BlueFuzzySlippers.com: A Cozy Site for Social Commerce
Today e-commerce goes far beyond simply setting up a Web store to sell your products. To succeed and be competitive, you often need to provide visitors with a forum for exchanging ideas and reviews, as well as tools for selling and marketing, and that's exactly what Sherri Baldy, a self-described "womanpreneur" did when creating BlueFuzzySlippers.com, a social commerce site offering e-zines, video and affiliate marketing and much more. The new site combines the features of MySpace, FaceBook,YouTube and eBay all in one network.
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Baldy often found herself weighed down by the workload required to oversee multiple e-commerce businesses, and was increasingly frustrated with many of these sites, namely eBay and MySpace. So, Baldy did what any ambitious entrepreneur would do she created a centralized network, calling it Blue Fuzzy Slippers (BFS), where you can set up a profile, sell, shop, blog, and network all from within a from a single Web site.
In an interview with Ecommerce-Guide.com, Baldy said, "I came up with the idea for Blue Fuzzy Slippers simply because I have 13 Web sites and I was investing so much time in trying to figure out how to do the most effective advertising to get noticed. I'm really just the average person out there, on eBay and MySpace, and like many others, I was increasingly becoming frustrated with having to use so many different sites just to get my name out there."
Turning her e-commerce frustration into a venture, Baldy, along with a team of expert programmers and online marketers, got to work designing and creating Blue Fuzzy Slippers (BFS), a self-titled "u-commerce" network. People are invited to take part in the social aspects of the Web (like networking, and blogging), and at the same time promote their business and products through personal profiles and the BFS Mall, which offers auctions, Buy Now listings and Web storefronts.
|Snug Storefront in the Mall at Blue Fuzzy Slippers.|
(Click for larger image.)
In explaining the overall goal of the Web site, Baldy said that Blue Fuzzy Slippers is meant to fill the needs of millions of sellers, shoppers, and networkers who are frustrated with trying to cut through the clutter, high costs and inefficiencies of many of the Web's most popular sites.
One Site: Many Features
Currently in its beta launch, a main focal point of Blue Fuzzy Slippers is the BFS Mall. Here you can design your own personal profile page, and sell your products with Buy Now or auction buttons, or even launch your own BFS storefront.
To get started at the site, we recommend that you register, then go into your profile, from which you if you can easily access all the services. From your own profile page you can link to your own Web site, write blog posts, upload commercials, videos and images. Connections you make through the BFS site can be added to your friends list, you can post bulletins, tag favorite stores and favorite videos and also create your own BFS Mall storefront right from a link on your profile page.
|Getting Cozy with a profile at Blue Fuzzy Slippers.|
(Click for larger image.)
When you create your own BFS storefront, you choose a subscription plan and then you can set up your storefront immediately. This is done by choosing different layouts and by customizing store policy, shipping and About pages. The actual store and listing interface is pretty standard fanfare, as we've seen many times on sites marketed as eBay alternatives. Those who have previously used eBay or an alternative marketplace will be quite familiar with the selling and listing process here. Blue Fuzzy Slippers uses a customized version of PHP Pro Bid for this part of the site, and while it's fine, it might have served the site better to have a more unique platform created by one of three programmers employed by the company to maintain the network.
One would think that blogs, profiles, friends' lists and Web stores would be enough, but in taking BFS to a new level of "u-commerce," Baldy has also incorporated other tools and ideas into the site to give users even more options. Basically, these features are used by members to create their own micro-sites within the BFS network.
Other features include BFS TV, which offers different shows with original content on topics such as crafts, weddings, women and children, women and business and more. BFS members can submit ideas and copies of programs they would like to air on a specific BFS TV channel. If accepted, they are enrolled into an affiliate revenue sharing program for advertisements that run during the program. So, for example, a member who opens a craft-specific store could create a DIY show based on her craft, and cross-market her BFS TV show and BFS Mall store through the multiple avenues offered on the site.
In addition, Baldy said online magazines (e-zines) will also be a main part of the cross-markets within the site itself. One e-zine called the "Divapreneur", is a division of the company, and it is dedicated to women in business, and it is currently available on the site now. There is also "Fantasy Realm", another division of BFS which is an e-zine for fantasy artists, and Baldy says that other e-zines will be available on BFS in the near future.
Target Audience, Fees and More
When I first logged on to BFS, my first impression due to the site's name and design is that this is an online space for women. Despite the overtly feminine look and feel, however, Baldy said that there is a variety of different people using the site.
"The site's tone does actually lean towards the more feminine, as you can tell, but after doing some research, we found that 80 percent of the money that is spent in stores, malls and online is spent by women, which is why BFS invokes a feminine spin."
Baldy went on to explain, however, that the site certainly welcomes both sexes. "We do have male users on the site and also store owners in the BFS Mall who are male and listing a variety of products, including items like motorcycles."
For those interested, creating a member profile and accessing some of the networking tools is completely free. For those looking to set up a storefront in the BFS mall, you will find that subscriptions are slightly higher than what is being offered on eBay and other auction and storefront sites. Monthly store fees start at $15.95, and go up in price and levels to $499.99 per month. With a paid subscription, store owners will pay only that subscription fee and no additional listing or final value fees.
Currently Blue Fuzzy Slippers is offering a promotional store that is free for two months and lets you list up to 50 items. So, why not, as the site suggests, kick off your shoes and slide into BlueFuzzySlippers.com and relax while your sales increase?Vangie Beal is a seasoned online marketplace seller, frequent contributor to ECommerce-Guide.com and avid online bargain hunter.She is also managing editor of Webopedia.com.
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