Tuesday, 14 June 2011

How to Set up an Online Store - Essential Techniques to Build and Advertise Part 2

As seen in the last article How to set up an Online Store Part 1 we discussed a few steps that any business should take and tackle before starting up an online store. This is a continuation from where we left off; you can follow the steps below to set up your online store:

  1. Keeping the customers attention - You can have the best marketing and advertising in the world however if your site and ecommerce solution does not deliver on the promise of good customer interaction, ease of use and excellent navigation then chances are you will loose the visitor or customer's interest very quickly. It is therefore essential that when looking at your site design and structure that you ensure it is designed with the customer in mind from the start. People like simplicity, never over complicate your site, you want to ensure that it is easy to navigate through, products can be swiftly found, pages load quickly and the steps between the product and checkout are simplified and compressed so that the buying process is as easy and quick as possible. Transparency is another important step that must be taken seriously if your site and ecommerce solution is ever going to be successful, ensure that all costs including delivery costs are shown clearly and the customer is fully aware of the overall cost of their transaction, many customers will abandon the purchase of goods if they feel deceived by the price they thought they would pay and the actual costs once everything is added, therefore to marginalise and retain customers ensure that all charges are there for the customer to see earlier in the purchase.

  2. Managing your site - Ensuring that your customers enjoy a fantastic user friendly experience and are encouraged to buy is only one of the many steps that must be taken when creating an online store, managing your site is also of utmost importance ensuring that products, prices and services remain up-to-date, controlled efficiently and effectively, putting into place a system that alerts and notifies you when orders and items are received and when you need to manage your orders. The good news is simple there are now plenty an ecommerce software available that allows and aids you to do just that. Allowing you to control and manage your ecommerce site, keep track of all sales, advertising, stock control, updates and pretty much all you will need to do from one simple management system. The ecommerce software available also allows and aids you with creating newsletters, mailshots, vouchers and brochures with special offers and details about anything new that you release encouraging and building a rapport with your customers and encouraging them to visit your store and buy again.

  3. Dealing with payments - You'll need to organise a way that allows you to accept payment for your products and goods once your store is set up and ready to go, therefore you will need to choose an online payment gateway and an internet merchant account to take card payments. There are many options available to you these days and one must research the best payment option for yourself before moving forward. Look into the charges set by each option before taking one on board and it would be highly recommended to test these options before going ahead with your choice.

How To Successfully Sell On An eBay Store - Guide 1

Making eBay work for you is a mixture of online knowledge and selling techniques. Over the next few weeks I will provide a guide on becoming successful selling on eBay.

eBay started as the brainchild of Pierre Omidyar, a computer programmer, and his wife, they wanted to sell their goods to other collectors online within a trustworthy environment. This website was named Auctionweb and it was later renamed eBay. Over the past 16 years eBay has grown to be the most successful and biggest online business environment in the history of the internet. The website has grown to provide millions of people the opportunity to sell their merchandise online via an eBay store. The merchandise ranges from small toys and games to cars and houses. The eBay software has become a global platform for trading online and it still continues to grow today.

The eBay software or platform has become so successful because of its simple business model and ideas. Provide a safe and simple platform in which people can sell their merchandise online. Charge the people a small fee to sell their products, but insist on the safety and trust factor so that people return and build up their own trustworthiness.

eBay works just like any platform that sells products, such as a market or high street store, a reputation is built and therefore trust is gained for repeat business. On the basic level an eBay store provides the following criteria:

  1. An eBay seller pays an insertion fee and a final fee (a percentage of the sale) to eBay in order to use the eBay platform
  2. An eBay buyer visits and can purchase from the platform without any fees
  3. Any persons who abuse the platform or each other will be disciplined or banned

On a higher level the eBay software is far superior to a market or high street store, here are the major differences and why the eBay platform has become successful:

  1. eBay is international, therefore the potential audience crosses languages and social constraints
  2. Huge choice of products
  3. Options for sales: either auction format or traditional fixed price. The seller chooses the format
  4. The sellers and buyers have no need to meet
  5. The buyers online only see images of the product before purchase, guarantees are pre-determined to ensure product satisfaction
  6. Customer Feedback is integral to the ebay software, known as ‘positive feedback’ this is used to measure the integrity of the sellers and buyers
  7. Secure payment services such as Paypal are used to ensure security and confidence in the transaction

In the forthcoming guides we will look at how your eBay store interacts with the customer and how to increase sales with the use of online techniques and marketing methods.

Friday, 10 June 2011

How to Set Up an Online Store – part 1

Setting up a business online has never been easier, whether you are an established business looking at spreading your wings online or a start up looking at trading online, options have never been more readily available than they are today, whether it be that you are looking into targeting the online community through an ecommerce website, or through eBay and other marketplaces, there are now plenty an ecommerce solution to choose from and even more so ecommerce software to help you manage your stores efficiently and effectively, ensuring every opportunity for growth, reach ability and success.

There are a few steps that any business must take and tackle before starting up their online store, these will be discussed and tackled simply with a guide being provided in order to better understand the necessary steps required to help you move forward. Start off by purchasing a domain name (web address), you can buy and register domain names at places like godaddy, 1&1, fasthosts etc, once this is done you can follow the steps below to set up your online store.

  1. Building your site – essential for any online business is your store, who will build it? What do you want to achieve with your store? The good news is this there are now plenty of companies offering you an ecommerce solution, that fits your needs and requirements, aiding you in building your store and providing you with the necessary tools and ecommerce software to help you maintain and manage your site effectively and cheaply.
    Using a web development company is also effective when looking at customer support and lending a helping hand, ensuring that you are up-to-date and aware of any changes, affording you the correct training and understanding of the software and helping you build a store that is perfect for your targeted audience, develop an effective logo and advise you on the correct channels for effective advertising.

  2. Advertising and marketing your online store – key to any online success is driving the right audience to your site, and ensuring that your site is built to encourage customers to buy rather than turn them away. Increasing traffic to your site and making searchers aware of your site is essential; there are many ways to achieve this. A quick solution would be to target your audience through a PPC (pay per click) campaign; this is a very effective form of online advertising simply because it offers you instant recognition and traffic, putting you in frame whereby you are competing immediately, and can be budgeted to fit your financial restrictions rather than relying on external marketing company costs. A long term view for advertising should always include an SEO (search engine optimisation) plan, this aids you to appear on natural search in Google and although time consuming is seen by many as a cost effective mean to advertising as once an SEO campaign has matured high traffic results can be obtained therefore cutting costs on other marketing techniques.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Starting an Online Business? - Guide 10 – Generating Repeat Business

After the business has built up a customer base that use your services or buy your products then you can start to build an online business relationship. By building a relationship with your current customers, the business will be able to encourage the customers to use the service again and also recommend the business to other potential customers thus driving them to the ecommerce solution or to make contact.

Online businesses have many ways of generating a relationship with their customers, all of them include being creative in the relevant industry and through various online channels. Here are a few of the main techniques used to generate repeat business and build a relationship:

Social Networking: All businesses must have an online social presence, with the rise of Facebook (600m users worldwide) and Twitter (175m users worldwide) the need to engage with this market is essential to create a relationship with your customers. Create a business page on Facebook to advertise and connect, create a Twitter account to converse directly with customers and keep them up to date. Other business social networking sites include, LinkedIn, Google Buzz and PartnerUp.

Competitions and Discount Codes: By creating a competition to win a relevant industry prize engages your customers and they will more than likely pass the details onto their network generating the ecommerce solution more traffic and more customer information.

Business Forums: A great way to interact with like-minded business individuals and potential customers. By joining a community such as a forum gives the business an opportunity to share its expertise and participate in issues and topics that is relevant to the business.

Affiliate Schemes: The businesses customers are potentially the sales team; this is more evident when they join up to an affiliate scheme. By offering the customers’ incentives to signup other customers it creates a business relationship which leads to an increase in sales and repeat business. An ecommerce software solution may have an affiliate scheme that includes a percentage of the signup fee or a monthly percentage based on the package bought.

Newsletters: When a customer purchases online or signups to a service, a business has instant contact details, including name, address and, importantly email. If the customer has stated not to receive any online campaigns then leave them out of the newsletter. Using ecommerce software a business can send newsletters to the email addresses frequently to promote sales, competitions and incentives. This technique is widely used in online retail to promote their items and generates enormous repeat business opportunities.

Generating repeat business and getting customers to work for the business are essential to the success of any ecommerce solution. Use the above techniques to engage with your customers and potential customers, select the relevant information to promote and listen to current customers as they should be promoting the business online as well as the marketing team.