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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

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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.

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.

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.

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

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. 

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. 

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.

Shopify Sales Channels – Growing Your eCommerce Business

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Are 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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.”

Top 5 Reasons Why Consumers Abandon Their Shopping Carts

” As far as online shopping goes, every ecommerce store has a cart-abandonment problem. And some of those lost shoppers simply can’t be converted — they weren’t all that interested in the first place, and no matter what you say, they’re not going to finish their purchase. “

Shopping cart abandonment is the most pivotal problem for online stores to overcome. The bad news is that it’s impossible to solve entirely – some people will unavoidably abandon their carts before pulling the trigger and making a purchase. 

But this doesn’t mean all hope is lost. The question is, how can you stop rational prospects from bailing on potential purchases? Here are the top five reasons shopping carts end up abandoned – and luckily, each one is quite easy to fix.

Click here for the full article: 5 Things That Cause Reasonable Consumers to Abandon Their Shopping Carts

Mailchimp Continues Its Transformation By Launching New AI Tools

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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

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

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?

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

Amazon Launches New Attack on Retail Rivals

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“According to reports, the e-commerce giant is planning to set up over 1,000 mini-fulfilment centres in North America – this month alone, 100 new Amazon distribution facilities will open in the US and Canada.”

The addition of these new mini-fulfilment centres is an attempt to overthrow Walmart, by disregarding its shorter delivery times from suburban areas.

This is a contrarian move in the eyes of Amazon, who historically favoured massive distribution centres close to large cites, compared to the new small fulfilment hubs.

Read the full article here: Amazon Launches New Assault On Retail Sector: Suburban Mini-Fulfilment

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

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