PetPaint Takes on the Shark Tank Tonight

The best businesses solve a distinct problem, and for Abe Geary that problem was getting his Giant Schnauzer into a Halloween costume. “Billie just wasn’t having it,” he admits. “So I thought, how do I get a costume on my dog without her knowing it?”

The answer was PetPaint, a colored furspray for dogs that will be featured on ABC’s Shark Tank today, Nov. 8, at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT. We’re excited to give you a sneak peak at this innovative entrepreneur and his growing business. There are no spoilers in this post, but next week we’ll follow up with a recap of the show and what Abe learned facing the Sharks.

One thing Abe didn’t need to learn from the Sharks was dedication. After he had the initial idea, it took two years to develop the product. Since there are currently no standards for canine cosmetics, he worked with veterinarians experienced in the FDA approval process to create a completely dog-safe product. He spent another year pitching distributors and retail stores, but traditional outlets were a tough sell since pet paint was an untested market.

So in March 2013, Abe opened an online store to sell directly to consumers. “I’m not a computer guy or e-commerce guy, just a crazy dude selling pet paint. I needed an e-commerce tool that was easy to use and could reach a wide range of people,” he said. “Once we found Bigcommerce, we were able to put that goal to bed.”

Within days of launching, had its first online sale.

“You get this email that someone bought your product and it is the realization of a dream,” Abe said. “You do all this work, and of course you like the product, but the satisfaction of having someone else like it…it feels good.”

True to its inspiration, PetPaint saw a big surge around Halloween. Professional groomers love the temporary furspray and created some truly unique “costumes.” Beyond the holidays, it is an easy way for four-legged fans to show team spirit and there has even been a PetPaint marriage proposal.

Perhaps the most touching application of PetPaint is helping rescue dogs find new homes. “Young, cute puppies naturally get attention at adoption events,” Abe explains. “But put a couple hearts or stars on the older, disadvantaged dogs and suddenly they get attention too.”

The market for this feel-good novelty could be huge. According to the U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook, about 37 percent of American households own at least one dog, accounting for 70 million potential PetPaint canvases across the country. The national spotlight from Shark Tank should help Abe reach even more of them. “We’re at a full sprint right now,” he said. “I probably won’t slow down until every time I walk out of my house I see a painted dog.”

To see PetPaint in action, tune in to ABC at tonight, or catch the episode starting Saturday on Hulu. We can’t wait to cheer on Abe, Billie and their colorful business!

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Friday’s Featured Apps: Grow Your 3dcart Store With Ecommerce Extensions

Last week, we kicked off our “Friday’s Featured Apps” series with some amazing modules designed to enhance the functionality of your online store(s). This week — and every week thereafter — we will continue to highlight select 3dcart applications in an effort to inform and educate so you can continue to get the most out […]

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How to Use Social Media to Sell More This Holiday Season (Webinar & Tweet Chat)

Are you ready to sell more this upcoming holiday season? Whether you are just starting to build an online presence or looking to add a serious kick to your existing social strategy, Bigcommerce is here to help with an interactive tweet chat and webinar.

Join a panel of e-commerce pros Tuesday, Nov. 12, from 6-7 p.m. CT in a special Twitter chat to learn some tips and techniques on using social media to increase your holiday sales.

What: Twitter Chat — How to use social media to increase your sales this holiday season

Who: Bigcommerce and you!

When: Tuesday, Nov. 12, at 6 p.m. CT

Where: Twitter

How: Join the conversation by using the hashtag, #BCHolidayTips

We’ve got an incredible lineup of experts weighing in on the discussion, including:

  • Bigcommerce’s own head of distance learning, Heidi Wong (@htoby)

  • In 2009, Daniel Rensing and his wife Stephanie launched The Smart Baker (@SmartBaker) to sell specialty baking gifts and products. He has since been featured in the Food Network Magazine as well as on the hit ABC show Shark Tank.

  • A true entrepreneur at heart, Ray Perkins (@inkjunkeyz) runs several online businesses catering to tattoo branded products. He uses Twitter, Facebook and especially Instagram to spread awareness about his store and products. Through his professional brand, he has amassed more than 99,000 followers on Twitter.

  • Inspired by a passion to help runners, Sandy Pearson launched BIC Bands (@bicbands), where she sells non-slip headbands designed specifically for long-distance runners. She credits much of her success to really understanding and interacting with her customers on and offline.

  • Nancy Queen (@nobleknits) runs a thriving online knitting store. She credits a lot of her success to creating a blossoming online community on Facebook, where she has more than 63,000 likes, as well as Twitter and Pinterest.

  • After seeing how fast her children outgrew their “lovely outfits,” Ruth Lopardo (@loveitloveit) was inspired to start a colorful, comfortable and eco-friendly baby and children’s clothing store. From humble beginnings in early 2010, she’s grown her business significantly through social media marketing.

  • Started by his love of rock ‘n’ roll, Dave Lando (@rockerrags) started Rocker Rags, an online clothing store for the hardcore music enthusiast. He uses social media, especially Pinterest, Facebook and Tumblr, to spread awareness about his rocking brand.

  • Andy Proctor (@Selffitkitchens) runs several kitchen cabinetry stores based in the U.K. He uses social media to spread awareness and establish thought leadership in his niche.

  • Inspired by her love of all things fashion, Rachel Silski (@rlbean1987) started a online clothing store earlier this year. To get a foothold with her new business, she uses social media to expand her reach.

After the tweet chat on Nov. 12, continue the discussion with us by tuning into our webinar on Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 2 p.m. CT. Register for the webinar here.  Click here to tweet an invite.

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7 Tips for Selling More on Cyber Monday

You might still be snacking on Halloween candy, but guess what, it’s time to leverage that sugar rush for holiday store prep. Cyber Monday, the biggest online shopping day of the year, is less than a month away. So we dug into our data, consulted our experts and came up with seven tips that can help you earn some serious revenue on Dec. 2.

1.) Focus on your top three products

With the holidays right around the corner, don’t risk spreading your resources too thin. Instead, pick your most popular products and go all out optimizing and promoting them. While you may have an idea of what your target market is looking for, but you can quickly confirm your instincts with actual data. Determine your top sellers by studying product conversion rates. You can start by looking at your most popular products in the Bigcommerce dashboard, then cross-reference those products with Google Analytics traffic data. Check out this blog post on calculating your e-commerce product conversion rate for a useful tutorial.

2.) Perfect those product listings

Now that you’ve calculated conversion rates, it’s time to optimize your top-selling product pages. Put some serious thought into writing descriptive product names and fleshing out your product descriptions with compelling details. Invest in big, beautiful photos that can be leveraged for social media and email marketing campaigns. Depending on your product, you may even want to include a video demo. All of these details help consumers learn more and buy with confidence. Another great way to build trust is product reviews and social proof from actual customers. If you have some spare time after enhancing your flagship product pages, optimize your site’s overall design and user experience using this handy e-commerce store optimization checklist.

3.) Make the checkout process easy, flexible and fast

Now that you’ve gotten their attention attention with your awesome products, convert more of shoppers into buyers by optimizing your checkout process. First, offer plenty of ways to pay. Credit cards are a must, but you should also look into digital payment solutions. Not only are these options becoming increasingly popular—PayPal boasts 110 million active accounts—customers who use digital payments are younger and more affluent than the average online shopper. You also should make your checkout process as quick and simple as possible. Minimize the number of pages and amount of information required to make a purchase, and don’t forget to add trust indicators such as an SSL certificate so shoppers feel confident placing their order. Learn more about cart optimization in our recent blog post on converting more at checkout.

4.) Make sure your shipping is ready to go

As on online seller, it is your job to play Mr. Claus and ensure all those great gifts make it under the tree with plenty of time to spare. So get your logistics plan sorted out now to ensure smooth shipping when all the orders start rolling in. Set up multiple carrier options and schedule daily pickups to give yourself the best combination of flexibility and affordability. You can also protect your profit margins by taking advantage of Commercial Base Pricing or even Commercial Plus Pricing if you have enough volume. Check out services like to get the best rates for the holidays. Or truly embrace technology solutions and invest in shipping software, which often bundles these accounts in their subscription to save you confusion and time. ShipStation, one of our trusted logistics partners, has some advice on how to avoid shipping your pants over the holidays.

5.) Harness the power of Pinterest

Creating and buying a Pinterest wish lists is a fun way for consumers to deal with their holiday shopping. It can also add up to some serious sales for your store. Did you know the average order value from a Pinterest referral is over $170? That is significantly higher than the average order value from Facebook or Twitter. Cash in on this impressive stat by making sure your product pages are optimized for the up-and-coming social network. You can learn about upgrading your account, engaging the right audience, running promotions and more with our free Selling With Pinterest ebook.

6.) Offer special discounts and coupons

Cyber Monday is the digital version of Black Friday, which means shoppers are expecting big deals. Drive traffic and increase sales with different types of coupons, including free shipping, flat amount off, percent off, minimum purchase, gift with purchase and loyalty programs. In addition to listing them directly on your site, publicize your offers via email and social media. And yes, Pinterest is a great place to do that. Just don’t forget to calculate your profit margins to determine come up with an offer that you can afford. For more details on how to pick the right deals for you store, read our post on profitable e-commerce coupons.

7.) Don’t let lost sales get away

More than 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned before shoppers make a purchase. The first six tips can go a long way in converting customers, but the best way to win them back once they’ve left your site is an abandoned cart saver. Available on our Gold-level plans and above, our cart saver automatically sends a series of customizable emails to your shoppers to bring them back. It even lets you include a coupon code to give shoppers even more motivation to follow through with their purchase. Our clients recover an average of 15% of lost sales with this feature, which means it can quickly pay for itself during the holiday shopping season.

We’ll keep the holiday advice rolling through December, so check back in for more great tips, and good luck in conquering Cyber Monday!

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Why Your Online Store Needs a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) to Thrive


You’ve finally decided to go ahead with that crazy ecommerce business idea and decided to setup your online store.

However, after some market research you realize that a potential consumer has dozens if not hundreds of other online destinations they could choose instead of you. So, then why would they buy from you? That’s the question you need to answer as you start formulating your unique selling proposition. 

It can drive you crazy. Especially, if you’ve never thought too deeply about it. What is it about your online store that would make a potential customer shop there and not elsewhere? 

There’s got to be something about what you do that helps you stand out from the pack, otherwise, how are you ever going to stay in business? Call it “positioning”, “differentiation”, “mission statement”, “vision statement”, or insert any other business terminology in there and it all comes down to the same thing. Why would a customer choose you and not a competitor? 

Part of determining your unique selling proposition is understanding the value that your product brings to the market. One of my favourite books, “Business Model Generation” defines a value proposition as the following: 

“It solves a customer problem or satisfies a customer need. Each value proposition consists of a selected bundle of products and/or services that caters to the requirements of a specific customer segment. In this sense, the value proposition is is an aggregation, or bundle, of benefits that a company offers customers.” 

The beauty of that definition is that it forces you to take a holistic approach to your value proposition when it calls it an aggregation or bundle of benefits, meaning it doesn’t have to be just one thing. Otherwise, you’d resort to citing one of these common value adds (which are really just boosters to what you have to offer): 

  • “Free” or fast shipping
  • Discount codes
  • Gracious return policy
  • Great customer service with live help
  • and anything “everyone” else is doing….

However, rather than go down the “me-too” route, you’re going to want to carve out a unique space in your customer’s mind, one that’s reserved just for you. That may sound like a difficult or intimidating thing to do, but it’s critical – especially with Amazon a click away. 

Finding Your Winning Difference

To figure out what makes your business unique, spend some time trying to uncover what makes your story remarkable and revealing any hidden benefits that you products may have. Start by asking yourself the following questions to discover where in your business that unique selling proposition can come from: 

  • What materials is your product is made from?
  • Where did those materials came from? Who created them or produced them?
  • How are your products manufactured and assembled?
  • Who are they manufactured and assembled by?
  • What are the unique benefits your product offers?
  • What’s your personal story and how does it add value to your products?
  • What do you have to offer that no one else does? 

Once you’ve come up with answers take a look at how you can build your “unique business story”. I’ve listed a few examples of online stores who do a great job at showcasing what it is that makes them unique to give you an idea of where you can go with this. 

Bee’s Wrap Sells a “Unique Product”

Bee’s Wrap founder Sarah Kaeck created an alternative to plastic wrap for food storage on her family farm in Vermont for her own needs. Little did she know that she would be giving people around the world also concerned with the environmental impact and health safety of plastic a means to try something different and hits home on all those values. The end result was a fabric infused with beeswax, jojoba oil and tree resin, and built to be the perfect alternative to plastic.  

  • USP: The “new” old fashioned alternative to plastic wrap

Hiut Denim Co. Sells a “Unique Story”

Here’s a story for you. Cardigan, a small town of 4,000 people has a jean making factory where 400 of them are employed. After making jeans for three decades, it one day closes and all those good people are laid off. What comes next is the origin of a new jean making company, Hiut Denim Co. that puts a premium on quality and has “Grand Masters” who are skilled in the ways of making jeans. The catch is, they only product 100 jeans a week. In other words, they offer hand crafted, limited edition jeans as well as the opportunity for customers to support a local economy.  

  • USP: Do one thing well, our town makes the highest quality jeans

DODOcase Sells a “Unique Concept”

It’s no secret that physical books have been getting hit hard both in demand and distribution resulting in the decline of things like the art of bookbinding. So, how does DODOcase keep the traditional alive while adapting to the digital era? Simple, make accessories for our digital devices like iPhones and iPads using the same bookbinding methods used to make books. Add local and handcrafted manufacturing in San Francisco and what you end up with is unique and high quality Apple accessories in sea of “me-too” competitors.  How can you combine wo seemingly unrelated products and bring them together to create something entriely new and unique? 

How can you combine two seemingly unrelated products or ideas and bring them together to create something entirely new and unique?

  • USP: Preserving traditional bookbinding techniques through American made cases for digital devices

Holstee Sells a “Unique Company Manifesto”

It’s not everyday that a company that started off selling t-shirts with a holster stitched on decides to dedicate itself to helping people live more mindfully. Since originally launching Holstee in 2008, the company has grown into offering uniquely crafted products and exclusive design prints while cultivating a community around its manifesto. It encourages people to do what they love and stop wasting time on everything else. Something that clicks with a generation in flux striving to find their mark in the world. 

  • USP: We live and breathe our core value: “do what you love”. Buy our products, join our mission.

Black Milk Clothing Sells “Unique Apparel Designs”

How does a self-taught fashion designer selling leggings out of his kitchen go on to creating a global brand raking in millions of dollars? By designing products so unique that they are impossible not to talk about. From prints that include everything from muscle suits, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and galaxy designs on your leggings, swimsuits, and full on bodysuits to several other eye-catching designs, Black Milk Clothing has been able to effectively carve a niche for themselves. They have also created a social media-powered community of raving fans that engage and interact with each other. 

  • USP: Bold and outrageous products that you only buy from them and access to a community of likeminded individuals.

Greats Brands Sells Sneakers at a Unique Price 

Early last year two men ventured out to disrupt an entire industry, they saw massive opportunity in creating a direct-to-consumer mens line that offered premium quality sneakers without the premium price tag. The result was the Greats Brand, and online store which sells retro mens footwear that ranges in price from $59-$99, and aims directly at global sneaker brands with cheaper yet high-quality goods with a radically shorter product development life-cycle. With the company’s sights set on becoming the Warby Parker of footwear, they’re out to be yet another game changer in their industry. 

  • USP: High quality sneakers at low value pricing resulting in disruptive industry standards

Mr. Gugu & Miss Go Sell Membership to a Unique Community

What if buying a product from an online store also served as an initiation into a community? That’s exactly what Mr. Gugu and Miss Go, a European brand that wants the entire continent to look fresh, brave, original, and self-confident does. Taking advantage of social platforms like Instagram, it promotes and sells not just apparell, but an attitude and way of life, in addition to belonging to a global collective of “Gugu People”. 

  • USP: Bring self-confidence and originality to Europe, join the club and wear the clothes


Those are just a handful of companies that have figured out their winning difference and how to make their products resonate with their target audience.

But the real question is, what’s so unique about what you’re selling? In other words, why does your company or brand matter?

Answer these questions honestly and sincerely and you’re bound to get a unique selling point that will not only stick out in your target consumer’s mind, but will have them coming back time and time again.

If you know of any other ways that ecommerce companies can stand out in the minds of consumers, let us know by commenting below.

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Simplify Online Shopping With 3dcart’s Facebook Connect Module

Today’s online consumer wants – no demands – a simplified shopping experience, and part of your job as an e-store owner is to give them just that. At 3dcart, we value simplicity and understand the need for you to offer a streamlined registration and checkout process. That’s exactly why we’ve created the Facebook Connect module. […]

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