Monetising online is becoming easier by the day, whether it be through e-commerce or revenue from advertising, there are increasingly more and more ways to turn a profit using your online presence. WordPress offers such capabilities; by installing a shopping cart plugin, you can turn your blog into a virtual sales floor. Here are # easy steps detailing how to download, install and configure a shopping cart plugin for your WordPress blog.
Choosing Your Plugin | Having logged into your account, click on the ‘Dashboard’ tab in the top left of your screen. From here you will see the Dashboard menu running down the left-hand side of the page. Hover over the ‘Plugins’ tab and select ‘Add New’. You are now ready to browse the extensive list of plugins available for WordPress. It is by no means an easy task deciding which one to choose so trial and error may be necessary; just be careful to check the descriptions, ratings and feedback for each candidate plugin before you install. For the purposes of this tutorial, we have searched for and selected WordPress Ultra Simple PayPal Shopping Cart v4.3.6 as it offers the basic functionality required by all plugins of this nature.
Installation | To install this plugin, click on the red ‘Install Now’ button on the top right of the details box. The details box will now close and you will be presented with the ‘Installing Plugin’ page which allows you to track the progress of the installation. Depending on the file size and complexity of the plugin, this may take a few minutes to complete. Once installed, you will be given the option to ‘Activate Plugin’. Click on this.
Link to PayPal | WordPress Ultra Simple PayPal Shopping Cart v4.3.6 will now have been added to your list of installed plugins. The next important step requires you to link your blog with a designated PayPal account. If you have not yet got a PayPal account then it is necessary for you to obtain one. All WordPress shopping cart plugins require this because PayPal offers an unparalleled level of security and customer support should any form of error or breach occur.
Configuration | With this step complete, you can now create posts and pages designed for the display of merchandise and products. To do this requires a series of modifications to the CSS code of your blog. Instructions for each specific plugin are available under the ‘Usage’ tab, found next to the plugin description box. With this done, it is now possible to configure the settings of your shopping cart plugin.
Settings | If you access the ‘Settings’ tab you will be able to modify a whole range of parameters, including the currency, VAT rate, base shipping cost and any applicable special offers, whether they be of a promotional nature of based on bulk sales. For further information regarding configuration and settings, check out the Help and FAQ sections on the WordPress website.
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It is a general business rule that retaining customers is approximately five times less expensive than the cost of acquiring new ones. Additionally, a new customer may visit your site once, buy what he or she needs and never come back again. However, a repeat customer is much more likely to make multiple purchases on several occasions because he or she already knows and trusts your ecommerce site. Here are a few simple things you can do to earn repeat business from your customers.
Asking customers to set-up a username and passwords for your website can be tricky. On one hand, customers who have an account with pre-filled information are likely to come back. On the other hand, though, many people feel that registering is tedious and will often just check out as a guest, or buy what they want elsewhere. Once good suggestion is to include an option to save the customer’s information as they check out and then have them create a username and password so they do not feel as though they are wasting time. If you offer customers the options of creating accounts, make the sign-up process quick, simple and as easy as possible.
People love getting deals. Create a VIP or Customer Loyalty program for your site’s registered users that rewards them for coming back. Offer repeat customers exclusive deals. Any incentive you can think of that provides a reason for the customer to buy from your ecommerce site again is a good way to retain their business. Along with membership or loyalty rewards, it is also a good idea to try to personalize areas of the website after the user signs in so the customers feels he or she is getting “extra attention.”
Keep in mind that your goal is not just to make a sale, but also to gain a repeat customer. Make sure that you have easy to find contact information for pre-purchases questions and an excellent system set-up for item returns in case there is a problem with the order. Take care of your customers before, during and after the sale and they will likely put you at the top of their list the next time they are shopping. A satisfied customer is usually a loyal customer as well.
Add features to your website that offer extra value to your customers. You could add a blog or newsletter, product reviews, or provide some kind of resources that gives customers a reason to come back to your website. If a customer has a reason to visit your site again, he or she will also be more likely to see something interesting and make another purchase. You want to make your website as engaging and interesting as possible so customers have a reason to keep coming back.
In today’s competitive marketing place, retaining customers is not always easy. However, anything you can do that helps generate repeat business is well worth the investment. Remember that a customer is more than just a sale and a little extra attention goes a long way towards building customer loyalty.
About the Author: Brian Moons is just entering the world of ecommerce and is going to create online store at bigcommerce.com. He has a unique product and hopes to carve his own niche in the marketplace.