Tag Archive | "ecommerce"

Avoid These 3 Common Mistakes When Selling Online

It happens time and time again: budding entrepreneurs create what they believe is a very good product, but are stuck (or suck) on how to sell it.  Most forget that having a successful business entails so much more than just the product. One also needs to learn the art of selling online.

Unfortunately many people are seduced by the “get rich quick” songs being chanted in various forms around the net. Theses decits have people believing that setting up a business online is as simple as a few clicks of the mouse, some keywords, and a shopping cart.  True, it isn’t rocket science, but the process is a little more involved than those commercials would lead you to believe.

To avoid the bad taste left in your mouth from a BizOp (Business Opportunity) course gone bad, I will share with you some common mistakes to avoid when learning to sell online.

3 Errors to avoid if you want to sell online

1. Failing to Do Market Research

When I first started my online Etsy store, I created about 4 products and quickly had my first sale. It wasn’t long after that, I started churning out products left and right. Though I have a background in marketing and know the importance of market research, I was having so much fun creating the new items that I went on a “creation spree” without doing any market research to see if the new items would actually convert. Though many of the ideas were fun to make, they didn’t sell, making it harder to generate an initial profit.

Jitpal Kocher, founder of Lionsmark, recommends doing one thing really well instead of bouncing from product to product. “Put an emphasis on a singular product type with different themes or the same theme across different products rather than being all over the place,” stated JitPal. “Let people find you because you make really cool movie poster spoofs rather than having a collection that isn’t connected together.”

Now, I spend a great deal of time conducting various forms of market research before I even begin to create a new product.

2. Doing Everything Yourself

Running an online business does not have to be a one man (or woman) show. Learn where your strengths are and focus on those, and simply outsource the rest.

Cathryn Lavery, founder of BestSelf Co recalls: “The biggest mistake we had was trying to do it all ourselves. We would have hired faster, put the right people in the right places. Undervaluing key positions like customer support was an initial mistake we made. Now we recommend hiring great customer support within the country you operate from to look after your customers. Don’t try to farm it out at $5 an hour overseas.”

Don’t burn yourself out on the tasks that you either have to take copious amounts of precious time learning or you simply aren’t good at.  Instead spend the precious time hiring someone that both knows how to perform the tasks at hand or is simply better at it than you.

These tasks could be anything from copywriting to customer service management.

3. Under or Overpricing Your Products

It is always important to take into account all forms of overhead before landing on a final public price.  This should include shipping, returns, taxes, listing fees (if any), web hosting, etc.

“Margins and cash flow are everything,” said Nate Ginsberg an e-commerce entrepreneur. “E-commerce can be VERY expensive. And you can often lose money and not even know it if you don’t know your numbers.”

Have you become victim to any of the pitfalls above? Or maybe one (or more) that weren’t listed.  We would love to hear all about your success and failures in the comments below.

 

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eCommerce Platforms: What are they and Which ones are the best?

Before we delve into comparing all the bells and whistles of the different eCommerce platforms and software available, let’s first briefly define just what exactly an eCommerce platform is.

It’s a good bet that you have noticed the vast array of online store builders available.  With so many choices it’s pretty easy to get quickly confused, especially when they are all saying the same things “We are the best!”

So what exactly is an eCommerce platform? What sets a “best” platform apart from just a “good” platform?  And how are the best different from the average run of the mill website builder?

My personal definition of the “best” eCommerce platform is an online store builder which has the flexibility for you to keep adding more and more advanced functions to help leverage even more growth when you are ready to do so.

Do you need a clone?

Let me paint this picture for you.  You have dived into the realm of the big world of eCommerce.  You have a simple site set up.  You are selling a select handful of products, uploaded some stellar images to go with said products, wrote some beautifully enticing product descriptions, and connected it all to a shopping cart.  You are set, and ready to GO!

You then promote your beloved store with a variety of marketing techniques that you have learned over the years from all of your favorite Gurus and low and behold people start to notice your site.  Clicks are coming in AND sales are starting to happen.  Guess what? Now you are in business.

As your sales start to grow, so does the need for extra hands, feet, arms, legs, brains, etc.  Sure a clone might work, however wouldn’t it just be easier (and less … creepy) to work smarter not harder?

This is all of what might be on your plate:

  • Manage and grow your sales channels
  • Keep up with all the social media networks (just how many are there again?)
  • Create new marketing material
  • Answer customer service inquires (sometimes angry ones)
  • Manage your inventory (if physical)
  • Manage your money
  • Shipping
  • Analyze sales reports
  • Handle taxes
  • Manage bookkeeping (ugh)
  • ETC!!

With all of the above your family and friends are asking you “where the heck have you been?”  Your kids are bugging you to play with them. Your spouse or significant other is wondering if you have started a love affair with your computer.

So what do you do?

This is where a top eCommerce platform comes into play.  Like was mentioned earlier, in my opinion the best eCommerce platform gives you the ability to keep adding tools to your online store not only to help your business grow, but just as importantly, the handy tools can free up a significant portion of your time.

This is where a solid platform differs from the more traditional website builder.  They just don’t have a solid platform for you to keep advancing your business to the next level.   This is of course is not to say that the more traditional website builders aren’t any good, they are just designed to give you a helping hand up to a certain point.  You will need a more advanced flexible eCommerce solution to help you achieve even greater goals.

Load’em up with Apps!

Some of the best eCommerce platforms, such as Shopify, Bigcommerce, and even Magento have marketplaces where you can handpick additional functions to tack onto your online store.

There are a vast array of different apps (sometimes referred to as extensions) that can help aid in saving you vast amounts of time and energy.

  • Shipping / Fulfillment
  • Customer Service (to help with handling the occasional angry customer)
  • Accounting (crunch those numbers!)
  • Reporting / Analytics
  • Inventory / Order Management
  • Sales & Marketing (HUGE one!)

 

Let’s take a closer look.

Order Management App

Traditionally, the manual (or hard way) to get your sold goods to those that purchased them is to receive a sales notification of some sort, export this data to spreadsheet and then send it on to your fulfillment center.  Or if you are just starting out and have a relatively small fulfillment threshold, such as shipping your sold goods directly from your home, you might have to copy and paste your customer’s shipping information into a label printing software program.  Then print them out.  This could become a real headache if your business grows quickly.

An order management app will allow your online store to automatically send your orders in the correct format to your warehouse or fulfillment center.   So no more copying and pasting or having to export the sales records to a spreadsheet.

Most order management apps will also aggregate all your customer information, such as shipping address, payment information, order history, etc  for ease of review in the future.

 

Accounting App

An accounting app can easily integrate into your store.  This app will allow your store to “talk” to your accounting software, and your financial data will automatically get pulled over into your existing accounting software.   This will save you a “hellava” amount of time.  No more countless hours of administrative work or pulling your hair out trying to find that one needle in a haystack mistake that you made.

 

The above are just a sampling of the different accounting apps available.

 

Best of the best

Shopify is one of the best eCommerce platforms available to you today, who currently powers over 100,000 online shops.  Not only are their storefronts clean, beautiful, and well designed, they also have a massive library of apps in their marketplace to choose from.

One key element that Shopify has done rather well, is to invite other vendors to be apart of their big umbrella of help.  These outside vendors (theme designers, online tool providers, etc) integrate their services and products into Shopify, making Shopify a 1 stop shop for all the tools you should need to create a successful growing online store.

 

Some of the available apps are free while others require a seemingly token payment. Although, paying for an app that could save you countless hours of unnecessary work and allow you to streamline your business is well worth the investment.  These tools can save you time, headaches, and possibly any new grey hairs which will allow you to focus on other more important aspects of your business.

Do the math.  Instead of paying a part-time person (or doing it yourself), using the app is in the long run cheaper to purchase.  It also doesn’t need to be fed, bathed, or experience mood swings, so the app won’t make unnecessary mistakes!

Bigcommerce is another fantastic eCommerce platform loaded with plenty of apps to choose from.  Like Shopify some of the apps are free and others are paid, but again well worth the extra bucks for added peace of mind and less workload aggravation.

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Bigcommerce currently powers over 50,000 online stores and has processed almost` $3 billion in transactions.  It is also serving business owners in over 65 countries.  They cater to literally any size of eCommerce business – from small start ups to those that do tens of millions of dollars in sales revenue.

So which will you chose?   

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Top 5 Crowdfunding Campaigns – Where Are They Today?

Since its establishment back in 2009, Kickstarter has been a level playing field where good ideas can find people with the funding to help make those ideas a reality.

Although the crowdfunding headlines seem to have died down a bit, however that doesn’t mean there is actually a decline in the arena itself.  

  • 84,652 projects were successfully funded on Kickstarter alone.  
  • $1,705,478,513 total dollars have been pledged to Kickstarter projects
  • 22,378,951 total pledges via Kickstarter
  • 2,603,947 repeat backers via Kickstarter

So the numbers seem to be on the rise, but what about all the success stories?  Who are they and where are they now?

Entrepreneur did an expose calling out the top successes and what they are currently up to.  Below are the top 5.

  1. Pebble Time –

Palo Alto based smartwatch maker Pebble earned its entrepreneurial wings back in 2012 with it’s record breaking Kickstarter campaign.  Not only is the company’s latest Pebble Time watch the most funded in Kickstarter history, but it’s also holds the title for the fastest funded. Pebble raised a whopping $1 million in less than an hour.  Pebble went on to raise a total of $20,338,986 (4,067 percent of the original set goal).

Today: Since it’s launch three of so years ago, the company has been working on perfecting the hardware.  They have upgraded the interface, added a Gorilla Glass lens and extended the battery life to 10 days.

 

  1. Coolest Cooler –

More than ten years in the making, inventor Ryan Grepper seemed to have struck crowdfunding gold with his Coolest Cooler campaign. Grepper pulled ahead of the group to become the most funded Kickstarter campaign to date, dethroning Pebble Technology from the top spot. With 62,642 backers, the Portland based company raised $13,285,226. (26,570 percent of the original set goal.)

Today: The innovative handy coolers are selling on both the Coolest Cooler’s website and via Amazon. You can get them in a variety of colors, but they all come with the coolest of technologies for a cooler: built in blender, bluetooth speakers, usb charger, LED lid light, bottle opener, and more.

  1. The Return Of the Reading Rainbow –

 

We all remember the popular children’s tv show that wall pulled off the air in 2006 after a 23 year run.  Well at least I remember it.  In 2012 host LeVar Burton took to Kickstarter to fund an iPad and Kindle Fire interactive reading “virtual field trip.”  It hit 540% of it’s funding goal and raised $5,408,916.  

Today:  Skybrary, comes as a subscription package.  For $50 a year children from all over the world have access to a library or children’s books.  Kinda like Amazon Prime for young readers.  

 

  1.  The Veronica Mars Movie –

The teen detective story went off the air in 2007 after only three seasons, but fans wanted more.  Series creator Rob Thomas started a Kickstarter campaign to fund a Veronica Mars movie.  It raised $5,702,153 on April 12, 2013.  

Today:  The film premiered at the 2014 South by Southwest film festival and went on to gross $3,485,127.  

  1.  Neil Young’s Pono Music Player –

Music legend Neil Young came up with Pono – a device that promised to play your music how it was intended to be heard.  Pono raised $6,225,354, or 778% of its funding goal, on April 15, 2015.

Today: The $399 Pono player came up a little short in it’s delivery of stellar music.  The player commanded a premium price for an increase in music quality that just wasn’t all that noticeable to the average listener.  

Notable mention:  I simply can’t leave out the Potato Salad campaign.  The campaign centered around a guy that stated he was “basically making potato salad.”  The guy was ohio-based developer Zack Danger Brown.  The campaign raised more than $55,000 for his “potato salad” project with nearly 7,000 people pledging donations.  

When he hit the $3,000 mark he wrote: “My kitchen is too small! I will rent out a party hall and invite the whole internet to the potato salad party (only $10 and above will be allowed in the kitchen)! The internet loves potato salad! Let’s show them that potato salad loves the internet!!”

He followed through on his somewhat comical promise with a big potato salad party in Columbus that was later dubbed the “PotatoStock 2014.”  

All the proceeds went to the Columbus Foundation, which fights to end homelessness and hunger in central Ohio.  

 

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