Make your online retail business a success with these seven easy steps.

While high street chains and independent stores continue to suffer in this tough economic climate, the ecommerce market is rapidly growing. As consumers turn to the web for their retail needs, now is the perfect time to see your online business soar. In order to entice, satisfy and retain your customers, you will need to be digitally savvy. Including everything from clever marketing to consumer experience – these are our seven digital tips to make your online shop thrive.

1. Have a facility for customer reviews

Customer reviews are beneficial for your ecommerce site in many different ways. They are helpful because they will assist the buyer with their decision making. Additionally, they are valued more than just basic product descriptions. In fact, 84% of people say that they trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Also, having user-generated content in the form of comments written by users actually boosts your Google ranking. Displaying your reviews in the form of a star rating is a great idea, as it’s a simple measuring scale that’s familiar to most users.

2. Ensure your website has good mobile functionality

As of July 2017, 38.76% of all online UK content was viewed on a mobile. If your site isn’t optimised for mobile use and consumers are viewing your web page on their smartphone, they will at worst leave almost immediately, or at best, have a very bad user experience. So, if your website doesn’t operate correctly on mobiles, then you are essentially eliminating over a third of your potential customers. The easiest and slickest way to perfect your mobile site is to use a responsive design format that simply adjusts the layout depending on how the user is browsing.

3. Make the customer journey as easy as possible

You’ve succeeded at driving traffic to your website, but now you need that time online to convert into actual sales. In order to for this to happen as frequently as possible, you must prioritise the ease of the customer journey. If users can’t find how to select the colour, style or quantity of the product or have trouble using the shopping basket, they will lose interest very quickly. This is where sophisticated ecommerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce come into play. They offer various levels of online shopping infrastructure – everything from a pre-set shopfront that organises your products in an easy-to-view display, to the backend functions like order processing and inventory management, so your transactions can run as seamlessly as possible.

4. Work on the accuracy of your search results

The search tool is something that is utilised by the digital consumer a lot – especially if you have a wealth of products and extensive categories on your website. But, as well as enhancing the user experience, a search bar is crucial for you to track and analyse what your website visitors are looking for. If you use an ecommerce platform, then the search option may be inbuilt, but otherwise you can opt for an add-on like the Google search bar.

5. Be SEO savvy

It doesn’t matter if you’ve got an all-singing, all-dancing website; if it doesn’t rank well on Google, then you aren’t going to get a lot of organic search engine traffic – and less traffic correlates to less sales. Firstly, it’s essential to keep your content updated, as a stagnant, uninteresting site will never get boosted. Also, get in the habit of using keywords wherever possible ­– not only in your product descriptions, but also in your image alt tags, as these will help to improve your searchability. Another search engine optimisation secret is the art of securing as many backlinks as possible, because the more people that are referencing your site, the more credible your business becomes. Reach out to bloggers to review your products and also ask your manufacturers to list you as a stockist on their web pages.

6. Utilise customer sign-ups

Newsflash: when online shops ask you to create an account, it isn’t just to make your life easier for future ordering purposes. Consumer data is the holy grail of marketing because having your customers’ email addresses on file means that you are free to pitch to them at any given time. With an email sign-up system, you’ll find yourself acquiring a substantial mailing list very quickly; then you can send newsletters to inform your customers of discounts and new products. Just be sure to keep the content relevant and perhaps add a capacity for the receiver to decide how frequently they get notified to prevent any unhappy clients from feeling bombarded.

7. Get noticed on social media

As an online business, you simply cannot ignore the ever-growing juggernaut that is social media. There are 2.8 billion active social media users worldwide, so getting your brand into the social space is essential for success. The constant process of updating social media can be incredibly time consuming, so perhaps channel your focus and energy into one key social network that’s most relevant for your brand. If you’re selling products to 18–25 year old women, you will need to have an Instagram presence, but if your target audience is 30+, then consider a Facebook page.

With these tools and techniques under your belt, you’re now in the best position to excel in the ecommerce market and make your business a resounding success.

 

This post was a guest post from: Victoria Greene: Brand Marketing Consultant & Freelance Writer.

I work with online businesses and entrepreneurs to create valuable content and marketing strategies that yield strong results. I am always happy to share my knowledge and love discovering opportunities for collaboration.

Social media platforms can be a powerful tool to connect with audiences, build brand awareness and promote upcoming events. But they can also be unpredictable online spaces that can turn inexplicably in the space of a few days, hours, or even minutes. Topics that may have been loved or unknown yesterday can become infamous social media memes overnight, and often for the wrong reasons.

Analysing these shifts can help understand how to manage and market your own content, and hopefully avoid any major social media faux pas. Here are my top three love-to-hate trending topics on social media.

1. Coleslaw.

Yes, Coleslaw. What began as a lone blogger’s opinion on Tumblr quickly spiraled into a wave of hate for the cabbage-based cuisine. Within hours it quickly achieved a meme-like status and had spread to other social media platforms, including Twitter. While some bloggers have avidly defended the consumption of coleslaw, the majority of posts have been on the hateful end of the spectrum.

What we can learn from this meme is that social media can’t always be explained. Even the most innocent of victims, such as a humble salad accompaniment, can become the subject of strong public hatred, despite the fact they may have done nothing to encourage such a hostile response. Having a strong crisis management plan in place can help to manage negative feedback when it strikes.

2. Beyoncé’s Big News

When Beyoncé began publicising her big announcement there was a lot of speculation on what it might be. A new tour, a new album, a new baby? The bubble was burst when Beyoncé’s heavily promoted Good Morning America appearance was to tell the world she was no longer consuming animal products and has gone vegan. While it’s certainly an important decision within her personal life, hyping it up to such great heights left a lot of her fans feeling disappointed and even manipulated. If you’re using social media to publicise a big announcement or event, make sure that it actually IS a message that will interest your followers, or you might find yourself facing a Beyoncé-level of backlash.


3. RIP mX

The end of the free daily newspaper, mX. While there were some who vocalised their happiness that the paper will no longer pollute carriages and seats across public transport, many readers were outraged about the discontinuation and took to social media to air their sadness and final farewells.

In a world that is driven by mobile media, it would appear to make sense that News Corp has decided to cease publication and funnel the savings back into their paid publications. But for a lot of commuters, mX was a free tabloid perfect for flicking through on train rides home when the smartphone battery is drained from a long day of heavy usage, and will be sorely missed by its fans.

Authour: Rebecca Matthews writes for MegaphoneOz and is currently studying Media and Communications at the University of Sydney.

RebeccaPhoto

A number of recent news stories have featured the pitfalls of social media – enraging some people and enthralling others. Sally Bercow got sued and PR executive Justine Sacco generated a storm on Twitter, losing her job. The Kevin Bacon advertising campaign highlighted that virtually everyone is connected.

Some companies have expressed concern that the risks of using social media outweigh the benefits. To investigate, Broadgate Mainland invited Dr. Paul Dwyer (a senior lecturer from the University of Westminster), Suzanne Tyrrell (a senior associate from international law firm Taylor Wessing) and Jo Faith (editor, yourmoney.com), to talk about the challenges and pitfalls.

The collective view was that social media continues gaining importance in company PR campaigns. Jo Faith monitors social media to look for story leads. “It’s not only a great way for PR … to get their message across but also for establishing company executives as informed spokespeople”, she said – mentioning also that companies cannot merely dip in and out occasionally if they expect a real return.

Paul Dwyer supported this, adding that social media can be a powerful tool when used properly. A recent Christmas video went viral with over 35 million views, for example. He spoke about return on investment, and emphasised the importance of message tone, imagination and creativity. “It’s a bit like a party. People don’t want to be sold to. You have to engage in a friendly and entertaining way if you expect people to respond positively.”

Suzanne Tyrrell mentioned possible risk without effective controls. “Only 40 percent of companies have a corporate social media policy,” she said. “Social media policies should not stifle creativity … they should set clear parameters on what is acceptable behaviour and what is not.” Policies should include the risks of retweeting and libel. Tyrell also warned that the commonly used tagline “These views are my own” is not a robust legal defence.

The panel debated whether companies needed to monitor social media to stay informed of possible mentions, and concluded that it allowed timely reaction, if necessary. Supervision of brand reputation should include digital notice boards and reader comment sections, with replies posted if topics do not offer a full perspective. Such replies need to be in a pleasant tone – not too corporate or overbearing.

Social media looks set to continue to surprise and entertain its audience, while companies develop and embrace the new skills required.

Author Bio

Mark Knight is a Director at Broadgate Mainland the London PR firm.

If you’re looking at changing the way you look at life, the best thing to do is head off into the big wide world and head to university. I’m Kat and I write over at www.gingersnapblog.co.uk (drop over and have a read….) where I blog about surviving university one week at a time. I try to cover tips and tricks to make life a little bit easier as well as sharing the really stupid things that we more often than not get up to…..

There’s so many things I’ve learnt in the last few years at university, things I now couldn’t live without knowing alongside things I wish I’d known when I started. I’ve decided to share my top 5 tips for surviving university – who knows they may make your life that little bit easier…

1. Budget, budget, budget! I know, I sound like my parents but it’s something that I really I wish I had in my first year… I definitely do now – most of the time – because there’s nothing I hate more than having to penny pinch in the final few weeks of the term.

2. Attempt to make as many friends as you can… In lecture, in your flat, or even in societies. But accept that not everyone you meet will land up being particularly close to you. People have a very different way about them when alcohol is involved….

3. Remember that academics aren’t everything, make sure you get the chance to go out and experience everything you can  (this ONLY applicable in the first year, I’m not condoning not doing work, make sure you pass) There’s nights out, parties, society meetings, trips and so much more!

4. Take a million and one photos. Trust me, you’ll look back at some of the photos and wonder where and what the photos are of. But at least this gives you the chance to look back on all of the silly things you’ll do. You’ll want it.

5. Understand that you will see things differently to other people, and that this will cause arguments no matter how laid back you are. You may well see the mess in the kitchen and think it’s not bad, another flatmates will think its horrific. You may well think it’s fine to leave dirty underwear on the bathroom floor, another flatmates will think this is the worse thing you could possibly do in life! Just stay calm and try and come up to a solution that works for everyone!

University is the maddest, funniest, most expensive, time to learn in your life. You will look back and wonder where the time went. Appreciate every moment, it will be the little things that get you through surviving university.

Author Bio

Kat is a Finance and Business Student at Portsmouth University

As I was browsing online, I discovered an Australian fashion subscription service that really caught my eye and I couldn’t wait to get in contact with the ladies behind it to find out more. Her Fashion Box is a unique idea that brings women the latest fashion accessories, trends and advice inside a box of hand-picked beauty and lifestyle gifts. They have over 18,000 followers on Instagram and 14,185 fans on Facebook and it looks like big plans are in place for the future.

Kath Purkis launched the business and kindly answered my questions below:

How did you start Her Fashion Box and did it take a long time to get it up and running?

I started Her Fashion Box after founding Australian online fashion destination Le Black Book in 2008 & seeing trends emerge every season. I wanted to create a monthly fashion accessory box that took the guesswork out of shopping online & gave women something to look forward to every month.

It took about 3 months to get up and running once I decided I wanted to launch it. I move quite quickly & I’m a very passionate person, I wasted no time getting it up and running in Australia.

Where did you get your inspiration from?

I took inspiration from my first business and also from everyone around me. I love fashion & thought it would be exciting to create a monthly service women all over the world get excited about more than a one-off purchase but every month. I think of Her Fashion Box as a little reward we can give ourselves every month.

What do you enjoy the most about running this business and could you tell me (roughly) how many viewers you get on the website each month?

I love that no two days are the same. One minute I could be in a buying and production meeting with our buyers, the next with our web team analysing our website statistics & looking at ways to improve Her Fashion Box. I love having a equally as passionate team at Her Fashion Box, we love tackling the daily challenges and the team continue to amaze me each day! I’m a bit of a geek & I love getting stuck into google analytics and all the exciting things that happen behind the scenes.

How big is the team in the office?

We have a Her Fashion Box family of close to 20 people based in Sydney, Australia. We also have team members in LA & China. We have a fun office culture, which encourages entrepreneurial thinking. We have inspirational posters, beanbags, makeup &beauty everywhere along with plenty of lolly jars.

What tips would you give to someone that wants to grow their own idea?

Just do it! It’s cliché, but if you don’t just give it a go you won’t move forward.

What are your most successful achievements to date?

I’ve had some great milestones and mini high five moments over the past 12 months. Highlights have been our Vogue Australia feature, guest speaking at Google Australia, our first international subscriber and achieving our subscriber milestones & seeing the team grow each day.

Where is your favourite place to shop?

I love shopping online at Le Black Book for my on-trend fashion essentials, netaporter for my designer collectable styles and all the UK high-street stores when I’m in London.

How would you describe your style?

Classic but always on-trend, I love teaming classics with the latest Her Fashion Box accessories.

What can we expect from Her Fashion Box over the next 5 years?

You can expect to see Her Fashion Box grow globally and become the bright pink box women all over the world look forward to each month.

herfashionbox-kath-purkis-kerry (2)[This image was sent to me for personal use on the blog]

Follow Kath on twitter @KathPurkis

What do you enjoy the most about running your own fashion blog?

Freedom and travel and the wonderful brands I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with.  It’s a creative outlet for me which is hugely important and I love the challenge of creating something exciting.

What tips would you give to someone that wants to start a blog?

Do it.  No excuses – if you want to you don’t need much to get started.  Create a blog you would like to read and focus on that alone, not stats.  And post regularly; whether it’s once a week or 3 times a day, just choose a schedule that’s realistic for you and stick to it.

How did you start Thankfifi and did it take a long time to get it up and running?

Over coffee with a friend we were dicussing our favourite new blogs and she suggested that if I started one she would read it.  So I did.  That friend is Fi(fi).

Can you name some of the top trends for A/W and tell us what you are most looking forward to wearing?

Pink.  Candy, fuschia, bubblegum – it’s all been promised but it’s not exactly running amok on the high street as I had hoped (yet).  Plaid is one I’m really excited for but maybe that’s just the Scottish girl in me.

What do you like doing when you’re not at work?

Walking in the country or on the beach with the husband and Mr K (he’s the furry one).  I spend a lot of time travelling at the moment so any spare time with family or friends is really cherished.

Where is your favourite place to shop?

Wow, I must be the only fashion blogger who doesn’t really love shopping!  Online always feels easiest to me, cup of tea in hand.  So many websites are super simple to navigate and find the right pieces versus the high street which often feels disorganised and busy.

High street shops I do enjoy are: Zara, Mango and Gap.
Online picks are: The Outnet, Asos & H&M.

How would you describe your style?

Maybe 75% classic, 25% fashion victim.

Thankfifi-Tartancity-21_thumb

What inspires your daily posting?

Life.

How many times a day do you have to walk your gorgeous dog?

Four but he tells me it should be more… Actually that sounds like a lot of walks but when I’m working from home it’s the perfect way to clear my mind.

What other blogs and magazines are you into at the moment?

I read A LOT of other blogs and my all time favourite is Gary Pepper.  There are a bunch of other blogs which most people know about so here are some lesser know reads I’m enjoying right now – Winston & Willow for the aspirational fashion and photography, Bank to Boutique for the wonderful lifestyle shots, The Elgin Avenue for the colour and A House in the Hills for the food glorious food.

Do you think the blogging sphere has changed over the last few months? Eg. Programmes like Celebs, brands and Fake fans have brought certain facts to the public eye.

I haven’t seen the show so can’t comment on that I’m afraid but I think the blogging sphere and internet in general is such a fast paced environment to be a part of.  It’s exciting and testing both at once trying to stay up to date, creating new and aspirational content but you have to love it or you just wouldn’t do it!

 

You can read Wendy’s blog here

 

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