autostyle

22Jan

Calling all Graphic Designers

t-shirt-promo

I started a little crowdsourcing project at Autostyle.co.za –

The contest is simple. Design a T-Shirt for us, winning design gets a R2000 Autostyle shopping voucher.

Visit the Autostyle Blog to find out more on about this. Rules, closing time and our logo are all listed there

Why crowdsource?
For starters it’ll bring some new perspective and fresh designs. Normally we would choose from a handful of designs for t-shirts. Getting the public in on it brings tons of new designs and concepts.

It creates a buzz around the Autostyle brand too. Bloggers have written about it, twitter uses have retweeted my messages, forum users discuss and exchange ideas.

20Dec

Autostyle & Channel-O’s Mzanzi Rides Promotion

Check out the exclusive season 3 premiere of Mzanzi Rides. Channel-O’s exclusive TV series showcasing the latest pop, hiphop & car styling culture in Southern Africa. We have been supporting them since the early days in season 1 with various promotions & viral campaigns.

Season 3 looks to be even bigger. The promo clip below hits the airwaves after christmas day.

Uploaded it using South Africa’s leading video sharing platform, Zoopy.com

15Dec

Fake Autostyle Busted

This is why you should look after your customers, be honest & offer exceptional pricing, value & service. This photo was sent via MMS to a colleague at work. A little South African dorpie is home to this bloke who copied our name and used it for his store.

A polite phonecall, explanation – yes we were very civil about the whole thing. They will change their signage in the new year. And yes, we have customers in this dorpie too.

fakeautostyle

10Nov

Winner 2008 Best Automotive Award

We have made it 3 years in a row. Winner of the Jump Shopping E-Commerce Awards.

2008 proved to be quite a challenge, most of our changes & upgrades to the Autostyle online store consisted of productivity, order processing, and behind the scenes stuff. To the visitor, it would seem that nothing has changed cosmetically.

Our highlight this year include
– breaking the 130 000 visitor & 1.8 million page impression figure

– moving over to Mygate, a faster, more secure and more cost effective payment processing gateway. We now also run a tight integration to process First National Bank ‘cell point’ transactions

– 2 weeks ago we launched our ‘autostyle discussion forum’, a place for us to engage our customers, as well as a little motoring enthusiast community.

Future plans are already underway for a design update, a few shopping cart upgrades and more. Lets hope 2009 see’s us take the award again!

8Oct

Voting has begun

Voting is now open in the 2008 Jump Shopping E Commerce Awards

2008 marks the 3rd year of this prestigious awards showcasing the best in the South African E Commerce industry.

Autostyle Motorsport has been fortunate to be voted winners of the 2006 & 2007 awards. We need your votes to win the 2008 award and make it three years in a row!

Since being at the helm of Autostyle Online in 2001, I have successfully grown and pushed Autostyle’s online presence & off-line presence higher and higher. From a crude .gif animated website receiving 100 visitors a day to a powerhouse php database driven ecommerce store receiving over 130 000 visitors & 1.85 million page impressions a month.

As it stands today, we are the 50th busiest website in South Africa (according to Websites Association of South Africa )

I would also like to ask your vote & support for iGroup, the development company we use for our web hosting, programming & behind the scenes work at Autostyle Online. I can safely vouch for iGroup’s honesty & dedication in any project they take on. I have personally known their founder & MD, Marc Seymor for nearly 9 years. Year after year, they have grown & we have grown. Proof that hard work, dedication, honesty & strong business acumen is a true recipe for any business & startup.

Vote for Autostyle Motorsport for Best Automotive Website 2008 and
vote for iGroup for Best Ecommerce Enabler 2008

5Sep

Will we make it a hat-trick?

It’s that time of year again, the annual Jump Shopping Ecommerce Awards. Started in 2006, I am proud to say that Autostyle.co.za won the 2006 & 2007 awards for Best Automotive website.

2006 we won purely being the only real online retailer for car accessories and I’d like to think that the revamp on the look & feel was cause for the 2007 award.

Nominations are now open and close at the end of September, after that the voting begins and during the end of October the winners will be announced.
Click here to Nominate: http://www.jump.co.za/awards/2008/

2008 is a whole new level. The last 12 months saw very little change to the overall look at feel of the Autostyle.co.za website. The bulk of my time was spent in streamlining our backend area, product updates, staff permissions, etc etc. In fact the only noticeable change on our website was our Blog & Photogallery – both of which are add-ons to the actual website. Additionally several new projects are planned to compliment our online store.

All of these are leading to an eventual design overhaul. Yes I am full aware of our crammed design – hopefully toward the end of 2008 a newer, wider & more user interactive design will be up.

7Aug

Google Page Ranks

A few weeks ago Google updated their pagerank algorithms.
See here to learn about Page Rank
& here for the notice by Matt Cutts

Now now, we all know we should not put alot of stock in Google Page Rank, Alexa and similar tools. Nontheless it always boosts my confidence when visiting sites which have a higher page rank. “Hey these guys are ok, they got a PR of 4” similarly, I receive a fair share of cold calls from startup directories and magazines offering adspace (more on that another time)

So page rank update – this blog, naeem.co.za used to sport a PR3 – which surpised me as I hardly ever update or post to the site – it dropped to 1

MyUmmah.co.za on the other hand was stuck on PR1 for over 6 months has boosted to PR3.

Alas Autostyle.co.za stays still at PR4

3Aug

Autostyle Growth

Autostyle.co.za – my full time job. Since being at the helm of our online presence in 2000, Autostyle Online has grown tremendously. Technology as well as traffic has seen a consistent growth.

July proved to by our most successful month ever.

According to Google Analytics:
129 782 total visitors & 1 793 466 page impressions

According to AWstats raw files:
Page impressions has peaked over 2.2million.

Needless to say, online shopping in South Africa continues to grow despite the negative sentiments shared by the rest of South Africa’s economists.

According to WASA.co.za, June saw us ranked 53 in South Africa – I have several strategies planned to hopefully take us to the top 40 as well as break the illusive 2 million page impression figure (according to analytics)

28Jul

Online shopping & the SA Retail slump?

Just about every retailer I have spoken to in recent months has complained about slow business, lower turnovers, rising costs & an overall negative approach.

Granted our rand/dollar battles, petrol price hikes, the eskom debacle & the national credit act passed last year have all combined to make 2008 a rather difficult year for retailers.

But has it really?

Our brick’n Mortar stores have felt the brunt of this decline and yes, business is not booming how we would want it to. As with all businesses and life itself, you have your ups and downs.
“One day you eat chicken & one day you eat feathers” as my brother regularly says….We will ride this out.

However, Online shopping has shown tremendous growth. Our online store, autostyle.co.za has consistently gotten bigger & busier, both in visitor statistics and conversions. It baffled me for a while as to why my online store continues to grow yet our brick’n mortar stores are going through a bit of stagnant period.

Two reasons spring to my mind:

1) Petrol prices have really taken its toll, in our niche market it is common to meet customers who have trekked all the way from Witbank, Nigel, Bethlehem, etc to our JHB Store. Perhaps they now realize it really is cheaper to rather pay the courier cost and have items delivered to your doorstep instead?

2) During the economic boom, every Tom, Dick & Harry opened up a store selling products like ours. Many survived purely on a month to month and now with the dip in our economy – they are folding. Just last week we were offered to buy stock out from a closing down store. Hence many who used to buy from these stores now have no other option but to buy the item through us & if they are not nearby to us – buy it online and have it delivered!

Now more then ever is a good time for online shopping. Like any venture, a good business acumen & correct methods are a must for a success. Even in these troubled times, South Africa really is a positive place to do business.

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