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Starting your own online business is an attractive idea for many aspiring entrepreneurs. After all, the ideal scenario is that you can run your business from anywhere in the world, with minimal running costs, and access to a global audience.
Of course, these things are rarely as straightforward as you might hope, and the time, energy, and resources required to establish a new brand can be substantial. You need to choose a suitable niche, understand your audience, scope out the competition, and then create an attractive, functional website. And all this comes before you’ve even begun to attract a following, let alone make any sales.
On the other hand, you could take on an existing website, and build your brand from there. Whether you choose to turn around a struggling business, or purchase a successful online store and help it to grow further, this strategy is a helpful alternative for anyone who feels underprepared to simply start from scratch.
Even so, there are two sides to every coin, and while there are many benefits to taking on an established website, there are also potential drawbacks. So to help you reach a decision, here are some of the primary advantages and disadvantages to skipping ahead and building your brand on a pre-existing business.
Launching a startup requires capital. Yet, while this sum can be kept relatively low, depending on how you structure your initial marketing and content delivery, you will always be gambling that capital on the success of your business.
However, the same applies to some extent when purchasing a business. Depending on the prior success of your chosen website, the initial costs could be even higher than those of simply launching your own site. And of course, there is still the risk that your investment could be lost if things do not work out.
The difference with making a purchase of this nature is that you can make a more informed decision about the potential value of your investment. Looking at the website’s history, and conducting your own research into its potential for growth can give you a comprehensive insight into the worth of an online store at any point in time. Don’t be afraid to ask the owner these questions if you cannot access the information you require.
If you are purchasing an ecommerce store via a verified website marketplace, you can even investigate past transactions involving that website, as well as prices paid for stores with a similar profile. This can help you to avoid paying over the odds for a website, and get a sense of the earning potential of a struggling business should you choose to take it on.
One of the strongest arguments for purchasing a website is that it should come with a body of content already in place. This can save you a huge amount of time and effort in the early days, as your website will already have useful information for visitors to browse when they find your site.
This content can even help to boost your search engine rankings, not only through the age of the site itself, but by providing a selection of relevant, engaging content which will help guide people to your site, or even to a specific section of your online store.
However, it is vital to perform a content audit when taking on a website. Not only do you need to know the age, subject, and performance of existing content, but you will also need to verify that it will have a positive impact on your SEO.
This means checking it uses the correct keywords for your niche, and that it is accurate, timely, and original. Plagiarism can be extremely damaging not only to your rankings, but to your brand’s reputation, so be certain to vet all existing content thoroughly when taking over a website. Tools like Small SEO’s Plagiarism Checker can help you with this.
Naturally, the problem then becomes that additional time is expended checking through old content, instead of creating new. However, this can still be a worthy investment, providing the bulk of that content is usable. Furthermore, some items may be suitable for reworking into other forms, giving you the additional benefit of a range of free, easy-to-implement content ideas.
Once again, you should investigate the website before making an offer, so you have a firm sense of the work required to make it profitable.
When choosing whether to purchase a website, you will also want to investigate whether it has any additional accounts connected with it, such as social media pages, or storefronts on global marketplaces.
Not only does this help you to determine how much work will go into maintaining the business’ current level of activity, but it can also give you an insight into its reputation. This, in turn, will inform your marketing decisions during the transition into your ownership.
For example, a successful, popular business with good reviews and a loyal following may expect things to stay largely the same when you take control of the website. However, if you choose to take on a website with a bad reputation, more work may be required to win the trust of your followers, and reverse any negative social proof.
Fortunately, you can make a big impact in this area in a relatively short amount of time by being as vocal as possible about the change of ownership. Seek feedback, and interact honestly with your audience. This will reinforce that you have their interests at heart, and that you seek to change the business for the better. The news may even spark the return of former customers, keen to find out how things have changed.
Building your audience and steady revenue streams can be tough when you are new to the world of ecommerce. However, with an established website you can grow your business from the traffic and sources of revenue already in place.
The important thing to remember is that you need to be sure that the sources of traffic and revenue are in line with your business aspirations. Look into the website’s history to ascertain whether the traffic is steady, or has been artificially inflated by a recent spike. You should also research the variety of demographics that comprise the existing audience.
Depending on your plans for the business and any changes to its practices, you may find that you are no longer catering to the same audience. This again will likely mean extra work reaching out to potential consumers in a manner that suits their needs, and your business model.
If you have never run an ecommerce store before, purchasing an existing business could be a good way to get a sense of how things work, and build upon a successful model, rather than having to start from scratch with no experience.
However, the flipside to this is that without experience, you could find that an established online store comes with greater demands from its customers. While much of the initial legwork has already been done for you, to ensure the continued success of the brand, you will need to be able to meet consumer expectations. Too many changes too soon could risk costing you a proportion of your audience.
Meanwhile, the more established and recognized the brand that you purchase, the harder it can be to leave your own stamp upon it. This can be fine if you are happy to build upon an idea that was not your own. However, if you seek to create something completely original, you may find that attempting to do so via an existing business holds you back.
Part of the problem may be that your ideas simply don’t gel with the existing business model, or established policies. This could then either mean extra work adjusting these to suit your aspirations, or having to compromise on your vision.
Alternatively, you might find that your fresh point of view, and commitment to your concepts for the business are just what’s needed to breathe new life into an existing brand. As ever, the key is to conduct careful research before making your purchase, so you know what to expect, and where improvements could be made.
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Whether you set up your own business, or decide to invest in a website that is already in existence, you should work to ensure your own aspirations are not lost along the way. It is your business, after all, so don’t be afraid to shake things up, and make your mark on it.
There are pros and cons to both choices, but if you have any uncertainties, you may be safer investing in a business that has already make it through the early stages of its life. Keep the guidance above in mind, and remember that it is only through continuous testing and improvement that any online business can be sustained.
Nevertheless, if you are prepared to give a pre-owned business the time and attention it needs to thrive, you can not only make it your own, but leave a mark on the industry that will boost your reputation, and your confidence for future endeavors.
Victoria Greene is a branding consultant and freelance writer. On her blog, VictoriaEcommerce, she shares tips on ecommerce and how writers can hone their craft. She is passionate about using her experience to help other businesses grow their online brands through great content.
The e-commerce market is a widely booming one. It has become very successful in the recent years, and many webmasters are happy with the growth. If you are new to the e-commerce business, it is imperative for you to make your presence felt.
The e-commerce market is a very challenging market, and this is the prime reason why you should be smart enough when it comes to an understanding how it works. You should also embrace tools and other techniques to ensure that you get the web presence you need to reach out to present and potential customers. This will result in better lead conversions and help you get more returns on your business.
How can website push notifications help you when it comes to your e-commerce business?
Website push notifications are the perfect and the ideal way for you to increase targeted customers to your e-commerce website. However, before you embrace these web push notifications, you must be aware of them. It is prudent for you to know how you can use them effectively to your advantage. It is crucial for you to ensure that you take expert advice and guidance before you rely on them for your e-commerce business.
Understanding the essence of web push notifications
Web push notifications help you to reach out to your customer without taking their contact information. This is a new way to make customers buy your products from the website. You can convert regular visitors to your e-commerce website into leads. These leads, in turn, will be converted into sales. Moreover, once the customer starts to buy from you, he or she has a high chance of coming back as well. This means with the aid of these simple website push notifications, you effectively have the chance of converting regular customers into loyal customers.
What are these website push notifications?
You might be wondering what these web push notifications are and how can they add value to your e-commerce business? Website push notifications are messages that can be clicked for more information or content. This message is sent out to subscribers on their mobiles or desktops. With the aid of a website push notification, you can send your customers the following-
- Content –here you can send videos, blog post links and other informative links to your clients.
- Offers – you can send them links to offers or sales of your products
- Shopping cart- you can remind them of items that they have left abandoned in their shopping carts
- Poll or survey –you can solicit feedback from your regular subscribers and make changes to the products.
Benefits of using web push notifications
When it comes to the use of web push notifications, you have the primary goal of keeping your customers engaged. If you take a look at the preferences and the tastes of your clients in the market today, you will find that they keep on changing. Even their behavior is changing to a large extent as well. Esteemed company nationaldebtreliefprograms.com says that their clients are subscribed to newsletters, and they often post their opinions and views on certain business debt relief services and products. They state that web push notifications are welcomed by customers as most of them are not keen to provide their private details. With the aid of these web push notifications, consumers are more willing to click on the links you provide them for sharing content or information. The number of lead conversions has increased as more and more people are interested in the product. This is the prime reason why they have subscribed to you.
Engaging a massive audience and number of people
When it comes to web push notifications, you will find that you have the capacity to involve a significant number of individuals in the e-commerce market. If you take a look at the e-commerce market today, you will find that the volume of customers is increasing daily. Like customers, the number of competitors is also growing. To catch the attention of this market, you must ensure that you have unique offers and deals promoted. Web push notifications largely help you to reach out to those customers who are looking out for you.
Web push notifications also have another value- added advantage. With the aid of web push notifications, you can connect with the customer without opening the mobile or web browser. This means you have the option to reach out to the targeted customer even when he or she is not using the browser. You also have the ability to re-engage customers that have stopped visiting your website. At the same time, you can also use a web push notification when you want to update the client about the status of order. This helps them to keep track of their orders and be aware of its arrival.
Google Chrome is the most widely used web browsers, and it supports web push notifications both on your desktop and mobile browsers. This means when you are using web push notifications, you can connect with the customer when at home and on the go. If you take a look at the recent advent of apps, you will find that they have not taken over the web. People still use and rely on the web for their products and services. This is why opting for web push notifications is a wise and prudent choice if you are in the e-commerce business. Understanding web push notification is essential for the success and the progress of your e-commerce business.
Last but not the least, you effectively can provide your targeted audience with a valuable experience when it comes to all your products sold on the website. You can keep them informed all the time and help them stay updated with your product as well. When it comes to using web push notifications for your e-commerce business, it does not take long enough for you to get started. Ask experts in the niche, and they will ensure you get the perfect web push notifications for your e-commerce website business with no hassles at all!
Author Bio: Kelly Wilson is an experienced and skilled business consultant and Financial advisor in the USA. She helps clients both personal and professional in long-term wealth building plans.During her spare time she loves to write on Business,Finance,Marketing,Soc
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The problem is all too familiar with ecommerce brands. You make a great-looking, all singing, all dancing website packed with features, only to find that your sales haven’t increased and you’re struggling to bring in new visitors.
It can be hard for marketers and brands to pinpoint where they went wrong and why their beautiful, fully functioning sites are failing to create online traction.
Here are 7 areas where ecommerce brands need to invest in order to build a strong online brand that brings in great revenue.
As online stores offer a 24/7 shopping experience to customers, why should your customer service support only extend to conventional business hours? You could lose some customers with queries in the small hours, but with automated chatbots, you can remedy these hesitations automatically, whatever the time of day.
Chatbots can be programmed to offer any responses you wish and, more importantly, they learn over time what your customers’ needs are. This will provide you with a wealth of customer data you can analyze to make website improvements.
Not only do brands need a social media presence to get noticed, they also need a social media content strategy to ensure that they are attracting new visitors to their store every day.
Influencer marketing is a fantastic way to spread your brand message, and thanks to the fact that this type of marketing is relatively new, it is easy for smaller businesses to get involved, without being priced out by multinational competitors.
Studies have shown that Instagram brings in 25% more engagement than its rival social media platforms. And it’s easy to find the right influencers to target for your marketing strategies. Use a site like Websta to search popular products and hashtags and it will bring up a list of social media accounts with a significant amount of online ‘clout’ you can use to your brand’s advantage.
It is worth noting that the influencers you target don’t need to have hundreds of thousands of subscribers. Someone with around 20,000 followers within a specific niche, for instance, can prove just as useful. Look for accounts with similar product placement posts and email addresses visible, as this will indicate that they are open to offers. Get in touch with your pitch and offer them a free sample. In some cases, they may charge for sponsored posts, but as mentioned, you should be able to find a few affordable influencers to get you started.
Your site will also need a solid content marketing strategy, so if you haven’t already, set up a company blog and start creating a list of post ideas that answer your customer’s key question:
what’s in it for me? Posts that answer user queries and offer useful information for free are going to help brands stick in their readers’ minds and keep them coming back for more.
In terms of outreach, offering to guest post on popular blogs and industry news sites will help you generate more website views over time – especially if you create evergreen content ideas that remain relevant all year round.
Building a great ecommerce shop site requires more than a just keen eye for aesthetics. You need to also ensure that the site is well-designed from the bottom up, including how you categorize your store catalog.
Considering the user experience (UX) starts with dividing your audience segments into customer personas and anticipating how each of these demographics may vary in how they navigate your site.
Setting up reviews is essential for brands looking to make a ‘go’ of ecommerce because many customers now research online extensively before choosing to make a purchase. Have trust icons and review streams visible from your home and product pages, and do all you can to encourage users to leave reviews after making a purchase.
To facilitate this, set up auto-generated emails for customers who have bought something from you. You can ask them to then fill out a simple feedback survey or add a review. The more you have, the more trust you build with potential customers.
Customer insight analytics will help you track and analyze customer behaviors and make further improvements from there. Depending on the ecommerce host you opt for, you can access a wide range of analytics reporting plugins that can run alongside your online store dashboard. From analyzing these large data sets, you can make an online store that targets your customers’ needs and make adjustments whenever required to encourage more sales revenue.
Web stores that wish to make the most of customer lifetime value need to ensure that their site offers a registration portal that will store and protect customer card details, allowing them to make quick purchases with fewer clicks. Nothing will turn a customer off quicker than a site where you have to enter all address and card details every time you wish to buy something. This, and similar levels of ecommerce personalization, allows brands to present recommended products to their customers, based on browsing histories and other online and social media behaviors. So make sure your brand doesn’t miss out!
Ecommerce brands that stand out from the competition always put their customers’ needs first in whatever they do. Whether it’s in their influencer marketing strategies or in the layout of their site, examining your customers’ queries and hesitations to purchase will help you design an ecommerce site that fosters brand loyalty, as well as great sales figures.
Victoria Greene is a brand marketing consultant and freelance writer. She writes over at VictoriaEcommerce where she likes to share tips to entrepreneurs looking to make the most of their ecommerce brands.
Running an e-commerce website is probably the most straightforward and barebones way to make money online. You effectively set up a shop and try to sell as many products as you can while adhering to the vast majority of rules that have governed retail business for millennia.
One huge part of running a store of any kind has always been marketing and in the e-commerce world, the majority of it will happen online. Unfortunately, many e-commerce business owners believe that digital marketing is nothing special and that anyone can just pick it up. As a result, they end up making mistakes that undermine their business and any positive marketing efforts they make as a whole.
Today, we will look at the five most common and harmful digital mistakes you have to avoid as an e-commerce business owner.
1. Going At It Alone
This is something that has already been hinted at in the introduction, but it is such a massive mistake that it needs to be talked about some more. Namely, due to an enormous number of “digital marketing experts” that write collective tomes online, many e-commerce business owners think there is no skill or expertise to digital marketing.
They start following half-baked advice from a self-proclaimed guru and they end up wasting tons of money on various digital marketing practices that do nothing for them.
There is a reason we have digital marketing agencies and people who make a living from it. They know how it works, they know the numbers, and they know the best ways to accomplish certain goals. Even if you are not planning on doing anything spectacular marketing-wise, it is still a good idea to consult a digital marketing expert or agency of some kind to do an audit of your website and recommend a few practices down the line.
2. Ignoring SEO
Search engine optimization is still surrounded by an aura of mystique and, for some people, it is still a half-tolerable practice that is used by people who wish to “fake” the results in search engines. E-commerce business owners who happen to think this way will soon find themselves in all kinds of trouble, if for nothing else, then because everyone else is doing SEO.
SEO has become an integral part of the online existence of any business and for e-commerce websites, it is perhaps even more important than for others due to the brutal competition online.
All SEO efforts should start from the website itself – getting the right domain name, setting up an SEO-friendly sitemap, being careful with meta descriptions and alt tags, using robots.txt file to prevent indexing of duplicate content and more.
Some e-commerce website owners also invest in paid Google and social media ads, while others go the content marketing and link building way. The important thing is not to ignore SEO and to at least incorporate some basic smart practices.
3. Neglecting Email Marketing
Email marketing has become undeservedly maligned some time ago, probably because most writers still see it as this outdated, ancient method that goes to spam and is of no use.
In reality, every digital marketer understands that email marketing still gets the job done, at a certain steady rate, providing a solid return on investment that can be easily tracked and that allows for simple tweaks to make it even more efficient.
Besides a proven track record and a certain stability, email marketing has also become far more versatile than it has been in previous years. For example, it is now used to increase customer loyalty, to reward oldest customers, to reduce customer churn, to retarget customers who didn’t make a purchase and much, much more.
It is also important to point out that people actually want their favorite stores to send them email updates, as opposed to being bombarded by salesy stuff on social media where it feels intrusive.
4. Misusing Social Media
Social media is not ad space. The sooner everyone realizes this, the better we will be off. People tend to filter out the vast majority of promo material on social media, especially if it is done half-heartedly and without any tact.
Unfortunately, this is the way most e-commerce businesses do it.
Social media is about interacting with customers and potential customers, allowing them to engage with your brand and become more than just people who spend money on your products. Many e-commerce companies even use social media to provide customer service and help out their customers as quickly as possible.
Of course, you will be promoting your company and your products along the way, but it should never be the primary reason for your social media presence.
5. Falling For Hype
If there is one thing you should definitely avoid as an e-commerce business owner, then it is falling for various iterations of digital marketing hype. The reason why a certain practice or idea gets hyped to oblivion nowadays is that new stuff attracts clicks and everyone jumps on the bandwagon, from website owners to writers to aforementioned “digital marketing experts”.
And while these overhyped practices and ideas have their use in certain situations and for certain companies, they are almost never something that can be transplanted to just about any company on the web.
Before you get swept up in the latest digital marketing craze, stop and think long and hard whether it makes sense for your e-commerce store. For instance, account-based marketing, a perfectly effective B2B marketing technique will have absolutely no sense for an e-commerce store.
Be critical of new ideas. Do not be crusty or dogmatically negative, but make sure you have vetted every idea properly.
PPC campaigns like AdWords can be powerful tools to drive traffic to your site. The top position on a SERP can get you an 8 percent clickthrough rate–more than double the average of 3.16 percent.
But if they’re unmanaged, or executed poorly, PPC campaigns can become a financial drain that fails to convert clicks into sales. So if you’re using AdWords or a similar PPC product, be sure to make it count. These are the stages of crafting an outstanding set of PPC ads. If you and your team go through each stage carefully, with flexibility and attention to detail, you will arrive at a winning and lucrative campaign.
Run Intensive Keyword Research
For the first and most important step, unfortunately, there are no shortcuts. The right set of target keywords will connect you directly to the customers already searching for your services. But the wrong keywords will lead you on a time consuming and expensive goose chase, only for you to circle back around to doing this step over again.
So take your time with this! Make it count. There’s no way to be sure you’ve chosen the perfect keywords until you test drive them, but the more research you do, the more likely you are to hit your target.
Use Those Long Tail Keywords
Your keyword research will probably turn up some obvious terms. If you’re a translation services provider, for example, the obvious keywords will be translation, interpretation, subtitling, and so forth. These terms are broad, but they generally describe what you offer (and what the customer is looking for).
Long tail keywords are more specific. In some cases, much more specific: translate medical documents from Farsi to Arabic, for example. The person running this through a search engine knows exactly what they want, and they are ready to buy. So even though each long tail keyword turns up rarely as a search, when it does turn up, it converts more easily into a sale.
Craft the Perfect Headlines
Working within the character limit to find the perfect headline is the mark of a great PPC marketer. Headlines more than anything drive clicks, so this is where the magic happens. Your user has already run a search for your keyword–how do you want to greet them?
The character limits can be difficult. But use them to your advantage, and make every word count! The same thing goes for your copy. It should support your headline and offer a call to action.
Choose Your Extensions Wisely
If you’re using AdWords, it’s easy to get carried away with extensions. With each extension you add, you expand your ad. While this is enticing, you don’t want to clutter up your ad with unnecessary information. If you don’t do a lot of business by phone, don’t add a phone number. If you are online only, don’t add a location.
Use the extensions that highlight who you are, and what is meaningful to users who are searching for you. If your translation company handles sensitive medical or legal documents, you might add positive Trustpilot reviews, for example, to lend authority to your ad.
Optimize Your Landing Pages
Your keywords are focused, your copy is enticing, and now you need to be ready to receive the customer to your website. Specific ads should link to corresponding pages–don’t send everyone to the home page! A user who searched for medical document translation should land on your /services/medical-translation page.
All of the information they need, including a call to action and a clickable next step, should appear above the fold. Make in depth details available by scrolling down. It should be immediately clear upon arrival what you are all about, what you can do for the customer, and what they can do next to get started.
Focus on the Customer’s End Goal
This speaks to an important point to keep in mind all throughout the previous steps. Remember what the customer wants, and show them that. More often than not, the customer isn’t immediately interested in how great you are or how many amazing translators you have all over the world. They want to see their documents translated. They want the job already done.
This makes the words you and your infinitely more powerful than we and our. When you’re choosing your keywords, focus on the customer’s end goal. When you’re writing copy, the customer’s end goal. When you’re optimizing your landing pages, end goal. End goal end goal end goal. Help the customer envision their problem already solved.
Try and Adjust
You can tinker with your ads ad infinitum, but at some point, you’ve got to see if they’ve got wings. Run the campaign, and keep a close eye on your analytics. Even though it’s exciting to watch the results, this is just the beginning of the revision process.
You’ll see which ads are working, and which aren’t. Double down on the good ones, and go back to the drawing board with keyword research to replace those that aren’t turning up results. Don’t forget that you’re paying for clicks, but clicks don’t necessarily mean sales. Aim to double your money.
Click Click Cash!
This process is essentially a loop, and it never really stops. By continuing to hone your PPC campaign, you make it more efficient and streamlined, bringing in a return on the dollars that you spend for clicks. Don’t worry if it’s a slog in the research stage–once you have that momentum going, you’ll be so busy with all your new customers that you won’t even remember!
Brian Oaster is a Content Writer at translation services provider Day Translations. He has worked all over the world as an arts educator, English teacher, basket exporter, rare book dealer, fortune teller, and as the first mate of a private sailing yacht. Educated in the visual arts and an avid reader of news and literature, his focus is on international arts and culture, world religions and global politics. Follow him on Twitter @brianoaster.
Once you have decided to launch an e-commerce store, your next step is to choose the best e-commerce platform. Even after a brief online search, you will find that there are numerous e-commerce solutions on the market. They all have different features, support options, and customer ratings.
Avoid making a hasty decision about this important part of your online business. Instead, look for the e-commerce platform that best meets both the present and future needs of your company. Your choice can affect your business for many years to come, so take your time making the right decision. To help you decide, here are five tips that will help you choose the best e-commerce platform.
1. Look for Functionality and Ease of Use
You want to find an e-commerce package that combines advanced features with ease of use. After all, what good is a platform if no one knows how to use it? Similarly, you should think about your future plans and make sure that your solution will support them.
Your new e-commerce platform, regardless of its price or capability, should have the ability to import and export data into other formats. In addition, it should make adding and creating content as easy as possible. Failure to consider these vital matters can degrade the customer experience and cost you much in terms of lost sales.
While assessing the functions and simplicity of any e-commerce solution, remember to look for one that has a robust content management system. Such platform will help you speedily update your website without distracting team members from their core responsibilities.
There are more and more customers who use mobile devices to shop and will probably not buy from you if your site is slow or hard to navigate. This is why it is crucial for your platform for online sales to work well on mobile devices. This means that it will load quickly on smartphones and provide an uncluttered interface with easily accessible elements such as buttons.
2. Ensure that Your Payment Gateway is Supported
Practically all online sales require a secure payment gateway. If you already have a gateway, you need to make sure that your e-commerce platform supports it. If you have yet to sign up with a payment processor, now is a good time to think about how you want to get paid.
Every e-commerce package needs to connect with a secure service that allows customers to pay for their orders using a credit card or alternative methods such as Google wallet, Apple Pay or PayPal. You want to get maximum flexibility, which makes a digital solution that connects to a broad range of payment options your best choice.
Some e-commerce platforms offer low transaction fees but have unwieldy interfaces that add unnecessary steps to the checkout process. Ideally, you need to find a healthy balance between cost, security, and simplicity. Doing so will allow you to offer your customers multiple payment options without causing headaches.
Remembering that not every e-commerce package works with every gateway could be one of the most important factors in your decision. If you end up with a store and a payment processor that are incompatible, you might have to spend a lot of time and money creating a viable custom solution.
3. Make Site Security a Priority
The security of e-commerce businesses continues to rank among the top concerns of online shoppers. Although your payment gateway is vital to online security, the software or service that runs your store also plays a major role. Your payment processor should abide by PCI security standards that are designed to enhance confidence in e-commerce experience. Still, you should learn about those best practices and verify that your online store supports them.
Many digital solutions for online stores include enhanced security features and optional packages that help protect your company from fraud and other malicious activity that can affect you and your clients. Even if you want to avoid the added expense of those features now, keep in mind that you might decide to add them later. Choosing an e-commerce product that has such options can, therefore, save you time, money and inconvenience in the future.
4. Consider Your Current and Future Needs
You can improve the performance of every part of your business by considering both future and present needs. Such an approach creates a clear path for growth and maximizes the use of your financial resources. By acquiring an e-commerce platform that is a long-term solution, you insulate your business from the disruptions caused by changing technology.
Focusing on the current needs of your business ensures that you have an online store with adequate capabilities. If you want to have a smooth future operation, however, you should remember that your business will evolve as products, markets, regulations change.
If your company has extended customer lifecycles, you will need to have an e-commerce platform that can track the behavior of every customer over time. This also requires features that help your firm supply personalized engagements which can lead to high levels of satisfaction and loyalty.
Remember that your business will probably change over time, so you need an e-commerce platform that can be easily adapted. Just as you should create a business growth strategy that fits your e-commerce business, you should also choose the e-commerce platform that gives you the flexibility and scalability needed to accommodate new strategies that you might develop in the future.
5. Focus on an Active Support System
As an entrepreneur, you want to focus on developing fantastic products and services that transform the lives of your customers. Moreover, you want an exceptional customer service strategy that builds a solid reputation for your brand. Your e-commerce system can help, if it comes with active support options.
Automated and self-service customer support options minimize the cost of customer service while supplying customers with the rapid and accurate responses that they deserve. The around-the-clock support made possible by a robust e-commerce platform can, in fact, create a major competitive advantage for your company.
What will you do if your online store crashes? Every second your online store is down you lose customers. You need to make sure that both your payment processor and the vendor supplying your e-commerce platform have sufficient people and systems in place to quickly respond to any issues.
Your decision to expand your business online can either fulfill your dreams or give you nightmares. You can use the above tips to guide you as you search for the platform that meets all your present and future needs. By carefully comparing the capabilities, specifications and support options of available packages, you will have the confidence needed to create an outstanding customer experience and build a renowned brand.
About the Author
Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor and a striving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in the business world. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter @LisaBMichaels.
Today’s consumers are spending more and more of their time and money shopping online. Unfortunately, this also creates greater opportunities for cyber criminals. One recent survey indicates that 52% of organizations that experienced a cyber-attack in 2016 aren’t changing their security in 2017.
Since your e-commerce business depends on customer confidence, it’s essential that you establish strong security measures for keeping your customers and their data safe. Here are some steps you can take to ensure that your e-commerce store stays protected from cyber-attacks.
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)
SSL is a standard security protocol between a client and server. It provides link encryption to all communications. Without encryption technology in place, any information sent over the Internet would be in plain text, and hackers could easily intercept and read it. If you give them the opportunity to acquire user credentials, such as login names and passwords, you will end up exposing yourself to data breaches, identity theft, and malware.
Installing an SSL certificate ensures that all transmitted information is useless to hackers. Strong SSL authentication takes place through unique alphanumeric keys so that any third-party spyware is unable to imitate user credentials. Only the intended recipient can decrypt and read messages.
Extended Validation Secure Sockets Layer (EV SSL) offers an even safer solution. EV SSL adds an “HTTPS” prefix to your URL, and a green background and a padlock symbol to the address bar of the user’s browser. Consequently, visitors can instantly recognize that your e-commerce site has an SSL protection in place.
AVS and CVV
Using Address Verification System and Card Verification Value will minimize the chances of online fraud. Incorporating these measures into your site protects you, your customers, and the credit or debit card issuer against fraudulent charges.
AVS enables your e-commerce store to verify customer billing information against the data the card issuer has on file. The issuer’s system will return the appropriate code if the data matches, matches only in part, or is completely inaccurate. You can adapt your own store to accept or decline purchases according to the customer’s AVS code.
You are probably familiar with the CVV number. This is a three or four-digit number on the back of debit and credit cards which only the card holder knows. This is a version of a built-in PIN number that works with One Time Password technology to create a secure means of card verification.
Requesting CVV numbers during checkout is now a standard process for most online stores, as it ensures that only those transactions that are approved by the card holder take place.
Strong Passwords and Non-Saved Data
You can add an extra level of protection by setting up options that require all customers to set up strong passwords for their accounts. This usually involves providing passwords of a certain length, and including capital and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters that are much more difficult for anyone to guess. Strong passwords dramatically reduce the chance of becoming a victim of identity theft.
According to PCI (Payment Card Industry) guidelines, the retail business is responsible for protecting customer information. Websites that are known to collect sensitive user data are more likely to be hacked. However, there is no good reason to store extensive records on user transactions.
To limit the accessibility to customer records, make it a habit to periodically purge old transaction records. Limit your stored data to current transactions or exchanges that are still in process. PCI standards also recommend that you do not save customer payment data on personal servers.
If customers are expected to enter their payment information for every transaction, there’s no point in saving it. Doing so only increases the chances of it being stolen. A single data breach can forfeit customer trust and become an enormous setback to your online brand.
Updates and Firewalls
Most e-commerce solutions have operations running in the background, such as plug-ins, templates, and app extensions. It’s important that your site remains compliant with the latest patches and updates released by the e-commerce platform developers. The outdated software may have vulnerabilities that are already known to hackers.
Don’t overlook the fact that there are a variety of e-commerce options available. Try to find the one that meets your needs and budget. However, pay close attention to built-in security features and the frequency of updates.
For greater security, make it a habit to promptly install any available updates and patches to the programs and utilities you use. Often, these updates are issued as fixes to counter the latest hacking techniques.
Strong firewalls are also important for your store’s security. Firewalls can identify malware like viruses or Trojan Horse threats, and also send alerts when such dangers are detected. Ensuring that firewalls are properly configured and regularly updated will also increase your site’s level of protection.
E-commerce is a thriving industry that’s only likely to expand further. In order to grow your online store, however, you need to implement measures that encourage customer confidence. This means utilizing SSL to create trust, putting secure payment processing methods in place, and protecting any stored information with strong passwords. Also, don’t forget that all your software needs to be up to date to serve its purpose and protect your store and customers from cyber-attacks.
About the Author
Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor and a striving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in the business world. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter @LisaBMichaels.
More than half a million Shopify stores have sold their products online at one point or another. More than 370,000 of them are still alive and using this platform to sell to online customers. When you consider the fact that these stores make up a small portion of the online commerce ecosystem, the numbers become mind-boggling.
In other words, it takes a lot to make your Shopify store stand out and earn any kind of decent revenue.
One of the ways to help your Shopify store stand out and start making money is to ensure people actually find it in search engines. To cut a long story short, you need to do SEO for your store if you want to see it succeed.
Use Shopify’s Own Features
One of the best things about Shopify, when it comes to search engine optimization, is that their own people seem to be quite versed in the whole thing and the platform actually boasts a number of features that can help your store follow Google’s (Bing’s, DuckDuckGo’s) guidelines for best practices.
These are nothing spectacular, but they help take care of the on-site basics that can build a decent base for the rest of your SEO efforts down the line.
For example, Shopify features editable title tags, meta descriptions and URLs, as well as ALT tags, automatically generated sitemaps and robots.txt files. They even provide automatically generated canonical URL tags which help avoid duplicate content. You can also find great domain names for your store(s), register them without leaving their website and even play with subdomains.
Even people who know nothing about SEO can sit down for a reading session of a couple of hours and learn SEO 101, that will help them set up their store for success.
It sounds like fanboy stuff, but really, kudos Shopify.
Often times, Shopify store owners do not have the time to also run a blog, especially if they happen to run a few separate stores. This is a big mistake, as a blog can be a great SEO tool.
For one, with great content, you keep people on your website, even if they are not purchasing, which is a great signal for search engines that your website has quality to offer. Also, it is a fantastic way to fill your website with keywords without seeming spammy in any way.
Once you start doing some guest posting (we will get to that later), you will also discover that other website and blog owners feel much more comfortable linking to a blog post on your store’s site than a commercial page. Of course, you should still try to get links to your commercial pages, but when this just isn’t happening, links to your blog posts will also help.
Finally, if you come up with innovative and interesting content, it is very likely that your visitors will get involved in the conversation, which makes for a fantastic signal for search engines.
Be Smart about Product Images
There are a few things to keep in mind when dealing with product images on your Shopify store. For one, you need to optimize them before you include them on your store’s website. This will speed up your loading times, which is something search engines love.
Also, you will want to include ALT tags for every image of every product that you feature on your page, as it will let search engine crawlers know what the image is of (machine image recognition still isn’t that advanced).
This will also help vision-impaired visitors know what is on the page. While it is not an SEO thing, it is a common decency thing.
It has been a couple of years since online shoppers have become majorly mobile, meaning that they do their shopping on their mobile devices (mostly smartphones). Because of this, all SEO efforts should keep in mind the need to be mobile-friendly.
The first step, of course, is to ensure that your Shopify store is mobile-friendly. In a perfect world, all Shopify templates would be 100% mobile-friendly, but this is still not the case. Google provides their own mobile-friendly test tool which will point out the issues that might be hurting mobile users and you will want to fix these as the first step.
You should also learn more about the differences between desktop and mobile searches and modify your content appropriately. Google’s Mobile Index is not yet live, but it is safe to say that it will happen one day.
Of course, you can always take this a step further and start using the mobile marketing platform that will best suit your needs, even beyond simple SEO.
Utilize Product Pages
Product pages should always feature an original product description. Many Shopify store owners decide to simply copy descriptions that they find on the manufacturer’s website or other stores. This is a huge mistake as search engines will flag this kind of content as duplicate and penalize your store. It may be time consuming, but it is a very basic SEO thing to do. If done the right way, product descriptions can be a good way to optimize your pages for search engines through smart keyword practice.
Another good way to utilize product pages is to give your customers the chance to write their reviews of your products. This will provide your product pages with additional content, which will be as natural as possible, also giving search engines signals that people are engaged enough to leave their comments.
The important thing to remember is that SEO is not some sort of a magic wand that will save your Shopify store. You will need a good product. You will need a product that people are willing to pay for.
SEO’s job is to ensure that people find it.
That is all.
As mobile technology trends and usage continue to evolve it becomes more important than ever for e-commerce companies to focus their efforts on mobile users.
Expanding Mobile Trends
Mobile traffic has been growing steadily. By the end of last year, online traffic from mobile uses had surpassed traffic from desktop computers. According to an IDC survey, more than 70 percent of people in the US own smartphones, and 94 percent of them use their phones to search for information. Smartphone research on products is done by 79 percent of users, while 83 percent use their phone to make reservations at restaurants and hotels.
Google has also recognized the importance of the mobile consumer. Their Accelerated Mobile Pages concept was released last year and is already making an impact on marketing strategies.
The expanding use of mobile devices has changed e-commerce. More people are relying on mobile internet access as a much more convenient means of getting online. Any e-commerce business that doesn’t support a mobile-friendly virtual store is losing out on a huge market segment.
According to BizReport.com, mobile users spend 60 percent more time on their smartphone than any other device. They expect a good mobile experience from every site they visit. Furthermore, a 2016 survey from UrbanAirship.com reveals that 80 percent of businesses were planning to budget for a shift to mobile commerce, or m-commerce.
Mobile Friendly Sites
The growing transition from traditional desktop computers to mobile devices is driving significant changes in online web design and marketing campaigns. Interacting with the touchscreens of mobile devices is a different user experience than a computer keyboard or mouse. Developers trained to produce computer applications are now forced to adapt applications to smaller screens and limited computing power.
Mobile-first strategies mean aligning marketing and storefronts to the needs of the mobile users and their devices rather than desktops. Designing web sites for mobile devices should be the priority, not a secondary consideration. Desktop design can utilize more graphics and computing power for greater visual appeal and functionality. But this doesn’t scale to mobile devices well, so the mobile user is experiencing slow page loads, confusing layouts, or poor site navigation.
Mobile designs call for reducing graphics and needless content for a layout that’s more suited to smaller screens. By using a mobile design, you’re creating a positive experience for the majority of online traffic. When you’ve perfected your mobile design, you can adapt it for larger screens by creating additional or alternative versions that include more content.
The mobile-first strategy should be focused on creating not visually stunning or feature-rich store fronts, but simple, user-friendly layouts. These should also integrate mobile payment systems and flexibility for popular platforms such as both iPhone and Android. Faster and easier access for an increasing number of mobile users will bring up conversion rates.
Powerful computers with wide screens can accommodate visually and programmatically complex web pages. Designers need to understand that mobile devices are more limited. They should be regarded as more primitive devices that may also experience unstable connections. Every button has to be necessary, and every function supportable. Mobile development should be oriented to economy of design, not needless overhead.
Mobile Design Elements
The smaller screen requires less clutter of text, imagery, and navigation. These elements should be minimized for simple, efficient flows between pages or processes. Mobile users expect their interactions to be satisfied with a few taps or swipes. Interfaces should provide a clear set of options and a call to action. It’s important to prioritize features and add more only where performance and objectives are not compromised.
This comes down to every element being designed with mobile users in mind. Lists should be short and easily scrollable; forms should be short, easily read, and require minimal text entry or multiple choice answers. You can use resources such as Google’s Site Speed tool to evaluate how page speeds are affected.
Mobile Payment Systems
A mobile-first design is only going to increase in importance. More users are using their smartphones and tablets to do product research but also for making purchases directly from their mobile devices. Payment processes should be easy to understand and follow. A faster, easier flow from browsing to purchasing will improve mobile sales.
A study by GfK reveals that as much as 40 percent of online consumers begin the purchase experience on one device but buy from another. While mobile purchases have increased, conversion rates for these users are still low. Shopping cart abandonment will increase for e-commerce sites that aren’t mobile friendly.
E-commerce platforms should be capable of retaining as much data as possible on every user experience. As mobile shoppers move between devices, they should be able to quickly recall their order or account information. Logs and timestamps can show you the exact path from initial contact to conversion. You can see which pages users prefer and which they abandon. This gives you the insights to create better designs and marketing campaigns.
A Mobile Future
Perfecting your mobile friendly pages helps you to constantly improve the experience for mobile users. Platforms that can detect a range of devices being used to access your site can provide information on what works best with all users, whether via mobile access or desktop browsers.
In summary, research shows that the use of mobile devices among younger and future users is only going to increase, while sales of desktops are down. Today, 21 percent of millennials don’t use desktops at all to access the internet. Wi-Fi and mobile devices are fast becoming the favorite computing option. All of these mobile device users can be shopping online anytime, and from anywhere. On-the-go consumers expect fast and simple interactions with web sites.
Mobile-first strategies are about designing e-commerce sites to drive more sales to a growing segment of online users. Mobile shopping patterns are not the same as desktop shopping. They require different designs and different marketing approaches. But as their numbers increase, a mobile-first strategy is the best option for sustaining e-commerce companies.
Eric D. Gordon is an independent business development and marketing specialist for SMEs. He loves sharing his insights and experience to assist business owners in growing their revenues. You can find Eric on Twitter at @ericdavidgordon