Featured WebNet Hosting Site for June 2010
Each month we profile one of our clients that are operating a successful e-commerce site in our newsletter and blog. This month’s company is A Garden Place located online at AGardenPlace.com. AGardenPlace is a small garden boutique in Southern California that specializes in selling all the products you could possibly need for a garden. The following is an interview with Diana Hall of AGardenPlace.com:
When did your site launch? Can you give us a brief history of your business?
We have been in business since 2002. It sprung from the belief that your garden should make you smile. One of my creative outlets is gardening and I have always loved interesting gardens. Not boring patches of fence lined grass, but fun gardens that make you stop and take it all in.
Our test garden is a fun stroll through tree-lined paths dotted with colorful kid size hobbit houses, fountains, kinetic garden art and visiting wildlife. Visitors always loved hanging out there and slowly over time, a business was born…
How long have you been using Miva Merchant? WebNet Hosting?
I have been using Miva Merchant since 2005. I switched to WebNet Hosting in 2009 after countless problems with my former web host almost destroyed the business.
So you were utilizing Miva Web Hosting before you switched to WebNet? What made you switch and why did you choose WebNet Hosting?
Yes, Miva had come bundled with the previous web hosting company’s plan. It was the only shopping cart I had used. I really wasn’t looking to start from scratch with a new shopping cart so when it was time to move my business, I needed a web hosting company that was very familiar with Miva. WebNet Hosting came highly recommended within the Miva community forum.
What do you like most about Miva Merchant?
Miva and its developers seem passionate about their product and constantly work to make improvements. I like that a link to the Miva forum is built into the Admin panel. The forum is very active and a great way to find answers as well as stay current on bugs, fixes, patches, etc.
What do you like most about WebNet Hosting?
WebNet Hosting has been great. The move was easy. The few glitches were handled promptly. I have experienced 100% uptime, super fast page loads and excellent in-house support.
What do you like least about Miva? What are some common problems?
Miva Merchant 5.5 out of the box is ok, but many features require buying additional add-on modules, which drives up the cost. Miva has it’s own coding language which can be daunting to learn. In the past, SEO was a challenge. Admin did not have a way to handle phone orders. I am looking forward to the soon to the new Wombat version which addresses many of these lacking features.
What do you like least about WebNet? What would you change? What features would you add? VPS hosting is great. I would like to see more allotted disk space and bandwidth transfer. We approached max bandwidth transfer last month.
How many items do you offer for sale on your site?
We offer 300+ garden décor items such as gazing balls, toadstools and handcrafted gnome doors. Spring gets people into garden cleanup. Our current top seller is called Ever Edge, which is a heavy duty steel lawn edging that can be mowed over. We also provide information on where to buy 1000’s of other garden products.
What Miva features do you use most?
I use the shortcut buttons in admin to view orders, delete shopping carts, manage inventory.
Do you use any modules? Which ones? Which are your favorite and why?
We use modules that make shopping easier for our customers. Breadcrumb navigation, mini basket display, coupons and product ratings are a few. Most are from Emporium Plus. William Weiland provides outstanding support and prices his modules fairly.
Have you had any third-party development done on your site?
No, everything has been done in house with improvements based on customer comments.
What do you use for credit card payments and what have your experiences been?
We use Authorize.net. Our experience has been great. Pay Pal and Google Checkout are also available.
How many employees do you have?
Just a handful (if you cut off a couple fingers ). Actually, I designed a small business I can enjoy, rather than just manage employees.
What are your strategies for SEO?
We use natural search and good quality link referrals. We focus on optimized pages with short, descriptive links, external CSS, fast loading pages, frequent page updates and Google sitemaps.
What were some of your biggest mistakes? (so that others can possibly learn from them)
Mistakes have been a big part of the learning curve. Most of the early mistakes involved poor web design and shared web hosting. Some other mistakes involved bad code, use of flash, failure to account for browser differences, useless link exchange pages – that kind of thing.
What have been your biggest successes?
Growth and survival in a tough economy. Happy customers and great working relationships with top notch vendors.
Make sure you visit AGardenPlace.com to peruse all of the items they offer for sale!
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