DoLeaf mentioned on Grower Talks’ Acres Online

acresonline

Yesterday, there was a nice blurb about DoLeaf published in Acres Online. Acres Online features news and commentary for Grower Talks, a long-lived magazine in the garden center and nursery community. We at DoLeaf are all fans of Grower Talks, and we were thrilled with the mention. Here’s an excerpt:

Want to sell straight to the end consumer but don’t want to open a garden center? How about selling through a website? A group of “passionate, technology-savvy” gardeners has launched an online marketplace called DoLeaf.com that will let gardeners buy… from independent growers and garden centers through their free online store.

If you’re interested in subscribing to Acres Online, go here to sign up. The DoLeaf team will definitely be reading more Acres Online!

Why Amazon is the Best Choice for a Marketplace

amazon_payments_logo

People are often surprised to learn that DoLeaf relies (exclusively, for now) on Amazon for our payment processing. In the world of small, person-to-person transactions, PayPal is the dominant leader, and it’s well established on sites like eBay and Etsy. However, due to several innovative features, we’re convinced that Amazon is the way to go. The reasons all revolve around multiparty transactions and how they revolutionize online marketplaces.

Multiparty Transactions

By far, the most innovative feature that Amazon offers is the ability to execute 3-way transactions. This is what happens every time you purchase something in a marketplace. The buyer sends money to the seller, and the marketplace takes a small cut of the sale. However, prior to Amazon, there was no way to execute this all at once. Instead, it usually took multiple transactions. In most cases, the seller would pay the buyer directly, and the marketplace would send the seller a monthly invoice. Or, the buyer would pay the marketplace, and it would cut a check to the seller. In either case, at least two transactions have to occur, incurring additional overhead and fees at each step.

With Amazon, the entire transaction can be executed instantly. Amazon will take the money from the buyer, cut out a portion for the marketplace and deposit the rest directly into the seller’s account. Only one transaction occurs, and everyone receives their money instantly.

Lower Fees

The most direct benefit of all this is lower fees. With every transaction there are fees to be paid. With the old way, you had to run multiple transactions to pay everyone, so you paid the transaction fees multiple times. Bundling transactions together, like with a monthly invoice, was a way to keep costs down, but it was still pretty expensive. With a single transaction, however, the fees are only paid once, greatly reducing the amount of overhead that goes to pay for simply moving money around.

Instant Payment

Another important benefit is that everyone receives their portion of the payment instantly. This has obvious benefits for the seller, since many would be reluctant to ship until payment is received, and rightfully so. However, there are indirect benefits as well. Since DoLeaf is paid instantly, we have to spend less time invoicing and dealing with outstanding accounts. This allows us to keep costs down and focus on adding new features, rather than tracking down overdue accounts. It’s truly a win for all sides.

Better Integration

One of the most frustrating things about other payment systems is the lack of integration with the marketplace. On many marketplaces, the sale is booked before the buyer actually pays. This is because that actual payment processing is done by a third-party, like PayPal, and the marketplace has no knowledge of this. It all takes place between the buyer and seller, and the marketplace just has to assume that all goes well.

Unfortunately, sometimes things don’t go well. Perhaps the buyer refuses to pay, or the seller needs to refund some of the money. With other marketplaces, the seller then needs to go through a dispute process in order to let the marketplace know that they should not be charged the full transaction fee, since the payment did not execute as planned. With DoLeaf, this is completely unnecessary. Since we are an integral part of every transaction, we know instantly when a payment or refund occurs. Sellers will never be overcharged or need to dispute a charge.

Many Stores, One Checkout

Some marketplaces suffer from the many-checkout problem, where to buy from multiple sellers at the same time requires running the buyer through the checkout process several times, once for each seller. The obvious problem here is that at any time the buyer can get cold feet and decide to quit the process.

Thanks to Amazon’s ability to group transactions, a DoLeaf sale takes only a single checkout, no matter how many stores are involved. It’s a well known fact that making checkout smooth and easy is an excellent way of making sales.

So Only Amazon Forever?

While we at DoLeaf are huge fans of Amazon, we recognize that putting all our eggs in one basket is a terrible idea. Further, not everyone has an Amazon account, and those that do may prefer to use other methods. We want to be as open and inviting as possible, so we would love to offer other options.

Luckily, Amazon’s new system has lit a fire under PayPal, who has announced that they will be supporting multiparty transactions and many other features in the future. So, you can bet we’ll be keeping an eye on PayPal and hoping they come through on their promises. It may be a few months, but as soon as PayPal flips the switch and turns it on, DoLeaf will be one of the first at the door.

At the end of the day, DoLeaf is committed to providing the best experience for both buyers and sellers. We want to make checkout and payment smooth and easy, while also making it simple and straightforward for sellers to manage their stores.

Putting out the welcome mat to Google

One frustrating aspect about running a website is making sure you look good in search results. It can be incredibly irritating to have a beautiful site, but for some reason the text displayed in Google is ugly. Here’s an example from the early days of DoLeaf.

Ugly and is no help to anyone.
Ugly and is no help to anyone.

This is where the art of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes into play. By understanding how Google works, It’s possible to “suggest” text that you would like to be displayed in the search results.

It’s all about placement

The key to getting the results to look right is to make sure that the text you want displayed is located near common search phrases. For example, with DoLeaf, it’s common for someone to search for a nursery on Google, say Ohiotraders Botanicals. When Google looks at DoLeaf, it will search for text that is nearby to occurrences of the phrase “Ohiotraders Botanicals” Whatever it finds nearby will be used to make the result that’s shown.

So, we make sure that there is always text nearby that describes the main element of the page being displayed. On a store page, the store’s description is always close at hand. Likewise, on a plant listing page, the plant’s description is used. In both cases, we make sure to have the text as close as possible to the first occurrence of the item’s name so that Google knows right where to look.

It works

Following our initial SEO efforts, the results displayed on Google are much, much nicer. For example, a search on Bannister Creek Nursery will show the following result:

Has a nice description of the nursery in it.
Has a nice description of the nursery in it.

Likewise, a search on Bishop’s Cap Cactus produces the following result:

A nice description of the plant.
A nice description of the plant.

By making sure to keep your desired description nearby to common search phrases, you can extend the welcome mat to Google. They will return the favor by describing your site exactly as you wish. There are many, many more Search Engine Optimization methods that can be used as well, and I’d be happy to explain in subsequent posts. Just let me know what you’d like to hear about and I’ll write it up!