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The Ever-Changing Web

I have always known that the web and Internet technology would be an important part of my business— what I didn't know is in what way. So, about 10 years ago, I decided that it was time for Baker Shoes to have a website. I looked through ads and found one from IBM that said, “ Build your own website.” I thought "I can do this," so I signed up.

At the time, AOL was the primary way to access the Internet and it was via dial-up connection. I was building a website that showcased a few of the high-end boots that we sell in our store, and each product took at least 30 minutes to add. Some took several hours if they were custom-built boots. As a business owner with a successful and busy company, this was a tedious and time-coming process that took me away from our store.

Inevitably, the dial-up connection would fail, and often, I would lose all the work I had done. This was in the days before auto-save so I had to save my work manually after each and every change in order to avoid the loss of my work and the waste of hours of time. It took us nearly two months to enter in about 30 products. We have hundreds of products to choose from, so it was a fraction of what we have to offer.

Things have certainly changed a great deal in the world of websites and web development. I always thought the web would be an extension of advertising and that it would be a way to keep top-of-mind-awareness with our potential customers via technology. I did not think that it would be used as much for e-commerce as it is today. For example, when we first posted our site years ago, customers would call to place their order off the site. It was like online catalogue shopping. Our website has to be informational, interesting, and provide lots of different ways for the customer to find what they're looking for. It's way more than a catalogue of our products: it's an extension of our business.

Taking the time to learn your brand and making it stand out in the market is really tough these days, as the web and e-commerce have changed so much. It's an extremely crowded marketplace now and you have to have a unique product or service in order to sustain growth and sales on your site.

At Baker Shoes and Build-A-Boot, we've found that being honest and ethical on the web with your customers will resonate with them; earning their trust is vital to everything you do as a business.

Gene Baker
Owner, Baker Shoes

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