Whether you currently sell products online or you are just getting started, sales tax compliance is something that you shouldn’t ignore. It’s vital that you are accurate in your calculations and correct in what different states and cities owe because it ensures that your business complies with the laws. […]
With a new year here, there are just as many new eCommerce design trends for 2016 that everyone needs to be aware of. You’ve set new goals and made some new years resolutions, many of them likely pertaining to your success. These trends can certainly get you well on […]
Traffic is great, but it isn’t doing much for you if your store’s visitors aren’t converting into paying customers. While there are many major changes that can be done to enhance your sales, such as the store’s design, coupons and new copywriting, it is just as important to never […]
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Whether you currently sell products online or you are just getting started, sales tax compliance is something that you shouldn’t ignore. It’s vital that you are accurate in your calculations and correct in what different states and cities owe because it ensures that your business complies with the laws. Forty-five states as well as Washington D.C. all require sales tax (and these come at different rates based on the state). Also, some cities have their own sales tax laws you’ll need to abide by. To help you achieve sales tax compliance, here are a few keys to success.
#1: Find Out the Locations You Need to Collect Sales Tax From
When you have a connection to a state (also called a “sales tax nexus”), then you’ll need to have buyers pay the appropriate sales tax. There are a few different ways that you can create this connection, such as selling the product to the person that lives in the state, having an affiliate or business personnel in the area, keeping inventory stored in the area, and selling items at a special event that was located in the state.
#2: Make Sure That the Product You Sell Requires Tax to Be Paid
Some businesses may not have a taxable item that they are selling in the state like digital products, groceries, and textbooks. However, not all states are going to be the same when it comes to taxable items. For example, groceries are taxable in Alabama, but they are tax exempt one state over in Tennessee.
#3: Before Collecting Taxes, Register for a Sales Tax Permit
You can register for a sales tax permit online once you find that the products you sell are taxable and you have a connection with the state. Make sure you do this before you begin selling products and collecting taxes. After you’ve received your permit, you’ll also get a filing frequency and due date for the sales tax. Once again, pay attention because the different states can have different frequencies.
#4: Incorporate a Sales Tax Collection Feature on Your Website
When customers buy products from your website, there should be a way to apply taxes to the transaction. You can collect these at the shopping cart and the most common way to do this is to base it on the state in their shipping address. However, there are some special circumstances that may change this. If you have an out of the normal transaction, then you’ll want to do a little extra research to make sure you’re paying the appropriate amount of taxes.
#5: Report and File Your Tax Returns on Time
Now that you’ve incorporated a system for sales tax compliance on your website and have identified the states and products that require attention, it’s time to report what you’ve collected and file your tax returns. These need to be in on time, so make sure you pay close attention to each state’s frequency and mark it on the calendar. And remember, if you don’t want to DIY this on your own, bring in the experts!
With a new year here, there are just as many new eCommerce design trends for 2016 that everyone needs to be aware of. You’ve set new goals and made some new years resolutions, many of them likely pertaining to your success. These trends can certainly get you well on your way to achieving just that. Changes in site design are typically a result of change in site usage. Data is taken and analyzed to see how your website can further provide for your customers. Mobile site use has been at an all-time high and will continue to be so during 2016. As such, eCommerce design patterns and now providing shoppers with a just-as-convenient shopping experience online. Here are some eCommerce design trends for 2016 to consider.
1. Card and Card-like Layouts
This term has been popping up over and over again when it comes to the eCommerce design trends for 2016. A “card” encases everything from images, text, and other resources that are all associated with a one topic. In other words, they’re boxes of content, with each consisting of content that relates around the same idea. They are used to organize different topics in an aesthetically pleasing and easy-to-use way. Car layouts also work flawlessly with responsive designs, which everyone should have by now. Google’s new Material Design (and Android) has also implemented this trend into the mix. On the Lord & Taylor website, cards are used to featured categories or products.
2. Pop-Ups and Interruption Merchandising
One of the most hated forms of online promotion definitely has to be the pop-ups. Many consumers have even installed pop-up blocking services to stop these interruptions from happening, but many web browsers now block them as well. The weird thing is that this kind of interruption marketing is actually making a big comeback within website design in 2015. Shocking, we know. The difference is the content on these pop-ups, as they’re much more beneficial to the consumer and believe it or not, less hated! 2016 pop-ups now consist of discount codes for signing up to a newsletter or for following social media websites, or special promotions that are available for a limited time only. As such, they shouldn’t be popping up every time someone enters your website, and sometimes they only pop up once the consumer has scrolled so far in the site. The Indah Clothing site is just one example of a large, omni-channel retailer using modals on-site to promote email subscriptions.
3. Large Photography and Videos
Large, high quality photographs and videos are saying much more than just a thousand words when used properly on eCommerce sites, and they can be the perfect way to captivate your consumer and make that sale! Designers and developers are able to optimize how these items can boost your site’s performance across all platforms as well. The homepage video on olloclip.com shows you how easy the device snaps on and the video quality you get from its use.
4. Hover Effects
One of the newest eCommerce design trends for 2016 is all about the smooth hover effects. They’re a CSS-based technique that can change certain components on your website when the mouse is on top of it. Some popular examples of how the hover effects are being used on eCommerce sites are by displaying detailed information when the mouse is over top of a product image. Or to display smaller images taken from different angles, or to simply change colors and shades of banners and links. This new trend can captivate your buyers’ attention by providing important details in an intriguing, user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing way. Greasegasandglory.com shows an alternate view of a particular garment simply by moving your mouse over it.
5. Custom-Drawn Illustrations
There are many tricks that a web designer can resort to in order to make your eCommerce store look unique. Custom-drawn illustrations are certainly one of the best that also happen to be a huge eCommerce design trend for 2016. Consider implementing small hand-drawn stickers into your website instead of generic ones found online, or large illustrated backgrounds. These small details provide a genuine appeal and unique experience for your customers. Just be sure to never compromise the usability of the site, or make it too crowded. Notice how Babel illustrates their elements to catch the imagination of their young audience.
Storytelling is one trend that is thriving across all forms of web design, especially with eCommerce websites. This is an effective way to communicate your ideas to your consumers, by simply engaging them. Don’t just show your product; share a story that will arouse greater interest and intrigue customers to stay longer on your website. Eventually, if done properly, this will all result in higher sales. Consider using more than just words to convey your story. Many large retailers are using full in-screen background videos to provide answers to their customers’ questions in a fun and captivating way. Another example of how a brand can gain a level of respect and credibility by thinking of others and not just themselves. Take a look at how Warby Parker makes a huge difference by giving away over 1 million pairs of glasses to people in need.
If you’re ready to take the new year by the horns, these are the eCommerce design trends for 2016 that you certainly want to implement into your website.
Traffic is great, but it isn’t doing much for you if your store’s visitors aren’t converting into paying customers. While there are many major changes that can be done to enhance your sales, such as the store’s design, coupons and new copywriting, it is just as important to never overlook the simple things that can certainly give you the boost in sales that you are looking for. This is a vital option for those working within a strict marketing budget, and simple elements within your store’s navigation have an incredible amount of potential, and can have an even larger impact on your sales. Consider making these following changes that are easy and affordable to implement into your store’s design that can significantly increase your sales.
Showcase Top-Level Categories
Sometimes people go to stores without knowing exactly what product they’re looking for, and they may be seeking some inspiration or are visiting your site after being recommended by a friend instead. Highlighting top-level categories within your store can encourage those less decisive customers to make a purchase. Showcasing these broad categories of popular items on your site motivates them and basically shows them exactly what they want even if they didn’t know previously. For example, if you sell furniture, create sections in your menu that are specific to a room such as ‘bedroom furniture’ or ‘living room furniture’. However, when doing so, you must be sure to create the actual corresponding category landing pages as some stores do not and recent studies conducted by Smashing Magazine’s eCommerce showed that this was one of the biggest issues customers experienced. Research also showed that many subjects expect top-level categories to be clickable so that they could then land on the corresponding page of products. During the research, many top-level categories couldn’t be explored, which resulted in customer confusion and frustration. On the contrary, some of these top-level categories were clickable but directed the customer to a category that wasn’t the one shown in the menu. This also caused significant frustration amongst the customers.
Additionally, while it is crucial to offer broad product categories, subcategories should also be offered to enhance the customer’s navigation experience. For example, someone unsure of the camera type that they want will want to select the “Digital Cameras” category (a broad product category) as opposed to specifying a camera type (subcategory) that a more decisive shopper will. So in order to provide for your past, present and future customers, add broader categories as well as subcategories, and ensure that they all link to the correct location.
Now, you may feel as if the option of subcategories doesn’t apply to your store due to limited products available, but in these cases, create browsing categories by size, color or material. By filtering product selection with categories, you are furthering the navigation process on your store.
A prime example of a store offering limit products is the JOCO Cups Store. They only sell glass coffee cups, so their site navigation offers categories by size and the type of product (accessories or cups).
It’s all about creating a convenient path for your customers that browse your store.
Repeat Links to Subcategories
This tip used to convert customers into sales should only be used when appropriate. If your store is large with a wide range of products, your customers may take different paths to end up on the same page. For example, a desk can be found by clicking on “office furniture” or “living room furniture” categories. As a result, if this applies to your store, you should be offering multiple links to the same subcategory to ensure that your customers can easily navigate through your store to find what they want. Best Buy does this by offering printer ink in both the “Computers” category as well as the “Office” category. However, you do not have to create two separate landing pages with different URLS for each subcategory. You just need to take advantage of a multi-link scenario by creating a subcategory under a main category that fits best.
For example, Staples may have the printer ink under “Ink & Toner Finder” and then added a custom link so it also appears under “Products”.
Offer Additional Filtering Once a Category is Selected
Once your visitors have selected a category to browse, offer them additional filtering to further help them navigate to the item that they want while also encouraging them to make a purchase – something no eCommerce store should ever be without. By filtering, you are allowing your customer to only see what they want, so it may be shoes in size 7, prices sorted low to high, color, age range, style, brand etc. The faster they see exactly what appeals to them, the faster they can add your products to the shopping cart.
To increase conversations with the navigation of your site, you should also consider adding visible links that send your customer straight to a desirable page, such as sales that you currently have, clearance items or even brand new items or limited editions. Your customers will feel more enticed to finalize a purchase when they feel like they’re getting a bargain, or something that no one else has. So analyze your analytics to see if you have more savvy shoppers or more customers that want to get something exclusive/limited. The trick to this tip is to make the links visible.
With that said, while these simple tips are extremely important and should never be overlooked, its just as important to implement them with other marketing practices that will further reduce the bounces on your site while also increasing the curious shoppers making a purchase.