” Mailchimp may have started out as an easy to use newsletter tool, but that was almost 20 years ago. Today’s company still does email, but at its core, it is now a marketing automation platform for small businesses that also offers a website builder, basic online stores, digital ad support, and analytics to make sense of it all. Like before, though, the company’s main goal is to make all these features easy to use for small business users. “
Mailchimp continues setting its transformation in motion, launching a number of AI-powered tools to help their customers. These tools are claimed to give small businesses access to the same capabilities their large competitors use.
These tools include forecasting tools to aid behavioral targeting, allowing business owners to see what products are most likely to be bought by different groups of prospects. As well as an AI-backed designer, to help business owners design personalized visual assets.
As one of the biggest e-commerce platforms globally, Shopify aims to cater to both small and enterprise-level online stores, as well as anything in between.
A big factor that plays a role in Shopify’s flexibility is its powerful, ever-evolving app store. Businesses that choose Shopify as a platform have access to an absolute goldmine of apps, allowing you to build and refine your store around your needs.
Recently, the addition of affiliate marketing apps on Shopify stores has been blowing up. In Layman’s terms, affiliate marketing apps aim to increase revenue by incentivizing (using commissions) current customers to recommend their store’s products to others.
Why should I use affiliate marketing?
Having a strong affiliate marketing program means reduced ongoing costs, as well as reduced risks. Hiring a marketing & sales team is expensive, so why not recruit an army of affiliate partners that can generate the same, if not more sales, without the investment.
Affiliate marketing also greatly increases your web-reach; since your reps will be advertising your businesses via their social media, blogs, and all other online content. This also means a great load of work is lifted from your shoulders, as these marketing attempts would previously be your sole responsibility! Also, seeing buzz being generated by lots of different people will leave any prospects impressed with your products.
Upping your game, you can even recruit influencers or other prominent social media figures to promote your product, guaranteeing thousands of new eyes being laid upon your product.
How much money can I make from affiliate marketing?
The affiliate marketing industry is rapidly shaping up to be one of the best modern marketing strategies. Looking at statistics, it’s reported that spending on affiliate marketing in the United States was predicted to reach around $8 billion by 2022. This is a huge growth from its humble beginnings in 2010, back then only garnering around $1.6 billion.
Another study provides a closer look at exactly just how much affiliate marketers are making. Results from this survey show that 9% of affiliate marketers churned out more than $50k from this marketing strategy in 2016. The majority of online merchants (around 65%) said they were getting between 5-20% of their annual profits from affiliate marketing alone.
Creating an affiliate program using Shopify apps
With Shopify’s easy-to-use app store, setting up an affiliate program for your store is super simple. Begin this process by browsing the app store and installing an affiliate program app of your choice; our personal favorites include Secomapp & Bold.
Let’s take a deeper look at these two apps, and what they bring to the table:
Secomapp: Affiliate Marketing
Secomapp is used and trusted by more than 30,000 Shopify merchants to help their business flourish. Secomapp focuses on affiliate marketing’s idea of no upfront costs – exclusively paying when sales are actually made, leading to huge traffic & revenue boosts.
This app allows you to customize your program’s monetary incentives personally, ensuring a streamlined prize-progression for all your affiliates. Affiliate tracking is accurate and automatic, resulting in a very smooth experience for both referrers and new affiliates.
Setting up the app is a breeze, with a quickstart guide available to everyone, as well as detailed documents and a super dedicated support team that work around the clock to answer any customer queries.
Affiliate marketing is a very intruiging option for upcoming online-euntrepeneurs due to its low-risk high-reward dynamic. With a click of a few buttons, you can install one of these apps and take your online store to the next level.
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.
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.
Social media giant TikTok has recently revealed their plans to explode its diversification into the world of eCommerce. This will allow brands to use the culture-shaping impact and reach that this app has proven to have.
What is TikTok?
TikTok, owned by tech mega-corp ByteDance, is a video-sharing mobile app that allows users to create and share short videos on any topic. The app provides users with a vast library of music and dialogue options, with which they could then use to make funny or entertaining videos.
The app’s users predominantly consist of teens and young adults, is an enormous untapped market for promoting and selling products online.
At the end of 2020, TikTok surpassed 1 Billion monthly users (which is now sitting at 1.1 Billion as of February 2021.) This makes it one of the biggest social media platforms worldwide.
TikTok in Social Commerce
In their annual advertiser-brief, ByteDance revealed their planned features for the app in 2021. According to several attendees – one of these features is a tool that allows TikTok’s most popular content creators to share links to products, earning commission on any sale made through their link.
This is textbook affiliate marketing, and third-party companies have been doing this for a while – providing TikTok creators with sponsorships to promote their products with affiliate links.
However, the most anticipated feature is still to be discussed:
TikTok is also planning to allow brands to showcase their products to be purchased directly on the app.
This is TikTok’s attempt to break into the social commerce market, in which the platforms Instagram and Facebook currently are the kingpins. Social commerce is predicted to expand exponentially as one of the biggest eCommerce and social media trends of 2021, with more and more brands considering it as a new retail avenue.
Campaigning your brand on TikTok, you’re looking at reaching views in the billions, which is very enticing for big companies.
This news is extra exciting to Shopify store owners, as Shopify integration is almost guaranteed following TikTok’s partnership with Shopify last year.
TikTok’s Shopify Deal
In October of last year, TikTok announced an unexpected partnership with Shopify, one of the biggest eCommerce platforms. Shopify’s Vice President of Product stated that this partnership aims to make it easier for Shopify’s users to reach younger audiences & increase sales.
This deal will allow Shopify merchants to create and run TikTok marketing campaigns straight from a customer Shopify dashboard, upon downloading the TikTok channel app from Shopify App Store. Additionally, Shopify users will gain access to targeted advertising inside TikTok, filtering prospects by age, gender, behaviour and much more.
Is TikTok the future of social commerce?
While the social commerce market is currently being dominated by Facebook and Instagram, the shift to TikTok is already slowly starting.
One reason for this shift is that social media is increasingly growing with the focus on visual experiences – which is TikTok’s whole schtick. Visually rich platforms like this prove ripe to advertise on, as brands can then capitalize on these visual experiences, ultimately creating a considerable buzz around their products. TikTok’s younger audience might also prove very useful to brands looking to target younger people as their prospects.
How do you create a successful TikTok campaign?
When eCommerce functionality officially arrives in the app, you’ll want to be the first to make use of it to see explosively successful results. Here are a few tips when planning a TikTok marketing campaign:
You have to embrace the aesthetic of the platform.
Other platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have a distinctly different visual aesthetic than TikTok, so simply reusing your old ads from those platforms won’t cut it. To create ads that successfully convert on TikTok, you’ll have to fully embrace the platform’s energetic, creative, storytelling style – this means that your ads should feel like a piece of native TikTok content.
Understandably, you’re not a TikTok expert – so it might be worth collaborating with successful content creators that really know their way around the app, helping you achieve that coveted organic feel.
Take a look at Crocs’ approach to TikTok advertising:
With TikTok silently growing in the eCommerce world, we predict shopping and advertising to become a huge part of TikTok’s environment.
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.”
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
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
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.
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,”
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,
chatbots and virtual shopping assistants.
The Gamification of e-Commerce
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.
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.
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.
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.”
The Global eCommerce market is predicted to grow to $6.5 trillion in 2022
Currently the largest e-commerce market in the world is China
The US eCommerce market is set to grow from $365 Billion in 2020 to $600 Billion by 2024
The 3rd Biggest eCommerce market in the world is the UK with 586 Billion Pounds(31% through Amazon UK)
The biggest increase in e-commerce growth is expected in India
95% of all purchases will be made through e-commerce by 2040
Men tend to outspend women online
E-commerce is estimated to grow to 17.5% by 2021
The average abandoned cart rate is 2.5% across categories
The category with the best conversion rate is gifts at 5% with the lowest being electronics at 1.4%
The highest conversion rate goes to food and drink at 7%
70% of shoppers state free shipping is the reason they buy online
On average 30% of products are returned with clothing and shoes returned the most
Tips for anyone selling online or for those planning to
Decide on the platform best suited for your business.
Focus on quality Product Photos and include lifestyle images.
Create Videos and include it on product pages
Offer honest and open information to your clients to build trust
Respond to Customer Concerns and Recommendations
Focus on reducing abandoned cart rates
Design for mobile commerce and test, test and test
Improved Delivery Options in eCommerce
Have an SEO, Content & Social Media Strategy
Talk to your customers the way they want to. Provide live chat, WhatsApp, email, phone, Messenger, etc.
Understand your customer’s needs. Talk to your existing customers to find out what they need.
Shopify 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.
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.
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
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.
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.