Importance of Branding for E-Commerce Businesses

E-commerce businesses are becoming a reliable way to buy products online. Branding plays a direct role in improving chances of e-commerce business success. An increasing number of global customers are switching to e-commerce sites to purchase everything from groceries to apparel, and electronics to lifestyle products. The e-commerce industry has completely transformed the way in which consumers around the world access products and services. It has suddenly brought a world of options to the fingertips of end users. The future seems bright for the e-commerce industry, with major players branching out into newer product categories frequently (thus setting the standards for smaller brands).

For e-commerce businesses, things are going well enough, but the competition is also fierce. New e-commerce brands are launching every day and persistently trying to get a foothold online. When it comes to branding, e-commerce companies are leaving no stone unturned. In this scenario, it is vital that you build and implement a high quality branding strategy for your e-commerce business.

Branding Strategies For E-Commerce Businesses

By having a result-oriented, effective branding plan for your e-commerce business, you can stand out amongst your competitors. To achieve that, you must determine what makes your e-commerce business a unique player in the industry. Are you offering high quality products at the best available rates? Do you organize regular discounts and offers for your customers? Are you adding new product categories to meet more customer demands? What are the factors that would convince customers to choose your brand against others? E-commerce business owners must strive to highlight the unique selling points of their brand. Only then can an e-commerce brand be boldly promoted to larger audiences.

As an e-commerce brand, you have to be at the forefront when it comes to attracting product vendors as well as consumers to your e-store. Vendors would be interested in using your marketplace, if it has a strong brand that keeps providing value to customers. The number of sellers and customers you bring in to your network depends on the strength of your e-commerce brand, and how well it delivers on its promises. If you are intelligent in your branding, and consistent in your service quality, your e-commerce brand can achieve considerable success.

E-commerce branding, like all branding, is influencing the perception of your brand and its services, in the eyes of the customer. Effective e-commerce branding will make marketing easier, retain more customers, drive up loyalty, and create better potential value for steady, long-term success.

The way you must approach an e-commerce branding strategy is by highlighting some key points. With branding, you must uphold your business’s core mission, the problems you aim to solve for your customers, standards that it adheres to, and proof of the quality of services you provide. What are the factors involved in business branding and their importance?

E-Commerce Branding – Methods and Importance

1. Your Brand Image - A stellar, uniquely identifiable brand image helps customers attach value to your e-commerce brand’s personality. This includes various things such as logos, banners, taglines, marketing captions, social content etc., which should always represent your brand the best. This is quite important if you want to create value for potential customers and convert them into loyal customers. A good brand image goes a long way in retaining customers, by continually generating interest for your e-commerce brand’s offerings.

2. Customer Satisfaction - Customers are everything, when it comes to e-commerce or any other type of business. You can actually enhance customer experiences and drive up satisfaction (and loyalties). This is a big part of establishing your e-commerce brand. Put your best foot forward while marketing, deliver on your promises you make, and provide unmatched service and support to enhance your brand’s potential value. Remember that satisfied existing customers can and will bring in newer customers to your e-commerce business. Maintain your integrity and keep reinventing to bolster your brand’s chances of business success.

3. Find Your Unique Selling Proposition - As an e-commerce business owner you must determine the USP of your brand. This will help you brand and promote it better to larger groups of potential customers. Think about what sets you apart from dozens of competitors vying for true e-commerce glory. Is it your service quality or support? Is it the trust of your customers and your track record? Do you provide innovative offers, discounts and promotions on special occasions? Do you house the widest variety of rare products? You must determine why customers would choose your e-commerce site. What extra value can you offer to your potential customers that convince them to use your platform again and again? Find your USP and use it to strengthen your brand.

4. Utilize All Channels - Technological advances in the past decade demand that your e-commerce business maximizes its presence on all social, web-based and mobile platforms. More and more potential customers buy and sell through handheld devices, and almost all of them are on social websites. All your competitors are doing it, and so should you. It will help you make your brand easily accessible to larger audiences, which in turn will bring more conversions and significantly better revenues. Social and mobile should be the front and center of your branding strategy.

E-commerce sites can benefit from the above mentioned branding strategies. By using the concepts provide here, you can establish your e-commerce brand and take your business to the next level.

Career Tips in Commercial Real Estate Brokerage

The commercial real estate sales industry can be very rewarding to brokers and agents. That being said it requires focus and consistent effort if you are to reap real rewards and become a top agent.

Many salespeople join the industry with the hope that ‘things just start to happen’ as part of working for an agency or brokerage; unfortunately those salespeople do not last very long at all. After 6 months or so the reality of the market ‘kicks in’ with few if any commissions coming in.

It takes about 3 months of real effort to change your personal market conditions and your income. It is not a stop and start process. Things should happen to a plan and that will be a plan that you implement every day.

The agency or brokerage that you work for has little to do with the listings and clients that you create or serve. When you start working in the industry, start working hard on your commitment to personal success and progress. You will need a business plan or something similar that keeps you on task.

So what do you need to make the industry work for you? Try these for starters:

  • A good database that you keep up to date in all respects
  • A list of prospects and clients in your database that you can talk to in a continual way
  • Market knowledge and skills relating to your specialist property type
  • Sound and established negotiation skills for listing, inspections, marketing and negotiation
  • Excellent documentation skills relating to your property type, contracts, leases, and any other supplementary documentation
  • Personal drive and a passion for prospecting and selling
  • Excellent marketing skills in both direct, and indirect marketing
  • Communication skills that are advanced for the complexities of property sale, leasing, negotiating and closing.
  • Good time management and documentation processes that allow you to start the day early with momentum and results.
  • Targets and goals that you can track.
  • Exclusive listings that you control for your clients.
  • Referral opportunities with established clients and prospects.
  • Clients that trust you and your skills to help them resolve property problems.

To give momentum to these things it requires deliberate effort. Every agent or broker has plenty of opportunity to rise up in the ranks of the market. The key to making it happen is ‘personal activity and planning’.

It should always be remembered that the commercial real estate industry and market is under change. As brokers and agents we should adjust to market conditions and not wait for the market to come to us.

How To Read A Credit Card Merchant Statement – 5 Ways To Categorize Fees

Reading your merchant statement and finding the rates and fees you’re being charged can be like playing “Where’s Waldo?”. One reason is because there are nearly as many different statement formats as there are merchant acquiring companies. Also, because of how competitive the industry has become, many monthly statements don’t completely disclose the rates being charged. And sometimes they are completely hidden.

I know of banks that don’t even send a statement out. If a merchant wants details of what they paid they have to logon to an online account to find it.

It’s War Out There!

One reason for this is the competitiveness. You have to remember that credit and debit cards make up part of a 2 trillion dollar industry. Money is like a magnet – it attracts Most merchants are being contacted continually by competing processors trying to get them to switch processors, by promising “lower rates”, etc.

So, to prevent a sales agent from another processing company from taking a merchant away – some processors make it as hard as possible for a competitor’s sales rep to walk in to a business, analyze a merchant statement, and do an ‘apples for apples’ comparison.

That being said, there are still some basic keys to look for when reading your statement. Here’s what I look for in analyzing a merchant statement, in order:

  • One: The pricing structure – how has the account been set up? Which pricing model does it employ? Is it using tiers (e.g. 3-tier; 4-tier, etc.) or – is it using “Interchange Plus”? (NOTE: most merchants are on a tier pricing model, which, in my opinion guarantees they’re being overcharged. Also, there are other pricing structures but tier pricing is by far the most common)
  • Two: The monthly fees (sometimes called “Other”) – next, I look to see what the monthly fees are. This can include: a statement fee; monthly service fee; account maintenance fee (normally, you’d only see one of these although I’ve seen two – or, you may see the equivalent fee but using a different term); PCI fee; batch fee; and gateway or access fees. Any miscellaneous, but not monthly fees can also show up here – e.g., an annual fee or semi-quarterly.
  • Three: Processing Fees – this is where the discount rates will be listed. If you are on tier pricing the best statements will print an itemized list showing the “qualified”, “mid-qualified”, and “non-qualified” (the 3 tiers) rate. If you are on Interchange Plus, you’ll see a list showing all the different cards you took, followed by the actual interchange rate for the card, the “dpi” (discount per item), plus the processors mark-up expressed as basis points and a transaction fee (or per item, depending on the term used to list it).
  • Four: Authorization Fees – here’s where you’ll find fees that go to VISA and MC. They’ll show up listed as access, authorization, and /or WATTS fees. You could also find here AVS fees (address verification); assessment fees; brand usage fee; risk fee; settlement fees, IAS fee (Issuer Access & Settlement).
  • Five: Third Party Fees – 3rd parties means networks other than VISA & MC that are included in your statement. This would include American Express, Discover, and the debit networks if you are using pin debit

Part of the problem in reading a merchant statement is different processors use different category names and different terms to identify charges. That’s why I began by saying it can be like playing “Where’s Waldo?” While there are common terms used for certain fees there is also a wide variation used, depending on the acquirer (the company you signed a merchant agreement with).

Again, part of this is due to an attempt to hide what’s being charged and make it difficult for a competitor to analyze a statement. While that’s ‘somewhat’ understandable – in my opinion it’s a disservice to the merchant. Integrity demands transparency. Maybe if processors were more merchant oriented they’d have a lower turnover and would not have to worry about competition so much. At least that’s my opinion.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Classifieds

If you want extra traffic to your website, online classifieds are the way to go. Online classifieds are similar to newspaper classifieds. The only difference is that newspaper classifieds are only viewed by the people in the area that the newspaper was written for. Online classifieds can reach a global audience. So the amount of traffic one can receive is unlimited. There are several advantages and disadvantages to using online classifieds for business.

One advantage is the amount of time it takes to write and post an ad. It should take no longer than twenty minutes to write a good ad and post it to a classified directory. They are a quick method for advertising for internet marketers who don’t have a lot of spare time and want to increase their results.

Another advantage is that online classifieds produce quick results and require very little physical effort. Placing an ad can bring traffic to a website almost instantly. If done correctly, one can generate a boat load of traffic from classifieds.

A third advantage is that this strategy is very low cost. You can post to many classified sites for free. It is great for anyone who doesn’t have any money to advertise with or anyone who has a small budget.

One disadvantage of this type of advertising is that an ad will expire quickly. The ad will drop lower and lower in the rankings until it is not generating any traffic at all. The ads must constantly be replaced. Consistency is the name of the game. Keep posting ads daily and the results will speak for themselves.

Another disadvantage of this type of advertising is that one must post to many classified sites to see big results. Advertising on one site is not enough to produce great results. Take it to the next level and send ads to about 5-10 classified sites.

Overall, online classifieds are a great way to generate extra traffic to a website. It is quick and easy and does not cost a lot of money.