One day we were approached by the wife of an African merchant, who had been selling his imported goods throughout the U.S. for over 35 years. She wanted to present him with a gift that she believed would help him expand his presence to an international market while reducing his burden of travel to the various markets and shows that were his primary source of income.
She believed that an informational website, accompanied by an online store would be an investment in their future. Due to the expense of such an ambitious endeavor, we agreed to build the site in stages, starting with the informational site.
The Sahos have an impressive inventory of collectible items from The Gambia as well as other countries on the African continent. We started by photographing a select group of these products and uploaded them to the informational website. Prospective clients could make inquiries through an online form or makes purchases by phone. This was Phase One of the project.
During Phase Two, we built an ecommerce website that shared a similar structure and identical color scheme to the information site using the X-Cart platform. Thousands of photos and detailed descriptions later, a robust online store emerged.
We then began to use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tactics to propel the site within the search engines. It wasn’t long before Manding Imports was ranking on Page 1 in many competitive keyword phrases.
Before long, the store was receiving orders nationally, and several European countries. Over time, the store, which was maintained by the owners, had amassed tens of thousands of products.
We helped the Sahos develop both print and online promotions to market their store. We designed their business cards, postcards and flyers. We created email marketing campaigns to meet the demands of their ever-increasing client database.
We added a live chat module to their store to encourage direct engagement with their site visitors. The mascot was the large african mask featured on their homepage header, who we affectionately referred to as “Bakuba”.
During Phase Three, we cultivated a network of “mini sites” that featured highly specialized and targeted sub-niches of their inventory. These sites operated separately under their own domain names, and the featured products linked to the primary shopping cart. This approach was very effective, as most of the sites achieved high ranking in Google independently of the primary site.
Many of the techniques and strategies we implemented during our time on this project have proven themselves to be wildly successful over the years and extremely flexible. It was a genuine pleasure working on this project.