Ecommerce Blog - Fortune3

Top 4 E-Commerce Myths (And the Realities Behind Them…)

fortune3-e-commerce-myths-imageIf you’re thinking about getting into e-commerce, or if you’re just starting, you’ll come in with your own preconceived notions about how it goes. Some of those might be based on what you’ve heard from others, and some from your own thinking.

While we want you to succeed, we also want to make sure you have a realistic understanding of how e-commerce works.

Here are some of the top myths we’ve found:

1. It’s Easy to Succeed

Winning in e-commerce is not easy – it actually involves a ton of hard work. And the competition’s only getting more intense because the stores that are online already have a solid understanding of what works and what doesn’t.

Plus, the rule of any business is that the unexpected always happens. There’s going to be good times and hard times. But if you stick with it, it’ll be a rewarding experience.

2. Customer Service is Easier Online

It’s not easier, but it is different. For example, many people love to use the “Live Chat” feature and get help with their questions right away. Are you going to be the one managing that at 7 AM and 9 PM?

Plus, experience is still a huge part of online shopping. People want it to be easy, fun, and they want right answers to their questions right away.

It takes a ton of testing and trial-and-error to design the experience your online shoppers want.

3. The Traffic Just Rolls In…

You have to market your website, and you have to do it aggressively. How you choose to do that is up to you. But one thing you’re going to want to get is lots and lots of links. And you want those links to go directly to your product pages (harder to get than you think).

You’ll also need to build a social media marketing plan, create a newsletter, and get into blogging and content development. It takes a lot of time, making mistakes, and learning what to do from them.

4. Customers Automatically Assume You Have a Legitimate Website

Just because you’re on the web, that doesn’t mean people believe you’re running a viable business. You still have to spend time earning customer trust and showing you belong with other web-based businesses.

If you can get in with the BBB, that’s great. Social media profiles with enough followers and regular sharing also go a long way in earning trust.

A clean layout, lots of content and pages, and good search engine rankings also communicate you are an established online business. Simple things like a business logo also build your credibility.

Good Luck in Your E-Commerce Pursuits!

Hopefully, knowing these realities helps better prepare you for your e-commerce journey. Good luck, and feel free to let us know any questions you have in the comments below:


Posted in Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, Online Marketing Strategies

What Colors Make the Most Sense for Your E-Commerce Store?

fortune3-marketing-colors-psychology.Color has so much more to do with marketing than you think. So it only makes sense you should know as much about it as possible before you begin designing (or rebranding your website).

Check out these interesting facts about colors and how they affect consumer psychology (much of this data comes from KISSmetrics):

1. Blue

This color is very calming. Customers experience feelings of trust and security when they see this color. Banks often use it. We use it. Facebook also uses blue. It’s a great color if security is a major pain point your customers might need to have addressed.

2. Green 

It’s associated with wealth, and also feelings of growth, abundance, joy, nature, and freshness. It’s a “cool” color – very easy for your eyes to view, and physical stores use it to help people relax.

3. Red

This color is energizing and increases your heart rate. It draws attention immediately. If you have a clearance or special offer, red is the way to go.

4. Yellow

This is the most cheerful color, and it also can communicate youthfulness. Like red, it’s a great way to quickly attract shopper attention.

5. Black

If you cater to an exclusive customer base, black is the color for it. Luxury products are often marketed with black as their associated color. It communicates feelings of elegance and power.

6. Pink

Color psychology often isn’t too obvious, but pink makes a ton of sense. It’s very feminine and markets well towards women. If you need to communicate a sense of security, or softness and sweetness, pink’s the right color to do it.

7. Orange

No color is as bold and aggressive as orange. It’s also playful, warm, and vibrant. It works well for calls to action.

8. Purple 

It’s the color of royalty, but it also works well for selling beauty and anti-aging products because it communicates a soothing, calm nature.

9. Gold

Just like black, it works well for selling high-end products because of its association with prestige and luxury.

What Colors Communicate is Often Subjective

It’s hard to know what a color says to a certain person. But, take this food for thought: you never see any pink power tools!

No “manly man” would buy pink power tools. But, he will buy orange, red, gray, black, and green power tools. That’s why it’s so important to know exactly who buys your product and why.

You want to show them that you understand them, and color is a great way to do that.

There are so many methods of communication, and color is among the most powerful.

Take this into account when building your next e-commerce store.

Posted in Ecommerce Essentials & Tips

E-Commerce to Hit $414 Billion in Sales by 2018

e-commerce-forrester-research-sales-imageForrester recently released a new report analyzing the state of e-commerce. You can purchase the report here, but it is $499.

According to their statistics:

• E-commerce sales will account for 11% of all retail sales in 2018
• Sales will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 9.5%

What will be driving that growth is increased consumer use of mobile devices, tablet PCs, and stronger offers from online retailers.

How to Create a Compelling Offer

What you have to offer is one of the biggest differentiators in the e-commerce space. So, let’s check out some ideas for offers:

1. Product Quality – So this isn’t a specific offer, but really it’s why people buy from you. The best thing you can do is to give them the products they want at the right price.

2. Free Shipping – Who doesn’t love this? A compelling free shipping offer would allow your customers to ship free both ways. Zappos has this policy, and it works great for them because they sell high-end clothes. The offer takes all the risk off of customers because if they don’t like the clothes or they don’t fit, they don’t lose any money.

3. Coupons – They’re always nice for your customers to get, but you’ll have to test them a lot. You never know which coupon or offer will work the best.

4. Rewards/Loyalty Points – “Gamification,” as it is officially called, is a great way to get customer interest. Some businesses have been completely transformed with this. That doesn’t mean yours should do it, but it’s an idea to consider.

5. Limited-Time Offers – For most SMBs, this is honestly one of the areas where big mistakes are made. It’s important to specifically state the limited time period. If you just say “limited time,” customers don’t take it all that seriously. But if they know the offer ends tonight, they get antsy and have to decide whether to act. More people act when you specify a time frame

6. FREE Gift When You Purchase – This one falls lower on your customer’s interest level. They’ll love the FREE shipping both ways more. But, it can still work and be helpful for your sales.

7. Save More When You Buy More – You don’t see this promotion too often, but you can use it. To be truthful, it’s not one of those promotions people tend to respond to. But every business is different, so it may be worth a try.

Remember, on the web, the sky is the limit. If  you can think creatively of a better offer than these, go ahead and run it and see what happens.

At least now, though, you have some ideas to start with.

Posted in Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, eCommerce News

[Infographic] Portrait of a Mobile Consumer

So this week we have something a little different for you. VoucherCloud recently approached us with this infographic regarding the modern mobile consumer:

Image Credit: VoucherCloud.com


What Do You Think About this Information?

There are a number of interesting points this infographic makes:

• 90% of mobile traffic will come from cloud applications by 2018
• QR codes are being used more often for gamification purposes (accumulating points, for example)
• More than half of all of Amazon’s customers purchased on a mobile device in Q4 of 2013
• By 2018, mobile video will be responsible for 69% of all mobile data traffic
• Brands will make their e-commerce store experiences more personal and immersive
• You’ll have to learn how to respond more rapidly to market demand because consumers have access to more information and can make better purchase decisions for their unique needs
• Consumers are more likely to purchase on ethically manufactured and environmentally-friendly products

So armed with that information, what do you think of those trends? How do they affect your store? How could they affect your store? Is your store ready for these changes?

It will be interesting to see how all these potential changes play out in the future.



Posted in Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, mCommerce

How to Write Engaging Blog Articles that Actually Sell

 fortune3-how-to-write-a-better-blog-article-imageWhy do some blog articles seem to just hoard attention while others get practically none at all? A little bit of it is luck (let’s be honest), but a lot of it is skill too.

First, let’s be clear: a single blog article very rarely ever sells by itself. People do not stumble about online, see your blog article, and then think, “Wow, this is incredible! How do I buy from this company?”

Instead, they really read your blog article, think, “Wow, this is great information. I’ll bookmark it for later. Maybe I’ll subscribe to this company’s newsletter too if they consistently offer this kind of info.” Then, when they’re actually ready to buy, they buy from you months down the road.

With an accumulation of awesome information, you look like an expert in the eyes of others. Here are some tips for writing blog articles that help you achieve this:

1. Write the Most In-Depth Post of Its Kind on the Web

If someone else writes a post that has “7 Tips for…,” make yours “57 Tips for…” That indicates much more value than the first post idea. Yours doesn’t have to be 57 tips long, but  you get the idea. You can go even longer if you want.

2. Use an Engaging, Conversational Style

It takes more experience than you think to write in a “conversational” style. You’ll hear this tip all over the web, but what does it mean in actual practice?

All you have to do is write like you’re talking to someone standing right next to you. If you wouldn’t say that word during the normal course of conversation, don’t write it either.

And visualize someone who doesn’t know very much about what you’re discussing. Avoid jargon and slang because that only causes confusion.

3. Research Your Competitors

This is the easiest way to get topic ideas right from the start. Go to their blogs and see which posts get the most social shares because that tells you how useful the post was to their audience.

Then, write on the same topic, giving your own opinion on it so you don’t plagiarize.

4. Use an Interesting Lead Paragraph

Start with a fact, story, quote, question, joke, or any other creative way you can think of to be interesting. This post started off with a provocative question.

What you want to make sure not to do is to start with one of the same old techniques many writers use, like:

  • When it comes to…
  • Let’s face it…
  • There are…

If you take the time to be more interesting, you’ll build a larger and more loyal following. Remember, though, that it’s extremely difficult and takes lots of work over a long period of time.

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

How to Build an Active Online Community

Have you ever seen those blogs, or bigger stores, like Zappos, that have thousands of followers on their social profiles? Other companies blog regularly, and they seem to get 5-10 comments without a problem.

At Fortune3, we can’t claim incredible success, but we do have more than 2,000 Facebook followers – which is pretty good for a niche-based business. And here’s the thing, you don’t need 30,000 social media followers to have a successful community that buys from you time and again.

So how do you create a cozy community of customers who love you? Follow these tips:

1. Provide an Awesome Product and Even Better Customer Service

The whole reason anyone talks about any business is that you do something truly exceptional for them. Most businesses do not put their customers first, so start by doing that.

2. Content

After you’ve built something truly exceptional, or even while you’re doing it, make sure you create original and truly awesome content. It’s kind of cliche, but it’s true.

However, what you can do to stand out with content is write incredibly in-depth blog posts that can’t be found anywhere else online. That gives people a reason to check out your content and visit your website instead of your competitor’s.

3. Design Every Page for Sharing

Get those social sharing buttons on every page of your website. Use incredible titles on your blog, and benefits-oriented titles on your product pages.

These things all sound simple, but you’d be surprised how many businesses never do them.

4. Respond to Every Comment

Whenever someone does post a comment on your blog or social media profiles, respond to it directly. Sometimes, you’ll earn business from the person making the comment. In most cases, though, you’ll end up making a good impression on other followers, eventually earning their business down the road.

5. Post Frequently

You don’t need to go nuts with this. However, one thing is that the more you post on Twitter, the more followers you get. People love frequent posting on that site. With all the rest, you’ll want to post around 4-7 times per week.

Most of the posts should be questions or valuable information. About 20% should advertise your products or services, and  you’re safe going with even less than that. Over time, you’ll learn which posts your audience loves the most, and you’ll become their favorite resource if you give them the content which educates them the most.

6. Use Guest Posts & Press Releases to Spread the Word

You can build a brand strictly by ranking in organic search. But that takes a ton of time. Bloggers are now social media powerhouses – try to guest post on the A-list blogs for your niche.

You can get an explosion of traffic and sales literally overnight if you do.

Have Realistic Expectations…

Building a community rarely happens quickly. And if you hear about someone building one in less than year, generally they had a lot of luck, or they had an existing site they could use to launch another.

In most cases, it takes several years to build a real, thriving community. But it helps your bottom line a ton when you do.

Posted in Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, Online Marketing Strategies, Social Media For eCommerce

How to Build Relationships with Influencers & Get PR

fortune3-influence-imageThe time has arrived where bloggers now have a lot of media power on the web. Land on the right blog, and you could get hundreds, or even thousands of new purchases of your product.

This process is called “influence marketing,” if you want to Google it and learn more about it.

But how do you influence bloggers who have no idea who you are?

It’s actually easier than you think, and often the only cost to you is time. Here’s what you should do to get their attention:

1. Twitter

Retweet the influencer’s stuff, and favorite their tweets. Mention them in a tweet, and in that same tweet mention your website as well. They’re much more likely to retweet your stuff  if you mention them in it.

After you do this several times, ask them for a favor, and you have a much better chance of getting a positive response.

2. Their Blog

Become a regular commenter, but make sure you provide high-value comments. Or, ask questions. Just saying “thank-you” isn’t enough to convince an influencer that they should do a favor for you.

3. Help Them Out

If the blogger you’re targeting suddenly asks a question, respond if you have a good answer. Did their website’s load time suddenly take a nosedive? Do you know of a WordPress plugin designed specifically to solve their problem?

Let them know about the answer, but only if you have a good one.

4. Do an E-mail Interview

Everyone loves to share their expertise, and so do bloggers. Make sure you ask them some really tough questions though – they love to feel challenged. Stay away from basic questions because that could appear as though you’re just trying to use them to get the exposure.

5. Send them Free Traffic

Use websites like Scoop.it and BizSugar to promote your target blogger’s content.  You could even try creating a weekly link roundup blog post on your website, and they might just stop by and comment on your blog.

6. Record a Video & E-mail It

Wow, now this is a tactic that doesn’t get used often. Record a video of yourself discussing what you like about your target blogger’s content so much. Be honest and genuine – your true motivations will shine through whether you want them to or not.

You might also tell them how their content has helped you out.

Put the Other Person First, and You’ll be Just Fine…

The amount of creativity you can use to reach out to key influencers and make a solid impression is unlimited. These are just a few ways to do it.

Are there others you can think of?


Posted in Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, Online Marketing Strategies, Social Media For eCommerce

7 Common E-Commerce Questions (And Answers)

Some people take the “try and fail” approach, while others learn from the mistakes of those who traveled the road before them. If you’re going to do it on your own, it’s going to take an awful lot of time to “fail your way forward.”

Instead, check out these common questions and answers about e-commerce, and cut your time to success in half:

1. Should You List Products on Amazon and eBay? 

You can, but their fees eat up your profits. It’s very hard to make a living only selling products on these websites. And, if you’re trying to sell these products, they’re very rarely high-margin. Competition is intense too.

You should avoid selling your products on these websites, even if they seem like a good idea.

2. Which Shipping Service Should You Use?

It doesn’t matter, but what you should know is they do lose packages with regularity. This is true for all major companies. Make sure you get insurance when shipping all items.

3. Does Fraud Happen?

It does, and to e-commerce companies of all sizes. If you’re getting a bunch of orders, and one suddenly looks strange, don’t be afraid to cancel it if things don’t add up.

4. What’s the Best Thing You Can do to Help Your Customers Immediately?

You absolutely need to be very clear on your offers and shipping policies. Nothing’s too obvious to say anywhere on your website. Make things crystal clear – so clear that even a 6th grader could understand what to do.

5. What Security Steps Do I Need to Take?

Your website must have its own unique SSL certificate. All you have to do is Google the term to find issuers of this, and plenty of options will come up.

6. How do You Charge Enough for Shipping?

This is actually fairly difficult. First, you have to know which companies you’re going to use. They do offer tools that integrate with your website to help you make these calculations automatically.

You don’t want to calculate the shipping at the time of the sale, as that makes customers angry. What you’ll have to do is come as close as possible, but then add in some room for error as well.

7. Can You Stop Customers from Abandoning Their Shopping Carts?

You cannot control this, but you can make it less likely it will happen. By making their shopping cart experience as smooth and simple as possible, that helps reduce shopping cart abandonment.

You can also install a feature that sends them an e-mail a few days after they abandon their shopping cart, asking them if they remember that they did this. You could also offer them a 10% discount for following through on their order to encourage them to buy.

Hope those answers to common e-commerce questions help, and think about all the time (and stress) you could save!

Posted in Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, Q&A

4 Top Reasons Your E-Commerce Store Will Fail

fortune3-ecommerce-fail-imageIf you had a magic crystal ball that told the future, wouldn’t that be the most incredible competitive advantage ever? Well, I can’t give that to you.

But I can tell you why many e-commerce stores fail. Pay attention to these reasons carefully – they come from careful research. If you learn from the mistakes of others now and get to know what direction to go into, you’ll save yourself so much time, frustration, and aggravation.

With that in mind, here are some of the main reasons e-commerce stores fail:

1. No USP

Do you know what your unique selling proposition is? It’s the main reason that differentiates you from all other competitors. Now, you can come up with a USP that’s not really a USP. It has to be a USP in the minds of your target customers.

For example, a “full selection of skincare products” is not a USP. Full selection is nice, but it’s not enough to really make yourself different. If you offered luxury skincare products for successful business professionals, you’re much closer to a true USP.

2. Not Adjusting to Market Conditions

If you’re standing still, you’re doing something wrong. There’s no shame in trying and failing. But the fact of the matter is your competitors are always trying to do things better. And your customer’s needs are changing.

You have to constantly stay in tune with what your market really wants and what your competition is doing in order to stay competitive.

3. Not Meeting Your Customer’s Service Expectations

Most companies do not put their customers first, despite the fact most say that they do. Remember, “When you help other people get enough of what they want, they’ll help you get what you want.”

Your customer service will never be perfect. But you have to be as close to perfect as possible to remain successful. Research “Zappos customer service stories” for exceptional examples. They’ve done things like purchasing products they don’t have from competitors and shipping them to customers the same day – for free.

They don’t do that for everybody. But, it goes to show you that leading e-commerce companies do take their customer service seriously, and they do succeed in large part because of it.

4. Not Enough Payment Options

Yes, you can save money by not offering credit card payment options. But, that saves money short-term and loses you customers long-term.

They could care less about your costs, and they’ll just go to another site to get what they need. Make sure they can pay by any method they want.

If somebody wants to give you money, make it easy for them!

Nobody Wants to Fail!

…But if you take certain actions, you increase the chances it will happen.

Posted in Ecommerce Essentials & Tips

7 Shortcuts for Skyrocketing Your E-Commerce Revenues

fortune3-e-commerce-skyrocketing-revenue-imageAre your revenues where you want them to be? Have you ever wondered if there are some easy techniques you could use to increase your revenues at your e-commerce store?

There are some. Every business has ways it can do things a little bit better. Think about some of these and see if they apply to your e-commerce store:

1. Upsell

Most customers come to your e-commerce store with a certain budget in mind they’re not willing to exceed. Upselling is when you successfully convince them to buy more than they intended.

A simple technique to do this is to “display the next model up.” If you sell a 55″ television, show your customers a photo of the 60″ version for just $200 more.

If your customers get a certain quantity of a product for $40, give them 50% more for just $10 extra. They’ll spend more, but get more for the price.

2. Personalization

If your customers go to a website and buy an iPhone, don’t show them the iPhone again when they return. That’s what everyone sees. Instead, allow them to see a case, charger, or headphones.

It makes more sense to them to see these items, and they’ll be more likely to buy.

3. Use a Search Bar 

E-commerce users do use these to find the products they need. Make sure your search function shows products relevant to what your customers are really looking for.

4. Make Shipping Costs Clear

Let your customers know as early as possible how much shipping costs will add to the final cost of their item. The earlier they know about this, the less likely they are to abandon your shopping cart.

5. Add Supporting Services

If you sell products, consider adding services to sell. You could include gift wrapping, handwritten notes, or even live chat support 24 hours per day.

6. Give Your Current Customers a 10% Discount

One of the truest business maxims out there is that it costs more to get new customers than to keep your current ones. Send out an e-mail that offers a 10% discount to past customers who haven’t bought from you in a while.

7. Let Your Customers Create Accounts After They Purchase

If you make them create an account before they purchase, it makes purchasing harder. Guess what? They’ll purchase more if you give them the option to create an account after purchasing.

Most of those methods do not take a long time to implement.  Think about them all, and consider which could help improve your revenues.

Posted in Ecommerce Essentials & Tips, eCommerce Website Analysis, How To, Shopping Cart Abandonment