6 Helpful Workarounds To Help You Manage An Online Store
Friday, December 16, 2016Lindsay Hampson
Guest blog by Patrick Foster.
Running a successful online store is not without its glitches and boring admin tasks. As every ecommerce entrepreneur will know, a lot of work goes into maintaining and managing an online store. However, while certain tasks require an investment of time and attention, others can benefit from being outsourced or approached in new ways. Here are 6 workarounds that could help to save you time and increase the effectiveness of your ecommerce marketing strategy.
Outsource menial tasks
Chances are that as an ecommerce business owner you are doing everything (or most things) yourself, whether that’s marketing, accounts, website maintenance or what-have-you. And while this can seem like a great money-saver, it’s also massively time-consuming. In the end, you can actually lose money by not focusing your time where it’s most needed.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to try and automate as many of your everyday menial tasks as you can. While there may be a cost implication, you may find that with the amount of time it frees up this actually balances out, or at least saves you some considerable sanity. Try websites like Fiverr to find freelance people who can take on aspects of work for you, such as copywriting, accounting and data entry.
There are some menial tasks that you should consider condensing or scrapping altogether. These are the tasks where you unwittingly spend far longer on them than you know you should. I’m talking small details – fiddling around for ages with a featured image, deciding what color to make this or that button on your website, wondering how to close an email. These small tasks do not warrant vast hours, and if you give yourself up to them you are just wasting time, at least in the early stages of your business.
Integrate your orders, shipping and inventory
The order fulfilment side of running an online store is often much more time-consuming than one might expect. It’s also largely error prone, since it relies on manual data entry. If you use an online store builder like Shopify, you can easily integrate your orders, shipping and inventory using an integration expert such as eBridge. eBridge removes costly human error by acting as a universal connector between your business systems, transferring data seamlessly back and forth.
For example, when orders are received through your Shopify store, they come through in your NetSuite accounting system and inventory levels are adjusted accordingly. You can also integrate your shipping and tracking information, making the whole process run more quickly and efficiently. As a result, you have less to worry about and more time to spend on other areas of your business.
Don’t spread yourself too thin
The best ecommerce entrepreneurs serve a niche, and serve it well. When you’re just starting out and you’ve got a few products on the go, it’s always tempting to start selling more. More products = more sales, right? Well no, not always. If you sell a lot of different products and there is no clear theme that links them together, then you run the risk of diluting your brand. Targeting a niche helps to keep the focus and position your business as a source of authority, and when you spread your range to far, the lines start to blur. Have a clear mission for your ecommerce business (besides making money) that creates a clear identity for your brand, and try to stick to it. Consistency will also be a real boon to your SEO efforts, unlike a scattered product catalogue without a cohesive overall niche.
Keep track of abandoned shopping carts
As an online store owner, it’s vital for you to track and be aware of your shopping cart abandonment rates – and the reasons that customers are leaving without completing their purchases. An average of 70 percent of customers put items into their shopping cart only to leave them there, so the objective is to minimize this tendency as much as possible, or risk losing a large potential chunk of sales.
Customers will abandon a shopping cart for a number of reasons, such as encountering unexpected costs, excessive form-fills, security concerns or a website crash. Make sure you’re using a professional analytics solution that will help to pinpoint any issues customers could be having with your website, so you can fix them and have fewer abandoned shopping carts in future.
Give your customers a voice
Today’s online shoppers are looking for more than just product listings and images. They’re looking for interaction – for feedback. Customer reviews are something that have come to be expected, and your visitors trust them because they tell it like it really is. Unless you have reason to believe that you will receive lots of negative feedback (in which case this is a separate issue that must be solved), you should enable customer reviews on your ecommerce website for the following reasons:
●Good customer reviews will drive your sales through the roof. Customers like to have the opportunity to offer feedback – both through words and images – and potential customers trust the good opinion of reviewers
●Reviews generate fresh content for your product listings, at no cost to you. They can even generate a sense of community around a product, if consumers really take to it. Feedback and interaction about a product on a regular basis helps with SEO and leads to social sharing – the ideal outcome
Make it stupidly easy for your customers to rant and rave about you. Wish list tools, sharing buttons, pre-formed tweets, anything that will enable customers to share your product offerings with very little effort. These are some of the best ways to generate hype and buzz around a product.
Spend time on SEO
Bloggers have an easy time of it compared to ecommerce entrepreneurs. Their websites are filled with unique, plentiful content that isn’t trying to sell you something (most of the time). As a result, up goes the SERP ranking and the number of visitors.
Many online store owners put up their product listings – one image, a paragraph of copy taken from the manufacturer’s description – and they think they’ve done enough. But to really excel at SEO, you’ve got to go above and beyond the minimum. That means longer descriptions that are unique to your website, using keywords and variations of. It means including rich media – and tagging it up appropriately so that Google knows what it is. One image of a product is not enough – you should aim to include at least 2 or 3 from various angles and distances, and be sure to show the product in all of the colors it’s available in. And as mentioned, it’s allowing your customers to rant and rave about the products themselves by enabling comments and review sections – preferably with an option to include their own photos.
The other aspect of building good SEO is through domain authority – building a catalogue of backlinks to your site from other respected websites. Try reaching out to other influencers to see about providing sponsored content or advertorial links, which will show search engines that you are a trustworthy store.
Hopefully these suggestions will be useful to you as you progress in your ecommerce endeavors. Do you have any other tips for entrepreneurs based on your own experience? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Patrick Foster is an ecommerce entrepreneur, coach and writer, sharing ideas on his own blog EcommerceTips.org. On his blog, Patrick shares engaging ecommerce content for entrepreneurs and business owners alike. You can follow him on Twitter here, or add him on LinkedIn.