October 26, 2010

Cool Tools: Abandonment Tracker

Filed under: Cool Tools — Tags: , , , — Meredith @ 6:52 am

Did you know that 70% of shopping carts are abandoned before a purchase is made? You can find out why your customers are ditching with SeeWhy’s Abandonment Tracker.

This free tool provides:

  • Number of carts abandoned in the last 24 hours
  • Number of conversions
  • Number of sessions at each stage of your conversion process (i.e. number who added to cart, number who viewed the check out page, etc.)
  • Top 5 abandoned pages
  • Details of individual abandoners, including email addresses, referrer and optionally, their shopping cart value

Why this tool is cool:

  • Helps you identify problems in your conversion process.
  • Free to use.
  • Delivered daily so you can observe patterns of cart abandonment over time and see how improvements to your site’s usability or sales language affect the conversion rate.

Abandonment Tracker is part of a premium tool from SeeWhy called Conversion Manager. Conversion Manager is designed to help you recover sales associated with abandoned carts and increase your conversion rate with customers who’ve visited your site in the past.

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October 15, 2010

Link Love: The Most Valuable Small Biz Articles Posted This Week

Filed under: Link Love — Tags: , , , , , , — Meredith @ 7:45 am

Every day I check out the 100s of subscriptions in my RSS feed about marketing, PR, advertising, branding, social media, and a host of other topics of interest to small businesses that sell online. Most of what gets posted isn’t earth shattering but I reserve Fridays for the best reads of the week. So here you have it, the most valuable things I read in the business blogosphere this week:

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October 11, 2010

Meylah: An Ecommerce Solution Built for Creative Entrepreneurs

Filed under: Ecommerce — Tags: , , — Meredith @ 8:04 am

Guest post contributed by Jason Dirks of Meylah

Recently, Smaller Box published an article on Ecomm Must Haves: Can Your Ecommerce Solution Do This? Following that article, we were lucky to be offered a chance to share the features of Meylah, a new ecommerce solution specifically built for creative entrepreneurs and FREE to join!

We believe in the relationship between community and sales and many people are growing substantial communities (and customer bases) online using social media tools and blogging platforms, but they have limited means to sell to these same communities that they are building. Meylah offers a unique experience that integrates community building AND selling as the core purpose and in one integrated experience through blog-powered storefronts.

While there are already millions of creative entrepreneurs online, there are still millions of others that are staying out of the online space because setting up, running, and managing current ecommerce solutions are difficult and intimidating.  Meylah’s blog-powered storefronts are easy to use and offer a unique solution for creative professionals to connect, grow and support their customers allowing novice users the ability to launch their business online quickly and build it for long-term success.

Okay, so let’s share some of Meylah’s features related to those in the article last week:

Meylah is SEO Optimized from the bottom up.  Because Meylah is a blog platform, all your titles, keywords, categories and URLs are optimized for search engines. Meylah is changing how creative goods are sold – from a boring list of products to an exciting, engaging experience for your customers. By combining blog capabilities with ecommerce, you can now promote your creative work by writing about it, and connecting with others at the same time.  We’ve integrated social bookmarking plugins directly into each and every piece of content you create so customers can spread the word about your products.

We’ve also integrated additional social marketing features like Facebook, Twitter and Flickr and you can even embed your Etsy shop into your Meylah storefront taking the stress and frustration out of promoting your business.  We’ll help you get the exposure and attention you need without having to spend all your time mastering social media and marketing. That way you can focus on what you do best: creating amazing works and products that people want to buy!

Did we mention Meylah is easy to use? It’s superbly simple, that’s what it’s all about. You can add products, write blog posts and even create online tutorials with a super easy content management system.  We’ve included a robust site search so your customers can find the products they’re looking for and merchandising technology so you can add your products to multiple categories.

Product Pages
The best part about Meylah is that you’re working from a blog platform so all your products have their own blog post which you can add multiple photos and cross-sell with other products.  In addition to the individual product view, we’ve also created a store view where your customers can browse through categories and see specific topics that interest them.

Meylah also provides a super cool way for you to edit and manage images. Upload images and crop them quickly to see how they’ll look for your products. Add multiple images per product or blog post and really give your audience a full picture of what you have to offer.

When a customer wants to buy something from you, the transaction is quick and efficient.  Meylah’s shopping cart is incredibly easy to use, with only a few quick steps.  We take all the complexity out of payment processing. All you need is a PayPal account and you’re set!

You and your customers will receive automatic order confirmation emails and you can manage your customer information through your own order management system in order to track and process orders and future promotions easily!

We have integrated shipping which means we take all the hassles and frustration out of the shipping process and make it very simple.  All you have to do is select the shipping carrier your prefer and our system will automatically calculate the shipping charges of each transaction based on the customer’s location…yep, no need to worry here.

Admin Tools
Our Admin tools are among the most powerful and easy to use.  You can easily track your progress through your storefront analytics to understand your orders, content views and comments, blog subscriptions and much more in a neat dashboard without having to become an analytics guru!

Inventory Management
Meylah is a powerful ecommerce platform and you get full control over your inventory and product listing, defining price, number of items you have available, discounts and more.  And, when you’re out of stock of a certain item, it automatically switches to “sold out” status although if you choose you can still have customers request a similar item from you so you don’t get into inventory issues and are still able to satisfy your customers with out of stock products.

Innovative Features
We have a few innovative features as well including the unique opportunity to sell your knowledge through Byte-Syze Learning. A Byte-Syze Learning is a visual tutorial, displayed step-by-step for your audience.  People love to know how things are made, and in many cases want to make creative goods themselves as well. Byte-Syze Learning is an incredible way for you to make money demonstrating your expertise, to build your reputation and gain exposure for your creative wares.

Meylah lets you sell your knowledge as digital products as well. Have you created an eBook? Produced music or a short film? Perhaps you’ve made patterns for sewing or knitting? Meylah lets you easily upload and sell digital products, the possibilities are endless!

For more information about Meylah, please visit our blog or take our tour.  And, we’re celebrating our 1-year anniversary this month so we’re giving away 1-year Premium memberships for FREE (a $240 value) so use this promotion code (MEY1YF ) when you sign up to build your storefront and hurry, it won’t last long!

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September 29, 2010

Ecomm Must Haves: Can Your Ecommerce Solution Do This?

Filed under: Ecommerce — Tags: , — Meredith @ 7:20 am

If you’re in the market for an ecommerce solution, it’s important to have a clear picture of what features you need your ecommerce system to offer. Below is a checklist of some of the features you might want to put on your must-haves list:

SEO Optimized – Make sure any ecomm system you are considering creates Title Tags and URLs that are optimized for search engines.

Gift Cards – Do you want to sell gift cards? If so you need a system that sells and accepts them. Customer should be able to buy gift cards in varying amounts, spend the cards in varying amounts and check gift card balances.

Customer Rewards Program – Do you want to offer a customer rewards program? If so make sure your ecommerce system is set up to administer it. That means awarding points and allowing customers to redeem them for specific things.

Social Bookmark Plugins – Want customers to spread your content around the web? Then you’ll need an ecomm site that allows you to insert social bookmarking plugins like Add This

Wish List – If you want customers to be able to create wish lists, you’ll need a system that allows customers to create a wish list, share their wish list and allows others to look up the wish lists of friends and family.

Sale Pricing – If you want customers to see a mark down on an item, you’ll need a system that displays current price and previous price.

Product Feeds – If you want your products in a feed for programs like Google Products, Bing Shopping or Shopzilla you’ll want an ecomm system that can create these feeds for you.

Site Search – Do you want customers to be able to search your site for products? If so you’ll need a robust search tool. A great search tool allows you to do keyword tagging on your products, accounts for typos and gives you reporting data on what customers searched on your site.

Merchandising – Do you want to add products to multiple categories? Maybe you want to display holiday ornaments in home decor AND gifts under $10.00. You’ll need a system that allows you to create unlimited categories and add products to more than one.

Product Pages
Product Options – Do your items come in varying sizes or colors? If so you’ll need a cart that enables you to display that information to customers. You’ll want customers to have fields to select product color, product size, etc.

Product Photos – You’ll probably want to display several photos of each product, so make sure your system enables multiple product images.

Cross-Sells – Showing related or similar products on product pages and view cart pages can increase average order value, so this may be a feature you’ll want to look for.

Custom Layouts – Online marketers test the heck out of product page layouts to see what helps boost conversions. Don’t get stuck in a system that forces you into one template. You may want to move elements of your pages around and run tests to see which layouts are most effective.

Coupons – Do you want to offer coupons? If so what kind? Free shipping? Free shipping within a certain country? 10% off? $10 off? Do you want the coupon to require a minimum spend? Do you want the coupon to only apply to certain items? If so you’ll need a sophisticated coupon tool that allows you to create an accept these types of coupons.

Guest Checkout – A lot of customers find it very annoying to have to create an account to buy things. You may want a system that accepts checkouts without creating an account.

Account Management – Alternately, you may want to allow frequent buyers to create accounts. You’ll want to make sure customers can access their account info to change things also such as email address or billing and shipping info.

Payment Integration – Make sure you pick a cart that integrates with the payment methods you accept.

Cart Persistence – You may want to save the contents of a customer’s cart for them. What if they add items to their cart and come back a few days later to complete their order? It’s best to save their selections for them, so you’ll want a system that does this.

Order Confirmation Emails – Customers expect to see an email confirming their order. Make sure the system you select generates one, and make sure it’s something you can customize.

Gift Options – Do you offer gift wrap or gift notes? If so you’ll want fields on your checkout forms that allow customers to indicate if an item is a gift and include a gift note.

Shipping and Taxes
Sales Tax – Do you charge sales tax? If so you’ll want an ecommerce system that automatically calculates the taxes and adds them to your order totals.

Shipping Options – Do you charge flat rate? Do you charge shipping based on weight or number of items? Do you have different shipping options? Do you charge different rates depending on destination? Shipping rules can be extremely complicated so make sure you select a system that can accommodate your shipping rules. You may also want to have a tool that does shipping calculations on your product pages. Customers like to know what shipping will be before they get to checkout.

Admin Tools
Order Status – Do you give customers a delivery confirmation number? Do you want them to be able to check order status? If so you’ll want a back end tool that allows you to enter order status info and a front end tool that allows customer to look up order status.

Reporting  – Do you want to know your gross sales? Your net sales? Your best sellers? Your busiest day of the week? Your busiest period in the month? An ecommerce tool with reporting information can help you pull this information, so you can more effectively make decisions about your business.

Order Management – Do you need a system that helps you keep track of orders internally? Do you need to use your ecommerce system to keep track of what has shipped, what is being returned, etc. If so a tool that manages order status for you or your staff is essential.

Customer Management/CRM – Do you need a tool to keep track of customer emails, phone calls, feedback, etc? A CRM that’s built into your ecommerce system can help you store and organize this information.

Open Source – Sometimes you just need to get into the guts of your system. Maybe you need a feature that doesn’t exist in any ecommerce system out of the box. For those situations, you’ll want to look for a system that allows you to access and modify the source code.

Inventory Management
Inventory Management – Do you need a system that keeps track of what’s in stock, what’s out and what’s running low? Maybe you want to be alerted when your stock level drops to a certain number. Some ecommerce systems have built in inventory management and can deduct inventory as items are sold or even add inventory as returns are accepted.

Inventory Notices for Customers – A really good system will allow customers to indicate that they want to be notified when an out of stock product comes back to the store. The system will then email them when your inventory is replenished. You may also want to look for an option that alerts cart abandoners when you are about to run out of a product, in case they want to complete their order before the item is no longer available.

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