The web based sales site for alpacas AlpacaSeller has become a fixture of the British alpaca scene, Chris Moor explains why he set it up.
AlpacaSeller was launched in April 2003, now just over ten years ago. It was in 2002 when I was first looking for alpacas to purchase that I realised that there was no centralised database to look for sale alpacas and alpaca stud services in the UK and Europe. Many individual breeder web sites at that time either had no specific sales lists, or their sales list was hopelessly out of date. I wanted to create a web site which was easy for users to manage their alpaca sales lists without needing to understand anything about web development. All users needed to worry about was entering data into simple to use forms. An account can be set up in minutes and users can logon from anywhere in the world to manage their data and give a strong internet presence for their alpaca business. Adding information is easy and fast, just a matter of completing online forms and uploading photos. All additions, amendments, deletions and photo submissions are immediate. AlpacaSeller shows the number of times each animal has been viewed by searches on the site, thus giving some feedback as to the exposure the animal is getting.
To search on AlpacaSeller is free for everyone. Users are able to search for alpacas under a very wide range of criteria, including type, age, colour, price, fibre statistics, blood lineage and sires. These very powerful search tools include animals for sale and stud services. These searches can be registered and new matches are automatically emailed to the users. Breeders can view the registered searches and enquiries left by site visitors which can provide potential sales leads. Users can also search for breeders under a number of different criteria, with location being the most obvious one.
One of the early improvements of the site was the addition of the package functionality, which enhances the marketing strategy for the breeder. Any alpaca listed for sale can also be included in a package. To give greater flexibility an alpaca can be listed in multiple packages. The discount the buyer gets from purchasing the package is automatically calculated and displayed.
In 2005 AlpacaSeller moved on with further developments and created links which allowed the users to insert their sales lists and stud service lists into their own web site. These links could also, if required, be tailored to match the exact look and style of the users own web site, and thus blend in as part of their own site. This addition to AlpacaSeller allowed users to use AlpacaSeller as a content management system for their own web site with one set of data being used in both the AlpacaSeller web site and their own web site. Web sites which are fully built by AlpacaSeller have enhanced this content management system further by integrating photo galleries and other data which are managed in the AlpacaSeller account thus providing quite a sophisticated content management system. At this same time, AlpacaSeller forged partnerships with the developers of popular alpaca herd management software packages. This allowed data from herd management software to be uploaded to the user?s AlpacaSeller account, thus eliminating the tedious task of re-entering all the data.
In 2006 the first European language was added to AlpacaSeller. This was German and AlpacaSeller Germany, Austria and Switzerland were created. German use of AlpacaSeller now boasts over 140 registered breeders. The sites can run in both English and German. Shortly after this French and Dutch were added and AlpacaSeller Netherlands, Belgium and France were created. A little later Spanish was added and AlpacaSeller Spain was launched. Users of the site then complained that sometimes they would like to search more than one country in Europe at the same time, particularly those who live near the border of another country. AlpacaSeller EU was then developed. This was simply a search portal which searches all the European countries at the same time providing results across all of Europe in one go. AlpacaSeller Norway and Sweden are currently under development and AlpacaSeller will be available in Norwegian and Swedish. This should hopefully be available later in this year. AlpacaSeller will then be available in seven European languages.
The latest developments in AlpacaSeller were released this year in 2013. An app was created for both the iPhone and also Android phones, as these are two most popular smart phone platforms. The apps allow a simple search of the AlpacaSeller database for sales animals. The results can be sorted by price and location. When the individual animals are displayed the user can contact the breeder by email or just phone directly using the smart phone. The large photos of the alpacas can be expanded and moved by using the pinching gestures on the smart phone screen. The app supports all the AlpacaSeller European languages. The app detects the language the phone is running in and uses that language automatically if it is supported. As more and more traffic accessing web site databases is now going through smart phones, these apps provide useful tools for AlpacaSeller customers to get more exposure and also keep AlpacaSeller up-to-date with the constantly evolving technology. It is possible in the future that a Windows phone app will also be developed, depending on how popular these phones become.