November 2010

New: Reports & Analytics

Just launched moments ago: a new area for reports and analytics.

Right now there’s just one report in there, called “My Products”. if you’re a seller, you can export a spreadsheet of all your products, their prices, URLs, and more.

The next obvious enhancement will be the ability to plunk your Google Analytics code onto your store and product pages. Watch for that – I’ll announce it here.

If there are other reports you’d like to see in that area, let us know – or drop a comment here with your ideas.

See the new Reports section here: http://www.scubbly.com/account/reports/

Search is ON

The search feature is working again. It took about 40 hours, most of which was spent creating a new caching mechanism for repetitive searches, and re-indexing all the products’ names and descriptions.

I didn’t change the algorithm; the results are pretty much the same as before. But now it’s stable, scalable, and much much faster.

Thanks for your patience.

no search for a few days

The search feature at Scubbly was broken.

No, actually it was not broken, it was working fine… but it was so badly optimized that whenever someone was querying the thing, everything else slowed down, the CPU went nuts, the database choked and service to everyone else was affected. I think it was just a matter of time before searching caused a server crash – something that hasn’t happened (knock on wood) since Scubbly was launched in August 2009 (yes, that’s 100% uptime. you can’t beat that!)

See, the thing worked great when there were only a few hundred products in there. And even when there were a couple of thousand. But as Scubbly’s grown more popular, the old MySQL full text index wasn’t cutting the mustard.

So I’ve shut it down. No searching… just for a little while. I’m setting up a new cluster and will start building the index immediately, and I hope to have the feature back online within a day, or two, or three…

Sorry

Regarding segregation

You’ll notice that since launching the French and Spanish versions of Scubbly, we’ve been pleased to see some non-English language products offered for sale.

It makes sense to segregate products based on language. If you are a Spanish-speaking person you would probably want to browse products offered in your own language, like e-books, audio books, documentary films, videos etc. I acknowledge that if you’re only interested in books in French, it can be tiresome to flip through pages of books looking for ones that are in French mixed in with all the English stuff, when the only indication of a product’s language is its title or description.

However I don’t like the idea of segregating products into separate sites. We’ve gone to great lengths to assure that showing all products via all versions of the site, regardless of their language, is done according to the strictest standards of the W3C and Search Engines, so that they are properly presented and all visitors can see all products, regardless of their language. Who’s to say I wouldn’t like to listen to an audio book of Voltaire in the original French? If it’s only shown at fr.scubbly.com, I may never see that it’s available.

Instead of segregating, we are working on ways of adding filters to your browsing experience, so you can choose criteria that you care about and only see products that meet them.

In each category, there are properties that all those products will likely have in common. For example: e-books have properties like language, number of pages, copyright status. A video will have properties like file format, length, codec, quality. Software will have properties like what operating systems it will run on.

One of the features we’re working on to release in early 2011 is the ability to filter a search using these properties. Not all categories will have them, but those that do need them will get them.

This does mean that sellers will have to offer more information about their products. In particular, sellers will be strongly encouraged to enhance their product data with the language for books and audio, and operating systems for software.

The property filtering feature is still in the planning stages, and may take several months before it’s launchable. If you have opinions & ideas about what properties you’d like to see, contact us or just leave a comment here on the blog and we’ll see it.

Payout: November 1, 2010

Payout for November 1 2010 just went out. Congratulations to all the sellers who reached $50 this month!

I won’t divulge details, but the balance sheet shows that there really are two kinds of seller – those that market their products, and those that don’t. Everyone who was paid today – who exceeded the $50 threshold – was not just a little over $50. There were no $51 payouts today. Every seller who earned more than $50 earned significantly more than $50 – at least double, triple, or order of magnitude beyond that.

And every seller who earned a payout today has one thing in common: they market their products via other channels. Whether it’s having your own websites for attracting traffic, engaging in PPC campaigns or using Social Media to hawk the wares using Scubbly merely as a payment gateway service (using widgets!). One seller even has links at wikipedia, in an article related to the product he sells, pointing directly to the Scubbly product page!

Scubbly’s most prolific referrers are NOT the search engines. About 20% of Scubbly’s traffic comes from Google & Bing. The other 80% of Scubbly’s traffic comes from sellers who are marketing their products via other web channels.

Quite a few sellers have had less than $50 in their account for quite some time. I can appreciate that selling niche products inexpensively as a “hobby business”, it would be easy to earn so little that the potential payday is years in the future. Consider: what can you do differently to increase your sales from $0.50 a month up to $5 per month?

What ways can you think of to tell more people about your product?