6 Proven Methods to Grow Your Business

December 30th, 2016 Comments off

293368_SM_SDC_Blog_eCommerceBusiness

Are you ready to expand your ecommerce business? Stay a step ahead of your company’s growth by planning and preparing for new opportunities with these six ideas.

Attract new customers

Look into implementing a referral program both to leverage existing customers and draw in their own contacts to your site, and use social media to create new buzz on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram by promoting specials and giveaways.

 Encourage larger orders

By being more aggressive with upsells, cross-product selling and volume promotions, you can increase your sales one customer at a time.

Bump up your content.

Review your copy and add new SEO keywords, meta tags and powerful new language to your product descriptions. Add compelling photography and video to enhance your listings.

 Increase prices

Increasing some prices by a small percentage or charging for shipping if you currently ship for free are simple ways to drive up your profits. Just be sure not to make your increases so large or noticeable that buyers start clicking away from your site.

 But also discount some prices, when it makes sense

Avoid deep discounts, which can be a sign of desperation to shoppers, but create attractive, short-term promotions offering popular products at a lower price. Bargain hunters will feel the thrill of the hunt and may share their finds in their networks, bringing you more business.

 Diversify

If you’re successful in one channel, imagine how much more you can do across multiple channels. Add to your product line, make yourself available as an expert in your field or product line, and consider importing and exporting your own and other ecommerce business owners’ products.

Categories: Small Business Marketing Tags:

6 Crowdfunding Tips For Your Ecommerce Endeavors

December 23rd, 2016 Comments off

293368_SM_SDC_Blog_Crowdfunding

Looking for capital? These days, finding a cash outlay for your business endeavors can be as simple as setting up a crowdfunding website. Popular sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have changed the way businesses seek investors, making it easier than ever for companies and contributors to connect. Better yet, crowdfunding eliminates some of typical conditions investors often impose in return for their support, such as a stake in the company or creative control.

Kickstarter is an online fundraising platform that allows users in the U.S., U.K. and Canada to publicly post creative projects, including specs, prototypes, potential risks and progress updates, to grab the attention of investors. Be aware the Kickstarter requires users to set a monetary goal and deadline, and if the full amount of requested funds isn’t pledged by that date, the company does not receive anything (and any pledged money is returned to the donors). Indiegogo, meanwhile, is broader in scope, with a longer list of eligible projects and an international user base. Both Kickstarter and Indiegogo apply a percentage-based fee to the total funds collected, and Indiegogo’s fee increases if the fundraising goal isn’t met. While Kickstarter and Indiegogo are the best-known crowdfunding sites, businesses may also consider a variety of other similar services, such as 33needs, Rockethub, appbackr and ChipIn.

Ready to crowdfund? Keep these tips in mind.

  • Have a great product or idea to pitch. With thousands of crowdfunding campaigns ongoing at any one time, your business or product idea needs to stand out. Scroll through crowdfunding sites to be sure you aren’t duplicating an existing campaign.
  • Set realistic goals. Remember, you’re trying to get your business or product off the ground. Don’t ask for more than you need to cover your costs at this stage of the game.
  • Plan the perfect campaign. Think about the kind of customers and inventors who would comprise your target audience. Are they social-media savvy? Do they like a straightforward approach or a pitch with an edge? Can you reach out to popular bloggers to help promote your campaign? Consider these points as you write your copy and add additional media, such as photography and video.
  • Be open about your goals. Investors need to know that the business they’re contributing to stays true to your proposal. Reassure interested parties and investors with regular updates during the crowdfunding process, and welcome their feedback. If your business gets successfully funded, it’s even more important to continue the conversation and let your investors know how you’re using their money and what they can expect in the future.
  • Consider rewards. Crowdfunding businesses may choose to reward investors at certain levels with public acknowledgement, products and other incentives, which may help encourage participation. However, many incentives ultimately cost in you time, money or both, so carefully weigh whether rewards are a financially responsible option for your campaign and your business.
  • Watch the clock. If your crowdfunding campaign has a hard deadline, you’ll want to space out content over the life of the campaign. Still, the first 48 hours can be the most crucial. Plus, if you manage to raise the needed funds early on, your campaign may catch the attention of mainstream media, which can bring you needed publicity.
Categories: Small Business Marketing Tags:

How To Offer Customer Service Through Your Order Fulfillment

June 15th, 2016 Comments off

sdc_ShippingStrategyCustomerServiceTo run a successful business, you need to have great customer service. While brick-and-mortar stores capitalize on the face-to-face communication we often associate with customer service, online businesses can still master the art of communicating with their customers – namely, through their shipping process. Here are five ways to master customer service by improving your shipping strategy.

1. Be clear about shipping expectations
Negative feedback is overwhelmingly related to issues associated with shipping. To hedge your bets and negate this, provide very realistic expectations for when an item should arrive. Be transparent, and explain the difference between shipping (when an item leaves your possession or warehouse to begin its journey to the customer) and delivery (when the package arrives on the buyer’s doorstep). During high-volume times like the holidays, provide a shipping time table that lets buyers see how soon they need to order packages to expect them by Christmas. Always try to get items to the Post Office the day the order was placed or within 24 hours, if possible. If and when packages show up early, buyers will be pleasantly surprised and more likely to leave positive feedback.

2. Include a custom packing slip
Marketplaces like Amazon have strict rules on how you can contact and interact with a buyer. The packing slip is a safe way to connect, and can help personalize the buying experience. Write a brief note within the packing slips thanking buyers for their patronage, letting them know that they are welcome to contact you, if necessary, and leaving the best method of contacting you. This will reassure buyers that you care, and that you’re just a phone call or email away should they need to reach out. The best packing slips I’ve seen also include a handwritten thanks with the signature of the employee that packaged my item. A reported 68% of customers will stop supporting a business if they feel that the company is indifferent towards them. Bring some humanity to the shipping experience and let buyers know you care.

3. Offer a discount for their next purchase
Discounts and coupons encourage repeat salesand demonstrate that you appreciate a customer’s business. As always, you must abide by each marketplace’s rules when offering discounts or coupons. It is legal to extend a discounted offer, but you cannot do so in exchange for positive feedback. A coupon for their next purchase may encourage feedback organically, but you can’t use it an as incentive.

4. Brand your packaging
The more you can make your buyers’ shopping experience stand out, the better. A 10-year study found that brands that can evoke an emotional connection with buyers can effectively charge up to 200% more than competitors. Branding your packaging will contribute to this. If you sell on your own website, you have free rein to package as creatively as you like. That said, you can still offer a unique experience on stricter marketplaces. After you have the appropriate packing materials, like bubble mailers or sturdy boxes, what can you add to set yourself apart from competitors and create a fun experience for customers? What unique addition would make sense with your brand persona? I recently ordered balloons from a small, party supplies seller on Etsy. When the package arrived, I opened the bubble mailer and confetti came out. It was fun, surprising, and totally consistent with the brand. Creating a genuinely fun shipping experience for me set this seller apart from her competitors, and demonstrated to me that she thinks about her customers from start to finish. I loved it, and I will definitely purchase from her again.

5. Make all returns free
We know not every seller is able to make free shipping work with their budget. Free, unconditional returns is a great alternative to offering unlimited free shipping, and benefits the customer and retailer alike. Here’s why:  a reported 49% of consumers believe shipping costs to be the most exasperating aspect of returning an item. Another 88% of consumers would rate free return shipping as either “important” or “very important” when making purchase decisions, and 82% of another test group affirm that they would complete an online purchase if the seller offers free return shipping. Making returns easy and free for the buyer is a great way to nail customer service and promote buyer trust. And if a buyer does make a return, they are more than likely going to shop from you again in the future, if your return shipping is free.

Offering exceptional customer service through your shipping process doesn’t just impress customers – it encourages future purchases, stewards repeat buyers and helps you win out over competitors. Get creative with branding, be generous with returns and communicate with buyers that you’re a reliable and considerate retailer. If you can nail this, you will reap the benefits. Happy selling!

ecomdash_logo_smallEcomdash is an award-winning multichannel inventory software for e-commerce retailers. It offers an end-to-end e-commerce solution to complete workflow, including inventory and sales order management, product listing, dropshipping and fulfillment management, reporting and more.

3 Steps to an Easy Returns Process

July 24th, 2015 Comments off

We hear you – managing returns is frustrating. It can feel complex, time consuming, or even like the death of a sale. That said, 60% of shoppers who make at least one return to an online store, a whopping 95% of them will purchase from that store again if the return experience is positive. Moreover, if those shoppers feel that their return or exchange was an easy process, 64% of them will refer that online shop to friends. So even though returns may feel like an e-retailer’s nightmare, they can actually be the catalyst for more sales and new customers. In order to win back those sales, you have to make sure your return process is a walk in the park.

Here are 3 simple ways to guarantee a better return experience for your customers:

#1. Make It Clear
Your return policy must be easy to find on your site, with all policy information clearly stated. Be detailed and include all rules, like what you will provide (return postage, for example), and a step-by-step guide on how to proceed with the return. If you’d like an example, Zappos.com has a detailed and clearly outlined returns process that appears simple for the customer. Model your return policy webpage after theirs.

Zappos

#2. Know The Worth Of Returns vs. Customer Service
Figure out ahead of time the value of letting buyers keep the original item and sending them a replacement, vs. asking that they go through the return process. There are some cases where it is actually better for your company’s reputation, even if you end up eating some of your profit. See below for an example from Practical Ecommerce’s 4 Tips for Better Ecommerce Returns and Exchanges where this special circumstance played out:

A guitarist for a popular party and event band recently ordered a new guitar strap from a merchant on the Amazon marketplace. Unfortunately, there was an error in the shipment, and the merchant apparently sent a shorter strap than expected. When this guitarist contacted the seller about an exchange, he was told that a new strap would be shipped that day and that he could simply keep the smaller strap.

This solution was great for the customer, who did not have to repackage the strap or arrange for a carrier to pick it up. He was generally happy with the experience. This was probably also better for the merchant, who might have simply been able to order a new guitar strap from its distributor for about the same cost as having the strap returned.

In order to determine whether or not you can provide this kind of special customer service, you need to know all applicable variables. This includes cost of return shipping, cost of processing the return and profit lost on the item. Sometimes, a small (or fairly insignificant) loss will lead to a huge gain later. A customer could be so impressed with your service that they will not only shop from you again, but they’ll refer friends. Don’t forget, 64% of buyers will speak highly of retailers that gave them a positive return experience.

#3. Bring The Policy To Them
You already know not to bury your return policy landing page somewhere on your website where shoppers will have a hard time finding it. To keep them in the loop, consider posting (just once) on your social media sites either a link to your return policy page or a cliff notes version for them to quickly scan. Doing this will communicate that you are on their side and want them to be happy with their purchase – and if there is an issue, you want to make the return easy for them. This can be especially timely during the holiday season, and may be a smart post for December 26th. Drive it home with a follow up post inviting social media followers to share pictures of themselves with their new products. The more you can establish an emotional connection between your business and your buyers, the better your business will perform. According to a 10-year study conducted by Hiebing, brands that evoke a strong emotional response can sell more, drive customer loyalty and successfully charge up to 200% more than competitors.

With these tips in your back pocket, you can simplify the return process for your e-commerce store. Your buyers will appreciate it, and so will your bottom line. Of all the customers who make returns, are you ready to bring back the 95% who will shop from you again?

ecomdash_logo_smallEcomdash is an award-winning multichannel inventory software for ecommerce retailers. It offers an end-to-end ecommerce solution to complete workflow, including inventory and sales order management, product listing, dropshipping and fulfillment management, reporting and more.

Tips on Staying Organized for Small Business Owners

July 11th, 2014 Comments off

blog602Do you know where your important documents are? As a small business owner, you have to deal with many important documents like your tax forms, lease agreements, mortgage papers, receipts, invoices, purchase orders and more! Are they all together in one safe, organized place? Probably not. You most likely have some of your documents stored in a filing cabinet at home, some others in your desk at the office, and your digital files floating around various email accounts, hard drives, and cloud storage services. The more advanced the world gets, the harder it seems to be to keep everything together.

How to Stay Organized?

Tip 1: Invest in an advanced digital filing system, like Neat. It gives you one place to store all your important information, and helps make that information easier to find, use, and share with others.

Tip 2:  Set up your scanner near where you open your mail. Anything that’s worth keeping goes into the scanner, where it’s digitized. The information is safe, and the physical mail can go straight to the recycling bin.

Tip 3: Integrate organization into your routine. Make it a habit to find 30 minutes every week to file away your important documents. Don’t let the pile grow!

Benefits of Using A Digitized Scanning Solution

  • When it’s time to find that important piece of mail, just sign into your computer, phone or cloud and it’s there. No more rifling through piles of paper or trying to remember where you stashed something “so you wouldn’t lose it.”
  • It’s easy to use and include in your routine!
  • The time savings are immense. Once you begin using a digitized scanning solution, you will free up additional time almost immediately.

The Neat Solution: Smarter than the Average Scannerneat_logo

Neat does more than just store and organize your documents. It actively parses the information you send it, pulling key information like contact info from business cards or tax amount, total, and vendor name from receipts. This information becomes easy to use – export it to other programs, instantly generate expense reports, and more. Just try doing that with paper.

It doesn’t matter if your information comes from paper or from a digital source; everything has a home in Neat. Between their smart scanners and their easy-to-use cloud service, Neat gives you a way to get everything into the same database. That means whether you need to find a digital receipt, a scanned copy of an invoice, or whatever else – if it’s important, you’ll know it’s in Neat.

 

Categories: Small Business Marketing Tags:

Call us toll-free at 1-888-434-0055, Monday - Friday, 6 AM - 6 PM Pacific Time.