by Bradley Smith

Courtesy of The Crafts Report
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Maintaining an effective and efficient e-commerce presence is often a daunting task for small and mid-size retailers. The following guide aims to break this challenging endeavor down into five easy-to-manage functional areas. If these are successfully executed, your website revenue potential can be limitless.

Manage your website like a physical retail store
1. Regularly promote different products, actively manage and update the website.

2. Present quality, fresh information and promotions.

3. Develop a detailed business model with objectives and performance milestones.

4. Track and analyze website traffic to understand your strong and weak areas.

Help potential customers to find you
5. Maintain defined and researched search engine marketing optimization strategies.

6. Engage customers where they are active to drive traffic. Provide insights, reviews and coupons via forums and social media.

7. Build trust by featuring large amounts of content relevant to your consumers (how-to's, FAQ, blogs, etc.).

8. Send out periodic marketing messages via e-mail that communicate promotions and website information.

Capture customers and manage lead information
9. Gather, track and engage every lead that comes into your website.

10. Utilize multiple types of forms for gathering customer information on the website ("Contact Us," "Request Brochure," etc.).

11. Automate response e-mails to online customer inquiries.

12. Maintain information on unique customers and use this information to create targeted advertising and promotions.

Understand what your customers are doing
13. Identify high-traffic areas of your website and advertise popular and high-margin items in that space. Identify what items are getting the most attention and increase their prominence on your website (capitalize on your customers' interests).

14. Collect data on all searches performed through your website and review it regularly. This will help identify things people want to find that are likely unclear on your website.

Make it easy for customers to purchase your work
15. Price appropriately for your market.

16. Include a clear and obvious product search box for convenience.

17. Offer coupon discounts based on monetary threshold (free shipping, etc.). This entices consumers to purchase slightly more in order to meet the requirements.

18. Offer catalog segmentation with search results, allowing users to continually refine the sub-categories they wish to explore.

19. Cross promote items throughout the website ("Related items are…").

20. Offer flexible, trusted payment options such as PayPal.

Bradley Smith is a Product Manager at a Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Internet technology provider. He has worked with hundreds of small businesses, as well as a few prominent manufacturers, to help launch and manage effective e-commerce websites.


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