Offering a variety of image tools and great product images will help boost your sales!
By Ricky Tsao
March 27, 2013
Years ago, I was a Planogram team member for a Target. My whole job was to influence the customer’s purchase decisions by placing and displaying products in a certain way. From signage to posters, display shelves and in-store advertising, Target put the utmost care and attention to how products are shown to customers. This tactic is used in all major brick-and-mortar retailers throughout the world, as well as in the e-commerce market.
Image Manpulation Features and Tools
In the e-commerce world, we use product images to influence our customers. Due to their inability to touch, smell, see, and hold a product like you would at a physical retailer, image is the only way an online customer can interact with your product. Because of this limitation, it’s important to make sure your e-commerce solutions software provides a variety of appropriate features and tools that will make your images standout. eMerchants need to make-up for the absence of the real world purchase by giving them every angle and zoom they could possibly want from a product image.
Quality and Size
The size and quality of the image have a direct correlation to how the buyer sees the product. For example, if you are selling chocolate, a hi-def, crisp image of a chocolate will help give the buyer a feel of freshness, quality ingredients, and value. Small blurry pictures will make the buyer feel the chocolates are stale, untasty, and boring.
Make sure online shoppers can enlarge the product image they’d like to see.
Naturally, a high quality image have a much higher influence to the buyer than smaller low quality images. Therefore, make sure the e-commerce software you are using have options to show large, hi-def quality images. It should provide ways for you to organize your products, display thumbnails, and let your customers see enlarged high resolution images.
Say you have a very simple product, such as a book. Do we put on a gleaming photo of the book and consider it done? No. You want to have different ways for your customers to see your product. Just like in the physical world, you want your e-commerce software to offer options to have multipe image perspective of your product. A good way to show off the many perspectives of your book is to have photos for front cover, back cover, and numerous inside pages. If you are to sell clothing, you should have three or more photos showing the front, back, and side. It will also be helpful to let the customer see different colors. Bottom line: always give your customers multiple perspectives to see the product in order to simulate reality. The e-commerce software you are using should have features to let you display different perspectives of your product.
Image tools help increase sales!
In order to push the limit on simulating reality, we use technology to add features such as rotation, zoom and magnification. For example, if you are to sell electronics such as a laptop or camera, an image rotation will be helpful.
Zooming in let’s the customer see product details.
If you are to sell clothing, magnification will be perfect so it can show the fabric in detail. Other options such as side by side comparison would also be ideal in a clothing e-commerce site. The bottom line is to recreate the shopping experience as if the customer is at the retail store physically.
We list below some minimal image manipulation features your e-commerce software should provide:
- Supports image magnify, zoom, lightbox, and enlarge
- Generates thumbnails and catalog page images automatically
- Ability to resize images on the fly
- Control image placement on product and catalog pages
- Create photo galleries
- Display / hide images with a mouse click
Because you have many high quality images and image manipulation features, you need to make sure your e-commerce hosting solution can serve data fast. The options available out there is Virtual hosting vs Dedicated hosting.
Most small to medium-sized sites use virtual hosting, where a number of Web sites reside on the same server. Large and/or busy sites usually can’t share server space because the volume of Web traffic from many sites would quickly overwhelm the server. If your current hosting solution contacts you about your wesite being too busy, look for an e-commerce solution that offers dedicated hosting.
E-commerce is serious business with heavy hitting competitors so you need every advantage in encouraging your customers to purchase. One of the best ways is to provide image features that can help your customers see the product. Make sure the e-commerce software you are using has the appropriate tools and features to show off your specific product line. By using your e-commerce software’s image manipulation tools, you can fully engage your users to see and feel your product, leading to increased revenue and profit for your company.
By Kinjal Adeshara
March 25, 2013
Nowadays, small and large product based business need ecommerce sites. In 2013, will be flooded with new technologies and it’s important to make sure you online business pages shine. Ecommerce websites will only be considered well structured when users can search for a product easily with smooth navigation. Having a custom ecommerce site will help develope a personal connection with your target audience and online shoppers.
Guest blogger Kinjal Adeshara is a web enthusiastic and blogger who interested in all things software, web design & development… especially ecommerce site development. She is working with Rightway Solution which is offshore software development company. She loved to write articles and shares new, exciting and informative content with users.
Remarketing targets online shoppers based on traits such as demographics, purchase history, and viewing history.
By Ricky Tsao
March 20, 2013
A lot of small to medium businesses consider paid advertising for their online marketing purposes. Typically, an SMB would use a service like Google AdWords. However, the reality is that it can cost a lot to get enough conversions (number of sales, or goals, divided by visits) so you may want to look at other options if you’re just getting started.
Depending on your niche market, it may be very expensive to pay for keywords that fit your online business. If you can’t pay the high prices required, the volume of search turnout can be very low, making it a bad marketing investment. In order to compete with similar and more established eCommerce stores in the same market, you may have to be more creative.
This is where Google Analytics Remarketing strategy comes in. Remarketing is a behavior-targeted feature that targets consumers based on traits such as demographics, purchase history, viewing history, and other second-order activities. This serves to increase conversion rates and sales. In other words, it let advertisers display their ads on the Google Content Network, to users who have already visited their website. The main goal is to serve these ads to many of these users because they already have an interest in the product or service that the advertisers are offering. The chances of an online shopper clicking on your ad and converting are much higher given their previous interest in visiting the advertiser’s site.
How it works
The key component that makes remarketing a success is that your target audience has already shown interest in your product or brand and has visited your site. When they do, a cookie file will be put onto their browser, which adds them to a re-marketing list. When they visit other web pages where Google ads are used, your ad campaign will appear on those designated Google ad sections. So say you sell jeans. If a customer were to visit your web store, ‘Zippy Jeans’, they’d be cookied based on what they browsed or items that were added to their cart but then abandoned. Later, they Google ‘jeans’ and go to another web page that talks about jeans. If the key words and other information match, your Zippy Jeans ad will appear on their page. This reminds them of your presence, any ad campaigns you have going on, and can increase the connection between you and your customers. It’s branding at its finest.
Yes, you can target your users by the pages they visit. If they mostly visited Zippy Jean’s section on boot-cut dark denims, you can choose to create a re-marketing list based on that preference which targets them specifically. Later, when they visit other e-commerce pages that deal with keywords such as boot-cut or dark denims, once again, your ad will appear.
You can also throw different ads at customer who just browsed a little bit of everything and left quickly. You can track these customers and maybe give them a special online coupon special to entice them in shopping at your store. Buy one get one free? 50% off? It’s up to you. But the strategy is simple; you can track customers and tailor your ads to them through interest-based traits.
Ninety-six percent of site visitors leave and miss the user actions that marketers want them to take. Seventy percent of shoppers abandon their shopping cart without checking out. What if you can literally follow them throughout the internet and entice them to come back to your site? With re-marketing and Google Analytics, you can deliver ads targeted at specific user interests shown during their previous visits to your site. It also let’s you create a variety of unique and precise lists in order to develop more flexible and relevant ad campaigns. From recent visitor lists to abandoned shopping carts, customer locations to sequence of visits, you can follow your customer base throughout the web and entice them to come back. As a result, you turn missed opportunities into new business.
By Debbie Allen
March 18, 2013
Businesses of all sizes can use payroll software programs to handle the processing and calculations of its payroll. In addition to computing payrolls, these software programs can also be used to keep accurate records. In other words, payroll software programs streamline the payroll process. Even in large companies, the programs make the task of handling payroll very manageable.
Although outsourcing payroll requirements is a viable option, keeping the process in-house offers the advantage of standardized flexibility. The company can easily make changes according to its specific needs. This can be especially helpful for such things as keeping up with employee reimbursements for travel and similar expenses.
Even if a company chooses to use professional payroll services, it is still a good idea to have an in-house payroll software program. An automated system can ensure that the appropriate information will always be gathered and sent to the payroll service in a timely manner. This provides peace of mind for all concerned.
In this way, everyone can rest assured that checks will be received on schedule. This will happen even if a key player is out due to sickness or on a vacation. The payroll software program can do the work it is programmed to do.
Payroll Software means less work for the person responsible for payroll tasks.
There are several payroll software programs available to choose from. Some can be used to print checks or even to make direct deposit payments. Other programs can interact with human resource files. This means less work for the person responsible for payroll tasks. The program can gather essential information from the human resource files.
Not only does this save time and work, it also eliminates some human errors. In addition, some payroll programs can handle tax forms. This helps ensure employees receive their W-2s as required.
Before buying payroll software programs, it is wise to do a little research. One of the first considerations is deciding exactly what it is that is needed from the program. For instance, a large construction company will have different needs than a hair salon. Regardless of the type or size of business the program is being purchased for, scalability is also important.
The program should offer room for growth and flexibility. Every company needs the ability to customize their payroll software program.
In addition, the payroll should be compatible with other accounting software programs in use. Plus, it should interact with human resources files. This is especially important in larger companies. Payment options such as direct deposit are also important. This option eliminates paperwork – which saves time and money.
Online payroll software programs are an excellent choice. These programs are always current and well-maintained.
The bottom line is, payroll software programs are cost-effective tools that save time and provide peace of mind. As long as the program purchased meets the needs of the company and works with other software programs already in use, a payroll software program is a great investment.
Debbie Allen is a freelance writer that likes sharing tips about topics like how to choose a quality payroll service provider. Images courtesy of Stuart Miles, David Castillo Dominici and xedos4 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
By the ZippyCart eCom team
March 13, 2013
Though credit cards are great, they should not be your only online payment options an e-commerce store offers. According to Fred Neff (President, Internet Merchants Association), online payment options can make a huge impact on the number of your online sales. Therefore, it’s vital for e-commerce business owners to break out of the ‘traditional credit card payment’ mold and provide buyers with more options of online payment.
Customers are always looking for more when it comes to making payments… global shoppers, especially. Even today, there are many countries and situations where customers don’t feel comfortable with the use of credit cards online. South Africa is a good example of such an emerging markets. Online shoppers in this region are especially hesitant to reveal their credit card information while buying or purchasing products online. They expect to have more payment options so that they can complete their purchase.
The more payment options you offer on your e-commerce website, the more likely your customers, especially global shoppers, will be to complete the purchasing process.
Regardless of where you are in the world, you’ll find potential buyers who are reluctant to put their credit card information into just any online store. And with good reason… you cannot trust that every eMerchant has built their online store with eCommerce solutions software that provides PCI-compliance.
It’s no wonder a market of alternative payment options has emerged around the world. In the USA, PayPal, Payment by Amazon and a few other powerhouses are the standard. People from different countries, however, prefer using different options of online payment. Many countries would have their own most preferred options. Going back to the growing African market, for example, most of the online buyers prefer making their payments through their mobile devices using a service called M-Pesa. There are many different favorites around the globe, however. You’ll need to put a little research into your possible markets to make sure all your bases are covered.
The number of online buyers is continuously on the rise and experts are projecting eCommerce and mCommerce to become the new norm. By offering a wide variety of online payment options, you are actually helping customers in their buying process. If you check out, you’ll find a number of payment service providers or payment processors, which you can choose according to your website requirements. You can also hire professional services so that your chosen payment systems can be easily integrated with your shopping cart software. If you have an old website, you may need some upgrade before you are ready to embrace modern payment processing tools.
Since e-commerce has a wide presence today, you’ll always find a number of payment processors to use.
Some of the most preferred options include –
- PayPal’s Bill Me Later
- Amazon Checkout
- Google Checkout
- Secure Trading
Of course, there are many more. Depending on the technical capabilities of your shopping cart software, you can choose those tools that suit you best. In any case, you should always remember to provide your customers with several payment options so they can easily convert and complete the purchase. All you need to do is focus on providing your e-commerce website visitors (or customers) with a seamless transaction experience.
Online retail sales are projected to increase by leaps and bounds. When the customer base is ready to buy, your business should also be geared up really well towards providing payment systems that customers want to use. In doing so, you can rest assure you are doing the best to increase your online store’s sales.
By Kinjal Adeshara
March 11, 2013
“Ecommerce” will continue to be a buzz word in 2013 and while this comes as no surprise, what needs to be seen is what will be the trends that will power this domain. Ecommerce will definitely evolve as it did in the past years but this evolutionary process is going to accelerate.
- More Personalized Services
No, personalized services may not something that is fresh or unique but, this is going to be a continuing popular trend. The focus, however, will be on offering as personalized a product or service as possible. There are new technologies that will monitor and analyze the buying pattern of consumers to bring forth some startling revelations as far as consumers buying decisions are concerned. This will help you personalize the content to suit the specific needs and requirements of your target audience.
- Ecommerce will align with Mcommerce Again this is a trend that we are witnessing, but this alignment will happen far more seamlessly this year. Your site will need to be mobile compliant, that’s a given, but that’s not something that will have you laughing to the bank. What your future buyers will look forward to is a better, more intuitive and highly engaging shopping experience that makes shopping a largely interactive process. They are looking to form a deep connect with the product or service they want to buy and they will expect this from an integration of web and mobility.
- Augmented Reality The adoption of this technology will come of age this year and the years beyond. The first trend that I mentioned was that Ecommerce will become more personal, well it is this technology that will play an important role in bringing this about. So, the next time you are moving through a particular store, don’t be surprised if you start getting information about the store, the various products it has on offer and the various offers on the same; all this, as you keep moving through the different parts of the store. 2013 will be shopping at its finest yet.
- Cross Channel Targeting of the Same Consumer Right, you have a product and you believe that an SEO campaign is the best fit, as far as its online promotion is concerned. Well, while SEO is important, this kind of thinking will have competition in 2013 as you will be forced to target your consumer through various marketing channels. Yes, it will be the same consumer, but you will be keeping at him, from all directions. So, yes, there will be an SEO campaign that will be launched, but also of importance will be a presence on social media, and you of course wouldn’t want to miss out on targeting him through his mobile device. Integrated marketing campaigns will be the name of the game.
- More focus on Social Network Integration Can’t miss out on this one can we? There will be more and better social network integration than ever before. As we keep using social media for marketing our products and services, we are getting better and better at it. Social media channels like Facebook and Twitter keep getting better and better and new ones like Pinterest allow us to explore new avenues for establishing a social media footprint for business benefit. The integration of social media with an Ecommerce solution will become even more intensive and incisive in 2013. What’s more, with the plethora of options on hand, you will be hard pressed to choose the one that suits your needs and requirements best
- Customization of Products and Services – Consumer in Charge Heard about ‘Web-to-Print’, ‘Design your own T-shirt’ etc.? These are all examples of the kind of solutions that put the consumer in charge of the designing and customization process of the product that he/she wants to buy. Yes, customization was, is and will always be important to sell products and services, but now the merchant will increasingly allow the target consumers to tailor make the product, as per their specifications. Ecommerce as its stands will never be the same again.
- Content What you say, will become even more important this year. As competition increases and the need for accurate information become even more paramount, the significance of content will keep getting bigger and bigger. The presentation of your content in terms of form, style, tone and facts will decide whether the sales of your products and/or services increase or remain stagnant or for that matter go down.
- Think Global but Go Local Even if you are targeting a global market, the focus will still be on thinking ‘local’. Niche oriented Ecommerce will rule as people will keep looking for products and services through local search. So, even an enterprise level organization will need to ensure that its marketing is focused on specific locations/regions; if they want they can target different markets with different campaigns, with each campaign keeping in mind the needs, interests, preferences and buying behavior of the local population.
- Responsive Ecommerce You have heard of responsive design (it will be huge in 2013), but as an online business owner, what you also need to take note of is responsive Ecommerce. All eMerchants will need to quickly respond to the needs of their target consumers and if they cannot, they will need to adapt to the changing demands of the market to respond as their consumers expect them to.
- Keep it Simple At the end of the day, the lesser the complications, the better you can control a particular process. So, Ecommerce will become more compartmentalized, where merchants and marketers will not try and do a lot of things, but will want to do a few of the things perfectly. As can be imagined, each aspect of Ecommerce is going to be consumer focused and it’s upon the merchants to identify which is that collection of strategies that will help them zero in on a profit generating Ecommerce campaign.
Guest author Kinjal Adeshara is a web enthusiastic and blogger who interested in all things, software, web design especially ecommerce website development. She is also work with Rightway Solution which is offshore Software Development Company. She loved to write articles and shares new, exciting and informative content with users.
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!
By the ZippyCart eCom team
March 7, 2013
In order to keep up with the changing consumer demands, the techniques of marketing also change their course. As the owner of an online business or an e-commerce store, you may have heard about ‘inbound marketing’, as opposed to outbound marketing. But do you know what inbound marketing is and how it is more beneficial for online stores?
If not, let us go into the details briefly so that you know what these marketing techniques stand for and you can make a well-informed decision when it comes to connecting with the modern-day consumer.
What’s Outbound Marketing?
This is a marketing technique which deals with advertising via paid media. By embracing this method, you advertise your products via promotions, billboards, TV spots, radio spots, banner advertisement and press among others. This form of marketing stops delivering results as soon as you stop spending those dollars. Additionally, as the times change, consumers have little or no trust in billboards or TV spots. There’s a fundamental shift in the behavior of consumers.
Outbound marketing has become an old marketing technique, which is fast giving way to inbound marketing
What’s Inbound Marketing?
As the new way of connecting with consumers, inbound marketing makes use of the internet, social media, and search engines. Inbound marketing is blogs, newsletters, online video and other content driven techniques. It’s about connecting with the target audience on a personal level, winning their trust and building relationships. In short, it’s a two-way communication channel.
How many times have you muted, fast-forwarded or left the room for commercials on TV? According to stats, 86% of people who watch TV ignore or skip television commercials. Direct snail mails have also lost their weight, as very few people even open items that are obviously advertisements. Today, direct mails are considered to be waste of time, postage and paper. Consumers’ behaviors are changing!
Inbound marketing is a clear leader and the best option for most online store owners. It offers a better way of connecting with the consumer, requires a much small monetary investment, and brings opportunity to the customer through a two-way dialogue. Inbound marketing technique gives people more control over what type of information they want to receive, which makes them better consumers.
Inbound Marketing is Better for Online Sales
Since you now understand the difference between inbound and outbound marketing, it should be easier to see how inbound marketing can work for SMB merchants and e-commerce store owners who want to promote their products in a meaningful way, sell more and increase sells.
Inbound marketing is the most effective tool in the hands of marketers or small business owners who want to earn the target audience’s trust, build genuine relationships and engage them in a way that they are ready to buy from them and become their loyal customers. That’s why the quality of leads that you generate through inbound marketing is way better.
By creating engaging and educating content (i.e. content marketing, an inbound marketing technique) and delivering the same through various social media channels, SMBs and online store owners are able to earn consumers’ attention, rather than buying their attention. Inbound marketing is better for online stores because it costs less while providing you a better ROI. The days of intrusive advertising and annoying marketing techniques are almost over, as inbound marketing takes over and revolutionizes the way customers buy.
Take a little time to build some unique content and work on your inbound marketing. You’ll see the results in the success of your online business.
The most important factor in the eCommerce path to success – navigation and design:
By Paul Rufus
March 4, 2013
On a regular basis, I’m asked to evaluate a prospective clients’ e-commerce store. Often they are frustrated by lower than expected conversion rates or declining sales.
Question number one tends to be something along the lines of why have you designed and built your e-commerce store? Question two: So, why have you made it so difficult for users to actually buy from your site?
A research reported released by Brand Perfect on online shopping habits and consumer opinion in both the UK and United States revealed the biggest irritations when shopping online and what would make them abandon their purchase.
It makes for interesting reading.
For online shoppers in the UK, 67% of over 1,500 respondents said that pages or product images were slow to load and that was the top reason they’d abandon a purchase. In the US this figure is 51%.
A significant proportion of factors relate specifically to the user experience on the site. Site navigation and difficulty finding products was referred to by 50% of UK respondents. 40% of UK respondents cited too many steps to purchase, with a further 34% saying that having to register caused irritation. Poor design accounted for 29%, while 20% mentioned the site’s payment process.
Brand Perfect says that bricks and mortar retailers should invest more in design expertise when embarking on digital services for their customers, to maintain brand consistency across online and offline activities, and to have the expertise on hand to properly consider user experience.
In the report, Gerry Leonidas, a senior lecturer with the Department of Typography and Graphic Communication at the University of Reading emphasised the importance of designing an effective user experience is essential for developing a successful e-commerce store:
‘Even in well-established brands that enjoy considerable trust by consumers, an online experience that is inconsistent, unintuitive, or off-brand will either turn people off online shopping, or lead to abandoned browsing and purchasing’.
This is further underlined by research from ’I Spy Marketing’ that pointed to a number of key success factors for e-commerce stores. The most important – navigation and design:
‘75% of consumers say they would not continue to shop on a website which was difficult to navigate or poorly designed’
What can retailers (and website designers and developers) do to ensure that the shopping experience is better for customers? In my opinion the feedback from US-based respondents is not difficult to implement (in order):
- Ensure the site is easy to browse and navigate (61%)
- Ensure the site is secure (59%)
- Make sure the site loads quickly and functions properly (52%)
- Fonts should be clearly legible (44%)
- Site should be well designed (43%)
- Mobile and tablet versions should be as easy to use as the main website (42%)
- Site should link to the users account and enable quick shopping (28%)
- Site looks and feels authentic (26% – I believe this links with the well designed observation above)
The price of not taking notice of what consumers are telling us and making it difficult for consumers to make a purchase? They’ll simply go to the next website on Google and buy it from there.
Guest author Paul Rufus is responsible for marketing and business development for Yetti, a cloud-based e-commerce and content management platform.
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.
Stand out from the rest!
By The ZippyCart eCom team
Feb 27, 2013
In the past, it was quite easy to attract customers to your online business and increase your sales. Today, there are so many choices (and fierce competition) that getting customers seems like a daunting task. First, you need to attract lots of traffic to your website, and then you have to engage them in a way where they like you, trust you completely and are ready to buy from you.
That is no easy task.
It’s incredibly important to set your online business apart from your competitors and the best way of doing it is by ‘personalizing’ your brand. On your website, you can do a number of things to give a human face to your online business.
Here’s how you can use your website to connect with customers on a personal level, so they can associate with your online business quickly.
#1. Colors & Graphics
Does your website really appeal to the target audience? Depending on the niche you cater to, you should be able to pick the right colors and graphics (or images) to attract your audience. For example, yellow is said to appeal to the youth while orange is considered an aggressive, call-to-action color. A professionally designed website has the ability to quickly connect with visitors. By paying careful attention to the use of colors and graphics, you’ll be on your way to making a long-lasting impression on the mind of your customers as they land on your website.
#2. About Us or Profile Page
Your company’s ‘About Us’ page is an often under worked area where you have an excellent opportunity to give a human face to your online business. This is the section where you should be able to tell the story about your brand. With some creative use of descriptive words, imagery and humor, you can use the profile page of your website to create an emotional attachment with visitors. In any case, keep your story short (2-3 paragraphs) so that you don’t get readers bored.
#3. Physical Contact Info
When it comes to personalizing your online business, you shouldn’t simply put your phone number or email address on your website. Instead, you should always place your complete physical contact information. By doing so, you’ll create trust among visitors as they will know you really exist… irl!
The way you interact with blog posts and customer reviews will help your business personality!
#4. Responses to Blog Comments (or Reviews)
Keeping up with blog comments and customer reviews is a great way to make a site seem more alive! It’s not wise to only feature your products or services and not interact with customers when they need it. If you have a blog attached to your business website and receive comments on a regular basis, you should be available to respond in a timely manner. If your website also allows customers to submit reviews, you should react favorably as well.
#5. Product Descriptions
Product descriptions are very important. Not only do they sell products but they give you a chance to let your business’s personality shine! While it’s great to feature top quality product images on your e-commerce website, it is also important to include thorough, entertaining descriptions. Customers will always want to know what your product can do for them, how it can solve their day-to-day issues. Talk about the benefits while writing product descriptions. It will help you connect with customers and convert them into buyers.
#6. Testimonials vs Customer Reviews
In the past, in order to increase their online sales, businesses would make the mistake of adding fake testimonials to their website. Today’s customers are smart enough to see through made-up testimonials. If you are really serious about giving your online business a personality, you should always feature real testimonials or better yet, scrap them for a mixed basket of customer reviews on your products. If you have a great product or service, you should receive some great, positive feedback to share.
#7. Online Videos
Internet users don’t read much. The popularity of YouTube should tell you a lot about how much web users like watching videos. Rather than building text-heavy websites (like others are doing), you can create short-length, engaging videos about your products or services. It increases the stickiness of your website as well as creates personal attachment. Online videos are definitely a trend in eCommerce that will help your business stand out!
What are you doing to humanize your brand? Is it easy for your customers to associate with your brand? Let me know your thoughts.
Let’s take a closer look at 3 of the top eCommerce solutions on the market!
By Halyna Yefymchuk
Feb 25, 2013
Hosted shopping carts have rapidly gained popularity on the market because of their reasonable price and ease-of use. The most confusing part of them is… which one to pick?! Common questions that merchants ask regard the difference in platforms functionality and pricing, as many of the top ranked carts seem to be pretty much the same. Hosted environment, reasonable monthly pricing, standard set of eCommerce features, free trial periods – this is what you will find in almost all of ZippyCart’s hosted solutions. However, a closer look at the platform will definitely show the difference. To satisfy your interest let’s consider three popular shopping carts and answer all your whys, whats and hows.
What is Pinnacle?
Pinnacle is a shopping platform developed by Desert Dog Software LLC. It comes with both hosted and licensed versions, which is a huge plus when considering scalability, but for now, we will concentrate on hosted Pinnacle cart.
When did it appear on the market?
The exact date of the appearance of hosted shopping cart cannot be followed, however official sources show that the software developers of Pinnacle cart already had 20 years of experience in the Internet industry when they launches the platform in 2003.
How much does it cost?
The minimal pricing plan costs $30 per month. However, the plan is limited allowing 1GB of traffic and disc space of 100 MB. The amount of products however is unlimited, and all of the basic eCommerce features are included. This minimal plan also requires set up fee in the amount of $49. The benefit of pricing system is that you can change your plan whenever you need that.
Who can use the shopping cart?
Newbies and eCommerce experts both love Pinnacle Cart’s shopping cart as it satisfies the needs of large or small business owners. It is especially popular with stores looking to upgrade as their store grows but is suitable for startups also, as it is user friendly and makes store launch easy.
Why choose Pinnacle cart for your business?
Pinnacle shopping platform offers a number of beneficial features among which are daily backups, high quality support, total control of storefront design with “Design Mode” toolbar, digital and physical products, guest checkout and advanced SEO tools. In fact, they offer the one of the most generus feature sets on the market. Pinnacle Cart is a complete eCommerce solution that is extremely secure. They go the extra mile in guaranteeing their online stores have top notch security with their PA-DSS compliance.
Where can I get Pinnacle cart?
Just follow the links on ZippyCart’s comparison carts or review pages!
What is Core Commerce?
CoreCommerce is a hosted SaaS currently used to create over 13 000 web stores. The solution is developed by a company CoreCommerce Inc., based in Franklin, TN.
When did it appear on the market?
The shopping cart was created in 2001. First the company launched a licensed platform digiSHOP, and in 2008 it version was adapted to create hosted solution CoreCommerce.
How much does it cost?
The monthly pricing plan starts from $24.99 and includes all the basic platform functionality. It charges no setup and transaction fees, however limits the number of products you can sell to 150. The bandwidth is also limited to 2GB. All pricing plans include Support that claims to be a “legendary one”.
Who can use the shopping cart?
The shopping cart usability and high quality customer service the shopping cart combined with 0ther scalable offerings make this software a great option for start ups and already experienced store owners.
Why choose CoreCommerce?
First of all, CoreCommerce is extremely customer oriented. The company reacts to customer suggestions and provides updates based on them. As a result, new features or improvements are released often. Also the merchant can benefit from vast possibilities of integration. CoreCommerce can be integrated with Google Checkout, Checkout by Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, eBay, SEO tools, Shopzilla, Google product search, Amazon, etc. Among other great features are Image Zoom, design editing via CSS and HTML, real-time shipping, customer groups.
Where can I get CoreCommerce?
To find CoreCommerce, please follow the links on ZippyCart’s comparison carts or review pages!
What is 3DCart?
3DCart is a Margate, FL-based hosted cart developed by 3Dcart Shopping Carts.
When did it appear on the market?
The company is in eCommerce business since 1997. First it developed custom eCommerce solutions, but in 2001 introduced their own shopping cart software. Currently the platform powers over 5 000 stores.
How much does it cost?
The platform offers a ‘mini’ package for $19.99, which appears to be the cheapest solution out of the three listed in this article, extras not considered. This plan is limited to 100 products and allows low traffic rates. However it offers hundreds of featuress and over 50 marketing tools.
Who can use the shopping cart?
The aim of the developers was to create a shopping cart suitable for merchants with little or no programming knowledge to make their store launch easy and quick. However the set of powerful features will satisfy experienced users and webmasters. Thus the owners of small to large business can use the platform equally beneficially.
Why choose 3DCart?
Having solid experience in the industry, 3DCart is flexible to different business requirements. The advanced features that you will get with 3DCart include mCommerce templates and Social Commerce integration, product reviews, rich set of inventory management features and over 25 SEO tools to get high rankings. Apart from that, 3DCart can boast of exclusive features: image 3dZoom, gift registry, auto follow up and integrated blog.
Where can I get 3DCart?
Just follow the links on ZippyCart’s comparison carts or review pages!
Now that you’ve got the answers on basic questions you may go ahead and make deeper research of features that are included in each hosted shopping cart. Or choose the suitable solution immediately and start developing your business with a new eCommerce solution!
Guest author Halyna Yefymchuk is a Marketing Assistant at MagneticOne, developer of Cart2Cart – an automated shopping cart migration service. Find out more information about migration to/from PinnacleCartSoftware, CoreCommerceSoftware and 3DCartSoftware.
By Matt DeLong, CEO of CoreCommerce
Feb 25, 2013
Google prefers responsive design sites because it “crawls” the site more efficiently and helps keep the site’s information up to date.
The use of tablets or smartphones to surf online has been a driving force for a movement in web development called responsive design. Simply put, responsive design is a single web design that adapts itself to multiple screen sizes, no matter which type of device, tablet or smartphone is used. According to ComScore, the number of mobile internet users is expected to grow rapidly over the next few years, to a projected 1.9 billion in 2015. That is a lot of potential customers with a variety of devices for your website to accommodate!
Before responsive design, there were separate, multiple “mobile optimized” versions of your online store for desktop, tablet or smartphone, unlike responsive design which uses the same version of your store for all devices. Most online stores would automatically detect what kind of device you were using to access the site to tell whether to display the mobile or desktop version of an online store. Many websites are still “mobile optimized” but the movement towards responsive design is growing fast.
So why make the transition from mobile optimized stores to responsive design? The main benefit of using responsive web design is that you no longer have to manage multiple versions of your online store. With responsive web design, CSS3 media-selectors can be used to define min-width & max-width rules for handling portrait and landscape views, regardless of how your customers access your online store. Not only that but Google prefers responsive design sites because it “crawls” the site more efficiently and helps keep the site’s information up to date.
Another reason to design responsively is to allow for a site to be be easily adaptable to ever changing phone and tablet sizes now and in the future. Every time a new device is introduced, you won’t need to rethink how your store displays or how that translates on a potential customer’s tablet or smartphone, saving time and money in the long run. Ultimately, the goal of responsive design for a web based business to ensure an enjoyable experience for the customer, no matter what kind of device they’re using.
If you are developing your website, remember that it’s much easier to build a responsive site from the start versus attempting to retrofit a non-responsive or “mobile optimized” store to make it responsive. This year will be an interesting year in e-commerce, as mobile devices are slated to take over PCs as the dominant platform and online sales continue to grow. Good luck as you develop your responsive site!
Guest author Matt DeLong is the CEO and founder of SumEffect Software, Inc., the developers of e-commerce shopping cart, CoreCommerce. He has 15 years of experience with programming and software and started Sum Effect Software in 2001 when he created Digishop. When Matt isn’t working on cool new features or updates for CoreCommerce, he enjoys racing sailing boats and watching movies with his family.
By Stitch Labs
Febuary 18, 2013
As a small owner business owner, it can be difficult to sift out what metrics you should be focusing on in your business and what you should leave to your accountant. Most eCommerce options do an excellent job keeping track of metrics, including conversion, cart abandonment, and overall profit, to help you gauge the health of your business. However, every online merchant should pay attention to these three key metrics even when software is doing a lot of the heavy lifting.
- Cost of Goods Sold (COGS)
Primarily an accounting term, COGS describes the total value of your products sold during a specified time period.
This is the value to you, the seller, and not the sale price.
There are multiple approaches to calculating COGS, but the number includes the costs in bringing the inventory to your shelf and getting it into sellable condition. So, this can include materials, shipping from vendors, equipment, overhead, etc.
While calculating COGS is necessary for taxes, it is also required to figure out our next metric: Inventory Turn.
Inventory Turnover is the number of times your inventory is sold in a given time period. It is an important metric in understanding the rhythm of your business, but it should be noted that it shouldn’t be relied on as a sole measure of success.
Consider it a must-know metric for all business owners and a starting point for digging in deeper to your data. Changes in gross margin and surprises in sales can affect turn and there are more detailed ways to evaluate turn to account for these additional factors. Potential investors will want to know about inventory turnover and you should be fluent in the concept if you’re looking toward investment.
To calculate inventory turn, divide your cost of goods sold by inventory. Here, inventory is determined by the average cost of inventory on hand.
The equation for calculating inventory turn is:
Inventory Turnover = Cost of Goods Sold/Inventory
For example, if your COGS for the year was $100,000 and your average inventory on hand during the year was $10,000, your Inventory Turn would be 10. This would represent selling your total inventory 10 times over during the year. Real numbers will vary by retailer and industry.
You’ll see Inventory Turnover referred to quite a few ways. It can also be called inventory turns, stock turnover, stock turns, or several other similar variations.
Many retailers pay attention to conversion rate from visit to purchase, but often neglect repeat customer rate. This metric is more clear from its name and is the rate at which customers make additional purchases.
Repeat customers are important to understanding your business as they establish patterns and reveal more about your audience and their wants. These repeat sales can also reveal which products or product families are your strength. Additionally, it is often less expensive to sell to loyal customer than to depend on new customer acquisition.
Calculate repeat customer rate by dividing your total customers by the number of customers who’ve made two or more purchases. This can be calculated for the life of your business or a specified time frame.
As an example of how this number is useful, let’s say you produce adult sportswear, but you notice that your repeat buyers are women. As you drill down in your reports, you see that it’s not just women’s sportswear that shows repeat sales, but the items sized XS. From here, you have some interesting choices to make. Do you try to reproduce the same fan base in other product lines? Or, do you hone your focus and become a petite women’s sportswear company instead?
Your repeat customer rate informs you about more than just successful products. Other factors could come into play. You may find that you have a higher repeat rate with a specific sales channel or maybe a lower repeat rate in a time zone where you have less customer service coverage.
Comparing repeat rates against every piece of data you have about your customers provides a wide array of actionable insight.
Cost of Goods Sold and Inventory Turnover reveal what you’re spending to put products on your shelves and the rate at which you’re making sales and refilling those shelves. Your Repeat Customer Rate reveals where you’re succeeding, and possibly failing, with customers.
Going beyond traditional metrics and mastering these is a must for online sellers and they will serve as a springboard for more sophisticated analysis as you grow.
Guest post contributed by Brandon Levey of Stitch Labs, provider of an online application for simple inventory management, order fulfillment, invoicing, expense reporting and business analytics.