Ecommerce Blog - Fortune3

Running an E-Commerce Startup? Learn 5 Lessons from Big Brands

fortune3-ecommerce-big-brand-lessonsSo you decided to start an e-commerce company? ¬†Well, you can save a ton of time and effort by learning from others who’ve been there first.

That doesn’t mean your company will become a dominant market leader, but you can save yourself a ton of money and stress in the meantime.

What should you do?

Check out some tips:

1.  Focus.

Okay, so the big e-retailers like Amazon, eBay, and Etsy have no product focus whatsoever. ¬†But they do focus on one thing: ¬†providing a great overall shopping experience. ¬†For example, they make sure every page on their site loads fast, the checkout process runs smooth, and that returns aren’t a hassle.

You can’t compete with these guys on price, but you can focus on one thing: ¬†a niche for your goods. ¬†Then, because your products have a higher quality and are sold to a select market, you can charge higher prices and get regular business.

2.  Do Customer Service Even Better than the Big Guys

Because you’re small, you have the decision-making power to do things for your customers that no other business can do. ¬†If your customer needs to have a certain product today for a legitimate reason, drive to their front door and deliver it yourself. ¬†You can’d do that for everyone, but you get the idea – go the extra mile.

3.  Have a Very Consistent Public Message

Amazon does this very well.  Jeff Bezos keeps strict wraps on all  public communications from Amazon.  They communicate the same thing:  Amazon is the cheapest, friendliest place to buy the products you need.

However your company appears publicly, decide on your core value proposition like Amazon, and then promote that message everywhere you go.

4.  Make Payment Convenient

Approximately 30% of all online transactions are done through Paypal. ¬†Yeah, the fees are somewhat nasty, but convenience for the customer should trump convenience for your company’s finances.

5.  Collect Contact Information 

…and do so in a way that doesn’t bother your customers. ¬†Invite them to stay in touch after they purchase by sending a follow-up e-mail. ¬†Give them the option during the process, but don’t require them to do so.

The more you can stay in touch, the better, and especially so for a niche-based small business. ¬†When you do send e-mails, make sure it’s done at a regular interval that’s not too obnoxious. ¬†Once a week or so is good, and then an e-mail here or there that talks about the latest sales works well too.

So if you follow those tips, that helps your store get off the ground and stay in business during the early days.

Posted in Ecommerce Essentials & Tips

How to Write Blog Content that Attracts, Engages, and Converts

fortune3-blog-articlesEver tried to write a blog article 1,000 or even 1,500 words long?

Why would you even write an article that long?

Well, on August 6, 2013, Google released its “In-Depth” articles update, which gives preferential treatment to articles at least 1,500 words long.

You’ve known for some time Google wants in-depth content, and now you know exactly what it’s looking for. ¬†It helps too if you have authorship set up on the posts you publish, and you update the schema metadata.

So how do you write incredibly long blog articles of at least 1,500 words?  A few tips:

1.  Write product reviews/ultimate guides.  If you really think about all the information you know regarding certain products you have, then you have several good ideas for 1,500 word articles like these.  Make your posts a mental dump of everything you know about the product that could possibly help the reader.

What are some lesser known uses?  How do you maintain the product?  Answer questions like these in a blog post.

2. ¬†Include illustrations. ¬†When you include simple graphics, you’ll have the opportunity to explain what they mean. ¬†Create in-depth images that show what to do and why, and maybe what not to do, and then explain the steps you should (or should not) take.

3. ¬†View blogging as essential to your business. ¬†Blogging’s not something that you do when you have time. ¬†You need to have some sort of regular calendar and schedule. ¬† People, and Google, expect your business to regularly release valuable, interesting information.

Take it just as seriously as you do planning your company’s finances.

4. ¬†Only write when you have something valuable to say. ¬†For some, it’s easy to view blogging as something mechanical. ¬†You churn out this many words, and then Google ranks you and you get more visitors.

That’s not what blogging is all about. ¬†In reality, blogging involves providing as much value as you possibly can to your readers. ¬†Tell them stuff you know only from your experience – that means it’s original and can’t be found anywhere else.

When you run out of ideas, stop writing, and if you don’t make it to 1,500 words, be okay with ¬†that.

5. ¬†Hire someone else. ¬†You recognize the value of specialists – so view blogging as it’s own specialty. ¬†If you don’t like to write, don’t have the time, or realize there’s pros out there who can do it better, look for a professional blogger or freelance writer.

You can hire freelancers on a contract basis, so they get treated just like any other vendor.  Then, they can manage your blog and social profiles, while you pay attention to the more interesting aspects of your company.  It takes years of experience Рeven to write blog articles that garner massive attention, so treat blogging with respect it deserves.

If you’re looking to create blog articles that build your business, rather than just acting as words present to make Google happy, those are the tips to follow to get the most out of your blog.

Posted in Blogging for Ecommerce, Ecommerce Essentials & Tips

Watch out for These 6 Deadly E-Commerce Design Mistakes

fortune3-ecommerce-web-design-mistakesThe world of e-commerce design is basically unlimited. ¬†Because it’s such a creative endeavor, there’s a million things you could do right (or wrong).

What are some of the latest mistakes that could happen?  Check these out:

1.  Unclear Value Proposition

Your visitors should immediately understand the reason to buy from your company and none other. ¬†Sounds strange, but some e-commerce sites make you guess. ¬†If you use sliders on your home page, for example, communicate your value prop on the first one. ¬†Say, “Browse Our Luxurious Men’s and Women’s Hats.” ¬†That way, people know who you’re selling to right away – those with higher incomes who like quality items.

2.  Too Many Sliders

They take a long time to go by, even if you have a 1-second delay.  Equip your home page with at most 3 sliders.  Have you ever seen those websites with 5 or more?

3. ¬†Think Text Isn’t Important? ¬†Think Again…

The Nielsen Group found something quite astonishing…that on a particular full Amazon page with many listings of flat-panel TVs, people spent more time reading the text below than viewing the photos (read the full story here). ¬†Specifically, they 82% of their time reading the text versus 18% viewing the television.

When you think about it, though, it makes sense.  All you can tell about a TV by looking at it is its size.  You have to read the specs to get to know the difference between various televisions.

So that should tell you something:  your product descriptions need to absolutely rock the house.

4.  Poor Photo Quality

So yes, photos do help sell, but you have to use them in the right way. ¬†What is the “right” way? ¬†A study performed by Visual Website Optimizer found that when large images, combined with a product description that comes up when you move your mouse over the image, was the winning combo.

So, make sure the images appear flawless, if possible.

5.  An Out-of-Date Website 

People do judge a book by it’s cover…and especially so when it comes to websites. ¬†Have your design updated every 3 years at the least. ¬† Remember, your site doesn’t have to be flawless…it just has to appear new.

6.  Slow Load Times

Not only does Google not like slow load times, but your visitors don’t appreciate slow load times much either. ¬†Every page should load in under two seconds! ¬†Make sure ¬†you have a reasonably fast host, as that makes a huge difference as well. ¬†Pay as much as you can afford, without breaking the bank, for hosting.

So if you watch out for those things, you’ll put your website in a good position right from the start. ¬†And remember, don’t hesitate to ask your visitors, family, or friends for their impressions of your website.

Posted in Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, eCommerce Website Analysis

How to Use Online Video to Generate Sales

fortune3-ecommerce-video-image.jpgSo today, we’re going to give you a real broad overview of different ways you can use video to create more sales for your website. ¬†If you’re consistent with your production, you’ll be okay.

If you need some ideas for getting started, here are a few:

1.  Host the Video on Your Site (If Possible)

This isn’t a must, but it helps you a ton if you can do it. ¬†When you use embedded YouTube videos, that gives people another way to click off of your website. ¬†Plus, if you can host the video yourself, you can reap more SEO benefits from doing so.

2. ¬†If You Put a Video on Your Home Page…

Which is a good idea, there are a couple of things you can do to make sure it converts well. ¬†For one, do not feature you or your employees. ¬†That’s a great video for the about page, which is where people want to go when they’re ready to get to know you more.

On the home page, it works best to feature some of your main products and the benefits they offer, or customer testimonials discussing the results they’ve been able to achieve with the help of your product. ¬†That’s going to connect with your customers and give them a reason to buy from you versus the other guy.

3.  Add Video to Your Landing Pages & Product Pages

Unbounce performed a study which showed adding a video to a page increased the page’s conversion rate from 6.5% to 11.0%. ¬†Your individual results will vary, but the point is clear: ¬†adding video increases your conversion rate.

4.  Add a Video to Your E-mail Signature

Videos get clicked more often than anything else, so why not add them to your e-mail signature? ¬†When you follow-up with various customers, they’ll have a reason to check your site out and learn more, which increases your sales.

5.  Put Video in Your Blog РAnd Add a Transcript

Diverse content in your blog increases reader interest. ¬†And when you write out a text transcript, that increases your SEO benefit because you have additional content at your blog. ¬†Plus, for people who don’t want to watch a video, you have some nice text in place for them to read instead.

6.  Create How-Tos

Just like the title of this article, creating video how-tos offer a ton of value to your customers. ¬†You can even use them twice – once in your blog and later on again in your newsletter. ¬†They also work as a nice way to follow up with customers after they’ve purchased from you.

Video Gives you a Huge Edge on the Competition 

When all is said and done, video is a great way to move ahead of your competitors.  Just 9% of small businesses with 24-99 employees use video!

Enjoy your competitive advantage…

How have you used video on your e-commerce site?  Let us know in the comments below:

Posted in Blogging for Ecommerce, Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, Online Marketing Strategies, Online Video

What’s the Future of E-Commerce?

future-of-e-commerce-fortune-3Jeff Bezos knew he had a good idea when he started Amazon, but did he know it would work out this well?  Probably not.

Like everything digital, e-commerce has evolved greatly over time, to the point where Bezos wants to use drones to deliver customer’s purchases within 30 minutes!

This sounds crazy now, but in a few years, it could be the norm.

So what’s the future hold for e-commerce? ¬†A few predictions:

1.  Total Product Customization

What a great way to compete with physical stores! ¬†Practically, the only reason to go to them is to get your hands on the product, and see if it’s the right size. ¬†Competition in the future may evolve to the point where you can get whatever piece of clothing you want however you want it. ¬†No more having to go from store to store trying to find that perfect size or color.

2.  Digital Shopping Attendants

So, when you go into a physical store, if the place has great customer service, someone greets you and shows you to where you need to go. ¬†With bandwidths increasing significantly across the globe, instead of just seeing a chat box and picture, you’ll be greeted by someone in real-time, just like when you talk to them on Skype.

3.  Recommendations Based on Products You Own

…But that you didn’t necessarily purchase from the store. ¬†For example, if you have an e-commerce store you love visiting time and again, you fill out some of the major products you own on your store profile. ¬†You may not have purchased those products at the store, but when you visit, it’ll be able to give you purchase recommendations based on what you currently own.

4.  More Digital Coupon Use

Most consumers find digital coupons incredibly helpful. ¬†One thing you don’t know about digital coupons though, is that they very often help customers learn about new products that they would not otherwise have purchased (according to a comScore report). ¬†They’re more environmentally friendly than their digital counterparts, so expect to see their demand increase in the future.

5.  Fingerprints Replace Credit Cards

Your customers will have a digital account synced directly with their fingerprint, making checkout faster, safer, and more secure than ever.  The technology may not be fully developed right now, but it will be in the future Рthe next five years or so.

So those are five predictions for the future of e-commerce.  What are your thoughts?  Let us know in the comments below:

Posted in Ecommerce Essentials & Tips

How to Choose the Right Tagline for Your Brand

fortune3-eocmmerce-branding-imageNo part of your business is so small that you should overlook it. ¬†Your tagline communicates instantly who you are, what you do, your company’s personality, and the primary benefit you offer to your customers.

How do you come up with legendary taglines like Nike’s “Just Do It” or DeBeer’s “A Diamond is Forever?” ¬†Developing an iconic tagline like that might be impossible for you, but you can get close and attract more customers if you follow this process:

1. Understand that it is an Open-Ended Process

You won’t scribble down a few ideas in your extra time and magically stumble across the tagline your customers are dying to hear. ¬†It is going to be a process – there’s no doubt about that. ¬†You’ll have to brainstorm with your key personnel. ¬†Think about it when you’re in the shower that morning.

Tell your secretary you’d love to hear her thoughts. ¬†You don’t know where your tagline will come from, but it will arise – in its own time.

2.  Be Clear

Your tagline isn’t the time to be creative – you don’t want to confuse people. ¬†Instead, you want to be simple, clear and to the point. ¬†Your tagline should be around 5-7 words or so.

3.  Know Your Market

What problem do you solve for your market? ¬†That’s what your tagline should focus on. ¬†Disneyland is the “Happiest Place on Earth.” ¬†What is it that your market really wants? ¬†They want some sort of good feeling – so deliver it to them right away in your tagline.

To find your benefit, keeping asking the question, “So what?” ¬†Do you provide innovative technological products? ¬†The consumer’s going to say, “So what if they’re innovative – you can get that type of stuff just about anywhere!” ¬†That means your benefit is going to need to be more specific.

4.  Run Your Ideas by Your Customers

Once you’ve got a few ideas, run them by your customers. ¬†You can do this digitally by sending out an e-mail survey, or if you have a physical location as well, just asking for feedback.

5.  Add Some Personality

Your tagline doesn’t have to be serious – it should contain some personality to give your customers an idea of how you do things. ¬†Don’t go all the way to the other extreme and go completely off the wall either.

6. ¬†Make Sure it Doesn’t Repeat Your Brand Name’s Concepts

Keep it completely original – that’s one of the main keys. ¬†All words, ideas, and benefits should be unique.

Now it’s off to the races – and remember when you hit on the right one, that can be a significant leap forward for your business psychologically and financially.

Posted in Branding, Ecommerce Essentials & Tips

Why Use Fortune 3′s E-Commerce Shopping Cart Software?

fortune3-ecommerce-solutionsThere’s tough competition for e-commerce software, and with good reason. ¬†There’s so much to do when you set up an e-commerce website. ¬†You have to:

1.  Get all your products and descriptions in place
2.  Develop the major product categories
3.  Operate a blog
4.  Use social proof in key places throughout your website
5.  Integrate your social media accounts with your website
6.  Be able to accept all major credit cards
7.  Have the ability to quickly manage product prices
8.  Conduct keyword research and optimize every page on your website

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! ¬†So, why use Fortune3 out of all the options available? ¬†A few reasons:

1. ¬†It’s Easy to Use – You can manage your entire store from a web browser or an application you can download straight to your PC. ¬†If you know how to use Windows, you can get started creating your e-commerce website. ¬†You don’t have to be an experienced coder or know how HTML in-depth.
2. ¬†24/7/365 Unlimited Tech Support – You’re not going to know how to do everything right away, and besides, it saves you time and money to ask for help when you run into problems. ¬†We have a team of professionals standing by ready to answer all your questions.
3.  Manage Your Site on the Go РWe have mobile apps for iPhone and Android, so you can always manage your website wherever you go.
4.  One-Page Checkout and Payment Processing РYour customers can quickly and easily pay with their preferred payment method.  Paypal, Google Wallet, Amazon Checkout, and dozens of payment gateways are immediately available.
5.  Fully Ready for Social Media РQuickly link your store to all of your major social media profiles, including LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
6.  Live Shipping Integration РGive customers real-time quotes from all the biggest, most reputable shipping companies they know Р DHL, Fedex, UPS, and USPS.
7.  Fully Customizable РNeed a unique design?  Not a problem Рyou can customize every last detail of your website.
8.  Reliable Hosting РGet 99.99% server uptime when you use us as your hosting service.
9. ¬†Fully Secure – Our suite is 100% PCI-compliant. ¬†256-bit SSL encryption keeps your customer’s information completely confidential.

So, those are the top reasosn to use our e-commerce software.  And you get it all for a flat, predictable monthly rate, depending on the package you choose.    We offer several different packages Рbeginning at $24.95 per month for 50 products and running all the way up to $899.95 per month for unlimited products.

Oh, and if you need to check it out first, be sure to try our FREE 30-day trial.

Posted in Blogging for Ecommerce, Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, eCommerce News

Are You Using Social Proof to Make Buying Easier?

fortune3-social-proof-pictureIf not, you should be. ¬†But if you’re not doing it right now, and you’re not sure what to do, we’re going to give you some tips so that you do know what works and what doesn’t.

So, let’s stop beating around the bush and start talking about ways to use social proof to increase sales:

1.  Testimonials

In marketing, it never works to say “We are the best!” ¬†Many websites say it, but yours shouldn’t. ¬†If you tell everyone you’re the best, you simply blend in with the crowd.

If you want to tell everyone you’re the best, what you should do is use testimonials throughout your website. ¬†However, keep in mind that they should:

1. ¬†Be as specific to the product/service you’re selling as possible

2.  Not be cleaned up by a professional writer (this takes away from their authenticity)

3. ¬†Include the person’s first and last name to enhance credibility

2.  Social Media Likes/Shares

Nothing attracts attention like a crowd, and these days likes and shares are the digital way crowds get formed. ¬†If your website is a ghost town, do be aware that very low counts cause more harm than good. ¬†You can always modify your buttons so that they don’t show the counts, and then display the counts when you feel good about them.

3.  Reviews

To get these, you should make the part of the sales process. ¬†For example, send an e-mail a couple days after the customer receives the product, asking for feedback. ¬†Don’t use an incentive ¬†for doing so – that biases results.

4.  Endorsements from Niche Authorities/Celebrities

If you’ve gotten someone to buy your products who has some star power in your niche, try to get an endorsement from them. ¬†Nothing works like the power of a celebrity endorsement.

5.  Trust Symbols

There’s about a million different ways you can use these. ¬†At your checkout page, make sure you use the logos for all credit cards you accept. ¬†If you have big-name clients who use your products, then display their logos (as long as they’re comfortable with it).

6.  Video Testimonials

Video almost always gets more engagement from customers than any other form of media. ¬†Feel free to use these on your home page and product pages. ¬†Make sure they don’t play automatically though – that irritates your visitors.

If you’re going to use social proof, those are some quick and painless ways to implement it on your website. ¬†And as always, make sure you constantly test your website to see which types of placement and social proof increase your sales most.

Posted in Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, How To

Does Your E-Commerce Site Have These 5 Essential Features?

ecommerce-important-featuresThe features we’re going to talk about today…they’re absolutely essential. ¬†They aren’t something you can just sort of put off until later. ¬†Your website is going to suffer if you don’t have them.

What are they?

Check them out below:

1.  Call-to-Action

Can’t overstate them enough. ¬†Your visitors only take your action if you tell them to take it. ¬†And the stronger, more relevant the call-to-action, the better. ¬†Example: ¬†you want people to sign up for your newsletter.

Don’t put the word “Submit” on the button – that’s boring and not relevant. ¬†Instead, put the words “Get FREE Monthly Marketing Tips.” ¬†Or whatever is relevant to your e-commerce site. ¬†It’s worth your time to test the living daylights out of it because a powerful call-to-action increases your conversions significantly.

2.  Social Sharing

This one should be a no-brainer by now. ¬†What, no one shares your posts so you see all zeros on your buttons? ¬†Get ones that hide the numbers if you’re embarrassed. ¬†It’s important to at least give your customers the opportunity to share.

3.  Blog Categories

This does two things:

1) ¬†It keeps you on target with which types of posts you’re going to write and

2) ¬†Makes it easy for your visitors to navigate your website’s content

Make sure you test out your categories too and continually refine them until you have the most relevant ones for your audience. Additionally, keeping your visitors on your site longer means they’re more likely to purchase. ¬†You should have around 6 categories or so – any more than that and you risk confusing your readers.

4.  Search

If you have hundreds of products, what better way to make them accessible than by keeping a search function in place? ¬†You should have it for both your products and your blog. ¬†Blogs are great, but remember those old posts get buried, so it’s important to make them easy to find.

And, you have so much great content, why hide it?

5.  Most Popular Posts

What should your visitors read when they stop by? ¬†They want to read stuff that’s interesting, and the stuff that captures the fascination of others is likely to capture their interest too. ¬†You could also use a “recent posts” box too so people know what’s fresh.

If you keep these features in tact on your e-commerce site, that helps your cause a ton in the eyes of your readers.

…oh and don’t forget to send them a newsletter letting them know when you’ve published a new post :) ¬†Enjoy even more e-commerce success!


Posted in Blogging for Ecommerce, Ecommerce Essentials & Tips

6 Branding Mistakes to Avoid

What is your brand?

It’s the sum perception people have of your company – it’s your business’s personality. ¬†People like things that are new, so the more you can present your company in an original way, the better.

But what shouldn’t you do? ¬†Well, here are a few of those things:

1.  Doing Something Offensive

Almost nobody intends to do this, but sometimes it happens by accidents, even after passing over many eyes. ¬†For example, PETA once put up a billboard that said “Save the Whales! ¬†Lose the Blubber: ¬†Go Vegetarian”…with a large woman on the side of the picture.

These can be good opportunities to show your integrity by making up for the mistake with good PR, but it’s not really a position you want to get into unless you have to. ¬†As you run your small business, just make sure that you run your branding and advertising by someone else before actually executing it.

2.  Imitating Other Companies

What works for other companies may not work for you.  Apple, for example, never branded itself as a technology company.  Instead, it focused on making technology a lifestyle:  it promoted the benefits of its products Рa sleek design, simplicity, and individuality.

If somebody’s focusing on the product and you want to compete – focus on the feelings the product provides instead.

3. ¬†Don’t Abandon Your Identity If It’s Established

For example, you know Burger King? ¬†They’ve been falling behind in the fast food industry of late. ¬†So one day, they decided to change the log on their website from “Burger King” to “Fries King.” ¬†People were confused as all get out.

If you want to shift people’s perception of your company, better to do it slowly over time.

4.  Inconsistency Across the Business

Your social media profiles, website, PowerPoint presentations, and business cards should all communicate the exact same idea.  You should have the same logo and colors on each.

Not doing so confuses your customers and their perception of your brand’s identity.

5.  Never Break Your Promise

If you stand for privacy, make sure you keep everything private at all levels. ¬†Path, a newer social media site, made privacy one of their core values. ¬†However, they eventually were found to be taking contact information from their user’s iPhones…without asking!

Of course, much outrage sparked. ¬†So whatever your brand promise…make sure you follow through on it.

6.  Choose Your Name Carefully

Names like “PMS Mortgage, STD Flea Market, and Mammoth Erection Construction Company” have actually existed. ¬†Of course, if an off-color name is appropriate for the type of customer you want to attract, then by all means use it.

Just like anything else though, make sure you run your name by a few people you trust before you use it.

So if you can avoid those six branding mistakes, you should be okay. ¬†If some sound obvious, do still consider them, because you don’t want to find yourself making an obvious mistake.

Posted in Branding, Ecommerce Essentials & Tips