Linda Jenkins, August 01 2017
FYI - This post was originally published in 2015. Shopify has changed their service to include the updates in red below:
Looking for an all-in-one solution for selling products online?
This is why I chose Shopify to power GoldAllianceGroup.com:
After trying competitor platforms from 2008 to 2014, I made the decision to use Shopify to manage Gold Alliance Group's sales. Shopify is a more robust solution that has analytics tracking, a blogging platform and lots of apps and other very useful features worked into their plan. I also greatly appreciate that their back-end admin links to a vast knowledge-base, and connects with experts that can help me build-out and promote my store. Gold Alliance Group has also been an authorized affiliate of Shopify since 2015.
I use their Digital Downloads App in conjunction with the Shopify platform to automatically deliver products to customers after payment is accepted, an easy plugin. (This step is only necessary if your products are digital.) Shopify also has lots of options for setting up fulfillment and shipping for physical goods. Shopify's payment gateway allows me to easily offer MasterCard, Visa, American Express, and Discover in addition to PayPal and other payment options. Funds are automatically transferred to my own business bank account about three days after sales are made. I can also automatically build a list of customers that wish to receive future e-mail communications from my company and easily integrate that information with Mailchimp, my email newsletter marketing service. Some other great features include:
- Gift Cards & Coupons Engine
- Abandoned Checkout Recovery
- Carrier Calculated Shipping (for physical goods)
- Ability to sell directly from Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest
- One click payment from mobile
So far, I only have three complaints about Shopify...
First, redirecting checkout from the site owner's domain to the shopify domain is not ideal. Although my site does not have a high cart abandonment rate, I am sure some potential customers have been lost because of this issue.
[August 1, 2017 Update: Shopify recently fixed this issue so checkout remains on your domain.]
Second, Shopify needs to offer a better solution for backing up the client's entire site. Yes, I can already export my customer list and theme code, but backing up product descriptions, custom pages, blog posts and other general settings requires more of a manual effort. This forces me to keep meticulous copies of the custom files I create on Shopify. Several other merchants have asked about this in the Forum, so I am hoping that it gets addressed soon.
[August 1, 2017 Update: Rewind, an app from the Shopify appstore, is a great solution for automatically backing-up and restoring your entire store!]
Third, they need to tell clients at signup that their staff can only offer technical support on the code for certain themes. (I found this out after using a custom theme -- not a nice surprise). Not a huge deal, but I would probably have chosen another theme if I knew this upfront.
Overall, I highly recommend Shopify as an e-commerce solution. Their payment processing, orders database and report options are excellent and the Shopify App allows me to keep up with my site's traffic and sales from my cell phone. Shopify can accommodate a wide range of business types. So, no matter whether you have very light monthly sales, or need an enterprise-level ecommerce solution, you are covered by a plan tailored to your site's needs. Shopify makes it very easy to open an online store quickly by providing all the tools and help you need. Click here to try it for free!
President - Gold Alliance Group, Inc.
Related Post: Internet Tools You Cannot Do Without.
Linda Jenkins, May 05 2016
Whether your website is the main sales engine for your business, or it simply complements your offline sales, there are certain tools that can make managing ecommerce a lot easier. Here are some tools we use everyday that you should be using too:
Building a responsive and secure store is a lot easier with Shopify. Did you know that Shopify also allows you to sell your products in-person and directly from many mobile-friendly websites and apps that your potential customers use every day?
Plus, you can manage all sales through one simple platform right from your Shopify dashboard. Here is an overview of Shopify’s sales channels:
- Add a secure shopping experience to any website
- Start selling for only $9/month
- Use your mobile device and a Shopify card reader for in-person sales
- Get a retail package for in-store sales
- Sell via your Facebook, Pinterest, and/or Twitter accounts
With Shopify, you get an unified platform for managing analytics, channels, customers, orders, and products.
GoldAllianceGroup.com runs on Shopify, and we are also an authorized affiliate. Check out the many ways Shopify can help you connect with and sell to your customers.
Zotabox helps you communicate with visitors and maximize social shares on your website. Before installing the Zotabox app via the Shopify App Store, we tried a lot of other social sharing tools, but were often frustrated by problems with page load time, script errors and lack of features.
Zotabox offers a ton of features for integrating social sharing buttons, email capture, promotion bars, and live chat into your existing website without dealing with code, or you can use the embed code across multiple sites. Zotabox is also available as a Wordpress plugin or Magento extension. You can also do easy integrations with email services like Mailchimp, Constant Contact and Aweber. Try Zotabox.
This is an all-in-one dashboard that you can customize to show stats that are important to your business.
We use Cyfe to simultaneously compare the status of our BingAds spend, Shopify sales, earnings from advertisements, Alexa traffic rank and search engine rankings for major key phrases. This gives us a birdseye view of where the company is headed, and saves us lots of time since we no longer have to log into each individual account for updates.
The potential for customization with this tool is huge since Cyfe supports widgets in multiple categories including Advertising, Sales & Finance, SEO, Social Media, and Web Analytics. You can also link your own custom data, such as from a Google Spreadsheet or SQL database. Check out Cyfe.
Slack is the ultimate collaboration tool for modern teams. Think of it as a live group chat that you can compartment into projects, functions or any other category of your choosing. If you want to keep everyone in the loop in real time, you should definitely try it. Learn how to use Slack.
Linda Jenkins, August 18 2015
Kabbage is an Internet finance company that caters to an under-served market: online merchants. Kabbage's unique target demographic mainly includes merchants that sell on Amazon, Shopify, Etsy and eBay. For example, merchants that sell soaps on Amazon, kayaks on Shopify, handmade quilts on Etsy, or handbags on eBay could all expect to receive funding from Kabbage. Merchants can use the money to purchase additional products or materials, to hire help for shipping and packaging, to maintain cash flow, or for many other specified purposes.
Kabbage believes that online merchants are under-served by other financial services firms, and so its business focuses on advancing cash to online businesses. As of 2015, the company has expanded the number of online services you can use to qualify (ie., adding PayPal, Xero, QuickBooks, Stripe and more), and approves lines up to $100,000. However, it only provides advances for businesses based in the United States
Technically, Kabbage is not a bank, but is instead a company that provides cash advances. (The name Kabbage is a deliberate misspelling of the word 'cabbage', which in some communities is slang for money.)
Kabbage only funds established merchants, so before applying, you'll need to have an active merchant account with a reasonable income stream. Your chances of receiving funding are better if you have solid customer reviews. Applying for a loan takes as little as ten minutes, and funding can come within minutes straight to your PayPal account. As part of the application process, Kabbage asks merchants to set up automatic payments from their merchant PayPal account to Kabbage's account. Payments are also accepted through their website and by mail. Once approved, Kabbage deposits the funds into your PayPal account. Kabbage is willing to increase funding to merchants as the number of products they list increases, so that the amount of cash provided can grow with the business.
The company charges a flat rate for each $100 advanced. The exact amount charged can vary depending on a variety of decision factors (see below). Kabbage pays all PayPal fees, and it does not charge start-up, monthly, or annual fees. Further, it does not charge a penalty to merchants that pay back its advance before the deadline. Each month, merchants are required to pay back a minimum of one-sixth of the total cash advance.
At this pace, a merchant would ideally repay the advance within approximately six months.
Kabbage decides whether or not to approve funding based in large part on a seller's Amazon, eBay, or Yahoo rating. Kabbage believes that sellers with higher ratings are also more likely to make regular payments and soon will also factor in a company's interactions with customers on Facebook. Traditional credit scores are also used to evaluate creditworthiness.
Kabbage isn't the right choice for everyone, but for established online retailers, it's an excellent option. We are an affiliate of Kabbage. It offers exceptionally fast approval rates for short term funding, with remarkably little hassle. It is an excellent option for online retailers that have found that traditional banks are unwilling or unable to meet their needs. Kabbage makes online business Grow. Sign up with no obligation today!
Linda Jenkins, July 25 2014
Etsy is an online marketplace for items that are handmade or vintage. One big advantage to the website is that it draws in traffic from all over the world, and can be a great source of home business startup income with little investment. That being said, there are many sellers who sign up for Etsy but never see success on the site. Other sellers are able to sell so much they have to quit their day job and hire help to handle all of the orders they generate.
How do you become an Etsy success?
There are no guarantees, but following these principles will help steer you in the right direction:
Pick your passion and stick with it. As with any new business, you have to make sacrifices and put in a lot of extra time to get your Etsy shop off the ground. This is easier when you make and sell things you are passionate about, and is less likely to feel like "work". Plus, if you are passionate about what you make, others will be able to see that passion in your work and will be more likely to buy your products.
Expand your shop’s selection. Of course you might start off with only one or a few items for sale, but you need to work on expanding that to as many related items as you can practically manage. The more items you have listed, the more likely it is that buyers will discover your shop. If you are constantly adding new items to your shop, buyers have a reason to keep coming back for more.
The photos of your items must be attractive and informative. Too many new sellers on Etsy want to use poorly-focused snapshots to list their items. No matter how great a product is, it needs a great photo to showcase it properly on the site. Compare how your photos look to similar items on the site. If your photos don’t honestly stack up, make adjustments so they do. Also, taking numerous photos of each item, showing details of different parts also helps put visitors at ease, making them more likely to buy.
Tags are critical to selling well on Etsy. Never list an item without tagging it, and make an effort to fill all of the tags with words that relate to your product. Tags can describe the subject of your work, the materials and even the color or style of the product. Also, the title of each product should contain descriptive words that tell shoppers what the item is made of and used for.
Far too many newer sellers on Etsy do not price their items smartly. Many try to list their items for rock-bottom prices so people will be interested in buying them. The thing they fail to calculate is the cost of producing the item, the time and effort required to make the item and the actual cost of shipping the item.
Clear and concise descriptions. Describe all the details of your product that would typically interest your buyer, including size/measurements, color, materials, how to clean the product, etc. Too many sellers rely too heavily on photos. Buyers will click through to the next product if basic questions go unanswered.
Also, too many newer Etsy sellers try to be all things to all people. Sellers find the most success when they find a niche, especially one without much competition. Choosing a focus and sticking to it builds a brand identity that is clearly definable to shoppers, making building a following much more likely. Learn how you can open your own shop on Etsy.
Linda Jenkins, July 03 2014
Google Alerts is a simple email product provided for free by Google. Google Alerts is useful if you know how to integrate it into everyday business marketing. The tool sends an email to any Gmail account when a phrase you specify is found and indexed by the search engine. Google Alerts is great for SEO (search engine optimization), but it's also good for standard online marketing.
Find Scraped or Stolen Content
Your content is a goldmine for attaining new customers and search engine rank. Even if you're new in the SEO field, you should know that high quality, unique content is a major factor for search engines. Creating content that brings something your competitors don't is a major asset when performing any type of online marketing to promote your business website.
Minor duplicate content isn't damaging, but you must keep watch for too many scrapers. A scraper is a program that programmatically opens your site pages, pulls the content and posts that content on the thief's site. In other words, the content thief could get credit for your work and expertise. The DMCA process helps combat these issues, but how do you know when your site gets scraped? The answer is Google Alerts.
With Google Alerts, you copy certain phrases from your content and paste it to an alert. Scrapers usually spin content, but they keep certain key phrases. Google is able to pick up synonyms and closely related content, so eventually you will find the scraper. When Google picks up on the scraped content, the Google Alerts tool sends you an email with a link to the scraped content. From there, you can either ask the host to remove the content (some will oblige) or file a DMCA with Google.
Keep Track of Competitors
Competitor analysis is a must when doing business anywhere, even online. You should understand your competitor's business, what they have that you don't, and know when they change their business strategy. If you sell the same product as your competitor, you should know when they change prices or create promotions. You can keep track of competitor changes with Google Alerts.
You can keep track of competitor content, products or both with Alerts. Google sends you an email when content changes or new content gets indexed. For instance, if you and your competitor sell red widgets, you set an alert for the red widget name and you'll receive alerts each time the search engine finds new or changed content. You'll not only see product changes and content from competitors, but you will also find new competitors and reviews by bloggers.
Track Your Brand Name Reviews and Comments
Online reputation management is important when you need to protect your brand. Sites such as Ripoff Reports and Consumer Affairs let anyone post complaints about your company and brand. No one verifies these complaints, so malicious competitors and angry customers can post any libelous content. You can set up a Google Alerts message for your brand name.
With online reputation management and Google Alerts, you receive a message each time anyone mentions your brand. The indexed comments could be good or bad, but you should always acknowledge them to avoid a poor search engine reputation. Sometimes, complaint sites rank higher than your own, so a user searching for your brand can find extremely negative reviews before finding your site.
The best way to deal with these complaints is to professionally acknowledge them. Sites that host these complaints require the company to pay hundreds of dollars to have comments removed, but it's not usually worth the cost. If you have several complaints, it looks better to potential customers when you address them instead of have them deleted. Additionally, large companies usually have several complaints, so the costs to control them aren't worth the effort when you can just use customer service instead.
The Google Alerts tool is a small, little-known advantage to business owners and marketing experts. You can set up an unlimited amount of alerts, and the tool makes it easy for you to just set the alert and forget it. Each time the search is found, you get an email. Google Alerts requires little maintenance, but it gives you huge benefits for online marketing and reputation management.
Visit Google Alerts Help for complete instructions on how to use this tool.