Previous Merchant NewsletterE-commerce Merchant Newsletter Vol. 19 - Fall 2011Next Merchant Newsletter

Make and Keep Customers

In a previous newsletter, we discussed how to draw customers to your store through good SEO, email marketing and advertisements. Now we would like to discuss how to make and keep customers as you prepare for the upcoming holidays.

One of the very best ways to get customers is through customer satisfaction. A satisfied customer is likely to return to you the next time they need something, and they are also likely to refer others to your site. Customer satisfaction starts with service. By making it easy for potential customers to find and learn about your products, and by creating an environment of trust, you're more likely to get people to buy from you. After the sale provide, be sure to provide prompt, accurate, and courteous service in your correspondence and order fulfillment. A customer who feels like you value their opinions, feedback, and patronage is much more likely to come back.

ShopSite will automatically send an order confirmation e-mail to your customers. You should also let your customers know when an order ships, and it never hurts to follow up after the expected delivery date to make sure the customer received the order and is satisfied.

In addition to basic customer satisfaction, ShopSite Pro's customer registration feature makes it easy to create loyalty programs to keep your customers coming back. Customer registration also provides other convenient tools for frequent customers, such as editing payment information or ship to addresses, and viewing previous orders. You can manage customer registration by going to the Commerce Setup section of your back office and clicking on Customer Registration. From there, you can create customer groups and associate specific coupons to different groups, or you can even create reward programs that are tracked over multiple orders for registered customers.

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Improving Your Store for the Holidays

The holidays may still be a few months away, but we feel it is never too early to begin preparing for them. No matter how long you have been in business or how successful your online store has been, there is always room for improvement. Over time, you will learn what works well and what doesn't, and you can make little changes as you work to improve your site.

Using Google Analytics
ShopSite has a variety of tools to help you discover what is working and what is not. One of the easiest ways to track what's happening on your site is by enabling Google Analytics for your Manager or Pro store. Google Analytics can help you learn how customers are coming to your site (search engine, other site, etc.), what they are looking at, and how long they stay at your site. ShopSite also sends some anonymous purchase information to Google Analytics so you can compare the activity of visitors who place orders with those who don't.

Using ShopSite Sales and Search Reports
ShopSite also has built-in reports to let you quickly see visitor and order trends on your site. You can also view search logs to see what visitors are searching for and whether or not they are finding it. When you know the habits of your visitors, you can adjust your store to better serve them. For example, you may learn that most of your orders come between 1PM and 5PM on weekdays. You could then plan your schedule so you and your store are ready to process orders during this time. The reports can also help you know if you need to make some products easier to find, if your navigation system is too complex, or if you need to fine-tune your keywords for specific products.

Offering a Customer Feedback Form
Reports are helpful, but they do not tell you everything your customers are thinking. You may want to consider providing a feedback form or inviting customers to participate in a survey to help you learn more about what you can improve on your site.

Keeping Track of the Economy and Customer Trends
News sources can help you keep track of economic trends and relevant industry events that might impact your customers. Offering discounts or lower prices when customers are not spending a lot of money helps keep sales up. If you know a product is likely to have higher than normal demand, you can make sure you have plenty of inventory, competitive pricing, and that your customers know you have what they are looking for through advertising.

Updating the Look and Feel
Keep your site looking inviting and fresh. Visitors will notice if your site looks like it has not been updated for a long time. It is not hard to set up a rotation of seasonal sale items in prominent places throughout your site using global cross sell, or even add appropriate accents or colors for special occasions. In addition, Web site fashion changes almost as often as fashions in clothing, and you may want to plan on updating the look of your site every couple of years. When you do update the look of your site, it is a good idea to balance change with consistency. For example, you may want to change the overall image of your site without changing the way the navigation menu works, or you might keep the same colors on your site while you update the look.

Maintaining Customer Satisfaction
Above all else, keep in mind that it is the products that make the store, but the customers who make the purchases. Keeping the needs of your customers the top priority is the most important key to success as a merchant, online or anywhere else. As you create, maintain, and update your ShopSite store, make customer satisfaction your number one goal!

We suggest checking the previous holiday newsletters for more tips:

Merchant Holiday Newsletter 2010
Merchant Holiday Newsletter 2009
Merchant Holiday Newsletter 2008
Merchant Holiday Newsletter 2007
Merchant Holiday Newsletter 2006
Merchant Holiday Newsletter 2005

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Merchant Tip

Question: In addition to the articles above, what else can I do to improve my site?

Answer: Probably the biggest thing would be to make sure that your website has accurate, easy to find contact information. We cannot tell you how many times customers will call ShopSite looking for guitar picks, electronics, and other such products because ours was the only contact information they were able to find. Those customers quickly become discouraged if we do not have the merchant's contact information. They may end up finding another store to meet their needs.

Another common scenario is customers who have ordered a product and it either has not arrived or they have questions about it, but again they cannot reach the merchant. Those customers often end up cancelling/disputing the charge because they cannot find the answers they need.

Because of the above situations, we urge every merchant to list a valid phone number and/or email addresses on your website either under a "Contact Us" link or in the header/footer fields so that sales can be not only made, but occasionally saved.

The Support Queue

Question: Does ShopSite support the new Google Product Search requirements which were announced for late September 2011?

Answer: In the current version of ShopSite, all new fields—except the new Shoe and Apparel variation info—can be included in the feed via the Extra Product Fields; and unless you are selling shoes, apparel, books, music, movies, or video games, the only new required field not already provided in ShopSite v11 will be 'availability'. There is an additional attribute  called 'google_product_category' (also set up using Extra Product Fields) needed for the books, music, movies, and video games. It should contain the text of the taxonomy path for the category which you can get from this Google Page:

http://www.google.com/support/merchants/bin/answer.py?answer=160081

Please note: ShopSite is aware of the requirements Google announced for September. Our next release will support the new required fields. The new requirements for Shoes and Apparel variations will be handled through Ordering Options in the next version of ShopSite. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or the technical bulletin if you would like to know when the new release is available.

Designer Tip

Question: How can I setup my products to display in a table structure where customers can add multiple products to the cart with one button?

Answer: In a typical product template there is an add to cart form that includes all the required information to add that single product to the cart.  Most of the form is generic information such as the cart URL, the store ID and the add function; only a few lines of code are specific to the product.

To create a multi-add-to-cart template you remove the generic form fields from the product template and add them to the page template above where you loop the products.  You would also remove the closing form tag from the product template and place it in the page template just below where you loop the products. The last thing that you take out of the product template and move to the page template within your form tags is the add to cart button input field.  You should be left with a product template that only has the input fields for that product's itemnum, and (optionally) the quantity input box and ordering options pull down menus.  Change the input for the itemnum in the product template from a hidden field to a checkbox.  Now you can format your product how you would like it to appear on your page.

The last thing you will want to do before testing will be to force your page template to use the matching product template.  You do this by adding your product template name into the [-- PRODUCT --] tag in the page template.  If your product template is called "CustomProduct-Multi" then in your page template you would have [-- PRODUCT CustomProduct-Multi --].  Now you can assign some products to your multi-add-to-cart page (using your custom multi-add-to-cart page template) and test this functionality.  An example of a multi-add-to-cart page template and multi-add-to-cart product template can be found at the following URL:

http://www.shopsite.com/templates/cookbook/tips-multiaddtocart-page.shtml

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Industry Articles

Creating Urgency on the Shopping Cart Page
"We know that a portion of you customers will abandon because they are simply not ready to purchase right away – perhaps they want to comparison shop, they need to discuss with a spouse, they are waiting for a paycheck or just a rainy day. The comparison shoppers and “rainy days” are the ones you want to win over with urgency."

What Your Customer Service Email Says About Your Business
"Shoppers have come to expect the human touch almost as much online as they do when they visit a store in person at their local mall. Given this expectation, let’s discuss how you can optimize customer service emails to create a stronger relationship with your customers."

9 Pointers for Selling Common Products
"Five or ten years ago you might have been one of the only kids on the E-commerce block selling automotive tools, pool supplies, specialty fabrics, or a myriad of other niche products. But competition has increased and the "big-box" retailers continue to extend their online reach. How can you fight the drive toward commoditization? As your product line becomes more common, what can you do to differentiate your business? Here are nine ideas to help."

Recent ShopSite Blog Articles

The following articles were recently added to the ShopSite Blog:

Why Use Facebook Connect?
"Users with Facebook accounts can use Facebook Connect on many sites as an alternative to the site’s normal sign-in method.  In the case of ShopSite Pro v11, shoppers can use Facebook Connect to create their Customer Registration account and sign in to Customer Registration instead of ShopSite’s default Customer Registration sign-up and sign-in processes."

New ShopSite Login
"In version 11, ShopSite began offering a new login mechanism.  In all previous versions of ShopSite, the login mechanism was provided by the web server. Using the web server had several advantages.  First, ShopSite did not need to develop a new login procedure since all web servers provided a login mechanism.  Second, because web server login is well known to web masters, if a merchant forgot their password, the server admin could easily create a new password for them.  And finally, sophisticated hosts could modify the web server login to integrate with logins for other systems thereby giving users a single login (or single sign-on) for ShopSite, their hosting account, and other services."

Configure Google Analytics in ShopSite
"Last time, I covered why ShopSite made the switch to use Google Analytics for Traffic Reports.  This time, I’ll cover setting up Google Analytics within ShopSite"

Recent Knowledgebase Articles

The following articles were recently added to the support knowledgebase:

v11 r1 maintenance release fixes some problems with v11

Beginning about 12 April 2011: shopping cart error message "UPS OnLine Tool unavailable"

Blank page in ShopSite Setup Wizard or in Preferences > Themes (Internet Explorer 9)

April 2011 email from Google Product Search regarding new requirements for data feeds (unique identifiers, tax, shipping)

March 2011 email from Google Product Search regarding deprecation of the Google Base API

Current Version of ShopSite

Latest Releases:

To upgrade your ShopSite store, contact your authorized reseller hosting partner.

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