Tag Archives: ecommerce

Mobile Apps and E-Commerce

Several years ago, mobile apps were regarded as expensive. Today, developing them has become cheaper, and you can find an app for just about anything. There are retail apps, e-commerce apps, and business among others. Today’s markets are quite dynamic. Shopping with smartphones has become the norm in most countries. 

E-commerce businesses rely heavily on mobile apps to find new customers and market their brands. A significant percentage of the world’s population owns smartphones, and most of them spend their time on apps.

So what are the advantages of e-commerce apps?

Having an ecommerce app is not the only guarantee of profit. It is simply a tool to improve your customers’ experiences and engage them. If you have a business, you should have an app as well. 

Most of the websites now have mobile versions. However mobile devices load search results and data faster with apps. Moreover, apps do not require pulling data from a server, and so browsing and purchasing products is faster for customers.

 M-commerce revenue keeps rising every year, and it might hit $150 billion in 2017. Amazon, being the biggest retail app, went from 43 million to 67 million customers in only two years. When customers have a comfortable experience, they make repeated purchases increasing a business’s sales.

Many people already know how tablets and smartphones work so they can easily find the products they need. Customers share their shopping experiences with friends and sometimes also ask community shopaholics for shopping advice. When the experiences are positive the conversion rate increases, and you will have new customers.

Make your online app convenient, exclusive, fast, interactive and more importantly, simple.   Let the buying process on your app be as simple as possible and add features like discounts, notifications among others to keep your customers happy. You will retain almost all your clients and even gain more.

You can’t do this with a website.  Even sending emails about seasonal sales and new products cannot compare with customer notifications through apps. Push notifications have the advantage of being instant and noticeable. 

You can alert shoppers when their parcel(s) will arrive, rewards, offers and shopping recommendations. 

A mobile app helps you deliver personalized content to your customers based on their shopping patterns and individual preferences. The app gathers customer data and recommends items to them. 

Tailored content ensures better engagement with customers which equals higher customer loyalty.

For a prosperous business, you have to know your clients. User analytics can be set within the app to know the sex, age and shopping history of a customer. Understanding your customers helps you to serve them better and learn trends. 

Having a mobile app significantly reduces your marketing costs. If your app is integrated into social media satisfied customers will spread the word. When your app has grown, you can place ads there and earn revenue.

It is easier to create and maintain an app than any other selling point. Apps reduce costs, and they are more efficient in marketing which means improved business productivity.

Incorporating GPS locators in your app helps users to find your store in a shorter time.  You can easily create route pointers to direct customers straight to your store. If you do this, expect higher purchases. Besides, it is a great experience for your clients. 

Online shopping apps are convenient, which is one reason why everyone loves them. Overall benefits to users include;

•    Smart shopping—businesses can provide users with relevant content according to their shopping preferences.  Apps also help users shop at physical stores and push notifications alert them on special deals. 

•    Faster buying process—there is no need to go to the store and wait in line. 

•    The power of social media—incorporating these apps into social media is a great marketing strategy, and it exposes your business to more potential customers.

•    Tracking stores—you can find a store’s location by logging in their app and following route pointers.

M-commerce and mobile apps are always expanding. With billions of people spending most of their time online, there is no better place to look for customers. Marketing has been made easier and more efficient.

Ensuring customer satisfaction was a challenge until mobile apps came along. What else would customers want if not straightforward and convenient shopping?

Email Marketing for Ecommerce

You need to venture into email marketing if you want your ecommerce business to thrive in 2018. Competition is really heating up and you have to enhance your relationships with your customers and leads. You might already be using email marketing but with no specific strategy.

Use the tips below to come up with a clear strategy and increase your ROI.  Who are you trying to reach? Every email sent to your list is an opportunity to get personal with a potential customer. If the content you are sending does not resonate with your recipients or encourage them to take a certain action, then you are not doing much. How do you know your audience?

  • Check your customer data: dig in the data you have of your customers to find any trends relating to purchasing habits, location, and age and use it to communicate with your list.
  • Build audience personas: create several audience personas then reference and refine them over time.
  • Check data from social pages: if you have a social media page check its analytics about your audience. 

Build An Actual Strategy

Most ecommerce business owners never take the time to create an actual strategy for their email marketing campaign. Here is why you should strive to have one:

  • A strategy enhances your focus.
  • A strategy helps you know which methods are working and which ones are not.
  • A strategy promotes accountability.
  • A strategy helps you have clear goals.
  • A strategy can be created and improved over time.
  • You can hand a strategy over to someone else.

One of the biggest and most common mistakes in email marketing is sending only promotional and sales emails to your recipients. Other types of campaigns help to grow relationships and loyalty. First, map out the typical journey of a customer buying from you.

As a marketer you should know how to send emails throughout the buyer journey and move the customer along towards conversion. Your wording matters a lot in email marketing. Try to write like an actual person, with authenticity to connect with your audience. Add a voice, personality and style to your email. Keep this in mind when creating content:

  • Do not try too hard to be funny or clever.
  • Use active voice, for instance, “we are processing your order” instead of “your order is being processed.
  • Write the way you would speak.
  • Let a real person write your email.
  • Use emojis and exclamation marks if you need to.

When people feel that they are personally connected to your brand, they will want to visit your site and even make purchases. To personalize emails, include first names in greetings and subject lines, consider seasons and holidays, have special offers for different segments of your list, etc. Ask your recipients what they think of the customer experience in your brand.

When they give feedback, you will not be working based on assumptions anymore. In the process of asking and receiving feedback, customers will trust you more and you will be able to improve your business. 

Email marketing is the best way to promote your business online. About 80% of retailers have confirmed that email marketing is the most effective method of attracting and retaining customers. More than 90% of customers in the USA open their email everyday, which increases the purchase rate to three times more than social media marketing.

Running an email campaign might not seem like much of a task but having a strategy is crucial. You need talent and skill to make sure you are targeting the right audience, having them open your email and spend money. Email verification software is an important aspect of this entire process to make sure that your list is clean which will translate to a higher ROI and accurate metrics.

Use of artificial intelligence tools will support your efforts and help you with competition. AI programs can analyze huge amounts of data with more efficiency and accuracy than humans. With so much incoming data, they will identify patterns and trends that the average human eye cannot. The additional data gives an idea on how to enhance your email campaign.

A significant number of studies have proven that optimized subject lines increase the chances of users opening your email. 30% of recipients will open an email because of the subject line while 70% will mark it as spam based on it. AI programs use your subject lines to choose successful keywords. They compare your email open rates to determine which keywords work in the subject lines, which ones should be dropped and any improvements that can be made.

Persado and Phrasee are some of the companies already offering marketers AI platforms to suggest subject line and content ideas. It doesn’t matter the size of your email list, these companies have all the resources you will need to improve your email campaign efficiency even for smaller lists. The recipients in your lists have virtual habits, much like in the real world. Maybe they check their email in the morning, surf just before they go to sleep, or shop during certain breaks.

People are more likely to respond positively at the time they choose to open and reply to their emails. That is, users pick their own schedule and will most likely show interest at their preferred time of undertaking a particular task. AI platforms will take the load off you and assess your recipients’ preferred time of opening emails.

The platforms will also analyze the type of emails that get more positive responses at certain times of the day. Personalization has significantly increased open and response rates. There are many types of personalization such as adding the client’s name in the subject line. Another form of personalization involves sending content that is tailored precisely for a recipient’s needs. AI platforms automate this process, saving you a lot of time and effort. Email campaign planners should do themselves a favor and learn about AI instead of sitting and waiting. Get ahead of your competitors.

The online marketplace is ever changing. A marketing tactic can be effective today and obsolete tomorrow. Email, however, keeps outperforming all the other marketing channels. Why is email so powerful? What makes it stay in power? It is easy to overlook email as a marketing channel. You may not find it trendy and exciting like Facebook. But it has key advantages over other channels.

Take a look at the demographics of popular social media platforms. Women use Pinterest the most while Snapchat is for the younger generation. On the other hand, almost everyone has an email address.  People willingly submit their email addresses and they obviously expect to receive emails from you. The readiness of your subscribers naturally increases your conversion rates.

If Facebook goes down, you lose your entire following. Email marketing allows you to have your own subscribers. Use social media to boost your email list. Automated marketing technology keeps on improving steadily and that is why email marketing is so effective. Being able to customize a customer’s experience and send targeted content to consumers drives more conversions and sales for businesses. 

Email personalization has greatly contributed to a rise in open and click-through rates. Marketing technology has made the otherwise tedious task of personalizing emails very simple. Advanced segmentation options have made it possible to tailor your email messages for specific consumer groups in your email list. The customer journey is not as simple as it used to be. Consumers use their smartphones to research a product and then use their desktop to complete the purchase.

Email marketing allows marketers to reach customers on various devices at whatever stage of purchase. Email has been proven to be very effective in acquiring leads and marketing automation has only made it better. It is simple to create a campaign geared towards new subscribers, welcoming them to your list. Email helps you convince a potential customer that your brand is the best.

Triggered emails increase the chances of closing a deal. Offering a valuable tool for deepening the relationship with existing customers. Send helpful guides or discounts to loyal customers via email. Email marketing is a safe investment for online businesses compared to paid search. It reaches more people and has more potential. 

For every $1 you spend on email marketing, it brings in $40, hence a better ROI than most channels. All statistics concerning email marketing are evidence of how effective it is. It is a requirement for anyone that wants more conversions.

Upcoming trends and technology promise a bright future for email. Google has shown confidence in email and is even investing in it. Video is a hot trend in digital marketing and it is now being used in email marketing. Artificial intelligence is responsible for enhanced segmentation and personalization of email. As it continues to advance, email marketing potential can only increase. 

Wholesale Drop Shippers Scams Revealed

If you want to acquire products to drop ship or wholesale, where do you look? There are all kinds of wholesale and drop ship list for sale on eBay. There is likely to be lots of decent companies, right?

Not true, according to Chris Malta, the Product Sourcing Editor for eBay Radio:

When you see all these Incredible lists and books and packages of wholesaler suppliers and drop shippers for sale on eBay and the rest of the Internet, for anywhere from $5 to $50 or more, what you’re seeing 99% junk.

There are thousands of scammers, snake oil salesmen and con artists on the Internet who are just lying around waiting to AMBUSH you when you begin looking for REAL wholesale suppliers to do business with. Believe it or not, there is a whole niche industry built up on the Net around this kind of scamming! The folks who run these scams have all the moral fiber of a box of hair, and the only reason they even recognize the word Scruples is from the TV ad for the party game.

You may have even fallen prey to one of these con artists, selling you their “insider” wholesale/drop ship list of suppliers. Me too. I have purchased so many lists that I cannot even recollect how many. I do not know why, but I tend to find the “good” in people, and I was “sold” by these marketing schemes time and time again, even after being scammed by the latest one. Finally, after so many disappointments, I had HAD ENOUGH. I decided to get to the bottom of this appeal we all have with wholesale/drop ship companies and find out if there really were any LEGITMATE drop shippers for purchasing hot consumer goods at great prices.

I literally contacted the administrator of every wholesale drop shipping website I could find. Posing as an investor, I managed to persuade the owners that I was seriously interested in purchasing their entire website and business. That way, once the cartoonish money bags flashed in their minds, they would grant me free access to their member’s areas to examine what I would be “buying”. Well, I was appalled with 99% of what I found. Many of the owners bragged about how many people purchased their useless subscriptions. I repeatedly found:

*outdated lists

*non-working links

*links leading to other sites that asked for more money

*no help sections

*no real email support

*no refunds

I quickly realized that these so-called wholesale/drop ship lists were totally pointless. And the owners knew it, yet they were laughing all the way to the ATM machine! I did not respond when they asked if I was still interested in purchasing their websites. Surprisingly, while sitting through all the scam artists websites, I was able to locate a group of individuals that ran legitimate programs.

The owners were common folk like you and me that found a way to earn extra money working from home on their computers. Their membership areas were impressive, with an impressive amount of quality information on how to make $100-$200 per day on your computer doing a small amount of work. I even chatted with a few of their customers in several online forums, and they confirmed that they were earning extra money using the information that the websites had provided them with. It was like I found a few diamonds in the rough. But do not take my word for it, you can drop by the over two dozen sites I found. See what you think.

They do charge a minimal fee for access to their program, which is to be expected for any legitimate enterprise that has people on staff who are dedicated to helping you get earning online. What a warm group of people! Anyway, if you do decide you are interested in any of the two dozen companies, I advise you to join post-haste, as the owners have informed me that they are getting so many new members by word of mouth referrals that they will be blocking off membership completely by months end. (By the way, you did not get this news from me!) They do not have a large enough staff to welcome many more people, and they are driven to providing excellent service to each person. Well, my quest to find legitimate Drop ship companies has come to an end. I have to mention I was thoroughly disappointed with most of what I found, and I strongly urge you not to take any chances doing business with any companies other than the twenty four I will share with you.

Whatever you do, I hope for you and everyone you love a healthy and prosperous year.

Take care and I wish you all the best.

10 Steps to Selling On eBay

So, you want to be a successful seller with your own eBay business, do you? Here’s a simple, ten-step path to eBay enlightenment.

Step 1: Identify your market. Take a while to sit and watch for what sells and what doesn’t out of the items, you’re interested in. Any market research data you can collect will be very useful to you later. You’ll probably see the sweet spots quite quickly those one or two items that always seem to sell for a good price.

Step 2: Watch the competition. Before you invest any money, see what the other sellers in your category are up to, and what their strategies are. Pay special attention to any flaws their auctions might have, because this is where you can move in and beat them at their own game.

Step 3: Find a product: Get hold of a supplier for whatever it is you want to sell, and see what the best rates you can get are  don’t be afraid to ring round quite a few to get the best deal. If the eBay prices you’ve seen are higher than the suppliers, then you’re set.

Step 4: Start small: Don’t throw thousands at your idea straight away get started slowly, see what works and what doesn’t, and learn as you go. Remember that its very cheap to try out even the craziest ideas on eBay, and who knows, they might just work!

Step 5: Test and repeat. Keep trying different strategies until you find something that works, and then don’t be ashamed to keep doing it, again and again. The chances are that you’ve just found a good niche.

Step 6: Work out a business plan: A business plan doesn’t need to be anything formal, just a few pages that outline the market opportunity you’ve spotted, your strategy, strengths and weaknesses of the plan and a brief budget. This is more for you than it is for anyone else.

Step 7: Invest and expand: This is the time to throw money at the problem. Buy inventory and start spending more time on your business. Set a goal number of sales each week, increasing it each time.

Step 8: Make it official: Once you’ve made a few thousand dollars’ worth of sales, you should really register yourself as a business. Don’t worry, it’s not expensive or hard to do a lawyer is the best person to help you through the process.

Step 9: Automate: You’ll probably find that you’re writing the same things again and again in emails or item descriptions. This is the time to give up on the manual method and turn to automated software that can create listings for you and respond to completed auctions and payments with whatever message you provide.

Step 10: Never give up: Even when it looks like it’s all going wrong, don’t stop trying until you succeed. If you keep working at it then you’ll almost always find that you make a real breakthrough just when things are starting to look desperate.

Once you get into the swing of things, you might start thinking that you should quit your job and take up eBay selling part time. But it’s not always as easy as that there are all sorts of factors that you need to consider. The next email will weigh up the case for and against taking up eBay full-time.

10 Tips for Buying On eBay

eBay has become a household name for shoppers. A lot the buyers on eBay are not regular internet shoppers but they still shop on eBay. Such is the power of eBay giving simplicity of shopping and top bargains. From time to time, there is some fraud on eBay about fake fashion items, event tickets that do not exist, some expensive electronic items that do not exist.

eBay does its best to intervene and resolve such disputes. As a shopper, you can follow these 10 safety tips to avoid being conned.

1. Check the seller’s feedback. Positive feedback rating of over 95% is good. If there are many recent negative feedbacks, then this is not a good indication. Also, read all the negative feedbacks. Are these negative feedbacks reasonable? What type of response does the seller have for these feedbacks? Does the seller’s defense sound reasonable? Sometimes new members who buy items on eBay are paranoid and they leave a negative feedback in a haste so make sure if the seller has defended himself/ herself in a reasonable manner. If there are too many complaints of the same nature, then it is probably true.

2. The sellers must have identification or recognition seal like PayPal verified, or Square trade or a Power seller seal on the auctions. Such sellers are more reliable. This is especially a good check when you are buying an expensive item.

3. Ask seller a question before bidding on the item. Responsible sellers reply promptly to questions. Also, if the seller has the item, he/ she may be able to answer a valid question otherwise not.

4. If you are buying something expensive, then get the contact information of the seller at http://search.ebay.com/_W0QQtZvbQQsofindtypeZ9. You have to login to your eBay account and send a request. You can get the sellers address and phone number. In doing this, your address and phone number will also be emailed to the seller.

5. The items must have pictures unless it is a service that is sold on eBay. If there is no picture, then the items are probably not there. Almost all sellers will put at least one picture of the item. Let’s assume that the item is there but the seller has been lazy in not putting the picture in the auction ad. Would you like to deal with someone who is so careless? It just shows that the item may not be in good condition, maybe defective or broken.

6. Check description of the item. Research other websites for the same item. Some of the shopping websites to research would be shopping.yahoo.com, overture.com and shopping.msn.com. These sites are adequate for researching items and get the description that you need. The eBay description should match item description on other sites.

7. Research prices for the item on sale. If the item on sale is Gucci handbags, then search for this model of handbag on shopping.yahoo.com. If it retails for $800 on Yahoo and seller on eBay is selling a brand new one for $90, then this item may not be authentic! Large wholesaler are able to sell items for around 50% of retail but something like an original Gucci handbag, it is unlikely that a seller would let go for $90 because these items sell like crazy. Just a note on fraud items, a lot of fraud eBay occurs on fashion items. This is very unfortunate, and eBay has taken a lot of steps to eliminate fraud.

8. If the seller has not mentioned any shipping and handling terms, then ask before bidding. There are many auction ads, where the seller mentions that shipping and handling will be mentioned to the winning bidder. Surprisingly, there are bids on that item! If you start bidding on the item, then it means that you agreed to the terms and condition of the sellers and there is less room for you to dispute later so ask for the clear instruction on shipping and handling.

9. Reliable sellers have clear description on their refund policy. If it is not there, then ask the seller for it. If the seller has no refund policy, then do not bid on the item. If the there is no refund policy in the auction description, then make sure you get the refund policy in an email from the seller. In this way, you have a document of the refund policy.

10. Do a search for the sellers past items on eBay. Check to see if the seller has sold similar items in the past. To search on the past auctions, go to the Advanced Search page. Here click on the items by seller link and type in the seller’s ID and check the box for Include Completed listing. It is always good to check this especially if you are considering buying something expensive.

10 Great Ways to Source Low Cost Products for eBay

So, you’re having trouble finding stock cheaply enough to sell it for a good profit? Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Garage sales. The chances are you’ve gone most of your life seeing ads for these and ignoring them. Start going to as many as you can. You won’t find good things at every one, but when you find one person with good stuff, make them an offer for the lot they’ll be so happy about it that you can get a real bargain.

Markets. If your area has a market, then go there and look around for anything good. You could buy it there if it’s cheap enough or try to make friends with the market traders and find out who their suppliers are.

Pawn shops. Pawn shops don’t usually know what to do with the junk they accumulate (unless its jeweler, of course). Generally, they put their stock out on the shelves haphazardly, hoping that someday someone with a little money will just happen to come in, search around and buy wildly obscure things. Get them to offer you a discount for bulk.

Real auctions. Go to a real auction, as the chances are that you can resell things for more than they will sell them. After all, they only have a few hundred people in that room you have a few million to sell to!

Local newspapers. Place an ad in the local paper that reads I pay cash for [your item type], with your phone number. If you can afford it, make it a big display ad, so it’ll be noticed.

Ad boards. Get one of those little ads in the grocery store.

Friends. Ask your friends if they have anything, they’d like to sell you, and ask them to spread the word to their friends.

Become known. Give out business cards, mention to people what you do. The chances are that you’ll come across someone who’ll say Oh, really? I’ve got a load of [item] I don’t want.

Shops. This might be a little surprising, but some real shops even sell things more cheaply than they sell on eBay. Take a look around your local deep discounter, and pay special attention to any shop that takes trade-ins from customers. The chances are they take a loss on trade-ins as a promotion and are dying to get rid of that stock.

And finally: eBay! When you’re looking at the completed items view, you’ll notice the massive range of prices that items can sell for on eBay. Try taking the highest-priced item and searching for it on its own, then sort by lowest price first: I can almost guarantee that you’ll see an auction for the same item where it sold for almost nothing. The trick is to find these flawed auctions before they close, win them using a bid sniping service, and then turn around and resell the item.

After all that trouble, though, when do sell the item you might find that a buyer leaves you a feedback rating you just don’t think is fair. The next email will show you what to do about it.

5 Ecommerce Secrets the ‘Experts’ Aren’t Willing to Share with You

People are buying less from brick-and-mortar stores. The ecommerce industry is growing rapidly. 

Although the growth is massive and offers countless opportunities for ecommerce entrepreneurs, a ton of newbies keep on making mistakes that prevent them from being successful. 

One expert in this industry pointed out that the profitability of your online store does not just depend on an awesome website and a quality product. These are just essentials that every other ecommerce online store will have. 

This expert goes on to give you the essentials that will make a difference in your business and set you apart from the rest. 

A Pre-Launch Audience

A very high percentage of entrepreneurs start marketing after they have launched their store. The issue with this approach is that online marketing efforts do not deliver instant results. During this time, you will still be required to pay hosting fees among other expenses. 

Rather than wait, establish a pre-launch audience. Even if your product is neither original nor new, spread the word. Use email list sign ups, product giveaways and social media. 

Customer Lifetime Value

It is not easy to convert customers. The conversion rate in most cases is only 1-3%. Therefore, every sale must count. 

This means that you should focus on the CLV (customer lifetime value). Make sure that the customer has an amazing experience during their first purchase. On top of that, follow up. Email marketing will help with this. Reach out for special seasons and holidays too. 

The Power of Remarketing

Ecommerce professionals spent a huge amount of money on marketing. The goal is to attract new customers who will hopefully make a purchase. 

However, many of these professionals forget about the shoppers they have already convinced. There is a very high chance of repeat customers buying from your store again and even spending more cash. Make sure to target those who have already bought from you. Use AdWords and Facebook campaigns to your advantage. 

Let the Customers Do the Talking

As an entrepreneur you have to create a strong brand identity. It lets you establish an emotional connection with potential buyers. A strong relationship with your passionate customers may help you leverage their enthusiasm. They will advertise your store through word of mouth. 

Most marketing methods are neither effective nor trusted. 

Nonetheless, you need to know that even your best customers will not decide to market your business on their own. You need to offer them some kind of motivation. Ask them for input on your service or product.

To build this enthusiasm among customers, hold social media contests. If you work hard to personalize the interactions, your customers will be more prompted to be true ambassadors. 

If You Opt for Dropshipping, Do Not Botch It

Dropshipping makes sales simpler for ecommerce professionals. But that does not mean that it does not have its downsides. Issues like low-quality products, slow delivery, among others can kill your business. Therefore, do your due diligence and partner with reliable suppliers and shipping companies. 

The Beginner’s Guide to Ecommerce Shipping and Fulfillment

As a store owner, you put in a lot of work to offer a great experience to your customers. You enhance your store, write emails and edit photos just so your customers can be happy. 

This is why shipping can be a challenge. It is like having a stranger handle your brand. 

Careful planning will make this easier. 

Shipping Strategy 101

Here are key steps and decisions that set the foundation for your shipping strategy. You can always change them as you grow.

Shipping methods and rates: are you going to offer flat-rate or free shipping? Alternatively, will your customers have to cover the shipping cost?

Product weights: how much do your products weigh? 

Your preferred packaging: having a packaging option in mind will help you estimate the shipping price.

Source the packaging: get free packaging from DHL, UPS and USPS. You can also opt for branded packaging.

Shipping Methods and Rates

Your pricing strategy will determine your shipping rates. 

You can offer free shipping and raise the price of the products or pay from your profits. You can also balance both.

Another option is to choose flat rate shipping or charge real-time carrier rates. 

Calculate Shipping Costs

Shipping rates are often based on the following:

  • Destination country
  • Origin country
  • Package weight
  • Package size

Other options like insurance and tracking are involved too. 

Consider your profit margins. As you do your calculations, incorporate all costs involved.

Packaging and Marketing

Packaging is not just about getting the product to the customer. Buyers have higher expectations. You need to compete effectively by going out of your way to impress customers. Offer your buyers an exceptional unboxing experience.

Packaging Options

The common packaging options include envelopes and boxes. Uline has a wide range of shipping materials for all your needs. Other packaging suppliers include eSupplyStore, Fast-Pack and ValueMailers. 

Insurance and Tracking

Tracking and shipping insurance offer security. Carriers do not charge much for this service. If you can, buy insurance on big-ticket products to ensure that you are covered when your package gets lost. Some couriers incorporate insurance in their shipping costs. Have this in mind when comparing courier prices. 

Customs Declarations and Forms

Proper customs documentation is required if you’re shipping to another country. The forms are available at the shipping retail location or your local post office. Make sure you fill up the forms clearly and honestly— otherwise, your package may get held in Customs.

In your shipping policy page, include any additional custom fees that the customer may be required to pay on delivery.

Business Accounts

After deciding on the carrier, it is time to set up business accounts. These accounts have tons of benefits for your business. 

Label Your Packages

Labelling your packages by hand can be tedious and time consuming. If you are using Shopify, you can pay for their labelling service to save time.

Fulfillment Warehouse

A fulfillment warehouse gives you benefits such as short shipping times and cheap shipping rates. They also have disadvantages; do your due diligence.

How to Make Money with Shopify

Have you always wanted to own a business? E-commerce would be a good place to start. 

E-commerce sales were at 2.3 trillion in 2017 and are expected to rise to about 4.5 trillion in 2015.

Shopify will help you get a piece of this.

What Is Shopify?

It is an e-commerce platform where you can create your own business from home. Through it, you will be selling goods online. Shopify was launched in 2006 and has all the resources to help you create your business with less overhead. 

What It Costs

There are three paid plans for you to choose from and a 14-day free trial.

The plans are:

  • Basic Shopify
  • Shopify
  • Advanced Shopify

Basic Shopify

This one costs $29 per month and additional credit cards transaction fees (2.9% + $0.30 per transaction). 


This one costs $79 per month. The credit card fees are less (2.6% + $0.30 per transaction). 

Advanced Shopify

This is the largest plan and it costs $299 per month. The credit card fees are 2.4% + $0.30. 

The more expensive the plan, the better the features. 

Choose a Product to Sell

Before you even sign up, decide what you are going to sell. Avoid making a snap decision on this issue. 

This is the point where you get deep into market research so you can make a confident decision. There is a link on Shopify’s homepage that helps new sellers decide on their first products.

Shopify Features

Shopify comes with tons of features and you are free to choose the ones you want to use.

Shopping Features

Some features enable you to set shipping fees, manage credit card transactions and create a shopping cart all in various languages. 

There are other features that simplify sales tax and others help you track your customers’ shopping habits.

Product Features

Shopify has tools that you can use to add product description and photos. These attract more customers and lead to more sales.

Mobile Responsiveness

You can make your customers’ mobile experience easier by adding a mobile responsive element. 

Staff Management

When your business expands and you employ staff members, they will be able to use Shopify as well. You have the ability to limit every member to a specific level of permission.

SEO and Marketing

SEO multiplies your chances of succeeding. Therefore, Shopify has a feature to help you make the necessary SEO improvements. 

Select a Template

You have the freedom to customize your website and make it look the way you want. There are themes to choose from and an option to add your logo. You can get some templates for free but others will cost you.

Amazon Integration

Integrating your shop with Amazon will guarantee more traffic. It also makes it easier to manage your store. 

eBay Partnership

eBay, just like Amazon, is very popular. Besides, fulfilling an order on eBay is way easier. 

Shopify is an amazing platform. It is even mindful of people with brick-and-mortar stores with its POS systems. To maximize sales, create a blog through your Shopify.

Tips and Tricks for Marketing Your Amazon FBA Business

An Amazon FBA business is one of the best ways to make a scalable product brand. If you are keen, however, you will notice a disturbing trend. Many people have invested their resources in a product and even had the first batch created. After the items get to Amazon warehouses, they are clueless on how to sell them.

If you already have an Amazon FBA business or are in the process of creating one, marketing should be somewhere at the top of your list. This article will help you with that. It is less of a how-to guide and more of proven tricks and tips.

Increasing Your Listing’s Views from Amazon

Appear in Amazon Searches

For your Amazon listing to gather more views, it has to be at the top of search results when a user searches the product. 

You can either:

  • Pay for this or
  • Make sure the Amazon algorithm favors your listing for being the most relevant search result.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Amazon PPC is simple and easy to understand. It is an auction system where people bid for keywords. Amazon will then choose a winner depending on the suitability of the product and bid amount. How this system works remains a secret.

Search Optimization

When the Amazon algorithm is choosing a top result, here are some of the things that count:

  • Good reviews
  • Listing relevant to the search term
  • High bestseller rank
  • Good conversion rate

Make sure the keywords feature in the following (in order of decreasing importance):

  • Name
  • Key features
  • Description
  • Search terms section

Increasing Listing’s Views Outside Amazon

Every Amazon FBA seller is striving to get views from Amazon and that can be a challenge. You can choose to move away and gather views from an outside site. 

Influencer Marketing

If you want amazing results, see if there are websites recommending your competitors and request them to consider your product. Find high ranking review websites. 

Giveaways and Deals

Deals always attract buyers. If you offer your products at a low price, you will easily make more sales. You may not make a lot (if any) profit but you can go up the bestseller rankings and probably get more good reviews. 

Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Many online platforms, not just Amazon, work with PPC advertising. They include:

  • Advertising on Instagram
  • Outbrain
  • Google Adwords
  • Reddit Ads
  • Facebook Ads

If you are not careful, you may end up losing a lot of money with PPC advertising. Start small, monitoring what you are spending and the sakes you are getting. Only scale up when you get a positive ROI. 

Improve Your Listings Conversions

People viewing your listing is not enough. They should go ahead and buy the product. That is what is referred to as conversion. 

When you improve your conversions, you don’t need more views to make more money. So, make sure you:

  • Have a high-quality listing.
  • Get good reviews.

For your marketing strategies to be fruitful, avoid following the crowd and do what works for you.

How to Sell on Amazon FBA for Beginners

FBA is an acronym for Fulfilled By Amazon. When you get into the Amazon FBA program, all the hard work is done by Amazon.

How it works:

  • You source products and send them to Amazon. They, in turn, store the products in their warehouses. 
  • The products are inventoried then sorted. If an item is damaged in the warehouse, Amazon will pay you the full price.
  • When a buyer orders your product on Amazon, the transaction will be handled by Amazon (the process is automated). 
  • Amazon packs the item and ships it to your customer. 
  • They also follow up after the product has been delivered to make sure the customer is satisfied. 

So, what then is your job as an Amazon FBA seller?

  • Picking products: you choose what to sell.
  • Keeping the inventory in stock: you will be notified by Amazon when the inventory starts running low.
  • Promoting and advertising: you have to put in work to make sure that shoppers notice your products. 

The Cost of Selling on Amazon FBA

The fees are reasonable and sometimes, you can sell for free. 

Amazon FBA seller accounts are categorized into two: individual seller accounts and professional seller accounts. The individual seller account is free but you will pay higher sales fees. The professional account costs $39.95 but the sales fees are low. If you will be selling many products in a month (more than 40), get a professional account.

Amazon Fees

Most of these fees are paid once you make a sale. 

  • Amazon charges a referral fee of 15% for all sales (not all categories, but most).
  • You pay shipping and handling costs if you are using FBA.
  • An extra flat fee on categories such as media.
  • A $1.00 flat fee for individual seller plans.
  • Long-term storage fees if the products stay in a fulfilment center for a long time.

Amazon FBA: What to Sell

You can sell using a number of methods. Here are four of the most common:

Arbitrage: get low-priced products from marketplaces (online or offline) and resell them on Amazon for a profit.

Wholesale: buy branded goods in bulk at a discounted price and resell them on Amazon.

Used book sales: find used books and resell them on Amazon.

Private label: make your own branded items and sell them on Amazon. 

The last one is the best.

Private Label

You contact a third-party manufacturer to make the product but you sell it under your brand name. That is, manufacture an already existing product then put your logo and brand on it. 

Why do this?

  • Easy sourcing
  • Higher profits
  • Price control

Finding a private label product is not that hard. Use Amazon’s Best Seller Ranking (BSR) to check a product’s demand. For better results, use the Chrome extension. You will be provided with a spreadsheet of data, showing how several products in the niche are doing. 

With Extension, you will see:

  • Average price
  • Average Best Seller Ranking
  • Average reviews count
  • Opportunity score (if you have the Pro version)

Increase Sales

Focus on the following areas.

Amazon Selling Coach

It provides you with personalized recommendations so you can increase the success of your Amazon business. You can only access this feature if you have a Professional Selling Plan.

Pricing and Shipping

Do you price your offers competitively against similar products? Do you offer your customers shipping incentives? Set your pricing to be adjusted automatically based on the Buy Box winner price or other events. Alternatively, research your competition extensively and come up with an enticing price point. Research shipping costs as well. When a buyer is deciding whether to buy or not, the shipping cost is usually a key influence. Go to the Manage Inventory section and look at Buy Box prices and lowest prices. 

Prime Fulfillment

If you are using FBA, leverage the expertise and fulfilment networks of Amazon to give your customers Prime and free shipping.  Amazon packs and ships the products for you. They also provide customer service. 

Hub by Amazon

This comprehensive solution sets you and your staff free from everyday package management. You move to garden-style apartments from high-rise apartments. Your residents will not be charged a fee and an Amazon Prime membership is not required.


Online shoppers always look at promotional offerings (percentages or dollars off the price) and other things such as free shipping. Many customers return to Amazon because of free shipping. Offer promotions to make an impression on your customers. 


There is an advertising service, Sponsored Products, that lets you promote what you have listed on Amazon. Choose the item you would love to advertise, enter keywords for the item and input a cost-per-click bid. When a buyer searches one of the keywords, the ad may be displayed together with the search results. You only pay the fee when a buyer clicks on the ad. 

Products Descriptions and Details

When describing a product, mention its key features and list the benefits in bullet points. Write your product description well so the shopper can imagine the experience of having the said product. Don’t leave out information about the benefits, usage and fee of the item.

High-Quality Images

Your images should have high resolution and clear details. This stimulates the imagination of the customer, inspiring them to make a purchase. Offer many images too. 

Enhanced Brand Pages

If you are registered as a Brand Owner, you are allowed to include a brand story in the product page, as well as text placements and enhanced images. 

Effective Placement

Some customers come to Amazon knowing what they want. Others, however, just browse by categories. Classify your product in the right category so buyers can discover it easily. 

Customer Service

Each order should be followed up with outstanding customer service. In turn, you may get positive feedback ratings and others buyers will feel confident buying from you.

Listing Internationally

Amazon Global Selling will help you grow your international business. Visit the Amazon Global Selling section for more information.

Exporting for International Buyers

Subscribe to FBA Export for Amazon to enable eligible products for export. It is a great service for FBA sellers who want to go international.

Amazon has been offering high quality services and boasts of tons of satisfied customers. As soon as you add an Amazon Pay button on your site, buyers will expect to be met with the same work-class customer experience. Here is what they will expect:

  • Contact information that is easy to find (phone, chat, email)
  • Easy refunds and returns
  • Clear policies
  • Quick customer service

Amazon requires merchants to meet their buyer expectations by complying with their policies—and that includes their Customer Service Policy. This document offers tips and hints to help you keep customers satisfied. 

Offering good customer service is in the best interest of the merchant. A high-quality customer experience will mean less transaction disputes and you could get repeat customers. When your buyer is unsatisfied and gets a hard time trying to find resolution, they could file a dispute. This may, then, escalate to a chargeback, increasing the potential resolution cost.

Importance of Good Customer Service

If a customer ever encounters an issue with a transaction or order, they will need a clear channel to contact you.

Look at your site from a fresh point of view. Can someone easily get help? At the very least, have a Help or Contact Us link at the bottom or top of every page. Even better, list the customer service email, chat or phone number link on every page. 

Also, create an easy-to-find section with links to:

  • Refund and exchange policy
  • Terms and conditions
  • Privacy policy

Handling Returns and Refunds

Every seller would like it if the buyers liked their items and kept them. However, not every customer will be satisfied. You should make it easy for a buyer to return an item and get a refund. This will encourage them to come back and buy from your site. It will also prevent them from filing an A-to-Z Guarantee claim.

Create a Help or FAQ topic to explain your policies and the steps a customer can take to return an item and get a refund. 

Free return shipping, no-restocking fee and other customer-friendly policies could lead to happier buyers.


Buyers can file an A-to-Z Guarantee claim if the merchant is unwilling or unable to deal with the buyer directly. 

Amazon Pay will talk to you on behalf of the buyer.

Amazon A-to-Z Guarantee

Once a customer files this dispute, you will get a notification from Amazon Pay on Seller Central and via email. You have to respond with the necessary information within the given timeframe. 

Amazon settles the issues using the information they receive. You are encouraged to respond as quickly as possible to the A-to-Z Guarantee claim. 


A chargeback may occur when the customer is dissatisfied, has ben charged several times or hasn’t received the product.

Best Customer Service Practices

  • Go to Seller Central and update Claims Notification preferences and Customer Service email address.
  • Have a process for resolving chargeback claims. Update the policies on your website pages. 
  • Make it easy for customers to contact you.
  • Have a matrix for solving order issues. 

Settlement reports show you a breakdown of your Amazon account activity for a certain settlement period. When you review this settlement report then match the data to what you have in the order management system, it becomes easier to assess your account activity. 

Transactions and Settlement Report Data

A typical transaction flow occurs in the following steps:

  1. A buyer buys something from your site and an Order Reference ID is created in Amazon Pay. Alternatively, you can generate your own Seller Order ID and send it to Amazon Pay before you confirm the order. (It is otherwise known as ORO).
  2. You prepare the order for fulfilment. In this case, your system may generate a Unique Fulfillment ID. Sometimes, this happens in step 4.
  3. You make the sale and, during fulfillment, the merchant payable account increases. You will get a Capture ID from Amazon Pay for your capture transaction. You have to send your unique Seller Reference ID (which will be, ideally, the Unique Fulfillment ID from step 2) to Amazon for the sale to be processed into your account. 

Note: some merchants prefer to carry out the three steps simultaneously. However, it is recommended that you wait until the order is ready for fulfillment to capture funds. 

  1. Fulfill the order. Your system generates a Unique Fulfilment Order—if it was not generated in the second step. 

Once an order has been made, a debit is generated to accounts receivable and a credit to sales. 

As you can see from the above steps, the settlement reports in Amazon Pay have 4 ID fields. You can use them to track settlement and transaction activity. They are:

  • Seller Reference ID
  • Capture ID
  • Seller Order ID
  • Order Reference ID

In the order management system, you typically use one or two IDs to track a transaction. The Unique Fulfilment ID, according to above transaction flow, can be matched to four listed IDs. This is referred to as a Match key. 

Note: if the Unique Fulfillment ID is not generated or is generated in step 4, one of Amazon Pay IDs will have to work as the Match key.

Best Reconciliation Procedure

This is supposed to be a daily process.

  1. Create a report for the previous day’s fulfillment activity in your system and download it.
  2. Log in to Seller Central.
  3. View Management Transactions current data or create a Date Range Settlement report and download it. 

Date Range Settlement report: Reports menu > Payments > Date Range Reports then create a report and download it. 

Manage Transactions: Orders menu > Manage Transactions.

  1. Use your Match key to match items between two reports.
  2. Mark an activity as reconciled once you get a match.
  3. If there is an activity you are unable to match, move the line item to open match set.
  4. Repeat the procedure on the following day. Begin step 4 with the open match set.

Cash Reconciliation

  1. Use the report downloaded in the above procedure.
  2. Get a bank statement showing your account’s disbursement details.
  3. Use the Settlement report and bank statement to match the amounts and dates transferred. 

Virtual Reality Is the Future of Shopping

Online shopping is on the rise—it’s fast and ships directly to your doorstep, sometimes overnight. But with online shopping, you miss the experience of going into a store and picking up items. Enter virtual reality shopping, which tries to give you the convenience of online shopping and the experience of being in a store.

People are already shopping through virtual reality, but it’s still in its beginning stages. In late 2016, China’s Alibaba launched Buy+, a virtual reality experience that could be accessed with a virtual reality headset. With Buy+, people could wander around a store, look through items, and add things to a cart by staring at a product for long enough. According to Vice, 30,000 people had already tried Buy+ an hour after its launch.


To use virtual reality shopping, you’ll need a virtual reality headset, which could range from a $10 Google Cardboard to hundreds of dollars for an Oculus Rift. Like online shopping, there’s usually a virtual shopping cart and you can buy things by giving your credit card information upon checkout.

Big companies like Amazon are also working on adding virtual reality shopping in an attempt to increase sales. In May 2016, Ikea let users design their own kitchens with a HTC Vive. Audi also used the HTC Vive to present cars in showrooms. Later in 2016, eBay Australia teamed up with Myer to create the “first virtual reality department store,” but it simulated a web of floating objects rather than a physical store.


Earlier this month, Ikea started using virtual reality in Australia. You can see the experience for yourself on Android, iOS, and desktop (though the desktop version doesn’t have virtual reality).

The Ikea version of virtual reality shopping feels like a more immersive version of Google Street View. You can wander around the store and in between furniture. You can select objects marked with floating blue dots, revealing the item’s description and price. Most of the furniture isn’t marked, though, so you’ll have to zoom in on the tags and remind yourself to search for it later.

Smaller companies like Gatsby, a startup that creates virtual reality stores, are also looking to create virtual reality shopping experiences.

“We’re really trying to get close to what it’s like being there, and we want it to be very intimate,” said Anastasia Cifuentes, co-founder of Gatsby. “All the little details on how you move, we’re really focusing on how to have that just right.” Gatsby has been experimenting with virtual reality for less than 6 months but hopes to launch an app in the fall.

Using Gatsby’s shopping app to buy furniture feels like playing a game. You can look around a room from a fixed point (you can’t move around the space yet). There’s a button that let you click on objects and rotate them. Once you select an object, details about the object’s length, width, height, and price appear. If you want an item, you can add it to your cart.



Tristan Walker: ‘No one wants to fund e-commerce companies anymore’

When Tristan Walker decided to raise venture capital money for his new startup, a health and beauty company that makes products for people of color, the fact that he was running a tech company — not a retail company — was key.

“When I started, I said we’re a tech company. That’s bullshit,” Walker said Monday night at Recode’s Code Commerce conference in Las Vegas. “If you go to any kind of venture capital firm on Sand Hill Road and you say you want to build a retail business, you’re not going to raise any money. So to say that you’re a direct-to-consumer e-commerce business focused on subscriptions … it allows us to really talk about how we kind of focused on tech.”

That strategy worked. Walker’s startup, Walker & Company, has raised $33 million from well-known VC firms like Andreessen Horowitz and Google Ventures; its flagship brand Bevel, a line of razor blades and lotions for people with “coarse and curly hair,” is sold in major retail stores like Target.

But Walker says that, despite his company’s success and home runs like Dollar Shave Club’s recent $1 billion sale to Unilever, raising money as a commerce company hasn’t gotten any easier.


“It still is difficult,” Walker said. “No one wants to fund e-commerce companies anymore. There’s been no shortage of e-commerce companies that have just failed recently. No one wants to fund a retail business.”

Walker & Co. is not failing, though, or at least he’s optimistic that things are just beginning. The company plans to come out with its second brand later this summer — a line that will include 10 new products — and has found success by selling its products a la carte. Bevel used to sell via subscription only, but Walker expects retail sales to make up 50 percent of his business in 2017.

And even though Walker relies on Amazon for lots of those sales, that doesn’t mean he isn’t hyper aware that he’s working side by side with the potential competition.


“Amazon is on a tear,” Walker said. “One thing that people don’t understand about Amazon and don’t give them enough credit for is that they make good products themselves that are private label … Really, the last vertical that a lot of these retailers haven’t tackled yet is health and beauty, and that’s where all the margin is.”

“Amazon is a wonderful partner of ours [but] I’m always nervous,” he added. “This isn’t a friendly game.”



Moving from brick and mortar to ecommerce

‘Ecommerce’ seems to be the buzzword now days with many brands moving omni-channel or online-only while quite a few aggregators and marketplaces are in news for right or wrong reasons. While the brick and mortar model presented its own set of challenges, online shopping has come up with its own set of complexities. Mostly ecommerce site owners are at the receiving end of the rubik’s cube, which seem to never reach the solution, making it imperative to constantly improve, adopt, learn and implement in a race towards sustainability, profitability and scalability.

At a very basic level ecommerce has four levers – platform, assortment (or catalogue), pricing and channel. Platforms can be website; mobile cross browser, responsive and wap sites, or app. Channels are where you market your platform. Your catalogue or products drive your revenue. Pricing determines your brand positioning, and evolves from your customer acquisition strategy, product margins and many more. A play among these levers determines where you position yourself in the market, and the kind of scale or revenue you generate from your online store.

Without getting into platform specifics, the selection of platforms which need to be live for your ecommerce business is an output of your business goals and budget constraints. Not always does app generate more business than web or have a greater conversion rate. At scale, app does offer you greater RoI than web, but app as a platform demands more investment to become profitable than the web.

Conversion rate of platform is another puzzle which needs to be solved regularly. There is no absolute conversion rate benchmark and it needs regular improvement. For some ecommerce players, conversion rate is more than 2.5%, while some are at 0.1% or even lesser.

When you have multiple platforms, there will be one question which needs addressing – whether one channel is cannibalizing revenue from the other? One might feel that investing in Web is of little use, or it makes sense to invest more heavily on app. But if you cut off the discovery platform, there might also be a huge dip in revenue from app. Of course you would not see the dip since transition of shoppers, who were web-only, from web to app will balance the overall dip, but new customer acquisition cost or repeat purchase rate will show some fluctuation. How then should one validate the importance of platform? The answer, to some extent, lies in seeing a unified view of customer across all platforms.

Marketing spends get split across channels for various purposes. One of them is brand marketing (offline and online), which includes display networks, banner inventory buyout, video promotions, offline marketing and Social media organic marketing. The other part of channel marketing is to drive revenue, and those channels are typically known as performance marketing channels. They include SEM, social paid marketing, retargeting, affiliates, to name a few. Spends are plotted against revenue generated by each of these channels (RoI or CIR as KPI), and spends are increased for better performing channels while non performing channels are either optimized or spends reduced.

Now if someone visited your site, added something to cart and left, there is high chances that they would anyways purchase after sometime (maybe after going home or reaching office), or your live campaigns in CRM will drive them to make the purchase. But now retargeting shows up some ad in Facebook and the user buys through that channel and you lose out on an organic sale or a CRM sale but get better retargeting performance. Result – net revenue remains same, and spends increase. Many such similar cases can be seen regularly in the ecommerce industry. Which channel gets attributed to a sale and which channel should be scaled up are two questions very closely related and yet there is no clear answer. The most convincing solution seems to be multi touch-point analysis and understanding the customer behavior across channels.

Both scenarios above point to one thing – understanding customer behavior. Not just across platforms but also across channels. If your analytics team can get you data which tell us what percent of customer visited App, browsed through products, and then went to Web and made a purchase (or vice versa), and what has been the channel wise flow from discovery to purchase, we can improve customer acquisition and conversion funnel much better.

As the ecommerce industry is evolving, every aspect of it is becoming smarter. Progressive Web Apps for Mobile Web, Programmatic marketing for display, multiple payment options, international shipping, shop the look for fashion ecommerce, App deep-linking and deferred deep-links, customized feed for retargeting and Google Shopping Ads, scheduled push notifications for serving at the same time, etc, are all focused towards improving conversions and revenue. If one can constantly keep customer convenience and superior customer experience in mind as well, we are evolving in the right direction!



10 Ways to Future-Proof Your Ecommerce Fashion Store

Selling fashion is easy. Selling fashion online is another beast entirely.

The trouble with ecommerce fashion is the same trouble any highly experiential good faces when it goes digital: Nobody wants to buy it until they try it. While the total US fashion and apparel sector sits at $359 billion, a mere 17% of that — $63 billion — belongs to ecommerce.

Sadly, even after you manage to overcome the try-then-buy divide, making sure those purchases stay purchases is even more daunting. According to Shopify’s recently published report on the future of ecommerce fashion and apparel, “The inability to physically interact with ecommerce items has resulted in an online return rate as high as 50% in some cases.”


However, having an online store isn’t an excuse to shy away from creating rich and deeply personalized customer experiences. Here are 10 tips to get ahead of ecommerce and future-proof your online store.

1. Virtual fittings

First and foremost, would-be customers want to know that your clothing isn’t tight in all the wrong places. Old-school size guides are a confusing maze of measurements that most visitors simply ignore. Virtual fittings change all that. For instance, Fits Me, an online fitting room, allows shoppers to enter simple information about their body type — height, age, weight, and body shape — and then Fits Me selects not just the size, but even specific products just for them.

2. Augmented reality

Right after fit, shoppers want to know, “How will it look?” And models aren’t enough.

They want to know, “How will it look on me?” Enter augmented reality. Outside of initial forays by the likes of XBox Kinect, full-scale AR is still a ways off.

However, for accessories, the future is now. Take Glasses.com. Its app gives users the ability to upload a photo of themselves and preview the entire inventory on their very own face. This creates a sense of ownership common in in-store buying but often lost in online.

3. Social approval

We all want approval, especially when it comes to fashion. In fact, social approval is often more powerful than self approval. In other words, it’s comforting to think you’ll look good in something. But hearing someone else say it? That’s ecommerce gold. 

Stylinity leverages this social drive. Whenever someone uploads a photo, other community members can “Like” or “Favorite” their outfit and — get this — can then buy those socially approved looks … piece by piece.

4. Crowdsourced design

If you could find a way to predict what buyers like before you even start production, would you pass it up? Of course not. And that’s why you need to start crowdsourcing your designs. Betabrand, an online clothing store, even goes a step further by asking its customers to vote with their wallets and fund the new products they want most. Not only does this meet the predictive requirement as well as raise funds, it’s also amazing content for social media campaigns. It’s a win win . . . win.

5. Gamification

Want to really engage your customers? Make it a game. Covet Fashion created a free app where users compete to dress up an avatar in real clothes. The outfits are then posted and other users can vote on the best of the best on a leaderboard. Covet awards prizes — i.e., clothes — to top picks and uses its combinations on product-description pages. It’s fun and engaging, and — naturally — the more your visitors engage, the more they’ll buy.

6. Big-data analytics

Analytics is as critical to online sales as stitching is to spotting knockoffs. Could you go without it? Sure. But you might regret it. Unfortunately, most small-to-midsize fashion stores don’t have access to the kind of big-data analytics that Amazon does. StyleSage — where “fashion meets big data” — is changing that. StyleSage’s database combines over 1,000 retailers, 53,000 brands and 64 million products. Oh, and they’ll even keep an eye out for retail-partnership opportunities.

7. Machine learning

Unfortunately, simply having data isn’t enough. You have to know what to do with that data to put it to work. Or do you? Google Cloud Platform leverages machine learning on your store’s behalf. Its product recommendations engine analyzes past purchases, related searches, popular images and even text to deliver — with near artificial intelligence clairvoyance — exactly what each customer wants.

8. Deep personalization

As a subcategory of machine learning, let me just say: It’s easier for you if people buy from robots, but people don’t want to feel like they’re buying from robots. The answer? Dynamic Yield offers customer personalization using flexible algorithms that create messages in accordance with the user and how they’ve interacted with your store in the past.

It’s still a robot, but I won’t tell if you don’t.

9. Wearable tech

As if you haven’t picked up on the dominant trend here, technology and fashion have officially merged. The Apple Watch and Fitbit Blaze revolutionized why we buy technology. And that was just the start. New entries like Ringly — a “smart” ring that syncs with any mobile devices and alerts you when you’ve missed a call, message or email — and Top Shop’s line of bPay Wearables (shown below) that contain Barclaycard payments chips are continuing to push the two closer and closer.

10. Visual search

Most of us are used to the search bar, but pictures are way more fun. Not to mention, far more relevant to fashion. Imagine your customers starting their search with a series of images. When they find something they like, they click on a specific piece of clothing. That product enlarges, along with a host of similar offerings. This is exactly the dream Wide Eyes has made into reality.



What’s in Store for the Ecommerce and Payments Industry in 2017?

There are a number of different directions the ecommerce and payments industry could take in 2017. Perhaps the most obvious is a more globalized approach, one that would see a further expansion into emerging international markets.

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In conjunction with the growth of ecommerce, a shift towards mobile devices is all but certain in 2017, more so than ever before, as well as an increased availability of the internet worldwide to help broaden economic opportunities for businesses and consumers alike. However, with these opportunities come inevitable challenges, not the least of which is the future of payments.

Emerging Markets

That untapped Holy Grail of industry, emerging markets were once all but closed to businesses given their barriers to entry and volatile nature. However, these markets have opened up over the last half a decade, creating a two-way street for market penetration and consumer demand.

Ecommerce has expanded into new markets on the back of internet availability, and the increasing popularity of mobile devices has helped introduce hundreds of millions of new consumers to the wonders of online retail and international commerce.

Moreover, retailers, travel companies, and marketplaces who entered these expanding markets quickly discovered that unlike in the digitally evolved US and European countries, credit card penetration rates in these countries was in the low double digits. This essentially limited their ability to reach the billions of people who wanted to buy their products and services.

It became pretty clear that these businesses needed to find ways to adapt to the local market dynamics and offer a variety of alternative payment methods tailored for each country. To answer this need, a new breed of cross-border payment platforms has emerged, offering a richer, market-specific mix of global payment options that deliver conversion rates as high as those in the developed world.

Unfortunately, we are far from the global ecommerce utopia. The following trends will fuel the next stage of growth for cross-border ecommerce and payments.

More Aggressive Regional Expansions

As hundreds of millions of emerging consumers have gotten online over the past five years, we’ve seen a number of new tech giants, such as Amazon, Airbnb and Uber, experiment in developing markets. They’ve launched targeted pilot programs in countries like Mexico, Brazil or Peru, but they haven’t heavily invested in the whole region.

This can be attributed to lags in understanding local buying and payment preferences, as well as testing new technology and offerings, and determining if and how to evolve their business models, and identify and vet payments technology partners that could help them along the way.

Now that they’ve worked out their paths for success in one or two countries and have gotten comfortable with the many peculiarities of selling online to underbanked populations, we will see these companies expanding more aggressively into the whole region.

The actions of these trailblazers will ease the path for other ecommerce players who have wanted to dip their toes in emerging markets, but until now de-prioritized their expansion due to many unknowns.

A Worldwide Market with Hyper-Localized Payment Preferences

As mobile infrastructure expands and the internet reaches an additional two billion people in markets where access was previously nonexistent, the payment methods landscape will only become more fragmented.

While we can expect a significant shift towards a few ubiquitous payment methods, it will happen gradually and may take as long as a couple of decades. In the meantime, merchants and payment platforms will need to support their global presence with a hyper-localized payment strategy, because even in developed markets like Slovenia, Poland, and Estonia, credit card access is hardly universal.

Making the Payment Process Invisible to the Consumer

It’s no secret that consumers are likely to spend more money and complete their purchases when they encounter fewer barriers to payment. Simply put, the fewer steps a consumer needs to make between intent to buy and purchase completion, the fewer reasons he has to change his mind.

That’s why online retailers have introduced the one-click checkout, and brick-and-mortar retailers have started to arm their sales associates with mobile PoS devices to check out shoppers directly in the fitting room. Amazon has taken the payment experience a few levels up with its dash buttons and voice-enabled ordering through Alexa, and Uber has elegantly blended it into its car ordering experience.

For consumers, if a specific online experience is too cumbersome, requires too many steps or proves to be unnecessarily complicated, they will shop elsewhere. This is particularly true for developing markets where there is an inherent distrust in the financial system, as well as suspicion of merchants who don’t have a strong brand name.

In the coming years, I expect merchants to put much more emphasis on delivering a stellar product and branding experience and shifting the payment process into something that happens behind the scenes.

The Growth of Payouts

The need for streamlining cross-border payments has already started expanding beyond the typical use-case of consumers paying businesses for goods and services. In 2017, we will see an increasing need for businesses to pay providers as well.

As sharing economy services, freelancing platforms, and marketplaces continue to expand globally, they will need to pay contractors, freelancers, and suppliers in the local currency and in locally acceptable ways. And they will need to do this in a cost-efficient manner, in every market, and on a global scale.