Category Archives: Business and Marketing

Merchant’s Guide: Chargebacks and Common E-commerce Mistakes

With millions of people having access to the Internet, a lot of businesses have also adopted a new way to make a profit and sell their items or services, and that is through e-commerce. In case you are interested in putting up your business in an e-commerce site, you need to know that no matter how well you planned things, problems are bound to happen, especially when you are still new.  Today, we will be discussing everything you need to know about managing an e-commerce site, including the most common mistakes and risks you will encounter from time to time.

What is an E-commerce Site?

E-commerce (electronic commerce) refers to the trading of products or services with the use of computer networks like the Internet or social networking sites. The first form of e-commerce was believed to have been developed in 1971 or 1972. The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network, commonly known as ARPANET, which was considered as the early form of the packet switching network, was used to arrange cannabis sale between the students of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Today, millions of people from all parts of the world are engaged in e-commerce, selling almost every item you can imagine.

An e-commerce business can be defined as:

– An online shopping website that offers direct retail sales to consumers

– A shopping store participating in online marketplaces such as Amazon and Alibaba

– B2B (business to business) buying and selling trade

– Online stocks exchange for trading or currency exchanges

– Online marketing (SEO, e-mail marketing, etc.)

How to Start an E-Commerce Business

A lot of people think that opening an e-commerce business is easy, but all businesses, whether a traditional one or an online one, requires hard work in order for it to become successful. When it comes to building an e-commerce business, the first thing you need to do is to find a product or service that you want to retail.  The reason why you’re starting your business is because you want to gain profit from selling, so it only makes sense that you need to find a product or service that people would buy.

Once you’ve listed at least ten prospective products to trade, you need to evaluate each one of them and see which of these products would really sell.  After that, you also need to know how you will obtain your product—where to find your manufacturer or supplier, how much you should spend per item, etc. Apart from that, you also have to study your competition carefully. It is important that you are aware of exactly what or who your competitors are, and what they are capable of doing. Make sure to also start writing your business plan, find a name for your business, and register it. When building an e-commerce business, there are also plenty of e-commerce platforms you can choose from; read below to help you know your options.

Examples of E-commerce Platforms

In case you want to build an e-commerce business, here are some hosting platforms you can use:

Shopify

Without the need to register your products on online marketplaces such as Amazon, Alibaba, and EBay, Shopify makes shopping easier for both merchants and consumers. Shopify is considered as one of the most popular online shopping cart tools. Using this e-commerce platform, customers and shoppers can instantly checkout the items they want to buy, process their payment method, and wait for the item to be delivered to their doorsteps.

BigCommerce

BigCommerce started out as a software system created and sold by Interspire, but later on, after it became a hit among merchants, it was transformed into a hosted shopping cart. Currently, it is among the most famous online shopping carts featuring gift cards, real-time shopping quotes, chat support, and much more.

Yahoo Store

Among all the hosted shopping carts for SMEs today, Yahoo Store is the one with the largest market share in the top 100,000 and top 10,000 sites. Not only that, Yahoo was the first to provide an online e-commerce solution to merchants and business starters. Being a well-known brand trusted by online users, Yahoo Store is definitely a well-hosted e-commerce platform choice. However, Yahoo’s popularity is slowly declining nowadays.

Wix

Wix is basically a free website builder, which has been gaining popularity nowadays. And while it is promoted as a website builder, not all people are aware that it also offers e-Commerce features. Although Wix does not have the powerful features of Shopify and BigCommerce, it is still a great choice for hosted e-commerce platforms. Wix also does not require merchants to pay for transaction costs, only a monthly fee.

 

Chargebacks and Other Risks in an E-commerce Business

Just like any other type of business, an e-commerce business also has risks and potential threats that can ruin your sales performance and even your reputation. With hackers, computer criminals, script kiddies, hacktivists, and cyber terrorists lurking everywhere, your main concern as a merchant is to make sure that your site is secure all the time.

Security is such an important feature in an e-commerce site; apart from protecting your data, you also need to keep your customers’ information and transactions confidential, as they are at risk of identity theft and fraudulent activities. Identity theft is one of the most common reasons why customers would dispute for chargebacks, and that is why aside from securing your site, you should also make sure that your purchasing process is protected from fraudulent purchases.

E-commerce sites are also vulnerable to viruses, high shipping costs, fraudulent customers, information risk, copy infringement, and a lot more.

Many entrepreneurs from all parts of the world have found success with e-commerce, and with more people going online and using the Internet in their daily lives, it is even expected that e-commerce stores and sites will become more in demand than ever. For those who want to start an e-commerce business, make sure to read everything in this article as this can really help you manage your store.

iPad POS System: 5 Crucial Tips for Retailers and Small Businesses

Tablet computers like the iPad, Galaxy Tab, or the various Windows-powered portable devices have become more than just a gaming device or a mobile entertainment system. Today, tablet deployment in restaurants, retail stores, and other small businesses for use as a portable point-of-sale (POS) system has become a common practice in the industry. It’s no longer a question of if you’re going to use an iPad POS, but rather a question of when are you going to transition to this new system.

A significant portion of retailers around the world are opting for the iPad POS system for a variety of reasons. It seems that the more businesses learn about this great innovation, the more it makes sense to them as a worthy investment.

Portable point-of-sale systems allow businesses to provide their clientele with better, more enjoyable customer experience. With a well-placed POS system, long checkout lines and transaction errors are eliminated or at least minimized. For restaurateurs and food service shops, the ability to use the iPad as an interactive menu, a tool servers can use to place orders, as well as a device for accepting various card payments is truly revolutionary. And it doesn’t hurt that tipping has become a lot easier. Servers couldn’t be any happier.

If you believe that it’s time to upgrade your old POS system and switch over to the iPad point-of-sale, here are a few tips meant for retailers and small businesses considering the change to portable POS solution.

Five Useful Tips for Retailers Ready to Switch to the iPad POS System

  1. Start with basic POS software/hardware investment.

One of the biggest concerns for retailers and shop owners when transitioning to a new POS system is the cost. Convention point-of-sale, like those you might find in supermarkets and grocery stores, require a hefty investment. They are expensive, to say the least. A tablet, on the other hand, will only cost a fraction of the price of a PC-based POS system. The portable point-of-sale is a relatively cheaper option when compared to traditional units. And that’s not including the maintenance and upgrade costs.

The more prudent approach when transitioning to iPad POS is to start with a small hardware investment. If you’re running a small business establishment, there won’t be a need for a dozen iPad units, would there? If you’re running a chain of stores, investing in a few units and scaling up when necessary is a move that you should consider. The key is to take it slow, baby steps if you will. You can start investing in more units once you’re familiar and confident enough with this new POS solution.

  1. Upgrade and improve your network infrastructure.

Most mobile POS devices are capable of processing various payments over cellular networks. However, the reliability of these networks can be a concern. Getting a strong, reliable signal is highly dependent on the location of the establishment, the building, the strength of the network signal itself, network congestion, and a variety of other factors. A better option for network infrastructure is Wi-Fi or over-the-air (OTA) connectivity. Portable devices like the iPad and other tablet computers support Wi-Fi connectivity, and it’s a more stable alternative to cellular networks.

Of course, you may need to invest in this type of infrastructure. You need to find a suitable Internet service provider (ISP), avail of the appropriate bandwidth, and acquire the necessary hardware (modem, Wi-Fi router, etc.) to establish reliable Wi-Fi connectivity for your business. But this move is a no brainer, if you’re really serious in transitioning your business to a mobile POS system. In the long run, your investment will pay for itself.

  1. Don’t hesitate to get professional help in the deployment and management of your POS system.

Outsourcing tasks like installation and deployment, maintenance and management of iPad point-of-sale systems is not uncommon, especially if you or any of your staff are not particularly tech savvy. Larger businesses may have their own IT department/personnel tasked with handling the deployment, maintenance, and management of POS systems, but this is a resource that most small businesses simply can’t afford. It’s much more cost-efficient to just outsource the job to professionals.

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IT personnel can centralize sales and inventory information across all stores, which is especially useful for business owners running a chain of retail establishments. If you’re operating a single store, you may not need to hire a professional at all. Most iPad POS vendors offer 24/7 tech support to help clients install, manage, and troubleshoot their system. Besides, these systems are so user-friendly that once you are familiar with their functions and inner workings, you probably won’t need any professional help at all, at least when dealing with minor issues.

  1. Maximize and integrate your iPad POS with the selling process.

Your iPad POS system is not just a glorified cash register or credit card processor. It can do a lot of things to improve customer experience and product selling. Capitalize on the many different features the iPad POS has to offer. As a retail store, you can use iPad units as an interactive catalog for all your products and items, where customers can simply use the device to browse and place orders directly. This selling process will not only improve customer experience, it can promote loyalty to your brand as well.

  1. Encourage customers to be more involved in the point-of-sale process.

This POS system is not designed merely for the benefit of retailers and business owners. It can also prove beneficial to customers. With the iPad point-of-sale system, customers can electronically sign their bills, give tips, and even avail of special promos and loyalty rewards. At the checkout counter, you can have the customer checkout the process as you complete the transaction. You can have them electronically sign the receipt, choose the appropriate amount to tip, and even allow them to complete the transaction themselves.

Effective SEO Tips That Will Help Promote Your Local Business

Local SEO may be hard to understand and difficult to execute given that it’s quite different from your general SEO campaign, but it’s very effective; it can do wonders to your overall marketing efforts.

Here’s a list of some of the most basic and useful tips for local SEO that will help you achieve a higher rate of organic search traffic:

Do a Comprehensive Keyword Research

Doing a keyword research is one of the fundamental SEO tasks that you need to accomplish. Without doing a keyword or keyphrase research, all your SEO efforts will go to waste. So, before anything else, make sure that you have finished this task before continuing your campaign. After that, choose the most relevant keyword with the highest average monthly search and the lowest competition.

Weave the Keywords into Your Website

After you have chosen the keywords that you will use in your SEO campaign, you need to weave them into your website by means of adding meta titles, meta descriptions, and H1 tags with your target keywords. It is important that you use the keywords that you have picked since they—if used properly—will have a huge impact on your search engine ranking.

Build Local Citations

Apart from adding meta titles and meta descriptions on every page of your website using the keyword(s) you’ve chosen, you also need to build local citations. Having local citations is extremely important because it will tell Google where you are located.  To achieve that, you need to put up your websites on local directories that will redirect users to your website and give them the important details of your business such as your outfit’s phone number, address, and e-mail address.

Promote Your Content on Social Media

Apart from building citations, it is also necessary that you promote your blogs and articles on your social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. With almost everyone having a profile on social networking sites, posting your blogs there will help make you build a relationship with your target market. Not only that, it will also allow Google to see that online users are talking about your website and your content. This will be an additional boost for your search engine ranking.

Get Reviews from Customers

In local SEO, there are three things that Google looks for: the length of time that your domain or website is active, the backlinks (citations) to your site, and the reviews that customers give your business. Google wants to know what people can say about you, so you need to make sure that you can obtain plenty of positive reviews from your previous and future customers. The more positive and authentic reviews your site gets, the more Google will value your site.

Once you are done implementing these methods, you need to measure your traffic rate so that you can monitor which of them is really bringing the traffic. There are plenty of tools that you can use in measuring your traffic rate including Analytics and Webmaster’s Tool.

Local SEO for Small Business Success

Entrepreneurs and small business owners know that a vital component of any effective online marketing strategy is getting the best possible position in search engine result pages (SERP). It is one of the main reasons why the SEO industry exists and thrives. Businesses, big or small, are on a mission to dominate search engine rankings by whatever strategy is available at their disposal.

You can find a myriad of SEO firms that utilize SEO techniques and practices to churn out positive results for their clients. Some will even go as far as employ black hat tactics just so they can deliver promised results. But, is it really practical to engage in unscrupulous SEO practices just to stay on top of search engine rankings?

In the early days of SEO, black hat tactics were welcomed, especially for companies that go up against big companies with deep pockets. But this is no longer the case today. There are a lot of clean and safe SEO strategies that even small businesses can employ, therefore allowing them to compete with bigger ones. Local SEO, for example, is the best way to reach your target audience without spending a whole lot.

If conventional SEO is the butcher’s knife, local SEO is the scalpel that will allow you to efficiently navigate the broad online market and target only those who may have real interest in your product or service.

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Web Development Company – Why They’re the Better Option

Although there is a lot of negative feedback regarding the performance of the present administration in the Philippine Government, one cannot deny that the administration has made significant progress where the country’s economy is concerned. Industries like web development are experiencing a major boom, especially since more and more businesses are recognizing the need to make their mark in the online world.

If you happen to operate a startup company and you want to establish your online presence by getting a website developed, then perhaps, like many other startup business owners, you are considering hiring a freelance web developer. The primary reason why many startup owners choose to hire freelancers is that they believe that is the most cost-effective option. But is that really the case?

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What to Look for in a Web Developer

Many business owners have come to understand that they need to get a website up and running if they want to stay competitive in today’s highly digitalized world. But only a few business owners truly understand the art of web development. If you are one of those who are not really familiar with this seemingly complicated art, then perhaps you are also unsure as to whom you can trust to build and maintain your website.

Worry not, we are here to help! We will give you a quick run-down on what attributes you need to look for in a web development company.

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How to Use Visual Social Media to Boost Your Business

Social media is very powerful. It does not only connect people, it can also influence a person’s way of thinking. In some instances, it can even form or strengthen beliefs. This becomes especially true when you realize that most of social media today is in the form of photos or videos.

For many, visual posts are more interesting and engaging. Compared to the usual text-based statuses and comments you see on any social network, photos and videos easily get the attention of users. The processing of information is quicker because what you’ll see are not words but images. And the minute you manage to get the attention of the user or audience, you are guaranteed to see an increase in your brand’s online presence. All thanks to some photos and videos you posted.

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Basic Guidelines for Hiring an Online Virtual Assistant

In the digital age we now live in, it seems that everything can be done online. The world has indeed become a smaller place, as it has become easier for people to keep in touch with one another via the Internet. Even business owners have found a way to delegate some aspects of their operations without having to hire an in-house executive assistant or secretary. More and more business owners are now turning to an online virtual assistant for assistance with non-core tasks that are necessary to keep the business going, such as bookkeeping, correspondence, scheduling, and other administrative tasks.

Among the most important advantages of having a virtual assistant is the fact that you’re free to focus on the core aspects of your business. If you are selling tangible products, then you can focus on ensuring product quality and on finding effective ways to market your products, since you already have a reliable individual handling administrative tasks on your behalf. Another huge benefit of hiring a VA is that it doesn’t cost as much as hiring an in-house assistant. You only need to take care of the VA’s professional fee; you won’t have to spend on office space, equipment, and materials. Continue reading

When Is It Time to Acquire the Help of an SEO Company?

There is no denying the fact that the demand for SEO services has increased dramatically over the years; and with it, the number of SEO companies offering their services has also grown exponentially. Almost every country around the world has several SEO firms that offer a wide range of SEO services, with the Philippines ranking high among the favorite destinations for services related to information technology, online marketing, website development and management, remote assistance, and of course, SEO.

However, just because almost every company you know outsource SEO processes to the Philippines, or any other offshore firm, doesn’t mean your business needs SEO services Philippines to help reach more clientele and improve sales. You need to carefully assess whether or not your company needs the help of an SEO firm. This will help avoid any unnecessary expenditure. Continue reading