Ecommerce success is like success in every other type of business – building an effective Web-based business requires discipline, determination, diligence and careful planning.
Here are ten steps you should take before you create a website for your Web-based business – or should re-visit if you have already established an online store:
- Look at your company name and determine how it can best be used in your online store’s url (web address). While the exact name may not be available as a url – xyz.com – a variation of it – xyzshoes.com – probably is. Your online address is a key element in your marketing and branding efforts.
- Sign up for an ecommerce Web hosting package that will grow with your online store, incorporates features you will need to operate an online business (ability to provide secure transactions, up-time reliability, shopping cart functions, etc.) and provides Web marketing tools.
- Set up a merchant account so that your on-line store can securely process credit card and other transactions. Be sure your merchant account is able to accept the top three (at least) credit cards, process Paypal®, and accept bank
If there’s one thing to remember in online retail, it’s that you must provide stellar service and give the customer what they want – make it easy and quick for them to buy from you. The harder you make it to do business with you, the more sales you’ll lose. It seems like common sense, but many businesses have a hard time making the buying process simple. The gold standard in e-commerce is, of course, Amazon.com. Here are 7 tips for online retail start-ups on how to adopt the essentials from the online retail giant and become a success with ecommerce.
Store Name and Location
Do you have a real physical store location, or are you operating 100 percent online? If you’re only online, then you only really need to tell your customers about your phone number and email. If you have a physical address where people can pop by and say hello, make that information public. Put your physical address up anyway, even if it’s a P.O. Box. It will kick up the trust factor by 50 percent, minimum. People are still afraid to buy
Is your business ready to reap some of those online sales? Launching an online store can be challenging for small businesses, which are often short on time, budget and staff. But ecommerce vendors can help you make designing and maintaining an online store relatively simple and affordable.
Here are 10 important questions to ask when creating your company’s first online store:
- How do I start building my online store?
If you can’t afford to hire someone to build a custom online store, don’t worry. There are plenty of ecommerce vendors that can help you create one quickly. “They can take the hassle and headache of hard coding, hosting and doing maintenance on a server of your own out of the online store equation,” says Julian Barkat, director of ecommerce and online marketing at Eggs to Apples, a Philadelphia digital marketing agency.
Such companies as Bigcommerce, Shopify, Goodsie, Jumpseller and Volusion let you design the overall look, feel and functionality of your online store. They also let you do things such as upload your product catalog, set up customer shopping carts, securely accept payments and handle
If you’ve started a new business and are ready to begin marketing it online, I highly recommend Annie Tsai’s new book “The Small Business Online Marketing Handbook.” Here are some pointers based on the book, along with my own observations:
1. Don’t panic. The whole idea of online marketing can seem daunting and unfamiliar at first, but in fact it’s really pretty simple. Look, you’ve already done the difficult part: leaping into the unknown by starting or acquiring a business. This stuff will be easy by comparison.
2. Commit some time. This is actually the hardest part of online marketing, especially for super-busy entrepreneurs. Nevertheless, you’ll need to spend some time on this, but not as much as you might thing. I recommend between about 2 to 4 hours a week. Schedule it!
3. Fix the skeletons. Even if you’ve only been in business for a while, some online business directories (like Google) have probably pulled your physical address and other info into a “skeleton profile.” Join those directories, “claim” the pages, and make corrections, as necessary.
4. Buy a URL. This part is simple. Get on one of the numerous services and purchase an online name that fits with your business. In most cases,
There is a proven sequence of steps you can follow to guarantee your success when you’re starting a small business online. I’ve seen thousands of people start and grow successful businesses by doing the following:
- Find a need and fill it.
- Write copy that sells.
- Design and build an easy-to-use website.
- Use search engines to drive traffic to your site.
- Establish an expert reputation for yourself.
- Follow up with your customers and subscribers with e-mail.
- Increase your income through back-end sales and upselling.
Anyone, from newbie to seasoned online entrepreneur, can benefit from this process in learning how to start a business online.
Step 1: Find a need and fill it
Most people who are just starting out make the mistake of looking for a product first, and a market second.
To boost your chances of success, start with a market. The trick is to find a group of people who are searching for a solution to a problem, but not finding many results. The internet makes this kind of market research easy:
- Visit online forums to see what questions people ask and what problems they’re trying to solve.
- Do keyword research to find keywords that a lot of people are searching, but for which not many sites are competing.
- Check out your potential
Starting your own business is no longer a pipe dream. This is the information age, the computer age, the digital age. Whatever you want to call it, modern society’s transition to connected living has created opportunities on an unheard-of scale. The average person is perfectly poised to take advantage of all that the digital world offers.
I’ve been running my own online business for over three years now. I’m not a veteran entrepreneur by any measure, not even in internet years, but I’ve had a successful start and learned plenty along the way.
Check out my top 5 tips for starting your own online business.
1. Make The Obvious Choice
People generally associate business with the physical; convenient corner stores, trendy inner city cafes, the skyscrapers of Wall Street. Starting a brick-and-mortar business requires a lot of capital. You have to lease a storefront in an ideal location, design the interior, maintain the property, establish an inventory, hire employees, and hope the store gets enough foot traffic to keep you in business. For the individual, traditional business is often a huge risk.
You need to go digital.
Many facets of online business contrast with traditional business. You can start your own online business without a dollar
Many people choose to sell their jewelry at craft shows and markets, but there are several considerations to make when deciding to make it into a business. Certain supplies are needed and competition can be fierce. Making a jewelry business stand out among the many that exist can be challenging, but providing options such as store-front as well as website sales is one way to set a jewelry business apart from the others.
Supplies and Materials
Obtaining beading supplies wholesale will increase your profit on jewelry sales. A quick web search yields many options for bulk beading supply purchases. Make sure to order more supplies than you need in order to account for mistakes as well as inspire new ideas and creations. To determine the specific amount of beading needed for a project, consult the pattern or directions, which usually will include the bead count. Although starting a jewelry business does not always entail designing new pieces (most jewelers use a pattern booklet for their inventory), creating new designs is one way to set the business apart from many others. Consider ordering unique beads and elements that are not found in general run-of-the-mill jewelry shops to ensure that
Business development is the foundation of sales; without it, there are no contacts to convince to buy your products. The importance of business development to those in sales roles is why there is an insatiable demand for business development tips. Following are four simple business development tips designed to help you reach your targets.
Think of Business Development as a Strategy, Not the End Game
Business development is not a sales goal in and of itself. Successful business development has its core in strategy: Strategy to reach the most leads possible, strategy to cultivate trust, and strategy to move new contacts through business development into the sales funnel. Changing your mindset on what business development is can help you improve your business development skills. Recognizing that it is a strategy and not a direct sales task can help you avoid hard selling new contacts before they are ready to hear your sales message, and gives you the right strategic direction for utilizing further business development tips.
Give Non-Traditional Lead Sources a Second Look
Personal connections are business currency, and the advice to network through social media to make these connections is one of the best business development tips for 2013. The cascade effect of
Everyone knows you need a business plan, yet many entrepreneurs don’t realize a marketing plan is just as vital. Unlike a business plan, a marketing plan focuses on winning and keeping customers; it’s strategic and includes numbers, facts and objectives. A good marketing plan spells out all the tools and tactics you’ll use to achieve your sales goals. It’s your plan of action—what you’ll sell, who’ll want to buy it and the tactics you’ll use to generate leads that result in sales. And unless you’re using your marketing plan to help you gain funding, it doesn’t have to be lengthy or beautifully written. Use bulleted sections, and get right to the point.
Here’s a closer look at creating a marketing plan that works:
Step 1: Begin with a snapshot of your company’s current situation, called a “situation analysis.”
This first section defines your company and its products or services, then shows how the benefits you provide set you apart from your competition.
Target audiences have become extremely specialized and segmented. No matter your industry, from restaurants to professional services to retail clothing stores, positioning your product or service competitively requires an understanding of your niche market. Not only do you need to be able
I often write about how to work on your business, your computer or your client; but in this article I will be focusing on working on ourselves. It takes a certain type of person to become successful in the computer repair business and here are 5 tips on how to become that person.
Do What You Love
If the only reason you want to enter this industry is because of the money, you are in the wrong field. If you love learning, working with computers and challenging yourself, you are in the right place.
There are many times in this business where you will wonder whether its all worth it such as working 12 hour days trying to get your business on its feet and being paid a minimal amount. If money is the only focus then it will definitely not be worth it. It is the love of this job that will get you through the tough times and make you successful.
Keep On Learning
I bet you know more about computers than anyone else you know in real life and your family and friends look up to you as if you were some kind of tech god. Your parents and teachers said
1 – Keep Your Website Design Simple and Well-Organized
People have a tendency to want to over-design their website in an effort to make it stand out or look cool. They may add flash animation, sound in the background, and load the site up with large graphics. This is a huge mistake, especially for business-oriented websites. It is much more important to make sure your design is organized in a way that visitors can easily find what they are looking for at a glance. Music blaring out is actually a pet peeve of many internet shoppers, especially if they are surfing at work as many do. You also want to make sure that the text is easy to read. Dark text on a simple light background is the safest way to go.
Apple.com is the perfect example of a well designed website. Apple.com has some of the best web designers in the world who develop their website, check them out and also other big company sites for ideas if need be.
2 – Respond To Your Visitors Promptly
When a visitor, a potential customer, emails you or fills out your contact form, it is imperative that you get back to them as soon as
- Add catchy content to your site. Focus on your key areas of expertise, and display them professionally. Much like you would do when having potential employers contact references, put your best foot forward for potential clients. Include descriptions, where appropriate or necessary.
- Don’t use jargon. If you are offering technical expertise, include descriptions that appeal to your client base, not your peers. For example, if you are showing that you can code with PHP and AJAX, don’t say “in this case, if the input field is empty (str.length==0), the function clears the content of the txtHint placeholder and exits the function.” The person who needs you to work on their site will just scratch their head and say “huh?” Say, instead, “Start entering text into this field, and it will auto-complete.”
2. Be social. Whatever your business, whatever your venue, keeping your name in the the air is key to internet success. Have a business account on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. If your business is graphically oriented, have accounts on Flickr and Tumblr as well. Whenever there is news of any kind—a new contract, a new page, a new entry, a new photo—cross-post it to all your social media sites. Also make
Growing your online presence
Whatever business you’re in the key to your success is your online presence. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to grow your business online, follow these steps as a simple guide to help you get started.
1. Create a professional website
First impressions count and your website is often the first time prospective customers will come across your business.
Choose a modern mobile responsive (friendly) website design that’s simple, intuitive to use and navigate. Ensure that your Unique Selling Point is visible at the top of the page so it’s clear what you do within seconds of someone landing on your home page. Optimize your website so that your phone number is highly visible for ‘click-to-call’.
2. Create customer centric content
Write compelling copy that speaks directly to your customers. Provide content that’s easy to consume, extremely clear and focused. And optimise content so it’s easy to scan and conveys the maximum information in as few words as possible.
3. Attracting potential customers with SEO
Search engine optimisation (SEO) refers to the process of optimising your website to get placed high in the organic search listings of major search engines.
To start that process, it’s important you understand which keywords your customers use to search
In the past, home-based businesses weren’t taken seriously. If your office was in your home, you did everything you could to hide that fact. But that’s no longer the case. Home-based businesses comprise one of the fastest growing business segments today. People love the idea of being able to be their own boss and work from the comfort of their own home.
Technology is really the key driver behind this trend. Technological advances allow you to do business anywhere in the world, from your spare bedroom. But there are some things to consider so your business gets started off right.
- Do you need a permit or license? Some municipalities and neighborhood associations prohibit home-based businesses. Others require special permits or licenses so make sure you take time to check with the proper authorities.
- Does your home-owners insurance cover a home-based business? Many homeowners’ policies do not include home-based business coverage. You may need to purchase a rider to protect your business assets.
- Establish your legal structure. A lot of home-based businesses are sole proprietorships which require no formal legal documentation. However, depending on the type of business you are in, you may want to consider other possibilities such as an Limited Liability Company (LLC), or
Even the best shopping cart software solution such as ShopFactory can’t make this decision for you. This article has been written to help you solve these two questions.
Find out how to avoid the most common mistakes made by eCommerce start-ups and how to find the products you can sell.
A large number of people doing business on the Internet have found financial freedom and independence by setting up their own eCommerce site.
In some cases they started their online store as an extension to an already existing brick and mortar shop. Others saw an opportunity to start their own online business with low upfront costs and went for it.
At some stage they all had to decide what they wanted to sell online. Some picked a hobby such as scrap booking or photography; others decided to take a more hard-nosed approach and started looking for a groups of products.
What is the best approach?
Is one approach better than the other? Not really, provided you do your homework.
Hobbyists who want to turn their hobby into a business often fail, because they look after their business as if it still were a hobby. As a result you will find much advice on the Internet on how you should
Congratulations! Either you got promoted or have started your own company. You’re an executive now. You probably have some experience with business development, sales, or proposals, but being in charge of it is another matter. That’s okay, because like most executives, you’re confident you can make the stretch.
My goal in writing this is to help you avoid falling into traps that look rational, but will weaken your competitiveness. Your competitors make these mistakes all the time. You can do better.
- Business development is about what you close and not about how many leads you have. Closing requires understanding what it will take to win.
- For services businesses, the best competitive advantage is an information advantage.
- Only bid leads where you have an information advantage. If you don’t have an information advantage, it means you are competing on price or luck.
- Relationship marketing doesn’t work by getting potential customers to like you. It works by producing an information advantage. You can measure the success of your relationship marketing efforts by how much they produce an information advantage.
- People are not enough for successful business development. Being successful takes more than just hiring smart or charismatic people.
- What it will take to win the proposal should drive what
Writing a business plan can seem a daunting challenge. However, this skill is a vital requirement for any entrepreneur or business seeking to increase their chances of survival. Here is a list of my top ten tips for writing that winning plan:
- Write from the audience’s perspective
The starting point for any business plan should be the perspective of the audience. What is the purpose of the plan? Is it to secure funding? Is it to communicate the future plans for the company? The writer should tailor the plan for different audiences, as they will each have very specific requirements. For example, a potential investor will seek clear explanations detailing the proposed return on their investment and time frames for getting their money back.
- Research the market thoroughly
The recent Dragons’ Den series on BBC 2 reiterated the importance prospective investors place on knowledge of the market and the need for entrepreneurs to thoroughly research their market. The entrepreneur should undertake market research and ensure that the plan includes reference to the market size, its predicted growth path and how they will gain access to this market. A plan for an Internet café will consider the local population, Internet penetration
If you’re ready to be in charge of your own destiny, but don’t have the capital to buy a franchise or open up a storefront, consider starting an online business. When your store is online, you can reach millions of customers instead of whoever happens to wander in – plus, you don’t have to pay for retail space. However, like with any business, you’ll need an excellent product and a solid marketing plan. See Step 1 to learn what it takes to start your business online.
Setting Up Your Business
- Define your product or service. Starting an online business gives you the benefit of having access to millions of customers, but you also have a lot more competition. No matter what you’re trying to sell, you can bet that hundreds more online retailers have a similar idea. What differentiates your product from other similar products? To help your product stand apart from the rest, you’ll need to find a niche.
- Let’s say you make jewellery—but so do a few million other people. What makes yours different? If one-of-a-kind jewellery (or another product) is your gig, make sure it’s truly original.
- Offer expertise in an area. Even if the product itself isn’t very unique, your
Is your business development engaging?
Take a little time out to reflect on this question, and try to be honest. Would you take a meeting with one of your salespeople? Seriously – would their strategy for getting on your prospects’ calendars get by your assistant? Do you even know what strategies your salespeople are using?
I’ve got no doubt, a few of you are saying, ‘That’s irrelevant Dean; we’ve got it handled – and our SEO and automated marketing is generating lots of leads. I don’t want to break your heart, but most of the calls I get from companies following up on my web activity make me NOT want to take a meeting, despite my interest.
Let me tell you about my experience building and running child-care centres. I would consistently get calls from bankers who would want to meet me to “find out more about my business”. I would politely explain that I didn’t have spare time to educate them. Instead, if they had called me saying something like, ‘We’ve done analysis on the top 50 child-care clients and identified what best practice is in relation to collection parent payments. I’d love to come out and share some findings with you,”