Knowledge Base

You probably already know what dropshipping is, but just in case you are not familiar with this type of business, here’s a short explanation: Dropshipping is an online business model that enables you, as a seller, to sell products without the obligation to ship them or stock the products on your own. Basically, your role is to list a wholesaler’s product on Amazon, eBay, or your own dropship website and find the right audience for it. When it comes to reverse dropshipping, it’s an even newer business model and as such, unfamiliar to many online sellers. So if you’re wondering “What is reverse dropshipping?” that’s the next topic we’ll cover in our SmallBizGenius guide. Reverse Dropshipping Definition Reverse dropshipping is a business model in which online sellers procure high-quality products for customers whose countries usually house mass-production sites, like China, Indonesia, etc. Products sold through reverse dropshipping are made in the US, UK, or other countries which usually outsource their mass production to Asian countries. If you are wondering why an industry giant like China is a hotspot for reverse dropshipping sellers, there’s a logical explanation. Many Chinese consumers are seeking fine products, but finding them inside their own country is difficult. The result of China’s high-production level is lower quality for most domestically made products. Therefore, Chinese consumers, especially the rich ones, must find other ways to buy products that would satisfy their expensive taste. If we want a more precise reverse dropshipping definition, we would say that a reverse dropship means buying high-quality products produced in the West, and selling them to wealthy, primarily Asian customers through your eCommerce website. Reverse dropshipping is a business model similar to regular dropshipping, with one significant difference. Instead of obtaining lots of poor-quality stuff that comes at a lower cost, reverse dropshipping companies procure top-notch, artisanal products. Hence, when it works, reverse dropshipping comes with much higher margins. How Reverse Dropshipping Works We introduced the basics of reverse dropshipping, meaning that the next thing we will explain is how it works. Generally, if you know how regular dropshipping works, you won’t have any problem understanding the concept of reverse dropshipping. The only thing you need to have in mind is that reverse dropshipping involves expensive and high-quality products produced in Western countries that are sold to rich Asian customers. As an owner of a dropshipping company, you will collaborate with domestic dropshipping suppliers. They will be responsible for manufacturing and storing products, packing them, and distributing orders to your customers. On your website, you will create a gallery with the products, set the price for them, and manage the inventory. You will be responsible for advertising your offer and finding customers. For example, you can choose a product available on eBay, Etsy, or some other eCommerce platform and sell it on your site. You’ll need to set a price that will cover both the dropshipping supplier’s price and marketing costs, and bring you profit. For example, if a product you choose to sell costs $30 when bought wholesale, you can display it in your store for $75. The wealthy customer will order a product from your site and pay your price. Then, you forward the order to your manufacturer and pay the wholesale price, keeping the rest as profit. Your manufacturer will be in charge of distribution. You can decide if you’ll leave the shipping costs with the customers, or pay them yourself. Dropshipping Pros and Cons If you’re asking yourself: “Is dropshipping worth it?” the answer is yes. In 2020, China purchased $99.9 billion-worth of goods and services from the US. There are lots of reasons why you should choose reverse dropshipping over regular dropshipping. One of the most important reasons is that reverse dropshipping comes with higher margins. A regular dropshipping business works with low-quality products which are cheap for you to buy, but also cheap when sold. Reverse dropshipping sellers work with high-quality products and rich customers willing to pay more than someone ordering pants in bulk from Wish. Another good reason to choose reverse dropshipping over traditional dropshipping is a less competitive market. If you decide to open a dropshipping service, you will have only a few competitors, as this niche section of eCommerce has yet to fully develop. However, you need to be more prepared than when entering a regular dropshipping business, meaning that you’ll need to know everything about the trading laws and regulations of the countries you’ll ship from and to. For example, many countries have strict policies on which products can be sold. In some countries, people can buy food and beverages only from domestic suppliers. There are also country-specific rules when it comes to selling medication. If you consider starting a business with food, drugs, or alcoholic drinks, reverse dropshipping is not the kind of business model that will be good for you. Bottom Line In our opinion, reverse dropshipping is a good option for business owners ready to find the right buyer for high-end products and find dropshipping sources that are allowed to operate in Asian countries. Especially now, while the market is still very far from saturated, getting into reverse dropshipping may just be the best move an aspiring eCommerce businessperson can make.

By Danica Jovic November 12,2021

If you have an online shop, you know that one of the most important things for clients is reliable shipping. Various helpful website-building tools can help you create an eye-catching site, but you also need to adopt some eCommerce shipping best practices to ensure a great shopping experience for your customers. Their shopping journey starts on your website, but it ends up once their order arrives. If you don’t provide your customers with the shopping experience that they expect, you might end up with lots of cart abandonments and a lower number of orders. Eventually, you might even lose your regular clients.  Establishing a good shipping strategy is crucial for your online business if you want to increase customer satisfaction and convert more leads into buyers. But putting a successful online shipping strategy in place is not always an easy thing to do. Many business owners think that free shipping is all you need, but it’s not simple. It’s an integral part of a consumer-friendly eCommerce shipping strategy, but far from being the only thing you should worry about. Successful online stores employ more sophisticated business strategies. Good delivery practices include the engagement of the different teams inside the company, collaboration with reliable carriers, friendly customer support, and so on.  Establishing reliable shipping strategies can be complicated, especially if you are new in the business. Our article will help you understand this topic better, introducing basic shipping strategies for the successful delivery of your products. We’ll explain how you can benefit from different shipping methods, choose carriers, reduce shipping costs, and perform order tracking. Additionally, we’ll share some tricks and tips that can help you streamline your shipping process and boost customer satisfaction rates.  Shipping Methods and Rates The first you need to know regarding eCommerce delivery strategy are the shipping methods and rates. Although free eCommerce shipping is praised as a solution for boosting clients’ satisfaction, there are also other methods that you can use to increase satisfaction rates. Let’s start with free shipping and then discuss the other shipping options.  Free shipping According to the latest statistics, 90% of customers say that free shipping is the main reason they choose to shop online. Furthermore, over 60% of prospective buyers abandon shipping carts if there are shipping costs. Therefore, free shipping is a must if you want to stay competitive. We all know that free shipping is not really free, meaning that someone has to pay for it. Either your customers will pay more for the products, or you will have lower profit margins after covering the shipping costs yourself.  The best eCommerce shipping method is offering free shipping to your customers but only when they meet specific requirements. You can set up an order limit for free shipping. For example, Amazon enables free shipping for orders over $25. This way, you may be able to cover shipping losses by getting customers to buy slightly more than they otherwise would have. Be transparent Let’s say that you just started your online business, and you are not in a position to offer free shipping. It doesn’t need to impact your customer satisfaction rates if you do things right. Firstly, you need to be honest with your customers. If your shipping is not free, you need to be clear about that. eCommerce shipping costs best practices are to set up shipping prices transparently, so your customers won’t have an unpleasant surprise when they complete their order. Some people won't mind paying shipping costs if they are clearly informed about them at the beginning of their purchase. However, you can expect many clients to abandon the shopping cart if they can’t see the fees from the start.  We recommend adding the cost of shipment for each product to your shopping cart. Almost all eCommerce platforms (such as Shopify or Wix) have this option available. After your customers add the ZIP code, the shipping fees will instantly show up in the cart. There will be no surprises, so your customer will be far more likely to go through with their order. Make the delivery date visible  The best eCommerce shipping solutions show clients the expected delivery date for their products.  Just as you should be transparent with the delivery costs, you should also tell your customers when they can expect their order to arrive. The delivery time can differ depending on the chosen shipping method, order date, and more. You should be transparent and show this information during the checkout procedure because 80% of customers will abandon their shopping cart if they don’t know when their order will arrive.  Offer flat-rate shipping Another strategy that you can adopt is flat-rate shipping. This is an option for an unchanging fee, often used for products that are similar in size or weight. You should still show the shipping costs, as per our suggestion above. However, it’s not a great choice for businesses that sell vastly different products in terms of shape, size, weight, and price. Team Collaboration If you want to keep your customers satisfied, the eCommerce best practices for 2021 show that you need to cover all segments of the customers’ purchasing journey. This means collaboration between different teams and departments, including marketing, designers, web developers, customer service, and the shipping fulfillment team.  The marketing team and developers will work closely together on communicating shipping and product promotions to the customers. Both team knowledge and tools can contribute to streamlining this process.  While the marketing team researches which product you should promote, the web developers will help you implement the promotions on the pages that customers visit the most, and software can quickly tell you when and why customers gave up on their orders. With both domestic and international shipping, for eCommerce best practices to really work, you’ll need a good team for order fulfillment. You can work with a third-party company or have an in-house team that uses order fulfillment software. Regardless of the option you choose, ensure that your team will do the work responsibly. It has to be prepared to pack, label, and ship items on time. This team is also responsible for the possible returns. Lastly, every business requires good customer service, and the same goes for eCommerce stores. The customer service will communicate with your clients directly through phone, email, or live chat, so it’s extremely important to have reliable and knowledgeable people on this team.  Carrier Options Speaking of eCommerce shipping strategies, one of the most important ones is choosing the right carrier. Three large companies provide eCommerce delivery services: FedEx, UPS, and USPS.  The type of product you are selling can help you in decision-making because different carriers are good for different product types and particular types of shipping options. Some are better for international shipments, while others might excel at shipping clunky and oversized products.  You also need to decide whether you’ll have one or more carriers. Choosing one is simpler, but it doesn’t provide you the freedom and flexibility that having more than one would.  eCommerce shipping solutions with multiple carriers are usually in a better position when negotiating shipping rates and costs. Having multiple carriers is also a good idea because if one of the companies closes down or doesn’t work for some other reason, you’ll always have others to ship the products.  Additionally, if you offer different types of shipping products, it’s better to have several carriers at your disposal. Some of them may provide more efficient eCommerce international shipping solutions, while others will offer great delivery services across the US. Delivery Updates Every customer prefers to know in which phase of delivery their package is, so you’ll need to provide your customers with a reliable tracking system. This way, you will build trust between the company and its clients. The success of this functionality depends on which inventory management system you use, but it’s generally not too complicated to set up. All good delivery solutions for eCommerce will have an order tracking service. It’s especially important for companies that do business overseas. International orders have longer delivery periods, so your clients might become nervous if they cannot check the status of their order. Over 80% of customers claim that they value online shops that provide information regarding fulfillment and delivery stage for their packages.  Taking Responsibility Although lost and damaged packages are not your fault, they are still your responsibility because your clients will not be satisfied with the service they paid you for. The order and shipping best practices for eCommerce recommend that sellers resolve lost or damaged packages. After all, a seller is the one who chose a carrier that did not manage to deliver the shipment successfully. The first thing you should do is react as soon as possible once a shipping problem is reported. To be efficient, you can immediately check the shipment status online and see where the order is. Also, it’s smart to check if a customer’s address is written correctly. Problems like these are easy to solve, and your customers will be satisfied that you’re taking the initiative and helping resolve the issue in a timely manner.  Good shipping strategies for eCommerce include quick and honest communication between a retailer and carrier. Once the customer reports a problem with a delivery, you should contact the carrier and see whether the item is delivered or not. Your carrier should tell you all that you need to know about the delivery status. We recommend being persistent with a carrier to find out what happened with an order. If the order is definitely lost or damaged, then you should send a new package to your customers. Do that as soon as possible to keep your customers satisfied.  Tips and Tricks  Assembling a good shipping team, providing reasonable eCommerce shipping costs, and having good customer support are all part of a good shipment strategy. In addition to these, you can adopt many other methods that will keep your customers satisfied and help you manage your budget more efficiently. Here are some more things you can do:  Pack your products properly Before shipping a product to your customer, you need to package it properly to keep it safe from transport damages. There are several shipping options at your disposal, depending on your product type and area of delivery. There are different types of envelopes and boxes, made from materials that protect your product during transportation. You could also consider a reverse dropshipping service if selling high-quality products to customers outside the US. eCommerce shipping options for packages depend on the size and weight of your product. You should keep your packages light and small because the size or weight of the box will also determine the price. If you have several products in different sizes and shapes, consider having separate packages for each of them.  Use local delivery  We already explained the benefits of having multiple carriers. Additionally, you can add a local delivery company to your carrier list. It’s a proven delivery method, and many small businesses use it to ship items to their local clients.  Set the area for your local delivery by adding zip or postal codes. This way, your customers will be able to select it during the checkout. If you want to provide the best shipping for eCommerce, keep the local delivery free for at least some of your products.  Get insurance  In addition to tracking orders, many carriers offer shipping insurance. This is a good practice to secure your products during delivery.  In most cases, insurance is not too expensive. eCommerce shipping companies like UPS and USPS Priority Mail already include coverage for products up to $100. Also, when you pick shipping for eCommerce, check if product insurance is already included in the eCommerce shipping rates. We recommend using insurance for expensive packages that may get lost or damaged. Bottom Line Shipping is an essential part of any online shop that sells physical items. As a retailer, you will face challenges when it comes to implementing eCommerce shipping strategies. Eventually, you will find what’s best for your online store. Before that happens, just take some time to check what works for your customers.  Implementing eCommerce shipping solutions that fit your business will help you keep your customers, achieve low cart abandonment rates, and increase profits.

By Danica Jovic November 12,2021

Many will say that shopping from the comfort of your home is the best way to shop. Luckily, many merchants jumped on board and seized this opportunity - which is why we can now shop without having to get out of our pajamas. Catalogs moved to the internet, and eCommerce (short for electronic commerce) allows you to have everything delivered to your doorstep with just a couple of clicks. ECommerce is one of the biggest industries these days, weighing trillions of dollars. If you are interested in selling your product or service online, you might be wondering, “How does eCommerce work?” Let’s dive in and explain this skyrocketing market in detail. What Is eCommerce? The simple definition of eCommerce is that it is a business model that allows people to buy and sell products and services on the internet. Nowadays, you can buy almost anything through your computer, tablet, or mobile device. It's this convenience that's making it one of the fastest-growing markets. Almost every retail business now has an eCommerce shop as an addition to their brick-and-mortar ones. Online-only retail business numbers are growing each day, too, and many shops have closed their physical doors in favor of an online storefront. After all, sellers want to be where their customers are. So, if you want to become a part of an eCommerce world, let’s discuss what makes an eCommerce store. We'll cover its types, how eCommerce businesses work, and how to start an eCommerce store yourself. What Are the Aspects of the eCommerce Industry? An eCommerce system doesn’t differ much from a regular physical store. It all starts with a product you want to sell. From there, you would need a place to sell the product. In eCommerce, your website is your store - the site takes on the role of the shelves and display, and your customers use it to browse and purchase your goods. The internet is a crowded place, so it will be hard for your shoppers to just stumble upon your store. You have to attract them, so catchy and carefully planned eCommerce marketing will be crucial to your success. Once customers start shopping on your site, they’ll have to be able to order and pay you for the products. You’ll also need to put some security measures in place, as you’ll be dealing with a lot of sensitive information. Figuring out how to get the product to your customers’ doorstep is the next link in the chain. You’ll typically need to sort out a fulfillment method and shipping, unless you are selling digital goods. ECommerce sites also have to handle returns and, if applicable, warranty claims. To do this, you need to find a way to provide support to your customers. In a regular brick-and-mortar business, you have shop assistants to accommodate your buyer’s requests. You can rely on email, phone calls, online forms, or live chat. Depending on your business model, you might want to add additional features for a better user experience and more satisfied customers. How eCommerce Works Typically, your customers will land on your site with some help from the search engine where they looked for a product you sell. They could have also clicked on a paid ad, social media image, or received a recommendation from a friend. Your eCommerce site then presents them with your listed products, with images, descriptions, and prices. The customer browses, selects the product they like, and places them in their virtual shopping cart. If they decide to make a purchase, they will head on to the check-out page. There, the shopper completes the check-out process. They add their payment information and finalize the transaction. The order is then processed by a payment gateway, for example, your bank or PayPal. This step provides secure payment processing. In the meantime, your website provides the customer with information about their order. It could be estimated shipping times, postal tracking numbers, or other information they need to track their purchase. As mentioned, the next step for ​​eCommerce services is order fulfillment - or the actual process of getting the goods delivered. Depending on who stores and ships the product, it could be an in-house team or outsourced to an order-fulfillment company. Of course, the last step is the product arriving to your customer’s address. You want to ensure that the customer is satisfied with the product and service provided, so you might forward them a survey inquiring about their impressions once the order is delivered.  Types of eCommerce Your business model when setting up an eCommerce company will typically fall under one of the four main categories: B2C (Business to Consumer) The first type of eCommerce we’re going to cover here is the B2C model. It’s the one people are most familiar with: A business sells directly to consumers; Amazon is a great example. B2B (Business to Business) The business-to-business model is one where a company sells to another company. Outside the internet, we associate this business model with wholesalers. However, it’s also used by companies that sell ready-to-use software to other businesses, for example. C2C (Consumer to Consumer) The C2C model was popularized by digital commerce platforms that allow regular Jos to sell products or services to other regular Jos. Some good examples of the C2C model are eBay and Etsy. C2B (Consumer to Business) This model is used when a business extracts extra value from its consumer base, like when influencers get paid to promote a product, or customers agree to share their data for market research purposes in exchange for discounted goods. To make understanding eCommerce easier, let’s discuss the different shapes these models can take: Of course, the most common kind of eCommerce is retail - businesses selling directly to their customers. But, there are also wholesale eCommerce sites that sell products in bulk, as well as stores selling digital products to companies and consumers alike. On a whole different level, dropshipping businesses work together with wholesalers, so they don’t have to handle inventory and shipping. Subscription-based eCommerce websites recurrently sell the same product on an agreed schedule. Of course, people can also offer their services on eCommerce sites. Overall, eCommerce can take many forms. As long as someone is selling or buying something via the internet - it is eCommerce. eCommerce vs. Traditional Stores There are many benefits to starting an eCommerce business over opening a brick-and-mortar shop. For example, your reach will be much broader. Expanding your business globally is also much easier to do online, as you won’t be limited to the customers in the vicinity of your physical store. What’s more, one of the many benefits of eCommerce is that your overhead costs are typically much lower. Not only do you get to avoid rent, but your transaction costs will also likely be cheaper. Also, with this type of business, you can rely on different inventory management software for help, and outsource your customer support, instead of having to hire employees. If you decide to join the eCommerce system, it's good to know that the right software can automate many aspects of your day-to-day business operations. For example, with the dropshipping model, entrepreneurs don’t even have to handle inventory or shipping. All the dropshippers need to do is forward the order to their supplier. With eCommerce, there is also no limit or rule on what you can sell. Just like you could order an entire house to be shipped to you by mail via a catalog back in the day, the same goes for eCommerce. Golf clubs, children’s Halloween costumes, plants, or candy - if you can think of it, there’s someone on the internet who’ll want to buy it. Speaking of customers, starting an eCommerce business means earning regulars quickly, thanks to the wide selection of software that can help you establish a connection with your customers. There are also tools to provide excellent support to your buyers and have them rely on you for your product or services for as long as you are in business. However, there are also cons to this type of selling. It takes a bit of a tech-savvy customer to shop online, which narrows the customer base slightly. Also, people might feel reserved about shopping online because they can’t touch or see the product before purchasing. Lastly, there is also the lack of personal shopping experience that some people appreciate. Lastly, the biggest issue is security: eCommerce stores are often targets for hackers, and your customers’ personal and payment data can be in danger unless you introduce strong safety measures. How to Start an eCommerce Business Starting this type of business is no mean feat. You’ve got many things to check off your to-do list before the launch: The first step is, of course, figuring out what you would like to sell. Are you going to offer physical or digital goods, or your services? How will you obtain the products - are you manufacturing them yourself or relying on a wholesaler for your inventory? Once you have these basic questions answered, it is time to research the competition and their prices, and crunch the numbers. This will also allow you to see how saturated a particular niche is and find out what you can do better to rise above other eCommerce companies. It will also give you a great insight into the prices you can expect to charge and pay for running your store. You should use this information and the information on how much it will cost you to fill your inventory to gauge your margins. If the idea is viable, and there is a market, then it is time to start working on your store.  How to Build Your eCommerce Store Typically the first step is to define your eCommerce store’s name. You should have a domain name pinned down before you get down to building the site. Your domain name should match your store's name, and should be descriptive of what you’re selling, so take your time with it. You also want it to be memorable and, most importantly, unique. Building your store is the next step. You can approach this by using an eCommerce website builder or relying on an eCommerce platform to help you get set up. Your store should be easy to navigate, have detailed descriptions of the products, excellent visuals, and a simple payment process. Making your eCommerce web design as memorable as possible and adding as many payment options as possible is a good idea. You should also consider adding features that will help you maintain and promote your store as effortlessly as possible. For example, tools for promo codes or options to start eCommerce sales without changing the price for each product manually. Once your store is complete, it’s time to find your customers. Start by working on your SEO first, then start advertising. There are many marketing approaches you could take, from social media and email marketing, to paid ads. Which one will work best depends entirely on what kind of product or service you’re selling and who your target customer is. Understanding who your perfect customer is will help you narrow down your eCommerce marketing to-do list, and significantly increase your revenue. Even after the launch, your job is not done. You need to keep an eye out on your store’s KPI, conversion rates, and overall performance at all times, and look for room for improvement. You might need to find cart-abandonment solutions, or improve your support system. You’ll also have to manage inventory, negotiate with wholesalers and suppliers, and provide support to your customers. And if you want to have many new customers at all times, marketing never stops, either.

By Vladana Donevski November 04,2021

eCommerce is an excellent field to get into these days as it is one of those markets that keeps growing steadily. Predictions say that global eCommerce sales will hit $4.2 trillion in 2021, which is a considerable cake to cut your little piece of profit from. However, just like starting any other business, it is not the most straightforward task for newcomers. What would you sell, and how would you market it? Is there a profit to be made in your particular niche?  One of the most important questions you will ask yourself is what eCommerce business model you should adopt. Will you open your eCommerce store and handle inventory, warehousing, and shipping? Or, should you consider weighing in on the dropshipping vs. drop surfing debate and use one of these models? Let’s start with a quick refresher course on what dropshipping is and take it from there.  What is Dropshipping? Dropshipping is an order fulfillment method in eCommerce. It comes with a significant advantage over your traditional eCommerce store in that you can outsource a considerable part of your inventory and shipping to someone else. With no up-front inventory expenses, starting a dropshipping business is easy and cheap - all you need is a solid understanding of how to use an eCommerce builder. You “only” need to create an excellent selection of products, market them well, and then provide top-notch customer service. Here is how it all works: A dropshipper creates an eCommerce website, selects their products and wholesale suppliers for those products, and then lists them on their site. Once a customer places the order on a dropshipping site, the dropshipper forwards it to the wholesaler. The supplier takes it from there and ships the product to the customer. All you have to do is source the best products, offer a reasonable price, and make sure your customers are happy with the support they are receiving.  How About Drop Surfing?  Drop surfing is essentially a type of dropshipping that focuses on maximizing profits. This business model is also often referred to as “surfing the wave,” an expression that earned the process its name. Let’s see how drop surfing works in practice.  This eCommerce model operates in the same manner as standard dropshipping, with a single exception. Here, the dropshipper focuses on maximizing their profits on top of their regular dropshipping duties. Many old-school sellers agree that drop surfing is just a smart way to do traditional dropshipping and that the new term is simply a marketing trick.  You can achieve what is considered to be drop surfing in two ways. The first means that you choose a different supplier for each order, basing your choice on where you will get the best deals. It complicates the process slightly, as selecting suppliers is not as simple as it may seem. It works best if you have the time to make sure the new supplier matches the quality of the product and provides equal or better shipping costs and timeframes.  The second definition of drop surfing you will see online is the one that explains drop surfing as switching products on offer to make as many sales as possible. It means doing in-depth research and finding items that are currently trendy or are expected to be fashionable in the future. It is exceptionally time-consuming, and you will be facing a lot of hit-and-miss moments in the lifespan of your online store. Still, if you select the right products, you will undoubtedly make much more sales and earn significantly more money. Now, let’s get back to our debate: drop surfing vs. dropshipping. Let’s cover the pros and cons of each so that you’ll have the information you need when starting your new online business. Pros of Dropshipping We’ve already covered the basic pro of dropshipping: no inventory. With any type of dropshipping model, you don’t have to store any inventory, keep stock of items, or handle the shipping yourself.  With that in mind, traditional dropshipping has some advantages compared to drop surfing. Since you are working long-term with the same supplier, and hopefully, the same customers, you get the unique opportunity to build long-term relationships. Furthermore, you get to build your brand, which is something that will undoubtedly pay off in the long run. Investing in earning a returning customer is much more profitable than constantly chasing new ones.  Also, the most significant benefit to the traditional dropshipping model is the possibility of doing it part-time. Once you achieve a deal with a good and reliable supplier, complete your website, and list your products, your ongoing work is almost done. Since it is predictable, you can also automate many remaining tasks, for example, by using order fulfillment software. It is not something you can do as quickly with the drop surfing model. All you have to do is provide exceptional support, handle an occasional return or two, and work on updates to improve the customer experience.  Cons of Dropshipping As mentioned before, the major downside of dropshipping model is that a major portion of your business is out of your control - the product itself. You cannot control its quality, how it will be shipped, and many other significant aspects of the dropshipping business itself. You should test each provider, but you’ll have to compromise on some aspects. Still, once you manage to score a good supplier, you’re set. Compared to the drop surfing method, the most significant con of dropshipping is the slim profit margin. After all, since it is effortless and cheap to get started, you’ll be facing a lot of competition. They will be offering the same products for next to nothing in an attempt to attract customers. While you can provide your customers with the best shopping experience, nothing stops them from comparing your prices to those on other sites.  You should expect to lose a significant portion of your budget-savvy customers to these sites.  Pros of Drop Surfing The primary positive side to drop surfing is the opportunity to change your profit margins per product by outsourcing the order to a different supplier to get the best price for each product. You are also not tied up to a particular set of products. Instead, you can and should change them as often as possible to get more sales and increase your profits.  It makes for a much more hands-on experience and gives you a faster turnover pace, making it better than dropshipping for some people. “Riding the wave” will undoubtedly skyrocket your sales, especially if you have a knack for marketing. If you have enough customers and market knowledge, you can even become the one setting the trends.  Cons of Drop Surfing First off, drop surfing is a time-consuming effort, and you can’t really do it part-time. It requires constant research and always being on the hunt for cheaper and better products. Also, some aspects of this type of business are a bit difficult to automate. Also, the field of research constantly changes. If you want to maximize your profits, you’ll have to dedicate enough time to your drop surfing eCommerce business. This means dedicating enough time to compare suppliers’ prices for each product manually, as that’s the only way to ensure you’ll have the highest profit margins. Keep in mind -  suppliers tend to change their prices often, so you’ll have to do this repeatedly to achieve optimal results. As your business scales, this will require a much more substantial time investment.  It is also a considerable gamble as you’re not creating long-term relationships with either suppliers or customers. Since your offer constantly changes, you might have to start multiple drop surfing eCommerce websites to accommodate the new trends outside your niche.  Furthermore, once you start changing your selection to accommodate the newest trends, you’ll have to spend a considerable amount of time managing those changes and getting the best deals from your suppliers. It won’t leave you with much time to focus on your marketing efforts, so attracting new customers might prove to be a challenge. Which Method is Better? Since drop surfing is essentially a sub-class of dropshipping, it’s impossible to separate the two business models from each other. When setting up your dropshipping store and adding new products, you are effectively drop surfing. On the other hand, every drop surfing business follows the same order fulfillment model as dropshipping. Both require an eCommerce platform or website to operate. So, there is not exactly a lot of difference between the two to make one intrinsically better than the other. The main difference lies in how much time you have available for your business. You can do drop shipping part-time, but full-on drop surfing requires your complete dedication, especially as your business grows. With standard dropshipping, you can make a decent selection within a chosen niche. You can expect to eventually cultivate a loyal customer base that looks to you for the product(s) they need. You also have plenty of time for focusing on marketing efforts and further improving your customer experience by implementing credit card or crypto payments, for example.  Of course, you can always employ drop surfing software or hire someone to help you out with these parts of your business so that you can focus on finding the best deals or improving your customer support. It all comes down to profit margins - if your business grows enough, you can either expand your dropshipping model with people hired to do drop surfing for you or, alternatively, do that part yourself and leave customer support to someone else.  Which Business Model Should You Choose? When deciding which of these two business models is better for you, think about the following questions: How much time do I have to invest in this? How much do I want to earn?   In this situation, one answer heavily influences the other. If you have enough time and are comfortable doing a lot of research and constantly hunting for a better deal, then one of the two drop surfing models is the perfect choice for you. The ultimate model would undoubtedly be a combination of dropshipping and drop surfing. A careful selection of products and suppliers is a must. However, if you could get a better deal with another reputable provider, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t take it. The same goes for finding new products and niches. You should always watch for trending products that could work with your website and the current selection you have on it.  On the other hand, if you are getting into dropshipping as a part-time gig, then a more traditional dropshipping model will work better. After all, once everything is set up and done, you don’t have to spend too much time on stuff like finding new products to rotate on the site. If you have an excellent selection of products that bring decent revenue, you should have more than enough time to focus on scaling.    Whichever method you choose, keep in mind - a happy customer is a returning customer, and you need as many of those as possible to earn a living. Compromising your product quality, not answering inquires from worried customers, or providing poor-quality products for the sake of increasing your margins is never a good idea.

By Vladana Donevski October 29,2021

Here’s the biggest nightmare of all online retailers: Seeing potential buyers dropping by their virtual store, filling the cart with items, clicking through the checkout pages, and when the payment is about to be initiated, giving up and abandoning the shopping process. A 2021 study by SaleCycle revealed that the percentage of cart abandonment across all sectors stands at 81.8%. The figures are the highest in the travel sector that traditionally has longer research phases and more complex checkouts. ECommerce business platforms and online retailers often seek for cart abandonment solutions to tackle this issue and better cater to their customers. How does one go about unclogging the bottlenecks of the shopping process and boosting sales? We’ve compiled a list of ideas, tips, and tricks to optimize the checkout flow. Keep reading and learn if you should stick with traditional methods or go for brand new technologies for an innovative approach to fixing the cart abandonment issue.  What Does an Abandoned Cart Mean for My Business? Let’s start by diving deeper into what shopping cart abandonment is and what the abandonment rates mean for your business. When the potential buyer orders items online and initiates the checkout process but gives up before completing the purchase, we talk about cart abandonment. Other forms of this practice include booking abandonment, form abandonment (which refers to abandoning forms for quotes, subscriptions, and financial products). There’s also browse abandonment, which refers to customers who give up while browsing and before placing an order. As an important metric for tracking customer satisfaction, the cart abandonment rate should be regularly monitored and analyzed to boost sales. The rate is calculated by dividing the number of completed transactions by the number of initiated transactions. The final figures indicate the percentage of prospective buyers who initiated a purchase but never finalized it. Analyzing this rate is important, but understanding the reason behind it - why potential customers give up on buying your products - is your primary goal.  Why Do Consumers Abandon Their Carts? Even though the reasons vary depending on the sector, there are some common issues that all consumers experience and cite as the cause of giving up on buying the desired item. Cart abandonment analysis can give you useful insights into the bottlenecks you need to address and clear in order to offer a swift and smooth shopping experience. Browsing for fun; Many consumers state they were simply browsing the website and checking the prices and shipping fees without the real intention of buying anything. Additionally, some of them might say they got discouraged by high shipping costs, even though they were satisfied with the product in general and genuinely wanted to buy it.  Comparison shopping; Aside from high shipping costs, shopping cart abandonment rates spike due to high prices of products and finding better deals with the competition. Buyers may add a product to their cart prior to comparing prices and then abandon it for a cheaper deal they’ve found elsewhere. Lack of trust; According to data, almost 61% of shoppers who abandon a purchase decide to opt out due to the lack of trust logos. Trust indicators include Site Seal, Corner of Trust, and TrustLogo. Not seeing any of these logos on a website can hold off potential customers.  Lack of payment methods; One of the common shopping cart abandonment reasons is the inability to swiftly complete the shopping process due to insufficient payment options. Opening a PayPal account for the sole purpose of buying a single product is a hassle and instead of doing that, consumers are likely to search for an online shop with the same or a similar product that offers more diverse payment options.  Complex checkout process; Don’t expect your customers to be patient and tenacious - that’s just not what online shopping is about. The main strategy for improving the sales process would be to make it as straightforward as possible. Think of Amazon and its 1-Click ordering. If you make your prospective buyer dig through dozens of pages and fill out tons of forms, you’ll probably lose them.  Technical difficulties; Finally, cart abandonment statistics indicate there’s a significant number of customers who give up due to technical glitches, bugs, or slow loading times.  How Can You Reduce the Number of Abandoned Baskets? Obviously, not all of these reasons behind cart abandonment can be addressed by the seller. If someone is just browsing your website and adding stuff without a serious intention to buy your products, you usually can’t influence that by simply optimizing your website.  On the other hand, most of the rough edges and obstacles that make customers give up can be smoothed out. Let’s take a look at some of the best cart abandonment solutions you can go for. Exit-intent popups Exit-intent technology employs sophisticated tools to identify customers’ exit behavior. If the potential customer signals reluctance, starts comparing the item with other websites’ similar offers or is about to exit the page, a prompt pop-up message will try to get them back on track.  These layouts can ask for an email, or carry a message that encourages customers to stay by offering discount codes, gifts, or free shipping for purchases over a certain amount. Not only can this motivate the shopper to complete their purchase but it can increase the overall value of the cart, so it’s a win-win approach. To reduce the average cart abandonment rate, you need to implement the right strategy when creating popups; first, analyze your target audience and your site heatmap, determine your sales goals, and figure out what the best offer might be. Then, hire a designer or expert to help you out with the subtle message display and optimize popup timing for better results. Email remarketing campaigns Good old emails remain one of the most effective solutions for attracting customers’ attention once again and having them rethink their decision to completely abandon their digital basket. Sending a cart abandonment email to remind the potential buyer of the product they were about to buy can increase purchases 19 times more than standard marketing emails.  So, let’s see how these emails should look and what information they should contain. Send the first email within 24 hours of the cart abandonment, and two more emails in the following days. Aim to create a sense of FOMO with a personalized tone and an offer such as a discount code, or simply with a reminder that the product is still waiting for them in the cart. Cart abandonment emails shouldn’t sound like one of those generic, cookie-cutter marketing messages; customize them toward potential customers instead and add a touch of intimacy.  SMS remarketing campaigns In the context of eCommerce businesses’ massive migration to mobile platforms, SMS communication makes more sense than ever. According to a study, text message marketing has grown 23% since 2016. People seem to like reading SMS offers sent by companies, and they spend twice the time on texting than emailing, so that’s your chance to get them back to purchase your product. Mobile cart abandonment can be easily addressed while the consumers are still holding the phone they were shopping on, using SMS marketing tools.  To refocus a customer’s attention back to their forgotten cart, you’ll first have to obtain their phone number. A good way to do it is to add a phone number capture in the checkout process. Make sure to include a message about the products they’ve added to their basket or a link to the shopping cart. You can also send an SMS to thank customers for the purchase or ask for feedback. Chatbot Service Indecisive and reluctant consumers can be stirred into action with a couple of messages via live chat or a chatbot service. This AI-based technology for cart abandonment recovery can be a decent replacement for those employees in brick-and-mortar stores who are good at talking customers into buying their goods, and we know that 37% of people use a customer service bot to quickly get answers. The live-chat function with a detailed and well-organized FAQ section can assist the buyers with the usual doubts and questions regarding sizes, returns, shipping, and delivery times. Of course, if you have customer agents available round the clock - even better.   Chatbots can follow the potential buyer along the whole shopping journey - from welcoming them, assisting them with the purchase, suggesting similar products in case the one they want isn’t available, to serving offers and discounts to reduce shopping cart abandonment rates. Consider using chatbot builder software to help you out with writing creative and personalized chat messages.  Retargeting advertising Retargeting is a common and powerful marketing strategy. When you’re retargeting someone, you have more chances of winning their attention, as you remind them of something they have already shown interest in acquiring. Focusing on people who are in-market can potentially curb the negative effects of shopping cart abandonment. When creating retargeting ads, make sure to include brand recognition and targeted content, as well as a special offer to convince customers to get back to your website. On a slightly different note: Invest some time and effort into optimizing your website for online sale and its design. Not having enough funds is no longer a valid excuse - you can go for one of the many excellent and affordable eCommerce website builders.  Trust and social proof Creating trust is of utmost importance, especially if you’re a new brand that’s not yet established in the eCommerce business. Cart abandonment solutions we’ve reviewed so far have focused mostly on getting customers back to purchase. The method of implementing trust and social proof relies on prevention instead, convincing customers into purchasing your products by building confidence. Most consumers will at least browse through customer reviews before proceeding with the order, so make sure to provide verified testimonials or star ratings. Also, include trust badges and certificates on strategic positions on the website, close to payment details. By doing so, you’ll reassure the customers that your page is legitimate and that they can expect a safe and secure shopping experience. Straightforward checkout A lengthy checkout process is a nightmare for consumers and one of the most common reasons for shopping cart abandonment. Too many steps and requirements, having to fill out too many forms, as well as not knowing when the process will end can all discourage potential buyers from completing their purchase. That’s why having only a few essential steps with a clearly visible progress bar can make all the difference. With so many online distractions, consumers nowadays have a short attention span and require simplicity. After all, shopping should be fun, not a chore. Some research shows that the best checkout process has four steps, a prominent progress bar on top, and a visible order summary along the way so that customers can be sure they haven’t made a mistake. Another useful tool for preventing digital shopping cart abandonment is a “Review” step, where buyers can make changes to their order or add more items to the basket without having to start all over again. Having to create an account is another drawback, so you’re well-advised to enable customers to check out as guests. Payment methods Eventually, it all boils down to payment; if the customer made it all the way through the checkout process and reached the final step, but there isn’t a single payment method that suits them, chances they’ll quit are very high. Most millennials require flexibility in the way they pay for goods and services, so having an option to pay in installments via third-party checkout partners is one of the most effective shopping cart abandonment solutions. Offering alternative payment methods along with the standard wire transfers and credit and debit card payments would make the whole process customer-friendly.  Conclusion Reengaging your visitors and persuading them not to give up on their purchase will reduce your abandonment rate and increase your revenue so don’t hesitate to invest time and effort into implementing at least some of the solutions we’ve proposed in this article because these are efficient tools known to work. When choosing shopping cart abandonment solutions, compare and test several and analyze which one works the best for your eCommerce business. Don’t set a bad example for your customers by giving up!

By Danica Djokic October 29,2021

The standard 9-5 work schedule definitely isn’t a good fit for everyone, so those who are brave enough to take the leap might be tempted to become their own boss and start something of their own. If you’re an entrepreneur at heart, you’ll probably enjoy the process immensely. Now, thanks to the internet and some specialist software designed to make our lives easier, running your own business definitely isn’t a far-fetched dream.  Depending on what kind of business you’d like to start, you might want to consider eCommerce as a vehicle for success. eCommerce is a rapidly growing market in which online stores sell goods and services globally. It’s estimated that by 2023, eCommerce revenue is expected to reach $740 billion in the US. If your business does manage to become the next Amazon or Etsy, you’ll be taking home a significant portion of that.  Of course, getting started is never easy, mainly because you have so much to think about. You need to plan and organize yourself before you dive in if you want your store to be a success. For all these reasons, we’ve prepared this detailed guide on how to start an eCommerce business. After reading it, you’ll likely have at least the first couple of steps of your action plan pinned down. So, without further ado, let’s get started.  Work Out What You’re Going to Sell People who are looking into starting an eCommerce business typically already know what they’d like to sell. Some are interested in turning their hobby into a living, while others already have a brick-and-mortar store and are looking to expand, or move entirely online. However, if you’re unsure what to sell, here is some food for thought. Typically, there are three categories of products you can sell online: physical goods, digital downloads, and services.  Physical goods are an excellent choice if you can manufacture or source things people are looking to buy. Of course, you can always resell physical goods - you just have to buy them from a wholesale provider first or set up a dropshipping store. These processes include their own set of challenges. For example, you need to find out which wholesale provider you want to go with, how you’re going to store the items, and which shipping method won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Selling digital downloads is an excellent way to open an eCommerce website if you don’t want the hassle of handling, storing, and shipping physical products. These could be anything that your customers can download on their devices: online courses, artistic designs, eBooks, printables, plugins, and templates, among other things. Depending on your skillset and the type of digital product you want to sell, your profit margins can vary greatly. While selling digital products doesn’t always entail the considerable initial investment you would need to provide for physical products, you might also not earn as much.   Selling services can also be an excellent choice for your eCommerce store. This solution allows you to get started with minimum investments and earn profits fast. Still, the main thing you’re selling is your time, and you only have so many hours in a day. Expanding beyond what you can accomplish (and earn) on your own typically requires that you hire someone else. They can take on some of the workload, but that in itself carries its own set of costs and responsibilities. Once you decide what type of product or service you’ll be selling, you should assess the viability of your idea. In other words, you want to be sure the result will be worth the effort. How can you determine that? By doing your market research first. Let’s take a quick look at how to perform that properly.   Research Your Products and Markets Just as you would when opening any other type of online business, you need to do your research before starting an eCommerce website. You need to find out what kind of products perform well, how much competition there is in the niche, and what type of business model can most effectively bring your eCommerce business ideas to life.  Since you’ll be selling online, doing a bit of Google research might help you pinpoint what type of product will work. By analyzing Google’s results for a particular keyword and its relative terms, you’ll be able to gauge how popular certain options are. Look for the type of product popping up on the first page and which companies are selling it. The autofill option might also give you a couple of online business ideas. “People also ask” is another excellent section that could be helpful.  You probably already have an idea in your mind of what you’re going to sell, so it’s time to work out whether or not that idea is plausible. You can do so by evaluating product viability. Here are a couple of things you should ask yourself about the product or service you’re thinking of selling: Is there a demand for it? Is it a fad, or will I still be able to sell this in five years? Are there reasonable profits to be made here? What do the numbers say? Is there already a successful eCommerce company selling the same products or services? The third question leads us to competitor research, which is a crucial component of starting a successful business. Finding out who the key players are is just the first step. The most important one is putting their business model under the magnifying glass.  Look for anything they’re doing well and make a note of how you could emulate it. More importantly, look for any ways you’d improve on their business model; you might be able to find a gap your business could fill. At the very least, you could identify that special factor that could help you set your business apart from the competition in your niche, which is crucial when starting an eCommerce site. Remember, just because someone else is already doing it doesn’t mean you can’t do it better.  Work Out Who Your Ideal Customer Is If you want to make sure your business will be successful, you also need to target the right audience. This means figuring out who your ideal buyers will be, which will significantly influence the steps you take. For starters, you need to be where your target audience is and speak their language. To ensure this, you should look into your customers’ demographics and psychographics. Start with their essential characteristics; you want to know their age, gender, and income. Once you have a good picture of that, you should then try to find out more about their opinions and beliefs.  Why is this important? Well, once you have these terms pinned down, you can clarify the approach of your eCommerce business. For example, if you want to appeal to environmentally conscious customers, you wouldn’t want to sell items packaged in lots of plastic. By the same token, Instagram isn’t the ideal platform for promoting bingo games to senior citizens. Getting this approach right will significantly improve your eCommerce website and your overall online presence. If you’re selling software for accountants and bankers, you might consider adjusting the tone of voice on your website to avoid the slang the kids use these days. To target a younger audience, having a flashy, highly responsive website might be the most effective thing you can do. Pinning these details down will help you figure out your marketing strategy later.  Create a Business Plan Now that you know what you’ll be selling and to whom, you should create a business plan. It sounds daunting, but this is an excellent way to ensure you stay on track while you’re setting up an eCommerce business. Don’t overthink it - you don’t have to show that first version to anybody. It can serve as a to-do list for you as you plan each step in more detail. However, if you need a business loan, an advisor, or a partner to help run your new business, you really need to create a thorough and professional business plan. Here are some things it should include: What your business is and what you’re selling How you expect your business to earn money Your operational model Where you plan to get your financing from A list of any executives and employees (if applicable) Since this business plan will also serve as marketing material, you should keep your target audience in mind while writing it. If you’re going to show it to your potential employees, the business plan could help them see your vision and why it might or might not work for them. Before showing it to investors, you’ll need to have every aspect of your financials and operating model pinned down. After all, you want to maximize your chances of getting their approval and funds for your new online eCommerce business.  If you aren’t creating the plan for yourself, it’s advisable to look at some online templates first. These will help you keep your business plan consistent, thorough, and as detailed as possible, and will make sure you keep your goal and target audience in mind. If this is too troublesome for you, you can also consider hiring someone to write the business plan for you.  Lastly, it’s important to stick to the 20-page rule. You want to be informative enough, but you don’t want anyone to spend too much time trying to wrap their head around your concept.  Decide on Your Business Name and Structure You might now have a business plan, but you still don’t have a business. This next section of our guide is about formally establishing your company. You’re probably wondering how to start an eCommerce business step by step. First things first, you’ll need a name, a defined legal structure, all the necessary licenses, and an employer identification number (EIN). Let’s go through those steps one by one. Picking a Name Picking the right name can be difficult, and there are many things to keep in mind when doing so. You need a name that is distinctive, easy to remember, and clearly shows what your eCommerce business sells or does. On top of that, the name needs to be available, both with the US Patent and Trademarks Office and on websites that sell domain names. Even if you haven’t started working on your website, it’s worth registering a domain for your business as soon as you decide on a name. After all, the availability of a domain name can heavily influence the name you choose for your business. By acquiring a domain as soon as possible, you’re preventing someone else from taking it.   Defining Your Legal Structure Putting in place a defined legal structure is one of the most important steps to start a business, and it requires your time and attention. Consulting with a lawyer at this point is a good idea. After all, the type of entity you choose to establish will have important legal implications for your business. The most common types of business entities used for startups are sole proprietorship, LLC, general partnership, and corporation. Let’s give these categories a brief overview. Sole Proprietorship With a sole proprietorship, there isn’t a legal distinction between the business and its sole owner. That means you are personally liable and taxed for owning this type of business.   General Partnership If you’re not starting an online business on your own, you might consider a general partnership. These are typically conducted between two or more owners. Everyone in the partnership is equally liable, and this partnership is treated as a pass-through entity for tax purposes.  Limited Liability Company (LLC) LLC is one of the most common types of businesses out there. With an LLC, you and any other members have only limited liability and are typically taxed as a pass-through entity. Corporation  As an entity, a corporation is entirely separate from those who run it. That’s because a corporation is considered a legal person, meaning that the people controlling it have no liability. It’s owned by its shareholders and governed by its directors. Corporations aren’t the right choice for single entrepreneurs, but this legal structure works perfectly for large businesses.  If you’re still not sure which business structure is right for you, consulting with an experienced professional might be the best course of action. Once you decide on a suitable business model, they’ll help you file the necessary papers.  Applying for an EIN The next step is to apply for your EIN. Depending on what type of business entity you opt to establish, this nine-digit number may or may not be required. Regardless, it’s a great way to help you separate your business and personal finances. For this reason, getting an EIN is highly recommended for everyone looking to start an online business. You can apply for an EIN for free online or via mail, fax, or phone. If you choose the online route, you’ll likely receive your number immediately.  Getting a Business License Every business, whether online or offline, needs a business license. Depending on the state your business is located in, you might need to get yours sooner than later. Some regions allow you to sell up to a certain threshold before getting your license, while others require you to have it beforehand. All this information is neatly listed on the SBA website, together with which licenses are required in your state. You’ll likely be able to obtain your license online, although again that can vary by state. Find or Create the Products You’re Going to Sell Once you’ve done everything required to set up your online eCommerce business, it’s time to stock up on your product. If you’re selling digital products created by someone else, stocking up might be relatively simple. However, if you want to sell something you create yourself, you’ll need to do much more preparation for your launch, as the production process will probably involve a lot of work. When prepping for your grand opening, make sure you don’t compromise on the quality of what you’re offering.   If you plan to resell, you should contact wholesalers to work out how you can put together your inventory efficiently and cost-effectively. You need to select your inventory carefully and make sure you’re satisfied with what’s on offer in your store, taking industry trends into account. If you’re considering dropshipping, now’s the time to make the appropriate deals with suppliers and manufacturers.   Create Your Website Now that you have all the data, products, and paperwork figured out, it’s time to start working on your eCommerce website.  Your website is your online storefront, and you should dedicate the same amount of time and effort to building it as you would to setting up a brick-and-mortar store. After all, this is what your customers will see, browse through, and use to have your products delivered to their doorstep. It’s up to you to make that experience as pleasant and convenient as possible.  We’re assuming that by this stage, you’ve already selected and purchased your domain name. The next step would typically be finding a hosting provider, but that doesn’t really apply here; you’ll have to decide which eCommerce platform to use, and you’ll get hosting as part of that package. Here’s a quick overview of some of the popular eCommerce software options out there: Shopify Probably the world’s most popular eCommerce platform, Shopify is an excellent choice for anyone looking to open their own online store. Shopify accounts start at $29 per month and allow you to create and customize your store to an impressive extent.  WooCommerce If you decide to create your website on WordPress, you should definitely opt for WooCommerce as your eCommerce provider. With its most basic package, this plugin allows you to create an online store for free; all you have to do is download it and enjoy its multitude of features. Just be aware that if you’re not familiar with WordPress, WooCommerce might present a bit of a learning curve. Magento Magento allows you to customize your new eCommerce site to the fullest. It’s free to download and offers many more options than any other solution on the market. The potential problem is that you need to be quite tech-savvy to get the most out of it.  As such, it’s not the best option for new eCommerce entrepreneurs with a DIY approach. However, if you can find the money to hire a developer, you can use Magento to open up a world-class shop that will put your competitors to shame.  Squarespace Squarespace is another excellent solution for making an eCommerce website, especially for beginners. It’s famous for its easy-to-use shop templates that will get you started in no time. As is the case with Shopify, Squarespace allows you to set up shop without having to know how to write a single line of code. It’s also relatively cheap - the basic plan that includes eCommerce capabilities starts at $18 per month. Still, Squarespace is more of a website builder than a full-blown eCommerce platform. As such, it’s somewhat limited in terms of the tools, features, and add-ons it offers.  Some eCommerce website builders will offer hosting packages that cater to your needs adequately, but there’s also a chance you’ll have to figure out hosting by yourself. If this is the case, you should consider cloud hosting, which is widely considered one of the best solutions for an eCommerce site.  You’ll also see many other options, such as shared hosting or even dedicated server hosting. Both of these are good options when you’re just starting your own eCommerce business, so it’s not something to stress too much about. Still, you should be aware that these options can be much more difficult to scale than cloud hosting.  Whether or not you’re ready to scale depends on how well your eCommerce site is performing. You need to think about the features, usability, and customization options you need as your business grows. More importantly, you need to be conscious of the system you’ll be using to manage your day-to-day business online. For example, if integrating payment systems into your eCommerce site is as complex as brain surgery, you might not be able to scale that quickly.  If your customers can’t navigate your site or find what they’re looking for effortlessly, it could be a dealbreaker for them. Consider hiring a UX design agency to help you create an online store and set up the basics.  Define Your Brand Another reason why you might not be able to scale as extensively as you'd like to is failing to attract and keep customers. For this reason, you need to pin down your brand building strategy. This starts with your eCommerce website and goes on to include your marketing efforts later. But the most important place for your brand to thrive is in your customers’ heads, so that it’s your company that comes to mind when they think about a specific product. With all this in mind, you can see why branding is crucial when you’re building a business. After all, there’s a fair chance that when someone mentions coffee, a green Starbucks sign pops into your head. Your ultimate aim is to create that kind of instant association for the products or services you’re selling. One of the most important aspects of branding is thinking about the design of your website, your logo, and your visuals in general. Unfortunately, selecting colors, typography, and other elements for your website is more difficult than you might expect. Don’t overthink it too much right now; you can always rebrand down the road. Finding a logo maker is one of the best ways to consolidate your brand identity when starting your own business.  Testing everything before you go live is non-negotiable. You want to be sure that every inch of your website functions as intended. One way of doing this is to ask your friends to help you test the site, or if budget allows, hire a QA specialist to test it professionally. You want to make sure the website looks good on all devices, every button works, and you don’t have a single broken link.  Add Your Products to the Site Once you’ve done everything to set up your eCommerce store, the last step is to add your inventory. When doing so, pay close attention to categories and the overall organization of your site; you want your customers to find what they need quickly.  Once they find the product they want, the customer will likely dwell on its description and image. For this reason, you need to provide them with high-quality visuals and accurate and detailed product descriptions. Think about what they’d like to know about each product. Excellent visuals and precise descriptions are key to unlocking more sales.  It’s Time for Marketing You don’t want your store to open to the sound of crickets; you need customers lined up in front of your virtual door and stampeding towards your “buy now” button. That doesn’t happen on its own; you need to put effort into marketing your new business on the internet. Of course, marketing something properly is no small feat, and there’s a lot to think about. Newsletter? Social media marketing? Paid promotions?  In an ideal world you’ll employ all of those strategies. But which will be your top priority - the one that will bring you the most customers with the least effort? To answer this, you should backtrack a couple of steps in this eCommerce startup guide to the section where we talk about analyzing your target audience. Do they use social media? If so, which social platform might they be on, and what type of groups would they be active in? Think of any correspondence you might have with your audience and the tone that would best speak to those potential customers.  Promo codes, giveaways, and free goodies are also an excellent way to create interest and buzz about your store opening. If you’re offering services, free consultations may be the best way to get customers through the door. A free download each month could work for digital products. Listen to your audience’s feedback and you’ll quickly realize what works. Grow Your Business  Once you launch and sell all of your initial inventory, it’s time to grow further. Most aspects of running your business will remain the same, but on a larger scale. It could be beneficial to invest in some tools, hire someone to help, and draw from the experience you’ve gained while building an eCommerce business to find room for potential improvement in the future. You’ll want to consider upping your current eCommerce marketing efforts. This could mean creating a lengthy email marketing list, collaborating with influencers in your niche, and focusing on SEO.  As you gain new customers, you might consider investing in good customer relationship management (CRM) software. This kind of program is bound to upgrade your customers’ experience at your eCommerce store. CRMs do a solid job of replacing the face-to-face experience people have at brick-and-mortar stores.  As your customer base grows, you’ll also likely have more inventory to handle and warehousing problems to solve. Thankfully, there are plenty of software options that can help you with inventory management. On top of that, you should keep an eye out for other things you can do to help you further optimize your processes. As always, the best way to improve your business is to listen to your customers. You should also look out for ways to improve your back-office processes when you notice that something is unnecessarily complicated. Any improvements you make will surely help your profits down the line! How Much Does it Cost to Start an eCommerce Business? This is a difficult question to answer, as there are many unknowns at play. Creating an eCommerce website can be expensive, but you might have friends who are willing to lend their expertise for a percentage of your profits. On the other hand, you might have to pay for someone to help with marketing, or you might need to splash out more to get special inventory in.  With all that in mind, we’ll try to answer this question: how much money does it take to start an eCommerce business? If you need just the basics - domain, platform, and hosting - it could cost you as little as $40 per month. On top of that, creating your business and acquiring all the permits you need can cost anywhere from $30 to a few hundred dollars, depending on your location. And while it doesn’t seem like much, this minimum investment will mean you have to do a lot of heavy lifting yourself.  From there, hiring a website designer could cost anything from $300 to several thousand. On top of that, hiring a graphic designer to come up with a beautiful logo will likely cost you anywhere from $15 to $300. A warehouse typically costs $4 to $7 per square foot per month, and if we’re not even going to get started on the costs of marketing - there’s really no limit to how much you could spend getting your company’s name out there. Social media marketing starts off being quite affordable, but if you’re trying to reach a broader audience, you’ll also need to consider expanding your budget.  Any additional software or service will create extra dents in your budget. Keep in mind that $5 might not sound like much, but if you have to pay that amount every month for multiple apps, it will soon add up. Still, many of those services are well worth their price, so it’s up to you to figure out what you can handle yourself and what you need help with when starting an eCommerce website. Overall, excluding your inventory purchases, you could be looking at an initial investment of around $700 to $3,000. So, Is eCommerce the Right Business for You to Start? Especially in this day and age, eCommerce is the best option if you’re looking to start your own shop. After all, few business owners these days want to deal with all the extra expenses and challenges that come with operating a brick-and-mortar store. If you start an eCommerce business, you can enjoy high levels of flexibility while forking out much less cash than you would to open a brick-and-mortar shop, and you might even be able to work from the comfort of your home. Before you get too excited, you should be aware that the niche is very competitive. Unless you’re offering a product that enough people need but can’t buy anywhere else, you’ll likely have to grind a lot to turn your store into a success. Still, the opportunity to be your own boss might just be too good to miss out on.

By Vladana Donevski October 26,2021

Dropshipping seems to have been the buzzword among people looking to start a business for quite some time now. This is more than understandable, as it is an excellent source of income that doesn’t require a significant up-front investment, too much know-how, or management skills typically associated with retail. This business model is great for beginners: You can quickly test everything and figure out what works without any major drawbacks. For that, though, you’ll need to figure out the basics, such as what it is and how dropshipping works. Then, it’ll be up to you to decide whether this business option will be the one to make you a successful entrepreneur. Let’s get down to explaining the basics. What Is Dropshipping? Dropshipping is a business model that allows you to sell products on your website without worrying about inventory or shipping. This form of eCommerce order-fulfillment method enables you to purchase products wholesale from a third-party supplier. Your supplier will keep the products in their warehouse and ship them for you. All you have to do is sell them. While this sounds similar to the standard retail setup, there is a significant difference. The merchant doesn’t handle keeping products in stock or maintain inventory. Instead, they typically purchase merchandise on an as-needed basis from a supplier. Now, we’ve used many new terms here. Let’s identify the key players in the scheme, to make the dropshipping definition clearer. Supplier Having a supplier that works with you rather than against you is the only way to run a successful dropshipping business. After all, you will be relying on your supplier to store and fulfill your orders. Sometimes, your supplier might be the manufacturer of the goods you’re selling, too. Some of the most popular supplier solutions are AliExpress, SaleHoo, and Wholesale central. However, depending on your niche, you can find many independent dropshipping suppliers to make your store stand out. Selling Merchant (You) But can’t everyone simply go to AliExpress and order whatever they want? The answer is yes, so you might be wondering why anyone would need a dropshipper as a middleman. However, AliExpress and other wholesale websites are typically, well, a mess. From product descriptions and images that are as daunting as possible, to poor search results, unknown sizes, and plenty of unknown providers who may or may not be the real thing - it may all seem like too much work for the average shopper. This is where you - the dropshipper - come in. If your main question is: “What is a dropshipping business’ purpose?” here is a quick run-through: You are the one doing the research, curating the wholesaler sites, and guaranteeing the right product will end up on their doorstep. It is up to you to provide a shopping experience your customers can rely on. Depending on how committed you are (and you need to be committed for this to work), creating a top-notch website is a great idea. It should have images and videos that accurately represent the product. You should also focus on providing a realistic delivery timeframe and excellent customer support. After all, that’s what’s your customers are paying you a little bit extra for. Customer The customer is, of course, the third part of the dropshipping model. They place an order on your website, and once they pay you, you can direct the order to your supplier. Your supplier will accept the order, charge you their cut of the price, and ship the product to the customer. Keep in mind; your customers are working with you and not with the supplier - your reputation is the one that will be damaged if something’s wrong with the product. And while you can always rely on reputation management companies down the line, it is always better to be safe than sorry. After all, a happy customer is returning customer, and you want as many of those as possible. So, What Does a Dropshipper Do? As the dropshipper, you are the intermediary between the customer and the supplier. It’s your job to create an excellent customer experience and carefully select exceptional products to sell. If you pair that with innovative advertising to reach and expand your audience, you’ll be all set. What Are the Benefits of Dropshipping? Now that we’ve covered what dropshipping is - let’s go over some of its benefits by comparing it to more traditional online stores. Fewer Significant Expenses Unlike a more traditional setup, which requires plenty of spending upfront for inventory, dropshipping allows you to launch a store without a single item in stock. Retailers typically have a lot of money tied up in their supplies, but dropshippers don’t have to pay a single cent until the customer pays for the order first. This also means that you don’t need to worry about investing in a product that ends up performing poorly on your site. As there’s no commitment from your side, you can test out and replace products to no end, until you're completely satisfied with the selection. Get Started Quickly There are business solutions that require a lot of planning and learning before you start. However, with this type of eCommerce business, you can learn as you go. As mentioned, with a dropshipping business, you don’t have to worry about the products, managing a warehouse, shipping your orders, finding the right order-fulfillment software, handling returns, and other tasks people with retail stores typically have to figure out. As Inexpensive As a New Business Can Be Most dropshipping companies are home-based businesses, so you won’t need to rent office space. You also don’t have to invest much to get started - all you need is a laptop and a website. What’s better, even as your business grows, you are unlikely to experience a lot of recurring expenses and costs. The ones that do appear won’t break your bank. Sell Anything You Want If there is a supplier for it, you can list it on your dropshipping store and sell it. Since you don’t have to purchase anything and store it before selling it, your wares can be anything. Look for trending products, and list them without worrying. Easier To Test Until You Succeed If you are unsure which products would sell well, dropshipping is the best way to test things out and find what works. You can order samples of the goods for yourself for a negligible price. On the same note, finding what works quickly will allow you to scale and grow faster. With the other models, twice the orders means twice the work, but dropshipping excels in this case: The extra work is handled by the supplier. For example, you only have to maintain the same standard of service your customers like. The Disadvantages of Dropshipping While the benefits make dropshipping a very enticing business option, there are also downsides to it that you should consider. Let’s discuss what you need to be aware of before you start building a dropshipping platform. Harsh Competition Means Low Margins While there might not be many physical stores in your niche, you’ll be dealing with a lot of competition online in this day and age. Since it is pretty cheap to open one of these dropshipping websites, you can expect your competition to offer products with rock-bottom prices attached. It can be challenging to compete with that. While you can take advantage of the competition’s weaknesses, which are usually poor customer support or low-quality websites, the price will always be a big deciding factor. This is why you need to research your competition first - finding a good niche to set up a dropshipping shop in can make all the difference. Tricky Inventory Tracking While there is plenty of software for keeping track of inventory and warehousing for eCommerce, you don't need that for dropshipping. Still, you will likely be dealing with multiple suppliers and several warehouses, which can make keeping track of what is in stock and which dropshipping products you’re out of difficult. Luckily, there are many apps out there to remedy this problem, so choose one to stay in sync with your providers. Shipping Cost Calculation Multiple warehouses and suppliers also mean various locations - and this will influence your shipping costs. Passing the charges to the customer is not always the best idea, and automating these can be difficult. Common Supplier Mistakes Everybody makes mistakes, especially while fulfilling orders. When opening a dropshipping store, you need to be prepared to own your mistakes - but also the suppliers’. After all, it’s your job to maintain a business reputation. To minimize the amount of apologizing, corrections, and stress you’ll take on with this type of business, make sure you only choose the best dropshipping suppliers. If you want to do it right, you should always purchase several test products beforehand. Check the order for everything: Package quality, missing products, and poorly executed shipments. If you are unhappy with the end result, chances are, your customer will be disappointed as well. No Control Over Products With dropshipping, you’ll have to give up any dreams of unique branding or customization - all designs are entirely up to the supplier. If you’re lucky, you might find a supplier comfortable with customizing their products. Still, you can expect that they will also require a pre-purchase of minimum order quantity for those. Now that you’ve had dropshipping explained, it is time for the biggest question of them all: Is Dropshipping The Suitable Business Model For You? Essentially, dropshipping is an excellent business model for anyone looking to start a shop without investing too much upfront. However, it does take a keen eye for detail, superb research skills, and excellent people skills. You’ll need to know how to manage a site, too, and you should most certainly practice your customer support voice before you dive in. Now, if you’re confident this will be a good gig for you, here are some quick how-tos. How To Start a Dropshipping Business To start with dropshipping, you need to get the basics set up first. Here is what you should know. Select Your Niche And Target Audience This is where your research skills can shine. You need to scour the market for existing stores in the niche you’re interested in. Pay close attention to their pricing structure, current offer, and how they rank for particular products. If the market is already saturated with competition and you can’t find the room to top them, consider another one. Choose Suppliers Carefully As mentioned before, your suppliers can be your best friends or your biggest enemies - so choose your wholesaler wisely.    There are many websites dedicated to eCommerce that provide complete directories of potential dropshipping wholesalers. From there, you select the providers you would like to feature on your dropshipping site. Once you create a shortlist, email them, or give them a call about your business plan. This also serves as the first test, so make a note of how long it took the suppliers’ team to reply. Here are some things you should check: Charges And Expenses If you’ve done the market research, you already know what the competition charges. Compare that to the offer you got from your provider. If there isn’t enough room in between for you to make a profit, look at other options. Also, make sure you ask about any additional fees the supplier might charge, as these can quickly eat up your profit. Shipping And Return Policies Familiarize yourself with the suppliers’ shipping and return policies. You need a supplier who uses tracking numbers, which are essential for keeping your customers updated on the whereabouts of their orders. You also need to know how complicated it would be to fix things if something goes south. Get informed about the eCommerce dropshipping suppliers’ return policies, and if a supplier doesn’t accept returns or provide any other guarantees, look elsewhere. Billing Not all suppliers charge the same way: Some will bill you on a per-order basis, while others do it monthly. You’ll want to find a supplier that will work with your cash flow rather than against it. Creating Your Dropshipping Store The last step on your journey toward dropshipping success is creating a website. When crafting a dropshipping website, you have two options. You can build your website from scratch, or choose one of the many available eCommerce platforms out there. Which one you’ll choose depends entirely on you. However, with an eCommerce platform, a large chunk of the job is already done for you. All you’ve got to handle is adding the products and customizing the platform to fit your brand. On the other hand, eCommerce builders allow you complete control over the look and functionality of your site, and remove all competition from the same platform. It is something you should certainly consider if you’re going for a highly competitive niche. Extra Tips For Successful Dropshipping If you want to find out how to make money through dropshipping, and have your business become a success quickly, here are some pro-tips to consider and implement. Choose Your Products Wisely Just because you can list anything doesn’t mean you should. Do market research, focus on your niche, and display only high-quality products. Think about your customers, marketing plans, and how difficult something will be to ship. Focus On Customer Experience Dropshipping is not a new thing: That means your niche probably has one-too-many dropshippers in it already. You probably won’t match the low prices, but you can offer the best customer experience on the market. It is something your customers will appreciate paying a bit extra for. An easy-to-use website with excellent visuals and accurate descriptions, realistic shipping times, and exceptional customer support could make a customer choose you over other dropshipping companies. If you’re not sure how to accomplish it on your own, consider hiring a UX agency - it will certainly pay off in the long run. Invest In Your Brand You need to build a good relationship with your clients, which you can’t do without proper marketing and support processes. Create a solid social media presence, catchy marketing, and email campaigns. Make sure you provide top-notch customer support. Reputation is the key to success with this business model, and you shouldn’t neglect any opportunity to position yourself as a reliable spot for products in your niche.

By Vladana Donevski December 06,2021

The consumerist society we live in has no time for subpar advertising. Businesses need to stand out from each other to remain competitive and spread the word about their brand and products.  Having an informative and easy-to-navigate press kit is a way of compiling all the relevant facts, figures, and photos about your business so that journalists can cover your product easily. We’ll explain how to make a press kit and make the hectic daily tasks of journalists more manageable. Give our guide a read and see if you can get some ideas for boosting your business this way.  The Evolution of the Press Kit Good press coverage starts with providing the correct information in a timely manner. A press or media kit is a document that showcases all the assets of your business and products: essential information and figures, relevant photos and videos, logos, and other data necessary for journalists to learn about your brand. A well-designed electronic press kit or  EPK with product samples is a keystone of successful advertising.  Components of a press kit haven’t changed much, but the format has evolved over the years. In the beginning, companies distributed them in the form of a floppy disk with promotional materials and brand information, packed alongside a newspaper or magazine. Press kits soon became available as PDF files attached to emails, but as you can imagine - PDF documents are not exactly journalist-friendly. They tend to be clunky, aren’t indexed by search engines, and you can’t update them with new information quickly.  That’s why switching to modern electronic press kit formats was a huge step forward. EPK can be stored on your online newsroom or company’s website so that it can be easily reachable. Many companies have them available on CDs, DVDs, or USB flash drives. Instead of digging for information, journalists can craft a story with a quick glance at your EPK. So, why not use cutting-edge technology to make your business shine?  Press Kit Know-How A neat and digestible press pack that contains all the information relevant to your business is essential for boosting sales and brand awareness. Here’s how to make a press kit that will help you showcase your product and mission to the journalists and, therefore, to a broader audience. Find your inspiration Whether you already have an idea or wish to start from a blank canvas, the internet has you covered. Numerous websites offer professionally designed artistic templates available for editing; Canva, Envato Elements, and Creative Market are just some of the big names that provide users with customizable and downloadable press kit templates that can pique everyone’s interests.  All you have to do is search by platform, aesthetic, color, task, or mood to get the free sample document. Then just download it, and open it in your editor of choice. Make sure to change the font, size, or sub out the imagery for a handcrafted feel. There you can also take a look at some of the most representative examples of EPK files and see if you can get some inspiration. Some websites even offer the option of creating your own logo. Once you pick your style, you’ll be up and running in no time.  What does a press kit include Now that you’ve got the ball rolling, it’s time to update and personalize all the sections within the EPK template. Here’s how: Make sure to input your contact information, website, email address, location, and telephone number; most journalists will probably want to reach out to you to get more details or clarification about some of the sections. A good idea will be to include the contact of your marketing manager, if you have one so that they can provide all the necessary data upon request. We recommend posting social handles in this section so that you can be tagged in the story once it goes live. Digital press kits should include a brief company overview that will showcase your mission and achievements. Post a 50-to-100-word description on the top of the front page that will explain your business’ background, products or services, mission, and goals. Some of the helpful information you might want to add are the founding date, target market, locations of your branches, and company size/number of employees. Company facts are a must; including at least ten bullet points in your press packs will make it easier for journalists to tailor their stories. Making a basic press kit requires only the most important information and figures about the company, telling statistics such as revenue growth or the number of customers you serve. You can talk about products, employees, clients, milestones, and sales that best represent your brand.  What is a company without its workforce? We’re pretty sure that the journalists who research your brand would appreciate and welcome a more personalized approach to a media kit. That’s why you should include team member bios with the individual's career history and achievements. Start with the CEO, president, executive managers, and then move on to the others involved in the product making and selling. To customize the press kit template, add professional headshots. Finally, don’t forget to check your grammar and spelling before you post anything. Adding appropriate spelling and capitalization of your company’s name would also be a valuable asset to your EPK. Make sure to specify how you want it to be printed to avoid misspelling and confusion. Product Information That’s why we’re all here, right? The focal point of your media kit should be the products and services that you offer to potential customers. Since you need journalists to land free promotions, you can make their job easier by including clear and simplified descriptions of what you’re selling. List all the features that set your product apart and display all of the pricing tiers.  When you create a press kit for your enterprise or startup, listing all the valid prices won’t be enough. The ever-changing nature of the market requires constant checking and updating of the fees, features, promotions, and sales. If you’re sending physical press kits, pack product samples with them to make an impression, especially if you’re selling cosmetics.  Branding and Media Assets Content publishers will appreciate it if your press pack contains high-resolution and downloadable logos and marketing images of your brand, along with branding guidelines. A good idea would be to have those with a transparent background and different shapes and sizes so that they can be used right away, without much ado.  Another thing that a well-designed press kit should provide is links to media assets such as positive media mentions, high-resolution photos of the products, professional videos, testimonials, interviews, and other sources. They should be downloadable or grouped in a file-sharing service for hassle-free use. Make sure you neatly label them and mark folders. Let’s not forget the most critical asset - past press releases, as they can give insight into the background and context of your business. Miscellaneous  Every PR campaign is different; creating a press kit can go in different directions depending on the product and service type, business goals, and market characteristics. If you adapt it to your audience’s interests, you can get a more specific response and target potential leads better. For example, an EPK for bands should contain additional materials such as discography, tour dates, and recordings of the band performing. An artist’s EPK has to include past exhibitions, images of previous artworks and installations, and art samples.  Another good idea would be a list of noteworthy awards and recognitions that can showcase your brand properly. Having nonprofit and volunteer involvement on your press kit page would set your business apart by showing that profit is not your only goal and your company is also socially responsible. Finally, some brands like to encompass their mission statements and quotes in articles and reviews. Remember to put in only the essential extras as journalists are usually in a rush and just skim through the content searching for important information. How to Promote Your Press Kit Now that you’re all set and have all your promotional material packed in the media kit, the next step would be to make sure it is easy to find on your website. One option is to distribute your press kit. In a world of digital technology, there are many electronic services that make their distribution easier and give old-fashioned  a boost. If you prefer traditional ways, here are some tips to get more press coverage;  Send your digital media kit to influencers and bloggers to share and discuss with their audiences; Distribute it to the newsroom channels, but make sure to send it directly to journalists too, as newsrooms might not cover the story.  Promote your press kit on social networks you have access to, with one or more photos attached and a brief and catchy description. Consider investing in targeted ads on social media to reach specific news networks.  Publish your press kit on a webpage under the “press” tab in the navigation menu, as this allows interested journalists to find the information on their own. Putting together a press kit is a daunting but rewarding task. You need to have eye-catching content, engaging photos and videos, relevant information briefly packed in a well-rounded package, and a detailed product description. Having a media kit is just the first step that’ll make it easier for journalists to understand and pass on your story. However, it’s up to you to amp up the press coverage for your business by reaching out and distributing it wisely.

By Danica Djokic October 15,2021

If you’re just starting your PR journey, you are probably brimming with questions. What must every press release contain? How long should a press release be, ideally? For answers to these questions and more, you’ve come to the right place. In the following article, you will find some useful basic guidelines that should help you ace all of your press releases. Length is one of the most common questions and concerns people have when it comes to press releases. That is why we’ve decided to break it down for you and go through some other do’s and don'ts of creating a perfect press release. As you already know, a press release is a short informative news story written by a public relations specialist and designed to arouse the attention of journalists and publications. We already said it should be short, but what exactly does that mean? In general, when writing a press release, you should keep it somewhere between 300 and 400 words and fit it on a single page. It might not sound like much, but it will give you just enough space to include all the critical information while keeping the reader’s attention. According to research, editors and reporters spend from five to ten seconds on average reading a news release before deciding whether to publish or dismiss it. Therefore, you need to make sure to keep your press releases short and sweet.  Press Release Guidelines Before starting to write a press release, there are some questions you should ask yourself.  Does your story include any newsworthy material? Will it be of interest to your target audience? Will the reader actually care about it? It might sound a bit harsh, but the sooner you get to the bottom of these questions, the better the chances of meeting your goals are. Here are a few tips to help you stay on point. Focus on answering the most important questions Your press release needs to be informative but also appealing to the reader. It should be all about answering the who, what, when, where, why, and how questions in a couple of concise paragraphs. Avoid the unnecessary fluff When creating press releases, there’s no need to include every single detail that comes to your mind. It will just divert the attention from what’s really important, and you might overwhelm the reader with unnecessary information.  Create a pyramidal structure An online press release should always start with a hook that will intrigue the audience and make them want to continue reading it. You should start the story with the most important details and make the headline stand out to let the journalist know your press statement is worth reading.  Make sure your grammar is on point Spelling and grammar mistakes are an absolute turn-off when it comes to any official documents. Once you come up with the press release structure and finish your article, make sure to do proofreading and check your piece for any possible mistakes. In case you need help with that, there are some really good grammar checkers around you, and some are even completely free to use. Think of the long-term strategy Every press release you publish might be a groundbreaking step in your business development. It can help you enlarge your media contacts database and get broader media coverage. If you wish to promote your business on social media platforms but don’t know how to do it the right way, you can seek assistance from a press release distribution service.

By Nikolina Cveticanin October 11,2021

Press releases used to be sent out exclusively to journalists and editors who would then judge whether the news they contained was important and interesting enough for the readers to be published by their newspaper. Within the past two decades, however, social media platforms have progressed to become a significant part of our lives. They have drastically changed the way people communicate, and they have transformed the press release into one of the most valuable marketing tools companies can use to communicate directly with their target audiences. What Is a Press Release? A press release is a short news article written by a PR professional and made visible to the targeted audience. It is also called a media statement or news release, and its main goal is to catch the attention of journalists and online publications and raise awareness about a specific subject. Nowadays, anyone can easily create, publish, and distribute a press release thanks to a large number of press release distribution companies that have made this service available to an unprecedented number of people.  This is great news for small businesses because there are many benefits of writing press releases your company, too, can take advantage of: Instead of just being used to introduce a new product or a service, press releases can now be employed to enhance your SEO strategy and help your company connect with investors, customers, and (prospective) employees.  An online press release is an excellent form of direct communication with the target audience without any third-party involvement.  And finally, one of the greatest things about online press releases is that they’re easy to access, and they represent a permanent piece of a company’s public record. How To Write a Press Release Before writing a press release, consider a few points.  The most important thing is to determine what it is that you want the press release to accomplish. Is it just a promotion of a new product, or do you maybe wish to add subscribers to the company’s newsletter?  You should also ensure to answer the 5W1H questions: who, what, when, where, why, and how. Once you have all that information sorted out, you can start writing your press release. The main elements of a press release are: Contact information. The standard press release should begin with the name, phone number, and e-mail address of the person who wrote the release. The headline. Probably the most important part of a press release. This is where you grab your readers’ attention, and you need to make sure it’s newsworthy and intriguing. Brief summary. This should be a short, one-line summary of the press release. And like the headline, it should be catchy and motivational. The body. The first paragraph of the body should contain the location and the date stamp. The rest of it should answer all the questions a reader might have about the product or service you are presenting. Call to action. A press release template usually ends with a call to action, an invitation for the reader to participate in the announced event or test the product. What Makes a Good Press Release? Apart from the basic elements every press release should have, there are also some details you shouldn’t forget about and tricks that can make it stand out. A press release should be concise and informative. It should only contain newsworthy information with straightforward writing, without any jargon or grammatical mistakes. Find a good grammar checker and review the text prior to publishing it. If you wish to know not only how to do a press release, but how to do it properly, here’s another tip: Make it scannable. To do so, you can use bold letters, bullet points, underline sentences, or add some other elements that make it easier to read. Another thing that can help you out is including images in your press release. Various studies have shown that a press release with an image has seven times more chances of being picked up than the ones without it.

By Nikolina Cveticanin October 08,2021

Writing press releases is not as easy as you might think, especially if you want to do it while following the Associated Press (AP) guidelines. There are lots of things to be aware of, from punctuation to the text formatting and creating a short “about you” paragraph (boilerplate). You also need to think about your audience - not only journalists and editors but also people interested in your company’s services or products. Therefore, before you even start writing the news about your company, be sure to know how to do it properly. We are here to help you write a press release format in AP style, but before we do that, here’s a short introduction to the AP writing style.  What is AP Style Writing? AP style is a writing style for journalists, magazines, and news set by the Associated Press news agency. Although some magazines (like New York Times) have their own publishing styles, AP style is considered an essential guide for journalists and editors or anyone else who wants to publish news. Like other style guidelines, AP style ensures that articles are formatted uniformly, regardless of who writes them. AP style writing rules are published in the AP stylebook. In this book, you can see the standards for text presentation, including news and press releases.  A press release using AP style includes numerous rules, and we are going to explain the most important ones here:  Serial Comma  Unlike Oxford style, AP style doesn’t allow the use of the serial comma. That means that the comma in AP style doesn't go after the last item in a list. The usage of commas is often a matter of style, but if you write magazine articles and news, AP style requires you to follow this rule.  Punctuation Don’t use a double space after a period if you write following the Associated Press writing style. The style requires a one-space rule after a period.  Numbers It might be easy to forget, so always check how you write numbers in articles formatted using the AP style. According to the Associated Press style guide, numbers between one and nine must be spelled, and you can use numerals past the number ten (10). By following the AP style, time should be written in numbers instead of words. For example, you should write “3 p.m.” instead of “three o’clock in the afternoon.” Dates When it comes to dates, there are a few rules to memorize. Firstly, you should use numbers to write dates. Secondly, the abbreviation applies only for months that are more than five letters long.  Fonts We know that there are a lot of attractive fonts to use but stick to standard ones. Editors will not be impressed with this type of experiment, especially if they follow standard AP style rules. Times New Roman is the standard font that you should use. AP style press release format sets the rules for font size too. The font size is also standardized and can be one point apart in size. If your headline is 14, the subheadings should be 13. The body of your text would then be size 12. Perspective Never use a first-person perspective in your article; you are a journalist, not a bard. AP style requires news and articles written in third-person only.  Capitalization AP style headline capitalization means that all headlines and subheadings have to be written in the title case.  How to write an AP style press release Before starting to write a press release, make sure that you know five W’s or five questions all journalists must be able to answer. These questions are the core of any news piece, and if you know how to ask and answer them, you may rest assured that you are providing adequate information to your audience. The answers to these questions summarize what your piece is about, and you should answer them in the first paragraph of the text. After that, you can add details to flesh out your press release.  These are the questions to answer:  Who is involved?  The answer should include information about the topic of the article. When writing news, writers should establish the subject (individual, company), and if it’s a press release, it should be about the company doing the press release. What happened? Explain what the piece is about briefly. For example, if your business is launching a new product, write about it.  When did it happen? AP press news should provide information about the timing of the event - when did the event you are writing about happen, or when will it happen? Where did it happen? As with time, readers should be told where the event that’s talked about is happening/has happened/will happen. Why did it happen? It is a straightforward question, but sometimes it can be challenging to answer. You need to explain why your news is important for your readers.  Answer these questions briefly but accurately so your audience will get all the necessary information in the first paragraph. It is important to be short and direct in this first paragraph because many readers won’t read the rest of the article.  Identify Your Audience  Another thing you need to do is identify who your AP press release readers are. Once you find out who your target audience is (that means not only editors and journalists but your customers or followers), you need to find a way to grab their attention. See what your readers are interested in, what their values are, what businesses they trust. You also need to research the demographic of your audience, including their age, gender, location, etc.  As you can see, creating a press release involves more than just getting the press release formatting right. For this reason, many businesses use press release distribution services. Aside from disseminating your news through the most popular media outlets, press release distribution companies will create and edit your press release, too. Provide Press Release Instructions  Your AP style news release should include the time and date when you want your news to be published. If your story is ready for publishing, type the words “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.” On the other hand, if you have an embargoed press release (a release that is not ready for immediate publishing),  write  “EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE UNTIL,” followed by the time and date when you want it published. Include Contact Information  When it comes to formatting a press release, don’t forget to include the contact details (name, phone number, email address) of the person who can provide more information about the press release content. Write your AP style press release dateline in the top left corner of the press release.  Write the Press Release Headline The next thing you need to do is to write a headline. The press release headline is positioned at the top center of the page, and it shouldn't be more than 80 characters long. It has to be eye-catchy to grab the readers’ attention. The subhead is located below the headline. It can be longer than the headline and may include up to 120 characters that explain the content in your headline. Both the AP headline and subhead should include keywords that boost the visibility of your press release. There are also other things that you can do when writing an Associated Press style press release headline. For example, you can search for a story already in the news and connect it with your piece somehow. This practice is also called “newsjacking.” Our advice is to use the present tense when you write the headline. It will attract your readers if the headline is exciting and catchy-sounding.    The Lead  The lead has to be short and to the point but still interesting. It’s the first paragraph of your press release, and it should be at least 60 characters long. You should also add the date when you want your press release to go live and the location your release originates from. This is an example of the date and location information for the press release (format AP):  Phoenix, Ariz. (October 20, 2021)  The date and location have to be bolded, and you need to use AP style for the state abbreviation.  The lead is the first thing journalists will read, so it has to summarize the most important things about the news you want to share. In this part of your press release, you need to answer the five W’s. Write Your Boilerplate The boilerplate or the “about” section is another important part of the standard press release format. It’s placed at the bottom of the statement and includes information about your business, such as your company history and values, awards, further plans, and anything else that is relevant for your audience. If you follow the AP format for the press release, this section shouldn’t be longer than 100 words. For example, if your business offers legal services, the boilerplate should talk about your company’s years in business, awards, and any of the company’s accomplishments.     Choose the Media Outlets That You Want to Send Your Press Release  After you finish your press release creation, you need to decide where you want to send it. You will be in a position to choose among hundreds of media outlets, and sometimes it can be really difficult to decide where to publish the press release in AP style. You should choose wisely because media outlets receive hundreds of press releases daily, and not all of them will publish yours. Also, pick those media outlets that target your audience. For example, if you’re opening a pet-friendly restaurant, send your press release to food and beverage and pet magazines.  Choose How You Want to Distribute Your Press Release  The distribution of your press releases is the next step after you format them in accordance with the AP style. There are several ways to spread the AP press release. For example, you can send the press release to journalists, bloggers, and influencers with whom you are already connected. Aside from the direct outreach, you can send the news to numerous media outlets to get wider media exposure. To do this, you will need to use press release distribution services. Alternatively, you can try to send your press release to journals and magazines on your own, but there’s no guarantee that they will publish it. It’s always a good idea to publish your press release on your website. This will increase the overall visibility of your company. Some website creators offer the option to add the press release page and publish the AP press release format with a few simple clicks. Also, don’t forget to share your media statement on social media channels so your followers can see it.

By Danica Jovic October 11,2021

A good press release is essential to the press coverage your business needs. It is an open invitation for any journalist, blogger, or interested party to learn more about your business, and it helps send the message you’re trying to share with the world.  Even though this type of conversation with the media has been somewhat superseded with announcements on social media, a proper PR manager still needs to learn how to submit a press release. Your business could be launching a new product, opening a new store, announcing a new partnership, or a local event - all of these events warrant a good media release. The first step, of course, is writing a press release. Major companies will typically hire someone for the task. However, if you are running a small business and need to be careful with your budget, you should consider writing it yourself.   Writing Press Releases There is an art to writing a good press release, but we won’t be going into the finer details here. Let’s quickly go over some of the main points for a quick rundown on how to write a good one by yourself. Keep in mind that the piece you will submit as a press release is not an advertisement - if you’d like to advertise something, you should purchase an ad. It isn’t a news piece either. Instead, it’s dancing on the line between the two, and you need to find the perfect balance. Otherwise, your news release will likely be ignored and thrown away. Most importantly, media releases must provide relevant information to the readers. If you are opening a store, focusing on why the store is needed or how many jobs it will provide to the community is an excellent perspective to take in your writing. If your product is helping people, focus on why the help is needed. You want to submit a press release that editors will regard as valuable content that they want to publish.  Some general writing rules apply to the press releases as well. You have the attention of your potential customers during the first couple of sentences, so make those matter. Always mind the length of your press release. Of course, you also want to include your contact information if your editor has questions for you or wants to publish it.  Before you send press releases out, you will want to give it a double-check for any grammar mistakes or typos that will undoubtedly make you seem unprofessional if they slip past the editing stage. Sending it to a proofreader, or at least using one of the grammar checkers available online, is almost mandatory. Lastly, you’ll want to ensure you’ve included all the relevant and correct information. Now that we’ve gone through the refresher course for press release writing, it is time to discuss how to get the release submitted and published.  How to Submit a Press Release Now that you have your press release ready, it is time to submit and publish it. However, this process can be a bit difficult. Don’t fret; we’ll take you through it step by step. Step 1: Create a List of Publications Blindly sending the press release to anyone likely won’t give you the results you were hoping for, and it has a fair chance of getting you black-listed for spam. Make sure you send your press release to the relevant publications and the right press releases contact there. For example, if your release is industry-specific, you should consider sending it to editorial offices covering that particular industry. On the other hand, contacting a local editorial office is better if the press release submission revolves around a specific location, such as opening a company branch in a new city.  What Kind of Publication Types Should You Consider? Broadly speaking, the two main types of publications can be described as conventional and non-conventional.  By conventional, we mean newspapers, television channels, or radio stations which are an excellent solution for those who need local promotion.  On the other hand, non-conventional solutions, such as blogs, Facebook or LinkedIn groups, and other digital outlets, are a better choice if you want to reach a wider audience, even though they might be more informal than conventional publications. You should be able to find the person in charge of press release submissions by checking the publication’s website or LinkedIn page. Furthermore, you will likely find a comprehensive guide to submitting press releases for a particular outlet on its website or even an online submission form to help you out. It is a very time-consuming task, but once you get it over with, you will have a list of contacts you could reuse for your next press release. Noting the details down in a list or as a spreadsheet will save you a lot of time in the future.   Step 2: Craft the Emails Once you have your list ready, your next step is sending press releases to local media, blogs, or Facebook groups. For this, you need to prepare the accompanying submission email.  In it, you should indicate who you and your business are and inform the publication that you are submitting a press release, which you would like the editor to consider covering. You should also include why you think the announcement would be of interest to your audience and theirs. Giving them a good reason for covering the story in your email might tip the scales in your favor. If you are insecure about what you should include, you can always find a press release email template online and adapt it to fit your announcement.  It is also essential to include a date by which you would like your press release published. If your document is time-sensitive, it is crucial to submit it one or two weeks in advance - you want to give your editor the time to prepare it if they decide to run it.  Research has shown that the best time of day to try and land your press release in an editor's inbox is between 10 AM and 2 PM, preferably on a Thursday. It is advisable to send a press release within this timeframe, as you’ll have higher chances of getting your email opened, and the story covered. Step 3: Promote Your Press Release Once the press release gets published, it is up to you to use all the tools at your disposal to promote it. Advertising it in relevant groups on social media is advisable, as it is very likely where your customers are. However, use this type of content wisely - don’t bore your followers to death with irrelevant news. Instead, post the press releases in relevant groups, share them with people who are interested, or even repurpose the content into a new and social-media-suitable format.  Plan B: Outsourcing Press Release Submission Alternatively, if you want to outsource this task to someone else, many press release services and software are available online. These press release services will undoubtedly help you save a lot of time and effort and provide you with the type of reach that you are unlikely to reach by yourself. These tools will submit your press release to their well-established network of individuals and organizations to publish for a small price. You can also rely on these press release distribution services to further prepare and optimize a press release you’ve already created (in order to match different guidelines, for example). Outsourcing this part removes hours of additional manual work you’d typically have to do if you were to submit your press release all by yourself.  Some of the better distribution services will allow you to use their analytical tools and track the success of your press release after it has been published. These types of analytics should be one of the main things to look out for when choosing a press releases service. And there you have it, a quick step-by-step guide on how to send out a press release. Hopefully, with these guidelines, you’ll be able to get the media coverage your business needs as easily as possible.

By Vladana Donevski October 11,2021