(part one)So, you’ve decided to give the world of eCommerce a try. That’s great! Only issue, how do you decide which eCommerce platform to use? There’s so many amazing ones to choose from, it’s hard to determine, for a beginner, what to expect or what you think will work best for your business. That’s where I come in. I’m Amy. I’m an eCommerce beginner. Am I actually entering the world of eCommerce hoping to make my store the next best thing? No, but maybe you are. Over the next couple of blog posts, I’ll be going into detail on how setting up an eCommerce store was to a genuine beginner. First up on the list is BigCommerce. (Keep in mind that all the platforms I will be diving into offer free trials, so if you’re curious you can always play around before committing as well!)
Initial SetupActually creating my store took no time at all. There’s a bunch of different buttons you can click on the homepage that will lead you to where you need to be. Look for “start your free trial”, or “get started”. After selecting one of those, some basic information is required like your name, email, phone number, etc. You select a category that your store falls under, and the name of your store (which you can go back and edit later). I decided to create a bookstore, and I’ll keep that consistent across all platforms I decide to test drive. After you create the store BigCommerce takes you through a mini tour showing you where everything is and giving tiny explanations as to what those features / areas can do. I’ll make the argument that since I hadn’t been running a bookstore, I was left incredibly confused. I set up my store and just didn’t know where to go from there, so I looked around some “competitors” websites to get a feel for what features are common, or how to go about sorting my products in the most effective way. I’m sure most of you are well versed in what you’re selling, unlike me, so our initial setup experience may differ.
User FriendlyThe initial creation of the store was very user friendly. It was a simple, “click this, fill in the blanks” sort of situation. Actually going in and adding products, changing themes, etc, I’d argue are also user friendly. Everything is easy to find, and the mini tour they give you is also helpful. There were some functionalities that I figured would be a given, but didn’t really play out that way. Maybe that’s a little vague, so I’ll give an example: I wanted to duplicate product categories that fell under a parent category I wanted to have two parent categories of Books, and eBooks, because I wanted to offer physical hardcovers and paperbacks, as well as downloads for your Kindle or Nook. All categories underneath the parent category were going to be the same. I had a subcategory of subjects, and then from there a list of subjects underneath that. I had to go back in and retype all the same categories, which isn’t difficult because they have the “save and add another” feature, but considering it’s the same content duplicated that kind of frustrated me. Also, having to go through and click through where I want my sub products under neath the subcategories of the parent projects was time consuming. You could always make everything a parent category and from there drag and drop them into the proper categories you want them to fall under, but again that’s rather time consuming. Since my store isn’t real, I gave up less than half way through, and ended up scrapping the eBook category. However, if this is your legitimate store, and you have a lot of categories, this can be incredibly tedious. Adding products is relatively easy, but also incredibly time consuming if you’re unprepared. Since I was unprepared walking into opening an eCommerce store, I didn’t have all my products gathered in a CSV file. That’s the easiest way to bulk upload all your products into BigCommerce, and highly recommended to make everything super convenient for you so you’re not in the same boat as I was, adding things one by one. Ultimately, BigCommerce is incredibly user friendly. I think my main struggles stemmed from just being confused in general about what it is I needed/should do. But once I finally got an idea of what I needed to get done, it wasn’t too difficult to actually do what I needed to. If I was confused, it was really easy to contact customer service and have them walk me through it. Also, a quick Google search was helpful as well.
DesignThemes. There’s a few, and there’s a couple of ways you can filter through them. There are themes you have to pay for, and free themes. You can also decide if you want your theme to be responsive, which I think should just be included, especially because nowadays everyone’s all over the internet with their mobile devices or tablet. They have about 15 free themes, which I think is a decent amount to pick from. After I started building my store, I realized the original template I had picked out wasn’t really working for how I wanted everything to look and be set up. So, after setting up my product categories I came to the conclusion that I should change it, and going through that motion was incredibly easy as well. They recommend you backup your information for your store, and then from there it’s a simple click to change your template. There’s a couple of ways you can go about customizing your design. You can either go into the CSS, which is difficult if you’re unfamiliar with code like I am. There’s also a style editor, where you can customize font and colors without having to dive into code. Not all themes allow a style editor so if you think you want to do further customization with design than I would suggest filtering your theme to those who allow that, unless you’re looking to hire someone to go into the code for you. Also, since most stores have their own logo and don’t want to keep their name in the format the template put it in, I decided to create my own logo. I did something incredibly simple, and within Adobe Illustrator, and uploaded it as a PNG. That went very smoothly, and actually blended in with the theme that I selected quite nicely. I also think that should be a factor when going about deciding what template to use — you want to make sure your design is cohesive so keep your logo in mind!
CustomizationLike I mentioned earlier, the average person isn’t super familiar with how to code. One of the great things about BigCommerce is that it has the opportunity for you to customize some simple stuff on some of their templates by using a Style Editor. For instance, you can change coloring (which you can slightly see in my before / after). The template I had selected was along the lines of something that I typically enjoy in design. I like simple, I like easy to read sans serif, I like black and white so I didn’t do too much customization with font changes. I just switched some colors around. However, after looking into it further the customization didn’t allow me to change every little color, for example like the icons. If you look above, you can see that the little shopping bag and arrows within the drop down menu still have the original red that the template had. Due to the inconsistency, I scrapped my changes and left the store colors as is.
Shipping & PaymentIn the backend, editing shipping isn’t terribly confusing. There’s a couple of options for pricing shipping: you can have a flat rate, offer free shipping (or free shipping if you’re spending over a certain amount), or change shipping based off of the weight of the product. For BigCommerce, I was automatically set up and okay to use PayPal, American Express, Visa and Mastercard. They do have a plethora of other options that you can select from to use, but the default of what they offered does seem pretty standard, and that majority of people should be able to process a payment on my site using one of the payment options already available. There is a small fee for being able to implement those payment options, but I think that’s expected.
Additional InformationI contacted customer support almost instantly. I’m one of those people who, if I can’t figure out how to do something, I just go to ask someone. I will not search endlessly for answers if I know there’s a better way to acquire them. They have a couple of ways you can go about support, an email, a phone call, or a live chat. I’m a fan of the live chat. I work in an office and I don’t want to be on the phone causing distractions. I want an instant reply too, so I’m not going to do an email. Now, I could have been a better customer and browsed through their forums looking for how to do something. But, not every customer goes through FAQ or support forums because they’d rather someone else do the looking for them. I was playing that kind of customer, and am that kind of customer, frankly. It could be the time in the day that I contacted them, but I got on with a live agent immediately. And they were incredibly helpful! I was looking to do something and I couldn’t figure out how to do it, and they offered a video to show me how to do it. I expected them to send me some run of the mill tutorial video, but they actually went within my account and filmed themselves going through the motions so I could see how it would be done on my personal backend. Another feature with BigCommerce that I enjoyed was the fact there is a built in blog. You can announce certain features, or you can just give general updates on your store. It makes everything feel incredibly personable.
Overall OpinionI think this will be an overarching opinion for every store I set up… But this was incredibly tedious. One of those things where, after starting to do it, I understood immediately why you would want to hire someone to migrate all your data. That being said, working with BigCommerce wasn’t overwhelmingly difficult. There were some functionality areas where I thought there was room for improvement, but the way BigCommerce walks you through how to go about setting up a store is rather painless. I’d definitely recommend BigCommerce to eCommerce beginners. If you are looking for eCommerce professionals to help you make it over the speed bumps, don’t hesitate to contact 1Digital Agency. Not only are they partnered with BigCommerce, but also they’re eCommerce geniuses. They’re here to help you! Reach out via email at email@example.com, or call them toll free at 888-982-8269.
So, what exactly is a “chatbot”?Well, if you were growing up in the AOL Instant Messenger era you might remember chatbots like SmarterChild. Essentially, chatbots are an automated response system that come across conversational. The benefit of Facebook Messenger Chatbot is that you can gear it specifically for your eCommerce business to perpetuate the attitude you present with your products. Also, technology has come a long way since the days of AIM so it’s easier for your chatbot to come across conversational. This makes it easier for customers to build a relationship with you.
What’s the best way to use Facebook Messenger Chatbots for my eCommerce business?Although we are lightyears ahead of where we were with chatbot functionality, there are things you should be weary of when integrating Facebook Messenger Chatbots into your Shopify platform. For instance, there are still some kinks that are being fixed. Specifically, and mainly, in regards to actual shopping done through messenger. It can be a bit confusing for the chatbot to decipher what the customer exactly wants, especially if they’re using colloquial, non specific language. I’m sure, in time, all those subtle kinks will be straightened out. In the meantime, using Facebook Messenger Chatbot’s for your eCommerce business is incredibly helpful in scenarios such as order confirmation, general customer service help, upselling, or (best of all) just for fun! We are living in a world now where the customers desire instant gratification. We like sending a message and getting a quick reply instead of sending an email and waiting to hear back. Having Facebook Messenger Chatbot allows you to communicate with your customers in real time, and simultaneously gain a better relationship. It is often understated how important it is to develop a deeper relationship with your customers. Shopify’s Facebook Messenger Chatbot makes it easier to get that relationship. If you need help with your Shopify platform, or any social media marketing,reach out to 1Digital Agency! They’re genius eCommerce and they’re here to help you.
The Greeting EmailMake a great first impression by sending an email to a new customer when they first sign up with their site. It not only makes sure that their email address is valid, but it also gives you a chance to introduce yourself. A simple “hello” could suffice, but we suggest digging a little deeper. Give your potential new customer something to look forward to, such as a reward. For instance you could do something along the lines of, “we appreciate your subscription, use this code to get free shipping on your next order”. You’re not just reaching out personally to the customer, but giving them incentive to utilize your eCommerce store.
The Recently Purchased EmailAfter every purchase a customer makes on your eCommerce store, it is obvious to send a follow up confirmation email that includes the details of the order and possible tracking information. This is a missed opportunity to showcase more of what you have! In this email you can link to products that they might be interested in buying based off of what they purchased. I know I personally enjoy when an eCommerce clothing store sends me things in an email of things I might like – it’s like they did the shopping for me. Or, for example, say you recently bought a television online and send the confirmation email. It would be helpful to include a deal for a TV stand or TV mount as well so they go back to your site and possibly purchase one. You’re thinking ahead for them.
The Birthday EmailBirthday emails are a fantastic way to garner a better relationship with your customers. It feels incredibly personal because, well, it is! A customer’s birthday is their special day. When an eCommerce store reaches out and offers a birthday deal like automatic 15% off the entire order or a special gift included, it’s enticing. Customers will appreciate that you thought of them, and will feel more inclined to treat themselves.
The Inactive & Active EmailTypically, wait at least three months to reach out to your inactive customers. Send them an email stating how you miss them and offer a reward, like$10 off their next purchase over $50. It’s not that you’re rewarding them for being inactive, you’re just enticing them to become active again. On the other hand, those who are extremely active on your eCommerce store, shouldn’t go unnoticed! Offer them something as well, like a free trial for an expensive service, or a “BOGO” deal. They’ll recognize you appreciate their consistent business and will work with them to retain them as a customer. As mentioned earlier, with the holidays around the corner it’s important to reach out to your eCommerce customers. If you need assistance with your eCommerce email marketing, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 1Digital Agency. We’re genius eCommerce and we’re here to help you. Feel free to contact us at our toll free number 888-982-8269 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Improve Lead TimesA delayed lead time is a major issue eCommerce websites don’t want. Consumers are more than likely to exit out of a website if pages aren’t loaded almost automatically, consumers are likely to change their minds and exit the website. This means you as an eCommerce retailer are losing potential customers because your website is slightly delayed. Improving lead times can help significantly increase sales and website clicks as well increase web traffic as your website is more responsive to consumers. The simple addition of a loading icon can indicate your website is functional, which may help reduce your bounce rate.
Show Your CredentialsIn a time when fraud is prevalent, it’s important that your customers know that your eCommerce website is 100% safe and secure. A visible seal of security ensures your customers that their money is safe and transactions are made in a safe and secure way. Adding a security seal will benefit both you and your customers as they are more likely to complete purchases from your eCommerce website.
Add VideoOne of the easiest features to add on your eCommerce website is videos! Videos are a great way for you to show off your products in real time. Static product images and descriptions are not enough for consumers these days who are more than likely to do research before purchasing a product. Videos allow customers to view products in real time and will increase conversion rates. However stay aware of the video played your utilize as videos are likely to increase your page’s lead time.
Increase UrgencyA tried and true marketing tactic, creating a sense of urgency is one of the easiest ways to increase sales. Whether it’s a limited time offer, or a promotion like free shipping, adding these features can increase traffic and conversions. Consumers will be inclined to purchase products during an offer that will soon expire. Wanting to take advantage of savings and deals, customers will more likely purchase during this time of urgency and you as a retailer will see an increase in sales and traffic.
Clean Up Your Checkout ProcessOne of the main reasons for shopping cart abandonment, or even customers not finishing their checkout is because of lengthy, timely checkout procedures. When a customer is forced to go through a time-consuming and often tedious checkout process, they are more likely to give up their shopping carts altogether because they don’t want to waste time or go through the process of checking out. A clean and streamlined checkout process will allow consumers to make transactions quicker and will most likely have your customers coming back again to purchase more! Small steps like these can really help improve your eCommerce website. Whether it’s something simple like adding a security seal, or more complex such as streamlining your checkout process, you’re sure to see better results. What better time to update your website with these improvements than right now, right before the start of the holiday season. At 1 Digital agency, this is what we do. Updating and improving your eCommerce website should be a simple process and we make it just that. Contact 1 Digital Agency today for all your development needs!
It’s no secret that online marketing is one of the most effective and modern tools to promote your eCommerce business. However, one of the major issues with online marketing is that the trends change so rapidly. It’s difficult to constantly stay up to date, which is why here at 1Digital we’re here to help.Here are some tips to stay afloat in the ever changing world of online marketing.
Analytics Are Key For Any eCommerce BusinessDo you know how difficult it is to create a marketing campaign that appeals to literally every demographic? I’d argue it’s impossible. You have to create marketing campaigns based on distinct user behavior to reach your appropriate audience. As Anthony Sarandrea, CEO of SiteFlood, said, “There is a specific formula that can be tailor for every business and industry, to gain the most targeted consumers.” This is where analytics come into play because analytics provide us the data needed for those formulas. In “real life” terms, you have to get to know the consumer first. I mean, you wouldn’t want to try to take someone to dinner at a steakhouse only to eventually realize that they’re vegetarian. When people have content that they can relate to and that they’re genuinely interested in, consumers are going to pay attention, which directly improves the effectiveness of your ad campaigns.
Advanced RetargetingFor many consumers, it takes a few run ins with your business for it to leave a lasting impression. Google AdWords is an excellent resource to utilize because you are capable of creating custom advertisements to those who have already visited your website. Pro-tip: Using Google AdWords in combination with Analytics creates advertisements that meet the exact needs of your consumers, and therefore resonate with them better!
Go MobileIt’s necessary to stress the importance of mobile devices. Not only should your site be mobile responsive, but also you should take advantage of promotional tools for the mobile platform. Most people have ad blocking software built into their web browsers on their desktop or laptop, but ad blocking software is rare to come by on mobile devices. This means that your marketing efforts are more likely to be effective and reached through mobile browsers. Don’t fret if you find yourself struggling! Here at 1Digital Agency we are here to help with all your eCommerce digital marketing needs. Feel free to contact us at our toll free number 888-982-8269 or send us an email at email@example.com
Uniqlo LifewearPromoting your product or service based on its USP is the traditional approach to sales focused advertising. However, if instead of selling specific products (35% off our jeans) you create an overarching brand to define your company, you unlock the potential of ideologically driven communications. A global branding campaign entitled “Why Do We Get Dressed?” was recently produced for Japan-based clothing brand Uniqlo for the Life Wear collection. This is global campaign will be translated and displayed in many various cultures, meaning it must be relatable to everyone, everywhere. Instead of selling something in particular, this campaign builds the Uniqlo brand by asking open-ended questions each person can relate to through personal experience. “Why do you want to fit in? Why do you get dressed?” Uniqlo Lifewear is a collection of essential items every person may have in their wardrobe – jeans, long-sleeve shirts, knits and more. By not branding each article of clothing with a prominent logo or design, Uniqlo has built a brand out of being intentionally generic. The company attempts to facilitate everyday life in cultures where people increasingly look the same. The company defines itself as “innovative high-quality clothing that is universal in design and comfort and made for everyone, everywhere.” Where the apparel industry is traditionally promoted by the unique style of the designer, of the brand, Uniqlo promotes the individual. Within this advertisement, we notice the faces of each character expressing how an outfit doesn’t necessarily need to draw attention to it. Clothing reinforces who we are, illuminating ourselves in a crowd full of strangers.
Branding small businessesLarger businesses are able to conceptualize abstract brands outside of the realm of the specific product or service provided. When a market is already familiar with your brand, the opportunity to expand into abstract message can take many forms such as the multicultural pride of Coca-Cola or the patriotism of selling America (err I mean Budweiser). This is a seemingly monumental task to small businesses that must focus advertising on improving sales for specific products. Don’t try to mimic the style of big brands as they are often constrained under layers of bureaucracy. This prevents them from being flexible and daring with their brand. Instead, define your own brand; consumers are more likely to relate to your brand if they see you standing for something you believe in, particularly in innovative, bold, and daring ways. There is a prominent consumer trend focusing on independent establishments. This includes a more authentic and independent aesthetic many big brands and chains are attempting to duplicate. The advantage of branding a small business lies in the personal connection that can be formed with a consumer, as opposed to attempting to relate on a personal level to a behemoth of a brand.
Show Off Brand PersonalityIn a small business, it is more effective to promote the company culture that drives it every day. Don’t over exaggerate your offerings and raise expectations as this results in broken promises, and shattered trust in your brand. Create trust with honest branding; try offering more instead of slashing prices. Promotions such as these are an opportunity to reinforce the brand mission that shapes your company. Study your product or service and identify the market position it occupies. By researching the emotional and rational needs of your customers you can develop a brand that resonates with the individual. Think of your brand as a person; consider the character presented by either a spokesperson for your brand, or the type of consumer you’re communicating towards. This brand personality will be made up of beliefs, values, and purposes that define your company; and it will define what the business stands for along with the type of consumers it resonates with. Perhaps the most important element of building a brand is consistency. Speak to your customers with a consistently branded tone of voice. This tone should be applied to all of your content and communications to help reinforce the business’ character. Once you have determined your market position, work alongside the 1Digital Agency team of copywriters to flesh out your brand’s voice. We will align your brand’s voice throughout blogs, promotional initiatives, website copy, social media and more to create a uniform brand.
International retailer Walmart has bought online eCommerce platform jet.com for $3 billion in cash with another $300 million in stock. Jet.com is notorious for taking on eCommerce heavyweight Amazon.com by offering the same basic business principles to its customers. Convenient everyday items at a low cost. Convenience comes from shipping it directly to your home so the customer has to do the least work possible.Jet.com, which has only been live for a little over a year, has already made big strides in conquering the eCommerce digital platform. Their strategy is simple, sell the same high-quality everyday items but at a cheaper price than their competitors. Research found that even a 5% decrease in price had consumers switching over to Jet.com and without pricey subscriptions, consumers have been staying. They have a growing customer base of urban and millennial consumers with more than 400,000 new customers added monthly and an average of 25,000 orders processed daily. Jet.com utilizes best-in-class technology that rewards customers with real time savings on products that are usually bought and shipped together. This allows for supply chain costs, which are usually a hidden cost from consumers, making products cheaper overall. While Walmart buying Jet.com may seem like Walmart taking over online eCommerce, Walmart and Jet.com will remain two distinct brands and identities. Walmart and Jet.com will combine their technologies and tech intelligence to “develop new offerings to help customers save time and money” Walmart eCommerce sales totaled $14 billion, or just 3% of its $482 billion in annual revenue. With this new acquisition, Walmart can utilize Jet.com’s successful eCommerce algorithm to reach even more consumers than they already do. Furthermore, Jet.com already does what Walmart wishes to do which is looking at purchases in terms of the total “basket”, or everything purchased together, not individual items. As customers add items into their carts, the prices get cheaper. While this acquisition will not only benefit Walmart and Jet.com, customers are ultimately the winners. As jet.com utilizes Walmarts supply chain and distribution channels, Walmart will try to adopt Jet.com’s business algorithm and also utilize their “basket” strategy. Products at a discounted rate mean the customer wins in the end. What about smaller eCommerce businesses who have traditional business strategies? It seems that this Walmart and Jet.com acquisition doesn’t look too good for smaller eCommerce platforms. With a major powerhouse and young gun joining forces, how will it affect smaller eCommerce businesses that can’t utilize large distribution channels and don’t adopt the “basket” strategy? However, smaller eCommerce retailers that sell specific items to niche markets shouldn’t be affected too much as they sell products that are highly specialized products and targeting certain consumers. Smaller eCommerce businesses should brace themselves for an impact on their sales. Walmart and Jet.com have made it easier to shop for everyday products at a bulk rate ultimately lowering the costs for consumers. We can only assume as Walmart’s eCommerce algorithms will change and Jet.com, now able to use Walmart’s distribution channels, will make it easier for consumers to get their purchases faster and cheaper. The driving force behind this major acquisition is the convenience to the customer. As technology develops, more and more eCommerce retailers are looking for ways to bring convenience to their customers in any possible way. This means smaller eCommerce companies should adapt to the changes if they want to compete with major retailers like Walmart and Jet.com. eCommerce retailers will have to focus their business strategies on convenience for the consumers.