Talk it Up! – Competing with Big Online Retailers

January 14th, 2014

BlackBerry email on the BB 8330Communicating with your customers and  potential customers is important. You do this to keep your business in front of them so they don’t forget about you.

As a small business owner, you can’t afford commercials on TV or big billboards across the country, but you do have email & social media.

Have a new product? Tweet, Facebook and email about it! Another great thing you can do about a  new product is take a video of it and post it on YouTube, so you can then post it on your website. That will get the customers coming back to your site to check out your newest products and while there, maybe they will browse and buy. 🙂

If you don’t have new products regularly, then you can always communicate about other things. With a niche site, you can do all of this more easily, because you can talk about the benefits of the products, explain what people can do with the products and offer tips and advice.

Have a site where you sell pet products? Then talk about cute puppies and kittens or comment on the latest TV show that features pets. Not only do you want to promote your business through social media, but it is important to also be SOCIAL and build a good rapport with customers.

There are so many things you can talk about and there are also services that you can setup a lot of Tweets and Facebook Posts and schedule them out so you aren’t updating your status and tweeting all day long. For a suggestion, we use SocialOomph.com

Newsletters are another great way to talk to your customers and providing them a simple signup on your site will help boost your communication as well as your traffic. So get talking!

photo by: ilamont.com

Great Content – Competing with Big Online Retailers

January 7th, 2014

crownContent is king and for various reasons!

Not only does good content (keyword optimized) help you with the search engines but it makes you stand out from the crowd which is beneficial to compete with big online retailers.

Big online retailers have good descriptions of products and all the product information that you need to understand what you are buying, but what they lack is a good sense of humor or creativity about it.

There is a retailer online that I buy from every year for Christmas presents. They have funny descriptions, hilarious product videos and great images on the products that they sell. I love to browse through all the things that they have, even just to read about them!

I’m sure that you have come across clever sites like this and look forward to seeing what they come up with next. This is something that large retailers can’t do because they carry too many products and it would take too much time, energy and money to create individual videos or creative descriptions for each product.

But as a small retailer, you can do exactly that! Shoppers love creative content and with any luck, they will buy from you, talk about you and bookmark you to come back at a later date to see what YOU come up with next!

photo by: trainjason

Go Niche!- Competing with Big Online Retailers

December 17th, 2013

pile of sprinklesWe have talked about this time and time before. Why? Because it works!

Something that small retailers have that big retailers don’t, is the ability to specialize in different areas. That specialization of areas is called a Niche. Selling Niche Market products is staying away from the Mass Market products that many of the large retailers carry. These big retailers carry hundreds and thousands of products in many different areas so they aren’t able to specialize in one thing or another, nor do they have the time to explain in better detail what the product is and how it can benefit you or how you can use it to improve your life.

There are so many niche markets available that people can tap into!

Niches can be an area of your expertise (if it isn’t saturated already) or something that you are very interested in and/or you see a hole in the market for it.

A niche website will be centered around one or two products and you can always throw some extras in there as accessories or good add-on’s to the products.

The essential building blocks to finding good niches is making good lists. So for example;

You want to research the potential of selling Kitchen Products. Now, just kitchen products on it’s own wouldn’t be a niche, because that area is 1. too broad and 2. already saturated, so get creative!

So what would be a good Kitchen area? Well, I personally love to bake, anything from bread rolls to pastries. But I have the most fun when I’m baking for my nephews birthdays… cupcakes and cakes! We have trouble finding themed supplies for these and typically have to go to several stores in order to get what we want.. so voila! The beginnings of a potential niche!

But  baking again, isn’t the niche… or cupcake supplies or cake supplies for that matter! We have to continue our list…

Thinking about the items that we need in order to make our cute cakes and cupcakes; color & style themes are very important. One time they want blue, or red or superhero or character themed. So we go to one store and get cupcake liners in the right color, we go to another to get toppers or cupcake decorations in the proper theme, we go to another to get the right plates and napkins… it can be quite frustrating!

So what would ease this frustration? A website that was dedicated to nothing but cupcake kits! But what would make this more of a specialized niche? Cupcake Kits for Boys! There, we go! Our niche! Here’s how the list would play out…

Kitchen Products
Baking Supplies
Cupcake Supplies
Cupcake Decorating Kits
Cupcake Decorating Kits for Boys Birthdays <——- Niche!

This isn’t all you need to do to find your niche, but this is where it all starts! So get your thinking cap on, find a frustration in your life and try to find out what would ease that frustration for thousands of other people. Or create lists of interests and find a hole that needs filled when you are doing your research. 🙂

photo by: S. Diddy

Know Your Customers- Competing with Big Online Retailers

December 10th, 2013

handshakeThere are a lot of big online retailers and it may feel impossible to compete against them, but you can! You don’t do it with trying to have a bidding war with PPC’s or spend a lot of money outsourcing services, because you can never compete with your money against their money, you need to be more creative and customer service oriented in order to succeed.

Know Your Customers
Make sure that you know your customers and know what they are buying and why. It is easy to perform a survey after someone purchases from you. Ask them why they purchased from you, what else would they buy from you, were your prices competitive?

Get as much invaluable information that you can from your customers. This will really help you with deciding to offer different products, change prices, make adjustments to your site and more.

Large companies have extensive data that they collect on what people are buying, but they may not know why or why they chose to purchase with them. When is the last time Amazon sent you a survey? Or Wal-Mart? As a small business, you can place more attention on your customers because you don’t have employees and extensive overhead to manage.

Some people are more willing to offer their opinion than others, so if you don’t get the amount of responses that you want, then you can offer them a discount or a coupon for your site after they answer. Many people need incentive in order to go above and beyond, and a store discount will only make them come back and buy something else from you. 🙂

photo by: buddawiggi

Fake Wholesalers Hurt YOUR Business & YOUR Customers!

November 19th, 2013

128/365 All masked upNot only will fake wholesale suppliers hurt your business, but they can also hurt your customers and ruin your reputation!

Working with genuine wholesale suppliers is essential to any online business. Getting tangled in the web of fraud, fake and scam wholesalers is a difficult thing for your business to recover from. We have heard so many horror stories from online retailers that have suffered from this, and that is one of the reasons why WorldwideBrands.com got started!

Fake wholesalers are “companies” online that look like legitimate companies, but do one or more of the following;

1. Charge you annual or monthly membership fees: Real Wholesale Suppliers do not charge monthly or annual membership fees in order to resell their products. Genuine wholesale suppliers are free to work with and do not charge you these extra fees just for the honor of selling what they offer. The ONLY time that this is OK or understandable is if they offer an additional service that you selected from them. But all real wholesalers will not charge you to just resell.

2.  Take your money and run: So after you pay your membership fee, and then start listing products for sale… everything seems to be going great until you make your first order. You place the order to have the product delivered to your customer and nothing ever gets shipped! You have already paid your membership fee, paid for the product and now you aren’t getting any responses from the “wholesaler” or you are getting “bogus” answers and your customer is angry!

3. Scamming Your Customers: When you place an order with a drop ship supplier, you are providing the company with your customers information. This can also includes phone and email address. Uh oh! You just provided the scammy wholesale supplier another person  to contact, harass and try to make money from. Your customer will know that they ordered from you and will connect the dots.

Stay away from fake wholesalers that will damage your business and damage your reputation by only working with genuine wholesale suppliers. The best and original source for genuine wholesale companies is here at Worldwide Brands! All of our members have the security knowing that every supplier in our Directory has been checked out and deemed legitimate by our team of experts. Our listed suppliers do not charge membership fees, will deliver products as expected and will not market to or scam YOUR customers! Get more information about what we provide here.

Find more information about online scams by visiting our Scam Watch page. You can also send us an email from that page to let us know YOUR horror story! Hopefully you don’t have one!

photo by: -mrsraggle-

Common Holiday Sales Issues for Online Retailers

November 5th, 2013

self-portrait, christmas-styleHoliday sales are extremely important for online businesses. This is the time of year when you get a big boost in sales and you don’t want to miss out on your piece of the multi-billion dollar pie! There are some common problems that many online retailers face for Holiday sales.

1. Starting too late: This is the biggest one. Every year in July, we recommend that if you are going to start an online business, you should get started in the summer in order to catch the most Holiday sales. It’s true! In order to get your store completed, have your marketing plan together and started and get your SEO completed, you are already nearing the Holiday selling season. It takes time to get your online store perfected, and ready for the masses. So if you start too late, you will have to wait until next year!

2. Forgetting about Mobile Shoppers:  This was one of my 7 Deadly Sins of Store Design mishaps and it takes place here too. Mobile shopping is on the rise and many people are turning to mobile devices to search for products to buy and to purchase directly from their smartphones or tablets. If your online store isn’t mobile shopping friendly, you will miss out on these customers because they will be frustrated by searching your site. Most everyone has some sort of mobile device these days, so test your store out and see how your customers would interact with it and make corrections specifically for them.

3. No Marketing Plan: Having no marketing plan is like trying to build a house with no blueprint. Every online store owner needs to have a marketing plan put together and scheduled out. Emails, campaigns, ads, blogs, newsletters….these are just some of the marketing pieces that every online store owner needs. If you don’t have your marketing plan put together for Holiday Sales and you haven’t even begun working on it, you need to hurry. The closer that the Holiday Sales season nears, the less time you have to implement it. You should have your marketing plan for Holiday sales done extremely early in the year or the year before, and scheduled out to work on it a little bit at a time. Don’t procrastinate and don’t forget about all of the OTHER holidays!

4. Don’t Forget to Decorate your Store!: Just like decorating your Christmas Tree and your house every year for Christmas and other holidays, you should decorate your store too. Beautiful graphics representing the season inspire customers to purchase more. Everyone likes the warm, fuzzy feeling that Christmas brings, so try to emulate that in your store. Also, don’t forget that you shouldn’t just dress up your home page. Put something on EVERY page or just on your top landing pages to get the most eyes on it.

5. Don’t Neglect Last Minute Shoppers:  Many people wait until the last minute to buy gifts. So if you feel confident about delivery before Christmas, make sure that your customers know that. I’m sure that you have seen on popular shopping sites…. Order by this date to get it before Christmas! Don’t forget to do that as well so if your customers are shopping around, they will already know that their gift will arrive in time if they shop from your store, but another store may not state that, and they will be back!

photo by: jimw

The 7 Deadly Sins of Online Store Design Sin #7: Personal Opinions

October 29th, 2013

Creating a beautiful, easy to navigate online retail store is a way to get sales and keep customers coming back to you. Over the course of the next 7 weeks I will talk about the 7 Deadly Sins of site design that many new online retailers forget about or commit these sins without thinking about it. Don’t just do things to your site that you like, because there may be too many people that don’t like your favorite choices. You have to have a site design that appeals to a larger crowd.

Below is Sin #7. To see Sin’s #1 though #6 go here; http://www.worldwidebrands.com/blog/

In Everyday UseDeadly Sin #7: Personal Opinions
Keep your personal opinions out of it!

Sad to say, but it’s true, there are retailers online that fill their stores with quotes, images and comments about how they feel about religion, politics, philosophy, and other topics.

Your online store is not a place to vent or to push your beliefs on others. Your store is intended to make sales, so keep your opinions out of it.

I recently visited an online pet store to shop for an interesting and unique collar for my dog, and I did find what I was looking for, but I shut the site down after about 5 minutes. Why? Because I was barraged with quotes and banners for online prayer groups on every page that I looked at, plus annoying music in the background. I have nothing against any type of  religion or music, but what does it have to do with getting a dog collar?

If you want to have a website to talk about and share your favorite quotes and music, then please do so! But they have no place in your online store. If someone doesn’t share the same likes as you, they will get turned off from shopping and close down your store and shop somewhere else. Give the people what they are looking for when they do a search online for a product to sell.

If you can take the time to find banners and music to put onto your store, then use that extra time to fix images and make copy changes for the product pages instead. Your store and your customers will thank you for it!

This concludes the 7 Deadly Sins of Online Store Design. Of course there are more sins that a new online retailer can commit when building an online store. Please keep these 7 sins in mind when you are building or redoing your online store for a better customer experience.

photo by: CarbonNYC

The 7 Deadly Sins of Online Store Design Sin #6: Forgetting about Mobile Shoppers

October 22nd, 2013

Creating a beautiful, easy to navigate online retail store is a way to get sales and keep customers coming back to you. Over the course of the next 7 weeks I will talk about the 7 Deadly Sins of site design that many new online retailers forget about or commit these sins without thinking about it. Don’t just do things to your site that you like, because there may be too many people that don’t like your favorite choices. You have to have a site design that appeals to a larger crowd.

Below is Sin #6. To see Sin’s #1 though #5 go here; http://www.worldwidebrands.com/blog/

Cell Phone
Deadly Sin #6: Forgetting about Mobile Shoppers
Many shoppers want to use their smartphones or tablets to shop online. But many online stores aren’t smartphone or tablet compatible.

Millions of people using their mobile devices and even more or turning to shopping with their smartphones or tablets. According to eMarketer, mobile shopping will get at least 15% share on online retail sales, and estimate 24% by 2016. So make sure that your site is small screen friendly, or get a mobile site specifically for your mobile shoppers.

Large online stores, like Amazon, create shopping apps for smartphones and tablets, but it probably isn’t feasible for a small business owner to have an app, the development costs can be quite high if you cannot do it yourself.

So as a small business owner, what do you do? Optimize your site for starters! A faster website will load more quickly, not just on computers, but on mobile devices as well. Mobile device shoppers are much more sensitive to page speed than computer shoppers. Google has PageSpeed Insights, that will give you suggestions on what you can do to make your store load and operate faster.

Optimizing your images is very important as well. Online stores have A LOT of images on them to show the product off. So un-optimized images will load much slower. Having optimized images will allow you have larger pictures on your site as well. There are free tools you can find online for optimizing and compressing images. Just do a Google search for; Free Image Optimizer. I can’t make any recommendations of which free tool to use, as we use our Photoshop program to optimize images for the web. But look around and try a few out to see which one brings you the best quality at the smallest file size.

There are mobile website builders out there, but a lot of specific mobile sites are seriously lacking still. Hardly any graphics and the navigation seems a little “weird” compared to clicking on a computer with a mouse to navigate. Me personally, I like to click on the Full Site link on these mobile sites to get to the actual website as I would see it on my computer. I know other smartphone users that do the same, because these mobile sites just aren’t pretty or flashy enough to keep our attention. So keep that in mind!

Optimizing your stores images and getting your PageSpeed Insights and correcting those issues, will greatly help your store load better on mobile devices anyway. So do as much as you can to tap into the rising eCommerce mobile market!

photo by: daryl_mitchell

The 7 Deadly Sins of Online Store Design Sin #5: Shopping Cart/Checkout Mishaps

October 15th, 2013

Creating a beautiful, easy to navigate online retail store is a way to get sales and keep customers coming back to you. Over the course of the next 7 weeks I will talk about the 7 Deadly Sins of site design that many new online retailers forget about or commit these sins without thinking about it. Don’t just do things to your site that you like, because there may be too many people that don’t like your favorite choices. You have to have a site design that appeals to a larger crowd.

Below is Sin #5. To see Sin’s #1 though #4 go here; http://www.worldwidebrands.com/blog/

Shopping CartDeadly Sin #5: Shopping Cart/Checkout Mishaps
A major downfall of many online stores is their shopping cart/checkout sequence.

If you take your customers through a long and lengthy checkout process, they may just up and leave half way through. I have seen checkouts with large forms to fill out, multiple pages to go through and pages upon pages of suggested products to add to my shopping cart before I can even enter my credit card details.

Keep this in mind, your customer has already been on your site for a while debating on the right product to buy, and then you hit them with a lengthy checkout process. Don’t do it! If you want your customers to register, and get a login for a My Account area, please do so! But do it AFTER they purchase or give them the option during the checkout process to choose to do that right from the start.

Again, take a look at your favorite stores and see how their checkout process is setup. Did they ask you a poll? Ask you to fill out a survey? Request that you sign up for their mailing list in the middle of the checkout process? Show you dozens of other products to add to your cart as suggested selling, but it was obtrusive? The answer to all of these is most likely, No!

I can understand if you want to ask your customers some questions or request to join your mailing list, but send them an email with an invitation to fill out a poll or a survey AFTER they have bought. It’s less obtrusive and the customer would be more willing to answer questions after they buy because they know who you are at that point.

photo by: Navicore

The 7 Deadly Sins of Online Store Design Sin #4: You Forgot about K.I.S.S.

October 8th, 2013

KissCreating a beautiful, easy to navigate online retail store is a way to get sales and keep customers coming back to you. Over the course of the next 7 weeks I will talk about the 7 Deadly Sins of site design that many new online retailers forget about or commit these sins without thinking about it. Don’t just do things to your site that you like, because there may be too many people that don’t like your favorite choices. You have to have a site design that appeals to a larger crowd.

Below is Sin #4. To see Sin’s #1 though #3 go here; http://www.worldwidebrands.com/blog/

Deadly Sin #4: You Forgot about K.I.S.S.!
K.I.S.S stands for, and it’s blunt, Keep It Simple Stupid!

This applies to many things in life, including store design. The simpler it is for consumers to find the products on your site, the easier it is for them to purchase something, the better.

Having easy to navigate categories and sub-categories will make your site much more simple to browse. I have seen on some great sites that keep their navigation all on the left or the right. I have seen others that have those categories on the left or right, but then sub-category on the main screen to narrow down your results.

Take a look at one of your favorite shopping sites to see how they setup their navigation to get some ideas. Because if you like to shop there, then many others do too, so they are doing something right!

Also, don’t fill your store up with large graphics and moving graphics, background music, weird layouts and more. The cleaner and more simple the store, the better!

Large graphics will make your store “blow up” in that it stretches the screen weird or the image takes over all your text. Moving graphics are great, but keep in mind customers with slow computers, slow internet or mobile devices.

Background music is just plain annoying. Let’s keep the music on the music channels please! When I personally go to a site that contains music, I try to get off there as fast as possible or immediately shut off my speakers and of course annoyed that I have to hurry and do that!

You don’t want to annoy your customers as soon as they land in your online store! Keep it simple, clean and easy to navigate! 🙂