EEDI Announces Over $60,000 in Grants for Small Businesses to Go Virtual

The Ecommerce Economic Defense Initiative (EEDI) is awarding two separate ecommerce service grants in 2012 – each worth more than $30,000 – in their first-ever ecommerce grant competition.

Rochester, MI – Brand Labs – a studio specializing in ecommerce design, marketing, development and programming –has gathered together an alliance of online professionals with the proclaimed goal of “rescuing” the struggling economy by “utilizing the power of ecommerce.” The assembled group is called the Ecommerce Economic Defense Initiative (or the EEDI).

In cooperation with Volusion, PowerReviews Express, Grasshopper, Olark and AutoResponderMax, Brand Labs created the EEDI as a vehicle to provide access to ecommerce resources to business owners of all types.

“The ecommerce community can be very insular,” explains Dane Downer, Director of Professional Services for Brand Labs. “We tend to talk directly to whomever we see as ʻour communityʼ – so, basically, other ecommerce companies, online merchants, emarketers, etc. Itʼs pretty easy to forget that a vast majority of ecommerce is practiced by manufacturers and wholesalers. Weʼve reached the point in the planetʼs economic history where all commerce is ecommerce and we need to stop thinking of ourselves as two separate camps; online businesses vs. brick & mortars. If your business isnʼt online already, chances are that it will be in the very near future. We intend to make that transition easier for those who havenʼt taken the leap yet and we want to make [ecommerce] more effective for those who have.”

As a part of that effort, The EEDI will be awarding more than $60,000 in ecommerce grants and services in a competition that launched in late June.  Downer continues, “We wanted to create a competition that recognizes some of the difficulties that business owners can have when they begin to think about their online presence. With that in mind, weʼre giving away two prizes – one goes to an online business thatʼs already using the Volusion ecommerce platform, the other will go to another business of any kind, whether theyʼre online already or not – even if they donʼt do direct to consumer retail. That way, we hope to help the entire business community to understand that every business should have an ecommerce presence, not just online retailers. Donʼt get me wrong – most of our business is with consumer-level retailers, but we have a growing list of manufacturers, wholesalers and service providers in our stable of clients. Basically, if youʼre not online, youʼre losing money and we want everyone to make money.”

The EEDIʼs effort to help online businesses is part of the organizationʼs central purpose: to energize the lethargic economy by using the tool that they wield with the greatest skill: ecommerce.

“It started out almost as a joke,” explained Kevin Harman, Brand Labsʼ President. “We saw a parade of statistics that showed ecommerce making gains while the rest of the economy was floundering. We could see it first hand with our own growth, but to see it happening worldwide was eye-opening to us. We started to feel like we were single handedly saving the economy, then we thought, ʻ… hey! We should actually try to save the economy!ʼ Just like that, the EEDI was born.”

Once the decision had been made to “save the economy,” Brand Labs solicited the support of several online power players including Volusion, the multimillion dollar ecommerce platform. Along with PowerReviews Express, Grasshopper, Olark and AutoResponderMax, Volusion provided service-based prizes that altogether add more than $5,000 in value to each of the $25,000 grants to be awarded to the two winning businesses later this year.  “Thatʼs a $60,000 commitment to the ecommerce community,” continued Harman. “So I guess itʼs not a joke anymore.”

The entry period for the contest ends August 26, 2012. Public voting begins the next day and the winners will be announced in September. Information on The Ecommerce Economic Defense Initiative and their contest can be found at ecommercedefense.com. Information about Brand Labs can be found at brandlabs.us.


About The Ecommerce Economic Defense Initiative

The Ecommerce Economic Defense Initiative (EEDI) is an alliance of online professionals dedicated to the advancement of the world economy through the skillful practice of ecommerce. The EEDI provides resources to online and brick & mortar businesses to help them make the most of their ecommerce presence. For more information, visit the EEDI at http://www.ecommercedefense.com.

About Brand Labs

Brand Labs makes sites that sell. Its staff of in-house ecommerce experts are prepared to meet all of your online business needs – from design to development to deployment and beyond. As certified partners with Google AdWords, Google Analytics and Volusion, Brand Labs is uniquely qualified to build and manage advanced ecommerce sites that suit your very specific needs. Brand Labsʼ clients include National Geographic UK, GamaGo, Nalgene, The Red Hat Society Store and WeatherBug. Visit Brand Labs at http://www.brandlabs.us to learn more.

About Volusion

Volusion gives you everything you need to open a successful online store. Whether youʼre an ecommerce novice or seasoned online seller, you will receive the ultimate set of business tools, including your own website, reliable hosting, effective marketing tools, and much, much more. Over 35,000 customers such as Deloitte, Nalgene, US Open, and 3M trust Volusion to power their online business, leveraging a full suite of customer support offerings, including free 24×7 assistance via phone, email and live chat. For more information about Volusion, please visit http://www.volusion.com.

About PowerReviews and PowerReviews Express

PowerReviews is the world’s largest social commerce network. It helps companies tap into consumer conversations to drive better business, while providing consumers an easy way to share their insights about brands, products, and services. Leading brands have standardized on PowerReviews to drive better sales, increase traffic, and shape product development. PowerReviews also offers an on-demand solution for small and medium-sized businesses called Power Reviews Express. Visit http://www.powerreviewsexpress.com.

About Grasshopper

The Grasshopper virtual phone system helps entrepreneurs sound more professional and stay connected from anywhere.  With a toll free or local number and features including unlimited extensions, professional greeting and dial by name directory, Grasshopper helps your small businesses sound like a Fortune 500 company. For more information visit http://www.grasshopper.com.

About Olark

Talk to your customers. Youʼll sell more, faster. Olark live chat helps over 5,000 businesses talk to customers browsing their website so they can drive more sales and make happier customers. For more information and a free trial, visit https://www.olark.com.

About AutoResponderMax

AutoResponderMax is the best marketing tool available for Volusion merchants. It stays in touch with your clients, thanking them for their business, suggesting products they might enjoy based on their previous purchases, gathering product reviews for items theyʼve recently bought and so much more – all automatically. AutoResponderMax doesnʼt just build relationships, it builds revenue. Learn more about AutoResponderMax and sign up for your free trial at http://www.autorespondermax.com.