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JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- Although thousands of small to mid-sized retailers already have websites, research -- and sometimes actual results -- indicates that many of those sites are nowhere nearly as effective as they should be. Too many retail sites often seem to function only as "electronic calling cards."
The importance of the Internet for retailers is best summarized by Rick Heuser, owner of Handyman Hardware, an independent store in Florida. "All brick and mortar stores need to have both a Web and social media presence," said Heuser. "Who would have thought five years ago that their neighborhood music and video stores would be replaced with Internet services? How many people now rely on their cell phones to locate places to shop? Who hasn't seen an increase in customers who have done their research on the Web before coming in to buy? A good Web presence is an inexpensive way for customers to find you and to increase your customer base."
A new book, "Successful Web Retailing," offers practical advice to help retailers improve their websites and grow sales from their Web presence -- either in their stores or on their websites. Its 14 chapters and dozens of illustrations explain and illustrate, in non-technical language, what retailers need to do to make their sites more easily found on the Web and more effective in reaching potential customers.
The how-to handbook:
Tells how one can improve one's listing on search engines so a site will be found more easily;
Explains the amazing phenomena of social media and describes how retailers can utilize the various types of social media;
Outlines the growing role of blogs and how blogs can be used productively by retailers; and
Describes how retailers can use e-mail marketing effectively.
"Successful Web Retailing" is authored by Bob Vereen and Dennis Stillwell. Stillwell is a New York-based Web expert, while Vereen has been involved in hardware/home center retailing and marketing for decades and is the author of "Surviving…In Spite of Everything" -- a postwar history of the hardware industry.
Perhaps the most important chapter in the book is the one that describes how every retailer can update and change his or her own website without needing any technical expertise. It names an easy-to-use and inexpensive software program that anyone can use. Keeping one's website fresh and new, with helpful information, ideas and illustrations, is considered mandatory if a retailer hopes to maintain visitor interest and visitations and extend visitor time on one's site.
To make the book of maximum value, the authors picture a wide variety of retailers' websites and provide the site addresses, so readers can check out the sites themselves.
"Successful Web Retailing" costs $18.95 plus $2.50 shipping and handling in the United States and can be obtained by going to www.successfulwebretailing.com. It is also available internationally through Amazon and other international book sellers.