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Thank you for stopping by our booth @SHOTShow

Thank you for stopping by the Outdoor Business Network SHOT Show booth and requesting more information from our company. The show was a huge success for us, and we are looking forward to another great year serving the shooting sports industry. Hopefully you had a chance to speak with one of our representatives or partners to get a taste of what Outdoor Business Network can do for you and your company.

We will be following up with each and every person we met at the show, however please understand this will take some time. We have a low pressure sales approach, so we won’t be bugging you with lots of follow up phone calls. If you are ready to go and want to get started on your e-commerce website or marketing right away, don’t hesitate to drop us an email or phone call.

We look forward to serving you in the future. Please stay tuned as we will be updating you with more information regarding our products and services shortly.

Minimum Advertised Pricing!

It came to my attention recently that some companies/people are under the impression that we are here to enable people to violate suppliers MAP’s. That is minimum advertised pricing for those of you who may not know. It is OBN’s intent to encourage the use of MAP and to help in any reasonable way to guide our clients who may have inadvertently or intentionally dropped advertised prices below MAP. We are more than willing to assist anyone who calls on us regarding this matter. With that said I have attached an article below to give the very basics on MAP for your information. If you have any questions please call us at 800-699-0820 ext. 1.

How Minimum Advertised Pricing Impacts Your Retail or Online Store’s Marketing Efforts

by Caron_Beesley, Community Moderator at www.SBA.gov

If you run an online or retail business, did you know that you might be prohibited from advertising a manufacturer’s products below a certain minimum price?

Minimum advertised pricing (MAP) policies are particularly critical to manufacturers who sell their products for online resale, given the ease at which consumers can now conduct online and mobile price comparisons. MAP policies are also established to help small businesses compete and sell on service and value, rather than entering into a price war with cost-cutting big box stores.

But how legally enforceable are these minimum advertised pricing policies and, as a small business owner, is there a way to get around them in your sales and marketing practices?

The Truth About Minimum Advertised Pricing

Minimum advertised pricing only relates to “advertised” pricing and is perfectly legal under U.S. antitrust statutes. So, essentially, you are limited to advertising MAP-protected products at a certain price, but you can sell these products at any price you choose (often guided by the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price or MSRP).

What Does this Mean for Online Businesses?

Under typical MAP agreements, online retailers can’t “display” any prices that fall below the MAP price. But which part of an online store actually represents advertising display space has caused quite a bit of controversy. For example, say a product is listed on a site for $10. Once a coupon code or other incentive is applied, the actual shopping cart price could come down to $8. Is that still considered “advertising” since a transaction technically hasn’t yet occurred, or is it a commitment to buy and outside the scope of a MAP agreement?

The difference between an advertised price and an actual price that you may be charged has come under scrutiny by U.S. Circuit Courts and FTC rulings, which tend to agree that an actual price displayed in a secure/encrypted shopping cart isn’t subject to MAP – because it’s technically not advertising space, but represents an actual storefront. So in an online world, an actual price may legally end up being a lot lower than the MAP-required advertised price.

In fact, manufacturers are often advised to focus their MAP policies on advertised prices in paid search ads, shopping comparison ads, and internet landing pages but not in shopping carts or other point of sale interfaces.

Look for Alternative Ways to Discount

While it’s not always advisable to lead with price in your marketing efforts, look for other ways to attract customers without breaking any MAP agreements. For example, many manufacturers are okay with your offering free shipping, coupon codes, or a “buy-one-get-one at a discount,” if MAP doesn’t protect that other item. Essentially, as long as the dollar value of the MAP-protected product isn’t reduced, then you are okay. Be careful with coupon codes. It’s safer to advertise the coupon—not the product that it can be applied against—so as not to imply that you are advertising the MAP item at a reduced price. Instead, be clear about what items are excluded from any coupon code promotion.

The Bottom Line

If you are unsure about how your online advertising and marketing practices may border on breaking any MAP agreement you have with a manufacturer, talk to them or consult a legal attorney. Manufacturers do monitor their dealers for potential violations and the law is constantly in flux on this one, so do your due diligence.

For more information about the legality of MAP policies, check out the Federal Trade Commission Guide to Antitrust Laws.

 

Firearm Friendly Merchant Services

Lately I have had a bunch of clients and associates express their concerns with finding “firearm friendly” merchant services for their respective businesses. OBN has developed a wonderful working relationship with FAST CHARGE/Electronic Transfer. They can take care of all of your gateway and processing needs and have an excellent record with our clients. If you wish to learn more about their services please go to the FASTCHARGE link and complete the form. If you have any other questions call us at -1800-699-0820.

Chargeback Fraud Prevention

The better we get at preventing fraud the harder fraudsters try to take our hard earned money. The new term you will start hearing about is “friendly fraud”. The short explanation of this is a customer orders product via the internet. The customer takes delivery. The final step the customer reverses the charges claiming they never received the product when in reality they have. I know you are thinking that is impossible and no one does this let alone gets away with this. Well I am here to tell the have can and will continue to get away with this nonsense if retailers don’t protect themselves and fight the good fight.
So what can you do to cut down on and hopeful stop “friendly fraud”?
First thing is having a clear and concise 30 day return policy and make sure your customers know about it. This makes them more likely to contact you rather than the credit card company when disputing a charge. When having only a couple day return policy consumer fraud tends to be much higher. Plus having a clearly written policy may deter a fraudster as it will give you more of a “we have our act together” type business. Keep in mind fraudsters, like any crook, will pick the easier mark or the path of least resistance.
Second make sure you send a delivery confirmation –email after an item arrives at the customers home or business. This is simple a paper trail that may come in handy down the road should the customer dispute the fact that they received the product.
Third if it is a recurring sale or membership perhaps, makes sure it is very easy for customers to end or opt-out. If they can’t and they call the bank and complain about the charges most times the bank will side with the consumer leaving you with another reversed charge.
These are just a few tips for things you can do to protect yourself. Another resource or service to help prevent chargeback’s is www.chargebacks911.com. For a monthly fee they will manage chargeback’s and have an excellent record of reducing them. As always feel free to call the team here if you have any questions. 1-800-699-0820 ext 2

More on Search Engine Optimization

In several of my previous blog posts I have preached that the key to e-commerce success is deeply rooted in the volume of traffic your site sees every day. This Blog and the next few will start to drill into that a little further. I know some of these things have been talked about on many other blog sites including our own. I believe though we can’t talk about it enough as it IS what makes or breaks your sites performance.
This is basic information as the details will only overwhelm most at first glance. On site search engine optimization or SEO for short is simple in concept. Now putting it into practical use requires some practice and is a bit of a scientific art if you will. So for this blog we will stick to the concept.
Google and other search engines crawl the web using logarithms so complicated that I am not even sure they have it right all the time. None the less the things that Google populates a search page with when searching for specific goods and services has everything to do with the uniqueness and optimization of that particular website. Google doesn’t look at one thing it looks at a combination of conditions to exist before it starts ranking you higher in the searches. When someone says a site has been fully optimized that means each and every page has been optimized through its use of desired keywords and those items being present in proper context in meta tags, H tags and uniquely written content and descriptions.
Sounds simple enough right? Fundamentally it is. There are things to consider though. When I say uniquely written content or descriptions that means unique! Original! If you copy or even use authorized content the same as other sites who had it up first the great Google will know. Google looks at this duplicate content as bad and will push you further down the rankings. The use of keywords is delicate too. Too few and you’re not getting enough exposure. To many and your stuffing or overusing keywords and Google may penalize you for that. There is a happy medium that must happen to be optimized.
Well known established e-commerce companies spend a ridiculous amount of time and resources optimizing their sites. One of our companies we work with, www.Jazzmotorsports.com , has allowed us to get into their site and do this on every page. Now this doesn’t happen all at once. This has taken place over years. It is a process not an event. If you look at one of our average site that has 35,000 product pages and two dozen info and category pages it takes quite a bit of time to get through a site. The truth is it never really stops. There will always be more products and there will always be tweaks made to currently optimized pages.
As your site “develops” and grows with ever increasing content and optimization Google will continue to reward you in the rankings. Then it is simple, the higher you rank the more likely you get the clicks or traffic you need that I mentioned earlier.
The mistakes owners make is thinking just because you did a couple pages that instantly their traffic will jump through the roof. It just doesn’t work that way. Again these things take time and will not happen overnight. Another client Bushwhacker Firearms is in the beginning phases of this. We have begun to optimize product pages for some of their in house products that they exclusively manufacture. That in itself lends itself well to uniqueness.
As always if you wish to learn more about SEO and other marketing services that we offer please give us a call. 1-800-699-0820 ext. 1

Did you know?

Generally speaking Outdoor Business Network focuses primarily on businesses associated with the outdoor sporting industry. Did you know though that OBN can and has worked in many other industries? All of our capabilities and skills can be easily adapted to fit the needs and wants of just about any web, programming or marketing environment. OBN is always interested in seeking out new challenges in the world of e-commerce and digital marketing/media. We welcome any and all business that wish to expand and grow their businesses to new heights. For a free consultation on what OBN can do for you please call our sales department at 1-800-699-0820 ext 1

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.

Complacency, Work and other dirty words.

I am often asked by clients and acquaintances “Why isn’t my site performing as desired?” Now besides the obvious you aren’t getting traffic or conversions it really comes down to this one simple thing. WORK! That’s right folks it takes work and the time to do to make a site perform. Occasionally a customer will complain and tell me they don’t get why their site is lagging after all the work they put in. I usually follow with the question what did you do exactly? They go on about flyer this and I passed out cards at the local gun show or I sent out 1 email to their buddies……none of which were my initial advice. My previous blogs touch on the things I commonly preach about. This usually leads to the tough love kind of speech. I log into their site and I review the analytics, I note how many times they have even logged in and I certainly see if they have done anything since the original site was built for them. I also have a number of other tools in place to see what kind of links they are generating and I even check and see if they are copying content from other sites. Then I point out the error in their ways and again tell them what they should be doing to be a rock star. The common response is that sounds like work! Well yes it is work. The sad part is this “work” can be done while having your butt parked in a lazy-boy in front of your TV while in your PJ’s. So I would not label as work per say but more making better use of your time.

Take the time to put some new pictures or graphics or announcements on your home page. Big players in the e-commerce game do this on a daily basis. Work on those product descriptions. Make them sharper and stand out by adding images and providing uniquely written content. Think like the sales person you are and make your products attractive to your customers. Take the time and make your presence known on social media outlets and on various forums. If you do these things on a daily basis and you will have a significant impact on your sites performance over time. Give people a reason to come back to your site. Make them want to. You want them to ultimately check your site like they check their email or Facebook page. If you become complacent and NEVER change anything then people will become bored with your site and will not think to return to it. You have to make your site look lived in. If it is all crickets and cobwebs people will not return. Take the Google Doodle for instance. Do you think Google is doing this because it is fun. The answer is no. They are just giving folks one more reason to return and use their search engine.

In summary spend time better and do what needs to be done to make you a success. The faster you do this the faster you can hire some people to handle these things for you. If you sit back and do nothing then you should expect nothing in return. Once again I remind you that Outdoor Business Network is here to consult and hire for all of your marketing and optimization needs. 1-800-699-0820 sales ext 1.

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.

The one thing that makes your e-commerce web-site successful

What is the number one thing an e-commerce website needs in order to be successful? The simple answer is “Traffic”. Without traffic you have nothing. You have no data to measure your success otherwise. I say this because if you have a pile of traffic you have useful data that can be used to determine the performance of your marketing efforts within your site. So you see without the traffic there in the first place you have nothing to go on. So if you want more on-line sales you absolutely must have the traffic coming to your site. Still not convinced? I took a random sampling of 12 of our clients. This sampling consisted of clients who have been on board from 7-27 months. What I found was a trend that simply cannot be denied. The chart below shows the actual numbers of this sample group. So once again traffic is the name of the game when it comes to success in e-commerce.
So of course the next question is usually this: How do I get traffic to my site in the first place? The answer to that is as broad as the question is. If you really want to know more I suggest reading our BLOG and of course calling us in the first place to answer your questions.