Tag Archives: e-commerce

How to Setup Different Payment Methods on Shopify

The payment modes are the very first thing you look for on an online store when making a purchase. Some of us prefer online banking, there are also those who’d rather choose cash on delivery for their orders. But as a store owner, how do you ensure that you’re catering to all types of customers and their payment preferences. Let us dive into how you can set up multiple payment modes on your store using Shopify.

1.Enabling Netbanking/ debit card/ credit card/ UPI 

To make it easier for you to offer multiple payment options to your customers, the majority of payment gateway partners have built one-click integrations with Shopify. All the payment gateway providers support majority payment methods like a credit card, debit card, UPI, and net banking.

To enable third party payment providers you need to follow the below steps:

  • Go to Settings -> Payments 
  • Head over to Third Party Providers 
  • Click Choose third-party provider 
  • Select the provider that you want to use from the list
  • Enter your payment gateway account credentials for the provider that you selected
  • Click Activate

To enable alternative payment providers you need to follow the below steps: 

  • Go to Settings -> Payments
  • In the Alternative Payments section, click Choose alternative payment
  • Choose a provider from the list shown 
  • Enter your payment gateway account credentials for the provider you chose
  • Click Activate to enable the provider

2. Setting up cash on delivery 

To let you easily enable and offer cash on delivery on your Shopify store, use an app called Advanced Cash on Delivery.

The app gives you more control over how and when your customers can use Cash on Delivery as a payment method, which pin codes cash on delivery is available on, the minimum value for which the payment method can be chosen, and configuring COD fees.

You can also upload postal codes of areas where you offer cash on delivery, add a snippet to your online store theme to let customers check if COD is available in their location.

Enabling cash on delivery in your store is easy. Your store comes with the Advanced Cash on Delivery app pre-installed. To enable cash on delivery manually follow the below steps:

  • Go to Setting -> Payments from your Shopify admin 
  • In the Payment providers section, select Manual Cash on Delivery 
  • Go to Additional details to enter any information you want to display next to the payment method 
  • Add Payment instructions for the customer to follow to pay for an order 
  • Click Activate 

3.Setting up buy now, pay later 

If you sell wholesale products or high-value items or typically see a high average order value on your Shopify store, you can consider letting your buyers pay for their purchases later using easy installments.

Here are the steps to follow: 

  • From Shopify admin, go to Settings -> Payments
  • In the Alternate Payments section, click Choose alternative payment 
  • Select Sezzle from the list 
  • Enter your account credentials for Sezzle (you need to have a verified account on Sezzle) 
  • Click Activate to enable the provider

4.Offering payments via wallets 

Some of your buyers will choose to make payments using popular wallets such as Paytm, PhonePe, Freecharge, Mobikwik, and other digital wallets. 

For this, you will have to ask the payment gateway provider you choose to enable those wallets for you. Shopify does not have direct integrations with these wallets. 

So to enable this, simply follow the following steps: 

  • Choose a payment gateway provider 
  • Request the payment gateway provider to enable a digital wallet you want to use 
  • Once enabled, you will be able to accept payments via the wallet 

Bottom line

Different consumers prefer different payment methods for making an online purchase. In most cases, if they do not see their preferred payment mode, they abandon the purchase and consider making the same from another store. Setting up multiple payment methods, will increase conversion rates, reduce cart abandonment, Display brand credibility and Offer a hassle-free checkout experience.

The best eCommerce platforms for 2021

The best eCommerce platform comes down to your unique business model and growth plan. Here’s an overview of some of the best eCommerce platforms for 2021 to help you evaluate the best option for your business:

1.Shopify

Price: Basic Shopify: $29/month; Shopify: $79/month; Advanced Shopify: $299/month; 10% discount on annual plans and 20% on biennial plans when paid upfront
Free trial length: 14 days
Customer support options: Callback phone support; email support; support provided in 19 languages; community forum; support content
Integrated sales channels: Facebook, Instagram, Google, Walmart Marketplace, eBay, and Amazon
Mobile app features: Suite of mobile tools to fully manage your online business
POS: Yes

Shopify is arguably the best platform for eCommerce. It comes with complementary tools and features for multi-channel selling, so you can sell directly through your website, at your retail store, on social media and third-party marketplaces, and everywhere in between.

Plus, Shopify handles all aspects of your business—you can use a best-in-class suite of business tools to build a complete business command center.

Shop Pay handles payment processing, Shopify POS administers in-person sales, and Shopify Fulfillment can help you get products into customers’ hands.

And those are just a few of the many powerful tools and apps that work together seamlessly as part of the Shopify ecosystem. You can also tap into the extensive library of third-party apps that can extend your experience with Shopify even further.

With all of these powerful features, you can set up your business with little technical know-how and budget and scale to an international online brand without changing platforms along the way.

2.Wix

Price: Business Basic: $23/month; Business Unlimited: $27/month; Business VIP: $49/month
Free trial length: No free trial
Customer support options: Callback service available 24/7
Integrated sales channels: Facebook and Instagram require third-party app Ecwid
Mobile app features: The ability to manage your website, though lacks key business tools like inventory management; requires a separate app to use mobile POS
POS: Yes

Wix is a user-friendly drag-and-drop website builder that offers customizable templates, web hosting, and domain name registration. You can build a basic website for free, but you’ll have to upgrade to a paid plan to use Wix’s eCommerce features.

As far as eCommerce functionality goes, Wix has a few helpful tools. The platform allows merchants to track orders, accept online payments, sell on multiple channels, and create abandoned cart campaigns.

However, it lacks certain features that are imperative for product-based businesses in particular. Shortcomings include the absence of low stock alerts and other key inventory management features. If you have more than 10 or so products, you’ll want a platform with more robust inventory tracking tools. Plus, you need to use a third-party app for social commerce integrations.

3.BigCommerce

Price: Standard: $29.95/month; Plus: $79.95/month or $71.95/month when paid annually; Pro: $299.95/month or $269.96/month when paid annually; Enterprise custom pricing
Free trial length: 15 days
Customer support options: 24/7 technical support via phone, email, or chat
Integrated sales channels: Google Shopping, Facebook, price comparison engines, eBay, Amazon, Walmart, Etsy, and Instagram
Mobile app features: View analytics, update orders, manage inventory and products, and search for customers; some features are Android-only
POS: Yes

BigCommerce is an eCommerce platform well-suited to enterprise-level software companies. Like Shopify and Wix, BigCommerce offers web hosting and lots of customization options. However, you can’t register your domain name through BigCommerce, so you’ll need to purchase and register elsewhere and port it over.

Valuable features include international selling, SEO tools, and multichannel selling on social and third-party marketplaces. However, with these powerful features also comes complexity.

Lack of flexibility and ease of use were major factors in The House of Rare’s decision to migrate to Shopify. The availability of apps and support of the right partners helped the brand scale manifolds in the least amount of time.

4.Magento

Price: custom pricing only
Free trial length: no free trial
Customer support options: phone support and online help center/technical support resources available
Integrated sales channels: Amazon
Mobile app features: N/A
POS: third-party extensions available

Magento is a non-hosted eCommerce platform made for developers who want a powerful, flexible system they can customize. And while this offers many benefits for brands that want a completely tailored platform, it also presents a lot of hurdles in the form of complexity and cost. You need advanced coding and development skills to build out and manage the entire infrastructure yourself.

Magento also lacks the tools to create a seamless multichannel strategy. There’s no easy way to turn on social commerce or marketplace selling with Magento, and the same rings true for foreign currencies. So if going global is in your plans, Magento may not be the best eCommerce platform for you.

5.WooCommerce

Price: Average monthly fee is up to $30; WooCommerce estimates costs to be $120/year for hosting; $15/year for domain name registration; up to $100/year for your site theme; up to $108/year for shipping; 2.9% plus $0.30 per sale; up to $348/year for marketing and communications; up to $79/year for SEO; up to $65/year for SSL certificate
Free trial length: None, but offers a 30-day money-back guarantee
Customer support options: only available via live chat or email; no support offered for third-party apps and plugins
Integrated sales channels: Google Shopping, Etsy, eBay, Facebook, Amazon, Pinterest, and Walmart; integrations are disjointed
Mobile app features: Add products, manage orders and view analytics
POS: Native POS available

WooCommerce is especially familiar to those who know WordPress—WooCommerce is essentially an add-on to the popular blogging platform. WordPress is traditionally for content-driven websites, not eCommerce, so WooCommerce is WordPress’s answer to those who want to sell online.

Because WordPress is a content management system (CMS) first and an eCommerce platform second, many of the selling features are simple or rely on adding apps. And while there are plenty of apps and plug-ins you can add to your store, the more you use, the more likely it is you’ll break something. And this isn’t always a risk worth taking, considering limited support options.

Overall, WooCommerce’s fragility and unreliability make it difficult not only to build an online store but also to maintain it. Plus, it’s not hosted so you’ll have the added task and cost of managing your website hosting. It also lacks PCI compliance, which puts your business at risk when processing payments.

6.PrestaShop

Price: free
Free trial length: N/A
Customer support options: technical support available through paid support plans; support provided via phone Monday to Friday, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. (GMT+2); help center, technical documentation, and community forum available online
Integrated sales channels: Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and Facebook
Mobile app features: N/A
POS: available as add-on modules

Prestashop is an affordable open-source eCommerce platform that’s great for beginning businesses that have a somewhat technical background. There’s no built-in customer support and integrations can be hit or miss, so PrestaShop users do a lot of troubleshooting themselves with the help of the community.

Business tools and features include inventory tracking, online shopping cart, international selling, and analytics reporting. You also have lots of control over the privacy and security settings on your Prestashop site.
Overall, maintaining your eCommerce site with Prestashop can be cumbersome when it comes to third-party hosting, the multitude of unvetted add-ons and modules, and the cumbersome setup.

7.Squarespace

Price: Personal: $16/month or $12/month when paid annually; Business: $26/month or $18/month when paid annually; Basic Commerce: $30/month or $26/month when paid annually; Advanced Commerce: $46/month or $40/month when paid annually; Enterprise pricing also available
Free trial length: 14 days, and you can opt for a one-time seven-day trial extension
Customer support options: email available 24/7; live chat available Monday through Friday, 4 a.m.–8 p.m. ET
Integrated sales channels: Shopping Feed extension to sell on Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and Google Actions
Mobile app features: website editing, scan shipping labels, order management, inventory management, and customer communication
POS: available via mobile app

The next website builder with an eCommerce platform option is Squarespace. Like Wix, Squarespace uses drag-and-drop functionality which requires little technicality. Both platforms are primarily website builders, not online selling platforms, so they require a fair amount of tweaking to add eCommerce functionality.

Squarespace requires time and patience to set up if you want to sell online, not to mention there are only two payment integrations. If you have the budget, you may even outsource it. Once you’ve set up the eCommerce function, Squarespace has decent inventory tracking tools. Higher-tiered plans also come with the ability to sell gift cards or subscription-based products.

If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of the backend in Squarespace to turn your website into a full-blown online store, you can simply add the Shopify Buy Button.

For just $9/month, you can add a small embeddable code to your Squarespace site and leverage Shopify’s advanced eCommerce tools to handle the rest. With them, you get to add unlimited products, use secure checkout with more than 100+ compatible payment gateways, track sales, and growth trends, easily integrate orders and shipping, and get global tax and currency support.

8.Big Cartel

Price: 5 products: free; 50 products: $9.99/month; 250 products: $19.99/month; 500 products: $29.99/month
Free trial length: none
Customer support options: email available every day 8 a.m.–6 p.m. ET
Integrated sales channels: N/A
Mobile app features: store analytics, add/edit products, track order shipping, manage discounts, and print packing slips 
Point-of-sale: requires third-party integration

Big Cartel is a fully hosted eCommerce platform and website builder that is specifically designed for makers, artists, and crafters—the types of businesses you’d expect to see on Etsy. Big Cartel has customizable templates, domain name registration, and marketing tools.

While you can change the look and feel of your site, Big Cartel limits merchants to five images for each product. Payment and integration options are also limited, so this platform makes it much harder to scale as a multichannel business.

Pricing is based on how many products you sell, so it can get pretty costly as your business and product collections grow.

Factors Behind a Successful Shopify Store

There is a vast number of successful Shopify stores on the platform, many of which earn tens of millions of dollars. There are even some hitting more than a hundred million in annual revenues. We’ll be looking at the common characteristics among the best Shopify stores — to inspire you to stand out with your eCommerce store.

Commonalities you can find with any successful Shopify store are:

  • A well-designed website
  • A mobile-friendly site
  • Great products
  • Beautiful images
  • Clever product descriptions
  • Good customer engagement
  • Strong social proof and customer reviews
  • Great customer experiences
  • Simplified checkout procedures

The successful combination of these factors makes for a satisfactory online shopping experience.

Well-Designed Website

The road to a successful business on Shopify starts with a great online shop design. Your site is the first contact customers have with your product offerings, and as the saying goes: first impressions matter.

A good Shopify website design provides shoppers with easy navigation. Your eCommerce store should be organized and eye-catching, with a compelling theme. Your site design should also be in line with your store’s branding.

The products should be displayed clearly and free from obstructions by your site’s elements. Speed is another factor in a site’s design, as fast-loading sites make shopping more convenient. 

Mobile-Friendly Site

Mobile devices, like phones and tablets, are becoming more ubiquitous in eCommerce. Mobile eCommerce makes up more than half of all online transactions and is growing annually.

The best stores on Shopify optimize their sites for mobile use. They also offer mobile apps, enabling them to maximize their target audience’s reach.

eCommerce stores have to do more than shrink the size of their homepage for mobile devices. The mobile web has its unique characteristics — including a mobile responsive design, which has to be incorporated into the homepage to ensure it shows clearly on phones and tablets.

Great Products

A well-performing Shopify store sells products in a niche area that they are familiar with. You need to be knowledgeable about your offerings, which will become evident on your site.

Your products should aim to fulfill a mission statement and a theme, a goal bigger than just selling. Many successful Shopify entrepreneurs target servicing an underserved community, fulfilling a social theme, or filling a need with their products.

These stores offer products that stand out from similar products in the marketplace. This aspect helps heighten the customer user experience, turns shoppers into repeat customers, and ensures a high conversion rate.

Beautiful Images

One common factor of virtually all top online stores is the lovely photographs that feature on their homepage. They’re visually attractive and present the products in an eye-catching manner that sells.

The stimulating images will move you to the rest of their offerings.

Since shoppers cannot touch or feel the products, a Shopify store has to be visually appealing. You have to spend time planning the presentation of the products along with a unifying theme.

It can be tempting to take the pictures yourself to save money. But investing in a professional photography service will serve you better in the long run. A photographer will lay out the products so they’re in tune with your site theme, and present them in a manner that sells effectively to customers.

Clever Product Descriptions

Shopify’s leading stores use memorable product descriptions. Rather than sales rhetoric, they describe their products in ways that appeal to their target audience and address their pain points.

The product descriptions on your homepage should fire up your customer’s imagination. You can use any theme, but injecting some light humor is a pretty failsafe avenue. And remember to also address the customer’s concerns and desires. This tells the customer you care about them.

Tell a story with your product descriptions. The main point is to convey the product’s benefits in a way that engages the customer and motivates them to make a purchase.

Customer Engagement

The average business sells to customers, but the most successful businesses build a community. Engaging with customers is like building a fanbase. The leading stores on Shopify have succeeded at this, enjoying a high rate of repeat customers.

These repeat customers are more than just customers — they interact with the Shopify store through various channels. Successful businesses have two-way communication with their customers, who feel like family and tout their products whenever they can.

Social media is a great place to host conversations with customers. The store can gain valuable feedback on their product offering and insights into their customers’ desires and aspirations. They can also address issues and challenges that arise with their products.

Social Proof and Customer Reviews

People like to buy their products and services from a company that’s proven to have satisfied customers. This reason is why many peruse the customer reviews of the product online before making a purchase decision.

Leading stores on Shopify usually show proof of their customer base through customer reviews. It’s a great way for store owners to engage with their customers and strengthen the theme of their business.

Potential buyers can also see if the store’s products will provide a solution to their problem through other people’s experiences. Encouraging your customers by making it easy to leave reviews, or even rewarding them, is a necessity.

Great Customer Experience

The saying the customer is king rings true for successful online stores. There’s nothing more important for selling products than this factor. It should be the major theme of any online retail store.

Providing a great customer experience is one way your eCommerce store can compete in the marketplace. It’s the most effective and inexpensive marketing tool you can leverage. It’s also the theme of most business improvement schemes.

Based on the website browsing experience, product availability, checkout process, customer support, and order fulfillment, the customer’s overall experience will determine whether they’ll make a repeat purchase from the store or not.

Simplified Checkout Process

The checkout process at a top Shopify store is easy and stress-free. Making the payment process simple is a major theme of every leading online retail store.

Implementing a seamless checkout process is much more than linking a call to action at the bottom of the page to a payment portal. Each checkout element, from the shopping cart to the payment options and payment process, has to be free from challenges.

Difficulties during checkout could turn the shopper off from your site, abandoning the purchase altogether.

Bottom line

So there you have it, the secrets of the leading stores on Shopify. Just follow these steps and you will have a high possibility of being counted among the successful stores on Shopify.

6 Website Metrics That Truly Matter for your business

Your website is one of the most important assets your business has.

And every top-performing business pays close attention to its most important website metrics.

Obsessing over the details, from big things like your traffic to smaller details like how fast your pages load, can give you the edge over your competitors. Here are some of the most important metrics you should track and share free ways to improve each metric.

1. Website Traffic
2. Traffic Sources
3. Page Load Speeds
4. Search Engine Impressions and Clicks
5. Goal Conversions
6. Top Pages

Why Website Metrics Matter

Website metrics are how you measure your site’s performance. Metrics tell you what’s working, what’s not, and where you can improve.

Without paying attention to your metrics, you’re working off assumptions, and you have no idea how much your website helps your business grow or the opportunities you’re missing.

Honestly, it doesn’t need to be complicated or time-consuming. The metrics we’ll discuss today can all be measured in minutes, using free tools like Google Analytics.

6 Website Metrics You Should Measure

There are so many metrics you can measure — the choices are almost unlimited. But just because you can measure something doesn’t mean you should. In this post, You’re going to see six metrics that matter to your business. Let’s jump in.

1.Website Traffic

Traffic is essential for any website; this metric tells you how many visits your site receives. In many ways, it’s the metric you should measure because without traffic, there is nothing else to measure. 

Traffic tells you how many people visit your website over a given time, and it’s a great way to tell if your website is growing, standing still, or even in decline. 

2.Traffic Sources

Once you’ve learned how many visits your website receives, it’s worth finding where that traffic is coming from. This tells you how people come to your website and helps you determine:

  1. The sources that drive the most traffic.
  2. Ways you can grow your traffic.

This data is available in Google Analytics and, by default, is grouped into six channels:

  1. Direct: Traffic from entering your URL directly into the browser address bar.
  2. Social: Visit from social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. 
  3. Email: Clicks from email campaigns, or links within any email message sent (e.g., email signatures).
  4. Organic Search: Traffic from search engines like Google and Bing. 
  5. Referral: A visit to your site from a link on another page.

3.Page Load Speed

The faster your pages load, the better, for two reasons:

  1. People HATE waiting for web pages to load; if your pages don’t load instantly, some visitors will bounce before they consume any of your content.
  2. Faster page speeds help sites rank higher in Google.

4.Search Engine Impressions and Clicks

Search engines are one of the best ways to grow traffic to your website. For example, Sumo generates over 170k clicks each month from Google alone: 

 The great thing about SEO work is that it compounds over time. Look at how the clicks to Sumo from Google have trended upward over the past 12 months: 

 When measuring search performance, focus on two metrics: 

  1. Clicks: The number of times a user has clicked through to your site from Google.
  2. Impressions: The number of times your site has shown in search results.

These two metrics go hand in hand; often, as impressions increase, so will clicks. But if you see impressions increase and clicks stay the same, this gives you some opportunities to improve. 

5.Goal Conversions

What’s the action you want someone to take when they visit your website?

Maybe it’s an email sign-up, making a purchase, or downloading a lead magnet. Whatever it may be, you can often measure your goal with Google Analytics. 

In Google Analytics, you can measure goals in four ways:

  • Destination: Visiting a specific URL on your site.
  • Duration: Sessions that last a specific amount of time or longer, like 1 minute or more spent on your site.
  • Pages/visit: The number of pages you’d like people to visit per session.
  • Events: An action you desire people to take on your website, such as played a video or clicked a CTA.

By measuring goal conversions in Google Analytics, you get a quick snapshot of your site’s performance and the progress you’re making toward your goals. 

6.Top Pages

With most websites, you’ll find that the Pareto principle — AKA the 80/20 rule — rings true, with the most traffic to your website coming from just a few of your top pages.

This is certainly true of the Buffer Library, a hub for SEO-focused content. 

When just a few of your pages account for so much of your traffic or sign-ups, it’s important to keep an eye on how those pages perform.

The Best Advertising Strategies for Your eCommerce Store in 2021

Online sales reached nearly $800 billion — 32% higher than the previous year. Most experts agree that the face of online retail has been forever changed by shifts in both the online shopping mindset and technology introduced in 2020.

With shoppers increasingly turning to online retailers for everything from fashion to their weekly groceries, you can’t afford to fall back on the same old advertising and marketing strategies you’ve relied on in the past.

That’s why we’re here today. To give you the information you need to make changes in your eCommerce business now. To create more effective advertising strategies before your sales start to fall behind your predictions and profit goals.

Some of the strategies we’re going to discuss today you may have heard many times before. That doesn’t mean they’re too basic for experienced eComm heads like our members and guests.

Why? Because we’ll be presenting them with our advanced eCommerce Fuel twist that you’ve come to know, expect, appreciate, and love.

So without further ado, here are four advertising strategies that will hopefully see your online store healthier and happier than ever by this year’s end:

Content Is (Still) King

Content is possibly the best strategy for advertising to your target audience with just the right information they need at just the right time.

The face of content is changing, thanks in large part to social media — and that’s where a bit of the tried and true advanced thinking expected by our members comes in.

Content marketing can do five things for your target audience, and each has a different effect on you, as the person behind the business. It can:

Educate, setting you up as the go-to expert
Engage, positioning you as a community leader
Empathize, establishing you as a “friend” and fellow “traveler”
Encourage, making you a source of inspiration and a thought leader
Entice, putting you in place as the go-to supplier for your products

Typically, and historically, eCommerce businesses have used content solely as a marketing strategy at the top of the sales funnel. Businesses use it to inform and engage prospective customers. They show how their product can solve the buyer’s problem.

Content marketing, however, should follow the buyer through the funnel — even after the sale. As an advertising strategy, content marketing can reach the buyer wherever they are in the buying process.

In the middle of the sales process — guides, case studies, emails, or online courses can show the customer how to use the product, how others have used it, and show off benefits like ease of use.

At the bottom of the funnel — social media testimonials, customer stories, and video reviews can be used to persuade the buyer to make a purchase.

Customer-created content is one of the best advertising strategies out there, after all. Word of mouth advertising is worth more to prospective buyers than all the pay-per-click, direct mail, email marketing, and other paid advertising campaigns combined.

Taking Your Show on the Road with Local Advertising

How far-reaching was your last advertising campaign? Did you simply rely on your email list, your social media, and some on-site advertisements? Strategies that exclude the old-fashioned in-person opportunities leave money on the table.

Every brick-and-mortar small business knows that the more people you can reach with your ad campaign budget, the more successful it is likely to be. And just because you have an online business, doesn’t mean you have to restrict yourself to only using online advertising.

Other forms of local advertising for the eComm small business include:

1. Pop-up stores in public places like parks, fairs, and street festivals
2. In-person product demos
3. Free workshops/makeover sessions/seminars
4. Customer meet-ups — sponsoring a live event or “shopper’s party” for loyal customers and “special guests”

Going local allows you to answer questions, dispel misinformation, and show off your products in their best light.

Getting out and meeting your audience is an effective growth and sales strategy. Advertising the event can be as simple as announcements on your social media. Encourage your followers to “come on down” and “connect with us.”

Opening the Conversation — Customer-Connectedness

You may think of connecting with your customers as a one-sided issue — your business uses its social media to “talk to” your audience.

What happens in many cases is the business ends up talking at them instead of engaging in real conversations. They tell or teach, or worse — sell. All. The. Time. No real communication occurs.

How you may wonder, can talking with customers and prospects be utilized as an advertising or marketing strategy?

It’s simple. Eventually, customers become your brand ambassadors, doing the bulk of the advertising and reaching out to you. Engage in enough conversations via social, forums, SMS texting, and in-person events to turn customers into a friend as well as a source for your products.

We are social creatures and getting to know the people behind the companies we support is important. We go from feeling like just a customer to a family member. Connecting with customers is another strategy you simply can’t afford to use

Follow-Up Advertising: Keeping Them Coming Back

Did you know that a large majority of small business owners — both online and off — don’t engage in any form of follow-up marketing or advertising?

They instead spend all their time, effort, and energy on drawing in new customers, making new sales, acquiring new leads.

And yet, study after study shows that this strategy is flawed in so many ways. Here are just a few of the inherent problems:

1. Converting a new customer costs 6 times more than making a sale to an existing customer.
2. The likelihood of making a sale to a new customer is between 5 and 20%, while it’s between 60 and 70% for an existing one.
3. Loyal, repeat customers are worth 10x their initial purchase over their lifetime.
4. 62% of customers feel content helps foster customer loyalty.

A follow-up content strategy involves more than just a “holiday sale” or “new product” email. You can use any or all of the following content in a follow-up, customer loyalty-building strategy:

1. Resource lists of other content that can help get the most out of a customer’s purchase
2. A monthly “preferred customer” newsletter with after-sale product info and discounts
3. Preferred customer events like invitations to pop-ups and connection events, exclusive AMAs via Zoom, and virtual “private shows” of new products and product lines
4. Personalized content such as thank you cards or emails, birthday cards, customer anniversary recognitions, and shout-outs to top monthly or weekly contributors to your social media

Using any one of these advanced ideas for advertising your eCommerce business will more than likely increase your sales. Utilizing more than one strategy will increase the likelihood that you’ll keep those sales numbers high.

How To Start An Ecommerce Business (Step-By-Step)

Online retail is a booming business. But I’ve seen too many eCommerce businesses struggle to get traction. Use the information here to set up your eCommerce store, protect yourself legally, get your finances in order, market and sell your product, and start building your store. There’s nothing more rewarding than starting a business from nothing and watching it grow. You build it up and no one can take it from you.

Building an eCommerce business takes more than choosing a brand name, writing product listings, and starting to sell products online. Even the best business ideas can flop if you aren’t driving enough traffic to your site.

Step 1: Research Ecommerce Business Models

Beginning your research is the first critical step. Don’t operate off of a hunch. Growing any online business is an investment. Treat it as such.

There isn’t a single business structure that works for everyone. Service-based business, software, digital product sales, and physical products are just the tip of the iceberg.

Before you can decide on what to sell online, you need to understand the different business models available. It’s not rocket science, but it does impact your business structure. If you want to turn a profit without touching your product or investing heavily at the start, dropshipping or print on demand is a smart choice.

If you like the idea of having your warehouse full of goodies, you’re investing more upfront and working with a wholesaling or warehousing (retail) model. There are subscriptions, where you carefully curate a set of products or a single product to be delivered at regular intervals to your customers.

The eCommerce business model that attracts me the most is a single product category that you supplement with affiliate marketing. You can control the content marketing and branding on a focused product and focus the rest of your energy on driving sales by monetizing traffic.

Step 2: Start Ecommerce Niche Research

Choosing your niche is the most important step in opening your online business. Start this process by identifying successful companies already working in this space. Make sure that the area is competitive – an absence of competition usually indicates that there’s no market, either.

Don’t pick an overly crowded niche, however, and skip anything dominated by major brands. If you’re having trouble with this, drill down further on what you want to do – the more specific you are, the less competition you are likely to face.

Niche-ing down also gives you the benefit of having a lot of “shoulder” niches, related to what you do, but not identical. You can work together with business owners in those niches to cross-promote, become (or acquire) an affiliate, and grow your customer base.

Pick a product category with a minimum of 1000 keywords and focus on a niche that does well in social media, where publishers in the area are affiliates on Amazon. If you can nab a few affiliate marketing opportunities, you won’t have to worry about shipping as much product, but you can still make a profit.

Step 3: Validate Target Market And Product Ideas

Now that you’ve identified a niche and business model, you might be tempted to start hunting for products to sell. Don’t. Before you think about product ideas, think about personas. You can’t expect people to buy your product if you don’t know who you’re selling to.

Who are you? What does the store represent? Who are your ideal customers? You need to project a consistent brand image (a journey that starts with your brand name). An organic seed company that started selling conventional fertilizer wouldn’t last very long.

Fortunately, Facebook makes it relatively easy for us to find your target audience online. Specifically, know exactly how many people you can target. You can drill down to get very focused numbers and detailed demographics.

You’d be surprised to know that most entrepreneurs have no idea how many people are in their target audience online. If you want a brand targeting hardcore triathletes that also enjoy mountain biking, you may have to go a little broader. You can’t build a business if your target audience is only 100K people.

Once you’ve identified the image you want to project and the customer you are catering to, it’s time to come up with product ideas. I suggest starting with one – you’ll invest less at the start, and if you want to offer more you can test the waters with affiliate marketing.

In the example of an organic seed company, you could find popular organic products on Amazon and create content to send traffic to those affiliate products. If something catches fire, you can consider making your brand of that product. If you’re not 100% sure what to sell, you can use affiliate marketing to validate your idea.

Before you invest in the product, though, evaluate it carefully. Even if you choose a dropshipping model, you want to test it carefully and get a feel for the product yourself so you can identify any potential problems and prepare customer service scripts to answer common questions.

Step 4: Register Your Ecommerce Business & Brand Name

If you want to start a successful business, you need a brand that connects with your persona. Identifying your persona makes building an eCommerce brand easier. You might avoid girlie colors and images if you are selling products to corporate businesswomen interested in living a sustainable life.

But before you set up your store and get into the nitty-gritty of building a brand – there are some basic steps you’ll need to take.

Register Your Business.

Choose a business name and register your company. There are legal protections and tax benefits for incorporating, so don’t skip it.

Pick Your Store’s Name

The name of your site and the legal name of your business doesn’t need to be identical, but keeping them consistent has its benefits. Make sure whatever you choose fits your niche – you don’t want to pick a brand name at the last minute.

Get Your Business Licenses

If you’re not familiar with this process, the Small Business Association has plenty of resources to help you get started, including a mentor-protege network and courses on small business basics. Look actively for mentors – their advice can be priceless, even for little things like acquiring business licenses. One of the smartest decisions I ever made was finding someone who could show me the ropes.

Get Your Employer Identification Number

You’ll need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to open a business bank account and file your business taxes next April, even if you don’t plan on having any employees. Your EIN is a bit like your business’s social security number: it’s a unique number that identifies your business and helps you file important paperwork.

Apply For Business Licenses And Permits

Operating an online store does not exclude you from needing certain business licenses and permits. Check with your city, county, and state to see what sorts of sales tax licenses or home business licenses you need, and get those approved before you start operating.

Find The Right Vendors

You’ll have a lot of competition selling products online, so it’s in your best interest to find the best quality and best prices for the products you sell or materials you use to create your products. Shop around until you find a vendor you want to do business with long-term – this includes your eCommerce software (your “shopping cart”). Think scalable from the start.

Logo Creation

Don’t fret over it too much, but do make sure that it is not in use by another company in your niche. Logo design doesn’t have to be original, however (and really shouldn’t).

Get Visual

Consider the colors of your brand, the imagery you’ll use, and the typeface or fonts you’ll employ carefully. If you’ve got the budget, you might want to hire a marketing firm to create a design brief for your company. If not, you can create your own. Just keep it consistent and read marketing tips designed to help boost your brand.

Step 5: Finalize Your Ecommerce Business Plan

By now you should have a great idea of what your business will look like. You have your target market, your product niche, and your brand name.

Now is a good time to step back and put your business plan on paper and determine your startup budget, loan needs, and monthly expenses. 

The most important aspect of a business is the financial one. Figure out your break-even point, both in unit sales and duration (in months). Any real business is an investment of resources. That was one of the first things I learned in MBA school. A CEO’s role is to take resources and turn them into a return.

Yet, I am sad to see that many entrepreneurs don’t take the time to project their revenue and expenses. If you can’t figure out your profit margin, you will fail.

The business planning phase is also when you want to iron out details like your staff, product sourcing, logistics, and marketing budget. Make sure you understand all the available financial resources available to you.

Step 6: Create Your Online Store

Once you’re officially an eCommerce business owner, you need to register your domain name and any redirect URLs that might be relevant. You’re going to need the design info you settled on in the last step now, when you finally build your store. Whatever design you chose needs to be compatible with your eCommerce software, too.

There are hundreds of eCommerce shopping cart platforms. Choosing the right eCommerce software is not easy. You need to carefully evaluate things like loading speed, features, compatibility with different payment gateways, compatibility with your business structure, your web developer skills, SEO-friendly features, and more. I’m putting together reviews and comparisons to help you pick the right one. We’ve done a ton of research and the best options are below.

Step 7: Attracting Customers To Your Ecommerce Store

Apologies to any Field of Dreams fans, but if you build it there’s no guarantee they’ll come. You need to market your store. When you chose your cart, I told you to think about search engine-friendly features. They are NOT all the same. The keyword-stuffing days of the early 2000s are long gone, but SEO is alive and well. You need to keep keywords and search terms in mind on each page of your site, in your URLs, and in your ad campaigns. You also need to think about driving traffic to your site.

The best eCommerce sites invest heavily in online marketing. If you don’t have the funds, you better have the elbow grease. Subscribe to marketing newsletters or listen to digital marketing podcasts to keep a pulse on the digital marketing industry and get your fill of marketing tips. Will you use sponsored content, social media, pay-per-click ads, or a combination of strategies? How will you monitor what campaigns are driving traffic to your store? If marketing your site seems overwhelming, will you hire help?

Your site isn’t the only thing you need to drive traffic to. The product(s) you choose also need to be included in your marketing budget. Your mission is to sell products, not drive traffic. To sell products, you have to think beyond your site and look for expansion areas. No matter what and how you decide to sell, the first step is to create an email list. Place an opt-in freebie on your website, launch a social media campaign to gain subscribers, or host a giveaway where the entry ‘fee’ is your customer’s email address.

Running a giveaway is my go-to marketing tactic to get traffic and subscribers quickly. Giveaways have the added benefit of increasing your brand presence and product visibility. Building an email list gives you a group of warm leads to work with, making the sales process much easier. Providing consumers with coupons and content via email helps to keep your brand on their mind, boost sales, and establish credibility. 

Keep your emails interesting – ask for your customers’ input often, including reviews. Also, send them your new blog posts. It’s important to mix in helpful content and not just pummel them with sales offers. Respond quickly to customer service and product quality issues, and work on building relationships. No sales interaction is about the first sale; focus on the next one always.

On your site, look at how and where traffic flows. Are your product pages targeted to your persona? Are you losing potential customers in the same place? If you’re driving traffic to your store but nothing is selling, fix the leaks in your sales funnel by carefully optimizing each page and taking a close look at your product listings. Use Google analytics to help with this task. Some tools can help you monitor and optimize every step of the sales process. Make use of them.

Look into partner and affiliate marketing to boost your brand presence by offering affiliate marketing options and partnering with retailers in your shoulder niches.

You can also offer bloggers in your niche a free sample of your product in exchange for reviews. If you’re selling products on Amazon, one easy way to gain consumer respect and confidence (and reviews) is to ask for feedback. Include a card with each product that asks for an honest review and provides contact information for your company.

What Is Dropshipping and How does it work on Shopify?

Dropshipping is a retail fulfillment method where a store doesn’t keep the products it sells in stock. Instead, when a store sells a product using the dropshipping model, it purchases the item from a third party and has it shipped directly to the customer. As a result, the seller doesn’t have to handle the product directly.

The biggest difference between dropshipping and the standard retail model is that the selling merchant doesn’t stock or own inventory. Instead, the seller purchases inventory as needed from a third party—usually a wholesaler or manufacturer—to fulfill orders.

How does dropshipping work on Shopify?

Two of the most common approaches for dropshipping on Shopify are to seek out a supplier located in North America, or anywhere else in the world, using supplier databases, or to seek out a Shopify app that connects you and your store to thousands of suppliers.

For the latter, we recommend Oberlo, a marketplace developed by Shopify that helps independent business owners find products to sell. With Oberlo, you can browse AliExpress and import the products that pique your interest directly to Oberlo—which is connected to your Shopify store—with the click of a button.

Once a customer buys a product, you’ll be able to fulfill their order in the Oberlo app. Fortunately, Oberlo automates this process. As the store owner, all you have to do is check that the details are correct and click the “‘order”’ button. The product is then sent directly from the AliExpress supplier to the customer—wherever in the world they may be.

Benefits of dropshipping

Dropshipping is a great business model for aspiring entrepreneurs to start with because it’s accessible. With dropshipping, you can quickly test different business ideas with limited downside, which lets you learn a lot about how to choose and market in-demand products. Here are a few other reasons why dropshipping is such a popular model.

Less capital is required

Probably the biggest advantage to dropshipping is that it’s possible to launch an eCommerce store without having to invest thousands of dollars in inventory upfront. Traditionally, retailers have had to tie up huge amounts of capital purchasing inventory.

With the dropshipping model, you don’t have to purchase a product unless you’ve already made the sale and have been paid by the customer. Without significant up-front inventory investments, it’s possible to start sourcing products and launch a successful dropshipping business with very little money. And because you’re not committed to selling through any inventory purchased upfront, like in a traditional retail business, there’s less risk involved in starting a dropshipping store.

Easy to get started

Running an eCommerce business is much easier when you don’t have to deal with physical products. With drop shipping, you don’t have to worry about:

  • Managing or paying for a warehouse
  • Packing and shipping your orders
  • Tracking inventory for accounting reasons
  • Handling returns and inbound shipments
  • Continually ordering products and managing stock level

Low overhead

Because you don’t have to deal with purchasing inventory or managing a warehouse, your overhead expenses are quite low. Many successful dropshipping stores are run as home-based businesses, requiring little more than a laptop and a few recurring expenses to operate. As you grow, these costs will likely increase but will still be low compared to those of traditional brick-and-mortar businesses.

Flexible location

A dropshipping business can be run from just about anywhere with an internet connection. As long as you can communicate with suppliers and customers easily, you can run and manage your business.

Wide selection of products to sell

Since you don’t have to pre-purchase the items you sell, you can offer an array of trending products to your potential customers. If suppliers stock an item, you can list it for sale on your online store at no additional cost.

Easier to test

Dropshipping is a useful fulfillment method for both launching a new store and for business owners looking to test the appetite customers have for additional product categories, e.g., accessories or wholly new product lines. The main benefit of dropshipping is, again, the ability to list and potentially sell products before committing to buying a large amount of inventory.

Easier to scale

With a traditional retail business, if you receive three times the number of orders, you’ll usually need to do three times as much work. By leveraging dropshipping suppliers, most of the work to process additional orders will be borne by the suppliers, allowing you to expand with fewer growing pains and less incremental work.

Sales growth will always bring additional work—especially related to customer support—but businesses that utilize dropshipping scale particularly well relative to traditional eCommerce businesses.

Common questions about dropshipping

How much do I need to invest to start dropshipping?

Though it’s hard to predict the exact costs for any individual business, there are a few items every dropshipping business will need to spend money on to get started. Here’s a quick summary of the essential costs. Online store Estimated cost: ~$29/month You’ll need to find an eCommerce platform or website builder to create and host your online store. We recommend starting a Shopify store. 

You’ll be able to effortlessly sync with the Oberlo marketplace to source products, and you’ll get access to our full selection of themes and free branding tools so you can get your business up and running quickly. Domain name Estimated cost: $5-20/year It’s hard to build trust with customers without your domain name. While there are several top-level domains available (e.g., example. shop, example. co).

Online advertising Estimated cost: Scales with your business; we recommend budgeting at least $500 to get started Every e-commerce business should look for ways to reduce their average cost to acquire a customer through organic channels like content marketing, SEO, and word of mouth. But to get started, advertising is usually an essential channel for most product-based businesses. The most common channels include search engine marketing (SEM), display ads, social media ads, and mobile ads.

How do drop shippers make money?

Dropshipping businesses act as product curators, selecting the right mix of products to market to customers. Remember, marketing is a cost you incur, in both time and money, helping potential customers find, evaluate, and buy the right product. You’ll also have to include the cost of providing customer support whenever there’s a product or shipping issue. Last but certainly not least is the original price that your supplier sells the product for. 

With all of these costs to account for, dropshipping businesses mark up individual products in exchange for distribution. This is why suppliers are OK with having drop shippers market their products for them dropshipping stores drive additional sales that the supplier would have otherwise missed out on. To make a profit with your dropshipping business, it’s a good idea to find out how much it costs for you to ‘acquire’ a customer, and price your products with that in mind.

Is dropshipping a legitimate business?

Dropshipping is merely a fulfillment model, one used by many global retailers, and is perfectly legal. Like with any business, satisfying customer expectations and building a brand that resonates with the right audience is still key to long-term success. This question usually comes up due to a misunderstanding of how dropshipping works. Most retail stores you shop in are likely not selling products they manufacture. Dropshipping takes this curated approach and turns it into a fulfillment model fit for an online business. There are, of course, the more fundamental things you need to do to run your business legally. Consult a lawyer who specializes in these matters to ensure you’re conducting business legally in your region.

How to create an E-commerce website using WordPress in 2021?

WordPress has devoted plenty of blog space to helping small business owners rapidly set up their sites and create engaging content to push them to the top of the search engine page. But for those who want to create an e-commerce site, the process can be a bit more intimidating — especially for those who are new to the realm of online retail.

Even if you don’t have extensive coding skills or fully understand all the jargon associated with selling your products or services online, you can still build a great e-store and connect with consumers everywhere in just a few simple steps.

Steps on How to Set Up an E-Commerce Store on WordPress

Step 1: Choose Your Web Hosting Service

If you don’t already have a reliable web hosting partner, that is an excellent place to start. With a full-service host, like Bluehost, you can get your domain name and choose the ideal package for your business goals.

When you choose your web service, you’ll also need to decide whether to use a standard extension — like .com or .net — or a new Top Level Domain (TDL), such as .coffee or.NYC. Keep in mind that your domain name is more than just an online name — it can impact your credibility and competitive status for years in the future.

Step 2: Choose Your E-Commerce Platform for Your WordPress Store

Magento, Shopify, and WooCommerce are some of the top e-commerce platforms recommended by tech experts. If you decide to use a hosted online business solution like WooCommerce, you can simplify your setup process and get your domain name from the same vendor. Look for options that are intuitive, adaptable, and scalable so that your software will accommodate your growing business rather than having to switch platforms as your customer base expands or you add new items to your product portfolio.

Since 39 percent of all online stores use WooCommerce (more than any other platform), it’s obvious that they know what they’re doing when it comes to helping e-retailers manage their inventory. WooCommerce already comes with PayPal, Bankers’ Automated Clearing Services (BACS) for direct debit and credit, and cash on delivery. And if you want another payment gateway, they offer several extensions. It’s easy to adjust your shipping methods too.

Step 3: Build Your New E-Commerce Site in WordPress

Because you don’t need any coding skills or a lot of time to build an online retail store with WooCommerce, we recommend this software to our small business owners. WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin, and we offer special services and pricing for our customers.

1.Install WordPress Plugin

Here’s how to install it:

  • Log in to WordPress and navigate your way to the Administration panel.
  • Select “Plugins” then “Add New.”
  • Search for WooCommerce — just type the full name and hit enter. You can view specs such as the ratings and description if you want more information before installing the software.
  • If you are sure this is the software solution for you after reviewing the details, click the “Install Now” button.
  • Answer the pop-up “Yes.”
  • Wait. WordPress will complete the installation. You’ll receive an on-screen notice when the install is complete.
  • It’s just that simple. The built-in wizard walks you through the process step-by-step so you don’t miss any vital pages, like product pages and shipping and taxes info.
  • After you’ve installed the plugin, you’ll have the option to set up and create the necessary pages.

Other WordPress E-Commerce Plugins

  • Shopify
  • BigCommerce
  • WP Easycare

2.Create Your Pages

This is as easy as clicking on the “Continue” button.

3.Configure Shop Locale

After you create pages, define your locality so the system can display info in the proper terms. In this step, you answer basic questions about currency and measurement language (i.e. kilos or pounds, dollars or euros, plus package dimension guidelines for domestic and international shoppers).

4.Set Up Shipping and Taxes

The shipping and tax screens let you define tax rates and shipping and handling policies, including any domestic/foreign limitations related to product sales. If you haven’t got a clue what tax rate to charge, don’t stress. WC has an intuitive feature that offers suggestions on your locality, and you can always go back and tweak the details later.

5.Configure Payment Gateways

Here you’ll establish which payment gateways to offer your customers. You can select from standard options like C.O.D., ACH (bank transfer), and Paypal, or non-traditional payment options by installing add-ons immediately or later. And that’s it! At this point, you can either tell WooCommerce to set product data and generate your first product pages or add individual products manually. We recommend that you review this Torque article if you are planning to build out your product pages or you want to get a peek at the wizard screenshots before you start the onboarding process.

Step 4: Customize Your E-Commerce Store

Installing the software means you have officially “built” a new online store, but don’t stop now. It’s time to customize your store to deliver high-quality content and a stellar user experience to drive sales. Check out the following resources for tips and suggestions to help you build out your store to attract — and convert — a steady stream of customers.

  1. Test all links — pretty bells and whistles are pointless if site users cannot navigate smoothly to the checkout page.
  2. Consider using site-promoting products, like the WC Showcase that help you get your site noticed in a sea of competitors.
  3. Leverage tools like LiketoKnow. that drive Instagram users to your site. Not familiar with this marketing tool? Watch this short video that covers the basics in less than 2 minutes.
  4. More than 8 out of 10 consumers trust online reviews as much as referrals and recommendations from friends and family. Make it easy for consumers to leave reviews on your site and share your content.
  5. Add social media buttons to your site. Pew Research found that nearly 75 percent of all online adults use social media daily. Twitter has more active users than the entire population of Indonesia. Facebook has almost as many users as the population of China (about 1.37 billion people).

Don’t forget to add Google Analytics to track user behavior & create a blog for your WordPress Online Store to help drive traffic to your store.

What is e-commerce? Types, Examples, and Benefits

What is e-commerce? 

E-commerce is the buying and selling of goods or services through the internet, and the transfer of money and data to finish the sales. It’s also acknowledged as electronic commerce or internet commerce. Presently, questions about e-commerce usually center around which channels are best to execute business online.

Types of e-commerce

Following are the most traditional types of e-commerce models:

  • Business to Consumer (B2C): B2C e-commerce is the most popular e-commerce model. Business to the consumer means that the sale is taking place between a business and a consumer, like when you purchase a carpet from an online retailer.
  • Business to Business (B2B): B2B e-commerce refers to a business selling a good or service to another business, like a manufacturer and wholesaler, or a wholesaler and a retailer. Business-to-business e-commerce isn’t consumer-facing, and usually involves products like raw materials, software, or products that are linked. Manufacturers also sell directly to retailers via B2B e-commerce.
  • Direct to Consumer (D2C): Direct to consumer e-commerce is the newest model of e-commerce. D2C means that a brand is selling directly to its end customer without going through a retailer, distributor, or wholesaler. Subscriptions are a familiar D2C item, and social selling via platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. are famous platforms for direct-to-consumer sales.
  • Consumer to Consumer (C2C): C2C e-commerce refers to the sale of a good or service to another consumer. Consumer-to-consumer sales take place on platforms like eBay, Etsy, Fivver, etc.
  • Consumer to Business (C2B): Consumer to business is when an individual sells their services or products to a business organization. C2B includes influencers offering exposure, photographers, consultants, freelance writers, etc.

Examples of e-commerce

Retail – Retail is selling the product directly to the consumer without an intermediary.

Dropshipping – Selling the products that are manufactured and shipped to consumers through a third party.

Digital products – Downloadable things like templates, courses, e-books, Tools, software, cloud-based products, or media that must be purchased for use. These represent a high percentage of e-commerce transactions.

Wholesale –  Wholesale products are normally sold to a retailer, who then sells the products to consumers.

Services – These are skills like coaching, writing, marketing, etc., that are purchased and paid for online.

Subscription – A popular Direct-to-Consumer(D2C) model, subscription services are the recurring purchases of products or services regularly.

Benefits of e-commerce

Online commerce offers plenty of benefits. Let’s look at some of them

Convenience

E-commerce offers a simple and faster purchasing experience. Providing 24-hour sales, quick delivery, and easy returns.

Customer experience

E-commerce marketplaces can create valuable user profiles. This enhances the customer experience by making shoppers feel understood on a personal level, improving the chances of brand loyalty.

Global marketplace

Customers from throughout the world can easily shop for e-commerce sites – companies are no longer limited by geography or physical boundaries.

Minimized expenses

Digital sellers can start online stores with minimum cost. So it doesn’t require more investment.