A General Overview of Your Online Store
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This page contains some very important information regarding your TIAS.com online shop. Please take a few moments and read through it BEFORE you begin adding your inventory.
Your TIAS.com online shop is exactly that -- a
full-function, customized e-commerce website. Unlike some of our
competition (that are fundamentally listing services and that don't allow
for individual 'tailoring,) at TIAS.com, you can give your on-line
store its own appearance and you can manage your online ordering and
financial policies to meet your business needs. The basic structure
of your store is of a home page that presents your store and it's inventory
in summary, category ('catalog') pages that show an overview of the items
and detailed inventory ('picture') pages:
To manage your TIAS.com store, you should go to your members page daily. This is where you will see your new orders and where you can add inventory and manage your store. The address of your members page is
Your TIAS.com store also comes with a superb set of business management tools. When you are starting your store, your major interest will be in simply getting your inventory photographed, loaded online and in getting your store activated so you can make your first sales. To keep things simple for you, at the beginning, the system operates in 'Lite' mode, presenting you with simplified options.
Once you've gotten confortable with the basic system, however, you'll want to set your site to level 2 and explore the many options that are available to you for inventory and customer management. These tools are generally provided for free, although there are a few that have special training charges. You can read about any feature by clicking the little that appears next to most fields and functions on the system.
The TIAS.com system has been designed to be easy to understand and use, but we also know that you'll have questions and occasionally need help. Be sure to click the option on your member's page menu titled Questions / Contact Info so you're comfortable with the various ways to get help with your online store. And yes -- although we strongly recommend using the question feature on the tutorial as a way to get questions answered quickly -- there are really humans here who will answer your questions and help you!
How Your Inventory is Organized - The Basics
Your inventory has a system which you should be aware of before you begin to add your items. Each item in your inventory has characteristics -- photographs, a description -- and belongs to a category.
System ('Showcase') Categories --> Custom Store Categories (level 2 only) --> Items --> Photos
CATEGORIES - The System categories (also called 'showcase' categories) are used to determine when, in the general scheme of things in the mall, your items should be presented. The reason that these are also called showcase categories is because one place they are used is to arrange the general display area where the customers come to see what is new -- the TIAS Collector's showcase, Antique Arts Showcase, the Earthling New and Wonderful! feature and the CollectorOnline Browse / New Just for You area. Categories are also used to group the items in your store. At the basic level of functionality (Level 1), the system category is used in your store; later, if you wish to customize your categories you can set your store to Level 2 and use the more advanced features to group categories on your pages and to assign custom names to your categories.
Think of it like a grocery! Things in your supermarket are grouped together in a way that makes it easy for the shoppers to find them, all the produce is together and all the dairy products are in the dairy case. While many of your shoppers will be browsing, they will expect to see your items in some sort of clear and pleasing organization. On the TIAS.com system, this is called a 'category'. You can have as many categories as you want in your store and there are several tutorials that deal with setting up and managing your categories (look at the index of this tutorial.)
It is very important to choose the MOST ACCURATE CATEGORY for your item as again this is where the search engines locate your items. We have predefined categories for you to choose from they have been carefully defined to match up with the auctions and search engines. If you have an item that does not seem to be showing up in a search where you think it should be found, the answer is almost always that it was listed in the wrong category.
ITEMS - Each thing in your inventory is called an 'item'. Each item in your inventory MUST have a unique item number!!! Items are organized into categories. Some dealers find it easier to create item numbers corresponding with a certain category, for instance, if you carry Haviland China, you might want to identify your items as #hav001, #hav002 etc. It is also a very good idea to put some sort of tag on the item so that you can easily identify which is which. Have you gotten confused about which item is which? Don't despair! In almost every case, where you are dealing with your orders, the system will show you a picture of the item or offer a link so you can see your photograph of it.
Descriptions - Where the Money is!
The MOST IMPORTANT part of your inventory is how you write your descriptions!! The photos are the added bonus. It is important to understand just how we, at TIAS.com help you sell your merchandise. After your shop is activated, visitors can view your merchandise by browsing through your shop and clicking on the photos. BUT, that's not ALL! We submit your information to many search engines where the photos are not visible. In these venues, the keywords in your categories, your item titles and item descriptions MUST entice a shopper to want to click and "see more". Take advantage of the power of your description as this is where you "SELL" your merchandise, just as you would if you were face to face with your customer.
In this tutorial, in the section about working with your items, you'll find an entire tutorial chapter about writing descriptions that will sell merchandise. Be sure to read this!
PHOTOS - TIAS.com allows up to 8 photos of each item in your inventory. Although you only need one, take advantage of your photos to zoom in and show detail of your items and also the flaws. If an item has a slight chip, SHOW it! If it has a mark you can't decipher SHOW it! Let your customers feel like they are in a real shop and allow them to carefully look over the item they are thinking about purchasing, don't wait for them to "ask a question", you just might loose the sale!
In this tutorial, in the section about working with your items, you will find several chapters about taking pictures, editing them and presenting them so that your shoppers will want to buy your items.
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