Virtual Marketplaces – Should You Be Using Them?

Virtual marketplace shopping

One of the biggest things that most online business owners consider is ways to boost sales.  Every marketing strategy, advertisement, and hashtag you include on social media is done with the hope of generating more sales.  One big sales strategy that every online business should consider is whether to use virtual marketplaces, an e-commerce store, or both of these online retail stores combined.

What exactly is a virtual marketplace?

A virtual marketplace is a huge online market where third-party sellers, and even individual businesses, can sell or resell products.  Direct businesses earn based on profit while resellers earn based on commission.  The virtual marketplace itself, however, earns through quite different methods like listing fees and product promotions. eBay is one of the biggest and most successful virtual marketplaces in the world and is even consider the ‘World’s Online Marketplace’ because this marketplace has localized sites in more than 24 countries. Online customers can buy just about anything imaginable on this popular site.

So, should you consider selling on virtual marketplaces?

There is absolutely no reason for you not to sell on virtual marketplaces.  You can choose to sell on a single marketplace or offer your products on several different virtual marketplaces.  One of the top advantages you get from using these sales platforms is greater efficiency since the marketplaces automatically process orders, payments, and delivery tracking.  Another huge benefit is the fact that you can target many more prospective buyers, especially if your website isn’t getting much traffic.

Watch out for these marketplace disadvantages.

There are a few disadvantages you should be aware of before you dive into advertising on virtual marketplaces, including the following:

  • It is going to be hard to establish brand recognition and to distinguish your business from the rest since the product is highlighted in search results and not the seller’s company name.
  • It is hard to prove your product quality because there can be counterfeit products that steal away the spotlight from your genuine and slightly more expensive but higher quality products.
  • Your marketing and sales cost can get expensive if you sell on several virtual marketplaces since they don’t earn based on sales commission but rather for product space and promotion.

Can you combine virtual marketplaces with an own e-commerce store?

A lot of resellers and businesses that sell on virtual marketplaces choose these markets as their primary distribution point to keep things simple, but many of these businesses also have their websites with e-commerce stores that sell directly to the public.  You can choose to sell on your website and e-commerce store and virtual marketplaces at the same time, or even consider resellers to be in charge of your marketplace sales and provide them with commission based on sales.

In our modern digital world, the possibilities for doing business online are endless, and the extent of your imagination is your only limit.

9 E-Commerce Tips to Boost Sales

What is the most crucial part of inspiring e-commerce to boost sales?  Most people think that the amount of traffic on a website is crucial for getting more sales. Sure, it is important to get web visitors but what most businesses forget is the importance of conversions.  It is important to convert visits into click-through or signup activities, and even more important to get web visitors to complete purchase.

Check out 9 of the sneakiest tricks that e-commerce businesses with high conversion rates use to inspire their clients to hit that Add to Cart button:

1. Provide Product Proof

Most online shoppers are terrified of being scammed out of their money which probably makes this one of the most useful tips for higher sales conversions.  Add proof that the product in question is genuine, worthwhile and a good value by showcasing testimonials, reviews and social interest next to your e-commerce products.

2. Give Guarantees

The chances of getting more sales are much higher if your customer thinks there is no way he or she can lose when buying your product.  Try including a guarantee like a 5-day money back guarantee or a product guarantee reduce perceived risk for buyers.

3. Skip Registrations

There is nothing that will make customers redirect to a competitor faster than a forced registration, especially before they had a good opportunity to view products.  Try skipping registrations or include your registrations after purchase confirmations.

4. Free Stuff is Always Good

A free software trial or gift is always a good idea to seal the deal and convince customers that they simply cannot miss this opportunity. It’s probable you can find items to offer for free that have a low cost to you and a high value to buyers.

5. Add Demo Videos or GIF’s

GIF’s are making a major comeback in website trends.  By adding a GIF or demo video, you can better explain the product and visitors can get a much better visual idea of the product. While high-quality animations and videos are useful, it might be better to have more videos of acceptable quality.

6. Include a Call to Action

Call to action buttons like “Buy Now,” “10% Discount with First Purchase,” or “Buy 2 Get 25% Off” are examples of great ways to encourage clients to buy instantly instead of delaying their decisions. Once a visitor leaves your website, it’s unlikely they will return to complete their purchase.

7. Lead Visitors to Related Items

One of the best ways to encourage more sales or higher valued sales from the same customer is by showcasing related items where the product in question is displayed.  If the relevant product captures the attention of the visitor, he or she might just add the original product and perhaps even one or more related items to their shopping cart.

8. Give Color and Visuals a Try

Many large corporations invest a lot of capital in buyer’s psychology so they can boost sales and much of this information is shared online.  It might be a good idea to check out the best colors and visual aspects to use in your e-commerce store.  Changing action button to blue colors, for example, can boost sales.

9. More Information is Better

Finding a product that doesn’t have enough information remains one of the most annoying things about shopping online. More is better when it comes to product descriptions and technical specs, especially since the buyer cannot hold the product in his or her hand.

5 Effective Hacks to Sell More on Amazon

sell more

More than 170 million unique visitors go to the U.S. Amazon website each month. That’s a lot of prospective buyers to sell more items to! Just compare it to how many people come to your website in a given month. It’s easy to see that tapping into Amazon’s potential is a smart idea for the small shop.

As a marketplace, Amazon is efficient and convenient for vendors to sell more. It has a variety of tools that can streamline selling, distribution, and managing your shop. These tools and the size of the marketplace also mean you can scale up without worries.

To make the most of your Amazon experience, here are 5 tried-and-tested hacks that will help you sell more.

  1. Give Your Product a Great Title to Sell More

The title of your product is what draws the buyer in. You have 150 to 250 characters (not words) to get people interested. The three essentials in the title are:

  • The name of the brand
  • The name of the model or product
  • Features like color and size

Try to get one or two keywords into your title. This makes it easier for people interested in your product to find it when they search. But don’t stuff the title with keywords, which can make it unreadable.

  1. Sell More Using Lots of Images

Once customers find your listing, get them interested with images. This means investing in high caliber photos and graphics. It’s worth the money. Did you know that there’s a 15 percent conversion rate on Amazon product pages? The image you post is often what determines whether or not a visitor will actually buy from you.

Wondering how to photograph your product? Good shots include getting it from several angles, like the top, bottom and sides. Try to get a picture of it in action. Post a photo of the label. Include charts and other images that give customers information about your product.

  1. Make Your Description Easy to Read

Make your description of the product easy to read. That means avoid big clumps of text. Give it lots of white space. Break up the text with images, subheads and bullet points. Use short paragraphs.

Put the most important benefits of your product in the first few bullet points. Toward the end of your bulleted list, include answers to questions that are often asked.

  1. Pay Attention to Search Terms

Get familiar with the Search Terms section of Amazon’s seller guidelines. You have 5,000 characters to describe the benefits of your product. Make the best use of this by including a variety of search terms.

Never keyword stuff to the extent that your copy isn’t readable. But be sure to include, as naturally as possible, the words that prospective customers use to search for your type of product.

  1. Get Reviews

Your customers pay attention to reviews on Amazon, so you need to also. Amazon uses several metrics for measuring the average rating for products in each section. These include how old the review is, if the product was discounted, and if other shoppers click the “Helpful” button on a review. So it’s not just a matter of getting all your friends to give you 5-star reviews. In fact, that will work against you.

Be sure to monitor your reviews. Reply to negative ones and quickly respond to complaints. Another way to make a positive impression is to answer questions in the Questions and Answers section. Give full information in your answer, and make sure it is updated and accurate.

These hacks can increase your business on Amazon. To help you handle the money you get, team up with Atandra. Our T-HUB connects you with QuickBooks accounting, so you always stay up-to-date with your finances.

Greater Productivity Equals More Money for Your Business

greater productivity

E-commerce is one of the best business models for aspiring entrepreneurs. Selling products online benefits from greater productivity and is potentially one of the most lucrative ways of being successful.

But greater productivity is a detail-oriented process, one that takes brainpower, attention to detail, and time. And most owners have far too little time in the day. In the process of putting out fires, it is easy to lose track of essential tasks and decisions.

To help you make the most of your time through greater productivity, here are 5 productivity hacks that will help you leverage your time and efforts wisely. And that means more money in your pocket.

1. Greater Productivity Starts With Getting Unpleasant Tasks Done First

First thing, do your most disagreeable task, your most intimidating task, the one you just don’t want to start. When you get it crossed off your To Do list at the beginning of the day, everything else feels easier. And you don’t waste energy with resisting and procrastinating.

Author and business guru Brian Tracy calls this “eating the frog.” As he points out, once you get the worst task out of the way, you can feel proud of yourself for the rest of the day. You have already completed a major goal.

2. Work Efficiently with Suppliers

Check with your suppliers to find out if you can streamline operations with them. Treat them like a partner, which is actually true. Both of you rely on each other for business success.

One company got help from the U.S. Post Office. What they thought was speeding up delivery was actually causing problems. By working with the post office, the company was able to make better use of technology, saving money, and improve delivery times.

3. Keep Meetings Short

With video conferencing so widespread, it can be tempting to hold meetings whenever a problem crops up. But meetings tend to last longer than scheduled. When you bring people together, it is tempting to talk…and talk…and talk.

The way around this is by coming up with an agenda, even for short meetings. Then stick to it. Another good policy is to schedule meetings for the same time every week. Let this be a clearing space for a wide variety of issues. One longer meeting is often a better use of time than several shorter meetings throughout the week.

4. Reduce Clutter—Mental and Physical

Keep your desk as clear as possible. Insist that your workers do the same. Studies show that cluttered workspaces are distracting. People waste time trying to find missing paperwork. Keep your computer files organized, so you know where to find information quickly.

It’s smart to declutter your brain too. Mind mapping apps can help. They let you do a brain dump, then organize random ideas.

5. Use the 80-20 Rule to Your Advantage

According to the Pareto Principle, 80 percent of effects of an action come from 20 percent of the causes. What that means to you is 80 percent of your clients come from 20 percent of your sales efforts, 80 percent of your revenue and return on your investment comes from 20 percent of your customers.

Figure out what is returning the most on your effort and time. Then concentrate on it to grow it even larger.

Using your time and energy wisely is the way to grow your e-commerce business. Another way to leverage your efforts is by teaming up with Atandra.com, the efficient, productive way to handle e-commerce order management for your small- to medium-size business.

5 Tips for Driving Traffic to Your Online Store

driving traffic to online store

How can you get more visitors to your online store, without breaking the bank? Basic SEO is still important, but in today’s digital world, it takes more for driving traffic.

With a little creativity, time, and effort, you can generate traffic. And it’s definitely worth it because the result is greater visibility for your store and more sales.

1. Find Influencers for Driving Traffic

Get to know the influencers in your niche. Shoppers online look for recommendations from trusted influencers. In fact, you can get 3 to 10 times the sales with the right endorsement.
Good places to look are on Instagram and Facebook. Search for a good match, then offer to send them a sample of your product or give them a free trial of your service. If they accept, make sure the experience is a positive one for the influencer. Then ask for an endorsement.

2. Write Useful Content

It goes without saying that your product descriptions should be accurate, useful, and entertaining. But don’t stop there. Add articles to your site that help buyers use your product. The more value you provide readers, the more they will look to you as an authority.
Post a blog on a regular basis. Feature stories about your customers. Explain why people prefer your product over others. Keep the focus on benefits for your readers.

3. Connect with Bloggers and the Press

Pinpoint blogs, vlogs, news sites, and community papers that influence your target market. When you find a good match, send a short pitch. Tell them why their readers would benefit by learning more about you and your products.

Explain what makes you distinctive. For local press and blogs, use the idea that you are a home-grown success story. Getting coverage is often easier when you launch your online store or when your product or concept is fresh and not well-known.

4. Use Email Marketing

Email isn’t old hat. Almost 3 billion email users are expected by 2019, with almost a quarter of billion of those in the U.S. That’s a lot of potential buyers.
Have an effective way to get contact information from visitors to your online store. Offer them a lead magnet, usually a download for completing an online form, with useful information in return for their email address. Then send them relevant information, with occasional sales offers, on a regular basis.

5. Use Social Media

Go where your target buyers gather. For internet shoppers, that means social media. One of the best platforms for online stores is Pinterest. According to Shopify, more than 90 percent of Pinterest users rely on it to plan purchases.
It’s easy to see why. People love photos and graphics, and that’s what Pinterest is. Use this fact to your advantage. Post photos of people using your product. Show unusual applications of your goods or services to catch their interest. Take high-quality photos to present products in an attractive, inviting manner.

Getting traffic is just one aspect of running a successful online store. Online business takes time, expertise, and attention to detail. Don’t let the e-commerce aspects cause you problems. Atandra is here to simplify your online store operations by providing effective, convenient, and easy-to-use order management solutions.

Leverage Your Market with Multichannel Selling

multichannel selling to online buyers

Limiting yourself to just one marketplace means limiting your profits. That’s why smart sellers improve visibility and convert more prospects by selling through a variety of channels, also known as multichannel selling.

Tapping into Multichannel Selling

There was a time not so long ago when internet sellers sold products on their website or eBay. Then along came Amazon, which offered a broad new arena to connect buyers and sellers. And the list of potential marketplaces just keeps growing.

It’s called multichannel selling, and it is boosting profits for e-commerce businesses both big and small. The idea is to offer your products wherever you can. By selling more, in more locations, you attract more buyers. The result is higher profits and greater visibility.

What About Your Website?

You might wonder why you spent all that money on your own website. If you’re going to make sales on a variety of other sites, didn’t you waste your time and cash?

No, you need a website. It establishes your credibility and builds your brand, which leads to loyal customers. People expect a seller to have a website. It’s like having a brick-and-mortar retail/office space for your company. It gives you instant credibility because you don’t look like a fly-by-night huckster.

But let’s face it, Amazon and eBay get far more traffic than your website. And don’t overlook shopping comparison sites like Buy.com and Shopping.com, which are also part of multichannel selling and get a wide range of visitors.

It’s silly not to tap into big marketplaces. Your products and services are far less likely to rank high in the search engines, compared to these giant marketplaces. Leverage their visibility for your own business.

Where Can You Sell?

Many websites let you sell your products through their setup. Some of the biggest are:

  • Amazon, with more than 100,000 sellers making over $100,000 a year. It’s hard to argue with returns like that.
  • Shopify is another very popular example too.

In addition, there are many other marketplaces eager to have you sell through them. Many are niche-oriented, with visitors looking for specific types of products. Here are 5 that do well for sellers:

  • Etsy, a huge marketplace for handmade crafts, artwork, and vintage products.
  • The Grommet, which features new and innovative personal and home products.
  • Polyvore, with a focus on fashion and home furnishings.
  • Newegg, an excellent spot for automotive products, sporting goods and electronics.
  • Houzz, that focuses on home remodels.

Selling your goods on multiple online marketplaces is a smart move. You do need to choose the right ones to suit your products because not all the sites are the right match for what you have to offer. But it’s worth the effort, because taking action gets you greater visibility and more sales.

Worried about tracking sales and money, if you sell in several venues? Atandra can help. We have an order management solution that’s just right for you.

Ecommerce Shipping Basics

ecommerce shipping

As an ecommerce seller, you’ve got a lot on your plate. From building your website to delivering excellent customer service to managing your bottom line, it’s easy to overlook one critical element of a successful ecommerce business – your ecommerce shipping plan.

When developing your shipping strategy, there’s a whole list of elements to consider. Here’s a round-up of the most important things you need to consider when developing a successful shipping strategy.

What Will You Charge?

One of the first questions you should ask yourself is whether or not to offer free shipping. After all, 93 percent of online shoppers take some sort of extra step in order to qualify for free shipping. However, while free shipping promotions help on the marketing front, it can add extra cost to your shipping budget.

There are a few different routes you can take when it comes to shipping options. You can offer free shipping as an incentive, you can charge an average amount to each customer or you can charge your customers for the actual cost of shipping. Whatever you decide to do, keep in mind that it may take some trial and error to determine the best option for your ecommerce business.

Package it Up

As customer expectations continue to rise, it’s imperative that online retailers go above and beyond the standard, and deliver an online shopping experience that is top-notch. Look at your product packaging as a way to extend your customer service and an opportunity to set your brand apart from all the others. Add in a thank you note, personalized packaging or other little details to show your customers you care about their online shopping experience.

Stick a Label on it

Now that you’ve determined how to charge customers for shipping and how to package your goods, it’s time to decide how you want to label your packages. As your business grows, hand-written labels probably won’t be an option. Look into finding an ecommerce shipping platform that allows you to print shipping labels directly from your online store or marketplace.

Package Responsibly

Depending on the types of products your business sells, you may or may not decide to provide parcel insurance. If you’re frequently shipping pricier items, it’s definitely a factor to consider.

Dispatch notifications and tracking information are two other useful tools that will help you package and ship responsibly. Help yourself keep track of shipments and provide your customers with a sense of security throughout their shopping and shipping experience.

Shipping responsibly also means making sure you’re shipping profitably. Research your shipping and packaging options so you don’t end up losing money on your shipping services.

Going International?

When shipping internationally, make sure to include the correct documentation and customs forms. Check in with the countries you will be shipping to in order to find out exactly what you’ll need to include in and on your packages.  Also, make sure your customers know whether or not additional customs fees will be charged to them. This way, they won’t be surprised about unexpected expenses at the time of delivery.

In the end, there’s no such thing as a universal shipping plan. Take the time to figure out what works and what doesn’t for your ecommerce business. Consider your cost-friendly options, your customers’ satisfaction and what’s going to make the most sense for your business to be successful.

Increase Net Promoter Scores and Grow Your Revenue

Growth

The Financial Impact of Customer Experiences

Most business owners think better customer experiences can lead to higher revenues, but no one seems to really know how much of an impact is possible. This leads to a simple question: how much revenue can be gained—or lost—due to customer experience as measured by Net Promoter Scores?

A recent article provides specific answers based on Net Promoter Scores (NPS) and revenue for two common types of online business: a transactional business selling products and a subscription business selling memberships. Before looking at the results, let’s review NPS.

About Net Promoter Scores

NPS provides a numerical rating based on the response to one simple question:

“How likely is it that you would recommend [company] to a friend or colleague?” Responses are scored based on a 0 to 10 scale and categorized as follows:

  • Promoters (score 9-10) are loyal customers.
  • Passives (score 7-8) are satisfied customers.
  • Detractors (score 0-6) are unhappy customers.

Knowing a company’s NPS suggests whether a particular customer is loyal, satisfied, or unhappy. Among other things, NPS can help to predict whether customers will continue purchasing (Promoters), might consider your competition (Passives), or will soon stop buying (Detractors).

Better Customer Experience Can Double Revenue

Want to double your revenue from existing customers? Try this:

  • Product Sales: shift customer NPS from Detractor to Promoter.
  • Membership Sales: shift customer NPS from Passive to Promoter.

Businesses that sell memberships (subscription sales) have an even greater opportunity to increase revenue by moving NPS Detractors to NPS Promoters to quadruple revenue!

The Bottom Line

Improving customer experiences is one of many ways businesses can increase revenue so every business should survey and track the NPS of each customer to support better decisions. Providing customer service may seem expensive, but it could be more affordable than investing in marketing to find new opportunities or sales to create new customers.

5 Simple Ways to Increase Holiday Online Sales

Holiday online sales competition is fierce every year, but this year the world’s largest online merchants have announced their intention to offer the deepest discounts ever. This makes it very important to focus on retaining visitors to your online store and then helping them to accomplish their holiday gift giving tasks, especially if you cannot match or beat their pricing.

Here are five tips to increase online sales during this holiday season.

1. Showcase Items With Special Prices

Online shoppers are especially price sensitive since they plan to purchase many items as gifts for themselves and others. Buyers will experience numerous advertisements from “brick and mortar” stores focused on communicating their lowest prices of the year. Meet the expectations of visitors to your online stores by showing them your biggest discounts first.

2. Offer Online Coupons to Past Customers

Reminding past customers you are an online store they have trusted and used in the past gives you an advantage over other online alternatives—your competition. If you already plan to discount prices for the holidays, communicating these discounts in the form coupons allows you to advertise and promote these special holiday prices to your best customers.

3. Make Returns Convenient for Gift Recipients

One of the factors that makes online gift giving popular is its convenience. In a single visit, a buyer can choose, purchase, and deliver gifts to many people at once. However, no one wants to be remembered for sending a gift that doesn’t fit, is the “wrong” item, or has some other perceived deficiency. Eliminate buyer’s concerns about returns to increase gift giving.

4. Prepare Your Online Store for Success

If you are like most online stores, the holiday season is your busiest time of year. This means your website will see more visitors than normal and people will probable spend more time on your website that usual. Make it your mission to ensure everyone that visits your online store has a pleasant and productive experience with a highly responsive and reliable website.

5. Address Potential Privacy and Security Concerns

E-commerce transactions involve Private Personal Information (PPI) and sensitive financial information that include names, addresses, debit/credit card details, login credentials, and more. Even the largest online merchants struggle with keeping customer information private and secure, so use extra care during the holidays and communicate these efforts to buyers.

7 Holiday Online Shopping Trends and Tips

Consumers are beginning their holiday shopping earlier every year. That’s one reason brick and mortar retailers start adding holiday-themed items to their store shelves two or three months before holiday dates. As a result, you see items for the next holiday appear on shelves as soon as the previous holiday has occurred.

You are certain to miss substantial sales this year if you start your online holiday promotions after physical stores. Halloween shopping began well before Labor Day, and Christmas shopping will begin far in advance of Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday this year.

Here are seven more reasons to get started earlier than ever this holiday season.

1. One in Four Shoppers Began Christmas Shopping Before Halloween

Shoppers increasingly desire to get an early start on their Christmas shopping so make sure you are offering the items they want when they want them.

2. Half of Shoppers Did Most of Christmas Shopping by Cyber Monday

Retailers that wait for the traditional start of Christmas shopping will miss as much as half of their sales opportunities.

3. Most Shoppers Now Research Their Purchases Online

Shoppers are increasingly relying less on friends and relatives when researching their purchases. Offer the information shoppers want.

4. More than a Third of Holiday Spending Occurs Online

Since a majority of shopping research now occurs online, rather than at physical stores, online retailers are converting this activity to sales.

5. Half of Online Shoppers Use Smartphones or Tablets

The popularity of smartphones and tablets means they have become the top devices used during online shopping, so get mobile friendly ASAP.

6. Almost of Online Shoppers Will Purchase From a New Retailer

Online shopping makes it easier to comparison shop for availability, pricing, shipping options, and more. Stay competitive to get new customers.

7. Shoppers Spent $1 Trillion Dollars with Retailers Last Year

Regardless of the state of the economy, shoppers are spending a tremendous amount of money with retailers each year.