How to Prepare Your Online Store for the Holiday Season

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The holiday season is almost always the most profitable time of year for online businesses. Not only does the last quarter of the year see increases to the number of orders but the average order sizes also tend to be much bigger as well. In fact, some retailers make up to 40% of their yearly revenue in the last quarter alone. 

Let’s be honest though. With the day-to-day hustle of running your ecommerce business it’s easy to forget approaching holidays. How many times has a holiday come, only for you to realize that you never prepared a promotion for it?

If you want to make 2014 your best year yet as an online retailer, then you need to be prepared and plan ahead.

In this post, we will look at what you should be doing right now to end 2014 on a strong note by preparing your online store for the holiday season. 

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Why Online Store Owners Should Embrace Online Reviews

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The ecommerce landscape is continually changing and evolving. One of the biggest changes in recent years has been the proliferation of online reviews.

In fact, reviews have spread all across the internet and they pop-up regardless of whether you're actively encouraging them or not.

However, when used strategically, reviews can become powerful pieces of social proof that persuade people to buy.

In this post we’ll look at how to put reviews to work in your business. Specifically, we’ll show you how to start generating (and automating) them, as well as how to manage them.

Let’s get started.

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Small Business Accounting 101: Ten Steps to Get Your Startup on Track

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You’re about to launch your online store (or maybe you just launched) – congratulations! It takes perseverance and passion to get to the point you’re at. However, as you know, business ownership is a constant flood of satisfying milestones coupled with expanding to-do lists. With your launch, you’ll need to get on top of the accounting tasks that come along with owning a store. This list of 10 small business accounting steps will give you the confidence to know you’ve covered your bases, and are ready to move on to the next item on your business to-do list!

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Twitter Moves Into Mobile Commerce With New “Buy” Button

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Yesterday, Twitter officially announced a new "Buy" button that can be embedded in tweets to allow users to buy a product with a couple of clicks. For now the feature is limited to a "small percentage" of users on its mobile app only.

However, it's an important announcement as it could signal the next evolution for social platforms as they move from being not just a place to connect and share content, but also important engines for social fuelled "discovery commerce". 

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Despite Full-time Jobs, These Two Entrepreneurs Ran a Successful Pop-up Shop for Their Online Store

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What happens when two university admissions counsellors decide to bring their passion for Southern style and access to education together? Well, if you ask Steven and Thomas, they'll tell you an online store that sells hand-crafted bow ties and two entrepreneurs who just ran their first successful pop-up store inside a trendy women's boutique in Mississippi.

This case study walks you through the journey of two friends and their quest to run a side business while using a portion of their proceeds to help students out with scholarships for school. From coming up with a concept, going through the search for manufacturers, setting up their online storefront, to what it takes to run a pop-up, these two have a lot of great tidbits and insight to share.

Whether its using pop-ups shops to add another sales channel or using them as a way to increase brand awareness, The Good South, is a testament to why the trend is here to stay and why every ecommerce entrepreneur should consider giving them a shot.

Let's dive right in. 

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Instagram 101: How to Build an Audience of Customers for Your Brand [Video]

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We already know that Instagram is a great place for posting selfies and photos of food, but did you know that Instagram can be a highly-targeted, visual advertising channel for your brand? In fact, a recent study found that Instagram provides brands with 25% more engagement over other social media platforms.

And like any other social network out there, there are right ways, wrong ways, and clever ways to use it. So how can you use Instagram to build an audience of customers for your business?

In this video, we'll show you three concrete methods that you can use to increase engagement and build a following for your brand.

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How To Build Buyer Personas For Better Marketing

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You shouldn’t dive into paid advertising or content marketing without knowing exactly who your buyers are. Knowing and understanding who buys, or will buy your products is imperative to help you maximize your advertising return-on-investment and content effectiveness.

To understand core customer groups, it has become a standard for many companies to create buyer (or customer) personas. Buyer personas are fictional, generalized characters that build a picture of your ideal and largest markets. They usually encompass not only demographic information like age, location and income, but also psychographic information like interests, reasons for buying and concerns. 

In this post, we'll learn how to build buyer personas for your online business so you can laser target your ads and create more compelling content that will engage your ideal customers. 

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The Top 10 Online Resources That Will Help You Become a Local SEO Expert

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Whether it's researching a product, searching for a phone number, or finding out hours of operation, consumers are performing billions of local searches each month. So imagine then as a small business, how vital it is to have a well-thought out Local SEO strategy is in order to get in front of all those people looking for exactly what you have to offer. 

Frankly, as mobile adoption and dependence continues to increase exponentially, being found in local search results will become a distinguishing factor between a business that's thriving and one that's hardly able to make ends meet.

However, knowing the importance of having a Local SEO strategy is one thing, being able to execute on it and make it work is a whole other thing. Which is why, we've been creating educational resources around tactical components that include learning the basics, building citations, leveraging online reviews, and doing on-site optimization. 

But we also thought it would helpful to highlight other incredible resources out there on the web for learning more about Local SEO and really diving deep into the subject. To help you cut through the clutter, I've put together this curated list of online resources to speed up your learning curve and make it easier to ramp up on the topic.

Enjoy!

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Behind the Scenes at the Shopify Build A Business Winner’s Day in NYC

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This past July we announced the winners of Shopify’s 4th Annual Build A Business Competition.

On August 7, Shopify headed to New York City to celebrate the 10 successful startups who came out on top. They flew in from all over the world – from Canon City, Colorado to Adelaide, Australia.

Those entrepreneurs won the competition by selling the most in their category over an eight-month period. The competition resulted in 21,000 entrepreneurs who created new businesses that sold more than $120 million in products.

This year’s winners earned $50,000 and the opportunity to seek business advice from our all-star mentors: Gary Vaynerchuk, Mark Cuban, Lil Jon, Arianna Huffington, Daymond John, Tim Ferriss, Chase Jarvis, Tina Roth Eisenberg, Selita Ebanks, and Amber Mac.

Each winner spent an hour with their category mentor, asking for input on their business plan, growth strategies and marketing goals.

“It was the most enlightening one hour of my life that I’ve had,” said Michael Cao, CEO of ZoomHash and the winner of Tim Ferriss’s Electronics & Gadgets category.

Take a behind-the-scenes look at what happened when this year’s winners met their mentors.

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Mobile Now Accounts for 50.3% of All Ecommerce Traffic

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Last week represented the first time in history that more people used mobile phones and tablets to visit online stores than using computers. Looking at data from over 100,000 ecommerce stores that use the Shopify platform, we saw 50.3% of traffic coming from mobile (40.3% from mobile phones, 10% from tablets) and just 49.7% from computers.

We have been watching and talking about the mobile commerce trend for years, but now there’s no disputing it: mobile commerce is now the default way that people shop online.

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