eCorner

eCorner
Secure eBusiness Solutions

Sunday, 20 May 2007

eCommerce and selling online is too much work?

Over the last few years we have had customers who have signed up for an online store but just found it all too hard. Some of these just dropped out after a few months or at the end of the contact while others kept at it but struggled. So what is it that makes some people successful online and some not so successful.

Many web site developers or designers that you talk with will tell you that success is all about the look and feel of the site. You will hear that you need to have great Search Engine Optimisation and Marketing (SEO and SEM). Some people believe that they have to have a unique product or service. While others believe it is just luck.

Well while some of the above is true the real secrets to success are to have a plan and not try to accomplish too much.

A plan for your eCommerce business is very important. Every business needs a plan that helps to keep the business on track and to measure results. Developing a plan helps you understand the intricacies of you business. Sharing the plan with others that you trust can help ensure that you are not off with the fairies. I talked about business plans in an earlier post it is very important and will help you succeed but unfortunately it won't stop you from failing.

So what do I mean by not trying to accomplish too much?

The story that I hear sometimes goes like this. The business owner has a great business idea that could build to a good revenue generator. Typically they have a primary job (or at least another job), they might also be responsible for running the home and looking after the kids. So already they are putting in a 60+ hour week. Now they want a web store and they have 100's maybe 1,000's of products to sell.

They look around and evaluate a number of eCommerce providers and they do their homework. They might try a few out and they ask a lot of friends for advice. Finally they make a decision and make the plunge and sign up for an eCommerce web store.

6 months later the store is only half finished. They are not happy with the look and feel. They have been spending money and not making money. There is not enough time to get everything done and it all starts to get too hard.

So whats wrong?

First they are trying to do too much.

Most of the eCommerce solution come with some pretty good looking designs that can work right out of the box. You can make the design unique without spending lots of time and money. You can ask for help when you get stuck. At eCorner you get 5 to 10 free calls a months to ask for help.

Start with products that you know will sell and only start with a few products maybe 10 or 20. Whatever you find easy to maintain. It is better to have a few products on the store well presented and with good images and descriptions than hundreds or thousands badly presented.

If you know what will sell then start there. Bring buyers to your store and not just visitors. The success of an online shop is not how many visitors you get it is how many buy then come back and buy again. Once people buy from you and trust you they will come back and buy again.

If you have a catalogue with 100's or 1,000's of products then publish it on your website so that it can be downloaded. You can do that in ePages with Articles in the Category Manager. That way people can see what else you have and can send a message and ask.

When someone buys from you give them exceptional service. Make sure that you ship the products as soon as possible and make sure you give them a call or send an email to follow up. Personalisation makes people much more comfortable.

You need to promote your store but start local and grow global. Get a flyer printed on a good quality colour printer or go to any of the fast print outlets. Get a few hundred flyers and take a walk around you local neighbourhood and stick them in the letter boxes. The flyer should have some information about you, pictures of some products and the URL of your website. Offer a discount based on a coupon number on the flyer. This can be created in ePages in the Marketing Manager using the Coupon creation capability. My recommendation is a time based single coupon number, give it 30 or 60 days and a discount.

So what am I saying; START SIMPLE AND THEN GROW COMFORTABLY.

SEO and SEM, Google Adwords, pay per click, all that stuff is important but it is easier to get right with 20 products than with 2,000.

So if you what to be successful online you have to start somewhere but maybe think a little smaller if you have other demands in your day. Please call us and ask for help when you need it we won't say no and a successful customer is much better than one who hasn't started.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Information about Domain Name

Do I need a domain name or URL?

Professional looking websites have their own domain name or URL (Uniform Resource Locator) to allow you to be found - so what are the issues?

A domain name or your own URL are very important if you want a successful web business.

When you setup your website or web shop the hosting provider will have an address by which you can locate the website. Often these are long addresses or even have an IP address (Internet Protocol). This is a link to a map reference point for the internet. So imagine that you send people to find your home by giving the longitude and latitude addresses. OK if you are an explorer. Life has been simplified with street names and numbers to get your visitors to the right place.

In the same way the internet is a maze that is worldwide and there is a complex address system to find your way around. When you set up a web site you can buy your own domain name which allows you to use a URL like www.mybusiness.com.au. This in itself will not automatically get visitors to your website. There are servers all around the world that act as location finders and direction givers. These are know as Domain Name Servers (DNS). When you buy a domain name you need to also get a DNS service to point your domain name to the right place.

If you have an eCorner ePages website you can find your home page long URL by going to the General Tab in the Settings Manager in your Management Back Office. If you already have a domain name redirected you will also see that below the home page link in the same tab.
Sounds complicated but it is not really and should be totally invisible to you. When you set up a store with eCorner we will do that for you or give you instructions so that you can direct your domain name service.

eCorner use TPP Internet as domain name providers. They are a very reputable Australian company that provide a complete service. By that we mean the domain name (URL), DNS service and also email redirection. They can also provide advanced services.

Australian domain names (i.e. .com.au, .net.au or .org.au) are usually on a 2 year package that will cost around $99 for the two years with DNS. The high level domains like .com or .net are usually on a 1 year plan and cost around $39.

You can get cheaper prices overseas but we strongly caution you to check out what you get as cheap is not always good and in reality $99 is not a lot to protect your business for two years.

What should you call your Domain?

The domain name has a number of uses and it does have an impact on search engine optimisation (SEO) and how people find your website. If possible include your company name and also a main keyword in the Domain name. For instance if you are selling fish tanks then the domain name of www.fishtanksonline.com.au might be very appropiate or maybe you want your company name e.g. http://www.ecorner.com.au/ as in our company domain name.

Your domain name will stay with your company and website but you can have multiple domain  names and you can setup sub-domains e.g. ecommerce.ecorner.com.au.

In Australia you need to be able to prove that you have a valid business use for a .com.au domain name and you will be asked to provide some evidence when you register the domain.

Business email addresses help confidence.

Once you have a domain name then we will be able to setup email addresses for you like info@mybusiness.com.au as an example. These show a much more professional image than a Hotmail or Yahoo account and can help add confidence to your website and contact details. They can be redirected to your existing email account for free.

Checking availablility

You can check the availability of domain names at http://www.tppinternet.com.au/ you will also see suggestions if your first choice is not available. To find out who owns a domain name you can use the service at http://www.whois.com.au/.
We also recommend that you register domain names that are similar to yours to stop brand theft. Once you have a base domain you can do all types of extensions to help people find you business like as an example hats.mybusiness.com.au or support.mybusiness.com.au.

The domain name is very important so think about it carefully. You can have multiple domain names pointing to the same website. It is good if the domain name reflects what your business does or your business name.