How to get your online store ready for Christmas

21 Sep

Summer might feel like a recent memory, but with Christmas just around the corner it’s important to start thinking about getting your online store ready for the holiday rush.

Internet shopping continues to rise year on year, so here are my top tips for getting your store ready for what could be your most lucrative quarter.Retro tin toy santa robot holding christmas present

Is your store ready?

Start by looking at the products on your store. Optimize images and give your site a festive feel. Images will play a big part in capturing the attention and hearts of shoppers. If your product photos are low resolution or have poor lighting, maybe it’s time to re-shoot them ready for the holidays. You might not want to upload them yet, but careful planning will take the stress out of what is going to be a busy time.

Check your site. Does it load well? Is your web address memorable? Are all the links working? Does your site work on all devices? Are your stock levels right?  Make sure there isn’t any ‘out of stock’ products appearing on your store. Show that your site is secure with an SSL certificate.

Are your product descriptions accurate and of a good length? If they aren’t, online shoppers may be wary of buying from you. All of this careful planning helps build up your SEO which will boost your Google rankings making it easier for shoppers to find you.

Make checking out easy

Your customers are going to be busy leading up to Christmas. According to a recent survey conducted by PwC, when it comes to online shopping, Americans value convenience above all else: 58% of survey respondents say convenience is the main reason they shop online, with price being a distant second at 32%. Don’t have your customers abandoning the checkout process out of frustration. After succeeding in the hard work of getting them there, losing conversions due to a complicated or lengthy form is far from ideal. Use a checkout that allows you to take payments directly on your store.

Have a plan

Calculate your projected sales figures and work hard to stick to them. Visit our 6 essential tips to increasing sales.

Build the hype. ..slowly!

Plan your marketing campaign but start subtle. Traditionally the Christmas buying season starts the day after Thanksgiving, but so many people have done their Christmas shopping by then. I’m not suggesting that you start customizing your store with Christmas trees and tinsel just yet! A great way to start your Christmas campaign is to start blogging about it. If you have enabled StoreBlog, you can blog about what you’re planning in the run up to the Holiday Season. Put teasers for your upcoming sales on your blog or Facebook store to create awareness. According to a recent report by Deloitte more so than ever, consumers plan to use the Internet to research holiday buys and 50% will use social media during their shopping process when it comes to holiday spending. Get your customers to leave feedback and reviews on your StoreBlog and Facebook store.

If you’re looking to promote discounts for those shoppers looking for a bargain, start to plan what coupons and sales you’re going to offer on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Money can be tight at Christmas and customers will be looking for a great deal.  

Use every avenue available to drive traffic to your store.  Get your advertising in the right place. Define your best customer and seek out the right way to reach them. During October and the early part of November, these won’t be Christmas related ads. You are planting shopping ideas and hints that will be harvested down the road.

Don’t have a big marketing budget? Utilize social media. A recent survey found that consumers have an appetite for social commerce, that fusion of online social communities with seamless purchasing capability. More than two-thirds of US respondents said social media influences their online shopping behavior.

Time to Get Festive

When you start to celebrate Christmas on your store is up to you but it’s essential that you aren’t the last store out there to start celebrating. Customize your store with some festive features to entice your customers. Winter Morning is a festive design for your store.  A word of warning though – if you have a high customer base, don’t make drastic changes to the navigation or layout right now. This can cause disruption to customers’ shopping flow. If the site has drastically changes from what customers are used to, it could cause confusion, frustration and lead to abandonment.

Get to the Christmas Markets – this is the best way to raise your profile and connect with your customers. See face to face what your customers are interested in. Wrap up warm, grab a coffee and have fun. Pick their brains about what they bought last year. What items make good gifts? What price ranges are they looking for? What is their average Christmas budget?

Monitor your stock carefully

Choosing the amount of stock you need over Christmas can often be difficult, especially if you are investing in seasonal products. On the one hand, you don’t want to miss out on a share of the market, but on the other you don’t want to be left with surplus stock in January that you can’t sell.  Look at what sold well last year. Finding a pattern could make ordering your stock each year much easier, so make sure you keep a note of everything.

Reach out to your customers about your most popular products – nervous customers will want reassuring that products will arrive on time.

Spread some festive cheer

Your average customer will recruit three other customers during the time they do business with you. What makes customers talk about you? Usually the way they were treated. Add a personal touch. Offer a helping hand. Give them personal attention. This could be a handwritten note in their parcel. Point out new items to customers on your blog. Sales and relationships go hand in hand.

Get your staff involved!

The holidays are a great time to have fun and a season of goodwill. Why not get your staff excited about Christmas and this will reflect in their attitudes. Organize a competition among your staff to create a Christmas card to send out with your customer orders. A personal touch will help your customers to feel valued and connected to your brand. Your staff can make a big difference to the success of our business over Christmas. Why not treat them to a Christmas lunch to say thank you for all their hard work, especially if you need them to work on days that most people usually have off like Boxing Day or New Year’s Day.

And finally…Don’t forget January!

No doubt if your Christmas campaign has gone well, you’ll be exhausted! Plan ahead and get your January sales with discount codes and coupons. Getting ready early will help you to jump on your competition and bring in the shoppers. Marketing plans take time to plan and work if they are to be successful. Bring it on!

 

Beginners: Oi, Where’s My Money?!

7 Sep

You’ve completed your first sale. Great! However, you have no idea where your money has gone – not so great!

Don’t go all ‘Stewie Griffin’ on us; this short article will help put your mind at ease.

When setting up your freewebstore account, you’ll automatically be set-up to receive payments through PayPal. However, you are not limited to PayPal – there are many other payment providers you may wish to use. See for yourself!

Once a customer has completed their payment, the funds will appear in your account – you are free to withdraw! Simple as that.

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Choices, choices…

As you’ve seen, there are numerous payment gateways to choose from for your convenience. We’ve provided a little bit more information on two of our most popular payment processors:

The old faithful…

  • PayPal – available in 190 markets around the world, with 24 currencies to choose from.

Freewebstore automatically set up your store through PayPal. Their platform builds on the existing financial infrastructure of bank accounts and credit cards to create a global, real-time payment solution.

Click here for more information.

The new kid on the block…

  • Stripe – Stripe allows shoppers to pay for goods directly and securely on the store with minimal clicks – processing billions of dollars a year!

Stripe aims to reduce lost sales due to unnecessary data entry, slow redirects, and general checkout friction. Stripe’s lean checkout philosophy has been proven to increase conversions and reduce abandoned carts.

More information is available here.

Additionally…

If you choose to go premium, users can opt to get paid offline, giving yourself the BEST possible chance of landing the sale. Some of the options available on the premium package:

  • Pay by invoice
  • Pay by bank transfer
  • Cash on delivery
  • Local collection

Hope we’ve cleared that up a bit for you. Now, don’t spend it all at once  ;)

 

Beginners Guide: Ideas for Products to Sell

2 Sep

Are you struggling to find a product to sell on your freewebstore store, or wondering which is the best route to go down? Don’t worry you’re not alone. It’s a hurdle many budding entrepreneurs are faced with.

Here, we’ve prepared a quick blog to highlight a few different options available to you, that will help to provide you with a few ideas.

Wholesale Marketplace

Wholesalers act as ‘the bridge’ between the manufacturer and the retail market. Sites such as ‘Alibaba’ and our recommendation DHgate are great for inspiration and to scope out possible products, providing a vast range of items.

Buying through wholesalers has its advantages:

  • Low cost in bulk
  • A wide choice of products to choose

Along with disadvantages:

  • Storage space – to qualify for cheaper rates, you’ll be required to purchase in bulk. This could be a problem if you’re working from home or a small office.

If storage space is a problem, drop shipping is the solution!

You’ll have no warehouse to run, no storage costs and reduce your level of commitment. However, this can be a problem when it comes to customer communication, as you’ll have to go back and forth between the company and the customer.

Read this article on how to find suitable drop shippers.

Opportunity Spotting in your Local Area

It may be worth having a walk around your local area and look for different ideas that could provide an opportunity online.

Have you got a cupcake shop around the corner that is ALWAYS busy but there’s no online presence in your local area? Bingo! There could be a gap in the market for you to exploit online!

Alternatively, if going global appeals to you more, keep your eye out on new trends.

Social Media

Sites such as Instagram and Pinterest are great for providing visual inspiration and providing product ideas. Look at different products that have been trending in recent months. If you’ve got an interest in a particular commodity, follow the industry leaders – use the ‘power of the #HashTag’ to search for ideas and inspiration.

Now you can use your new found inspiration and get started on your eCommerce journey here.

New Design Launched – Atlas

1 Sep

New Design Launched – Introducing Atlas

Steer your store on it’s voyage to success with our new template, Atlas.

Using the mobile first technique, which helps to provide optimal mobile performance – Atlas offers a clean and spacious design. The first four category images double as links, increasing the color and content – sophistication personified.

Key Features

  • Mobile Optimized
  • Social Media Icons Supported
  • Multiple Language Packs
  • Graphical Logo
  • Soft Add To Cart
  • Advanced Search
  • Featured Products
  • Offers & Promotions

Check out the design

 

6 Essential Tips to Improve Sales

26 Aug

“I’ve got my mind on my money & money on my mind” – we all know Snoop Dogg has money on his mind. Equally, for most of you when setting up an online store, the main motivator is making yourself some extra cash. We know it can be disheartening if your business is not doing as well as you expected – so we’ve compiled a few little tips for you to consider.

First up…

1. Plan and Set Realistic Targets

Before you start building your web-store, it is important to devise a strategy and set yourself REALISTIC targets.

Set yourself a long-term objective (500 sales by the end of the year). Break these down into manageable daily, weekly and monthly targets (10 sales by the end of the week). This can help to monitor the success and provides you with a clear direction for your business.

2. Attach an appropriate domain to your site

This seems like a given, right?! There are stores who haven’t and it’s been proven to affect sales. 92% of freewebstore sales come from those with a domain name attached. Attaching a domain name adds credibility to your online store and increases the trust of the visitor. Additionally, it’s important that you choose a suitable domain name, that’s not too wordy or inappropriate, however unintentional it may have been.

You can set up a domain name directly from your control panel > marketing > domain name.

3.Your web-store needs to be visually appealing and easy to navigate 

93% of consumers judge the website aesthetics above anything else.

First impressions count! If your web-store is unappealing to your audience and difficult to navigate, then it’s likely to increase the bounce rate – that’s one less consumer who may have been willing to spend! So…

  • Keep categories clear and use a different color for your background!
  • Use logical navigation layouts – don’t have your links the same color as your background color.
  • Blurry, oversized images make your website look unprofessional. Use the correct dimensions. If possible, use unique images.
  • Keep your content fresh. Returning customers  may think you’re not offering anything different if you have the same rolling image after 40 days. Add a blog and update weekly!

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Although I’m pretty sure this is ‘intentionally bad’ – it’s still a big no, no. Don’t install too many widgets, don’t have too many contrasting colours, don’t make it too cluttered and make the navigation tabs clear and easy to read – it’s painful on the eyes!

4. Don’t give up after a few days! SEO can take a while to kick in

You’ve got a plan in place, made a cool looking website, however, you’ve not made as many sales as you’d expected. Fear not, as Jean-Jacques Rousseau once stated, “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet”.

93% of all online experiences start with a search engine. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a cost effective way of getting new customers to visit your store. However, the lucrative rewards from SEO (branding, an increase in website traffic etc.) can take a while to come forth. The Google spiders (don’t worry, you can’t see them :p) have become more sophisticated, with Google favouring websites that deliver what people actually want to see; natural wording and not keyword after keyword.

Freewebstore does plenty of automatic SEO to help all of their businesses (such as mobile-optimized sites). Here are some tips for you to improve your SEO ranking:

  • Content – make sure your content is filled with relevant information about your products. Longer, interesting articles seem to perform better by increasing dwell time. It’s important to do this in a manner that is easy to read for the user – small sentences, bullet points etc. Meta Tags are also important, although not as influential as they once were.
  • Use your own images – Unique pictures will help your website stand out.
  • Fix those broken links!! This not only improves your SEO ranking but also reduces the amount of hair your customers pull out after clicking on a dead link!

If you’re interested in learning more about SEO then check out this helpful video.

5. Get to know your audience through analytics

Visitors will leave a trail of information behind every time they access your site. Use it to your advantage. Get to know your audience through analytics.

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 Some of the key benefits of analytics are:

  • Help measure and track the progress of your business.
  • Provides you with information on where your visitors are located, so you can focus your marketing on those areas.
  • Understand the demographics: Which age range of your users have the higher conversion rates? Target those users with appropriate content.
  •  View the pages with the highest, bounce rates. These pages spell trouble – it’s likely that changes are needed!

Last but not least…

6. Interact with your customers

Let your customers know you’re there, that you exist. Answer their Facebook messages, tweet them, and respond to their e-mails and blog comments. You can respond with a personalised message. This helps with customer retention and shows that the customer is valued and important. Fantastic customer service and a great product = success.

Remember that customer retention is as important as customer acquisition, if not more so. It’s easier to convert sales from current customers than it is new customers – so don’t forget about existing customers! 

Hopefully, this has helped you out a little bit and allows you to get the most out of your freewebstore hosted web-store – and set you on the path to entrepreneurial success! Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint! Happy selling  🙂

 

New Design Launched – Vogue

25 Jul

New Design Launched – Introducing Vogue

Vogue is much more than an eCommerce template. It’s a template that catches your shopper’s eyes, drags them into your store and succeeds at providing a visual and flawless shopper experience.

 

Key Features

  • Mobile Optimized
  • Social Media Icons Supported
  • Multiple Language Packs
  • Graphical Logo
  • Soft Add To Cart
  • Advanced Search
  • Featured Products
  • Offers & Promotions

Check out the design

 

Accept debit & credit cards directly on your store!

12 Jul

What is Stripe?

Stripe is a quick and secure way to accept credit card and debit card payments online. With freewebstore’s integration with Stripe, your customers can make a payment with their card without ever leaving your store.

Is Stripe available for my store?

Check out this link to see if Stripe is available in your country – https://stripe.com/global

How much does it cost?

It is free to create your Stripe account and there are no monthly fees.  Transaction fees are only applied when you make a sale!  – https://stripe.com/pricing

How do I add Stripe to my store?

Please see the following help article that will walk you through how to add Stripe to your store – http://help.freewebstore.com/guide/enable-stripe-checkout

 

Log in/Sign Up now to add it to your store

 

StoreBlog has arrived!

4 Jul

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Take your store to the next level with an integrated blog!

  • Increase Google Ranking
  • Engage your Shoppers
  • Value Added Content
  • Increase Sales

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Boost Google Ranking

Improve your ranking on Google by adding crucial content to your store!

Increase Sales

Generate more sales by showcasing your products on your new blog!

Engage with customers

Keep your shoppers coming back for more by creating conversations!

 

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Publish an unlimited number of blog articles for your store.  Keep the content on your store fresh, informative and engaging for your shoppers.

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Categorize your blog articles with searchable tags.  Making it easier for your shoppers to find what they are looking for.

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Keep on top of market trends and shopper behavior by accessing a range of statistical data for your blogs.

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Utilize the power of social commerce and let your shoppers do the selling for you.

Log into your Freewebstore Control Panel to access this fantastic new feature!

Read – Getting started with StoreBlog

 

Getting Started with Storeblog

4 Jul

Getting started with the storeblog is really easy. Simply visit the “Manage > Store Blog” section of your Control Panel, and enable the addon if you haven’t already.

 

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Once there, click the pulsing + button to create your first blog article.
On the next screen, you can set the Title and Author Name. The permanent link to the blog will be created automatically based on your title, but if you want to change it, just click the blue part to edit it.

 

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You can also set a summary here, which is sometimes referred to as an “abstract”. This is a quick summary of the article that gets displayed elsewhere on your store, but it’s not the article itself.
Next are the Tags. Here you can add simple categories to tie blog articles together. For mine, I’m just going to add the tags “baking” and “top5” – that way anyone viewing the article can click the tag to see all articles where I’ve added the “baking” tag or “top5”.
There are two green switches at the bottom of the Settings panel, allowing to enable or disable Comments on your article, and Social Media Share Icons.
To create the actual blog content, click the Content tab at the top and you will be presented with an editor.

 

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Here you can add your article text and images. There are plenty of formatting options, but the easiest approach is to keep it clean and simple – allowing the default styles of your store design to work for you.
The comments tab allows you to approve, reject, reply to and delete any comments on your article. By default, all comments are not approved and won’t show until you approve them.

 

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Finally, Statistics will show you hits on your article over various time periods, including daily, weekly and monthly.
Once your article is complete, hit the Save button in the top-right corner.

 

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You’ll be returned to the list view, where you can see all of the articles you have created.
By default, your new article is Un-Published, so won’t be visible on the store yet. This view shows you how many comments you have on the article, and how many of those are not yet approved. You can also Edit and Preview the article even though it’s not yet published.

 

When Previewing, don’t distribute the link generated, wait until you’ve published it first.

 

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You can Publish and Un-Publish the article by toggling the switch in the top right, and you’ll also want to set the blog image that will appear throughout your store by clicking Change Image on the Placeholder.
Finally, you can delete the article using the button in the bottom-right corner.
One last note on this section, is that you can filter articles by Published, Unpublished or All as well as sorting them by Date, Title and Popularity.

 

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For more information on blogs, you can find our Walkthrough here.

New Design Launched – Blend

27 May

New Design Launched – Introducing Blend

A modern and feature packed responsive webstore that allows you to sell products to customers all over the world. Blend is a great design for any start-up company that want to sell their products online.

 

Key Features

  • Mobile Optimized
  • Social Media Icons Supported
  • Multiple Language Packs
  • Graphical Logo
  • Soft Add To Cart
  • Advanced Search
  • Featured Products
  • Offers & Promotions

Check out the design