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Managing Your Ecommerce Assets

Image Managing Your Ecommerce Assets
By Vanessa Salvia

It doesn't take a lot of technical knowledge to get a website up and running, but there's more to managing an ecommerce business than just managing a website. All of the associated facets of running an online business need to be stored, tracked and managed. An effective system for managing technologies, data, and services and software, such as passwords and contacts, can make easier work of the rest of the business needs, which in turn means that you can spend more time growing your business.Although there are many ways to manage your assets, ranging from old-fashioned to cutting edge, the many online services available tend to be low-cost and offer an easy way to utilize some sophisticated tools.

These details of the business we call "assets;" they help your business run smoothly and efficiently. Following are some things to think about when deciding how to structure and manage your "assets."

Accounts
A folder or some system is helpful for storing all the different addresses and contact information for the many associated accounts you will likely encounter and create, such as social media websites and domain registrations. Left with no management, your account information can quickly turn into a hard-to-find mess.

Passwords
If you're like many people, you either have a zillion passwords that you can't remember or you have one master password which you use for everything. Either situation can easily lead to chaos; where either you want to access something and can't remember the password, or have one password written on a sticky note only to accidentally allow everyone access to what should be secure information. In addition to selecting good passwords (http://blog.mightymerchant.com/security/a-cure-for-password-itis/#MightyMerchant%20Ecommerce%20Blog) (click the link to be taken to the MightyMerchant Ecommerce Blog, which has an informative post about it), you need a system for managing all of your passwords.

If left to their own devices, many people come up with passwords that are easily memorable, perhaps something that is very similar to or the same as other passwords already in use. Because of this, utilize a password creation system that produces passwords for you. These will be more secure combinations of letters and numbers, but will also be less memorable. Create a list of these passwords or employ a password management program, for your own access only. Don't make this list easily accessible-in the wrong hands it is a significant security threat.

An automated system for generating passwords might seem to be a tempting solution, but most people will not be able to remember those passwords.

User/ Website Data
For your customer accounts, as we said in a recent blog post about managing your ecommerce assets
(http://blog.mightymerchant.com/monitoring-tools/managing-your-ecommerce-assets/), each online order should go into a database that can be utilized later for follow-up offers and customer connections.

Maintain a list of past customers, as well as a list of contacts who have expressed an interest in your business or products but have yet to purchase. These contacts will be an invaluable natural starting point for an email marketing campaign. However, be sure to provide an opportunity to opt into your email promotions, avoiding submission of emails to those who don't want them.

The process of managing, maintaining and tracking the data from your ecommerce transactions can be easy or difficult. Obviously, the easier the better! Your data management software should be accurate, accessible and easy to update, and should be manageable from various sources. Your ecommerce system should have some capability for user info management, especially when keeping user data secure. If it does not, look for other options.

Backups
It is important to understand how websites and online properties, such as Twitter and other social sites back up your data. Often a provider will back up your data, but you shouldn't take this for granted. Some online providers offer services to back up some online posts, such as your last 100 tweets.

Being able to back up your local data network will provide you with peace of mind on a daily basis, as well as if you are on vacation or need to leave your work site with little notice. Portable hard drives have become inexpensive ways to back up your data and keep them with you. For real security, do a back up on a daily basis, switching out with two drives. Keep one in a secure spot, such as a safe deposit box, and one with you. Today's portable drives are about the size of two decks of cards and are lightweight enough to carry in a briefcase or purse.

Contacts
There's a good chance you have a drawer full of business cards you've picked up from people you met at business lunches, conferences, seminars, etc. You probably also have a few sticky notes to yourself with names of people to follow up with or introduce yourself. Good intentions all, but without a management system, you may forget key relationships, lose cards, mix up names, or otherwise squander the opportunity that these contacts represent. ConstantContact, in addition to an email service for newsletters and other email marketing, can also act as a simple contact manager.

Some contact management systems also offer customer relationship management (CRM) software, which can be used to manage your contacts and leads. CRM software allows you to keep contact information updated and in one place. You can manage your contact list for clients and staff members, and access contact information from a mobile device.

Stats
Your statistics and analytics program can be your ecommerce business's best friend. Statistics can tell you who your customers are and where they are coming from, as well as give you valuable information about how to make changes to your site to capitalize on your search traffic. For instance, if your products are popular in a certain geographic region, you can target your marketing efforts there.

Google Analytics is the best low-cost option (the service is free but your ecommerce provider may charge a set-up fee). Here's an article called "Google Analytics on a Tight Schedule" (
http://www.practicalecommerce.com/articles/1364-Google-Analytics-on-a-Tight-Schedule) written by HEROweb's co-owner Michael Stearns, about managing your analytics when you have little time.

Your analytics control panel gives you site statistics and graphs regarding such information as what your customers are searching for to find you, how long they are they on your site, and what pages they look at the most. In most cases, once your analytics program is set up, all you have to do is review on a regular basis.

Sites
If you're in the ecommerce business, it goes without saying that you have at least one website to manage. There is a big difference between having to line up in your webmaster's queue to await site updates, and being able to update your site yourself, from the web, whenever you want. This is the freedom a good Content Management System, or CMS, can offer you. When it comes to updating your product inventory and descriptions, photos, pricing and contact info on the fly, the business of running your business becomes much easier when you can actively manage your website yourself. If you don't have a system that allows for this type of control, you are selling yourself short and placing a limit on productivity.

If you registered your website yourself, make sure your domain registration account stays up-to-date. If your email address changes and your domain comes up for renewal, you may never see the renewal notice and lose your domain name! If you have multiple domains, consolidate them with one registrar and do a yearly review of your registrations. Having a folder for all your records will save you time and frustration when you need to find important information.




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