Nothing Beats Free: Part 3 in an ongoing series

Opening a store is a large undertaking, whether brick and mortar or an online establishment.  It is easy for costs to get out of hand.  Here are some free or free-for-now software to help get your online store off the ground and save you cash.


The 5.2x version of AgoraCart is open source and free, though version 6.0 is coming soon.  AgoraCart is PA-DSS and PCI-DSS compliant, meaning it is secure.  This software is all about plug and play.  After getting the software you can drop in various features like a Pay Now button.  AgoraCart supports 10 different methods of shipping and payment.  You also set it to send thank-you notes to customers.  However, it should be noted that the free version comes with no support other than an internet forum.

Paint.Net was originally created as an alternative to MS Paint.  Now, it has grown to include a tab to help with image manipulation.  Basic recoloring, cropping, and 3D rotation will allow you to make your product photos that much better.  A picture may worth a thousand words, a really good picture is worthy of a sale.

Fedex’s Rate Finder

Making the sale is only half the battle.  Using Fedex’s rate finder, you can get a better picture of what it’ll cost and how long it’ll take to get there under different plans.  This will help you predict how much it’ll cost to ship your product out and what kind of promises you can promote.

You can find more about your IT needs here.




Tips for Creating a Social Business

There’s no doubt about it: marketing has gone social.  Customers are more apt than ever to start tweeting about their service.  So what are you going to do about it?


It’s likely you’ve either thought about or have already set up a Facebook account for your business.  However, many business owners fall into the trap of neglecting their social media accounts.  These accounts should be treated like another touchpoint for your business, like adding another customer service number that the whole world can see.

Keeping on top of updates like when you’re having a sale and responding to customer comments is essential.  Though it may add another hour to your day going through your social media outlets, it will create another layer to your marketing dynamic.


If you haven’t created a Youtube, Twitter, or Facebook account for your business yet, you should probably take a deep breath and think about it.  Although it takes a few minutes to set up, you must be willing to commit.  A poorly maintained social media outlet is like having an unkempt front entrance.

Lacking in time and resources to commit to a  social media campaign is a sure sign you quit while your ahead.


Should you chose to accept this task, you should invest in media monitoring apps.  For example, Radian6 is a paid services that gives you reports on your various social media outlets.  That way you can track and see what garners attention and what doesn’t.

Social Media is still in it’s infancy.  It seems like the Wild West where every business, large and small, are on the frontier.

As always, you can count on us in case you need an it services company to cover all your IT needs.

Keeping Up Appearances: Managing Your Online Reputation

It’s often an adage that you should always be on your best behavior when in public because you don’t know who is watching.  Sitting behind a computer, it’s easy to forget that your business’ online persona is out for the public to view…forever.

However, all the ways to protect your online reputation revolve around the principles of neutrality and politeness.

On social media, never get in any type of argument.  It’s always better to extend an olive branch rather than trying to put a snarky customer in their place.  Better to appear that you are a company that cares about customer concerns than an eloquent debater.

Off that point, although your business is local your online presence is more far reaching.  Expressing views that are not vital to business’ image is risky.  Perhaps expressing your values attracts customers, but it may alienate some.  It’s something to consider if you ever expanding your business into another area.  Anything put online, stays there.

And unlike Vegas, what’s on social media is very public.

Staying Safe This Holiday Shopping Season

It’s that time of year again.  Whenever you walk into a big box store you hear that music playing, people are ringing bells outside, and you’re looking for gifts online.  Now, more than ever one must be careful when making purchases.  However, you can thwart these thieves and scam artists hoping to cash in on your holiday cheer by following a few simple rules.

1. When Purchasing always look for the SSL

SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer.  It’s security method that restricts other computers from accessing information during a transfer.  You can see if SSL is enabled by looking for a padlock symbol or by checking if the URL (address bar) is preceded by HTTPS:// which indicates a secure portal.  This isn’t a sure fire way, but it’s a start.

2. Never give out your credit or debit card numbers over e-mail

No reputable retailer asks for credit card information via e-mail.  If they’re worth their two cents then they’ll set-up a secure portal like the one mentioned above.  Honest retailers will also never ask for your social security number.  The more information someone is asking for, the more likely they are phisher, an online data miner looking to steal and sell personal information.

3. Above all else: Use common sense

The greatest defense against an online thief is common sense.  With the number of online retailers there are out there, the moment you sense something fishy just move on.  Look online for reviews of companies to make sure they are on the level.  The Better Business Bureau is an excellent resource.  If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Happy Holidays.