The E-Commerce Store Battle Begins: Mike from WannaDevelop vs. Rob from Epik

As you all know I like to stay far-away from controversy – I use my blog as an educational tool rather than a propaganda machine. While I don’t cover news often, sometimes there is something going on in the industry that I think is particularly interesting or newsworthy. If you read Domaining.com every day like I do then you’ve probably noticed heavy advertising for SiteDepot.com, a new e-commerce development service by Mike Cohen from WannaDevelop.com.

Mike does a great job of advertising and branding and you always know when he launches something new. However, as happens in business all the time, he started to move-into Epik territory and I can see a battle brewing.

Epik has been the dominant player in this space and seeing SiteDepot.com burst into the limelight Rob has posted his concerns about the monetization potential of Amazon Stores, the foundation of SiteDepot.com’s platform. If you look on Domaining.com today you can see two of Mike’s ads with Rob’s directly below – the battle has begun.

Now as for my use of the word “Battle” please don’t take me too seriously here. This really is just a good example of friendly competition and I doubt either Mike or Rob have any real animosity towards each other. I do have to say though the word “Battle” does make this sound a bit more exciting doesn’t it?

I have a ton of respect for both Mike and Rob and wish them both success with their services. Since I have not had a chance to play-around with SiteDepot or Epik I can’t comment on how effective either solution is. If you’ve used either service feel free to share your opinion and help educate other Domainers that might be looking for an e-commerce development solution.

Comment and let your voice be heard!

{ 35 comments… add one }

  • Mark June 21, 2010, 10:13 am

    Hey Morgan:

    Just wondering why someone would use either as they can easily add on Amazon to their site without paying someone else.

    Reply
  • Troy June 21, 2010, 10:25 am

    Mike made a lot of enemies when he first started blogging (as far as I know I was not one of them) & and think that will bite him in the butt. After all the things he has said and done over the last couple of years I don’t think that I would trust him. He seems like he would be a fun guy to go out and have a beer with but with as much drama that he has created time and time again I don’t think he is the kind of guy that I would trust with my money. Just my 2c.

    One thing that I really appreciate from Mike is that he consistently advertises on Domaining.com. This creates some cash for Francois so he stops fiddling with it consistently.

    On an unrelated not, what ever happened to Bruce Marler. He was everywhere for a while and now I have not heard from him in a long time. You are his friend and would probably know what is happening. Is Missouri.me doing OK?

    Troy

    Reply
  • Kevin M. June 21, 2010, 10:34 am

    As to Troy’s first paragraph – Game, Set, Match!

    @Troy – As for BM, based on his FB postings, I believe he’s taking biking to new levels!!

    Reply
  • Alex June 21, 2010, 10:34 am

    I just wanted to say that I recently jumped in and got a product portal site developed on Epik. It is not producing yet, as the site has been unable to get indexed in Google, but my experience has been great. Rob himself responds to all of my emails literally in 15 minutes or less. That is not an exaggeration. I’ve never dealt with any person or company who has been more responsive. He even offered to do some extra SEO tinkering, free of charge, to figure out the Google indexing issue.

    As far as Amazon goes…I have done aStores and put in widgets on several of my sites. Historically, I have found Amazon to be TERRIBLE in terms of conversion and payout. Much better off sticking with affiliate links from ClickBank or Commission Junction.

    Reply
  • Morgan June 21, 2010, 10:43 am

    Thanks for all the great comments so far everyone – as always I appreciate my readers feeling completely free to share their opinions!

    @Troy – I just spoke with Bruce recently – he is doing VERY well and actually just moved-into new bigger offices and is hiring more staff. He’s also getting-back into exercise in a major way so everything is going very well for Bruce both in business and life!

    Reply
  • Tia Wood June 21, 2010, 10:47 am

    I have spoken with Rob Monster on the phone. Epik is well organized. I haven’t tried their products yet but I was left with the impression that they truly want to be a solid brand and product line.

    It would be nice to see Bruce Marler posting again but glad to hear he is doing well.

    Reply
  • SiteDepot.com June 21, 2010, 10:53 am

    A lot of epik.com powered “stores” are now using a PPC feed from bizrate / shopzilla.

    This is actually a step backwards and for many reasons as far as web development goes…. if you know what I mean.

    SmartName.com offers the same exact “store setup” where they pay you per click, you get a lot of products on your site, from a similar feed, shopping.com I believe.

    Now why would somebody pay $$$ to have a store developed, plus have to split the profits (epik has a rev share 50/50) when they can get the same exact service for free with SmartName.com who claims to give away 100% of revenue, but of course this has not been verified but anybody else 🙂

    What we do with SiteDepot.com is create actual value… What SmartName and Epik provides is a service, which you are locked into.

    Reply
  • Jamie June 21, 2010, 10:58 am

    First we had the Mini-Site boom and now a “store” boom.. I think the biggest problem with “stores” like this is they offer something that is not unique. HockeyJerseys.com displays 4 clear Amazon widgets but the “products” offered are not as clear they are on Amazon.

    The problem is, no way HockeyJerseys.com is going to outrank Amazon.com for the specific products in SE’s so the vast majority of traffic is going to direct navigation to the domain. Since the “store” is full of products you can clearly get on Amazon and likely other stores, it will be hard to compete.. with most of the time the developer as the only winner in the match.

    Reply
  • Jamie June 21, 2010, 11:02 am

    Just to note… I have developed Amazon, CJ and eBay related stores with little luck. I have also had paid development done with similar stores with little luck. (not the two mentioned)

    The specific domain is going to be the biggest player in the development and I would bet that most of the time.. parking will do better than an affiliate store, even with how bad parking is right now.

    Reply
  • SL June 21, 2010, 11:02 am

    Concur with Troy’s comments. One has a long history of the abrasive “wickedfire” mentality (if you’ve been to wickedfire.com then you know what I’m referring to). The other is much more polished and professional.

    But in the end it’s the results that matter. And the only way to know that is through posting verifiable stats, not price wars and rhetoric.

    Reply
  • Tia Wood June 21, 2010, 11:10 am

    “The problem is, no way HockeyJerseys.com is going to outrank Amazon.com for the specific products in SE’s so the vast majority of traffic is going to direct navigation to the domain.”

    Jamie, this is true but there are more ways to get traffic to a domain besides search engines and type in. Affiliate sites can make money but domainers tend to assume that they work the same way as domain parking. You can’t “sit and forget” an affiliate site or any developed site for that matter.

    Reply
  • Tia Wood June 21, 2010, 11:17 am

    Typo. I meant:

    You can’t “set it and forget” an affiliate site or any developed site for that matter.

    Reply
  • Jamie June 21, 2010, 11:19 am

    @Tia,
    I agree it takes more work than just setting it up and rolling in the cash.

    It is a fact on SiteDepot.com, which states “we develop customized affiliate e-commerce sites that are 100% on autopilot generating traffic and income”

    The autopilot part is a bit misleading if other means are needed to generate traffic, which I think we all know is needed. (further promoting of the site)

    Reply
  • Paul Kapschock June 21, 2010, 11:57 am

    I hope and pray someone moves closer to dropshipping…….to me, that is THE answer.

    I have been building my “holy grail” shopping template and hope to have customers buy on my sites …..with my own shopping cart and not a 3rd party sales handoff.

    Much more work dealing with dropshippers/manufacturers …but it becomes a real business.

    AFFILIATES: One of the main problems is reusing the same old product pictures , descriptions and customer comments from amazon and everyone else and pasting them on your site to sell the same old product everyone else is…….no seo love for same old recycled info…so hard to rank.

    I did site on mini-blinds that has 2,000 products……very hard to seo all those products and pages!

    DROP SHIPPING….let me know who does that.

    paul

    Reply
  • Peter June 21, 2010, 1:08 pm

    You can check stats for the epik developed websites as http://www.domainname.com/stats and it seems that most of them are not doing good. Less than 8 visitors per day on average.

    Reply
  • Troy June 21, 2010, 1:52 pm

    “We never did any business with “arbel arif” but those are some strong words… You feel like getting sued, asshole ?”

    yet the point is made again.

    Mike, learn to work WITH people, not against them. If Arbel feels you are not to be trusted then find out WHY and deal with that. Perhaps his viewpoint is invalid, perhaps it is not, but your response above is perfectly inline with what others have said about you.

    You seem to have talent as a “hustler” but lack the ability to interact with others in a beneficial way for both parties.

    You can choose to act however you wish, but I will guarantee that comments like you just posted will NEVER bring you clients.

    Best of luck and a little recommendation…

    http://www.amazon.com/How-Win-Friends-Influence-People/dp/0671723650

    Used copies from $5.21

    Troy

    Reply
  • RH June 21, 2010, 2:13 pm

    I have used EPIK, I have three names with two just getting started.

    I will give an honest opinion of EPIK.

    Rob is very good at getting back, I am on East Coast and might email at 2 am my time and he replies.

    My biggest problem with EPIK is that you have no account with them, they are still working on that. I cannot log in like I can at SEDO or Parked.com and see my names and the stats.

    They are working on that, but IMO that should have been done first. They send out the stats weekly in an excel format. But they always seem not to send me mine.

    Now I like the look of the sites. Fleece-Jackets.com did $48 and I got half of that $24 paypal the other day. So that not bad for a hyphenated .com IMO.

    Epik imo could be very good but they need to get some of the technical stuff done, people want to log in and look at their stats, they want to see what’s working. If I am going to drive traffic I want to see is it getting clicks not waiting one week to see the spreadsheet.

    Morgan is it normal for your blog to allow commenters to call other commenters asshole ?

    Reply
    • Morgan June 21, 2010, 2:19 pm

      Thanks for the comment @RH and for sharing your experiences with Epik.

      No – it is not common for someone to call someone else an asshole in the comments section of my blog. Still unless it’s really over the top I allow all my comments through – I feel that people have a right to express their opinions and it is up them how they wish to do so.

      Reply
  • RH June 21, 2010, 2:46 pm

    I will also say I think 50% is high, maybe 30 % but 50 % is high. The other thing Epik takes a risk with their adsense account. The adsense on the sites is not the domainers code its Epik’s code.

    Reply
  • The Fromainer June 21, 2010, 2:50 pm

    @Mark
    “Just wondering why someone would use either as they can easily add on Amazon to their site without paying someone else.”

    I think people generally pay for these services because they may not have the time, resources or wherewithal to develop their domains themselves. Yes it is easy to add an Amazon a-store or widgets etc to a site but the results are often less than inspiring which is why people generally find that that their conversion and/or click through rates are so low.
    I believe internet users these days are so much more savvy than ever before because of education about fake sites, ineternet fraud, scams and the like, so if they visit a site that is not well developed or does not appear professional and just has a couple of product links thrown on it they’re just not going to click and you’re not going to get your commission. You can have a great domain name and a ton of visitors but if you’re site isn’t aesthetically up to the standards that today’s web users expect you’re going nowhere. It’s as simple as that.

    I haven’t tried either service so I couldn’t recommend one over the other but I have had some correspondence with Rob Epik and I can say that he is like Quick Draw McGraw on the replies, always a good sign of someone who takes customer service seriously.

    Reply
  • The Fromainer June 21, 2010, 2:56 pm

    Actually Quick Draw McGraw was probably the wrong comparison, but Rob Epik is certainly fast at replying!

    Reply
  • Rob Monster - Epik June 21, 2010, 3:00 pm

    When we first launched product portals, we were not expecting folks to adopt them in the quantity that they have. Rather we envisioned stand-alone portals for use with bigger domains like HardDrives.com, Spoons.com and IceCreamMaker.com.

    In the meantime, we have also had really good success with long-tail names and as a result people are building large portfolios and making good money in the process. It takes 90-120 days to get meaningful SEO traction. It helps to add content and SEO, for which we have lined up very cost-effective vendors and are piloting more vendors.

    As for rev-share, sites start at 50%, but it is possible to get to 80%:

    http://www.epik.com/blog/show-me-the-money.html

    As for reporting, a new integrated control panel will go live next month. It will allow users to manage ALL of their sites across the life-cycle: Acquire, Develop, Operate, Sell.

    We also produce a weekly report via Excel. RH had some very unique issues with his stats reporting which have since been resolved. What he forgets to mention is that I sold him two 4-figure names for $249 including domain with a portal. Pretty sweet deal which I think he is happy to have done.

    Finally, there is also an API that is now available for daily reporting for folks that want daily data. Example:

    http://hollow-dawn-47.heroku.com/stats_api.xml?start=2010-6-19&end=2010-6-19&domains=icecreammaker.com

    As you can see, IceCreamMaker.com made $63.87 yesterday. New daily record, though likely also a seasonal spike.

    Keep it civil folks. The industry as a whole benefits from class and gravitas. I appreciate what Morgan does for the industry. His content is great and though we have never met, I respect his insights and enjoy reading his blog.

    Reply
  • Morgan June 21, 2010, 3:13 pm

    Thanks for the comment @Rob and the kind words about my blog 🙂

    I appreciate you sharing this information – I’m hoping this post will help my readers better understand each solution.

    Reply
  • RH June 21, 2010, 3:14 pm

    Rob if you want to call me out I will post every email I have. I stated exactly what happened and NO ROB I DO NOT THINK FLEECE-JACKETS.COM is a 4 FIGURE NAME. I think its reg fee and went on the concept of the portal.

    Reply
  • mano June 21, 2010, 7:48 pm

    So small space but with plenty of fights. No wonder domai ecosystem is fun place to be, its alive and kicking ass.

    Reply
  • Eunice May June 21, 2010, 8:00 pm

    i’m interrested by service of both sitedepot & epik

    i want to be notified of further comments via e-mail

    thanks to Morgan for openning this topic

    thanks

    Reply
    • Morgan June 22, 2010, 9:08 am

      Thanks @Eunice – I’m glad you enjoyed this post!

      Reply
  • RH June 21, 2010, 9:04 pm

    Reply
  • SL June 21, 2010, 10:11 pm

    Surprisingly, that was a well written, coherent and correct article.

    Reply
  • Attila June 22, 2010, 5:46 am

    Well, I have done business with both Mike and Rob. They both seem pleasant and easy people to work with. They both offer legitimate services and keep by their word of what they offer you. I don’t have a complaint from the two except I’d hope Mike to be more professional when it comes to posting on public forum. After all, when you express yourself on public forum, you’re also representing your company.

    I made 5 product portal sites with Epik 5 sites with Mike’s Amazon powered site months ago. I understand it is my job to send traffic to both these type sites. The Amazon powered sites are less likely to get search engine ranked due to thousands of people using the same keywords, pictures and more. However the great thing is, whenever a targeted lead lands on your site, chances of them ordering will be around 30-60%. My current ranking on avg is between 45-50% orders according to Amazon. That in my opinion is far better then a 1-2% rate of people clicking through on PPC ads.

    HOWEVER ~~~ some times PPC ads pay out more then that 6-12% amazon gives you.

    As of yet, I have been extremely busy setting up an office in Philippines. I have neglected to SEO the EPIK powered product portals that I ordered. They’re making on average $1 to $3 a month with the “type in” traffic. Once I get these EPIK powered sites SEO’d the true test will unveil within 3-4 months time. However the current time and being, I am making immediately on avg $180 to $260 each and every month just from the 5 Amazon powered sites combined. HOWEVER, keep in mind, these 5 domains (powered by Amazon) are premium domains that get around 3,000 uniques (when combined) of targeted, type in, direct navigation traffic.

    Final saying, I have spent a lot of time chit chatting with Rob. Some times business, some times just regular chit chat bullshit. He seems like a great guy and look forward to meeting with him next time I fly through Seattle. I surely owe him a lunch (or two) after making a comment about his last name (jokingly) …however wouldn’t be surprised (or angry) if he punches me in the gut and says “thats for the comment you made on March 24th, 2010 aprox 10:32pm pacific standard time”

    Reply
    • Morgan June 22, 2010, 9:09 am

      Thanks for sharing your experience @Atilla definitely would love to hear more once you do some optimization to the Epik stores!

      Reply
  • Bruce Marler June 22, 2010, 7:48 am

    I am still here folks. Just been really really busy and focused on getting my new staff up and moving and had to focus my time 100 percent there. I hope to be blogging again soon but as I focused more on the next phases of growth and my fitness training again a few things had to go to the way side for a period.

    Reply
  • John June 22, 2010, 3:27 pm

    It’s interesting coming from the affiliate world reading all of this, some things you have to keep in mind.

    It’s one thing to have these type of sites if you’re getting direct type in traffic. I think it can work for that.

    But if you’re hoping to get traffic from the search engines, realize the search engines already think most affiliate sites are very thin to begin with. It’s amazing (not really) that people still buy into this whole set it and forget concept of making sites. You have other affiliates that actually put work into their sites to compete with. And something you’ll never get past, that merchants are more relevant for product searches than most affiliate sites out there. And search engines try to serve up the most relevant results for any given search and most affiliate sites are just an extra click, a go between. Now if you’re doing something that brings value, like product comparison, coupons, original content, put some actual work into the site, you have a better shot.

    Like I said, probably ok for direct type in traffic but search engine traffic not so much.

    Reply
  • kfink June 22, 2010, 3:54 pm

    Thanks for the informative thread, everyone …

    Reply
  • Arbel Arif July 1, 2010, 11:25 am

    Someone put a comment with my name… This is 100% Spam… Morgan please erase the spam comment under my name… I never worked with Mike Cohen on e-commerce and Someone took advantage of my name to say some spam words…

    Reply

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