Google announced today that as of November 20th, Google Checkout will be closing its doors forever. Thankfully Google is giving merchants who rely on this service six months to find a replacement.

The promotion of Google Wallet comes as little surprise. I have watched over the past 12 months as Google has gravitated towards mobile as a whole. Last week they announced Fast and Easy Checkout App for Android, completely revamped AdMob (a mobile ad distribution platform) and if you where to check out Google Think you would see that a majority of the content focuses on mobile.

I must admit however that shutting down Checkout is a bit of a surprise given that while it was not the most sophisticated product out there, it certainly was incredibly elegant, easy to use, and for some a better choice than Paypal. I serve on the board of a non-profit that uses it to collect dues and in the very early days of Flint Digital we used it to collect payments.

Why Shutting Down Checkout in Favor of Wallet is Good

This is clearly a move to put more effort into mobile and better position themselves in the mobile eCommerce economy. Naturally we think this is pretty cool. For an eCommerce merchant allowing users to checkout via your Android device without having to enter data into a form is great thing (Paypal offers similar functionality on both iPhone and Android incidentally.) If you already have a payment solution such as Authorize.net then transitioning to Wallet should be pretty straightforward.

Given that you can now use Google Wallet and other mobile payment platforms at the supermarket they should be used on websites (especially mobile.)

Why Shutting Down Checkout in Favor of Wallet is Bad

For anyone exclusively using Google Checkout as there payment provider, you are out of luck. Google has announced partnerships with Braintree, Shopify and Freshbooks to provide account setup. If none of these would work for you then you have to find another solution. These all have a monthly cost that you have to carry versus Checkout, which only cost when a sale was made. Google Checkout also made it really easy to sell online from a basic website. While paypal offers this as well, I always felt the Google option was cooler. This additional layer of complexity will certainly force some into the arms of Paypal.

I guess part of it is that I just hate to see tools that I admire crawl under the porch to die unceremoniously. While I only know of a handful of people that use it exclusively I was always pleased to see it in use due to it’s simplicity and ease of use.


gore Cole Sport's Online Store

Brand pages are sections of retailer web sites that are branded or co-branded with a manufacturer and their products. Both manufacturers and consumers are exited to see these pages because sales can happen in these content areas dedicated to a specific brand or product, unlike a page from manufacturers where a sale cannot occur. To see an examples in action, check out Store.ColeSport.Com and these 10 brand pages:

Brand Pages have been such a success that Flint Digital has created a new product to allows us to quickly develop and execute these brand pages on a variety of platforms, particularly if your outdoor retailer e-commerce site is powered by WordPress or Magento.

Brand Pages allow the consumer to feel like they might be in a site operated by the manufacturer, or clearly in partnership with the manufacturer. Brand Pages can be integrated info full e-commerce platforms or can be standalone pages strictly for information purposes such as this GoreTex store.

After these pages were launched, ColeSport.com was heralded by these manufacturers as the standard for Brand Pages that other retailers should strive to meet. Though we have focused the launch of these pages in the outdoor space, the product is scalable to other industries. The largest factor that determines ease of install is the platform your existing web site, and what it’s powered by. Brand pages can be installed by Flint Digital, or we can provide the product to your developer with support assistance on an hourly basis.

If you have any questions related to our brand pages, contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss them and see if they might be a good application for your store. In the short term, we plan to roll brand pages to several of our clients, including brand pages in the FlyFishing industry, including for our client Tailwaters Fly Fishing.


RE-screenshot-PaulBenson

Flint Digital is proud to announce the 2.0 round of our comprehensive Real Estate Engine digital marketing tool for realtors.

The Flint Digital Real Estate Engine 2.0  is a comprehensive tool for pulling Real Estate MLS Data from one or several MLS database sources, and displaying it to real estate consumers in a fashion that drives excellent usability and strong sales conversion.  Realtors using the Flint Digital Real Estate Engine 2.0 have strong return traffic and in some cases, hundreds of consumers using their search tool for the MLS because it is so powerful and provides an excellent user experience.

Already in it’s second iteration, it is powering web sites for several of the Park City Utah’s top realtors.   We are currently pricing the Real Estate Engine as a pay-for-use product that can be rolled to other sites including sites from other internet services providers.

Key feature sets:

  • The back End.  Flint Digital’s data-pull and storage system included and industry-leading structure that is  comprehensive, fast and efficient.
  • Excellent Usability – the front end design and display and search features.
  • Professional installation is available at an added fee.
  • Can be rolled to almost any web site.
  • You do not have to be a Flint Digital customer to use our Flint Digital Real Estate Engine 2.0.
  • The engine is tuneable and flexible to be used from almost any MLS source including several at the same time, for example the Salt Lake City and Park City MLS database sets simultaneously.

To see examples:

Please feel free to contact us with any questions, including for pricing and any questions related to our logistics roll out.


hell bent steel mobile site

We’ll spare you our mobile spiel and just say this: smartphone sales have overtaken PC sales. Meaning it’s likely that a good percentage of your traffic is accessing your site via phone. If your site isn’t optimized for mobile, there’s a good chance you’re losing sales. Furthermore, the assumption that people don’t shop on their phones, it turns out, is a myth.

Hell Bent Steel recognized the opportunity having a well-optimized mobile site presented, as their current analytics show that over 40% of their traffic was mobile traffic. Additionally, since launching the mobile site in April we’ve already seen a consistent increase in mobile conversions.

Check out Hell Bent Steel for all your Dodge, Ford, & Toyota suspension needs, and if you get a minute give the site a spin on your favorite mobile device.


Meet Andre

Andre Shoumatoff

We are proud to introduce the newest member to join the Flint Digital team, Andre Shoumatoff. Andre is originally from New York. He moved to town after attending University of Vermont and brings with him several years of experience developing marketing initiatives for top household and healthcare brands. As our resident gearhead, Andre can be found after-hours in his garage wrenching on one of his many projects including classic Land Cruisers, mountain bikes, and motorcycles.

Read More


Calling all students… make Mom & Dad proud this summer and show them their hard-earned tuition dollars are going to good use with an internship with Flint Digital. As a Web Design & Production Intern, you’ll be working alongside our front-end design and development teams to build engaging online experiences. Our office is located at 7,000 ft. in the mountains of sunny Park City, UT where you’ll find a plethora of outdoor activities and entertainment options. For more details and application instructions, please visit the Web Design & Production Intern listing page.


There is a mobile storm brewing in the digital universe that will change the e-commerce paradigm. The latest numbers on mobile device adoption rates are staggering; on Christmas day alone, Flurry reported 17.6 million mobile devices were activated. There is no longer a question of the impact of mobile but how to it is to be addressed. Historically mobile has been viewed as an afterthought by most online businesses, regarded as more of a novelty than a legitimate channel for transactions. There is still opportunity out there however and we see three strong indicators that the party is not over yet, in fact it is just beginning.

Mobile Adoption Growth Rate Soars

In June Google reported 234 million U.S. residents are using mobile devices. Of those users nearly half are using their devices to access the internet. In addition to the growth of mobile users, the devices are becoming an intrinsic part of our daily lives giving 24/7 access to social media, news, weather, entertainment, messaging, banking, GPS information and at the bottom of the list is using your phone to make calls.

E-commerce Continues To Expand

While the days explosive growth of e-commerce are likely behind us, we are still seeing impressive growth in this sector. Consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable purchasing online. According to Forrester Research, Online Retail Sales in the US are expected to top $220 Billion dollars in 2012, a 10% increase over 2011’s $202 Billion and they will reach $327 billion in 2016. This equates to 45% growth over 5 years. Bang.

The Emergence of Mobile E-Commerce

In spite of the diminutive proportions of mobile devices, they are becoming a part of our daily lives and an increasing percentage of our online activities…including online purchases. Americans are becoming increasingly comfortable with buying products that foregoes the tactile aspect of shopping. Forrester Research forecast a 300% increase in mobile online purchases; up from $10 billion in 2012 to $30B by 2016.

Personally, I feel $30 billion is an extremely conservative projection. If we do some fast math we can see that the potential is much greater:

  1. Currently 20% of all e-commerce traffic is on mobile devices. Within our portfolio we are seeing mobile usage as high as 35% for some clients. This traffic currently generates approximately %7 of total e-commerce revenue.
  2. The forecast for 2016 projects mobile sales at 9% of total online sales or an increase of 29%. Assuming conversion rates remain the same this would mean that mobile traffic would move to 26% of total traffic.
  3. With the current growth rate of the mobile user base we are going to see mobile traffic increase to much more than 26% in four years. Bill Ready a guest blogger on forbes.com suggested that over the next 18–36 months, mobile will comprise more than 50 percent of all e-commerce traffic.

Assuming conversion rates are similar for mobile over the next four years, if mobile traffic was 40% of total e-commerce traffic, would place mobile transactions at closer to $60 billion per year.

Conclusion

There is significant opportunity in mobile. Internet retailers who start now develop a “mobile centric” strategy that addresses users and adapt as the supporting technologies evolve will see the impact in their bottom line. At a minimum launching “mobile centric” strategy will require the following components:

Place Analytics First

A data driven approach is paramount and will require deep analytics into the user behaviour. Gathering as much data as possible on both mobile and non mobile users and building reports that allow you to interpret user behavior is the first step to success. This follows the basic precept that you cannot act upon that which is not understood. While their are dozens of options out there, Google Analytics is free and provides a tool set that is sufficient for many.

Optimize Your User Experience

Mobile traffic requires a presentation that is optimized for the device. Using front-end CSS and HTML frameworks that have mobile components and tuning your application to maximize performance and keep bandwidth low are the two primary concerns.

Once this has been accomplished it will become easier to re-structure your content for the mobile user. Traditional models for for presenting content are not always appropriate for mobile devices. Remember that most mobile users navigate their phone with their thumb. Everything from how you merchandise your products to where your phone number is placed will need to be considered.

Experiment Using Test Driven Approach

Perhaps the most important aspect to your strategy will be incorporating a test driven approach into your strategy. Create a strategy that tests everything from the presentation of your content to mobile specific marketing channels to incorporating mobile into your remarketing strategy.

While the scope of this article is too narrow to explore the specifics of e-commerce, the takeaway should be that now is the time to start planning for one. Recognition of change often comes after is has happened… as Wendell Phillips said “Revolutions are not made, they come”.

Additional Reading

I recommend reading the following articles to help understand the impact that mobile will have.


Email Marketing in 2013

Another year begins and we look forward to 2013 with high hopes for new marketing ambitions, new technology, new goals to accomplish all on a clean slate. Towards the end of 2012, we start to see predictions for 2013 trends and how consumer behavior will shape the strategies of online businesses. One of the predictions that isn’t really a prediction so much as a trend that is already in the works, is mobile strategy and responsive design. You might be thinking, I thought this post was about email marketing, not mobile strategy? Well just hold your horses.

I recently read some good stats on mobile usage from a study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project (November 2012):

  • 56 percent of all U.S. mobile phone owners access the Internet.
  • 85 percent of all U.S. adults now own a mobile phone.
  • More than 50 percent of mobile users read email on their phones.
  • 88 percent check email on their phones every day.
  • See what I did there? Eighty-eight percent of mobile users check their EMAIL on their phone every day. So to those of you who feel like email marketing is dying out or already a dead medium, I say maybe it’s just that we’re doing it wrong, or at least not optimally. So, for 2013 I have some suggestions.

    Email for Mobile

    In general, I feel like a lot of businesses don’t put much strategy behind an email campaign other than, “Let’s give them 20% off this weekend, that oughtta do it.” With mobile being as relevant as it is these days, there’s even more reason to spend more time on email strategy than ever.

    With all these people on their phones every day, you really have to think about how your email campaign is going to perform on a mobile device. How will it look on an iPhone , Android, Blackberry (yes people still have those)? Is it responsive? When users click through are they taken to a mobile-optimized landing page? Is it easy to check out if they make a purchase? Could users be directed to a mobile app to complete the transaction? There’s so much more to think about than promotions.

    Personalization in Email

    Another trend I heard about for 2013 is personalization. To me, this isn’t news, especially in email marketing. I have always thought that your database should contain as much information about your customers as you can possibly muster. I used to work for a luxury hotel at the base of a ski resort. We had guests who came back every year and in their guest folio we would gather as much info as we could. If their birthdays or their kids’ birthdays were during their visit, we made a note. What restaurants did they like best? Where did they get their rentals? What’s their alma mater (good way to break the ice)? It’s a no brainer that by knowing this information, we were able to deliver exemplary customer service and ensure their visit the next year.

    I feel like the same applies in email marketing. If you’ve ever loaded a database into MailChimp, you’ll see that there is no shortage of customizable fields for each entry. You can enter more data into that platform than you would even want to know about a person. I say take advantage of that. Keep track of their order history (duh), their birthdays, if they interact on social channels, where they live, what they drive, their t-shirt size, if they have kids, if they purchase via MOBILE DEVICES, etc. Whatever you can learn about your customers will be beneficial. They become people, not just transaction numbers, and this will help you in your email campaign.

    How to apply this knowledge: SEGMENTING. Again, this is not a new trend. This is a point I can’t help but drive home. I don’t know how many people are subscribed to crappy newsletters that they just delete and then say email marketing doesn’t work. Until you subscribe to a marketer or business that knows you, you haven’t lived. I love ModCloth.com for this. A clothing retailer that knows me and my interests. They have personalization down to an art. They know what I buy, they know what I like and even built me a custom wish list of items they think I would like. And you know what, I’ll probably go buy a few of these things next paycheck.

    Take the knowledge you get about your customers and create email campaigns and promotions that are tailored to that information. For your customers with birthdays this month, send them a message that they are another year older and blah blah blah. Just the fact that the message applies to them and only them shows you’re paying attention. Setting up an email and selecting “Send to entire database” just doesn’t promise a good return or customer retention.

    My New Year’s resolution is to get my clients to apply a well-planned strategy to their email campaigns in 2013. Send your customers a highly relevant email, that speaks directly to them and their interests, that they can view on their iPhone and follow through with a call to action on said iPhone, and you will see much more value from your email campaigns than with the above mentioned “20% off” strategy.


    Moving Forward in 2013

    As a web design agency, we’re big on process. The more efficient we can make our front-end workflow, the more valuable we become to our clients. At Flint, we’re constantly analyzing our systems looking for ways to automate tasks, as well as work to identify common inefficiencies. By adhering to the DRY principle (Don’t Repeat Yourself) we not only work faster, but are able to spend more time on the creative and strategic components of a project. With that said, here are a few ways we’re streamlining our front-end workflow for 2013.

    CSS Libraries

    CSS libraries such as Twitter Bootstrap and Zurb’s Foundation are essential for eliminating repetition. The idea being that you have libraries of preset styles to pull from, allowing for quick deployment of a good-looking dev environment.

    CSS Preprocessors

    Preprocessors such as Sass and LESS are relatively new to the web design scene, however, they’ve experienced huge adoption rates as people begin to recognize their potential. Without going into lengthy detail, preprocessors allow for quick and easy global modifications, as well as automate your CSS through variables, mixins, and nesting.

    Rapid Prototyping

    Rapid prototyping is made possible through CSS libraries and frameworks. Instead of creating static wireframes and/or Photoshop comps, rapid prototyping allows us to quickly map out sites in a live, functioning, web environment. Best of all, it helps keep aesthetics and style separate from layout and functionality. More on that to come.

    Style Tiles

    This one’s huge. For years we’ve been supplying clients with full-blown Photoshop comps. There’s a number of problems with this method, not the least of which is that Photoshop was never intended to be a web design tool. With style tiles, we’re essentially supplying the client with swatches for the website. Think about in terms of building a house. Nobody builds a house complete with carpet, trim, and paint colors only to redo them in favor of another option. That would be a huge waste of energy and resources. Instead, you visualize the outcome through color samples and design references.

    Additionally, style tiles, used in conjunction with rapid prototyping, allow us to separate aesthetics from layout. How many times when presenting initial comps to a client do they get hung up on placeholders or specific text items, when what we need is feedback on color and font choices? Style tiles allow us to work efficiently and on-point by stripping away distraction and reduce the potential for repeating ourselves.

    Resources

    For more reading on these concepts, visit any of the following:


    Ever wanted to live & work somewhere with over 400 miles of singletrack and 350″ of annual snowfall out your back door? Well here’s your chance. We’re hiring a Front-End Developer to join our team in beautiful Park City, Utah (no, we’re not polygamists and yes, you can get a drink). As our Lead Front-End Developer, you’ll be working closely with the design and accounts team to bring interactive experiences to life on the web. Interested applicants can read a more detailed job posting here.

    Top