Guaranteed to Make Want to Shop Online!

Shopping online can be very enjoyable but one must exercise common sense and some good tricks to get out ahead. Shopping on the internet should start here. This guideline is created to help you enjoy the experience of shopping online – you may even make some cash and pick up some savings tips too:

1. Use Contact Us Button – ALWAYS!
If you are interested in purchasing a product or service online – first contact the site using their “contact us” button. If you do not get a response with 24 – 48 business hours – be very wary about doing business with that site. Even for well known sites – you still need to see what their customer service is like so don’t bypass this step. Being big does not necessarily mean good customer service. The response should not be an automated one advising you to check site’s FAQ for your answer. The trick is to make your query one that will have to be answered by a REAL person. I have developed the mindset that ” if they don’t respond to my query within 24 – 48 hours” – I won’t buy!

2. Join Their Affiliate Program
If you have a website – and wish to purchase anything online first check to see if the site you plan to purchase from offers an affiliate program. If they do, this provides the perfect opportunity for you to see how they will treat you and anyone that you refer down the road. Joining the affiliate program provides a threefold opportunity:

First: Testing Customer Service PRE-SALE. This is another way of testing customer service by applying for the affiliate program. If you get a friendly response within 24 – 48 business hours and you get a comfortable feel about the site, proceed to join their affiliate program. Next purchase the item you set out to purchase in the first place BUT from YOUR link on YOUR site.

Second: You get paid for purchasing and that is just a sweet bonus! You will usually get back either a percentage of your own purchase or a set $ amount. Check to see how long your cookies take to expire. The longer of course is the better – the best are cookies that never expire. If you have a busy site you may be able to market the product and make great commission before your cookie expires.

Third: Testing Customer Service POST-SALE. You are now in the position of a customer of this site as well as an affiliate. As a customer you can evaluate – was the service and item as advertised? Was service friendly? Did the product arrive timely? Was the quality as advertised? Was there a thank you email for the purchase? Did you receive an electronic receipt? Was there follow up contact to enquire about delivery etc. As an affiliate – Was your affiliate account credited with the commission within the time set out in their affiliate contract? If you get all the right answers you can now proceed to confidently market that product on your site because you are now your own living , breathing credible testimonial.

3. CHARGE IT WITH CONFIDENCE
Many first time online shoppers are wary about flashing out their credit card to charge it and they have many reasons to be. Countless stories about online credit card fraud abound. Be careful, exercise common sense. The credit card companies are also very vigilant and pro-active in protecting their customers but that should not preclude you from indulging in your own due diligence. Follow these tips and you will minimize your risk.

a. First get a credit card that you use exclusively for online shopping.
b. Keep the limit $500 or below.
c. Only purchase at sites that looks like a real person(s) is/are behind it – i.e misspellings, out of date content -example advertising a salon trade show for 2006 in 2008 are dead give ways of unmanned sites.
d. Beware of squatter sites – sites that are not really involving in retail but host a lot of retail links.
e. Your first line of defence if you are not sure, is to use the – “contact us link” if there is none – leave right away.

4. ORGANIZE ORGANIZE ORGANIZE
When shopping online you will undoubtedly get a lot of email contact from the sites that you do business with. In no time your email inbox will be cluttered with these emails. These are important emails please do not delete them. Here is what I recommend – create a folder in your email program for EVERY company that you do business with and SAVE all their contact with you in their respective folder. This way anything you receive such as guarantee of service, warranty, commission promised, receipts, contract terms , etc you can access easily and quickly should a dispute arise later.

This trick is especially good if you are given passwords and username to log into a site a while ago and now need it. Yes – most, if not, all sites have a password/username retrieval process but why wait on their reply if all you need to do is to check your own folder? This tip is also good for correspondences from lawyers, school teacher etc. If it is important file it.

This tip helped me recently when I had to retrieve information from an electronic receipt I received from David Notestine of http://www.cyber-robotics.com last April. I was able to locate the receipt and contacted the company to take advantage of the service I purchased back then. This is also a company I contacted pre sale got a personal reply within 24 hours. I purchased and also joined their affiliate program. See I do practice what I preach!

5. DON’T GIVE TOO MUCH
There are many legitimate sites in cyberspace that are very honourable and would never attempt to swindle you therefore an article like this they would welcome. They may even post on their sites for their customers. However there are so many many sites that are set up just to do the very opposite. These are the ones that this tip is intended to warn you of. If you are asked to provide your Social Security Number (USA) or your Social Insurance Number (Canada) you might want to reconsider doing so. I have had the experience of signing up for work-from-home programs promising great wealth working from home completing surveys, some clerical stuff etc etc but you have to provide the Social Security info for your self and your family members etc to be paid. I did! Luckily nothing happened to my identify to my knowledge unless there is a Desemal Thomas in the USA that is not YET affecting my identify here in Canada. This took place in my newbie days on the internet when I trusted everybody. Unless you want a clone of yourself – Rule of thumb – LESS is MORE. No social security numbers, no full date of birth, bank account information, give only what make sense. Less information = more protection.

6. THERE IS NO GET RICH FORMULA!
Stay away from the temptation – (speaking from experience). Temptation can that burn a LARGE hole in your credit card. If these folks touting the rich life on the waterfront properties, the yacht, the 5 star vacations did have the get rich-overnight-formula why would they want to share it with you a total stranger? It would be so guarded by these people – you would have a better chance of getting some of the royal jewels from Fort Knox than them sharing it with you. Don’t fall for the manufactured testimonials – do you know any of these people featured there? Do you know anyone who knows anyone featured there? What proof do you have that it is real? Follow your Gut instinct? Beware!

7. LET EQUIFAX/ TRANS UNION BE YOUR FRIENDS!
If you have heeded all the tips provided above and still have that feeling that something is just not right after you have made a purchase.

a. Contact your credit card provider IMMEDIATELY – request that they not accept the payment and you MUST not accept the good or service. You cannot have it both ways.
b. Check your credit report for any unusual activities and file a dispute of any item on your credit report that you did not authorize.
c. Make checking your credit report a consistent habit – some credit card companies offer credit monitoring service.

8. You CAN Make MONEY while SHOPPING ONLINE
In spite of the tip in #6 you CAN make money online. I am not selling you any program – NO! This is how it works.

The premise is – if you have purchased products and service online and you are pleased with it you may want to share it to others. Why not make some money doing so. There are folks who do make a tidy sum of money online doing just that. Selling as a middleman/women! That is what affiliate/reseller programs are about. You are marketing someone else’s products or services. Instead of the vacuum salesman going door-to-door in the old days – the vacuum salesman now simply sets up a site and calls himself a “RESELLER” and get to work getting traffic to his site to purchase the vacuums from him.

Or Mr. Vacuum Salesman puts a banner on his site from the manufacturer of the vacuums and gets paid REFERRING clients to buy the vacuums directly from the manufacturer. Find a decent set of affiliate programs from sites such as Commission Junction, Share a Sale, Clickbank among others.

They key is that you have to generate TRAFFIC to sell to! That is it straight and simple. If your website is not even ranked on Google chances of a customer finding you online via search engine is very very slim. Most people start out with a regular site with one central product or service and once they build credibility and a decent size customer base they introduce these add -on services and products. It will take time but if you remain consistent you can make money online and elevate your enjoyment of the internet.

9. DON’T BE AFRAID
Don’t be afraid to purchase on the internet – it is a fun place. Do your research, compare, read un-solicited customer feedback then buy. Some sites have customer feedback that you know is real because it is so raw in its content and both good and bad reviews are posted. Believe me, you will know if it rings true. Exercise common sense and happy shopping – it can be fun.

Mother and Baby Book Shopping Online

One of the best reasons to shop for mother and baby products online is that generally speaking you can get much better deals on things that are often, otherwise, quite expensive on a shop. Not to mention the fact that you’ll have more time free to enjoy with your baby, instead of trying to navigate shop aisles with a baby pram. The Internet is a great library, full of all the famous baby books you already know about, and many undiscovered gems as well.

Mother and Baby Bestsellers

Some books seem to be on the bookcases of every parent and future parent, and so they are really easy to find online on marketplaces such as Amazon or Barnes and Noble, just to name a couple. If you want to cut down on the prices you may want to look for second hand books, but unless you know the information is not going to significantly change try to stick with the most modern editions or you may be reading things that have been proven false in later years. If you know your friends are looking for gift ideas for you and the baby consider creating a wish list on one of those sites, and let everybody know where it is so they can buy the books you like.

Digital Editions

If you have an eBook reader able to cope with books filled with pictures of beautiful babies and graphics of all types about pregnancy and babies you may prefer to just access marketplaces such as the above mentioned retailers or even iTunes to get instant access to your favourite mother and baby books. This can be a great option if you are looking to buy a lot of books and lack the money or the space to actually store them on your home, as digital editions are often cheaper or come with added bonuses such as media, in the form of videos or even interactive applications.

Independent Publishers

If you know of a particularly knowledgeable baby expert or the bestselling books just don’t do it for you, there are a myriad of independent publishers and authors writing about their own experiences and producing quality work that may give you a new view on many mother and baby subjects. Self-publishing platforms such as Smashwords or the Amazon Kindle could be a great place to start, but make sure to read reviews to ensure the books are indeed as good as the author claims.

The Online Store Usability Enhancement

There is an intense competition in the E-commerce market and the reality is that competitive companies are just one click away. Moreover, the situation is changing so fast that weak online stores may become more powerful in the short run, so if a merchant wants their store to survive they must always “keep an eye on the ball”. One faultless way to keep the market share and not to lose customers is to carefully monitor usability of the online store and make it as comfortable for purchasing online as possible. In this article we will take a closer look at a few tips that can be easily implemented for improving the situation.

Even if you are able to provide a wide range of quality products and your prices are very competitive, there is still no guarantee that visitors will make purchases in your online store. The matter of usability is very topical for e-commerce, because in most cases visitors are left to their own devices during the purchase process, which means that it is impossible to influence their behavior. Let’s take a closer look.

“Join us” / “Register” /”Sign Up”/ “Log in” Button

Registered visitors are very valuable for any online store, because they leave some information about themselves so it is possible to communicate with them and build a loyalty program. So, the first strict rule is that ‘Register’ button has to be easy to find. The way you name the button is also important. “Join us” is more associated with a club or a community. You join an organization. “Register” button is used when a user needs to enter some data to the system for future access. For example, you need to register in order to place comments. “Sign up” button means that a visitor agrees to be a participant of something, it is like “sign up for the military”, or “sign up for the seminar”. “Log in / out” button is perceived more technically than “Sign in / out”, but the value is approximately the same. It is up to you what names you choose and how many buttons you need, but sometimes it is better to ask the audience about what is clearer to them. You also have to create the appropriate button design which includes color, font, size and wording. The button should be clearly visible but it has to fit in with the store’s corporate style.

Avoid mandatory registration

Visitors hate mandatory registration that is why it is better not to make the difference between registered and guest users. Both categories of visitors must have the same rights and opportunities. Registration or “Sing up” is needed when the user is going to buy something. Please consider that complex sign-up process that takes a lot of time can alienate customers away. You can also allow guest visitors to go through checkout without registration, and after this suggest them to sign up in order to make their next purchase in your online store easier.

Provide comfortable search functionality

Navigation or search features allow visitors to find desired products in the store. Firstly, it is necessary to understand the search criteria that potential customers use. There are clear and obvious criteria such as prices, brands, models, colors and so on. But some users prefer using specific search criteria. For example, women may search by unusual color names: terracotta, cherry, lemon color. Some users search by the product dimensions or products with reviews. The best way to identify the non-standard search criteria is to ask the online store visitors what is important for them and what words, names and terms they prefer to use. Only after this the navigation functionality can be implemented to the online store.

Other online store elements

The LOGO is a visible online store element and it is not only a brand identity. If you click on the logo on most websites you know where you will be forwarded to. Logo leads to the home page regardless of how deep into the online store you are.

SEO Tip. Logo on the website’s home page should be inactive, because circular reference which leads to the same page where it is located is unsuitable and bad for SEO, so it is better to get rid of it.

Such elements as MY ACCOUNT and MY CART should be placed at the top right corner of the page. These are generally accepted things and people are accustomed to look for these elements there. It is rather a recommendation and, if you put these elements in a different place – make sure that users can quickly find them.

BREADCRUMBS are not something very outstanding, but they are very convenient for users because they show full path to the page that customers are viewing. They are usually placed horizontally across the top of the page and indicate the online store current page’s hierarchy in relation to the website structure. Breadcrumbs navigation is very useful for SEO.

The FOOTER in the online store is another place where visitors look for the necessary information. It is better to put some significant elements like Terms, Privacy Policy, License Agreement and others in the footer, as those may be of interest to your customers and should be easy to find.

Provide Related Items

If you suggest related items effectively you can increase sales because of cross-selling. Related products may be bought in addition to the product the visitor is searching for. The Related Products block can be placed depending on the e-platform, theme and page layout. Generally, you can set the related items for each product that will be recommended to the customers.

Avoid Hidden Charges

Customers definitely leave the online store if the price on the last step of the purchase turns out to be higher than the price they saw on the product page. Be sure that you display prices, shipping charges, taxes and discounts clearly. Very often the extra charge can be shown separately and visitors don’t pay attention to this block of information. Check twice and even do the usability test to be sure that buyers understand everything correctly when they choose the products, so that they know the final sum they have to pay before going to checkout.

There are only some tips and, as you can see, there are only hints and ideas related to making your online store better. There are no strict instructions and rules that you would certainly need to apply. You should analyze the situation, implement changes, run tests and compare the results, as only this kind of approach will show you what is right and effective for your e-commerce business.

Considering Opening An Online Store

With the advent of 128 bit encryption and beyond, online shopping has become a mainstay of not only North American commerce, but commerce worldwide. More and more people feel comfortable and secure in making purchases from internet stores. Many new entrepreneurs start an online store because they have homemade products to offer. One example is handmade crafts or woodworking products. If you’ve been thinking about starting an online business, and considering an online store as an option, then this article may help you make your final decision.

Some Of The Most Popular Types Of Online Stores

  • Music Store
  • Dollar Store
  • Book Store
  • Crafts Store
  • Adult Products Store
  • Video/Movie Store
  • Specialty Store

Once you’ve made the decision to start an online store, whether handmade products, affiliate products, or wholesale, you have a number of options available to you to get that online store up and running and earning money quickly. Of course, which options are best suited for you will depend on how comfortable you are with the technical aspects of running a website and web design. Many companies, like Yahoo, offer store websites that are very user-friendly and simple to set up.

Define Your Needs For An E-commerce Hosting Solution

E-commerce, which stands for electronic commerce and is commonly referred to as web commerce, basically means selling merchandise or services over the net by means of electronic transactions through a secure server or network.

To build an e-commerce enabled online store requires the following:

  • a host that offers a secure server
  • a secure and reliable payment processor
  • a secure download delivery system if you’re selling digital merchandise
  • a quick, reliable and cost-effective shipping system if you offer physical products
  • software that can manage customers as well as their needs

Research Your Options

Once you’ve defined your needs, you can then begin researching your options. There are two basic paths you can take when building an e-commerce store – either build a custom system with components and parts according to your requirements and budgets or take advantage of an already well-established online store provider such as Yahoo Stores.

Remember that the quality of your hosting will reflect the quality of your business. The last thing you need is your entire website going down due to cheap hosting or poor maintenance and management. The best choice is to find a reputable host that will provide you with a storefront and hosting for a reasonable price. Don’t try to pinch pennies on this aspect of your business. You could end up out of business in no time

Find the Best Online Stores

The internet offers thousands of the best online stores where you can buy whatever you want. There are stores selling electronic goods, clothes, medication, tours and even stores selling contact lenses and musical instruments.

While it is safe to buy things from these online stores, you have to be careful before making a transaction. This is because though most of these stores are legitimate, some of them are illegitimate. So here are some tips to find the best online stores for buying things.

Check for website security

First of all, you have to check out the website of the online store. To be sure that this site is secure by looking for the lock icon in the window of the browser. You can also tell if a site is secure by taking a look at its URL. When browsing you find that most websites have a URL starting with ‘http’. However in case of a secure website, the website’s URL starts with ‘https’.

It is very important that the site you buy things from is safe and secure as you will have to reveal personal and bank information to make the transaction. If the site is not secure, this information can fall in the wrong hands, and will be used wrongly.

Go through review sites

Next, you have to check out review sites of online stores. There are different sites that give reviews of different types of websites. So if you want to find out more about an electronics store, you have to look for websites that provides reviews for electronic goods’ sites.

Obviously, it is better to deal with stores that have more positive reviews and not negative reviews. However beware of sites that have only positive reviews as some companies pay people to write positive reviews about themselves.

Better to deal with reputed brands

Once you find a few prospective online stores to deal with, you have to take a look at what the store has to offer. If you do not find what you are looking for in one website, might as well skip it and move on to the next online store.

Then again, if you find an online store with a wide range of medicines, electronic gadgets or sunglasses, you have to find out which brands the store deals with. Some may deal with reputed brands, and some with local brands. It is generally better to deal with stores selling products from renowned companies as the quality of their products will usually be better.

Be careful about shipping charges

Besides the security of the websites, you have to check out the store’s shipping charges and policy. Some stores do their shipping for free, while other charge based on the value of your purchase. So do check this factor out before making the mistake of placing an order and finding out later that you have to pay shipping charges.