Marketing: who needs a sales force? Low-cost, digital marketing strategies draw potential customers to e-commerce software startup's website.

Position::Ecomdash
 
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The world's largest online retailers use robust, customized software to handle everything from promoting products to taking orders to shipping packages, creating a seamless e-commerce environment. For small and mid-size online stores, however, affordable software solutions that can be integrated with other programs or customized to that company's needs are hard to find.

That's what the co-founders of Charlotte-based ecomdash concluded when they were trying to find a market for an inventory-management application the two of them had developed. Software developers Kevin Loomis and Darrin Kidde had asked friend Laura Greeno, whose background is in e-commerce sales and marketing, to join them and help determine a business niche for their technology.

The three visited online user forums frequented by small to medium-sized companies that sold their products on platforms such as Etsy, eBay and Amazon. From monitoring these online discussions, the team learned that while sellers could choose from a variety of software programs to help them manage their businesses, there wasn't one tool that did it all--listing, taking and fulfilling orders, sending purchase orders and managing inventory--at an affordable price. This was, Greeno recalls, the sweet spot where a market need met a technology capability. "We built the tool around their exact needs," Greeno says today, 18 months after the company's 2014 launch. "I think that's why were successful."

Today, ecomdash--"dash" refers both to speed and the dashboard on a car or computer--has 12 employees including Greeno, who is director of marketing. It prices its e-commerce software suite--"an all-in-one tool to help users compete against big companies," as Greeno puts it--based on customers' monthly sales volume. Its typical customer sells slightly more than 500 products a month and pays $80 a month. Customers with between 100 and 500 sales a month pay $50 monthly to use the service. Recently, the company added an entry-level membership tier at $25 per month to meet the needs of "micro-sellers" with fewer than 100 product sales per month.

While Greeno declined to share revenue figures, she says the company is exceeding its targets. Sales doubled quarter over quarter in 2014, and the company projects 2015 sales will increase 700% over 2014 sales.

With Greeno's background in sales and marketing, ecomdash has had an advantage other start-ups might lack. But that doesn't mean she's applying the rules...

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