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!

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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!

Welcome to Shoppost!

screenshot-2-shoppost-previewWith the release of any new product, it is traditional for a company’s founder to share his or her thoughts on what they intend to achieve, or how they see their product impacting the world.

Now, I’m reluctant to call this sharing my vision, as that’s a slippery slope to referring to yourself as a ‘visionary.’ And that’d lead to hearing things at home like, “honey, visionaries don’t roll the trash down the curb,” which is a road I do not wish to travel. So, rather than sharing my vision, let me just tell you what Shoppost is and what I hope it will do for you.

Shoppost is a social commerce application that lets merchants sell goods from their Shopify or Big Commerce stores on social media networks. With just a few clicks, you can showcase and sell your products directly on your followers’ Facebook and Twitter feeds, as well as on Google+ and Pinterest, letting your customers shop and interact with your product without ever having to leave the site.

We know that people spend an enormous amount of time on social media every day, and this trend will only continue. We’ve seen that consumers follow merchants and product lines they like and, in turn, want to share their experience with their peers. But until now, there wasn’t a simple, effective way to do this within a social media platform, or offer a seamless experience that moves the customer from one platform to the others without frustrating consequences.

Until Shoppost, the solution has been a series of redirects, cumbersome processes and time wasted, resulting in lot of abandoned shopping carts. But now that Shoppost is available, these are problems of the past. Building your Shoppost takes just a minute for you to set up, and purchasing and sharing couldn’t be easier for your customers.

Shoppost lets your customers preview your product with an image or video of the product that’s located directly on the social media platform – they can even interact with the product by selecting a size, color or any other variant. And all of this happens without a redirect. Your customers on Facebook don’t have to leave the site until they land on your secure checkout page.

There’s nothing else out there that’s even close to this functionality. It takes just a minute to promote a product, and even less time for your customers to buy. And additional integrations and enhancements to Shoppost are rolling out all the time. We’ll be sure to keep you posted.

Shoppost costs nothing and can only increase your sales and brand awareness. So give it a try – then be sure to drop me a line to let me know how we’re doing for you.

Happy Shopposting!

David Robb
CEO

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.

3 Ways Your Business Can Use Facebook to Drive Sales

Thumbs up or like symbol in coffee frothAh, Facebook. It’s long been the place you could go to connect with estranged high-school classmates, if you needed a cat video fix, or if you were just dying to find out that the Star Wars personality quiz Aunt Matilda just took says her closest match is Jabba the Hutt.

Of course, you already knew that.

But the one thing Facebook wasn’t was a place you go to buy or sell things. Sure, you might find a coupon code here or there for 15 percent off, or even a sponsored link, but a sales platform it was not.

“Was” being the key word.

Today, Facebook has significant potential as a place to sell your products, which is one of the reasons why we created Shoppost. We believe that the surefire way to turn people off from your products is to make the sales experience clumsy and unintuitive, so we focused on making Shoppost a seamless experience that fits right in with the existing Facebook news feed. The less disruption from the traditional Facebook experience for the customer, the better. And we believe that Shoppost can help you provide that experience to your customers.
What are some other ways your business can use Facebook to drive sales?

Actually Use Posts and Photos to Your Benefit

Sure, you have photos and posts. Chances are that you have a great designer who put together your awesome Facebook profile picture and cover photo. But are you really using your photos and posts to your full advantage? Cover photos can and should be changed regularly to promote particular products, with a direct link to the product page in the caption of the image – not to your general website, but to the product itself.

Jon Loomis has some suggestions on how to improve the reach of your posts, as well. He recommends creating your post as a link share while using an appropriately-sized image to display prominently in news feeds – thus getting the benefits of an image-focused post while still maintaining a link to your product. He also suggests limiting the text to 90 characters, so that your call to action shows up on mobile devices.

Fully Optimize Your Approach

We are in the age of big data, and if there’s one thing that Facebook generates, it is a mountain of data. In scouring over this information, we can glean some ideas on how to approach a Facebook strategy. For one, Adobe’s Social Intelligence Report recently found that engagement on video posts is up by 785 percent from last year. It used to be that video based posts didn’t see much traffic – that seems to be changing.

But when to post? Perhaps unsurprisingly, the best day of the week for Facebook engagement is Friday between 2 and 3 p.m., when a sizable segment of the workforce has begun to mentally check out for the weekend. Tuesday would appear to be the worst day to attempt to engage with your audience. But in order to get your product onto somebody’s newsfeed, you need to…

Utilize Paid Promotion

Like it or not, recent changes to Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm mean that brands basically have to utilize paid in order to reach customers. (You can count Eat24 as one of the “nots.”) But there are advantages to this. You can reach a more engaged audience by not only tailoring your content, but also defining the reach of the promoted post to an audience that you define. And after you’ve seen results, you can further optimize the paid reach through tweaking and testing, in order to get maximum value for your dollar.
Need more proof? Adobe found that the click-through rate on Facebook ads in the U.S. has increased by 160 percent over the past year alone, even as the costs per click have declined slightly. Those are two trend lines going in positive directions for your business’ bottom line.

Have any Facebook selling tips? Share them with us in the comments below!

A Brief, Brief, Brief History of E-Commerce

Online Shopping ConceptIt was only a few short years ago that “people in the know” were telling anyone who would listen that nobody would ever buy products on the Internet. And they had good reason to think so. The Internet was an untested medium. The security involved was poorly – if at all – understood. People thought of the web as nothing more than chat rooms and email. The Internet might end up being a B2B e-commerce destination, but for consumers? Hardly.

But things changed. Today, e-commerce is a more than $1 trillion a year industry, with millions buying everything from pineapples to paintball guns online. How did we get here?

It’s been a long road since the very first e-commerce transaction, back in the early 1970s. But e-commerce as a whole really didn’t take off until the 1990s.

The growth of the World Wide Web, spurred by online services like America Online and Prodigy, exposed most consumers to the idea of spending money online for the first time. 1994-1995 saw the birth of both Amazon.com and eBay, which today top $90 billion in yearly revenue. Their initial growth came during a time when investors were pouring money into tech startups. This exuberance of the late 90s led to IPOs for a number of companies that had never made a profit, and in many cases, had never even created a single product. In some cases, like Google, Yahoo! and others, they were able to ride out the dot-com crash of the late 90s, a bubble that shuttered more than half of all dot-coms and saw more than $5 trillion disappear from the stock market in a matter of months.

The growth of companies like Amazon and eBay following the dot-com bubble is indicative of the recent explosion of e-commerce across the entire web. Amazon’s growth has been remarkable, but even they were recently challenged as the #1 e-commerce retailer in the world by Alibaba, a Chinese company that in 2013 handled more transactions than both Amazon and eBay combined.

This explosion of e-commerce has also inspired a number of new business models – one that’s founded on convenience and fulfilling on-demand desires. Groupon, LivingSocial and a gamut of food delivery sites have enabled local businesses to significantly extend their outreach past their website. Sites like Etsy have enabled anyone to be their own small business. And ridesharing companies Lyft and Uber have turned the existing transportation industry on its head as taxi companies scramble to compete.

E-commerce is also expanding into the social media realm as companies continue to try to reach customers where they are congregating socially. Just a few days ago, Amazon announced a partnership with Twitter to create “#AmazonCart,” a tool that allows Twitter users to put items into their Amazon cart without ever leaving the site. And last year, Starbucks took to Twitter for its “Tweet-a-Coffee” program which lets you buy a $5 gift card to Starbucks for a friend via Twitter.

In later blog posts, we’ll expand on the growth of social media and e-commerce, why social networks like Twitter and Facebook are the future of online selling, and how we created Shoppost as a way to bridge these two worlds in a way that has never been done before.