Have you ever wondered if your business should have a blog? For many businesses today, it can be critical for them to reach a certain level, to have a blog for their company. Social media is big business with many consumers today. Depending on your targeted market, this may be a big piece of your business. If so, then you should be all over the social media space. Take merchants like Zappos.com that has a blog, several in fact. It helps create those connections with your customers. Blogs can also be a great way to spread the word about your company and its new products. Blog posts also seem to be indexed by the search engines fairly quickly and rank much higher because of its fresh and relevant content. I reviewed a shopping cart a few days ago that integrates with blogs and social media sites. So if you wanted to focus on selling your new products on your blog, you could integrate their shopping cart into your blog. It also has integrated that would allow to you accept credit cards without ever leaving the blog page. In summary, if your business’ main market is the general public, then you should definitely have a blog. Look at it this way, after giving it 6 to 12 months, if you haven’t received positive results, what have you lost besides some time and energy?
What do you think of when you want to close the customer experience gap with technology? Do you think of web sites and automation? When retailers embrace technology, they can help close that gap and improve the in-store customer experience. A recent survey revealed what the top five attributes customers seek when shopping at retail stores: Knowledgeable employees, a good value, courteous employees and be treated like a VIP. Which category do you think received the worst rating of them all? Knowledgeable employees was the winner! However, with technology, employers can help close that gap by improving in these areas. You can use technology to create great training programs that will improve the employees knowledge about the products and the company. You can also use it to create good value with the lowest possible price. Having reliable and affordable can be one start to help keep your prices low. Lastly, use technology to show and demonstrate to employees the importance of being courteous and treating all customers like a VIP. Once you implement some of these suggestions, you should see improvements in all of these areas. But do it give time as most changes will not happen overtime.
Retail sales for October were much better than expected. Sales jumped 1.4% compared to a decline of this month last year. Since Black Friday is around the corner, retailers were hoping this would instill confidence in consumers and encourage them to spend this holiday season. York was saying that the cash for clunkers program made the numbers jump around too much to get an accurate count. The holiday sales season is all backed by consumer spending and since we have been at high unemployment for several years now, consumers are strapped for cash. Some like York do not believe this holiday season will be any better than last year even though economist are forecasting for things to be on the positive side. If they do indeed turn up to be bigger than expected, merchants will find themselves with higher bills. But that is a good price to pay for an increase in sales. In any event, we should know what will happen in a few months, so stay tuned with fingers crossed.
Car dealers have been embracing the web for some time now. Almost all consumers use the web the research a vehicle before making a purchase. You can practically do everything except test drive the car. Many dealerships have an exclusive sales team for the Internet site. Even though most dealerships do not list any pricing on their site and if they do, it is the MSRP price. However, you can generally negotiate with most dealerships through email and phone. Man of those sales reps are salaried and are focused on volume and not high profit margins. This could result in a big favor for the consumer. One thing that hasn’t come to light and may never, is the actual buying of the car online, as if you were buying a product from Amazon for example. If this capability ever came to light, you would have large ticket sales placed on credit cards, which most consumers probably do not have that kind of available credit. The merchant may also have issues with their provider for the large ticket sales are much riskier as consumers are well protected when it comes to credit card charges. So it is probably in the best interest of the merchant to never go down this road. Lastly, I’m not sure of how many consumers could even pay for a car with a credit card and pay the bill in full when it comes in.
Why has newegg.com become one of the largest ecommerce retailers in the US? It has been known because of the shopping experience with them. The customer flow seems to be full of options. They have a search box feature, a nicely well done navigation bar, colorful rotating special offer banner and a list of categories to shift through to find what you are looking for. The idea to take from this is you must have clear paths to products from your homepage, so you user knows and feels confident on where to go from there.
Once you go to a particular category, you can narrow down your choices by other features or categories using the left hand navigation. This is very useful when trying to find the exact product you are looking for. For example, you want a NIC card, but do not want to spend more than say $20. This would allow you to find what you need very quickly. One thing I’m not sure I agree with is if you want rush processing, they charge a fee for this. This has nothing to do with the shipping time, but the speed they process your order. I guess you could say what else can you expect for the lowest price, you can’t have everything. They also have great follow through emails by providing shipping confirmation and tracking information. Another thing is certain, with their kind of processing volume, I would only expect them to be on the Interchange plus pricing model with theircompany, if not, they should really look into that.
Would you like a few more conversion tips for your ecommerce web site? Here is a list of five in no particular order. Ecommerce sites should have a site search function. But many sites all do the same common thing when it comes to a shopper searching for something that wasn’t found. They say no, they do not have anything for them. Pretend you are the customer, do you ever want to be told no, sorry? Instead, have some recommendations of your most popular products at the bottom of the results page after whatever results do show up. You never know, they may be interested in one of your most popular items. Some say adding a third party trust certificate helps create trust among shoppers and some disagree. I’m not for it either way as I do not know exactly what is true, but it couldn’t help if it doesn’t have a cost. Make your 800 contact number prominent on all pages of the site. If you do not already have an 800 number, get one asap! Just like it is best to display your logos on all pages, you need to display your phone number so they can easily call you if they want with any questions they may have. Always have a privacy, return and shipping policies for those users that are concerned about those issues. Plus you should have a link to those policies on all pages of the site. Lastly, add a link to your contact page on your product page, a button for example that stands out saying something like contact us with any questions. If a shopper will have any questions, it will most likely be when looking at the product information page.
A recent review of Josbank.com was posted by another company and found the review to be well done. First, it points out that the site is clean, elegant and modern, something I couldn’t agree more. The image they portray is as important as the retail stores. Josabank has a reputation for a certain level of quality and luxury and this must be maintained throughout their retail and Internet stores. One thing the reviewer noticed was that they do not have a well designed 404 error page that instructs the user where to go if they landed on a page that doesn’t exist anymore. This can happen as other web sites may link to a particular page that gets taken down for whatever reason. The header has been done nicely, with everything split up into categories that are easy to browse. One thing I personally like is how they give you your current total of your shopping cart at the top of the page. This allows you to know how much you have spent thus far and how much left remaining before you earn free shipping. This is a great sales tool on their part. It also seems that they have their integrated into their web site, which also keeps the same professional web site look throughout the entire shopping experience.
What does prime vacant retail locations and Christmas have in common? How about seasonal “pop-up” stores are going upscale. Such as the Lionel Electric Trains opened up its first retail location on Nov 1, which will disappear after the holidays. Pop up stores have been around for a long time for Halloween and Christmas. But now they are going upscale by showing face in places like malls and fancy streets in big cities. The reason is because of all the vacant real estate that landlords are having a time filling. It would be better for them to find a home temporary than to live it empty. For Lionel, it isn’t a profit center for them, but a way to create brand awareness and desire for their products from young children. Regardless of who opens up a seasonal retail store, they must have the ability to accept credit cards. In many situations, a is needed for the expense involved with getting a temporary phone line put in place. The one big draw back is the profit must be large enough to be worth the time, energy and money involved in getting setup for such a short period of time.
Have you prepared your online store for black Friday? Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping days of the year. You need to make sure your store is ready so you do not lose any potential sales. If you plan on having any special offers like free shipping, that is the day to do it. Also, go through your website and make sure everything is working properly. Test your shopping cart,systems, etc. I would also recommend that you keep an eye on the website during that day as well. Most companies are off on that day, but keep an eye out on your web site as that is one of the most important days for your business even though it isn’t for most companies. If you haven’t been processing credit cards with your current provider for very long, check with their risk department about temporarily increasing your volume for the splurge in sales or simply talk to them about the volume you expect to reach and make sure they are ok with it. Lastly, Amazon is doing black Friday deals all day next week. I think that is a great idea, as you can test different offers out before the big day, plus you will be extending your big sales day beyond one single day as your sales will increase for the entire week.
Would you like to improve your site’s usability to increase your conversion ratio? Have a great organized web site is very important. Lets pretend you walked into a retail store. Would you shop there or stay long if there was clutter everywhere? The isles were not lined up well, stuff on the floor, product mixed in with each other, etc? Of course not! This doesn’t change when consumers shop online! The 8 second rule is something the industry refers to as when a visitor comes to your site, we all generally take about 8 seconds to decide if we are going to stay or not. Feedback – you can obtain reviews from other people for as little as $1. Amazon has a service called Mechanical Turk that includes thousands of people willing to do a review for you for cheap. Another tool is Google website optimizer. It lets you test various versions of your sites or particular pages to see which one performs better. Once you make some improvements on your site, your sales volume could go up a lot. The downside to that is you will have higher fees, but the good part of that is it means you have more sales!