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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys!

I don't mean to get off topic again, but I have been observing the BB Boards and notice that most of you here prefer the other hobby store owners and thread starters, like Mobeous, Monarch, Mega Hobby, etc. Heck! Sometimes I even think Lapco would get a sale before I would! :D

Anyway, that's fine by me, but I am wondering why my Monster Hobbies web page is getting a cold review.

I'm still in the earily "web construction" stages, and I don't know a lot about HTML programming and so on, but I am wondering if you nice people would help me in pointing out where I am going wrong with my web site.

Here are some ideas I have on why it's not working out, but could you please add some of your own too? Any input and any changes I can make to it would be all the better!

Some problems :

Web Layout - Does it look good to buy from or too Cheesy / basic to trust?
Pricing - How does a customer buy? (Pay Pal, Visa, Mastercard, Ammex???)
Pictures - Are they too big - Interfere with download time?
Promotional Items - What does this site have to offer that others don't?
Items - Not descriptive enough? - Not enough inventory?
Trust issues? - Do you feel like you can trust your payments to us?

Now, I've been in business in my "Brick and Mortar" store for 3 years and I've sold a lot of items, even mailed things out. I do have a trust with those customers, but it seems like the internet world isn't the same.

Also, since I signed up here on Hobby Talk, I've made friends with a lot of you good people over the years, and I have shared a lot of my builds as well as pictures of my store from my older Fotki account. Everyone seemed to enjoy those days and they have asked me to get a web site up and running.

Finally I do have one, and when I posted the link, the reaction was basically dead.

So, I am asking you nice people to help me out and give some suggestions on ways to improve my web site.

Can you please HELP ME?????

Your Friend,

Mad Cap Romanian

Trevor Ursulescu
Monster Hobbies

www.freewebs.com/monsterhobbies
 

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Gee, I dunno!

I just looked at your site and I'd be perfectly happy to buy stuff from you.

Will you be stocking the new Moebius stuff? I'm really interested in their kits and purchasing from a Canadian vendor would avoid import duties and some of the other charges that I have to pay if I buy from a US vendor.

And you don't have a lot of the type of kits that I like listed on your site (sci fi, monsters - you know, the "Aurora" type models!!) If you have them in the shop, list them on-line!

Cheers!
Huzz
 

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hey Trevor , just got around to checking the site out ( been hectic here lately ) .
i like it . cool layout and lotsa colorful stuff . and you've got some stuff on there i haven't seen before like the Tiki stuff .really cool !
anyway , just hang in there. i'm sure with a little time traffic will pick up .
hb
 

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Site seems fine to me, tho a Shopping Cart system would help to speed things up for both you and your customers. It would also make it look a bit more professional, as well as secure online purchases would likely attract a few more kits.

Unfortunately, you don't have anything that interests me or of which I don't already have multiples.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
ThanX for the tips so far! I REALLY appreciate them!

To answer some questions,

YES, I will be dealing with Monarch and Mobeous as well as another company called Bizzargoyls which are little "paint them yourself" resin monster toys. So far, it's in the works, but nothing's been set in stone yet. Try not to worry though, I'm just as anxious to get new merchandise as you guys are.

As far as the "Shopping Cart" goes, it will be comming too. I'll have to open a new bank account and link Paypal to it. In the meantime, I am thinking of just going with Money Orders, which are a little more time consuming, more fussy....but they are accepted on both sides of the boarder. I just need to go to Western Union to cash them in.

My friend showed me a way to link Thumbnail photos to larger photos from my older Fotki web site. That will allow me to post more on my Freewebs page and not take up the limited Freewebs bandwidth.

In other words, when you click to see the larger picture on the Freewebs page, it will automatically go to the picture on the Fotki site where I have unlimited bandwith.

I'm also going to change the home page so that it will have a bunch of Thumbnails there and then if you want Model Trains, you just click on the thumbnail and it takes you to the train page.

Anyway, keep posting and let me know how to best serve you.

Talk to you soon!

Trevor
 

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Since you are asking, I hope you want honest answers. Here's my impressions of the website.

1) it's one of those "free" websites, where you are going to get annoying ads that won't have anything to do with your business, like the Adidas one that I'm looking at now. It isn't that much to buy your own domain name and have space hosted some where. If you are serious about putting your store online, this would be a help

2) When I look at your monster kits page, I have an annoying cusrsor trail following my mouse.

3) I can't find any information anywhere about shipping costs

4) As mentioned above, no easy way to actually order anything from you. You list the models and prices, then what? We call or email you with our order? I have bought models online, but at those places I can click a "Buy" button, get sent to PayPal, boom I'm done and just need to wait for my model to arrive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Ok...good advice Ravenauthor. This REALLY helps me to "work out the bugs" as it were!

I will remove the cursor trail. It was fun at the time, but I realize that it could be a slow death for a dial-up customer. This computer I have at work has "Super High Speed" so a large photo page like my web site usually uploads in seconds, whereas a dial up guy could be waiting hours. I tend to forget that when I can load a 2000 megapixel image in 3 seconds, know what I mean? :D

As for the Freewebs ads, I can upgrade to a "Premium Member" and that would eliminate all of that. I just need to get my CC in order first.

As for PayPal...it's comming. Right now I'm going to use money orders until I can make arrangements at the bank for a new account which I will link to PayPal. then I can have all the cool buttons and be on the same page as the rest of the guys.

Shipping costs will vary on ammounts of items, weight, and so on. I'll probably be shipping Canada Post, and I'll figure out the cost when someone orders. There's probably a better way to do it on the site though. I think I'll need to aquire a rate card from Canada Post and list it somewhere.
 

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MadCap, I am saving money for wonderfest. After wonderfest I will buy something! It is just going to cost me a fortune to drive from Austin Texas to Louisville Kentucky! So I am just not buying anything right now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
DON'T WORRY ABOUT BUYING RIGHT NOW!

The idea behind this thread isn't whether or not someone has to buy something from me, but how I can make my site LOOK better so someone will EVENTUALLY buy something. (A future date, like 2 months from now.)

Sorry for the confusion there friends.

The main question is : How do I make my web page more "User Friendly"?

The Answers......we are all working on. ThanX for all the help so far and let me know other ways to improve. That's all I'm asking! :wave:

Anyway, I've been spending a good day rebuilding my web page and there's still a lot to do.

Took Ravenauthor's advice and added a page with some instructions on how to order from us until we establish a PayPal account. I also have some "Directional Buttons" to make navigation easier. My "Buy item" buttons are at the bottom of the page and link to the above mentioned "How To" page. (Note, these exist in the EF poster page and Monster Kits page - will do more in the morning.) I think it's comming together better.

Have a look and post more opinions in this thread. Be unmerciful, if you want! I NEED TOUGH LOVE! (Note - this doesn't mean closing this thread! :D )

Web site : www.freewebs.com/monsterhobbies
 

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maybe it would help if you put the scaling of the kit near where the price is...that would help me out a lot...i saw several models that i would love to get a hold of on your site...but gotta save my pennies so i can get rollin on that dio im workin on...after ive go that taken care of...i dont see any reason why i wouldnt buy off of your site...
 

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Honestly?
Ditch the free website and put some money into a professional, cart driven e-commerce site. You have too many competitors online to be anything less than professionally presented and easy to use.
Also (and please remember you asked for opinions) about 80 percent of your posts here seem to have little purpose other than promoting your business. I understand you want to attract customers, but in my opinion it does the opposite - it makes you seem like an outsider trying to break in with the community for the sole purpose of selling to us. Put a link to your website in your signature and only post if you have something informative, interesting, funny, or on-topic to contribute.
Works for me. Good luck with your store!
AT
 

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i hope the follow doesnt seem harsh: im going to try to give it to you streight up, please know its meant to be constructive.

a taylor is 100% correct. you need to get a real website, forget the freebie.
there are billions of websites out there, from multi million dollar businesses to little suzies tribute to her pet cat fluffy, and yours seems closer to the latter than the former. the original version of your website seemed dedicated to showing off your shop, rather than getting sales. thats improved, but still has a long way to go. your front page is a great example of what not to do: we dont care about your wall mural, we dont care about your radio ad, we dont care how cool you and your s.o. are, we care about the stuff we want to buy.... but instead right off the bat, you show us the former, not the latter.

saying "the shopping carts coming, paypals coming" is fine, but you dont have them yet, so what do you expect? btw, paypals great for ebay sales but for a commercial site you need to be able to take cards directly. people expect to use paypal on ebay, but on commercial sites, they hate it, big time hate it. it really seems to me that you put this site live before it was ready. (believe me, im putting together a new website for my business, which is tied to a very successful ebay business...20000 sales in the past 5 years... its been months and it still isnt live yet, and wont be for at least another month, minimum.

also, you need to show us something we cant get from other places, and specialize in a single thing. one major problem is the "eclectic" nature of your stock. goth makeup has little to do with model cars has little to do with tiki decor. the impression that this gives to the average person is that you couldnt find enough "on topic" stuff to fill up the entire store, and so youre selling anything you can get your mitts on that you think you'll be able to make a buck from. while all of these things might be stuff you sincerely love, its too far flung from each other to target a single audience. (i'll use my business as an example of what i just mentioned. i sell halloween and genre movie merchandise. the goth makeup you sell is a heck of a lot closer to my home field than to yours, but i wouldnt touch it, because its still to far away from the rest of it.) people get it into their heads that they go to the X store to buy X products, and while product Y might be tangentially related, it wont work for them, simply because people dont go to the X store to buy a Y. (relatedly, what works in a brick and mortar may not work on a website, and vice versa.)

you know all of the above combined gives the impression that your business is really rinky-dink, and really not ready to be in business. its been shown time and time again that an understocked store actually turns people away from buying from it and is a recipe for failure, and your site gives a very similar impression.

you seem to be expecting the world to beat a path to your door... well, it aint gonna happen, at least not yet, even if you do build the better mousetrap, which you havent. .. and even after you get those things you need, youre going to have to do a lot of work to being traffic to your site. just hanging it out there isnt enough. you need to optimize your visibility to the g.p., not just we few die-hards. (and as much as we die hards love you personally, we are still going to actually buy from websites that we are familiar with, are slicker, and easier to use. )

my sincere advice to you is:
1. decide on a specialty and go for that. do your homework and find more hobby suppliers/wholesalers and garage kit manufacturers, and get accounts with them. (in the case of the latter, find out who will drop ship for you.) get on topic things we cant find elsewhere. ditch the rest of the stuff on ebay, and use the $ to buy on topic stock. (i know you want to support your buddies with their band, make a seperate page that you link to to do that... its hurting your business.)
2. spend the $ for your own url (like at yahoo small business). you can get your domain and hosting cheap... lose the freebie.
3. find ways to take credit cards without a huge deposit or monthly fee and let customers use their card directly with a minimum of hassle (and with a minimum of the machinations of doing so kept hidden).
4. do your homework to build the page and show us what we want to see, which is the products you are selling. you might be cool and wonderful, but we dont care about that.

finally let me say that "i cant afford that, at least not yet" is NOT a viable excuse for not doing any of those things. if you cannot afford them, then you cannot afford to operate this business any more than if you couldnt afford your business license or rent on your retail space.
 

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Good critiques above. Take them to heart: great advice!

If I were you, I'd go for a niche market (which is what you're talking to here). If you can get some talent to help you produce and market a few resin kits of unusual but desired subjects, that will get more people coming to you in search of something special. Once they find that something special, they may also buy other (RELATED) stuff that they could get elsewhere but, while they're at it, they buy it from YOU.

You need to find your cheese, not just expect it to come to you. Make things happen! Don't go begging!
 

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As a guy buying kits, yes, a fancy web site with paypal and a check out feature is impressive and convenient , no doubt.

But, at the end of the day, I want to find (1) a good selection of kits that appeal to me and (2) good competitive prices for them, including the shipping component.

So, if the fancy web site stuff will take some time, you could as an alternative or interim solution, get yourself an 800 toll-free number to post on your site that works for all North America for folks to call you and place orders.

Cheers,
Huzz
 

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On the niche market thing. What the Pefessor said is true but you seem to have two businesses here - online and the shop.

I would really go for the niche business online while still accomodating local business out of your shop. People in your neighborhood (hopefully) want to buy trains, cars, tank, airplanes and modeling supplies and you need to accomodate them as best you can. You can even put it up on your website just not covering the front page.

You need to target specific customers online and offer them things they can't get in local hobby stores at competitive prices. There are quite a few sci-fi/monster online distributors out there that you'll being going head to head with.

I'm glad that you are asking for input and listening to suggestions. Good luck!

Jim
 

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Probably noted already...

I just looked at the site for the first time.

I'm just an $8.00 dollar an hour stooge who can only afford
low dial-up internet for a cheap Dell laptop.

The site takes too long to load. I found what looks like a piece
of music trying to load. That slows things down.

When I click on "Star Trek models" the merchandise for sale is
only listed as a price. What kits are they? It took ten minutes
for the pictures to load to find out.
Try listing the products as text, with a link to a picture that can
be seen separately, in a new window.
Or thumbnails next to the text.

Crop the photos better, also.

Hope this helps!
 

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Although it may be awhile before I can afford a model, I must say that I am mostly interested in Star Trek and Star Wars models too. I like cars, but only if they are modern, like an 05 corvette or something like that. Planes are okay too. But I was noticing that none of your models have any descriptions. All I see is a picture, and then a price. I need a paragraph of a few sentences or so for each product that gives a few details about the model. And then at least give the specs too, like scale, skill level, size, etc. Without this information, I have no reason to buy. I wont know what I am buying!

Also, while some of your star wars models were kind of cool, I was hoping to see some star trek and star wars models that were bigger. Like enterprises and stuff. The kits are small, or are easy, or I already have. I would like to see more variety, and bigger things such as Enterprise A-E and various versions such as excelsior, romulan warbirds, whatever you can think of. Perhaps a millineum falcon. Sure, they will cost you more but you will get more buys. It would be nice too if the prices you give for those products would be fairly cheap in comparison to other stores, if possible. However I understand that for a business that might be difficult. And while you need to make a profit, some of the prices were a bit high. Like the enterprise which was 15 bucks, I bought once for like 10 bucks.

anyway those are my thoughts.
 
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