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Tips, hints and ideas for success selling online by eCorner

eCorner blog

 

eCorner eCommerce Blog

 

Selling online is a great subject to write about as it is constantly changing and evolving. Each month new start-up businesses bring in new ideas. There are lots of opportunities to improve your online business for B2B or B2C. If you have any questions about eCommerce try our FAQs and Ideas Center or just send us a comment or email.


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Maintenance upgrade and new services available February 2017

eCorner-Stores

eCorner Planned Upgrade Outage on Thursday February 2nd, 2017

 

Please be advised that between the hours of 10:00 PM on Thursday 2nd February and 4:00AM Friday 3rd February (AEST) eCorner will be carrying out an update of our mass-hosted environment (all cloud-based online shops). The purpose of the upgrade is to update the core ePages software (to 6.17.52). During that time your website and adminstration systems will not be available.

The upgrade will be predominately for maintenance with a variety of fixes and improvements. These are aimed at creating a more stable, secure and faster system. However there are new features and services that will be added after the upgrade is complete.

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What costs for my website are deductible?

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The deductions available for the costs you in incur setting up a website have long been a point of speculation, as the general principles available in Australian tax law were mostly invented before the internet was as prevalent or pervasive as it is now (or in some cases long before the internet existed at all).

On 14 December 2016 the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has published their views on the topic in a public ruling titled: TR 2016/3: Income tax: deductibility of expenditure on a commercial website.

Through this ruling the Commissioner seeks to clarify the ATO’s expectations in relation to the treatment of expenditure incurred by a business in relation to its online presence. However, does it actually make commercial and practical sense?

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eCommerce Getting Started 12 Days of Christmas

The Holiday Period Offers a Great Opportunity to Check Out Selling Online

getting started selling online eCornerYou can get an online store up and running in 12 days!

 

There are some definite and important steps to get an online store or business started but it takes a little time. If you are a website or eCommerce novice then don't expect to work it out in the first five minutes. To be successful and build a good online presence needs time and some planning. An online business is still a business. You need to manage your business and when selling online that means managing your online store, products and content. You have to connect to other systems and channels to promote your products, organise shipping and to take payments for your products. It is not that difficult but for a new starter it can be a challenge. eCorner's role is to help with the challenging technical issues and provide you with an online shop that sells your products and sevices successfully. 

Start a free trial online store and you will learn what it takes to sell online and how to use a hosted ecommerce solution. But the best news is that it gives you 30 days to setup your online free of charge. When you are ready to launch just let us know and we convert your trial store ot a real online store for your business.


 


Step 1 - Establish the basics

Day 1 - Plan the Business Basics

Before you start thinking about software and hosting, there are some basic requirements that need to be met. If you do a little planning and think about the business structure it can save you heaps of time later.

Read more about this topic - Establish the basics.

 

Step 2 - Software and Hosting

Day 2 and 3 - Software and Hosting

It is important to get the right online store system for your business and that is eCorner's speciality. We recommend starting a free trial and getting a feel for the system. The good part it's free and what you do in the trial can be kept and converted to a live store so it is like getting the first 30 days free. Plan a couple of days to start and ask for our free training. 

Read more - Select an online store system.

 

Step 3 - Design and Layout

Day 4 - Find a Design Theme

Your eCommerce package comes with a range of themes that you can use ‘out-of-the-box’. You can fully customise your theme or you can use one of our complete custom themes to help you get started. You can find lots or great information about our themes and deign on our website. Don't be afraid to start with something simple with eCorner's online store updating design is really easy. eCorner can also help you with your first design as part of the free training.

Read more - Design Themes and Layout.

 

Step 4 - Prepare the site content

Day 5 and 6 - Content is King

Content really is king - good content means a more successful business. Most people will find your online store using a search engine like Google and search engines love content. So it is important to create great content. by content we mean category pages, blogs and importantly products. If you want to be successful then comprehensive product content and great photos are essential.

Read more - Prepare the site content.

 

Step 5 - Delivery and Payments

Day 7 - Delivery and Payments

Two of the most important business decisions that you will make will be how to calculate shipping costs and how to accept payments. Both are key to a successful and profitable online business. A good eCommerce system will have a range of payment and delivery options available to you straight out of the box. You simply select the options that best suit your business! 

Read more  - Delivery and Payments.

 

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Step 6 - Search friendly

Days 8 and 9 - Search Engine Quality

Most people search on Google or Bing to find the products and services that they want. Good search engine rankings are a result of good content. But make sure that you look at the quality of the important search engines meta tags and that you have included your main keywords. Don’t pay hundreds of dollars per month for so-called ‘SEO experts’. During the trial use the extensive search engine optimisation toolkit! 

Read more - Search Engine Optimisation Built-in.

 

Step 7 - Legal stuff & customer trust

Day 10 - Terms & Conditions, Returns and Privacy

We recommend your online store contain, Terms and conditions, Privacy policy, Returns policy, Contact information, and About us. Spend some time reviewing all the  legal content for your website and the impact that it has on your business and customers. Trust is important and right now we are offering a free SSL Certificate with every online store. The SSL Certificate is like an identity card for your website and also ensures that the infomation from the website is encrypted so it is safe from hackers.

Read more - Legal Content and Trust.

 

Step 8 - Marketing and Multi-channel

Day 11 - How do you Market your Online Store

A good eCommerce solution will offer a range of marketing and multi-channel sales tools ‘out-of-the-box’. We include; Newsletters, Cross-sell and upsell, Ratings and reviews, Social media, Promotional items, eBay and Facebook shop; and lots more. Spend some time getting to know how the various internal and external marketing features work. By external we mean services like Google Adwords, Adroll, Google Shopping, Getprice and the many other portals and markets. The website has to work well on any device so that your market effort will work for you.

Read more - Marketing and Multi-channel or Read more - Google Mobile Friendly.

 

Step 10 - Track and improve

Day 12 - Understand your Audience with Analytics

Once you have the online store setup the work does not stop. It is a constant process of reviewing results and making improvements. The window in to your audience (online buyers) in the website analytics that can be used totrack activity. Improve your results by understanding customer behaviour and focus your attention where needed. Real-time reporting (Wagtail Analytics) and Google analytics helps you understand what your customer is doing on your store. 

Read more - Understand what is happening on your website.

 

 

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eCorner Newsletter November 2016 - Upgrade Announcement


eCorner Newsletter - November 2016

ePages upgrade, new SSL offering, the holiday 'lockdown' and suggestions for a successful sales period...

We can't believe its already that time of year again as we motor towards Christmas 2016. We'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support throughout the year and wish you and your family a merry Christmas.

 

1. eCorner to upgrade ePages on Thursday December 1.

 

Please be advised that between the hours of 10:00 PM on Thursday 1st December and 12:30AM Friday 2nd December (AEST) eCorner will be carrying out an update of our mass-hosted environment (all cloud-based online shops). The purpose of the upgrade is to update the core ePages software (to 6.17.46) to add new features and enable some new security features.

We understand that this is a key selling period and have ensured that the update will be as short as possible. In addition to a few minor bug fixes and functional improvements, the most noticeable change will be the introduction of HTTPS on the entire system. This will be enabled for all customers that have a private SSL certificate already installed for their website.

The purpose of this change is to further improve security and also to be prepared for next year’s PCI DSS compliance changes that will make this a mandatory requirement for PCI compliance. The added benefit is that Google has indicated that it will now rank higher those websites that SSL permanently enabled on all pages of the website, you can read more at the Google Webmaster Blog.

If you encounter any problems after the upgrade, please log a support ticket via support@ecorner.com.au and we will prioritise any upgrade related tickets.

 

2. Christmas holiday 'lock-down'

 

Over the Christmas and New Year holidays, eCorner will be effectively in a 'lock-down' mode. What that means is that we will not be undertaking any significant changes to ourservers, websites, emails or domain names. Our focus will be on monitoring and managing our hosting environments throughout the holiday period.

The lock down period will commence on Monday December 5 at 17:00 (5:00PM) AEST and will end on Wednesday 4th January at 9:00 AM AEST. All servers, systems and websites will continue to be monitored and any issues that we see will be fixed as quickly as possible. If you have a support request during that time please use the support form on our website at www.ecorner.com.au/support-form or email to support@ecorner.com.au.

 

3. New SSL offering

 

If you don't have your own 'domain-specific' SSL certificate, your website will still continue to operate as before. The eCorner cloudshops.com.au shared SSL certificate will be enabled for all pages that need security such as the registration area, my account section and shopping basket pages.

If you are running an online store without an SSL certificate we have introduced a Starter SSL which will be available for $99 / 2 years (inc GST). The certificate will be provided by COMODO. We will continue to support the COMODO Positive SSL certificate at $185 / 2 years. If you would like more information about the Starter SSL please contact us or email info@ecorner.com.au

 

4. A couple of things to think about in the lead up to Xmas...

 

There's not much time until Christmas is upon us. Have you planned the final cut off times for your business to dispatch prior to Christmas? You can check the Australia Post cut-off time at http://auspost.com.au/christmas-hours-and-delivery.html

 

What else should you be doing now?

How about an email newsletter and social media posts to your customers letting them know about the critical dates and times? You could include some product promotions or a 'free shipping' as part of the festive cheer!

A great way to extend the 'Christmas buying window' is to offer your customers a 'collection service' (if possible). That means your clients can purchase goods from you all the way up to Christmas. All you need is a new (free) delivery method to be added to your online store. Call or email your account manager if you need help setting this up.

 

5. Coming soon to your store

 

We are constantly looking for ways to help you succeed online. We've been working with our partners to bring you the following new functionality which is nearing completion. All these features will be available to all Cloud store customers as well as any Enterprise customer on ePages 6.17.41 or higher.

  • ZipMoney & ZipPay payment integration – full payment integration with both of ZipPay’s payment options for your customers to buy now and pay later.
  • Couriers Please shipping integration – direct integration with Couriers Please to calculate and facilitate shipping to your customers.
  • eWay Rapid integration – updated eWay cartridge to support all of eWay’s latest payment and security features.

If you would like any additional information, or want to look at getting any of these integrations set up for your store, please let us know.

And finally, best wishes to you and your family for Christmas and New Year,

eCorner Pty Ltd
P.O Box 938
Gladesville NSW 2111
Tel: 1800 033 845

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About eCorner

eCorner™ is an Australian provider of secure ecommerce solutions. We help organisations of all shapes and sizes to realize their ecommerce potential. We’re the master distributor for ePages™ software – a proven ecommerce technology with over 140,000 customer sites worldwide. That's why organisations like Weight Watchers Australia, Translink and The Australian Institute of Sport trust eCorner with their eBusiness. eCorner is a proud partner of the 'Stay Safe Online' Australian Government initiative. You can find out more at - www.staysmartonline.gov.au

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What can I sell online?

ecs-selling-online-1000-1This is a question that we get asked regularly. Many people are striving for extra income or may have some extra time on their hands to give it a go. We also see people starting multiple businesses and expanding the products and services that they offer.

New customers may call in and ask "what do you suggest that I sell online?" This can be a difficult conversation as starting a business without a product probably means that there is no business plan and the likely outcome will not be good.

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12 basics to remember when writing your website

12 basics to remember when writing your websiteThis guest spot on our blog has been written by Peter Crocker who is a director of the Flying Solo forum for entrepreneurs. Thank you Peter.

When writing content for your website, sales pages and product descriptions it’s easy to get caught in the trap of listing loads of information and features. But it’s important to keep your customers in mind.

Here are a dozen writing basics I’ve gathered over a decade+ writing websites.

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Business healthcheck - Where's your business plan?

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Understanding your business plan and continually re-assessing your business’s performance against that plan is a necessary, but often overlooked, part of managing a business. Your business plan forms the core of how you should track success in your business, so ensuring it is meaningful and relevant on a regular basis is critical.

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Christmas is coming - are you ready to sell online

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Don't leave Christmas preparation to the last minute?

Every year we hear of stories about retailers who leave the preparations for the Holiday sales and Christmas to the last minute and then wonder why they don't do well. Christmas is the biggest retail sales time of the year for the vast majority of businesses. Sales increases related to holiday spending start around late September and peak late November to early December. There are heaps of issuses to think about so start early.

 

This year it is expected that the latest that you will be able to order online and expect delivery before Christmas will be Tuesday 20th December for most Australian deliveries. Australia Post have already advised for the international sea-mail cutoff dates however they have yet to announce the Australian dates.

 

Our advice to make the most from the opportunity of great retail holiday sales is to plan and prepare now. How long does it take you to pick, pack and ship? That will determine the last date for selling online and delivering by Christmas. Remember there may be backlogs in delivery so check with your shipping agent. What are the peak number of orders that you can handle each day and still get the deliveries out? Maybe you need some temporary staff to help you get through the holiday rush.

 

Being prepared is as simple as asking a few simple questions about your business.
 

  • How much stock will you need on hand?
  • What content changes do you need for your web store?
  • Do you have photos and new stock information from suppliers?
  • What about pre-Christmas promotions and sales?
  • What about Christmas gift cards and gift wrapping materials?

 

Every year Christmas is the dominant retail sales period in Australia and New Zealand if not worldwide. Worldwide trends have been favourable for online shopping and the latest can provide some new confidence for online sellers. The trend is for more people to buy online being driven by many factors and this is unlikely to slow.

 

So what can you expect this year?
 

pokemongo

  • Christmas Day is on Sunday so you can expect last deliveries to be Friday 23rd December
  • More people will buy using their mobiles expected to be over 50%
  • Buyers will work to a budget there is not expected to be a change in buyer sentiment this year
  • Gift buyers will look for mobile tech novelties and quality
  • Comparison shopping will focus gift buying
  • Buyers will look for added value and special offers
  • Pokemon Go will be BIG

Unique Strategies for Christmas


It might be a good time to review your overall eCommerce strategy and to look at how you can develop a more successful online business. 

You can take some time to consider how you will deal with;

 

  • Content - have you updated the descriptions of your categories and products to promote holiday sales opportunities
  • Pricing - most gift buying is to a budget so make sure that you can present your products in price bands - i.e. $10 - $15 so your buyers can easily find the products that fit the budget.
  • Inventory - can you get enough stock and how long will it take to restock if you sell out
  • Logistics - you need to get the product to the customer at Christmas and there is a hard deadline. Make sure that you do not create a negative expectation for delivery.
  • Service & support - there will be consumers buying at strange hours so consider extending your support hours and look at services such as Live Chat.
  • Payments - taking payment on your online store is always important. If your products are expensive it might be an opportunity to offer term payments or even financing. Read more about this a little later.
  • Refund/returns - a lot of gifts get returned after Christmas, make sure your policies are clear
  • Marketing - plan your marketing campaigns to coincide with the higher levels of activity. Focus on gift buyers if you are in the consumer market.
  • Social media - start to offer gift buying advice. Social media drove a higher propotion of sales last Christmas and that is increasing.
  • Mobile - you need to check that you key content, products and messages present well on mobile devices. More than 50% of gift sales comes from mobiles.

 

Spending a little time developing your plan and strategy can deliver better short and long term sales results and higher margins. It might also be a good time to look at promotional micro-sites to target the Christmas traffic.

 

 

Issues and ideas to improve holiday sales


Buying online for Christmas starts as early as September but the real peak starts from late-November. This year we will expect to see a busy and a longer buying period. The after Christmas, New Years sales, will still be important to sell off overstocked items at bargain prices.

Simple strategies to improve sales and conversions:

  1. Is your online store ready?

    It is no use waiting until December to set up the store as you just won't make it in time. If you have an existing store then now is time to clean up old content and get rid of out of date product and stock information. Each year there are new fads, styles, colours and collections so be up to date and prepared to take advantage of the demand. Christmas is about gifts for others more than about personal purchases. This may mean that you can offer different categorisation for your store at Christmas. For example - "Gifts from Grandma for the 18 - 24 year olds".

    Customer service is a key factor in getting sales anytime but specially during the holiday sales period. So make sure that you provide an easy way for your customers to contact you. So make your contact details obvious. Maybe setup  a special holiday / Christmas sales contact form using the custom form capability in ePages. You can also add Live Chat easily to your website. If you can answer questions quickly for your customers you can increase conversion rates by up to 40%. Check out more information about live chat at Live Chat Inc our live chat partners.
     
  2. issues to improve online christmas salesCheck you website on your mobile

    Over 50% of your potential buyers will come via a mobile this year. That might mean you can get more sales and more profit if those visitors can find and buy a product on a mobile. Don't expect your website to look the same on a mobile as a laptop or tablet. Your website needs to be mobile friendly. eCorner websites are mobile friendly but if you have not checked and optimised your content for mobiles it might need some work.
     

  3. Do you have the products to sell?

    Silly question you say well not really. Getting the stock can be tricky the closer you get to Christmas so you need to know what you will need now. Buying stock early can have a negative cash flow affect on your business so look at the possibility of committment with deliveries later.
     
  4. When is my delivery cut off date for Christmas?

    It is no use selling to a customer who expects pre Christmas delivery if you cannot get the product delivered on time. So you need to tell your buyers what they can expect if they buy on the 24th December. Make sure that you provide specific advice regarding returns and refunds as you do not want to get stuck after Christmas.
     
  5. Time to check Payments & Security

    Do you have a safe payment process setup like PayPal Express or eWAY one of Australia’s leading payment providers? Consumers will be more careful this Christmas and look for security when buying online. But there are also interesting new services like Zipmoney that allow you to offer interest free terms to your online buyers and get the cash right away. Contact eCorner for more information.

    Add an SSL certificate to your webstore like a COMODO Instant SSL, these add to buyer confidence.Trust and security can help dramatically improve shopping basket conversions and reduce abandonment.
     
  6. Think about promotions?

    You can setup special Google AdWords Campaigns just for Christmas and help drive Christmas traffic to your store. You will be competing with lots of other businesses for customer attention but we know that most online purchases with start with a search and around 70% of those will be via Google. The use of a well prepared and funded online search engine marketing campaign leading up to Christmas can be a good investment.
     
  7. Use the Price Comparison portals like Google Shopping

    You can promote your products and special offers and drive qualified traffic to your webstore.What are your unique selling propositions (USP) for Christmas as these should be promoted. For example offer free shipping for purchases over a certain value. Offer free Christmas gift cards and gift wrapping. Discounts are less of a value proposition at Christmas for buyers. You can find out more at Google Merchant Centre. eCorner also supports other digital channels to enhance your online business checkout Marketing menu >> Portals from you administration.
     
  8. eBay Sales are Huge at Christmas

    Selling your products through multiple channels can dramatically increase your sales. eBay is a easy additional channel to add and we have support available as standard (and free) to connect your online store to eBay. By selling through eBay you get the advantage of the size and power of the eBay marketing machine to get new customers. All the orders are still managed via your online store administration.
     
  9. Add Christmas keywords?

    Make sure that you add the Christmas keywords to you Meta-keywords with plenty of time to get crawled by the search engines before Christmas. Also make sure that you add Christmas Gift category names and description text to match up with you keywords.
     
  10. Special Christmas Categories and Promotions

    Products are all important and you might think of price ranges for gifts so that you fit everyone’s budgets. People buying gifts want ideas so give them some. Set up special categories like "Gifts for him", Gifts for Mum", "Gifts for the dog", "Take a chance gifts" and so on. Be inventive as you need to stand out in a crowd.
     
  11. website-qualityCheck you SEO and Website Quality

    Make sure that your website content and keywords are ready as it might take weeks for search engines to crawl and index your new content so allow plenty of time and don't wait till the last minute. There is plenty of help that you can get using the built-in SEO tools in ePages. eCorner is also now offering a Website Quality Service to help you get better results than you key competitors.
     
  12. Gift buying, wrapping and gift cards

    Delivery options in ePages can be easily added in the shopping basket so you might want to think about offering free gift wrapping and free gift delivery.

    You can have multiple shipping addresses so your buyers can ship directly to an alternative address. Offer this service and make sure you get the gift there on time.
     
  13. Free shipping at Christmas

    Buyers look for deals and free shipping can be a great motivator to buy at Christmas or anytime, can be a great incentive to buy online. If you are selling a product online you can structure an average shipping price into your costs. Then allow free shipping by Australia Post.
     
  14. Post Christmas Sales & Boxing Day

    People on vacation like to shop around for bargains. So don't think everything stops on December 25th. The smart store operators will be ready with the Boxing Day and New Years specials campaigns come December 26th. Remember you can create special procuts and product bundles that can automatically be made visible come December 26th.
     
  15. Give your store a modern theme

    It is easy to setup a new style and change the colours and banners for Christmas. You can even start doing that right now and make that the live style later in the year. Set up a count down to Christmas - it can be a easy as a little added text to your home page. eCorner is offering specials right now of new design and themes so check them out.

    Winter Specials from eCorner

 

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Buying or selling an online business

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We are getting asked more and more regularly about issues and considerations when thinking about selling or buying an existing online business.

Whether it be a large, high transaction online retailer or a relatively small boutique web store, it’s important to remember that you are buying a business (not just a website). As such, there is a process that should be followed to ensure you know what you are buying and are paying a reasonable amount for that investment.

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Ready for the new financial year

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Plan for growth next financial year

 

The end of financial year (EOFY) rolls around every year and yet, just like the arrival of winter, it catches business owners by surprise.

While getting to the end of the financial year can sometimes feel like a sprint to the finish line. If you run an online business, then the EOFY can be a great opportunity to take stock of your business and review the plan and strategy for the year to come.

 

We have included below some tips both for surviving EOFY and for accelerating your business into FY2016/7.

 

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