A tiny web merchant, but a global reach
November 19, 2013 12:42 PM
Kimberly Beers, an environmental scientist at a New Hampshire public health laboratory, sells about 20 varieties of her own self-designed “non-toxic” pet toys made from recycled items like used tennis balls on her e-commerce site, WoofPurr.com, to customers throughout the country and the globe. But until last month she refrained from processing those sales through her own online shopping cart.
One reason she avoided those online sales, she notes, was her lack of software that would automatically calculate a customer’s shipping costs for international customers by factoring in the weight of a customer’s order, the shipping destination and mode of delivery.
Instead, she sold her products for a few years through the e-marketplaces Etsy.com and eBay.com, where global online exposure and word-of-mouth enabled her to build a steady following across 30 states, with customers in multiple countries. Etsy is No. 38 in the Internet Retailer Top 500.
Two years ago, she decided to process all online sales through WoofPurr.com to have more control over how her products are displayed and to rack up higher profit margins by avoiding e-marketplace fees. But her web site, built on a basic version of Weebly Inc.’s e-commerce platform, had limited functionality and no integrated online shopping cart. Customer orders and invoices were exchanged via e-mail. Weebly offers several versions of its Internet-hosted e-commerce platform. The basic version, which is limited to five products, has no monthly fee but charges 3% of the value of each transaction. Starter and Pro versions charge $4 and $8 per month, respectively, also with the 3% per-transaction fee, and allow for up to 25 products.
Last month Weebly introduced a Business version of its Weebly e-commerce platform, which allows for an unlimited number of products for a flat monthly fee of $29. There are no transaction fees. “We’re all about focusing on making the whole experience of selling online more accessible to small retailers,” says founder and CEO David Rusenko.
Among the new features in the Business version:
● Processing credit card transactions from any international market and figuring the shipping costs based on package size and destination;
● Built-in software for calculating sales tax for all 45 states plus the District of Columbia that have sales tax laws;
● Site search with a filtered product search feature for drilling down into product categories;
● A built-in shopping cart and checkout process;
● Accepting online orders though iPhone and Android mobile apps;
● Tracking updated inventory availability, with the ability to automatically show “out of stock” messages online;
At WoofPurr.com, Beers says she has been using the new Business version of Weebly for a few weeks and has noticed an uptick in sales. The site now also features more large images and videos of products and customers. And Beers says she's looking forward to a new feature, which Weebly is planning to launch in time for the holiday shopping season, that will let her offer coupon codes on her home page, such as for free holiday shipping, with a window for entering the code during checkout.
Weebly has also been responsive to special needs, she adds. For example, on her request, she says, Weebly is working on inserting a comment window into the checkout process to let customers make product suggestions, such as alternate colors of pet toys.
Beers says WoofPurr.com so far has shipped orders to 10 countries, though its shipping drop-down menu on its checkout page is set up for more than 100 country destinations. "It took me a while to get a handle on the customs forms, but I love that my toys are international now," she says.
Weebly says its technology is used to run more than 20 million web sites, which in aggregate receive more than 140 million unique visitors each month. The company is backed by investment firms Sequoia Capital, Baseline Ventures and Y Combinator.