Happy New Year!
The start of each new year is a time of reflection — on the year that was. But it’s mostly a time for planning and hopefulness — for the amazing year that could be.
Even if you’ve already made the same, cliched personal resolutions for yourself (that you probably won’t stick to past January), it’s not too late to make some resolutions for your e-commerce business. Resolutions that you might actually stick to.
Below are seven resolutions that could help make 2016 your most successful e-commerce year yet:
1. Explore New Lands Via Marketplaces
It’s a great big e-commerce world out there — full of eager consumers. Are you taking advantage of it? Chances are, you already sell on either Amazon or eBay, but there are a lot of other fantastic options for moving your products to new audiences and new geographies. Lesser-known marketplaces like La Redoute, Tesco, Trade Me, MercadoLibre, Rakuten and Jet are home to millions of loyal shoppers.
And it’s easy to reach them. ChannelAdvisor Marketplaces transforms your product data in a central location and sends it out to many marketplaces around the globe. And don’t worry about overselling. Advanced technologies, like ChannelAdvisor’s Inventory Juggler, allow you to list the same product in more than one place without fear of overselling. That’s right: The same 10 pairs of shoes can be listed and sold through eBay and Amazon (and more) at the same time, meaning product visibility is multiplied while your work is kept to a minimum.
2. Quit Procrastinating
…on processing returns, that is. Delayed returns processing will quickly turn unsatisfied buyers into unhappy buyers. This year, avoid excessive email inquiries and poor feedback by keeping your returns department caught up and your buyers informed about the status of their returns. To expedite and simplify returns even further, add messaging on your invoices with directions on how customers can make returns. Then, make it an internal priority to resolve returns quickly. Not only is this a healthy business practice, but it’s also necessary for keeping you in good standing on marketplaces. Poor feedback from delayed returns can influence your defect rate, which can affect everything from your products’ placement on the results page to whether you’re allowed to sell on a marketplace at all.
Additionally, negative reviews caused by your lack of promptness can have obvious effects on potential customers who might be browsing and deciding between similar products. Put yourself in their shoes. What seller would you rather buy from? One with negative customer service reviews — or one with all positive reviews?
Returns happen. It’s okay. Just don’t let their delayed handling turn them from being a nuisance into a real problem for your business.
3. Purge the Clutter
You’ve been staring at that clutter long enough. But don’t just cut your losses and throw everything out. Get creative with how you move it. There are plenty of options for unloading the excess inventory that’s gathering dust in your warehouse. For starters, if you’re not already doing so, consider registering your products for FBA. That way, Amazon will store and distribute them for you. You could also sell abroad to get rid of seasonal items. When it’s winter here, it’s summer in New Zealand, so you could advertise on Trade Me. With close to 4 million members, the marketplace offers plenty of extra eyes to get in front of.
4. Think Outside the Box
A new year is the perfect time to consider new ways to list your products. For example, one way to rethink your current inventory catalog is to list items as bundles. By grouping products together, you can make them stand out from the crowd, giving your potential customers more options and increasing your revenue. If your mobile phones are selling fast, for example, bundle them with a mobile cover and car charger and market them at a discount.
Alternatively, you could consider running promotions or offering vouchers to encourage customer loyalty. Do whatever works for you — this is your chance to spice up the way you list your products!
5. Get More Visible
When it comes to digital marketing campaigns, make use of the free search tools available. For example, Google’s Merchant Promotions allow you to include information such as promotion codes, applicable dates and custom promotion titles in your Product Listing Ads (PLAs) at no extra cost. You can also use ad extensions and sitelinks to add visibility and improve ROI – again at no extra expense.These will improve relevance and earn you brownie points from Google, since merchants that use these freebies earn a higher Google Quality Score.
6. Increase Your Vocabulary
Failing to use long tail keywords is a common and costly mistake when you consider that 50% of search queries are now four words or longer. Google is far more optimized toward semantically entered searches nowadays, so follow suit. Identify the sort of questions your customers are asking and bid on exact keyword phrases. It’s also important to remember that shoppers tend to use longer search terms when they’re farther down the purchasing path — so by using long tail keywords, you’re more likely to convert them.
For instance, instead of using a broad search term like “bicycle,” a customer who’s ready to buy may instead use “Red 700c GoFast Men’s Touring Bike.” Therefore, bidding on these exact keyword phrases only helps to ensure that your ads are front and center when it matters most. ChannelAdvisor customers can use our Inventory Driven Search feature to create and manage long-tail paid search advertising that is product-specific, accurate and dynamic.
7. Get More Social
Social recommendations prompted an average of 26% of purchases across all product categories, according to McKinsey. So start being more sociable and meet up with these shoppers on social networks to initiate a two-way digital conversation.
Have a presence wherever your customers gather. Are they on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Houzz, Wanelo or Polyvore? That’s where your customers may be finding inspiration, sharing their favorite products with people in their network — and even buying. Depending on what you sell, social promotion could unlock a completely new customer base for you.
We hope you have an eventful and prosperous 2016. If you have any questions on how you can make this year your best yet, give us a call or send a short email. We’d be happy to brainstorm some resolutions specifically for you.