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Running an E-commerce Website in 2014

Running an E-commerce Website in 2014

It is becoming increasingly convenient to shop online. The simple fact that people are now using their mobile phones to shop online is proof enough. While commuting home from work, they use the Wi-Fi networks in the subway, for instance, so that they can order the things they need. They pay for them using their PayPal account (or some other online payment account), and when they get home, the things they need are waiting for them.

Retail is evolving and traditional shopping is expected to be a thing of the past in a not-that-distant future. Even clothes, the things you need to try on before purchasing, can be ordered online, since most companies that do this have a well-established system by which you can check whether or not what you are purchasing will fit your body.

Bearing this in mind, one has to agree that if you want to sell something, be it a product or a service, you have to have a website. Period! Without it, you will soon be lost in the sea of competition and you will find yourself facing bankruptcy issues. Here are the major points to consider to set up and run a successful e-commerce website in 2014.

Getting started: Design

Web design image

    The starting point of every website is its design. It can be extremely challenging to establish that. 2013 website design trends indicate a minimalistic approach. If you go for a flashy design that is filled with images, links, loads of pages, videos and so on, chances are that your visitors will get confused and they will simply close your site’s tab and move on to something else.

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    Your homepage is what matters most. It should feature your logo, one great big high-definition image (or a slider with HD imaging) that represents what you do, your basic info written in a cool and easily readable font, some contact info in the footer and that’s it. The header of your site should have links that lead to your other pages. You see, if your homepage looks simple and concrete, when your viewers see it, they will want to learn more and they will stay on your site. You can check out some pretty cool designs here.

    Your products page is another very important page and this one has to be well organized as well. You should have categories and the products should be listed in those categories. Each product has to have an image (sometimes several images), a description and a price. When it comes to pricing, you should make sure that you use a secure online payment method. To read more about this topic, follow this link.

    When it comes to shipping, make sure that you provide your readers with valuable shipping information. They have to be informed about that. Also, use a stable and valid shipping company. Try to find someone who has been in the business for a long time and who knows his or her job well. A lot of packages get damaged while shipping and that is something you will want to avoid.

    Make sure that you don’t forget to add a contact page so that your customers can ask for more information, and even more importantly, do not forget to answer their questions as soon as you can. The first rule of retail is that the customer is always right.

    Moving on: Functionality

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    Functionality image

      The next item on the agenda is functionality. Let us presume that you have a cool-looking website and that you are happy with it. That site will be worth nothing if it is not functional, fast loading and well programmed. It will also be unusable if it is not responsive. As mentioned above, more and more people are switching from their PCs and laptops to mobile phones and tablets for online activity. Your website has to be accessible via these devices as well. Also, with the launch of the new iPhone’s retina display, you have to ensure that your site is, as they say, retina-ready. So, your web designers and developers have to be well informed, they have to follow the newest trends and they have to be ready for everything.

      A website’s functionality is a pretty grand topic and there is a lot of talk about it on the net. To get you started, here are some useful articles that might help ease the process.

      Your Domain

      internet browser

        Registering a domain can be quite a pickle, as they say. You see, the net is full of websites – millions upon millions of them. The chance that someone registered the exact domain name you were looking for is high. This can be quite a problem since, frankly speaking, your domain name is very important. It should be relevant, original and related to your business. If you already have a name in mind, you should check and see whether or not it is already taken. Some experts suggest that if it is, you should consider going as far as changing the name of your firm, so that it corresponds with an available domain name.

        You should check out this link, where you will find the top sites for registering a domain in 2013. Dwell on this for some time and make the right decision.

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        Hosting

        When all the things above are done right, it is time to find appropriate hosting. For start, here’s a low-cost hosting guide for those who are looking for a cheap and reliable hosting service for their e-commerce website.

        Generally speaking, there are two types of hosting – shared and dedicated hosting. Here is the difference between the two:

        1. Shared hosting features one great big server computer that functions as a host for several websites.
        2. Dedicated hosting features one great big server computer that functions as a host for just one website.

        Logically, the second option is the thing to go for. It will be more expensive, of course, but if you go for shared hosting, chances are that a lot of things will go wrong. These machines tend to get overloaded and this can have a very bad result. You can even end up losing a lot of clients. As the owner of an e-commerce website, you will probably have a lot of resources there (images, videos, loads of text, etc.), which will make it difficult for a shared hosting server to function. So, if you have just one server that is dedicated for your site and your site only, you can be sure that things will run smoothly and you won’t have to worry at all.

        Promotion

        Now, that you have your site up and running, it is time to let people know that your site is out there. After all, what good is website if no one visits it? This is where search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM) and social media marketing (SMM) come into play. The goal of these practices is to make your site recognized by Google and other search engines, so that people can find it and visit it.

        You have to be aware that this is a process that takes time. For instance, amongst other things, you will have to write various articles related to your business and you have to post them on various relevant blogs, which will bring traffic to your site. Furthermore, you will have to register your company on various social media platforms (Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc.) and you will have to provide your readers or followers with relevant, up-to-date content at all times. So, apart from taking a long time initially, this process never stops – the more you grow, the more things you will need to do.

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        Promotion social media image

          Also, you should not only promote your site online, but offline as well. Make sure that you have a link to your site printed on any and all promotional material you have at your disposal.

          This is yet another very popular topic on the net – meaning that a lot of people posted a lot of relevant articles recently.

          Let’s wrap it up

          As you can see, running an e-commerce website is no walk in the park, but if you do everything as outlined above, your efforts will be worth it. The retail industry is changing and people are realizing that they have the world in their pocket: they just take their phone out and presto – everything is there. Who knows what e-commerce will represent in 20 years or so, given the fact that it was a “fairytale” 20 or 30 years ago? It is up to you to follow the trends! Good luck!

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          Ivan Dimitrijevic

          Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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          Published on May 7, 2019

          How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

          How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

          When it comes to stocks, I bet you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.

          Everyone who’s not a financial expert has been there. I’ve been there. But, time is passing and you need to be crystal clear with how you’re investing for your retirement.

          Otherwise, it’s back to work until you can afford not to. So, how can you invest for retirement when you’re not a financial expert?

          You take the time to learn the fundamentals well. If you do, you can grow your wealth and retire happy. The best part is that you don’t need to be a financial expert to make smart investment decisions.

          Here’s how to invest for retirement the smart and stress-free way:

          1. Know Clearly Why You Invest

          Odds are you already know why should invest for retirement.

          But, maybe you know the wrong reasons. It’s time you get clear on why you’d like to retire. Here are some questions to help you get started:

          • Will you spend more time with your family?
          • What does retirement mean to you?
          • Are you looking to launch that business you’ve been holding off for years?

          Everyone wants to retire but not for the same reasons. Once you’re clear for why retirement is important for you, you’ll focus on making it happen.

          Investing in the stock market allows you to take advantage of compound interest.[1] All this means is that your money earns money on top of its interest. A reason why investment in the stock market is one of the best ways to plan for retirement.

          2. Figure out When to Invest

          “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”– Chinese Proverb

          It’s true if you’d had started investing when you were 10 years old, you’d have a lot more money than you do today.

          The reality is that most people don’t start investing until it’s too late. So, if you’re currently waiting for the perfect time to start an investment, it would be today. Open your calendar and block out 2 to 3 hours to choose how you’ll invest for retirement.

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          A quick way to get a snapshot of where you stand is to use Personal Capital. Input all your personal information and spend some time setting your retirement goals. Once completed, you’ll know where you stand with your retirement.

          Having a savings account for retirement isn’t planning for retirement. Why? Your money loses value when you factor in US inflation.[2]

          3. Evaluate Your Risk Tolerance to Create the Perfect Portfolio

          Investing your money well depends on your emotions.

          Why?

          Because when the market drops most people panic and withdraw their money. On average, the US stock market yields an annual 6% to 7% ROI (return on your investment.) But, this won’t happen if you’re worried about short-term loses.

          Before you invest your next dollar, know your risk tolerance.[3] Your risk tolerance determines the number of risky and safe investments you’d have.

          Regardless of your investing style, you need to view investing for retirement as a long term game. Know that some years you’ll lose money but recoup this in the long-term.

          Avoid watching market-related new. Also, create a double authentication to log in your investment account. This way you’re less likely to withdraw your money.

          4. Open a Reliable Retirement Account

          Depending on your circumstance, you may need to open a new brokerage account. This is the account is where you’ll invest your money.

          If you’re currently working for a company, odds are that they offer a 410K investing account. If so, here’s where you’ll invest most of your money. The only problem with this is that you’re limited to the stock options that are available.

          You do have the option to open a separate IRA (individual retirement account.) Here are some of the best brokers:

          1. Vanguard
          2. TD Ameritrade
          3. Charles Schwab

          5. Challenge Yourself to Invest Consistently

          Committing to invest for retirement is hard, but continuing to do so is harder.

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          Once you’ve started investment for your retirement, you run at risk from stopping. Often you’ll want to contribute less, so you’d have more money in your pocket.

          That’s why it’s important that you create a budget that allows you to invest each month. If you’re working for a company, you can set a percentage for the amount you’d like to contribute each month. Most people by default contribute 1% but aim to contribute 10% to 15%.

          Be the judge for how much you can afford to contribute after covering important expenses. To stay motivated, use Personal Capital to view your net worth.

          A benefit to contributing money to your retirement account is not taxed. For example, if you earn $100 and invest 10%, you’d contribute $10, then get taxed on the remaining $90. As of 2019, the most you’re able to contribute towards your 401K is 19K but this can change.

          6. Consider Where to Invest Your Money

          The most common way to invest your money is in stocks, but it’s not the only way. Here are other ways to invest:

          Robo Advisors

          Robo-advisors[4] are fancy algorithms that’ll choose the best investments for you. Sites like Wealthfront make it easy for first-time investors to invest their money. You’d input information about yourself and set your risk tolerance.

          Then, set your monthly contribution amount and your robo-advisor would do the rest. Robo-advisors charge a fee to manage your money, but less than regular advisors.

          Bonds

          Think of bonds as “IOUs” to whomever you buy them from.

          Essentially, you’re lending money and charging interest. Like stocks, not all bonds are equal. Some will be riskier than others depending on their rating.

          Here are the different types of bond categories:[5]

          1. Treasury bonds
          2. Government bonds
          3. Corporate bonds
          4. Foreign bonds
          5. Mortgage-backed bonds
          6. Municipal bonds

          Mutual Funds

          Picture a group of people dumping all their money in a jar that’s managed by a professional. This is how mutual funds work. The fund manager manages the money looking to earn capital gains (interest.)

          One of the best types of mutual funds is index funds. Since these funds don’t try to beat the market and instead follow it, they need less research. Because of this they often charge the lowest fees and yield the best long-term results.

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          Real Estate

          Yes, buying a home is an investment when done correctly.

          Imagine buying a home and using it as a rental property. After repairing it, you receive a monthly surplus check of $100 to $200.

          This may not sound like a lot, but repeat this process enough times and you’d earn a large amount of passive income. That’s why real estate is one of the best investments to not only retire but become wealthy.

          But, it requires a lot of money to start and you should expect losing money along the way as you learn the process.

          Savings Accounts

          Your money can still grow in a savings account. Nowadays most online banks offer a 2% annual return. Although the average inflation is higher your money will be available when you need it.

          7. Master Disincline to Dodge Short Success

          Investing for retirement is a long-term strategy. That’s why you need to master delayed gratification. All this means is delaying short-term pleasure for something bigger in the future. Research shows that those who have delayed gratification are more successful.[6]

          So how can you master delayed gratification?

          By building your discipline.

          Think back to what retirement means to you. A clear purpose will help you avoid withdrawing your money during a market downturn. It’ll help you contribute more towards retirement when you’d want to waste it instead.

          Your journey towards retirement will be long, so reward yourself along the way. Choose a reward that’s relevant and meaningful, so that you reinforce positive behavior. For example, after contributing more towards retirement, treat yourself to dinner.

          8. Aggressively Invest on This One Investment

          I’ve mentioned several types of investments but haven’t covered the most important one.

          It sounds cliche but here’s why you’re your best investment towards retirement. The more you know, the more money you’ll be able to make. The more good habits you adopt, the more secure your retirement will be.

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          More importantly, investing in yourself is an investment that no one can take away. There’s no market downturn nor tragic circumstance that’ll wipe your knowledge and experience.

          But, how can you invest yourself?

          Reading books, blogs, and anything that’ll help you learn new topics daily. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks on your commute to/from work.

          Save money to buy courses and hire coaches. I used to believe hiring coaches was a waste of money when I could learn the subject alone.

          But, coaches see your blind spots and hold you accountable. Hiring the right coach will help you achieve your goals faster than you would’ve alone.

          Retire Happy with Excess Money

          The key to a secure financial future doesn’t only belong to financial experts.

          It’s possible for you and I. What if you were able to retire earlier than most people and weren’t a financial planner? What if you were able to focus on what you enjoy doing the most while your money was working hard for you?

          I know this sounds impossible now, but the truth is you’re capable of taking charge of your retirement. I’m not a financial expert but I’ve learned how to invest my money by reading books and learning from others.

          Investing your money is scary. So start small and invest a small amount of your money with a robo-advisor. Feel your money drop and rise for a month or two. Then, invest more and keep this up until you’re aggressively saving for retirement.

          One day, you’ll wake up with a net worth you’re proud of – confident about your retirement. You now know a few strategies you can use to invest in your retirement. Will you take action to retire happy?

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          Featured photo credit: Matthew Bennett via unsplash.com

          Reference

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