Harnessing election momentum to better small businesses
Every four years, our nation has the chance to get a fresh start. Whether it be by voting in a new president with crisp ideas or by keeping a reinvigorated incumbent on for a second term, the opportunity is alive.
And with Election Day behind us, we must use that momentum and incorporate it into our daily work lives. There is always room for improvement, after all – at the government level as well as on the business level.
To make that positive change a reality, Practical Ecommerce, a long-running media outlet, offered up the following 10 tips to help keep a small business’s online store current, fresh and relevant. The editors there explained that many of their tips borrow from basic merchandising concepts and that others are simply common sense.
- Clean up the site weekly. Assign someone to go through the home page, category pages, shopping cart, any other parts of your store where content might be changeable. Clear our old promotions and seasonal content. Make sure there are no missing images. Look at customer product reviews to make sure postings are appropriate. Make sure you don’t have featured products that are out of stock.
- Feature new products. Consumers want new products. Make sure you launch new items, and then tell your visitors about them. Create categories that feature new items. Move new items to the top of your product listings. Write a blog post about them.
- Rotate your promotions. If you feature daily, weekly or seasonal specials, rotate them regularly. In my previous online jewelry stores, our “sale” pages were among the most trafficked. They were the first place many visitors went. If visitors see the same promotions week after week, they stop noticing them at all.
- Experiment with different navigation. When you set up your store, you probably did some level of testing on how people were interacting with your website. When is the last time you did that? Look at your analytics and see what paths people are following. If you have categories that are not drawing attention, but you want people there, then set up an easier path. Likewise, if people are not using a link, get rid of it and try a new one.
- Change your theme. With many modern shopping carts, it is easy to “reskin” your site with a different color theme or background. Give it try. It can give your entire store a new look without a lot of investment. Try a red and green theme at Christmas, and gold and brown one for the fall. Even putting some more theme-oriented images throughout the store will add some freshness.
- Be competitive. Pick your top five competitors and review their stores at least weekly. You may find one offering a 50-percent off sale, or a 2-for-1 deal on your best selling products. You may not decide to match the offer, but you should at least be aware of it and be prepared to modify your promotions or featured items.
- Be aware of design trends. Web design changes continually. It used to be that three columns of category images on your home page were standard. Top and left navigation was required. Not any more. For many retail sites, minimalist is in. White space is good. Huge rotating product banners are now common. Product videos are becoming mandatory in some retail segments. When you shop online, note the things you like and incorporate them in your wish list for your next redesign. Investigate the amazing capabilities of CSS3 and HTML5. Your site may look dated if you don’t keep up.
- Post fresh content. If you maintain a blog — or post to social media sites — add new content regularly. Make sure you monitor posts and communications from customers and prospects, and respond to them quickly.
- Maintain your inventory stock messaging. Nothing annoys me more than a store where the majority of items are “out of stock”. You may give a store the benefit of the doubt, but in most cases it's just being lazy. If you know items are going to be out of stock for more than a day or two, hide them.
- Do a complete redesign every three-to-five years. It should be more often in certain competitive and trendy industries. Design is trendy. If your website is more than five years old without a redesign, chances are your store looks pretty old, which affects visitors view of it.
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