Friday, 28 September 2012

Marketing tools for the big, the small and the just getting started

eBay are looking to expand the number of customers and eBay stores within the martetplace through the release of a television advert within the UK. The advert is used to not only promote the eBay brand as a whole, but identifies the ability for customers to make purchases on their tablets and mobile devices. While eBay are spending a substantial amount of money to have an advert appear on UK prime time television, what can you do to help promote your business through various marketing channels?

Obviously, what marketing avenues you can use are going to depend on the amount of money you have within your marketing budget and how much you are currently making through online sales.

If you don't have much money to put towards an advertising budget, there are a number of different free marketing tools you can take advantage of:

  • Social Media - Create accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn. This then allows you to not only build up your brand, but generate a larger customer base who you can then advertise your store and products. This will increase the traffic and sales you store will generate, while helping you increase your social media presence, creating a positive public image.
  • Forums - Similar in the sense to social media as it allows you to build up your own public brand image. However, rather than using the platform to essentially sell yourself, you should look to engage with other users by answering questions they ask in threads or just engaging with other users in an informal manner.
  • Blogs - A great tool for not only promotion your store and engaging with your customers, but also allows you to build up a regular readership and also improve your SEO standing. What you choose to write about is entirely up to you. It could be an informal diary discussing the problems you have faced in your store and how you overcome them or they could be on the latest news and information about the particular product types that you sell in your store. When deciding what to write about, you should look to include keywords that users will search for in search engines. 
  • Word of Mouth - One of the most traditional and effective way of growing your business. When a customer makes a purchase, if they are happy with the overall product and service, they will recommend your store to their friends. While you can't control whether a user decides to share your store with their friends, you can encourage them to share it with their friends by placing social sharing buttons and your site such as Facebook and emails.
  • Emails - Email marketing is one of the most important parts of any business, however, in order for them to be free you must send them out yourself, rather than employing a email service to send them out on your behalf. What this means is that there can't be too many emails for you to send out to your customers as sending out thousands of emails will literally take you hours to do. Your emails should vary in content ranging from the latest news regarding your business to any new products or offers you are currently running. All of these emails should contain the relevant links to draw customers back to your store.
  • Local Trade Shows and Meetings - This might for be for every business, but if you run a store that specialises in selling goods or services to other businesses, this is something you should definitely be looking to take advantage of. Throughout the year there will be a number of breakfast meetings and trade shows that you can attend to interact with other business owners and form professional relationships. This initial meeting allows them to become aware of your business and could possibly lead to future  transactions.
If you have some money to play around with to help market your business, there are a few other channels you can look to take advantage of. However, even if you do have a larger budget, you should still look to take advantage of the free marketing techniques I mentioned above as they will all help increase your brand awareness and sales:

  • Forum Sponsorship - One of the cheapest types of sponsorship you can do and allows your business brand to be seen by literally thousands of people. Most forums will allow you to sponsor one of their sections for around £50 a month, allowing you to have your link placed on the site, any banners you would like to add and some even allow you to create a thread advertising the products you have for sale.
  • Prizes - This is one of the best ways to drastically increase not only your total sales, but your social media follows and what's more, it won't cost you much at all. You could decide to run a promotion where one person who follows you on your social media page will win a specific item from you store. This encourages a number of people to then follow you on your social media pages in order to have a chance of winning the prize. Whether they win or not, many of these people will then visit your store to see what products you have for sale and some of them will make a purchase.
  • Banners - Banners are a great tool to provide a visually enticing promotion for users to see. Where you decide to place the banners is up to you. You can place them on forums, blogs and other websites.
  • Retargeting - When a customer visits your website, the data regarding the products they viewed is then stored within cookies within the browser. Retargeting then places adverts for your business and those particular products on to various websites that the user visits. This allows the user to be constantly exposed to your business and may result in them returning to your store to make a purchase.
If you run an ecommerce store with an established brand image and you have maximised all of the marketing channels previously mentioned, you may decide it's time to take advantage of some of the biggest marketing platforms you can use, similar to what eBay have recently done with their television advert:

  • Television Advert - Should only be attempted if you are a large successful business with a number of customers and sales as this is a very expensive avenue to go down. However, if you find that your business has achieved great local success, you may decide to create an advert that only appears on local television.
  • Radio Advert - A local platform that allows you to create an audio advert for your business. However, before deciding to embark on a radio advert you should remember that a radio advert is quite a generalised form of promotion and rather than aiming it at a specific demographic. This form of blanket marketing may result in you not seeing the results you would have liked as the message was just too generic.
  • Editorial Pieces - Unlike a radio advert, an editorial piece is a great way to market your business to people who have a specific interest in what your business provides. You would pay a publication related to your business a fee to have an editorial about your business appear within their magazine and on their website for that particular month. This is a great way to have your brand reach the type of demographic you want to reach, however, it can be quite expensive with some publications charging in excess of £1,500 for the service.

Looking at a new way to sell online

When setting up an online store, many users go through the same channels of selling on eBay or having their own ecommerce store. However, due to recent funding from seed fund accelerator, 500 Startups, Shopinterest looking to be a newly growing platform for users to sell their products online. 

Shopinterest allows users to create their own ecommerce store out of any Pinterest board they may have. For example, you simply need to add all of the images of products you have for sale on to one Pinterest board and you would then be able to transform that board into an ecommerce shop that has a fully functional shopping cart. Even if you don't have a Pinterest board, you can add the product images to your account and turn them into a store.

The service underpins the ever-growing trend of social commerce and while it is currently only available to residents in the US, Shopinterest are expected to make it available to other countries within the coming weeks. However, you need to be aware that this is not a free service. Once a user signs up they are then able to take part in a trial, but once the trial is over users will be required to pay for the service. The amount you have to pay will depend on the number of sales you make and products you have in your inventory.

While this seems to be a step forward in terms of developing social commerce to a new level, the fact that users have to pay for the service in a similar way that they would do on other marketplaces like eBay, may be a draw back for a number of online sellers. If a user already has an eBay store, they are going to be reluctant to pay a whole new set of fees to a different platform in order to have their products display on that site also. Furthermore, many users pay eBay's fees because they know the site has dedicated customers as well as a high volume of traffic and sales, so they know they will be getting value for money. Shopinterest is a rather new ecommerce platform and some users may be reluctant to commit to the platform until they are able to see a real growth in traffic and sales within the site.

As I touched on yesterday, developing new channels to sell online is always the right way to go for your business. However, which platforms you choose to move on to is entirely dependant on the products you sell, your customer base and how comfortable you yourself are with using that platform. While Shopinterest could prove to be very successful in helping to enhance a store's sales through social commerce, if you are reluctant to pay for an unproven service, you may look to take advantage of a number of free ecommerce shopping cart platforms that are available to day. Such as the free multichannel platform we offer here at eSellution, integrating an ecommerce, Facebook and mobile store with an eBay store you may already have.  

Get your free ecommerce store now:

Thursday, 27 September 2012

How to increase your product exposure

As there are literally thousands upon thousands of stores in the UK alone selling a whole host of different products, helping customers come across the products your online store has for sale can often be difficult.

In order to maximise the number of people you get visiting your ecommerce store and purchasing the items you have for sale, there are a number of things you should be looking to do not only for your store as a whole, but also for each and every product you add:

  • Store Meta Tags - The keywords you place both within the text on your store pages and within headings for each page, determine where each of your pages will rank within search engines related to the keywords or phrase that is searched for. The keywords you use should relate to the overall type of products or services that your store provides such as "Mens Clothes."
  • Product Meta Tags - This varies from the keywords you have used for your webpage as all of these keywords should be related specifically to each one of the products you have in your store. This is something that many store owners tend to overlook, resulting is many of their products appearing way down search engine rankings. For every product you are adding to your store, you should place a meta title, description and keywords for each of them. As a general rule, the meta title and description should be exactly the same as the title of your product and the product description that you entered in the basic information for your product. The meta keywords you then enter should be phrases that relate to both the product and the category that the product is in.
  • Product Image Tags - Product images are not only important in helping customers get a better look at the products you have for sale, but you may also want to look to put Alt tags into the image to help improve the viability of your image when a user carries out an image search on a search engine. The tag you use should be a description of what the image depicts as well as including any keywords that relate to the product. 
  • Listing on Google Merchant - Linking your store up to Google Merchant is incredibly important in helping more people gain exposure to your products by having your products appear within Google product searches. This is a free service that you can sign up for.
All of these tasks will allow both your store and the individual products you list to appear as high up search engines and image searches as they possibly can. This will result in more people being exposed to your store and products, increasing the traffic your store will generate and helping to increase the overall sales you will achieve.

Get your free ecommerce store now:

Why it may be time to branch out from eBay

Having an eBay account to buy and sell products has become a way of life for many people who use the marketplace to purchase their goods, sell items they want to get rid of and even make a living by running an eBay store.

While the site has large traffic, many stores and a variety of different products available for customers, the increasing fees, customer demands and guidelines which people must follow has becoming an increasing problem for many online sellers. 

For this reason, many online stores are now considering branching out from eBay. By this I do not mean leaving eBay altogether as the traffic and sales the site can generate is substantial and something that no business should miss out on. However, businesses shouldn't rely on eBay as their only online selling channel as you are essentially using someone else's place to sell your products rather than having your own independent store. 

Creating your own ecommerce store that is either separate or integrates with your eBay store can be beneficial for a number of reasons:

  • It separates your business from all other eBay sellers, allowing you to not only develop your own brand image, but also increase the number of users that will become aware of you and the products you have for sale. Customers would now come directly to your store rather than carrying out an eBay search and just stumbling to your store through the results. 
  • Provides you with more places for customers to come across your products. This also allows you to take further advantage of both social and mobile commerce by having your store appear correctly on mobile devices. It is expected that in the coming months leading up to Christmas, sales through mobile friendly stores will account for 20% of all online sales. 
  • Allows you to have a place to sell your products where you don't have to pay the added eBay fees and the store owner has much more control than the customer. 
  • Enables you to have a customised layout and design that relates more to your store and the items you sell. Once you have created a custom design for your ecommerce store, you can then apply that design to your eBay store, breaking away from the generic eBay style and improving the professional brand image your store has.

You may think that expanding your business to branch out from eBay would be a lot more work, but the truth is that having your own ecommerce store really is no extra work. Since we at eSellution began offering a free ecommerce store, we have seen a number of eBay store owners branch out and take their first steps into creating their own brand image through developing an ecommerce store, many of these because they have finally grown fed up with eBay. Our software has an easy to use dashboard interface that allows you to monitor and manage all of your products across all of your platforms easily. 

If you run an eBay store but have been thinking about branching out and trying your hand at creating an ecommerce store, you can sign up for a free ecommerce store with eSellution now at:

This gives you the opportunity to have your own store separate from eBay that has a mobile friendly layout and also has a Facebook version of the store for you to take advantage of the growing marketing and selling power of the social media site. 

Even if you have a really successful eBay store that provides you with a number of customers and sales every day, why limit your potential growth by just staying with eBay? Reaching out and developing your own brand identity allows you to further increase your sales and truly see how far your business can go. 

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Everything you need to know about email marketing

The success of your online store relies on the ability for you to correctly market both your products and brand in order to create an interest in your customers, which then results in them visiting your store and making a purchase.

One of the most important aspects of promoting your business, especially if you are a small business looking to establish yourself is through email marketing. This form of marketing allows you to not only make people aware of your business who may not have come across your store through other channels, but also allows you to constantly engage with your current customers in order to help them become repeat buyers.

A recent infographic produced by iContact, has proven that despite what some people may think about email marketing, the marketing technique is very much growing from strength to strength. While there are now a number of different ways people can communicate with each other through social media, mobile devices and other communication tools, many people are still using email as one of the primary sources of communicating with both individuals and businesses. This is underpinned by the fact it is predicted that there will be close to a billion new email accounts created within the next four years. Although the vast majority of these obviously won't be customers to your ecommerce store, it just demonstrates the potential email marketing still has in being able to effectively engage with your customers to generate sales.

The most attention grabbing aspect of this infographic is the statistic showing the average return on email marketing. For every 1 dollar that a store owner spends on their email marketing, it will generate on average $44.25. For any business, whether it's a large established business or a small online store looking to get on their feet, this ROI is unbelievable and substantially better than what you would find through any other paid marketing channel.

However, you shouldn't just use email marketing to bring in new customers. You should be using this channel to send content to people who have already purchased from your store on a regular basis. This means sending them surveys on how they found the purchasing process, the latest news about your store and any promotions or offers that you are currently running. This will not only help you create relationships with your customers, but it also actively engages them and encourages them to come back to your store time and time again.

eBay begins to embrace social sharing [Video]

eBay have released a new beta tool called Setify, that allows both online stores and sellers to manage and share the various collections they have online. 

While the tool is currently only aimed at collectors who have coin or comic book collections, the tool allows you to see the potential growth in social commerce as users can create wish lists of items they need to complete their collections, as well as letting people know what they already own and advertise any of these collectable items they have for sale. 

Many have compared it as a similar feature to Pinterest, but solely aimed at collectables through the marketplace. eBay plan to increase the number of categories that users can select on the Setify tool in the future. The tool will also be available to download as a mobile app later this year according to the eBay Ink Blog.

The Setify beta is only currently available to those who have received an beta invitation from eBay. This release is just one of a number of new features eBay have announced to help modernise the marketplace, the most recent being the newly released logo earlier this month.

Check out the video below to get a look at the Setify tool.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

eBay selective in latest promotion offering

eBay are continuing their current rise in promotions by offering some users the chance to have free listings on all fixed price items for a 5 day period. However, the promotion is only available to those who have received an invitation from eBay.

This news has disgruntled some eBay store owners as they believe that this promotion is only being sent out to sellers who have little or no feedback. This has resulted in a lot of sellers creating second eBay accounts in an attempt to try and receive an invitation for the promotion. 

However, there are two sides to the argument that are both valid. If the promotion is indeed sent out to only those with no or low feedback (which has not been proven one way or another) then it could be a great way to help people essentially get their online selling presence off the ground and possibly progress into having an online store. Having these users take a more active role within the eBay marketplace makes it better for not only the customers, who will have more choice in terms of where to shop and what to buy, but it will also help generate more traffic to the site which will be a boost for all stores.

On the other end of the spectrum, if the promotion is only aimed at low feedback users, many feel it deprives the more active users on the site from really making use of the free listings, leaving them to simply not be touched in accounts that people probably don't even use anymore. No matter what side of the fence you lie on in the argument, both views can be seen as valid. 

The promotion began yesterday and will run until Friday with users paying no listing fees on up to 5000 listings placed on If you are unsure whether you have been invited to take part in this promotion, check your messages within the "My eBay" section to see if you have received an invitation. 

Monday, 24 September 2012

Biggest mistakes in a business's social media campaign

As many online stores now use social media as a way to inform and engage with their customer base, all businesses are now looking to take advantage of this channel as much as they can. However, success through social media sites is not a given, there are a number of mistakes a lot of businesses make.

Having a selling tone when posting content

When placing content on your relevant social media pages, the tone of your content is very important. To actively engage with your audience you need to have a voice that is engaging but also professional. Although you want to engage users to visit your online store and make a purchase, you do not want to have a voice that seems as though you are trying to sell them something. All that is only going to do is put your audience off and have the opposite affect to what you were hoping for.

Not correctly measuring your success

When deciding to embark on a social media campaign, you need to determine a way for you to measure whether your overall strategy is successful. For some this is how many new followers you have managed to accumulate, for others it is how much traffic you have been able to generate from your social media page to your ecommerce store and for some it is how many sales they have generated through social commerce. You don't want to just use social media without any foresight or plan as you won't be able to accurately measure your success, or lack of it if proves to be the case. Having a way to measure your social media success allows you to see what is the most effective content you are posting and also highlights aspects of your strategy that aren't working and need to be changed.

Making it a one way channel

If you create a social media account expecting to generate a number of followers without actually providing them with anything substantial, you are not going to get very far. Like most aspects of life, social media success is based largely on the idea of give and take. To get people following you and to them have them take an interest in your business and the products you provide, you must provide them with content that interests them. For this you will be rewarded with extra followers, extra engagement and extra traffic to your ecommerce store

Only posting status updates

To make sure you not only get followers, but have them actively engaging with your social media page, you need to post content that is going to have people regularly returning to your page. While status updates may be interesting to some people, the truth is others really aren't going to care. For this reason, you need to post a variety of content that ensures that there is something on your page that interests everyone. This means that you should be looking to post blog articles, images, videos, products, offers and promotions in addition to your regular status updates.

One post every now and then

While it is important to vary your content to engage different audiences, it is absolutely imperative that you are placing content and engaging with your followers on a daily basis. Only posting content once a week or even once a month is going to see your engagement figures go way down, which will play no part in helping to improve your brand image and drive traffic to your website. 

Keeping quiet

As I highlighted earlier, social media is a two-way street. You post content and then your audience replies or asks questions as they see fit. It is this engagement with your audience that allows you to not only project your public image, but also develop the initial relationship with some of your customers. While some of these comments from customers may be negative, you don't want to hide away, refusing to reply in fear that it may damage your image. You should look to respond to all questions and opinions, either projecting your own point of view or looking to ask further questions in order to develop some form of discussion. If the comments have been negative, don't take offence to them and respond with anger. At all times you must be professional, courteous and engaging in all your posts. Although a response may be aimed at one specific person, you need to remember that everyone else is always watching. 

Obsessing over the figures

Just because you lose one follower, doesn't mean it's the end of the world. No matter what social media platform you are using, you will find that your total follower figure fluxuates on a daily basis. Particularly with Twitter, a number of accounts on the site are either bots or dummy accounts, meaning that if they have followed you, they may then leave a few days later. Although you want your social media site to be success and see your follower figures steadily increasing over a certain period of time, losing the odd follower here and there isn't going to make too much difference. At the end of the day you only want people who are interested in your content to be following you. If someone decides that they don't like your content then that isn't someone you want following you anyway. 

eBay release new selling feature

eBay have seemingly improved the ability for eBay stores to sell Internationally through the release of their International postage rate tables. 

As we explained a few weeks ago, the International postage tables allow you to customise which countries you want to ship your products to by specifically selecting as many or as few countries as you like, with over 200 countries to choose from.

The feature also allows you to provide added shipping information to your customers regarding each order such as postage costs, weight-based costs and any surcharges that they may be required to pay. This allows any customers visiting your store, to make a more informed decision as whether to purchase an item from you. 

If you have never sold Internationally, there has never been a better time for you to give it a go. However, before deciding whether to undertake in International selling, you should full research that it will definitely be a profitable endeavour, meaning you have determined that there is not only a high demand for the products your online store sells, but also that the market is not over crowded with a number of other stores also selling the same products. 

If you do currently run a domestic eBay store, but would like start selling Internationally, you can do this in a few simple steps: 

  • Go to "My eBay" and then select "Account" and then "Site Preferences." 
  • Locate the postage and pricing preferences and then select the "Show" option. This will bring up the postage rate tables section.
  • Next to the "Use postage tables" option, select "Edit." 
  • Change the domestic and International postage rates that you would like to offer to your customers. Only enter the postage information in a specific country if you want to have that country as a destination to ship to. 
  • Once you have made all the changes to your postage rates, click on the "Apply" button to save the changes.

When you list a product on your eBay store, it will now add these International postage options.

However, eBay have warned customers that if they use a third party tool, you should check with your provider to ensure that this new postage rates table will working correctly within their tool. 

Friday, 21 September 2012

Why the customer is always right...well sort of

When running an online store, what your customers think is incredibly important for a number of reasons, the biggest being that if they aren't happy they won't buy and your business won't succeed. While the key to business success is sales, you should make sure that you use your customers feedback and opinions to enhance your performance, whether they are good or bad views.

So how do you regularly use customers views and opinions to improve the running of your ecommerce store?

Customer Feedback Surveys - When a customer makes a purchase you shouldn't just end your interaction once the transaction is complete. As you have their contact details on file, send them an email containing a customer feedback survey, asking them how they found all parts of your service from the product itself, to the ease of accessibility around your store and the entire delivery process. Gaining feedback on these parts allows you to see what your business is doing well and what you need to improve on.

Detailed Seller Rating - If you run an eBay store, you are going to be well aware of the impact your detailed seller rating will have on your store's sales. While you will receive one or two low detailed seller ratings, because sooner or later everyone does, it is important to make use of these negative comments to improve that particular aspect of your business and ensure you don't receive any more for the same reason.

Product Reviews - While these reviews aren't a view of your ecommerce store as whole, they are what your customers will use when deciding whether to purchase a particular product. You should regularly check your products to see what people are saying about them. If you find that your one of your products has received a number of poor reviews, you may have to think about removing that product entirely from your store as them more bad reviews it receives, the more it will start to affect the overall image of your store.

Social Media Comments - Although you don't want to leave numerous negative images on your social media accounts as they will effect your public image, they allow you to receive feedback from people who may have intended to purchase from your store but then decided against it for a particular reason. This feedback is incredibly important in helping your business grow by allowing you to make improvements that will help bring in more sales. When looking at these messages you need to have the mind set that all feedback whether good or bad, helps your business take a positive step forward. Even though it may be your own business that you've spent a lot of time and money building up, you don't want to get offended by negative comments people have to say. The last thing you want to do is get in a public argument for everyone to see. Simply read the comments, take their views on board and if they are valid criticisms, make the changes to help bring in future sales.

You should also openly encourage people to send you messages to your customer support email address and through your social media sites for you to answer. It may be a case that some people are hesitant to purchase from your store for a number of different issues, answering any questions they may have could help allay any concerns and encourage them to purchase from you.

As all feedback, whether good or bad, is a way to help improve your business, it means in one way or another the customer really is always right.

Get your free ecommerce store now:

Thursday, 20 September 2012

There has never been a better time for your business to use Pinterest

There has never been a better time for small businesses to take advantage of Pinterest as, according to research carried out by Shareaholic, Pinterest has recently moved ahead of Yahoo as the 4th biggest source of traffic on the Internet. Since May, the site has doubled in size with more users than ever taking advantage of the platform.

If you are a run an ecommerce store, you should be looking to take advantage of Pinterest in order to create an extra marketing stream to promote your products to users. If you have never used Pinterest or are unsure what it is, essentially Pinterest is a virtual pinboard for images. When a user visits the site they can click on the search bar and enter a keyword related to images they would like to search for. They will then be shown a list of images that relate to the search parameters. The user then has the option to click on an image to view it in greater detail, comment on the image, like it or repin it. 

How can this help my business?

When selling through an online store, the more places you can display your products, the more chance you are going to have of making a sale. Pinterest allows you to add all of your product images to their system, meaning that if a user searches for something that is related to one of your products (e.g. women's shoes) the image of your product will be placed within these search results. If a user clicks on your product image, they can then see your profile as you are the one who originally "Pinned" it to the site. When the user lands on your profile, they are able to not only see all of the other images you have added to Pinterest, but they can also click on one of the external links to visit your store or view other social media accounts. 

Even if the user looks at your product but doesn't visit your online store, they may decide to "repin" the image meaning it then appears on their own Pinterest board for a whole new set of people to see. You can see the snowball effect happening here as more and more people will see your product and become aware of your overall brand, increasing the traffic your store is going to generate. 

How to get started?

Using Pinterest is pretty straightforward, what you first need to do is visit the Pinterest website and create a new account for free. Once the account has been created, you will then need to click on "Add" at the top of the page and select the image on your computer that you would like to place on the site. If a number of your products fall under one category, such as a specific product range, you could look to create a new board to place them all on. With over 10 million registered users on the site, it is a great opportunity to establish an extra marketing channel for your products, increasing the traffic and sales you will generate. 

How to get your local business to the top of Google

All businesses, whether they are a large corporate brand or a small online store, spend a substantial amount each year on trying to get their business to the top of the rankings through search engine optimisation.  

No matter what type of business you run, due to the substantial amount of ecommerce stores that are all selling the same products, it is going to be difficult to get your business at the top of a search engine using any keywords.

However, if you are an online business with a local address, you can look to increase the sales your business can achieve locally simply through your geographical location. When someone is looking for a particular product or service within their local area, they will look for services in their area using a search engine. For example, if someone is looking for car repairs and live in Preston, they will type "Car repair in Preston." The search engine will then crawl through the webpages and bring back all the sites that fit this search query.

As the user has searched for services within a specific geographical location, the search engine will also bring up a list of businesses related to the search through the maps feature on the first few search results. When each business ranks within this feature is dependant on how close the a business's address is to the centre of that particular location. 

So if you are small business struggling to establish an online presence, you can look to take advantage of this feature by moving your business as close to the centre of your town or city as you can. That way when someone searches for the service you provide within your area, it will ensure that your business appears on the first page of the search engine results. This will result in not only an increase in online traffic, but also will probably result more walk in sales for your store. 

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

International Selling - Where to sell? [Infographic]

If your online store has achieved reasonable levels of success selling domestically, you may decide that you want to try your hand at selling Internationally. However, if you do decide that you want to spread your wings and try to sell across foreign shores, do you try and sell anywhere and everywhere or do you focus on certain countries?

An infographic produced by marketing company, Search Laboratory, has taken a look at which countries currently spend the most when shopping online and which countries are set to grow in the next year. 

If you are looking to branch out and sell online, the two biggest ecommerce countries excluding the UK is the US and Japan, with £174 billion and £50 billion spent respectively. However, when deciding which countries to sell to Internationally, you shouldn't just focus on the biggest grossing countries. Where you sell depends entirely on what products you sell. Some products will do better than others in various countries. For example, if you sell cartoon animations and other graphics, you will probably find that Asia will be your most successful International market to sell to and it might not do as well in say France, even though France is one of the biggest ecommerce countries with £26 billion spent.

If you aren't looking to sell Internationally right now, but may look to do it in the near future, which country should your ecommerce store be looking to target for the future? While China currently only has around £11 billion spent on ecommerce shopping, it is expected that the number of Internet users in the country will grow by 140 million to 626 million. While all of these won't be selling products online, there will still be a rapid growth in the number of Chinese people purchasing items online that you can take advantage of with a projected increase in ecommerce spending of £3 billion. However, while China is projected to see the biggest growth in terms of Internet users, the projected biggest increase in ecommerce spending belongs to India, who will have an ecommerce spending growth of £4.7 billion by 2013. 

Although you may wish to begin selling Internationally, you shouldn't forget about the vast number of sales that can be made in the UK. While the US spends the most as a country, it is the UK that is ahead of everyone else in terms of the amount spent per person.

A detailed guide to increasing your sales on eBay

With over 100 million registered eBay users worldwide, it is becoming more difficult than ever to sell products online. No matter what items you decide you want to sell, there will be thousands of other people out there all selling the exact same products. So, how do you make a customer choose to buy the product from you, rather than getting it from someone else?

While an eBay store owner may not have large amounts of time to spend on optimising their store, there are a few simple tasks you can do both on and off eBay to help not only increase traffic to your store, but also make your products more visible and appealing to customers. 

On eBay...

Product Title - One of the more obvious aspects of your products but what you insert will make all the difference in terms of whether a user will find it in their search. The first few words of your product title need to be the keywords that relate to your product. Essentially they need to be the words that a customer would type in a search bar when looking for that particular product. Many people like to put stars or exclamation marks at the start of their product title and while this will help the title stand out visually to the user, it will most likely result in your product appearing further down the search results than you would have liked. 

Product Description - Just like your product title, the key to a good product description is to cut out any waffle. It should be clear, concise and include all of the information that a customer will need in order to make an informed decision. You should also include all other information about the item as a whole such as condition, warranty and the delivery options that will be available to the customer. The more information you provide them with, the more comfortable they will feel in purchasing from your store. 

As you are a professional business, it is important that you project a professional image to your customers. This means that when writing both the product title and product description you should refrain from the following:

  • Placing capital letters where they aren't grammatically correct
  • Including a number of different fonts in your title and description
  • Including a number of different colours in your title and description

Product Image - One of the most important aspects of any product when determining if a product will actually be sold or not. If your product does not have an image, the likelihood is that the the item won't get sold. The image should clearly show the product to the customer. If the image is blurred or doesn't show the product in its entirety, it's going to make customers sceptical about the product as they may believe something may be wrong with it. Many eBay stores now employ a professional photographer to take images of all their products to ensure that the the images they place on their online store are of the highest possible quality. You should also look to have numerous images of each of your products, showing all areas of the item from various angles. Like I said earlier, the more information you can provide a customer with, the more likely they will make a purchase. 

Stand out from your rivals with a custom template from eSellution
Store Template - The look of your store is another important factor in helping your business stand out from your competitors. Having the same generic eBay template that most other stores have is just going to make you seem much less professional and also provides no real reason why a customer should choose your store as opposed to a store that has the same generic template and products. Having a custom eBay template on your store will work wonders in giving your business a new lease of life, making it seem more professional and appealing to visiting customers as well as increasing the number of sales you are going to make, as customers will have more trust and confidence in your products and services. 

Increased Speed and Engagement -  Although you may receive a hundreds of customers visiting your store each day, you should try and make the experience as personal as you can for each customer. One of the ways to do this is to keep the customer well informed throughout the entire purchasing process. This means emailing them when the order has been placed, when the order has been processed and when it has been dispatched. Keeping the customer in the loop stops them getting frustrated and also makes them feel more valued, encouraging them to become a repeat buyer in the future. While engagement is important, so is speed. People generally want something as quick as possible, meaning the faster you can get the product to the customer, the happier they are going to be. 

A Good DSR - Your detailed seller rating (DSR) is another key aspect of your eBay store as poor feedback from your customers is going to put future customers off buying from your store. All eBay businesses are going to get one or two bad reviews it happens everyone, the key is to act on these bad reviews to make sure that you don't get more reviews for the same issue. The key to making your business a success is to look at all feedback, even negative, in a positive light. All feedback is a great way to make your online store more efficient and appealing to future customers. 

Delivery Options - The more options you provide a customer with, the happier they are going to be and delivery options are no different. When a customer makes a purchase from your store, they are going to want to select a delivery option that fits in with their daily lives. Some may want next day delivery, others may want to receive the product within a few working days. Having a variety of options for customers to choose from in terms of delivery is going to make them happier with the whole experience, resulting in not only a sale, but also a good DSR.

Stock Variety - If you find that the products you currently have in your store are struggling to achieve many sales, you may look to freshen up your stock by adding a new line of items. When deciding on new items to sell, you should look at your competitors and customer buying trends to see what are the most popular items people are currently buying and how you can take advantage of a niche market by selling products that your competitors may not be selling. 

Off eBay...

While the majority of your customers are going to be people who have come across your products through the eBay search feature, you shouldn't rest on your laurels and rely only on this traffic source. When running your online store, you need to be out there actively engaging with people, drawing them to your store. 

Blogging - A great way to help stand yourself out from the crowd so to speak. While there are hundreds of thousands of active eBay stores, only a few of these will actually produce regular blog articles. These blogs are not only a great way to create an identity for your business, but they also draw in users who may not know about your business, but are simply interested in the article. This then gives you the opportunity to transform these users from readers to customers. When deciding what content to produce, you should look to produce articles that are related to the products and services that your business provides. For example, if you run an eBay store selling various clothing items, you may look to produce content about the lastest fashion trends or news from the world of fashion. These blogs will also play a great role in helping improve the ranking of your store in search engines, resulting in even more traffic and sales. 

Increase your sales with social media engagement
Social Media - Probably the most important part of marketing and customer engagement for any eBay business. In order to draw customers to your ecommerce store, you are going to have to create a brand identity and make people aware of your business. To do this you should start by making accounts for your business across all social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. This then allows you to generate followers and provide content to these followers, advertising products and offers you currently have in your store. These followers then have the ability to share content you produced to their friends and followers, meaning your content could be exposed to thousands of people in a short space of time. 

For those who have never used Pinterest, I strongly recommend using it for your online business. This site allows you to place images of your products on to the site, for users to come across them when they carry out a search. This allows users to become aware of your product without actually visiting your store, increasing the levels of social commerce that your business could achieve.

Forums - Allows you to actively engage with buyers and sellers alike, getting any help or assistance you may need, while also helping provide other users with any help or guidance they may require. Building up a good, authoritative image on these forums, not only helps improve your business image making you seem much more professional, but will also result in more people visiting your online store to take a look at your products and possibly purchase some of them. Another option to take advantage of these forums is to create advertment banners and pay to have them placed on various forums. This increases the exposure your brand can achieve and will result in extra traffic to your eBay store. 

Marketing - There are a number of different marketing tools you can look to use in order to help draw customers to your store. This could possibly involve sending out advertisement emails and SMS messages as well as using search engine ads and taking advantage of retargeting. For a small business, I would recommend using email marketing and retargeting to begin with. Email marketing it easy to carry out and allows you to send a message to a large number instantly. Retrargeting allows you to build up regular customers by having your products appear to customer in banner advertisements across various sites. While this costs money to implement, it ensures that your products are being exposed to people who will definitely have an interest in the items, resulting in more traffic and a higher conversion rate for your eBay store.

Sell Across Multiple Platforms - While eBay is going to be your primary source for selling products, there is no harm in increasing the exposure your products can achieve by selling these products across more platforms. Having ecommerce, mobile and Facebook versions of your store allows you to import your eBay products on to each of the platforms and allowing more people to become aware of your products. While you may think this would be a more costly and time consuming route, there are a number of ecommerce platforms that make this relatively simple. The service we offer here at eSellution allows you to create your own ecommerce store selling across all of these platforms, integrating it all with your current eBay store, without you having to spend more time than you currently spend running your eBay store and you can get it all for free