Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Changing your traditional retail location into both virtual and physical location could be a huge money-making and smart choice for your small business this year. The beginning of the internet and online shopping has considerably changed the way we shop for products and services, so it would stand to reason that businesses need also change… in-order to keep pace with consumer buying habits.

Electronic commerce, commonly known as e-commerce or eCommerce, consists of the buying and selling of products or services over electronic systems such as the Internet and other computer networks. The amount of trade conducted electronically has grown extraordinarily with widespread Internet usage. Many online stores have “opened their doors” without even having a actual storefront and create a real danger to many conventional brick and mortar small businesses. So, the real question is: Do you need to add eCommerce to your small business to be more completive?

BEFORE YOU ANSWER – CONSIDER THIS: Adding an online store to your small business will give your customers tons of great benefits including the choice between: quick, online transactions or time-honored, face-to-face service. Two of the biggest benefits to think about are the fact that you can market you products and services in variety of different ways and sale people/clerks never sleeps. Your online store can sell your products or services 24/7 without the outlay of paying all that staff.

You should ask yourself more than a few questions before hastening into a decision to build an online store:

1. Pay for eCommerce tools and fees? To even get started you will need at least a website and a shopping cart solution. Without a website or shopping cart, another option is using marketplaces like eBay and Amazon. The main problem with selling products on these websites is the fees once you actually sell your items. These fees can be a bit overwhelming, which can put a huge dent in your return-on-investment. You can stay away from these charges by setting up your own online store by creating a shopping cart within your website. Don’t forget, you will also have to marketing you new online store… so potential customers can find it.

2. Shipping and Keeping Inventory. A legitimate fear for many small business owners thinking about starting to get into the eCommerce is obtainable of keeping the right levels of product on-hand. When you start selling online, you could have the potential dilemma of having your products unavailable in your actual inventory. The easiest way to solve this problem is to only sell a certain number of items online, keeping that inventory separate from what’s on your selves. Most shopping cart solutions will offer ways to manage the inventory of your products, for both what you are selling online and what you keep in the store.

3. Having to ship products every day. This may sound like a good problem to have, which it would be, however: the management of the flow of the goods will be one of the first and possible the biggest obstacle you will face as an online retailer. 4 or 5 orders per day will be easy to handle, but you should be planning for the day that you are having to ship 40 or 50 items each day. When this happens, the increase in sales dollars will allow for the increase in staff… but must online retailers have grow and train staff before those sales number actually grow… this means you may have to invest in more staff, with the hopes that the business will grow. With that in mind, most business will schedule daily pick-ups form their shippers.

4. Are your employees ready? A frequently ignored part to a successful online business is making sure your staff is up to the challenge. If they are not proficient in eCommerce, online shopping carts and product data feeds… you may want to hire someone that is. If someone on your staff has the potential to learn and become you “online store manager”, you may also want to consider that as a good option. Just keep in-mind, the running of an online store is different in many ways and will require a whole new set of skills.

5. Community and Marketing. Internet marketing for your eCommerce store and products will need to be a high precedence if your online store is going to succeed. Like your physical location(s), your online store will require advertisement to sell product. Search Engine Visibility makes it a snap to promote your business online, increase your online visibility and make money on the Internet…in four simple steps! NO technical expertise is necessary. In addition to marking your small business online, you should also have the motivation to connect with online community.

So? If the answer is YES, I want to start selling products online… then here is something that offers everything you need to open your own online store. You don’t need technical skills to build a successful Web store. Quick Shopping Cart makes it easy to create an eye-catching store that accepts credit cards, integrates with Google® and eBay® and offers multiple shipping options–all with no set-up fees!

Quick Shopping Cart makes it easy for anyone to start their own online store, but it also has a rich collection of advanced features that allow you to enhance, manage and promote your store. Plans start at only $9.99/mo get started today with Quick Shopping Cart

3 Great Ideas for Increasing Online Visibility

The more visible you are, the more opportunities there are to grow your business. Here are three additional ways to boost your search engine visibility — and drive next-level success. These ideas aren’t new, but take a fresh look at them now and you may find all-new opportunities for making simple, inexpensive changes that can quickly improve your local online visibility.
Leverage local affiliations. Are you a member of your local Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, or Better Business Bureau? Do you belong to a local chapter of a trade or professional organization or an alumni association? For starters, make sure the names of these affiliations are spelled out in text on your website so the search engines can read them. Next, consider including affiliations in the company description you post on local search directories like Local.com. Finally, use your affiliations to create those all-important back links.
Build your online reputation. Search online for your name and the name of your business. At a minimum, you want search results to include a Facebook profile, information from the “ABOUT” page of your website and your business listing on Local.com. If you don’t have a vibrant online reputation, build it! Get yourself listed at LinkedIn or update your profile if you are already a member — and participate in — a few relevant groups.
Landing pages. Check the pages you have on your existing website. Try turning them into keyword-rich landing pages and give yourself a shot at having multiple pages from your site appear in the local search results. For instance, the SERVICES page(s) of your site is a great place to include descriptive words about your business. Remember to include the keyword information in the page tags and meta descriptor too. Check out one of ours: Search Engine Visibility
Success Take-Away: Search Engine Visibility is one of Tucker Hosting’s powerful search engine results solution that will get your business ranked like never before. Plans start under $60 per year. Call now to learn more and increase the chances of customers finding your business online Call: 434-515-1573 or Visit Search Engine Visibility‘s info page.