FAQ 101

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   Who is IndieCommerce for?

IndieCommerce is for any independently-owned ABA-member bookstore that wants to have a presence on the Internet, and to become part of the IndieCommerce national network of indies online.

   Does ABA membership automatically make me an IndieCommerce store?


No. Only independently-owned ABA member stores are eligible for participation in IndieCommerce—but there is no obligation for members to use IndieCommerce. You must sign-up for it separately, and a monthly fee applies.
Can I use my own domain name?

Yes. The store is responsible for purchasing its own domain name. The recommended URL is yourbookstore.com, or as close to that as possible. There is a fee associated with this process. Domains can be purchased from any number of online retailers, such as GoDaddy or Register.com.

When purchasing your domain name, do not use a private registration service, such as Domains by Proxy. These services are not compatible with IndieCommerce's secure checkout measures.


   Does IndieCommerce help with my website design and layout?

At present, there are more than 50 Drupal design templates (known as “themes”) to choose from. The templates are the starting point for the creation of your site. These themes are fully customizable in color, layout, and other options, and the ABA Technology staff can help with design questions.


   If I use a template, how will I know my site won't look a lot like another store's?

Your site will have its own unique look, because you will choose its layout and colors, feature the store’s unique logo, create the content such as staff recommendations and events, and decide which titles to feature.

You may opt to install any alternate theme to change the look and feel of your store’s site, as long as it is compatible with Drupal 6, such as those found at Drupal.org or Theme Garden. The vast majority of these are available at no cost.  It is also possilbe to create an entirely custom theme, or tweak the style sheets of existing themes.

   What about e-books?

Kobo is ABA’s eReading partner, and provides both eBooks and eReaders to indie bookstore members of the Association. Stores do not need to be part of IndieCommerce to participate in the Kobo program. Please see this page for details.

    I'd like to sell some of my sidelines on the site, is that possible? If so, how?

Yes, you can create products individually, and add attributes to product in case you have different options for the same product (e.g., a T-shirt that comes in multiple colors & sizes).

   What does participation in IndieCommerce cost?


The monthly cost is $175, and that includes hosting, the title database (including Kobo eBooks and print books offered by Ingram), the search engine, the shopping cart, Ingram fulfillment on qualifying orders, search-engine optimized URLs, Google book preview, tech support, and many other unique features.

   How will my payments to IndieCommerce work?


The $175 per month is charged to each bookstore's bank account, via ACH wire transfer.

For stores operating on our Authorize.net account, twice monthly, we will deposit earnings into your account via ACH transfer.  There will be a 4.5% administration fee for all non-eBook purchases in addition to standard credit card processing fees charged by our processor. 

Signing an ACH agreement is required as part of participating in IndieCommerce.

   Has my site been optimized for mobile devices?

Yes, if you access any IndieCommerce site on your smartphone, you will see a stripped down version of the site that focuses on purchasing items.  The mobile version of our sites is easy to read, and can be customized using blocks.

   How does Ingram fulfillment work?

Certain orders are eligible to be sent to Ingram where they will pack & ship the book directly to your customer for a small fee.  For a full list of conditions of why a book will, or will not go to Ingram directly, please click here.

   Do I have control over the prices on my site?

Yes, you have a variety options!
1. Upload the prices in your POS system using a simple file (this will also show your customer what you have in stock at the store!).
2. Use our store pricing tools to change prices based on your wholesale discount code (ex. I want all books I recieve at a 40% to be marked up/down by X%), or individually by ISBN.
3. You can also create coupon codes should you choose to create a special promotion.

Keep in mind that eBook prices are set by Kobo, and cannot be adjusted.

   Can customers use gift cards on my site?

There are currently three gift card options integrated with IndieCommerce:
1. If you are using the Givex gift card program, we can integrate the gift cards to deduct funds automatically when used on your site. To find out more about the Givex gift card program please visit Givex.com. To sign up for the program, please complete the Givex Participation Agreement.  For design files for Givex or other gift cards please visit the Designs & Downloads section.  For general questions about ABA member participation in the Givex gift card program please email ABA.
2. Alternatively, we can activate "Store Gift Certificate" module this will allow you to create a custom product to sell gift certificates on your site.  If you would like, we can also enable this as a method of payment.  Please keep in mind when using non-Givex gift certificates, we have no way of tracking the balance on the card.  Your store has to have a way to internally confirm the amount of funds on the card. Some stores will have some internal form of record keeping, like a spreadsheet, or even a notebook to reference.
3. IndieCommerce also provides the "Online Only Gift Code" option.  These codes that are emailed to your customer can be used on anything, with the exception of eBooks.  They will automatically deduct when used, and you have a built-in interface to track different codes.

   Is IndieCommerce a good fit for a predominately used bookstores?

Unfortunately, at this time, IndieCommerce does not offer advanced support for for used books.  While used copies can be added individually to the database, it can be quite a time consuming process.  We hope to add new features that will streamline the procedure for adding used titles to the database, however we do not yet have an eta on when it will be implemented.

    Is checkout on my site safe?

Our team takes site security very seriously!  All transactions & personal data are encrypted using an SSL certificate (Secure Sockets Layer), and our sites meet PCI compliance standards.  We also safely store credit card information so you customer can conveniently come back for repeat purchases without re-entering their credit card information.  Additionally, if you would like to offer PayPal as an alternative payment option, it can easily be integrated with your site.

   How can I connect with my customers online?

It is important to remember, while we create all the nuts & bolts to your site, it is ultimately up to your store to keep the site fresh.  List your upcoming events, and ask your staff to add personal reviews of some of their favorite books, all you need is an ISBN to pull up a book listing.
We also have some features will automatically update on your site like the Indie Next List, or you can easily embed Social Networking feeds so all of your activity on Twitter or Facebook can be visible directly on your site.

   What can I do if I need help?

You and your staff will be responsible for answering questions from online shoppers regarding purchasing from and using the website. ABA has dedicated customer service to help with technical needs, as well as to help you answer any questions your customers might ask. This customer service center is staffed from 8 AM to 6 PM Eastern time Monday through Friday. Questions may always be emailed to ABA at staff@bookweb.org.

   What is the expected the gross profit on each sale?

For sales of most print books, expect to see a 30%-40% profit.  The percentage of profit varies depending upon whether the book is fulfilled by the wholesaler or your store, as well as whether your store has its own account with Authorize.net (the payment gateway that processes online credit card purchases) or uses ABA's.  A typical Ingram-fulfilled order might earn a 30% profit, while a store-fulfilled order for a title which is in stock might earn closer to 40% or even 50%.

   How will customer service work?

You and your staff will be responsible for answering questions from online shoppers regarding purchasing from and using the website. ABA has dedicated customer service to help with technical needs, as well as to help you answer any questions your customers might ask. This customer service center is staffed from 8 AM to 6 PM Eastern time Monday through Friday. Questions may always be emailed to ABA at staff@bookweb.org.

   I'm planning to hire a developer, is there anything to know beforehand?

We have another FAQ page specifically targeted at developers.  This page has important information about the features, and limitations of our system in technical terms.  It is important to share this information before entering into a contract with another party.

    What is the IndieCommerce privacy policy?

It is a requirement that the following text appear on each IndieCommerce site:

Privacy Statement
We are a member of the IndieCommerce family of websites. The IndieCommerce family of sites is deeply committed to protecting your privacy and your First Amendment rights, and this commitment extends to the personal information you provide when you use one of our sites.
The personal information you submit to any IndieCommerce site will not be shared, sold, or disclosed to third parties in any form, for any purposes, at any time unless we first have your consent. This information includes, but is not limited to, your email address. All of our mailings conform to an opt-in policy, which means you have to elect to receive information from us. You will never receive unsolicited e-mail from any IndieCommerce site.


   Who should I contact if I have further questions?

Contact your ABA Member Relationship Manager with any questions about IndieCommerce, ABA or this site. Member Relationship Managers serve specific regions, so find yours in the list below:

Catherine Cusick serves bookstores in the following regions:

    New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association
    New England Independent Booksellers Association
    Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association
    Midwest Booksellers Association

Catherine can be reached at catherine@bookweb.org, or at 800-637-0037, ext. 7566.

Nathan Halter serves bookstores in the following regions:

    Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association
    Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association
    Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance
    Northern California Independent Booksellers Association
    Southern California Independent Booksellers Association

Nathan can be reached at nathan@bookweb.org, or at 800-637-0037, ext. 7514.

For IndieCommerce Technical Support please contact staff@bookweb.org, or one of our customer service representatives directly.

Scott Nafz can be reached at scott@bookweb.org, or at 800-637-0037, ext. 7554.

Valerie Federici can be reached at valerie@bookweb.org, or at 800-637-0037, ext. 7543.


   I’m ready; how do I sign up for IndieCommerce?

 If you're an independently-owned ABA Member, you can sign up right now! Get started by completing the forms below.

IndieCommerce Letter of Agreement & ACH Authorization for Direct Payments

When complete, please email, fax, or mail signed agreements to the attention of:

By mail:
ABA / IndieCommerce
333 Westchester Ave., Suite S202
White Plains, NY 10604
Attn: Scott Nafz

By email (scanned):

By fax:
(914) 417.4013 attn: Scott Nafz

A team member will contact you with your new site 4-6 weeks after your contract has been submitted.

   I just submitted my contract, and I'm waiting for my site. What should I do now?

Typically, your site will be ready in 4-6 weeks, in the meantime, you can prepare. 
First, you may want to take a look at some of our other IndieCommerce sites, and make a list of features you like.  That will give you an idea of the capabilities of our system, and help plan your site at the same time.  A "Family Tree" of the pages you would like to build can also be helpful, you can also outline sub-pages if that is how you would like to structure your menu.
Also, if you would like to write some of your copy (ex. store history, staff book reviews etc.) in advance, be sure to write the content in a plain text editor such as Notepad (this will make sure the text formats correctly when you receive your site). Please click on the New User guide link for more suggestions.


IndieCommerce Help Documents


About ABA

The American Booksellers Association, a national not-for-profit trade organization, works with booksellers and industry partners to ensure the success and profitability of independently owned book retailers, and to assist in expanding the community of the book.

Independent bookstores act as community anchors; they serve a unique role in promoting the open exchange of ideas, enriching the cultural life of communities, and creating economically vibrant neighborhoods.


PRESS CONTACTS: Dan Cullen (dan@bookweb.org) and Allison Hill (allisonhill@bookweb.org)


INDIECOMMERCE: staff@bookweb.org




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