Which solution is best for you?
By John Trimble, Head of Search
June 17, 2013
With more and more businesses investing in trading online the importance of having an effective warehouse and stock control software is becoming even more key to the difference between profit and loss.
If you’re in the process of procuring eCommerce software, how your back office integrates should be an important consideration when reviewing solutions. Primarily there are two possible back office solutions from an eCommerce perspective:
- An eCommerce Solution which integrates into your existing stock control and warehouse management systems.
- An eCommerce solution which incorporates built in warehouse and stock control modules.
Option 1 presents a solution which will require both your eCommerce software and back office providers working closely together to make sure integration is as painless as possible. This option can be very cost effective if the integration doesn’t require too much customisation from both sides.
Option 2 relates to the latest generation of eCommerce solutions which includes functionality for full stock control and warehouse management and often contains additional support for supply chain and customer relationship management.
If you’re going down the route of implementing a package which includes an integrated back office or a new standalone solution there are several key bits of functionality you should look for if you are running an eCommerce business that doesn’t use drop shipping:
Stock Control Software as a Service
Although few vendors within the industry provide Stock Control Software as a Service (SCSaaS) there are various benefits over the traditional proprietary stock control software model:
- No Large One Off Costs: Traditional stock control software normally involves a hefty upfront fee, SCSaaS differs from this as you get full access to the software for a monthly or yearly fee.
- Trouble-Free Upgrades: Because the SCSaaS solution provider manages the updates and upgrades, there is little exposure to issues involved in downloading and installing software updates.
- Reduced IT Costs: As the software is hosted off-site in the cloud by the SCSaaS provider there is no associated IT infrastructure or staffing costs.
- Globally Accessible: One of the prime benefits of Stock Control Software as a Service is the ability to access it anywhere in the world provided you have internet access.
Ad-Hoc Goods In Put Away
In a less rigid warehousing environment, modern stock control solutions can be used to specifically tell the system where each item is going to go, as the item is being put away. For example, as stock is received the system will put the stock into a Quarantine location. The user will then be able to scan an item and decide whereabouts they would like to put it.
Most sophisticated stock control software also allows the more effective dealing of large reserves of stock in bulk/overspill areas of your warehouse, which can often create difficulties in terms of monitoring the transitions of stock from your overspill to picking areas. These types of stock replenishment systems can intelligently prompt you to move your stock as and when it is needed.
Automatic Allocation of Stock to Orders:
Saving time by automating the allocation of your stock to order processes. Enabling orders to be picked quicker which in turn further enhances the customer experience.
With real-time inventory and forecasting logic most leading Stock Control Software solutions allow you to simultaneously reduce back orders and stockholdings, further driving efficiency in your warehouse and business.
Guest author John Trimble is the Head of Search for ecommerce software and back office solution providers Exact Abacus Ltd. They provide integrated ecommerce, stock control and warehouse management system to both the SME and low end Enterprise Market
By Amanda Walters
June 10, 2013
ZippyCart’s Shopping Cart Software Reviews will help you find eCommerce solutions that provide tools to help in engaging your audience.
When you embark on setting up your business, or even if you are simply focusing on growing your brand, you need to make sure you are engaging your audience. Without engagement, you cannot truly know your audience, you cannot see where you are going right or wrong.
The obvious way to engage is socially. You can get started on building this up yourself; exploring and experimenting are key. If you are setting up a Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn page, make sure you have engaging content to post before you start focus on engaging your audience. If you already have your social networking pages set up, this will not be a problem. Use the tools within these to find out who your online audience is, you can then begin tailoring the content you send out in order to get the feedback and growth you desire.
In order to make money from these mediums, you need to have in the region of approximately 10,000 likes/followers, or a smaller target audience that is extremely motivated to spend on your product. Once you have grown your quality followers, you can set up a content marketing strategy. This should be insightful information that will bear relevance to your target audience and keep them engaged in your brand. It is not just about selling your product, you want to appear trustworthy and interesting while being a useful source of information that people can come back to.
Once you have achieved a greater following you will need to make sure you have the correct tools on your website in order to convert traffic into sales. If you need help with your feature lineup, ZippyCart’s comparison chart and expert ecommerce software reviews can help online merchants find the tools they need by reviewing the best shopping cart solution for their needs.
Over a period of time, you will be able to follow analytics to learn when your audience is most likely to click on your links. From these stats, work out how to best to structure your content and achieve a higher click through rate. You can also find out what type of images your audience prefers and how to keep your engagement levels up.
Facebook and Pinterest are the leaders when it comes to making money from your social networking pages. Also, through the use of content targeting, Facebook allows you to essentially split test between males and females, people in the UK versus USA and so on.
Interactive content and applications are fantastic, as they give greater flexibility to explain or engage your users. Interactive content can be as simple as an interface to link images and text together, or as complex as a 3D product configuration, allowing on-line customers to customize products in real-time.
Not only will engaging your audience bring about greater traffic, conversions, but also enable you to enhance your products from the feedback you get.
Guest author Amanda Walters is a journalist, blogger, poet and an artist. Having written for various websites including Huffington Post, DailyWaffle and having her concrete poetry work exhibited at university events in the UK. She loves to network, working with an array of clients including You The Designer and dhub, as well as attending events across the UK.
Google has made more changes to their PPC ads.
Google has put the brakes on the use of phone numbers in PPC ads. Like many of the changes made by Google, the announcement was made very quietly. The change was put into effect starting April 1, 2013. If you want to include phone numbers in your PPC ads, you will have to use call extensions.
According to Google, regardless of the device used, whether it is a tablet, desktop computer, or a mobile device, the new change to PPC ads will create a safer and more consistent experience for the user.
Like other changes made by Google, most people have questions about this change. For instance, can a phone number in an ad really make it unsafe? And what about businesses that include their phone number as part of their logo or business name? Could this actually be a ploy to make more money for Google?
Changes to the PPC Ad’s Appearance
When you add a call extension to your PPC ad, a tiny phone icon will be displayed next to the ad. When the icon is clicked, you will be charged.
1 – You can use a Google forwarding number free of charge.
2 – If you are using Google’s forwarding number, there is a minimum click requirement as well as a minimum number of calls to show call extensions.
Call extensions can have a direct impact on PPC budgets. Based on the requirements of minimum number of calls and clicks before a call extension can be shown, many businesses may experience declines in website traffic and sales.
Pulling it Together
So what does all this really mean? Many people theorize that this is nothing more than a tactic Google is using to make more money. Basically, when someone clicks on a phone number in your ad on a mobile device, you will be charged the same as you would for any other click on the ad. Keep in mind that the phone number will only show up on devices capable of making calls.
This is just another thing to keep in mind when creating a PPC ad campaign. Granted, it makes it a little more challenging and a little more interesting. Sometimes change is good, and sometimes you just have to adjust!
Guest author Debbie Allen is a content writer, blogger, and online marketer. Besides writing on business topics, Debbie also writes about prominent industry leaders such as Steve Wynn.
Image courtesy of Janaka Dharmasena at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Father’s Day 2013 is almost upon us so it’s time to dig into the wallet and pull out a little appreciation for the man who has always treated you like a son. This may be your dad, grandpa or another male role model but whoever it is deserves a couple of great father’s day gifts for Father’s Day 2013!
Here are a few of our top picks for this special day
- Some hot new kicks to keep him stylin’.
Know a dad who isn’t old and stuffy… keep him happy with some awesome new Adidas kicks. Adidas is a tradition that runs from father to son and is well appreciated by our ZippyCart dads. Adidas also has a great line of shoes that are customizable, which should please even the hard-to-buy for dads out there!
See all the hottest shoes from adidas Originals + free shipping
- The Ultimate in BackYard Frying / Grilling / Cooking Machine… the BlackTop 360!
(this Father’s Day Gift bought by Susan D)
If you are looking for a father’s day gift for your back yard grilling expert, or someone who tries to be, consider the Blacktop 360. This product is sturdy, portable and multi-functioning. Best of all, it’s Tested and Approved by the ZippyCart staff! Everyone wins when you give a gift like the Blacktop 360. :-)
No words needed.
- Sports and Map Enthusiasts would both love a College Team Sports Map.
If you have a dad who loves sports… check out this close-up of an awesome sports map from maps.com. This work of art shows the campus locations for all of the major college sports teams in the USA! With a gift like this, dad will be looking forward to future Father’s Day Gifts!
Save 20% on all wall map orders over $100 at Maps.com. Use code JUNESAVE20 at checkout.
Are you a dad? What do you think are the best father’s day gifts for 2013?
By Glen B
June 3, 2013
What steps do SEO Specialists need to consider for the 2nd half of 2013?
The year 2012 was one heck of an exciting and thrilling ride for all Search Engine Optimization Specialists as the challenge of keeping website SEO strategies Panda Proof is a top priority. The year 2013 has welcomed ecommerce website entrepreneurs, web designers and developers, and internet marketing specialists with more challenges for ecommerce growth. People are increasingly not limiting themselves to only desktop PCs and laptops, but enjoying other mobile devices like smartphones, android phones, and tablets, as well. What are the best SEO tips and what steps do SEO Specialists need to consider with these developments in technology and as well as in search engines in mind?
Here are some of the Best SEO Tips for 2013 ecommerce.
- Track your SERP ranks, evaluate your backlinks, and research for new possible keywords.
The most important task in SEO is creating a background as to where your website is in terms of SERP rankings, quantity and quality of backlinks, list of strategies done so far, and new possible keywords that you can work on. Tools like the Google Analytics, Google Webmasters, Google AdWords Keyword Tool, SEO Powersuite Rank Tracker, and any spreadsheet software can already help you fulfill this step. By way of creating a solid background as to where your website is in terms of rankings, it paves way to developing smarter strategies and decisions that improve the website traffic and increase website leads.
- Decide on what to do with the data that you have and put it to action.
The data that you have coming from the tools that you use will only be just plain data when you do not do anything about it. Translate the data into knowledge, process the knowledge into an insight, develop strategies to create actions for the insight that you have, and evaluate results. Check on how your traffic increased every time you publish a new blog entry and evaluate what sorts of blog entries your audience engage themselves more into (reviewing on traffic scores and bounce rates will help you out on this).
- Improve your website content, most especially the information you write on your product pages.
The Product Title, Product Image description and alternate text, and the product description when optimized will not only help increase search engine rankings on the keywords you are using but as well as help increase interest from your audience that may lead them to buy the product.
- Use high quality product images.
More and more ecommerce website owners are now aware about providing the best product images in their websites because it affects the purchasing decisions of their audience. However, high quality product images may also mean huge-sized images that may slow down the website speed. To make sure that this does not happen, it is best to use images with sizes that are exact and not assign a code to increase or reduce sizes. A jQuery product gallery plugin is also helpful in creating a professional look to the images that you provide, and too, this will allow you to place different faces of the product to let customers see it on different sides. Online shopping tools also have the ability to allow customers to see the product image in a better view by zooming in and out. Whatever your budget suits you, for as long as it does not affect the quality of your website, it will be good enough.
- Increase the number of internal links by providing links to the weaker pages to the more important pages of your website.
This allows a stronger link flow which becomes more engaging from the customers’ point of view. One example is adding recommended links in product pages to other pages related to that product.
- Update your website or your ecommerce website’s blog with fresh and relevant content.
Fresh and relevant content also means having to endorse tools and other products similar to yours which you think will be interesting and helpful to your readers. This also helps you gain trust from other relevant websites and eventually link to your posts as well.
Some back linking techniques are really good in terms of positioning your website in SERP, well, quicker than you can. However, you need to be wary about some tools and services as these may also affect your website in a major way once search engine updates are made available. Keep in mind that SEO tips work best when you make your audience the priority (making sure that they are informed through optimizing your content and your entire website) than getting ranked in search engines.
Do you have an 2013 SEO tips to share?
Guest author Glen B is a part of the NetiDnow.com team which seeks to provide an ecommerce website builder to help business owners to create a website in minutes using a drag and drap interface.
Finding your target audience is an important step in setting up an online store!
By the ZippyCart eCom team
May 29, 2013
Do you run an online store? Thinking about starting one up? Ok, great… who’s your target audience? Please don’t give an answer like ‘all age groups 18-55’. If your answer is something this vague, you may need help with How to Find the Target Audience for Your Online Store. You can’t target everyone. That would be an impossible task that requires too many marketing dollars. You need to define your audience and narrow it to your specific niche… that’s what we call finding your ‘target audience’.
It’s very important to find your target audience early in the game. No matter how well you’ve set up your store or how amazing your product is, you can’t sell effectively if you don’t know who your target audience is. There are many factors that play into finding you’re the buyers for your specific market. We mentioned age group earlier but here are a few more, of the dozens more to consider…
- Geographical Location
- Academic Qualification
- Technical Capability
- Family Size
I’m citing these essential factors to make you aware as to how the traits of a target audience may vary from one niche to another. The one major benefit of figuring out your target audience is to be able to focus your marketing dollars and sell your products to those people who are actually interested. You can’t sell everything to everyone… you’ll go broke with too broad of a marketing campaign.
There are several huge benefits in determining who the target audience for your online business actually is. When you know your target audience really well and understand how they may think, it’s easier to reach out to them and figure out which platforms are right for your sales efforts. Knowing your target market also helps build brand loyalty and an appealing online reputation. You’ll be able to reach out and socialize with them in a way that’s appropriate and fun… which also increases sales, in the long run.
These strategies will put you in a better position to showcase yourself as an expert. In turn, your target audience will be attracted to news and posts from experts in their field of interest.
When you want to figure out the target audience for your online store, one surefire way of getting started is to have a closer look at your current customers or the existing customer base of your established competitors. Your best customers or the core target audiences actually come from your existing customer base. Study them… get to know them. You can reach out to them via email, social media and online surveys among others. The more you study or analyze your current customers, the more knowledge you’ll again about the kind of audience that will benefit your online business the most.
With the results of this study, you can also create the profile of an idea customer for your online store. By knowing the persona of your ideal customer, you can build an image in your head. Whether it’s the content on your e-commerce website, your email newsletters, social media or your blog, you’ll be able to communicate with the specific group of people that constitutes the target audience for your online business. It’s then when you can create a highly focused marketing campaign to maximize conversions.
Don’t sell everything to everyone just because seems a lot easier. Find your target audience, and watch your loyalty and profits soar. After all, the easy path is not the right path, most of the time.
By Andrew Lisa
May 27, 2013
Good software makes all the difference when it comes to invoicing.
Invoicing is something that every business has to do and almost every business owner dreads the most. While collecting money is great, the process by which you collect it takes valuable time and energy away from improving your business and working on your strategy. A slip angers clients and messes up your numbers. This is why everyone needs invoicing pointers!
Your books have to be straight, but does keeping them straight have to be a nightmare? Follow this guide to taking the pain out of invoicing.
Get Good Software
There are places in your business where you can use to cut corners. Your accounting, bookkeeping, and invoicing software isn’t one of them.
Get stable, reputable software that automatically tracks what’s going in and coming out. That’s not to say that it has to be expensive. Major corporations need to spend big money on big software packages. You may not. You can probably afford a good program, or even get started with free online software that’s fairly comprehensive, like OutRight.
Your eCommerce site and invoicing software should be fully integrated.
Get Started with an Integrated eCommerce Company
The firm you hire to build your Web site and online store should work seamlessly with your invoicing software. PinnacleCart, CoreCommerce, and BigCommerce are all great shopping cart software that offer full integration with payment processors like PayPal, Google Checkout, Amazon Checkout, and QuickBooks.
Keep track of your inventory, sales, expenditures, and invoicing by starting with an eCommerce software that makes it easy and intuitive.
Establish Policies and Articulate Them Up Front
You want to be paid after doing work for a client. Occasionally, you’ll encounter a client who can’t or won’t pay on time, who will make frivolous disputes, or will be difficult to get in touch with after the job is done.
By establishing clear policies written in plain English that the client sees and signs off on before the work is started, you can save yourself a headache and potential confrontation down the road.
Don’t presume you’re going to remember the minutia of any transaction with the passage of time. By making notes, it’ll jog your memory when it comes time to bill, when it comes time to pay taxes, and — most importantly — if any client disputes arise in the future. This is one of the simplest invoicing pointers that people forget!
Do Your Invoices a Little at a Time
There are few things more daunting than facing a mountain of invoices you absolutely can’t put off for another day. By taking care of them in small batches as they come in, you not only avoid a pileup, but ensure accuracy by recording your transactions while they’re fresh.
Clean books and good client billing can be the thing that keeps a business afloat during lean times. Bad invoicing can sink an otherwise strong enterprise. Take the grind out of one of the most tedious parts of any business by setting and following good invoicing practices.
What are your favorite invoicing pointers?! We’d love to hear them in the comments below.
Guest author Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He writes about a variety of online business issues, including how to improve reviews.
Photo1 courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Photo2 courtesy of Renjish Krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Every member of your work force should have basic, professional customer service skills!
By Wayne Baumgartner
May 20, 2013
Perhaps the most valuable service or product that any business can offer is its customer service. Through the client, a business grows, expands, and succeeds. This means that customer service skills should be required from all staff members, regardless of their position within a business.
While your entire workforce is responsible in helping the customer reach their goal, to the best ability, it is the sole duty of an individual representative to ensure consistent and effective handling of the customer. There are several customer service skills that can be incorporated into your staff that will make or break a loyal relationship.
Initially, you must always be ready to handle both complaint and compliment positively. For the most part, complaints are the most popular topic of conversation, but it is equally important to know how to react to a compliment.
- For the best customer retention, put yourself in their shoes
Consider what the customer wants from you. Empathize with them. How do they feel? Can you relate yourself to their situation? The practical thing to do here is to humanize yourself while still representing your business. In most scenarios, the customer simply wants you to listen to them… and that takes good customer service skills. Rather than offering a variety of solutions, they want you to listen to their particular scenario – because it’s what they know right now.
You must also be able to give the customer control of the situation to enable their confidence in you. Help them trust you. How can you help them help you? One of the best questions you can ask your customer is: “What can I do to resolve this situation?” Rather than simply saying: “I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do,” go the distance and listen to their solution. Can you compromise? Are they reasonable? When the customer feels they have charge, they are often far easier to satisfy.
- Right what they feel is wrong
Argument is never the direction to go. You shouldn’t try to convince them that there is nothing wrong or they’re making too much of a situation. Instead, bust out your customer service skills and focus on righting what they feel is wrong and keep your existing customers on-board. It’s well-known that customer retention costs an online business owner much less than customer acquisition does so, think about how your customer may feel at the end of the conversation. It is up to you to define what it is that makes your business strong by keeping the customer satisfied. You must build your business and online reputation in a positive and proactive way that will carry beyond one single interaction.
- An ongoing relationship will increase customer loyalty
Following up afterwards is perhaps one of the most powerful of all customer service techniques. Issues don’t often get resolved as soon as the headset goes down, and not all feelings of satisfaction are established immediately.
A simple call can make all the difference in any situation. If there’s been an issue previously, they may be encountering it again. It is up to you, as a representative for your business, to ensure their ongoing satisfaction and customer loyalty. It’s an ongoing process that never ends and satisfaction comes from knowing that your business is always there for them, through the good and the bad.
Customer loyalty and strong relationships are developed through good customer service skills. It’s vital that all employees have them at some time or another in their career with an online business. And while customers will often call with complaints, when you treat them with respect, they’re likely to call back with compliments as well.
Guest author Wayne Baumgartner is a small business owner who takes care of customers using old fashion customer service skills and specializes in one industry -headsets!
By Mary Weinstein
May 13, 2013
Every sales quarter, CPC Strategy conducts a study on the top shopping channels, including Google Shopping on seller metrics such as traffic and revenue. For Q1, Google shopping traffic almost doubled.
CPC Strategy’s 2012 Ecommerce Industry Report compares Google Shopping against rival shopping engine Amazon Product Ads. It analyzes the sales data of more than 200 online retailers with a buying power of more than $5 billion.
- Google Shopping conversion rates dropped for the fourth straight quarter, decreasing from 3.0931% in Q4 2011 to 2.4018% in Q4 2012, a YoY decrease of 22.35%.
- In Q4 2011 Google Shopping was sending merchants 79% of the traffic Amazon Product Ads was sending. In Q4 2012, Google Shopping now sends merchants nearly double the traffic that Amazon Product Ads does, 96.08% more.
- Google Shopping was on average 32.77% more cost-effective for merchants during Q3 and Q4 2012 than Amazon Product Ads.
To read more, feel free to head over to this Q4 CSE Rankings article
Google Shopping is a shopping engine which warrants merchant attention. An increase in traffic such as we seen from Q4 2012 to Q1 2013 is just another reminder of how important the paid campaign is for online marketers.
Guest author Mary Weinstein is Content Manager at CPC Strategy, with extensive experience in all things Ecommerce, comparison shopping (CSE) management, Google Shopping and digital marketing. A NY native, Mary spends her time discussing CSE strategy with online merchants, hiking and drinking copious amounts of coffee.
A day to celebrate! 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, Mother’s Day is 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 the ZippyCart eCom team
May 7, 2013
Popular social media platforms like Facebook, Google+ and Twitter are growing their active users count by millions. The number of active users on Facebook has totaled up to 700 million while Google+ has 300 million of them. Twitter is also not far behind with around 200 million active users.
Certainly, social media is unavoidable!
As the owner of an online store or an e-commerce business, you too have a serious responsibility to leverage the potential of social media. By integrating social media into your overall marketing plan, you can quickly gain an extra edge over your rivals and make more profits. Fortunately, most of ZippyCart’s top ecommerce solutions software choices come along with built-in social media managers, making things easier for you. (Just check in on our shopping cart reviews for more info on that.)
But before you jump onto the social media bandwagon, you really need to know how you should go about using social media networks, what you should do and what you should avoid doing.
If you want to take your e-commerce business to the next level by using social media marketing to your benefits, given below are some of the most important do’s and don’ts to make yourself aware of.
- Do Have an Active Presence
Regular activity is the very first thing that you need to keep at the top of your mind. If you post updates to social media networks only when you want, appear for a week and then disappear for a long stretch of time, you are giving your target audience a good reason to throw you out of their minds. They’ll forget about you very soon. Your followers count will never increase.
Most of the e-commerce business owners think they don’t have enough to post to their company’s social media pages. Come on, a lot of things keep happening to your small business. If you get yourself a little creative, you’ll have lots of things to post, share or tweet about.
- Do Focus on Variety
‘Variety is the spice of life’ – this applies to your social media participation too. Your audience is certainly hungry for useful information and updates, but they appreciate variety more than anything else. So, remember to share links, pictures, infographics and videos among others.
- Do Listen More and More
To achieve success with social media as an e-commerce or online business owner, you also need to be an avid listener. Social media marketing is not for talking about yourself or your products without showing any concern about what your audience has to say. In fact, you should try to listen as much as possible to find opportunities you can use to your benefits.
- Don’t Oversell
Remember, the more you sell, the less you’ll sell. After all, social media is not for selling products or services directly. Social media marketing or participation is all about building relationships, engaging the target audience in conversations and creating advocates for your brand. Constant blatant promotion will not get you anywhere. If you are posting 10 updates in a day, for example, talk about your products just 1-2 times. No more than that!
- Don’t Forget to Respond!
As a smart e-commerce business owner, you should never make the mistake of overlooking people who take the time to converse with you. When people want to interact with you, it’s your opportunity to respond to what they are saying, showcase your expertise and establish relationships.
- Don’t Get Personal
While participating at social media, you’ll come across with different types of people and comments. Always bear in mind not to get too personal with anyone or share your personal beliefs on political or religious issues. By getting personal with these sensitive issues, you can easily harm your reputation.
Also, don’t get too heated, sarcastic or even affectionate in your responses to comments, reviews or online dialog. Remember that everything you or your employees say will reflect back on your company… and people will remember the ‘bad’ much longer!
With these tips and the built-in social media managers that are found in all of the ecommerce solutions software that are found in ZippyCart’s favorites and ecommerce platform reviews, you’ll be on your way to a balanced social media life in no time!
By Lanette Willis
May 6, 2013
Have your online business within reach at all times with a mobile dash board app!
It’s become standard these days for eCommerce platforms to have some kind of dashboard feature. So standard in fact, that it’s easy to assume every dashboard is basically the same, and to overlook the true power and convenience that can be offered by this tool. Not all eCommerce solution dashboards out there are the same. With the right mix of data, a great dashboard should offer you an unparalleled ability to keep an eye on your store’s performance, alert you to trends, identify opportunities for growth, uncover and resolve breaks in your sales funnel, and give you peace of mind – all in an instant.
A dashboard must deliver important statistics quickly and easily. This is not necessarily for heavy reporting, but rather the place for information at a glance. Thus, one critical component is the ability see data instantly when you open the dashboard. You shouldn’t need to click anything, and the data should just be in front of you.
Easy to read graphs are also key. They say a picture speaks a thousand words, and your dashboard also needs to do this! Bar charts, line graphs, and pie charts allow you to see and process the essence of the data in seconds.
Having the ability to see performance over time (month, week, day, etc.) allows for comparison & trending, and should definitely be included. How were your sales last month, versus this month? Are sales increasing steadily across the last 3 months? A dashboard should be able to show you this.
A great dashboard offers the user the ability to change time frame of graphics (year, month, day, etc.). For example, typically you may be interested in seeing your sales data across the last 2 months, but if you’re running a promotion, you might be more interested in studying a day or week’s data to track the success of your promotion.
Sales data and visitor data should be offered in the dashboard, and both should be visible across an adjustable time period. Knowing that you’ve made $x for the year allows you to tell if you’re on target. How is your traffic? Usually, traffic is tied to sales. If you just released a promotion, you should see the spike in visitors, letting you know that your promotion is working. Likewise, if you don’t see this spike, it could alert you to a problem along the line. If you were only tracking sales, and not visitors, you might think there was some other on-site conversion problem.
We’ve already discussed the importance of the dashboard information to be presented quickly and clearly. It’s all about instant information. The ability to have palm-of-your-hand mobile access to your dashboard takes it to a new level.
If you’re in the interested in previewing a topnotch eCommerce dashboard, you may want to check-out, Nexternal, one of ZippyCart’s top reviewed eCommerce solution. This shopping cart software has just released a Dashboard Plus for iPhone and iPad users, so you don’t even need to boot up a computer to check in on your online business. Grab your iPhone, click a button, and there are all your stats, and peace of mind. Dashboard Plus is available for free in Apple’s App Store and can be downloaded here.
Guest author Lanette Willis is a Senior Account Manager at Nexternal. Before joining Nexternal she spent nearly a decade working in market research and professional services marketing, before running her own successful eCommerce apparel business. Lanette is passionate about both marketing and eCommerce.
Blogging is a great, free way to attract traffic to your online business!
By the ZippyCart eCom team
May 1, 2013
There are many ways that you can attract traffic to your online store. What you need to figure out is… which are the most effective ways to generate more traffic from your niche market? Sure, building an attractive online store with a good e-commerce solution (aka shopping cart software) is the most essential first step in bringing traffic your way, but there are many steps that follow. Some e-merchants choose to go for paid advertising, SEO and promotion for increasing traffic but there are other options that are free. One of the best ones is having an online blog attached to your online business.
In case you didn’t get the memo, attaching a blog to your online store is thought to be one of the best things you can do to attract more traffic for free. Setting up a blog isn’t a tough nut to crack either. In fact, a blog set up usually comes standard with most of the e-commerce solution software featured in the Zippy Cart Top Picks.
What’s more important, however, is that you know how to use your blog to drive more website traffic and attract the type of audience that will convert to sales.
Below are some of the most useful tips on how to use a blog to attract lots of traffic to an online store.
Focus on Keywords
This is where the game of SEO begins. Before you start writing content for your blog, you should choose the right keywords to optimize for the needs of your online business. It’s those terms that will attract search engines and rank your site for people who are searching in your marekt. What are the main keywords that you would like to target? If you don’t have a good idea (and even if you think you do) you should check-out tools such as GoogleAdWords and see what they say.
In terms of choosing SEO keywords, you should remember to be neither too broad nor too specific. You need to focus on those keywords that you think have a fair search volume and are less competitive as far as ranking at the top of search engines is concerned. Also, find ways to insert them properly into your blogs, so they flow well and make sense.
If you spend adequate time on keyword research and use them properly in your blogs, you should see the effects increase your traffic!
Create Top Quality Content
While it’s essential to focus on SEO, you can never achieve success until you pair it with top quality content. To make your e-commerce blog work really well, identify the target audience and figure out what they want to read about. It’s only when you know what they want that you can offer content to solve their day-to-day issues.
Creating top quality, relevant content for your blog is a time consuming task and can chip away at precious work hours. Consider hiring a professional blog writer for this task so you and your specialized staff are free to look after other important tasks.
Quality blogs work when they’re frequent and consistent. Once your target audience becomes aware of your e-commerce blog and start liking the quality of content, they’ll want to visit over and over again. That’s exactly where you need to be consistent with your publishing schedule. Remember, the audience is hungry for top quality information. If you publish great content on a consistent basis, the first-time visitors will soon become regular visitors (i.e. prospects) and will share you content through their social media market, as well.
An editorial calendar can help you schedule blogs in a manner that makes sense with your market. With an editorial content calendar, you can plan all your content topics in advance, have them completed in time and make them go live exactly when you want. That’s how you’ll have a consistent publishing schedule.
Do you have any questions or comments? Please let us know in comments.
Pick a regular time each week to handle bookkeeping responsibilities so they do not pile up.
By Cara Aley
April 22, 2013
Bookkeeping is one of what many would consider the necessary evils of running a successful business. But it doesn’t need to come with the stresses that so many of us associate with financial management. We’re here to provide some pointers for making the process a bit easier, and hopefully eliminate some of the pain from the process!
Consistency is key. The worst time to handle bookkeeping, and the time when many of us do it, is when things pile up so high that we finally feel we have to. Or, we are driven by some deadline that comes upon us and handle the work at the last minute. Tax time, anyone?
By setting aside a few hours on a particular day or two every week to handle your bookkeeping responsibilities consistently, you will feel less of the stress of the pile-up and will get into a healthy habit both for you personally and for your business.
Make sure your payables are up to date. The stress of having vendors call you to remind you that you still owe them is one that can be avoided by keeping your bills paid and up to date. With much of the accounting software available today, you can schedule reminders to pay your bills. Alternately, if you are setting aside time each week to handle this responsibility, then you won’t risk falling behind.
Make sure your receivables are up to date. There is nothing like running your AR report to find that many of your customers are overdue on their payments. This means a bigger effort to reach out to folks to remind them that payments are due than if you did it consistently. You can also purchase software that automatically emails customers when their bill has slipped past its due date.
Hire someone a professional to do your bookkeeping work more efficiently, resulting in less stress for you!
Hire someone to assist you with the more administrative work. Hiring someone to help you with your bookkeeping could be an incredibly worthwhile investment. Consider that you could otherwise be doing business development and making more money for the company than toiling over your financial management practices, and also consider that someone with experience in bookkeeping might be far more efficient than you.
Bookkeeping does not have to be the great stressor that so many business owners feel it is. Consider handling bookkeeping on a more regular basis so that the work doesn’t pile up so much. Additionally, ensuring that your bills are paid to others and that your customers are paying you are two great ways to reduce the stresses associated with both! Finally, there is the option of actually hiring someone with experience to handle the work for you. They might be able to do it faster and better than you, and free you up to do both what you love and are best at.
So don’t let bookkeeping get the best of you. While it is a critical part of your business, and keeping up to date on it is extremely important, there are numerous ways to make the experience less painful!
Have tips for lowering stress levels associated with bookkeeping? We want to hear them!
Guest author Cara Aley is a freelance writer who covers a wide variety of topics from bookkeeping tips to online reputation management.
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