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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

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 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

The Complete Searchanise Review

complete-searchanise-review-ecommerce

The Advanced Search Plugin for Shopify, Woocommerce, BigCommerce and more

Overview

Click One of the pillars of a successful e-commerce store is giving your customers what they are searching for. Many sites take this for granted. Store owners are so familiar with their own products, that they fail to see that a potential customer might be unfamiliar with what’s on offer.

Most of us accept that the standard search functionality, that comes with our e-commerce platform of choice, is good enough. We fail to realize the amount of lost sales that take place due to an ineffective search. We accept that it is working and that people searching our stores will find what they are looking for.

One way of keeping your customers happy, is an effective and powerful search function. This helps to satisfy their immediate need and in turn increases the chance of them come back for more. Thereby boosting your conversion rate and decreasing your cost per acquisition.

The 2nd sale is so much easier when a customer knows they can come to you for what they are looking for. It builds trust and goodwill towards your brand.

Look at your own experiences. What is more frustrating than searching for a specific product online but coming up empty? One has to look at it from the customer’s point of view and see the full experience.

Down the Search Rabbit Hole

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where—” said Alice.“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.“—so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.

“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.” —Alice in Wonderland

Site search makes up to 30% of total site sessions. If your stats are showing a lower number, then it might be time to relook your bog-standard search engine. Or you might want to make Search a more prominent feature on the site by not making your Search box hard to find.

Adding Site search has been shown to increase the conversion rate up to 4 times. On the flip side it has also been shown to frustrate users, if the results don’t match their search intent. Showing your customers the wrong products, or even worse zero results, can be even more detrimental to your bounce rate.

This is where an app like Searchanise comes in.

Searchanise Features

e-commerce search

Advanced Search Made Easy

Searchanise places your store’s search on steroids. It allows you to choose which sections of your site to include. From Product names & descriptions, tags to collections, to your blog posts and static pages. Almost anything type of data can be included.
Searchanise creates an index of your content offsite, on its own servers, which means your site isn’t bogged down by the extra load.

The basic search in Shopify only searches your product pages and ignores blog posts, which could be an important conversion opportunity. Research shows that your blog posts have a much higher chance of building trust and converting into a sale. According to optinmonster blogs are the 5th most trusted source that people use for information. It also helps to establish you, or your company, as a trusted source.

It might be a good idea then to include blog posts in search results, together with product data?

More Than Just Products

Searchanise assists by showing products together with blog, category/collection & page results. This helps to drive clickthroughs to informative articles and specials you want to highlight.

Imagine a customer is searching for the benefits of rooibos tea during pregnancy. With the basic search function they would only see the product page displayed. Searchanise will provide them with a complete picture of the information available.

It even allows search by substring which makes searching by parts of a field possible. For instance only search for parts of an SKU. A useful trick if you consider the complicity of Variant SKUs.

searchanise frontend view gif

Instant search powers up your website by providing immediate results as the user types. You have total control over how much data is visible in search results. For instance a B2C/B2B store might want to hide product pricing, or decide to remove product reviews so as not to clutter the results page.

You are also able to provide suggestions for visitors if they have misspelled a word or came up with no results. This helps to improve the bounce rate. And over time your search suggestions become more efficient at plugging all the deadens. It will also provide you with useful insights into what your clients are actually searching for and give you product ideas for the future.

The bulk of visitors to your e-Commerce platform will visit it from a mobile device. Limited screen real-estate means showing them what they are looking for is more of challenge than on desktop.

Advanced search helps with this by laser focusing the user’s attention on exactly what they are looking for.

Filters

Filter options are where the real power of the app comes into play. It is possible to search and filter by an extensive list of options including

  • Price
  • Name
  • Description
  • Size
  • Colors
  • Ratings
  • Metafields
  • Type
  • SKU
  • Barcodes
  • Discounts
  • Vendor
  • Custom Fields

You have full control over which options are shown. This comes in handy when some of your data is not complete or if it is not applicable. I’ve often found errors in the data that I may have missed by being able to see the full picture in one handy screen

Upsell, Cross-Sell & Personalization

Definition: Upselling is the practice of encouraging customers to purchase a comparable higher-end product than the one in question, while cross-selling invites customers to buy related or complementary items.”

Source: Bigcommerce

One of the best features built into this app is the ability to do Upselling & Cross-selling. You are able to recommend popular products & new arrivals anywhere in your store.
This allows you to show a widget to your customers throughout the site that displays the Top Products, Recently Bought items or You might also like items.

searchanise upsell and cross-sell widget

You can even choose for Searchanise to do this automatically. But you have the option to set up manual widgets and you have full control over the look and feel. This is a wonderful tool for any merchant and would usually cost extra through the use of dedicated upsell/cross-sell apps.

Analytics

advanced search analytics

The Analytics section must my favorite part of the app. This is where you get down and dirty into the meat of the analytics and get a better insight into what your customers are searching for including. Top search queries, top search results that gave no results and my personal favorite, Most bought products.

Other tabs included are Instant SearchAll Searches, Zero results(NB), Suggestions, Products Clicked, Products Bought CSV Export

Customize the look at feel

Many apps make it difficult to customize the design of the results or widgets. Not so with Searchanise. You are in full control of the branding, from colors to fonts to what is visible or hidden. This is a great feature and helps to make integration with your site seamless and helps it blend in.

Backend Dashboard

The dashboard is where you get to delve into all the nitty-gritty and explore all the options and features. Take your time and try and understand each section. There are some powerful features that will be a boon for your online store if you apply it correctly. The app works almost instantly without too much configuration but the dashboard is where you get to tweak and optimize it to your environment.

The following tabs are available:

Dashboard

This is where you are able to force reindexing if you’ve made changes to the product data that you need live asap. Otherwise the indexing updates every 10 minutes.

Analytics (Available on Pro plan)

Includes all the info you need to understand your customers search patterns and boost conversion

Instant search widget

Allows you to customize the search box. Available options are: Colors, Content, Sticky Widget, Translations, Product Labels, Custom HTML, Custom CSS

searchanise instant search widget options

Search results widget

Here you are able to customize the actual search page including Colors, Content, Filters, Translations, Product Labels and Custom CSS

Preferences

Available settings. Products, Product fields such as title, description and SKU, Categories, Pages & Usergroup Rules

Filters on Collections

Another excellent feature is the ability to place filters on Collection pages within Shopify. You have the option to have no navigation, Navigation through redirecting to Shopify links or navigation by embedded code in your template.

Upsell & Cross-sell

In this section you are able to add new widgets, edit exciting ones and check in on the performance to date.

Filters

Add or remove available filters

searchanise filters settings dashboard

Integrations

Shopify Dashboard Integration options includes:

  • Kit
  • Langify
  • Infinite Options
  • Bold Product Discount
  • Weglot
  • Multicurrency
  • Best Currency Converter
  • Bold Multi-currency
  • Appmate Wishlist King
  • Swym Corporation Wishlist Plus
  • Growave Wishlist
  • Yotpo
  • Product Reviews
  • Growave Reviews
  • Judge.me
  • Okendo.io
  • Look Reviews
  • Stamped.io
  • Campaign Monitor
  • Rivyo
  • Ali Reviews

Suggestions Dictionary

Suggestions for search terms used by visitors to your site. You are able to approve suggestions or add manual ones

Synonyms

You are able to add synonyms for search terms which are then treated as the term itself. Useful for spelling in different regions or for example iPad vs tablet. You are also able to bulk import/export from here which will help save time and assist store migrations.

Stop Words

Stop words are ignored during search including words such as “a” “the” and prepositions. You are able to add your own from here.

Merchandising

Promote products in search through updating this section. Available options includes Products, Tags & Categories

Redirects

Helps if you have special landing pages for products or if you are running a special and want a search term to redirect to that page. A handy feature that gives you even more control over what your customers see.

Compatibly e-Commerce Platforms

  • Shopify
  • Shopify Plus
  • Bigcommerce
  • Magento 1
  • Magento 2
  • Woocommerce
  • cs.cart

Further integration is also possible through API if your platform is not one of the above.
Enterprise solutions are also available for stores that need something more advanced. For instance if your product range is between 50,000 and 500,000 and you need a more robust solution. This gives you access to the Searchanise API plus your own server and CDN.

Some of the brands that use Searchanise includes

  • Levi’s
  • Philips
  • Durex
  • National Geographic
  • Boeing

For a few dollars a month you are able to provide the same level of advanced search functionality that many of the big brands above and the likes of Amazon give their customers.

Front End View

Please see below a short screen-recording of the front end. There is also a handy demo that you can play around on their website.

Searchanise Price Plans

This is the one part that I was pleasantly surprised. Many apps and plugins are expensive and out of reach for smaller merchants. Searchanise offers a nice pricing scale which makes this affordable for almost anyone. There is even a Free version for up to 25 products.

The paid plans start at $9/month up to 500 products and all the way up to $54/month for 50,000 products. Above 50,000 you will need to contact them for custom pricing.

Searchanise also offers a 14 day free trial for you to test it before buying and no credit card details are required. This is something I wish more service providers would offer.

searchanise monthly pricing plans

Conclusion

I hope this guide is comprehensive enough to give you a better idea of the features and customisation possible with Searchanise. It is one of the apps that I most recommend to customers and almost the first one that I install in my own stores. It truly does beef up your shop and makes normal boring search into something you can be proud of.

It puts the customer first, which is something we as merchants should all strive for. And it helps in bringing your products front and center on any device. The all-inclusive search engine will give you more control, an increase in sales and hopefully many more satisfied customers. Just remember to keep checking your search stats and tweaking your settings. All the data in the world means nothing if the person at the helm remains oblivious.

Shopify Review 2020: Everything You Need Know

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shopify review everything you need to know

The complete Shopify Review: e-Commerce has become increasingly popular over the last few years and even more so at the start of 2020. Almost all businesses now need an online presence to helps them reach customers, handle sales and promote their brand. Building a website for e-Commerce isn’t as complicated as it used to be. Even a novice is now able to create their own store in a day without much experience.

Shopify is by far one of the most straightforward and capable e-Commerce platforms currently available. It is easy to get started and manage without prior knowledge of web design & development or coding. That is not to say that your store will be an immediate success right off the bat. As in everything you will need to do the research, teach yourself the basics and keep learning along the way. But setting up the store itself is now effortless.

TO ME, A GREAT COMPANY STARTS WITH A GREAT PRODUCT AND ENDS WITH A GREAT PRODUCT.

Tobias Lutke

Before Shopify, there were many unintuitive options for building an online store. Shopify arrived on the scene with easy-to-use tools and a capable suite of features that allowed anybody to start selling products and services online within a few hours.

Shopify 101: An introduction

Shopify is a cloud-based e-commerce platform that lets you use a preset template to set up a shopfront where you can sell physical or digital goods. What makes Shopify so attractive is that you can create your store on your own, without having to hire a website design company or developer. You have control over enough features to make your shop fully functional. From the dashboard, you are able to upload and update products, manage inventory, set up payment gateways and set shipping rates. A professional developer or agency might be needed for more advanced builds.

Those with more advanced coding skills are also able to further tweak the HTML, CSS codes & Shopify’s own open-source template code, Liquid.

This makes Shopify a one-stop e-commerce solution.

It is referred to as a “Software as a Service” tool because you don’t need to own the software to use it. All you need is a browser and an internet connection to access your store from anywhere in the world. This is an attractive solution for on the go entrepreneurs, stay at home moms or dads and almost any size business. Shopify scales from 1 product to unlimited.

Software as a service is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. It is sometimes referred to as “on-demand software”, and was formerly referred to as “software plus services” by Microsoft.

Wikipedia

Shopify Plans and Pricing

You might imagine that an all-inclusive e-commerce solution would come at a hefty price. That is surprisingly not the case. Shopify provides a range of subscription plans that allow you to pick a plan best suited for your business and pocket.

Shopify offers a free trial to all new merchants of 14 days (Increased to 90 days during the COVID crisis). The free trial allows users to upload products, complete the store design, enter shipping and payment details and do test orders. Up until April 2020, a merchant was still able to process up to 50 orders in Development stores but that has been discontinued since.

Each of the pricing tiers offers increasing levels of features and tools that help you optimize your storefront.

shopify plans pricing chart
Shopify’s three subscription options, excl Lite plan

Here is an overview of the Shopify plans that you can choose from:

Lite – $9 per month

The Lite Package is not technically a plan as it does not support a fully functional store. What it does is turbocharge your existing Facebook or Instagram page to allow you to sell through those channels. You can use Shopify to manage the inventory of a physical location and offer goods and services for sale.

You get access to the Buy button from Shopify that integrates into an existing website, newsletter or social media channel. The Buy button includes order tracking, fulfillment or CMS integrations such as Squarespace, WordPress or Joomla.

This plan is somewhat underrated, yet it provides excellent value for money and is an efficient introduction to e-commerce.

Basic Shopify – $29 per month

The Basic plan offers a complete online store solution with most of the Shopify features. Including unlimited product uploads, fraud analysis, 24/7 customer support, social media channels, and order fulfillment.

Under the basic plan you also get the following:

  • e-Commerce website
  • Blog section
  • Ability to create pages such as About, Contact
  • Customer Logins
  • Unlimited products
  • 2 Staff Accounts
  • 24/7 support via Live Chat, Email or Phone
  • Sales Channels such as Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest
  • Manual Orders
  • Discount Codes
  • Free SSL Certificate
  • Abandoned cart recovery

Gift Cards are included in this package for a limited time during 2020 to support merchants effected by COVID-19.

The plan does not include a domain name for your store. You have the option to buy one via Shopify for $14 a year or redirect your existing one to the storefront. Shopify did not include an Email service until April 2020 when it launched a full Email service included in all packages.

Top Tip: Be careful when you choose your store name as that also becomes your admin URL and cannot be changed later. Your customers won’t’ see this URL but your admin staff will and it is sometimes included in some apps that reference it.

Top Tip: Be careful when you choose your store name as that also becomes your admin URL and cannot be changed later. Your customers won’t’ see this URL but your admin staff will and it is sometimes included in some apps that reference it.

The basic plan is perfect if you are getting started and need to sell your products online but don’t have the budget for more advanced plans.

Shopify – $79 per month

The Shopify plan offers cheaper credit card rates, professional report generation and Gift Cards for an extra $50 per month. The Report section is especially useful in analyzing almost every aspect of your store, from order processing to inventory management.
The ability to create gift cards is a powerful marketing tool that can help boost revenue during the holidays or other sales events.
This plan is best suited for larger merchants that receive the full benefit of a lower per-transaction fee of 1%. Or those who are looking for more advanced analytics and reporting. Otherwise, there is not much difference between the first two packages.

Advanced Shopify – $299 per month

This plan is the most advanced and expensive plan you can get on Shopify. It combines all the benefits that on offer in other bands and adds a much lower transaction fee of 0.5% per transaction. 3rd Party Calculated Shipping is also included in this package. You are able to add this to the other to packages for an extra $20 per month. Also included are even more advanced reporting capabilities.
Top Tip: You are able to add 3rd Party Calculated Shipping to the other packages at $20 per month.

If you are looking to play in the big leagues of e-commerce and are earning monthly revenues above $10,000, then this is the plan for you.

Shopify Plus – from $2,000 per month +

Shopify Plus is the enterprise solution for large or growing e-commerce companies.
It is ideal for those looking for more powerful e-commerce management tools, 24/7 website uptime, traffic surge protection and seamless order, inventory, and shipping management.

This plan is best suited for companies that make over $1 million in annual revenue and start at $2,000 monthly. You need to apply directly to Shopify for a custom quotation according to your business needs.

Some of the features include:

  • Advanced Apps
  • Checkout Customization and access to checkout.liquid
  • Additional API Callsscv
  • Merchant Sucess Program
  • Launch Engineer
  • Unlimited Staff accounts
  • Up to nine stores for international expansion including separate locations
  • Access to the Shopify Plus Partner Program
  • Shopify Plus Facebook Community
  • Ability to add up to 100 themes on one account
  • Added Permission settings for staff accounts
  • Wholesale Channel that allows the creation of separate Wholesale store
  • Bulk Account Inviter
  • Avalara AvaTax Services

API Resources for Shopify Plus Customers

  • GiftCard
  • Multipass
  • User
Top Tip: Save big on yearly plans

When it comes to Shopify pricing, it pays to plan. Building your own e-commerce store requires commitment and dedication. Shopify rewards this by offering significant discounts when you subscribe for a one-year(10%) or two-year plan(20%). You can reduce your Shopify subscription fees by as much as $1,400 per year using one of these options.

The 90 Day free trial gives you ample time to test out Shopify for yourself before making a long term commitment.

What Makes Shopify So Special? Top Features of Shopify

Shopify has arguably the most comprehensive suite of features that any merchant can dream of having to run an online store. Not all of these features are available in the standard Shopify plan. You can however easily upgrade or downgrade at any time if you would like to test some of the advanced features.

Shopify Themes

Shopify theme store
Themes are available in the Theme Store, including 11 Free Themes

The Shopify theme store offers more than 100 free and paid themes to choose from. Your shop theme is like a dress or suit that you put on to make your store look attractive to prospective customers. You do not need experience in graphic or web design to set up your look and feel and you can get started immediately with one of the free themes.

There is also excellent support online for any of the free ones and the forums are full of advice for anyone that needs help.

Top Tip: Resize your images using a tool like Tinypng before uploading as large images will slow down your site and hurt your SEO. Also, give your images SEO friendly file names so it can rank in Image Search

For the paid themes you would need to contact the theme creator for any advanced queries. One of the best of these, with excellent support, is Out of Sandbox.

Read through the comments section to see what the reviews are for each of the themes before you commit. This will give you a good idea what their support and responsiveness are like. Sometimes the theme or app is only as good as the support that follows afterward. Another great feature is the ability to install and preview any of the paid themes in the store.

You are not limited to only the themes in the Theme Store. There other excellent themes available at sites like Themeforest. You can buy and download the themes from one of these external markets and then easily install it using the theme upload feature in the backend.

Abandoned Cart Recovery

Between 65% & 70% of online customers do not complete their checkout online.

Many merchants are faced with the reality of customers placing products in the shopping cart only to abandon it without checking out. Shopify includes a handy section in the backend where it shows you all the abandoned transactions. It also sends out an automatic reminder to customers by email that reminds them that they have an incomplete transaction.

shopify abandoned checkout settings
Available settings for abandoned checkout emails

You can control when these reminders are sent; 1 hour, 6 hours, 10 hours(default and recommended) and 24 hours. You are also able to customize the Cart Recovery email which is a nice feature.

Abandoned checkout recovery emails are not sent for Shopify POS or other 3rd party sales channels.

The data available in your dashboard for 3 months so it is important to check regularly for patterns or reasons that might be causing the failed transactions. Take special notice of the payment event that is included with each abandoned transaction. You can use this info to see if something is wrong with your payment gateway or on the customer’s side.

You must spend time figuring out why customers are leaving your store without completing their purchase. This can have a positive effect on your revenue over time.
Another cool feature is the ability to manually email customers a link to the abandoned cart. The link can even be copied into an email if you would like to send it through your mail program like Outlook or Mac Mail.

We all know how overloaded analytics can become over time. It is difficult to remember to look at the data regularly but this can have a significant impact on your business. You can set up automatic reports on Abandoned Checkouts to be sent to your inbox regularly. These reports can include information such as sales, average order value, number of products sold, first-time buyer stats and conversion rates.

Intuitive User Dashboard

Shopify makes use of an intuitive user interface that is simple to master and navigate.
From the dashboard you are able to view and manage orders, upload products, view your customer details or access your store analytics data. You are also able to manage your social media integrated sales channels (e.g., Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Instagram).

Payment and Transaction Processing

Shopify payment options review
Shopify Makes Payment Gateway Integration Easy

Shopify has more than 100 payment providers which mean you are almost certain to find one that works best in your region. It caters to all the big names in the payment industry so you should be able to find what matches your needs.

Shopify Payments

Shopify also gives you the option to use its in-house system, Shopify Payments, and thereby cut out the middleman. It is available in over 14 countries, including the USA, UK, and Japan. Using Shopify Payments gives you discounts on your transaction fees.

Benefits of using Shopify Payments:

  • Integration is effortless
  • No extra transaction fees to 3rd parties
  • Ability to still use other payment providers like Paypal.
  • Predictable pricing
  • Potentially increased sales with multiple payment options
  • Track money from your dashboard
  • Improved Chargeback Recovery

Make sure to check beforehand that you are not on the prohibited businesses list.

You can also use manual payment options for Shopify, including cash on delivery, direct deposits, and even money orders. This as the added advantage of zero commissions payable to Shopify and is an excellent option to add to your checkout process.

Shipping Tools

If there’s anything that ruins most e-commerce businesses, it will be shipping and logistics. Shopify’s system is excellent in this regard and is easy to set up. You can apply different shipping rules and customize it by weight or price. You also get accurate shipping rates live from carriers such as DHL, USPS, and UPS. While just a few countries have these live shipping rates, Shopify expects to expand this to even more in the future. Shopify provides an all-encompassing solution for drop shipping through Shipwire, Rakuten, and Amazon Fulfillment. You can also add drop-shipping through the Shopify App Store like Oberlo.

You are also able to install Shipping apps if your courier company has one in the app store. This will allow for more advanced shipping rules and integration directly with the shipping company. Allowing you to automate much of the shipping which is often a headache for merchants.

Shopify is also working on its own fulfillment service which is a very exciting development. It is currently only available in the US to select merchants, but we hope they add more regions in the future.

Shopify App Store

shopify app store
There are over 2,400 apps in the App Store

Get access to thousands of extensions and quality apps, both free and premium, that offer a plethora of features and options. You can simply install an app to provide any feature that you need to improve your e-commerce experience. The paid apps are usually more powerful than the free ones, but it is essential to read the reviews to find the best ones. You can get apps for multi-currency conversion, accounting, reports/analytics, data capture, SEO, email marketing, order tracking and many more.

Apps can add significant functionality to your online store. From Advanced Search apps, Upsell apps to Wholesale apps that allow you to sell B2C/B2B in the same store. There really is no limit to what can be done with the right apps.

Top tip: Make a backup of your shop theme before installing apps. I’ve learned the hard way that some apps may damage your theme code and having a backup means you can easily roll back the theme. Also be sure to double-check your site speed afterward, especially the product pages as some apps add significant load time which can hurt your SEO.

Pros and Cons of Shopify

As with any online platform, there are pros and cons to Shopify. Here is an overview of some of the benefits and limitations of the service.

Pros

  • Easy of Use – Shopify has virtually everything you need to build a professional store, all available within a few clicks. There’s also an extensive help and support section with adequate documentation to help you find what you need.
  • Design and Personalization – You can rest assured of both the quality and quantity of design options with Shopify. Whether you are trying to create a brand-new shopping experience or go with a preloaded theme, you can find or create the dream storefront you want.
  • Access to advanced code – Most features of Shopify are accessible to developers so you can create custom solutions for your storefront if you have the skills. It supports both HTML, CSS, and other languages as well as its own Liquid code. The checkout code is only accessible to Shopify Plus customers.
  • Economies of Scale- From mom and pop stores, growing entrepreneurs to global conglomerates, Shopify has all the tools needed to scale. With unlimited product uploads, you will never reach a limit in catalog size.
  • Support – Shopify’s Support team is available 24 hours of the day, seven days a week by phone, email or live chat. This is a stark difference from other similar platforms where support is more limited. The support staff is helpful and almost always willing to go the extra mile. There is a limit to what they are able to provide though. For 3rd party theme related issues it is often best to contact theme support directly. The same applies to Apps.

    But they will often put you in contact with the tech support from those companies if they are not able to help.

You can access Support from your store backend or through the links below:
There is also extensive documentation available in the Shopify Help Center.

Shopify Help Center
Video Tutorials
Webinars

Cons

  • Shopify is payable in US Dollars and that can make it a bit expensive in countries with a weak exchange rate to the US Dollar. You can get around this a bit by choosing an annual or bi-annual plan for the extra savings or when the exchange rate is more favorable.

    In addition to the charges from the payment processor (like PayPal or Stripe), you still pay Shopify a transaction fee, which cuts into business revenue. The per transactions fees are also sometimes an issue for merchants but you are able to get around this by either using Shopify Payments or using manual transactions at checkout
  • Multi-language support – Support for other languages is not available to all Shopify users. Many apps and templates make it easy to get language support, but there is no standard option that is capable enough for use.
  • SEO issues – Shopify uses a URL structure that in some way inhibits SEO with Duplicate product pages. Shopify does ensure that there is a canonical tag to the associated pages but this can still pop up as an issue with color variants. You are able to fix this by editing the product.grid-item.liquid file.

Some other useful Shopify SEO Tips

  • Remove duplicate URLs from internal linking architecture
  • Remove duplicate paginated URLs
  • Create blog content for keywords with informational intent
  • Add “Product,” “Article,” & “BreadcrumbList” structured data
  • Determine how to handle product variant pages
  • Compress images using crush.pics
  • Remove unnecessary Shopify apps”

Click here for the complete guide on SEO for Shopify by MOZ:

Top Tip: Shopify does include a handy URL redirect feature in the Navigation section which allows you to update any URL changes in your store. This is a great tool to use if you migrate from another platform such as Woocommerce or if you ever change the URL of a page/collection/menu. 404 errors have a negative effect on your SEO.
shopify url redirect tool
URL Redirect is an important tool to combat 404 Errors
  • Limited Report Functionality – You only get access to professional reporting when you subscribe to the more expensive packages.
  • Limited Abandoned Cart function – You only get one email to send to customers that abandon their cart. Having more capable features require installing premium apps. You are however able to send manual emails to customers.
  • GDPR issues – You need a third-party cookie banner app for your Shopify store if you want to be compliant with the recent GDPR. You could get into trouble if you assume that it is available by default.

Conclusion

Shopify is one of the most recommended solutions for merchants who need an online store. Whether it is an online business, or an omnichannel business with a physical location, or dropshipping, it is arguably the best option.

There are now over 1 million merchants using Shopify’s e-commerce platform. The strong growth in the userbase instills a lot of confidence in the stability and longevity of this service. I for one highly recommend it to businesses of any size.

What are your thoughts on Shopify? Do you have any questions that the above guide did not answer? Let us know in the comments below.

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.

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

Wholesale Pricing Discount: The Complete Review

The complete Wholesale Helper Pricing Discount App for Shopify review

Selling business-to-customer (B2C) and wholesale (B2B) is a juggling act. In your one hand, you want to satisfy your B2B customers with pleasing prices, while also keeping B2C customers in mind. 

The appearance of hybrid B2B and B2C stores have become more and more common over the years. Store owners want to provide both wholesale and retail customers with the same smooth and seamless purchasing experience. 

Shopify particularly is used by both B2C and B2B merchants around the world. Shopify offers a vast number of plug-ins and apps, allowing business owners to streamline both the business-to-customer and wholesale experience. 

Even though Shopify comes pre-equipped with a plethora of tools to help store owners juggle these two business models, the use of these third-party apps is what separates the wheat from the chaff.  

The Wholesale Helper tools are guaranteed to broaden the horizons of any online store thinking about expanding into wholesale too. With 7 different apps available, all averaging 4.9/5 stars, it’s clear that these star-studded tools leave business owners more than satisfied. 

We’ll be taking a look at every one of these tools, and how they can benefit YOUR online store.

Install Wholesale Helper App

From $19.99/month. 14-day free trial.

Wholesale Pricing Discount 

Wholesale Helper’s WPD (Wholesale Pricing Discount) tool allows Shopify store owners to offer wholesale prices for set customers and customer groups. This tool is extremely flexible, allowing you to customize the discounts based on customer groups and products. These discounts can be applied to any number of products, collections, or the entirety of your store. 

These discounts can be set as percentages, or specific amounts on selected collections, products, or customers. The inclusion of wholesale specials will increase your store’s wholesale revenue, by showing them how much they save, while also being able to cater to retailers who aren’t buying in bulk.  

This tool saves you countless hours, setting you free from phone calls and emails of customers who wish to manually order. Just set tag this customer group and set a specific discount for them. 

Wholesale Pricing Discount’s feature/settings panel

Here are a few key features and functionalities of WPD

Volume and Tiered Discounts 

An extremely useful feature is the option of setting up tiered discounts. Tiered discounts allow you to reward customers who bulk order, reducing the product price with the more stock they buy. 

Cross-Compatibility & Integration 

Wholesale Helper’s tools are cross-compatible, meaning you can take advantage of integration with Wholesale Order Form & ReOrder and Wholesale Lock Manager.  

Price or Quantity Discount Threshold  

Set up minimum amounts’ customers need to be paying to qualify for different set discounts. 

Adaptive Shipping Prices 

Allow clients’ shipping prices to be influenced by the amount of product they’re ordering, or by total spent.  

Customizable Payment Terms (Net 15/30) 

Customize and change terms on net orders to perfectly fit your customers.  

NOTE: The Net Order feature requires a small theme update to be functional on your Shopify store. The Wholesale Helper team is happy to apply with this update to you free of charge after you provide them with your shop URL and developer access. 

Around-the-clock customer support 

Any queries regarding the tool will be conveniently answered within a few hours (sometimes even minutes) through email. WPD’s team also offers to help you set up an order form and a password to protect your wholesale section.  

Comprehensive User Guide 

With all these facts and features, subscribers might find themselves feeling a bit overwhelmed starting out. Luckily, Wholesale Helper provides an in-depth guide on how to get this app up and running. This documentation includes a bunch of tutorials and questions to ensure you are  

WPD Subscription Prices 

Pricing for this tool is split into three monthly subscription plans, basic, professional, and enterprise. Most of Wholesale Helper’s tools include a free trial to test out their apps, this tool being especially generous with a 14-day free trial period. 

The basic package supplies subscribers with the bare bones of the tool, still allowing you to create and customize discounts. 

 This package can be enough for novice shop owners looking to dip their feet into the world of Shopify apps, to see how beneficial they would be. The basic package does get your feet wet but is only a puddle compared to the ocean of features provided otherwise. 

Taking a look at the two other subscription models, it’s clear to see that the Professional package is designed for more established businesses, looking to take advantage of WPD’s unique features to take their sales to the next level.  

Still lacking the full list of WPD’s extensive features, the Professional package still leaves store owners with more than enough to play around with. 

Finally, the Enterprise subscription covers all of WPD’s features from top to bottom. Priced at almost $40 per month, this subscription cost is surprisingly low, considering the potential amount of revenue it can generate.  

Popular Customer FAQ’s 

Can I offer other terms instead of Net 15 or 30? 

Payment terms are 100% customizable, meaning you can change it to Net 15, 30, 45, 60, etc…  

Simply open the Net 15/30 control panel from the app’s homepage and adjust the settings accordingly. 

What if a customer has multiple discount tags that conflict? 

If your Shopify store has conflicting discount tags, the highest discount percentage will be applied (lowest price for customer.) 

Is the theme update free? 

Your first base theme update is complimentary. This update usually takes around two hours. You can perform this update yourself, but it is advised that WPD’s professional team takes care of it.  

Themes including a large number of JavaScript code, are subject to charge if the update takes longer than two hours. 

Conclusion 

Wholesale Helper’s Wholesale Pricing Discount tool strikes the perfect balance between an impressive number of features and an easy-to-use user experience. I went through a ton of user reviews, I could almost only find positive reviews, always meeting customer expectations and being praised for their great customer support. 

Install Wholesale Helper App

From $19.99/month. 14-day free trial.

Other Tools 

WPD is Wholesale Helpers’ most popular tool, but it isn’t all that they’ve got up their sleeve, let’s take a look at the other six tools they have available. 

Wholesale Lock Manager 

Managing both your retail and wholesale store simultaneously has never been easier. This tool allows store owners to easily secure their online stores, by password protecting products and pages in a few simple steps. All of Wholesale Helpers’ tools are native to Shopify, allowing you to install and set up in a matter of seconds.  

Key Features: 

  • Provides security for your store’s wholesale section 
  • Easily add/remove permissions to grant people access to your site 
  • Save money by running both wholesale and retail operations on one site (Split with the Wholesale Lock Manager)  

Wholesale Order Form & Re-Order 

Make ordering as simple and seamless as possible for your customers. Many online stores bleed sales by making their check-out process tedious and difficult with constant back-and-forth clicking. Single Page Order Form combines all your products to fit them onto an easy-to-use customizable order sheet. Also included in this tool is the Re-Order page, allowing returning customers to quickly buy products that they have previously ordered. 

Wholesale Helper’s support team is also more than happy to help you to customize the order form to perfectly fit you. 

Key Features: 

  • List all your products and their variants on an easy-to-use order form 
  • Allow customers to re-order products with two clicks! 
  • Customizable 

Pre-Order Helper 

Boost your sales revenue by providing pre-orders on your Shopify store! 

Make sales on products that are out of stock or haven’t even launched yet. Get rid of the tedious back-and-forth via email when customers request pre-orders. This tool allows you to manage and monitor your pre-orders alongside your other sales on your Shopify store. Just like Wholesale Helpers’ other tools, this pre-order form is completely customizable, allowing you to create one to perfectly fit your brand. 

This tool has a completely free version available. 

Key Features: 

  • Allow seamless pre-order option for customers 
  • Analytics on pre-order sales 
  • Works with product variants 

AReceivables 

The quintessential tool to help you track and manage wholesale payment terms. See how much each individual customer owes you, see their past-due orders, and automatically follow up on invoices. All the hassle of hunting down customers, tied up in one easy-to-use tool. 

This tool has a completely free version available. 

Key Features: 

  • Monitor total amount owed by customer 
  • Customizable automatic invoice instructions 
  • Multitude of filters available, easy to sort and find specific customers 

Grow Cart: Upsell & Cross Sell 

The best way to generate more revenue is by selling more to those currently buying from you. This app allows you to upsell and cross-sell products that prospects can add to their cart in a single click. An example of cross-selling is when a customer adds a pair of shoes to their cart, you could sell them a new pair of socks too on their way to the check-out page. 

 This app encourages customers to buy more at once, easily boosting your average order value. It also features integration with WPD, meaning you can upsell and cross-sell retail and wholesale products! 

Grow Cart allows you to manually pick which products show up alongside other products in your store (because who knows your store better than you.) 

Key Features: 

  • Display up to 15 cross-sell products per page 
  • Fully customizable 
  • WDP integration 
  • Prevents cross-sell items from displaying when they’re already in your cart. 
  • Only $1 per month 

Remindio: Remind to Re Order 

Simplicity and automation are the names of the game in eCommerce. Remindio tackles both of those giant tasks, by allowing you to deliver customized, automatic campaigns reminding customers that their stock is running low. This campaign makes it extra simple for customers to purchase from you again, by pre-populating previous orders. 

The app’s easy to use interface allows anyone to create and customize email campaigns, ensuring returning customers. In-depth analytics are also provided, to allow you to see the revenue boost this app provides. 

Key Features: 

  • Automatic email campaign 
  • Works with any Shopify store 
  • Compatible with mobile 

The Wholesale Helper suite includes a wide variety of apps that are guaranteed to boost sales and conversion. These tools are easy to use, and customizable to the core, making them the perfect choice to take your Shopify store to the next level. 

Images by: Wholesale Helper

Ecommerce Trends in 2021

In 2020, eCommerce’s growth was catapulted due to circumstances, causing a hyper-inflation in advancements, boosting digital evolution by years in the span of a few months.

To say 2020 was different, would be the understatement of the year. Stores flocked to digital platforms, coffee tables turned into conference rooms, business and retail has been turned on its head.

The magnitude of storefronts migrating to a digital platform last year, has never been seen. Before 2020, prospects were already on their way to steadily becoming digitally dependant, even while shopping. Now, after growing used to social distancing and limited travel, customers have grown accustomed to having their retail wishes granted at the push of a button. 

As a result, brands have had to improve their digital presence, as online interactions grew from around 42% in 2019, to 60% in 2020.

Taking the US as an example, research from McKinsey shows the shocking number of customers preferring new, online brands over old retail ones. Over 75% of Americans switched to digital shopping alternatives due to convenience, safety, and reliability. Of course, safety also plays a large role in this huge increase, as the fear of COVID-19 led customers to choose the safe, contactless method of online shopping.

Learning from last year, let’s take a look at the predicted changes and trends coming up in 2021.

The merge of social media and eCommerce

As social media and eCommerce continue to morph together, social media platforms will continue to build on the fantasy of “seamless” shopping. This transformation is prevalent in multiple social platforms over the last few years, including Facebook and Instagram’s marketplace. In 2021, we expect to see brands take it one step further, adopting even more eCommerce capabilities. 

This social media takeover further cements eCommerce as the go-to choice for Millenials and Gen-Z, the main social media users. 

The shift to social media will also challenge brands to re-think traditional definitions, such as “frictionless shopping,” expanding the definition to now include effortless checkouts directly from social media apps.

Delivery: the new normal?

Understandably, delivery services have become extremely popular this year. For example, Uber Eats and Amazon have warped the way customers order food or groceries. Even these huge companies were straining throughout the year to meet demands during the pandemic height.

Now, as the fear of retail shopping translated to the increase of online shopping, people have gotten used to convenience. It’s clear to see the delivery of online goods isn’t slowing down. On the contrary, 2021 might yield the need for even more delivery services. As partnerships with last-mile delivery services will become more common as retailers seek to leverage their physical stores to fulfill locally placed online orders. 

A turn of tides: Retail copying eCommerce

Even though eCommerce was king this year, retail branches aren’t going anywhere. As with most things this year, retail stores are also transforming. As opposed to the traditional design mentality of eCommerce stores mimicking the retail experience, this year has caused retailers to do the exact opposite. Major retailer Walmart has already started morphing their physical stores by taking inspiration from online shopping. These changes help apply the eCommerce concept of “seamless shopping” to physical stores.

Along with this, the synergy between retail and online stores are also growing, as delivery methods such as Buy Online, Pickup In-Store is becoming familiar components of shopping culture. Continuing these technologies’ support, convenient features such as contactless checkout and queue management will also become key. 

Sourcing customers through Artificial Intelligence

Arguably one of the most important and fastest-growing technologies of the current age, artificial intelligence is also extremely beneficial for eCommerce.

AI is already being used in eCommerce to make smart product suggestions, help shoppers envision products better, and support you with customer inquiries. In 2021, AI is going to assist you in finding your customers too.

Utilizing intelligent algorithms, current trends will be analyzed and compared to your products, customer behavior, and sales channels to help you adjust your products for maximum exposure. Getting your hands on this technology will result in enormous profit boosts with minimal effort.

ReCommerce, giving your old belongings a new home online

ReCommerce, or second-hand commerce, is expected to see a revival next year. eCommerce experts claim that the second-hand market is expected to double within the next five years.

With customers becoming more aware and motivated by product sustainability, the reselling of luxury items will shape the reCommerce industry’s future. This exciting new eCommerce trend holds great potential for any entrepreneurs looking to start a reselling business.

Conclusion

There has never been a better time to dive into eCommerce. If any of the listed upcoming trends tickled your inspiration, let us help you show your idea to the world. 

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

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.

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?

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

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.

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.”

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.

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. 

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.

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. 

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.

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