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A Basic Store – The Basic Steps

A Basic Store – The Basic Steps

New users of AOM may often be overawed by the sheer number of options available when setting up their first store. This post will outline the basic steps required to make a site operational. It will not delve into advanced techniques or fancy addons to enhance the visual style of the typical layout. Many of those are already explained in detail elsewhere in this blog.

It will also be assumed that the user has an Associate ID and the two required AWS keys, and is able to download the AOM zip file, unzip it, and install the files into their web space. Those operations are also explained elsewhere. Our starting point will be an open control panel, ready for setup.

1. Lay the foundation When you open your AOM control panel, the first tab will always be Amazon. And the first option is Amazon Store Type. Select the locale you have chosen for your store (US, UK, CA, FR or DE). Then enter your Associate ID. Note that the ID is locale-specific, so a US store will use an ID for Amazon.com; a UK store will use an ID for Amazon.co.uk, and so on. You must make sure you’re registered for the locale you want your store to operate in.

The next two items, the Access Key ID and Secret Access Key, are not specific to any location. They will work in any country you select for your site. Once you have these fields filled in correctly, click the Save All Settings Button. You will see a red error message if you make a mistake.

2. Create Product – Go to the Categories tab. Create a Cat ID and select a Category from the drop-down list. The program will autofill the Category name and node. You can override these with your own category name, and a subcategory node (available from FindBrowseNodes.com). You can also use keywords (both positive and -negative) to help refine your product selection.

category

Note that when you fill in the data for a category and click on Save All Settings, a new blank category will be created below the previous one. Or you can enter a number in the Add __ Categories area and create several blank ones at once. A category will not be saved if you leave out the Cat ID and Name. Once you have categories, your site will automatically display products.

3. What To Show? – When you have your categories set up, go to the Display tab. Most of the options here can be left in their default settings. However a few should probably be changed. They are:

  • Display ASINs: Almost never required, and a magnet for a Duplicate Content Penalty from Google. Uncheck them all.
  • Display Sales Rank: As above, not much use and an obvious sign this is an affiliate site.
  • Display Category: Redundant.
  • Display Date: Useful for some items, like videogames. Not so useful for things like appliances or tools. Uncheck if you don’t need dates.

4. Where To Put It? – Under the Layout tab you set things like the overall size of your site. It’s recommended you keep your store width under 1000 pixels (px) or at 100%. Most customers will have a screen resolution of 1024 x 768; if you have a widescreen monitor, the site may look great to you at 1300px. Others will have to use left/right scrollbars, which are proven to discourage sales. Most of the other settings can be left in their default positions.

5. Site It – On to the Site tab. The key areas here are:

  • Site Name: Enter the name of your site here. This will appear in the top address bar of your web browser.
  • Site Description: Briefly describe your site; this is important for SEO concerns.
  • Site Keywords: Also helpful for SEO, although not as much as it used to be.
  • Site Slogan: A short, keyword-laden motto or catchy phrase. This will also appear in your browser when you view the store’s home page.
  • Site Traffic Code: If you use a tracking script like Google Analytics or Statcounter, paste their code here.
  • Site Disclaimer: This is required by Amazon. Remove the {DISCLAIMER} tag at your own risk.

6. Colorize It – Under the Colors tab you can choose the site colors. This section is probably pretty self-explanatory.

7. The Logo – This is set up under the Images tab. If you have a logo image (such as ‘logo.jpg’), you upload it to your website, then place the URL or file path in the Logo box. The URL would be something like ‘http://www.mysite.com/logo.jpg’. If you have the logo image in the same directory as your shop.php and admin.php files, you may be able to just use the filename (‘logo.jpg’). If you have all your images in a subfolder such as ‘myimages’, then you may be able to use the relative file path: ‘myimages/logo.jpg’.

If you do not have a logo image, or it’s not ready, you can simply put the name of your store in the Text Logo box, and adjust the size, color and font used. The following option, Logo Alignment, lets you set the logo (text or image) to the left, right or center of your store.

8. Take It Home – Under the Home Page tab you can select various options to customize the first page of your site. The default setting is Mall, which simply lists your categories in a table format. Browse Node is another setting that lets you display a category. The other options will give you different results, but may require a better understanding of things like ASINs (Amazon product stock numbers), HTML or PHP.

You can also enter a message to greet customers to your site into the Home Welcome HTML box. This can be text or HTML code (or both), and is a great way to explain what your site offers, while including some keywords to help with search engine rankings.

9. Sort Your Boxes – With the Boxes tab, you can select and organize various preset boxes to appear in your store. This can include:

  • Related Categories: A basic category tree to show related areas.
  • Tag Cloud: Keyword tags that vary in size depending on how often they appear on a page.
  • Narrow by Brand: Some (not all) categories will allow you to search by brand.
  • Narrow by Price: Same as above, but by price ranges.
  • New Releases: Just what you would expect.
  • Bestsellers: Product sorted by sales rank
  • Most Gifted: Product most often bought as gifts on Amazon.
  • Most Wished For: Popular Wishlist items.
  • Information Box: Enter links to external sites or custom pages (About Us, FAQ, etc.)
  • MP3 Clips: Will display a player to listen to samples of music

Most of the boxes will allow you to change the colors, page location order in which they appear, etc. to some degree. Note that not all the boxes will work in all locales or with some categories.

There are also boxes under the Categories and Subcategories tabs, to display those items as well. The Custom Boxes tab allows you to create boxes to place links, ads (such as Google AdSense) or almost anything you want. As custom boxes are not required for basic store functionality, they will not be discussed in detail here.

10. Go SEO – The final item is the SEO tab. Turning on the mod_rewrite rules will give you well-formed URLs, which means a slightly increased chance of clawing up the search engine rankings. Plus it just looks better, and perhaps more professional. A detailed explanation of this feature can be found under the Users Guides section of this blog, but the quick version is as follows:

  1. (Linux/Unix web servers only): Create a file called .htaccess (yes, just as shown) in the directory with your shop.php and admin.php files.
  2. Go to the SEO section of the AOM Site and grab a ruleset that matches your SEO settings (the default settings match ruleset #1).
  3. Paste the rules in the .htaccess file and save.
  4. Turn on the mod_rewrite rules under the SEO tab and save.

Category and product URLs in your store should be changed immediately.

And those are the basic steps you should need to get a site up and running. Certainly, much more complex and detailed customization is possible, and hopefully you can explore those options to make your store unique. But if you’re new to this, or don’t feel comfortable with all the choices available in the control panel, the steps outlined above will at least give you a functioning storefront. And a basis for future experimentation.

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One thought on “A Basic Store – The Basic Steps

  1. Sam

    Im using justhost and filezilla and having trouble to get my logo to load on the page. I’ve tried putting it in several folders and typing in the complete url, or just the path or just the file… no dice. I’m probably missing something basic becasue Im new at this, but any ideas?

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