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How to Start an Online Site for Your Retail Store

Whether you already own a brick and mortar store, or just want to focus your retail efforts online, creating a website is an important step to growing your business. With over half of Americans preferring to shop online, not creating a user-friendly e-commerce site is not a smart decision. Read on for steps on starting an online site for your retail store.

Choose a Website Name

The first step to creating a retail store is choosing a website name. Ideally, you want the name to be the same as your actual business name. If you are just starting a business, consider including relevant keywords into your domain name to make your site come up in Google search rankings. 

Check GoDaddy to verify if your first choice for domain names is available; the site can also recommend domain names for you based on keywords you input into the search field. If available, choose a .com address as that’s the most common and easiest to remember. Although this is not officially stated anywhere, Google doesn’t prefer .biz or .info extensions because a majority of those websites are considered to be spam. Purchase a domain name through your web hosting provider or a different domain name service.

Pick a Hosting Solution

In order for your website to be found online, you need to choose a web hosting platform that will store your site on its server. There is a multitude of web hosts to choose from, both free and paid. Paid web hosts typically provide more options and services that can benefit your site in the longer, such as:

  • Storage: While free web hosting solutions offer up to 10GB of free storage, a paid service can give you unlimited storage space. Images and videos can take up a lot of space, causing you to run out of storage quickly.
  • Domain Name: If you want a custom domain name, you will need to pay for your web host because free options mostly include their own site in your domain name, such as www.wix.com/yournamehere
  • Ads: Free web hosts often make their money by advertising on your site; if you would rather control what ads (if any) you run, you will need to pay a premium fee.
  • Support: It’s very difficult to get support for free web hosting solutions, while paid ones will usually provide a phone number or chat options to a specialist who can help you 24/7.

Consider Wix, WordPress, HostGator or FatCow for inexpensive options for your ecommerce website.

Hire a Web Designer

While many web hosts allow novices to build websites from scratch using pre-designed formats and add-ons, it is always best to hire a professional web designer who will create an easy-to-use, functioning and unique website that will look and feel professional.

Concentrate on Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

According to Entrepreneur, SEO is the third vital step to online business success after offering good products and creating a great site. Optimizing your website with keywords that online users can search for to lead them to your site is imperative to gain traffic. 

Utilize Google’s Keyword planner to enter terms relevant to your brand. This free tool will suggest other terms, as well as provide information about competition and search results for each keyword. Once you have this information, you can include the keywords in your website content, blogs, press releases and image tags.

Starting a retail website usually requires an initial investment for website design, SEO and advertising. If you need financial help to grow your business, turn to IOU Financial. We can provide a small business loan of up to $300,000 in 24-48 hours.

 

How to Boost Your Online Reputation in Three Easy Steps

While most e-commerce website owners worry about maintaining a positive online reputation, many brick-and-mortar companies that don’t sell goods online don’t think that is something they need to worry about. The truth is that way of thinking is false, and can seriously hurt their business. It can take a single negative bad review to diminish a brand’s credibility, which is why online reputation is important and needs to be monitored and managed on a consistent basis. How do you boost your online reputation? Start with the following three steps.

Monitor Your Online Reputation

The first step in boosting your online reputation is to know exactly what is being said about you online. Start by reading online reviews on your website and on review sites, such as Yelp and Citysearch. Review social media websites, like Facebook, especially if you have created business-specific pages or profiles, to see what your clients may be posting about you there.

It is advantageous to create a Google alert for your business name so that you can get current notifications right in your inbox anytime something is written about your company on the web.

Join the Conversation

To start boosting your online reputation and increasing brand loyalty, you must join in on the conversation about your brand. Start by responding to the reviews your clients leave, whether they are negative or positive.

Some business owners only respond to negative reviews, which is not a good business strategy. You want to thank the people that took the time to say something good about your business, and encourage them to do so more often. You can also use the space to follow up on their comments or suggestions by recommending a new product or service, thereby increasing sales.

When responding to negative reviews, be very careful. Even if they are untrue or extremely rude, you must remember to stay professional and on-point when representing your company. It’s best to thank the person for their opinion and explain that every single review is important to you, but correct something you don’t agree with in a calm and peaceful way.

When your clients will see that you’re actively involved and care about their opinions, they will feel valued and will remain your client for years to come.

Set Yourself Up as an Expert in Your Field

People want to buy from companies they trust, and the best way to establish trust with your clients is to set yourself up as an expert in your field. Put your knowledge to good use by becoming an educator for your customers in your marketplace.

If you own a hair salon, start a YouTube channel with advice on the best and most affordable hair management techniques. If you have a bodyshop, start a blog instructing people how to properly maintain their cars.

Whether your business is online or offline, you want your clients to see you as an authority in your space and the way to do that is by sharing your knowledge in an open forum, such as the internet.

There are many other more advanced strategies that can help boost your online reputation; however, many of them will require a financial investment. IOU Financial wants to help you grow your business with a loan of up to $300,000. Contact us to see how we can make it happen in 24 hours!

Why Your Website Isn’t Getting Traffic

If you have a functioning business website, you are on your way to connecting with customers and increasing your sales. The problem is that many business owners don’t realize that website management is not a single step, but a continuous process.

After the website is running, it is imperative that statistics are monitored to make sure that the website is getting sufficient traffic. If you see that there is a lack of traffic to your business site, there are some common problems with easy solutions that can jumpstart your traffic!

Common Problems and Solutions that Inhibit Website Traffic

Broken Links

The online world is constantly changing and evolving; for instance, you may stop selling certain products, rendering the links to those offerings invalid. You may also have linked to another site in your content that has since stopped being active, creating a broken link.

Broken links severely impede website traffic; one source states that “only 23% of users who came to 404 error page, make a second attempt to find the requested page, and the remaining 77% will leave the site forever!”

When Google’s bots peruse websites, they penalize those with broken links, leading your search rankings to suffer. To improve your website traffic, improve search engine visibility by removing 404 error and broken links from your site.

It would be very time consuming to click on every link on your site to make sure it’s working, which is why there are many online tools that can do the job for you. Try Dead Link Checker or Broken Link Checker to quickly and easily find and fix broken links.

Insufficient Content

Another reason that your website may be lacking in sufficient traffic is because no one knows it exists. You must lead online users to your site, and one of the most effective and affordable ways of doing so is with content.

Including product descriptions, website copy, articles, blogs and press releases on your website plays a big role in improving traffic. One survey found that sites that publish 16 or more new articles per month saw 3.5 times more traffic than sites than with 4 or less blogs per month.

Make sure that the content is relevant to your audience, and is informative and engaging. Include photos, diagrams and videos if possible to make your content more interesting to readers.

Poor SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a strategy that tells search engines, specifically Google, what words or phrases are relevant to your brand. By conducting a search on Google Adwords Keyword Planner, you can get detailed information about what relevant keywords online users are searching for, as well as how much competition each word has.

Once you have this data, you can include these keywords in your content, or base your content on the incorporation of these keywords. Ideally, you want to focus on keywords with the highest search rates and the lowest competition.

It may be beneficial to hire an experienced internet marketing professional or content writer to help increase your internet traffic. If you need help investing in this endeavour, IOU Financial can help by providing a small business loan of up to $300,000. Call us today to find out how you can become pre-approved and financed in 24 hours!

Sell Mobile: 5 Steps to Take Your Storefront Business Online

Running a storefront business is not the only way to reach your customers. With many customers choosing to shop online, expanding your sales channels to the internet, by way of website or other selling platforms can be a great way to boost revenue. For some business, knowing where to start is half the battle. In this post we will review the 5 steps you can take to get your storefront business online and making sales in no time! Lets get started.

 

  1. Get a website

In order to have an online business presence you will need an online platform to get your product out there. Consider starting a website to sell your items, market your products, and create a one stop online shop. For some businesses, the idea of starting a website is daunting. Starting out by selling on eBay, Amazon, or other platforms may be a simpler way to ease into the market. Another option is launching a simple e-commerce site featuring shopping cart, easy check out, and simple designs on platforms such as Shopify, Squarespace, Weebly, or Wix to name a few.

 

  1. Identify online price-points

Selling in store and online are vary different things. When selling online you have to factor in shipping costs, potential return costs, and packaging to send out orders. Start by identifying your price points, margins, profits, and possible losses and determine what the revenue would be if you sold an item in store versus online. Depending on your product you may be able to cut out excess costs by finding a distributor to ship your product or a facility to hold your product for quick shipping.

 

  1. Prepare Mock Ups

People need to know what your product looks like! Online shoppers first buy with their eyes. Start by taking some great images of your product and begin categorizing what it is you want to sell. Prepare a good variety of product mock-ups that you can use on social media sites, your website, Google Shopping, or other selling platforms.  Highlight the best features when showing customers what they will get when they make an order from your store.

 

  1. Start a web based campaign to sell

Unless your business has a long standing website already, getting found on the Internet may be tough when first starting out. That is where online marketing tools come in. Start a web based campaign to get the word out. Share on your social media accounts, create a Bing Business and Google Business page, and search for other listings where your customers may be shopping. You need to let the Internet know you are here!

 

  1. Build a contact list

You have customers coming in the doors so why not turn those into online shoppers? Start by collecting sign ups for every customer who comes in by offering discounts in exchange for their email address and contact information. You can then turn this list into your next email marketing campaign with new online store features, offers, upcoming sales, and discounts for ordering their next product online. Better yet, upgrade your point of sale technology to collect email addresses upon purchase, then you can send targeted messages based on what your customers purchased in store. All of this helps turn the on foot customer into a customer you can access any time of day!

 

Moving a store to an online platform may seem complicated or too tricky. The upside to working through a plan for preparing an online store can generate more sales and future growth. By implementing 5 strategies to moving a storefront into the online selling world, the task can be accomplished with less stress than going at it blindly. Calculate how much your business could generate in additional revenue through this new stream, and get the funds to make it happen! IOU Financial is able to offer your small business working capital, up to $150,000 in as little as 24 hours, so all you have to focus on is your products! Start working to expand to the internet and see what your store has “in store” for your customers.