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2016

By Jennifer Shaheen.

 

Ecommerce_Body.jpgWith the fall season fully underway, so too are farmer’s markets taking place all over the country. The goods they offer—delicious pies and cakes, hand-knit scarves and gloves, and beautiful artwork—are so different than anything purchased in a store. Yet, even these artisanal items can’t escape technology. Vendors at most farmer’s markets are able to process mobile payments via their smartphones. Where they fall short? Offering a website where customers can buy their products online all year long.

 

Growth in online sales

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, online sales grew by 14.6 percent last year and now account for 10 percent of all sales in the U.S. This continues a trend that has already lasted more than five years. Being able to sell products online exponentially increases a small business owner’s opportunities to connect with their customers. While a farmer’s market may be open on a seasonal basis, the Internet is available 24/7. In addition to facilitating off-season sales, a website can be the ideal way to showcase and sell items that can’t be displayed at a farmer’s market. If a customer wants to know if your product is available in another size, color, or flavor, being able to direct them to where they can immediately order it online from you will generate additional sales and give your small business greater visibility.

 

Ecommerce_PQ.jpgMaking the transition to e-commerce

If you’re a small retailer doing business at a farmer’s market, you might not want to enter the online market because you offer perishable products or feel that your customers strongly prefer to buy your products in a farmer’s market setting. Other vendors may want to sell online, but aren’t sure what they need to do to add e-commerce to their existing website.

 

E-Commerce platforms are an easy route

While it is entirely possible to build an online store from scratch, or to select and combine various digital tools to create a store, for most small business owners the most efficient way to get started is to take advantage of the tools offered by the payment processing service you’re already using.

 

Almost every company that offers mobile payment processing also offer fairly robust premade e-commerce websites to their customers. These websites are built using a template that small business owners can easily customize with their logo and images in order to reflect their unique branding and appeal. Best of all for the busy small business owner, these comprehensive e-commerce platforms handle all of the necessary functions of online sales, including accounting, POS, inventory and order management, marketing, merchandising, customer service, and financials. Combine these tools with the high-touch experience of a farmer’s market, and you’ll have a successful small business all year long.

 

 

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

 

©2016 Bank of America Corporation

BlackFriday_Body.jpgBy Cathie Ericson.


Quick: What do you picture when you hear “Black Friday?” Shoppers elbowing one another to score discounted TVs, socks, and other commodities in big box stores? With all the hype surrounding Black Friday, some smaller retailers might wonder if there’s a place for them. The short answer: Yes.

 

According to PwC’s 2016 Holiday Outlook, holiday spending is expected to increase 10 percent compared with the 2015 holiday season, and small retailers should make sure they’re prepared to get their share of the green on Black Friday. Since almost half of shoppers say they make their purchase decisions onsite, the key is to attract those customers to your store in the first place. Below are some tips from retail experts to make your Black Friday a success.

 

1. Reach out to loyal customers

‘Tis the season for giving thanks, so throw a gratitude party for your regular customers, their friends and family, suggests Jennifer Martin, a business coach and founder of Zest Business Consulting in San Francisco. If they are out on Black Friday anyway, you can offer your store as a port in the storm with warm drinks, snacks, and a quiet place to browse. Martin recommends sending out special offers prior to Black Friday to remind them you’re open and offer a discount or incentive to drive traffic.

 

BlackFriday_PQ.jpg2. Play to your strengths

You probably can’t beat many of the big box retailers on price, but you can beat them on service, says Jennifer Labit, founder and CEO of Cotton Babies in St. Louis, Mo. First and foremost, she makes sure her employees are trained and the store is stocked upand staffed up. “It’s an all-hands on deck day,” she says. “Most stores don’t have a sales associate available, period, so be there to steer customers and answer questions,” she advises.

 

3. Join forces

Partner with other local businesses in the area to cross-promote, suggests Martin. Consider offering a free gift to customers, but in someone else’s store. For example your shop might offer mini massages from the next-door spa, and they might have samples from your line of candies. You also could invite all the businesses in your area to have a special Friday evening open house and team up to promote it via social media and direct mail.

 

4. Maximize your online advertising

Consider optimizing your online marketing campaigns for local markets with targeted ads, suggests Sean Martin, content marketing manager at Directive Consulting, a Los Angeles-based digital agency. He recommends combing through your online pages and optimizing them for "Black Friday" keyword search entries so your site will pop up as people search on the go. You can also identify key hash tags that are in play surrounding Black Friday social media conversations and customize any online ads to include references to the Black Friday promotions and services you are offering.

 

5. Play your own game

“The best way to win the Black Friday combat zone is to promote a Black Tuesday,” says marketing consultant Mark Stevens. By getting a jump on the competition before the holiday even occurs you can siphon off some of those dollars beforehand. He recommends going big: Offer your best deals, secure a Black Tuesday-related URL, and spend a month's budget on Facebook advertising to promote it. Then, enjoy the day with your own friends and family, gearing up for the rest of the season.

 

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

 

©2016 Bank of America Corporation

Up to 30 percent of a company’s sales come from the holidays, according to the National Retail Federation. With so much on the line, it pays for small businesses to be prepared for this busiest season of the year. Take a look at the following infographic to see how much money is being spent, on what kinds of goods and services, and what you can do to be ready when customers are most likely to shop.

 

Holiday_Selling_Infographic.gif

 

Click here to download a PDF of this infographic.

 

 

Keywords: holiday selling, holiday sales, sales and marketing, sales tips

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