How to stand out from your competition – from the view of a Frooition Account Manager

November 18th, 2014

We have asked one of our Account managers, Andy Evans, to tell us how his sellers can use design to stand out from the crowd:
andy

Hi I’m Andy, I am a designer and account manager at Frooition; this gives me a unique insight into how to help sellers grow, but also the technical aspects of what are involved.

My role at Frooition is to help sellers improve their online business through design, I speak to sellers on a daily basis, help them decide which package is right for them and assist them with ways to further improve online sales.

One of the biggest reasons my sellers give for needing design is to stand out from their competition.  This may seem like a simple task when it comes to design but it is bigger than just having bright colours and a memorable brand.

There are many reasons why a brand may stand out, and they are not always for good reasons…

In order to tackle the idea of “standing out” we need to look at 3 main aspects: Branding, Communication and Simplicity.

Branding:

Branding is about so much more than your company colour scheme, your brand is the way the whole of your business is interpreted by your consumers.

Your company branding includes:

  • Colour scheme
  • Fonts
  • Attitude
  • Language/terminology
  • Processes

You may be “stuck” with your current branding as it is already out in the wide world and would be difficult or expensive to change. Change is possible but should be done subtly if you are already an established brand so you don’t alienate your existing customer base.

All companies will naturally form an element of a branding including the general attitude of the business, is your business relaxed and fun or is it more serious? Whichever direction your business heads it is important that this attitude is mirrored in all aspects. There is no point being serious on the website, marketplaces and Facebook and have a fun, jokey attitude on twitter. It confuses customers.

The key to great branding is consistency, once you have decided on your brand it is important that all communication follows the branding rules.  One aspect of branding is your terminology, if half your staff call a product one thing and the other use different wording this will confuse customers and make them feel like they are dealing with a company that doesn’t talk to its staff.

So how does branding make you stand out from the crowd? Simply put it makes you memorable and consistent.  Your company won’t stand out if you are forgotten about immediately.

You can use clever branding tricks to remain more memorable to customers, if you can make a customer smile that will always help them remember your brand.

Communication:

Communication is vital in every business both internally and externally.  This is paramount on an online store as customers don’t give you a lot of time to convince them to part with their cash.

Things like free shipping, special promotions and quick delivery will all help you stand out from your competition, however if customers are not aware of these great features then there is no point in having them.

From a design point of view this may mean that you incorporate key points into your design or create promotion boxes to shout about your benefits.

It is also important that all your staff internally are aware of all offers available so they can communicate a consistent message.

Simplicity

KEEP IT SIMPLE. If you can get a message across in 3 words, use 3 words not ten. This makes it easier to remember and allows customers to make a decision faster.

If a customer has to read 10 paragraphs on a competitor’s site or they can read 10 lines on yours you will be more memorable and you will be more likely to win the customer.

Simplicity doesn’t just relate to the wording in your descriptions; keep your design simple too.  Over crowded designs are old hat, it is much better to have a “clean” site that makes one product stand out than to lose 10 products in a collage.  The less you have in a design, the more importance the remaining elements will have.

Simplicity also relates to the product lines you stock, if you stock one group of products it makes it easier for a customer to “get” what you do, it also makes cross promotion more effective as all products will relate to each other. If you have an Aladdin’s cave with thousands of unrelated products this makes you less memorable and less likely for you to gain traction via word of mouth.

Finally, make it very simple for buyers to navigate your store. Use categories to your advantage, start with a small number of options and branch out from there. For example if you sell clothing your top categories should be Men’s, Women’s and Children’s. Then split down into clothing type rather than type and then gender.  Simply cross promoting related items will improve sales but also means a buyer has visited 2 of your pages/listings making you twice as likely to be remembered!

If you would like to have a conversation with me about how we can help you with your branding visit: http://www.frooition.com/uk/contact.html

2014 Business Christmas List: Part 2

November 4th, 2014

xmaslistpt2

November is here and Halloween is now over.  For many shoppers this signals the start of their Christmas shopping.

Get prepared and focused in the first few weeks of November to ensure you have a smooth December with these useful tips:

Communication

99% of all customer service issues start from poor communication; people get more and more annoyed if they feel like they are being ignored. Avoid future issues by ensuring you have excellent communication:

  • Setup auto-responders so customers know you have received their correspondence
  • If you cannot solve an issue immediately; explain this to the customer and say that you are trying your best
  • Let the customer know that they are dealing with a human rather than a huge corporate machine – they will tend to be less aggressive if there is an issue
  • Make your terms prominent and simple to read – no one wants to read thousands of lines of legal jargon
  • Create a bank of FAQs this helps both your customers and your staff
  • Don’t be scared to ring a customer directly – it shows you are human and you care
  • Pass on the tracking information from couriers – it gives customers peace of mind and saves you a lot of questions

Stand out

Evaluate what is unique about you and your business, why should people buy from you rather than everyone else? What do you do that is special? Once you work out what that is shout about it everywhere!

Some great things you can try to stand out for the holiday season are:

  • Offer Gift receipts
  • Offer Gift Wrapping
  • Offer to ship directly to the gift recipient
  • Offer extended returns
  • Create bundle products
  • Sell gift cards
  • Throw in a little free gift with every parcel – it doesn’t have to be big to make someone smile

Hope for the best, plan for the worst!

Problems happen… Fact! How much they affect your business depends upon your preparation beforehand.

Plan for common problems and make sure everyone knows what to do when that happens. Write processes down so everyone has a plan when issues inevitably arise.

Common Issues include:

  • Running out of stock
  • Delayed deliveries
  • Delayed stock
  • Faulty products
  • Product recall
  • Illness
  • Technical problems

The best solution for the majority of issues is to communicate it to affected customers quickly!

Dates for your diary:

Thursday 27th November:           Thanksgiving

Friday 28th November:                 Black Friday

Monday 1st December:                   Cyber Monday

Happy Halloween from Frooition

October 28th, 2014

HappyHalloween2014

Happy Halloween from all the staff at Frooition.com

Multi-channel design experts:

eBay Design, eBay Mobile Design, Bigcommerce Website design, Facebook design and productivity apps.

Visit http://www.frooition.com for more information

2014 Business Christmas List: Part 1

October 14th, 2014

xmaslistpt1

The holiday season is nearly upon us, very soon you will be busy running your business and trying to maximise your return on your most profitable time of the year.

The key to success is being organised and preparing ahead of time, if you spend a small amount of time writing down your plan and making sure all your staff are up to speed, you can save a lot of headaches in the coming months.

With this in mind we have outlined our thoughts on a successful holiday plan, so grab a coffee and read on…

When to start Christmas?

It sounds simple but when is Christmas? December 25th? December 24th? December 1st?

WRONG!  Christmas starts today! The sooner you prepare for Christmas, the more you will achieve, and the more success you will have.

Most high street shops really start to ramp up for the holidays after Halloween (October 31st) this makes sense as you can clear the space used by Halloween products and replace them directly with Christmas.  As an online business it is sensible to follow this lead and start to push Christmas after Halloween.

This doesn’t, however, mean leave everything to the 30th of October, in order to have stock available for the 31st you need to have ordered the stock, received it, sorted and stored it.

Do your math

Look at your stats and numbers while you have time to think! Work out what your capacity is and what your staff can handle. If you think you can sell more products than you can ship now is the time to start getting temporary staff trained up – not when you and your staff are stressed out and panicking!

Important numbers to check:

How much stock can you physically store? Look into alternative storage such as lockups, storage centres or units with short leases.

What Capital have you got to invest in stock?

Can you liquidate some assets, speak to the bank about a loan or research alternative finance sources such as Iwoca, Kabbage and Moula.

Have you got enough staff?

Do you need to take on temps? Do any of your existing staff have family or friends that need additional income? Even if you don’t think you need extra staff; take 5 minutes to work out what the cost of an additional pair of hands would be.

Do you know what your best and worse sellers are?

Look at your sales history and just confirm what your best selling items are. Work out what your worst items are and find out what your most & least profitable items are. If you need to make tough decisions about product lines it is better to have this information beforehand and share it with your team.

Try to predict trends…

Look at the wider world and try to work out what products will cause a buzz this holiday season. An example for this year would be the new iPhone 6 and 6 plus. Even if you don’t stock the items themselves are there any tie in products that you can stock such as cases?

Planning

It may seem simple and like extra work, but take the time to outline your procedures and plans on paper.  Write down you process from start to finish and store it in a folder where all staff have access to it. This makes life a lot easier if you suddenly need to take on staff at a busy period.

It is also useful as a reference for next year when you start the process all over again.

Products

Make sure you are familiar with your product lines, have there been any updates you are unaware of? Have newer models been released or superseded.

Suppliers

Speak to suppliers, try to get better pricing and offers if you buy in bulk. Remember this will be their busiest season too so they may be willing to make a deal to guarantee a sale.

Also be sure to find out what their delivery times are as they may have changed in the run up to Christmas.

Couriers

Speak to your couriers, find out who your account manager is and learn what price breaks they have for increased shipping. You may be able to lower your costs with your increased shipping – worth it even if it is only for the short term.

Other questions to ask:

  • What is the most cost effective service for you
  • Can you save money if you used smaller packaging
  • Can you do pre-paid returns

Transfering your eBay product data into Bigcommerce

October 7th, 2014

Going multi-channel can be a major step in growing your online business and has many benefits; however it can be a daunting task. Where do you start and how do you do it?

The first task is decide which channels you wish to sell on. We would always recommend selling on eBay & Bigcommerce as a great entry into multi-channel trading.

The next big challenge is replicating your data on both channels. If you have a database or spreadsheet of your products then this can be an easy task. However if your company data has grown organically then this can be a more difficult task.

One issue we often help customers with is copying their data from eBay onto Bigcommerce.
We have outlined a number of methods that should help the majority of sellers get their product information from eBay into Bigcommerce.

Let Frooition help with this fantastic whitepaper showing you 3 methods to transfer your data from eBay into Bigcommerce:

Download Free Whitepaper

Halloween Template Themes Available now!

September 30th, 2014

Halloween Template Themes

Halloween Template Themes Available now!

Get into the Halloween “spirit” with these fantastic ghoulish template themes.

Froo Template themes allows eBay sellers to instantly apply pre-designed templates to their live eBay listings. Making your listings look great has never been easier.

Adding the template to your live eBay listings is simple;

  • Choose a design
  • Add your logo
  • Fill in your seller info tabs (e.g. About, Returns, Shipping etc.)
  • Select the items you want to apply the design too
  • Apply to 200 listings in one click

Froo! Template Themes has 90 Halloween based themes available to instantly apply to all your eBay Listings today.

Even better new customers can sign up for 30 days free trial – meaning if you signup now you can have spine-chilling Halloween listings for 30 days and not pay a penny!

Another great feature of Froo! Template Themes is you can apply different themes to different products; meaning you can use a creepy template for your Halloween related products and a clean modern theme for your electronics.

After the trial Froo template themes is just £2.50 per month for access to over 6,000 designs!!

Sign up to  Template Themes

Thoughts from a Frooition Account Manager…

September 23rd, 2014

We have asked one of our Account managers, Kelvin Lewis, to tell us the mobile design
tips and tricks he passes on to his customers ahead of the busy Christmas period:

Kelvin Lewis Frooition Mobile Design Consultant

Hi, I’m Kelvin, an account manager here at Frooition.  My role is to speak to prospective clients to work out how Frooition can help their online business as well as assisting existing customers to further improve their sales.

As an account manager I am always looking for ways to help my customers improve their eBay and eCommerce experiences.

One of the hottest points for this year is Mobile commerce and mobile design. This affects both eBay and other channels such as eCommerce websites.

If you set your mobile design strategy correctly you can expect to benefit from extra traffic while maximizing sales.

Why do you need to think about mobile design?

  • 2013 saw 30% of all eBay sales being touched by mobile
  • Last year saw a 130% increase in mobile usage on eBay
  • Mobile design increases sales by 5%+ on eBay, more for eCommerce sites
  • Mobile optimized pages increase readability and decrease the time to make a purchasing decision
  • As mobile speeds increase (with the introduction of 4G) more and more people are using mobile devices instead of desktop computers

What do you need to think about with regards to mobile commerce and mobile design

  • Do your pages / listings actually work on mobile – if you use old technology such as flash then pages may not even display on mobile devices. Fixed width tables can lead to an awkward experience.
  • Is your content readable? If you use small fonts on a wide page then this leads the buyer to need to pinch and zoom to read the content which is an awkward experience, leads to important information being missed and detracts from sales.
  • Are your listings/pages slow? If your images are huge and not optimized they can take a long time to load on a broadband connection, this problem is much worse on slower mobile connections. If a listing takes too long then buyers assume it’s broken and go elsewhere.

Here at Frooition we are aware of the challenges of mobile commerce and have tailored our services to help sellers react to the changing world of eCommerce.

We have been working closely with eBay to create a brand newmobile design listing template that adapts your listings to fit the buyer’s device. This creates a great shopping experience and increases sales.

We have also recently re-engineered our Bigcommerce eCommerce website services to offer responsive mobile designs that fit all devices.

All of our images are full optimized and we use super fast CDN hosting to ensure load times are as fast as possible without skimping on great looking design.

Obviously the easiest way to be mobile ready is to let Frooition help you by creating a mobile responsive design for your eBay and eCommerce sites.

If you would like to speak to me or one of my fellow experts the click here and we can arrange a call.

However for sellers who are not yet ready for a Frooition design there are a few simple tips you can follow:

  • Don’t use fixed widths for your design – use percentage widths so the whole page is 100%
  • Add CSS to images so the max width is 100% e.g.
    <img src='IMAGEPATH' style='max-width:100%;'>
    This way the image will not go off the page.
  • Optimize all of your images before you host them. Some great free sites that will optimize images are:https:/tinypng.com/and http://jpeg-optimizer.com/
  • Test your site speed. You want to aim for less that 3 second load times. A great tool I use is http://tools.pingdom.com/fpt/
  • Don’t use flash or other legacy technologies
  • Use a font size of 14px or more.

 

Frooition Discount – Save on design in time for the holidays

September 16th, 2014

Frooition Discount Code

Frooition Discount Details:

As an early Holiday bonus we are offering a massive 20% Frooition discount off eBay & Bigcommerce design!

Simply purchase an eBay design and matching Bigcommerce website and we will knock 20% off the retail prices (you could save as much as £1000/$1600)

You can also “go mobile” with a mobile eBay template and fully responsive Bigcommerce design to make the most of the increasing power of mobile-commerce.

When we create 2 or more stores with the same branding it becomes easier for us to deliver the additional designs at the same time.

As it is easier we can save costs and we pass the saving on to you as a Frooition discount!

In order to receive the Frooition discount :

  • Designs must be identical branding for eBay & Bigcommerce
  • Designs must be the same level (e.g. Advanced eBay and Advanced Bigcommerce)
  • Designs must be purchased at the same time

Find out more or get in touch…