Let's take a look at Alex, and trust me when I say that Alex is somebody that you want to be like, especially in the way he sells online. Alex is a drop-shipper, so he basically shows a large offering of products that he doesn't actually have. Familiar with drop shipping? Basically, when an order comes in, he fills it by having a supplier (usually the manufacturer or a high level distributor) ship directly to the customer. Alex gets his cut, the supplier gets their money, and the customer gets the product within the expected time frame. So how does Alex stand apart from other retailers? The drop-shipping isn't as important as the way the products are presented. Alex faces down thousands of other retailers, and they are all competing to sell the same products. Why is Alex so successful at it? Alex takes the time to make each one of his product listings as good as it can be, and the search engines have learned that people like the content he creates, so they send more people his way.
While your supply model might be different from drop-shipping, you are still selling products carried by other retailers. Unless your business model sells only products made by and exclusive to you and your website, you are competing with hundreds or thousands of other stores selling the same things. So the challenge you may not even have realized you are facing is that you are being tossed into an aggressive arena, and you are competing for online sales with both local and national retailers. How can you possibly compete? There are several ways, but basically, you are going to do what Alex does: Make your products more appealing than the other guy's, even though they're the same products.
Here are some areas we strongly recommend focusing on to make your products stand out:
- Detailed Titles - This is one of the most important things you can do for your products! The manufacturer might title the product the same as a code or manufacturer ID, or might use a very simple name. Make sure you include the full name of whatever the item is, and possibly even the product line of which it is a part. Longer names are better because those keywords go into the URL for the page, and the search engines give those priority, so make sure yours are as complete as possible.
- Large, Clear Images - Sometimes product makers don't do a very good job of providing images that are large and clear. You can roll the dice and do a Google image search, but the risk there is using images that may be copyrighted by the website that hosts them. A great option is just to plan to take your own photos of your product listings. You can even use a graphics program like Photoshop or Pixlr.com to add your logo and if you like, a watermark. As a rule, you want your images to be brightly lighted, focus nicely on the product, and the image files should be either JPG or PNG at a size of at least 800 pixels in the largest dimension.
- Multiple Images - Showcase the product! While it may not be practical to do a lot of images for some products, it is highly advised. Let's use fabrics as an example. Most fabric retailers offer only a single, often small, image for each print. The retailers that stand out might have a couple of images. You could truly stand out by offering not just an image of the print, but also an image with some matching fabrics, and one with the fabric draped over a chair, or one with a yardstick showing how large the print design is. The point is, offering more images gives the buyer more eye candy to influence the decision, and many people are visual shoppers, so if your products look good, they may not care about pricing and may buy from you because you take the time to do it better.
- Complete Short Descriptions - In the Rain system, the product Short Descriptions are provided to the search engines as SEO Descriptions. That's an important element of your marketing, so make sure you get all of the key details of the product into your short descriptions. Use the full product name, include the product line, and if there is a designer involved, make sure their name is in there. Include manufacturer, sizing info, weight, if relevant, and the materials the item is made from. Our system allows you 256 characters for this information, which is a couple of sentences. This is one of the first things search engines look for when indexing your pages, so if you don't have a Short Description, or if you don't have much info in there, you are not marketing well.
- Amazing Long Descriptions - If you're not doing very many Long Descriptions, you can really elevate your products by making sure each one has a good one! Include images. Find marketing copy from the manufacturer, or even better, write your own. Why do you love this product? Tell your shoppers, and guess what, they'll respond by being inspired to buy it from you. Embed video, if you can find one. Even better, make your own just to showcase the product line! Upload it to YouTube into your own channel and put it right in your Long Description. Pages that have video on them get better search relevancy than plain pages. Another thing you can do is link to relevant PDF files or other downloads. The more value you add to your Long Descriptions, the better your site visitors will like them, and the search engines will love you!
- A Wealth of Suggested Products - Of all of the suggestions here for making your products stand out, this one may have the most impact. Think about how you shop on Amazon: If you're like the bulk of Marketplace shoppers, you search for an item you want, but you actually shop from the list of suggested products. So it's in your best interest to list a lot of suggested products with each product you carry. Click here to see how. Don't just put in things that are like the item, add other things that are cool that are way outside the box. Show your customers potential impulse-buys, and inspire them to buy things they didn't plan on. They'll be thrilled to have made the find, and your bottom line will grow.
- Multiple Pathways - One of the best things you can do for your products is offer your website visitors multiple ways to get to them. List your products in multiple Categories. Create Featured Product modules and Featured Category modules and put them on tons of your site pages. Start writing a blog and link to your products from there, and do the same thing on your Facebook and other social media sites. The more pathways you create, the more ways your visitors will have to get to whatever products they love!
- Free Shipping - Don't like the idea of eating shipping cost? It may be a necessary marketing expense on today's internet. Make this expense work for you by offering free shipping for orders over a certain amount. According to Walker Sands Communication, nine out of ten online shoppers are encouraged to buy where free delivery is offered (see reference article below). That's a number you can't afford to ignore, so make sure you incorporate this into your website and let your visitors know!
- Focus on Customer Experience - Customer Experience is huge. Shoppers can choose where they buy and they'll choose the best experience every time, take a look at these 50 statistics for omni-channel retailing online. One key way you can improve the experience of your customers is to clearly provide your policies on things like shipping and returns. Make them easy to find and customer-friendly and you'll start building loyalty.
Sounds like a lot of work, doesn't it? Hopefully this is a labor of love for you, but even if it's just labor, it's effort worth expending because over time, it will pay off. Customers will begin to rely on you for having the best listings, and that's where you want to be. All of this effort is building your brand, and the more exposure and prestige you can build, the more revenues you'll bring in. If you make a habit of putting in the work to make each of your products stand above listings by your competitors, the search engines will notice, and will serve up your links instead of the other guy's.
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