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Setting Up An ECommerce Business In Three Easy Steps

The consistent and thriving growth of the internet has allowed new opportunities to open up within trade and marketing sectors of business, providing new ways to sell and buy products and services for everyone and anyone. Not so long ago, starting up your own business was often a particularly hefty job, especially when you had to source the funds to open up a physical location in which for your business to run. Many fresh business owners had to quit their regular job and obtain bank loans before they could start to build their company at all, and up to fifty percent of them didn’t succeed at all. These days, if you are willing to invest your time and energy into learning all you can about the internet and the market that you are interested in, then you may find more trade opportunities open to you than you had realised. Typically, it is possible to anyone with the right attitude to establish an ecommerce business with reasonably nominal funds and minimal risk. So where do you get started? Well, a little bit of research will tell you relatively quickly there are a few things you need to get done when you’re launching an eCommerce business and you want to ensure your success.

1) Open a business checking account for yourself and get a business credit card. As many people will inform you throughout your journey, it is absolutely essential that you keep your business and personal assets separate from one another. As soon as you have decided to start your eCommerce business, open up a business checking account and get a business credit card. Remember, if you are on reasonably good terms with your bank, it may be a good idea to talk to them first, as they could offer you a discount or preferential treatment.

2) Study your competition and make your business stand out. Before you start designing the website for your eCommerce business, it’s always a good idea to check out your competition. Go online for a couple of hours and browse the types of sites that similar companies to the one that you aim to produce have. Bookmark the sites that you like the best and make notes about things that you may want to use on your own website. Write down what it is that you like about these things, and send the links to your designer or web developer, as this could help to speed up your designing process, saving you money. Remember, however, even if you want your website to be somewhat similar to other sites that you have seen, you should be sure that it still stands out from the competition – the last thing you want to do is blend in.

3) Choose your eCommerce solution. There are various eCommerce shopping cars and platforms out there that are designed especially for small businesses, but you need to decide which one is right for your business. Before you sign up with any software, see whether you can take a free trial.

Carol Friel is an ecommerce professional. She often visits www.ecommera.com.

Learn How To Use Live Chat To Enhance Customer Experience

Every small business owner knows that customer service is a critical part of achieving lasting success. Without taking proper care of your customers, you can’t hope to grow, expand and prosper. There are many ways to enhance the customer service capabilities of your e-commerce business, but live chat is among the most effective options. Still, simply adding live chat to your site isn’t enough. You need to know how to use it properly to ensure that it actually benefits your customers, and these tips will help you get there:

  • Use the Right Technology – There are lots of live chat solutions out there, and some are far better than others. The best software allows you to chat with your customers quickly, easily and efficiently. You shouldn’t have to jump through a bunch of hoops to make it work on your site. With a cloud-based live chat service like HelpOnClick, you can quickly implement a live chat solution that will dramatically enhance your site’s customer service capabilities.
  • Keep Your Audience in Mind – Your live chat representatives should be trained to understand who they will be assisting. As a small business owner, you should already have a clear idea about your target audience. Who does it consist of, and what kinds of expectations do they have? Whether you’re targeting a young, hip demographic or an older, more professional one, your reps should know how to communicate effectively with them.
  • Be Aware of the Most Common Issues – Like many e-commerce businesses, you may notice a pattern when it comes to the kinds of questions that people pose to your live chat reps. It’s in your best interests to try to address these questions to keep the same problems from occurring again and again. Your site should have a FAQ that includes the most common questions and answers too. Still, your reps should be made aware of these questions as well and prepared to address them quickly and efficiently.
  • Support should be Easy to Find – The last thing you should do is bury your live chat support on a random page. Instead, prominent links to initiate live chat should be placed throughout the site. Regardless of what a person is doing on your site and where he happens to be, he shouldn’t have to dig around to access live support. When people can quickly get the help they need, they’re more likely to stick around long enough to become paying customers!
  • Be Warm and Personable – Train your live chat reps to be warm, friendly and personable at all times. If possible, include at least one photo of a friendly, smiling rep near the link to your live chat service. Show people that they will be treated with respect when they ask for help. Monitor chat logs to make sure that your reps are following through.
  • Be Aware of Your Customer Service Demands – Some e-commerce businesses handle a very small volume of questions and issues from customers. Others are positively swamped with such activity. What kinds of customer service demands does your business deal with on a daily basis? Will your live chat support be able to accommodate them? Keep at it until you are able to handle your customers’ needs properly.
  • Don’t Make People Wait – When people see that your site offers live chat support, they’re going to expect to be helped promptly. Nothing is more frustrating to a customer than trying to initiate a chat and being put “on hold.” Fortunately, services like HelpOnClick have virtual agents that can fill in when all of the live chat representatives are busy. This eliminates long wait times and keeps frustration at bay.
  • Learn from Live Chats – A lot can be learned by keeping track of live support chats. Create a log of them and try to classify them in some way. Patterns are sure to emerge. What can you learn from those patterns? Perhaps one of your products has a flaw that can be addressed in some way, or maybe you can add a little more information to your product descriptions to cut back on confusion. In this way, live chat software can actually help you improve your business to give it an incredible competitive edge.
  • Offer Around-the-Clock Support – Like the vast majority of e-commerce businesses, yours is probably patronized by people from all over the place. You don’t shut down your site during non-traditional business hours, and you shouldn’t shut down your customer support, either. Your live chat support should be available at all times.

Be a Customer Service Star with Live Chat By keeping these tips in mind, you will be able to give your customers the support they need. As your company grows, its customer service needs may change too. Make sure to use a live chat solution that can adapt to suit those ever-changing needs.

Featured images:
  • License: Royalty Free or iStock source: istockphoto.com

Neran Ashkenazy, Founder of HelpOnClick LTD. A global provider of live chat solutions. When he is not working on his next chat script version, you might find him writing in his private or HelpOnClick company’s blog.

eCommerce Suppliers are the key in an online business

So – I’ve been blogging for the past couple months about my motorcycle fairing project.  We have seen a few orders so far…the first one has been a disaster and are working on the next 2.

eCommerce Suppliers are key

tail_fairingleft_logo_mismatchThe problem with the first order has been (I wish I could say was – but, its still going on) the factory who was making the fairing.  The had no problem quoting the fairing and taking the money, but when they shipped the order to the customer – it has issues.  Logos were misaligned and colors didn’t match as they should – one piece had paint bubbles in it too.

Second Fairing Supplier

So – as I have heard from a few different eCommerce businesses – you need to have backup ecommerce suppliers, especially if you are in a drop ship business.  By not having leverage and options – you can paint yourself into a corner if you’re not careful.

1We will soon see how the second vendor works out – here is the “pre clear coat” version from supplier #2.

The customer wanted the Monster style paint, clean – without logos for their Kawasaki Ninja.

The one thing I like that #2 did was give myself and the customer pictures so they could visually inspect the paint prior to finalizing the order.

What to do?

The game plan right now is see if the customer wants a refund or new fairings.  I hope the former – new fairings will cost an arm and a leg…but the goal here is to keep the customer as happy as I possibly can.  I’m not sure how that is going to work for now – we’ll soon find out.

We’ll know more soon…

Lets hope this one turns out better as well as the third order, which we have yet to see pictures for yet from the #2 ecommerce supplier.

Stay tuned for more eCommerce fun in the future.

The How To Guide to WordPress with WooCommerce

Start your engine

Start your engine (Photo credit: pobre.ch)

Well, maybe this should read…how I did it, or better yet – how I plan to.

Firstly, besides by family – I love the web, shopping on the web, wordpress, motorcycles and volkswagens…not necessarily in that order.  I work at a great company called Clickstop (who is a retailer of many goods online – check us out) – but I never like to quit learning.  I came to the company a web developer and have since taken over as the eCommerce Director.  One would think I totally get all things eCommerce and this little journey I have embarked on is crazy…but the thing is – making wholesale changes on sites like ours is not a real good idea.

So, to increase my knowledge – I decided to get a site going which I could continue to pursue my passions (see above) and learn more about my job and the things that go into it.  So, I purchased a defunct ecommerce site called “motorcycle-fairing.com“.  The site was started a few years ago as a drop shipper of motorcycle fairings direct from the factory in China.  Its an interesting business model – and we’ll get more into that as we work on the site and tell the story here on the blog.

Image representing WooThemes as depicted in Cr...

Image by None via CrunchBase

One of my other passions (see above) is wordpress.  So – part of my learning process is also to see what else I can experiment with on wordpress which furthering my ecommerce knowledge.  If you are familiar at all with wordpress, you know it is awesome – but it doesn’t have any ecommerce tools build in.  So, after using WooThemes for quite a while – I chose to leverage their ecommerce plugin called WooCommerce for the site.  WooCommerce is free, as are a number of great themes which are already designed for an online store.

My first challenge will be to get the store up and running, transferring it over from a Ruby on Rails site.  Then there will be a laundry list of things to do after that.

 

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The Retailer’s Guide To ECommerce Success


Image by: Jurgen Appelo 

 

Competition is fierce in the retail industry. With multi channel retail, the rise of online shopping and the world economies taking a hit, you need that X factor to really stand out to your customers.

Right now eCommerce is huge, and it looks set to continue to grow. There is no easier way to open up your business to a global audience and join the worldwide shop front that is online retail. But succeeding in this space is tough. There are pitfalls and setbacks galore ahead, so listen up and heed our words. Here’s some solid advice for you, the retailer, and hopefully guide you to eCommerce success!

  1. Be Brand-Aware

    Having a strong brand is important. This is how your customers will come to recognise you and the quality service you provide. Neglecting to pay attention to your branding – whether it’s your logo, site design or the stamp you use on your delivery boxes – can damage your credibility and hurt sales.

  2. Get An ‘Edge’

    Do you know how many eCommerce sites there are out there? No, neither do I, but there’s a lot, and they’re all vying for the attention of click-happy shoppers everywhere. If you want to stand out and get the business you want you need to find your niche. What makes your site and service special? What can you offer that no one else can? Have a think, work hard at it, and eventually you will find your unique selling point.

  3. Be User Friendly

    If you look at popular sites that are built on eCommerce (see Amazon, Ebay and Asos) it’s what you don’t notice that counts. The loading speed? The payment systems? The presentation? These all affect the user and can stand in the way of an optimum shopping experience. Be like these three juggernauts: keep it clean, keep it clear, and always keep your user in mind when designing you site.

  4. Reward Your Customers

    It is important to appreciate the business when you get it, no matter how big you get. Be sure to reward your customers with deals, sales and competitions to make sure they feel loved! These techniques are also great ways to attract new customers to your site.

  5. Use Social Media

    To ignore social media as an online business is to ignore a useful, boundless source on information and interaction with your consumer base. Twitter and Facebook can be great for searching out business and attracting followers. It can be used as a soundboard to see what your community really want. And it can also be used to launch competitions, answer questions and complaints and generally improve your digital footprint.

Follow these tips and you’ll be a sure-fire hit in the digital marketplace. So get designing, get your eCommerce software set up, and get your products out there.

Have you got any other suggestions to guarantee your eCommerce business success? Share in the comments below.

Featured images:

Grant Bailey is a writer for K3 Retail. His specialist areas are social media and marketing, both indispensable tools in the modern retailing.