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.

UPS Charging for Shipping Categories

August 27th, 2009

Online retailers are most concerned about what, or how, should I charge for any shipping category?  Should the online retailer calculate shipping based on the product weight or add something for packaging?  What does my customer expect?

UPS does not normally give advice but it’s understandable that online retailers think of UPS when pondering these “what/how should I charge” questions. 

Definitely online retailers should be charging the cost of the package shipping not the product shipping.  Consumers understand that packaging materials add weight and they’re fully expecting that total weight to be what the shipping cost is based on.  If you’re in a drop ship scenario you need to make sure that the shipping costs quoted by the supplier are the actual shipping costs not based on the product weight. 

If you’ll be housing your own inventory and packing yourself then you’ll learn over time what percentage over the base product weight to use in order to calculate an accurate shipping weight.  If you’re just getting started make sure to give yourself a generous cushion in order to protect yourself from taking losses early on.  Remember in the case of sites like Amazon.com to use the shipping rates they allow. 

Some cardboard boxes can weigh anywhere from half a pound to four pounds.  Another item to keep in mind is the actual cost of the materials themselves.  Some shippers take that cost into account in pricing the product while others add as separate handling fee to cover those costs.  Which is better?  The general rule is that simpler is better.  While it’s nice to have lower purchase price, consumers don’t like to see additional charges they’re not expecting.  While they’re certainly expecting a shipping charge they may be turned off by a handling fee, perceiving it to be your means of generating additional profit.  If you’re drop shipping you’ll need to understand what your supplier’s practices are and determine whether or not they help you.

Need to ship Internationally? Ask UPS

August 20th, 2009

An area that isn’t overlooked but where online retailers are is international shipping.  Customers want to know how to ship internationally, how to determine whether it makes sense for them given the additional costs and risks, and what restrictions they need to be aware of. 

Probably the most intimidating business area is international shipping.  But the opportunity to grow your business by moving into the international sales arena is tremendous.  The U.S. Small Business Administration found that companies engaged in international trade:
• Are 20% more productive
• Produce 20% greater job growth than non-exporters, and
• Are 9% more likely to stay financially solvent

With two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power located outside the U.S., exporting could help you expand from a U.S. market of 300 million to a global market of more than six billion.

UPS has worked both to make it easier to get started and easier to manage the ongoing process.   There are two main areas:�
1. Understanding country specific regulations and requirements
2. How to ship

1. Understanding country specific regulations and requirements
Governments typically restrict or prohibit specific commodities from import/export depending on what they are used for, who they are going to and their quantity/value.  But these country specific trade regulations can vary widely by country.  For instance, are there any special restrictions on exporting a shipment of 100 calendars from the U.S. to Vietnam for resale?  In fact, in Vietnam, it is illegal to import foreign calendars for commercial purposes.  Or, is a shipment of a box of business cards from the U.S. to Germany considered a “document” or “non-document” shipment?  This is an important question because document shipments are typically duty-free.  Actually, a shipment of business cards into Germany is considered a document shipment, but there is a fifteen card limit.  How is someone supposed to be aware of all of these country restrictions?  While the wide array of rules for global trade can seem overwhelming, UPS provides tools, like the Country Regulations tool on UPS.com, which makes it simple to determine what specific rules apply to any origin and destination country that UPS serves.  The Country Regulations tool simplifies the process of determining prohibited/restricted commodities, documentation requirements, value or weight limits or any other country specific regulation for importing or exporting all around the globe.

2. How to ship
Whether you are shipping at UPS.com or on a stand alone Worldship shipping system, the international shipping process is not much different than a shipment to someone within the U.S.  The first step involves selecting the appropriate UPS international delivery service.  UPS offers guaranteed time-definite and day-definite international delivery services that can meet your budget and scheduling needs. And UPS delivers to more than 200 countries and territories, so you’re sure to find the international shipping service that’s right for you.  In order to determine the appropriate service to meet your needs, you’ll want to determine the shipment cost and delivery time.  With an international shipment, you’ll need to determine not only the shipping charges, but also any applicable duties and taxes based on the country you’re shipping to.  UPS provides free tools like TradeAbility that can help you estimate the “landed cost” (i.e., cost of your international shipment including duties and taxes) of your shipment.  Because the importers typically pay the duties and taxes, it’s important to be able provide your customer with an accurate estimate of the charges they’ll be responsible for.  Setting expectations on duties and taxes owed can prevent “sticker shock” for the importer and can help reduce refused or even abandoned shipments. Once you’ve selected the shipping service and reviewed any country specific regulations, you’re ready to prepare your shipment, which consists of creating a label using a UPS shipping system and following UPS package guidelines to avoid delays.  Now it’s a matter of getting the shipment to UPS by either dropping it off at The UPS Store or a UPS Drop Box, or you can schedule a pickup online or call 1-800-PICK UPS.  After tendering your package to UPS, you can monitor the progress of your shipment on ups.com or with Quantum View®. You can receive proactive notifications of your shipment status, as well as view and print proof of delivery along with an image of the recipient’s signature using UPS Signature Tracking®.

UPS has created a microsite (i.e., a mini-website) dedicated to providing you with all of the tools and information you need to take your business outside the U.S. with UPS.  It’s online at www.ups.com/international.

Are ‘Returns’ a Problem? – Not with UPS

August 13th, 2009

Are you struggling to manage returns?

UPS has determined that online retailers like the UPS returns portfolio and the tactics it offers. But UPS has also determined that often online retailers haven’t thought through a returns policy that reflects a specific customer service strategy. Also, since returns impact a variety of departments or functions (customer service, finance, warehousing and marketing) the online retailer may not realize the total adverse effect returns are having on their business. Instead they’ve just defaulted to what they feel most competitors do – 30 day returns, call for a return authorization number, and ship it back.

UPS recommends that online retailers use their returns policy to differentiate their business from their competitors.

UPS asked Forrester Research to study the marketplace in order to develop a structure that helps the online retailer do just that – develop the strategy that’s right for their business. The study shows what online retailers in general think about returns and contrasts that with what consumers are looking for. But most importantly, the study uses those findings to generate a framework that online retailers can use to determine what approach makes the most sense for them. That approach may include different returns policies for different products or even different policies for different customers. UPS has retail customers that employ the standard 30 day process for some products while dispatching UPS to pick up and return more valuable products and even return others overnight. Those customers have put significant thought into what makes the most sense given customer service, product cost, and/or product obsolescence considerations.

And the result is a returns strategy that’s become a competitive advantage online retailers both in terms of customer satisfaction and cost control. If your resulting returns policy gets a little complex, UPS has the options to take care of you. You can
• Arrange, create, and deliver your return shipping label to your customer and have UPS collect the item for return
• Pre-print return labels that can be included with your original outbound goods
• Have the return label mailed directly to your customer
• E-mail the return label directly to your customer
• Create and deliver a commercial invoice with the return label to your customer
• Process single or multiple piece return shipments
• Associate your own reference numbers with the item being returned
• Enable your customers to get approval and print return labels directly from your web site

For a complete review of our returns portfolio just go to UPS.com and look for returns under our business solutions portfolio of services links. If you’d like to download your own copy of the Forrester study just go to whiteboard.ups.com and you’ll find it in the library.

UPS Helps with Better Customer Service

August 6th, 2009

Are you looking for ways that UPS can help the online retailer to provide better customer service other than just providing the ever popular driver?

UPS provides visibility.  If you’re a startup eTailer shipping packages you’re going to find yourself spending time on the phone answering “where’s my package” calls.  You’ll take the customer’s number, track the package, and get back to the customer via phone or email.  Quantum View Notify ® lets you send proactive e-mail notifications of key shipment events so you can keep yourself and your customers informed about the status of their packages. That’s valuable package information coming to you and your customers, when you need it, eliminating the time spent tracking your packages over and over again. 

UPS also provides the UPS portfolio of Returns solutions that customers can tailor to achieve balance between cost and customer service.