DSA offers a drop shipping service for ecommerce merchants at a relatively low expense. The company has received a lot of positive reviews on their service for being fast, easy and inexpensive. You can choose to design your own web site or use their builder tool. They have over 2K templates to choose from. They can also provide the hosting of the website. The good thing about using a drop shipper is you do not need to carry any inventory. There are some disadvantages to this, product selection and operational control being two of them. Interesting thing is the company is owned by Intuit, the makers of QuickBooks & Turbotax. The one thing that isn’t mentioned on their web site is any information about the service and who they are compatible with. This is very important as some shopping cart solutions like Yahoo Stores are very restrictive on who you can use to process your transactions. They in particular require you to use FirstData platform, which limits who you can use to only a handful of processors instead of the hundreds that are available today.
Network Solutions updated its ecommerce software recently to help online merchants prepare for the holiday sales rush. The service in particular is their nsCommerceSpace service. The improvements are designed to help manage their stores better, maximize profits and increase their speeds. Some feature enhancements include customized templates, shipping improvements and import capabilities. New promotional features like discounts and coupons will be available soon and before the big holiday sales rush.
When they made these improvements, they relied on their customer’s feedback and suggestions. By making improvements from listening to their customers, they expect everyone to have a successful season. The good thing about their service is they offer a 30 day money back guarantee. This doesn’t really help or is needed for merchants already on their system, but for new ones that are considering switching platforms, it is a nice appeal. I would however wait until the holiday season is over before making any changes. Also, keep an eye out for Google’s caffeine up date that should go completely live come January. If you have a great sales year this season because of great SEO, everything may change for you in two months.
I recently read an article that mentions some common myths when it comes to ecommerce and I’m going to evaluate them while giving my own opinion. The biggest one is you can never have too much information and that is completely false. When you give users too much data, too many choices, it can become overwhelming. Take a look at Dell’s computers. Look at how many choices they have when it comes to buying one and all the adjustments you can make. Now, look at Apple’s offerings and you will see everything streamlined to only a few choices. This is better in many aspects. Never miss an opportunity to cross-sell really only applies to retail purchases, like at a supermarket. Take amazon.com for example. They are very careful when it comes to up-selling you. They never do it once you start checking out, but before you checkout, that is a great time to do it. They do not want you to get distracted. In a retail store, that can be totally different as you are physically in the store and it is not as easy as a click away to another web site.
Another myth is to display security logos during checkout on the page that shows thelike Visa & MasterCard. However, I’m not sure if I totally agree or disagree with this. Some may say a simple logo will ease any consumer’s concerns. It is however giving that company free advertising. Others would say you need to take more steps than that, such as create a page explaining what your company has done to ensure your customer’s information is secure.
Are you an ecommerce merchant that is ready for the holiday sales season? It is just around the corner and consumers are shopping earlier these days, way before thanksgiving. Here are some ways to spice up your site and increase your sales. Add some holiday cheer to your web site. Use some holiday graphics that makes your web site look like the season. Shoppers love great shipping deals, especially free ones. Be sure whatever shipping deal you are having, the customer easily knows about it by promptly displaying this information on the site. Do know if you do not charge for shipping, one good thing will be is your total sales amount will be less, which would mean you pay less in fees! Gift cards is a huge business, be sure to offer them even if you are not a retail merchant. Be generous when it comes to return policies around the holiday time. Most big merchants give 30 days after December 31, as the recipient will not have the gift until the end of Dec. This will also help you keep your chargebacks to a minimum, which will also reduce the fees you pay in that area as well. Contests are another way to increase sales, people like a chance to win something big.
Amazon is having issues with a few states when it comes to collecting sales tax. Since they are selling on the Internet, you now have interstate commerce. Many ecommerce merchants find themselves with this dilemma and issue to work out. Which states do you collect sales tax from? Only from the states you operate in, such as warehouses, operations, etc? Or do you only worry about the state where you are headquartered and doesn’t matter if you have some fulfillment center in another state. Another thing you must consider, is you will also pay charges on the sales tax amount as well, but that doesn’t amount to much unless your volume is huge. They say state and local governments lose more than 7 billion in revenue each year because of the 1992 courts decision that states the merchant must have a physical presence in the customer’s state.
I personally think it would be a bad idea if this were ever to be overturned. I think consumers would think twice about buying as much online. That has always been a big selling point, no sales tax and a big convenience of ordering without ever leaving your house. If this were to change, it would definitely change the landscape some.
Women are becoming a big key player in business. During the course of the year, women owned businesses are generating around $3 trillion in revenue and employ 16% of the workforce. I think it is great that women are starting to become a big part to the entrepreneur industry. As with men, women bring a unique perspective and view to the table. The way they think and consider can be totally separate from men. While this can be good, there are some possible downsides. But that can also be said with men. That is why it is important to have both females and males at the top of an organization. That way you can draw the best things from both counterparts.
One thing I have noticed when talking to merchants is women seem to ask more questions, especially about thefees. This can be very important as the industry as a whole is very fee oriented and if one doesn’t ask questions and fully understand what they are getting into, they could possibly find themselves in a pickle This is a big plus in women’s favor.
Being a franchisee is general is a completely different topic in itself. But what about the idea of being the first franchisee of a new franchise system. Susan, an owner of seven Batteries Plus gives us their experience. She said being the first has its advantages and disadvantages. One big plus is open territories. The big downside I would think could be support and experience since the business hasn’t ever been in the franchise arena which is a whole ball game all together. One of the important things to figure out would be who will be handling the store’s service. Like many franchises, they require or highly encourage franchisees to use the company corporate is working with. Susan did say that you must have a good feeling about the owners, their drive to grow the franchise and support you every way possible. Don’t forget, you have the Internet and all of its resources at your fingertips. Something that wasn’t available for them back when they started in 1992.
Are you having a low conversion rate and too many of your shoppers seem to be leaving your store without buying anything? Here are some tips on what you can do to minimize it. Don’t require registration. Look at many of your huge online retailers like Zappos.com. Follow their lead as what they are doing seems to work or they wouldn’t become as big as they are. Write your product descriptions for humans and not for SEO. Be careful with too many out of stock items, many times people want to buy today and do not want to wait for you to receive new inventory before shipping. Have a nice clean homepage that is focused and organized, like josbank.com which has done a lovely job. If your shopping cart can handle it, provide an estimated arrival date. This will provide your users with useful information if they are anxious to receive their purchase. Offer many payment options, such as and possibly Paypal and/or Google Checkout. Don’t change negative reviews. If all you have are positive reviews on all of your products, this will look suspicious. Even the best products will have some negative reviews as you simply cannot please every customer, it isn’t possible. Do not display advertising on your site, like Adwords. There are so many reasons not to, like it is unprofessional. Lastly, make it easy for your customers to contact you with any questions, issues or concerns.
During this economy, shoppers are looking for discounts from Internet merchants and if you don’t provide them, they may abandon their cart. Here are some ways to utilize tools & techniques to prevent this with discount offers. For starters, you want to make sure you reiterate your special offer or discount throughout the web site and not just the homepage. If you do not do this, the consumer may lose interest or forget about the offer before checking out. For example, if you are offering free shipping on all orders over $50, place some type of message or image stating this at the top of all pages on the site. Payment choices – it is best to offer multiple payment choices besides a option. Such as a bill me later type of service, checks or gift cards. Avoid the gotchas with sales tax & shipping charges being added later in the check out process. Always have this displayed and showed before checkout, when they view their cart. You also want to make your customers feel safe and secure. You can do this by displaying your security logos, such as an SSL certificate and that your site has been scanned for security breaches using a service like Mcafee. Lastly, go through your process yourself, as if you were a customer buying one of your products so you can see how it flows, feels, etc.
Industry insiders give great ecommerce tips all the time. Here is a list of them for November 2009. Localize Site – if you are a big retailer, then localize your web site with your retail stores. That way you have the same products available in store as is online. Message above the fold – it is important to keep your important messages at the top, such as newsletter sign up boxes, navigation, reviews, etc. Testimonials – it is always a great idea to post testimonials from your customers. It gives your company credibility when there isn’t a face to face transaction. Help – things are harder for everyone, if you help others, it will come back to you. FAQ – be sure to have a faq page that answers commonly asked questions. Such as if your company takes payments. This not only answers their questions quickly & effectively, but reduces your customer service calls. Goals – always have focused business objectives and clearly define when they have been achieved vs if you should go back to the drawing board. Sophisticated shoppers – do not forget to appeal to the sophisticate users, such as the ones that like to use videos, zoomable images, etc.