Boost Your Sales with Ecommerce Website

Make more money and start selling more furniture with an ecommerce Website! Billions of dollars worth of furniture is sold online each year, now’s your time to get on the bandwagon and start selling more!

If you’re still weighing the pros and cons of selling furniture online, consider this. According to an article on cartly.com, online furniture sales in 2013 were predicted to reach $9 billion! While the furniture industry sold $101.41 billion worth of goods in 2013, online sales accounted for 7.3% of all sales, and experts expect online sales growth to rise. With the rise in internet companies like Amazon, Ebay, craiglist, Wayfair.com, etc … selling online is becoming the new norm, and consumers expect and love the convenience of shopping online.

Now is the perfect time to open an ecommerce Website, or even add a shopping cart onto your existing Website. Image Retailer offers 3 solutions to sell your furniture online:

At Imagine Retailer, our powerful Websites and online selling solutions can help you make more money! Contact us today to learn more about selling online.

Check Out Our Crest Financial Shopping Cart!

good-credit-furniturebanner2.jpgYour customers are just one click away from immediate financing through Crest Financial!

Click here to checkout out our Crest Financial demo site.

It’s simple and easy to get your customers approved for financing from Crest through your Imagine Retailer Website. And once they’re approved, they’ll be provided a credit limit and coupon code to use in your shopping cart to purchase their products through your Website with their new credit limit. All of this happens immediately through your Website! No paperwork to fill out, no links to other Websites, no emails.

Here’s how:

  1. We help you insert your Crest Financial Dealer ID into your Website’s shopping cart. This creates an application page directly on your Website.
  2. We provide you with the text and images to place on your financing page to link to your Crest Financial Application. Click here to view the financing page.
  3. After the customer fills out the financing application, they’ll be provided a credit limit and a coupon code straight through your Website. Click here to view a receipt of the coupon code.
  4. Your customer can then use this coupon code directly in your Website’s shopping cart to purchase your products using their new credit limit. Click here to view how to use coupon code in shopping cart.

It’s simple with Crest Financial! Get your customers immediately approved today so they can use their new credit limit in your Website’s shopping cart!

Create a Google Place Page and Help Get Your Website Found

These days “Just Google It!” is more relevant than Nike’s infamous “Just Do It” campaign. Most people “Just Google it” to find businesses, addresses, phone numbers and other information about products and services. Search engines simplify our lives, and Google clearly dominates the field. But guess what? Google is only as smart as we make it. This article explains the how you can provide Google with information about your store, and help customers find your business and website – and, by the way, it’s totally free.

Your Imagine Retailer website has many built-in features that make it easy for your customers to come and find you when they surf the web, but there are other methods you should also use to increase your internet exposure. These strategies are called Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and they move your website to the top of the list of search results and attract more people to your site. You can pay for SEO campaigns, just like you pay for advertising campaigns, but this series of articles shows you no-cost and low-cost ways you can maximize your website investment.

Google Maps and Google Places will put your business on the map, literally. The “Contact Us” page on your Imagine Retailer website already includes a Google map, but you should also complete the free registration for Google Places. You must have a free Google account to register your business, and the process is confirmed by mail in 12-21 days to ensure that your location is “real” and you are the real owner.

Getting Started. Put your business on the map by visiting Google Places at http://places.google.com/business. You will need to enter your gmail address and password in the areas below:

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Listing your business. You will first be asked to enter your business’s country and main phone number. After doing this, you will be asked to enter some basic information so that Google can put your business on the map.

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Submitting your Google Place. After you list all the pertinent information for your business, Google will make a map that shows your business and all its information. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click submit.

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Mail Confirmation. Google will mail you a postcard at the address provided to verify your business. Visit the link on the postcard or call the number that will be provided to finish setting up your Google Place page.

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That’s it! You’ve just successfully placed your business on Google Places.

SEO strategies that increase website visitors are great, but at Imagine Retailer we never forget that your only goal (both in-store and online) is to sell more stuff. Providing this extra information about your business will help drive customers to your Website and into your store to help you achieve this goal.

This article by Jeff Bennett was taken from an upcoming issue of Western Retailer, a publication of the Western Home Furnishings Association.

Close-up of a send button and na hand mouse cursorYou’re doing everything right to market and brand your business. Radio and TV ads? Check. Direct mail? Yes. A Web site? Naturally. Email marketing? Of course! But here’s something you may never have considered. Every time you send an email to your customers, there’s a big chance they have no clue who in the heck it’s coming from. Here’s why.

If your business sends bulk email or one-on-one correspondence from a generic email address such as info@abcfurniture.com or sales@abcfurniture.com, you’re alienating customers. Your customers may be asking themselves, “Who’s Info?” or “Can I call stop in and talk to Sales?” The digital divide caused by impersonal electronic mail is intensified when the sender is a nameless, faceless department.

Think of your email address as your digital John Hancock, a firm handshake through cyberspace. It should foster a sense of security and trust for your customer. You wouldn’t put ‘Info’ on your salesperson’s nametag, would you? Your email address shouldn’t leave your customers scratching their head

in bewilderment wondering who they’re actually communicating with at info@abcfurniture.com. The easiest way to assure your customer that a real, live person will read their message is to use real, live names on all email addresses.

If Larry is your Sales Manager, give Larry an email address such as larry@abcfurniture.com. Identify Larry as the Sales Manager on your Web site and provide his email address for all customer inquiries. And if you don’t want to overwhelm poor Larry, you can have messages sent to Larry’s address forwarded to several different email addresses to ensure that every customer receives a prompt and appropriate response. Brand loyalty and confidence will blossom in your customers when they know they can turn to real people for questions instead of an automated team of Info and Sales bots.

101696283Beyond good customer service, there’s a law that regulates sender names. The CAN-SPAM Act, enforced by the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, creates rules for all commercial and transactional emails. It gives recipients the right to opt out and request you stop sending them email. Even if you don’t participate in bulk email blasts, the CAN-SPAM Act covers all commercial messages, which are defined as “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service.” Even emails that promote content on your web site fall into this category of commercial emails and must comply with the rules established by the CAN-SPAM Act

Now, these rules aren’t harsh. They don’t ask you to disclose your date-of-birth, social security number or anything like that. In fact, most of us naturally adhere to CAN-SPAM guidelines by being truthful and conscientious senders. The rules simply state that all commercial emails must:

  • Use truthful heading information. The “To,” “Reply-To,” and “From” lines must be accurate and identify the business sending the message.
  • Use truthful subject lines. The subject line cannot be deceiving and it must mirror the content in the message.
  • State your message is an advertisement. There is a lot of breathing room here for interpretation. But there must be no shadow of a doubt in the recipient’s mind that your email is an advertisement.
  • Disclose your business’s physical address. Simply provide a valid postal address.
  • Tell recipients how to stop receiving your email. If you’re sending bulk mail, be sure to visibly allow customers to ‘unsubscribe.’
  • Quickly honor opt-out requests. You must honor a recipient’s opt-out request within 10 business days. Your opt-out mechanism must be in place for each message for 30 days after the message is sent.
  • If you hire a third party for email marketing, monitor their activities. Both your company and the third party can be held responsible for not complying with the law.

If you don’t use email marketing, you may believe most of the aforementioned rules are not applicable to you—but keep this in mind: If a customer calls your store and Larry – or the unknown sales force behind sales@abcfurniture.com – follows up with an email promoting the store’s latest big bargains and sizzling savings, this email is considered a commercial email. However, if Larry follows up with an email discussing item dimensions or warranty information, this email would be considered a transactional email.

Emails are a fantastic way to brand your business and promote your store. Remind your customers that a real, living and breathing sales force stands ready to care for their needs by using staff names in email addresses and follow the CAN-SPAM Act to avoid penalties in your email marketing.

About Jeff:

Jeff Bennett is an Online Specialist for Imagine Retailer, the furniture industry’s only SaaS platform that fully integrates a website, an ecommerce shopping cart, email marketing, traditional marketing, blogging, analytics, and now craigslist in one simple yet powerful tool that gives you complete control of your online strategy. Call 800-549-9606 ext. 6, email jeff@imagineretailer.com or go to www.imagineretailer.com to see for yourself how everything we do is designed to help you sell more stuff, keep more customers and make more money.

Show More, Sell More

Shhh … Here’s a little secret we’ve learned throughout years of building websites that we’d like to let you in on…

“The more you show, the more you sell!”

78% of shoppers research their future purchase online. And—just like when they shop in your store!—if they find what they’re looking for in your online Product Catalog, they’re more likely to stay on your site longer and make a purchase, either from your store or ecommerce shopping cart.iStock_000005308920XSmall

The “Products” page on your Imagine Retailer website includes up to 1,000 products that you may choose, change and rearrange as you wish. Your job is to determine which products to feature. Here’s how:

  • Choose from our ever-growing Master Product Catalog. In the furniture industry, our Master Product Catalog has nearly 30,000 items from 100 different manufacturers to instantly add to any website.
  • Request a Custom Product. We’ll create a set number of products for you free of charge during the lifetime of your account, which is determined by the base price of your website. Creation of additional Custom Products is only $5 each. Contact your Online Specialist to learn more.
  • Create a Custom Product yourself to showcase special buys, closeouts and one-of-a-kind items in your store. Upload your own photos, add descriptive text, dimensions and specifications. Custom products will only be shown on your website and are not included in the Master Product Catalog.

“Product Count” is the total number of products you’ve added to your website’s Product Catalog. You can add and remove products from your website’s Product Catalog at any time. And if you sell online or want to show more and sell more, you can easily increase your Product Count:

  • Up to 200 products for an additional $50 per month
  • Up to 500 products for an additional $100 per month
  • Up to 1,000 products for an additional $200 per month
  • Call for a quote for more than 1,000 products

So what are you waiting for? Use your Product Catalog to your advantage and sell, sell, sell!

How To Make Your Website Sell More Stuff

“If you build it, they will come.”

This famous line from Field of Dreams might apply to baseball diamonds, but it doesn’t necessarily translate to websites. Your Imagine Retailer website has many built-in features that make it easy for your customers to come and find you when they surf the web, but there are other methods you should also use to increase your internet exposure.

These strategies are called Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and they move your website to the top of the list of search results and attract more people to your site. You can pay for SEO campaigns, just like you pay for advertising campaigns, but this series of articles will show you no-cost and low-cost ways you can maximize your website investment.

Tip # 1: Never Stop Talking

  • Never stop talking about your website. Add your website address to EVERYTHING – business cards, store signs, delivery trucks, television ads, radio spots, flyers, direct mail pieces, newspaper advertisements, billboards and anything else you can think of. Need help with offline advertising and traditional media? Contact your Online Specialist, who has solutions for every event, every price point and every medium.
  • Use your website domain in all your corporate email addresses to reiterate your website in every communication. FurnitureGuy@TeenyBopperEmail.com is amateur and unprofessional, but RealPerson@YourWebsiteAddress.com – now, that’s more like it. Branded email addresses are already included with your Imagine Retailer website. Contact your Online Specialist to request professional email addresses (we’ll even teach you how to use them).
  • Tell every in-store customer about your website. Pass out candy or dollar bills as an incentive every time you hear an associate mention your website to a customer.
  • Use your website as a selling tool on the sales floor. Put a netbook on the sales floor so your customers can interact with your site as they shop. Show them how to put their favorite catalog item on their Facebook wall, or email a picture to their spouse.86524989
  • Make sure your suppliers include a link to your site on their website’s store locater, too.

SEO strategies that increase website visitors are great, but at Imagine Retailer we never forget that your only goal (both in-store and online) is to sell more stuff. Constant repetition of your website address ensures that your name is ingrained in your customers’  mind when they shop and search from home in their pajamas.

Utilizing Facebook for your Marketing Needs

do-you-have-facebookFacebook … it’s not just something our daughter uses to keep in touch with her friends.  For instance, she’s always praising its ability to send and receive up-to-the-minute status updates.  She recently got her first cell phone and within minutes of posting this on her Facebook account, she had at least six replies from her friends saying things like, “Wow!” “That’s so cool!” “Text me!” If she can use this platform to keep her friends apprised of her social life, you too can use it as a marketing tool to share your business’s story and vision with the world.

Consider these facts for why Facebook is a great marketing platform:

  • More than 400,000,000 people are active users
  • 50% of active users log on to Facebook on any given day
  • More than 35 million users update their status each day
  • More than 60 million status updates are posted each day
  • More than 3 billion photos are uploaded to the site each month
  • More than 5 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) are shared each week

These figures alone demonstrate that millions of people turn to Facebook on a daily basis to keep in touch with the world around them.

Another great thing about Facebook is that it’s free.  I hear many retailers say they are currently spending around $25,000 a month to advertise in the print, radio, TV and online media.  But with Facebook, you can display your business’s vision, values, service standards and procedures to your customers at no charge.  It even allows you to add your company logo, upload video and audio content, and even post blogs to your account.  These are the exact same marketing strategies you’re probably spending a lot to implement.  Therefore, it makes sense to compliment your current strategy with a free marketing tool.

Just because you have a Facebook page, people will not automatically visit it.  Make people aware of your page and draw them to it.  Begin by inserting your Facebook logo on all of your current ads, brochures, emails and even business cards.  You’ll quickly notice an increase in your online ‘friends.’ Take the opportunity to utilize Facebook’s many features – mailing list, sharing videos, importing blog posts, listing events, conducting polls, starting conversations – to share your business’s goals with your new online friends.

Facebook has helped facilitate growth and proven to be a key marketing tool for numerous businesses.  Because of this, I’m confident Facebook will allow your company to reach a broad demographic that traditional marketing may have missed.

This article was authored by David Lively, a contributor for publications such as Western Retailer and Furniture World, for Imagine Retailer.

Facebook Ain’t a Fad, Pt. 2

…continued from Part 1.  We shared with you five easy tips to begin successfully marketing your business on Facebook and non-traditional platforms.  Those were just the beginning steps.  The following five steps are the conclusion to this series and are intended to give you a complete picture of how to use Facebook to tell your story to the world.

Great marketing is about how well you tell your story – regardless of the medium.

Here are proven marketing techniques to make your Facebook page a powerful piece of your marketing mix:

  • Direct marketing is key: Facebook allows you to communicate to your entire fan base with a single post. Drive traffic to your page, announce events, or share news, design tips, or other customer friendly communication. But don’t overuse it. Just as you wouldn’t email a customer five times a day, do not send Facebook direct messages five times either.
  • Get new email subscribers: Facebook provides a powerful static FBML. This tool allows you (with a very small amount of help from your webmaster) to create a landing page designed to help you communicate directly with your potential customers what you want them to do. I suggest this is the perfect opportunity to build the size of your email list.
  • Know your fan base: The Insights tool allows you to see metrics on your fans, such as how many comments and interactions you have, the number of active fans you have in various age categories, the growth of your fan base, where your fans live, and more. I’m not telling you this is the only research information you will ever need, but it is a nice high level view of the people who are following you.
  • Shop your competition: You had better be shopping your competitors everywhere else, so why not on Facebook? See what they’re doing to promote their page and engage fans. Take note of the features they’re using, how they interact with visitors, the type of content and how frequently they post, and their growth rate.
  • Use every feature: Facebook is packed with tools for sharing videos, importing your blog posts, listing events, conducting polls, starting conversations, and on and on. Literally there are hundreds of ways to interact use them all to your advantage. Don’t expect to gain maximum following without maximum effort.

Facebook is a powerful tool. Take a few hours to learn how to use its many options to drive traffic to your business. Don’t fall into the trap of companies like Concord or Bennett. “Who?” you ask. In 1907, these buggy companies believed they would always have a customer base. Three years later the number of automobiles surpassed buggies in the United States.

If traditional media is all you’re willing to consider, perhaps you should buy a Bennett wagon on eBay to deliver it.

This is part two of a series recently published in the June-July issue of Western Retailer magazine.

Facebook Ain’t a Fad, Pt. 1

Social media has become the rage of marketing in the furniture business. Those who have taken a “wait and see” attitude will soon figure out this type of media is here to stay. At last count, Facebook had over 400,000,000 active users.  With these massive numbers, it is time to get on the Facebook bandwagon!  Here are some great tips on how to market your business to a new audience with a free and interactive tool.

Great marketing is about how well you tell your story – regardless of the medium.

Here are proven marketing techniques to make your Facebook page a powerful piece of your marketing mix:

  • Advertise your page: People will NOT come just because you build it. That only happens in the movies. In order for people to know your Facebook page exists, you have to tell them. Include the Facebook icon on your and TV advertising, and link to your page from your website and blog. Make sure your Facebook page is properly set up to link back to your website.
  • Build your brand: Mention your page in brochures, direct mail, business cards, email signatures, advertisements, packing slips, fulfillment materials – in short, everywhere. Don’t assume your customers will find you. Using Facebook and other social media logos in your traditional advertising will help potential customers know you have an understanding of how communication is done today.
  • Share your soul. Facebook Fan Pages are a great place to share lots of company information. This is the perfect place to share your mission or value statement, explain your policies, procedures, and special services to your customer base – even post store hours and parking information. Your Facebook page is also a great place to include links for newsletter sign ups, email sign ups, and links to your other social media outlets like YouTube or Twitter.
  • Get them to your Web site: While we all believe our logos are super cool and easily recognizable, I would suggest you use the space designed for uploading a photo to show your company web address. Just because there is space available in the body of your page doesn’t mean your customers will find it down there.
  • Content is king: Marketing experts have known the power of content for years, and the same holds true online. The more information you provide, the better your page will be at attracting, converting, educating, turning on, and retaining your customers. Post something to your wall at least once a day, though two or three times is better. Also, adjust your wall settings to allow fans to post comments, photos, links, and videos. Train your staff to help you.

These five tips will help you to begin making your Facebook page a powerful marketing tool.  However, I have five more great pieces of advice to give you in the upcoming days.  Be sure to return and get the full-scoop on how to successfully tell your story using non-traditional media.

This is part one of a series recently published in the June-July issue of Western Retailer magazine.

SEO Strategy

Part 3 of 3

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Beyond technology, here are three principles to remember when planning and executing an SEO campaign:

Flow

Remember, the reason you are trying to get your website to the top of the first page is because you want people to come to the site and look at your content, then buy what your selling. Don’t get so involved in SEO that you junk-up your site with links and keywords beyond the user’s ability to read the page. Balance your site design your site between bots and people. Don’t lose your users for the sale of search engines. Remember, bounce rate (the time your users spend on your site) is a part of SEO as well.

Patience is a virtue

SEO campaigns are not for instant gratification junkies. Give your site about three months to sink in. Check your analytics, watch to see how the site is doing and adjust accordingly. Keep your efforts simple; make a minimal amount of changes so that you can accurately see what works and what doesn’t.

Updates

Stay on top of things. Keep an eye on the search engine guidelines to ensure your SEO is always up to date. The last thing you want is for your long sought efforts to slowly wash down the drain as technology advances.

By applying different techniques used to achieve organic search results, you’ll find online marketing to be a cost-effective, simple solution to promoting your business and products.

Part 1 of this 3-part series explained why SEO is the new normal and how companies can budget for search engine optimization campaigns. Part 2 defined a Glossary of Key SEO Terms. This article was published in its entirety in the March 2010 issue of Western Retailer magazine, a publication of the WHFA.