PetPaint Takes on the Shark Tank Tonight

The best businesses solve a distinct problem, and for Abe Geary that problem was getting his Giant Schnauzer into a Halloween costume. “Billie just wasn’t having it,” he admits. “So I thought, how do I get a costume on my dog without her knowing it?”

The answer was PetPaint, a colored furspray for dogs that will be featured on ABC’s Shark Tank today, Nov. 8, at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT. We’re excited to give you a sneak peak at this innovative entrepreneur and his growing business. There are no spoilers in this post, but next week we’ll follow up with a recap of the show and what Abe learned facing the Sharks.

One thing Abe didn’t need to learn from the Sharks was dedication. After he had the initial idea, it took two years to develop the product. Since there are currently no standards for canine cosmetics, he worked with veterinarians experienced in the FDA approval process to create a completely dog-safe product. He spent another year pitching distributors and retail stores, but traditional outlets were a tough sell since pet paint was an untested market.

So in March 2013, Abe opened an online store to sell directly to consumers. “I’m not a computer guy or e-commerce guy, just a crazy dude selling pet paint. I needed an e-commerce tool that was easy to use and could reach a wide range of people,” he said. “Once we found Bigcommerce, we were able to put that goal to bed.”

Within days of launching, PetPaint.com had its first online sale.

“You get this email that someone bought your product and it is the realization of a dream,” Abe said. “You do all this work, and of course you like the product, but the satisfaction of having someone else like it…it feels good.”

True to its inspiration, PetPaint saw a big surge around Halloween. Professional groomers love the temporary furspray and created some truly unique “costumes.” Beyond the holidays, it is an easy way for four-legged fans to show team spirit and there has even been a PetPaint marriage proposal.

Perhaps the most touching application of PetPaint is helping rescue dogs find new homes. “Young, cute puppies naturally get attention at adoption events,” Abe explains. “But put a couple hearts or stars on the older, disadvantaged dogs and suddenly they get attention too.”

The market for this feel-good novelty could be huge. According to the U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook, about 37 percent of American households own at least one dog, accounting for 70 million potential PetPaint canvases across the country. The national spotlight from Shark Tank should help Abe reach even more of them. “We’re at a full sprint right now,” he said. “I probably won’t slow down until every time I walk out of my house I see a painted dog.”

To see PetPaint in action, tune in to ABC at tonight, or catch the episode starting Saturday on Hulu. We can’t wait to cheer on Abe, Billie and their colorful business!

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How to Use Social Media to Sell More This Holiday Season (Webinar & Tweet Chat)

Are you ready to sell more this upcoming holiday season? Whether you are just starting to build an online presence or looking to add a serious kick to your existing social strategy, Bigcommerce is here to help with an interactive tweet chat and webinar.

Join a panel of e-commerce pros Tuesday, Nov. 12, from 6-7 p.m. CT in a special Twitter chat to learn some tips and techniques on using social media to increase your holiday sales.

What: Twitter Chat — How to use social media to increase your sales this holiday season

Who: Bigcommerce and you!

When: Tuesday, Nov. 12, at 6 p.m. CT

Where: Twitter

How: Join the conversation by using the hashtag, #BCHolidayTips

We’ve got an incredible lineup of experts weighing in on the discussion, including:

  • Bigcommerce’s own head of distance learning, Heidi Wong (@htoby)

  • In 2009, Daniel Rensing and his wife Stephanie launched The Smart Baker (@SmartBaker) to sell specialty baking gifts and products. He has since been featured in the Food Network Magazine as well as on the hit ABC show Shark Tank.

  • A true entrepreneur at heart, Ray Perkins (@inkjunkeyz) runs several online businesses catering to tattoo branded products. He uses Twitter, Facebook and especially Instagram to spread awareness about his store and products. Through his professional brand, he has amassed more than 99,000 followers on Twitter.

  • Inspired by a passion to help runners, Sandy Pearson launched BIC Bands (@bicbands), where she sells non-slip headbands designed specifically for long-distance runners. She credits much of her success to really understanding and interacting with her customers on and offline.

  • Nancy Queen (@nobleknits) runs a thriving online knitting store. She credits a lot of her success to creating a blossoming online community on Facebook, where she has more than 63,000 likes, as well as Twitter and Pinterest.

  • After seeing how fast her children outgrew their “lovely outfits,” Ruth Lopardo (@loveitloveit) was inspired to start a colorful, comfortable and eco-friendly baby and children’s clothing store. From humble beginnings in early 2010, she’s grown her business significantly through social media marketing.

  • Started by his love of rock ‘n’ roll, Dave Lando (@rockerrags) started Rocker Rags, an online clothing store for the hardcore music enthusiast. He uses social media, especially Pinterest, Facebook and Tumblr, to spread awareness about his rocking brand.

  • Andy Proctor (@Selffitkitchens) runs several kitchen cabinetry stores based in the U.K. He uses social media to spread awareness and establish thought leadership in his niche.

  • Inspired by her love of all things fashion, Rachel Silski (@rlbean1987) started a online clothing store earlier this year. To get a foothold with her new business, she uses social media to expand her reach.

After the tweet chat on Nov. 12, continue the discussion with us by tuning into our webinar on Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 2 p.m. CT. Register for the webinar here.  Click here to tweet an invite.

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7 Tips for Selling More on Cyber Monday

You might still be snacking on Halloween candy, but guess what, it’s time to leverage that sugar rush for holiday store prep. Cyber Monday, the biggest online shopping day of the year, is less than a month away. So we dug into our data, consulted our experts and came up with seven tips that can help you earn some serious revenue on Dec. 2.

1.) Focus on your top three products

With the holidays right around the corner, don’t risk spreading your resources too thin. Instead, pick your most popular products and go all out optimizing and promoting them. While you may have an idea of what your target market is looking for, but you can quickly confirm your instincts with actual data. Determine your top sellers by studying product conversion rates. You can start by looking at your most popular products in the Bigcommerce dashboard, then cross-reference those products with Google Analytics traffic data. Check out this blog post on calculating your e-commerce product conversion rate for a useful tutorial.

2.) Perfect those product listings

Now that you’ve calculated conversion rates, it’s time to optimize your top-selling product pages. Put some serious thought into writing descriptive product names and fleshing out your product descriptions with compelling details. Invest in big, beautiful photos that can be leveraged for social media and email marketing campaigns. Depending on your product, you may even want to include a video demo. All of these details help consumers learn more and buy with confidence. Another great way to build trust is product reviews and social proof from actual customers. If you have some spare time after enhancing your flagship product pages, optimize your site’s overall design and user experience using this handy e-commerce store optimization checklist.

3.) Make the checkout process easy, flexible and fast

Now that you’ve gotten their attention attention with your awesome products, convert more of shoppers into buyers by optimizing your checkout process. First, offer plenty of ways to pay. Credit cards are a must, but you should also look into digital payment solutions. Not only are these options becoming increasingly popular—PayPal boasts 110 million active accounts—customers who use digital payments are younger and more affluent than the average online shopper. You also should make your checkout process as quick and simple as possible. Minimize the number of pages and amount of information required to make a purchase, and don’t forget to add trust indicators such as an SSL certificate so shoppers feel confident placing their order. Learn more about cart optimization in our recent blog post on converting more at checkout.

4.) Make sure your shipping is ready to go

As on online seller, it is your job to play Mr. Claus and ensure all those great gifts make it under the tree with plenty of time to spare. So get your logistics plan sorted out now to ensure smooth shipping when all the orders start rolling in. Set up multiple carrier options and schedule daily pickups to give yourself the best combination of flexibility and affordability. You can also protect your profit margins by taking advantage of Commercial Base Pricing or even Commercial Plus Pricing if you have enough volume. Check out services like Stamps.com to get the best rates for the holidays. Or truly embrace technology solutions and invest in shipping software, which often bundles these accounts in their subscription to save you confusion and time. ShipStation, one of our trusted logistics partners, has some advice on how to avoid shipping your pants over the holidays.

5.) Harness the power of Pinterest

Creating and buying a Pinterest wish lists is a fun way for consumers to deal with their holiday shopping. It can also add up to some serious sales for your store. Did you know the average order value from a Pinterest referral is over $170? That is significantly higher than the average order value from Facebook or Twitter. Cash in on this impressive stat by making sure your product pages are optimized for the up-and-coming social network. You can learn about upgrading your account, engaging the right audience, running promotions and more with our free Selling With Pinterest ebook.

6.) Offer special discounts and coupons

Cyber Monday is the digital version of Black Friday, which means shoppers are expecting big deals. Drive traffic and increase sales with different types of coupons, including free shipping, flat amount off, percent off, minimum purchase, gift with purchase and loyalty programs. In addition to listing them directly on your site, publicize your offers via email and social media. And yes, Pinterest is a great place to do that. Just don’t forget to calculate your profit margins to determine come up with an offer that you can afford. For more details on how to pick the right deals for you store, read our post on profitable e-commerce coupons.

7.) Don’t let lost sales get away

More than 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned before shoppers make a purchase. The first six tips can go a long way in converting customers, but the best way to win them back once they’ve left your site is an abandoned cart saver. Available on our Gold-level plans and above, our cart saver automatically sends a series of customizable emails to your shoppers to bring them back. It even lets you include a coupon code to give shoppers even more motivation to follow through with their purchase. Our clients recover an average of 15% of lost sales with this feature, which means it can quickly pay for itself during the holiday shopping season.

We’ll keep the holiday advice rolling through December, so check back in for more great tips, and good luck in conquering Cyber Monday!

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5 Tips to Convert More at Checkout

Your inventory is priced right and ready to move. You’ve optimized your product pages with excellent content and beautiful images. You’ve worked hard to drive traffic to your site. And those visitors have filled their shopping carts. Now you have to turn those shoppers into buyers. Here are five tips that will help you convert at that critical moment when your customers are ready to check out.

1.) Offer more ways to pay

The way your customers pay for products and services is rapidly evolving. Consumers now expect flexibility and control when it comes to payments, which means you need to go beyond just accepting credit cards. Fortunately online businesses have several options to choose from. PayPal is currently the most popular, with 110 million active accounts and 48% usage in the marketplace. Across all the brands, customers who use digital payment solutions tend to be younger and more affluent than the average shopper.

2.) Make it simple

An overly complicated checkout process is one of the top causes of abandon shopping carts. Your customers want an easy, convenient buying experience. So streamline the steps and only ask for the essential information you need to complete the transaction. This is another area where a digital payment solution can help—the easiest way to remember your credit number is not need to. Anything you can do to reduce friction and distractions will help you increase sales.

3.) Make it fast

Speed of checkout is also crucial. Additional steps, like creating a new account or entering in billing and shipping addresses, can push shoppers away. One option is offering guest checkout for customers who don’t want to create an account. You can also leverage an existing account, like PayPal or Google Wallet, to pull in relevant information like addresses. As with simplicity, fewer clicks and less information to enter lead directly to more completed transactions.

4.) Be trusted and secure

Your customers want to know that their personal and financial information is safe. So they look for trust indicators, like the padlock icon in their browser that show the site is secured with an SSL certificate, as well as seals from consumer protection organizations. Make sure your site and any associate payment options instill confidence in your consumers. Also reassure buyers that their satisfaction is guaranteed. Your return policy, process and customer service information should be comprehensive and easy to find.

5.) Promote offers before checkout

Present any offers that will show up in your shopping cart before the customer enters the checkout flow. Free shipping, coupon codes or financing can influence the decision to buy while they are browsing your site. You can reinforce these options once they are in the process of checking out, but they should know about these offers in advance.

Remember, the payment options you accept can be considered an offer. Displaying accepted payment types on your home  page or product pages can influence purchasing decisions, especially with first-time customers. A recent study from True Action Network showed that 70% of PayPal Express Checkout users are new to that merchant.

Wrap up

You have the power to turn shoppers into buyers. Optimizing your checkout process with the right payment solutions can have a significant impact on your sales. And you can start implementing some of these best practices today with the simple payment solution setup built in to Bigcommerce. Check out your options, it’ll just take a few seconds, and improve your checkout today.

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Visit Bigcommerce.com to start your own online store today!

Try the all-in-one e-commerce software trusted by 30,000 online retailers.

We make it easy to sell online!


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Global Startup Battle: Empowering e-commerce entrepreneurs

I’m very excited to announce that Bigcommerce is hosting the E-Commerce Circle at this year’s Global Startup Battle. GSB is an annual, worldwide startup competition for entrepreneurs looking to build new services and products while networking and learning along the way. This year’s event will be held on Nov. 15 and 22, with more than 20,000 people expected to participate.

How GSB works

It all starts with competing in one of two Startup Weekends. At the beginning of the weekend, participants pitch their ideas and teams form around the most popular concepts. The teams then have 54 hours to build a company around the idea. On Sunday evening, teams present to a panel of judges, and event winners are named. Teams then have 24 hours to submit a video entry pitching their company to the GSB Circles of their choice.

As host of the E-Commerce Circle, we’ll be part of a judging panel for the videos and help pick the circle winner. And what will they win? A fabulous, month-long e-commerce immersion experience at our offices in Austin, Texas. That includes a collaborative office space, your very own online store, a personal e-commerce coach, tickets to SXSW Interactive and a chance to talk shop with our brilliant executives. We’ll cover all travel and event expenses so the winning team members can focus on turning their dreams of e-commerce world domination into a reality.

Why we’re hosting

First and foremost, because we love entrepreneurs and want to help them succeed. We’re on the cusp of a major boom in the e-commerce space, and there’s a huge opportunity for smart, creative people. And there are plenty of them out there looking to make it happen.

Mary Meeker claims that this generation has “the most empowered entrepreneurs ever” thanks to new technology and marketplaces. And it’s hard to dispute that — there are already 1 million Etsy shops online and around 500,000 custom e-commerce sites on platforms like Bigcommerce, and we’re only scratching the surface.

Bigcommerce is in the business of empowering big dreamers, and working with Global Startup Battle is another way of doing that. We hope to help find the next Jeff Bezos, Nick Woodman or Sara Blakely, then assist them in building the next great business.

Who we’re looking for

We want the finest startup battlers in the land to join the E-Commerce Circle. If your team develops a product or service that’s a good fit for an e-commerce store or application, you belong with us.

We’ll be watching all the videos to make sure you have a killer business plan that clearly shows how you’ll use e-commerce. We’ll also be looking at the creativity and reach of your video, the viability, originality and scalability of your go-to-market model, the thoroughness of your pitch, and your overall team dynamic.

Get involved!

The first step to entering the E-Commerce Circle is to find a Startup Weekend near you that takes place during Global Startup Battle. Then fire up your creativity and think about an e-commerce business you’d like to build. Happy entrepreneuring, everybody!

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Try the all-in-one e-commerce software trusted by 30,000 online retailers.

We make it easy to sell online!


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3 Brand-Building Gems from eCommerce Pros

Launching a new online store can be a downright daunting task for anyone. When you are first starting out, often times the hardest part is building up your brand. Here are a few tips from three seasoned e-commerce pros.

Offer Exceptional Customer Service 

To quote Sean here, focus on offering “insane customer service.” To this day, Sean still writes handwritten thank you letters to all of his customers.

Multi-Channel Marketing

When you are just starting out, you probably are not going to have 2,000 visitors clamoring to buy your products every single day. You are going to need to market your products on bigger stages, like eBay and Amazon. One app that many of our clients, including Ken Varoli, use for this purpose is ChannelUnity. 

Stay positive and don’t give up.

Running an online store can be a little bit like riding a rollercoaster. You are going to have good months and bad ones. As Adam advised another client in the Bigcommerce community forum,“ the best thing to do is to stay calm and keep chugging along.” That means if you have a down month, use that time to perfect your SEO, blog, perfect your customer service processes and most importantly focus on all the important things that you don’t have time to do in your busier sales months.

Want to get more great tips like this? Join the conversation in the Bigcommerce forum.  

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Pinterest Holiday Prep for Your Online Store

‘Tis the season to embrace pinning. Thanks to the social network’s soaring popularity and business-friendly features, Pinterest could be one of your most successful promotional tools for the holiday season. Last year, 48% of all shoppers used Pinterest to get inspiration for their holiday gift purchases. And since 67% of members already use Pinterest to keep track of things they like, it is a natural fit for wish lists. Browsing hand-picked pins certainly makes shopping easy for the gift givers as well. Pinning can be a win-win for everyone involved, including you. Here are a few simple things you can do today to get in on the holiday rush.

pinterest holiday board

On your site, make sure your products are Pinterest ready

  • Add the Pinterest widget to your product pages. This will add a Pin It button right below your product pictures. When customers click on the button, it will automatically put the image and data from your product page on their board. When someone clicks on that image in Pinterest, your product page will pop up. All this data will stick with the image of your product, even if it is repinned by other users.
  • Make sure at least one of the images for each product is optimized for Pinterest. That means even if you have multiple pictures, at least one product shot should be 735 pixels wide. These images can be as tall as you want, and they will scale down to 238 pixels in board view, but 735 pixels will maximize your space when viewed at full scale.
  • To make the most of your product promotions on Pinterest, consider implementing rich pins for your store. The product pin option includes real-time pricing and availability. To learn more, check out our recent blog post on rich pins.

On Pinterest, complete your business profile and create holiday themed boards

  • First things first, help people find your professional Pinterest by enabling a business account. This verifies the authenticity of your site, enables advanced profile options and can even give you an SEO boost. If you’ve been using a personal account for your store, no worries, you can convert it to a Pinterest business account to leverage these advanced tools and reporting.
  • Now you’re ready for the fun part. Create a holiday Pinterest board and encourage your customers to repin and build their own gift wish list. Our client Ballettonet sells artisan ballet flats and started a fantastic gift idea board on Pinterest for the holidays. Notice they pin more than just shoes. By including purses, clothes, decor and family-focused items, they have built out an engaging lifestyle experience for their customers. Curating a complete collection will reinforce your brand and keep active pinners coming back. That translates into more opportunities to sell your own products and expand your promotional network.
  • Once you are comfortable with the basics, consider leveraging Pinterest contests, promotions and games to encourage your customers to keep pinning and buying. Look for more advanced tips in our next post on holiday Pinterest promotions.

And remember, the time to prep for the holiday e-commerce rush is now. According to Google, 30% of consumers plan to get started on their holiday shopping by Halloween with another 26% jumping in on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Pinterest is a great way to catch some of those early bird spenders while you focus on getting your products and store ready for the big shopping surge.

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