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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

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Shopify CSV For Beginners

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Taking a look at an exported Shopify CSV file, you might feel a bit intimidated at first. The truth is, Shopify’s template for uploading product sheets is actually quite simple and intuitive, once you’ve got a good idea of what you’re looking at.

Let’s go through each data-field together so you can start importing and exporting in Shopify like a pro!

Handle:

Handles are unique names for each of your products. 

This handle determines this product’s URL. For example, if you enter women-snowboard as your handle, the link to that product would be the following: https://yourstore.myshopify.com/product/womens-snowboard 

These names can contain letters and numbers, but no spaces.  

Dashes are used in place of spaces, for example: Anti Oil Solution Wash will be entered as following: 

Every time a new handle is entered into the spreadsheet, it will be treated as a new product. Therefore, if you wish to add more images or variants of a product, you should have multiple lines of the same handle

Title: 

This is where you enter the name you want your product to display on the store. 

For example, if you entered Dark Chocolate Almond Squares as your product’s titleit would display as following on your shop: 

Titles are simply entered into the spreadsheet as follows: 

Body (HTML): 

The text you enter in this field will be used as this product’s description. 

For example, if you enter the following into your Body (HTML)  

It will display as following on your store: 

You also have the option to use HTML tags to format your text in this field. 

A few examples of HTML tags: 

Bold text:  <b> Enter your text here </b> 

Italic text: <i> Enter your text here </i> 

Vendor: 

(Requires a minimum of 2 characters.) 

The text entered here will be used as the vendor for your product. 

By default, Shopify will just use your store’s name as the vendor name. 

Vendor names are entered as following: 

Type: 

A product type that can be used to sort and filter products on your store. 

For example, the product type of a white T-shirt, will be entered as following: 

Customers on your store can sort products by type, to help them find what they are looking for. 

Tags: 

(This can be left blank.) 

Tags are used to filter and sort products in your store. These tags are entered between quotes, and separated by commas. For example: 

When customers search your store, typing one of these tags will then show them all related products. 

Published: 

(This can be left blank.) 

Determines if your product is visible in your store. By leaving this field blank, the product will automatically be visible. 

Option1 Name: 

(This field should be used if your product has multiple variants) 

If your product does NOT have variants (for example, different sizes or colours), simply enter the following: 

If your product DOES have variants, (for example, different sizes or colours), this field is used to define the variant name. 

For example, if your product comes in different sizes, enter the following: 

Option1 Value: 

This field is used in conjunction with the previous field, Option1 Name 

If you entered Title into the previous field, simply enter Default Title into this field. 

If your product DOES have variants, for example, three different sizes (small, medium, and large), the following should be entered: 

Option2 Name & Option2 Value 

(Can be left blank, no need to enter Title) 

This is the same as the field Option1 Name, but for when your product has TWO variant variables. 

For example, a shirt that comes in different sizes (Small, Medium, Large) and different colours (White, Red, Green) would be entered as following: 

Option3 Name & Option3 Value 

This is the same as the previous field, but for when your product has THREE variant variables. 

For example, a shirt that comes in different sizes (Small, Medium, Large), different colours (White, Red, Green) AND different materials (Cotton, Polyester, and Linen) would be entered as following: 

Variant SKU: 

(This can be left blank.) 

Your product or variant’s SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) is entered in this field.  

This SKU code is used to track stock if you use an inventory tracking service. 

For example: 

Variant Grams: 

(This can be left blank; default value is 0) 

Your product or variant’s weight is entered in this field in GRAMS. 

Do not add a unit of measurement, just a number. 

Variant Inventory Tracker: 

This field includes your inventory tracking service for this product or variant. 

Valid entries include: Shopify , fulfillment-service-handle 

In most cases, Shopify , will be used: 

 (VALUES ARE CASE SENSITIVE) 

If you are not using an inventory tracking service, enter FALSE. 

Variant Inventory Qty: 

(This can be left blank; default value is 0) 

The amount (positive integer) of the product or variant that is available for sale. 

For example, if you have 5 of this product in stock: 

Variant Inventory Policy: 

This field defines how to handle orders when inventory level for this product or variant has reached zero. 

Valid values are: deny, continue 

deny will stop selling when inventory reaches zero, while continue will allow sales to continue into negative inventory levels. 

Entered as following: 

Variant Fulfilment Service: 

The product or variant fulfilment service used.  

Valid values are: manual, shipwire, webgistix, amazon_marketplace_web. 

If unsure, just enter manual 

Enter as follows: 

Variant Price: 

The price of your product or variable is entered here. DO NOT PLACE ANY CURRENCY SYMBOL HERE, JUST THE NUMBERS. 

For example: 

Variant Compare At Price: 

(This can be left blank) 

Enter the “Compare At” price for your product or variant here. The Compare At price is the original price for a product that is on sale. When you enter a compare at price, the product displays a sale price

Entered as: 

IMPORTANT NOTE: The Variant Compare at Price column can be blank, but if you leave this column blank and check Overwrite any current products that have the same handle. Existing values will be used for any missing columns. when you upload the CSV file, then the existing “compare at prices” for these products in your Shopify store will be deleted. 

Variant Requires Shipping: 

(This can be left blank, blank = FALSE) 

If your product or variant requires shipping, enter TRUE 

If your product or variant DOES NOT requires shipping, enter FALSE (or leave blank) 

Variant Taxable: 

(This can be left blank, blank = FALSE) 

If you wish to apply taxes to your product or variant , enter TRUE 

If you wish to NOT apply taxes to your product or variant, enter FALSE (or leave blank) 

Variant Barcode: 

(This can be left blank) 

The barcode, ISBN or UPC of the product or variant. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: The Variant Barcode column can be blank but if you leave this column blank and check Overwrite any current products that have the same handle. Existing values will be used for any missing columns. when you upload the CSV file, then the existing barcodes for these products in your Shopify store will be deleted. 

Image Src: 

(This can be left blank) 

Enter the URL for your product or variant here. These images aren’t variant specific, meaning you have to specify the Image Src for each respective variant. 

This is entered as following: 

IMPORTANT NOTE: The Image Src column can be blank but if you leave this column blank and check Overwrite any current products that have the same handle. Existing values will be used for any missing columns. when you upload the CSV file, then the existing images for these products in your Shopify store will be deleted. 

Image Alt Text: 

(This can be left blank) 

Enter text that describes your image. This is useful for when your image cannot be displayed due to an error. 

Entered as following: 

Collection: 

Enter the name of the collection you want to add this product or variant to. If it’s an existing automatic collection, then the product needs to meet the conditions for the collection. If the collection doesn’t already exist, then a manual collection is created. You can add a product to only one collection. 

Learn more about Shopify Collections here

The Current and Future State of E-commerce

the current and future state of ecommerce

Where are we now and where are we heading

The e-Commerce timeline has moved up significantly in just a few months by the Covid-19 epidemic. Online store development is the new gold rush with every company now having to look at ways to get online and fast. From your normal mom and pop store selling 1 or 5 products, to your favorite restaurant now having to pivot to online sales and food delivery. To retail giants scrambling to shift from physical locations to moving their merchandise online in record time. Many are struggling to understand this new world we live in but one thing is clear. No business has a choice anymore. You will either make the shift or struggle to keep up long after the effects of the epidemic have worn off. 

“One of the only ways to get out of a tight box is to invent your way out.”

Jeff Bezos

Those that have already made the shift online are far ahead of the competition but it is not too late for those only starting out. The tools available today make it possible to move online in record time. Platforms such as Shopify & BigCommerce make it feasible to start selling within a very short time. Gone are the days of building online stores from scratch with code that only the developer understood. Anyone can launch a basic store. For more advanced setups a developer is still required or if you need a more custom-designed look at feel. Traversing the more technical issues such as payment gateways and shipping can still be difficult for some.

Necessity Drives Innovation

Drone Deliveries in ecommerce
Drone Deliveries

Everyone knew it was coming, they just thought we had more time. Yet like all shifts of significance, this one came out of necessity. 

Necessity has always driven innovation throughout history. The pandemic of 1918 brought on a new understanding of the benefits of hygiene. World War 1 and 2 changed production forever with the ramping up of streamlined factories, especially in wartime America and post-war Japan. 

This new shift will be equal in its severity yet no less life-changing. 

Current sales figures are reaching black Friday levels, yet over a much longer period, as the rush to buy online continues to gain momentum. The latest data suggests that a large number of new users are buying online, and most importantly, returning for repeat purchases. This shows that these new users are becoming more comfortable with the process and forming new spending habits. Online grocery sales have seen the biggest shift in numbers with no letting up. This is the time to capture the hearts and minds of these new online customers. 

How customers continue to shop and how the e-commerce industry responds, will bring about a sea change in the world of online, and the offline retail landscape. 

What does the future of commerce and e-commerce hold?

Automation and AI

Warehouse Automation ecommerce
Warehouse Automation

Automation and AI will be at the forefront of this new world. This current epidemic has shown the fault lines in our global supply chain. It has placed a strain on the economies of the world by first threatening the manufacturing heartland of mainland China. Next, it threatened our freight and backed up our ports. This might point to commerce moving more localized in the near term. Long term the giants of the industry will have to look at ways to secure the things that keep our economies ticking. 

Automation will play a large part in this with robots moving more and more into the factories, ships, fulfillment centers, and stores. Amazon’s Cashierless stores promise more convenience with less human interaction. 

Evolving Fulfillment

Online stores are using the term contactless shipping to attract customers wary of COVID-19. Contactless curbside pickup and home delivery are becoming the new normal and a popular option with safety-conscious consumers.

Drone deliveries are already a reality in some countries, and this will only increase in the next year. Some see a future where drone ships cross the oceans powered by solar and wind, and steered by satellites and AI. Automated Harbors that run by digital harbormasters that keep goods flowing at an unmatched efficiency, constantly learning and adapting. Solar, driverless trucks shipping the goods to fulfillment centers where no humans are needed or present. And onto the cashier-less stores or home delivery bots that bring the goods to the consumers. Where we will all find jobs during this next evolution is another matter. Universal income might become a right, together with access to the internet. 

This new revolution will bring forth new jobs yet unimagined, the same way all big shifts have done throughout history. The agricultural revolution made it possible for craftsmen and artists to appear as people had more time away from subsistence farming. 

Fulfillment is the next battleground for giants such as Amazon, Walmart, and Shopify. Shopify is working aggressively expanding its footprint in the US against the well-established market leaders. Customers want products fast and efficiently and they are willing to pay. Retailers are looking for one-stop solutions that include warehousing and shipping that seamlessly integrates with their online stores.

Courier companies across the globe will have to keep offering better services and pricing to help merchants take on the big boys. 

“My belief is that eCommerce is the future, and [that] eCommerce is going to replace a lot of traditional ways of doing business,”

JACK MA

AI

e-Commerce search engines will begin to think more like humans. This will ensure that search results become more relevant to customers, instead of based on outdated algorithms.

Some of these AI tools are already available to us today in image recognition features in Pinterest, Automatic searching of videos, and other media. 

AI will change many areas of e-commerce including:

  • optimizing the sales process, 
  • prospecting new products, 
  • improved personalization, 
  • chatbots and virtual shopping assistants.

The Gamification of e-Commerce

social media shopping

This is one area garnering the most interest. Bringing together social media, interactive games, and e-commerce is the dream for many online retailers. Shopping is becoming more about the experience for the customers than a straight buy and pay model. It has become another form of entertainment where people shop for fun. eBay was one of the original drivers of making shopping fun with its bid and pay system, where you have to beat out other customers for the privilege of buying the item you desire. 

Loyalty programs and other points systems further extend Gamification into the online shopping experience.

Social Shopping

Facebook recently made a significant investment in India’s Reliance Jio. JioMart went live in Whatsapp days after the accusation in Mumbai, thereby dipping their toes in a potential userbase of 400 million Indians currently under lockdown. This will be a powerful tool for small businesses to get their products in front of potential customers. 

Did you know: The first-ever online transaction occurred in 1994 when a 21-year-old entrepreneur, Dan Kohn, sold a Sting Album, Ten Summoner’s Tales, to a friend in Philadelphia. The transaction of $12.48 was the first-ever protected by encryption technology.

New kid on the Social Media block, TikTok, recently launched a new initiative called Small Gestures where users can send virtual gifts from well-known brands to each other. This gives brands exposure to the millions of users flooding the platform as well as giving users the ability to “reward” content creators. This is just the start of TitTok’s evolution into online sales and advertising.

Screen time on Social Media has seen big increases in recent months as people try to stay connected during COVID 19. 87% of people claim that they use social platforms to help them decide to buy a product. This has given rise to Social Shopping where users can purchase directly through the social media platform. 

Pinterest’s recent update to its Shopify App, which includes shoppable pins, is a great example of how platforms are looking to profit from this. 

Yet it goes beyond a single channel. Consumers want to be able to interact through multiple channels be it email, social media, WhatsApp, or the online store. Research shows that they spent on average 80% more than single-channel shoppers. Retailers need to make sure that their brand is consistent and reachable across all platforms. 

Final Thoughts

e-Commerce cannot be ignored any longer by any business serious about its future. Things will not return to normal once the infection rates begin to fall. Users are becoming more comfortable with shopping from the comfort of their own homes. Getting your weekly groceries delivered to your door is now the norm and plays towards our inherent laziness. It is also more efficient than looking for parking & standing in guess at checkout. This will not change. It is time to look for the gaps in this new reality and see where one can innovate and expand to fill those gaps. 

The focus should be on the customer journey, the efficiency of production & fulfillment, and fine-tuning your marketing for the multi-channel reality.

“Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a new way to stand.”

OPRAH WINFREY

e-Commerce Statistics

  • The Global eCommerce market is predicted to grow to $6.5 trillion in 2022
  • Currently the largest e-commerce market in the world is China
  • The US eCommerce market is set to grow from $365 Billion in 2020 to $600 Billion by 2024
  • The 3rd Biggest eCommerce market in the world is the UK with 586 Billion Pounds(31% through Amazon UK)
  • The biggest increase in e-commerce growth is expected in India
  • 95% of all purchases will be made through e-commerce by 2040
  • Men tend to outspend women online
  • E-commerce is estimated to grow to 17.5% by 2021
  • The average abandoned cart rate is 2.5% across categories
  • The category with the best conversion rate is gifts at 5% with the lowest being electronics at 1.4%
  • The highest conversion rate goes to food and drink at 7%
  • 70% of shoppers state free shipping is the reason they buy online
  • On average 30% of products are returned with clothing and shoes returned the most

Tips for anyone selling online or for those planning to

  • Decide on the platform best suited for your business.
  • Focus on quality Product Photos and include lifestyle images.
  • Create Videos and include it on product pages
  • Offer honest and open information to your clients to build trust
  • Respond to Customer Concerns and Recommendations
  • Focus on reducing abandoned cart rates
  • Design for mobile commerce and test, test and test
  • Improved Delivery Options in eCommerce
  • Have an SEO, Content & Social Media Strategy
  • Talk to your customers the way they want to. Provide live chat, WhatsApp, email, phone, Messenger, etc.
  • Understand your customer’s needs. Talk to your existing customers to find out what they need. 

Shopify Email Launched Globally

shopify email service launched

Shopify has announced the launch of its new email service, Shopify Email. It is free of charge for all their merchants until the 1st of October 2020.

This is good news for all shop owners, as up to this point one had to use other 3rd party email service providers. No respectable store owner can run a professional website using a Gmail or yahoo address. It lacks professionalism and does not build trust in the brand. Shopify is plugging a big gap in its product offering for merchants with this new feature. It is much easier launching your email within your store, than using another hosting company and having to struggle with DNS settings, etc.

There have often been issues with bad integrations with 3rd party apps that have frustrated many users. This also removes the fear of contacts being copied by unscrupulous App developers.

At this time it is still not known if it will be including important features such as DKIM and DMARC alignment into this new service.

No Setup Required, Fewer Hassles

It does not require any setup and works in your dashboard under the Marketing tab. This is a big plus for users who might not be tech-savvy or those frustrated by constantly struggling with email issues. Who among us has not had issues with constant requests for our passwords or having to call tech support every time your mailing program updates?

Shopify takes on Newsletters Giants

The new services also come with a host of extra benefits in direct competition with newsletter services providers.

One of the most exciting features is templates, which make it easy for users to setup up stunning email campaigns in seconds. The designs look clean and simple as well as easy to update. I’m not sure how much customization is allowed but that might be a good thing when it comes to responsiveness and compatibility.

Built-in Templates

Another compelling feature is that the templates will automatically pull in your company logo, colors, and fonts. This will ensure that your brand identity in your marketing emails is aligned with your store

Shopify already offers powerful analytics data and this is now brought through to the Email section. You will be able to track insightful info about your email campaigns. This is is a must if you want to understand what is working and what needs improvement.

Shopify is taking on the big guns in email marketing by including attributes that used to be the sole domain of the likes of Mailchimp and Active Campaign. Tools such as the ability to segment your users by spending habits in your store will be a fan favorite with merchants. Shopify Emails might be one of the reasons for the split in 2019 between Shopify and Mailchimp as the latter must have seen this as direct competition for their core business.

Extra features, such as the ability to schedule emails and more advanced templates, will be rolled out in the future.

What is the cost of Shopify Emails?

Pricing at first glance looks affordable. Your first 2500 emails are free (although it is not clear if this is per month or lifetime). After that, it will cost you $1 per 1000 emails. This is very generous considering that for now there seems to be no limit to the number of subscribers.

This is certainly an exciting addition to Shopify’s product offering. It also comes in a time when merchants need all the tools they can get to help retain customers and reach new ones. Shopify Emails will also make it a much more attractive offer for new customers who prefer a one-stop solution.

What this means for all the Newsletter Apps in the Shopify ecosystems is another question altogether.

Competitors like Bigcommerce will be keeping a close eye on developments such as this. Up to know they have only offered email forwarding but this might change if the new feature becomes more popular.

This is, however, a positive move from Shopify as they continue to expand on the list of services that come with their e-Commerce solution. It is exciting to see that the Ottawa based e-Commerce giant continues to update and improve its product offering.

Click here for the full article on the Shopify Blog: Shopify Email Is Rolling Out Now and Completely Free Until October 1, 2020

Shopify Sales Channels – Growing Your eCommerce Business

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re you looking to grow your Shopify store? Expand your reach with Shopify’s Sales Channels:

One of the biggest benefits Shopify offers is the convenient access it gives you to other sales channels. Sales channels represent platforms (websites or marketplaces) where you can sell your products.

How will using sales channels benefit me? 

By connecting all your sales channels with Shopify, you can keep track of stock, manage products, customers, and orders, all on your Shopify dashboard.

Marketplaces are invaluable to online sellers. It allows you to skip the tedious process of researching and reaching customers by reaching them, where they already purchase their products online.

 Let’s take a look at the most popular sales channels Shopify has to offer: 

Facebook:

Social media giant turned marketplace, Facebook is one of the biggest and most important channels to promote your products through.

Facebook Marketplace is a bustling community of eager buyers who are itching to purchase products. Combining this potential huge customer-base with Facebook’s built-in targeted marketing and simple product categorization, this marketplace is your golden ticket to eCommerce success.

Thanks to Shopify’s sales channel integration, you can seamlessly promote and sell your Shopify products straight from the Shop tab on your store’s Facebook page.

After connecting Shopify with Facebook as a sales channel, you gain access to the following helpful perks:

  • Promote audience-growing advertisements on Facebook to increase the traffic to your online store. 
  • Facebooks’ built-in dynamic advertisement targeting can hyper-boost your conversion rates, helping customers discover new products from your store. 
  • Facebook posts can make your existing Facebook followers aware of product promotions or new stock

Requirements:

In order to be eligible to use Facebook as a sales channel, your Shopify store needs to meet a few simple requirements:

  • Your Shopify store needs to be using a Facebook-supported currency. Find a list of supported currencies here.
  • Your Business Facebook page needs to needs to be using the Shopping template.
  • You need a valid customer email (This can be changed in Shopify’s General Settings)

Facebook Messenger

Messenger might seem like Facebook’s awkward little brother, but surprisingly, it’s been making enormous waves in the world of eCommerce.

Matching the intimate 1-on-1 communication it offers, gives customers a feeling of trust while talking to vendors. 

Shopify released a Messenger plugin, which allows customers to use Messenger for the whole purchasing process. This allows your customers to simply and easily buy products through only a chat window!

Image Source

Amazon

Arguably the biggest eCommerce platform worldwide, Amazon is a powerful sales channel that is impossible to ignore. Using this sales channel allows you to keep track of both Shopify and Amazon sales.

According to research, 55% of customers start their search for a product on Amazon, even beating search engines like Google. 

It’s clear to see that utilizing Amazon as a sales channel, can have unthinkably huge benefits for your online business.

Using Amazon as a sales channel will also allow you to:

  • Add listings for products new to Amazon 
  • Manage and create offers for existing Amazon products
  • Link your existing Amazon limits to your Shopify account
  • Receive notifications on your Shopify dashboard about Amazon orders.

Instagram

Regarded as one of the world’s most popular social media platforms (right behind its big brother Facebook) – Instagram is the perfect place to boost your audience engagements.

Instagram puts your products on a pedestal, showcasing high-quality images of your stock to charm and guide your customers back to your Shopify store.

Instagram has some enticing statistics to enthrall online shop owners, with 75% of users taking action after viewing a post.

In other words, Instagram is a platform that drives action, turning passions into purchases.

Instagram’s sales channel allows owners to add shopping tags to image posts that link directly to Shopify product pages, allowing them to check out inside of the Instagram app.

Image Source

Buy Button

The Buy Button is an extremely flexible tool that does exactly what says. Its simple name might be deceiving, as it functions as much more than simply just a button. This tool allows you to add fully-fledged eCommerce functionality to your existing websites. 

This button can redirect website visitors to products, collections, or straight to a checkout page in your Shopify store. 

The button is also fully customizable, to fit the look and feel of your website perfectly.

Image Source

Wholesale Channel

Shopify’s Wholesale sales channel was first released in 2017, to improve Shopify’s wholesale options. This wholesale channel is based on your current existing store, with the same products, order data, and customer data. The wholesale store is accessible separately with its own theme. This page is password-protected, so customers are invited to join the wholesale channel and are given a group, dictating pricing, and other variables.

The wholesale channel is engineered around price lists, allowing you to set prices for specific customer groups. Pricing logic can also be applied against products and collections with customer tags. Both of these features allow the existence of tiered pricing and customer-specific pricing.

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Once you’ve got your Shopify store up and running, you need to be active about promoting and putting your products out there. 

The sales channels we highlighted here take merely a few minutes to set up – but their impact is enormous. These sales channels will help you broaden your store’s horizons and reach new heights.

Shopify Announces Subscriptions and Post-Purchase Upsells Integration

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Continuing with their insatiable obsession for innovation and optimization, Shopify announced subscription and post-purchase upsell apps are now fully integrated with Shopify’s checkout.

This is big news

Online merchants can now, without jumping through hoops, sell subscription-based products AND offer post-checkout upsells. These new features aim to make Shopify’s already hyper-optimized checkout even more effective. 

The addition of these new features are rooted in the growing demand for subscription and upselling apps, which are two of the fastest-growing Shopify app categories. These two new features open a gate for merchants to dive into the subscription market, which is predicted to grow over 3000% by 2025 (from already estimated $15 billion in 2019.)

On the same note, post-checkout upsell apps on Shopify have also become extremely popular in recent times. These apps simply present one-click product offers after a customer has checked out, reeling them back to your store by flaunting your great deals.

Upsell Without Popups for Shopify :: In Cart Upsell
An example of a post-sale upsell. Image Source

According to Shopify CTO Jean-Michel Lemieux, more than 1 million merchants worldwide can now offer post-checkout product upsells without (most importantly) compromising user experience and conversion. This feature has tons of potential to boost conversion rates and sales greatly, and with it now being fully-integrated into Shopify, you have no excuse not to use it.

In the past, Shopify store owners could only offer post-checkout upsells and subscriptions with the help of apps that are not fully integrated with Shopify’s Checkout. This new change allows merchants to seamlessly download these now fully integrated apps from Shopify’s App Store and implement them into their online store with only a few clicks.

For advanced users, Shopify also published subscription APIs, allowing you to customize and craft the perfect solution for your store.

Helping you to take full advantage of these new changes, we have compiled a shortlist of our favorite apps that benefit from these new integrations:

Post-Checkout Upsell Apps:

Subscription Apps: 

These new changes give you all the more reason to start your eCommerce journey.

Top Trending Products in the Coronavirus Pandemic

working-from-home-covid-19-crisis-ecommerce

Physical stores are closing their doors across the world due to the global crisis caused by COVID-19. Restaurants, bars, and clubs are suffering due to this global pandemic as people shy away from crowded public spaces. Malls are closing or forced to put in place social distancing procedures to help reduce the number of customers in the store at any one time. The effects on the economy, jobs, and oil prices have been devastating.
A record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the final week of March 2020; the highest previous record being 695,000 in 1982. This increased to over 6.6 million one week later.

47 million workers are being laid off in the world’s largest economy. A devasting number that will have a ripple effect on other regions as US consumers decrease spending.

Online Retailers to the Rescue


online shopping google trends
Online shopping trend over the past 12 months

In all this carnage one would think that the e-Commerce industry’s hour has arrived. And in most cases that is true. There has been a large spike in sales for what is seen as essential items, as worried consumers prepare for the worst. People have been infamously stockpiling toilet paper since the early days of the outbreak. Staples such a bread, eggs, milk and toiletries have helped boost essentials retailers’ sales by as much as 120% compared to the same period in 2019. Amazon & Wallmart has seen impressive sales with the supply chain buckling at times.

increase in home fitness equipment covid 19
Increased demand for home fitness equipment due to COVID-19

Sellars of home fitness equipment such as weights, home exercise bikes, yoga mats saw record sales as gyms shut down due to safety concerns.
The effects of forced social distancing have meant that people are looking at more ways to stay fit and fight boredom at home.

Products in demand for the home

Many parents are coming to terms with the new reality of having kids at home fulltime. The challenges of working from home and looking after one’s children have driven many parents up the wall. The sales of indoor and outdoor goods have seen an impressive spike in numbers with table tennis & pool tables being some of the popular items. Xboxes and Playstations have also been flying off the shelves.

Fears of a recession, or even the possibility of depression, are sparking an increase in sales for home and garden items. Especially the sale of seedlings and seeds such as tomatoes, spinach, and carrots has been popular with consumers. Two of the world’s largest producers of seeds has stopped taking new orders as demand spiked.

There has been a marked increase in sales of electric goods as shoppers rushed to buy laptops, printers, and desks to help improve their home office.
Interest and sales of remote working tools are up 150% YoY. Meeting tools such as Zoom burst onto the scene, eclipsing well-known industry favorites such as Skype and Microsoft Teams

Zoom vs Skype Search Trend 2020
Zoom vs Skype Search Trend 2020

The Biggest e-Commerce Losers

The fashion industry has taken a big knock in sales with a 51% decline compared to the same period last year. Luxury goods have experienced a similar slump in sales and many brands are canceling events and launches.

Online search volume for flights, hotels and accommodation bookings has been hardest hit. With the lockdown affecting over half the planet, the sector saw a decrease of 37% YOY. Omnichannel retailers(with both physical and online stores), has also seen a drop in sales with many forced to close.

The current environment will impact the world of offline and online sales for years to come. Many industries have been devasted that looked invisible a few months ago. For others more suited for social distancing, lockdowns and working from, it has become a boom time.

An Opportunity in the Disruption

There will be more economic shocks to come in the months ahead yet there will also be opportunities in the chaos. From the Choas comes new birth

Just take a look at the industries born out of the last economic crisis of 2008:

  • WhatsApp,
  • Groupon
  • Instagram
  • Uber
  • Pinterest
  • Slack
  • Venmo
  • Square

It makes one wonder what new innovative services or products will become “essential” in the years to come.

The Robot industry will potentially be one of the biggest winners. There has been an increase in demand for Service Robots in particular as companies look for contactless solutions. Delivery drones, autonomous guide robots, and cars even food preparation robots that will allow the food industry to operate 24/7. Flippy the Fast Food Restaurant Robot is one good example.

The e-Commerce world will have to adapt and get stronger but it will almost certainly play a significant part for the foreseeable future

What do you think will be the next big service or product in the e-Commerce space? Who will be the companies that take the initiative in the next decade? Tell us in the comments section below.

Top Online Store Optimization Tips That Will Increase Sales

Top Online Store Optimization Tips That Will Increase Sales

How to improve your conversion & abandoned cart rate, SEO ranking, sell more products and build the best online store possible

1. Experiment Constantly. You can also learn more tweak more and make your online shop better. 

2. Put money back in your business.

3. Collect email addresses from day one and start the conversion with your audience through newsletter app such as Aweber.

4. Nurture relationships with influencers in your niche.

5. Clearly display shipping & return information so your customers are left with no surprises. Unknown costs kill conversion rates so be transparent. 

6. Write quality product descriptions that describe the product in detail. The customer cannot pick up and touch your products so make sure that your description gives them a clear picture.

7. Design a website that is visually appealing but does not take away from your products. 

8. Find online shops that inspire you, study them, improve on what they are already doing right or not so right.

9. Ask for feedback from your customers regarding your store & products. Use focus groups and heatmaps to constantly get feedback and test and tweak using this information. 

“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon

10. Make sure your product categories make sense to customers, not just you. Don’t make them think and make sure it is clear and easy to navigate.

11. Set up your social media platforms from Day 1 and actively post to each platform on the schedule that you can maintain. Find your voice with these posts and remember to stick to 80% informative and only 20% selling. 

12. Create valuable content that inspires & educates your customers through multiple forms of media; video, articles, how-to guides, infographics, etc 

13. Video is king in online content. It drives the most engagement and must be part of your marketing strategy. Online video editing tools have made it easy for anyone to create unique content for their brand. 

14. Offer free shipping if possible. Calculated shipping at checkout hurts abandoned cart rates

15. Make sure you have a budget for advertising. When you first launch no one will come to your site if you don’t advertise. Adwords, Facebook Ads, Social Media Ads is a good start but don’t throw money at it blindly. Set specific targeting goals for your campaigns, do A/B testing, and keep refining. 

16. Study your abandoned cart rates, find potential issues, and keep improving the fall-off rate.

17. As the owner, you should talk to your customers. Check-in by email, phone, or WhatsApp. Use Live Chat to find out what they need in real-time on your site. 

online store customer review tips
Listen to your customers

18. Build quality links through guest blogging or by creating sharable content.

19. Use Upsell and Cross-sell apps such as Bold Upsell to boost shopping cart size.

20. Use free trials for Shopify apps to test which ones work for your store. Make sure to back up your theme before installation.

21. Test everything in your store before you go live. Test mobile responsiveness, do test orders with a real credit card, shipping rates, all links, anything that might hurt the customer experience.

22. Do SEO Optimization on your site. Check for broken links, do SEO optimization on images, product pages, H1 & H2 Headers.

23. Use Retargeting Ads to expand your reach.

24. Ask your customers for photos of them enjoying your products and share that on your website, blog, product pages, and social media

25. Ask for testimonials. This can be set up automatically with Shopify Apps such as Judgeme.

26. Use Flash Sales, countdown clocks and limited stock counts to drive urgency. 

9 Tips To Optimize Your e-Commerce During Covid-19

9 Tips To Optimize Your e-Commerce During Covid-19

We believe that in these trying times it is best to focus on what you can do, instead of becoming overwhelmed. Small actions now could mean big results down the line, but more importantly, help to improve your current situation. When it comes to e-Commerce, small improvements can mean the difference between a positive cashflow and going bust. Retaining customers is of the utmost importance and it is far more cost-effective to retain and sell to a current customer than it is to convert a new one.

Improve Communication

Communicate clearly to your customers if you are still able to ship or if there will be delays. Inform them of any safety-related information such as hygiene protocols for packing and shipping and highlight how you go the extra mile to keep them safe. Inform them of any problems you might have and be transparent and clear about the challenges faces by your team and how you are solving them.

Shipping Discounts & Decreased Spending Threshold

Offer free shipping or shipping discount codes to your customers to help them reduce costs and increase conversion. Decrease your spending threshold or offer contactless shipping.

Shipping in the age of Covid-19

Contactless deliveries/shipping is where courier companies limit the amount of contact between courier and customer. Both parties are encouraged to maintain safe social distance at all times

Pivot your Product Offering

If you are a restaurant that’s been forced to close its doors to walk-in customers, look to pivot your food offering to meals that can be delivered, freshly made frozen meals that can be stored, or immune-boosting recipes that help those worried about getting sick. 

Include the ability for customers to send meals to those in need or close family members or activate the ability to send gift cards from your store to loves ones. Make it easy for customers to give during a crisis.

Innovate & Upskill

Look at ways your company can innovate with either a new product tailored for the current environment or for what will follow after. Don’t allow you and your team to be bogged down by fear. There is opportunity in every crisis and keeping your business strong and innovating is the best possible thing you can do for your community. We will need every business, large or small, once we are through this difficult time and getting your team through it successfully must be one of the properties. Study, learn, upskill your team as much as possible. 

“If you don’t educate yourself, you’ll never get out of the starting block because you’ll spend all your money making foolish decisions.”

DAYMOND JOHN

Update Your Return Policy for the Times

Returned goods must be handled with care. Protect your staff by quarantined goods for at least 10 days after being returned to make sure the goods are safe. Disinfect each item and make sure your staff have the proper gear to handle all goods carefully. 

Automate & Optimize

Look at ways your company can cut costs and save time by automating repetitive tasks. Use smart email tools like AWeber to automate your communication with clients by sending newsletters based on their purchase history or behavior. Schedule social media & blog posts ahead of time by bulk uploading when you have time. Use Upsell/Cross-sell apps that you can set up to help improve your cart size.

Improve and Speed Up

Do an audit of your e-Commerce site and check site speed religiously. Many apps that you install/uninstall leave behind code that slows down your site without you even knowing. Run speed tests on your site pages but not just the homepage. Be sure to run speed tests on your product pages to spot any redundant code. 

Use tools such as Searchanise Advanced Search to improve how your customers find products. It includes tools such as Zero results history, Terms that brought in the most sales, AutoCorrect when a customer spells something incorrectly and other powerful tools that help your customers find what they are looking for.

Increase content marketing and SEO

It is tough to keep the marketing budget going in difficult times. One might feel tempted to pause the Adwords account and sadly it is the time that your business needs it most. Focus instead of creating valuable content for your customers that you help you rank and help your customers find what they are looking for or help them solve a problem. Do an SEO audit to see where you are currently compared to your competitors and fix what is broken.

Research key trends in your region using Google Trends, compare the popularity for different search terms and use this data to optimize your content marketing strategy. 

Google trends online store vs ecommerce
Google trends is an excellent tool for decide on keywords, content topics or domain names

Find out about Government/Business Assistance in Your Region

Governments around the world are providing support for small businesses that are hit hardest by this epidemic. Find out as much as you can about what is available in your area and how to go about applying. There is no shame in asking for help during times like these. Ask your service providers of any discounts available or delayed payment options. Google for instance announced Adwords credits to all account holders to assist their customers during this time. 

Conclusion

It is hard not to feel depressed about the current state of the world, the markets and business in general. Yet one has to remain focused on the long term picture whilst keeping everything running in the here and now. Remain focused, keep innovating and optimizing and keep your business strong. If we all do this then the recovery will be so much quicker.

Top Email Marketing Services For eCommerce

When it comes to online marketing, email is on top.

Delivering higher rates of interest than any other marketing type, email is your key to building a dedicated database of faithful customers.

Jumping into the world of email marketing, the pure amount of options available can be extremely overwhelming, with each platform promising something new and extraordinary.

Let us guide you through the very best options available on the market right now, looking at features and functionalities that differentiate each from the next.

In order to elevate your online business, these email marketing services have to be at the top of your list:


#1 AWeber

AWeber is a cornerstone in the world of email marketing, known for being reliable and very affordable. AWeber has existed for more than 20 years, and it is believed to be one of the first email marketing solutions.

The main selling point for AWeber is the affordable prices for companies with smaller email lists. AWeber promises professionally designed email templates, guaranteed to impress clients and start nurturing an ever-growing clientele.

Another key feature AWeber is sought after for, are their high rates of email delivery. In the world of email marketing, this is arguably the most important factor; what use are emails that don’t end up in your client’s inbox? AWeber is known for its unprecedented delivery rates, claiming to be the best in the business in this aspect. With a dedicated deliverability team, AWeber’s claims are more than just hot air; they ensure all your emails are delivered.

With a total of six plans, AWeber offers many solutions that change in features and price depending on your number of subscribers. Unless you’re looking to go with the most expensive plan, prices will range between $19 and $149 billed monthly. Annual and quarterly billing options are also available if monthly payments won’t work for you.

Offering a total of six plans, AWeber is extremely flexible, allowing you to pick the package that perfectly suits your business. The plans’ prices grow as you go from the bottom to the top packages, ranging between $19 and $149.

We have written an extremely detailed review of AWeber. Check it out to see if this option is the one for you.

#2 MailChimp

Originally exclusively an email marketing service, MailChimp has also spread its roots in recent times, offering services such as landing page creating and other advertisement options.

Even though MailChimp has started to spread its wings, its email marketing service is still grounded as one of the best.

MailChimp is one of the email marketing giants, with millions of users worldwide. MailChimp makes use of this by collecting data to provide beneficial insights to keep refining all their clients’ email strategy.

The key features that define MailChimp’s strengths are its huge amount of third-party application integrations. These integrations allow you to shape MailChimp to fit your email strategy perfectly.

A few of the most powerful integrations include Shopify, Facebook, and WordPress. For example, MailChimp’s Shopify integration prompts store visitors to subscribe to your email marketing directly from your E-commerce site. 

Slightly less flexible than AWeber, MailChimp gives users the option of four different pricing plans to choose from. Ranging from a free option to around $300, each option’s price scales with the number of email contacts you plan on using.

If you’re torn on deciding between MailChimp or AWeber, check out this article where we compare the strength and weaknesses of the two in detail.

#3 SendInBlue

A straightforward email marketing service, SendInBlue is the go-to choice for beginners. 

Using an intuitive drag-and-drop email editor, less technologically experienced users will have an easy time creating and customizing their email campaigns. This simplicity should not be viewed as restrictive for experienced users, as the editor can still produce professional-quality campaigns.

Even outside of designing, SendinBlue also uses beginner-friendly automation tools that allow users to send emails, construct workflows for automatic follow-up emails, and segment email recipients. Using artificial intelligence, SendInBlue can also determine the best time to send bulk emails, ensuring the highest possible deliverability rates.

SendInBlue offers arguably the best free option of email marketing services, as it allows you to make use of most of their features, only being restricted by an email cap of 300 per day. This allows you to rigorously test every aspect of the software to see if it is worth paying for. The basic premium plan starts at $25 per month. Recently, they also added features like a landing page builder, CRM, live chat, and Facebook ad integration, giving you even more bang for your buck.

#4 Constant Contact

A lesser-known option, Constant Contact, is fastly growing as a potential pick for businesses. Following SendInBlue, Constant Contact also focuses on a beginner-friendly experience.

This service has a super intuitive interface, allowing you to easily manage your email templates, contacts, marketing calendar, and much more.

Taking inspiration from MailChimp, Constant Contact also provides incredibly useful third party integration. Key integrations include powerful eCommerce integrations for platforms like eCommerce and WordPress. 

Providing one of the longest free trials, a full 60 days, you have more than enough time to test the waters before you invest.

#5 HubSpot

HubSpot is quickly becoming one of the biggest names in email marketing. With a large list of useful features, HubSpot aims to breach the gap between beginner and intermediate users, with optional but advantageous features.

Catering to newer users, HubSpot also makes use of a drag and drop editor, adding on to their large library of beautiful pre-made templates (which you can also customize.)

The key to boosting conversion through email marketing is creating enticing and alluring emails, leading recipients to click through to your website.

The email editor allows you to use any of your email subscriber’s contact information to automatically display personalized information in email content, subject lines, and links.

HubSpot also utilizes A/B testing (also known as split testing.)

These insights given to you by split testing are very beneficial to see which of your campaigns perform the best and tell you why.

HubSpot offers an amazing free option, allowing you to send up to 2000 emails for free monthly. After that, upgrading your plan starts at $50 per month.

#6 ConvertKit

ConvertKit is the best email marketing option if you are promoting an eCommerce website.

ConvertKit makes use of pre-made templates, which you can use to customize to fill in your campaign’s information. This is ConvertKit’s weakest aspect, as these pre-made designs tend to be quite lackluster, although they could still get the job done. 

The reason why ConvertKit is the best solution for promoting eCommerce websites is their focus on building campaigns with integrations for landing pages, eCommerce platforms, and other membership sites.

If you are focused on selling products and don’t mind simple emails without distracting elements, this is the solution for you.

As with other email marketing solutions, your subscription price is based on the number of emails you send.

#7 GetResponse

This marketing platform places heavy emphasis on its user-friendly interface. This makes the whole process, from importing your email contact list to finally sending your campaigns, silky smooth.

Their email editor also allows the insertion of custom HTML code, allowing you to customize your campaigns pixel-perfectly. The editor also has mobile optimization, ensuring that your newsletters will look just as good on both phones and desktops alike.

GetResponse is also known for having handy 24/7 support over live chat and email. This is very reassuring; if you ever have any questions, they are there for you.

As with most other email marketing services, the subscription price of GetResponse is determined by the number of clients you will be sending emails to.

#8 Drip

Drip is an email marketing service designed to be used for eCommerce businesses. Drip prides itself in its seamless integration with top eCommerce platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce.

This email marketing service makes use of CRM data to craft personalized marketing experiences to boost engagement and build customer loyalty greatly. 

Drip gives you profound insights into customer habits. You’ll have the ability to tag each action a user performs to get the complete story for every customer. 

This makes it plausible for you to segment your email list based on clicks, previous purchases, opened emails, and much more. Drip specializes in exceptional personalization for each eCommerce customer. These personalized operations will help you develop trust and generate long-term customer devotion.

Drip offers a free 14-day trial before investing in a subscription, the cheapest being $49 per month. This price increases with the number of clients on your email list.

Conclusion

To get the most out of email marketing, you will need to pick a service that provides contemporary features. These features are crucial if you seek success via email marketing in any way, and not using them will put you at a clear disadvantage over your competitors.

Key features are:

  • Automation Sequences
  • Email List Segmentation
  • Specifically targeted email strategies

These features also exist to boost your revenue and save you the precious time of manually scheduling these emails. Reading through the list above, you can determine which platform is the best fit for you.

We trust that this list will guide you as you embark on your email marketing journey to elevate your business above your competitors.

Have any questions regarding email marketing? Let us know in the comments below.

Amazon in the Age of Crisis

amazon covid 19 crisis ecommerce-supply-chain

The world is holding its collective breath to see what the lasting effects will be from the current Covid-19 pandemic. Millions of jobs are at stake or already lost and trillions of dollars have disappeared from the world markets. Online retailers should be well-positioned to weather the storm yet supply chain issues, panic buying, and strict lockdown laws across most of the world have placed massive strain e-Commerce companies. Even the world’s largest online retailer is feeling the strain with long delays in essential items, issues with price-gouging and concerns around the safety of its drivers and warehouse staff.

The Oracle of Seattle

Prescient Bezos though sold $3.4bn of Amazon Shares in early February. Maybe it was luck or maybe the man at the head of the world’s largest retailer was beginning to see the first warning signs from China with regards to resupply as the infection spread out from Wuhan.

What is more worrying is that if a company the size of Amazon, renowned for its massive fulfillment network, vast warehouses and efficient fleet of delivery trucks can take strain then what does it mean for the rest of the online merchants?

Supply Chain Under Pressure

The cases of invected warehouse staff are increasing daily and will only get worse in the coming weeks. There is evidence that the virus stays active for 24 hours on cardboard and even longer on plastics and steal. Making sure that the warehouse & merchandise stays disinfected will be a mammoth task but one that cannot be ignored for the safety of staff and customers.

Covid-19 has been found to stay active on cardboard for up to 24 hours

And yet retail customers are flooding the site daily in an effort to order basic goods such as groceries and other essentials yet standard delivery is unavailable in many areas across the US.

  • toilet roll
  • eggs
  • beef
  • milk
  • hand sanitizer
  • bottled water
  • ibuprofen
  • face masks

In all this Amazon plays an important part in keeping consumer’s cupboards filled. With lockdowns being implemented in more countries across the globe each day, online sales will be critical in helping millions put food on the table. One can only imagine what will happen if more issues begin to pop up in our vital delivery networks over the next couple of weeks.

I got a glimpse of this whilst talking over Skype with a family member in the island-bound country of Mauritius, where they have been placed on complete lockdown. Only one family member is only allowed to go to the shops once every seven days. There are only a few online stores trading on the Island and almost all of them have suffered from downtime due to the increased load. We often forget in the good times how easy we have it with prime memberships and one-day deliveries.

Crackdown on Price-Gouging

Price-Gouging is when a seller increases the prices of goods, services or commodities to a level much higher than is considered reasonable.

Amazon has been tough on sellers trying to take advantage of the current crisis by shutting down anyone overcharging for essential items(by 1,600% on some items). Over 4000 accounts have been suspended in the process. It released the following statement:

“Making clear to all of our sellers our longstanding policies that ensure fair pricing. Monitoring our stores 24/7 through both automated and manual means and aggressively removing bad actors and offers. Collaborating with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and policymakers to hold price gougers accountable. Staying focused on our customers and protecting their interests.”

The clean-up is sure to continue in the coming weeks.

Amazon Sellers in the Crossfire

Arbitragers have been the biggest losers during this period of turmoil as they have no control over replenishment and cost. The conditions are changing daily making it almost impossible for these types of sellers to respond in time.

Building a business with Amazon has been lucrative for many sellers over the years but the current heavy-handedness will give some pause for thought. If you are not in control of your own platform, sales and pricing then it is possible to ask if you even have a business.

There is however evidence that Amazon itself was increasing pricing in the early days of the epidemic:

“When we looked at the data, we saw price increases from both Amazon and third-party sellers,” said Greg Mercer, founder, and CEO of Jungle Scout. That company tracks Amazon sales data and sells it to third-party vendors.

Mercer says Amazon not only earned commissions from those sellers accused of price gouging but it also more than doubled its own prices on essential goods as the COVID-19 pandemic grew between early January and mid-March.

At one point earlier this month, Amazon listed a four-pack of its own brand of toilet paper for $72.

Source: abcactionnews.com

Bringing It Home

Our connected world has in a way created the very problem we are currently facing. Supply Chains stretch across the planet, across multiple regions. The closing of borders has placed a significant strain on merchants across the globe. It may be time to bring that supply chain back home and source more products locally whilst the crisis unfolds. The shipping lanes are still running but the congestion at the ports is causing backlogs.

This will only become worse as the sickness spreads to the crews of the container ships. Already we have seen the cruise ships devasted by the virus and now the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt crew has become another statistic with the navy’s first at-sea outbreak. If the world’s most powerful navy is not immune then who is.

e-Commerce Weekly News Highlights 12 April 2020

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e-commerce weekly news highlights

How Your Local Business can be a Helper

An inspirational piece of writing by Miriam Ellis on how local companies can help each other and their communities through the hard times. It gives some great examples, like how restaurants transitioned to drive-thrus and meal deliveries, to how wellness centers moved online by providing virtual appointments. An excellent example of how businesses can stay relevant in these changing times. We all knew the digital transformation was happening yet this crisis as sped up the timeline significantly.

“When times are hard, finding helpers comes as such a relief. Even the smallest acts that a local business does to support physical and mental health can be events customers remember for years to come.”

Click here for full article

Page Speed Scores of Every Shopify Theme

Hamlet Batista and the team at PraticalEcommerce compiled an interesting piece on the Pagespeed scores of all 72 Shopify themes. It compares the speed for both desktop and mobile. Pagespeed is very important for your ranking in search and your customer satisfaction. A fast website will improve your bounce rate and conversion rate:

Click here for full article

Navigating COVID-19: A Simplified Guide to Resources for SMBs

In this time of crisis getting the right information in time is key to the survival of any small business. Wordstream’s blog compiled an excellent list of actions that SMBs can take to keep their business and customers safe during this pandemic. From ensuring the safety of your staff to getting the word out to your customers, adjusting your marketing message. The article is an excellent resource to help you wade through the days ahead.

“While there is a breadth of online resources available to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be hard to sift through everything. We’ve come up with a simple guide, organized by seven common COVID-19 objectives, including:

  • Ensuring safety
  • Communicating with customers
  • Updating your listings
  • Adjusting your marketing and ad campaigns
  • Managing finances
  • Working remotely, and
  • Making sense of it all”

Click here for full article

Apparel retailers turn to sales to buoy revenue

Online apparel retailers are not exempt from the loss in sales over the past month. Clothing is not on the top of everyone’s minds when health and safety is the main concern. Most retailers are turning to specials and running discounts to help pull in sales. Retailers have shifted their message as well and are trying to appeal to the new reality of the staying at home.

“No one needs apparel if they’re not going anywhere,” Rosenblum says. “Retailers will do what they have to do to try to goose sales, but with 13%—and rising—unemployment, I just don’t see a lot of buying activity.”
She adds: “Apart from comfortable, stay-at-home clothes, I think the category is dead as a doornail.”

Click here for full article

Print On Demand with Shopify and Printify

The idea of starting a print-on-demand business is one that many people find enticing. 

This business strategy alleviates several problems that up-and-coming online stores might experience, including carrying inventory and back-breaking setup costs.

You’ve heard the success stories, now the question is, why aren’t you doing it? There is no better time to start than the present, and using Shopify and Printify, you’ll be printing money on demand in no time.

In this article, we’ll be looking at the features of Printify, as well as glossing over tips and tricks to get the most out of your POD store on Shopify.

Why Printify?

Starting a business selling custom products allows you to create your own personal clothing line or cater to your niche.

This business model is made possible by print-on-demand, a fulfillment model that allows you to produce these products without storing your own inventory.

The list of print-on-demand companies available is endless, and choosing the correct one to fit your vision can be tricky. Luckily, Printify has proven to be the solution to most, if not all, businesses looking to explore print-on-demand.

Printify is unique for the access it gives you to a large network of printing partners scattered worldwide. Not only does this mean there is a larger variety of products to choose from, but it also lets you personally pick your printer based on the country you want to sell in for quick and cost-effective shipping. 

Printify’s product catalog features the following:

  • Hoodies
  • Shirts
  • Stickers
  • Shoes
  • Blankets
  • And 250+ more

Printify features

Out of the box, Printify presents itself with lots of useful and easily understandable tools and features; here’s a quick rundown of what you’re getting.

Easy-to-use mockup editor

Want to see what your design will look like on a shirt, skirt, or bag? Printify comes with a built-in mockup editor, allowing you to upload high-resolution images of your design to place on potential products.

This is a drag-and-drop editor, allowing even beginners to easily place and manipulate their designs onto products of different sizes, colors, and more.

Affordable product costs

Printify offers some of the best products & price ranges available. These low prices mean that even young entrepreneurs, or people starting with little capital, can start a print on demand business.

These blank products that you purchase, serve as a canvas for your design to be printed on. These products come in tons of different styles and materials, to perfectly suit your needs. Available products range from shirts and scarves to leggings and tote bags.

If you’re a premium Printify user, you also gain access to a 20% store-wide discount when purchasing products to be printed on.

Unfortunately, the natural trade-off is that the quality of the products and the printer’s service might vary based on who you choose to work with.

A comprehensive network of Print Providers

Printify is what’s known as a vendor network, meaning it sources and prints products from providers around the world. This also means that products, shipping costs, location, packaging, and creation times will depend entirely on which printing partner you choose, and where they are located.

Printify gives you more than 90 locations to choose from, including the US, UK, China, Australia, Germany, the Czech Republic, and many others. You will want to pick the location that’s closest to where your target audience is, ensuring the fastest possible shipping times and low shipping costs to them.


How much does Printify cost?

The basic version of Printify is free but the app also offers a premium and enterprise plan. The premium plan comes in at $29 per month, while the enterprise plan costs depend on your business needs, it is for high volume businesses that need custom integration and features.

Free vs Premium

Printify’s free version should be fine for most merchants, as it has all the features you need to get started. Note that even though the app itself is free, Printify takes a cut from profits you make from sales.

a Premium Printify subscription ups the limit of online stores to a total of 10, gives you access to the self-serve help desk, and also provides an up to 20% discount on all product purchases from Printify.

The Premium plan is recommended to those who plan on having high volumes of sales, where the discount provided can net you a higher profit margin. Printify allows you to upgrade your plan at any time, so when you’re ready to scale, simply upgrade your plan accordingly.


How do you set up your print on demand store?

Printify is available to use on almost all eCommerce platforms, although we highly recommend Shopify.

After finding your way around Shopify, consider enlisting eCommerce experts to ensure a seamless shopping experience and eye-catching aesthetics. For example, you will want to have a email marketing plugin to be able to send out cart-abandonment emails, as well as the functionality to create discounts or coupon codes. While it costs you right now, great design will pay off generously in the future.

Once your Shopify store is up and running, adding Printify is as easy as pie. Simply navigate to the app store and search for Printify, before adding it to your store in a matter of clicks.

immediately when opening the app, you are greeted with more than 250 blank products to choose from and the ability to create mockups, now you are ready to start creating!


Printify allows anyone searching for a flexible and cost-effective print-on-demand solution that lets you locate printing partners that ship worldwide.

With their goal to break down the needlessly complicated global printing industry, they aim to make printing on demand a breeze.

This way, everyone gets a chance to do what they do best: create awesome designs, make sales, and see their business thrive.

How To Bridge The Gap Between Ecommerce And Retail

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“Many thought ecommerce spelled the beginning of the end for physical stores. But now it’s clear that digital platforms and offline stores are not competitors, but allies who complement each other’s capabilities.”

Even though online stores offer clear advantages like being able to accept mobile payments, easily access user reviews, and conveniently check stock availability; physical retail branches offer the edge of personal interactions. At times, there’s nothing better than actually seeing the product and physically interacting with it, before a purchase.

Read the full article here: Bridging the Ecommerce-Store Experience Gap

How to Increase Sales: Frictionless Ecommerce

“Successful ecommerce outcomes are shaped by understanding what consumers want and how they want it. The essence of frictionless shopping is making it easy for consumers to make a decision and check out.”

Are you making it easy for customers to purchase and return to your website? The key to successful online stores is making it easy to do. This concept isn’t mutually exclusive to only ecommerce websites, but it’s especially critical.

The goal of frictionless ecommerce is sales. Focus on removing obstacles that stop sales, your conversion rates will flourish..

Read the full article here: How to Increase Sales to an Ecommerce Site

Magento online stores compromised in the biggest campaign to date

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Over the weekend, more than 2000 Magento stores were hacked. Security researchers describe this onslaught as the largest hacking campaign in the last five years.

These stores fell victim to a Magecart attack, with hacker groups exploiting Magento’s shopping cart system, allowing them to gain access to these stores and sowing malicious scripts inside these stores’ source codes. These scripts skim customers’ payment information that they entered while checking out.

“On Friday, 10 stores got infected, then 1,058 on Saturday, 603 on Sunday and 233 today,” said Willem de Groot, founder of Sanguine Security (SanSec), a Dutch cyber-security firm specialized in tracking Magecart attacks.

Willem de Groot, founder of Sanguine Security (SanSec) tracked these attacks starting on Friday. To the horror of shop owners, the original 10 attacks from Friday increased tenfold by Saturday, before slowly dying down through Sunday and Monday.

De Groot added that these recent attacks trumped all previous campaigns, with the previous record of 962 compromised stores, not holding a candle to these new numbers.

Most hacked stores were running an EOL version

The SanSec founder stated that a recurring flaw in all the compromised stores was that they were running an immensely outdated version of Magento’s software.

This version of Magneto had stopped receiving updates over four months ago, meaning it reached end-of-life (EOL).

Industry giants including Adobe, Mastercard and Visa, voiced warnings about incoming attacks on outdated stores over the spring.

In the months leading up to the attacks, several web security experts noted that new Magento 1.x (EOL versions) vulnerabilities were non-existent. This is very atypical, as the 1.x versions of Magento were crippled and plagued by security flaws.

Experts predicted that hackers were patiently waiting for 1.x’s EOL to rear its head, to ensure Adobe’ could not patch out their brutal attacks.

Recently, ads selling Magento 1.x vulnerabilities were unearthed from underground hacking forums, confirming experts’ suspicions that attackers purposefully staggered their assault.

magento-zeroday.png
Advertisement for the hack, posted by user “z3r0day”.
Image: SanSec

On a lighted note, Adobe’s initial warnings did severely lessen the blow of this campaign, with the number of outdated stores being cut in half as of June 2020.

Nevertheless, a number of high-traffic sites are still running the EOL version of Magento, solely relying on firewalls to ward off attackers.

While this may be PCI compliant, this is extremely risky and store owners are urged to update their stores immediately.

What’s Next for Ecommerce and Online Shopping?

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FutureOfEcommerce_EcommerceDevelopment

The devastating economic consequences of the pandemic cannot be overstated, with millions of businesses being crippled or even closing their doors. However, out of the ashes of fallen retailers, Ecommerce rose and shined like a phoenix. The popularity of online marketplaces has grown monumentally over the last year, but what does the future have in store?

“Collaboration has always been the name of the game in ecommerce, and 2020 has made that more true than ever. The next several months are going to be a crucial period in ecommerce history, determining who the viable players will be for the next generation of virtual shopping.”

Shopify: Becoming Antifragile

“Much remains uncertain but what I can say for sure is that Shopify has entered a new box. The role we play in the world of commerce has become clearer: we help entrepreneurs become successful merchants. More merchants survived the pandemic than would have without us. Outside of our four walls (ha!) people now understand what Shopify does and what we care about. We are certainly less underestimated. But what’s also certain is that Shopify is more important than ever and in a better position than ever before. We are taking 2020 in stride and finding ways to thrive in the face of so much change. “

Some things profit from shocks, they excel and improved after being exposed to disorder. In spite of the ubiquity of this phenomenon, there is no word meaning the exact opposite of fragile. Nassim Nicholas Taleb coined this term as “Antifragile”.

Shopify has embraced all of the shocks that 2020 has thrown in their way thus far, applying Taleb’s concept and growing from the disruption.

Click here to read the full article: Thriving on Change

Sales Reps and Shopify Guide

How to empower your sales team to securely sell more, faster.

As a business owner, you always have one question on the tip of your tongue.

“How do I increase my sales revenue?”

Many salespeople spend a lifetime chasing down this goal and still ultimately failing.

What many salespeople fail to recognize is that right now, we are in the digital age. You cannot continue using sales strategies from the past while holding thumbs that it also applies to this new digital world.

You have to move where your customers are. Online.

Taking your business online is undoubtedly a bright marketing move. 

Now you might be wondering, how do sell my products online?

The answer is simple. Shopify

Shopify is an unbelievable online retail platform. Here are some ways that you can boost your sales sky-high by using it.

Shopify referral widget integration - InviteReferrals

A delightful customer experience

Your website’s look is crucial, as depending on it, most users will stay or leave within the first few seconds of visiting. Out of the box, Shopify gives you access to a few default templates, which, to be honest – are lackluster.

Your best shot would be getting help from a web design company, ensuring that a gorgeous site greets your website visitors. 

50 Best Shopify Stores to Inspire New Entrepreneurs in 2020
Image Source: Shopify

Locate sales weaknesses in your business using Shopify’s detailed analytics.

A big part of the sales-battle consists of is figuring out what works and what doesn’t. Taking a step back and then correcting these unsuccessful attempts is the key to sales success. 

Luckily, Shopify provides users with extremely detailed analytics, focusing on improvement and optimization.

Shopify analytics vs Google Analytics: which offers better ecommerce data?
Image Source: Littledata

Providing you with these stats, you’ll be able to identify:

  • Sales by the hour, month, or week
  • Sales by location
  • Payment methods used
  • And countless other statistics.

Third-Party Shopify apps can help supercharge your sales team.

As countless businesses exist to fill a niche, many online stores possess unique requirements.

This is where apps come into the frame. Shopify’s built-in app store allows you to stretch your online reach even further by giving you access to applications that will easily extend and improve functionality.

An example of a useful Shopify app is Repsorder: Reps Commission.

Before this app, it wasn’t easy to receive the reps’ orders, calculate their commissions, grant them critical data from your Shopify store, etc.

Luckily, Repsorder exists to make this process a lot less tedious for Shopify store owners and their sales reps.

Admin can set the percentage commission they wish to offer so your sales reps can earn commissions from every order you place.

Commissions are automatically generated, so you don’t have to waste precious time going through each order. This way, there is clarity on both sides so that sales reps and store owners don’t have to wait until month’s end to see what they are owed.

This app is perfect for growing eCommerce businesses with sales reps, as it makes ordering, tracking analytics, and getting commissions easy!

Let’s run through a few of the key features Repsorder provides.

Setting commissions percentage

Commissions can be specified per individual product, collection or can be applied across the whole store. This makes it extremely easy to manage commissions, editing them with just a few clicks.

Commission groups can also be created, allowing you to assign various commissions to various sales reps.

Simple and easy ordering for sales reps.

Repsorder gives you access to super simple order forms, allowing a seamless experience between sending orders. Thanks to the app’s integration with Shopify, products’ inventory will always be kept up to date, allowing you to supply customers with accurate stock-keeping information consistently.

Detailed analytics

This app keeps track of all relevant sales information. This includes a detailed list of which rep is owed, showing you which reps are performing the best and worst, while also syncing all this data with Shopify’s already useful analytics.

Super helpful customer support

Have any questions regarding the app? Repsorder’s amazing support team leaves no questions unanswered, responding to emails within a few hours, sometimes even in a few minutes! 

Repsorder: Reps Commissions App Pricing

The Repsorder app gives you the flexible choice of four subscription plans. The basic plan starts at a low $15 per month, allowing up to 3 sales reps while still giving you access to all the app features.

Going up the pricing ladder, the only thing that increases is the amount of sales reps allowed, capping out at 20 sales reps for $60 a month.

The basic plan’s low cost makes this app great for small businesses looking to simplify ordering, calculating commissions, and tracking analytics.

The app also gives users a free 14-day trial run, to test the waters and see if this app fits them.

Repsorder Customer Reviews

We can talk about features and functionalities all day, but let’s see how this app has affected real businesses.

Hayes Bicycle B2B

Rating: 5/5 Stars

“Our business uses this app to allow sales reps to place orders for our customers directly from our B2B (business to business) Shopify site. We have tried a multitude of different third-party apps, but this one was the only solution with all the features we needed. The software is snappy and responsive, easy for our sales reps to pick up quickly. Their support team is also amazing, responding extremely quickly and always thoroughly answering your queries.”

Green Sprouts Retailer

Rating: 5/5 Stars

“Great app with even better customer support! The app’s design is super easy to use and functional without any lengthy setup. It works as expected, allowing sales reps to place orders and track their commision all in one place. We even asked their support team for help with some small customizations, which they happily agreed to help with.”

Conclusion

Shopify has been proven the go-to eCommerce platform for sales teams. At its core, Shopify is already super useful to reps, and the abundance of third-party apps furthering sales-functionalities is just the cherry on top. Among these apps, Repsorder’s Commision app is the perfect addition to any Shopify store looking to avoid the headache that is sales commisions.

Mailchimp Continues Its Transformation By Launching New AI Tools

White cyborg finger about to touch human finger on dark background 3D rendering

Mailchimp may have started out as an easy to use newsletter tool, but that was almost 20 years ago. Today’s company still does email, but at its core, it is now a marketing automation platform for small businesses that also offers a website builder, basic online stores, digital ad support, and analytics to make sense of it all. Like before, though, the company’s main goal is to make all these features easy to use for small business users. “

Mailchimp continues setting its transformation in motion, launching a number of AI-powered tools to help their customers. These tools are claimed to give small businesses access to the same capabilities their large competitors use.

These tools include forecasting tools to aid behavioral targeting, allowing business owners to see what products are most likely to be bought by different groups of prospects. As well as an AI-backed designer, to help business owners design personalized visual assets.

Click here to read the full article: Mailchimp Launches New AI Tools as It Continues Its Transformation to Marketing Platform

Is Artificial Intelligence The Next Step In Ecommerce?

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“The COVID-19 outbreak has changed the way people perceive eCommerce. It is now their first choice when it comes to acquiring goods. As picky customers continue to browse through these online shops, the only platforms that offer the best customer experience will retain them and earn profit in the long haul. So, artificial intelligence will assume the role of their knight in a shining armour if they want to deliver a seamless shopping experience.”

More and more eCommerce and retail brands are starting to utilise artificial intelligence to improve their customer engagement. The goal of using artificial intelligence, is to shape an intuitive customer experience to prospects with different levels of technological experience.

In the near future, the eCommerce industry will be fuelled by positive user experiences. To ensure that they adapt to these new standards, businesses have to deliver unbeatable customer service, backed with new artificial intelligence.

Read the full article here: How artificial intelligence in eCommerce can be a harbinger of next-gen customer experience?

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