Pro-Activity Pays

In today’s business world the final measurement of success comes down to the conversion of the proverbial window shoppers and the completion of the final transaction. In the mean time experts from all industries and fields are making their mark and profiting on a large scale. These experts are taking advantage of the lack of success by some by promising increased conversion rates and performance of their businesses. Realistically the major part of businesses today can increase their individual productivity by practicing more pro-active business practices.

Understanding the individual components and the compatibility of the same may not be as complex as the experts make it out to be. Research is the most valuable step in understanding the make-up of any successful business whether it is online or not. Use all the resources available for your search and become more familiar with the process that others have used and found to be successful for them. These different experiences may not match your individual business model but the idea behind them is the same. They want to be just as successful as the next vendor.

The first step of building any business is to ensure you save as much of your time, energy and focus as possible for building the best products or services and then marketing them to the right audience. Then the next step is to find a provider to take care of building, developing and maintaining a sound e-commerce platform that meets your needs. In this part of the building process the wise step to take is to take time to select the provider that is in the business for the long haul and not a flash in the pan operator.

Whether you intend to sell software online, selling games online or offering combined services research into e-commerce service providers is a must. The service provider can give you a look at basic online services or a solid e-commerce solution if that is what you may need. These providers specialize in the online industry and can offer good advice so you can determine the capacity of services that you and your business require. The difference in the service can determine the success or failure of an e-commerce business.

The implementation and the practical use of these combined measures greatly enhance the online shopper’s confidence with the vendor and the transaction process that they are utilizing. This in itself increases the conversion and approval rates therefore impacting the completed sales conducted through the vendor’s website. Although the PCI compliance issues may seem lengthy to the average vendor, the e-commerce service providers maintain compliance and provide this part of their e-commerce platform.

A good start at being pro-active is ensuring that your business will take the first step towards providing a service that is unique and leaves a good impression on the public. This in part can be addressed by offering a top notch customer service team. It is tough enough in the e-commerce market to gain the needed customers and it becomes even harder to retain customers. Some of these practices will be discussed in brief to give the future online vendors a quick overview of what they may look for.

Another positive practice is to include an active client retention program which employs an expert in customer relations and is dedicated to a specific vendor, personally reviewing the incoming online transactions. In the event that the vendors’ customers cannot complete their online transaction or have problems making the transaction, the Retention manager steps in the personally assists to facilitate the process.

New Shopper – Are You Making These 5 Wallet Draining Mistakes?

New shopper mistakes can be costly in an economic slump.  With the recession growing wider, everyone waits with anticipation for a bottom to come. Still others wait patiently for the new Obama administration and congress to address a workable bailout plan for homeowners.  While the housing industry and our government works out solutions many people make obvious and not so obvious mistakes that waste money. I’ll discuss the top 5 wallet draining mistakes homeowners are making in this housing recession and other shopper insights.

1. Not Comparison Shopping.

During a recession it’s more important than ever to comparison shop,. Why?  Because the more familiar you are with current prices, offers by companies, and product selections the more value you’ll get. A recent consumer study by the University of California revealed a surprising fact. The study estimated the average person saves 20-30% more on their purchases by comparison shopping, than those who don’t. Yes, you can save up to 30 cents for every dollar you spend by getting 3 estimates rather than one. One of the main reasons people have for not comparison shopping by far is convenience and time. However, with the internet that excuse is slowly going away. With the click of a mouse you can check the going prices for thousands of services and products.

2. Not Negotiating.

During a recession with so many businesses staring at red ink,  full shelves of merchandise and empty stores anyone who doesn’t learn to negotiate is spending too much money. This includes contractors, plumbers and carpenters.  It’s important to know what the going price is if you plan a home improvement or repair job. But be careful with contractors and repairmen, the cheapest price is not always best. When it comes to contractors, even in a recession, you often get what you pay for – but you should still shop and compare to get the best value for your dollar.

3. Not Waiting.

Not being willing to wait is another wallet draining mistake many people make during a recession. A got to have it now attitude has been responsible for more wasted money and caused more credit card debt than any other reason.  It’s especially dangerous in our instant gratification society that your great, great grandchildren will still be paying for.

Purposeful waiting will save you more money than you can imagine, if it done right. Purposeful waiting is when you wait for 3 events to happen.

1. Waiting for a better price.

2. Waiting to educate yourself (comparison shop, research).

3. Waiting to save money or a good down payment – if it’s a big-ticket item.

Doing at least one or preferably all the above will instantly save you money, time and frustration. Of course greedy merchants, salespeople may not like this attitude … but your wallet and your savings will.

4. Not Taking Quick Action.

This may seem like a contradiction of number 4 above which tells you to wait but it’s not. Let me explain. You should take quick actions on a bargain, a deal or a good buy when you know the going prices already, you have a need for the product now and the bargain or deal may not be there later. Be careful about the “limited time” only phrase, many advertisers use it as a sales ploy. You’ll know it’s probably true if you haven’t seen such as bargain or sale before and they have a good reason for the sale or bargain, such as going out of business for example.

5. Not Remembering Cash Has Clout – If You Know How To Use It.

In a recession with credit tight or in short supply –  the person who has cash is king or queen. But even if you don’t have a lot of cash,  you can make up for your cash shortage by finding merchants, contractors and repairmen willing to negotiate. It may surprise you now how many people are not willing to negotiate who would have thrown four-letter words at you a year ago.

If you’ll take the time to follow the 5 wallet draining mistakes and other shopper insights just mentioned you’ll help your money stretch farther. In addition you’ll discover saving, price breaks and discounts just for the asking.  Remember you won’t know unless you ask … and all they can say is no. Give it a try. I’ll bring you more shopper news and other ideas in upcoming week’s. If you’re a new shopper, a seasoned pro – or somewhere in between, I’ll do my best to help you spend wiser.

The Pros and Cons of Amazon

Amazon is one of the first affiliate programs that helped others make money online with affiliate marketing. They started out with books, but since then they have expanded their selection of products to almost anything that you can buy. Therefore amazon is a great affiliate program for you to join, but at the same time there are a few things which you may want to consider before joining. Here are a few pros and cons:

Pros

Easy to Get Started. Amazon has made it super easy for anyone to get started with making money online. The products are easy to find, and the ads are easy to incorporate into any blog or website. And the best part is that they even provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to do it.

Amazon Stores. Amazon allows you to open up to 100 amazon stores which you can link to from your blog, or you can incorporate the store onto your own website so that it blends in with the rest of your website. This basically helps your visitors to shop at ease, as they already trust your site.

Huge Selection of Products. I already mentioned this, but this is what makes Amazon so great. This basically means that no matter what market or niche you are in, Amazon will have products that you can promote either through banner ads or product links.

Cons

Low Referral Fees. Amazon has a low referral fee which starts at only 4%. This does not leave you with much revenue when you make a sale. However, this amount goes up to as much as 10% for certain products, and up to 15% when you sell Endless products. Therefore the more products you sell, the higher your referral fees will be.

One-Day-Cookie. Amazon has been bashed for the fact that they only have a one day cookie. This basically means that when someone clicks on your link today, but waits more than 24 hours to make the purchase, then you will not be paid for making the referral. This may sound like an unfair deal, but when you take a closer look it may not be so bad after all.

Suppose a shopper came to my site today and clicked through to a product on Amazon, but decided not to buy. Then tomorrow went to your website, and again clicked through to Amazon and made a purchase. If Amazon had the 30 day cookie, then I would have earned the revenue even though the customer made the purchase through your site. But since they only have a 1-day cookie, you earned the affiliate revenue. Therefore it evens out in the end.

So Amazon is definitely a great affiliate program for you to join whether you are a newbie or an experienced online marketer.

The Pros And Cons Of Internet Shopping – A Guide For Individuals And Businesses

Too good to be true?

The pros and cons of internet trading, a brief guide by Ed Baker.

A new market has emerged.

It is now commonly known that the last five years has seen an unprecedented rise in internet shopping, both in terms of commercial sales and private transactions. The online retail giant Amazon, who began life selling books, reported a 20% hike in sales in the first quarter of this year, to the tune of $2.28 billion. On average in the UK, 2.5% of household spending is now online, and this figure is rising.

The phenomenon of search – the internets’ ability to deliver potential answers to our infinite questions – has been the key benefit to the online trader. Search engines bring the market to the marketplace. Increasingly, they are being paid to do it. Google’s AdWords program accounted for over 30% of its income last year, as it promises to deliver targeted “traffic” to online business. One cannot perform a search nowadays, it seems, without happening upon a sponsored result near the top of that little green column to the right of your screen that says,
“get cheap ‘*******’ on ebay, buy it now for ‘£***!’”

A new market brings new challenges.

So it is that eBay has become the prominent location for people to buy and sell their wares online. Implicitly transferring Harrods’ “anything from a pin to an elephant” claim to the ether, the buyer is assured that he will be able to find literally anything for sale in the auction sites’ vast virtual stockroom. It is this very vastness however that has begun to spell trouble for the company, and its consumers.

The lack of human interaction, guarantees, a bricks-and-mortar existence, and the absence of strict and comprehensive regulations have allowed unscrupulous dealers to flourish online, particularly on the larger auction sites. People create an identity, advertise a product they may not even have, collect the money and simply vanish. More disturbingly, sophisticated criminals are now able to use sensitive credit card information from other online consumers to assume identities and buy goods. Witness the recent case of Terrill D Johnson of Ilyssa Way Ohio, who used credit card receipts to obtain $18000 worth of merchandise through Amazon.

The global nature of eBay has brought its own pitfalls. Many buyers and sellers are not aware of the cultural or legal differences governing trade outside the borders, with the result that buyers foot huge premiums for the processing of foreign orders and often end up empty-handed if they unwittingly attempt to purchase something prohibited in their country.

One of the common misconceptions about eBay is that if the seller has lots of feedback, the majority of it positive, they are a safer prospect. Recent studies have shown this is simply not true. Satisfied buyers on the whole don’t bother to leave feedback, they just get on with enjoying whatever they bought, hence the presence of a dialogue between buyer and seller can often indicate some problem or lack of clarity somewhere in the transaction.

In April of this year I attended a market research evening for ebay, run by the company Saros, who source everyday consumers to give detailed information and constructive criticism about a particular product or service. The three hour session focused entirely on buyer security, indicating that eBay has recognised the widely-held view that its’ site favours the seller and affords inadequate protection to the prospective buyer.

A new marketing model emerges

The experience shed light on an interesting concept that I believe some businesses are already developing, and more and more will need to devote time to – that of the “user journey”. While the existing benefits of the internet were identified and appreciated at the session; the ability to browse, compare, search and research, and the lack of overheads driving down prices, one thing became clear: people want an end-to-end experience. This means they want satisfaction from the first – confirmation emails, detailed tracking of delivery, fast shipping, reliable handling, guarantees, human and helpful customer service, a check-back and continuing support from the business. These comments applied not just to eBay of course, but to the thousands of other online businesses that provide goods and services to shoppers everyday.

The issue of shopper security has become so important that the Office of Fair Trading commissioned a study in 2004, scheduled to mature in 2007, which will examine awareness amongst shoppers and traders. It will look closely at whether businesses are aware of regulations, and whether individuals are aware of their rights. Did you know, for example, that as consumers we are entitled to a “cooling off period” of 7 days, within which we can expect a refund if we are not satisfied? Try telling that to the bloke you just bought a dodgy Ford Sierra from over eBay last week.

The advice is simple – do your homework. The internet is the single greatest resource for an individual to research a given topic. Spend some time comparing prices, services and market value. You can use http://www.BizRate.com to check ratings of vendors posted by their customers, and you can read independent reviews of products before you buy at http://www.cnet.com. Examine the companies carefully – are there any hidden costs? How do they make their money? Honest businesses will be upfront about commission and delivery charges. They should also have an address or at least phone number, preferably toll-free, where you can talk to a customer service representative for your own peace of mind. A money back guarantee is a must if you can get it, and if buying from an individual, find out as much as you can – do they have a number or email address? Strike up a dialogue and don’t buy blind!

Trust – the key to success.

As a seller, all of the above must be taken into account, with one concept at the front of your mind – trust. Businesses especially must strive to build trust into their reputation. They must meet the needs of the consumer in providing a real physical identity to back up their online presence –the website is not enough. Be open, be honest, keep it simple. It is better to specialise in one type of product or service than to have a free-for-all; imagine how impossible it must be to police eBay and how confusing it is to a first-time buyer.

For variety and value, not to mention freedom from the old-fashioned “hard-sell”, the internet is becoming the number one choice for today’s consumer, and it is beginning to produce its own code of business practice. For companies in particular, the goal must be to set new standards of service with a simple, clear, guaranteed and reliable service, underwritten by an accountable, human presence offline.

For more information on internet trading you can read “Don’t get burned on ebay” by Shauna Wright, O’Reilly press, and “ebay – the missing manual” by Nancy Conner, Pogue press.

Ed Baker is business development manager for allticketclub.com [http://allticketclub.com], an online site for buying and selling event tickets, currently the market leader for customer satisfaction and customer repeat business.