SusanD has written 24 articles so far, you can find them below.
Susan was raised in Missouri but has lived 'out west' for more than 10 years. She currently bounces back and forth between the Phoenix and the San Francisco areas and is always looking for the next adventure. Susan considers herself a curious soul, which has made research and blogging a perfect fit for her. She especially enjoys keeping up with and writing on local businesses, travel, and eCommerce issues. When she's not running Zippycart, she's probably researching a random piece of information she came across online.
By Susan Delly
May 10, 2013
Mother’s Day is a wonderful tradition that is shared between mothers, grandmothers, aunties and other caregivers, with the children and loved ones who have come under their care. This celebration, in it’s many different forms, has spanned since early time but has been recognized in the USA as “Mother’s Day” since the early 20th century.
Simply put, it’s a day to spoil your mom. If you still don’t know what to get her however, here are a few quick and easy suggestions. In fact, you can do all of them on the computer, right now!
- Help Mom Organize Her Memories
This is a great, last minute idea for Mother’s Day! Bring your old, treasured images out of storage and into the limelight with digital scanning services. Just mail them in and PhotoBin will scan them with the option of online archiving for one year and a free DVD or CD for sharing and safekeeping. You’ll be able to view them online, email them to friends and family, upload them to Facebook, have them enlarged for framing, or turn them into video slideshows. Plus, professional scanning is a surefire way to protect priceless memories from time, elements, and curious toddlers. National: Professional Scanning Services ($109 Value)
- Show Your Mom That She’s a Star to You!
Another special last minute Mother’s Day idea can be found when you look to the night sky. Dedicate a star to the one you love for the entire world to see. Your Star Forever allows you to gift an actual star from the universe to someone you care about, so that the person’s name and a shared personal message is associated with it for eternity Every dedication includes a printable certificate of ownership, a personal photo, a personal video, a personal message, and a scheduled email or text delivery of the exciting news. Your choice of photo, video, star name, and message will be included in the registrar forever, so anyone who comes across your star will be able to see your heartfelt tribute. National: Dedicate A Star To Someone Special (89% Off)
- Let Mom Pick the Movie… and the Eats!
Oooh, most mothers would love to have a night out with pre-paid gift cards on Mother’s Day. Just in time to plan your next date night, get a Restaurant.com eGift Certificate, two movie tickets and a $5 Dinner and the Movies Gift Code. Enjoy an intimate dinner for two at one of over 18,000 restaurants nationwide and then head to the movie of your choice. The movie tickets are accepted at almost every theater in the US. It’s the perfect way to save on date night with your sweetie or birthday treat! National: Dinner And A Movie For Two (64% Off)
- Help Mom Take Better Pictures!
Would your mom like some help with her photography skills this last minute Mother’s Day? Capture stunning shots and develop a whole new outlook on photography with Mom and Pop Photo School. Designed for parents who want beautiful photos of their family, this course will help you feel confident stepping out of AUTO mode. MORE_START In the Mom’s Guide to Great Photos, you’ll learn the secrets of finding the right light and how to get any kid to cooperate—even your own! You’ll learn how to make photography fun with tips on how to stress less, go easy on yourself, and how to best use whichever camera you have – whether it’s a DSLR, point-and-shoot or even a phone camera. National: Mom’s Guide to Great Photos ($19 Value)
- Give the Kiva Gift That Keeps Giving
Charity is something that my mom stressed to me so she loves it when I give her a gift that let’s her help others. Every year we exchange a few Heifer International or Kiva gift cards… and then have fun finding new places to volunteer. If you don’t have the funds for a gift card this year, maybe you could simply take your mom to a place and volunteer with her. That special time will always be remembered well.
Give your mom the ability to help another mother in need.
We’d love to hear your last minute ideas for the perfect Mother’s Day gift in the comments!
By Susan Delly
March 8, 2013
One of the things that we love about Shopping Cart software is innovative and fast paced… it’s always improving. This is especially apparent when you look at the shopping cart solutions on ZippyCart’s top carts of 2013 comparison list.
Here are a few recent upgrades and changes that are worth noting.
- Fortune3 – after a recent upgrade, the team at Fortune3 was pleased to announce their integration with Endicia, for all of your shipping needs. It’ll now be easier to print postage and labels online!
- PinnacleCart – as of March 15, 2013, PinnacleCart.com has decided to focus their efforts on their hosted solution and no longer offer their licensed solution. They will still be providing the same quality support to their existing licensed stores and right now, they have a killer offer for those who want to get in on their licensed product last minute. Check them out if you’re interested!
- AmeriCommerce - with the latest upgrade, they added new embedding tools, blog widgets, a customer reward system, additional payment options, a new coupon code generator, a bunch of new apps and 2 new themes. They’ve been busy over at AmeriCommerce!
- Ashop – a company on the rise… AshopCommerce is currently taking on some major upgrades. They have recently put out an amazing new admin design and layout and have disabled some features that were outdated, to make for a smoother, easier navigation. For more information, check out their ZippyCart review and site.
- Shopify – version 3.4 of Shopify mobile was recently released and with it comes some stress reducing goodies. Their new mobile dashboard allows eMerchants to access key orders and products easily, as well as manage batch or multiple orders with one click!
With the whirlwind of changes and improvements, the eMerchant always wins!
Have you ever considered having a favorite star promote your brand through a tweet?
By Susan Delly
March 1, 2013
Social media has long proven itself to be an effective way for online business owners to keep in touch with their shoppers and increase sales and revenue in doing so. Aside from the basic tweeting and promotion, however, what can you do with it? One of the underground trends that you may not have considered is hiring a celebrity tweet.
You heard me right. You can pay a celebrity to tweet about your brand / current sale / hottest products / etc. Or if you’re lucky, you might get one to do it for free!
It makes sense, right? Tweeting a product is just another way for celebs to make a buck promoting and placing products or to thank vendors for sending them free stuff. With Twitter in the game now, SMB eMerchants are given an opportunity to use celeb endorsements in a way they may not have been able to afford before. (Tweets can run anywhere from $100 – $10,000, depending on the celeb.)
Is this type of promotion good for my business? Do paid celebrity tweets work?!
Possibly. Experts tend to agree that you may see good short term benefits from a celeb tweet but, it’s not a good strategy for repeat or long-term marketing. When going over the possibility for your online store, there are a few things for you to consider so you can judge your potential success.
- Evaluate your target audience and think on which celeb they may identify with and be following. If you sell women’s fashion, consider a Kardashian. If you are a sports dealer, look towards Mike Tyson. If you just wrote a new book, consider an established author in your genre.
- Check the tweet stream of your preferred celebrities and make sure they’re not crowded with obvious promotional tweets. Fans will catch on quickly if paid tweets have saturated a healthy Tweet stream.
- Think on the celeb’s reputation and if it works with your company’s personality. We all know gossip and controversial celebs can catch a lot of media and their tweet may bring a lot of traffic but, you need to decide if your company may be hurt or benefit from the association. Likely, if you just use them one time, you’ll only see a positive impact but that’s a decision you’ll have to make.
- Look at the number of followers your potential celebrities have and compare that number to the amount they charge per tweet. Is it worth it to your business?
- Consider your marketing budget and decide if it can support an experimental tweet. Some companies have had good conversions off of celebrity tweets. If you choose wisely, you could see a lot of short term success with it, too.
Celebrity tweets give you an interesting way to reach a new pocket of consumers and some fresh traffic. Plus, they’re fun. Think of the top 5 – 10 celebrities that have an audience that may overlap with your online store’s audience and then give their agents a shout to see if they’re open to a little Twitter promotion for your brand. Or, for smaller business… try smaller, more personal celebs. Send your local and upcoming celebs a message or gift them the product you’d like them to try and simply ask them to give you a shout-out. They may do it for free because they’re cool or because they like the free gear. You never know until you try!
Who are your favorite celebs and do they offer promotional tweets? Have you tried this marketing method? We’d love to hear your comments below.
By Susan D
January 30, 2013
With social media participation on the rise and mobile devices that keep us connected with our friends, family and colleagues almost all the time, it’s quite easy to get distracted while you are at work. Because of this, it’s important to avoid the personal clutter and tune your work day to its fullest potential (between FB breaks). Work requires calls to your clients or customers, social media marketing, scheduling press releases, attracting new clients, taking care of the existing ones, checking your inbox etc.
How are you going to manage your time efficiently?
Will you take a time management class? Well, you don’t need to do that (and who has the time?). Given below are some of the best tips that will help you make the most of your time and schedule your day for maximum coverage.
- Schedule Your Day You’re mistaken if you think breakfast is the first thing to do in the morning. In order to manage your time efficiently, you can use the time before breakfast to plan your entire day, every day. Before you chow down, you can quickly scan your emails so you will have a general idea of the expectations the beginning of your day may bring.
- Keep a Time-Sheet In order to build healthy time management habits, start keeping a time sheet. This gives you accountability (to yourself) and lets you see if you are really as busy as you think you are.
Be honest! Assign the start and end time for each task. Since there’s so much to do every day, you have a high risk of spending your time unproductively or thinking you’ve been more dedicated than you actually have. By assigning time to each of the task on your everyday’s To-do list, you can quickly manage your time and get more done in a specific amount of time.
- Prioritize When you have your time sheet to reference, you can more easily start to prioritize the tasks on your to-do list and allot the proper amounts of time for each task. Assigning points to each of the tasks that you’re required to do may help keep them organized. For example, you can rate the importance of a specific task on a scale of 1-10. A task that has a rating of 9.5 or 9.8 or 10 must be done immediately.
- Identify Your Most Productive Hours A time sheet will also help you identify those hours when you feel most energized or active… and the hours when you are sluggish and easily distracted. These peak hours are different for everyone. Some people get most productive during the early hours of the day or the first half of the day while there are others who feel more focused in the evening hours. Identify your peak and get most of your work done during that time.
- Plan Your Interruptions As mentioned above also, it’s quite easy to get interrupted or distracted. While you are engrossed at work, you should make sure that no one disturbs or diverts your attention from what you are doing. Therefore, it’s also a good idea to plan your interruptions in advance, so that you can work while you work and play while you play. After all, taking a break is also vital for recharging your batteries. Consult your time sheet and look for your sluggish hours. Take a brisk walk or take a break with some techo (headphone required) if necessary… whatever helps you regroup.
- Keep Track of Your Progress The best thing about keeping a to-do list is that you get to scratch things off of it. Since you’ve prioritized the tasks of your day, make sure you are crossing off the high ranked ones and not just skipping ahead to the easy stuff. Balance is key and helps keep you motivated. Keeping track of the completed tasks and what needs to be done next is essential for maximizing your workday productivity.
How do you schedule your day for making the most of your time while at work? Please feel free to share your own opinions and thoughts.
By Susan Delly
December 28, 2012
Email Marketing is a powerful tool that, when used right, can be an easily affordable way to keep in touch with your clients and create a loyal fan base. There are many different strategies associated with email marketing however so we’ve gotten in touch with some experts at Listrak to answer some basic questions and share information that was gathered by their recent study.
Q&A with Ross Kramer, CEO of Listrak
ZippyCart: Hello Ross, welcome to ZippyCart’s eCommerce News. We love the new study you’ve put out about email marketing and were hoping you could give us some insight on the ways it can benefit the eMerchants who come to our blog for the latest eCom news.
Ross: The main takeaway from the study is that consumers are engaging with emails from online retailers, so email marketing is still extremely effective. The study found that emails that had very targeted subject lines prompted the consumer to open the email. Case in point, if you’re an eMerchant, one of the most cost-effective ways to engage your consumer is by launching email marketing campaigns that have targeted subject lines, call-to-action messages, effective landing pages, and are consistent across channels. It’s also more effective when eMerchants segment their audience by purchase habits and lastly, remind shoppers to purchase.
ZippyCart: With your deep understanding of email marketing, in what ways do you feel it benefits the small to medium online business owner?
Ross: Email marketing is beneficial to any kind of business, large or small, given that it is a cost-effective way to reach and engage consumers. For an SMB, email marketing is a solid solution for engaging consumers with your e-commerce site given that it saves employees time from having to push marketing campaigns across channels manually. One person can manage an email marketing campaign easily across an automated platform, which works in favor of SMBs looking for a cost and time effective way to get consumers to visit their sites.
ZippyCart: What are the different types of email marketing available for today’s eMerchants?
Ross: There are various types of email marketing strategies for today’s eMerchants. Some of the most well-known and effective strategies and solutions include acquisition, re-engagement series, behavioral targeting, shopping cart abandonment, transactional, welcome series, mobile engagement, post purchase and modal acquisition.
ZippyCart: Because re-engagement is more cost effective than acquisition, what strategy would you recommend for eMerchants who are looking to reconnect with inactive customers and increase sales thru their existing client base?
Ross: eMerchants that are looking to reconnect with inactive customers should look into launching a win-back campaign. These campaigns will typically have a headline similar to “we miss you” and will then include some sort of deal or discount, or product recommendations based on past order history. At Listrak, we’ve found that these win-back campaigns have a 50 percent high click-through rate than batch-and-blast email campaigns. Additionally, they average a 5 percent conversion rate.
ZippyCart: Could you go over some of the key results from your study?
Ross: The study surveyed more than 2,000 U.S. adults ages 18+ on how they react to email marketing. The study found that email marketing remains one of the best ways to communicate with and convert online shoppers with 97 percent of consumers receiving emails from retailers, and more 80 percent open those emails. Additionally, we found that consumers are more likely to open an email that is targeted to them specifically, than generic emails. For instance, more than half (53%) of consumers who open emails from retailers indicated that they open emails with subject lines showcasing a special offer.
Since it’s clear that email marketing is an eCom trend that has been growing steadily and is here to stay, start looking into your business model to discover which strategy would best help you retain customers and increase revenue for your online business.
Are you already using email marketing? If so… we’d love to hear your experience in the comments below!
Online Shopping can help consumers avoid stress in this 2012 holiday season!
By Susan Delly
November 14, 2012
The holidays are right around the corner which means holiday shopping is revving up for another busy season. OH NO!!! For many people, this type of extreme buying is burdened by stress and indecision (when it should be a fun celebration of friends and family). Because of this stress, consumers are flocking to the internet for their holiday shopping needs. Shopping online is associated with convenience and saving money but there are other tools of the online shopping world that will help to make your 2012 holiday shopping spree as stress-free as possible. (Online store owners take note… your online store should offer some, if not all of these features to your holiday shoppers!)
Here are a few of my favorite things… err, favorite holiday shopping features, I mean.
- Customer Reviews
I <3 customer reviews. They are the best tool for determining the quality and function of a product before we buy it. If you have a smart phone, you can look up reviews while shopping brick-n-mortar stores but they’re especially helpful when shopping online because you do not get the chance to see products in real life before you purchase (and possibly ship) them. Online stores that offer customer reviews not only help their customer base but they also increase content for their site, making it more SEO friendly.
- Product Recommendations
Sometimes you can still be unsure of a product, even when it has glowing reviews. If the site you’re shopping has product recommendations on the side, however, you can quickly and easily move from one similar product to the next instead of leaving that website and going to another. Product recommendations help indecisive buyers by recommending other like items. This either strengthens a positive opinion of the 1st product or helps you move on to the next. Keeping shoppers on your site instead of losing them to another leads to increased sales for eMerchants, far and wide!
- Online Wish Lists
Ahh, wish lists, the virtual dream registry. When I discover a friend has a wish list going on their favorite web shop, I feel like I’ve found the pot’o’gold at the end of the rainbow. Wishlists ensure that I pick something they like and it lets me shop around in their favorites for something that I would like to send them, as well. It’s a win-win situation. Now… how do we get all of our friends and family to make them before the holidays?
- Online Gift Certificates
The safety of an online gift certificate is appealing to many. It’s easy to buy, you don’t have to wrap it and… most people love getting them. They’ve become so easy that nowadays, you don’t even have to buy a card for one; instead, you can send it by email! Emailed gift certificates make sure that they recipient gets it on time (even if you bought it late), and ensures that they can’t lose it before they spend it (like I did a million times with cards of the past). Other than the fact that they’re a little boring, there’s really no downside to an online gift card.
Donate a goat in someone’s name… it helps a family in poverty feed themselves and charity is perfect for someone who has everything!
What on EARTH do you get for the person who has everything? Or for your crunchy friends who hate consumerism? Or for your friends with ‘causes’? Taking the altruistic approach to holiday cheer is the best way for many and a great way to share the spirit of the holiday in a kind way. My personal favorite site is Kiva but it was pretty awesome when my parents donated a goat to a family in S. America for my last birthday present! Other great charities include our SF local, Help a Mother Out, and Charity Choice, the site that allows you to set an amount and have your giftee pick their own charity out of a list of over 250!
Shopping online for the holidays has definitely opened up a way to avoid the holiday rush, crowds and crazy drivers. Keep these features on the top of your brain so you can utilize them to find the best possible gifts for your friends, loved ones or the local charity Christmas tree! And if you’re an eMerchant as well as a holiday shopper, make sure your eCommerce solution software is optimized with some of these great features.
By Susan Delly
November 8, 2012
In today’s competitive market, it’s important for your brand to be noticed and remembered, as long as it’s in a good way. The proper website can help get the attention you deserve by attracting customers, increasing revenue and putting organic, word of mouth talk out about your company. This type of website building is harder than it may seem, however, as every store will have different needs and different paths to success. Like many other features in eCommerce, everything depends on your target audience as every different set of consumers will have different needs and wants. That being said, after you determine your ideal customer grouping, there are some standard features that will help you make sure your business stands out from the rest!
- A Professional Design– Making sure your website looks good at first glance can turn a browser into a shopper and instill a sense of trust. To do this, you’ll need professionally designed templates or a web designer. One of the worst things to encounter when shopping online is a site that looks sketchy or like it was built in the Miami Vice days. If the web shop owner doesn’t care enough to keep their look and feel up-to-date… how can we trust that they are reliable and keep their security up-to-date?! One of the top reasons for a high bounce rate, shopping cart abandonment and low revenue is an ugly, untrustworthy looking site. This is an easy fix though as most hosted eCommerce solutions software offers free, built-in themes and templates that are professionally designed.
CoreCommerce eCommerce software offers many free, professionally designed themes!
- A Clean, Easy-to-Navigate Page Layout – Enough cannot be said about making sure your page has an uncomplicated layout. Products and relevant information should be easy to search for and the shopping cart check-out process should alwaysbe quick and uncomplicated. Never require registration to complete a purchase. Instead, go for an onsite, 1-page check-out system and make sure you offer many payment options; this includes all major credit cards, PayPal and even possibly, Amazon Checkout! If a shopper has a hard time finding the products they want or finds themselves in a lengthy sales process that asks too many questions, they are likely to leave your site with no sale completion.
Nexternal‘s eCommerce solution offers a unique and extremely user-friendly On-Screen shopping cart. The cart automatically totals a purchase while you shop, reducing cart abandonment.
- Sales and Promo – Who’s guilty of price shopping? And when you find a great deal on a trustworthy site, do you share it with your friends? Most people are more likely to shop and return to sites that offer good pricing and sales events. Yes, almost everyone likes a good deal and luckily, nowadays there are many ways of delivering one. You can promote coupon codes, free shipping, buy-one-get-one-free, and other incentives through outlets such as email, blogs, and social media. If you set your store up with quality and customer needs in mind, you will drive traffic to your site with the sales and promotions you offer. Once the traffic is there, a clear call to action is important to ensure easy navigation. A call to action is usually a clickable button that draws user attention and encourages them to complete an action such as BUY NOW, READ MORE or REGISTER HERE. Be sure to place them well and not overuse call of action buttons as they can make a site appear gimmicky, if used wrong.
- An Interesting Logo – Since the beginning of commerce, kings and merchants alike have used methods such as seals, cattle brands, coins, statues, and other markings, in the same way that we use them today… as name or brand recognition. Logos can provide immediate insight on what a company is about and give impressions of a brand’s style at a glance. Best of all… logos lead to product recognition in a similar way that a catchy advertising song or motto would. Because of this, it’s important to put some time into your logo and take advantage of all the branding opportunities it provides. Think about what works for your target audience and create your logo around them, with an eye on the future. We recommend that you seek professional guidance and even hire a graphic designer to create your logo. After all, it’ll prove to be a major part of your brand recognition.
Top solutions like AShop Commerce can design custom logos for your online shop. Great logos are not cheap but are 100% worth the investment as they provide your company branding.
Pulling together a website is a complicated process that can be simplified with the help of hosted eCommerce solutions software. Following these tips can help you stand out from the competition, be remembered and shared by your audience, and will put you on your way to becoming the next trend.
By Susan D
October 10, 2012
These days, marketing can make or break an online business so it’s important to pick an eCommerce solution that has a robust set of marketing tools. Every business has different needs, of course, but our ZippyCart team of experts has compiled a list of the general favorite marketing tools of online business owners.
- Social Media Marketing – Social media marketing is a fairly new type of marketing that has taken the eCommerce world by storm. Small business owners can do their own social media promotion and drive visitors to their website for ‘free’ but medium business may want to invest in a social media specialist, as there can be a lot of work involved to reach the full potential. Great social media tools to look for include an RSS subscription, a store blog, ‘Sharing’ and ‘Liking’ products on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and Pinterest, and the ability to Sell on Facebook with a free FB application or storefront.
- Mobile Commerce – Having the ability to browse a store through a smartphone is becoming an expectation so today’s eMerchants had better be prepared. It’s best to find be partnered with a shopping cart software that gives you this feature for free in all packages so that you won’t have to worry about extra costs adding up. The opportunity to reach more than 1/3 of the USA population and many others throughout the world can greatly increase your sales. Look for companies who offer free applications that support all smart phones and tablets, including the iPhone, iPad, Android devices and Blackberry.
- Cart Abandonment ReMarketing – Shopping cart abandonment is the Achilles Heel of eCommerce and a huge problem for eMerchants. There are many reasons an online shopper may leave in the middle of a sale so it’s important to have the opportunity to pull them back in with special offers and other incentives. Check the marketing features of any eCommerce solution to make sure they offer cart abandonment remarketing.
- Email Marketing – Occasionally emailing your existing customer base is a great way to keep them informed on any promotions, sales and coupon offers you may be having. Offering these unique perks and incentives is also a great way to encourage customer loyalty and get return customers. The key here is balance… be careful you don’t email too often! Make sure that your shopping cart software offers email marketing or is integrated with a company such as Mail Chimp or Constant Contact.
- Customer Product Reviews – Clients love to read what other buyers have to say about a product they’re considering and reviews are said to help make a final decision for many online shoppers. Moderated customer reviews are great for the online shop, too, as they offer a ton of new content, which helps with SEO and ranking.
- Business Blogs – Another great way to get the word out about new products or promotions is through your store’s blog. Write up some unique content, share it through your social media and watch it drive traffic to your online store. Like customer reviews, a blog is another great way to increase your sites content and improve SEO and ranking.
- Special Offers – Almost everyone loves a good deal so making sure your shopping cart software allows you to feature things such as coupons, buy 1 get 1 free, seasonal promotions, discounts based on total shopping cart sale, and free shipping will help create a sense of urgency and deliver a positive response from your target audience and increase revenue. All of the better quality eCommerce solutions should cover these basics but it’s best to check and be sure of the cart you’re looking at.
It’s easy to understand why these 7 marketing tools rank amongst the top favorite for eCom owners today. No online store should be without them as they make life easier for both the eMerchant and the online shopper!
By Susan D
Sept 24, 2012
There is so much competition in today’s world of shopping cart solutions. With over 300 eCommerce companies to choose from… how does an online merchant know which one will be best for their business needs? Well, here at ZippyCart, we’ve been researching eCommerce solution software all year and have a list of what we consider the top 12 eCommerce solutions of 2012.
Here is a look at the top 12 eCommerce Solutions of 2012, in alphabetical order.
- 3d Cart “Starting an online business has never been easier.”
The team at 3dCart is proud of their design tools and the ease in which their online merchants can set-up a web shop. They offer over 50 website templates and the ability to customize on your own through their HTML & CSS access. They also have a Quick Edit Bar that will speed up the process of building your store and let you see your edits in real-time. 3dCart offers over 25 SEO tools because they feel that Search Engine Optimization is the most important consideration, when building an online store. They also have a feature which allows for different levels of pricing based on your customer grouping. 3dCart is feature rich!
- Amazon Webstore “Put the power of Amazon behind your site.”
Amazon is a huge name in online shopping but some don’t know that they also offer an eCommerce solution for online merchants as well. They offer packages for the individual seller, Small/Medium Business, and Large Businesses. SMB’s can use AmazonWebstore in many ways. They can integrate with Amazon Services to get their product in front of the millions of Amazon customers, they can choose Fulfillment by Amazon and have their shipping needs handled for them, or they can simply put Amazon Prime and Check-out on their existing website.
- AmeriCommerce “Grow With Us”
As one of Inc 5000’s fastest growing companies, the AmeriCommerce team invites all merchants, big and small to partner and grow with them. They are one of the only eCommerce solutions that allow you to manage multiple storefronts with one unified admin panel, making AmeriCommerce unique amongst hundreds of shopping cart software companies. Their CRM (customer relationship management) shopping cart also makes customer and order history, order management and order history a breeze with features like abandoned cart follow-up, mail list management, and automatic confirmation emails.
- AShop Commerce “Selling online is now easy.”
The eCom specialists at AShopCommerce (not to be confused with AshopSoftware) have put a lot of time into building and thought into their SEO and feel that your success is their success. They allow their merchants to sell both physical and downloaded products through a computer or mobile store front. They also provide a solid SEO that features spider friendly URLs, auto HTML & CSS generation, customizable META tags, and auto tag generation.
- Big Commerce “Sell More”
The team at BigCommerce have built one of the most complete eCommerce Solutions that ZippyCart has come across. Their all-in-one solution will host your website, domain name, shopping cart, and more, while providing you with great SEO and a healthy feature set. All of this comes packaged in their fun, easy-to-use control panel! “Fun” might seem like a strange word but they’ve managed to make their system one of the most pleasant places to work!
- Core Commerce “Everything to make your online business click!”
Always a ZippyCart favorite, CoreCommerce stays on top of the trends and latest eCommerce technology. They provide an amazing support team that is always ready to answer questions about their system or full feature list. Their solution offers features such as a built-in blog, strong marketing presence, a mobile storefront, and easy-to-use design customization.
- Fortune 3 “Sell on the web, the right way!”
The shopping cart software provided by Fortune3 provides thousands of features that online merchants need to build, maintain and be successful with their online store. They allow you to sell your products on FaceBook and offer widgets that make social sharing a breeze. They also allow their merchants to keep in touch with their clients through customer reviews, newsletters and email marketing.
- Nexternal “Sell more online than ever before!”
Online business owners who already have an online store may be interested in Nexternal as they specialize in taking an existing storefront and adding it to their system. Their software includes an order management system, a B2B, and a business to customer store. This system allows clients to be separated in to specialized grouping, which makes them one of the few who offer this type of management. The team at Nexternal will take the time to do walk-throughs and address problem areas. They are very careful in taking on your business needs.
- Pinnacle Cart “Build the perfect online store in minutes.”
ZippyCart appreciates all of the work that the PinnacleCart team has put into their software. They’re always a favorite due to their extremely robust feature set and top-notch SEO & marketing. They take on cart abandonment with their unique Drift Marketing and keep customers engaged with features like a built-in blog and customer reviews. Products listed under their system can easily be pushed to eBay, Amazon, Yahoo, Google, PriceGrabber, NextTag, and more. In addition, all of their packages provide 3 ways to sell… a website, mobile store and Facebook storefront
- Shopify “Create your eCommerce store today with Shopify.”
Shopify has long been a heavy hitter for merchants who are seeking a shopping cart solution. Their storefronts usually look great and are built to sell as there are over 100 premium and free design templates to choose. They also allow you to write your website in any language that you want and have shopping cart check-out translations for over 50 languages. Of course to support this, they support currencies and tax rates, as well.
- Shopping Cart Elite “Innovation is how our shopping cart stands out from the rest.”
The team at SCE wants to make sure their stores are always ahead of the competition. They provide features that will spy on competitor pricing and adjust your prices accordingly, and features that will automatically build one way backlinks and drive traffic to your store. In addition, SCE will help you push your products into the Google Base, Ebay, Amazon and Craigslist, making sure you have visibility through many channels.
- Volusion “Open a successful online store.”
Having been around for more than a decade, Volusion is a well-known eCommerce solution that has stood the test of time. Their online stores come with a great product set-up and an integrated one-page checkout that helps buyers complete the sales process and reduce cart abandonment. Other helpful features include daily deals, coupons and discounts, and a wish list for customers.
Data has become a part of our everyday life – we are surrounded by it everywhere we look. But putting that data to work is another story entirely…
In this webinar, experts from Kabbage, Olark, Outright, SeeWhy and SumAll will take a look at a day in the life of one of your customers and teach you how to leverage big data to make smarter decisions for your business.
Our distinguished panel will discuss the following:
- How to use data to better understand your customers
- Why you should still be talking directly to them
- How to convert browsers into buyers
- How the power of social media will impact your business
- Adding all of it up to measure profit vs. loss
Kathryn Petralia, COO and Co-Founder, Kabbage
Sunir Shah, Chief Marketing Office, Olark
Laura Messerschmitt, VP of Marketing, Outright
Charles Nicholls, Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, SeeWhy
Catherine Gluckstein, President, SumAll
Moderator: Armando Roggio, Contributing Editor, Practical eCommerce
By Susan D
Sept 6th, 2012
QR, QR codes, quick response codes…
Observant consumers across the globe have witnessed a rush of QR codes popping up over the last year or so. Here in the SF Bay area, these 2 dimensional codes are creatively built into products ads and strategically placed around the city. When out with my friends, we often whip out our smart phones so we can scan them. The more random and unique the code is, the more curious we are to see the sale offer or information that may be hiding behind them. The Bay Area is a bit more tech trendy than most areas though so I’ve wondered if QR codes are as popular in the rest of the USA and world? When I travel outside the ‘Bubble of the Bay’, especially to smaller towns, I rarely see people taking advantage of QR codes in the same way that my SF friends do. So what does this mean?
Well, QR codes may not have gained widespread use as quickly as projected but the problems that may have been slowing the trend are easing up. With over 100 million smartphone users now in the USA alone, the market for QR scanning apps and usage has widened considerably. Also, awareness has grown and consumers are more interested in the potential behind the 2-dimensional codes.
There is still a dire need to link the eCommerce world, digital world, and the physical world and QR codes offer the perfect solution. Keep an eye on the communication potential they hold and in the next few years, you’ll undoubtedly see more of the public being educated, sold and swayed by the tiny bits of information that are hidden in the little squares.
In QR news this week alone…
- Students at Rutgers University unveiled a QR Code exhibit in effort to stay current with communication trends.
- Funeral directors in England are launching an effort to include QR codes on gravestones so that a tribute biography of the loved one is easily accessible.
- Give By Cell, a San Francisco company, is partnering with parks to help educate people on scenic views with QR codes and hopefully… generate on-the-spot donations for their conservation efforts!
Obviously, more travels are in order so I can accurately form a verdict on how the rest of the world is handling QR codes right now. I see the future of them, however, and the possibilities with QR codes are endless! I currently work with certain shopping cart solutions that offer QR codes as part of their standard package, and love how, with this and other features, they have their eye on the future of eCommerce communication trends.
By Susan D
August 30, 2012
Nowadays, merchants have the option of selling in physical stores, online stores, with mobile store fronts or all of the above. Some business owners who used to run exclusively brick-n-mortar stores are now seeing a higher percentage of their profits come through their online web store! With the rise of eCommerce, eMerchants can now reach a global market and millions of potential customers, in an instant. They are also able to sell 24/7, even while they sleep or are on vacation. Some don’t even keep an inventory at hand, but instead choose the convenience of drop shipping. The possibilities with selling online are endless… so how does one get started?
What are the basics of selling online?
- Research your product ideas: You don’t want to jump into the market with a product that is already saturated or that has too little interest. Find a desired product that is not being oversold; one that is popular or has a niche market (that is known to spend money) would be good choice.
- Know your market and narrow the target audience: In today’s economy, knowing your target audience is more important than ever. Marketing costs can be high, so knowing your audience allows you to market efficiently and more affordably. Be as specific as possible. In narrowing your target, you’re not excluding others; you’re simply making the most from your marketing dollar. Ex: Instead of targeting ‘young adults’, try something more specific like ‘adults 18-24 years old who are interested in the Wii gaming world”.
- Create an appealing product line-up: Using the research from your target audience and product ideas, you can now craft the most appealing product line. Product images, videos and product description are very important for this step. Ex: Instead of saying, “12 inch designer bag”, try “This bag is an adventurer’s dream. It is designer and durable with a 12” main pocket and several inside pockets for convenient storage. Take on the world… or your kids toys, as it’s easy to clean and available in many colors.” Invest time in marketing each individual product and you’ll see the rewards of your effort.
- Build your store around that narrowed audience: Now comes the fun part… what kind of ‘storefront’ do you want for your business? There are three options to decide from. First, you can either create your own web store with hosted companies like Nexternal, AmeriCommerce, or AShop. Second, you can go through a 3rd party option like Amazon, Ebay or Etsy. Or finally, if you have mad computer skills, you can buy licensed software and build your own webstore from scratch. Each way has its pros and cons so you need to think about your business and decide which is right for you.
Building an Online Store with a Hosted Shopping Cart Software
One of the best ways to ensure your store looks the way you want, is automatically geared towards success, and is easy to control, is by choosing hosted eCommerce solution software. Building your eStore with a hosted option often gives you the customer support that you’ll need for any problems that may occur, control over the look and feel of your storefront without having computer skills or knowing coding language, and the ability to control your daily operations from one main control panel. While hosted solutions charge a monthly fee, you can rest easy knowing that they are built to be SEO friendly, they will promote your products with features like image tools and video options, and can link you with the extra services you’ll need (such as a merchant account or payment gateway).
For most new store owners, a hosted shopping cart solution is the way to go. Find the best solution for your needs by checking out ZippyCart’s 3-step Find Your Solution feature!
By Susan D
August 1, 2012
With the Olympics well underway and millions of eyes glued to their home TV sets, this is a great time to talk about tCommerce, aka television commerce, and how it will affect small eCommerce business owners.
Imagine watching a political debate and being able to automatically donate to the campaign of your choice, through an interactive TV. Or seeing your favorite star on the red carpet and being able to order their outfit (or a reasonably priced version of it) by simply pressing a button on your remote. These ideas are not so out of reach. In fact, as far back as 2001, NBC was testing the tCommerce retail market with a shirt that was worn by Debra Messing in an episode of Will and Grace. Even 11 years ago, over 3000 of the promoted shirts were sold in less than18 hours and these types of interactive commerce ideas are gaining popularity as tCommerce becomes more understood.
So what is tCommerce?
In a nutshell, tCommerce is basically television commerce that targets viewers with interactive commercials, allowing them to buy on the spot by clicking a button on a remote control device. There does seem to be some confusion amongst the internet community about tCommerce however, so just to clarify…
eCommerce = electronic commerce, such as the internet
mCommerce = mobile phone or mobile tablet commerce
socialCommerce = any social media selling, such as Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest commerce
tCommerce = television commerce… the ability for consumers to purchase goods and services through their televisions.
Why is tCommerce important?
According to a survey conducted by PayPal in October 2011, half of TV subscribers (49%) show an interest in purchasing goods and services linked to the content they’re watching on TV, either directly from their television through their remote control, or on a companion device (smartphone or tablet). … Furthermore, according to research done by Nielsen, consumers who watch traditional television are engaged approximately 5.1 hours a day, whereas consumers who surf the Internet are engaged less than an hour a day.
To add to the growing popularity, the big dogs have joined the game. PayPal, Comcast, and TiVo have formed a partnership to “bring T-Commerce to life”. Soon, a commercial spot will be an interactive opportunity for consumers to select an item on the spot (TiVo) using a remote control like device (Comcast) to pause the show being watched and complete the transaction (PayPal)! There are many other companies in the loop, as well. Millions of cable boxes have been upgraded so that advertisers can reach the large television audience.
How will tCommerce affect small to medium business merchants?
For now, tCommerce shouldn’t have much effect on the world of an online business owner simply because it is dealing with a completely different target buyer – TV audiences. Though it will likely be a great channel for some marketers, internet sales continue to climb at an unprecedented rate.
By Susan Delly
July 20, 2012
Online sales are very different than those of brick-n-mortar stores. With eCommerce shopping, your website is your sales staff, the best and the worst of it all rolled into one sales opportunity. When shoppers come to your online store, they have to browse, select and buy products on their own, without any human interaction. This means that your storefront has to peak their curiosities and your products have to sell themselves.
It’s your job, as a web shop owner, to set your store up for maximum profit. There are many things involved in accomplishing this and one of the most important is your perfecting your product description. Because there is no sales associate there to sell, reassure the indecisive, or answer questions about the item of interest, the product description needs to.
So… how do you make the most from your product description? Let’s go through the 3 A’s (Audience, Attention and Articulation) to answer that question.
The first step is to understand your audience. Write to them, speak to them and sell to them. This also means you’ll have to know your product well enough to deliver it in a compelling package. If you’re selling to teens, use pop culture references. If you’re selling to parents, use proper grammar. If you’re selling to a general audience, try unique, well-written description that appeals to basic emotions. The idea here is to connect with your buyers and deliver the product in a way that they’ll appreciate.
The internet is a big, distracting world so it’s very important to quickly and securely grab your browser and turn them into a buyer. To do that, you can use a little humor, ask questions that draw them in or even wrap them up in a story of your product. Your method may change from product to product and will definitely depend on #1, your target audience.
Some of my favorite sites do a really good job with this.
One of my favorite ice cream bars is introduced with “Better than a candy bar, because you get ice cream, too!” Now… come on, who doesn’t want to sink their teeth into that one?!
A newly popular shoe company touts a pair of shoes I want by saying, “An animal print that’s constructed with no animal products! Be fierce, yet animal friendly.” That’s perfect for me (their target audience)!
And a vintage clothing site gushes over a new dress design with, “A scorcher of a new wiggle, the Dames dress is made of curve-hugging…” You know, even men who read that want to buy it for their girl!
After you’ve captured the attention of your target audience, it’s time to move on to articulation… tell them about your product in an informative, compelling and interesting way. Make your product unique and use descriptive language to engage your shoppers. Do not use the cut and paste descriptions that the manufacturer supplies.
If you’ve done your job here, most questions should be answered before they come to mind. To do this, sit and think about things that people may want to know about the product you’re promoting. Also, these descript product descriptions and the keywords that you add will help SEO and allow your product to be found more easily through searches on Google, Yahoo and other sites.
After you’ve got the basics of your product description covered, it’s time to move on to other areas of the product page like relevant links and a call to action but… we’ll save those for another day, a future blog.