The 5 Challenges of E-Commerce for Small Businesses

As the founder and CEO of a provider of shopping carts for small businesses, I am in a privileged position to witness and analyze cases of success and failure in the implementation of e-commerce sites on a regular basis.Based on my experience, I have been able to identify five challenges applicable to most cases. Store owners can usually arrive at the same conclusions through trial and error, but in e-commerce the long way is always the expensive way. The best option is then to learn from the success of other on-line stores.1. Your potential customers DO NOT trust your siteThe Internet allows mom-and-pop websites to look just as good -maybe even better- than the websites of large corporations. All potential customers are well aware of this and they will be unimpressed by a sophisticated layout and a professional logo. Potential customers DO NOT trust the site they have just arrived at, and it must be your conscious decision to do what it takes to make them change their minds. Start by displaying a physical address, a telephone number, and a list of people behind the site. Consider joining forces with other websites that will create legitimacy for your own. If you can get your suppliers and distributors to mention you on their websites, this will surely make your business appear more trustworthy. Join a best practices organization such as the Better Business Bureau, or a privacy certification program such as Truste. Encourage and provide the means for your customers to review your products or services under their name and company. Publish success stories, always making sure the author is clearly identified. And most importantly: answer all pre-sales questions fully and in a timely manner. Many potential customers will contact you with very basic questions, or for information already provided in your FAQ section, just to test your company’s responsiveness. Allocate the necessary resources to assure quick, personalized and courteous responses to all pre-sales inquiries.2. Your products or services WILL NOT sell themselvesAn alarming number of e-commerce store owners believe in the following equation blindly:Traffic + Good Prices = SalesUnfortunately, the reality is much more complex than that. Your products or services WILL NOT sell themselves. Even if you have a significant number of visitors and the lowest price, potential customers may choose to purchase elsewhere on the web. Why is that? Maybe other sites have invested more resources to showcase the same product. Make sure your shopping cart allows you to present products and services like you want them to be seen. If you need five images per item, a long description including HTML formatting, multiple categories, external links and reviews, adapt the application to suit your needs rather than adapting your business to the limitations of the shopping cart. Also, add your own unique text to the standard product descriptions provided by the manufacturer or supplier. If you feel you don’t have the skills to create attractive descriptions for your products, hire a writer you can afford at Guru. Make an effort to get the lowest possible shipping rates or offer free shipping, and publish rates along with shipping delays before the customer checks out. Displaying your products and services fully and thoroughly, investing time and efforts, will help the products on your website outshine the same products offered elsewhere on the web, boost your reliability, and rank your website in search engines.3. The urge to purchase DOES NOT last longEven if a potential customer finds your site, comes to trust your business, and feels compelled to purchase your products or hire your services, that urge DOES NOT last long. Therefore, your website must be designed to let it flow and enjoy it while it lasts. The information required at each step, and the number of steps proper, must be as little and as few as possible. If you sell downloadable software, prompting for a shipping address is definitely a waste of precious time. The shopping cart you have purchased may boast thousands of features, but one of the few features which will truly make a difference in terms of sales is a short and simple checkout. Even if you have already invested in a design or in a shopping cart program with an inconvenient checkout, weigh in the revenue you are missing out on due to a bad decision when you set up your business. Don’t hesitate to switch providers. When you do, remember that the ideal checkout that will make the most of customers’ urge to buy is one where the process is complete with three screens: product view, input of customer and payment information, and confirmation. The simpler, the better. If you have no choice but to present a more complex process, make sure it is not too removed from the ideal three-step model.4. Customers DO NOT favor stores which are too standardMany small stores don’t have a budget to hire a consultant that will devise a custom strategy, so they settle for standard tools. Instead of hiring a web designer, they purchase a template. Instead of purchasing an exclusive template, they purchase a shared template that can be seen everywhere on the web. Instead of developing a custom e-commerce application, or customizing an existing one, they use a standard e-commerce service provided by the hosting company. A direct consequence is that potential customers perceive a lack of commitment by the company to adapt standard tools and create a unique purchasing experience. Therefore, the relationship of trust is not created and the urge to buy is hampered. This means it is crucial to adapt standard tools: the look of the shopping cart should match the overall look of the site, and the functionality must be in line with store requirements (going back to the example above, stores selling digital goods must not prompt for shipping information or quote shipping rates). If you lack the necessary resources, hire a programmer or designer at Rentacoder. There you can post your job and available budget, and receive bids by programmers willing to take up your project.5. Your small e-commerce site WILL NOT go unnoticed by hackersEven if you have overcome the difficulties of setting up your site and you are happy with your sales, there may still be trouble ahead: e-commerce sites are one of the favorite targets of hackers. If you think your site is not relevant enough to catch their attention, you are wrong, and this way of thinking will not help you prepare to face related risks. All e-commerce sites, even those which sell one product a week, are the target of multiple attacks. Some attacks are not successful at all, others have some level of success, and others are so successful that the consequences for the owner of the store can be devastating. The main purpose of hackers is to get customer information and credit card data, redirect payments, and obtain products free of charge or at a lower price. If a hacker steals your customer database and sells it to spammers, the reputation of your site will be ruined. Not to mention what will happen if the hacker commits fraud with the credit card data. Hackers who attack e-commerce sites randomly usually don’t take the time to devise specific ways to intrude. They simply determine which shopping cart and payment method are used, they try to access with default passwords, they look for databases in their standard locations, and they try to intrude the database by means of a common attack known as SQL Injection. If their attempts are not fruitful, they just move on to the next potential victim. So, in terms of security it is not absolutely necessary to have a big budget and hire an expert, either. The key lies in your attitude: define complex passwords, customize your shopping cart installation (change the location of the control panel, change passwords, change the location of the database), and check that the versions of the software you use for your web server, FTP server, database and shopping cart don’t have any known and patched vulnerabilities. Last but not least: keep informed; stay in touch with software vendors and visit websites where security issues are reported, such as NewOrder. This will minimize the chances that security in your site is compromised, and you will be able to focus on your real target: selling more and selling better.That is all. I hope you find The 5 Challenges of E-Commerce for Small Businesses beneficial for your business.Good luck and happy selling,Roni Alhadeff,
Founder of Comersus

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Home Internet Marketing Business ABCs

Almost everyone nowadays wants to have his very own profitable home internet marketing business that can ease his financial burdens and help him sail smoothly through the ravages of the global financial crisis currently engulfing the economies of the world. Understanding of the ABCs or fundamentals of internet marketing is essential to the success of any online home business.Internet MarketingDifferent people of different profession and stature have view internet marketing in different perspectives. People in one hand consider internet marketing as simply the act of placing banner ads or inbound links on other websites. On the opposite hand, there are many companies claiming that it is the secret to exponentially increasing one’s wealth overnight. Caution should be exercised however, because most of these many companies only try to make you buy some sort of internet marketing program that they proclaim will make you rich by morning.At the present, internet marketing or online marketing has successfully evolved to a higher stage which now involves a combination of many components a business can utilize to increase sales regardless whether the said business is being executed fully online, partly online, or fully offline. Internet marketing is fully discretionary and it can’t be fully said that it is strictly needed for success but its recent popularity has caused those who don’t use it get left behind by those who do. It can provide a vast and unique competitive advantage to any company. It is for this reason that some companies even rely purely on online marketing to promote their business, its products, and services.Internet Marketing ObjectivesInternet marketing is being employed to make use of the Internet to do at least one of the succeeding:1. Communicate a company’s message about itself, its products, or its services online.
2. Conduct research as to the nature (demographics, preferences, and needs) of existing and potential customers.
3. Sell goods, services, or advertising space over the Internet.Internet Marketing ComponentsInternet marketing is made up of many components which may be summarized into the following:1. Making a business website and getting it launched and published over the Internet. It may consist of text, images and possibly audio and video elements that broadcast the company’s message to visitors, informing current customers and prospects of the features, benefits, and value-for-money of its products and services. The website may also include additional features that extend its capabilities like the ability to capture and store leads from potential customers or the function to directly sell a product or service online. A website may very well be the best way to establish a company’s own internet persona and business entity. Websites can always outperform their offline equivalents – brochures and mail order catalogs.2. Marketing a website over the World Wide Web via search engines otherwise known as Search Engine Marketing or SEM is the process of helping a website shop up in the top search engine pages whenever one makes a search with certain defined keywords through search engine optimization or SEO, pay-per-click or PPC advertising, or pay-for-inclusion or PFI advertising in which a website is listed in online website directories, the same way as with yellow page listings.3. Email marketing is the technique of getting information about a product or service out to customers or getting feedback from customers about a product or service through the use of emails. Email addresses of customers or potential customers can be collected through the use of the company website or purchased from lead generation specialists. Email marketing is simply the online version of direct mail marketing. There are different methods that can be utilized to do this form of online marketing like the regular distribution of newsletters or mass mailing of offers related to the company’s product or services.4. Banner advertising is the online marketing equivalent of the traditional ads in newspapers and magazines. It is the free placement of ads on a website usually known as free ad directories.5. Online press releasing is the placement of a newsworthy story about a company, regular distribution of newsletters or mass mailing of offers related to the company’s product or services on online wire service or online press release directories.6. Blog marketing is the process of posting comments, expressing opinions or making online announcements in a discussion forum or blog directory that can be done by hosting your own blog or by comment and link exchanges with other blogs whose content is related to your product or service.7. Article marketing involves the syndication or online publishing in article sites or directories of freshly written or unique articles that tackle things related to your business, products, or services. These articles have the potential to spread and circulate over the internet since online article hosting services allow the re-publication of articles so long as all links in the articles are maintained. Traffic boost can be the primary result of article marketing, together with the promotion of your brand to a wider audience through the syndication of these articles.Internet Marketing and Home Business
A website is an element that all internet marketing components, prospective customers, and clients anticipate a business to have. Through the years, having a website has become one of the best ways to get a consumer’s trust and interest in a company and its products and services. Having no website may even cause a prospect to lose interest and head to a competitor. Up-to-date information available 24 hours per day, 7 days a week something that can best come from a website. And the all-encompassing use of online means has cased many prospects to decide to transact only with companies that have a good and useful website.Engaging in online marketing and having a website is so comprehensive in scope that it can benefit even a business that only has very local customers like a single location food store or clothing store. Internet marketing offers a very cost-effective and comprehensive way of attracting customers and it also gives a business a worldwide reach with its own Web presence that can be very hard to get from other methods especially in the case of businesses whose customers are not restricted to ma single geographical area only.A website though in some instances is not a complete necessity, can definitely provide a home business operator various benefits due to the virtual nature of most home businesses. A website can act as a storefront for direct selling of products and services as well as serve as a very inexpensive means of getting prospects as well as clients know what your business does or what products it sells especially to those home-based businesses that do not have a physical location.The internet has been one of the primary drivers that fueled the growth and expansion of home based businesses because it has paved the way for starting and maintaining a web presence with reasonably low cost. It is therefore a must that internet marketing becomes as integral part of your business plan and marketing strategy.Finding the Right Internet Marketing MixDetermining and utilizing the right marketing strategy is essential to business success. Defining the percentage of marketing efforts that should be done online, the needed Internet marketing elements and the amount of focus to be given to the website are all vital to the formulation of a marketing plan that will work. The nature of business, the budget, and some personal traits may all affect the marketing mix. All these, and many others influence the development of an internet marketing business blue print.Using Offline Elements with Internet Marketing StrategiesOnly businesses that transact 100% of their business online can make use of a fully online marketing scheme. All others should utilize a marketing mix made up of both online and offline efforts. Traditional methods can greatly supplement the effects and benefits of web marketing. In fact, there are even businesses that conduct all their operations completely online and yet employ the placement of traditional ads on newspapers and magazines to drive prospects to visiting their website and participate in online transactions with the firm. Perfect examples of business that integrate offline elements as components of their internet marketing strategies are Expedia, Travelocity and These firms shell out huge investments in radio and TV advertising as well as other traditional means of advertising to get consumers visit their sites where the real businesses dealings are being transacted.Develop Internet Marketing Strategies You LikeOnly incorporate in your strategy the marketing techniques you like or those that do not annoy you whenever someone does them to you, because most people probably feel the same way. The most hated marketing tool as regarded by many is spam. This is why many companies nowadays do not include email marketing in their arsenal of promotion methods.Many forget the fact that email marketing does not necessarily mean the sending out of unsolicited emails to every email address you can find. Email marketing can also be accomplished by incorporating a visitor registration webpage on your site. This page then works as a tool to gather email addresses of interested prospects. You can then create a newsletter which you can send to all who have registered in your site. You may also consider updating your newsletter and sending it periodically to your prospects. You may also create a schedule for sending regular emails just to see how your prospects are doing, if your company can be of assistance in any way, or if any of their wants or needs has changed since when you last had a conversation. This is a very efficient way of utilizing email to boost your business promotion even without engaging in email marketing.Your Budget and Internet Marketing StrategyThe budget plays a very important role in any marketing strategy as it lays out which components and techniques you can develop and exploit. A website for example needs you to select a domain name and then register and purchase it from a web hosting service. Due to the growing demand for web hosting services, the competition has greatly tightened and many now offer discounts. There are those that offer domain name registration for as low as $1.99 per year – provided you also purchase other services, like hosting, which is now also available for less than $10 per month. Next is the design and content of your website. Your can design and write your won content or your can hire a graphics artist for the design and a web content writer for the content. You can also opt to make use of the online website builders that can be found all over the internet.After your site is all ready to go, getting it found is the next task, because no matter how good or useful a site is, it is of no value if people cannot find it. This is the point where search engine optimization or SEO comes in. SEO is vital to every website. You can either learn and do the SEO yourself or you can hire search engine optimizers to do it for you.Web content should be search engine optimized from the time it was written. Same goes for the web design as the manner in which a website is designed can either enhance or limit the site traffic it will be receiving in the future. SEO should definitely be a major part of any internet marketing strategy. You can opt to do things faster but more costly or vice versa, depending on your perspective and your budget.Once your website is up and running, you’ll either need to maintain it yourself or outsource the duties to an independent Webmaster to do it for you.Google AdWords and similar pay-per-click (PPC) advertising services can be a good choice as they go easy on your budget due to the fact that you can specify the maximum amount you are willing or able to spend. You also get to decide how much you will be paying whenever someone clicks on your site as well as the limit of how much you will be paying per day. You also get control over whether the pay-per-click ads appear only on major search engines or on other related websites as well. Geographic and time restrictions regarding when and where your ads run are also at your disposal, making the said ads quite easy to update. Real time tracking of the benefits is also possible with PPC services. You can also use images and/or videos with PPC advertising, which may even be less costly than placing banner ads on other websites. You can also, on the other hand, utilize pay-per-click advertising to earn money with your website to such programs as Google AdSense, Yahoo Publisher or Microsoft AdCenter.Tracking the Results of Internet Marketing StrategiesPutting up and operating a successful home-based business is not that easy especially for the average home business operator. Tracking is very important especially when you spend money on strategic Internet marketing initiatives. You should know the effectiveness on such initiatives to be able to make the right decision on whether to go on or discontinue with them. If you are satisfied with the performance of the currently implemented techniques, continue using them. If you are not satisfied, learn from your mistakes. Determine why such approaches did not work and find other means that can work better. Such practice is sure to improve your skills and enhance your chances for success.Your business will mature and grow faster and more efficiently if you know which internet marketing strategies are worth spending your money.Remain patient in tracking the performance of your internet marketing efforts and they will surely pay off. Always keep in mind that effects do not occur overnight and a significant amount of time is usually needed before you can feel the benefits. The same is with revenues, at first your efforts may seem to be in vain but after some time, more revenues will surely materialize.Strategic Internet Marketing Needs to be FlexibleThere are millions of people wanting to succeed with their own home internet marketing business and most of these also engage in strategic internet marketing. It is therefore vital that you make your marketing strategy flexible. It should be ready to quickly absorb changes and necessary adjustments. However, some knowledge, some capable assistance, and a well-managed strategic Internet marketing plan can increase your chances for success.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

The Perfect Wealth Formula For A Highly Successful Home Business

IntroductionTwo basic facts about Network Marketing are seemingly contradictory–or at least highly paradoxical. On the one hand, this industry has created more millionaires than any other; at the same time, however, it has an astoundingly high. Two basic facts about Network Marketing are seemingly contradictory–or at least highly paradoxical. On the one hand, this industry has created more millionaires than any other; at the same time, however, it has an astoundingly high failure rate of approximately 95%.This raises a highly important question: What is the secret “perfect wealth formula” of those who are wildly successful that seems to be hidden from–or at least largely unavailable to–the vast majority who fail?At least part of the explanation for this high failure rate can be understood in terms of four daunting challenges that all network marketers have to overcome in order to be successful:1) Finding an adequate source of highly qualified potential business partners to join their distributional team. 2) Effectively recruiting these potential partners into the business.3) Having an effective way to help their new team members get into positive cashflow before they get discouraged and drop out.4) Having adequate capital to fund the advertising necessary to build a successful business.The Total Wealth SolutionAs the result of a brilliant new innovation, a simple and highly promising solution to these four key challenges is now available. It consists in integrating an effective internet marketing program with a well-established and highly stable network marketing company. These two components are utilized synergistically to create an overall result that is much greater than the sum of the parts.The internet marketing component serves primarily as the “Get Instant Cash” (GIC) program. This immediate cash is generated online by selling a superb, proprietary package of internet marketing tools that can be used in the online promotion of a wide variety of products and/or services. It provides the means for nearly anyone to achieve positive cashflow within the first month–if not sooner.One of its most attractive features for people who don’t like to sell is the option to turn over all of the selling activity to its team of highly trained sales agents. Since the vast majority of network marketers lack both motivation and skills in selling, this unique option obviously eliminates one of their main roadblocks to success.The network marketing component of this integrated business model provides a complementary Residual Income Formula (RIF)–that is, an effective means for generating high-level, long-term, passive residual income that is NOT available in the GIC component by itself.Anyone without a pre-existing residual income who has opted into the GIC component, therefore, is potentially a a highly qualified candidate for the RIF and also in an ideal position to utilize it as a fast track to achieving financial and time freedom. With a little education, s/he is also likely to recognize the huge advantages of opting into this additional opportunity.In summary, then, this innovative new wealth generation program provides an elegant solution to all four of the major pitfalls of network marketing outlined above. It truly levels the playing field so that nearly anyone who is seriously motivated can enjoy a high level of rapid success in the network marketing industry.This “marriage made in heaven,” as its proponents like to call it, will hopefully serve as an inspiring prototype for many more such happy unions in the near future and become widely recognized as the perfect wealth formula.To get further comprehensive information about this new wealth generation paradigm, utilize the resource information provided below.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off