Tag Archives: eCommerce

Ecommerce strategies, Marketplace Information and tips for ebay, Amazon, SEO, Express, Google Base, froogle.

Ecommerce plugins: 10 of the best

Frooition Online Branding Experts

It’s never been easier to start an online business. With plenty of ecommerce platforms to choose from, it’s fair to say your foundations have already been laid, regardless of what it is you want to sell. The one you choose will depend on your own needs and preferences, but popular examples include Shopify, Magento 2.0 and BigCommerce.

These tools are immensely useful, even in their most basic form, but there are ways to really maximise their potential. For us, the key lies in finding the right plugins and extensions. Thankfully, you needn’t traipse through the thousands available in each respective marketplace – we’ve brought the most useful together in the handy list below.

We’ve focused on the three platforms mentioned above, with some of our favourite extensions listed for each. Happy downloading!

Magento 2.0

Magento says its growing extensions marketplace “helps merchants do more with their online stores,” and it’s difficult to disagree.

MagecheckoutDesigned to make the checkout process a whole lot easier for your shoppers, this popular extension is a great way to stop shoppers leaving before they’ve finished buying. It puts everything your customers need on one page, from address, through payment details to delivery options. It also integrates various payment options.

It comes with some pretty impressive success stats, too – the company claims an average conversion rate increase of 30 per cent, sales growth of 60 per cent and a decrease of 66 per cent in cart abandonment.

Magento Connector (Bronto) – As we said before, anyone can open an online store nowadays, so it’s important that your marketing is on point. Bronto’s automation wizardry will help you achieve that, and this tool makes it possible through Magento.

Plug it in and you’ll be able to seamlessly import a wealth of valuable purchase data from your store into Bronto’s own platform. You can then develop ultra-targeted email and promo campaigns to really engage with your target audience.

Product QuestionsIf you’re going to build valuable relationships with your audience members, you need to be open, honest and approachable. Product Questions allows you to maintain dialogue with the people who are buying or who may soon buy your products by adding a question and answer thread on each product page.

You’ll get notified whenever a question is asked, but other customers may also offer help if they know the product well. Every response is rated for usefulness, so it’s easy for users to find the most helpful answers.

Shopify

Shopify is a great tool for building attractive ecommerce sites that ooze with functionality. The wealth of extensions on offer only make the prospect more appealing.

Order PrinterYou can do most things online these days but when the order’s complete and the customer has paid, you can’t get around having to actually send the product. You can make the process a whole lot easier, though.

Order Printer is a free tool that allows you to print everything you might need when sending things out to buyers – from invoices and packing slips to returns info and address labels. It keeps all of it organised, and offers bulk printing options to keep your costs and time investment to a minimum. The result is a more efficient delivery process for you and your customers!

Plug in SEOIf you want to be seen by your audience – the majority of whom will be using search engines – you need to consider search engine optimisation (SEO). This is the act of making sure your site shows up for relevant searches on sites like Google and Bing.

It’s a complex world, SEO, but this extension makes everything a lot easier to understand. Plug it into your site and it’ll highlight all of the little things that need fixing – it could be a case of missing meta tags, for example, or poor loading speeds. Heed its advice and you should see pretty quick results.

eBay Importer – Gone are the days when eBay was seen only as an auction site. Now, retailers of all kinds use the platform to sell new goods, and there’s every chance you are too. If so, eBay Importer will be massively useful.

It allows you to copy your eBay catalogue over to your Shopify store, so the two are properly integrated. It’ll automatically handle all of the little details too – including images, variations and listing categories.

BigCommerce

American firm BigCommerce was only founded in 2009 but its ecommerce software has already been adopted by some of the world’s biggest businesses – Toyota, Ubisoft and Gibson included. It, too, has some extremely useful extensions.

Mento – Social media provides a huge marketing opportunity for your business, and Mento will help you capitalise. It’s designed to eliminate the time-consuming task of manually posting promotional info on your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr accounts – it’s all taken care of automatically.

You can make use of pre-generated social posts covering your various products, publishing them across all of your relevant channels as and when you feel necessary.

InStockNotify – This handy little tool gives customers an option to enter their email address and receive stock updates when the product they want isn’t available.

It might sound like an extremely simple idea, but it’s one that really can help to boost sales in the long run. Rather than leaving customers disappointed with not being able to get hold of the things they’re after, you have a chance to start building relationships. They may even opt in to other promotional correspondence.

LiveChat – Speaking of building relationships, LiveChat will allow conversation between you and your customers to flow. It gives your site basic instant messaging capabilities, ensuring visitors can get in touch quickly and easily when they have questions to ask. Unlike email, this works in real-time, so as long as you have someone there and ready to talk, it should speed up the process of turning prospects into brand advocates.

…And one for luck

To complete the 10, we’ll finish on a powerful tool that works across Magento 2.0, Shopify and BigCommerce.

MailChimp, as you may already know, is one of the business world’s leading email marketing services. Its goal is to help you reach your audience effectively and efficiently with automated, targeted email campaigns. Plug it into your chosen ecommerce platform and it’ll give you the power to recommend products to individual customers based on their purchasing behaviour – if someone buys a camera, for example, they might be sent information on compatible lenses.

It also covers follow-up correspondence to help you maintain relationships with customers and reporting, so you know what works and what doesn’t.

MailChimp links: Magento 2.0 / Shopify / BigCommerce

And with that, we’re at the end of our list. Be sure to explore your relevant app stores to experiment with the thousands of extensions out there – you’re sure to find something helpful, and many come with free trials. Good luck!

Frooition provide design for any of those platforms, click here to compare.

Introducing Magento 2.0 – the ecommerce firm’s new best friend

Magento 2.0

Magento, as you may already know, is one of the world’s most popular pieces of ecommerce software. Although it was originally built and launched in California in 2008, it didn’t take long for retailers across Europe to pick up on the platform’s potential. The user-base expanded rapidly and is now huge.

Now, approaching a decade later, we’ve reached another major milestone in the software’s story: the release of Magento 2.0.

A long but worthwhile wait

It’s fair to say the wait for Magento 2.0 has been a long one. The platform’s development actually began all the way back in November 2011, amid the release of various 1.X iterations. In the time since, we’ve seen the departure of co-founder Yoav Kutner as well as a major take over (and later sale) by world-beating e-retail giant eBay. A lot has happened.

The general consensus, however, is that the wait has been worthwhile – and we can’t help but agree.

What to expect

Magento 2.0 builds on its already-powerful predecessor in a number of ways. The main goals, according to the development team, were to: update the maturing technology stack, increase scalability, simplify external integrations, optimise the customisation process and improve overall performance.

Has this all been achieved? We think so. Let’s take a closer look at some of the exciting updates you can expect from this game-changing new release.

An interface built to save time – Let’s start by saying that Magento 2.0 is easier to use. The more intuitive and user-friendly interface includes a streamlined ‘Admin’ panel that allows users to handle everyday tasks with ease, saving significant time in the long- and short-term. This means as your business grows and the workload becomes heavier, you’re not forced to start hiring immediately.

When the time does come to expand the workforce, you can rest assured new staff will hit the ground running, with the added ease-of-use meaning only minimal training is required.

Invaluable integration credentials – Most Magento users rely on a wide range of technologies and applications to keep their businesses running, and the developers behind 2.0 have clearly taken this into account. Straight out of the box, it’s ready to work hand in hand with not just one but three of the most common payment gateways: PayPal, Authorize.net and Braintree. The Enterprise Edition also offers easy integration with WorldPay and CyberSource – and all come with improved security for maximum peace of mind for you and your customers.

Even more flexibility – There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all ecommerce solution. Every business is different, so customisability must be a key consideration. Thankfully, Magento 2.0 has it in spades. The software is powerful enough out of the box, but by delving a little deeper, users will find a range of ways to fine-tune their experience.

The open-source architecture that made Magento famous in the first place has been further developed to allow maximum personalisation. The result is a solution that fits your needs, not everyone else’s.

Futureproof and easy to maintain – Magento 2.0 has the power to increase your business’s potential today, but it’s also been built with the future in mind. The open-source, modular architecture allows for easier and quicker upgrades. This means when new functionality becomes available – and it will – you’re able to benefit immediately.

As a result, the state-of-the-art solution you put faith in remains that way for years to come. You always have the best, meaning your investment in futureproofed.

Great extensions = greater capabilities

The wrapping is barely off and already there are a host of fantastic extensions to help you increase Magento 2.0’s awesome power.

This goes back to our earlier point on customisability; you can do so much with the new Magento as it is, but if it doesn’t quite meet your specific needs, there will be a solution in the constantly expanding product and services marketplace.

Looking to boost audience engagement? Consider Facebook All in One, an extension designed to make your website an altogether more social experience. It’ll introduce ‘like’ buttons and comment boxes to your pages, allowing your customers to share their thoughts and, more importantly, share your products.

If your stretched team has little time to dedicate to marketing, take some help from Bronto Software. The Bronto Magento Connector allows you to harness the power of data – i.e. past-purchase information – to boost the effectiveness of your campaigns, all with minimal effort on your part.

You can even introduce LiveChat features to help you better connect with your customers. It gives you a simple yet effective new channel through which to answer questions and solve any problems the users of your site may have.

These are just three examples of the plug-ins, integrations and extensions you can expect to find for Magento 2.0. Explore the marketplace for the full, impressive picture.

Perfect timing

Sure, the wait has been long, but the release of Magento 2.0 couldn’t have come at a better time. With ecommerce playing a crucial role in supporting the economy both here in the UK and across Europe, web retailers need a powerful, streamlined and flexible website solution more than ever before. This is undoubtedly the answer.

The Impact of Professional Branding Online

Branding is possibly the single most important thing that you can do for your online business. Apart from price and availability of product there is little else to distinguish you from any other online merchant but strong branding make the difference between getting the sale or not. Service only comes into play once the buyer has made a purchase, and until that point the only way to set yourself apart from other sellers is with a strong brand.

Your own brand tells customers that they are looking at one of your eBay auctions or your online shop. A memorable brand and colour scheme sets you apart from your competitors. Your brand will help customers remember the great service they received from you in the past and give them the confidence to shop again.

If you look at many experienced eBay sellers shops you’ll see that they tend to have very individual colour schemes, undoubtedly they’ll have a logo, but importantly the same colour scheme or “branding” carries through from their eBay auctions to their shop home page, their About Me page, their custom shop pages and even on their email marketing and end of auction emails.

Branding shouldn’t stop at your eBay shop though, if you have a website or sell on venues other than eBay your branding should carry across so that buyers who have made one purchase from you recognise you wherever they find your products for sale. Your branding should carry across all the sites you trade on as well as your flyers, packing slips, thank you notes, business cards, invoices.

“A professional logo not only tells your customers that you’re serious about your business, but also acts as the basis for all your other branding”

The easiest place to start your branding is when you create your logo. A professional logo not only tells your customers that you’re serious about your business, but also acts as the basis for all your other branding. Whilst it’s easy to create your own logo either in a graphics program or using software such as http://www.aaa-logo.com/, it’s worth investing the money to get a professional designer to create it for you. There are many companies on eBay who will design you a logo, or a company such as Frooition will design your logo in conjunction with branding your eBay listings, eBay shop or your own website.

Once you have a logo choose your eBay shop or website colours to complement it. On eBay this is fairly easy as in the shop designer you can customise the colours to match your logo – you don’t even need to know any HTML to do so. Choose colours, logos and symbols that reflect what you sell to make your eBay shop unique and create your own brand.

Unless you’re an HTML expert you’ll probably want someone to create and brand your website for you. Most ecommerce packages will allow you a certain amount of customisation, but this is normally restricted to selecting a set theme from a restricted set of options. Almost all ecommerce packages can be fully customised using HTML Style Sheets by a professional designer and if you want strong branding it’s worth investing in your business.

Your branding needn’t stop at your eBay listings, shop or website, it’s possible to extend your branding into eBay search results and even onto Google Product Search and other shopping comparison sites by branding your images. Consider putting a border on your eBay gallery pictures using your brands colours, or if your logo can be reduced in size include your logo in each image and it’ll appear on the thumbnails that eBay display in search. Equally on product comparison sites your branded images will let buyers know that it’s your product that they’re looking at.

When considering branding think about large companies such as Nike or Vodafone. As soon as you see the Nike slash you instantly know it’s a Nike product or website even if you don’t see their name. Vodafone is equally recognisable from their red quotation mark logo in a circle. If you can create an icon from your logo which is as instantly recognisable you’re well on your way to creating your brand.

Once you or your designer has created your brand you can build a consistent appearance across all the channels you sell on. Your brand will become more important over time in building customer confidence and help with faster customer acquisition and retention.  Branding delivers customer awareness and loyalty and plays a vital role in the speed that a company grows. Once you have built your brand make sure that it’s used in every contact with a customer, whether it be on eBay and your website or in any email or mail communications that you send.

Raising your Ratings: eBay Top-rated Seller Programme

Securing and maintaining eBay’s Top-Rated Seller status should be high on any seller’s to do list. eBay education specialist Mark Buckingham offers a few top tips to help you bolster the fortunes of your eBay Empire …

 

Introduced in October, the Top-rated Seller programme distinguishes the cream of eBay sellers. There’s little proof thus far that not having it will significantly hurt your eBay sales, but it’s well worth going the extra mile to attain such hallowed status. Arguably, eBay have raised the bar a little too high for certain sellers – there are mixed feelings in the Powerseller community, especially amongst those selling large, heavy, or fragile items more prone to delivery complications – but TRS is here to stay and it is achievable for the majority:

  • Strive for 5 stars: Avoiding low 1 and 2 stars is key to the Top-Rated programme, so communicate to your buyers the importance of Detailed Seller Ratings and feedback. Use your custom emails in Selling Manager Pro to keep your customers apprised, add compliment slips to remind your buyers where they bought the item from and highlight other special offers, and don’t hesitate to pick up the phone if a buyer isn’t happy.
  • Get to grips with Best Match: From meeting eBay’s basic seller standards, to understanding recent sales score and impressions it’s well worth doing a little homework to get to grips with exactly how Best Match sorts matching listings. I’d go as far as to say this is the single main area most sellers I’ve talked to continue to neglect, to their disadvantage. Get Best Match savvy, and you’ll reap the rewards.

  • Pick your ‘carrots’:  Top-Rated Seller is partly calculated by number of transactions, so consider adding cheaper cost-neutral lines that will sell in volume and could help pad out your feedback, and help absorb any low scores. It will also help generate extra footfall into your shop. Don’t forget to use Good-til-Cancelled multi-quantity listings to save you re-listing the item and jeopardising your sales-score.
  • Manage buyer expectations: setting and exceeding expectations is all-important. In my experience, a buyer won’t mind waiting a week if they know in advance. If you’re shipping an item that will be pre-booked by the couriers using a 2-man delivery, ensure your buyer doesn’t expect it yesterday. It’s best to lower expectations and exceed, than promise a turnaround time you can’t realistically fulfil.
  • Anticipate problems: LLook at your Detailed Seller Rating and feedback history and see where low scores and non-positive comments have been left, and look for trends. Perhaps particular lines in your shop catergory are more problematic than others? If so, take time to give those buyers extra-special customer service.
  • Offer free P&P: this is part of the Best Match algorithm – eBay have announced that they give a boost to listings offering free P&P. Of course, there’s rarely such a thing as free carriage, but it pays to build it into your unit cost, or subsidise it as best you can. It simplifies the buyer experience and means less risk of buyers leaving low feedback for perceived high carriage cost. And anything that can help raise your sales can’t be a bad thing.
  • Beat thy competition: Frooition customer’s already have an advantage over most sellers who don’t have a professional setup. But it still pays to know your competition and to be creative. Get into the habit of scouring eBay’s Completed Items searches and other research products like Terapeak, to see what your competitors are fairing. Look carefully to see what value other sellers are offering and see how you can add more value and stand out from the crowd. Be creative. Consider embellishing your gallery thumbnails and consider adding a subtitle if you haven’t already. Even stating the RRP and amount saved might mean the difference between a winning a loyal buyer or giving your competitors the upper hand. And we don’t want that.

Here’s wishing you every success!

www.NetSeek.co.uk

Mark Buckingham

eBay business consultant

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Useful Tools..

OK, so over the last couple of years, I’ve been asked many times what our clients can do to further optimise their ChannelAdvisor Stores, their eBay Stores and listings, and alas their existing ecommerce websites and blogs. Not a bad question, but there was a catch.. they all wanted this for FREE.

I found myself giving out the same websites and useful tools over and over, and realised there wasn’t an up-to-date reasonable list out there to suit this purpose, so decided I’d start one here…

What is it?
“A tool to check at-a-glance the link popularity of any site based on its ranking (Google PageRank, Alexa Rank, Technorati etc.), social bookmarks (del.icio.us, etc), subscribers (Bloglines, etc) and more!”

OK, so why would I use it?
I like this site as it’s very fast at giving you an overall “popularity” view of any site according to a whole host of different sites. This is great to find out how your site performs against your competitors too!

Overall Rating: 9/10

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What is it?
“SnapShots are smart profiles of the websites we visit. Simply enter a domain (e.g. amazon.com) and SnapShot will provide traffic history, a trust assessment and a list of all available coupon codes.”

OK, so why would I use it?
A product from Bill Gross (founder of GoTo search engine, which then became Overture, created paid search and was acquired by Yahoo), which allows for an ‘alexa-like’ experience of site ranking and traffic data for both single sites and site comparison (again good for competitor analysis).

They also have a couple other features thrown in which I like:

First, it shows ‘Deals’ that a site may be offering. (Coupon Mountain who specializes in finding and collecting promotion codes and they gather the majority of deals available every day)

Second, it shows a ‘Trust’ element for websites, which is based on community trends and third party secutity services.

Overall Rating: 7/10

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What is it?
“Website benchmarking is a score of your website’s performance within a large range of tests. The EC-Plus website benchmarking test is a free online website benchmark utility that allows anyone to quickly assess the performance of their website, without extensive knowledge of website development.”

OK, so why would I use it?

If you’re looking at taking out some form of SEO service, I’d recommend checking this out first to find out; whether you need it; what areas your current site(s) are falling down on.

The report is very detailed and will give you a good indicator of website strengths and weaknesses, and of course again it’s very useful to find out whether a competitors site scores higher than your own (i.e., if a competitor uses the same shopping cart software, and they’ve taken an SEO package to gain traffic, you could test to see whether it has made a difference..)

Overall Rating: 8/10

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What is it?
“A sitemap is a data file which references pages of your website, and assists search engines in indexing / storing your pages in their databases faster and more easily. By placing a formatted xml file with site map on your webserver, you enable Search Engine crawlers (like Google) to find out what pages are present and which have recently changed, and to crawl your site accordingly.”

OK, so why would I use it?This is a great site, very fast to use, and of course totally free. I would recommend you invest 3 minutes in getting this done and dusted! Totally automated and makes creating a sitemap almost too easy.

Overall Rating: 10/10

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What is it?
“The Keyword Tool generates potential keywords for your ad campaign and reports their Google statistics, including search performance and seasonal trends. Start your search by entering your own keyword phrases or a specific URL”

OK, so why would I use it?
A fantastic tool from Google that allows you to find relevant, high traffic keywords and key phrases for.. well, any form of online advertising, oh and of course maybe your Adwords campaigns?

Overall Rating: 9/10