The “e” in “ecommerce” sets your business apart from storefront or warehouse operations, and the difference could not be more prolific.
Electronic and digital processing, advertising, communications, inventory control, and the like, functions well only with a reliable content management system, or CMS. It enables creating, editing, organizing, and publishing content you rely on to run your business on a day to day basis.
We’ve come a long way since headache-inducing HTML coding was necessary to develop anything worth viewing over a digital screen. Modern functions are more seamless than ever.
From small-time web sites and blogs to sophisticated multi-page systems, the CMS you use is arguably one of the most essential functions of your ecommerce business. When it’s user-friendly, it delivers even more benefits you can’t put a price on. Indeed, you don’t need to break the bank in order to maintain excellent control over content.
Take control with open source CMS
Open source means freedom and flexibility; it offers a host of possibilities for visual and functional fulfillment with enough customization to truly brand your own enterprise. With more control, you call the shots. Your limits lie in your creativity and visualization.
Plenty of open source CMS options offer free usage, making it an even more attractive option. All it takes is a bit of study and time.
Here are some to consider:
They didn’t name it Amazon for nothing.
As if the king of all internet retailers hasn’t dominated enough sectors, it’s now among the top platforms for advertising. There are good reasons for that, and none of them should be a surprise.
Just as Facebook took the social media world by storm, effectively lining out competitors, Amazon is well on its way to becoming the premier commerce player of all time. Aside from negative press surrounding unfortunate stories of porch package thefts, their rep is quite stellar, even as they creep toward a quasi-monopoly territory that has retailers concerned.
And why not? Eclipsing the 600 million product mark in 2018, it seems there isn’t much you can’t find on the popular site. Add to that two-day delivery with its Prime feature, and you have a massive cabal of captive targets. More than 300 million of them, to be exact.
This is where you come in. Whether or not you use Amazon as a sales platform, you should be giving serious consideration to its advertising feature. Not too much of a departure from Google Ads, Amazon creates a seamless search function for site users to locate a product. Sponsored posts appear at the top, designated as such in a subtle way. That puts your offering front and center to a consumer directly searching for it on a favorite portal.
Note to ecommerce vendors: It’s never been a more exciting time to sell things.
As new and riveting internet-based platforms emerge to make the process easier, faster, and more fruitful, there’s one that’s been around a long time and is still arguably the backbone of any business.
Email. Email marketing morphs a tool invented for personal conversations into a dynamic, effective platform for pitching products and services to would-be customers who may or may not know of you. Email happens to be the most widely used of all modern communications channels. Estimates say 99 percent of all consumers check theirs on a daily basis.
And perhaps it’s a better choice than other advertising-related vehicles for the simple reason that people read their emails with a different expectation than they have when they browse social media, or even watch television. Advertising that interrupts play time is probably less palatable than direct messaging sent to an account people read knowing they are there to receive messaging.
If you’ve prioritized your marketing and outreach through social media channels, there’s nothing wrong with that. Just consider the new benefits of an old standby that won’t steer you wrong.
Start With a Plan
Forming an email marketing strategy is pretty simple and straightforward, but there are must-do’s and must-not-do’s to keep in mind.
Start with the most obvious, and develop a targeted customer list. Generating leads is easier with the development of tools like Monster Leads, which integrates marketing functions by collecting, sorting, and storing sales leads. A service like this allows you to revisit the email marketing function without having to restructure and search for new targets.
Before you stress over being “that guy” sending a ton of unwanted mail, relax. Even if one-quarter of your messages are opened, that’s a significant reach. Another way to test the waters for oversaturation is to select a sub-group of customers you feel good about, and set them up for more frequent sends, while limiting the rest of the list to occasional messaging.
Once you have a target audience, think creatively by envisioning what you might respond to favorably. Develop eye-catching graphics that are easy to read and understand. Refine your wording to be brief, engaging, and (most importantly) urgent enough to prompt consideration.
Win in Sin City – the Las Vegas Summer Market
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas – unless you’re lucky enough to snag a spectacular new inventory product or product line.
In case the Las Vegas Summer Market has not crossed your radar screen, you’ll want to get up to speed. This annual event kicks off its 2019 shindig from July 28 through Aug. 1 with a better-than-ever list of exhibitors selling home goods you may want to consider for your inventory.
Ecommerce merchants and others gather for the extravaganza featuring up to 50,000 visitors perusing exhibits from more than 500 exhibitors. The Market is the largest of its kind on the West Coast. It’s a social, commercial, and educational experience you won’t want to miss.
If you sell home furnishings and décor, you’re well aware that the competition is mind-bending. There is no shortage of product offerings, and choosing from among them can be daunting. Why not treat yourself to a weekend in one of the country’s most prolific cities for everything fun?
The Summer Market features more than 4,300 brands and lines of stellar home goods in a wide array of price ranges. More than 500 unique temporary exhibitors will entice with unique offerings. Visualizing, touching, and trying out goods that represent your brand as a seller will build confidence in your inventory and make you more knowledgeable on how to meet customer needs.
Back in the days when search engines were a sparkly new Internet feature, much was made of “vanity searches,” or typing in your name to see how important you really were. Remember the thrill of discovering information in the public domain, which back then was largely positive?
That was then; this is now. For businesses, or anyone with branding needs, searching for information on yourself is a necessity —not only to validate your good reputation, but to patch things up if it’s not so hot.
Google, the granddaddy of All Things Internet, offers its own tracking function through “Google Alerts,” a feature many use on a daily basis. It’s free, and it’s simple. It can detect mentions of you and your brand merely by entering your business name. And while it’s a decent tool, it may not be sufficient. If you’re serious about monitoring your reputation, brand awareness, or anything related to your operation, consider these alternatives that come highly recommended:
A message to ecommerce merchants: your diligent efforts to run a thriving business and gain satisfied customers may pay off in a way you’d never imagined, by just putting one strategy to use.
By now, collecting and publishing customer reviews is a household concept. Studies show that consumers making a first-time purchase decision often divert their eyes automatically to the review score, even if they do it subconsciously. This might not be a fair measure of a product or service, but get used to it. It’s here to stay.
But there’s something you haven’t considered, and it is a big deal. Customer reviews posted on your site will improve your SEO (search engine optimization) rankings. Algorithms in Google alone show how advantageous that can be.
When customers offer detailed reviews of a product, they may include a specific word string of the function or features of their purchase. Example: “I was searching for a good wireless mouse that would pair with my keyboard for smooth operation” just happens to be a keyword string that registers. The phrase “good wireless mouse” reflects a common search phrase that potential buyers enter into a search engine. Boom. You’re there.
Want some motivation to give this a try? Here are stats collected by Brightlocal.com:
How to hook buyers with a high-converting websitE
Far from the days when advertising was limited to an alphabetical listing in the Yellow Pages, or a pricey newspaper display ad, the modern era of internet-based commerce opens up untold opportunities to harness technologies and reach customers without emptying the bank account. Strategic coding formulations now digitally link sellers to buyers who may be poking around cyberspace to find just the right purchase.
But with a sea of competition, bringing your business to the attention of consumers whom you know you can satisfy is not enough. You need engagement. That requires turning a look into a sale. It’s called a conversion.
When you convert searches and page views into a proactive behavior, you begin the process of earning a customer. The critical part is learning how to use your web page to convert as many customers as possible. And here’s how to do that.
You’re a smart e-commerce retailer with quality, stylish home decor items in a variety of design themes. From classic to trendy, you have the perfect solution to update any boring decor. The orders should be pouring in, right? But they’re not where you want them to be, for sure. Customers can’t buy if they can’t find you.
SEO is both more important and more complex than ever. Technology advances in AI and voice commands make older techniques obsolete. You need to rank high on search results to make more sales, but how? What if we told you some of the best tools to help you boost SEO (and sales!) were FREE? I’m serious, and promise, we don’t work for any of these companies. We just think some of these are likely to become your favorites, too.
Hot tips for maximizing your sales and profits
A unique trait to e-commerce is certainly the need to embrace and adapt to changing technologies. Gone are the days when simple marketing and advertising efforts, or public interface at local events, can improve visibility and sales. We’re in a New Frontier, and it’s mind-numbing.
Learning to increase the odds that your online site is viewed by more potential customers is not a one-step process. There are multiple moving parts, and each can be critical in a different way. But adopting basics is a great start, and expanding into creative territories that intrigue you, or are pertinent to your product niche, will steer you in the proper direction.
By now you are intimately familiar with SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. It’s the honey driving bees to your store. It’s the strategy to zero in on consumer specifics, helping them locate what they need in a short amount of time. And while it’s not super simple, it’s not above your learning curve.
In what analysts and experts call “SEO growth hacking,” there are several ways to organize content and text on your site to gain new visitors. Improving your search rankings and increasing conversation rates are objectives for everyone, but the successful will follow best-practice guidelines. By way of example, a well-optimized site will generate conversion rates up to 15 times greater than conventional direct mailing. Be all in.
Chicago is gearing up to host the granddaddy of all national events aimed at ecommerce merchants, and if it’s not on your radar screen, it should be. The 15th annual Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition, or IRCE, is set to kick off June 25 for a three-day extravaganza of experts, fellow merchants, strategists, and vendors.
In an industry known for isolation from networking opportunities, this flagship soiree gathers premiere figures and ecommerce merchants, large and small, to explore the possibilities in starting, growing, or maximizing your business.
Extending last year’s format, the event will encompass three separate and distinct shows that include GlobalShop and RFID Journal LIVE! Retail. The scope of these RetailX offerings is massive, and with each unfolding in a singular 400,000 square foot venue, it sweetens the pot on the decision to attend.
This year’s IRCE keynote speaker, Doug Stephens, is a world-renowned retail industry figure with futuristic vision and an exemplary resume. Founder and president of Retail Prophet, Stephens has counseled retail giants such as Walmart, Home Depot, Google, Disney, and Citibank, and is listed as one of the leading retail top global influencer by Vend.com.
Other featured speakers include Andy Dunn, Senior VP of Walmart, and Airbnb Strategic Advisor Chip Conley.
In addition to high-profile speakers, attendees may participate in targeted workshops and seminars, and peruse a hall with more than 1,200 exhibitors waiting to show off their latest products and services. This is your chance to learn hot tips on Best Practices, store design, and other critical elements that shape the success of ecommerce vendors.