Shoppost Customer Spotlight: Trendy Baby Wearing

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of customer spotlights where we will highlight Shoppost users that are taking an innovative approach to social commerce. Enjoy! 

Every day we get inspired by our Shoppost users’ creativity and passion. We love seeing success stories of small businesses rising to the top. Recently, one of our Shoppost users, Barbara Reggio, founder of Trendy Baby Wearing, did just that. She started out with a passion and a clear vision to bring parents and babies closer together. Her zeal and enthusiasm drove her to create an online business selling Baby Slings, Baby Teethers and Wrap-Scrap Accessories that is thriving today. We wanted to know if she had any advice for other small businesses or tips for leveraging social media. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to ask our “baby wearing visionary” a few questions about her success.

Barbara Reggio, founder of Trendy Baby Wearing, showing off one of the many items available through her Shoppost

Continue reading

The 5 Must-Have Apps On Shopify For SMBs to Drive Sales

Set of Flat Design Icons. Mobile Phones, Tablet PC, Marketing Te

As a SMB owner you already know that it’s important to reach your customers where they are – online. Remember when buying things online was actually considered a novelty and “cool”? Now, everyone can buy anything from luxury items to toilet paper right in the comfort of their living rooms.

For retailers like you, this means that it’s more important than ever to make sure you’ve established a strong presence online to capture the attention of your potential customers and drive sales. You might think, “Sure, I know all of that, but how do I actually do it?” Well, believe it or not, establishing an online store is actually pretty easy with the help of online platforms like Shopify

Shopify is an easy-to-use e-commerce platform designed to help small businesses set up a webstore. What’s great about Shopify is there’s no programming involved It does it all for you which allows you to focus on what you like most in the first place – be that making homemade jam, customized jewelry or cool t-shirts. You can use Shopify to manage all aspects of your shop: uploading products, customizing the design, accepting credit cards, and viewing their incoming orders and completed transactions.

Another cool thing about Shopify is its expansive app store, which offers a wide variety of tools designed to enhance your online presence, reach more customers and grow your business. Here are the top 5 free apps to help you drive sales online:

1. Product Reviews
Did you know that 90 percent of customers say that positive online reviews influenced their buying decisions? Retail giant Amazon.com definitely got this right! If your customers like your products, they’re happy to tell others about it – therefore, it’s important that you capture all those good things! Produced by Shopify, this app allows you to easily add product reviews to your store, giving you a great way to engage with your customers to gauge their feedback, and in turn, encourage sales from new customers once they see how other people are with your products.

2. Plug-in SEO
A good SEO strategy helps your business be less of a needle in a haystack. Since a good portion of online product discovery comes from Google searches, you need to make sure your online store is optimized. This plug-in checks your store’s homepage SEO automatically on a regular basis, so you wouldn’t have to spend time doing manual checks and focus instead on actually improving your site.

3. Shoppost
We spend 114 billion minutes a month on Facebook in the U.S. alone, which isn’t too surprising given how fun it is to keep up with friends and interesting things on social media. Everyone from your best friend to your mom is using social media– and that includes your customers. Since they’re there already, shouldn’t your products be there, too? Shoppost allows retailers to easily sell their products in Facebook’s newsfeed via an interactive post. It turns your Facebook followers’ newsfeeds into a virtual “window shopping” experience, not to mention it’s free, easy-to-use and makes the selling process as easy as post, shop and done. Go ahead and give it a try!

screen-01

4. Chimpified by MailChimp
Email marketing is a common (and not to be overlooked) way to engage with your customers on a regular basis. As consumers, we’re used to receiving email offers, coupons and promotions from big retailers like Nordstrom and Macys Chimpified makes it easy for SMB to level the playing field with larger retailers via email. With this app, you can create targeted email campaigns based on buying behaviors to promote your store, notify them of special offers and promotions, or send recommendations to customers based on their purchases.

5. RetailTower
Now that your Shopify store is up and running, how do you get more people to check it out? RetailTower provides integration between your store and shopping comparison engines; it automates feed submission the popular shopping engines such as Google, Amazon, Bing, TheFind and more. In other words, people can find your products even if they are not searching for your site. Reaching more prospective shoppers is now a piece of cake.

Do you have other favorite apps on Shopify? Let us know!

What Small Businesses Get Right About Social Media – And What They Get Wrong

Social Media Newspaper Concept

Social media has been a huge boon to small businesses all over the world. Perhaps no other platform has enabled businesses just getting off the ground to amplify their message and reach their customers. But not every business is taking full advantage of this opportunity. So what are some of the things that small businesses get right about social media, and what do they get wrong?

The Good

Have a Facebook presence –More than 25 million small businesses are now using Facebook, which is a positive sign. Facebook today is properly understood as the top platform for most businesses to engage their customers. Expanding your brand presence on Facebook can only lead to positive results.

Be human – One of the more positive aspects of being a small business is that it’s much, much harder to sound like a soulless corporation in your communications. Many small businesses are significantly more responsive and engaging with their audience than larger brands, which admittedly have larger followings, but still should not just use social media as a place to just regurgitate their press releases.

Don’t go overboard – You know that company that uses social media to just regurgitate their press releases? Well, their evil twin is the company that uses social media to constantly promote their products many, many times a day, day after day after day. There’s a time and a place for promoting your products, but multiple times a day is not that time. That’s a lesson that most small businesses inherently understand. You know your customers limits. We’ll get back to this question of how much to post a little later.

The Bad

Not Utilizing Twitter or LinkedIn –SMBs are using Facebook, but they’re not utilizing Twitter or LinkedIn, which, increasingly, is becoming a missed opportunity. Fewer than one in four use Twitter, and fewer than one in five uses LinkedIn, both of which are becoming more and more useful platforms for your small business strategy – LinkedIn especially, as in addition to reaching potential clients and talent directly, it’s also a source of strong business advice.

Not Posting Enough – If you look around the Internet, you’ll find dozens—maybe hundreds—of guides telling you exactly when and how many times you need to post to achieve maximum engagement. Too many businesses get caught in that trap. According to longtime entrepreneur and advisor Guy Kawasaki, you shouldn’t worry about how often you post on social media.

“Almost every company is not posting as much as they should,” Kawasaki recently told Business Insider. “Many are believing ‘expert’ advice that the optimal number of posts on each platform is one per day. This is the stupidest thing I’ve heard. Imagine if NPR, CNN, ESPN, or the BBC did one report per day — and never repeated it. Companies are afraid of a vocal minuscule minority complaining about too many posts and repeated posts.”

The takeaway? If you have something that’s useful and relevant for your audience, post it. And conversely, if you don’t have anything to say, don’t say anything at all.

Expecting Immediate Results – You have a Facebook profile filled out, great imagery and a crack team ready to engage potential customers. So you should start seeing an uptick in sales, right?

Not so fast, my friend.

You’re in this for the long game. You’ll be engaging with a lot of potential customers who have no plans to make a purchase in the near future. Your goal with your social media strategy shouldn’t be to immediately convert everyone on your Facebook list, it should be to build your brand awareness, keep your business top of mind when it does come time for making a purchase, and to nurture and support potential brand advocates among your customers. Patience: it’s not just a virtue – it’s a sales strategy.

5 Ways Small Businesses Can Boost Their Online Sales

Woman Working At Flower Shop Smiling

Sure, ecommerce platforms work fine for the large retailers who already have a built-in customer base and following. But what about the small business or new startup? How can you establish an online foothold in an increasingly more complex and difficult sales environment?

We’ve got you covered. Here are our five tips to jumpstart your online sales.

Set Up a Website

If you haven’t done that yet, stop reading and get one set up!
Okay, that wasn’t much of a first tip. Let’s call that one a freebie.

Get Mobile

Mobile is the wave of the future, and it’s either time to ride that wave or get out of the way. According to StatCounter.com, mobile web usage is at approximately 30 percent, up from just 3 percent in 2010. If your online presence only caters to desktop users, you’re missing a huge—and growing—part of your audience.
Always optimize your site for mobile users, and consider launching your own app. Engage this growing section of your customer base.

Be Social

Recently, we talked about how you could use Facebook to drive sales. This just underscores the need for your business to have a social media presence. It doesn’t have to be every single social media network, but you should know which networks your target audience is using and make sure you’re active and engaged there.

Focus on the Customer

Companies like Zappos have become legendary for their devotion to customer service. And in a world where everyone has a story about being routed to a call center halfway around the world, only to wait on hold for what seems like hours, this Business 101 staple should not be overlooked.
No matter your platform, you should have clear means for the customer to contact you with any issues, and a plan in place to satisfy customer returns, complains and questions as quickly and effectively as possible. Buying from an online store is one thing – knowing what to do when that item is returned is another. A lot of companies spend all their time on the buying part of the equation, and not the post-sale customer service aspect. Don’t be like a lot of companies.

Identify Trends, then Jump on Them

You should always have an ear to the ground for “the next big thing.” The Internet is a fast-changing place, and new ideas, memes and methods are popping up every day. The now overly-clichéd Wayne Gretzky quote is nonetheless apt here: “Go to where the puck is going, not where it’s been.”
What are some of the trends that might affect your small business? Digital couponing, for one – this sales tactic jumped 141 percent in 2013 to 66 million digital coupons redeemed. Retailers with a strong digital coupon strategy are the ones reaping the rewards. Another is video, which is projected to generate more than two thirds of all Internet traffic by 2018. While not all businesses need to utilize video, those that do are opening themselves up to a much larger potential audience.

Use Shoppost

Come on, you didn’t think we wouldn’t put this in, did you?

What are your online selling strategies? Has your small business had success selling online? We invite you to share your stories with us in the comments below.

5 New Ways to Reach Your Customers

A blue nametag sticker with words Hello I Am Your Customer to re

Be where your customers are.

It’s a simple concept, yet one that marketers have struggled with since, well, long before they called it marketing. How can you find an audience, and once found, stay engaged with them? After all, customers change. Their interests shift. Where they congregate and what they do in their free time is always in flux. And marketers are always trying to stay one step ahead.

In today’s increasingly fragmented and media-driven world, driving sales is harder than ever. But it can be done as some enterprising companies have shown. Here are five new and unique ways that businesses are reaching customers today.

Social

Social media is the next great frontier in e-commerce. Brands have already been connecting with their customers directly – the extremely popular Taco Bell Twitter account and Oreo’s “you can dunk in the dark” post during last year’s Super Bowl being two standouts – but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. With the popularity of social media, this is the ultimate example of “be where your customers are.”

And this is why we created Shoppost, a free, easy-to-use app that gathers your product information and pulls it into a beautiful presentation window that posts to your social channels in just a few simple clicks. At its heart, it’s a way to make your products a natural and seamless part of the social experience. After all, customer X may never go to his local bike shop’s website with the fancy online store, but he definitely will spend time on Facebook. And if he sees that bike he’s been looking for at a great price, and all he has to do is click “Buy” while browsing in his Facebook stream., It opens up a whole new (and easier) world of e-commerce for buyer and seller alike.

YouTube

Many brands have jumped on the video bandwagon, which we love and highly recommend (in fact, check out our latest video – we think you’ll like it). But if you don’t have a knack for creating viral content, getting your video in front of eyeballs is a difficult proposition at best.

Eric Siu over at Forbes recommends jumping into YouTube advertising, listing a host of different benefits. We like this idea a lot – YouTube has worked hard to make sure its advertisements are as unobtrusive as possible, and you won’t be competing for spots the same way you might with Google Adwords.

Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing is all the rage these days with hundreds of projects being funded via Kickstarter campaigns, which is great for small businesses and startups. This has limited application for larger businesses that already have sufficient capital to fund new projects and R&D. However, crowdsourcing remains a viable and potentially hugely profitable play for these companies if they shift their focus to something else entirely – ideas, rather than capital.
My Starbucks Idea is probably the best example of this method – a quick glance shows tens of thousands of ideas for new drinks and in-store ideas. While not every idea is bound to be a good one, it’s a great way for brands to actually engage with their customers – not just sell to them. And who knows – one of those ideas may end up in your cup one day when you’re blinking sleep out of your eyes at 7 a.m.

Branded Content

What’s the easiest way to win over your customers? Give them something that’s actually useful and relevant to them. That’s the essence of content marketing. An increasing number of brands are making use of this method, from consumer brands like Red Bull, to B2B companies like Ricoh. As a brand awareness tool, this is an outstanding means to reach potential customers who might have never even heard of your business.

Native Advertising

When the New York Times is doing it, you know that there’s something behind it. Advertorials have been around for a while – take a look near the back of your in-flight magazines – but the increasing use of native advertising online has renewed focus on this customer outreach method. Advertisements designed to look a part of the site took off with the exploding popularity of BuzzFeed, and an increasing number of sites (primarily in journalism) are utilizing this method. While this method has met with some criticism, there’s no denying its effectiveness.

What do all of these have in common? They’re focused on the customer and their experience, rather than the product itself. They’re also seen as tools of engagement – to connect and really have a conversation with the customer. Somewhere along the line, companies figured out that they actually needed to listen to what their customers were saying. And when there are a million different things competing for the customer’s attention, it’s the companies that can cut through the noise to establish a real connection with their customers that will end up being most successful.