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Twelve Tips to Making Sure your E-store is Web-Ready
If you have e-commere on your website, I'm encouraging you to get ready for the November/December sales cycle by following these 10 specific steps. By getting your website in tip-top shape, you'll be a helpful resource and you'll increase customer satisfaction, integrity in your process, and trust in your green business.
Tip #1) Install a SSL certificate.
Many shoppers are concerned about personal information being publicly accessible through the website, or being "phished". Make a secure connection using an external SSL certificate that you can then add to your website. Your hosting provider typically has suppliers where you can purchase the certificate. Upon installation, consider adding the "badge" for the certificate in your footer or sidebar.
Tip #2) Make sure you're listing up-to-date product inventory.
Do you have items that are out-of-stock? Unpublish or hide them if you can - you want to make sure that products that are immediately available are accessible to your browsing customer. Make sure pricing, description, weights and sizes are all correct.
Tip #3) Post photos, photos, photos.
The photos on your store should be clean, crisp, and well-detailed. Can your customer get a sense of what the product will feel like or look like? Put detail photos if possible, offer a zoom function, or offer multiple pictures of the same product, shot from different angles. Go with a professional photographer if at all possible. You want well-shot photos to highlight your product inventory.
Tip #4) Create a one-page checkout.
If you can consolidate your checkout process and make it easier or simpler for your client, do so. Consider reducing the number of steps or clicks that a customer must go through, and instead put everything important on one page, including shipping, billing, order instructions, and credit card information
Tip #5) Consider alternate checkout options.
Google Checkout, PayPal, and Amazon all offer checkout widgets where someone can use their existing account to check out from your store. Consider signing up for these options and offering a wider variety of checkout procedures -- a customer can choose the option that best fits their needs.
Tip #6) Offer coupon codes to selected allies.
Some well-selected coupon code placements can be given to bloggers, authorities in your field, or friends and associates. Give a little gift code such as a 10% off or free shipping to entice buyers who are loyal.
Tip #7) Update social media profiles.
Your Facebook and Twitter feeds need updating! Make sure you let your customers know of any upcoming sales or new merchandise, and consider offering more deals or bonuses upon having a customer sign up for your internal e-newsletter. You don't want to become overreliant on an external service, and if you have your own customer e-mail list, you can reach out there if Facebook or Twitter change or become less relevant.
Tip #8) Offer sets, kits, or bundled items.
Can you bundle some products together? Do certain products "make sense" being sold together? Consider offering a "kit" or an add-on option where a customer can get a deal by combining products. Think earrings added to a bracelet and ring set, or batteries added to a charger, or an extra candle, soap, or lotion added to a bath products item.
Tip #9) Say Thank You.
Give your customer a very friendly and thankful message upon receipt of their payment. All business relies on the value exchanged between customers and merchants. As green businesses, we are particularly fortunate in that our customers truly appreciate and seek out our organic, sustainable, and vegan products. Make sure to give a boost to your customer's day by saying a personal "thank you" and setting up some additional messages that send upon receipt or upon finalization of the sale.
Tip #10) Partner with others.
Partner with other retailers. Can you do a collective approach, or a complementary approach, with other companies that share your mission? Consider banding together with like-minded vendors to have one-stop shopping: for example, a jewelry vendor can connect with a skin products developer and a gourmet foods merchant to offer a wrap-around product. Blog it, tweet it, share it... and split the proceeds.
Tip #11) Support a local charity or non-profit.
Schools, community groups, religious groups and children's organizations all rely on their donors. Consider setting up a formal charity program where a percentage of profits, or a portion of sales from a certain product, are donated to the charity of your choice. Strengthen ties in your community by choosing a local organization with values close to your heart.
Tip #12) Express your gratitude for the season.
While the November/December period is traditionally a high point of the year, we also want to focus on the fact that we're trying to make green businesses a backbone of the economy and an important way for women to make a difference. Express deep gratitude and respect to your customers, clients, and friends for supporting you, and realize that we're all in this together. By providing your store, you're offering a valuable service to the LOHAS community. By supporting your store, your customers are ensuring you remain in business. It's a win-win for everyone.
Hope this is a special holiday season for everyone.
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