The day you make your first sale as an online merchant is certainly a day to remember. It’s symbolic of your hard work, and it’s a good reminder of the success to come. Waiting to make that first sale can make you feel nervous and excited all at the same time. Here are 10 tips for making that sale and celebrating your first step toward a successful career.
Have you ever wanted to start selling your cooking classes online but didn’t want to worry about time for setup, getting it up on your website, understanding a new program/software and finding the perfect calendar?
This free workshop webinar hosted by Occasion will walk you through how to setup your online booking calendar, step-by-step. You’ll learn how to create your classes and have your online calendar accepting bookings in no time.
In a span of three months, between July and September 2015, Occasion's merchant partners processed $1,000,000 worth of orders online (industry standard term is gross merchant volume, or GMV) via their webites, social media and email marketing. This is 10x bigger than what we saw last year during the same time period.Read More >
Harper Reed, former CTO of Obama for America, recently spoke at a Tech Cocktail event, where Occasion was one of ten showcase startups. Harper, among a lot of other things, talked about how there is so much ‘e’, which stands for ‘electronic’, that it’s no longer worth noting. This resonated with the entire Occasion team.
‘E’ is often applied to major industries, such as e-banking, e-marketing, e-payments, and e-commerce. He said—and I’m paraphrasing—that there is no ‘e’ in anything anymore: It’s simply marketing, commerce, and banking. Digital is no longer a new thing. It’s a way of life.
Here’s how digital is part of our everyday lives.
I have not stepped inside a bank in over a year. I actually closed my accounts with any bank that has retail locations, and I now bank with Simple.
Ninety-nine percent of my communication is electronic, whether via texts, emails, Facebook, Twitter, or Yammer. Less than one percent of my communication is via my actual voice. For now, that is still non-digital.
I am streaming all sorts of entertainment: sports, tv shows, movies and music on my computer, iPad and Android phone. I am a “cord cutter”, and so are most of my friends.
I pay all my bills online either with my credit card or online banking. I don’t use or even have a checkbook for personal or business payments. Digital wallets will soon be the norm, revolutionizing person-to-person (P2P) payments as well.
Search ads, email marketing, video ads, content marketing, customer support and conversations with customers are all happening online. There is a startup that is helping consumers de-clutter their life from analog versions of marketing (print ads), which are impersonal and non-targeted.
B2B and B2C transactions continue to move online, and therefore still presents a lot of merchants with a big opportunity for growth. Commerce is growing three times faster online than offline in the United States. More commerce will move online as consumers prefer to buy faster and easier, and businesses seek the higher margins of frictionless sales.
The prevalent prefix of ‘e’ looks normal today, but in the not-too-distant future it will likely seem as quaint as calling the internet the World Wide Web.
Why does it seem like everyone likes pizza?
Because it’s delicious, you say. And I give you that. It is indeed delicious.
But I also believe that pizza’s popularity is a result of another feature: It’s customizable.
And pizza has got to be the most customizable food available to order online. There are so many steps to make between my feeling hungry for tasty pizza and actually placing the order. Think of all the decisions you have to make: size, type of crust, sauce type, cheese, veggies, meat… Yet, we still find ourselves going online to order pizza—not despite the steps, but likely because of them. It’s fun to make your own pizza, and a computer can’t misunderstand your order.
In a survey conducted by industry magazine PMQ, 57 percent of respondents age 25 to 34 considered an online ordering option important, and yet only 18 percent of the pizzerias they surveyed have received a pizza order online (that includes through their own website or third-party services like GrubHub).
The Big Three pizzeria chains—Pizza Hut, Domino’s, and Papa John’s—all have online ordering systems in place. In fact, Domino’s collected a cool billion dollars worth of orders online, representing a third of it’s total sales.
Independent pizzerias, which represent 53 percent of the industry, still lag behind in terms of adopting online ordering. According to PMQ, pizzeria operators seem hesitant to adopt online ordering as an option, but those that wait will miss out on a golden opportunity.
“Although not considered a trend anymore, online ordering continues to grow and expand. And while some pizzeria operators are still a bit gun-shy about it, one look at the success of some of the top chains in this area can attest to its viability.”
There’s no excuse for independent pizzerias allowing the big corporations to out-innovate them. As consumers continue to demand online ordering as an option, those pizzerias that offer it will likely find greater success.
Image from Giordanos Pizza
When Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks, he said, “Because that’s where the money is.”
Actually, it turns out that’s a myth. But perhaps the reason the misquote has persisted is that it is so brilliantly simple.
While his methods were not legal, you could hardly argue that they were ineffective. Sutton is credited with stealing about $2 million over his career, which would equal about $20 million today.
If you are a small business owner, how can you use Willie Sutton’s advice to tap into some new revenues of your own?
The answer is to go where the money is. And the money is online.
According to the below infographic, Forrester reports that e-commerce in 2013 will have grown to $262 billion, up from $231 billion in 2012. The firm also predicts that online retail sales will grow at a compounded annual rate of 10% for the next five years. (See infographic)
Further, by 2017, 90% of consumers will regularly shop online. Ninety percent! And while most small businesses these days already have websites, few of them allow their customers to buy what they’re selling on them. Luckily for small businesses, tapping into the lucrative stream of online transactions is much easier than cracking a bank’s safe.
A website should be a business owner’s virtual store. Allowing customers to easily book or buy on the website is essential. If you do not have the ecommerce tools in place, then it’s time to enable online transactions.
Now that you’re ready to unleash your inner Willie Sutton, make sure you do it according to ecommerce best practices. Here are some key guidelines to consider:
– Make product information accessible.
– Provide a clear call to action.
– Earn the trust of your customers.
– Eliminate unnecessary steps between the customer’s desire to buy and the purchase.
– Maintain your branding.
Implementing an ecommerce solution that follows these guidelines will position your business where the money is and where it will continue to go: Online. Your customers will thank you for it, and we’ll bet they even tell a friend or two.
For business owners, there is a lot of software out there to consider. Some of it is useful—necessary, even. Some of it is highly specialized for particular types of businesses or business functions. And then some of it is irrelevant and probably a waste of time and money when all is said and done.
Often, software that falls in the latter category will promise things like “streamlining business functions,” “driving revenue,” “improving lead generation,” among other benefits. These are all perfectly reasonable objectives for any business to have, but business owners must always think critically about how a piece of software will help them achieve those goals. A helpful trick when evaluating software is to consider who or what is the most important aspect of your business. Without knowing anything about your particular business, I can say with a high degree of certainty that the most crucial part of your business is your customers.
How did you find this article? (check all that apply)
e) Other (please explain)
So ask yourself not what your software can do for you, but what your software can do for your customers. If your customers are happy, your business will benefit as a result. It seems obvious, but it’s amazing how easy it can be to forget.
For example, data and analytics are highly touted software features these days, and justifiably so. The more you know about your customers, the theory goes, the better you can “segment” and “target” them. Of course, this is true; data-driven marketing and customer service can be highly effective at improving customer satisfaction as well as sales. But the cost of obtaining the data must be considered along with the benefits.
After reading this far, do you believe this article is relevant to you?
c) Not sure
People don’t usually like handing over more information than is required to make a purchase. For one, it takes time, which seems to be in shorter supply these days. It can also feel intrusive and, at it’s worst, disrespectful. A company has just gained you as a customer, and it’s already asking for more?
When people are bombarded with questions, surveys, and info boxes, they feel less like a person and more like a statistic. It’s an unsettling feeling, and when you have so many questions to answer, you also have plenty of time to reconsider your decision to make a purchase.
Are you getting annoyed by these questions interrupting your reading?
c) Not sure
Of course, you could also collect customer data that you don’t ask for. What they don’t know can’t hurt them, right? Well, for certain data this is true. Paying attention to popular times to buy, who likes what, and seasonal sales patterns are all reasonable and effective ways to manage inventory and inform marketing strategy. But for more personal data, it’s always best to be transparent with customers. Give them the opportunity to deny you permission to, say, track their location. They might just be OK with it, and even if they aren’t, they’ll be thankful that you asked. Respecting the customer is the first step toward earning customer loyalty.
The most important question you should ever be asking is this: Did the customer enjoy their experience? That includes both their experience with your product or service, as well as their experience reserving, buying, and consuming what you’re selling. But do not explicitly ask the customer. Ask yourself. If you can’t tell, the answer is either “no” or “not enough,” because when customers enjoy products and services, you’ll see them more often, you’ll start receiving referrals, and you’ll notice people having positive conversations about your business online.
Treat your customers with respect, and they will reciprocate in ways that directly benefit your business. No software can do that for you.
Photo by Sam Hood, courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales, via Flickr