It has been 5 weeks of work to get the new website, collectthehobby.com together! As always we underestimated how much work goes into making a solid site, especially the kind we wanted: modern and user friendly for collectors. Today we are releasing what we have live to the world and we will be using social media, word of mouth, and some solid advertising in the coming months. More inventory will be added as close to daily as we can, especially in the first few months. We are also preparing for New England's largest show put together by the GBSCC that kicks off next month. We will be setup there this year along with some of the largest dealers and organizations in the hobby. Lastly, we are managing inventory overall to best be ready for the holiday demand in 2014 that is always a big time for collectors to add some bigger items to their collections.
So what were some of our biggest challenges with the site so far?
First of all we needed to find a new host. We have been online since 1998 and had used the same host since 2001. However, we wanted new tools like integrating easily with social media and other venues such as eBay and Amazon. We had plenty of space and reliability before, but as we learn more HTML and CSS, we wanted something flexible so we could make custom changes as we went. After comparing dozens of new hosts, we ended up choosing Shopify for our ecommerce solution due to their tools and fair prices hosted by GoDaddy. Not for complete novices, but definitely not very, very technical either.
The next issue has been to transfer and load new inventory. You would be surprised at the hours it takes to complete this even though Shopify has an eBay importer. We also like to constantly maintain our inventory that is held on COMC.com. While putting together the site, it has been a challenge to map out how things would be navigated. We are glad there is a search function, but we wanted to also create a nice browsing experience. We will be iterating on the navigation as we go, but splitting sportscards and memorabilia by sports seemed like the most efficient start for now.
Lastly, has been the overall design and feel of the site. This is something we have been testing dozens of different styles and colors, while trying to appeal to the most collectors. It also extends into technology seeking the best look for all devices. More than 30% of our sales from 2012 to now have been on mobile. We need a website that looks good on a pc, a mobile phone, or a tablet regardless of what a collector chooses to shop on. Hours and hours of time went into this and it's amazing how your mind changes as you try different things. One look might be better browsing, but another is easier when searching and so on. We hope what we are releasing today is a nice balance of all things, for all collectors.
Take a look around and at any time contact us or comment here to let us know your thoughts!