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July 14, 2013

TECH TALK WITH MIKE: Ecommerce is now a common consumer practice

Ecommerce has come a long way in the past three to five years. From being something that was done by only large companies with big budgets to now being available to any business or hobbyist, the barriers to selling online have come down significantly.    

Another shift has been the increasing comfort level of consumers with making purchases online. People are now generally comfortable making online purchases on the Web, and purchases via tablet and mobile devices is surging. As such, ecommerce can be a great way for businesses to expand their sales. Particularly for local companies, the move to add ecommerce to their website can help them grow their potential client base from simply local to nationwide or even global. Here’s some key tips for making the move to ecommerce and improving your ecommerce sales.

Select the right site

Not all ecommerce websites are created equal! Do your research related to the types of features you need. Will your product need shipping via one carrier like UPS or multiple carriers? Another key is whether the ecommerce system supports international shipping If you plan to sell globally. Other items to consider are how many products and categories you can display and if the examples offered reflect the way you want to display your products related to text descriptions and images. As well, does the site work on tablets and have a mobile version if accessed by mobile users? Costs can range significantly, depending on features needed and noting that the less complexity you need, the less expensive the cost.

Drive traffic to website

Once you have selected a ecommerce vendor and have added your products, the next key is driving traffic to the site. Items for consideration to help drive traffic are email marketing, social media sharing, blogging about your products, using Google Ads or Facebook Ads, and even creating videos about your product that link to your ecommerce website. Another idea is to add your ecommerce site to your company Facebook page with a tool like TabSite. Marketing the site is huge and must be ongoing.

Establish trust

People are more apt to purchase from a site that makes them feel comfortable, addresses their questions, and provides enough detail about the products and the company to help them feel secure.  This means having company information, perhaps photos of the team to personalize the experience, and answers to frequently asked questions readily available.  Another idea is to add testimonials from pleased customers to allow new visitors to read and identify  with.

Keep it Simple

The site needs to have a simple process for visitors to find what they want, make selections and checkout.  Too many ecommerce sites have high bailout rates where visitors start a purchase process but because of the many steps or confusing details they bail out.  This is a lost sale that was almost there!  A general rule of thumb is to keep the sales ordering and checkout process as smooth, basic, and simple as possible.  While offering related products for an “upsell” to buy more can be helpful, this must be balanced because it can also distract the visitor from finishing the order!

Follow-up with Future Email Marketing Offers

One of the best sources of future sales for an ecommerce site is prior customers!  Your ecommerce site needs to have ability to save the email address of customers and provide a opt-in box they check during checkout to receive future special offers.  This then must be able to be exported or transferred to your email marketing  software so that on a regular basis, such as weekly, a email can be sent to all previous buyers with a offer such as a discount code or notice of a item on special.

Local businesses can benefit greatly from the advances in ecommerce opportunities.  The ability to reach more people and extend sales from regional to national and beyond can be a great way for businesses to grow.

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Mike Gingerich leads the Social Application division of web design company, Digital Hill Multimedia (http://www.DigitalHill.com). He is a co-founder of TabSite.com, a leader in Facebook fan page tools for businesses. TabSite offers brands the power to boost Facebook marketing with contests and promotions.  For more information on TabSite, please visit www.tabsite.com.

 

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