How do you build an ecommerce retail startup from scratch?

Ecommerce technology is improving all the time, but the retail market also grows more competitive.

What must it be like to start your own ecommerce venture from scratch?

Postcards Home founder, Lucy Coleman, has recently done exactly that. Her business offers homeware and gifts from independent designers around the world; Lucy describes it as ‘products that transport us to our favourite places’.

I caught up with her to ask about her journey so far.

How small businesses can make the most of Pinterest

As a small business owner you’re in a great position to start exploiting social media for all its worth, adding much sought after personalisation and relevance at an integral stage of your development.

Although social media can be a fairly time consuming practice depending on how many platforms you choose to use, it’s also the key way for a small business to develop awareness, raise its profile, gauge its market and interact with existing and future customers. 

As the UK is celebrating its first Small Business Saturday on 7th December 2013, here is the second in a series of posts that takes a look at each individual social media platform in turn (last week we looked at Twitter for small businesses) and highlights how you can achieve the best from each one. 

This week: Pinterest.

Five Google Analytics dashboards and custom reports for small businesses

Since it’s free, and ubiquitous, small businesses are likely to be relying on Google Analytics for online measurement. 

Indeed, our Online Measurement and Strategy Report 2013 found that 56% of businesses rely exclusively on Google for data analytics, while others use GA in conjunction with paid analytics services. 

Even if you’re no data expert, you can still find some valuable insight from the basic reports in GA, which can be very useful for your business. 

Also, ready-made custom reports and dashboards can save you a lot of time. 

As the UK is celebrating its first Small Business Saturday on 7th December 2013, I’ve rounded up some useful examples which should be helpful for SMEs. 

(By the way, if you don’t have Google Analytics, read this post by Google’s Daniel Waisberg on setting up and using Google Analytics). 

The essential small business website checklist

This checklist is intended to assist small business owners. It outlines the must have elements for your website so you can ensure it has the best chance of succeeding online.

This is the first in a short series which aims primarily to benefit small businesses with regards to their websites and online success. Consequently it might also help if you’re a web designer building small sites for businesses on a budget.

This small business website checklist will be most relevant for small sites or simple ecommerce sites because it’s a general checklist, but it’s amazing how many bigger (and often expensive) websites belonging to large companies fail to adhere to some basic web design fundamentals.

The list below will enable you to quickly check the most fundamental elements are in place on your website and it should take you no longer than 30 minutes to carry out the checks.

Small businesses are not impressed by Twitter: survey

Much of the attention lavished on social networks as marketing platforms focuses in on large brands, many of which have invested heavily in these channels and can boast about large audiences.

One of the most popular social networks with brands has been Twitter, which is now generating hundreds of millions of dollars a year in ad revenue and may go public in the next year.

37% of SMEs say Facebook marketing hasn’t helped in any way

A quarter of UK small businesses (24%) use Facebook to market their organisations, but more than a third of them (37%) say they don’t think it has helped their business in any way.

The survey of 1,000 small business decision makers by Constant Contact also found that just 21% of respondents believe they are doing a good job using Facebook to market their business.

However 22% of businesses that use Facebook said that they found new customers through the social network, while 12% credited it with generating repeat sales. Furthermore, one third (31%) say they have seen value in spreading the word about special offers or new products.

Constant Contact’s figures are slightly lower than those included in a survey by Basekit in May. It found that 36% of UK businesses now use Facebook to attract new customers.

Small businesses need to go mobile [infographic]

74% of small businesses have yet to design a mobile-optimised version of their website, while just one in ten believe this is necessary. 

The findings come from a survey of small business owners by Serif, and suggests that they have yet to latch on to the growth of mobile internet. 

Facebook now most popular customer acquisition tool for SMEs

More than a third of UK businesses (36%) now use Facebook to attract new customers, according to data from Basekit.

This makes it more popular as an advertising tool than local business directories such as Yellow Pages and Thomson, which are used by 27% of the 500 small businesses surveyed.

The use of online advertising is now almost as common as print advertising (20% vs. 21%), and Twitter is also quickly gaining popularity (17%).

Marketing Automation: the big sell…

While it is incredibly useful, Marketing Automation Software isn’t the
sexiest of tech.

MA needs to be solid and
dependable. It can align sales with marketing, it can help personalise
content, but it isn’t likely to rank alongside the iPad in the wider
consciousness anytime soon.

In short, it has an image problem. This may not seem like a huge concern, but it is contributing to a slow uptake by a hugely important market sector: SMEs