Over the last week or so I’ve been playing around with ZLio (aff) – a service that enables you to add a a shop to your blog or website. The most similar thing I’ve seen previously is Amazon’s aStore and Chitika’s Shoplinc program.
ZLio’s service is a very professional looking set up with some great features. It has previously been released in France and it’s only more recently been launched out of the US (they tell me there is a UK version on the way). You can tell that they’ve developed their product for some time now as it is quite advanced in how it can be used.
The best way to fully grasp the features of Zlio shops is to start one and start experimenting – before you do let me spit out some features and first impressions for you below.
While you read them feel free to check out the ProBlogger Bookshop Zlio that I whipped up (it took me about 15 minutes once I added all my products – they mainly come from my essential books for bloggers list). I’m yet to do any customization or personalization of it but you’ll get the idea of what can be achieved hopefully.
- easy to start – you can literally have a shop up and running in a few minutes (they boast as little as three clicks)
- millions of products to choose from – they’re working with 100 French and US merchants (from big ones like Amazon and Buy.com to smaller ones with real niche focus)
- varied commissions – depending upon the merchants you choose to work with commissions can range from as low as 1% right up to 20% (that’s the range I’ve seen so far). This is a CPA (cost per action) model – so you’re only paid when someone makes a purchase. This is one of the big differences from Chitika’s shoplinc which is CPC (you’re paid per click on products).
- multiple shops per account – this is great if you have multiple blogs that you want to add specifically targeted shops to
- search engine indexable – search engines will start indexing your shop with the potential to drive SE traffic at them
- templates – there are a variety of templates available to make your shop look and feel like it matches your blog. Once you’ve chosen a template you can drag and drop elements around your page to make them look they way you want. Also brand it as your own by adding a logo.
- customization – if you’re a little more technically minded you can also do some coding to make your shop look your own by editing both the CSS styles and header/footer sections
- easy to use – adding products is easy and managing once they’re in your shop is great using categories. If there was one area I think they could improve it would be to give ways of uploading multiple similar products at once to a shop (adding products one at a time will hopefully ensure quality – but is quite time consuming).
- Blog Layout – in addition to the standard shop layout you can have your shop set up in a blog layout for something a little different.
- RSS ready – each shop has it’s own RSS feed
- Personal recommendations – when adding products you’re given the opportunity to label it as a ‘featured product’, ‘favorite product’, ‘I have it’ or ‘Add it to my wishlist’. You can also add your own descriptions, tag the product and even review it.
- metrics ready – add your own stats tool like Google analytics, site meter etc
- ZlioZone – a widget that will allow you to feature items in your store on your sidebar
- Community – there’s also a ‘community’ element of Zlio that I’m yet to really explore. It seems to have an element of social networking around it.
- Comments – those visiting your shop can leave their own reviews on products.
- Price Comparison – if the item that you’re featuring is available from multiple merchants readers are given a tool to compare the price of it.
- hostable on your own domain – integrate your ZLio shop even more into your blog by putting it on your domain
Zlio will be a great option for many bloggers wanting to add a shop to their blogs. I’d recommend playing around with it a little to see if it fits with you first – and if you go with it to add it to your own domain name to make it more integrated with your blog.
I’d also highly recommend linking into individual pages within your shop from your blog when you write on the products in the shop as this will help increase sales as well as get it more highly ranked in search engines. For example link to categories like blogging books or even to individual products like Advertising Secrets of the Written Word.
Similarly – personalizing your pages as much as possible with your own reviews, tags and descriptions will help a lot.
Give it a go and tell us how it works for you in comments below.