ve written quite a bit about my struggles with choosing paint colors in the past, and the thought of choosing color(s) for one large space is causing my head to spin.  Part of the problem is that I know we should have an accent/anchor wall.  Also, while I want to show the division of say, the dining room and the living space, one continuous color will have to work for both as there is no structural division that would allow for a paint shade change.

I’ve been doing some searching of images for inspiration and have come up with the following:

An accent wall from House Beautiful:

accent wallHBX-color-2-0709-xlg

This gold-leaf wall from HGTV is interesting to say the least, but leaves me wondering what choosing a paint color with a bit of a metallic hue to it would do…. maybe a deep bronze?  Could be very pretty in the evening with the right lighting.  Actually, the more I think about it, the metallic gold leaf is growing on me.

accent wall gold leafHRIPR-107_GoldLeaf_After_lg

As the author at Sunset describes here, very dark accent walls provide a dramatic backdrop for artwork and the other items in your room.

accent wallpaint-ideas-black-wall-1009-l

Our very 90’s style condo doesn’t have many architectural details to show off, so maybe in situations like these you are better off using an accent color inside built-ins or other nooks (also from Sunset.com):

accent wallspaint-ideas-turquoise-cupboard-1009-lThe more I think about it, I’m more inclined to stick with one “safe” color and perhaps do smaller accent spaces like the shelving above.  Maybe some stenciling or paint just a few shades darker than the base color on a few walls to define space.  We clearly have a lot of thinking to do in the next few weeks!  To be continued…

Women Grow Business – New Post on E-commerce!

Thank you again to Jill Foster at Women Grow Business for having me as a regular contributor – despite my not always regular contributions!

Here is our latest post, published today:

From Navigation to Web Video: Increasing Traffic and Conversion Rates for Your E-commerce Site

Sometimes I have a tendency to overcomplicate things.
For example, when creating a strategy for my e-commerce business – an online contemporary furniture store – I became overwhelmed with the perceived complexities of the project.

However, it boils down to a few very basic points.

As an online retailer, it’s fair to say your business is about generating revenue from the sale of goods. Just as in traditional retail, this is the result of ensuring two fundamental activities are taking place – ‘traffic’ and ‘conversion’ i.e. you have shoppers visiting your online store and they are turning into buyers.

On driving traffic
There are many ways that you can drive traffic to your site and many consulting companies that are ready to provide you with expertise in any of them. However as I see it, basic traffic can be derived from the following:

1. Site optimization
The key words you use throughout your website are what ensure that when a shopper uses search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) to find an item that you carry, they will find you. It is simultaneously a simple process (including words that describe your site/products) and more complicated (such as competing for key words with other vendors).

It may help reading-up on a good overview of the basic steps to give a better understanding.

2. Advertising
A popular mode of online advertising is Pay Per Click (PPC), which allows you to obtain prominent page space on search engines. You can also list your products on Amazon to utilize their popularity or place ads on social network sites such as Facebook or MySpace. I’ve found Amazon where your products are viewed by folks (who are actively browsing for products like yours) to be an effective way to generate traffic at a reasonable cost.

3. Customer interaction
It’s important to engage and interact with your customers. The word of mouth factor can be an effective way to create traffic. On top of this, the more you learn about your customers, the better you are able to determine what they are looking for and thereby tailor your site to more effectively meet their needs. Some popular methods of communicating with your customers include your company’s blog, Facebook and Twitter. Distinguish yourself by being quick to respond and be transparent. I also recommend using Google Alerts to track when folks are talking about you/your business so you can be sure to respond.

So now that you have driven visitors to your site, you need to make sure that you convert them into buyers.

On converting traffic to buyers
You can project your sales by utilizing a conversion rate – the percentage of your site’s visitors that will become buyers. A goal of all online retailers is to increase this conversion rate.

Some ways of doing this include:

1. Provide clear product descriptions and quality images. Especially when selling a tangible product, having these are important. It ensures the buyer has a good understanding of the product and thereby the confidence to purchase.

It has also been shown that videos demonstrating the product are also helpful in instilling confidence and thereby converting shoppers into buyers.

Certain manufacturers whose product lines I carry only provide a basic image. From experience, I know shoppers will not purchase an item that’s not clearly portrayed. So often I’ve found in this case, the best option with some of these products and vendors is to not carry them — unless you can obtain better images yourself.

2. It is important to make sure your site is easy to navigate. This includes the checkout process. It is also key your customers can find what they are looking for on your site. Outside of a basic search function, custom search fields can be created to make it easier for people to find exactly what they are looking for.

3. Ensure the visitor will feel comfortable shopping with you i.e. think personality here. Imprint your personality and/or your brand’s persona within the various facets of your site. It is key to have a company blog so you can show the personality behind the storefront and interact with visitors. Videos have proven to be helpful in this aspect as well. User reviews are extremely useful in convincing a shopper about the quality or relevancy of a product for them, as well as sharing positive shopping experiences.

4. Consider that shoppers are concerned about safety when shopping online. It is important to show customers it’s safe for them to disclose their personal information — such as contact and credit card data. Use services that certify the safety of your site and thereby put your visitors at ease. VeriSign, McAfee and Kikscore are a few to consider.

That’s my initial plan to traffic and conversion — both so integral in creating revenue. Approaching the process in this logical way has helped me to create a systematic plan to building my company.

What else do you think is key in growing your online retail operations?  Please feel free to share your thoughts!

Catching Up!

After a nice long weekend in Las Vegas (more about this later) I returned to attend the Grow Smart Biz Conference here in Washington, DC.   It was a day of information and inspiration for small businesses and a fantastic chance to meet other fellow small business owners.  I can say that I walked away feeling energized (even after a weekend in Vegas!), inspired and ready to get back to work.  Thank you to Shashi Bellamkonda at Network Solutions for pulling the event together, which included high profile visits from Senator Mark Warner and Chris Anderson.  Several excellent panels provided thoughtful insight and advice on major small business topics.   What a great time!

To keep up with all things social media and small biz, I suggest you follow Shashi on Twitter or at one of his blogs.

Grow Smart Business Conference in DC – with Coupon Update!

Grow Smart Business Conference

I wanted to share news of an upcoming small business conference here in DC. It will be held downtown next Tuesday in the Renaissance Hotel and it looks like it’s going to be a fantastic opportunity to learn and network with other small business owners:

“Small business owners and entrepreneurs should attend to learn how to overcome challenges that all small businesses face. Attendees will hear from an outstanding group of panelists for concrete takeaways including:

  • Proven strategies for business growth despite the current economy
  • Executable, cost-effective ways to market their businesses
  • Insight and tactics for securing small business financing
  • Actionable ideas for integrating social media into existing marketing”

Learn more and sgign up to attend here. Hope to see you there!

UPDATE:  I’ve just received information on a coupon to attend for only $99.  Enter coupon code “SHASHIB” at checkout for tickets at this great price!

Also, be sure to visit the SmartBiz Answers Booth at the conference (my hubby will be one of the experts on board – save your toughest legal questions for Raj while your there)! http://blog.networksolutions.com/2009/the-growsmartbiz-conference-featuring-the-smartbiz-answer-booth/

Source for Industry News – Design Trade Magazine

Our Ansel Bar Stool was recently featured in Design Trade Magazine.

Design Trade logo

We love that others appreciate the simplicity of the Ansel the way we do – which is available in bar or counter height.

Ansel Bar Stool from Nuevo

Ansel Bar Stool from Nuevo

The Design Trade Magazine features design industry information and product news, so check back often to learn more about interesting new products and design-related news.

If I Envision It… Dreamy Kitchens

Raj and I spent some time last night combing more magazines and the web for images to inspire us – or maybe guide us – in our choice of kitchen cabinets.   We know we want a contemporary look and something that will not make the space feel smaller than it is (super dark colors, etc.).  Here are a few of our faves that are light, airy and uncluttered:

clean-kitchen

modern-kitchen

Not exactly a kitchen but look how pretty this island image is (from Metropolitan Home):

bar dining area 2 beautiful

I apologize for not crediting these photographs appropriately – I was in such a frenzy to create a cohesive image of what we liked/didn’t like that I didn’t label properly.   Anyway – it was all out of love!