Worldwide Brands Weekly

May 14th, 2011

Worldwide Brands WeeklyWelcome to the fist edition of the Worldwide Brands Weekly — this is a series of posts that will roll out on an ongoing weekly basis and review the content published throughout the week.

This is a series of posts for those with too little time to check out the blog throughout the week. With the Worldwide Brands Weekly, you’ll get an overview of all the content that published throughout the week alongside a brief commentary conveying the basic idea of each post.

If you can’t wait for the weekly wrap up, consider subscribing to the blog via email — it’s free, and you’ll receive the latest content as soon as it’s published!

And as always, please let us know what you think by posting a comment or two and interacting with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Every Product Page Is A Sales Page

If you’re like most retailers online, you might be missing out on sales due to your product pages. While it’s crucial a product page provides the information about the product, it also needs to provide the sales pitch … the reason why the customer needs the product.

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Caution: Product Descriptions from Manufacturers Are All Triplicate Content!

One of the most common mistakes online retailers make with their stores has to do with the product descriptions … more specifically, the way they re-purpose the manufacturer’s product description as their own. In terms of search engine optimization and content development, this is called duplicate content … except it’s worse. Product descriptions are plastered across the web in hundreds — maybe even thousands — of places, create a huge red flag for search engines.

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Provide Excellent Customer Service Before the Purchase

Business owners with brick and mortar establishments understand how important it is to provide excellent customer service not only after the purchase, but also before the purchase. This provides the customer the comfort and insight he or she requires before making a purchase from a store. This is especially true online due to the competitive market and trustworthy brands out there with unlimited advertising budgets. In order to compete and claim customers, you need to respect the customer and work hard to win them over.

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Friday the 13th … And What It Means for Your Business

It’s important to think about upcoming holidays and other recognized days when marketing your business, because you can make just about anything into an event. Friday the 13th is a simple example of a day we recognize as a community, and so it’s up to you to attach your brand to the day with a special promotion or offer your community op customers will find compelling.

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Creative Commons License photo credit: ShironekoEuro[off]

Friday the 13th … And What It Means for Your Business

May 13th, 2011

Marketing OpportunityFor a lot of people, Friday the 13th represents a day of bad luck. As a business owner, however, it represents something completely different … opportunity.

Friday the 13th is an opportunity to reach out to prospective customers and do special in light of the date. Whether that means running a special promotion for that day only or even reminding people to enjoy their Friday the 13th is up to you, but if you let it go by you’re missing out on the opportunity to communicate with potential customers.

Today is just one example though, there are plenty of special dates just like Friday the 13th that bring us together — whether it’s in light of superstition or a national holiday, we unite on certain days with a type of universal understanding. Getting your brand involved with that unity might mean the difference between selling product and not selling product for certain customers, so it’s crucial for business owners to reach out to their community of potential customers every opportunity they get.

Consider keeping a calendar that gives you advanced notice of upcoming holidays or special days, such as Friday the 13th. Paying close attention to what’s on the horizon will give you a chance to prepare a sale, newsletter, or blog content directly related to that date.

Are you doing anything special for your potential customers today? How about in the near future?

Creative Commons License photo credit: DaveBleasdale

Provide Excellent Customer Service Before the Purchase

May 12th, 2011

customer serviceThe single most common reason why people bounce from an online retailer’s website is due to the lack of connection and customer service the retailer provides the customer before he or she makes a purchase.

It’s easy to promise the world in terms of customer service after the purchase (24 hour support, free shipping, professional assistance, returns), but customers demand customer service before they make a purchase … in fact, it’s what often leads to the purchase more than anything else.

Brick and mortar businesses understand this, and strive to provide the best customer service possible. From the moment the customer enters the store to the moment he or she leaves, the business associates are ready to help them with any questions or needs. This is how businesses win over customers, gain loyalty, and receive positive reviews about their brand — they work hard to earn the sale.

You Have to Earn the Sale

As an online retailer, you’re running your business in one of the most saturated areas in the world … the internet. It’s like operating a business in a busy mall, however, you don’t have the benefit of collective traffic.

Just as a brick and mortar business strives to provide that customer service that leads to the purchase, you need to focus on earning the sale with your own customer service. To provide a great customer experience for prospective buyers, think about the information you’re providing them on the product pages — it should be original, it should teach them about the product, and it should sell them on the product. The last thing you want to do is paste the manufacturer content onto the page and call it a day — manufacturer product descriptions are harmful to your business.

Remember, people demand exceptional customer service before they buy something from a business — it’s your job to go out of your way to deliver that customer service and earn the sale. The mom and pop shops of yesteryear paved the way in terms of excellent customer service — always remembering their customers’ names, their orders, how they like their coffee, what the like on their sandwich, what type of bread they enjoy … you need to provide customer service both before and after the sale if you hope to succeed as an online retailer.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Jsome1

Caution: Product Descriptions from Manufacturers Are All Triplicate Content!

May 11th, 2011

As the web becomes more and more competitive for business owners operating online, search engine optimization, social marketing and solid customer service are just a few things many business owners are focusing on in effort to cut through the competition and connect with the community of consumers.

Duplicate Content

One thing you can’t miss when researching search engines optimization is “duplicate content” — a term that defines content that has been published in more than one place online. While it may seem like a smart strategy for extending your reach and getting your articles the most exposure possible, search engines frown upon this activity and even penalize publishers that take part in it.

The reason publishers are penalized for duplicate content is because it adds no additional value to the overall web, so search engines try to keep it out of their index as much as possible.

Triplicate Content

Though duplicate content covers the idea of publishing a piece of content, whether an article, review, or product description, triplicate content is just an expression for any piece of content that’s been published in literally hundreds of places online.

Product descriptions are some of the most popular piece of triplicate content, because most retailers online, bloggers, review websites, and other content publishers often fall into republishing what the manufacturer provided about the product instead of re-writing the content.

In turn, this ruins your chance of ranking for anything related to that piece of content — title, description, meta … it all gets thrown out by search engines once their algorithm concludes your content isn’t original.

Original Content – Why You Should Write Your Own Product Descriptions

Original content is perhaps one of the most important things a website can have — search engines love it because it adds value to the web, and so they want to feature it prominently in their index for their users.

The key to stepping up to the next level and cutting through the competition in your niche is to take the product descriptions from the manufacturers and rewrite them completely. In fact, you should probably aim to write more than what the manufacture provided, because the more original content you have the better. By presenting a few paragraphs for a product page, as opposed to the few sentences the manufacturer provided, search engines will see that you’re providing more value than your competition, and thus your position in their index will move upward.

In addition, this type of content creation will attract more organic links from other publishers because they’ll want to share your content with their friends or following rather than the majority of other sources, which make use of the triplicate content from manufacturers.

Bottom line: the only thing you should be doing with the manufacturer’s product description is using it to create your own original content. That way you have the specifications and features the product offers, yet you also have unique content published exclusively on your website.

image credit: iboy_daniel

Every Product Page Is A Sales Page

May 9th, 2011

One of the most common mistakes retailers online make has to do with the actual selling aspect of their business. As a retailer, it’s your job to get people to your store and sell them what you have to offer — especially now that consumer can find products for less through networks like eBay and Amazon.

Though you’re not in a store, you still need to present the products you’re selling in the best light possible and inform the customer not only what the product is, but also why they need it. This is where the art of the sales person and pitch comes into play. Just as it comes into play during the experience in a store, the people browsing your products online require some sort of sales pitch and experience if they’re going to buy from you.

A few things to keep in mind while creating your products pages include the following:

Keep It Organized

Just as with all retail stores, you need to provide your customer with an experience they find pleasant and welcoming. Achieving this is as simple as keeping your website organized and helpful. Refrain from too many distractions, yet provide enough product on your site to attract potential buyers to purchase additional items.

The key is to make it easy for your visitor to navigate while still using the space you have to cross-promote products and lead customers toward that check out area.

Link It Up … In a New Window

Building links between your product pages, blog posts, and other pages is an important aspect of running a website. For  business owners, it’s how you send people to other areas or products on your website (much like telling someone something is on aisle 14, website owners can offer a hyperlink to that area). However, you have to be careful when interlinking between pages because often times a visitor will be set on buying something, then navigate away form the page. To avoid this, simply add the specification for the link to open in a new window. This will launch the web browser in a new window and enable them to view the new page, without leaving the first page.

In essence, this is a tool that enables the website owner to avoid losing the customer forever when they shut the second window.

This helps keep the visitor on your website, which in turn helps increase sales.

Make it Easy to Contact You

Another problematic area for a lot of online retailers is offering a way for visitors to contact them for more information about a product or special offer. This is absolutely crucial if you hope to persuade customers to buy from you. Without the ability to contact you, they aren’t going to trust you.

Providing your contact information or a contact form should be a part of every sales pitch, just as it is with retail stores offline. Phone number, email address, social networks, and a reminder of the website where they’re viewing the product — all of these will help increase the potential of visitors buying from you.

Combining these few tips will increase the potential your product page has of converting a visitor to a customer.What else do you find works particularly well on your product pages?

Struggling to Find and Manage Products You Want to Sell?

October 1st, 2009

Are you wanting to sell products online to make extra income?  Are you struggling to find wholesalers who will sell to an online store?  When you find a wholesaler and the products you want to sell, are you struggling to organize the information and get back to it quickly when you need it?  What can you do to drastically reduce the time it takes to assemble product information and then make sense of it?

To sell products successfully online, you need some critical information for each product:
1. Market and product research information
2. Current Demand
3. Current Supply
4. Current competition
5. Competitive pricing in eBay Auctions
6. Competitive pricing in major Retail (Amazon)

Once you secure the information for EACH product you want to sell, you need to sort it and track it different ways. It’s a major task to try to set this up on Excel Worksheets. That’s why the team at www.worldwidebrands.com has developed a unique Product Sourcing Tool designed to meet the needs of active online retailers.

Research

Using a keyword, the Research Tool provides a complete Demand/Supply/Competion Picture for you in one place using simple organized tabs.  For each keyword you use to search, the tool identifies the other keywords used by browsers to find such a product.  This way you can perform multiple product searches to help identify the niche you can possibly sell into.  Your searches can be saved for later to help with trending.  There is no risk of errors trying to cut and paste or re-key information into an Excel Worksheet.

Suppliers

For each keyword search, The Product Sourcing Tool identifies qualified wholesale suppliers willing to work with online retailers and supply wholesale products to sell via Amazon, eBay, Yahoo Stores or customized websites.  It identifies the wholesale supplier that offer products for dropshipping, light bulk, large volume & liquidation.separately.  Searches can be saved by Supplier.  Suppliers can be located by city, state or country in the tool as well, so if you want to locate a supplier in your region, you can easily locate them.   You can save your Preferred Suppliers separately – Add To My Suppliers.  You can also list suppliers that you cannot review when you see them but want to come back to them – Preferred Supplier.  It’s a fast way of finding retail wholesale relationships and identifying drop ship products.  http://www.worldwidebrands.com/pop_taketour.asp.

Saving You Time

Time wasting for new online retailers includes:

  • Keying and emailing your company information to multiple wholesalers to request the opening of an account with those wholesalers.   The My Account section of the tool allows you to update the information once and then send an accurate, up-to-date information sheet to as many wholesalers as you need.
  • Looking for specific products you don’t find listed.  With WorldwideBrands.com, you don’t have to do the work.  Just contact info@worldwidebrands.com, tell us what product/s you need to find and we will do the research work for you and find the right wholesale supplier for you.
  • Identifying what’s new.  You can select Show Only Last 30 Added from the Tools’ Dashboard and bingo, all the latest stuff is there for your review.
  • Wasting time researching products that eventually you determine you cannot sell on eBay or Amazon anyway.  The Tool clearly identifies these in the search result before you spend any time contacting the wholesale supplier.

 

Time is of the essence when you start to develop your own online retail business.  As Product Sourcing is an ongoing requirement to keep your business fresh and alive, and growing, it’s important that you have an organized and swift method of getting product information and being able to recall quickly it any time you need it.

Visit the WorldwideBrands.com Testimonials section to hear how many others have saved time finding and managing the products they want to sell.

How to Handle FREE Shipping?

September 24th, 2009

What should online retailers keep in mind when considering offering free shipping?

Free shipping is the third step in this transportation pricing progression.  The first was package specific rates and the second was flat rates.  Free shipping is one of the most popular tactics being employed by online retailers and it’s very popular with consumers. 

There are two varieties: free shipping with no strings attached and free shipping if you reach a certain purchase threshold ($25, $50, $75, or $100).  Your primary consideration in offering free shipping is profit margin.  If you’re selling a line of products that afford you a sizeable margin you may be able to lower your margins by eating the shipping cost with the hope of gaining enough additional business to end up with more total profit.  If your operating margin doesn’t afford you this option you might still be able to offer it at a certain purchase threshold.  The answer will be different depending on your product line and price points but overall from a marketing perspective free shipping has been shown to greatly improve conversion rates. 

Of course, if you lose money per item by offering free shipping, then improved conversion rates will just mean you lose more money faster!  But as a last thought on this topic let me leave you with a real online retailer story that you’ll want to consider whether you’re considering free shipping or already offering it.  An eTailer was offering free shipping and decided to see what would happen if he implemented a $1.99 flat rate.  He was surprised to find that his conversion rate was unchanged.  He continued to increase the rate until he saw his conversion rate begin to fall which was in the $4 to $5 dollar range.  The lesson learned; that customers are looking for a great deal not exactly the best deal.  In this case they felt that a flat $3 rate was just as good as free shipping. That was $3 that went directly to his bottom line on each and every order.

Need to ship Multiple Piece Orders Using Multiple Shippers?

September 17th, 2009

What if the online retailer has multiple suppliers drop shipping and a customer enters a multiple piece order to be fulfilled by more than one supplier?  Is there any way to avoid the customer having to pay two shipping fees?

Unfortunately in this case there are actually two separate movements from two different locations and so there are two transportation fees involved in the movement.  The only alternative is for you as the online retailer to eat one of the two transportation costs.

UPS – Shipping a Large Variety of Products?

September 10th, 2009

When you have a large variety of products, a range or flat rate is difficult to estimate, at least for new online retailers. 

Online retailers need accurate shipping rates but find it hard to do so given the variety of destinations.  How can one get a better fix on the shipping costs quoted so that online retailers’customers don’t get ugly surprises?

UPS has a tool that can help with obtaining real time rates.  The tool is called the UPS Rate and Service Selection Tool.  The UPS  Rates and Service Selection Tool returns rates for available UPS domestic and international services.  And the rates provided include all applicable shipping surcharges such as the fuel surcharge and delivery area surcharge.  The online retailer will need to provide the package information for each product (weight, length, width and height) and as mentioned before, make sure these are the package characteristics not the product characteristics. 

The customer will simply need to provide their destination zip code to generate the rate.  Some online retailers ask for this information as soon as the customer enters the site while others request it once a shopping cart is checked out.  Since most online retailers’ customer addresses tend to be residential you’ll want to ask your customer to input not only the zip code but also the street information in order to determine whether it’s a residential or commercial delivery and assign the appropriate rate.

What Shipping Rate to use for Single Packages?

September 3rd, 2009

Previously we established that it’s best to include total package weight when determining the shipping rate for single packages, but small online retailers also want to know if they should build shipping rates specific to each package weight or if they should use one rate for a range of weights such as 0-5 pounds $10.00?  And what if weight doesn’t vary much or amount to much as is the case for some clothing?

UPS recommends that the answer goes back to the general principle that simpler is better and a range is usually simpler than specific weight rates. 

There’s risk here however.  Risk that your shipping cost may be less than the actual and you’ll end up eating cost or that your shipping cost is way too high and so you may lose some customers who see your shipping cost as too high given what they think their product weight is.  The greater the range that you build the greater the risk will be.  If you do choose to go with a range try to keep your shipping rate at the midpoint of the range.  On a 0-5 pound range, go with a 3 pound rate.  You’ll lose money on 4 and 5 pound orders but make money on 1 and 2 pound orders.  Over time you may observe that your orders are skewing towards the higher or lower ends of the range and you can adjust your rate accordingly.  Keep in mind also that in calculating your average rate you’ll need to take into account not only the average weight but also the average zone. 

You can take this a step further if you’re selling a very narrow variety of products or products that don’t vary much in weight such as CDs or lingerie.  If this is the case then you should consider a very simple flat rate for all shipping.  Industry experts agree that this far more appealing to consumers than providing product specific rates.  It also enables you to communicate shipping costs immediately to shoppers on your home page.  If you’ve got a competitive flat rate you’re going to have significantly less shopping cart abandonment than if you don’t.