StoreFour: Continuous Enhancement


Launching an online store requires a great deal of planning and attention to detail. From selecting the theme, to designing the logo. What will be the static content? How about navigation, payment processing, shipping rules, taxes, and a lot more.

Then once that’s been taken care of, comes one of the most important decisions to make at this point of store building: What exactly are we selling here? Is this going to be a general merchandise or a niche-oriented online experience? Who are the customers, and why would they buy from us?

Down the line from that is product strategy: What products should this store showcase and for how much?

As you move from one stage to the next you realize new understandings and, of course, learn new things.

The final ‘product’ just before the launch will never be perfect, and you know it. But does that mean you keep improving while delaying the launch? No! Continuous enhancement must hold a permanent place-holder on your project plan, just as sales and marketing. Failing to do so means choosing to fail in this fiercely competitive landscape.

Since the launch back in May, StoreFour has gone through several reviews, the last being just very recently. The depth and breadth of each review vary, but they all keep asking some essential questions:

  • In exchange for revenue, what value does this store offer?
  • Do current products serve that value?
  • Is there a clear line of sight between the products and the vision/mission of the business?
  • Are customers satisfied? How can we measure that, then improve it?
  • What products to keep, modify and/or delete?
  • What products to add?
  • Are marketing and sales efforts fruitful so far, and if not, why? How can they be enhanced?
  • What are the short and long-term objectives of this store?
  • Are the store’s design, look and feel expressive of its message and brand?
  • Is it easy to navigate and find information?

As you you can see, the questions do not follow a specific order. In these reviews, you capture questions as they arise, randomly. I like to use a large poster and a bunch of colored markers to write down whatever comes to mind. Then gradually move to a mind-map, before finally creating an action plan on a digital tool.

Casually writing down thoughts, questions and ideas allows something interesting to emerge: Clarity!

While just before you’d started your mind was processing everything simultaneously, and rapidly, now it can observe patterns and priorities, reasons and results. It’s much easier now to find answers and chart a new course, or adjust an existing one.

During the last review, which concluded around mid October, I realized that we need to have more focus on our brand, which means redefining or resharpening the concept behind that brand.

While the message has been to ‘Be, Love, Create and Live’, the products didn’t clearly trace back to it. The four dimensions sit on the titles of four product collections. However, when reviewing individual products, it wasn’t very obvious how each one would serve that message.

We finally came to an interesting conclusion: Let’s not try to find ‘Love’, or ‘Create’ products per say, but rather look a bit deeper and ask: Can a ring, for example, help the customer promote love in her or his life? How about a wallet or a bag? does any have a link to ‘Live’ or ‘Create’? And isn’t ‘Be’ a common thread underlying all others?

Of course, another concern is: What is the market pulse for any product we offer? On the one hand, we definitely want to provide true, authentic value. Yet on the other, the business must meet its financial objectives in order to continue serving that value and progressing to even higher levels of success.

From that understanding, and to bring more focus to the product offering, we decided to keep the main theme, but rename the collections: Rings, Bags, Wallets and Digital.

With few specs about what products to choose for every collection, including high-quality, trendiness, and usefulness, we did an extensive research and decided to have only nine products under each collection. This is a major shift from 30 or so products, some didn’t clearly reflect the theme. Now when a customer clicks ‘Rings’, she or he will only see rings under that collection. The same applies to Wallets, Bags, and Digital.

It’s logical and natural after feeling that comfortable with the content of your store to turn to marketing with a renewed will and a fresh determination.

On that, StoreFour now has its Twitter and Pinterest storefronts up and running, with new content and interaction on a daily basis. Facebook already showcases StoreFour, and all are ready from another round of ad campaigns.

We are very pleased to share these exciting developments with our readers, and as always, happy to hear your questions and comments.

Till the next post, be open to new, enriching ideas!

The Wealth Maker

© Image Credit: StoreFour, https://storefour.ca All Rights Reserved

Making Money Online – Online Stores


 

So far, in this series, we’ve talked about advertisement and MLM. The first article sets the stage for the whole discussion. Please read it before reading any other article in the series.

3-Online Stores

Have you ever dreamed about opening your own store? Selling something you’re interested in? I guess most entrepreneurs have.

Creating an off-line store involves licensing, real estate, decoration, shipping, etc..

On the other hand, an online store could be as simple as one page, where you display some digital products. You could even delegate the back-office details to the vendors of the products you display on your e-store.

A very common example is Amazon’s (TM) a-store. First, you need to sign-up as an Amazon affiliate, for free. Then, you design your online store using Amazon’s templates and menus. It’s a fairly simple process. You finally end up with a website that shows Amazon’s digital, or physical, products.

Your next step is to promote your a-store’s URL, following the methods we’ve covered so far. If you managed to drive enough traffic to your store, and hence sales, you would receive commissions from Amazon right into your affiliate account. They would take care of accounting, shipping, handling, and so on. Your job is: First to design the site, using Amazon’s help, then promote it, so it makes sales.

Amazon is not the only online provider of e-stores. If you liked the idea, you could search for other companies that offer products or services you are interested in. Become an affiliate, then create an e-store using their ready-made templates and tools.

Some people prefer to have their own thing, completely independent of any existing business. In that case, the first part of the process becomes harder. You would need to have your own domain name, hosting, and web design (if you lack that skill, or don’t have the time for it). Each one of those costs you money, and time. But the end result would be a custom-made e-store, where you would sell products, services, memberships, programs, whatever, of your own choice. You could even list your own products, things that you’ve created yourself. A common example is an e-book, or a traditional book. Another example would be a service you intend to offer, like training or coaching.

If you went that path, you would be responsible for all the details. Your site should be equipped with online payment forms and buttons. It has to be able to process payments by credit cards or e-currencies, such as PayPal or Alertpay. You would need to take care of your own inventory management, website back-office maintenance and update, etc.

The second step of the process is the same. You still have to promote you custom-made e-store, drive traffic, and make sales. But while an affiliate e-store owner is not responsible for anything once the customer decides to buy, the owner of a custom-made e-store must follow-up the steps of completing the sale, till the money actually lands in his/her account of choice. Not only that. He or she has to perform all after-sales activities. Things like returns, refunds, complains, maintenance, and so on.

Please spend enough time researching both options. There is enough information online. But you may also consider talking to someone who has already started an e-store, of either type. Pick their minds, ask them questions, do your own online research, then prepare your strategies and plans.

All the Best…

The Wealth Maker

Making Money Online – MLM


 

This is the third article in our discussion of the different approaches to making online money. Please read the first article before reading any other article in the series. It sets the right stage for what comes next.

  • 2. MLM

Multilevel Marketing (MLM) is based on an existing business model, which has been around for quite some time, even before the proliferation of the web and e-commerce. The basic idea is to build a matrix. There are different types of matrices, but they all share a common concept: When you refer a new member to an online program (business), that new member is placed “under” you (not physically, of course :-). When that member refers another member, that second member is placed under the first member, which you had hired.

Since you’re on top of the matrix, you receive a percentage of any commission earned by either one of the two members. That is the simplest matrix. It’s called a linear matrix. It could grow whenever new members join, to a certain number of layers. For example, if it was a 10-layer deep matrix, you would share the commissions of nine people under yourself, in addition to your  own commissions.

Another type is called the binary matrix. As the name implies, this matrix has two branches: Right and left. The first member you sponsor (or bring in to the business as an affiliate), sits on the right of left branch. The second sits on the other branch. Each one of the two would have his/her own two branches under him/her, and so on. This MLM tree type resembles binary trees data structures, used by several programming languages. Again, there has to be a limit to the number of branches, or the depth of the matrix.

MLM requires marketing/sales skills. No matter how much the sales pages tell you that everything would be “done for you”, when the rubber hits the road, you’ve got to promote or sell something, in order to build your own matrix, your own commission structure.

For people who don’t like marketing, or lack the necessary skills, this money-making approach is not exactly for them.

I’ve mentioned this in the first article, and I’m going to repeat it again here: Making money online is not much different from making money off-line. The reach could be farther, the information could be easier to gather, but the basic skills are the same. If you’re a good marketer off-line, once you learn how to find your way around the web, you would be a good online marketer. As simple as that.

Before delving into any MLM scheme, any type of matrix, ask yourself: Is MLM for me? If the answer was yes, then you would ask: Do I know how to market and sell products, services, memberships, fish in the ocean, etc… Based on your answer, you may decide what your next step would be.

So how does it work? The first step is to join an online “program”. Depending on the age of the program, you would be put in the next empty spot on the matrix, or a matrix. Your first task is to build your own matrix, regardless of where you had started. You need to bring people in, and place them under you, so that you maximize your income, by having those people work partially for you. But you still need to market and sell the products and/or services of the program. Your marketing skills, your negotiation and convincing skills, are called for to sell the  program to new members, as well as selling the products and services of that program (in order to gain your own commissions).

How would you market/sell? That’s what we covered in the second article on “online advertisement”. It takes using banners, referral links, email campaigns, etc. The banners have to be placed strategically, so they would attract online traffic, and hence visitors. Once the visitors convert, you’ve got yourself a sale (or a new member, if you were still hunting for new affiliates to fill up your matrix). Please refer to that article for full details.

The main advantage here is the potential of recruiting an army of sellers, who share with you the fruits of their own sweat, just because you’d brought them into the program (not very fair, in my opinion).

The downside is the complexity of the model: The matrix, the pay structure, the selling of ideas and products, the management and motivation of remote team members, and the necessity to do all of that online, and sometimes, via conference calls.

The above covers key concepts of this huge subject. To get the full scoop, you  must research. And please, don’t  join “any” MLM program. Find something that can show and prove a track record of stability, fairness and success. Another key aspect you need to make sure of is whether the program pays its members on time or not. Or whether it pays at all!

Any comment, addition, or question are very welcome. You may use the form below. Your information, as always, is kept strictly confidential.

Till the next post, stay safe, do your homework, and only join the best programs (if you’re convinced that MLM is for you).

The field is full of programs. You have the chance to shop for the right program for you. Take your time. Email or call the program’s administrator. Ask questions. Use search engines to find as much information as possible about the program you intend to join. If you sent an email, and no one replied within 48 hours, move to the next program on your list. Responsiveness is the first indicator of a good or bad program.

All the Best!

The Wealth Maker