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Does your website work on Mobile?

Does your website work on Mobile?

If the above picture looks like your website, you need to read this! If your website does not work on mobile, it does not work!

  • 56% of all consumer internet traffic is now from mobile devices
  • Mobile traffic is growing at a rate of 53% each year
  • E-commerce sales will reach 500 Billion by year 2018
  • Mobile retail sales have increased 25% year over year
  • 81% of top search engine results are mobile friendly
  • 48% of consumers start their buying process at a search engine
  • 33% of consumers start their buying process at a branded website
  • 72% of consumers want mobile friendly websites
  • 62% of millennials feel that online content drives their loyalty to a brand

The statistics don’t lie. If you are a retail or manufacturing B2C business in 2017 and you do not have a mobile friendly website, you are losing. In order to win the the smart-phone era your retail website must be mobile friendly, if not mobile targeted. The fact is your customers are now finding and judging your business more than ever based on your internet presence. If you have an old and outdated or non mobile friendly website almost 3/4 of your potential business is being lost to a competitor who has a better web presence.

Now lets talk about your brand. It is proven that your brand strength now impacts your search results and your customers engagement and loyalty to your business. If you are using a shared ecommerce platform or a 3rd party selling platform, you are not building your brand, you are paying to build someone else’s, possibly your competitor in the future. If your website does not strongly represent your brand and engage users with it, you are once again, statistically losing money.

The cold hard fact is, you are losing $$$ and negatively impacting your brand by not being mobile friendly. You get what you pay for.

This day in age, up to 50% of your business can be driven by your internet presence. If you are not investing in ecommerce and branding at the same or greater level than you are in your retail brick and mortar, you are making a mistake. Would your brick and mortar store have a good retail presence if you spent only 100 bucks a month on rent? The answer is no, unless you are renting space in Siberia where no customers will ever find you anyway. Think long and hard about where you want your business to be in the next 3-5 years and how your brand and technology will impact your business, then ask yourself what area of your business you should invest in?

Need to find out if your website is mobile friendly or not? Google has a tool for it here: https://search.google.com/search-console/mobile-friendly

Here is an example of a website by another company that is not mobile friendly:

Look familiar? Contact XLEcommerce. We are here to help you!

For comparison here is an example of an XLEcommerce mobile friendly website in Google’s mobile friendly test:

Statistics from:

www.smartinsights.com

www.internetretailer.com

searchengineland.com

searchenginewatch.com

Buying a Website is Like Buying a Car and Going Racing

Buying a Website is Like Buying a Car and Going Racing

Buying a Website is Like Buying a Car and Going Racing, well, kind of….

Many customers we speak with are looking to work with a website provider of some sort, but they really don’t know what they need. This is where the car analogy comes in. Think of your website researching and planning process like shopping for a car.

Lets say, rather than running a business, you run an auto racing team. When you first form that team, you need to select a car to race with. Sounds easy right? There is more to it. There are multiple types and levels of car racing. First we need to choose something to compete in that fits our goals and budget.

The high-school kid just starting out may take his Ford Focus, slap a wing on the back himself and roll on down to the local drag strip on Friday nights.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is your Formula One (F1) race team. This team of hardened racing professionals will select a custom built one-off race car made of carbon fiber and unobtanium. It is incredibly expensive not only to buy the car, but the cost to maintain your car and team, hire top drivers, and compete at the top world level is astronomical.

In between these two levels is a whole range of car types and racing leagues which fit almost any level of competition and budget.

In the world of e-commerce, think of the guy with no business plan starting out of his garage as the Friday Night Ford Focus. Amazon.com is the Formula One Racing Team.

Friday Night Ford Focus went online and slapped a few products on his facebook page, bought a 1.99 godaddy page, and is throwing a few bucks against the wall hoping for fame and glory. We hope it works out, and you have to start somewhere. In the world of race cars, he doesn’t stand a chance though.

The Formula One Racing team is bleeding money out of its ears. They are spending millions of dollars. They are looking for every conceivable edge. They are hiring the best and the brightest in their industry to come work for them at top pay levels. They have purchased the best available technology and continually modify it for better performance. They will probably make it onto ESPN and go down in the record books.

If you are reading this, you likely fall somewhere in between these two extremes. You either have a solid business already which you are looking to expand, or you have a business/marketing plan you spent some time putting together and you are ready to implement it. Now you just need the right ecommerce “engine” that will allow you to compete at your level and budget, so you can someday move up on the ladder. You are researching and learning as much as you can, but you still don’t know exactly what to do, and that is OK.

Everyone wants a race car. Everyone wants to be the next Amazon.com, Ebay, Best Buy, or Cabelas. They want flashy features. They want custom lightweight parts and powerful engines. But most, when presented with the price to build a custom race car, along with the accompanying costs of a pit crew, professional driver, fresh sets of tires, racing fuel, and semi truck to haul it all around in, balk at the cost. Not to mention the marketing team required to get the fans to cheer for you and make your sponsors happy. If you are getting squeamish and gripping your wallet tighter after reading this, you may have to rethink your plan of attack.

You don’t have to race at the highest level to be a winner. There is plenty of lower level cherry picking to be had for an enterprising ecommerce entrepreneur or race car driver. You can have lots of fun and great competition driving a Spec Miata race car around the track, at a price a normal human being can afford. Maybe you will win some prize money and then can afford to jump into the Corvette class, or Baha offroad trucks, or whatever.

The key to success in your “racing” is to select the vehicle you can afford to purchase or build, something you can maintain yourself or afford to pay someone to maintain, and something you can drive yourself or afford to pay someone to drive for you. If you blow your wad on the car and forget about the oil changes and tires, you aren’t going to perform very well on Sunday. You will probably go home a loser. However, if you plan properly, select the right vehicle, budget for the whole year, and spend time tuning and practicing, its more than likely you will finish at the top of the pack and just might win a championship. As they say, winning on Sunday, means selling on Monday.

More Marketing Thoughts

It seems that I cannot write enough about marketing for your e-commerce store or even your simple store info page. This past month I have been asked again by several clients….”How do I market my site so I can increase traffic and ultimately get more sales?” For me it is a tried and true formula based on years of experience. I know what works and I know what doesn’t. With that said I outline the things the customer can do on their own and I also outline the paid options available to them. I usually spend more time than I should on this as most people simply have not planned for this part of their business and my comments fall on deaf ears. More often than not the client says “I don’t have time to do it myself and I don’t, won’t or can’t spend money on marketing….there must be another way………” I tell them there isn’t. Even smaller companies (1 to 3 mil/year) spend easily in the 6 figure range every year on their marketing efforts and put in a ton of time doing so too. I tell the clients who don’t believe this very simple that they will fail. I ask them why did you ask me for my help? Why did you not like my response especially given the fact that I am the expert in this industry? I always say if there is another way that was more cost effective then I would advise you of that. The bottom line is this. If you come to OBN looking for answers we absolutely have them but please don’t argue with me that there must be something else that can be done because there isn’t. Time and/or money is the only way to get it done. Look at a company like Ford Motor Company. They spend millions if not billions marketing their product/company which has HUGE brand recognition. Now don’t you think if there was a way to do this “marketing” for free that they would have figured it out by now? Even if you don’t sell online digital marketing and media is absolutely here to stay and the business who truly embrace this concept will thrive and survive. The companies who don’t will slip into the darkness. The way we did business 20 years ago is completely different than what we see successful businesses do today. So if you take a lesson from all of this please do something to market and promote your business and talking with the experts like OBN is an excellent place to start.

Things Google loves to see on your website.

Here is a list of some of the things Google loves to see. This is by no means all inclusive but it serves as a good guide of some things we feel are important to getting found out there in the World Wide Web. For more information on how to utilize these concepts please email or give us a call.

1) Google loves video. Video is a definitely a trend we are seeing to promote products, goods and services. Keep in mind that Google owns YouTube so that can bode well for search results
2) Google loves to see Google analytics in place and that your site is being monitored from time to time. In the e-tail world though you should be in there many times a day.
3) Google rewards real time updates through social media outlets such as Twitter and Face Book. Relevant links and keywords to your site are what is key here.
4) Google maps can be a good thing on your site too. This is particularly important when it comes to driving your target audience to a physical store location
5) Google loves a blog. This is another great way to tie in links and keywords with your site.
6) Google loves content. Not just any content but new and fresh content. Changing up a news section on your home page from time to time is a good thing. You may also want to consider adding some downloadable content perhaps in PDF format to allow users easy access to information.
7) Google loves tags. Well written keyword infused meta descriptions will serve you well when your site is being crawled for pertinent content.
8) Google loves links. Many text based links over time in a consistent manner are an important piece of the Google puzzle. Getting other reputable sites to link to yours is a huge advantage.
9) Google loves traffic. As I said in a past blog. Traffic is rewarded. Getting that traffic there in the first place is the challenge but once it is Google recognizes and rewards the effort.
10) Google likes consistency in your site. Ensure all your links go somewhere as broken links are simply put bad.

Brick and Mortar Tips for Online Stores: Part 6

To wrap up or blog series on utilizing the values of brick and mortar retail in your online store, we are going to cover that basics of marketing your site the same way you would if you owned a storefront. Many people assume that they can simply purchase a website, get it online and then the customer will just flock there and start buying. These assumptions can lead people to failure when they do not properly market their sites or put time and money into hiring professionals to do so.

To build a successful website, marketing should be divided into two main groups. There is user-specific marketing to customers, which includes social media, e-mail marketing and original content on your site. This is important because it will build your credibility within the eyes of your customers and ensure return shopping. Marketing this way is building the image you will portray to your customers and potential shoppers. User-specific marketing has the main goal of being interactive and informative for your customers. It should include any information pages that a customer would use on your site, video clips, product reviews and any other unique content that makes the user experience on your site easier.

Then, there is the SEO/PPC marketing aspect. This marketing is in place to boost your search engine results, whether they are organic or paid. User-specific marketing is the trend in the industry right now and search engines seem to favor original content, however, to properly market your website your strategy needs to encompass both of these tactics. You want to develop a strong brand with your customers but you also need to be doing SEO and PPC marketing to reach out to new clients.

Brick and Mortar Tips for Online Stores: Part 5

Next in our series we will go over the ways in which you can merchandise your online store to suit the needs of your customers and get their return business. Generally, retail stores change their visual merchandising once a month – sometimes more if there are specific promotions that they need to do a floor change for. This is helpful advice to online retailers, as your online store should also be re-merchandised on a regular basis.

Think of your brick and mortar store or the last time you visited a retail store. The products in the store are going to be organized and displayed in a manner that provokes the customer to shop and to buy. If it was a pet store, for example, there would be different areas for dogs and cats and fish set up so that customers would know to go to a specific part of the store to find what they are looking for. Your ecommerce site should also accomplish this by categorizing and organizing your products in a way that makes sense to you and your customers. You wouldn’t want someone to click on a link for dogs and end up with aquariums and hamster food.

Aside from organizing your products in a shopable manner, you’re going to want to update this merchandising on a regular basis. You don’t have to change your entire product arrangement every month, but you should be conscious of your featured products and specials. These things need to be updated so that customers get a sense of new and exciting offers and items when they visit your site. If you can keep a customer engaged when they come to your store, you can get their return business instead of a one-time shopper.

Brick and Mortar Tips for Online Stores: Part 4

To continue with our current series on translating the values that make brick and mortar stores successful to the online arena, today we’re going to cover bounce-backs and ways to market to the customers who have already shopped with you.

In the retail world, there are several ways that stores market to their existing client base. One trick that shops use frequently is the bounce-back. This is a coupon or flier inserted right into your shopping bag after you’ve made a purchase. A bounce-back can also be a coupon or promotion printed at the bottom of a receipt that a customer receives after purchasing in the store.

The idea of a bounce-back is to get the customer to come back in a timely fashion and shop again. It can be a reminder of a holiday coming up or a promotional offer – either way, it should compel the consumer to spend more at your site.

You can create this same effect through your e-commerce site even though it is not a face-to-face transaction with the consumer. One way to do this is to send an email newsletter to all of the clients who purchased on your site within the last month. This way, you are engaging those recent customers and building a strong brand identity. If you are shipping the product and not a warehouse, you can also include a coupon in the box so that when the package arrives, the customer has incentive to shop again.

Brick and Mortar Tips for Online Stores: Part 3

We hope you’ve enjoyed our series so far on utilizing tools from retail storefronts and bringing them to an online store. Halfway through our series, we want to direct you to two important parts of your site that should be well-written and very clear to your customers – your return policy and shipping policy.

The return policy is very important on a website because there is no salesperson present in your checkout process to reassure your customers about their purchases. If they can easily access and understand your return policy, it will be easier for them to purchase on-the-fence items knowing what the consequences will be if the item doesn’t work out.

The return policy should also enable you to protect yourself from any angry customers. It gives you the opportunity to build a policy that will allow you to reject unwelcomed returns. One major problem in the retail world is dealing with customers who abuse the system and expect to get their products at a discount or threaten to return them. By clearly posting your return policy, you will hopefully deter any of these falsified returns and have written documentation to protect yourself in a legal setting, should one arise.

It is also important to post your shipping policy for some of the same reasons. The shipping policy can help reassure customers who are on the edge about ordering from your website. If the customer better understands the order process and feels more comfortable with it, they are much more likely to impart with personal information through your ecommerce site.

Your shipping policy will also provide clear boundaries for yourself and you customers. Policies are in place to protect you and to protect the consumer, should there be a mishap with one of your orders. If you post your shipping policies effectively, you can help protect yourself from chargeback fraud. Part of your shipping policy should state what name will appear on a credit card statement when the customer purchases with you. This is another good measure to take in order to prevent and protect against chargebacks.

Brick and Mortar Tips for Online Stores: Part 2

To continue with our series on applying brick and mortar ideas to your online store, this segment will cover how you can implement tools to make your online shoppers feel as though they have the same customer service that they would at your shop.

When you go to a retail store, one of the first things that will happen is a sales associate will greet you (hopefully in a friendly manner) and ask you what you are looking for or if you need help finding a specific item. The associate might also tell the customer what specials are going on or what products are currently on sale.

You can do several different things to achieve this same effect online, utilizing multiple features to recreate some of the convenience of having a sales associate to reference.

To assume the role of greeter for your web store, you can use bright banner images on your landing page to greet your customers. This will need to be friendly, informative and aesthetically interesting to engage your customers and get them to look further into your shop. Think about what you do when you visit a site for the first time. Do you give the site a chance to load fully and display all of its images? Do you read the full page before deciding to navigate further? Normally, you are going to have less than 10 seconds to get a customer hooked on your page. The landing page will serve as a greeter and hopefully will achieve this for your web store.

In addition to having great content on your landing page, having a chat feature is another wonderful way to engage your customers. A chat feature allows customer to interact with your support staff in an anonymous way (if they choose) that often times gives them a sense of security. It can help your customers who may have anxieties about talking on the phone with a sales rep as it is a digital interface.

Another tip to creating a great service element is having a properly functioning search bar. If a customer can search for a certain product within your site, it is a great tool for them in navigation. It’s almost like having a salesperson there who you can ask what isle you’ll find the product in. This feature should be user-friendly, adapting to misspellings and other factors of human error. Maybe you don’t carry a certain product online but you carry it in store. This tool should be used in the same way a sales person would be. If a customer asks for something that doesn’t exist in your store, can you offer suggestions like a salesperson would?

These simple steps, although they’ll probably take some programming work from your developers, will ensure that you don’t lose sight of customer service on your ecommerce site.

eCommerce Fraud: Preparation and Prevention

Fraud is common in retail, regardless of the interface used, but when it comes to the world of e-commerce, there is a greater risk of fraud for three main reasons.

First, and most important, is the fact that you are not handling the payment method. Think about it – if you walked into a gas station with a piece of paper that had all of the right credit card information on it, they still wouldn’t accept that as payment. You would need the physical card in your hand to use it. It’s different in the e-commerce arena. There is no way to be 100% certain that you are dealing with a real person or if they are using real information.

Second, you are not in charge of your merchandise throughout the entire transaction. At the gas station, the cashier decides when it is ok for you to pump the gas, but when someone is shopping online, you ship the order out in good faith, trusting your preventative measures and hoping that you didn’t just ship it out at a loss to your business.

Lastly, there are several different types of fraud that can occur in an e-commerce marketplace. You have to watch out for counterfeit credit cards and gift cards, but also you have to make sure that you aren’t being taken advantage of by chargeback fraud. The internet is a vast space that allows criminals to take unprepared shop owners by surprise.

So how can you take the proper measures and secure your site to the best of your abilities? There are actually quite a few ways that are simple and effective when it comes to preventing e-commerce fraud and fraudulent activities. Make sure that you have a procedure that you follow every time you get an order and keep it consistent. You should be checking the shipping and billing addresses and security codes or CVV2 codes on all orders. If the shipping address and billing address are different, call the customer to verify the order. These are two steps that can go a long way in preventing fraud. You can also check the email that was given with the order to see if it is from a free email site. If an order is large compared to your average dollar sale, you should be calling or emailing that customer to verify the order and be sure it was correct.

In the end, it is better to have called and double checked an order than to be at a loss. No customer who has legitimately placed an order is going to be mad at you for calling. It shows that you are offering the best customer service possible, because your costs go up if you are constantly losing money to fraud.