• Ecommerce Startup
  • 9 High Impact eCommerce New Year’s Resolutions For You To Master

    We have prepared nine eCommerce new year’s resolutions ranging from easy to challenging and being proficient at any one will have significant impact on your ability to drive success to your eCommerce ventures.

    Nevertheless, as with any worthwhile endeavour, each will require persistence and consistency. Get cracking!

    1. Learn Re-Marketing    

    Save more abandoned shopping carts this year by developing a full cycle re-marketing system. Segment your shoppers into their respective groups based on their actions (or non-actions) and present each group with relevant messages that urges them to complete their transactions.

    Have you ever visited an online store and then for weeks after seen that brand appear on your social media feeds and all across your regular news and shopping sites? That’s re-targeting at work. It’s part of a full re-marketing strategy.

    simple image of remarketing process

    eCommerce presents the opportunity to offer a uniquely personalized experience to shoppers and is what sets us apart from brick and mortar stores. Test different tactics with each group and find what works best. New users who abandon their carts are likely to respond to promotions like first-time purchase discounts.

    There are also those that visit your store multiple times and check out several different products, without making a purchase. You’ll want to monitor such activity and have separate campaigns with different messages for each of these user segments.

    You also have the option of setting up automated re-marketing via services like Retai.ly which takes care of all the re-targting advertisements and helps you close sales from dropped users.

    2. Master a Social Media Channel    

    Think of your social network pages as a person, rather than online applications. Behave as though it is an actual human by interacting with people, making friends, and as with the offline world, don’t be afraid to make (a few) mistakes.

    Share your joys and hopes and apologize for your shortcomings when they do occur.

    Pick one social platform that you want. They each have their particular area of expertise with which to increase your skills.

    Master Facebook

    Image of facebook logo with the words Mastery underneath

    For example if you want to try social ads, Facebook is where its at. You can build very robust campaigns and bolster your marketing prowess through Facebook advertising.

    Facebook has a tonne of options besides paid advertising. Join groups and engage with the communities, or create your own. Have you created events on Facebook before?

    In fact, if you choose to be a master of Facebook, you’ll certainly have to take some time off your regular schedule to explore every nook and cranny on the platform. That way you’ll have a working idea of what sort of options you have available.

    Jon Loomer has without question the top resources for mastering Facebook. If you’re looking to master Facebook marketing, go learn from the best.

    Master Instagram

    Image of Instagram logo with the words mastery underneath

    Instagram is great for those who are visually adept to showcase aesthetically pleasing visuals. However, even if you are design impaired (like myself…), it’s a very forgiving platform to improve your eye for design. The platform comes with a myriad of filters and tools to help you craft appealing images.

    You can take your work to even greater heights with the help of third party online image editing software like Canva and Piktochart, which enable even untrained amateur designers to make stunning images that IG champions will appreciate.

    Master Twitter

    Twitter logo with mastery words underneath

    If you are a wordsmith then you will find Twitter to be your cup of tea. Twitter is all about honing your copy writing skills in 140 characters.

    You can pair each post with images as well to tell an even more compelling story, but the real challenge is being able to craft the perfect message with just those limited characters.

    That said, Twitter is no one trick pony platform. For example, you should create your own category lists like “Influencers”, “Ambassadors” or “Collaborators” and add relevant people to them. These lists can then be used for anything from content curation to content promotion, or any other creative ideas you might conceive.

    Master YouTube

    Youtube logo with the words mastery underneath

    This is the platform for you if video content is your thing. It really doesn’t take a lot of learning before you have your first video up.

    Video is where the bulk of audience engagement lies these days and YouTube is the place people go to search for videos.

    Product videos do very well when placed on your product pages, and it also helps drive traffic to your page since people searching for product videos on Youtube (and other video platforms) will be able to follow links back to your site.

    During the typical customer journey, people will search for reviews and tutorials of the products they are shopping for, so concentrate your efforts on those types for your product pages. However, don’t let that stop you from creating less promotional and more artistic videos to share with your audience, especially if they are relevant to your business.

    Should this be your chosen mastery it will prove worthwhile in the long run as mastering it means by the time you have several dozen videos created, you will likely also have learnt as many new video editing and directing techniques.

    All that on top of the numerous ways to promote your content and engage with your audience.

    3. Adopt a New Technology    

    Whether it’s a back-end software to make your life easier (and grow your business), or a front-end app for your customers benefit, pick one and get it working at its fullest potential.

    This can be anything from:

    These technologies can be implemented with minimal effort (and minimal results), but to reap entirely the rewards of your investment, you should take the time to grasp how it works, learn the best practices and test it out yourself.

    Wikipedia page being heatmap tracked

    For example, implementing an analytics suite for your eCommerce store may seem like it requires comprehensive technical knowledge, but highly visual Drag’N’Drop software such as Mixpanel make the tasks achievable for even those with minimal tech savvy. At the end of the day you’ll have a ton of data shwoing how shoppers experience your site and which areas you should take steps to optimize.

    Flash sale modules don’t even require much back end implementation, but learning best practices and how to implement them so both you and your shoppers enjoy the maximum benefit requires time and experimentation.

    Learning to track and analyze link clicks will help you optimize your social media performance by showing you which posts get the most clicks. Eventually you will graduate to site wide tagging with a tag manager(the sort used by big league eCommerce players), but you’ll surely have someone or a team to implement it properly.

    4. Blog Regularly   

    If you plan on only one undertaking throughout 2017 OR if the idea of expressing yourself by educating/entertaining people interests you, this should be it. Your blog content can be in any form, from a traditional written blog, to videos, image galleries, or even podcasts if can manage it.

    Blogging is part of the content calendar, but I like to plan it separate from other content since I’ve done enough of both to know how to integrate the two efficiently.

    Picture of someone blogging

    For example I always leave space in my social media post schedule for when I know I’ll be publishing blog content so I can promote that instead. Sometimes I decide that the promotion of blog content will not be part of normally scheduled social posts but will be in addition to it.

    The thing about blogging is that I spend most of my time promoting the content than creating it, so it reaches as many people as possible, thus driving more traffic to the site. So when I suggest blog regularly, I don’t mean to endlessly create content.

    Rather, the entire cycle of blogging starts from research, moves to creation, then to publishing it. But it doesn’t end there, as this is when you begin relentlessly promoting it.

    I use services like Epicbeat and Buzzsumo for finding types of content that people share a lot so I can figure out what I will create, as well as finding influencers I can reach out to on social media when I’m ready to promote to people who would find my content worth sharing.

    dashboard view of epicbeat search

    Keep in mind that although blogging and regular content updates have a significant impact on your search engine rankings, blogging for SEO is a long term goal that requires commitment and consistency to see results. Don’t jump in expecting to deliver an immediate surge of traffic to your site through blogging alone.

    Have a look at other popular blogs both within and outside your niche. Besides giving you ideas about content and styles, it will keep you motivated and inspired to continue throughout the year.

    5. Participate In Yearly Event Promotions   

    Companies that leverage social events like valentines, children’s/father’s/mother’s day, school holidays, and Halloween have the advantage of staying in topical conversations.

    I usually see F&B companies take the lead with topical promotions, but anyone can get in on it, even eCommerce merchants. February 5th is Super Bowl Sunday, consider creating a promotion that takes advantage of the amount of exposure the event receives, with a football theme or offering promotions related to the game.

    Earth Day on April 22nd is when you could show your support for our collective home by donating a percentage of profits to earth-friendly causes, and remind your readers that by shopping online they are also helping to reduce their carbon footprint.

    By planning and consistently running specific promotions centered around such events, you are building brand awareness by being in hot conversations. Planned correctly, you should also see increased seasonal spending with your brand.

    6. Add To Your Omnichannel Presence    

    Infographic of omnichannel marketing

    Take the time to grow your brand on previously untouched channels. If you’ve never sold on Amazon before, now is the time to think about being a merchant on their platform. Or if you’re in the arts and crafts market you could do well on Etsy.

    When the time is right you will even want to take your business to the physical dimension, but for now, just make sure your brand is visible everywhere on the internet.

    You should be being willing to sell anywhere and everywhere that there are customers willing to pay you for your products. The other benefit of having multiple sales channels is that you won’t be left in the lurch if it fails for any reason.

    7. Be Transparent    

    Next time you tend to non hush-hush business operations, consider documenting or even live streaming it as an event.

    Lady live streaming on her mobile phone

    In the past I worked at an IT hardware distribution company. Every time we got a new shipment of products in, it was cause for celebration because our target market would get really excited about new arrivals and updated stocks, especially if they had been waiting for new supplies.

    Our CEO would take photos of the delightful new goods and post it on our media pages himself because it was so effortless to engage in such an rewarding manner with our audience. It wasn’t a time where live streaming such events would have been a priority enough to go through the hassle of setting it up the tech for it, so photos sufficed.

    Now, technology has advanced to the point where all you need is your phone and you can live stream events that your audiences will enjoy: a behind the scenes look at what goes on with your business.

    This sort of content gives life to your organization. The human touch will help you seamlessly engage with the public you want to reach because sharing your routines gives your audience a glimpse into the actual human beings behind the products and services you offer.

    8. Champion Lifestyle Product Images    

    Every product makes a promise to the buyer: to change their life for the better. Before buying, however, people want to see how -and in what context- a product is used. If you choose to improve your product image aesthetics, then start by adding lifestyle images to your product pages.

    Lifestyle product images sell a customer on a piece by helping them visualize it in context since they display your product features in real-time. The common white backdrop product image won’t tell a story.

    Image of a drone against a white backdrop

    The DJI Phantom 4 is shown clearly against the typical white backdrop. It’s a good quality image but without context it lacks the ability to evoke emotion, or convey any meaningful information.

    Holding a drone up to show scale

    In this case the Phantom 4 is displayed with context! Looking at the image you can clearly see the size of it, which I couldn’t from looking at just the first image.

    Imagine if this were a thermostat or desk and all you had was the first shot. You make the purchase but when it arrives it might not fit in your space. Having a lifestyle image would have given you the information you needed to decide perhaps it would be better suited elsewhere.

    This is information you can help customers to glean from product images. After all, eCommerce merchants need to make up for the lack of tactile fulfillment that physical retailers can offer.

    drone in action shot

    When you want to take it to a whole new level, these sort of lifestyle images -ones with the product in action- have the ability to inspire emotion and imagination in customers. Someone viewing it will start fantasizing about possibilities and envisioning scenarios of how they would use it if they had it themselves. Powerful indeed.

    Have a look around J!NX store. They do a fine job of:

    • Choosing product images (with large display size)
    • Inviting customers to share their own product images via gamification
    • Gamifying the entire eCommerce experience for their visitors.

    woman wearing a product

    If you’ve an abundance of energy, produce and add several lifestyle images, then go a step further and devise a plan to get your customers on board by hosting pictures of them with their purchases. You can entice customers to participate by gamifying the process or rewarding them for each post they make, but really, gamification is an entire topic of its own.

    Finally, our last new year’s resolution is pretty fun to plan, isn’t difficult to execute, and will have meaningful effect on your marketing and audience interaction…

    9. Plan Your Content Schedule    

    If you enjoy planning and keeping activities organised, there’s a good chance you already have a content schedule in place. If not, this could be your time to start, at least for keeping your social media organized.

    I limit each period(month or quarter) to a maximum of two general themes. For example if running a baby/motherhood website, I’d focus on mothers as well as families during the month of May (women’s day), and dedicate November for content focused on children (children’s day).

    As with a blogging content calendar, be topical but also try to stay relevant to your industry.

    I use a simple Google spreadsheet to plan and keep track of everything, but you can use Excel if you prefer. Personally I hardly do anything on local (being a digital marketer and all) so I use Google Sheets. I find it sufficient for these sort of tasks since it’s live, shareable instantly, and I can link between documents, sheets and presentations easily.

    Spreadsheet of social media content plan

    This is our yearly outline sheet. In it I include periodic themes and schedule the minimum amount of content to be produced. Since this is a new year resolution post, you may find it helpful and motivating to see your progress. To that end I’ve included two rows that show completion rates for each month as well as a yearly summary.

    Add whichever channels you produce content for and determine your posting schedule. If you’ve no idea how much you can take on, don’t worry. Start small and do what you can. If you are already pressed for time there’s no point planning for 10 posts a day if you’re not able to execute it.

    Instagram and Pinterest are not strong channels for us so eventhough InstanteStore does have official accounts on those platforms, I don’t plan for content promotion on those channels. I prioritize tasks to leverage where our strengths lie, and you should too. So if you find IG effective to reach your audience compared to Twitter then prioritize that and add it to your plan instead.

    Things like videos take more time and effort to make, so I schedule it more conservatively, perhaps once a quarter or even a year. A webinar could double as the video content so I schedule it for before the video content.

    detailed monthly plan sheet

    On the following sheets are the monthly views that go into detail about the daily activity for each month, with auto-updated counts for total of posts per month. Remember I said I can easily link between documents? This is where I do just that.

    It’s an immense quality of life perk that each item on the monthly view is linked to the my content creation slides (I just happen to use slides) for easy reference, and it takes me to a page like this one:

    Google Slides used for content planning

    This is the crafting bench, so to speak. I use Google Slides as a canvas to draft concepts and the content copy, as well as come up with ideas for the post visuals. The image above shows the final result of a fully drafted post. In this case the posts are the pre-emptive messages before the actual blog post, which is the one you are reading right now.

    With the entire year mapped out, it will free up the rest of your calendar for other priorities, or even leisure! You don’t have to create content for the entire year right away, but having a structured content plan in place will help you stay ahead of deadlines while keeping your mind clear and focused on your goals.

    These are merely examples of how we plan our content calendar. You’ll discover your own methods and preferences and tailor your content schedule to suit your own style once you find your groove   = )

    Once again, thanks for reading our eCommerce blog. We hope you’ve found it valuable. We’re looking forward to becoming the top eCommerce blog of 2017 (and beyond)!

  • Grow Your Store
  • Finally A Proven Method To Increase Your eCommerce Holiday Sales

    Are You Using THE ONE Proven Tactic to Boost You Black Friday Sales By Up to 320%?

    It’s that time of the year again!

    Did you know that there are less than 4 days before the biggest sales period of the year? Both Black Friday & Cyber Monday are set to rake in the lion’s share of sales this season as holiday shoppers scour the web for the best deals.

    So is your eCommerce store ready for the year end shopping galore? What have you prepared to OFFER your customers?

    THE ALL IMPORTANT STATS:

    According to surveys and analysis by Deloitte & Adobe, both expect holiday shoppers to spend in excess of $1 trillion this holiday season. Yep, that’s 1,000,000,000,000 to be spent in just 3 months. It’s not often you come across such a large number in a way that isn’t theoretical, so I had to do several takes to make sure I had the correct number of zeroes.

    So the question is: How do YOU get a piece of that pie?

    Traditionally, retailers will be having a sale throughout the weekend, luring customers with irresistible offers! Say you’re looking for a pair of Adidas NMD sneakers, you will have tens of thousands of stores coming up with similar offers and customers are just completely spoilt for choices.

    WHY DO FLASH SALES SELL BETTER?

    It’s actually a combination of different factors.

    SCARCITY AND URGENCY SELLS!

    Man Running Against The Clock

    The limited time span and limited availability increases your visitor’s desire for your product and boosts urgency through the roof! When you know a deal will end in the next 10 minutes, you’re not going to think too long and hard about whether you should buy that thing or go running to a price comparison site to compare the different prices. Emotion is at an all time high! You make your customers DESIRE to immediately buy the product that you have on offer RIGHT AWAY. Scarcity and urgency sells…. Period!

    Saying that, there are a few details you want to make sure you have in place to make sure your Flash Sale is a success rather than a flop.

    RULE #1 – ONLY THOSE FEW SELECTED ONES, PLEASE!

    Have a limited number of items. Don’t put your WHOLE STORE on sale. If you’re selling niche products, keep it to within 10-20 products. You want the decision to be “I want it” or “not”…. Not do I want this or this or this?

    RULE #2 – IT SHOULD BE IN MINUTES, NOT HOURS!

    Put the flash sale to a max of 60 minutes. This makes it WAY MORE urgent for visitors to take action immediately. The faster they take action, the less time there is to think whether they actually “need” it. Think back to the last time when you were at a store and you were thinking if you should get that red sweater and the sales person comes up to you and say, “That’s the last piece!”. Those 4 magical words! It immediately helps you to make up your mind and walk straight to the cashier.

    RULE #3 – DON’T LIMIT TO JUST 1!

    Don’t just have that ONE Flash Sale and put all your hopes in it! You may set yourself up to fail with just that offer as you may be offering something that your visitors do not desire. Instead, have several. Put different products on Flash Sale at different periods. And “leak info” about upcoming Flash Sales. Social media is a very powerful tool for leaking information or if you want to take it a step further, you can send out SMS-es to your customers to inform them about the upcoming sale. Emails do work too but as we all know, sometimes email is not immediate and your customers may not be aware of the upcoming Flash Sale.

    Don’t be afraid to limit the quantity of items you have in the Flash Sale. If you have an amazing deal that the visitor missed out on, that’s normally a great incentive for them to take action quickly when the next Flash Sale comes along in the next hour.

    TIME TO GET STARTED!

    The Retaily Flash Sale Module is here to help you capitalize on the biggest eCommerce pie the holiday shopping season has ever seen. Access to the module is available only on InstanteStore V8 however, so if you have questions about updating your store, feel free to get in touch with us.

    It’s easy to integrate with your store and setting up your flash sale is simple. You get a bunch of customization options with regards to duration (an hour, 12 hours, 24 hours etc), and a countdown timer for your product pages ensuring shoppers are always aware of the ongoing promotions.

    Fun game on product image page with dountdown timer

    There are conveniently placed social sharing buttons as well to that you can use to encourage your shoppers to spread the words to their own networks. This is something you can choose to further incentivize with social media promotions or contests.

    Products included in the sale automatically display a “flash sale” icon on product listing pages so shoppers are aware which items are on limited time offer.

    Sample of flash sale icon and countdown timers on category pages

    This encourages shoppers to keep checking back for different bargains once they know that such offers could be available on your site.

    Once your flash sale concludes, you have full access to clear reporting to conduct your post-sale analysis. You’ll be able to see which products did well, then compare how sales were against non-sale periods.After that you’ll decide if you want to have another flash sale featuring those products, or choose different products to offer.

    Sample of flash sale email announcement message

    You can then email your customer list, telling those that missed out about upcoming opportunities for them to get great bargains.

    Quick tip! Don’t try to sell everything you have, instead look at a profitable segment of your customer base and run a flash sale directed at them.

    The benefits of adding the flash sale module to your online store don’t stop when the sale is over. With lots of data and new customers, you can immediately begin to leverage their lifetime value.

    Don’t miss this opportunity to build trust, loyalty and improve your brand reputation by following up with brand messaging at touch points like order confirmation, shipping notification and updates and completed delivery. If you can, try and have a referral programme in place as well, it will help increase exposure for the flash sale.

    Sample of flash sale referral bonus

    The appeal of flash sales is the spontaneity and the surprise, which plays well with what experts call the experience economy. Retailers attempting to be unique and shoppers feeling they might be able to find blue moon items is an experience itself.

    Online merchants capitalize on the shopping frenzy by having multiple flash sales, and if successful, end up skyrocketing your traffic and conversions.

    Image of a rocket launching into the sky

    Increase Conversions During The Holiday Season With Your Own Flash Sale

    Click Here To Contact Us & Get Started

    Thanks for reading the InstanteStore eCommerce blog. We hope you’ve found it valuable, let us know in the comments and share it!

  • Ecommerce Web Design
  • 3 Painless eCommerce SEO Stylings from a Wizard!

    Ah, search engine optimization. I have a strong love-hate relationship with the artform. I’m certain its true for anyone who has the will to dabble in the arcane craft of SEO.

    Alas! SEO for eCommerce websites is even more complicated and mystical than traditional SEO. In the everlasting quest for the holy grail of Google’s first result ranking, many throw our hands up in despair and resign from the task altogether. Some persist doggedly, adamant that SEO “must-be-done”.

    Fewer still go about it in a practical & time efficient manner, tackling the problem with a mixture logic and creativity, never actually enjoying it.

    Of course, InstanteStore comes with a built in “SEO Wizard” to help you take care of the back-end and technical aspects of SEO, like Schema implentation. There are still practices that you should undertake to build upon that foundation.

    I’ve been studying a whole bunch of eCommerce websites, so I’m sharing several good and bad trends I’ve noticed among merchants in 2016. The craft may seem mysterious in theory, but practically, the execution is often straightforward.

    What Search Engines Want

    The most common issue I notice when browsing shopping websites is the amount of duplicated content. This usually stems from having multiple product pages for variations of the same item. Fix it by making sure all variations (size, colour, material) are on the same product page and displayed via drop-downs or radio buttons. We know search engines are contemptuous of duplicate content, providing zero value to audiences. So let’s make this a forbidden practice. The tech exists for this fix, hence a technological obstacle is no excuse for it.

    Chalkboard saying No to duplicate content

    An even weaker version of the duplicate content affliction is copy pasting supplier product descriptions, often to the point where many merchants have the same exact copy. I’m glad to report that it’s not something I notice much anymore, but it does happen so I’m just letting you know: this is sooo forbidden, there should be a wall of “NOPE” around it. If your products suffer from contentimus duplicatitis, do whatever it takes to make it original. Hire a copywriter if you must to make sure your product pages don’t contain copy that anyone else has.

    It’s not efficient to create unique copy for thousands of product pages though. Instead, using your web analytics tool (you have one right?), pick your most popular product pages for original content.

    What People Want

    Another problem I often encounter is the worrying lack of search query optimization. Unless you sell iPads or a popular product, don’t use product names as your search indicator. Instead target the product type: tablets, insect repellent, autumn chrysanthemum arrangements, Halloween cookies, etc.

    Think about what the shopper is searching for-what they actually type into search engines when they begin their digital journey. This will help determine the kind of language used to reach your pages. So if your insect repellent is called “Bugone”, maybe people will be more likely to find it if you optimized for the search term: “bug spray”, or “insect repellant”.

    A google search query to demonstrate shopper intent

    Search engines (and people too) love it when a page matches the users intent exactly. It’s logical. So if a page matches a shopper persona, it should show up when a person in searching for information. If a page matches a buyer persona, it should be listed when the person is ready for product options.

    #Winning 2016

    Atop a meadow of clouds, perched firmly at the top of SERPS is Polyvore. It’s a fashion shopping site, where they know their audience well and the social tech they favour. They have thus given shoppers the ability to create bundles of products, making up their own styles that they can upload so other users can browse and shop. Users can also interact with other bundles and share them across social media.

    Image of user content Polyvore website

    I’m pleased to say that I’ve noticed an increase in merchants opting for user generated content. This is great for SEO because it means older indexed pages are regularly updated, letting search engines know that your pages still have activity and thus are still relevant. Up till recently, user generated content was mostly in the form of user reviews and testimonials. As companies like Polyvore show us, there’s more than one way to skin this dragon!

    User generated content is beneficial in several ways:

      Your community will contribute content of their own, cutting down a chuck of your workload. A community interaction is a healthy one.

      As mentioned above, new content keeps your pages refreshed and indicates activity to search engine bots. It’s why online forums do well at SEO.

      The community your create benefits from it as well because they get recognition for putting together popular outfit ensembles, creating an enjoyable user experience.

    J!NX clothing give their shoppers the ability to post pictures of themselves with their new loot, and earn rewards for it too:

    Image of user content on J!NX product page

    A quick and simple fix for user generated content is to add social media feeds to your most popular pages. This is a good strategy if you don’t have much engagement on your site but have a responsive audience on your social media channels.

    *Remember that people want to engage with brands they see, so don’t hold back. On social media you should be tagging your posts with relevant people, and make use of those #tags to get your content in front even people who would otherwise not be able to see your content.

    Which brings us to…

    Social Media Marketing. SEO is no longer confined to making search engines like your pages and content. It’s now more important to make your content visible (and popular) on different channels on the web, because people who engage with your content are indicting to search engines that your content is relevant. Hence the more people engage with it, the more priority search engines will give it.

    Picture of social media apps

    It’s the reason you’ll see outdated content on the first page of many results, because it was once the most popular result for a search, and nothing new has come along that is as popular, even if there are more relevant contemporary piece available.

    These channels include the various social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube (yes!) as well as community forums.

    In the past, back-links used to hold a lot of weight in SEO ranking, so much that internet marketers hacked the system and created lots of artificial links a ranking boost. Given enough effort a page could rank number 1 on Google with a day or two. Naturally this led to a poor experience for the user, and so things aren’t as simple anymore.

    So my suggestion is this: the next time you are on Facebook, spend a few minutes to join a group relevant to your market and promote your own content with a link and a few words about it. I’m not even talking about a blog post-though it can be. I’m talking about a specific product. I say start promoting a product you personally use because it will help word your promotional post in a fluid and genuine manner. Use that as practice before writing about products you aren’t as passionate about and springboard yourself into a natural rhythm.

    I picture of 4 facebook ecommerce groups

    If you do this for a single piece of content on multiple groups, across various social networks, you will start to get in front of many eyeballs. That’s a great first step. Once your foundation is solid, audience engagement will be an easier obstacle to demolish. If you can only spare time to promote one piece of content to one group, once a week, that is infinitely more than getting zero social signals. So do it for as long as you can before losing yourself to the void…

    The key to tying social media with SEO is the user engagement. The goal is to have lots of people sharing your content over a short period of time, which is the “virality” factor that a social media marketer so intensely craves. It isn’t necessary to go all Ice Bucket Challenge every single time. What works in the long run is the cumulative effects of content promotion.

    Image of a person in green being dumped with a bucket of ice water

    As with anything digital, always be tracking and analysis your traffic, your search terms and your rankings. Figure out what’s working and replicate the process from there. A methodological process will ensure you start getting results faster.

    And that’s all folks!

    As you can gather, social interaction has a significant role in contemporary SEO, although many traditional tactics do still carry weight. It’s all about the ratio of importance the engines assign to each ranking factor.

    Doing SEO by bolstering my social media marketing efforts works well for me. It covers all my priorities: achieving KPI goals, what I have time for, and what I enjoy. Try something yourself and see what works best for you based on what you can manage to get done.

    Mastering SEO isn’t for everyone, but it doesn’t mean only the most seasoned practitioners are capable of conjuring clever spells. You’ll see that most of the time you’ll be getting incremental results over long periods of time. Once in awhile, stars align and magic wills itself into being without much help, resulting in a massive surge of traffic, engagement and popularity. It’s an incredible rush to see it happen before your eyes as weeks and months of work pay off all at once!

  • Ecommerce Startup
  • Social Psychology in eCommerce: The Gravity of Trust

    Andrea Peterson Trust Quote

    The Ultimate Value

    Trust is a vital concept when it comes to social psychology in eCommerce. Trust appears wherever risk, uncertainty and dependency exists, and is something online shops strive to earn from their shoppers. Consumers trusting an online retailer is important in establishing transactional behavior.

    It is a weighty concept that is often taken for granted because we believe we understand it, despite the range of definitions it carries. To consumers, doing business with an eCommerce merchant represents a step into the unknown thus creating positive trust-beliefs will help result in positive intentions (sales) from consumers.

    According to findings in “The Science of Shopping Cart Abandonment” by Charles Nicholls: 74.6% of new shoppers will not return after abandoning a shopping cart, and so persuading shoppers to complete a purchase on their very first visit is of utmost importance for long-term survival, and why nurturing initial trust is so crucial in this step of the journey.

    As Andrea Petersen stated in her Wall Street Journal piece:

     

    “It seems that trust equals revenue, even online.”

     
    Click Here To Find Out How InstanteStore Uses Features Like Abandon Cart Revovery To Help Our Merchants Sell More

    Understanding The Role Of Trusting Beliefs

    Each party of an eCommerce transaction looks to eliminate risk and uncertainty by finding ways to increase trust. We acomplish this by building beliefs about the beneficial characteristics of the vendor. These characteristics can be applied to beliefs about the competence, benevolence, integrity and predictability of an online store.

    1. Belief in competence is when a shopper believes that the merchant possesses the ability to deliver goods or services as promised, whether it is in terms of volume, delivery time, pricing or quality. Shoppers also want to know you are an expert who has the necessary skills to provide a convenient solution, and that you are dynamic– able to meet challenges that arise without excuses.

    We see this come up a lot in the world of eCommerce. Belief in your competence leads to a positive action towards your business, and that trust carries so much weight that when broken it leads to anger, frustration and reputation damage within the online community. On the flipside, if that belief is reinforced by actual competence, the goodwill generated has the potential to spread like wildfire, leading to more belief and further positive actions.

    2. Belief in benevolence is when a shopper believes the merchant is caring, morally conscious, responsive and is capable of goodwill towards him or her. A merchant that cultivates the belief of benevolence would not have the perception of taking advantage of the shopper by feeding their fears (eg. the fear of missing out), rather is one that acts in their best interest, that the service is not a scam, and is always willing to communicate matters with the client.

    3. Belief in integrity is when shoppers trust that a merchant is honest, credible and reliable in their dealings by being truthful and upfront about things like pricing and delivery times rather than forgoing the truth in order to make sales. Merchants that demonstrate integrity accept the responsibility of the good-faith placed upon them and is the standard bearer of fulfilling promises and ethical obligations, like keeping client information secure.

    4. Belief in predictability doesn’t actually have positive or negative values associated with it. It means that a shopper has the belief that your actions are consistent enough to the point that he/she can predict your behavior in a normal transactional situation, regardless of whether your actions are good or bad.

    A customer may have high belief in the predictability of Amazon to fulfill delivery of an order within 5 days. A high level of belief in predictability would also forecast that a confirmation email and invoice will be sent immediately after purchase. Having belief in the predictability of an online merchant also means that the merchant’s readiness to handle a client’s needs will never alter over time.

    These four beliefs complement each other and often one lead to another depending on the buying stage of a customer and what their current relationship is with your brand (fresh, has heard of you before or has conducted business with you before). The most important one is always the one that addresses the current fear of a customer and facilitates positive behaviors.

    If a customer fears being scammed, then their integrity belief is the most important. If the customer fears getting a bad deal like paying a higher markup price, then benevolence belief takes precedence. Fear that credit card details might be inadvertently stolen during the checkout process will rely on the competence belief that your technical ability to prevent such theft will address this issue.

    Belief in these characteristics leads to trusting intentions, which is when a customer shows the intention of relying on the merchant despite being unable to control the merchants actions. The amount of belief a shopper has will affect their readiness to perform trust related internet behaviors compared to traditional shopping instances, since online shoppers have less control over their experience such as handing over sensitive personal information, or not being able to immediately determine the quality of a product or service.

    These behaviors are actions like sharing sensitive information, adding products to cart or making a purchase by completing the checkout process, and are a natural consequence of their trust in or beliefs about the online store.

    Facilitating Trust

    Rather than allowing customers to bumble haphazardly through the trust-intention-action process, there are of course things merchants can do to guide them through it to assure them that their beliefs are in safe hands and their intentions will have positive results.

    Privacy Policy

    A privacy policy lets your customers know that you are ethical when it comes to collecting their personal information (integrity). As such they are more likely to be open to sharing their personal information with you (intention). When a customer is more willing to share information then they are naturally more likely to act on it (behavior).

    Not having a privacy policy in place on your online store can help you lose customers while being upfront about how you collect, store, and share personal data will allay the fear customers have about how their data is collected and used. They tend to be long walls of text filled with legalese that in a way discourage people from reading them.

    Twitter has a very clear and well formatted privacy policy laid out which you can find here. Making it easily accessible for the average user shows transparency, which is a concept closely related to being trustworthy.

    As the saying goes: those with nothing to hide hide nothing.

    Trust Seals

    Trust seals & SSL certificates suggest that a site provides technical security for payment forms to prevent middleman interventions or network eavesdropping.

    Koray Özpolat at the University of Rhode Island hypothesizes that the four factors surrounding the effectiveness of trusts seals are cart value, retailer’s sales volume, shopper experience and number of other trust seals displayed:

    Cart Value

    Trust seals are more effective towards the completion of higher value shopping carts.

    The value of a shopping cart simply means how much the total value of the products in the cart amounts to. Higher value purchases are more risky and thus entail a higher level of risk-aversion thus providing information pertinent to security and privacy helps reduce perceived risk.

    Retailer Size

    Online retailers with a smaller sales volume benefit more from the presence of the trust seal than larger online retailers.

    This is tied-in with an online store’s reputation. Someone who has never shopped on Amazon.com would have less concerns about the ability of the company to protect their information, becuase it is a well established marketplace that has served millions of customers worldwide. As such smaller eCommerce sites would be required to take even greater measures to address these concerns. Customers would naturally feel less comfortable shopping at your store if it is new or relatively unheard of.

    Past Experience

    The effect of trust seals diminish the more frequently a user shops at a particular online store.

    It means that trust is being developed over time, and with the benefit of having completed successful transactions before, the need to be convinced of trustworthiness is gradually eliminated as the customer updates his or her perception of the merchant.

    Varied Trust Seal

    The impact of trust seals on completing the checkout process has diminishing returns as the number of displayed trust seals increases.

    In other words, displaying all the trust seals you can get your hands on won’t do much to convince your customers to make a purchase past the first few unique or synergetic ones, such as a seal that addresses security together with seals the address identity and privacy. Having multiple seals that address the same concerns is pointless.

    In terms of shopping cart abandonment, the research found that the optimal number of seals to display is only 2 and that there is a reverse effect (u-turn) on trust with an increasing number of seals. Hence it is crucial to avoid information overload when displaying trust seals as it may cause confusion or skepticism.

    What’s interesting is a particular result from a study published by Christian Holst suggesting that the perception of security is more important to online shoppers than its actually technical security ability. The trust seals are often nothing more than certification of a site or company about its customer relations or business practices, whereas SSL seals are what suggest technical security on the site.

    Image: Baymard Study

    There are many places you might display your security certifications and credentials, on your front page, on a product page, or on the footer, but the most important location to build trust is at the checkout process, the page where a customer will enter their payment details. It is at this point that a person has the most alarm bells going off, so it is here that it becomes of utmost importance to build confidence in the ability to protect one’s privacy.

    Interaction with Customers

    It should be standard practice by now for an online business to be engaging with customers, both individually and as an community. From a trust perspective, it also manages to convey that you are a merchant possessing the positive belief characteristics mentioned above, that it is benevolent, competent, honest and predictable. These positive traits solidify customers trust which lead to positive trust behaviors.

    Interaction can occur through any channels your site has available, such as social media, email, phone, video calling, or even a support system on the site itself. It involves customer service, feedback, marketing and general socializing.

    A great example of customer-facing eCommerce is Dell’s built-to-order model, which was once a thing Alienware did. With this model they were able to build stronger and deeper relationships with their customers.

    This is interaction as well, since analyzing how your customers interact with your store (you) and understanding their shopping behavior and decisions can give you valuable data about how to better serve them. It can help you improve your design, user experience, content, and set pricing, which lead to increased shopping cart completion rates.

    Reputation Building

    By building a good reputation a merchant is able to bring about purchasing behaviors. Improving reputation will also improve beliefs because reputation is the anecdotal evidence/rumour that the merchant has positive characteristics, while trusting beliefs are first-hand, and as stated above, lead to intentions.

    The trend now is to prominently display customer testimonials as social proof about a good service rendered, and it is standard to have customer reviews on product pages, as these constitute a secondary reputation, that of the product you sell on your store.

    Brand recognition happens naturally, but should also happen through your own efforts with marketing campaigns. Consumers are also more likely to trust merchants that actively advertise their marketplace as it shows an investment in growth. It is unlikely that shoppers want to have business dealings with companies they think are in it for the short-term, as this will hamper an important part of transactions, which is after sales support.

    Linking to Other Sites

    Links to a reputable site can provide the extra push to assure customers that you run a reputable site. Quality outbound links suggests that you run a good company because you are good company, by way of transference.

    The initial trust a shopper has for an unknown store will be more strongly influenced by a better known domain when there is a connection (hyperlink) between the two. This transference of trust can be achieved in many ways, not just by linking to other domains, but also by connections to influential individuals within online communities such on social networking sites and forums.

    On online marketing forums such as the Warrior Forum, vendors and affiliates gain reputation by being active in the hyper-niche communities found within, creating trust and favourable reputations, allowing each other to cross promote their services, confident in the knowledge that each other are in high reputation standing among the public. After all, nobody wants to affiliated with shady dealers or those with a poor reputation – whether by perception or concrete.

    Reputation is also strengthened when there is a link between your online store and a physical location, which we cover in the next item.

    Contact Information

    Having a proper channel to receive inquiries and complaints goes a long way in creating trust. It shows your users that there is a real person running things, and that you are available to be contacted should the need arise.

    Some businesses choose not to disclose any contact details whatsoever, instead having a contact form to direct queries. Whether this might be a good practice for your business is something only you can determine by understanding your customer base. Others businesses are fully transparent, and it seems to work for them.

    The amount of information you are willing to share is totally up to you, however a Contact page should be the bare minimum, then adding social media links, email and then live chat support as the need arises. You may also want to add business hours and your address if it is applicable.

    Regular Content

    Being active in updating the content of your store instils a sense of comfort whereby a customer knows that he/she is not in a deadzone. Fear of being in an abandoned site will obviously lead to phenomenal bounce rates. Updating your inventory or updating the product information helps your store stay fresh and alive.

    Consider creating a content strategy for your products by mapping out time-periods for content updates. Several merchants I work with now choose to have a content cycle for individual products, which means not uploading all the content right away, but doing it over a period of time. For example uploading the product and details right away, then in week 2 adding a long-form product description or even a dedicated blog post about it, and in the third or fourth week uploading a video of the product as either a review, a tutorial, or the now very popular unboxing video format.

    Even if your store features products with slow development cycles, you can work around this by generating blog content and being active on social networks about your regular operations or by events, expos or roadshows you attend. These updates also have the benefit of conveying to your customer that you are a creator and community participant, not solely a profit maker- or: Benevolent.

    Depiction of internet security in relation to trust

    The social psychology of trust in eCommerce is about putting yourself in your customer’s seat, figuring out where your customers will have gaps in trust, then patching those gaps up. Empathizing with your consumers and their trust needs requires taking action on providing information to ease them into a trustworthy relationship with you.

    As you can see, understanding the fears and pain points of your eCommerce users is paramount in increasing conversions. Trust exists differently for different people at different stages of their buying journey.The tactics mentioned above will alleviate common fears most customers have when encountering a new online shopping store. They work in tandem by gradually reducing risk-aversion and increasing belief in not getting ripped off.

    The Bottom Line:

    Shoppers need to trust you to provide them with a reliable, safe and convenient service before they will ever conduct online business with you.

    If you found this post useful, please consider sharing our eCommerce blog with those who will also benefit from it. Do also comment with your thoughts/examples/horror tales below, or if you want a more private conversation you can reach me via Email. Thanks!

  • Cutting Edge Techniques
  • Ecommerce Tips To Retain And Grow Your Customer Base

    One of the biggest challenges faced by online sellers is sales conversion. With so much effort put in to build an online store, it needs to be worthwhile for your online business to take off.

    Here are some crucial and practical tips to retain and grow your customer base.

    Develop A Unique Core Differentiator (UCD)

    There’s tonnes of other people selling products that are similar to yours. Unless you make your own products, you need a UCD – Unique Core Differentiator.

    What makes your product or services DIFFERENT than others?

    Different

    Because in all honesty, if whatever you’re selling is no different than what others are offering out there, then why would people want to buy from you?

    Sure, if you have a good shipping strategy, that will help but what’s the core value of your company and the products or services that you offer.

    The market is competitive and unless your product pricing is irresistible or you’re in a niche market, you will need to give consumers a very good reason to buy your products or use your services.

    Offer value, great customer service, unique bundles, something that makes your business stand out from the rest of your competitors.

    Give Free Samples

    If you’re selling any food, health care or consumables, one of the best ways to engage new customers and to encourage them to try your products is to give out free samples.

    Starbucks

    This is usually done in events, road shows, conventions and places with high traffic like shopping malls and public places.

    People are usually hesitant when it comes to new products but once they try out a free sample, they’re more open to making a purchase.

    If you’re selling consumable health care products, prepare lots of small samplers as this is also a great way to help get the word out about your products and company when you sponsor them at huge events.

    If you’re marketing is done right, people get to :

    – try your products
    – discover your brand
    – discover your product benefits
    – receive an offer they can’t refuse to encourage them to make their first purchase

    Once they make their first purchase, give them an offer to share with more friends and reward them for their loyalty.

    While different businesses are selling different products, always have in mind to create a good shopping experience for your customers each step of the way.

    Create A Referral Program

    Give your customers a good experience and create a referral program that is easy and smooth enough for them to share with others.

    Uber does a good job of spreading the word around with their simple referral program which is a win-win for all parties.

    Uber

    Word of mouth and referral from friends and people you trust tend to spread faster. So think about making your referral easy for customers to share out.

    Give 20

    Uber prompts their customers with a unique discount code the moment they complete their ride as referrals from friends REALLY take off well.

    Tip : Consider giving a referral code to your customer in the order confirmation email with the same code included in the package to encourage them to share with friends.

    Partner With Other Businesses

    Partnering with other businesses whose products complement yours will create a win-win for both parties.

    Ropes

    For instance, if you’re selling health food, it would make sense to partner with health related businesses selling fitness gear, sports clothing, gyms, yoga classes, restaurants, cafes as it flows along the same lines of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Did I mention salad bars too?

    If you’re selling clothing or fashion related products, partner with businesses that consumers will buy from like those selling cosmetics, designer accessories, shoes, skin care, etc.

    It’s another way of introducing and giving your product range more exposure to places that are frequented by consumers.

    Tip : Package your product in a way that will attract attention and pique curiosity.

    Reward Your Customers Well

    Every customer counts. No matter how small the purchase order that was made, give them a good shopping experience and reward them.

    Thanks

    This could come in the form of :

    – a hand written thank you card to show genuine care and gratitude
    – free gift sample of one of your products or SURPRISE them
    – discount voucher which they could use for their next purchase
    – all of the above?

    I’m not asking you to bake them a cake (you could if you want) but think of ways to delight and wow them. Your customers will be happily sharing the experience with their family and friends. In fact, encourage them to post on social media if they’re over the moon about it and reward them for referring your business to others.

    Understand Your Best And Worst Customers’ Needs

    Feedback is always important because it’s a good reality check for any business.

    So don’t fret if you get any customer complains. It’s better to receive some feedback than none at all.

    Customer Service

    These 2 groups of customers are at the end of each spectrum.

    The best customers are those that are pleased with your products and service but they are also the ones who make specific requests. These could come in the form of specific product requirements, bundles, customization, etc.

    The benefits : They could be showing you what similar customers like them are looking for so that you can offer a business solution catered for similar customers like them.

    The worse customers are those that literally complain about every single thing. Yes, they can be a nightmare to deal with. But…

    Some of the main reasons that customers complain is because of :

    – not enough information about the product or instructions on how to use the product
    – don’t know where their stuff is if no shipping estimate duration time provided
    – item arrive not as described on your site
    – item arrive damaged, broken or wrong item!
    – not enough information about shipping, returns and refund policy

    The benefits : You can choose to turn things around and see it from a different perspective on how to improve your products, sales funnel process flow and customer experience because they could be showing you something about your business that needs improving.

    Offer Useful And Practical Advice To Consumers

    Most businesses bypass this because it takes time and effort to create relevant and helpful content. But if you’re going to do business online, you need to see things from a long term perspective of adding value to customers and improving your site’s SEO.

    Advice

    You can easily find questions related to your product or services on popular forums like Quora, Reddit, etc. These sites are not for you to sell your stuff there least you get banned.

    Use the search box and look for specific terms related to your business to offer useful and practical advice to people who have questions. The idea is to participate in the discussions by giving valuable advice, tips and encouragement.

    You can add a link back to your site for folks who want to know more about you or information on the write up that will help them.

    To do this, you need to have a blog on your own site where you blog about the benefits, value, tips, advice, how-to’s about topics related to your product. Share these on social media as well.

    Help Is Available

    If you’re at your wits end and really need help to evaluate your current business process or need advice on how to improve your business, let us know.

    Help is available. Contact us and let us know what you are struggling with or if you have better suggestions, comments and feedback on how we can help you sell more. We’ll definitely get back to you.

    If you don’t have a store yet but you’re unsure on how to start one, check out these practical ecommerce tips for first time sellers.

    Ready to start your online store? Get moving with our FREE 15 day trial now.

    Build Your Store Now

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  • Build Your Store
  • 20 Ecommerce Features To Help You Sell Online

    So you’ve finally gotten your online store all set up. It was quite a feat but your store has now been populated with products, you’ve tested it out and you’re happy with the overall look of your site (yay!).

    Now start using these 20 ecommerce features to help you sell online.

    Customize Abandoned Cart Feature

    Make sure you configure your abandoned cart first as your store will begin to receive traffic and exposure from all the SEO efforts and blogging that you’ve been doing.

    vitacost
    Image credit : Vitacost

    If you’re not sure about whether you’ve set up your store’s SEO properly, please check out these practical ecommerce tips for first time sellers which covers the overall work needed to get your store ready to sell online.

    Being able to reach customers who have made it all the way to your store’s checkout process is a priority.

    To find out the steps on how to set up your abandoned cart email, please view there’s a gold mine in your abandoned cart orders.

    Offer Discount Coupons

    Create some discount coupons as a way to reward first time buyers who sign up or register at your store to purchase something. It’s a great way to encourage them to complete their first purchase at your store.

    GemFive Discount Voucher
    Image credit : Gemfive

    You can offer different types of discount coupons ranging from percentage to dollar value or even free shipping with our ecommerce shopping cart.

    InstanteStore Discount CouponPut yourself in the shoes of your customers and decide which is the best that you can offer them to complete checkout.

    Offer Gift Certificates

    Look at the yearly calendar and mark down the different holiday seasons or special occasions where you can offer discounted gift certificates to customers who could purchase them to give away as gifts.

    Berber Trading Gift Certificate
    Image credit : BerberTrading.com

    Gift certs can be made available all year round but remember to set a reasonable validity time frame.

    Creating a digital gift certificate is easy with our ecommerce solution.

    InstanteStore Gift CertificateA reasonable validity time frame is a way to encourage customers to utilize them soon.

    Send Out Newsletters

    Collect all those emails of customers that have registered in your store as you’ll want to send them periodic newsletters of your latest products, promotions and blog posts (which contains useful advice that will teach and add value to your customers).

    Zalora Newsletter Offer
    Image credit : Zalora

    Make it worth sharing to their other friends by including some discount codes for first time signup and purchase.

    Creating newsletters is an easy process provided you’ve planned out your outline and have prepared all the relevant links and images.

    Our ecommerce software makes it easy for merchants to create and send out newsletters to their subscribers and registered customers.

    InstanteStore Create Newsletters

    You can have a test copy sent to your email to see what it looks like first before blasting it out to your subscribers and customers.

    Sell on eBay

    Select some of your products to sell on eBay. Post them easily from your store to your eBay account if you want your product to be available in the marketplace.

    eBay
    Image credit : eBay

    InstanteStore is integrated with eBay so all you need is an eBay account to link your store and start posting some of your products direct to eBay.

    InstanteStore eBay Web Integration

    You don’t have to post your entire store’s products on eBay. Only selected ones will do.

    Sell Wholesale

    Offer special wholesale pricing to customers who wish to purchase in bulk from you. We offer 3 different types of wholesale feature. Pick one that’s suitable for your online business.

    InstanteStore Wholesale Options

    If you have plenty of wholesale customers, our personal wholesale feature allows up to 9 different pricing tier per product.

    InstanteStore Personal Wholesale Pricing Example

    That way, you can allocate different pricing to different customers depending on the different quantities that they want to purchase from you. These tier prices are not available to normal buyers.

    Put Products On Sale

    Put your store’s products on sale. Customers love a good sale. Do your price comparison with competitors taking into account shipping and tax to see whether you can match their pricing or offer a better deal for customers.

    According to Nielsen, 41% global average of consumers will switch brand, retailer and service providers if there’s a better price offered. Makes sense as people are always looking for value.

    Loyalty-Image-from-Nielsen
    Image credit : Nielsen

    Besides, who wants to pay more when they can get a similar product or service at a lower price.

    All small business shopping cart software will enable you to put your products on sale.

    Ours will even allow you to put entire categories or your whole store on sale.

    InstanteStore On Sale

    You’ll have complete control and can even upload the On Sale image of your choice.

    Cross Sell Your Products

    Always add some similar or related products as cross sell.

    Skechers Cross Sell
    Image credit : Skechers

    That will serve as relevant suggestions to customers who are looking for the same type of products in case the initial product was not exactly what they were looking.

    Configure the cross sell feature and cross sell layout to match the look of your store.

    Being able to offer cross sell on both your product page and final checkout page will help to increase conversion.

    Switch To Mobile Friendly And Responsive Templates

    Google announced last year that mobile friendly sites will rank higher in search results.

    To find out whether your site meets Google’s mobile friendly criteria, just enter in your URL in the mobile friendly test.

    InstanteStore Mobile Friendly
    Image credit : Google Mobile Friendly Test

    It makes sense as your site should load fast and properly across all devices so that users will get to what they’re searching for fast.

    You’ll also want to make sure your site loads fast enough to meet Google’s Page Speed Insights :

    Google Page Speed Insights Test
    Image credit : Google PageSpeed Insights

    If you need help configuring your store’s site but don’t know how to get it done, please contact us and we’ll help you out.

    Switch On Ratings And Reviews

    Switch on ratings and reviews so that you can share your customers’ positive shopping experience on your store.

    Beats Review
    Image credit : BeatsByDre.com

    Having positive customer ratings and reviews is part of a good ecommerce solution onboarding process to convince customers of the quality of your products and shopping experience.

    Our small business ecommerce software allow merchants to set their own review settings.

    InstanteStore Review Settings

    Merchants can even upload a list of offensive or censor words as part of the filtering process.

    Sell On Facebook

    Pick some of your most popular products and sell on Facebook.

    Victoria's Secrets Facebook
    Image credit : Victoria’s Secret Facebook

    Just follow the setup Facebook Social Store steps to make your products available for purchase on Facebook. Customers get to complete the checkout within Facebook without being bumped around to other sites.

    Offer Reward Point System

    Give customers an incentive to redeem free products from your store via a reward point system.

    It needs to be attainable as a way of rewarding loyal customers.

    Marriott Rewards
    Image credit : Marriott.com

    Keep the conversions simple and intuitive as you want to give a very good first impression to customers that you’re rewarding them from the very start.

    Just activate the reward point system and decide which reward type you would like to set for your entire store.

    InstanteStore Reward Point System

    Setting up a reward point system is fast and easy. Just be sure to inform customers of your reward point conversion rates upfront.

    Offer Free Shipping

    Did you know that 77% of online shoppers say that free shipping remains the most important option during checkout??

    Free Shipping
    Image credit : BestBuy.com

    Customers are usually attracted to free shipping. It will encourage them to spend more to qualify for free shipping.

    Any shopping cart software for small business will allow merchants to configure and offer free shipping to their customers.

    You could increase your online sales just by changing your shipping strategy.

    Set Up Your Social Media

    Link your social media accounts to your store and turn on social media sharing so that customers can easily share what they like or what they’ve purchased from your store.

    Social recommendation by trusted friends will definitely go a long way to market your products for you.

    Offer Or Sell Downloadable Products

    If you’ve got some really awesome advice, tips or how-to instructions on a particular subject which you think your customers will find really helpful, you can offer that as a free or paid downloadable product.

    Featured Download
    Image credit : Hubspot.com

    It can be in the form of a pdf file or document which users can download from your site.

    Be creative as downloadable products are not just for those who are selling digital products, photography and software files.

    Unsplash
    Image credit : UnSplash.com

    Downloadable products could also be digital files, serial numbers and license keys.

    Our ecommerce shopping software allow merchants to upload their text file of serial numbers or license numbers easily.

    InstanteStore Downloadable Product

    When a buyer makes a purchase, the number will be marked as purchase automatically so there will be no duplicate purchase.

    Use The Content Slider

    You’ve got awesome products that you want to highlight and bring visitors’ attention to. Put them on your main page using a content slider.

    Nua Bikes
    Image credit : NuaBikes.com

    Customers who are interested in a particular product can go straight to the product page by clicking on the respective slide.

    Feature Certain Products

    Configure your store to show certain featured products which could well be your best sellers and products that you want to draw customers’ attention to.

    River Island
    Image credit : RiverIsland.com

    These featured products will normally appear on the main front page of your site.

    Add these featured products easily and arrange their sequence on your store.

    InstanteStore Featured Product

    You can configure them to appear on every single page of your site to keep the customers’ focus on the products that you wish to promote to them.

    Offer Affiliates

    If you need help getting the word out about your product or services, you can offer affiliates to influential sites or bloggers.

    It’s a win-win as you get to promote your site and product on their site and they get paid for successful referrals.

    Our affiliate feature is quite comprehensive so you could configure and specify how and when you want to pay your affiliates.

    InstanteStore Affiliates

    Create your own affiliate banners or our designers can come up with something creative and amazing for you.

    Create Auto Responder Campaigns

    You’ll need a few to cater to the different visitor response to your site.

    Auto Responder Campaigns
    Image credit : ZohoMail

    This will require you to customize your email messages that can be automatically sent out at specific time frame to different customer segments.

    Use Free Live Chat

    Being able to communicate with your customers directly to answer any question they may have about your product is important.

    You could also find out what are their needs and interest to recommend different types of products and suggestions to them.

    There are many different types of live chat software in the market. Some are free while others are chargeable.

    Tawk
    Image credit : Tawk.co

    Our InstanteStore Live Chat Software is absolutely FREE for anyone to download and use. And when you’re offline, customers can easily send you an email direct from the chat box.

    This is one of the ways to improve communication without having to speak over the phone.

    Start Selling Now

    Utilize all these features with our ecommerce solution software to help you sell online. Treat these features as your arsenal and implement them on your store.

    Some may work better than others but make the necessary changes and adjustments as you go along.

    Constantly work on promoting your site and products to your target customers and existing customers.

    The important thing is that you start selling now with all these features so that you can tweak them better to suit different shopping seasons and occasions.

    Don’t have a store yet? Start building your store with a free 15 day trial on InstanteStore.

    Try it Now

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  • Build Your Store
  • Practical Ecommerce Tips For First Time Sellers

    Starting an online business requires a good business strategy with a lot of planning. Knowing what needs to be prepared when setting up an online store and how to go about it is crucial to help you get your ecommerce business off the ground.

    My previous post covered how to setup an online store with InstanteStore which is pretty straightforward on how to complete the setting up process.

    This post will further explain what first time sellers need to do when creating an online store. Let’s begin.

    Decide Who Are Your Target Customers

    You may have in mind what you want to sell. But you also need to determine what kind of customers to target. These are the folks who are going to buy your products.

    It’s not about putting up a bunch of products online and hoping that the fish will bite. Different fish go for different baits. If you’re going to catch sharks, you won’t use worms as bait.

    Now back to your target customers. Who would they be?

    Parents? Mothers? Singles? Teenagers? Young working adults?

    Your site needs to cater to your target customer groups.

    What are they looking for? Why should they buy from you? What makes your product different or special compared to others? Is your site convincing enough?

    How are your customers going to find you? If it’s going to be via mobile, make sure that your site is mobile friendly and responsive so that it will look good on mobile and rank higher on search results. Google made it clear that mobile friendly sites will rank higher in search results.

    Compile Your Keyword List

    Look at your keyword list (yes, you must have a keyword list). It will give you an idea on who are the potential customers searching for your products in Google.

    If you’re not sure how to get a keyword list, just type in your general product name in Google. You’ll notice that Google will provide suggestions before you finish typing in the complete keywords in the search box. Note down those keywords.

    Google Search Suggestion

    Look at the search results that appear. It will give you an idea on who your competitors are and the keywords that they’re using which you should note down.

    Google Search Result

    Scroll to the bottom of the search results page and you’ll see related keyword searches. Note down those keywords as well.

    Google Related Searches

    You’ll end up with a list of keywords which you’ll sift through to see which are the ones that you’ll need to put on your main site, category pages, product pages, contact us, FAQ, etc.

    That keyword list will keep growing as you expand your search further.

    Create Your Site For Your Customers

    Once you’ve gotten a clearer picture on who your target group is, that will give you an idea on how to create your site with the look and content to appeal to your target group of customers.

    For instance, if you’re selling fashionable products, you would have more product images of your clothing, shoes, accessories with only information that is relevant to your target customer (ie. size, color, type, etc) displayed properly on your product pages. Pictures need to look amazing to sell.

    Threadless Product Page

    If you’re selling technical equipment, you would have more detailed content of the various components like length, electrical current, compatibility, safety features, etc.

    Bottom line, create your site for your target customers. Your site needs to answer their questions and meet their needs in order to be considered working well.

    You need to create an ecommerce solution onboarding process for customers with an amazing user experience.

    Start With A Simple Template

    Since you’re just starting out, you don’t need an elaborate template. Pick a simple template because the idea is you want to quickly build your online store to get it off the ground running.

    Threadless

    You can always change and customize the template later. As long as your products and the customer onboarding process (from the time they land on your site to checkout and product delivery) is smooth, you can work on tweaking the looks of your site as time goes by.

    No point spending a tonne of money on your template when you’re just starting out unless you have plenty of budget to burn.

    Pick A Good Domain Name

    One that is preferably SEO friendly and easy to remember. No point having a long and complicated domain name that no one can remember and have trouble spelling it out on mobile.

    When I say SEO friendly, it would be related to whatever you’re planning to sell on your store.

    Choose Your Products Well

    You may have a long list of products that you want to sell. Narrow it down.

    Start by populating your site with less than 100 products first. This will allow you time to focus on building your online store while you can add more products later.

    Do your research to see how well those products are selling and what kind of keywords are being used to find those products. Note down those keywords.

    Check Out Your Competitors

    Find out how much your competitors are selling those products including shipping charges and tax. See if you can offer a better price or better value to your customers.

    Perhaps free shipping for orders above $49 or $99? Shipping matters a lot when it comes to online shopping. You need a good shipping strategy to convince customers to complete their orders and cut abandoned cart rates.

    Please put your shipping upfront so customers don’t have to go all over the place trying to figure out how you charge shipping. Example : $5.99 shipping on all orders OR Free shipping over $29

    You can even put Free Shipping Over $xx in your homepage meta description so it will appear in search results.

    Your shipping policy page should be clear and easy to understand.

    Shipping Policy

    Titles And Descriptions Matter

    This is one of the places where sellers don’t really bother much on but it is extremely important. Your site will stand a chance of ranking better if you add in proper page titles, meta descriptions, product names, product and category descriptions matching keywords that are being used to find those specific products.

    As people tend to land on product pages when searching for products, you need to make sure that your page titles and descriptions contain specific keywords that people are searching for.

    Since InstanteStore simplified their Add Product page, you just need to click on Advanced Product Settings and select Product Meta Details for the field to appear in all the product pages so you can key in the relevant keywords.

    InstanteStore Advanced Product Settings

    Product Meta Details

    InstanteStore Product Meta Details

    Not sure how or what to put in your product meta description? Start by :

    [Product Name] is a [type of product] used for [reason].

    Add in the keywords related to your product and your page title as well.

    Important keywords should appear in your :

    – Page Titles
    – Meta Description
    – Category Description
    – Product Name
    – Product Description
    – Alternate tags for your Product Images

    Category And Product Pages Description

    Make sure your product pages don’t confuse visitors or turn them off. If you have quite a bit of content, consider showing them in point form so that it’ll be easier to read.

    The type of font you use matters. Choose fonts that are easy to read.

    Same goes for your category pages. You can add in banner images but make sure that they do not distract visitors. Add in some relevant content in your category page.

    Threadless Category Page

    Be consistent with your writing style and always put yourself in the shoes of your customers. How would they like to view your store’s products? Would they be comfortable reading what you’ve put up?

    Your Own Product Images

    Whatever you’re selling, it’s always good to upload your own product images. You don’t need to spend a lot of money having them taken by a professional photographer.

    Use any smartphone that comes with a good camera and add in a white background (white paper is fine) with proper lighting to take your own product images. Good product images will go a along way. Put in several product images showing different angles and your product in use.

    Name your product images properly. State whether it’s Side, Back, Front, Top or Bottom. See if you could include in some keywords as alternate tags for your images.

    New Balance Product Page

    If you really don’t have the time and need help with making your product images pop out, check out Pixc as we have a good partnership with them.

    Payment Methods

    Offer more than one payment method to cater to customers’ preference. Some may want to pay using offline methods like checks, bank transfer other than the standard credit or debit card processing.

    Include in logos of credit card and payment methods like MasterCard, Visa, PayPal, etc to make your site look more trustworthy.

    FAQ Pages

    If you don’t want a barrage of emails from customers asking you the same thing over and over again, please update all their questions and your answers in a proper FAQ page.

    Also put in answers for questions that people normally ask in Google that’s related to your products. You can add them in to the specific product or category pages.

    The idea is to answer questions that customers will normally ask by putting them clearly on your site to cut down unnecessary email correspondence.

    Your return policies and shipping policies need to be stated clearly on your site.

    Contact Us Page

    State your contact details clearly. Adding in a phone number and working hours will help for customers who prefer to speak over the phone instead of typing email.

    If you run a small brick and mortar store, do add in a Google Map.

    Google Maps Generator

    Sign up for Google My Business as it will help customers find you easily in search results.

    Start Working On SEO

    For first timers, you need to start working on your SEO the moment you start building your online store.

    Create a blog and add that to your site. Start adding relevant content to it by offering tips, advice, how-to articles with the relevant keywords that you’re targeting.

    Include in videos and images of your product being used.

    Share your content on social media but remember to add links back to your site or specific product pages.

    The thing about SEO is that it’s not a one time instant thing. It requires consistency to build by adding relevant content to your site, blog and social media using targeted keywords.

    That’s why it’s important that you start working on your SEO the moment you start building your online store where you place targeted keywords in your titles, descriptions, category and product pages.

    The Rundown

    Setting up an online store is more than just adding products, payment and shipping methods. It includes coming up with an onboarding process for your customers and building your online store with the relevant keywords and target customer group in mind.

    Having an overall view of what you need to work on and add into your store as you’re building it will help you get your online store off the ground when you’re ready to launch it.

    Knowing what your competitors are selling and being able to offer better value and a good user experience will help you win customer confidence in buying from you.

    It takes time to grow an online business but with the right foundation being built and consistent work put in to make your site better with more exposure, you’ll be heading in the right direction.

    If you’re a first time online seller or existing merchant who’s been selling online for some time, we hope some of these how to sell online ecommerce practical tips are useful to help you grow your business further.

    Don’t have an online store yet? What are you waiting for? Sign up for a 15 day free trial of InstanteStore now.

    Try it Now

    We welcome any feedback, questions or suggestions you may have on ways to improve the selling process and to make doing business better for you.

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  • Cutting Edge Techniques
  • Change Your Shipping Strategy To Increase Online Sales

    If you’ve been getting a reasonable amount of traffic to your store but you have a high abandoned cart rate, chances are it’s your shipping that’s killing your sales.

    Because if buyers are adding products to the cart but they hit the brakes at checkout, it’s a clear signal that what they saw at checkout did not convince them to go ahead with the purchase.

    So you may want to consider changing your shipping strategy to increase online sales.

    Buyers Love Free Shipping

    According to comScore, 77% of online shoppers say that free shipping remains the most important option during checkout and 60% have added items to their cart to qualify for free shipping.

    Consumers are doing more research comparing and purchasing online across devices as they are influenced by social media while free shipping continues to drive purchasing decisions.

    So, here’s the issue.

    While free shipping will encourage shoppers to buy, it should not come at the expense of sellers suffering a loss for running an online business.

    What can sellers do?

    There are a few changes that you can implement on your store to help increase online sales.

    Recalculate Your Shipping

    Market trend and survey clearly shows that buyers favor free shipping.

    What you can do is to recalculate shipping on your end to try and lower the cost of shipping to your customers.

    Abacus

    Find the best value shipping rates by comparing several shipping providers’ rates.

    Some of them offer better rates using different services which you can make use of.

    You want to cut shipping cost to offer buyers value but don’t forget to let customers know the shipping time frame.

    Types Of Free Shipping

    If you’re going to offer free shipping, you can either :

    – offer based on total order value (Example : Free Shipping on orders above $49) OR
    – offer based on total items (Example : Free Shipping for 5 or more items)

    InstanteStore Free Shipping

    Free shipping usually means a longer delivery time.

    Consumers WANT free shipping because of the notion that they don’t have to pay for it and that it’s a form of savings for them.

    Sellers must remember to state clearly the estimate delivery time frame upfront according to the shipping provider.

    Customers have no problem waiting IF they know beforehand the estimated delivery time frame BEFORE they make the purchase.

    If not, they may end up cancelling their orders if they are left in the dark as to how long or where their stuff is before they can receive it.

    Offer Additional Shipping Methods

    If you can’t offer free shipping to customers, there are other alternative shipping methods that you can provide.

    InstanteStore Shipping

    Offer a flat rate per order (Example : $4.99 shipping per order) OR

    Offer flat fee per item with extra charge per additional item (Example : $4.99 shipping, $2 for each additional item)

    Our InstanteStore shipping module has quite a number of shipping options for sellers to make use of.

    If you prefer to charge shipping with your own rates, you can configure them based on either product weight, quantity OR price by selecting Configure Pairs.

    Whichever option you choose, please simplify it for your customers to understand.

    Need help configuring your shipping? Check out how to set up shipping in InstanteStore.

    But Customers Want Their Stuff Fast

    Some customers do not like to wait to receive their products.

    In this day and age, who does? Fair enough.

    So if customers want their stuff fast, then they can choose to pay for faster shipping.

    Give them that option.

    Your online store could have a few shipping options for customers other than free shipping.

    You know how Amazon does it. Want your stuff fast, pay more.

    Offer International Shipping

    Don’t limit your products to only the domestic market.

    World Map

    Oversea buyers may be interested to purchase your products as you want to reach a wider target market group other than the domestic consumer.

    Again, check and compare with international shipping providers to see what’s the best value that you can offer international buyers.

    If you can offer affordable international shipping, you would have grown your target market audience and not be limited to only the domestic market.

    Don’t have a store with us yet? Try out our free 15 day trial now

    Try it Now

    Display Your Shipping Offer Clearly

    Buyers these days don’t have the time to rummage through your entire site looking for how you charge shipping.

    Especially if they’re shopping online with their mobile phones.

    They want to land on your site, find what they’re interested in and buy.

    Hence it’s important that your shipping offer and charges are displayed clearly on your main page.

    Whether you’re offering free shipping on everything :

    Free Shipping

    Or setting a minimum amount to qualify for free shipping :

    Levis

    Simplify it and display it clearly so customers understand and they can get on with their online shopping.

    You can have a separate shipping page to state down clearly all the other shipping charges and options which customers can refer to if they’re interested.

    In Summary

    Your products may be attractive but you’ll need to make sure shipping is reasonable and appealing enough for customers to proceed with the purchase.

    Knowing that free shipping is one of the main pulling factor for customers to complete their online purchase, offer that clearly on your site.

    It’s also a great way to encourage customers to spend more to get free shipping.

    Simplify and state clearly your shipping offer on your main page which customers can understand easily.

    Also make sure you state the rates and estimate delivery time clearly so customers can make an informed decision and not be left in the dark on how long they can expect to receive their products if they make a purchase.

    So change your shipping strategy to increase online sales by :

    – offering free shipping
    – simplifying shipping charges
    – showing your shipping offer clearly on the main page
    – ensuring shipping rates and estimated delivery times are stated clearly
    – offering affordable international shipping to grow target market
    – offer alternate shipping charges for customers who want fast shipping

    Try out these changes and measure your sales.

    Cut down your abandoned cart rates. If you need to set up abandoned cart emails, here are the steps.

    Give customers a good reason to complete their online orders with these shipping strategies.

    If you’re unsure on how to configure your shipping methods and shipping rates, please contact our tech support team or get an overview on shipping configuration.

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