Thursday, November 11, 2010

Emails - How Much Is Too Much?

Nearly all merchants will tell you that a good email blast or regular newsletter will greatly increase your sales.  It is true that your best customers are your current customers and advertising to people who have already purchased from you, already know the value of your products and the service you provide is beneficial.  But you need to be careful not to push your customers away.

If I like a particular store and the products that they provide, I want to keep up with sales, discounts, new products, or special offers.  I will subscribe to newsletters, Facebook, or Twitter updates so that I am aware of these offers. By signing up, I expect to receive updates; I don't think of these updates as spam and don't expect to receive spam. I like getting these emails.  It keeps websites on my mind and sometimes reminds me that I haven't been shopping in a while, "I could probably use a new scarf now that it is winter." It is good for the merchant, because I am more likely to make a purchase on their website, and it is good for me, because I can use the coupon codes provided in the email to get a discount on the products I would like to purchase.

For those websites who send out emails every week, month, or a few times a year, I take a look at the emails or offers that they send.  However, I have signed up for newsletters (or been automatically opted into a newsletter just by placing an order) that are sent out on a daily basis.  If I open my emails every day, and every day I see an email from this same company telling me to make a purchase on their website, I tend to skip those emails.  I readily delete my daily discounts from Express because there is no way that I am going to place an order on their website every day. Instead of these emails being beneficial, they become regular spam.

The difference between the emails I receive from companies I have purchased from and spam emails, is that I can unsubscribe from these emails. When it gets to that point, the regular newsletters are counterproductive.  Instead of drawing my attention to attract sales, they turn me off from purchasing from that company and from receiving those emails.

It is a good idea to keep in touch with your existing customers, but don't annoy them by always being in their face.  Some good tactics would be to send emails when there are things that are applicable to the customer specifically, to the season, or something big with your store.
  1. Specific emails to customers.  This is probably the most ideal option, to only send emails to customers about things that they would care about. This does require that you have a good way of tracking customers' purchases and sending specific emails.
  2. Regular emails (weekly, monthly, etc) or specific to the season. People are busy and have lives, so nice little reminders are often welcome.  At the beginning of winter you can send emails to customers to let them know winter products are on sale.  When there is a holiday coming up you can specify gift ideas, holiday decor, or remind them to prepare for that holiday in any way that is applicable for your store.  
  3. Specific to events of your store.  These could include a new version of one of your products, an end of the season sale, or advances in your business such as new Facebook or Twitter pages, a new brick and mortar store, or any other event in your business' life that is worth celebrating.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Prepare For The Holidays

This is one of the busiest times of year for many stores, including online stores.  There are lots of things that you can do to increase sales over the holiday season.  The thing that I would like to focus on is upselling.  Keeping in mind that an existing customer is more profitable than a new customer, you'll want to gear your website and sales towards your existing customers or customers who are committing to purchase on your website.  Below are a few ways to do this.
  • Send a holiday e-mail blast. Customers are making many purchases over the holiday season, so sending a blast with sales or promotions will help you with sales, and help your customers save some money. 
  • Highlight Gift Items. This is for those customers who don't know what to get someone on their list, or to purchase stocking stuffers.  You can create a section on your website which lists gift ideas for all types. Some merchants will want to divide this section up into "male" and "female" or possibly by price.  Either way you do it you will not simply want to list sale items, but really list good gift giving items.  
  • Upsell Gift Items In Your Cart. Use your global cross sell feature (ShopSite Pro) to display a few general gift items in your shopping cart.  These items should not be high in price and should not add much to shipping, but should be quick impulse buys for customers to give as gifts this holiday season.  For example, if you are a media furniture store, list a few small CD cases for cars.  If you are an electronics website, list a few electronic cases as gift items in the cart.
  • Display Delivery Schedules. It is important that gifts arrive before Christmas.  Make sure that customers know that the products they are purchasing will arrive before Christmas.
  • Reward Your Weary Shopper. Shopping does take a lot of time and energy this time of year.  Make sure you are rewarding your customers for purchasing with you.  Include rewards such as "Free CD with any purchase over $20" or "Get one for yourself with our Buy 1 get 1 FREE reward."
This season can be hectic and stressful.  Try to provide tools and tips to your shoppers to make their shopping experience easier and more enjoyable this season.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Your Website Layout Is Important

The look and feel of your website is a very important aspect in terms of increasing sales. You want to make sure that customers can easily find what they are looking for, and purchase those products quickly with fewer clicks or looking around. Here are some basic tips when designing your website.

  • Clear And Pronounced Calls-To-Action. Create clear buttons or steps for the customer to follow to purchase your products. The more clicks it takes to purchase a product, the more likely you are to lose the customer's interest and their business. You should be able to purchase products on your home page, or within one click of the home page. "Add To Cart" buttons and "Checkout" buttons should be high on your pages and should be a bright or contrasting color so that they stand out. It is also helpful to make the calls-to-action slightly larger.
  • Keep Navigation Simple. If you have complex navigation, too much navigation, or any type of navigation that is confusing or that could distract the customer from finding the link that they are looking for, then you are likely to lose their business. Links that are not as popular, or links that customers do not need to use often you should put in the footer, or at least below the fold on the page.
  • Display Safe Shopping And Security Logos. Customers should feel comfortable when they are purchasing products from your website. You will want to include different security logos on your website indicating that your website is secure; this will put your customers' minds at ease. You can get these logos by using the ShopSite security logo, contacting your SSL provider to get their logo, as well as contacting your credit card processor to get their logo. At the very minimum, these logos should be placed on the cart pages where the customer is entering their personal information, but it is useful to have them throughout your website.
  • Include All Store Information. Providing "About Us," "Contact Us," "Privacy Policy," and "Return Policy" pages and information will allow customers to get all their questions about you and your company answered before they purchase from your website.
  • Clearly Indicate Checkout Process. In addition to letting the customer see their final shipping, tax and order costs before continuing through the checkout process, you will want to have a checkout process indicator to let customers know how far along in the checkout process they are. If you have three steps, (1) Shopping Cart, (2) Shipping & Billing, (3) Receipt, you will want to list all three steps on the first page of the checkout, so that customers know how long it takes to checkout. Once the customer moves to the Shipping & Billing screen, the progress bar should indicate that they are at step 2 of 3.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

ShopSite On YouTube

One of my responsibilities as a ShopSite employee is to setup video tutorials for merchants using the ShopSite shopping cart software. Now that the collection of video tutorials is getting quote large, we, at ShopSite, have begun uploading these tutorials on This makes it easier and quicker for merchants to view the videos, and also allows for play-lists of videos. One of the newest play-lists of video tutorials is the Quick & Easy Template Tutorial. This video tutorial play-list shows you how to setup custom templates for your ShopSite store from start to finish using the Quick & Easy Template Tutorial available on ShopSite.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

New Release Of ShopSite - New Templates Available

With the new release of ShopSite, v10 sp2, there are new templates available which are built within the ShopSite shopping cart software. 11 new templates to be exact. All of these templates were created by yours truly :). I am going to be introducing templates which you can purchase on my website which utilize the new templates added in this release.

What does this mean for you? This means that with future upgrades, these templates will automatically have the new features. You don't need to hire a designer (such as myself) to add them in for you, they will already be there.