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How to Make Online Ordering Simple for Wholesalers And Manufacturers

Posted Thu, January 26, 2017 by Julie Short

Wholesalers and manufacturers may be buying in bulk for business purposes, but these days the individuals actually placing the orders are accustomed to being able to shop easily online. They rightly feel that they shouldn’t have to pick up a phone, fill out a tedious order form, or even use an antiquated fax machine simply to do their job as a purchasing agent. Instead, they expect to have a modern e-commerce experience whether they are buying for business or personal use. Organizations that want to become a preferred vendor for these customers would do well to explore an updated web-based ordering system.

Here are some key features that make online ordering simple and attractive for bulk buyers.

Faster, Better Service

At the most basic level, an online ordering system should eliminate duplicate data entry efforts, reduce errors, and process orders immediately. Less frustration leads to more brand loyalty and repeat business. You will also find that most customers enjoy a self-service experience even after the order is placed. They want to be able to track shipments and view their order history easily online. If they can repeat a previous order with just a couple of clicks, that’s even better!
That doesn’t mean the human touch is taken out of the equation. Instead, a modern system can incorporate live chat so that those customers who do have questions or challenges can get immediate assistance. When inbound sales teams are freed up from answering phones as order takers, they are more available to improve the service experience for customers who need help.

Targeted Product Catalogues

If you serve multiple industries, not every customer should see your entire product line. In fact, users will appreciate being presented only with relevant items when they go online to search for what they need. With a well-designed, segmented e-commerce solution, you can determine the items clients see when they log in to their account. For example, bulk packaged quantities can be presented to wholesale clients and hidden from retail clients. Of course, this means you can also set up special pricing and other private “eyes only” information for your top tier customers as well. When you are in charge of the online ordering experience, you can design it for maximum impact.

Accurate, Visible Inventory Numbers

This is a critical aspect of a good online ordering system. Lead time is one of the most common factors that determines who gets an order from a major customer. A wholesaler may need to deliver to retailers right away to capture seasonal sales. Or, a manufacturer might have to shut down a production line if they can’t get a part in a timely fashion. Providing information about which items are in stock (along with the quantity available) helps procurement specialists make a quick decision.
Be warned, this data has to be very accurate! Just one bad experience with finding out an item is on backorder when your website indicated it was in stock can turn off a customer. This means you need to integrate in real time with your existing ERP or inventory management system to ensure that your website never makes promises your warehouse can’t fulfill. As a bonus, implementing an integrated online ordering system may actually serve as an opportunity to help you scale to handle higher volume clients.

Multiple Payment Options

While some businesses have a dedicated credit card for online purchases, many still use a purchase order system. In fact, these Net 30 clients could be some of your largest accounts. You’ll want to be sure to accommodate them by accepting PO#s from your customers.

More Incentives to Buy

When you know which items your customers are buying, you can predict what they will want to try in the future. This means you can actually leverage the information captured by your online ordering system to promote new products as they become available. Rather than sending out a costly paper catalogue that will probably end up in the trash, you can present relevant items to your repeat customers using a variety of digital marketing methods. That might be as simple as featuring a new product with a special introductory price when they log in to their customized ordering portal on your website. This streamlined approach is less annoying for customers and more beneficial for your business.
Want to learn more about how a well-designed online ordering system can maximize high-dollar customer relationships with wholesalers and manufacturers? Contact WebRevelation today.

Posted in : e-commerce , Business Strategy | 
Tags : wholesale , ecommerce


When to Know If a Custom Online Application Will Work for Your Business

Posted Thu, January 12, 2017 by Julie Short
When is off-the-shelf software or a typical SaaS app going to do the trick and when do you need a custom online application? It might seem that there’s a simple answer—you only build what you can’t buy. But the reality is much more complex. In fact, even with a huge array of ready-made solutions, many businesses are still spending money regularly on custom development. In 2013 (according to a survey from Forrester), enterprise class organizations spent roughly the same amount on bespoke solutions as they did on packaged applications. Of course, having a big budget in the first place makes it easier to justify investing in a custom app. For small to mid-sized businesses, it can be a little more difficult to define when there’s a need that can be most effectively met by a tailor-made piece of software.

Here are five ways to know when a custom application can be a wise investment:

#1 You Only Need a Limited Scope to Accomplish Your Goal

Maybe you need a specific piece of “Best of Breed” functionality to make your business run better—but you don’t want to buy an entire suite of software from a major vendor just to get that one bit you need. The big names in the industry are well known for piling up the licensing and maintenance fees, locking in customers with long-term contracts, and forcing upgrades for their products. With a custom made product, you build only what is required to solve your actual business problem, your costs are limited, and you maintain control over the software.

#2 You Want Added Functionality for Competitive Advantage

At the other end of the scale, you might need an application with rich capabilities that simply aren’t provided by the SaaS vendors or traditional software suppliers serving your sector. Being the first in your industry to build a better application can put you ahead of the pack in productivity, innovation, and market share. These are especially exciting projects, and it makes sense to invest in a solution that your competitors can’t access.

#3 You Require Smarter BI for a Brighter Future

Business Intelligence is one of the most rapidly growing areas for custom development. Depending on your business model, you might be pulling data from a variety of sources from ERP to CRM, E-commerce, customer facing apps, and more. Being able to create a strong self-service dashboard and reporting system that compiles, displays, and interprets data from your unique data sources can be a powerful tool for predictive analytics. The more niche your industry is, the greater the chances that you’ll want a custom BI application.

#4 You Deserve Software That Truly Promotes Efficiency

Workflow automation is a prime example of when a custom online application can beat the socks off of an out-of-the-box application. The inner workings of your business will never map exactly onto a generic piece of software. Rather than adjusting your workflow to meet the capabilities of an application, it makes more sense to build an application that suits the way you do business.

#5 You Can Link the Custom App Directly to Revenue

Sometimes, the ROI on building a custom online application is obvious. If your existing software is causing you to miss out on opportunities, it makes a lot of sense to upgrade with a custom app that helps you capture more revenue. That could be one that adds functionality requested by customers, ensures repeat business, helps you cross-sell or upsell high dollar products/services, or attracts more of the ideal clients your company needs to be more profitable year over year.
Whether it’s an internal business application or a consumer-facing portal, a data-base driven app or a mobile solution, WebRevelation is ready to help grow your business with customized solutions. Learn how we can integrate with your legacy systems, build out new capabilities, and drive more value for your business. Contact us for a consultation today.
Posted in : ERP , CRM , Business Strategy | 
Tags : custom online application


Is Email Marketing Still Effective?

Posted Mon, November 28, 2016 by Julie Short

To hear some marketers talk about it, you would think that email had been around for half a century or more. In the age of social media, many talk about marketing through email newsletters as if they were passé and outdated. In fact, we regularly talk with business owners who think email no longer works, or at the very least, that it has stopped working the way it used to.

But is that idea accurate? Could it be that email marketing is still tremendously effective if you use it the right way? Based on our experiences working with clients, we certainly think so. To see how we reach that conclusion, though, we should step back a couple of steps and walk you through both sides of the issue…

Why Marketers Are Giving Up On Email

It’s easy to come to the conclusion that email doesn’t work the way it used to. In virtually every industry, subscribers are opening fewer messages, clicking on fewer links, and hitting the “unsubscribe” button more often. While it’s true that most adults carry around a smart phone or tablet that leaves them connected with their email almost continuously, it’s also true that they get far too many messages to read, and only scan through a handful of them.

When you look at things from that point of view, it’s easy to decide to give up on email and try more exciting channels like social media and video marketing. But, writing off email altogether overlooks a couple of important details.

The Power Of The Inbox

We suspect many marketers fail to appreciate the potential of email newsletters simply because they’ve been around for a relatively long time (in digital marketing terms). They aren’t exciting anymore, so business owners stop paying attention.

However, unlike some other forms of marketing, email is incredibly fast and inexpensive. Plus, it allows you to control your messaging in a very precise way, especially if you segment your lists and customize your content for readers. If you want to save money and get an instant response, it’s hard to beat email.

How To Make Email Marketing Work

Once you realize there is still a lot of potential in email, then the issue is not whether to use it, but how to use it. Here are a few of the best practices we use to achieve stellar results for our clients:

  • Use irresistible subject lines that draw our readers in
  • Include a short, informative article in every email newsletter
  • Divide your list of subscribers into specific groups and target your messages specifically to niche audiences
  • Make sure your email newsletters are mobile-friendly, with text and images that display cleanly on small screens
  • Wrap up every email with a simple call to action that invites subscribers to take the next step

Email is like any other tool you can use to reach out to customers – when you use it correctly, it’s going to be profitable and effective; when you don’t, it’s going to be a waste of time and money. If you aren’t getting the kinds of results you expected for your campaigns, now is the perfect time to re-evaluate your approach and see whether you could be doing more to get subscribers to open your emails and act upon them.

When you need a creative team that understands how to get real-world results, make WebRevelation your first call. And it only takes a moment to get in touch with our team and set up a free consultation, so don’t delay any longer!

Posted in : Email Marketing , Tips and Tricks | 
Tags : N/A


The Hidden Costs of Cheap and DIY Websites

Posted Mon, November 14, 2016 by Julie Short

There are a lot of places to get a “deal” on a small business website… so long as you’re looking for a low price and not necessarily a bigger value. No matter where you turn, there is another overseas company offering what they promise are custom websites, online templates that can supposedly be tailored to meet the needs of your company, and even free DIY websites offered by companies that advertise on TV.

In each case, though, you are very likely to get what you pay for. There’s a reason professional web designers charge professional fees, and a reason that these other services are willing to give you what they have for nothing, or next to it.

To understand why this is, let’s look at a few of the hidden costs associated with cheap and DIY websites…

Your Credibility Is On The Line

According to some studies, a first-time visitor to your website will browse for about 5 to 10 seconds before they decide whether to stay, or look for what they need elsewhere. That means first impressions are absolutely critical. Unfortunately, you’re not going to stand out in the crowd – at least not in a favorable way – by having a website that looks like it was thrown together a couple of hours.

Third Party Ads Ruin Your Website

Many free and low-cost web design services are really advertising platforms for the companies that host them. That might sound like a good deal until you stop and think about the message it sends to your potential customers when they arrive on your pages and find ads for an entirely different company (and possibly ads that aren’t even relevant to your industry). That destroys your credibility in a second, and virtually assures you won’t get the business.

A Website That Doesn’t Work Is Always Expensive

Whether you’re getting an ad from a template or a bargain-basement provider, there’s a good chance it’s going to include lots of unnecessary code. That’s because the website was originally built for dozens of different uses, and not your business in particular. That can slow down your website, and cause problems when you add plug-ins, update your hosting software, or attract mobile visitors to your website. Then, your pages can freeze or crash, ensuring the visitor won’t be buying from you anytime soon.

The Web Is About Layouts And Functionality

The one consistent thing about templates and low-cost websites is that they always look good at first glance. That’s how business owners get suckered into paying for them. Interesting aesthetics are only one facet of web design, though. If you really want to bring in buyers and add to your bottom line, your website also has to have back-end functionality, in the form of tools, databases, and automated features. You aren’t going to get that on the cheap.

Online Marketing Is Half The Battle

Ultimately, the success or failure of your website is all about the number of customers you can attract, and the quality of the sales opportunities that are generated. A great custom website is going to be built with future online marketing campaigns in mind. A template or DIY website is like a stand-alone brochure that’s never going to be seen by actual customers.

There’s never a good time to take a chunk of cash out of your business. But, if you’re treating your business website as an investment that’s going to pay you back, then it makes sense to pay for quality. It’s one thing to try to save money on a line item expense for paper and pens, and another thing altogether to hurt your own marketing because you don’t have a professional web presence that appeals to customers.

To get a new website is affordable and effective, reach out to the WebRevelation team today to schedule a free consultation!

Posted in : Websites , Tips and Tricks , Online Marketing | 
Tags : N/A


Why Images Make Or Break Your Marketing

Posted Mon, October 17, 2016 by Julie Short

For many years, marketing has been moving farther and farther into the digital space. As that has happened, business owners and design teams have begun paying lots of attention to text, copy, and keywords. You need words to generate search engine traffic, not to mention conversions, so other elements of creative campaigns were pushed to the back seat.

With the rise of social media and the reemergence of print marketing, however, companies are discovering something they should’ve remembered all along – that images can make or break a campaign. That’s true online or off, and that applies to virtually every business and industry.

Let’s look at why pictures are such an important part of what you do to connect with buyers…

Your Brain On Pictures

Psychologists and medical researchers estimate that the human brain can process images up to 60,000 times faster than text. That’s a pretty amazing statistic, and reason enough to use sharper images within your marketing content. People notice them faster, to the point that they literally jump off the page and catch our eyes.

At the same time, numerous studies have shown that images tend to be more memorable, and to activate emotional parts of our minds. In case you forgot your lessons from marketing 101, buying decisions are almost always emotional. It’s only after the fact that we justify them with facts and  reasons.

Choosing The Right Images For The Job

Of course, simply having more images in your marketing isn’t going to do much for you. You have to choose the right pictures for the job.

While any pictures are going to be processed by the mind faster than text, human faces, vivid colors, and shots of animals tend to be the most compelling. You probably noticed that these are also the kinds of images you tend to see being liked, shared, and commented on throughout social media sites. That’s because they’re the easiest for us to notice, and they make the strongest impression.

Giving Yourself A Picture Perfect Advantage

The best way to use the power of images to your advantage is to generate your own. Hire a photographer to take some custom shots of your team and products, or set the right lighting and snap a few with your iPhone.

If that’s not possible, then make a concerted effort to choose stock photos that represent the idea or mood you’re trying to convey with each post or idea you put forward. Modify them if necessary and add your own branding. Just because you didn’t take a picture doesn’t mean you can’t make it unique and tie it back to your messaging in a way that feels compelling to fans and customers.

Are you looking closely enough at the images you are using in your marketing campaigns? If you’ve been throwing stock photos online without giving much thought to their power or relevance, now is the perfect time to look a bit closer at the possibilities in front of you. Once you see what you can do with the right pictures, you’ll never view the visuals in your marketing the same way again!

For the best in web design, print media, and creative services, contact WebRevelation and let us get to work for you!

Posted in : Online Marketing , Tips and Tricks | 
Tags : N/A


What Google’s SSL Preference Means For You

Posted Thu, October 6, 2016 by Julie Short

A few weeks ago, a spokesperson for Google made waves by confirming an idea web designers and SEO experts had begun to suspect: that the world’s most popular search engine will be using SSL connections as a search signal. In other words, websites with SSL will now be more visible to searchers than sites without them.

This mirrors Google’s recent decision to incorporate mobile compatibility into search results, a move that put small businesses and their marketing teams into a minor sort of meltdown. If you’re at a company that’s still recovering from “Mobilegeddon,” not to mention Penguin and Panda, what should you make of this revelation?

To get to the bottom of the issue, there are a few questions that need to be answered…

What Is SSL?

SSL stands for “Secure Socket Layers,” which specifies a certain type of connection between your hosting server and the visitor’s computer. SSL connections are encrypted, making them virtually impossible for hackers to view from the outside.

You’ve probably used SSL connections a dozen times already today. You often find them attached to banks, online merchants, and other websites that have the ability to conduct transactions. Often, SSL connections are indicated through an “https” designation, a different color on your Internet browser, or a small icon indicating that the connection is secure.

Why Does Google Want Your Site To Have SSL?

It’s important to remember that Google engineers don’t necessarily want anything in particular, except for searchers and users to be happy. In this case, it’s easier for searchers to be happy when they know they are getting safer connections to trusted websites, and that there is little chance for online thieves to snoop in on their transactions.

Additionally, SSL is a feature that’s usually offered with premium web hosting. So, a site with SSL capability is also likely to have a faster connection speed, more uptime, and a smaller chance of being infected with spam or viruses.

Should You Upgrade?

At first glance, upgrading to SSL capability might seem like a big burden for a small business that doesn’t conduct transactions online. However, when you look a little bit closer, you’ll find that improving your hosting package to allow for SSL isn’t likely to cost you more than a couple of dollars per day.

For that fee, you could get a search engine positioning advantage over your closest rivals and competitors. And, you’ll get all the benefits associated with premium hosting (like faster page loading times, a more reliable website, and better backup and features benefits) that are ultimately good for your business anyway.

When you look closely, Google’s preference for SSL-enabled websites isn’t all that big of a deal for most smaller companies. In fact, it’s probably just the encouragement they need to take a commonsense step in the right direction and upgrade their hosting plans to keep up with the times.

To find out more about this trend – or see what your business can do to improve its search engine rankings overall – get in touch with the WebRevelation team today and see how we can help!

Posted in : SEO/SMO/SMM | 
Tags : google , ssl


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