Hi again, Cesar ~
First, I'd like to apologize for being so long in getting this site
review to you. I was a bit under the weather, and I wanted to give you
a decent review with full attention, instead of brushing over some
Secondly, I am going to answer your questions by incorporating the
answers within the review itself. If there are any which need
specifically to be answered later, I will do that at the end.
I am going to loosely follow the format I used in the original site
review as well, as a comparison for you.
General Overview & First
Impression of the Main Retail Site
1. Color -
I like your color choice. The blues and layout instill confidence in
your visitor and gives you an air of authority. They also don't
distract from the message of your site.
The simple and clear lines and look will be greatly appreciated by
those seeking the information you want them to find.
2. Name -
MainRetail is a great name for you - but I am concerned first that
those who are not familiar with your software will not understand that
it is software with three distinct functions. As a matter of fact, at
first, it was unclear whether it was software or not.
I'll discuss this in the page reviews, but you have a rather large
graphic at the top with room to add that this is a complete system
with three functions. Both your top graphics bar and the middle
section with your content) don't make it clear this is one, not three,
There is also an inconsistency throughout the pages as to what the
name actually is. I have seen it listed as:
* Main Retail
* Main retail
Choose one style and make triple sure you are consistent on every
occasion on the Website. Believe it or not, this inattention to those
little details chip away at your credibility.
Remember, if you can't decide on your own name ... it doesn't do much
for branding that name in their minds.
3. Focus -
Your site achieves what visitors basically look for - that is, a menu
and links on the left and content/information focused in the middle to
help them find the information they're looking for. The visitor's eye
is focused toward the middle with the information.
It's very simplicity does this trick so well and allows YOU to guide
the visitor where you want him to go.
Congratulations on a good balance of color and form without being
mundane or boring.
Who Is Your Market
As I said, I'll approach this in much the same way I did with the
previous site review - and tell you what I see that is good, what I
find confusing, and where there is room for improvements.
In my 'other life' (that is when I'm not answering questions for
Google Answers) I am a web designer and marketing consultant. I am
fortunate to have resources at my disposal to pinpoint weaknesses and
strengthen areas to effectively reach a client's target market and get
your point across.
On the other hand, as the owner/developer of MainRetail, you can
become so wedded to your product that you don't always see what others
do, and I'll combine that with relevant information to give you an
honest appraisal of your new design.
1. Home Page
As stated above, this is an attractive page overall, pulls the
visitor's eyes to where they 'should' be doesn't overwhelm with
needless distractions and is easy to read.
A problem arises, though, with an assumption that your visitors get to
you already knowing what they need and smart enough to understand what
you are offering.
Starting at the top ...
* The top portion - basically the table with this image:
My observation was what IS *MainRetail* ???
Is this software? Is this an entire system, like cash register
computer, touch screen monitors, CPU, etc.? It is not entirely clear
and even the graphic of the software box, while a hint, is not
Thinking it might be my own limited experience in what is available
for retailers, I decided to take an informal poll of some of the
people I know who own retail establishments of varying size and number
of outlets, including one enterprising woman just getting into her own
boutique retail business.
As a group, I showed them your front page. Of eight people asked, no
one immediately recognized that this was a SINGLE software program
with the three key areas:
* Integrated ledger
* Customizing reports
Or did we completely miss the boat?
Now, these are people who work in and own their own retail businesses.
They are a well-known used bookstore & related items businesses with
five wildly successful locations throughout the valley; a second-hand
store that operates six outlets; a scrapbook supplies store with
unique warehoused inventory for shipment worldwide; and a few others,
but all in the same vein.
Their comments mostly echoed my own feelings here ... It's software
with three vital and important areas integrated - make sure you say
software. The name alone doesn't work for those who aren't already
familiar with it.
This can be achieved easily enough by adding a slogan or tag line
along the lines of "complete" or "total" or "integrated", etc., but
they all agreed you need to add something about the software the
retailer needs to maintain his business.
I can almost see where you can add it, slightly slanted and to the
left "All the software a retailer needs" or "The easy software for
retailers" (or something along that line). In any case, they all think
it is important right up front to point out to luddites that this is
software, and not entire systems, like NEC, IBM and others offer at
very expensive prices.
The good news is ... once they figured out what you offered, they all
found it to be reasonably priced and they were all of the opinion that
it was of value.
The bad news is ... had they come across this themselves without my
asking them their 'take' on the first page and the site ... they would
not have stayed long enough to find out.
My suggestion is to get the word "software" up there close to the name
"MainRetail", and assume that none of your visitors is smart enough to
figure out that is what you are offering without your specifically
pointing it out.
The "Features" -
Marketing 101 and every marketing "guru" (self-proclaimed or not)
explains that people do not buy features. Rather, they buy the
benefits those features bring them.
I offer my customers an ebook which echoes the same information. It is
therefore incumbent on you to point out the benefits of your features.
Again, assuming visitors to your site will recognize the importance of
your features can cost you business.
I know this sounds so elementary, but for every feature, you need to
point out the 'benefit' of that feature.
The easiest way to transform any feature to a benefit is to take the
benefit, add the expression, "what this means to you is ..." and what
comes after that is the 'benefit' of that feature.
FEATURE | and what this means | BENEFIT
| means to you is ... |
| --- |
POINT OF SALE | | You insert whatever
On Line maintains | | the benefit is from
Inventory in single | | that feature.
or Multiple stores. | |
Fast item entry via | | You cannot assume the
barcode scanning or | | visitor will recognize
manual entry and | | to him.
more. | |
Do the same for | |
each feature | |
As it stands now, even though you have clearly marked that section "Features"
The question was whether or not this was three pieces of software you
bought to fit your needs.
These are retailers, some starting, some already in business for a
long time ... and all with similar remarks, which while hardly a good
'sample' for marketing research purposes, does give you some reason to
rethink writing hard-hitting copy.
* "Marketing Features Vs. Benefits - Learn the
difference, and then see the difference in your
bottom line." HomeOfficeMag.com - December 2000
By Laura Clampitt Douglas"
* "Product Features & Benefits", SBA Online Women's
* "The Difference between Features and Benefits" Klariti.com
There is even software out there that is supposed to help you convert
features into benefits. Unfortunately, the first three I looked at
didn't explain the benefits of using their software, so I decided not
to list them as a resource.
You've centered the text under the header "TRANSFORM YOUR BUSINESS",
and actually point to some of the benefits in a vague way,
"Main retail's Point of Sale Software is an affordable,
flexible solution that connects the people, information
and processes that help you manage your business more
effectively. Easy to set up, customize and use, it
helps you increase productivity, make informed decisions
and improve business performance."
This doesn't look too bad on a 19" monitor set at 1024x768 resolution
on Mozilla's browser. Unfortunately, it does look bad and is hard to
read using IE6 with my default resolutions set at a lower rate (for
Centered content is always hard to read, and when you justify to the
right-hand margin, you end up with awkward spaces between words,
because HTML doesn't use letterspacing or wordspacing like a word
processor would. That, too, can be very distracting. Do your viewers a
favor, cross-browser and at whatever resolution and let that right
margin fall where it may by just left justifying your copy.
And what does that mean?
Ummm ... transform my business? Into what? And Why? A nice header
there, but what does that have to do with the subject at hand? Your
content's title should in some way actually relate to the content, and
it falls far short of the mark in this case.
And what do you mean by "solution"??? Solution to what? Is there
something to which I need a solution? If so, please make sure that I
understand what it is that I need a solution to. Otherwise, it becomes
another example of a much overused word.
And this paragraph, if rewritten with key words and the search terms
under which you want to be found should appear as your lead paragraph
- before the 'features' which, as mentioned above, should really be
While it is really a given that you're not going to list dissatisfied
customers, you have a small block on the left about 2,000 and Growing,
yet there are only TWO testimonials?
While a touchy subject, testimonials can be a good selling tool,
provided you have enough in proportion to your sales and you list
enough. It's sort of a judgmental thing, but listing only two
testimonials with over 2,000 sales makes one wonder if you only get
one satisfied customer out of every 1,000.
In a previous question to Google Answers you were looking for a way to
attract sales personnel to sell MainRetail on a commission basis. It's
pretty well established that word of mouth is a great sales tool.
My suggestion about testimonials - and this turns out to be a good
customer service tool for you - is to contact your best customers,
your most enthusiastic customers, and ask if you can list them as a
satisfied customer with a link to their website (or their address or
whatever). Offer them sort of a reward if their good word leads to the
sale of MainRetail to any prospective customer they might talk with.
The benefits of going to this trouble and setting up such a page far
outweigh the costs in time and labor to get it running. You can list
more testimonials and 'satisfied customers' or 'valuable customers' on
an additional page. That way, everyone wins.
You have the DOCTYPE Declaration, but there's no language statement.
On one of my browsers, Firefox, I came from a site that was French,
and some of your text looked strange, because my browser was still
working in the French language character mode. The reason for this is
that you hadn't indicated a language, and voila! I'm not seeing what
you actually want me to see. Besides the DOCTYPE Declaration, you also
need a language declaration to make sure your visitors see what you
want them to see.
I'll refer you again to A List Apart's instruction on DOCTYPE and
language statements here,
Title tags ... MainRetail is a good name for you, but your first words
within your title tag should be the words or terms under which you
want to be found by searchers using the various search engines.
"<title>MainRetail POS Point of Sale Software Systems</title>"
Try "Point of Sale (POS) Software from MainRetail" or something
similar. Even Microsoft took several years to entrench itself as a key
word. Until then, make sure you do everything possible to help
potential customers find you.
Alt tags ... Some people disable graphics when they browse sites.
Without some sort of ALT tag within the image tag, you end up with the
image name being mentioned. You can choose not to put anything within
the ALT attribute, for instance, (alt=""), but you should really use
the ALT attribute. Search engines crawl better, text browsers return
content better, and it's just good design sense.
Here's an excellent article on the use of ALT attributes within the
image tags, "Using ALT tags", By Yelena Shapiro with Etelka Lehoczky
Granted, Google and some of the other search engines ignore Metatags.
Nonetheless, keeping your keyword metatags helps YOU concentrate on
each page's search terms and key words to ensure your title tags and
content actually USE those terms.
The use of a Description metatag gives YOU the chance to suggest the
small snippet of code some search engines use to describe your web
pages. Every web page should include a short Description metatag of
one or two sentences using that *page's* key terms and key word
metatags to keep you focused on the page's content.
Besides, some smaller directories still use keyword to search, and
while they may not help you, when done right, they most assuredly
won't harm you.
I assume you are aware that searching for any of the videos produces a
404 error and could not be downloaded?
3. About Us
The "About Us" section is usually where the visitor gets a chance to
see the faces behind the organization.
The content here is about the software, not the people, not where you
are, who developed it. Take this content and use it elsewhere on the
site to describe MainRetail, and put the information your visitors
want to see.
That is, put information about the developers, company, location,
phone numbers, etc. This is the type of information people expect to
find in the "About Us Section"
4. Download Now
This section is a bit confusing.
It's clear enough we can download a copy of Version 3, but WHO? Is it
a free demo? Is this a time-limited, fully working demo? This should
be clearly listed on the page who can download and any restrictions on
the use or usability of the download.
Instead of linking to the "System Requirements", which could be
off-screen, just put the whole thing in order.
Remember, ease of use is the purpose here.
Here is a long list of features with no explanation of benefits.
Unfortunately, it is not always easy to make the jump from a feature
to its benefits, so this is an EXCELLENT spot to point them out. Put
this long and rather boring list to work for you, tie it in with the
screen shots, and try to make it easy to understand why all these
things should matter.
The right idea with the wrong presentation here.
Big assumptions here that most likely won't hold true. Starting with
"seats" and ending with Paypal as the only method of payment.
Addressing the PayPal issue - it's fine for small businesses and mom
and pop type businesses. You're trying to sell a lifetime software
usage here. You have no information about the company or its
principals, and you are asking others to spend an appreciable amount
of money via PayPal?
The message you convey is that you are here today, gone tomorrow.
If you are serious about your business, either get a seamless third
party credit card processor, such as 2Checkout or those type, or
better yet, spend the money for your own merchant account. If you've
sold 2,000 copies of MainRetail, you should be able to afford online
Only offering PayPal loses you sales you might otherwise get.
Explain what you mean by seats ... "users" ??? Installed on individual
computers? Servers? etc.
Assume your visitors don't know what you mean and make it easy for
them to understand.
This is the same as your 'movies' ... 404 errors here.
Lifetime support? FAQ? contact us snailmail? What if my question is
the system won't work NOW?
Make your support as easy as buying should be. Get a reputation for
being there. Give them several ways to get support. The number one
downfall for any organization is some disgruntled customer screaming
rotten customer service. You lose sales before you ever had a chance,
so make sure that doesn't happen to you.
Remember this, if you're a small business, say so. There are a
bazillion small retailers out there who will identify. Be honest, and
give them the faces behind what you want them to buy and your sales
job will be so much easier.
That is pretty cut and dried ... and kind of boring. I'm not sure how
you'd want to punch that up, much depends on the "About Us" ... but
you could try some gentle humor and see if that doesn't give it some
"Have a problem? Our FAQ are here [link], our online manual
is here [link] and if you're are totally panicked, feel
free to call us here"
It puts some personality behind what is pretty dry and makes you more human.
I think your questions have actually been addressed within the
contents of this review.
People trust businesses that look professional, and don't try to be a
big company if you're really two guys in a garage just starting out
with a good product and idea.
Look what that did for Larry and Sergey who started Google!
What I'm trying to say is that there is so much information out there
it's easy to spot a phony (all the spam you may get in your inbox to
the contrary). Instead of that, give your prospective customers
insight to who you are, how you came about developing your great
product ... and let them talk to your existing happy customers.
Indeed ... encourage it, and offer your existing customers a reward
for sending others to you.
I can tell you have put a lot of time and effort into MainRetail, but
you might want to hire a good copywriter who can cut to the heart of
the matter - give you copy that addresses the things important to your
visitors. I can heartily recommend someone like Judy Vorfeld who can
write compelling copy to help get your visitor to do what you want him
to do - that is to buy MainRetail.
You asked, "How can I find companies related with my site, to
establish Links? Retail Associations like National Retail Association,
are considered valid links? Is there a site that suggests that?"
I didn't find such a site, but what about your existing happy
customers? Are they really happy?
Why not offer them an incentive to include you in their information or
What about smaller outfits that sell computers? Start locally and see
how you do ... not everyone buys their computers online, preferring
their old trusted smaller computer stores to supply their needs. Have
you talked with those who service retail establishments?
Walmart may be using IBM, but you can bet that the smaller retailers
can't afford it and would love to know about your products. Who do
they trust? Whoever that is - that's the guy you should offer an
incentive to push MainRetail.
I can see a big difference and a better look - more professional,
confident, authoritative and confidence-inspiring.
Remember, search engines produce PAGES, not sites, for results, so
make sure each of your pages has the search terms and phrases within
the title tag first! Until you are as well known as IBM and/or
Microsoft, it is more likely they'll find you for the search terms
instead of the name "MainRetail".
Remember to use the metatags to keep your focus for each page within
the key word metatags and the description clear to help all those
other search engines and directories find each page.
Overall, this may have seemed to be a bit picky, but I'm talking about
fine-tuning your site to ultimately help you market and sell
Search Terms -
* marketing + features benefits
* converting features to benefits
* DOCTYPE + language declaration
* ALT attributes
Besides the above, I relied on knowledge and resources at my disposal
during the regular course of business.
Again, Cesar, congratulations on your start and new look. I can see
that a great deal of time and attention went into this new look. The
suggestions above were more design/marketing oriented than merely
search engine oriented, because it is clear you've grasped the
importance of content.
Thank you again for asking for my input and for your indulgence in my
Google Answers Researcher