Zlio [warning: nasty sleazy slimy affiliate link, OK?] is a new online store creation service that lets you build online shops in a huge variety of categories. OK, so it’s not a revolutionary idea, but I’ve played with a fair number of these services, and this is the first one that I’ve actually used in earnest to create our own Red Ferret Gadget Shop.
Most store maker systems either fall down because they’re not design friendly enough, or they’re a chore to manage. This Zlio product is not perfect, but it’s pretty good in most of the important areas. The interface is clear and uncluttered, and most importantly the product management is easy and fast to use. Adding, editing and tagging products is a snap, as is editing the look and feel of your store design.
You don’t, however, get a huge amount of flexibility in how your store looks, variations in colours and header image designs is about it. This is because of the limits set by the product information base of course, but with some creative tweaking you can make your shop look as individual as you like within those parameters.
There are already 230,000 stores on the system worldwide, selling products from a catalogue of over 6 million items, and sign up is totally free. One interesting touch is the ability to share in the revenue from Adsense ads on your shop pages, which could be attractive to niche sites looking to supplement their shop income. There is also an opportunity to earn from pay per click traffic to the merchants on your store, which really could be valuable for high traffic sites. Of course there is also a community attached to the whole thing – it’s mandatory nowadays isn’t it? – with a Digg like voting system to add some spice to store popularity. Does this add value? Hmm…not sure.
All in all, it’s a pretty good effort all round. A little more design flexibility, and a better choice of promotional widgets for website owners would be a definite plus for the future, as would a slightly more useful Store Directory. Definitely worth a look though, if you fancy building your own personal Best Buy.