Friday, November 13, 2009

Leverage Your Website to Survive in a Slowing Economy

Your Ecommerce site serves your business in many ways. During tough times business owners must cut costs, look for new opportunities, and provide excellent customer service just to name a few things. Making improvements in the way you conduct online business is essential to surviving in this economy.

Let's look at a few concrete examples that will illustrate how your business can implement new strategies in order to streamline, expand and increase revenue for your business.

1. Cut Costs: If you already have a website, consider what your return on that investment has been. Maybe you are already selling online and making a decent profit, but you spend too much time processing credit cards, shipping orders and tracking inventory. Consider an automated payment gateway, printing your shipping labels right from your ecommerce administration area, or synching your inventory control system to your website.

Maybe you don't have an ecommerce website. That doesn't mean that your website isn't generating money for your business. Every visitor to your site is a potential customer, so your website is a marketing tool for your company. Have you engaged in a web marketing campaign in the last year? A web marketing campaign can be a third of the cost of a traditional print campaign and a quarter of the cost of a tv or radio campaign. When your customers need a product or a service they go to a search engine to find what they are looking for. Web marketing is one way to make sure that they find you first.

2. Look for new opportunities: Now is the time to think about what direction you are taking in regards to the technology you have implemented. If you offer a product and you aren't selling online then you may be losing potential customers. Your first assignment is to get your product online. Make sure that you also allow your customers to purchase gift certificates as these can represent substantial revenue for your business.

If you are selling online already then you have a customer base. Create a new opportunity for your business by marketing to your customer base. If you have a list of customers that have bought from you before then send an e-newsletter with an offer or a coupon. Make it a habit to send one of these out every month.

If you are not selling online it doesn't mean that you can't start collecting customer information and sending a monthly update. Keeping your customers informed about industry news and providing them with your expertise is a great way to keep your company (and the service you provide) fresh in their mind. It is a wonderful value add and the return on this investment can be huge.

3. Provide incredible customer service: We have already discussed the value an e-newsletter when it comes to customer service. If you have an online store consider using that e-newsletter to send discounts and offers. Customers that have established a relationship with a business will likely continue that relationship if they are being offered a great product at a great price.

Another sure fire way to please your return customers is to offer a rewards points system. This will help increase the rate of return which helps to increase revenue.

Potential customers coming to your site are looking for a great price - but they are also looking for a great product. Consider implementing customer reviews, these are reviews written by your customers about the products that you are selling. These are an important tool in converting a potential sale into an actual sale.

Again, just because you don't offer a product for sale you must still keep current customers happy. We already discussed offering a monthly e-newsletter to share your expertise and recent industry news. If you are not sure how your customers are responding to your business why not create an online survey to help identify areas that you may need to improve.

Your website is a marketing tool for your business. It has the potential to be a major source of revenue as well. If you leverage this peice of technology in the correct way you can save money, grow your customer base and survive in this financial downturn.

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