Small business owners find this blog to be a great resource for sales and marketing strategies.

The Six Page Views of The Shopping Cart

Published by Charles Brodeur

When you are building an eCommerce site there are so many things to think about.  You need a website, a customer database, credit card processing, marketing, Inventory management, reporting, and the list goes on. Sometimes there are just too many things to think about. That's why it's good to have a list.  Building a "to do" list and checking it off is the best way I know how to get through the multitude of tasks when starting a new venture like an ecommerce site.

For the purpose of this article we are going to focus on the Six Page Views of a typical ecommerce shopping cart. This list is a great check list for designers and integrators looking to set up an ecommerce site.  Each one of the six views is equally important in that each page view is one stage in the conversion path or sales funnel.  If any one of the six page views is broken then you have a problem and the orders will slow or worse stop.

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Nine Common Mistakes Retail Stores Make Online

Published by Charles Brodeur

Sure, your web store looks just great and you have a right to be proud of it. But did you ever sit with a focus group to see what problems they had with it? Did you ever have top web site designers analyze it to find its hidden flaws? Have you listened to dozens of eTailers describe in detail how they vastly improved their online sales and conversion rates just by making basic design changes that eliminated the most common web site design faux pas?

Online retailing is expected to return to double-digit growth this year, and the web merchants that enhance their web site design and usability early in the year will lead the way. The growth will be achieved by avoiding the most common web site design and usability mistakes that cause shoppers to abandon the retail sites and result in an average conversion rate of just 3%.

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BigTurns Platform is More than a CMS (Content Management System)

Published by Charles Brodeur

BigTurns is an online business platform.  What’s an “online businesss” platform?  If you’ve not come across this concept before you probably talk about a CMS (content management system).  BigTurns platform at its most basic level is a CMS system, but it’s so much more…

What BigTurns does is take all the elements that a traditional online business needs to be successful and merge them into one holistic solution.  The elements that I’m talking about are CMS, e-commerce, email marketing, CRM, analytics and reporting. 

Typically a business will run all these systems separately in different environments.  By doing it all in one place will save you money, but having these fully integrated can make marketing so much more targeted and accountable.  Calculating ROI on email campaigns and affiliate schemes is so much easier and can done “out of the box”. 

The system also helps to build accurate profiles of your customers because every interaction they have with your website, whether it be completing a form or buying a product is recorded against their CRM record as can every email you have with them.  This means any member of staff can pick up that customer and at a glance can see exactly their history with the company.

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Shipping Charges and Shopping Cart Abandonment

Published by Charles Brodeur

PayPal  recently published a survey of online transactions (or non-transactions)  and here is how we read the results:

The biggest challenge for online merchants is getting them through the eCommerce Conversion Funnel.  The funnel usually looks a little something like this:

StoreFront (Home Page)
> Catalog View
>> Product List View
>>> Product Detail View
>>>> Shopping Cart Summary**
>>>>> Check Out Form

** The Shopping Cart Summary is the page where the buyer sees a summary of the products selected, the taxes, and the shipping charges.  This is where the ABANDONMENT occurs.

We can measure and test abandonment rates to help your site reduce abandonment.  And PayPal has helped us to see what items need to be considered or tested to increase sales.

Here are our interpretations of PayPals survey:

Main reason why visitors leave the Shopping Cart Summary:
 - To gather more information like "Shipping Costs"

Main reason for abandoning:
 - Shipping Charges were too high
 - Wanted to compare prices with another website
 - Wanted to compare prices with a Bricks and Mortar store
 - Wanted to look for an online coupon
 - The preferred payment option was not available

Main Suggestion for Online Merchants
 - Provide shipping charges upfront before the checkout
 - Provide as many options for payment as possible

Shipping still seems to be the main driver for visitors to leave a website behind.  We suggest that all online merchants carefully examine their shipping policies and consider making "Shipping" a marketing function rather than an "Operational" function.

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Ways to optimize your Online Shop

Published by Paul Pyrlik

The year 2010 should be used to optimize your existing eCommerce Platform. Many Online Shops I see out there have enormous potentials for improvement. Some of them can't be implemented easily, e.g. Clean URLs (URLs which just reveal their resource, but not their technology) - here you are often limited by the technology and platform you use. However, there are many things you can do in the field of technical Search Engine Optimization (SEO). For this purpose one option would be to create a whole new template to get started. You can overhaul the GUI (graphical user interface) and optimize the template for all the search engines like Google and Yahoo. What needs to be done for this can be listed quickly:
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Single vs. multi-currency Online Stores

Published by Paul Pyrlik

When you are setting up an online store you should consider in which currency you charge your customers. Either you accept only one currency or you offer your customers the opportunity to choose from different currencies. In this article some of the of the Pros and Cons of single and multi-currency stores are discussed.

Single-currency Store

  • Allow anyone around the world to purchase - but in your currency.
  • The customer's bank takes care of the currency conversion.
  • Are easy to set up - one payment gateway, one set of prices, one set of shipping options.
Here's an example: You set up your store on a xyz.com site. Every visitor on that URL will be shown US product prices, US shipping options, US tax codes an so on. The visitors will be charged in US dollars via the payment gateway that is assigned to the USA.

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Setting up the eCommerce Platform

Published by Charles Brodeur

About 4 years ago, we were looking into starting a new business, online. As an accomplished businessman we started thinking about what we were going to need to be successful. A website was the obvious starting point. It had to be easy enough to add and change content - because websites live or die on the basis of fresh, useful content.

Next - we needed a way to manage leads and customers. You need to be able to react quickly to new leads and follow up on old ones. Then, marketing. Email marketing to be precise. A permission based list of people who are receptive to hear your message is priceless. And don't forget - online shopping. Selling online is the most important function we needed to do.  We wanted to process orders 24 hours a day.

That's a basic list. There's more, like community forums, affiliate programs, blogs and so forth. But let's keep it simple, ok?

So, checklist in hand (we are pretty organized kinda guys) we went looking for something to do all this and we found Content Management Systems, and Customer Relationship Management systems, and Shopping carts, and Email Marketing Solutions, and Site Analytics. So we signed up to all these services and downloaded what we needed to download.

OK great, we thought, let's get started!....Or not.

We got frustrated. Because running any business is a little like racing a car. You've got to push hard, stay ahead of the pack and be smart about how you race. But our  problem wasn't that we couldn't race. We were wasting our time trying to build the nice, fast car.

The other problem was we found ourselves spending a lot of time trying to keep all his separate systems in sync. And more than once we forgot one of the five or six log in details we were supposed to remember.

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Selling Tips for Online Business

Published by Charles Brodeur

Once you have your website up and people have started visiting it, your battle has only just begun. Everything is for sale in the Internet from snake oil to – maybe – atomic power barbecues. Why should people buy from you and how can you be sure you are making money on the sales? Making money on sales seems easy – if you buy for $8 and sell for $10, you have made a $2 profit. Right! Wrong.

It may have cost you $3 to sell the product and you won’t know it till you have lost a lot of money. So here are some things to keep in mind.

Know why people should buy from you. If you don’t, how will they? You need to know your product or service inside out. Nothing is ever perfect. Your product will have its weaknesses. Recognize them, try to minimize them and work with what you have.

Believe in your product. It’s not enough knowing it’s good. You have to believe it. This belief will come out in your approach to sales and add value to the sales pitch. Would you buy a Rolls Royce from a salesman who could recite why it is the best car in the world if you felt he did not really believe what he was saying?

What is different about your product? What benefits does buying from you provide to the customer as compared to other similar items or suppliers? These are called USPs or Unique Selling Points and make your product stand out in a crowd. Know these strength and capitalize on them when selling.

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About Sales and Marketing Automation

Published by Charles Brodeur

This is the first Post for The eCommerce Blog from Sales and Marketing Automation. 

Our mission with this blog is to promote eCommerce Best Practices to Small business owners. We will be including topics that relate to building eCommerce Sites, marketing eCommerce Sites and managing eCommerce Sites.

We are not sure where this journey will take us but the general direction we are going to set out on is to expose the tricks that make successful sites sell.

We will discuss topics like eCommerce Technology, SAAS, Email Marketing, Internet Marketing, Blogging, Content, Conversion, Customer Automation, and more.

I will be the main contributor to the blog postings, and all of our contributors will some how be related to BigTurns Business Systems, an eCommerce Consulting Company with an eCommerce Platform for sale and a team of eCommerce Consultants.

I Hope you like it.  Read More

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