Walmart Seller Setup Mini-Guide

Walmart marketplace Cleveland website SEO

Whether you’re just deciding to expand into an online marketplace or you’re expanding into multi-channel selling, Walmart.com is a great platform to establish a presence for yourself.  

Walmart is one of the largest retailers in the world and offers a huge audience for potential customers, bringing in around 110 million visitors a month. It also has many other benefits, including no monthly subscription fees, no minimum or maximum limit on SKUs, the ability to set your own prices as a seller, and a convenient shopping experience for customers.

But just how can you become a seller on the Walmart Marketplace and take advantage of all these benefits?  

Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of what you need to do.

Qualify

The first - and most important - step is to qualify as a seller.  Walmart approves sellers based on a number of factors including, but not limited, to:

  • Reputation

  • Product Assortment

  • Customer service

  • Pricing

  • Fulfillment ability

The approval process can take up to two weeks.  Not everyone makes the cut, however. If you don’t, no worries!  There’s plenty of other options out there when it comes to selling your goods online.  

Our blog post on Online Marketplaces highlights some of those options as well as tips for success to help you make the best decision for you and your business.  You can check it out here!

Seller Profile Setup

After you’ve been approved to sell on Walmart’s marketplace, the next step in the process would be to complete your seller profile.  You’ll need to add your logo, contact info, shipping details, and anything else they deem necessary to complete your profile.

Financial Setup

The next two steps will get you financially set.

First, Walmart will deposit a penny into your account to test and make sure everything’s set up properly and will work fine so you can get paid from your sales.  

After that, you’ll have to set up your tax obligations to ensure customers pay proper tax at checkout.

Upload Your Products

Once all that’s done, then you finally get to upload your products!  You can edit their info all you want until you get it where you like and feel they’re ready to be sold.

Confirm & Go!

After you’ve completed all of the above, all that’s left for you to do is to give Walmart the green-light and they’ll make you live!  

As your products get sold, you’ll get the revenue deposited directly into your account, minus any referral fees.

That’s all folks!

Walmart’s marketplace is a great place to sell your products on.  If you find yourself unsure about the setup process, or want your presence established in the best possible way, then hiring an ecommerce consultant would be your best option.

Gapstow Design Company in Cleveland, Ohio can save you valuable time and energy and help your business tremendously in the long run!  

The world of ecommerce can be tricky to navigate, and we’d love to help you.

The Walmart Marketplace logo is the property of Walmart.

The Pros and Cons Of SEO vs. PPC

GapStow Design blog pros and cons of SEO PPC

SEO vs. PPC: which is better?

The answer isn’t quite so black and white as one might think, but definitely worth looking into. The truth is, both can have equally big benefits, it just depends on your needs as a business.

Of course, search engine optimization has a lot to offer for e-commerce businesses. It can secure much more organic traffic at a much lower price. However, for a new business, SEO can take time to gain momentum, whereas pay-per-click can see more immediate traffic.

But again, it all comes down to your needs as a business. In order to know which will work best for you, you have to consider your customers and what will best work with their web habits.

Obviously though, the first step in considering which would work best is knowing what each has to offer and what that would mean for you. Not to mention, you don’t have to choose one over the other: a well executed mix of SEO and PPC can work wonders for your business.

But to start, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each.

SEO vs PPC

The two main differentiating factors between SEO and PPC are that

  1. The PPC ads are found at the very top of the page, above the organic search results provided by SEO.

  2. The SEO’s organic traffic is free, whereas with PPC ads (as the name indicates) you pay for each click.

What SEO Can Offer Your Business:

First, let’s look at the pros of SEO:

Visibility and traffic. In a sense, SEO can almost act as free advertising because it gets you seen, a must for any e-commerce business.

Naturally, the more visible your website is in the organic search results, the more website traffic you’ll receive, which in turn gives you the opportunity to inform potential customers about your product and ultimately, the opportunity to profit.

Plus, a much higher percentage of click-throughs goes to organic search results rather than the PPC ads, so the visibility provided by SEO is extra important.

Trustworthy and credible branding. Not only does SEO boost your website’s visibility, but it can also aid in developing a reputation as a trustworthy brand.

The higher up in the search results your site appears, the more likely potential customers are to trust it, even more so than paid ad results. It gives the opportunity to showcase your experience and credibility amongst competitors, especially when reviews and answers to inquiries are present.

Cost. Unlike PPC methods, there’s no direct costs for click-throughs and website traffic.

Granted, e-commerce SEO isn’t free or easy, but in the long run it can prove itself to be well worth the cost and efforts. It strengthens your overall web presence and proves that your e-commerce business is worth looking into, and ultimately worth buying from.

In addition, organic traffic can provide a better return of investment, ROI, than PPC and other methods.

Sustainability. A recurring theme with e-commerce SEO is that you get back what you put into it, and that applies to sustainability too.

Even if you stop devoting part of your budget too it, you can still continue to reap everything quality SEO has to offer. Granted, in time it will need to be updated. But you won’t lose its benefits immediately, unlike PPC.

Strategic advantage. Again, quality e-commerce SEO isn’t easy. But that can have surprising benefits. Assuming it’s been done correctly,

SEO can gain you top spot in the organic search results over competitors, and there’s no quick and easy way for them to top that, especially with paid results.

By putting more time and effort into SEO, you’re also putting yourself ahead of competition and giving your business the advantage of more website traffic.

Of course, SEO isn’t the perfect solution to everything. For businesses starting out, results may be slow to show, or your business could be drastically overshadowed by large e-commerce corporations like Amazon.

In addition, it may be difficult for some smaller or newer businesses to acquire the resources necessary for quality SEO. Given the complexity of some SEO tactics, expert support may be needed to achieve the desired results.

Organic traffic doesn’t guarantee purchases, either. While it may provide traffic for pre-purchase inquiries and research, PPC may offer a needed push to encourage users to go through with the purchase.

What PPC Has To Offer:

With all the benefits of SEO and organic traffic, why choose PPC? Let’s look at the benefits:

Position and visibility. When you run a search, the paid results will always appear before any of the organic results, providing guaranteed visibility.

Even if organic search results are generally more trusted, paid ads will always be more seen, even if a user scrolls past them.

Better advertising. PPC ads open the way to a ton of new advertising methods not otherwise available via organic search.

For example, Google provides the option of Product Listing Ads (PLAs) that allow prospective customers to see some of the products listed on a website before they even click on it, which can really improve the click-through rate.

Targeting. PPC offers much more specific visibility to a targeted user base than organic traffic.

Keywords, location, language, timing frame, and device type can all be used to target PPC ads to the desired audiences.

Speed. While creating a good web presence with SEO can take a lot of time, PPC methods can be put into effect in a matter of weeks.

Paid advertising is without a doubt the quickest method of making your business visible and immediately available to users.

Marketing intelligence. Keyword data from organic search is generally hidden for privacy sake, unlike paid searches.  

By utilizing conversion tracking and analytics software, you’ll find which keywords covert and at what percentage and cost.

This information can not only be used to help further advertising campaigns, but also to improve SEO for organic traffic.

Stability. While the world of SEO is constantly changing and updating, PPC is a lot more stable.

That’s not to say there’s never any changes, but rather the changes are less drastic and much easier to work with.

Plus, with the search information PPC can provide, junk search can be removed, in time allow in increase in the ROI.

Cost. Contrary to popular belief, PPC can be very cost effective when run properly.

With the right keywords and efficient targeting, the right leads can be gained without taking a financial hit.

Plus, it allows for a very tight budget control and easy monitoring, in order to ensure you’re truly getting the most out of it for your business.

Clearly, PPC also has a great deal of benefits to offer. But like SEO, there are aspects to watch out for that may not fully suit your business’s needs.

PPC isn’t always cheap. Especially in the case of country-wide or international ad campaigns, costs can quickly add up.

Unlike SEO, when you stop investing in PPC strategies, you lose the benefits. It’s a consistent cost if you’re looking for consistent results.

Granted, SEO isn’t a one-and-done payment, there’s maintenance involved. But the benefits can linger for quite awhile after you’re done investing, unlike PPC.

PPC also offers various advertising options, so it requires good strategization and smart choices in order to get the most out of it. For a product listing dominated search result page, running a text ad might not be the best call, as it’s likely to get overshadowed.

It’s important, too, to consider other advertisers. You won’t be the only company advertising their products by any means, so entering bidding wars with other advertisers is always a possibility, and one that could drive costs up greatly for you.

Competitors could also evaluate and copy your advertising strategy with relative ease. There’s not much that can be done about this imitation, it’s just a part of the digital marketing world.

Quality PPC also needs good management. There’s a lot of factors to monitor, such as click-through rates, quality scores, etc. to ensure its success.

If you don’t have the time or resources to do this yourself, an e-commerce marketing expert can ensure that your paid advertising stays profitable and top quality on all fronts.

Making The Choice: SEO or PPC?

Given the pros and cons of each, the answer isn’t quite so black and white, and it depends a lot on the individual needs of each business.

For example, a small, a local business without much competition could easily gain good visibility at a low cost or even with their own simple SEO. On the other hand, a new e-commerce business might lose visibility to large online stores like Amazon or eBay, so click-throughs from organic search results might be a lot trickier to come by.

In order make the right decision, you need to identify your needs as an e-commerce business.

Consider the following:

  • Are you looking for immediate leads?

  • Are you taking into account the long game?

  • Do you have website authority to help?

  • What is the organic search competition like?

  • In paid search, what’s the cost per click?

Further help in making the decision includes clear ideas of short and long-term goals and a suitable marketing strategy to help reach those goals.

Considering SEO and PPC:

It doesn’t have to be a matter of choosing one over the other.

When properly utilized, SEO and PPC can work together to fully meet the needs of your e-commerce business.

Their pros and cons can even each other out and have an even greater end result than using either of them singularly.

Working with SEO and PPC together can grant the following benefits:

  • SEO can improve organic search using the keyword and conversion data PPC provides.

  • Website traffic can be increased for both paid and organic search results by targeting clicks with high-performing keywords.

  • Keywords that are high-cost, high-volume, or low performing can be moved to organic search from PPC.

  • A/B testing of ad copy and landing pages can be used to help your organic listing and landing pages.

  • With remarketing, you can maintain visibility after an initial touch with organic search and customize messaging around their engagement with your site.

  • PPC allows you to test keyword strategies before you commit to them long-term with SEO.

  • Target users at any point in the transaction process from research to purchase by using  commercial keywords.

  • Improve brand awareness and reputation with a strong web presence via good organic and paid visibility.

So in the end, SEO and PPC each have a lot to offer your e-commerce business, even more so when they’re skillfully combined. The resulting paid and organic traffic can greatly increase profitability. However, it still depends on the business, and an integrated approach might not be necessary in some cases.

But for those looking for high growth rates and an aggressive marketing strategy, utilizing SEO and PPC together will provide much greater results than using one or the other alone, and will be well worth any time or energy invested.

Amazon's FBA Overview

Amazon FBA blog GapStow Design Cleveland e-commerce website designers

Amazon offers a ton of nifty features for sellers using their marketplace.

Amazon Prime eligibility, the coveted Amazon’s Choice label, and FBA, or ‘Fulfilled By Amazon.’  FBA can be an incredibly valuable tool, so we’ll use this post to focus on exactly what FBA is and how you can qualify for it.

What Is Amazon’s FBA?

In short, it means Amazon stores and ships your products for you in their warehouses.  Instead of your products and shipping them taking up your resources, Amazon can take that off your hands and ultimately get your products out faster and make things more pleasant for everyone.  

But only if you qualify!

How Do You Qualify?

Qualifying for FBA can be broken down into a few different areas that are mainly common sense.  

You’ll need to have an Amazon Seller account.  

To do that, you’ll have to create one.  Decide on what you’re selling and whether or not you’ll need an individual or professional account.  

Which account type you’ll choose depends on the size of your business and sales revenue.

  • Individual would be best for very small or individual businesses - as the name name implies.  

  • Professional is better suited for larger businesses with larger sales volumes.

The next thing you want to check is that your products match up to Amazon’s product restriction guidelines.  

These are mainly common sense, like if it isn’t legal in the U.S., then it doesn’t qualify for FBA.  

Beer (both regular and non-alcoholic) also doesn’t qualify for FBA, and the same holds true for paper lanterns, loose batteries, tires, gift cards, and some others.

The last thing to look out for is your inventory packaging.  

As stated earlier, FBA means that Amazon stores your inventory in one of Amazon’s warehouses.  In order for that to happen, your product packaging has to actually meet their inventory packaging and labelling standards.  

While the requirements are specific from category to category, there are a few points in common.

For example, every packaged item must have a barcode, either from the manufacturer or from Amazon, in an accessible, readable position. Otherwise, Amazon won’t take it.

Packaging should be tight and in a standard 6-sided box so that there’s no sliding around or breaking during shipping. Also, nothing requiring assembly in order to ship will qualify for FBA.

While this isn’t an in-depth view of all the qualifications for Amazon’s FBA tool, this overview will give you enough of a general idea to be able to start prepping your inventory to qualify for FBA and get you one step farther in the process of selling on Amazon!

Four E-Commerce SEO Trends To Work With This Year

four e-commerce SEO trends 2019

In today’s digital age, the World Wide Web is constantly changing and updating in all sorts of new ways, and with it a wide variety of e-commerce SEO trends.

Of course then, e-commerce businesses will need to stay up to date on these trends in order to stay in the game and keep business lucrative.

With a new year just starting out, now is the time to familiarize yourself with the following trends so that you can get the most out of your e-commerce business.

1. Voice Search

Whether on the go or at home, virtual assistants such as Siri, Alexa, and Cortana are becoming a widely used part of day-to-day life for many people. Naturally, this is affecting the way consumers search for information about potential products and services.

For example, the way customers conduct voice searches differs from the way they might type it.

Rather than just rattling off a string of keywords to find what they’re looking for (ex. “e-commerce SEO in Cleveland”), the user will be much more likely to conduct the search in the form of a question or command (ex. “Hey Siri, find me an E-Commerce consultant nearby”).

Because of the specific nature of voice search, it’s all the more important to obtain Position Zero, or the featured result intended to summarize the overall search result.

Position Zero is placed above any other search result on the page, meaning it will attract more click-throughs then any other result.

To ensure that your e-commerce business’s website has a chance of earning that top spot, be sure to keep the keywords that are the most relevant in the page title, URL, and H1 tag, and compatible with the naturally-worded voice searches.

2. Conversions And Brand-Building

For e-commerce business owners, conversions are just as important as rankings – if not, even more important.

While rankings can bring traffic to the website, conversion marks the difference between a website’s visitor and a paying customer.

Of course, link-building has always been a vital part of e-commerce business SEO. But now, more attention is being given to developing brand-building relationships with websites and blogs within the same line of business.

In addition to aiding general SEO, link-building can attract a substantial amount of referral traffic to your website, which increases overall website traffic.

When you develop strong business relationships with similar establishments, you strengthen your overall standing as a business, which can in turn improve your overall web presence.

3. User Experience

Another important factor to give attention to is user experience.

Google’s ranking algorithm actually favors websites that are quick to load, easy to understand, and convenient to use.

A website that’s overly complicated, unclear, or inconvenient runs the risk of quickly losing whatever traffic it happens to attract.

Users who find a website isn’t meeting their needs won’t hesitate to drop the site and move onto the next one, which is why having a readable website is so important. When a site is unclear or difficult to use, it loses visitors and likely won’t see them return.

On the other hand, when a site offers a positive user experience, visitors will be much more likely to continue using the website.

The whole purpose of your business’s website is to inform and to communicate with potential customers, so providing a favorable user experience on both desktop and mobile should be top priority.

With the growing number of mobile searches especially, websites need to be optimized for all platforms in order to truly maintain the best possible user experience.  

For some tips on making your website more mobile responsive, check out our blog on the topic!

4. Website Security

Finally, website security needs to be given special attention in today’s world.

If a website begins with an HTTPS, it shows the visitor that it’s secure and trustworthy, which will make them much more comfortable with carrying out business transactions with sensitive bank information, and that means more sale opportunities.

In addition, Google favors websites that are safe and secure with better rankings and visibility across the search results page, which of course is exactly what e-commerce SEO aims to accomplish.

So naturally, taking steps to bring your website from HTTP to HTTPS will make all the difference in improving your e-commerce business’s profitability.

With all trends changes impacting the e-commerce world, it’s crucial to stay ahead of the game and competitors by staying up to date and making the fullest use of e-commerce SEO services.

On-Site E-Commerce SEO: A Basic Guide To Success

on site e-commerce SEO basics success

When it comes to the world of e-commerce, few things will have the impact on your survival and success as SEO.  

E-commerce SEO is vital to ensure that your site - and by extension your products - are visible and easy to find for consumers.  

When your site is properly optimized, it ranks higher on search engine results page (or SERPs), meaning more organic traffic to your site and - ultimately - more business.

E-commerce SEO can be a daunting and time consuming task; however, any costs or investment in good SEO is definitely overshadowed and outweighed by the benefits and rewards it can have for your business.

We’ll highlight a few techniques to good e-commerce SEO and the benefits they can draw.

Why Is SEO Important?

As mentioned above, good e-commerce SEO gets your site a higher rank on SERPs which draws more traffic to your site and results in increased conversion rates.

As an e-commerce business, one of the chief ways people will find your site - and therefore your products - is through Google searches.  

While paid search can work to get you a beneficial spot, ad blockers and other variables can reduce the effectiveness of that method.

We have an entire blog post devoted to the importance of SEO for your e-commerce business.  Check it out if you’d like more information!

The Key To Successful SEO

We’ve already highlighted why e-commerce SEO is important, now it’s time to discuss just how you can put it into practice.  

One of the first things you want to do is develop a good strategy.  

A good e-commerce SEO strategy will help you efficiently spend your resources and energy in order to yield maximum results for your business.

Here are some key things to keep in mind when developing your e-commerce SEO strategy:

1.) Prioritize!

To start, focus your energy on the products or pages that you want to feature or already generate the most traffic.  

While the long-term goal is to optimize your entire website, approaching with that mindset will only exhaust you and spend unnecessary resources

2.)  Plan!

In order for your efforts in your prioritized area (and beyond) to have maximum result, you need to plan out what needs to be done.  

SEO has a lot to it on the way of criteria, including but not limited to:

  • Content

  • Keywords

  • Images

  • Descriptions

  • Meta-data

These are just broader key points of SEO that we’ll touch on, each has its own facets and nuances that can and should be touched up as well.  

For those bits, we recommend hiring someone with e-commerce SEO experience who knows what they’re doing.

3. )  Scout!

If you’re having trouble figuring out what direction to go in, a great place to start is to check out your competition, particularly the competitors a little ahead of your league.

Their site is more than likely already optimized, and taking a look at what they’ve got in that department can give you a number of good pointers and ways to improve your own!

Nitty-Gritty

Once you’ve got your SEO Strategy together, then it’s time to take action.

Here’s where we’ll break down some of the broad key aspects we highlighted earlier.

Content

Content is the backbone of good ecommerce SEO: without quality content, then any SEO you do really won’t have anything to work with.

Blogs, news articles, info pages, and more are great ideas for content pages that you can use for your site.

These pages give Google and the other search engines stuff to look through and rank you by.  

More quality content, and these search engines will see you as valuable, knowledgeable, and relevant with the topic you’re addressing, resulting in a higher ranking on the SERPs.

Keywords

Where content is the meat of your site, keywords are the salt.

Researching what keywords will work best for your business is its own beast in and of itself.  But using them appropriately throughout your site once you have them is an art.

If you use too many keywords, Google will call you out on it and slap you with a lower ranking.  But if you use too few, then Google will hardly notice you.

Again, think of salting your food.

If you use too much, then the meal is ruined and you need to eat something else. If you use too little, then your food will still taste bland.

Use the right amount to really bring out the flavor and make the meal more appealing!

Images

Images are another huge factor in good e-commerce SEO, as they work to reduce your page speed.  

Your website’s page speed is a huge factor when it comes to customer satisfaction and by extension, then, your SERP ranking.  

If you use lots of big, hi-res uncompacted images, then your site will take longer to load them.  Customers click away from sites that tend to take any longer than 5-7 seconds to load, with the gold standard being less than 5.  

Optimizing your images is a fantastic way to decrease your page load speed and keep your website optimized!

Descriptions

Optimizing your descriptions is another important step.  

You want to give as much information as you can in as few, carefully selected words as you can manage.  

Carefully sprinkle your keywords throughout as well to catch Google’s eye.

If not optimized, consumers can lose patience and navigate to somewhere else, and Google could see your site as overcomplicated and rank you lower.

Metas

From image alt text to your webpage’s snippets, these little bits can be very important for Google to see and rank you higher.  

Giving your images alt text lets Google know exactly how they’re relevant, and also lets them be sorted more efficiently. The same goes for the other little snippets and such.

Conclusion

E-commerce SEO can be an intimidating process, but with the right method and enough preparation and planning, it can be done efficiently and really boost your e-commerce business’s Google ranking!

Maximizing The Growth Benefits Of SEO For Your E-Commerce Business

The Basics Of SEO

The definition of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing a website’s traffic via organic search results.

Studies have shown that first page search results earn a minimum of 75% of click-throughs.

So it’s no wonder SEO is vital to E-Commerce businesses: it can make or break website visibility and accessibility.

The more visible your site, the more potential customers you’ll gain and the greater your opportunity to thrive as a business will be.

How Your Business Can Benefit From SEO

From small businesses to large companies, E-Commerce SEO is the key to maximizing profitability in today’s digital world.

As many as 89% of today’s consumers rely on search engines to obtain information about products of interest, a figure that has remained on a steady increase over the years.

Without properly utilizing SEO, you’re accepting the risk of allowing your business to fall behind competitors in both the ranking of search results and ultimately profits.

On the other hand, making full use of SEO for your E-Commerce business can give you the advantage needed to surpass the competition and increase profitability.

SEO’s Impact On Your Business’s Growth Rankings

There’s no doubt that personal recommendations can strongly affect how consumers view your business and what it has to offer.

That’s where reviews come in to play.

Positive personal reviews, especially when creative and enthusiastic, will attract more click-throughs and leave a lasting impression on potential customers.

Even in the case of negative reviews, dealing with them in a professional and courteous manner can have a positive effect on customers when they’re made priorities, thus improving the overall user experience your website as to offer.

Utilizing Positive E-Commerce SEO Strategies

While it may seem complicated, link building is a key facet of SEO that can determine how high your site ranks on the search results page.

E-Commerce SEO services such as Gapstow Design Company will put forth effort to create backlinks that maximize traffic to your website.

In addition, quality content is vital to a website.

It showcases exactly what you as a business are all about and what makes you the best choice for potential customers.

Like most aspects of maintaining an e-commerce business, however, developing quality content for your website can take a good deal of time and effort, but the benefits make it well worth it.

Another SEO strategy to implement for your e-commerce business is personalization.

Making your customer feel valued and showing that they’re a priority can greatly enhance your website’s user experience, as well as your customer’s view of you as a business. This can be achieved by catering your website to personally suit a user’s individual needs.

Today, it can’t possibly be overstated how important utilizing social media can be to your e-commerce business.

Combining effective SEO tactics with various social media platforms’ wide reaches and individual user bases can be used to aid in personalization, as well as increasing brand awareness.

Maintaining Up-To-Date SEO

With all this information in mind, it’s important to note that Google and other search engines are constantly changing and updating.

To ensure that your use of SEO stays effective, it’s important to stay up to date on any changes and work with them accordingly.

For example, the recent rise of features such as voice search and virtual assistants can impact the way consumers obtain information about products and businesses.

Updating your website’s content to include long tail keywords and everyday language will maintain your business’s visibility, even in the face of ever-changing trends among consumers.

Getting The Most Out Of E-Commerce SEO For Your Business

SEO will do more than just put your website on the front pages of an internet search.

With proper tactics implemented, SEO will keep it there, as well as improve overall visibility, user experience, and customer approval.

The bottom line is that quality E-Commerce SEO is the key to maintaining a good web presence and maximizing the profitability of your business’s website. In today’s technological age, that can be critical to the success of your business, whether big or small.

Gapstow Design Company is here to help you with your E-Commerce SEO. You can learn more about the packages we offer to help you get the most out of your e-commerce website here.

Why SEO Is Important For Your Business

SEO tips e-commerce Cleveland Ohio

It’s a known fact amongst brands and businesses that SEO is the key to maintaining a good internet presence, and in today’s world that can be vital to keep a business up.

A basic knowledge of SEO will tell you that it keeps brands visible and easily accessible across search engines. But what else can it contribute to your business, and how?

The many benefits of using quality SEO are as follows.

The Importance Of Being Seen

It’s no secret that Google is the most visited website in the world. While other search engines such as Yahoo and Bing are also widely used,

Google specifically owns roughly 75 percent of the search market, making it the leading search engine. Given the widespread use of the site, consumers will be much more eager to make use of a brand’s website if it’s readily visible and trusted by Google.

Organic searches are a large part of a brand’s web performance, and they can ultimately decide whether or not a business’s website gains revenue.

That’s where SEO comes into play.

The goal of good SEO is to build a functional and visually appealing website with a good user experience that is easily accessible through search engines, which can greatly enhance a business’s credibility and trustworthiness.

However, it’s important to note that trust and credibility won’t develop immediately, even for a brand offering high quality products and/or services. It takes time and commitment to establish, but it’s well worth the effort.

An important factor in building a brand’s trust and credibility through its website is whether or not it provides an enjoyable user experience. Customers favor quick and easily accessible results, which can ultimately define a website’s success.

Quality SEO can meet those needs and provide what the customer expects from a website, resulting in a satisfying user experience.

Benefits Of SEO On A Local Level

Local SEO is fundamental for small to medium-sized businesses wanting to maintain a profitable internet presence. It optimizes online properties for the surrounding vicinity to make a business more locally accessible and therefore more likely candidates for transactions.

SEOs can also optimize a brand’s Knowledge Graph panel and Google My Business listing to ensure local engagement, as well as showing attention to social media presence and user review websites.

With local SEO improving visibility and accessibility, more potential customers will be drawn to a business and the goods it has to offer, and thus increasing buyers and revenue for the business.

If you want more information on local SEO, see our blog post here.

Staying Ahead Of Competitors

However, for all it’s advantages for a brand’s website, implementing SEO tactics isn’t a one time thing.

The World Wide Web is constantly changing, with Google alone updating and changing its algorithm thousands of times a year.

SEO is needed, then, to understand and stay on top of such a rapidly changing environment.

With constant monitoring and re-evaluation, a website stands much better chances of remaining visible, accessible, and up to date with its environment, thus maintaining a good user experience.

Quality SEO also aids brands in finding new opportunities be discovered and to stand out amongst competition, one of the most lucrative being increasing a website’s odds of landing a top spot in search results.

A majority of click-throughs go to the top three organic search results, while about a third of first and second page results don’t get clicked at all.

SEO helps a brand’s website to beat out competitors for the firstmost results of a search, increasing the number of prospective customers.

Making A Worthwhile Investment

SEO isn’t free. But it is relatively cheap, especially taking into account the benefits it entails. The more you invest in it, the better and longer lasting results you’ll get back.

Even the most basic SEO will yield good results for a business, and investing both financially and in terms of time and effort will only build on the benefits.

In addition, while it’s not necessarily a basic task, SEO can be quantified, which can aid in understanding and improving the performance and success of a business. It can demonstrate just how a company has developed and improved over time, and how it can continue on a successful path.

Conclusion

With high-quality SEO implemented, a brand will be able to maintain a strong and profitable web presence, which is a major factor in running a successful business in today’s world. Investing the right amount of time, energy, and resources can mean an even greater return in the long run, which will be well worth it for your business.

Professionals like Gapstow Design can help you do just that with a variety of SEO packages to choose from to best suit your business’s needs.

Shopify Setup Guide

shopify setup guide e-commerce tips

Shopify is an immensely popular platform for e-commerce businesses.  

It’s intuitive, requires little to no coding knowledge, and is easy to get set up with.  It’s simplistic approach also makes expansion more painless than other platforms.

Website customization and design, inventory management, and more are just some of the features that Shopify offers that make it an excellent choice for starting and establishing your e-commerce business.  

But exactly how do you get set up with Shopify?

This post will cover exactly that.

Signing up for Shopify

Signing up for Shopify is the first step.

The information they collect during this step will help them determine taxes, currencies, and exactly what the best way to establish and start your online e-commerce business will be.  

Add Products

Once that’s done, then adding products will be the next option you can take.  This is where things can get a little tedious.  

You can upload products en masse by using a CSV (comma-separated values spreadsheet), or you can do them manually, one-at-a-time. Either way is going to take some time and patience, but Shopify once again makes the process as simple as it can and walks you through it nicely.

They even offer a sample template if you want to use a spreadsheet to bulk import.

Theme Customization

One of the next things you can do is customize your theme.  

As stated earlier, Shopify makes it very easy to build and customize your store website.  They offer tons of themes you can use just for that purpose, both paid and free. A majority of them are also mobile responsive, which is a big bonus for your website.  

Once your theme is selected, you can go in and further customize elements like font, color, layout, and more to make it unique and perfect for you.

Domain Name

Your domain name is the next important step.  

You’ll have the option here of either transferring a domain name or using a new one, which you will have to pay for then.

Setting up Payments

Setting up payment is the next step to take.  

Shopify Payment is a great little tool: not only does it accept over 70 methods of payment, but it also nicely integrates with Amazon, Paypal, Google Wallet, and more!

Check & Double Check

Once all the above steps have been taken, double check your work.

Make sure that Google Analytics is set up properly so you can keep proper tabs on your store, and that everything is properly optimized for best SEO.  If you’re unsure how to do that or exactly what that means, check out our post on effective Shopify SEO.  

Test Your Site

It is highly important to test your site out before you launch it to make sure everything is functioning properly and customers will be satisfied and able to easily navigate your site.

Once everything is set up as effectively as possible and your site has been tested, then you’re ready to launch your brand new e-commerce website!

If this is all overwhelming for you, then don’t worry; you’re not alone!  

The world of e-commerce can be incredibly tricky to navigate, and it can really help to have someone experienced to guide and help you.

Gapstow Design can do just that. We’ve been there, and can help navigate you through the world of e-commerce and help get your business wherever it needs to be.

Whether you want to sell through your own site, a hosted or self-hosted platform, or an online marketplace, Gapstow Design can help.

We offer a variety of services and packages to best suit the needs of your business.

The Power of SEO

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SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, can be an intimidating concept for some.  

Despite the misconception that e-commerce SEO is a relatively quick and easy process which can reap immediate results, good and proper e-commerce SEO can actually be a time consuming task which doesn’t always yield immediate results. However, in the end, the results of good SEO undeniably make it a vital aspect to the survival of any e-commerce business, especially in today’s thriving and competitive environment.

Hence, it would be wise to have a basic understanding of some of the facets of SEO and their power to enhance your business.

What Is SEO?

SEO is the act optimizing your website and its various elements to cater to search engines like Yahoo and Google in order for your site - and ultimately your business - to get a higher ranking in search results.

The gold standard of SEO is to rank on page one of a search.  

However, SEO is in itself not a cut-and-dry topic or simple, limited concept. There are different types of SEO that cater to different types of businesses, customers, and searches.  

  • Local SEO caters more to the brick-and-mortar based business,

  • Organic SEO focuses on the online-based business that may not even have or need a physical location.

While an understanding of which specific focus of SEO is right for your business is important, the focus of this blog post will lie on the more universal Organic SEO.

Organic SEO can be applied in a variety of circumstances in a variety of places, from Shopify and Amazon to Walmart and beyond!

SEO & Your Business

As we explained above, quality SEO makes your business stand out from the competition with Google.

Quality SEO makes your site more relevant, easier to find, and accessible to people looking for the good or service you have to offer.  

The better your optimization, the earlier in a search Google will point people your way. That means more traffic to your site and ultimately more potential customers.

Our post on why SEO is important for your business goes into more detail on this topic and breaks down even further the benefits of SEO, from staying ahead of competition, establishing brand presence, and more.

The Basics

Some of the more basic aspects of e-commerce SEO include:

Make your website engaging and mobile responsive

A good chunk of e-commerce sales come from mobile devices.  

Making your website mobile friendly will make your website way more appealing to customers and minimize important negative factors (like abandonment rate and page load speed) that Google looks at to rank you accordingly.

Optimize your images

This works hand-in-hand with the above step, as having large images will take longer to load and make your website run significantly slower.

People tend to navigate away from sites that take longer than 1 second to load. Optimizing your images can go a long way towards a higher ranking for your site.

Make appropriate use of keywords

Using appropriate keywords are of extreme importance.  But as with all good things, they should be used in moderation.  

If you use too many keywords, then Google will see that and count that against you.  But use too little, and Google will pass you by for someone better.

Add relevant, quality content

This is probably one of the most important parts of SEO, because without content, Google and other search engines really don’t have much to judge you by and will move on.

Blogs, articles, and the such are great ways to get good content up on your site and add to your Google ranking.

Our SEO Packages page further defines and highlights these and more basic principles of good e-commerce SEO and shows in greater detail how they can work to benefit your business.

Conclusion

SEO is a very powerful tool that can benefit your business.  

The higher the quality of your website’s optimization, the better your ranking with search engines.

The better your ranking with search engines, the more traffic you gain.

And the the more traffic you gain, the more potential customers you get, ultimately making good e-commerce SEO not only vital to your business, but also a worthwhile investment.

Ecommerce Pricing Tips & Tricks

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One of the most important things consumers look at when shopping for an item is its price.  

If an item is too expensive, the customer won’t buy it, no matter how nice it may be. While marking your items’ price low may be an appealing option, that could backfire on you as the seller and spell doom for your business; if an item is too cheap, you won’t be able to cover costs and gain any profit.  

So how is it possible to strike a balance and price an item at a point where consumers will buy it and you can still survive as a business?

Here are a few strategies you can employ, depending on the size of your business and your product.

High & Low

Premium Pricing is a great way to get a fledgeling product off the ground and still make a profit.  

When your product is still fairly new, you can introduce it into the market at a higher price.  This emphasizes your product’s value and makes it seem as if it’s a cut above the rest.

If you’re dropping into a market ripe with competition, Market Penetration pricing may be the right choice for you.  

You would set your prices at a point lower than that of your competition, which entices customers and steadily builds brand awareness.  

This strategy can be a bit of a risk, however, because of the fact that sellers will lose money until established. Once enough ground is gained, though, the seller can progressively raise their price and make back more revenue over time.

Mindgames

Psychology Pricing is a simple yet really cool method you can use to attract customers to your products.  

A good example: I often find myself being enticed into buying a candy bar when I go grocery shopping.  When picking out my treat, I find myself going for the bars that cost forty-nine cents over the bars that cost fifty cents.  

Psychology pricing is as simple as that.

Consumers typically look at the first number when it comes to a price tag. That dollar difference between $19 and $20 can entice a surprising amount of people.  

Yes, you don’t get as much profit when marking the item at $19 instead of $20, but you draw more customers over time.

Price Skimming is a great method to continually draw customers in amidst rising competition.  

Start with a higher price for your good, and draw in the customers who are willing to pay that price for said good.  Once that wave’s been satisfied and new competition begins to pop up, reply by lowering your prices to appeal to the next wave of consumers, and so on.

Bigger-Scale Strategies

Economy Pricing is a great strategy for larger businesses.

This calls for the seller to really limit the marketing behind products. This makes prices drop very low. Larger sales volumes cover this difference, which is why this is generally too dangerous a strategy for small businesses.

Bundle Pricing is another one that works really well for bigger businesses and is a popular option with consumers.

This calls for a group of items to be bought together collectively for a price cheaper than the sum of the items being bought individually.  This is a great way to clear out extra or unwanted inventory, making it a great option for warehouses.


Proper pricing can be a tricky thing. Demographics, business size, and your products all play vital roles in determining exactly what way of pricing will work best for you.  

Sometimes, prices need adjusting and re-adjusting. Don’t be afraid to keep tweaking until you find the spot the works best for you!

Local & Organic SEO: What's the Difference?

local and organic seo differences tips e-commerce Cleveland

SEO is an important concept for e-commerce businesses, and that cannot be overstated enough.  

But SEO is also not a simple, cut-and-dry concept. In fact, there are different types of SEO for different types of businesses and even different types of searches.  

Local SEO and Organic SEO are two such examples.

Knowing and understanding the difference between the two of these can allow you to use the one best suited for the circumstances of your business and really allow it to shine!

Local SEO

Local SEO’s usefulness is given away in its name: it’s best suited for physical, location-based businesses.  

For example, if you’re running a Google search for ‘e-commerce consultants in Cleveland,’ that relies on Local SEO to determine the best results for you.  

Google will look for keywords, reviews, and trusted locations related to what you’re looking for and pile them up for you.

Typically, Local SEO results come with reviews, addresses, hours, etc in order to help provide you with the most convenient option and help you make the most informed decision.

The ultimate goal when it comes to Local SEO, then, is to be the most relevant listing when it comes to results for your target location.  

Good business and citations are things that work wonders for good Local SEO, along with a well put-together site and a good location.  

Citations are mentions of your business across the web, be it on other websites, forums, or more. Having these in important and relevant places for your business’s niche really boosts your Local SEO.  

Making yourself relevant is important for Google to recognize and recommend you.  

Local content, good reviews, getting your name in local directories, and a well built website and Google My Business account are all good ways to build your credibility with Google and earn yourself a top spot with local results.

Organic SEO

Where Local SEO focuses on the physically-based business, Organic SEO focuses on the digital.  

Organic SEO involves ranking according to mainly keywords and the merits of your site, rather than your specific location.  Businesses who make use of Organic SEO in fact may not even have a physical location and may be completely web-based.

Organic SEO relies on catering to the search engine and proving yourself relevant with regards to the keywords you’re trying to target and rank higher with.  To do that, you need to have good content that Google sees as relevant and trustworthy.

But just slapping a blog, a few pages, or links on your site isn’t necessarily going to win Google’s heart.  Organic SEO is a little more complex than that.

Optimizing things like your images, headings, titles, videos, and more are required in order for Google to like what they see.

Check out our post on effective SEO in Shopify to see some practical tips and methods on how to achieve good Organic SEO.

Which Is Right For You?

As stated earlier, both Local and Organic SEO are important to understand and apply for your business, but it can have powerful results to apply to one more than the other when it comes to your business.  

If you’re unsure which one would be best for your business to cater to, then we can help. Gapstow Design offers a number of SEO Packages to choose from to best fit the needs of you and your business.  

We’d love to help you and your business achieve its maximum potential!


Amazon's Choice Overview

Amazon Choice overview e-commerce tips Cleveland

The ‘Amazon’s Choice’ label has been a coveted spot among sellers ever since its introduction in 2015.

Only one product gets that prestigious label per specific search on Amazon.

But exactly how one can go about getting that title for their product has remained quite the mystery. Amazon has released very little details thus far on how the ‘Amazon’s Choice’ algorithm operates.  

But using the pieces of info that Amazon has made available, you can get a good picture of what’s looked for and optimize your products and business accordingly.  

What You Need To Know

‘Amazon’s Choice’ tends to take a number of factors into consideration when choosing what product gets the label.  

Its whole purpose, after all, is to streamline your shopping experience to keep you from spending so much time sorting and sifting through countless products to find the best one.  

In essence, it does some of your shopping for you.

What are the factors it looks for?

A lot of the same ones that you and I look for when shopping as well:

  • Low prices & return rates

  • Prime availability

  • High Customer ratings

  • Shipped by Amazon

However, this doesn’t mean that having all of these criteria met by your product is guaranteed to win you the label.  

As stated earlier, Amazon hasn’t released much information on the algorithms.

When you visit a product bearing the ‘Amazon’s Choice’ label, it simply states that “Amazon's Choice recommends highly rated, well-priced products available to ship immediately.”  

While Amazon may shed more light on things in the future, for now there are far more factors going on behind the scenes than we know about, and this makes it difficult to peg exactly what can be done to net you the spot.

This has proved to be a discouraging idea for some stores. In fact, a lot of sellers are even choosing not to focus on trying to win the Amazon’s Choice label due to its relative unpredictability.

But while improving your products and store as a whole using the factors listed above isn’t guaranteed to get you the ‘Amazon’s Choice’ label, it can certainly act as a great way to boost your business by increasing customer satisfaction and traffic into your store.  

So whether you win it or not, the ‘Amazon’s Choice’ label has provided an ingenious marketing strategy and a great incentive for businesses to work hard to improve and maximize their metrics.

If you are trying to win the label, then it can really help to have someone who specializes in Search Engine Optimization and E-commerce on the scene to navigate and work everything into the best shape possible.

Gapstow Design specializes in both.

We have the know-how to optimize your Amazon product listings for greatest success, which can get you one step closer to achieving that coveted ‘Amazon’s Choice’ label.  

Contact us today if you’re interested in taking your business to the next level!

Shopify SEO: Effective Tips & Tricks

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Effective SEO, or Search Engine Optimization can be a difficult thing to achieve, especially with Google’s ever-changing algorithm.  In order to maximize your ecommerce business’ organic traffic, growth, and sales, an effective SEO strategy is vital. Here are some tips you can use for effective SEO for your Shopify store to get you ranked higher on Google searches and draw more traffic.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT URL DOMAIN NAME

The URL domain name is the very first piece of your site that both customers and search engines will see, often times before they even decide to visit your site.  While it won’t single-handedly make-or-break your site, having a good domain name acts as a good opportunity to get your foot in the door. It would be wise then, before you select a domain name, to take a few things into consideration.

Firstly, picking a solidly important keyword to stick in there will do wonders for your ranking.  As mentioned above, the search engine sees the URL first, and sticking a keyword in there will immediately let it know what you’re all about.  And don’t forget to have your brand name in there too; those two together can go a long way in ensuring both consumers and search engines remember and rank you highly, respectively.

The second thing to remember is to keep your domain name short and sweet.  This makes it more simple and easy for not only search engines, but also consumers to remember.  And avoid using symbols like hyphens, at signs, or really anything not a letter or number, as they generally just muck things up.

The last piece of your URL to keep in mind is that people generally trust .com sites more than others, so try to stick with using that.

YOUR SHOPIFY THEME

Your Shopify theme is an important area when it comes to proper and effective SEO.  Picking the most eye-catching or flashy theme is not always the wisest move as typically those take longer to load, and a good fast pagespeed is an essential part of good SEO.  Not to mention too that those themes don’t lend themselves to being too mobile friendly either, which can definitely do some damage to your traffic and turn people away in frustration.

So picking a good theme is clearly an essential part of successful and effective SEO, with the key, then, being to pick a theme that effectively blends style and speed to create a satisfying user experience, with mobile responsiveness being a good bonus to look out for.

ON-PAGE SEO: KEYWORDS, TITLES AND IMAGES, & CONTENT

On-page SEO in Shopify sounds a lot more intimidating than it actually is.  In general, once you get some practice and understanding with on-page SEO, the techniques and principles can apply in many other areas outside of Shopify.


KEYWORDS

Keywords are, as we explain on our SEO Packages page, like the seasoning of your website.  They’re very important, but should be used to the proper degree for best results.  To figure out what keywords are best, the best thing to do to start is figure out your target audience and get in their heads as far as what they’ll be looking for and what they’ll want out of your site.  Then use a tool like Google Ads’ keyword finder to figure out some keywords with high traffic and low competition to work with.

Long-tail keywords are another important thing to keep in mind.  Rather than a single word, long-tail keywords are more focused phrases that people search for, and if encorporated properly, can bring some good traffic to your site.


TITLES

Optimizing your titles is another important step, as (again), it’s one of the first things that consumers and search engines see and judge.  The key to a successful title is to balance informative and descriptive with short and concise: say as much as you can in as few words as you can.  That also applies to the optimization of the meta description that sits just beneath the title.

IMAGES

Images are the next thing you’ll need to optimize.  If not optimized, then they will slow your website on all fronts and significantly reduce its mobile-friendliness.  One of the easiest ways to optimize your images is to use TinyJPG.com: you simply drag and drop the desired image into the box, and it compresses it into a much more manageable size while still looking fantastic.  You can have your cake and eat it too!

CONTENT

Content is the last thing you can add that can really draw people to your site and act towards good SEO.  This can be in the form of an informative and relevant blog dealing with the good or service you offer. This lets both consumers and search engines know that you’re knowledgeable on the topic you’re dealing with, resulting in (once again) better traffic and a higher ranking.

IN CONCLUSION

Good SEO on Shopify is relatively easy to achieve compared to some of the other platforms out there.  While podium placement is in no way guaranteed, optimizing your product listings according to the above guidelines will allow Google to better utilize them to steer customers towards your website, resulting in increased traffic and sales.  If this is all a little overwhelming for you, don’t worry: we understand. We can work with you to help figure out just what your business needs and work to maximize the effectiveness of your listings. Contact us to see exactly how we can help you!

5 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO MAKE YOUR ECOMMERCE STORE MORE SUCCESSFUL

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The world of ecommerce can be pretty tricky to navigate, and success can be a difficult thing to achieve, especially given the scale of that world.  But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a way to successfully navigate these seas! Here are five things you can look out for and work with to increase the success of your ecommerce business!

COMPETITION

Survival is the name of the game in the business world.  Undoubtedly that’s an idea you’re already familiar with. The same goes for your competition as well.  Your competition can serve as a great mirror for your ecommerce business. Doing some cross-examining can highlight strengths, weaknesses, areas you may need to improve on, and any advantages you may have.  Build on what you’ve found and bolster your business. While there may be a lot of competition out there to face and overcome, given the size of the ecommerce world, there are still nearly endless ways to establish yourself and stand out from among the crowd!

VALUES AND IDENTITY

Think about what drives your business.  What’s the passion at your core that ignited this fire?  Bringing that passion to the table and integrating that into the soul of your business will make marketing and selling your product a lot easier: customers can tell when someone is passionate about their good or service, and that can have a huge influence on their purchasing decision.  

CONSUMER EXCITEMENT

Businesses evolve and grow, branch out into new territory, and expand into previously unexplored avenues.  What’s responsible for that growth? Customers!  So it really wouldn’t make sense, then, for your loyal patrons to be pushed away or turned off when your business expands in some way.  Keep your customers involved and - more importantly - excited when it comes to growth! Your objective should be for them to grow with you, not for you to outgrow them.  If you’re new and don’t really have a customer base yet, then you can still drum up some enthusiasm and excitement by reaching out through marketing channels like social media and drawing people in.

MARKETPLACES

Selling on online marketplaces could be a lot easier than you think.  Although it does require some forethought and advanced planning, in the end it can really expand your customer base.  Our blog on this topic goes more in depth on the pros and cons of online marketplaces; give it a look and see if it’s an option that can work for you!

INVENTORY

Inventory is a very important aspect of any ecommerce business.  A mismanaged inventory can lead to disgruntled or angry customers, stunted growth for your business, and ultimately a loss of profit and poor reputation.  Nothing’s more frustrating than ordering a product online and having your order suddenly cancelled some time later because the item was actually out of stock, despite the listing saying that 12 remained available.  Personally, that’s enough to typically make me avoid dealing with a seller again. That doesn’t mean that overstocking to act as a cushion is a solution either. If unsold goods are just sitting on a shelf collecting dust, then that creates a huge waste of space and money.  As with all things, balance is key.

CONCLUSION

Success in the ecommerce world is certainly achievable.  Know your competition and your business’ core values, make sure your customers grow with you, expand into new territory and balance your inventory as best you can.  Using these building blocks, you can build a solid foundation and start paving your way to success.


8 Online Marketplaces you might want to sell your products on

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1. Amazon Marketplace

I think at this point it’s safe to say that Amazon is “THE” online marketplace on which online retailers can sell their products online. Founded in 1994, Amazon now boasts over 300 Million active monthly users and over 8 Million daily users! Last year, Amazon spent something like $3.4 Billion on advertising. The marketplace features millions of products encompassing categories like decor, fashion, kitchen, appliances, pet care, and everything else that you can think of. So, whether you’re a brand new company looking to launch a new product and hoping to sell it online, or an existing business who is looking to expand your e-commerce footprint - Amazon NEEDS to be on your list.

The benefits of selling on Amazon:

  • 75% of shoppers shop on Amazon “Most of the time“

  • International Reach - Easily expand to other countries

  • Low marketing cost - Amazon wants shoppers to buy through their online marketplace. They advertise for you!

  • Sponsored ads put your products in front of your ideal customer

How to be successful on Amazon:

  • Optimizing your Amazon listings is important (here’s a blog post about this)

  • Maintain positive ranks and get lots of positive reviews

  • Customer service is KEY. Amazon expects their sellers to be 100% Customer-focused and even requires a 24 hour response window from all of it’s online sellers.

  • Strategically using Amazon PPC advertising can help a lot when used correctly

  • NEVER underestimate the power of Amazon FBA - if this model works for your product/company - utilize it.

2. Etsy Marketplace

Founded in June 2005, in Brooklyn, New York - Etsy has marked its presence in probably every country around the globe. What sets the marketplace different from the others is that attracts the artists, craftsmen who generally deal in homemade jewelry, crafts, housewares and more.

The Benefits of selling on Etsy:

  • The customer base is targeted

  • You can create custom orders

  • The marketplace facilitates wholesale business

  • Fee structure is more conducive to small startups and home-based creatives

How to be successful on Etsy:

  • Be Unique - offer products, designs, and options that your competitors don’t/can’t

  • Make a personal connection with your buyers

  • High-quality images of your crafts. can make a huge difference!

3. E-Bay Marketplace

Like Amazon, e-Bay is another of the pioneers in online shopping. This online marketplace boasts about 160+ million active monthly shoppers. E-bay allows online retailers to sell both new and used products. (Amazon also does this, but most shoppers associate amazon with new products and E-Bay with used products - See our Amazon Vs. Ebay Blog)

Benefits of selling on e-Bay:

  • Generally shoppers who prefer e-bay, tend to avoid Amazon - coupled with selling your products on amazon, this expands your brand’s reach

  • E-Bay utilizes Google Shopping fantastically on behalf of it’s sellers

How to be successful on e-Bay:

  • Know your products well - be specific and honest about the condition of your products

  • Make sure to use SEO-friendly phrases on the product pages

  • Keep customers happy and reviews positive

4. Jet Marketplace

Jet online marketplace is one of the “youngest” in the industry (established as a marketplace in 2015). However, they’ve quickly grown to be the 4th largest online marketplace internationally. Jet offers the ability to sell almost anything, makes the process super-easy, and integrates with most major e-commerce shopping platforms (like Shopify and BigCommerce).

The benefits of selling on Jet:

  • 4th Largest Online marketplace on the internet

  • Less competition than on Amazon and E-Bay

  • Owned by Walmart

How to be successful at Jet:

  • Listing SEO is SUPER Important. Optimize your listings to make sure the right people find them

  • customer service and product rating/reviews are king here

5. Walmart Marketplace

You may have already heard of a little company called Walmart. They had a big year last year, posting revenue of just over $5.3 Billion (about 3 times more than Amazon). Although thriving in the brick-and-mortar retail space, Walmart opened up their online marketplace to allow online-only sellers to join and utilize their e-commerce power. Items appear in search results on Walmart.com alongside other items - putting your products in front of the massive market that Walmart has command over.

The benefits of selling on Walmart.com:

  • A solid base of over 300,000,000 visitors every month

  • Excellent customer Service

  • Built in credibility

  • Easy to use once you’re through the setup process (we’d recommend hiring a consultant to help w/ Setup)

How to be successful at Walmart:

  • Walmart requires specific revenue statistics of all it’s sellers- Don’t lie, they know!

  • Your product data should be accurate - again, they know!

  • Focus on building a good and clean track record, and most importantly (on all marketplaces)

  • Keep the prices reasonable - that’s how Walmart got to be so successful

6. Newegg Marketplace

Newegg was the second largest online retail store. Eventually it turned into a marketplace. With more than 10.5 million products and an award-winning website, Newegg is focused on providing tech-savvy gadgets for the shoppers. While Newegg does sell other product categories, if the product that you hope to sell is technical in any way, you’ll do well to make sure your products are available on Newegg.

The benefits of selling on Newegg:

  • Access to the US Tech-Friendly market - Geeks and Nerds alike LOVE newegg

How to be successful on Newegg:

  • Take advantage of the Newegg seller programs to increase your audience size.

  • Utilize the built in advertising options offered

7. Bonanza Marketplace

Bonanza is an alternative marketplace, sellers create online booths for their items, which are listed at fixed rates. With no cost for listing your products on the marketplace, the sellers have to pay 3.5% closing fee on sales under $500. While most of our clients don’t see a whole lot of additional revenue, the added search engine optimization and brand awareness that comes with listing your products on marketplaces like Bonanza.

The benefits of selling on Bonanza:

  • Free listing of the products

  • Automatic Amazon / e-Bay / Etsy / Shopify / CSV import or sync

  • Free SEO for your products - that will direct potential customers to your site.

How to be successful at Bonanza?

  • Abide by their rules

  • Optimize your listings with Search engine optimization

8. Alibaba Marketplace

Established in 1999, Alibaba has carved out a MASSIVE niche in the online marketplace industry - catering largely to manufacturers looking to sell their products to companies all over the world. While we suggest this online marketplace to our clients who are manufacturers and are able to mass-produce product, many of our clients who use Alibaba in their everyday business practices are actually customers. Many, MANY businesses worldwide use Alibaba to facilitate arbitrage businesses (buying products and selling them for a profit).

The benefits of selling on Alibaba:

  • Largest worldwide market

  • High-dollar, high quantity wholesale orders

  • Sell low priced item as well as high dollar items easily

How to be successful at Alibaba?

  • Low prices are the key to success at Alibaba. (wholesale pricing)

  • Competitor research is ridiculously important to make sure you’re competitive

Conclusion

There are SO MANY marketplaces out there - and there is no “one size fits all” option for every business. Some e-commerce businesses may benefit from listing and selling their products on all marketplaces, while other businesses may find it best to focus primarily on one. Enlisting the help of an E-commerce consultant can save you countless hours and thousands of dollars in the learning process. Of course, we’d love to help in your endeavors.

SEO AND AMAZON: OPTIMIZING YOUR LISTINGS FOR SUCCESS

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Amazon is a great place to sell your products and reach as many consumers as possible, given that it’s one of, if not the biggest Online Marketplace.  But to truly be successful with selling on Amazon, you need to understand how the system works and play to it.  While we’ve already discussed how to avoid trouble on Amazon in a previous post, more is required for you to truly flourish than to simply play nice.  That’s where SEO comes into play. Proper SEO is critical to success, whether you’re using your own platform or an online marketplace like Amazon.  Your goods aren’t going to sell very well at all if your listings aren’t optimized for Amazon’s ever-changing algorithm. We’ve got some tips to help make your Amazon listing worthy of good recognition to get you on the front page and rack up those ever-crucial conversions!

TITLE

The Title of your listing is the first thing Amazon looks at and will have the most most impact on your listing’s ranking.  Keywords are the key to a strong title; as we’ve mentioned before, they need to be used to the proper degree. If you use too many keywords, Amazon will penalize you.  You can scope out the competition for some good keywords, or use tools like Google AdWords.  When assembling your listing’s title, make sure to put the more important keywords to the front, as Amazon looks there first and places more relevance on those.  The suggested order and content for a title is as follows: Brand, Product Line, Material/Key Features, Type, Color, Size, and Packing/Quantity.

IMAGES & ALT TEXT

Quality, optimized images are an important thing to have no matter what platform you’re using.  But when it comes to Amazon, having alt text attached to your image is another piece you’ll need for a truly successful listing.  Alt text simply tells a search engine the nature of the image. Choose the most important and relevant keyword to use for the alt text.  While its absence won’t completely ruin your chances, having it there will give you a big bonus, as the algorithm does look at and place more of a priority on alt text when looking for what to plaster on the front page.


BACKEND SEARCH TERMS

While the title and image attributes will and should hold all of the most important keywords, the less important keywords shouldn’t be forgotten!  These can become backend search terms, which search engines still look at and use to rank you. These can include extra keywords and common misspellings that can still benefit your listing, but didn’t make the cut.

Using the guidelines above to optimize your Amazon listing will result in a better ranking during Amazon searches, meaning more conversions and sales for you!  Not sure exactly how you can do that? Experts like Gapstow Design can help you navigate the world of ecommerce for maximum success and help your ecommerce business thrive.  We offer a variety of SEO packages to suit your business’ needs!

WHAT ARE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS & HOW YOU CAN AVOID VIOLATING THEM

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In a previous blog, we went over how you can avoid an Amazon account suspension.  One of the ways mentioned was not abusing the reporting of intellectual property rights infringements.  We’ll take the opportunity with this blog post to delve a little deeper into exactly what that means and how you can avoid being guilty of that infringement yourself.

Amazon has strict rules, regulations, and policies when it comes to intellectual properties that cover everything from copyrights and trademarks to patents.  Copyrights make sure that anyone other than the creator(s) of original works such as books, movies, or songs have to consult or seek the permission of the copyright holder before using that work.  If you use/sell copyrighted material without permission or paying the copyright holder, you’re going to be facing legal trouble.

Trademarks work more with words, symbols or designs that establish a company’s brand.  Think of Nike’s “swoosh” or Adidas’ or Apple’s logos. To make or sell a product not officially from these companies but still use those brands’ respective symbols would violate their trademark and create a whole slew of trouble for both you and them.  Consumers see these symbols and hold the product to the same line of quality that the company is known for, and if the product should prove inferior, then the company will more often than not take the blame. Trademarks serve as a protection for both the company and the customer in this way.

Patents on the other hand focus more on the production and sale of a specific invention.  The patent holder is the only person/company who can legally produce and/or sell that invention.  This is a big one to avoid violating on Amazon; unauthorized production is typically halted on patented products before they hit the market.  But if Amazon catches you selling a patented product and infringing in this way, you could face a full-blown account termination.

Taking these three concepts into consideration, you can see the danger in, understand a little more clearly exactly what it means to, and therefore avoid violating intellectual property rights.  This will help you to keep your business on the up-and-up and also help you avoid filing unnecessary or improper claims.

But what action can you take if you’ve been reported or accused of this kind of violation?  If Amazon’s notified you of a violation and a removal of the trouble product, there are a few things you can do.  The first step you can take is to reach out to the property owner and try to smooth things over. If a deal is made or an agreement reached, they can then contact Amazon and retract their report.  If you believe it’s a mistake, another option is to go directly to Amazon and provide a sound basis for your claim of the authenticity of your product. But if your shop has multiple accusations leveled against it, then you’ll have to appeal to Amazon to keep your account from facing a suspension, calling for much stronger proof of authenticity such as an invoice, Order ID, or even a letter of authorization from the property owner.

If your Amazon account does end up being suspended, don’t worry; it doesn’t mean the end.  As mentioned earlier, you can check out our blog on the topic of Amazon Suspensions to see exactly how you can appeal to Amazon to help get your account reinstated and get back into the game!  For more information on selling on Amazon and tips to help you succeed, check out our post on Selling on Online Marketplaces.

This article in no way constitutes legal advice and is simply meant to give general and basic information on the given topic. A legal expert should still be consulted and followed when it comes to handling these and other legal matters with regards to you business.

AVOIDING A Q4 AMAZON ACCOUNT SUSPENSION

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As beneficial as selling in an online marketplace like Amazon may be, a factor to keep in mind is that you have to play by their rules and regulations.  If you choose not to, then you’ll find yourself ousted. An Amazon account suspension is no laughing matter, and it can prove to be a difficult task to get yourself reinstated.  Having a good plan in case of suspension can make the process a little easier, as well as knowing who to consult on the matter. We’ll talk about some tips on how you can avoid an Amazon suspension in the first place, including discussing some common causes of account suspension in Q4 and some practical ways to get to reinstatement quicker and easier.

The first thing to look out for is the misuse of ASIN variations and other listing violations.  There’s a few different reasons people do this: some want to get their products listed in as many possible places, and since many people seem to be doing this, they doubt that the violation will actually be enforced; or they simply have no clue about the violation or left the matter to someone equally as unaware.  But whether you’re aware of it or not isn’t the issue for Amazon, they really only care that it’s there. If you’re unsure about ASIN’s, when to use or not use a child ASIN, talk to an expert who really understands the ins-and-outs of Amazon’s policies and procedures and can help you list your items in the most effective way.

Another thing to watch out for and avoid is the manipulation of sales ranks and reviews.  Amazon takes this kind of stuff very seriously, and really cracks down on it to the point where even wording an email to a customer in the wrong way could count against you.  And if Amazon catches up with you and takes action against you, it will be quite a challenge to get reinstated here, especially with more severe violations. But if you do get suspended over a more mild violation or even a misunderstanding, then a thorough Plan Of Action will work well to get you back on track.

Abuse of reporting owners’ rights’ infringements is the third violation to avoid.  While it is encouraged to defend your business from hijackers or counterfeiters as a small, private label seller, it becomes a different story when you’re trying to file a bad claim for items you’re trying to resell or report other third-party sellers under poorly-guised pretenses.  This kind of cheap tactic can get turned right back around on your head; it creates a huge headache for Amazon, and they’ll come after you hard once they get to you.

Performance metrics are a big factor to look out for, especially come the holiday season.  Its highly advised to be at top level performance: ship your items and respond to customers promptly.  If not, you will take some serious damage to your metrics and bring the customer service department after you as well.  Cancelling batches orders because of stock outages, pricing errors, or other reasons will also do some serious damage to your metrics and bring your dangerously close to suspension.  When it comes to metrics, Amazon will round up all the sellers flagged for low performance metrics and will either manually suspend them after a quick look around, or simply automatically suspend you.  Keep your metrics in as good shape as you can! And if some technical glitch is the cause of your poor performance metrics, then take it to seller performance as soon as possible!

The final thing you want to avoid is ignoring performance notifications.  If you’re getting notifications about poor item quality or condition complaints, then the best possible thing you can do is to look into and fix them.  Ignoring these notifications is a surefire way of getting yourself suspended. Once you’ve seen to it, contact Amazon and show them exactly what you’ve done to rectify the problem.

If you do get suspended though, that doesn’t necessarily mean the end for your business.  You can take steps to get yourself reinstated! The first thing you need to do is to give an honest assessment of the situation.  If you’ve dealt with a similar situation before, wrote up a solid Plan Of Action, and got yourself reinstated with minimal fuss, then it’s worth a go to try to get yourself back in the game.  But if Amazon hasn’t given you as much information as you need or requires more expertise than you currently have, then a different method may be called for in this instance. Discern which of these two paths is open to you before you decide to actually take any sort of action.  If you’re doing this yourself, make sure you work according to their rules and system, and not your own bias or expectations. And if you’re going to have someone else help you out, make sure they know what they’re doing.  If this problem is legal based, will it benefit you to have a lawyer handle the matter, or are you honestly and realistically capable of solving it yourself?

If you’re unsure about how to tackle any of these issues or want to do your utmost to avoid an Amazon account suspension, then people who specialize in ecommerce consulting like Gapstow Design can work with you to help you keep your Amazon business safe and flourishing.  Contact us to see how we can help your ecommerce business and exactly how we can offer our services to best suit your needs!

E-Commerce Consulting: A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO SELLING YOUR PRODUCTS ONLINE

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Today’s world is becoming more and more digital.  Buying and selling products has extended from a merely physical transaction, and now selling goods online has become the principal way to reach more people and expand your business like never before.  But if it’s your first venture into this realm, things can get very overwhelming very quickly. This guide will give an overview of some of the different channels and options that are open to you, whether you’re a small business preparing to venture into the digital world for the first time, or a seasoned e-commerce veteran looking to expand into fresh territory.

One of the first things you have to think about is whether or not you want to go with a hosted or self-hosted e-commerce platform, if you want to sell your goods through a marketplace like Amazon or eBay, or if you’d like to build a hybrid of both. A hosted/self-hosted platform would allow you to build your own site and show customers your product alone.  While the focus on your product alone and minimal immediate attention to the competition is great, that kind of solution won’t necessarily appeal to or reach as broad of an audience as selling Amazon or eBay.

HOSTED OR SELF-HOSTED: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

Using a hosted platform means… well, that someone else is hosting you: you’re subject to their rules and wishes more so than your own.  But they cover a lot of expenses that you’d otherwise have to cover yourself, and are typically more straightforward and easier to use.  A self-hosted platform, however, gives you a lot more freedom to do what you want, how you want it. But without experience with coding, that typically ends up being more costly and difficult to understand.  In short, hosted is easier and less of a hassle, but limited in areas, whereas self-hosted grants way more freedom, but requires more knowledge and know-how to use.

For the record, we DEFINITELY suggest a hosted site, and we’re happy to make a suggestion for you based on your business and e-commerce goals.

We’ll go more in depth and look at a couple of the top hosted e-commerce platforms and see the pros and cons of each to help you make the best choice for your business!

E-Commerce: HOSTED PLATFORMS

1. )  SHOPIFY

One of the most popular hosting platforms, Shopify is a Canadian ecommerce platform that makes setting up a website a relatively simple task, with a wide variety of features and designs available.

POINTS TO CONSIDER:

  • Shopify comes with tons of themes and designs to determine the look of your website, all of which are generally mobile responsive - meaning they react and adjust to whatever device your viewing from (This is SUPER Important to organic SEO on Google and other search engines).  This makes for a smoother, more enjoyable buyer experience and makes purchasing from your site very convenient.

  • A basic Shopify package is just $29, which allows you get your site up and running with unlimited support.  The only catch here though is that some of the necessary features you’ll need for your store will be charged as add-ons to that initial cost. Generally, a good e-commerce consultant can help navigate the 1000’s of apps and make suggestions on which is best.

  • Shopify also offers great support to its customers through many different means, including phone, email, live chat, and forums.  In addition, they have other resources to help even the most inexperienced learn the ins and outs of e-commerce more quickly, such as their E-commerce University.

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is ridiculously important in any e-commerce venture. The beautiful thing about Shopify is that your theme can easily be coded by your e-commerce consultant to automatically build in any of the aspects of good SEO practices that will be helpful to your store.

  • Shopify also offers great security, as all transactions are processed with 256-bit SSL encryption and, not to mention, are level-1 PCI compliant. While this might seem like boring mumbo-jumbo, it’s important to note that this stuff keeps you and your customers safe.

  • Shopify also has an offline version with a point-of-sale credit card reader, allowing you make sales on the go, as well as manage your business almost anywhere.

2. ) BigCommerce

Bigcommerce is an online shopping platform that started out as a self-hosted platform, but has evolved into a popular hosted platform, typically used for medium-to-small sized businesses. This is the option that we generally suggest to clients based on advanced needs that store like Shopify might not be equipped to meet.

POINTS TO CONSIDER:

  • Like Shopify, BigCommerce has a large selection of website designs and formats available for free, some of which are also mobile responsive.  However, the amount of mobile responsive sites is only 2 out of the 16 free, which is less than what Shopify offers.

  • While BigCommerce’s basic plan also starts at $29.95 a month, it’s free trial offers a lot more features than even something like Shopify does.  In addition, a lot of add-ons that are necessary that you end up having to pay for with other platforms come free with BigCommerce, like built-in shipping dates, 24-hour support, and some email marketing tools

  • Bigcommerce, like Shopify, also has some strong game in the SEO department. They also have a ton of apps to add on to integrate your entire e-commerce infrastructure into one platform.

  • Bigcommerce is also level-1 PCI compliant, in addition to having the option of sharing an SSL certificate or having your own. (again, for the safety of both you and your customers)

  • Bigcommerce does charge a transaction fee of 1.5%, although this can be dropped if you upgrade to a higher plan.


E-Commerce : Sell on Online Marketplaces

Hosted and self-hosted platforms aren’t the only way you can sell your goods online.  Online Marketplaces (such as Amazon and eBay) can also be great options to expand your reach and get your product more exposure.  Click here to read our article on Online Marketplaces and see which option might be best for you!

In addition to those online marketplaces, as your e-commerce business grows, you’ll qualify to list your products on marketplaces like Sears, Walmart, etc. Again, this is something your e-commerce consultant can help you with.


Whether you choose to use a hosted platform, a self-hosted platform, to sell your goods through an Online Marketplace, or to tackle a far-reaching hybrid plan, the decision comes down to what would really be best for your product, your customers, and what would allow you to build your business to wherever you see fit.  Gapstow Design specializes in e-commerce consulting - helping you make that decision and figure out what direction and options are best suited for the wants and needs of both you and your e-commerce business.  Click here to see how we can help you navigate the world of e-commerce!





E-Commerce Consulting: AMAZON OR EBAY: DECIDING WHICH ONE IS RIGHT FOR YOU

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Amazon and eBay are two of the most popular online marketplaces in existence today.  Most anything can be bought from them, which makes them very appealing to consumers. And this prospect may also seem mutually beneficial for e-commerce store owners as well, since their products gain more exposure while the marketplace gets to expand its product range without the hassle of also expanding its inventory.

But if you look closer, you’ll find that the above still holds true, but some cons also begin to appear that could definitely impact your e-commerce business.  So is it worth it to expand into selling your products on these marketplaces? That depends on your business: some e-commerce businesses benefit from such a course, and others do not.  Factors to consider include the products you sell, the amount of competition you deal with in that category, and the fees and restrictions of the marketplace you’ll be using.

We’ll talk about a few of the pros and cons that can apply in most general circumstances to help you make the best decision for your e-commerce business.


PROS OF SELLING ON ONLINE MARKETPLACES

Higher Traffic, More Sales

Online markets such as Amazon and eBay have a massive online presence, with Amazon drawing roughly 184 million visitors a month and eBay hosting about 164 million buyers.  That kind of traffic can be extremely beneficial to an e-commerce business, because the higher the traffic, the better the conversion rates get!

Drawing New Customers

Amazon and eBay are both great places for people to find your products, which they may not have found otherwise.  And once they do find you here, you have a great chance to win some repeat business! With good customer service and fulfillment, you can grab business that would’ve otherwise gone to your competitors on this market.  And this is especially potent with products that will need to be replenished, like hobby supplies, fishing gear, etc.

Consumers Prefer The Convenience of Online Marketplaces

People are drawn to online marketplaces for the same reason they’re drawn to shopping malls and farmer’s markets: the all-in-one package is something many people enjoy and prefer.  Online marketplaces also come with the extra-added convenience of a single-stream, seamless buying experience.


CONS OF ONLINE MARKETPLACES

FEES

One of the things about selling in an online marketplace that could end up costing you are the marketplace fees.  They’re typically deducted as a certain percentage of each sale, which varies from category to category. Having a good sense about your margins and the marketplace’s fee structure can keep you from making a costly mistake or getting in over your head.

CONTROL

One crucial thing to remember about online marketplaces is that they exist to help themselves.  The focus is on the products in their case, not the sellers, so to that end, they could limit the amount of control you have over things on your end, such as communicating with customers, branding your presence, or even what you can and cannot sell.  In addition, there’s the possibility that they could completely bypass third-party sellers and stock up on the popular good themselves.

INVENTORY

It can be very hard to keep your inventory in sync with the marketplace without lots of manual work on your end, which could lead to consumer frustration, something no-one wants.


While considering these pros and cons, it would also be wise to think about exactly which online marketplace you’ll be using.  Two of the biggest and most popular are Amazon and eBay, and while it may initially seem like a great idea to just hop straight into using both, the reality is that both have their own set of advantages and disadvantages.  You ultimately need to consider which one would be best for your e-commerce business’ needs.


SELLING ON AMAZON

Amazon is a great option for retailers, seeing as that’s what it specializes in, and offers tons of tools to make consumer shopping easy and convenient!

FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN SELLING ON AMAZON:

  • Amazon has their “Fulfillment By Amazon” program, which allows Amazon to handle the shipping and fulfillment of your products by sending them inventory in bulk.

  • Amazon offers an “Amazon Prime Membership,” which grants consumers free 2-day shipping and reputable service and fulfillment.

  • Amazon has built in comparison shopping, pitting you against your competition, which can be beneficial or do your business harm, depending on your margins

  • Monthly fees are another thing to take into consideration; monthly fees for listing your products and referral fees are also charged when a sale is made, with the exact amount varying by category, averaging at about 15%

SELLING ON eBAY

eBay has their infamous auction system, allowing you to sell your goods to the highest bidder or at a fixed price!  Where Amazon’s focus is on the shopping experience, eBay focuses more on letting your brand be featured.

FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN SELLING ON eBAY

  • While eBay’s auctioning system does allow you to sell things to the highest bidder (which does attract a lot of customers), you can also put things up for a fixed price.  In fact, about 86% of eBay’s merchandise volume is from items sold in that way.

  • Shipping and fulfillment are something you’ll have to figure out for yourself, whether through a third party or simply on your own.

  • There is an insertion fee per listing per category, but some seller account types get a certain number of free listings per month.

Making the decision about what online marketplace to sell to really relies on a lot of factors, the primary one being the size and scale of your business.  You also don’t have to limit yourself to either JUST selling on your e-commerce site or JUST through an online marketplace. You can totally take advantage of and benefit from both, but the wisest thing to do is to calculate first and figure out the best move for your business.  Gapstow Design specializes in the listing and managing of your e-commerce business projects, including Amazon and eBay stores.  We’d love to help and make your e-commerce business as effective as it can possibly be. Click here to see how we can meet your needs and take your business’ effectiveness to the next level!