Tech Savvy: Online shopping
Two weeks ago, we discussed the multiple digital options now available to pay for purchases at a number of different stores and outlets. Of course we forgot to mention easily one of the most utilized digital conveniences for paying and thus spending your money — online shopping.
New stores to shop
By Jessi Pierce
There are few things more dangerous than a college student armed with a credit card they don’t deserve and the allure of online shopping. It’s just too simple.
I discovered online shopping in college, with that same credit card. The local mall didn’t have nearly all the offerings that I wanted, so the best bet was to hop on my laptop and scour the net for that perfect weekend dress or a new pair of running shoes.
Now more money savvy, I still have to say the allure of online shopping still exists. It’s the idea of picking out clothes, Christmas presents or that new TV from the comfort of your own home. How nice is it to have the ability to get all of your Christmas shopping done without the rush and hassle the season tends to bring on the stores.
And not in the mood to hit the mall? While it doesn’t offer a fitting room, you can pick out your next work outfit while lounging in sweatpants on the couch.
Even better is the availability to sell and market your own things for some extra pocket cash. Local merchants can now use online platforms for their items and production.
And better yet, online shopping has now become more than just another outlet for the big brand stores. Sites like eBay and Craigslist allow users to buy gently used items for much cheaper than retail cost. Another great example of these, and one that I was just introduced to, is Copious.
Copious — jumping onto the scene little more than a year ago — is an online marketplace the utilizes the social media aspect of selling, alleviating some of the hesitation and dangers that can come from eBay and Craigslist (meeting a stranger with a handful of cash to buy their iPhone sometimes can seem a bit shady).
Copious features anything from handmade mom and pop items to clothes that were never worn all at a bargain price. Users must first create a username and password and then can create their social connections on the network, making the interaction between buyer and seller something comfortable.
Users can also pick and choose items that appeal to them through the easy to navigate pages and are able to see ratings on various items. Sellers also get a rating along with a “social signal” indicating relationship between buyer and seller. To further open the doors of communication between buyer and seller, Copious always chats between users.
Even more perk, I received a $10 credit to use just for signing up! I would highly recommend checking it out.
Of course, as in everything there are drawbacks to shopping online, including the debate of security on sites — my mother refuses to ever online shop for fear of having her identity stolen. But instances are rare, with many of the sites, especially larger named places, securing your privacy. Still a word of the wise, only give out information online to places that you trust and never under any circumstances share your social security or debit card number with someone on Craigslist or other sites like that. In those cases, cash works best.
So whip out those credit cards and enjoy your online shopping spree.
How much is that (gadget) in the window?
As Jessi mentioned in her article, there is certainly no shortage of ways that you can purchase goods through online and now social networks. But how can you take advantage of this buying crazy as a business?
Businesses in this day and age are increasingly pressured to have the ability to have their goods purchased online. People shopping in non-business hours, on the go or out of town have driven a need to have a means to get connected to their favorite business on the go. On the flip side of that, businesses with niche products have increased opportunities because they can get their name out there and reach their customers in ways that were not possible 10 or even five years ago.
Some of the newest ways to take advantage of the social media craze is to incorporate your online store with the social media you are already using. Facebook, Pinterest and other networks have plugins or ways that you can display your inventory for your followers to peruse and in some cases can even purchase directly from that point. There are also ways that you can either incorporate, or create, mobile apps that can also provide a digital storefront solution. All of these methods help bring new business to you, and help keep your store in the forefront of your existing customers’ minds.
One important thing to keep in mind is your website. Many DIY websites (Google “web hosting”) now offer at least some form of ecommerce plug-in for their templates and of course any professionally created site has the ability too. They usually offer a more integrated shopping experience — think Amazon, with shopping carts, more detailed information and familiarity.
Another important aspect of utilizing a website ecommerce option is taking SEO (Search Engine Optimization) into account. SEO, in a nutshell, is the system of terms, algorithms and criteria that help search engines, like Google and Yahoo, determine what order results are displayed when you or I enter a search. If you’ve followed the tech news lately, you may have seen within the last couple months a fair amount of information regarding how SEO is being optimized to filter our results more thoroughly. This means that the results should cut down on false links and should therefore give us more accurate search results. In truth, SEO is in constant optimization, meaning that the algorithms used are constantly scrutinized to make sure they are performing correctly (think about how often slang terms evolve). A major component of the “new” SEO is taking into account the amount of relevant links that a site has to credible sources and content. What? Simply put, the more links that go to and from a site that can direct the user to relevant, updated content, the better their SEO will be.
OK, OK, that all sounds cool but what does that have to do with ecommerce for my business? I would suggest that knowing this information that you seriously consider using a website based ecommerce option, rather than exclusively social media, as your core ecommerce option. I know, I know, but you’re saying social media is where it’s at. True. However, you can use the advantage of social media’s power of sharing and SEO’s attraction to relevant links to your advantage. By using a relevant link to bring customers from your social media to your website, you are creating links, relevant links, back to a core component of your business. In addition, if more people share those links you are expanding your networks and reach. In the end, you are going to benefit by funneling your traffic back to your site, increasing your website views and increasing the SEO power you wield. You will also be able to take advantage of tried and true ecommerce options, and have a true multiplatform offering.
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