Brick and mortar store owners have it rough. Not only do that have to pay rent for their store front but they also have to pay daily wages for their employees who walk the floor and man the cash register.
Since brick and mortar shops have higher overhead costs than their online counterparts, it’s generally more difficult for brick and mortar stores to compete on price.
And as a result, many consumers resort to doing their product research at brick and mortar stores and then make their purchases online where prices are lower.
This practice is called showrooming.
Right now, many brick and mortar store owners are so frustrated and angered at showroomers that they are attacking the problem incorrectly and making things even worse. For example, one shop in Australia resorted to charging customers $5 just for browsing their product line. Sounds ridiculous right?
Just the other week, I saw an …
This is a post written by Brandon Levey. Brandon founded StitchLabs.com, which provides an online application for simple inventory management, order fulfillment, invoicing, expense reporting and business analytics.
After experiencing first-hand the challenges of running a small product-based business, he quit his day job to create Stitch and help small businesses do more.
I founded Stitch Labs while I was working on my own retail business selling organic t-shirts. At a trade show, I saw another seller take a $10,000 order and tuck it away in a manila folder.
At that moment, I realized many retailers are missing out on the wealth of information that rises from good inventory tracking. With Stitch Labs, I built tools for that purpose and have learned a lot from our users and how they can make better decisions by using their sales data.
Hindsight is 20/20 with sales data. It’s easier to see the patterns around your wins …
When you first launch your online store, you’re likely to be far more concerned with generating sales than with the logistics of actually shipping orders.
In fact I remember back in the day when I first started, I was so obsessed about getting customers in the door that I completely neglected the order fulfillment details of running my store.
What? You mean I actually have to ship product and not just collect money?
As a result, when orders started rolling in, I made a few classic mistakes that most new shop owners make. For one thing, I didn’t have a bulk shipping strategy. Instead of using a computer to print labels, I drove to the post office every day, waited in a long line and hand filled out delivery confirmation forms.
Then, I went back and manually entered in the confirmation numbers into my shopping cart backend and emailed them out …
There are many wonderful things about owning an online business.
The overhead is relatively low, marketing and promotion are typically less expensive and risky than in the “real world” and you can start without a great deal of capital.
But that’s not all.
One of the greatest things about owning an online business is that you can get your hands on quantifiable data that can help you to analyze exactly what you need to do in order to increase your bottom line.
There are many ways in which you can do this, but today I want to talk about just one: split testing.
This is something that I have been aware of for a long time but avoided up until the past few weeks, but it has already made a huge (and positive) difference to sales of my information product. In this post I want to introduce you to the concept of split testing, share …
This is a guest post by Colin Jones, who has found many creative ways to be self-employed since 2002. When Colin and Grace aren’t busy chasing their 4 children around, they run HatsRCool and My Unique Shower Curtains out of their home in Kirkland, WA.
When I first ventured into e-commerce, I was incredibly leery of starting a product-based store.
I had a friend who had grown a great store, only to be undercut by Amazon. How could I ever compete with their prices?
If they don’t sell my products now, they could add them at any moment! But instead of running from product-based stores, my wife and I decided to start two of them and figure out a way to make it work!
There have been ups and downs along the way, but we now have two profitable online stores.
Much of our success has come from figuring out how exactly to beat …
One of the beauties of running a business online is that you don’t have to be physically present to accept orders. A computer server can handle and process monetary transactions while you sleep and even fulfill orders for you if you sell digital goods!
Photo By Teamstickergiant
But inevitably, you will have to deal with problems or questions about your products. And often times, answering questions will require your personal attention. There’s no way around it.
Unfortunately, your time and freedom are both scarce commodities. Chances are if you run a small shop, you probably don’t have much bandwidth to handle customer calls.
In addition, you probably don’t want to be tied down to your desk or your computer all day either.
After all, you went into business online to give yourself more freedom right? So what is the best way to conduct customer service if you …
A couple of weeks ago, I explained how customer complaints can increase sales and why the customer is always right.
In that post, I focused on how customer complaints should be seen as an opportunity – not only to improve upon your product or service in the long term, but to capitalize upon the complaint itself.
Photo By Syd Daoust
After all, 70% – 95% of customers will return if you resolve their complaint, and if you go out of your way to do so in a highly positive manner, you may even benefit from it.
But what about bad publicity? What if a customer complaint goes viral, or a journalist latches onto a shortcoming in your business and publishes it for your potential customers to see?
I was involved in one such situation quite recently, and I feel that my story may be able to help you in understanding that whilst bad publicity is …
There are few things more frustrating in business than a bolshie customer or client.
When it comes to common causes of stress in any successful business, I am willing to bet that customer complaints is near the top of the list.
Photo By Automotivespace
I believe two things when it comes to customer complaints:
The customer is always right.
Dealing with customer complaints shouldn’t be a stressful task. On the contrary – you should see it as an opportunity.
In my opinion, regardless of how you feel about a customer’s behavior, you should always go above and beyond in satisfying their demands.
I believe that doing so will ultimately result in increased profits (not to mention customer satisfaction).
Related: How We Handle Angry Customers And Potential Customer Service Disasters
In this article, I discuss the impact that a dissatisfied customer can have on your business (it may be far greater than you presently understand). Then I will explain how …
What’s the fastest, easiest and least risky way to increase sales in your ecommerce store? Hint: It’s not what you think.
Most people think that the way to grow online sales is to invest in marketing: SEO, social media, paid ads, blogging, and video.
All of these marketing activities are extremely important. But in the rush to gain exposure and traffic, many web businesses overlook opportunities for sales that are right under their noses.
It’s all about making more sales out of the leads you already have.
Related: 5 Easy Ways To Boost Your Online Store Sales Immediately
This article will explore three simple ways to do just that. I’ll even reveal actual results of sky-rocketing sales when we’ve implemented these tips on a range of ecommerce sites.
Many ecommerce sites suffer from too much shopping cart abandonment, where visitors begin the checkout process but do not complete it. A store may have good traffic …
After answering questions and critiquing online stores for over 4 years on this blog and running an online store course for the past year, I’ve noticed many common patterns and mistakes that new shop owners repeatedly make. And the funny thing is that most of these mistakes are crucial things that people often take for granted or don’t consider carefully.
In fact, most newbies that email me with their questions are obsessed with starting a website.
They are worried that they won’t be able to figure out how to launch their store.
They are worried that it will require too much technical expertise to start an online business.
They are worried that it will cost too much to design a website.
What’s ironic is that starting your website is probably the easiest task of all. With fully hosted shopping cart solutions like Big Commerce and Volusion, anyone can start a website without …
Unless you’ve been living under a rock this past year, you are probably aware that Pinterest is a very hot topic among bloggers and small business owners. Not only has Pinterest’s user base been growing at an exponential rate but more and more businesses are starting to use Pinterest to market themselves online.
In fact, I’ve probably read over 80 Pinterest articles in the past 2 months alone. And of those 80, I’d say that a good 50 of those articles have been “free” tutorials and guides on how to use Pinterest to market your business.
One of the problems with reading and digesting all of this information is that after a while, every article starts to sound the same.
And what bugs me is that very few of these posts provide any real life case studies of how Pinterest has affected their businesses.
Is everyone just jumping on the Pinterest bandwagon …
A few months ago, I posted an article about Paypal Website Payments Pro Vs Authorize.Net where I provided a detailed comparison of two different credit card processing solutions. And almost immediately after posting it, I started receiving an abnormally large amount of email feedback from Paypal haters. In fact, I’ve never encountered such strong anti-feelings for any service before.
Having used both services in the past with no problems whatsoever, I was very surprised to hear the overwhelming negative feedback towards Paypal.
I will never use Paypal again. After being a loyal customer for over 3 years, one day they decided to place a 6 month hold on my money for no reason. I couldn’t access over 20k in my account which I needed to pay my bills!
The above quote was just one of many emails I received in the past few months since …
It’s rare for my wife to hold a grudge against anyone or anything. So the conversation below took me completely by surprise the other day when she and I decided to do some Christmas shopping online together.
Photo By nffcnnr
Me: Let’s go pick up everyone’s gifts at “The Big Convenient SuperStore” (Not the real name).
Wife: I will never shop at that store again.
Me: Huh? Why not? It’s so convenient and cheap. We can get all of our shopping done at one place.
Wife: I ordered there a few years ago and had a bad experience. Can’t remember the full story but I didn’t get my order on time.
Me: Is that all? Was it their fault?
Wife: No, they shipped it out the same day, but it got lost in the mail.
Me: So what’s the big deal? That’s not the store’s fault. It’s the shipping carrier’s …
These last few weeks haven’t exactly been the smoothest in small business land for my wife and I. For starters, our business computer died a horrible death which caused all sorts of mayhem. Ironically, I wasn’t that upset about the computer itself. After all, we bought it a good 4 years ago for a few hundred bucks off of Craigslist and it had served us well.
The big pain was in reinstalling all of the software that was on the old computer. Now with regular programs like Windows and Microsoft Office, reinstalling the software is not that big of a deal because I keep all of my original install CDs.
Most programs don’t require you to jump through hoops during installation. But our business relies on several “sewing” programs that are sold by companies who are terrified of piracy.
So I get it. These sewing programs …
This article is a followup to a previous post I wrote about how we use analytics tracking to improve our online store. Whereas the last article mainly dealt with the out of the box and default features of Google Analytics, I will now delve even deeper and discuss some of the more advanced metrics that we track.
Now when I say advanced, I’m referring to the features of Google Analytics that require a little bit of extra coding and are not implemented out of the box for most shopping carts.
Because every store is different, there’s always going to be certain aspects of your business that require custom tracking data that is completely unique to your situation.
For example, let’s say you want to track customer behavior after someone has signed up for your newsletter. This can’t be done out of the box with the standard analytics snippet …
Recently, I was featured in an article published on AllAnalytics.com discussing how analytics has improved our online business. While the article was well received, I ended up getting a good amount of questions asking for more specifics on exactly how and what we track for our web store. So, the purpose of this blog post is to point out a few important metrics that we analyze and look at on a regular basis.
First off, I just want to emphasize that analytics is more than just looking at the number of visits or the number of pageviews that your website gets.
Don’t get me wrong, checking your traffic levels is both fun and rewarding but ultimately Analytics is about tracking specific metrics that will allow you to improve both the engagement and conversion rate of your website.
Make Sure You Set Up Ecommerce Tracking
Google Analytics has many ecommerce specific features which …
When I first started my online store, I had a master search engine optimization plan that I believed was fundamentally sound. The plan was to buy my search engine traffic using Google Adwords for my main keyword terms while simultaneously improving my organic search rankings through link building.
Then, once I managed to organically rank on the front page of search, I would gradually cut back on my Adwords spend and eventually rely solely on organic search to bring customers in the door. Not a bad strategy right?
While my plan sounded great on paper, when I looked at my Google Analytics statistics coupled with my search results, I knew this strategy wasn’t going to cut it if I wanted to maximize the profits of my online store. Please allow me to explain.
The photo below is a search for a keyword term that my store currently ranks …
The other day, a friend and I were chatting about our wedding linens business and the topic of Groupon came up in our conversation. For all of you who are not familiar with Groupon, Groupon is a service that offers a really great deal for a product or service once per day. They have an email list of over ten million people and if you contact Groupon to be included on their “deal-of-the-day”, you can get the word out about your business to millions of people you would otherwise never be able to reach.
There are usually huge discounts involved (50% or more) to incentivize buyers and the general idea is that by offering a big discount on your products or services, people will try out your offerings and keep coming back for more. On the surface, it sounds like a great way to market your business …
I really hate getting nickel and dimed, especially when I believe that two items should come packaged together at no additional cost. For example, every time I go to McDonalds and order Chicken McNuggets, I get really annoyed. Back in the old days, McDonalds used to offer as many packets of sauce as you wanted for free whenever you ordered their Chicken McNuggets. But sometime within the last several years or so, they started charging you for extra sauce that exceeded their recommended quota.
Photo By Fr1zz
Now if you order 20 nuggets, you are only allocated 3 packages of sauce. For a 10 piece, you get 2 and for a 6 piece, you only get 1. For me when I order a 20 piece nuggets, I need at least 5 packets of sauce. No doubt someone at McDonalds calculated the sauce usage for the average …
With just about any business these days, how well you handle customers is crucial in defining your reputation and how fast your business spreads via word of mouth. One of the early problems that my wife and I faced with our online store was how to deal with incoming calls from customers. After all, it was just the two of us and we weren’t equipped to handle large volumes of calls nor did we have an easy way to manage the calls that we did receive.
Photo By Dan Brady
Especially if you have small customer support team or even just a single person manning the phone lines, it is important to have some sort of virtual phone system in place. By handling your phone calls via the web or through a computer virtually, you can make it appear as though you have a large customer support team even …