In July, my editor at Ecommerce-Guide.com asked me to look into a two-year-old company called iShopUSA, which claimed to take the hassle out of international e-commerce that is, selling stuff to customers outside the United States for companies of all sizes doing business online.

With more people in more countries going online and shopping, and the weak U.S. dollar making U.S. goods even more attractive to overseas buyers, now would seem to be a great time for U.S.-based e-commerce businesses to go global. Until you consider the hassles and risks like navigating international customs and tariffs; credit card fraud, which occurs nearly three times as often on orders originating from outside the U.S. and Canada; and the added costs of providing international customer service.

But iShopUSA promises that if you sign up with them, they’ll take care of all that for just 10 percent of each sale and no upfront costs. And the service is delivering. Dozens of businesses, including the two small businesses I interviewed, EyeSave.com and AmazingSocks.com, have signed up with iShopUSA, and rave about the solution.

To learn more about iShopUSA, international e-commerce, and to help determine if iShopUSA is right for your business, read my article, “International E-Commerce: Going Global Just Got Easier.”

Even if your business is purely domestic, you still need to be online and have a good website. What do I mean by good? I mean visually attractive, easy to navigate, and regularly updated. As I learned from researching my article, “Selling Travel Online: It’s Not Just for the Big Guys,” whether you run a boutique travel agency, book adventure tours, or are trying to sell just about any service or product, your business won’t go anywhere without an online presence.

The good news is you don’t need to spend a lot of money to create a good website or the help of a celebrity like William Shatner to market your business. To find out how, check out the Web Design and Marketing sections from my Clips page, which include several articles full of advice, tips, and tools from experts as well as small- and mid-sized business owners and managers like yourselves.

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Aug
09
Posted on August 9, 2008
Filed Under (Marketing, Networking) by jennifer

For years now I have heard (and written) about how small business owners were using Facebook as a tool to drum up or help business. But I resisted. While I see the value in using (or exploiting) Facebook if your business happens to cater to or target teens and twentysomethings, I saw (and still see) limited or no use for a well-over-twentysomething business communications professional like myself, or really anyone selling a somewhat stodgy service or non-hip product, garnering much interest or business from the social networking site. But I am willing — happy even — to be proven wrong.

Full disclosure: I did not decide to join Facebook for business purposes, or so I could blog about it. No. The reason I joined is that a good friend of mine recently joined and posted some interesting sounding pictures of her renovation project, which could only be viewed by fellow Facebookers.

Despite the allure of intriguing renovation photos, I initially resisted joining Facebook because I felt too old and un-hip. But as anyone who has ever watched “Star Trek: The Next Generation” knows, resistance is futile (whether you are dealing with Facebook or the Borg). If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right? So I joined. And I invite anyone reading this to look me up — and feel free to give me advice about my (so far pretty sparse and boring) Facebook page. (And no, I do not plan on posting any bikini pictures.)

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