E-Commerce: How Do I Make Money On Products?

Posted by By at 25 February, at 03 : 20 AM Print

E-Commerce: How Do I Make Money On Products?

Shopping CartFor years I’ve been challenged with trying to figure out how to attract customers to an e-commerce website selling video games. First challenge was building the site (based on Drupal and E-Commerce) and the second issue was marketing the website.

After consulting firms told me “how” and “what” I need to do to get my site “ranked” I had all the knowledge I needed to start working the magic, right? Lots of blogging, lots of keyword use and formulating my messages so google would absorb and make my data available to everyone who organically searched… why spend money on advertisement when you can get it for free with google?

Because life’s too short and a ton of people are playing the same game of SEO. If you’re in a niche market with little competition you can utilize google and other search engines to rank #1 for many things, but video games is not one of them. Mainly because their are so many game review sites and fan blogs that you’ll have a hard time generating enough specific content to rank first. Think on this, if I want to rank for “Saints Row” for the “Xbox 360″ I need to chat about the keywords a lot but I really just want to sell a game.

When people search for those keywords they’re probably also including “tips and tricks” or “howto” or other things to get ahead in the game; people aren’t really searching for buying the title. On top of this challenge, journalists and bloggers have talked about the game for months (or years) before the title was released so they’ve already ranked on the first page, leaving you to clean up on page two or three (or fifty or sixty).

How, then, does one make money on E-Commerce sites? Unfortunately, you have to spend money to make money. You’re going to want to look at shopping sites like shopping.com or pricegrabber.com. These sites are “pay per click” systems where you’ll pay them anywhere from 10 cents to 45 cents (or more) when a customer of theirs clicks on your product and is sent to your page. Believe it or not, it’s worthwhile because you’ll have a tough time ranking organically based on obscure and unknown match criteria but these product search systems are pretty basic: you got a low price? You rank first.

Over the course of a year or more sales on video games from our site weren’t so great using standard organic searching. The competition was high and we spent more money housing products that didn’t sell (as drop shipping video games is cost prohibitive) and products were being reduced in prices while ours didn’t move…making it nearly impossible. Around the holiday season we’d make some money from Google’s product search, Froogle, but not enough to justify a business. It was time to either close the doors as a loss or try something new.

Shopping.com was our next step but their customer service was lacking, their product integration was a bear and extremely tedious to do product matching so we ended up on pricegrabber.com. They gave us a single point of contact person for all our needs and have been available whenever we had an issue. With .35 cents a click, it was still risky (minimum deposit is USD $250.00) but it was all worthwhile because product sales jumped from 0 sales per month to about one a day… still way off from a “success” but a hell of a lot better than nothing!

Over time our rating has increased (it’s only been a month!) so we’ll slowly get more customers taking a look at our products. In the end, we can call it a lesson learned, sometimes SEO isn’t the right idea, sometime you have to swallow your pride and spend money to make money by marketing it on a site which as done this for years and has departments that spend time and money getting your products to customers easily.

If you’re planning on selling products, take some time to invest some research in a site that assists users with finding products for their customers and see how hard it is to get on their list of search results. You may also need to get a developer to write in hooks to get your products on their site easily or use excel to upload your products on a daily/weekly basis so customers get the most recent prices from your site.

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