IMA Educational Sessions Announced for August’s ASD Show

The IMA will once again be providing a lineup of educational sessions for ecommerce sellers at the ASD show in Las Vegas. The show, which is being held from August 4th – August 7th at the Las Vegas Convention Center is a terrifice sourcing opportunity for many ecommerce sellers as well as providing much needed (free) quality education.

ASD and IMA have a full two days of educational sessions prepared. All IMA classes will be held in the North Hall – room N245. Here is the lineup from the IMA speakers:

Monday, August 5

9:00AM: – Branding YOU. Get Out of the Shadows and Build Your Own Brand presented by: Mike Effle, CEO of Vendio
10:30AM – How to Deliver, Delight and Profit Using Mobile eCommerce presented by: Liam Supple, SingleFeed
12:00PM – Effective eCommerce: Understanding and Controlling Your REAL Inventory Costs presented by: Mike Effle, CEO of Vendio
1:30PM – Growing Pains: Is It Time to Build a New Web Site? presented by: Rick Wilson, President of Miva
3:00PM – ABC’s of Product Search. The Ultimate Powersellers Guide to Google Shopping presented by: Liam Supple, SingleFeed

Tuesday, August 6

9:00AM – So You Want To Be an eCommerce Seller? 10 Things You Need To Know Before You Start presented by: Rick Wilson, President of Miva
10:30AM – TBA presented by:Kabbage, Inc
12:00PM – 4 Keys to Great Content for Your eCommerce Business presented by: ,Christina Zila, Director of Communications at Textbroker International
1:30PM – TBA presented by: Kabbage, Inc

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We look forward to see many of our IMA members (and ASD attendees) at the classes!

Five Ways Customers Can Find You

Building your brand online and offline

When we are an ecommerce business, we tend to think of being found online only. Fortunately for us, there are other ways that customers might find out about our business and help us grow! See how your business rates on each – and which ones you can improve on.

ONLINE

Well of course this is probably the number one way that customers might find us. How does your ecommerce business rate for each of these:

  • SEO – Also known as search engine optimization – it’s the process of getting your web site found by the search engines. Take a few of your business keywords and plug them into the search engine. Are you on page 1 or page 21? If  you are not on page 1, chances are you are not being found by most people.
  • PAID SEARCH – On Google, the ads you see on the very top and on the right of the results page are paid advertisements. Most small businesses find they burn through a ton of cash before they figure out what makes sense for their business. Many businesses (with a strong web site and strong SEO efforts) may even find they don’t need to advertise on the search engines. Find out what works for your business.
  • LOCAL RESULTS – All of the major search engines place a lot of emphasis on providing relevant local results. Even if you don’t have a storefront, you may find that it is very valuable to get your business address into the search engines. This is particularly true for niche markets where there is not as much competition.
  • SOCIAL MEDIA – Sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest can help people find your business. The secret is finding out which one works the best for your particular niche and brand. It’s smart to try a few and figure out which sites give you the best ROI. Not every business is going to do well on Facebook!

COMMUNITY

Are you active in your local community? Do you sponsor any local club or events? Do you belong to any local organizations such as your town’s Chamber of Commerce? These are all ways to help promote your business and get the word out about you. Consider sponsoring a little league team or high school football band. They are all looking for sponsors and often will have print programs and/or banners that will get your business name some exposure.

TRADITIONAL ADVERTISING

Offline advertising can be very effective even for online only businesses. Consider traditional media such as yellow pages, directories, radio and TV. Does your product line lend itself to a catalog format? Building a mailing list for catalogs can be another means of promotion and sales. Of course with a web site, you should have an email marketing campaign for little or no cost but supplementing it with a traditional mail campaign might work for your business as well.

PHYSICAL LOCATION

Maybe you also have a storefront – so of course you have another means to promote your online business. But those ecommerce business that have a warehouse can also use outdoor signage to be visible to those that pass by your location. How about company vehicles? Use bumper stickers or vehicle wraps to promote your products and web site.

BRAND

Last, but definitely not least is your brand. Do you have your own packaging with your logo and tagline? Do you mark the outside of your packages with your website and logo? Consider all the ways you can build brand awareness with your packages, signage, banners and more. Don’t forget to include business cards with your logo and contact information – they help build your brand for very little effort and money! QR codes that lead visitors to your web site (or even a special page with a discount) can be very effective for building brand recognition and sales.

So how did your e-commerce business rank?

What does extreme networking look like?



At last week’s ASD trade show in Las Vegas, our partner Vendio hosted a night of ‘extreme networking’ in the IMA’s hospitality suite. Even without the fine selection of gourmet cheeses and generous supply of wine, this night would qualify as a major success for anyone in e-commerce. Over 100 people came through our hospitality suite doors that evening armed with business cards and a willingness to mingle.

One of the most popular questions that was asked was ‘So where do you sell online?” and usually followed up with “What do you sell?” When the ecommerce merchants weren’t chatting with their fellow sellers, they were seeking out the advice of service providers like Alibaba, Vendio, SingleFeed, M-Shopper and TextBroker.

Do you want to be a part of our next networking event in Las Vegas? Head over to the IMA website and click on ‘Join Us’. It’s FREE to join the IMA as an ecommerce seller! Be sure to also check out our newly launched Facebook Group where there is a ton of great information shared every day. And get ready to join us in Las Vegas during the next ASD show when we will again be getting together with our members and business partners for another extreme networking event.

Vendio to host a night of ‘Extreme Networking’ at ASD

Internet Merchants Association Hospitality Suite

Join us for an evening of wine, cheese and extreme networking at Bally’s in Las Vegas (suite number to be announced at the IMA educational seminars to be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, South Hall Rm #S225) on Monday, March 18th, 2013 from 7:00pm to 10:00pm.

What is ‘Extreme Networking’? IMA members love to attend the ASD show so they can do just that – network with other ecommerce sellers and service providers. Some IMA members will tell you that the knowledge they receive from networking at our hospitality suite is worth the trip out to Las Vegas every year! Better yet – we suggest you come up and ask them yourself!

This year, our Monday night hospitality suite is sponsored by Vendio, a long-time partner of the IMA. Vendio would love to welcome you to the hospitality suite on Monday, March 18th. Stop by the educational seminars hosted by the IMA at the Las Vegas Convention Center during the day on Monday (South Hall, Room S225) to find out the suite number. We hope to see you there!

Vendio

IMA Announces Educational Sessions at ASD for March, 2013

IMA has lined up some great speakers for attendees of the ASD trade show for March 18-19, 2013. As always, our speakers will be providing educational classes for both ecommmerce newbies and advanced sellers. If you are an ecommerce seller, this is a great trade show to source new product and learn about the latest in ecommerce! Here’s the current lineup:

Monday, March 18, 2013
9:00 – 10:00
Mike Effle, CEO Vendio

Online Triple Threat: Selling on Amazon, eBay and Your Web Site

Selling to customers online can be compared to having multiple store locations in the offline world. If you are selling on one online venue, it’s probably time you considered diversifying. Just as with brick and mortar businesses, your online business can grow exponentially the more locations you have. Mike Effle, CEO at Vendio, will help you discover the most effective ways to use eBay, Amazon and your own web site to boost your online sales.

Join Mike, a long time industry veteran as he guides you in developing a strong online marketing strategy that will make your online presence known and your sales soar.

Monday, March 18, 2013
10:30 – 11:30
Liam Supple, Product Marketing, SingleFeed

Google Shopping – Get the 800 Pound Gorilla On Your Side

Using Google Shopping may be the best way to get your products noticed. With so many changes to the comparison shopping search landscape, Liam Supple of SingleFeed will show you some expert techniques for getting your products indexed into Google Shopping for the maximum impact.

Getting your products found on the internet is tough! If you are ready to submit your product listings to Google Shopping, then you owe it to yourself to attend this session with Liam Supple of SingleFeed.

Monday, March 18, 2013
12:00 – 1:00
Harry Hirschman, VP of Marketing and Business Development, Vendio

Mobile Commerce and “Showrooming”: Win Business From The Big Box Stores

The reality of competing against Big Box Stores is that there are some things you will never beat them on but there are just as many strategies that you can implement where you can have the upper hand!

Join Harry Hirschman, Vice-President of Marketing and Business Development for Vendio as he discusses the ‘Showrooming’ phenomena and how you can win business from the Big Box stores. Harry will help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of the Big Box Retailers and what you can do as a small to medium sized business to up your game.

Monday, March 18, 2013
1:30 – 2:30
Marc Gorlin, Co-founder & Chairman, Kabbage

Funding Your Expanding Ecommerce Business – Case Studies

Raising funds is something most businesses don’t like to do. Sometimes it’s because the lending landscape has changed and it appears difficult – if not impossible – to raise capital and sometimes the reason is that small businesses don’t believe they should be raising funds at all.

Marc Gorlin, the co-founder and Chairman of Kabbage will present some case studies of growing businesses and how and why they raised the capital to fund the expansion of their businesses.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013
9:00 – 10:00
Rick Wilson, President/COO, Miva Merchant

Devour Your Competition: Building the Best Web Site

Building a web site is easy; building a GREAT web site that has all the features that customers like takes some skill and knowledge. Even if you think your web site already has it all, Rick Wilson, President of Miva Merchant has some ideas and suggestions for creating the kind of web site that customers have to come to expect in ecommerce shopping – and the kind of web site that will help you devour your competition.

We love knowing that customers are visiting our ecommerce site, but how do we turn a browser into a buyer? For most ecommerce web sites, less than 4% of all visitors actually make a purchase. So how can you increase your sales conversion rate when the odds are against you? With over 13 years in ecommerce, Rick has the expertise to help guide you – and your buyers – in the right direction.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013
10:30 – 11:30
Liam Supple, Product Marketing, SingleFeed

Comparison Shopping Engines 101: Getting Your Products Found

Maybe you’ve heard about comparison shopping engines and want to learn more. Perhaps you’ve never even considered them for your ecommerce web site. In either case, this is the session for you to attend to learn the basics of comparison shopping engines.

In this beginner to intermediate level class, SingleFeeds’ Liam Supple will give you the knowledge you need, teach you the ins and outs of comparison shopping engines and show you some expert techniques to getting your product indexed on the comparison shopping engines.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013
12:00 – 1:00
Rick Wilson, President/COO, Miva Merchant

The Rise of Tablets – How Responsive Web Design Is In Your Future

Your web site needs to be accessible and usable for everyone even as the number of devices, platforms and browsers that are used to access it continue to expand every day. Incorporating a responsive web design represents a fundamental shift in how web sites are built now – and into the future.

Join Rick Wilson, President of Miva Merchant as he discusses the explosive growth in tablets and how you need to be making changes to your site now along with things you need to consider as you redesign your ecommerce web site in the future.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013
1:30 – 2:30
Marc Gorlin, Co-founder & Chairman, Kabbage

Personal Credit vs Business Credit – What’s the right type to grow my business?

Many small businesses rely on their own credit to fund their business. But when is it prudent to consider a business loan? And what are the differences between business credit and personal credit? Most businesses find that it’s important to maintain a business credit profile that is distinctly separate from your personal credit profile.
Building separation between the two can help your business develop the credibility that matters to banks, suppliers, and other creditors.

Join Marc Gorlin, co-founder of Kabbage as he discusses the differences between the two so you can decide which one is right for you.

3 tips to encourage social sharing on your ecommerce site

social media for ecommerce sellers

Social media is an ideal way to boost brand recognition, identify issues, share your wares, and above all – connect with your customers. So what is the best way to delve into social media for ecommerce? Check out our top 3 steps right here:

1- Create pages and identities on the social media sites Sounds like a simple instruction but this is where the biggest decision has to be made. Is Facebook the place for your customers? Or is Twitter where they can be found? Don’t forget LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+.

If you are in a narrow market, figure out what niche sites exist that cater to your customers – you might be surprised to find that the smaller niche sites may be a better place for you to invest your efforts.

You can’t be on every social media site, so do your homework first and see what sites you need to be on. Don’t be afraid to register on all the major sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+), if only to reserve your name – and to keep others from using it.

2 – Use social sharing buttons on your ecommerce web site From your home page to the product pages, every individual page on your site should have social sharing buttons so that customers and potential customers can share your site with others. Make it easy for them! If your shopping cart software has buttons already configured, be sure that they work properly – many times the hardcoded buttons simply create a new page on a social site (like Facebook, for example) but they don’t post anything on anyone’s timeline which is where you want to be!

Pick and choose which buttons you want to appear on your product pages based on which social media sites you are active on. Showing 15-20 (or more!) social buttons just clutters up the page and may deter someone from sharing easily.

Don’t forget – liking (or following) a business is different than liking (or following) a product on a product page. On your home page, ask people to like or follow you so that your future posts or tweets are visible to them. Be sure that the correctly coded button is available to make it easy for them to like (or follow) you.

3 – Set aside time every day for social media tasks For many ecommerce sellers, this is the hardest step to beginning. Even if you only spend 15 minutes a day monitoring, posting and sharing content, that will give you a presence on social media sites. If you have staff that can do this for you, even better! Just be sure to set the guidelines about posting like what is appropriate messaging and what is not and how much time you want them to spend on the different sites.

If you maintain more than one identity or are active on more than one social media site, you might want to take a look at some of the social media software that is available to increase productivity and monitor results. Software such as Hootsuite can be had for free for up to 5 identities. Of course, their paid version is far more robust but if you are just starting out, their free version might be all you need for now.

What people buy online

ecommerce salesAccording to data from the US Census Bureau, more than 74% of electronics are purchase online, followed closely by 74% of music and videos. Surprisingly, furniture, which many ecommerce sellers shy away from selling for logistic reasons is in 3rd place (65%) with the massive clothing category right behind furniture. What categories could you be expanding into to take advantage of the enormous growth in ecommerce?

Product Sourcing Ideas – Dropshipping

When you are beginning your ecommerce business, one of the first hurdles is deciding on what you will sell.

There are a variety of places and means to source product – you need to decide which one will work best for you and your business. Today’s blog post will address a low cost way to enter the market: dropshipping

Sometimes this is the easiest and lowest risk way of getting into an ecommerce business. Simply put, drop shipping is the process of listing merchandise for sale that is owned and warehoused by a third party. Once you sell the merchandise, you notify the drop-shipper who will ship out the product to your customer for you. Sounds easy, right? The secret here is finding a RELIABLE and TRUSTWORTHY source with a product line that is IN DEMAND.

Most legitimate drop shippers will not require a minimum purchase or charge a monthly fee, but there are exceptions to even that rule. Do your homework – research potential drop shippers by entering the dropshipper’s name into a search engine and add the words “complaints” “sucks” “reviews”. Also research what the fees are and figure out if there is a market for their products and what the going rate is. Take a look at private web sites, ebay and Amazon to start. Figure out if it is worth it to sell their products after you factor in the fees that each marketplace charges, the fees from the dropshipper and the cost of the merchandise.

Next up: distributors

An ecommerce home based reality check

So you want to sell on the internet and you want it to be a home based business. What do you do first?

We will be beginning a series of blog posts on starting a home based ecommerce business just to provide some information to newbie ecommerce sellers that need some basic information and guidance.

As always, you are welcome to join the Internet Merchants Association where you can network with others that have been in your shoes.

In our first blog post, we will be addressing product sourcing. Do you have any requests for things you’d like to see us cover in a future blog post? Leave a comment below and we’ll see if we can accommodate your request.

One feature that nearly every web site should have

Do you own an ecommerce website? Great! Next question: do you have a mailing list?

If the answer is ‘no’, you are probably leaving a lot of money on the table.

Keeping in touch with your potential customers, past customers and general web site visitors is one of the easiest and most cost effective methods of increasing your website sales. You simply must have the ability to collect the email addresses of both buyers and browsers alike. Most current web sites should have this functionality built in or it could be added by the use of widgets from some of the larger email marketing companies that will do everything from collecting email addresses for you to running your email marketing campaigns.

Collecting buyers email addresses is really a ‘no-brainer’ for most web businesses. The main thing to remember is that visitors have to opt-in to get on your mailing list. Just because they made a purchase from you – that does not give you permission to add them to your future email campaigns.

Once you get the email addresses – then what? Follow some of the suggestions and ideas from the larger email marketing companies like Constant Contact or Mail Chimp and you will have some great basic email marketing ideas to start.