Small Business Saturday Tips For Online Sellers

November 20th, 2020 Comments off

Every year small businesses across the U.S. look forward to one of the fastest-growing retail holidays, Small Business Saturday. Falling on the last Saturday of November, November 28th this year, Small Business Saturday gives independent retailers a chance to promote their businesses and reach out to eager holiday shoppers. Last year, American shoppers spent nearly $20 billion at independent retailers and restaurants on Small Business Saturday. With many small businesses facing hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s holiday could have more of an impact than ever.

Here are a few tips to help your online business maximize the holiday:

1. Get your business listed on the American Express Shop Small Online Directory

Getting in front of more customers is always a good thing, especially when it’s free. If your business accepts American Express, it may be eligible for a listing on the American Express Shop Small Online Directory. This directory is specifically for business without a physical presence—it allows online shoppers to easily see deals and services they can take advantage of with their American Express card. In your directory listing you can provide key details about your business and even spotlight specific offers.

If your business uses a third-party payment aggregator, the criteria for creating a directory listing gets a little complicated. Businesses that fall into this category will need to provide additional information and my not be eligible for a listing.

2. Create a Pop-up Store in an existing business

The barrier to entry for brick-and-mortar business is high, leading many businesses to exclusively sell online. Pop-up stores give online businesses the opportunity to connect with shoppers in person without the hassle opening a permanent physical location. By connection with an existing brick-and-mortar store you can bring your products to a whole new audience and build brand awareness. Pop-ups don’t only benefit the guest business; owners can see a bid increase in store traffic with a whole new line of products in their store.

3. Take advantage of social media

In 2020, it’s hard to deny the impact of social media on retail trends, but you’d be surprised how many businesses underutilize social media to promote their products. Whether it be Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, or Reddit, each and every one of your post is a chance to communicate your brand with customers. Your customers should know that you plan to participate in Small Business Saturday. Find ways to build excitement about your products, brand, and special offers.

Additionally, always remember hashtags can be a business’s best friend; sales and deals can be promoted using #SmallBusinessSaturday, #SmallShop, and #SmallBizSat. These hashtags will help new shoppers connect with your business. With a variety of small businesses participating nationwide, you may even find inspiration for your promotions by exploring these hashtags.

4. Try to convert new customers into loyal customers

Small Business Saturday is your chance to put your online store in front of new customers—and hopefully convert them into loyal customers. It’s important that you put your best foot forward and give the customer a reason to come back. Make sure that you have the bandwidth to ensure a great online experience for your customers. This means you must be able to provide top-notch customer support at all stages of the customers experience. Whether the customer has questions about a product, shipping status, or returns, they should have a means to contact your business and get assistance. Customer support is especially important during the holiday season when many shoppers are in a rush and don’t have time to be bogged down by a poor experience.

For more information about Small Business Saturday and how your business can participate visit the American Express Shop Small page.

Categories: Small Business Marketing Tags:

4 Tips to Increase E-Commerce Revenue on Cyber Monday

November 11th, 2020 Comments off

The term “Cyber Monday” – the first Monday after Black Friday – was first used in 2005 as a way to promote online holiday shopping. It has since become the biggest online shopping day of the year. This year, Cyber Monday is predicted to bring in $12.7 billion in sales, up 35% from last year. In fact, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is expected that 9% of all holiday shoppers will be making their first online purchase this year.

Here are four tips to increase revenue on Cyber Monday.

1. Bring Customers to Your Site and Make Your Cyber Monday Promotions Visible

Just because people visit your site on Cyber Monday, it doesn’t mean they know what your sales and promotions are. It’s up to you to let them know. You can make them visible and clear on your homepage with a banner that announces special deals. Tell your customers about your best sales and what they need to know about them. You can also get their attention with a modal or pop-up window. Some online retailers send an email or newsletter to all of their existing customers around Thanksgiving Day, letting them know about upcoming deals. This can be followed up with a second volley on Cyber Monday morning.

2. Create Product Bundles

Promotion of products in bundles is a strategy often overlooked by online retailers, but it can be a great selling method for a number of reasons: 1) improved customer experience, 2) increased average order value, and 3) personalized sales and deals. Bundling also helps you get rid of dead stock because pairing unwanted items with your most popular products makes them seem more desirable. Remember that customers are more likely to purchase bundles if you group products that are often bought together. And if you combine a low-ticket item with a high-ticket item, the cost won’t be much more than the high-ticket item by itself, so customers will feel like they’re getting a real deal. Be sure to highlight the cost savings of buying bundled products.

3. Create Quick Lists of Products by Price Point

When holiday shoppers embark on a shopping expedition, they already have an idea of how much they want to spend on gifts. In fact, price is often among the top criteria as they browse through various products. You can make it easy by creating a gift guide that organizes products according to price – group items for $10, $25, $50, etc. Use your analytics data to find common sales data points. When customers can shop this way, they’ll be more likely to stay on your site to see what else is available within a certain price range.

4. Add an AI Chatbot to your Site to Assist With Customer Support

You might have more visits to your site on Cyber Monday than any other day of the year. That requires a lot of customer support. While your FAQ section will likely take care of most inquiries and concerns, an AI chatbot can be added for the harder questions. Chatbots are cheap, easy to install, answer customers’ questions in real-time, and work 24/7 without a single break. So when shoppers hit your site at 3 a.m. and want immediate answers, you can give them the support and information they want; any delay could mean losing a sale. If you can predict questions and script answers, you’ve got a chatbot that is a fast and efficient part of your customer support team.

The message is clear: This could be the best Cyber Monday ever for online sellers, and they should prepare for a lot of traffic to their sites.

Categories: Small Business Marketing Tags:

5 Tips for Small Business Saturday

November 26th, 2019 Comments off

Everyone knows that the frenetic Christmas shopping season officially kicks off on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Following shortly after Black Friday is Cyber Monday, a retail holiday started in 2005 as retailers sought to capitalize on the growing trend of online shopping. Sandwiched between those two retail extravaganzas, on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving is another shopping holiday known as Small Business Saturday.

What makes Small Business Saturday different from its well-known counterparts? While Black Friday and Cyber Monday attract people to national and big-box retailers as well as online shopping, Small Business Saturday encourages holiday shoppers to patronize brick-and-mortar businesses that are small and local.

What can small businesses do to take advantage of this special day that comes at the very start of the busiest shopping season of the year? Read these 5 helpful tips and find out.

Tip #1 – Introduce Customers to the Business

It’s easy for a small business to get lost in the massive world of retail. What can a small business do to rise above the fray and get noticed? Because fewer hands are involved in shipping packages to customers, each shipment can be personalized in some way. A business card that features the business’s physical address, website, and social media accounts can go a long way. A thank you note can be included in the package—bonus points if it’s handwritten and personalized with the customer’s name. Additionally, a social media page that includes photos of the business, owners, and employees will let customers know who the friendly faces are behind the package they received in the mail.

Tip #2 – Spread the Word Throughout the Community

While online promotion can be very effective, a small business can make its presence known offline as well. One of the main reasons people shop at small businesses is to support local businesses and put money back into the community. By engaging your local community, you can effectively boost your holiday sales—especially on Small Business Saturday. The local Chamber of Commerce, local organizations, and locally published newspapers and circulars can be used to get the word out.

Tip #3 – Maintain a Presence on Social Media

Any and every social media account can be used to promote Small Business Saturday. Remember, hashtags can be a business’s best friend; sales and deals can be promoted using #SmallBusinessSaturday, #SmallShop, #SmallBizSat, and others. The voice on a social media account should match the store’s branding and products. For example, a small business that sells toys and games would present itself a bit differently than one that sells haute couture clothing and accessories.

Tip #4 – Promote Products That Make Great Gifts

After all, the holiday season is all about gift-giving, so businesses should place emphasis on items that would make good gifts. Just like any other seasonal sale, product selection and merchandising are key. Grouping products by intended recipient is a great way to showcase your offerings. Categories like “gifts for mom” or “gifts for grandpa” are always popular.

Tip #5 – Don’t Forget About Loyal Customers

Any business is happy to get a new customer, but Small Business Saturday is also about engaging existing customers. The day can be advertised several weeks ahead of time by posting signs in windows and putting flyers in customers’ bags when they pay at the register to remind them about it. If the business maintains a customer email list, a brief but friendly email can encourage them to stop in and check out the deals on Small Business Saturday.

By following these tips, small businesses can start off the busy holiday shopping season on the right foot!

Categories: Small Business Marketing Tags:

Finding Profits At Estate Sales Part III: The Office

November 8th, 2019 Comments off

Parts one and two of this multi-part series focused on the kitchen and garage.  Next stop?  The office!  You can pretend you’re a pirate looking for buried treasure as you enter the office of almost any estate sale.

Chairs

The first item you should look for is chairs.  Chairs made by companies like Herman Miller and Stressless are incredibly popular.  Herman Miller makes highly adjustable office chairs that are pricey when purchased new.  Stressless makes recliners that sell for thousands at retail.  (Look for the Stressless logo on the round adjuster knob.)  You can purchase these comfort chairs for $50-$100 at estate sales and sell them for $500-$600 online. 

Note: Since chairs are large and heavy, list them as local pickup only.  People who are interested in these brands will often drive long distances to pick them up.   

Pens

Next, be on the lookout for expensive ballpoint and fountain pens.  Brands such as Cross, Parker, and Montblanc are always in demand.

Vintage Stereo Equipment

Many Americans love listening to music as they work.  Vintage stereo equipment is a common sight in the office area of the typical estate sale.  Recently, a friend purchased a Sansui 9090DB AM/FM receiver for $30.  Since it was valuable, he had it refurbished at the local stereo shop.  He sold it for $950 to a dealer who drove 400 miles to pick it up!  (Ironically, the dealer didn’t care if it was refurbished because he has his employees inspect and improve the items he finds before selling them to his customers in Asia.)

Paperweights

In addition, keep your eyes peeled for signed paperweights.  It is not uncommon to find high-end paperweights in the office area of an estate sale.  Orient and Flume, for example, is a Northern California company that makes pieces that are highly collectible.

Office Supplies

The office is also a great place to stock up on supplies!  Running a business can get expensive, and estate sales are fantastic places to purchase paper, envelopes, labels, and tape for almost nothing.

Stamps

Finally, be on the lookout for stamp collections.  A few years ago, we bought a box full of random stamps for $5.  The stamps weren’t collectibles, but they were worth about $250 at the post office.  We didn’t have to buy stamps for a long time!

So the next time you’re out and about looking for buried treasure at an estate sale, check out the office, mate!  You won’t regret it! 

About the Author

Miriam Otto is an eBay blogger and credentialed teacher with 13 years’ experience selling on the site.  She was a frequent guest on eBay Radio and has participated in eBay seller panels and projects.  Her blog, The eBay Life, is an all-in-one resource for eBay sellers.

Big Ways to Improve Your Google Shopping Campaigns

September 26th, 2019 Comments off

Have you ever noticed those little picture ads near the top of a Google search page? Those are Google Shopping ads. They’re unique in what they can do – and great for increasing online sales. So, let’s run down a few ways to make the absolute most of a Google Shopping campaign.

Optimizing Your Google Shopping Data Feed

To begin your Google Shopping campaign, you’ll need to upload a data feed in CSV or XML format. Your data feed document should have all the info that appears on your ads: Price, Taxes, Title, Description, Product URL and Image URL. Depending on what kind of product you have, there may be optional fields you can add. For example, you can add color and size for apparel items.

Which additional details need to be added? Make sure your feed is optimized with all the relevant details. Imagine if someone asked if you wanted to buy a “Sweater”? The first thing you’d ask is… what kind? Then if you liked the description of the sweater, you’d want to know if they have it in your size.

The important thing to remember here is that unless the product info is part of your data feed, it won’t make it to your ad. Give your prospects everything they need to buy.

The Right Titles and Descriptions for Your Shopping Ads

Now, let’s look at a few ways to juice up your ad. Make sure to include relevant keywords in the title and description, which will help your product get matched to a query. It’s not enough to just list the model number, which will only attract people looking for that exact model. You’ll be losing out on a lot of potential customers.

Let’s play a little good product title/bad product title to get it right:

  • Bad product title – “Black Shoes”
  • Good product title – “Black High Heel Pumps – Size 8 – Women’s Shoes”

See how much more targeted the second option is? A good title has specific keywords like “high heels” and “pumps” to perfectly match anyone looking for a pair of shoes like that.

Next, be sure your description also has keywords, plus the selling points that would make someone want to buy. The description is where you can put your best selling points. Think of it this way… the title is the “what,” and the description is the “why.” Once someone clicks through, give them your best sales pitch to convince them to buy.

Successful Bidding Strategies for Google Shopping Ads

Google Shopping works the same way as an auction. When a user types in a search like “floral throw pillows,” Google checks all of the prices bidders (retailers) are willing to pay. The highest bidders will win the opportunity to be shown to the consumer looking for “floral throw pillows.” That’s how the system works, now we’re going to give you some tips to make the system work for you.

Don’t Set the Same Bid Across Your Campaign

One of the biggest mistakes is to blanket the same bid across an entire campaign. Determine the bid by looking at the value and profit margin of each product.

Start with Best-Sellers

You’ll have enough variables to deal with when beginning a Google Shopping campaign. Start with your best products, where you have a strong competitive advantage. Some products with low profit margins may never make sense to include in your feed.

Use Custom Labels to Create Bid Groups

Custom labels can be applied to your data feed to create price groupings. Try putting higher converting products together, and giving them all higher bids. Put lower bids on the group of products that don’t convert as well.

Optimizing your campaign is a continual process, but following these tips will give you a big head start.

Categories: Small Business Marketing Tags:

Call us toll-free at 1-888-434-0055

Monday–Friday, 6am–6pm Pacific Time