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.
For those that have been with us through early 2018, you'll be aware that major projects were happening behind the scenes at eCorner. Again we thank all our customers for their patience and understanding during this process, and hope that you see the benefits of our new technology.
With our friends at Macquarie Cloud Services (MCS), eCorner have migrated our entire hosting environment from dedicated physical hardware to a "Virtual Data Centre" configured specifically for our needs in Macquarie's cloud infrastructure. This environment replicates the security, availability and robustness of our previous infrastructure, without the need to manage and replace aging physical servers and other hardware.
Many hundreds of man hours went into the migration lead by our intrepid Infrastructure Manager, Grant, in addition to great support by the team at MCS. As such, MCS asked us to sit down and discuss the project in the following video that we thought we'd share with you to fill in some of the details of what we've had going on behind the scenes.
In case you missed it earlier in the year, our project also made the industry news:
It is just 55 days left until Christmas at the time of writing this post. Online merchants who leave the preparations for the Holiday sales and Christmas to the last minute risk missing out on holiday sales and an opportunity of gaining new customers. Christmas is the biggest retail sales period of the year for the vast majority of businesses. Sales increases related to holiday spending start in late September and peak late November to early December. There are plenty of issues to think about so start early and be prepared!
This year it is expected that the latest that you will be able to order online and expect delivery before Christmas will be Friday 21th December for most Australian deliveries. Australia Post have already provided some advice to merchants regarding deliveries during the Christmas and Holiday season.
Marketplaces make up a huge percentage of online sales in 2018, with many consumers now using the likes of eBay and Amazon as a research tool and their first point of contact on the net when considering a new product purchase.
Marketplaces make online shopping ludicrously convenient for consumers, because of the huge product catalogues and sizable number of third-party sellers providing a range of products, prices and shipping options in every category.
The challenge for online retailers is two-fold, (1) is selling on an online marketplace right for my business and (2) which marketplace(s) should I invest my time and effort into to get the best returns.
You can use your eCorner Online Store and Back Office to sell your products through eBay. If you are an eCorner customer already just contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for information about connecting to eBay. You can download some handy help documents from the following links:
The eBay platform has not only been established as the most popular shopping portal on the internet, but also increasingly as a sales channel for professional traders and buyers. In fact, more than 90% of all products sold through eBay are sold via PowerSellers – a status awarded to professional high-volume eBay retailers. All sorts of products are offered on eBay, sometimes with price-tags ranging into the millions.
With ePages’ eBay cartridge shop owners can now make cost-effective use of the eBay marketplace as an additional sales channel, and reach out to new markets and new customers. Equally, enterprises can strengthen their presence on the internet by capitalising on eBay’s vast and ever-growing user-base, capturing customers that would not usually have found the company’s website.
On the other hand, eBay PowerSellers can now benefit from the extensive functionality of the ePages platform. With the ePages Back Office, products, customers and orders can be managed simply and efficiently. ePages automates the administrative tasks involved in submitting products to eBay, thereby increasing efficiency, and maximising revenue.
Unlike other platforms where you are charged additional fees for every order that you receive online at eCorner we do not charge additional transaction fees. Some online store systems will charge you again after the order arrives at the online store in addition to the credit card or PayPal fees. With eCorner you will pay only the eBay fees at eBay for your eBay Store, Listing Fee or Final Value Fee. The paid order will be sent from eBay to the online store for fulfillment and marketing. As eCorner does not charge transaction fee then no additional and unexpected charges will occur.
Mid-sized businesses can expand their market reach through eBay, and acquire and learn about new types of customer. eBay is also the ideal sales channel for end-of-line items, and for clearance of surplus stock.
eBay PowerSellers are given access to a complete e-Business solution with a professional Back Office for account management. However, ePages can significantly enhance the processes by which products can be edited, customers can be profiled and orders can be managed and fulfilled.
Through the use of ePages’ e-Business solutions the process of making a sale on eBay can be centrally controlled. Product data from the ePages system can be presented on the eBay site along with additional information specific to the portal. With the eBay Cartridge the administration and management of all offers and sales processes are carried out exclusively from the ePages Back Office. On completion of a transaction, an order is automatically generated within the ePages system, and as with an ordinary order, can be paid for or invoiced, packed, shipped, tracked and fulfilled using ePages’ comprehensive Back Office management tools.
There are different methods of managing stock levels (inventory) with the eBay connector.
Stock management can therefore be both ways - sales at eBay will update the stock level in the online store and sales in the online store will update the stock level on eBay.
Any product defined in the ePages Back Office has virtually all the attributes required to sell via an eBay auction (product name, description, image, etc.). Through the introduction of an eBay-specific page in the ePages Back Office the Merchant is able to manage the following additional information relating to the auction of his/her goods:
These attributes can then be reviewed and edited by the merchant on another specially compiled page alongside the standard ePages product data. After publication of the product and purchase data, the Merchant receives his/her specific eBay item number.
The Merchant has the option to define the auction start date and time, and to trigger the auction from the ePages application at the pre-determined time. eBay charges normally associated with using this function do not apply when using our eBay cartridge.
The Merchant has the option to define the auction start date and time, and to trigger the auction from the ePages application at the pre-determined time.
For every product ePages lists those auctions and offers that have ended, and those that are still running. By clicking on the eBay item number the Merchant can check on his/her live auctions and offers, or access a detailed page to edit offers and obtain an overview of current bidders.
Once the auction has ended the system automatically creates an order which can then be processed in the ePages Back Office. With orders originating from the eBay marketplace, the Merchant can choose to route a "bidder rating" directly back to eBay to register the quality of each customer. Once the sale is complete the buyer receives an automatic email confirmation from ePages. This email contains a link to a special page in which the shipping address and payment method can be edited.
For every product the Merchant can view all related auctions and offers. There is also a list showing the Merchant all live auctions and offers for his/her products on the eBay portal, displaying the most recent auctions at the top of the list. This information can then be filtered to show "all auctions", "live auctions", or "ended auctions" in separate lists. Merchants can see a full summary of their eBay offers at all times.
In a few simple steps you can improve your return on investment and simplify your day. ePages connected to eBay, a Powerful Multi-Channel eCommerce Solution. Contact eCorner for a demonstration or free trial.
We have introduced an export / import for eBay items.Using import / export you can make mass changes to your eBay items very quickly without needing to open individual items and then making changes using the eBay items wizard. So it is all about saving you time and effort.
You can export your eBay items from the administration by going to Content / categories menu >> Import / Export >> Select eBay items from the drop down menu. This will export ALL eBay items. Or you can select items at Marketing menu >> eBay items >> batch select and then >> use the Export batch function.
In either case after saving the export CSV file on your computer you can update it using Microsoft Excel or similar and after it is update then import it back into the online store. Just go to Content / categories menu >> Import / export >> select eBay items >> select the import file >> Import.
This setting enables stock levels that are on existing eBay listings to be updated with the stock levels in the online store. In Step 1 of the eBay item listing wizard you will find a new set of radio buttons that will enable the stock level update. You will need to select “Yes” if you want stock levels from the store to be updated at eBay and “No” if you want fixed stock levels at eBay. This setting will only be available if you use “Fixed price” Item Type for the listing.
eBay is rolling out eBay Catalogue that are listings that are managed by eBay and eBay provided the product images and descriptions. Not all categories and not all products are supported by eBay Catalogue but new categories and products are being added by eBay. Get more information about eBay Catalogue at eBay Seller Centre - eBay Catalogue Enhancements.
eBay is fully supported in our ‘mass-hosted’ and ‘dedicated’ eCommerce environments. You can implement a ‘multi-channel’ sales strategy for your online business within minutes of opening your online store with eCorner.
You can download our How to use the ePages eBay Connector (PDF) - click here.
Upgrade notification for Monday 3rd September commencing at 6:00 PM.
eCorner is constantly improving our underlying infrastructure and keeping up with potential vulnerabilities. It is all aimed at making our systems even more stable, faster and safer. eCorner has started the process to upgrade your website to ePages V7.7. The upgrade will include fixes to bugs, usage improvements and major new features. To complete the upgrade we need to take the Resellerate online shop system offline. This upgrade is a major upgrade covering a number of software versions and we expect the outage to last approximately 10 to 12 Hours
We'll keep you informed of specific times as we get closer to the actual upgrade date. Following is a brief explanation of some of the new features and changes that you can expect.
Well after 12 great years in our current office eCorner is moving.
From Monday 2nd July 2018 we will be located in the growing central business district (CBD) of Parramatta city. Parramatta has become the second CBD of Sydney and now the geographical, commercial and cultural capital of Western Sydney, Parramatta is the second largest CBD in Sydney and the 6th largest in the country. With an $14 billion dollar economy, Parramatta is a major provider of business and government services.
Our new office is very different to what we came from. The heritage listed 1860's stone cottage in Gladesville that we have called home for 12 years has been a great working environment and seen many changes in eCorner. But it is time to move on and our new office has been selected to better meet our needs as we develop over the next 10 years.
eCorner's new office is located at level 7, 91 Phillip Street, Parramatta overlooking the Parramatta River. Parramatta has become the center of Sydney as the city has grown out over the year.
Our new office is located close to public transport and is easily accessible from most locations around Sydney.
If you are contacting us then our phone numbers and email addresses will remain unchanged you can find those details on our Contact Us page.
If you are visiting then you can get to eCorner by car, train, bus and ferry. There is plenty of parking within minutes of our office and all at a reasonable cost.
Our office is just 30 minutes from Sydney Airport.
Level 7, 91 Phillip Street,
Please also note our new office phone number - 02 9893 1870 (our old number will continue to work if you get stuck)
Over the past 6 years, the VARCentral platform has helped build 100s of online IT Reseller businesses in Australia and New Zealand (VARCentral made the news in PC World after the launch and also in CRN Magazine as an innovative new solution for IT resellers), with its mixture of robust eCommerce underpinnings and tailored tools to help IT Resellers manage margins and automate business processes. However, following the demise of its parent company, the platform and its merchants had been somewhat neglected over the last 12-24 months.
eCorner Pty Ltd, the original web developer of the platform and provider of the hosting and software used by the platform, have re-launched the platform as a new set of store offerings under the brand – Resellerate. The new store offerings start at $250/month (inc GST) supporting up to 25,000 products and range up to a store capable of supporting full catalogues from suppliers like Ingram Micro. The platform is a robust, pre-stocked online store with automated access to catalogues of over 200,000 products in 3,000+ categories available from the 13 Australian distributors that are currently on board including Alloys, Dicker Data, Ingram Micro, Multimedia Technology, Simms and Synnex, and 6 New Zealand suppliers including Dove Data Products, Exeed, Ingram Micro and Synnex.
Resellerate has been custom designed to help IT Resellers manage complex product catalogues, automate business process and simplify the dropshipping process from multiple distributors. The platform has many great features including:
eCorner have begun works to upgrade and extend the platform for current and future merchants, including upgrading the supplier data feed options, adding new payment methods such as ZipMoney and eWay RAPID, enhanced multichannel features for integration to eBay, Amazon, Facebook Shop, Google Shopping (and many more) and upgrading the core ePages eCommerce software to allow for new responsive designs and easier store management.
Already the platform has been migrated to eCorner’s new Virtual Data Centre (VDC) at Macquarie Cloud Services providing VARCentral merchants with enterprise grade infrastructure, security and connectivity. eCorner’s VDC is a private, dedicated cloud environment configured and hardened by eCorner’s security specialists to Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) v3.2 requirements. Leading financial institutions (like CBA and NAB) and fintechs (like Lodex.co) use eCorner as a web hosting provider due to the high standards of security and availability guaranteed by their infrastructure, along with many large online retailers such as Weight Watchers and the Australian Institute of Sport.
Existing VARCentral merchants have transitioned to the Resellerate platform, including www.nanobytesolutions.com.au, www.nationalsystems.com.au/ and www.itcheckout.com, to benefit from the enhanced infrastructure, eCorner’s support and new features as the come online.
The core ePages software is used by over 150,000 online merchants worldwide, and eCorner as the local distributor has helped over 2,600 Australian and New Zealand merchants of all sizes and industries get selling online with epages. eCorner will be directly and fully supporting the platform going forward.
If you watch a few movies you might remember Field Of Dreams a 1989 fantasy movie classic starring Kevin Costner. In the movie Ray (aka Kevin Costner) has a voice whisper in his head and so builds a baseball diamond (field). The line from the movie which is often misquoted has been used in everything from soap commercials to selling cars. It has been used often to justify creating something when there is no logical reason or plan to do so.
James Earl Jones is the voice that keeps Ray on track against all odds and helps guide him to a successful result. In the movie, of cause, there is a happy ending.
In 2018 there are many digital examples of the "Field of Dreams" these are Online Shops and eCommerce Website, and also some Bricks and Mortar businesses moving online. The business owners have a vision of taking advantage of the opportunities online and a growing a thriving business but often no plan. Unfortunately the majority of start-ups do not have a happy ending.
There are many services that allow you to start an online business with no planning and minimal cost. That is the core of the problem. Starting an online store (ecommerce website) is just one piece to the successful business puzzle. Once you have products for sale online you have to find customers and that can be the hard and expensive part.
To be successful, and realise the Digital Dream, a business, any business, needs to have products, a market and customers in order to make sales. You can find out more in this previous blog post about the Foundation of a Successful Business. It is fundamental to the longer term success of the business. Cash Flow and revenue are the blood and blood pressure that keeps the business alive. Yet we often hear about these digital businesses that get started and then fail very quickly because they make no sales or revenue. There are new business start-ups that have no plan for marketing or for finding customers and will not last out the first year.
Just having a pretty website that looks great but doesn't sell anything is not going to develop in to a long term business, and successful Digital Field of Dreams with a happy ending
Many businesses owners believe that if you build and launch a website it will be instantly flooded by visitors. Unfortunately nothing could be further from the truth. Search engines drive traffic and customers to your website and Google is the elephant in the room of search engines. Google controls over 80% of the search engine traffic. At the same time Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) firms have become the SPAM masters. I am sure that you have all received the emails:
Pay us a $1,000 a month and be number one on Google....
Some business owners believe that some magical short cut exists that will make the new online store an instant success and revenue generator. But there is no magic and throwing away $1,000's in dodgy SEO practices will not make you one sale.
Good SEO practices are important to the success of your online store. That means that you need to build good quality content and conform to the recommendation of Google and other search engines in order to rank well and have your website and products found online. Google provides lots of great information and advice about SEO Best Practice with their SEO Starter Guide and doing some homework is worthwhile.
For any business to be successful, apart from viable products and good customer service, you need to market. Marketing in the digital age has changed in the way it is delivered but you still need to do it. So an online store without a marketing plan basically has little hope of succeeding.
The Sales Funnel is just as important online as it is in any traditional, or bricks and mortar business, in fact maybe more important. Online the sales funnel starts with traffic to your website but not just any type of traffic. It needs to be made up primarily of people who are interested in what you do.
It is the core job of good marketing to get a pool of people or companies interested in your products and services into the funnel. The sales job, in the digital world the website, is to convert the pool into prospects and then into customers by taking them on a journey. That journey ends up in a sale and a long term satisfied customer. Marketing helps map that journey and provide the content to guide your potential customers.
A new website will not succeed without marketing. There are many tools available to help you market and there is a connection between the website content and marketing.
Remember the golden rule - CONTENT IS KING.
When you launch a new website the work is not over it is just beginning. So you need a plan to manage the marketing process and to track updates and changes. An important aspect of understanding what you need to do is capturing the 'big data' the analytics about what people are doing on your website. Without that information you cannot have an effective marketing plan. If you are an eCorner customer we provide you with a great tool called Wagtail Analytics and Reporting but you might use Google Analytics or one of the many reporting tools available.
On average according to Gartner businesses spend over 10% of their revenue on marketing, and including 2.5% - 5% on digital marketing. While some primarily digital businesses might spend a much higher percentage on digital marketing channels.
There are specific targets that you need to identify and then determine the best way to hit them.
But remember that the one true fact that you can rely on is change. Nothing really stays still in the digital world so you need to be on a constant review and improvement path. There are new tools that can be effectively used that become available so testing new marketing tactics can lead to quick results. For example organisations like Dynamic Creative can assist you in building and implementing a plan.
Digital spend has often been centered on Search Engine Marketing (SEM) with the main player being Google Adwords. If the campaign is built well then it can be an effective way to drive qualified opportunities into the sales funnel. SEM is not cheap and you cannot run a successful Adwords campaign on a dollar a day. Other search engines offer similar services such as Bing Ads.
The Social Media channels such as Facebook and Twitter now also offer paid advertisement that can deliver good results often at a lower cost. But social media pages can be effective marketing. The channel itself maybe free but there is effort involved in running successful social media channels.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns using one of the shopping portals can also help drive qualified opportunities to your business.
Google Merchant Centre allows you to deliver a product feed directly from your website that will deliver product ad tiles during search.
The benefit of these portals is that they have a higher than average digital marketing spend and often a higher search engine ranking so they can get exposure that you might not be able to get.
If you are a small business looking for local customers then take advantage of Google Local a free service. Local search is becoming increasingly more important for small business.
This is a “Purchase First” Media selection Strategy. Dynamic Creative believe in a reverse funnel approach to digital advertising. Get sales “in the door” or “through your shopping cart” via Shopping, then Search Ads, before prospecting for out of market customers through display and video ads.
This is a typical media roadmap for the companies we work with, prioritised by shoppers’ likelihood of purchase and our suggested order of campaign execution. Focusing at the conversion end of the advertising funnel provides benefits over and above the obvious improved return on ad spend (ROAS).
This is especially true for retailers, those needing inbound sales enquiries and bookings. Each conversion provides us the opportunity to gather useful buyer insights such as their age, gender and location. This information can be used to build smarter prospecting display campaigns as we progress through the range of digital media.
Reaching people at every possible interaction as they search and browse the web is Google’s official recommendation. Having a well executed brand ad in front of prospective customers at the right place and time is effective when you have all the creative assets in place to support each product, category and ad format.
This is great advice for large international brands with deep pockets but it's not a realistic starting point for most Australian brands.
If you build it they won't come unless you do something to reach out to your customers
80% of the failed online businesses failed as a direct result of not doing any marketing. If you want your new digital business to succeed then develop a marketing plan, think a little outside of the square and expect change. If you want to generate a million dollars in sales a year then expect to spend $50,000 - $100,000 a year on marketing.
When you first sit down and decide to start your new online business remember that you need to develop a budget and a plan. Just building an online store and applying the "Field of Dreams" approach will leave you frustrated with the results and with no rewards to show for the effort.
Dynamic Creative is leading Google Partner and an AdWords technology company, they sell AdWords and Shopping Software and offer managed AdWords and Google Shopping services.
Starting and running a business can be great fun and deliver rewards. Having been in business now over 40 years we've see some recurring patterns that can be indicative of a business in trouble. Many new starters in business will be recommended to read some book or blog site and can get bombarded with the great business platitudes that sound great and mean nothing.
There are many foundation issues to a successful business but I would like to cover just three I think most important, Products, Markets and Customers.
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 period of the year for the vast majority of businesses. Sales increases related to holiday spending start in late September and peak late November to early December. There are heaps of issues to think about so start early and be prepared!
This year it is expected that the latest that you will be able to order online and expect delivery before Christmas will be Wednesday 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.