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5 ways to improve your online sales strategy

Online sales are increasingly important in today’s economy, from mittens to Mercedes, so hear what one expert has to say about improving YOUR sales.

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online sales

online sales

Boost your online sales

Whether you’re selling boots or houses, your online sales strategy has room for improvement, even if you’re Nordstrom. Times change and consumers’ expectations shift, and keeping up is a challenge for everyone.

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We dug into the mind of Steve Weber, President and CEO of nChannel, the leading provider of multichannel management software that simplifies selling for retailers. He has over two decades of software industryexperience, and is a 13-year veteran in the retail space. He is the former VP of eMarketplace Outsourcing Services for Sterling Commerce, a division of IBM. More recently, he was named Microsoft Partner of the Year for Dynamics Retail and awarded Microsoft Retail Independent Software Vendor (ISV) of the year.

He offers unique insight into online sales, offering his top five tips in his own words below:

“For today’s retailers,” Weber notes, ” online sales aren’t what they used to be – it is imperative that sellers deliver a smart, intuitive process that engages customers and keeps them coming back for more.”

“Luckily, there are some simple improvements that can make a world of difference,” he adds. Below are his actionable tips you should pay close attention to.

1. Create an Endless Aisle

Give the impression that you carry infinite inventory, in other words, an “Endless Aisle.” Of course, no one literally carries infinite inventory, but with drop shipping (outsourcing fulfillment for some or all of your orders to your suppliers) implemented, it’s possible to avoid ever having a customer see that “out of stock” message. With an endless aisle the customer experience is improved on by way your inventory management and supply chain teams.

2. Show Real-Time Product Availability

Customers want product availability information instantly. Weekly, daily, or even hourly updates don’t offer enough accuracy. Being able to reflect inventory status in real-time improves the customer experience and keeps users informed every step of the way – helping to better manage expectations about product availability and timing.

3. Communicate About Orders

To keep customers happy (and wanting to shop with you again), give them accurate and up-to-date order information. This means centralizing order data across all systems. This empowers the support, sales, eCommerce, and store management teams to give customers accurate updates about their pending orders. It also allows for smooth handling of changes or cancellations, the ability to split orders for individual item fulfillment, and close tracking of order status. Customers want to know the details of how their order is progressing.

4. Merchandise Smarter

Make information about each product comprehensive and easily searchable. Helping customers navigate products with a variety of criteria ensures they can find what they need and you can more easily manage inventory. Multichannel management platforms, like the one nChannel delivers, can help retailers organize products by region, brand, season, promotion, etc. to simplify updates and merchandising. It can also perform bulk updates to help sellers manage pricing and promotions, as well as enable them to search keyproduct data more easily.

5. Treat B2B Customers Like Retail Customers

When you sell products to other business (wholesalers and manufacturers, for example), they should get the same experience as a shopper. B2B expect the same integrated, multichannel experience. Anticipate B2B-specific challenges, like credit account management, customer-specific pricing, and complex account management teams and be sure the right processes and technology are in place to properly support their needs.

The takeaway

Retailers and shoppers alike need their online shopping experience to be easy and efficient, so taking steps to lay a stronger foundation for your overall online sales strategy, will in-turn improve your online sales.

#OnlineSales

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

Business Marketing

Unsplash is the secret weapon for seekers, and creators of unique images

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It’s free, it’s great, it’s free, it’s a marketing multi-tool, and it’s FREE. Why aren’t you using Unsplash already? It has great exposure!

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I really can’t stand seeing the same thing over and over again.

Might be my slutty, slutty, non-brand-monogamous Milleniality showing, but I reeeeeeally feel like something’s wrong when I can’t tell two different companies (or WRITERS) apart because they’ve aped the same template, or bought the same cheap font, or used the same stock photos.

He’s a cutie, but I can only see that surprised toddler in the pink shirt and gray vest so many times. And I guarantee at least 85% of people reading this know exactly which baby I’m talking about, hence the issue I’m having.

That’s where Unsplash has been my friend.

I was introduced to the image search engine in my last job: hundreds of thousands of hi-res images for 100% free, which yeah, was just my boss saving money on subscriptions to pay for our office snacks. But I was pleasantly surprised by the cool stuff I could find!

How it works is; well first, pretend you’re a photographer. One amongst many. And you specialize in, say, bomb ass macrophotography. Except the people who need your services A: Don’t know the difference between your specialty and someone who can use the zoom button, and thus B: Aren’t finding your portfolio because they don’t even know what they’re looking for.

If you’re willing to let people use some of your photos, you can host images on Unsplash, tag them with keywords, and ideally get some subtext or alt-text credit.

It’s not like a paying gig, it’s more like passing out fliers to super warm leads.

Now pretend you’re writing for a nature blog. Justifiable crackdowns on unpaid intellectual property mean that when your client says ‘Just pull some stuff from Google, it’s whatever’, you’re not actually going to do that. But there’s no budget for a subscription to anything, so what now?

You check out Unsplash is what. Then you find that macrophotographer’s amazing pictures of leaves and such, and bookmarking their gallery gives you a way to harmonize all the preview images you use for the ‘5 Most Ominous Things I’ve Found in the Austin Greenbelt’ article you’re working on with everything else on the site.

As a master manipulator of text/feelings myself, I’m also really into the fact that since anyone with a camera, anywhere in the world can host their images, I’ve got a lot of diversity in styles, locations, and of course human subjects. I really enjoyed that I could look up ‘CEO’ and find a Vietnamese woman and a Canadian man sharing the first page and probably a complicated relationship with France as a concept.

And I noticed something else.

Quite a few of these images were branded! As in Harley Davidson, Boxed Water, and more have Unsplash accounts, with their products on display to be used whenever people look up words like ‘freedom’ and ‘quirky’ and ‘hydrate’.

You literally can hire a photographer to take pictures of people in various situations wearing your brand of pillbox hats, and get photos of your product placed any and everywhere!

Now of course there are a few wee drawbacks.

Credit isn’t guaranteed, so whether you’re a brand or a photographer, you may not have your name on your work when it’s displayed, especially on preview images.

You also won’t be notified as to WHERE your photos are being used, so if your properly gloved and be-pillboxed gals end up photoshopped with digital Sharpie mustaches and used in an anti-fancy fashion postpunk op-ed, that’s out of your control.

On the searcher side, the AI is a little off as you scroll through. You might be distracted by photos of fighting racoons being auto-tagged as dogs hugging, and lose time laughing and taking screenshots, and then explaining why you’re posting to Tumblr during work hours.

Still worth it, by the way.

Ultimately Unsplash has been my ace-in-the-hole when it came to advancing the radical left agenda by viciously adding different ages, races, and settings to my last gig’s newsletters, and it’s another great resource for anyone in the ‘get/KEEP your name out there’ stage of business.

Hitch up your water wings, dive in, and make an un-splash!

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Business Marketing

Instagram’s false information flagging may accidentally shut down artists

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Instagram is doing its hardest to insure no false information gets released wide, but the net they cast may catch a lot of artists who manipulate images.

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technically a false image

Instagram’s new update is hiding faked images. The downside? Posts by digital artists are being swept up in this new flagging system. In December, Instagram announced the release of a false information warning in order to combat the spread of misinformation on the platform.

How does this work? Content that is rated as partly false or false by a third-party fact-checker is removed from Instagram’s Explore option and matching hashtag pages. Additionally, the image will receive a label to warn viewers about its credibility with a link back to the fact-checker and further sources that debunk the visual claims in the image. These labels can be seen on profiles, feeds, DMs, and stories. Identical content from Facebook will be automatically labelled if posted to Instagram.

Digital artists are feeling the effects of Instagram’s update as digitally-altered images for the sake of artistic expression are being slapped with the misinformation label. The good news, however, is that not all photoshopped images are in danger—only the pictures that have gone viral attached to false information and identified as such.

So if an artist manipulates an image, releases it, then someone else decides to use the altered image to spread misinformation, the artists image could be labeled as misinformation and will be hidden from the Explore and hashtag pages. The artist pays the price for someone else spreading false information.

While a label will save a viewer from questioning a post, digital artists, whose careers depend upon visibility and the spread of the work are likely to feel the effects—whether it be scroll-frenzied viewers passing their work by, deterred by the label barring the post from a quick look, or even worse, the artists having their own credibility called into question.

With only a couple of weeks into the new year, it’s yet to be seen how other digital art may (or may not) be caught up in Instagram’s well-meaning update.

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Business Marketing

How becoming better listeners eliminates our culture’s growing isolation

(BUSINESS MARKETING) We have all be frustrated by someone who doesn’t listen to us; so why not make sure that you are taking the steps to not be them, and be better listeners.

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good listeners breed good listeners

We all want the same thing: to be heard. In this digital age, we’ve created an endless stream of cries for attention via comment sections, forums, and social media feeds—shares, retweets, tags, videos, articles, and photos. Worse, our words echo in our digital bubbles or specific communities, doing nothing but making us lonely and isolated. However, in the midst of a divided political climate, we can all stand to strengthen our ability to listen.

Me? A bad listener? What are you trying to say? I got enough flaws to worry about and don’t wanna hear about another skill to improve. Oh, the irony.

“Bad listeners are not necessarily bad people,” assures Kate Murphy in her new book You’re Not Listening. “Anyone can get good at it. The more people you talk to, the better your gut instinct. You’re able to pick up those little cues. Without them, you’re not going to get the full context and nuance of the conversation,” she says in an interview with The Guardian’s Stephen Moss.

Our bad listening aside, we can all remember a time when we weren’t treated with the attention we craved. Moments where you’d do anything for the person you’re conversing with to give a sign of understanding—of empathy—to validate our feelings, to acknowledge the vulnerable piece of ourselves we’ve entrusted to them is cared for. Nothing is worse when we’re met with blank expressions and dismissive gestures or words. These interactions make us feel small and lonely. And the damage can stay with us.

So what can we do to ensure we’re the listeners we’ve always wanted from others? Being a good listener does take time, energy, and tons of practice. There are easy tips to keep in mind:

1. Show you care by making eye contact and putting away your phone.
2. Patience. Everyone opens up on their time.
3. Ask open-ended questions. Yes/no responses inhibit the flow of conversation.
4. Repeat what you’ve heard. This clarifies any misunderstanding and validates the speaker.
5. Give space. Let the conversation breathe—silent pauses are healthy.

By becoming better listeners, we show care. We become curious about and empathetic towards others, leaving our bubbles—we become a little less lonely.

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