Using Ecrater to Get Started in Ecommerce

Beginning ecommerce entrepreneurs have a vast choice of places to create their e-tail website. Since most new small business owners do not have a large amount of start up money, a free ecommerce choice may be very attractive to them. Ecrater.com is one of these free ecommerce solutions.

Free is Good. Or Is It?

Free, of course, is financially wonderful. Start-up ecommerce owners love free, and with good reason. It greatly decreases the risk of coming out of your ecommerce adventure at a loss. Free web hosting at Ecrater is also better than most other free hosts in that they do not plaster ugly advertisements all over your website.

Free, however, has a down side. Not paying for your own ecommerce hosting decreases your ability to design your website in the way you want it. It can also be less professional than purchased or private hosting. Ecrater also gives subdomain addresses to their ecommerce shop owners. While you can exchange it for a full domain name, many still reflect the lack of professionalism by using the free subdomain.

Product Listing Included. Sometimes.

Ecrater boasts that your items will be listed at Froogle, a popular online discount product listing service run by Google Corporation. While your products will appear there, it will usually not help you unless you know exactly how to utilize it.

Also, Ecrater itself has a vast product listing. If someone surfs to Ecrater.com, they can search for products from all the stores available. While this sounds like a very good thing, some products from certain wholesale distributors are not included.

Easy to Design. Or Graphically Boring?

For the beginning ecommerce website owner, Ecrater offers a very simple graphic look that is easy to deal with. Large blocks of your choice of five or six colors dominate the front page. All you have to do is change the title graphic and write one paragraph for the front page. Categories and products are displayed in the same place on every Ecrater site.

Easy, but boring. Also, it becomes more difficult to stand out from the hundreds of other ecommerce shops that are hosted there. It also drastically reduced the options of a more experienced website designer. You cannot use HTML or CSS on your ecommerce store. Nor can you insert extra images or change the layout in any way.

Using Ecrater.com to get started in ecommerce can be a very good decision for your business. However, you must be careful to insure that you are getting exactly what you want for your business. The packaged ecommerce store at Ecrater is free, easy to use, and part of a pleasant community. If you intend to grow into a large professional ecommerce company, it might not be the cho

15 Strategies for Savvy Small Businesses in 2017

15 Strategies for Savvy Small Businesses in 2017

The last few years have been tough for many small businesses due to the recession and lingering financial and regulatory uncertainty. Yet, many small businesses have remained healthy, and others have started, during these challenging times. The difference between the success or failure of a small business can often be tied to the ability of its management to recognize early and adapt quickly to changing trends in the market.

Based on recent small business trends and predictions for 2017, there are some strategies that small business owners should consider for the coming year.

Small business marketing strategies for 2017

  1. 1. Develop a social media marketing strategy. Social media is here to stay. If you don’t already have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, doing so should be one of your first marketing priorities for the New Year. If you already have a profile, now is the time to carefully and strategically fine-tune your strategy. As the social media market matures, there will be less tolerance for the haphazard, shotgun approaches to social media marketing that have been seen thus far.
  2. 2. Manage your online presence. Good news about a company or a business person travels quickly on the web. Bad news travels even faster. Periodically Google your business, and yourself, to see what others are saying. Be mindful of your dealings with prospects and customers. It’s always easier to keep a customer happy than to turn a dissatisfied customer around.
  3. Quality content is your friend. The internet provides countless ways to get the good work out about your business. Use blogs, social media accounts, online articles, and other people’s web sites to spread the word.
  4. Make the most of your web site. More than half of company web sites are essentially online brochures, offering general information about goods and services, but missing an important opportunity to provide real value to customers and prospects. Enhance your web site with fresh, high-quality content, e-commerce solutions, customer service support, and any other type of information that may help you attract and keep customers.
  5. Reconsider local advertising. With companies like Groupon, and the explosion in mobile apps, local advertising is taking on a new twist and regaining popularity. More and more consumers are looking online and to their smartphones for customized searches and ads based on where they live and work.

Small business technology strategies for 2017

  1. Explore opportunities to incorporate cloud computing. Use web-based and/or mobile apps to save money and time and to facilitate sharing and collaborating with colleagues and customers.
  2. Focus on security. Increasing identity theft and web site hacking have raised legitimate concerns about doing business online. Make sure your business transactions are as secure as possible. The bad guys are always coming up with new ways to cheat, which means that businesses need to update security measures on an ongoing basis.

Other small business strategies for 2017

  1. Going green can mean more green. As consumers become more eco-friendly, demands that the businesses they deal with do the same are growing. From paperless transactions to using recycled products, explore and implement creative, cost-saving, and environmentally-friendly opportunities to go green.
  2. O2O becomes key. Doing business online is great, but there is still something to be said for the beauty of face-to-face transactions. Implement online strategies that will drive prospects and customers to your offline location whenever possible and practical. Establishing personal relationships with prospects and customers is one of the best ways to grow your business.
  3. Turn cost-cutting measures into cost-containment strategies. Many small businesses had to cut costs in order to survive the recession. As business improves, identify ways to continue those cost savings so that more of your revenue will make it to the bottom line.
  4. Give those boomers some respect. There are 76 million or so baby boomers that are generating a host of opportunities for businesses that are savvy enough to identify and meet the specific needs of this special population. As boomers live longer, healthier lives, the opportunity to serve this market is becoming even more profitable.
  5. Consider location, location, location. A recent study found that the worst place to get work done was at the office. When productive people were asked when and where they were able to get the most work done, the majority cited a location other than the office, but when working in the office, the most productive times for them were when others weren’t around. Low-cost, and often free, cloud computing applications making sharing and collaborating remotely a breeze. In addition, telecommuting also saves money on rent, utilities, and travel expenses.
  6. Put the customer first. The customer may not always be right, but businesses can’t exist without them. Make providing the best possible customer service a core value of your business. Make it easy for customers to connect with your organization if they have questions, concerns, or problems. Develop a feedback loop so you can gauge the level of customer satisfaction your business has at any given point in time.
  7. Look for the next great idea. Two of the best, and most frequently overlooked, sources of inspiration for your business are right in front of you – your customers and your employees. Ask them what’s working, what’s not working, and what products or services are on their wish lists. Implement as many as you can in order to boost your business and keep those good ideas coming.
  8. Reassess your management style. More and more people, business owners and employees alike, are searching for more balance, simplicity, authenticity, and integrity in their lives. Old school management styles that may have worked in the past have in many cases become burdensome and counterproductive. Traits that distinguish an effective leader may surprise some who haven’t given this much thought in recent years. Invest some time in learning what constitutes a good leader and develop a strategy to become one.

Affordable Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses: 3 Ways to Save Money When Marketing Your Small Business

Affordable Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

Marketing can be one of the hardest expenditures for small businesses to budget. When cash flow is tight, it can be tempting to slash marketing expenses but that doesn’t mean the marketing plan has to be non-existent. There are several affordable marketing ideas that don’t cost much. They may require a bit of creativity or extra work, but the cost is often worth the gain.

Social Network Marketing

Many small business owners are realizing the value of social networking. How many people now have Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter pages? Developing a business presence on these platforms can help a company establish relationships with customers and communicate with them regularly.

The difference between social networking and your static company website is that social media allows two-way interaction. Your fans, friends, or followers can interact with your business by reading, commenting, and sharing your page. They can also address the company directly with feedback, which you can use to improve your marketing plan. Social networking sites are free so the only investment is your time, making this is a very affordable marketing method for small businesses.

Bartering for Marketing

This one requires some creativity but can really help cash-strapped businesses continue to market products and services despite a lack of cash flow. A good example is a computer store owner who needs to invest in a new website. The store owner approaches a local web designer who needs some new hardware. The two can then swap services or products of similar value and they both get something they need. The small business owner now has a new website to expand his marketing efforts and attract new customers.

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It is important to note that, when bartering, a business should record the fair market value of everything it trades and receives. This is needed because the fair market value of bartered services or products must be listed as income come tax time.

Turn Customers Into Marketing Staff

This is one of the oldest affordable marketing techniques in the book. It is one of the most powerful forms of marketing for small businesses, especially those that operate on a local level. It can also be one of the easiest advertisements to obtain. Business owners should ask family, friends, and happy customers to talk about the business.

The best way to generate good word of mouth about a business is to take good care of the customers. If they receive outstanding service from the company, they’ll be more likely to recommend its product or service to a friend, co-worker, or family member. This is especially important when dealing with confrontation. If customers have a concern, the owner or employees should keep their cool and do what it takes to change the customer’s frustration into satisfaction. Providing good service causes a company’s customers to become its most powerful marketing tool.