Get Your eCommerce Site Ready for Cyber Monday

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 Cyber Monday is one of the biggest sales days in eCommerce business’ timelines. As more and more online retailers choose to take part in this annual sale day, it can be difficult to attract consumers when there are so many competitors vying for the same traffic. In order to get ready for the biggest sale days of the year and to see the most results, here’s a few tips and tricks to help you get ready.  

Email Marketing Campaign

Email marketing is a tried and true tactic to reach your customer base and increase traffic back to your website. Tailoring your email campaigns to Black Friday and Cyber Monday right now can help you build anticipation and traffic. To do this, start by building anticipation such as promotional emails that can preview exclusive deals and discounts, free gifts, and giveaways. Sharing with your customer base that you will be launching exclusive deals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday will bring in more customers and create buzz and excitement.   

Gift Guides

As the holiday season comes around, more and more customers look to the internet to find the perfect gift for their loved ones. Gift guides are a great opportunity for customers to find new products to purchase. Having your products featured on gift guides specific to your industry is a great way to drive more traffic to your site. As more people see that your products would make great gifts, your traffic could convert into purchases made. Blogs and websites that compile gift guides are a great way to create more buzz and draw attention to your website.  

Customer Service

The holiday season is when you want to be the most readily available for your customers. It’s expected that they will have the most questions or concerns during the season. As an eCommerce retailer, you want to make sure you are ready to answer any questions or concerns that might come up. Integrating a live chat option could be a great step in the right direction. It’s inevitable that your customers will have questions about products and rather than having them leave your site without purchasing anything or having their questions not answered, having a live chat could help them finish their transactions. Helpful, thorough, and quick responses will help customers make purchase decisions and complete checkout.  

Go Mobile

The latest eCommerce trends show customers are using smartphones to make online purchases now more than ever. Take advantage of this by making sure your mobile eCommerce site is completely responsive and active. Your mobile eCommerce site should function as well as your desktop site, if not better. You want to make sure your customer’s user experience is easy and efficient to use. Customers are more likely complete transactions through their smartphones when your mobile website is completely responsive and functional.  

Website Optimization

Most importantly, as an eCommerce retailer, your website is at the forefront of the customer’s shopping experience. You want to make sure your desktop website is completely ready to go and responsive. Make sure your website is designed and optimized to see an increase in heavy traffic during the sale. You want to make sure your website is completely functional for all of your customers. You want them to be able to make purchases efficiently and easily by having your website completely responsive and functional.   Cyber Monday is one of the most important days in an eCommerce retailer’s calendar year. You want to make sure your eCommerce website is ready to go and small efforts such as email campaigns, gift guides, and mobile optimization will help you have a great Cyber Monday.

Optimizing Your SEO strategy to See Results

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As an eCommerce retailer, just having a website will not bring you the traffic you’re looking for. In order to bring more traffic and visitors to your website, utilizing SEO strategies can bring more traffic and create traffic into conversions and sales. How do you bring traffic to your website? Utilizing SEO strategies can bring in more visitors and customers. Your SEO strategy should be specifically tailored to eCommerce retailers and focus on the products you are selling. Focusing on a few key aspects will help bring your SEO rankings up and have increased traffic to your site. Whether you’re on Volusion, BigCommerce, or Shopify  your SEO should be specifically tailored to your brand.  

User-Friendly

First and foremost, your website should be completely user-friendly and visitors should be able to navigate around the site easily. Searching for specific products and services should also be easily done. Your website should be an easy walk through and ensure this will have visitors coming back. Creating category pages and sub-category pages ensures your website is easily navigated through. Linking these product pages to your keywords can also help your SEO rankings increase.     

Keyword Choice

Your keyword choice should be specifically tailored to the products and services you offer on your eCommerce website. You want to select keywords that will make your website more visible to viewers. When choosing your keywords, be particular and choose keywords that are relevant to what you are selling. Once you’ve chosen your keywords, you can create phrases that are applicable to your site. These phrases should be phrases a common customer would type into search bars when looking up a specific product or service.  

Content Matters

Content is very important in your SEO efforts. On-site content not only provides more information about your specific brand and products but it allows you the opportunity to become an industry expert. The more on-site content you have regarding your industry, the more you will be considered an industry expert. When considering onsite content, be certain it is not written lazily or not properly researched. This can, in fact, hurt your SEO rankings and make you fall further in search results if you become a source not all customers can trust.  

Social Media

Social media is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to create traffic to your website. Creating tailored social media channels for your brand is a great way to share what you have to offer. Whether it’s exclusive deals and promotions or sharing on-site content, social media is a great way to share your brand with even more customers and potential customers. The sheer act of sharing information on the internet can help drive up sales and traffic but also increase your SEO rankings as you’ll become more visible to potential customers.   When you want to increase traffic to your website and see more sales, SEO is an important step in the right direction. Most customers like to research a product or simply look up a product or service on a search engine before they do anything else, and a good SEO ranking helps you become more visible to new customers.   We here at 1Digital are eCommerce SEO experts. Our dedicated team makes sure your SEO strategy not only brings you results but also is tailored specifically to your industry. If you’re looking for any sort of SEO help, 1Digital can help you increase traffic and bring your SEO rankings up. 

How to Compete With Amazon for Holiday Sales

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The holidays are right around the corner, and shoppers and retailers are gearing up for a hectic shopping season. That being said, holiday sales are an important part of any eCommerce business. With the internet and online shopping becoming more and more popular, shoppers are turning to online shopping to make sure they get exactly what they need. In fact, Black Friday sales actually fell more than $1 Billion in the past year, as more shoppers chose to shop online on Cyber Monday. Amazon was the preferred outlet for shoppers.    So why do people constantly choose Amazon? Amazon is not only the hub of eCommerce; but shoppers can find basically anything they’re looking for right on their computers. Amazon’s delivery is also a factor many consider. If shoppers have Amazon Prime, their products can be delivered within 2 days of ordering if not sooner.   So how do smaller eCommerce business compete during one of the most busiest seasons for eCommerce? Smaller businesses can make small adjustments to compete with Amazon for holiday sales.  

Free Shipping

One of the easiest and simplest adjustments you can make is offering free shipping and fast delivery for the holiday season. One of the drawbacks of online shopping is the lengthy wait time between ordering and delivery. You can ease the situation by offering free shipping to their homes  Shoppers are always looking for a deal especially around the holidays and offering free shipping can be the incentive that get shoppers to buy from your eCommerce business. Free shipping is one of the easiest ways to bring customers to your website.  

Discount Codes and Promotions

Specifically timed promotions and discount codes during the holiday season is another great incentive for shoppers to purchase from your eCommerce store. Offering timed deals like “buy one get one, and free gifts” that end at a certain time creates urgency and allows your customer to act quickly and purchase from your website before the promotion ends. Discounts for the holiday season are also a great way to bring potential customers to your eCommerce business. A certain percentage off or dollar value off that expires after a period of time also has more customers coming to your eCommerce to take advantage of these special offers.  

One-Click Buttons

One-click buttons is essentially a one-click button that once clicked on will automatically re-purchase the product using the information (shipping and payment information) already stored on file. One-Click buttons were made famous by Amazon when they utilized it for everyday items that people bought frequently. You can use the one-click button method during the holiday season. Putting in a one-click button on items that are being heavily promoted or special for the holiday season allows customers to purchase them quickly without having to go through a lengthy checkout process.   Little adjustments like these can help produce more holiday sales and more traffic to your eCommerce website. 1Digital can help you get ready for the holiday season with making these small adjustments. Whether it’s creating pop-ups for discounts and promo codes or free shipping, or putting in a one click button on special holiday products, we’re here to help you have the best holiday season yet.

Evrmemories: When Migration Makes Sense

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The Problem: Evrmemories.com was working on Volusion and they were losing orders because of the functionality of the checkout process. There were also minor problems they were having on their host platform that couldn’t be ignored anymore. Solution: 1Digital provided them with a way to migrate from Volusion to BigCommerce, a different eCommerce platform that better fit their needs. A complete redesign and development went along with their migration from Volusion to BigCommerce. As Volusion users, Evrmemories.com would experience constant difficulties in their platform. The main problem being the checkout process which was full of little problems. They wanted a more streamlined checkout process that wouldn’t allow them to lose orders or customers. Additionally, they were having trouble with customers uploading photos to their website for custom orders. The template they were on did not support that functionality which was a major problem. 1Digital did a full custom redesign and migration that allowed for the streamline process and functionality they were looking for. Evrmemories.com is an online eCommerce store that specializes in cremation jewelry and urns. Everlasting Memories was built on the foundation of family, and the importance of remembrance. They create custom jewelry and urns for people who have lost their loved ones. The process of creating these custom pieces can be emotionally daunting, and evrmemories.com wants to help you remember your loved ones with bespoke items. Their lines range from jewelry including necklaces, bracelets, and earrings, to urns for your loved ones. They contacted 1Digital to move them from Volusion to BigCommerce. BigCommerce was better suited for their needs. The BigCommerce platform had a better and more responsive template, developers could create apps that could integrate into their specific BigCommerce template. The biggest plus point was that BigCommerce supported customers ability to upload images to their website for the custom jewelry being made. This was crucial for their business because many of their products could be customized with photos and images of loved ones. Uploading files and images was a constant problem they had to address with their customers which caused delays in orders being received and processed, ultimately delaying the run of business. On Volusion, customers were having a hard time uploading their images onto the website and this created a constant disconnect to the ordering process. screencapture-web-archive-org-web-20150419112934-http-www-evrmemories-com-1475610608275                                                         screencapture-evrmemories-1475611669964 They found 1Digital after extensive research. They got quotes from a handful of digital agencies, but our thorough and transparent approach made us the clear winner. Our proposal was the most detailed and accounted for everything, even the what if’s. “The one thing that stuck out to me was that 1Digital was very prompt on getting back to me. The proposal was very detailed in exactly what was included. I could just tell that 1Digital just had more experience and history in doing this type of project,” said Casey Doran, founder, and CEO of Evrmemories. 1Digital completed a complete site redesign, as well as a migration from their Volusion template to Bigcommerce. A migration is a completely different process from a redesign and includes extensive work. A migration is the process of moving your website from one platform to another. It may sound simple, but there’s a lot of backend work that needs to be done to make this possible. Our developers implemented a 301 redirect so Evrmemories.com could preserve their organic search rankings on Google and other key search platforms. Setting up a 301 redirect from the old domain to the new domain helped them keep their inbound links from their old domain and keep their SEO rankings. We were able to migrate their data from Volusion to BigCommerce without a hitch and were able to retain their search rankings and inbound links. “In this type of work, you really do get what you pay for. We knew that 1Digital would cover everything and we weren’t left hung out to dry” Now, Evrmemories.com is hosted on BigCommerce and working flawlessly. We asked Casey if he had any advice for eCommerce businesses looking to make a switch from one platform to another and he said “Make sure to read the proposal thoroughly. Also, understand the process of what will happen. And the most important thing, no one cares about your site as much as you, so always be involved, pay attention to detail, and provide feedback as much as you can.” We’re proud to have helped Evrmemories.com become a full functioning home for people to remember their loved ones. After a site redesign and smooth migration, Evrmemories.com is able to help more people with custom jewelry and urns for the people in their lives that matter the most. With a little help from 1Digital, evrmemories.com is back to being a full functioning website.

5 Ways to Create Buzz for Your New eCommerce Product Launch

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Launching a new product or service is always an exciting and nerve-wracking endeavor. While expanding your product line is a great step forward for your brand, there’s always the inevitable doubt that it might not do well. TO combat this, it’s vital to create awareness or buzz around the impending launch of your product. Creating anticipation around your new product or service can help ensure the success of your product.

Create Teasers

Marketers face a tough time getting the word out on new and upcoming products, but teasers can help create attention and anticipation. Creating teasers to post periodically until the product launch is one of the best ways to create anticipation for your product. Posting teaser content on social media platforms that are most useful to your product and create short picture and video teasers to create anticipation!  

Start a Blog

One of the easiest and free tactics you can use to create buzz is starting a blog. Writing blog articles can help build buzz around your product because you’re giving in-depth detail about the new product or service. Becoming a voice of authority in your industry is important as more and more customers will trust you as a brand. Writing blog articles, which answer industry questions can help establish your authority.

Videos

Videos are one of the biggest ways to create impact for your brand because so many people are visual. They’re also a great way to create anticipation around your new product. A little creativity can take you a long way. A creative and engaging concept can help market your product and create anticipated buzz even more than traditional marketing tactics. Posting videos on your social media platforms that see the most traffic will help your product and video be seen by a lot more people.  

Influencers

Utilizing influencer marketing is having individuals (called influencers) who are well known in your industry can help bring much-needed attention to your brand and product. Not only will their followers and community come to your brand, they will also be influenced to purchase your product because they see their favorite influencers talking about it. Influencers have a massive reach, and utilizing them could bring a lot of traffic back to your brand’s product or service.  

Contests

Starting a contest or giveaway is a great way to engage with your customers as well as bring in new customers. Contests are fun and give your customers an incentive to enter your giveaway and can have your customers purchasing products. In order to create buzz around a new product or service launch, create a contest or giveaway for a free product or service a customer can win after the launch of the product. This creates attention and anticipation as more and more customers will enter in order win the free prize. Strategic marketing tactics can help create a lot of anticipation around your new product launch, and help retain customers even after the launch. Whether you need a custom landing page for your contest, or SEO blog writing, contact 1Digital to get started today!

BigCommerce Integrates With Facebook for Native Checkout Payments

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Native check out is the process of creating a custom payment option right on your eCommerce platform so your customers never have to leave your web page. Native checkout allows a streamlined and faster checkout process for your customers. Recently, eCommerce web platform BigCommerce released a set of Facebook integrations that makes it easier for online retailers to advertise and sell their products on Facebook. This new integration from BigCommerce makes them one of only two eCommerce platforms to use this type payment functionality.   This new set of integrations not only makes it easier for eCommerce retailers to sell their products and services on Facebook, it makes it significantly easier for customers to purchase products and services on this social media site. BigCommerce has also linked their platform with Facebook Pixels which is the ability to advertise and sell products through ads on Facebook itself. Facebook’s automated Pixel installation allows for a retailer’s product catalog to sync with Facebook and use ads to increase sales. This saves merchants time as they don’t need to enter a manual code.   BigCommerce’s integration with Facebook is a very large step in the right direction. Social media and eCommerce are two of the biggest uses of the internet and linking them together allows for even more streamlined interactions. Many consumers utilize social media to look up and research a product, read reviews, and even find new products and services to purchase through strategic ads placed on social media.   “Social connections and online shopping are two of the most fundamental use cases for the internet,” said Jimmy Duvall, chief product officer for BigCommerce. “Through our work with Facebook, we’re helping our merchants both increase sales from Facebook advertising and reduce the time required to launch and optimize targeted campaigns.”   Rather than have a potential consumer view an ad on facebook and have to go on the actual website, this new integration allows them to purchase the intended product or service right on Facebook and the checkout process is right there for the consumer to complete. This is a great step towards the future of eCommerce. Retailers who sell on Facebook can drive sales right up with the convenience that is offered. Customers enjoy the convenience and a streamlined online shopping process. BigCommerce continues to make strides in the eCommerce world. They also have deals involving integration with companies such as eBay and Amazon marketplaces. Soon discovering new products and services will be easy.   Need a little help integrating your product catalog? Contact 1Digital today and we can help take your BigCommrce platform to the next level.

Build Lasting Relationships, Not Just Sales

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With social media being a prominent marketing tool for eCommerce businesses, it’s easy to want to make direct sales through your social media channels. Facebook and Twitter are just two platforms you can make sales through. But, this can completely backfire. It’s ok to market on social media and try to get your products out there, but in the world of eCommerce, it’s always better to build relationships. As an eCommerce retailer, it is important to build quality relationships with your customers. Having a positive relationship with your customers has many benefits. Some benefits include sales (obviously), decreased shopping cart abandonment, even brand loyalty. A positive relationship signifies that you care about your customers. You also care about they think and their opinions.  

There are a few things to keep in mind when building relationships with your customers.

  As you start to interact with customers on various  social media platforms, you want to look beyond brand mentions. Brand mentions are exactly that; when a brand or company is mentioned online. Brand mentions are extremely important as they help to build links, but they aren’t always effective. Looking beyond brand mentions, brands need to start being aggressive with their approach. You want to monitor your social media and brand mentions, but you also want to engage with your community.  Actually speaking with your customers and interacting with them helps facilitate a relationship. These relationships build trust and show your customers that you don’t just want to sell them something, but care for their opinions as well. Utilizing social media to build these relationships is the first step. Remember you want to be aggressive, but not too aggressive. Start with natural conversations, where you avoid being pushy. You don’t want to go for the immediate sale, rather start with engaging with them in a natural way. You can do this by “liking”, or “ follow back” Little notions like this can help establish a foundation for your relationship. If a customer is seriously considering a product or service, then it’s completely ok for you to go in for the sale. Always remember you want to ease them into the sale first. The most important thing to remember is you want to facilitate a relationship with your customer. Your relationship should be almost like friends, rather than buyer and seller. Social media is a great way for you to build lasting relationships. These relationships can then turn into sales made on your eCommerce website. As an eCommerce business, you want to focus on establishing trust and validation of your brand. The more your customers trust you, the more sales you can make. You can establish brand loyalty and even have customers refer to your website because of the way you interact with your consumers.   If you’re an eCommerce retailer, you’ll want to start forming lasting relationships immediately. 1Digital is the perfect resource for you. We can implement many social media strategies that’ll build long lasting relationships, from conception to execution. Contact us today to get started!

Influencer Marketing and How to Utilize it for Your eCommerce Business

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Influencer marketing is a marketing strategy that is fairly new in the world of business. This is when key individuals who have massive reach are marketing products in a completely natural way. The customer would assume they use these products in everyday life. Influencer marketing is an emerging marketing strategy that has become even more prominent with the rise of social media marketing. Influencers are individuals who have made a reputation for themselves online. These key people have gained trust from their followers through honest reviews and opinions and built a community of followers who listen to what they have to say. Brands now take advantage of these influencers by partnering with them and having them review or advertise specific products and services. So how can an eCommerce brand take advantage of this new marketing strategy? Let’s look at the advantages and some disadvantages in utilizing influencer marketing to help promote your product or service.  

Advantages

“Native” Advertising

Advertising and traditional media marketing have become completely saturated in recent years. Customers see traditional advertising like TV commercials as invasive, and it is reported that 86% of consumers experience banner blindness. Banner blindness is the act of consumers not being able to see or register ads that they see every day. Native advertising is when influencer create creative content, while partnered with a brand, but it’s not viewed as invasive advertising. Instead, it is a more natural way for consumers to see products or services in mediums they are more connected to like social media. Because it is in  a more natural way, influencer marketing content overcomes banner blindness and resistance from consumers and they actually see the products and services.  

Improves Your Reputation and Increases Loyalty and Conversion

An influencer who agrees to market your product or services shows that they have a certain amount of trust in your company. Influencers have a certain authority in their opinions and reviews, and customers trust them to show them the very best. When you partner with an influencer, customers see this as a partnership where the influencer trusts your brand. The influencer and your brand have consciously decided to work together, which helps to improve your reputation as a company. Your customers see that your relationship with a trusted influencer is positive and this leads to a positive reputation among your customers. A better online reputation means your customer is more likely to trust you and your products and services. This can lead to an increase in conversion rates and brand loyalty. A token advantage of partnering with an influencer is being able to directly contact and then negotiate the campaign. For example, after deciding to partner up with an influencer, you can then decide besides the free trial, what else they can offer to their followers. Whether it’s a special discount code, a call to action, or even a hosted competition; it’s all in your hands. This will lead to increased traffic on your website as their follows now become potential customers for you. Once you’ve converted them from shoppers to buyers, your brand loyalty will likely increase as well. As your customers experience your products and understand why their favorite influencer advocated for your products and services, they will keep coming back to your brand.  

Disadvantages

The main disadvantage of influencer marketing is the price tag. While some influencer partnerships can be done for relatively cheap, most are expensive and a commitment. As influencer marketing becomes more and more popular, the demand for influencer marketing goes up as well. Influencers know they have an influential voice, so they can dictate the price they want. “In 2014, a post by an influencer to promote a brand could have cost $400. Nowadays, this figure can reach $80,000 and remains on the up.”. It’s better to get into influencer marketing now before the market is fully saturated with sponsored posts and at a very high price. When influencer marketing first started making waves, it was mostly sponsored content on blogs and websites. Bloggers were the most influential at the time as many people trust the opinions of bloggers who tried out products and services for themselves. As social media becomes the most prominent tool, we see a shift and influencer marketing is happening on mainly various social media channels. Instagram and Twitter are the most commonly used social media platforms, with Instagram being the reigning king in influencer marketing. Customers enjoy seeing visual products, and Instagram allows to see what exactly they are likely to purchase.    

Conclusion

Two new social media platforms are rising as a ground for influencers. Snapchat and Periscope are two of the latest players in social media to utilize influencer marketing. They both focus on “real time” and this could be a big advantage for companies. Your customers will assume your products and services are being used in everyday life and situations and they are more than likely to purchase from you. Influencer marketing is a strategy that is here to stay for the long haul. Customers trust opinions from people they know and have a connection with. Influencers use their voice and advocate their followers products and brands they are partnered with. With many advantages and some disadvantages, as a company you should really take the time to look at if influencer marketing is right for your company. While not cheap, influencer marketing has just that. Influence over a large group of people. Their impact on the way customers purchase products or services is substantial and a great way for your company to get your products out there.  

5 Ways to Create Brand Loyalty Organically for Your eCommerce Business

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Brand loyalty in an eCommerce business is very important for many reasons. As an eCommerce company, you want customers to come back to your web store each time they are looking for a product. Brand loyalty means when they’re looking for a specific product, consumers will come to you rather than your competitors. In order to establish brand loyalty, there are many strategies to try out. Many used paid strategies like advertisements and product placement to establish brand loyalty. But there are a few changes you can make in order to increase your brand loyalty completely organically.

1. Tell Your Story

Take your customers on your brand’s journey and have them become emotionally invested in your products and company. You want your customers to know your roots and where you came from, not just what products you’re selling to them. Providing a backstory, and having your customers invest in your brand emotionally will have your customers with you for the long haul. As new products are rolled out, your connection with your customers will allow you to make more sales.

2. Reward Customers For Their Loyalty

Customers thrive on incentives. If you provide them with a reason or reward to come back, they will. Rewards can help establish brand loyalty and form a solid foundation of customers. Furthermore, in this day online reviews (especially for a small business) make or break your business. Customers do extensive research beforehand and utilize online reviews to make purchase decisions. Make sure your customers are reading the very best. Positive reviews on your Google+ page, Facebook, and even Yelp will all help increase traffic and SEO. Rewards and incentives provide a reason for your customers to leave positive reviews on social media and other websites.   

3. Be Active on Social Media

Social Media is usually the first resource customers utilize to research a product and learn more about a company. You want to make sure you are active on various social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram. It is noted that your customers are more likely to be active and interested in your products when you as a brand are interactive with them. Whether it’s consistent posting, following back, or communicating with your customers, engagement with your customers proves to bring customers back again. Community engagement will show your customers that you are an involved brand always looking to make improvements and listen to your customers. 

4. Highlight Your Employees

Your employees are the driving force behind your brand. Their hard work and dedication are the reason your business runs. Highlight them as individuals who contribute to your brand and its success. This will help bring your company recognition, trust, and even some personality. Your customers will see faces behind the brand, and have more reason to trust your company. Additionally, by highlighting your employees and recognizing them, your business will gain exposure from their network of friends and family as well.   

5. Take Social Listening Into Account

Social listening is monitoring your social media activity and conversations to understand what your customers are specifically saying about your brand and company. Utilizing social listening can help you make strategic improvements based on the feedback they provide. Social listening can also help brand loyalty  because of the direct interaction between company and customer. If your customer sees that you actively listen to what they have to say and that you’re constantly improving based on what they are saying, they are more than likely to continue to give feedback. This helps build a trust between customer and company and your customers will come back to you and become a loyal customer.   Small changes and tweaks can create a large impact and drastically increase your brand loyalty organically. You can utilize strategies that you probably already have intact already, to create an even bigger customer base. If you need that extra push or even help to make these small adjustments, contact 1Digital today! We’ll take the reigns of any changes you might want to implement on your eCommerce web page! 

eCommerce for Beginners: Shopify

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(part three)

I’ve officially taken BigCommerce (part 1) and Volusion (part 2) out for a test drive, now it’s time to try Shopify! I’ve heard excellent things about this platform. Hopefully, my combined experiences with BigCommerce and Volusion will make setting up in Shopify a walk in the park. Round three… Let’s begin!

Initial Setup

I was immediately drawn to Shopify’s initial setup. 1 I like their graphics, I like their colors. They look like they’re trying hard, but not too hard, to make you realize setting up a store can be fun. Obviously, it’s tedious, and can be stressful, especially if it is your own business, but overall it’s not a bad time. At least, that’s the impression I get with the initial setup. The way you go about getting your free trial, or your actual eCommerce store, started is very similar to Volusion and BigCommerce. You input general information, such as name/email/etc. It’s nothing out of the ordinary, at this point. And then you’re taken to the screen shown above.   Alright, let’s dive in to Shopify…  

User Friendly

As I’ll mention in my “customization” section, there was a particular edit theme feature that I thought made customizing incredibly user friendly. Adding products was also pretty painless. Everything was available on one page: naming the product, uploading a picture of it, product description, weight, is this item taxable etc. Obviously, if you have all your products in a CSV file that’s the best way to bulk upload, just as it is with BigCommerce and Volusion. 2 There was one issue I had that actually ended up unresolved. If you’ve been following my series, you must know by now I’m consistently trying to open up bookstores on all these platforms. Bookstores have a LOT of categories, which isn’t always a bad thing! After a bit of research, and a conversation with a live chat agent (which I’ll get into in a later section) I realized that with my certain restrictions, what I needed to accomplish couldn’t be done without additional help.   An important note to keep in the back of your head… All these platforms that I have been testing, although very functional and advanced, don’t always do everything you need them to right out of the the gate. If you need to add functionality that the platform lacks you can hire one of their partners, which they have listed on their site.   To summarize my issue, I needed a parent category, which would have a couple of subcategories, and then sub subcategories. So, “Books” is the parent category, then “Subjects” would be listed under books, and under “Subjects” would be actual subjects like “biography” or “fiction”. As I mentioned, I did end up speaking with a live agent who was incredibly helpful and offered me some possible solutions with my problem.   Despite my roadblock, I think Shopify is intuitive and user friendly. It doesn’t hold your hand quite as much BigCommerce does, and it doesn’t assume knowledge like Volusion. It’s an easy to navigate interface, that walks you through what basics you need to get done.  

Design

3Their free themes are super professional looking. I also like how you’re automatically shown free themes, and not presented with stuff you have to pay for. For you to see themes that aren’t free, you have to click the little button off to the side. That way you don’t fall in love with something you may not have the budget for just yet.   Another added bonus to the design of their themes is the fact that they’re all responsive! They have little buttons for you to click to see how your site would be viewed on a mobile device, or a tablet. And you can see all these things before even committing one to your store! For those who are curious, this is what my store looks like: 4

Customization

Shopify has a lot to offer with customization. I was really impressed with this theme editor. There’s a lot going on, but that’s what makes it so awesome! (Feel free to click the image to get a bigger view.) 5 First thing I want to address is the bottom left corner. There, you can check in real time what your eCommerce store will look like responsively on tablets and mobile devices. Now, we can move on to the right hand side of the page where the customization menu is.   “Presets” is awesome. You can customize your theme anyway you like, using the tools available to you, and then SAVE all the customizations you did as a preset. That way, if you want to experiment, you’ll have a backup of your customizations loaded if you do change something and you don’t particularly like it.   Ultimately, there’s a lot of small customization stuff that you can do from this page that makes a big difference. You can edit fonts, colors, how you want certain things to be displayed, what your carousel of images are, etc. There’s just a lot! It’s also very convenient to be able to accomplish so much from one area.  

Shipping & Payment

  By now, some of these features appear pretty run of the mill for me. Shipping and payment was no different. It was automatically set up to ship in the US, which makes sense considering I provided a US address as my point of business.   A small tidbit of what I found to be extra in the Shopify shipping world was being able to determine how you want to weigh your products. In BigCommerce, it was ounces. In Volusion, it was pounds. In Shopify, you get to choose! Imagine having all of your products weights listed as kilograms and having to convert it to ounces. That’s a mess you can safely avoid with Shopify. 6 And I know this isn’t technically “shipping”, but you can make products downloadable as well. Shopify partnered with Fetch to make this functionality possible. It’s a commonly used app with a seamless integration that has great reviews. So, no need to fret if you want to sell eBooks, or PDFs, or Webinars, or other miscellaneous downloadable items.   As for payments, Shopify has their own payment system which accepts credit cards. It’s also integrated with PayPal so your customers can check out using that too. There’s additional payment methods you can incorporate if you’re interested, like Amazon Payments or Bitcoin.  

Additional

7Getting in contact with their customer support isn’t difficult, but it did take a while. Again, I did a live chat like I did with Volusion and BigCommerce. The beauty of their chat, even though it took a while, is that it gives you a heads up it’s going to take a while.  It tells you how far down the line you are in the queue, and updates you when you move further. Despite my wait time, which in reality wasn’t that long, I would argue that once I got to talk to a Shopify agent I had the most pleasant experience with them compared to Volusion or BigCommerce. The added touch was the personability. It’s very easy to be in a live chat and have the exchange of information come across robotic. I like that on top of being very helpful and supplemental with information, they took the time to talk like an actual human.
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I read it with specific inflections, and it felt very comfortable. Again, this is just from a live chat perspective. I haven’t communicated with BigCommerce, Volusion, or Shopify via email or phone call, so I’m definitely not 100% well rounded in customer support experience.   Shopify also has capability for a built in blog like BigCommerce. Having a blog linked directly with your website is an excellent way to keep your customers updated with what you have to offer, and to boost your SEO as well.   Another customizable feature that I particularly enjoyed was being able to customize the email templates that are sent to your customers when they do certain things on your site. You can customize exactly what they see. You can make certain emails automatically send when customers do specific things like purchase an item or give them a shipping update. Now, I’ll be honest… I didn’t do much research in regards to this capability with BigCommerce or Volusion. But I did find it on Shopify’s backend very easily, and therefore I’ll make the argument that this is a fun special feature! 9

Overall Opinion

I actually thoroughly enjoyed my time with Shopify. I think they have a very friendly user interface that makes it intuitive for what steps you need to take. For some reason, I’m inclined to say that Shopify is my favorite platform I’ve used so far. That being said, I’m sure there’s different factors as to why.   I’m a very visual person. I learn by watching how something is done. I’m more inclined to watch if I like what I’m looking at, and I like what I’m looking at. As I stated at the beginning of the article, Shopify just looks nice. I also have a soft spot for their themes. They’re modern, they’re clean, they’re responsive. Out of the three platforms I’ve taken for a test drive so far, their free themes are my favorites. However, that’s an opinion, and what my taste is could be completely different than you own.   Shopify also has a lot of app integrations to help get your store to where you want it to be. The cost can creep up on you if you start integrating apps without keeping cost in the back of your head. Either way, it might just be worth it!   If you’re looking at Shopify to be the platform for you and need some help – don’t fret. 1Digital Agency is your one stop shop for all things Shopify. Whether it’s custom development, custom design, or anything else you can think of, 1Digital Agency is here to help you. Reach out to them via email at info@1digitalagency.com or give them a toll free call at 888-982-8269.

eCommerce Optimization Methods to Drive Conversion Rates

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Improving your conversion rate from shoppers to buyers is something an eCommerce company looks to constantly refine. In order to do this, your eCommerce web page is constantly going through tweaks and changes in order to optimize customer experience and increase sales. Running an online store does come with its share of challenges, but finding creative solutions can help to bring in more conversions and help you sell more. The solutions take on various challenges and problems such as building email lists, decreasing shopping cart abandonment, promo box myths, and increasing earnings per visitor.  

Building Email Subscriber Lists

Collecting customer emails is arguably one of the most important things an eCommerce site must do. Email lists provide valuable information for various marketing initiatives, but also allows you as an eCommerce retailer information regarding purchase patterns and histories. There are many ways to collect more email subscribers. The key is to incentivize your customers and make them want to offer up their email in exchange for an incentive. For example, many companies have a pop-up show up once their homepage has loaded asking to join the email list. Rather than just ask, provide an incentive. Offering a % off coupon code, makes your customer want to join your email list in order to take advantage of this special discount. You can even go as far as offering the chance to win special prizes in exchange for an email address. Just by offering a chance to win a free prize, you’re giving your customer incentive to join so they can take part in your offering. If you don’t want to offer a discount, there is still another way to increase your email list. Simply changing the way you ask for an email list can make a big difference. For example, using “learn about sales, promos, and new products” can really help. You’re basically telling your customer that in the near future there will be ways to save money, and in order to take advantage of that, they should subscribe to your email list to know exactly when.  

Decrease Shopping Cart Abandonment

Shopping cart abandonment is one of the biggest problems eCommerce websites face today. In 2015 alone, the average rate of shopping cart abandonment was 73%! Shopping cart abandonment can happen for a variety of reasons. A customer can put a bunch of items in their carts and proceed to the checkout page, but they’ll exit the page and try to find a coupon without any luck. When they don’t find a coupon, they just won’t return to your website again. Or, a customer can fill up their cart only to realize that the shipping and handling fees are too much and this will make them reconsider their purchases. With shopping cart abandonment an ongoing problem, eCommerce companies are actively looking for ways to fight back and make the sale. An exit intent offer is a great last minute effort from you, for your customers to finish the checkout process. An exit intent offer is a pop-up that shows up right when your customer is considering leaving your site. Usually, the pop-up contains a certain % off if they finish the transaction right then and there. An exit intent offer allows the customer to rethink not proceeding with the transaction and can be a last minute effort to make the sale. Your exit intent offer gives incentive to the customer to finish the transaction.  

Promotions and Coupon Boxes at Checkout

Many think that having too many check out options such as “gift card”, “special offer”, or “discount code” boxes are driving potential buyers away. This is because too many options are confusing the customer and allowing them to give up altogether and not finish the transaction. Many eCommerce companies are noting this obstacle and trying to actively find a solution for it. Eliminating promo code and gift card boxes can be dangerous all together as a customer doesn’t have an incentive to finish their purchase. Rather eCommerce companies are looking at different options they can utilize. Some eCommerce companies are offering discount codes, or % off right on their website in the form of a pop-up window. This eliminates the need for a customer to leave the eCommerce stores to find a discount code which interrupts the conversion process. Having it right on the web page streamlines the process and helps customers complete the checkout process. Some eCommerce companies are even testing having discount codes right on product pages. If an item qualifies for a discount, an offer button appears right on the window and once clicked, the discount automatically applies to that product. Again, this gives incentive to the customer to finish and actually check out.  

Revenue Per Visitor

Aside from shopping cart abandonment, there are many little quirks that are drastically reducing the number of your conversions from shoppers to buyers. The best way to combat this is to test your eCommerce web page. While this doesn’t sound completely ideal, because not everyone wants to make continuous changes to their eCommerce store. But if you would like to increase sales, making minor changes and tweaks could drastically improve your revenue per visitor. For example, removing a large overhead banner could increase revenue because customers are not distracted by it. Rather they are able to view the products offered in a cleaner, more presentable manner. Your checkout page is the most important page of your eCommerce website. This is the final step in completing a transaction as well as where conversions happen. Having a completely up to date checkout page that is not overbearing or cluttered is vital. Removing unnecessary clutter from your checkout page can help increase sales. A streamlined checkout process can increase sales as customers won’t be confused by all the unnecessary information. A cleaner and more deliberate design can really drive conversions. There are many eCommerce optimization methods that you can try to drive conversions. Whether they’re fairly big changes like adding incentive pop-ups or small tweaks like removing clutter from your checkout pages, these changes work. 1Digital can help you make these changes to your eCommerce site no matter the size of the issue. We can help you create discount pop-ups, or adding/removing minor items on your web page. We strive to create the very best web pages in eCommerce. Contact us today and find out how we can help you!  

4 Reasons Why You Should Consider an eCommerce Mobile App

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Mobile is taking the reigns in preferred methods of shopping as more and more people rely on their smartphones to shop online for their favorite products. We bring you for reasons why you should the the plunge in creating your own retail mobile app.

1. Customers Love Apps

First things first, customers actually enjoy retail apps. They’re an easy and accessible way to shop for your favorite products at your favorite stores. Every piece of information whether it’s a product description, review, discount, or in-store promotion, is all found in one easily accessible location. As a retailer, an app is also very useful to you as an eCommerce business. First, you can get customers to download your app by offering a special promotion or one-time discounts found on your app. As customers are inclined to download your app for the special promotion or discount, they will eventually use the app over and over again. Furthermore, the data collected from your app is also another valid reason. Your app is a great way to collect email addresses, age demographics, even purchase histories. You can use this information in marketing practices and other initiatives.  

2. Trust In Smartphones

In an age when information is readily available, customers rely on their smartphones more than ever. In fact, when it comes to customer service, customers find that sales associates are often not knowledgeable enough on the products or services they are selling. They can be too pushy and too assertive, often not being helpful at all. Shoppers trust research, and conducting research on their own by consulting their smartphones is often how they make informed decisions. Using your specific eCommerce retail app, customers have access to all the information they would ever need. Customers can use the app to research everything they need about specific products and services.  

3. Loyalty Programs

It’s a proven fact that customers love loyalty programs and rewards. Customers are more than likely to spend more when they know there’s a reward at the other end. Customers are also often brand loyal, they’ll choose to return to your eCommerce retail store when there’s a loyalty initiative involved. Apps are also a great way for customers to track and monitor your loyalty program statistics. You can keep track of your rewards, information regarding upcoming deals and promotions, and cash in points to redeem rewards as well. Everything in one app allows you and the customer convenience and ability to track and have everything in one place.  

4. Incentives

Incentives are a great way for eCommerce retailers to turn shoppers into buyers. Providing incentives through your app provides customers the opportunity to collect and use coupons, special promotions and deals, and one-time offers. Your customer is more inclined to use the app if they know they have access to exclusive deals and promotions. Incentives provide a reason for customers to shop your site. Whether they want to redeem rewards or use one-time offers, incentives give customers that extra push and sense of urgency to purchase from your eCommerce site.   Creating an eCommerce mobile app is challenging with so many factors to consider. It can be rewarding though. You want to make sure your app is completely up as well as responsive 1Digital can help you create a responsive mobile design that will have customers coming back time and time again. Contact us today to get started!

eCommerce for Beginners: Volusion

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(part two)

Here we are again! We’ve scraped the surface on BigCommerce, and what it might be like to setup a store as a beginner. Now, we’re test driving Volusion. Let’s see if it stacks up, and is the best platform for you, an eCommerce beginner…  

Initial Setup

The initial setup is similar to BigCommerce. You put in your general contact information like your name, email, phone number, etc. They didn’t ask what I was selling unlike BigCommerce, but I don’t think it’s necessary to know that. After filling in the usual general information I was immediately taken to this page: screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-10-02-11-am   It all seems relatively easy… So far. The basics are laid out in front of you: design, logo, products, and how to start selling. If you click the “start selling” button, it takes you to the plan pages: screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-2-02-03-pm Although this can come across as little “sales-y”, I think it’s really smart to know what you might be investing in! It’s better to know the cost of everything up front than it is to use a platform, get incredibly comfortable with it, only to find out what you need is extremely out of budget. To get back on track… I followed the numbered list presented to me, and the first thing I did was choose a design.    

Design

There are about 75 themes for Volusion. The range in price is quite astronomical. They range from free to $895. There are 16 free themes, which I think is a decent amount to choose from. That being said, some of the free themes aren’t necessarily universal to use. They either carry certain characteristics, or a certain aesthetic, that limits its versatility. For example: screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-3-11-41-pm   This is the “Retro” free theme from Volusion. I’m trying to sell books. I just don’t think that books would necessarily work here. I don’t think that an electronics store that sells like, high end cameras or laptops or stereo systems would work with this theme either. Is it a bad theme? Absolutely not, it’s rather cute. But when I was scrolling through all their free themes, I found myself having difficulty deciding what theme would best suit my business. Also, simple things like a font change to a theme, or a color change to links, or background color require me to adjust code. BigCommerce has the simple Style Editor available to its users for certain themes. So even if I found a theme that I liked, and would be perfect, since I can’t read CSS it would be really difficult to adjust the little things. For those curious, this is what the design of my store looks like: screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-12-30-55-pm Simple, and to the point. Just like my other store. Can you tell I have a certain taste?  

User Friendly

I can see how amazing a platform Volusion is. I know it has so much to offer in regards to customization, or handling a bunch of products, or presenting information to you. I can tell all these things just by exploring the backend of the platform. That being said, my biggest issue with Volusion is that going about certain things is unintuitive to the complete novice user. To those who have been around the eCommerce block a couple of times, or those who can eat sleep and breathe code, I think this is the platform for them. Especially to those who have a large scale/high traffic business, who need to manage their inventory, or their warehouse, all in one place. It was very easy to add new product categories. Although it was a similar process to BigCommerce, I thought it was easier to add in bulk. When you add a product category and are looking to do a subcategory under a certain section, you didn’t have to keep clicking where the subcategory was supposed to be listed under. Under the “save” button, you had options on how you want to save your progress and the one I selected was “save & add new”. screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-10-50-50-am   Doing that, the system remembered the section I was adding this subcategory to. I didn’t have to constantly go back to select the specific area. However, like BigCommerce, there’s no copy/paste function for doing categories! This is probably because very few people need repetitive subcategories. There’s a lot of little things that Volusion has that makes setting up the backend pretty user friendly. For instance, when you’re marking a price for a product. screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-12-38-28-pm There’s so many options on how to set price here, it’s nice to be able to get it all done at once instead of going back and updating price when an item is on sale, or can be offered at a discounted rate with a code, or something along those lines. Another thing that I liked was their quick edit feature with products: screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-12-10-44-pm From there you can change the image of the product, upload multiple images if you want that, change the name, price, product description, etcetera. And after you’re done working on one product, you can scroll to the next one in the upper half of the screen split, click, and do the edits on the bottom half quick edit window. Very easy, very convenient, very user friendly!

Customization

Even though I consider Volusion to be a better platform for those on the intermediate level, instead of the novice level, it does have an amazing tool that is incredibly convenient to the beginner in you. They allow you to edit right from the homepage with their store editor. screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-4-12-44-pm As you can see from the image above, I’m directly on my site editing my “About Us” section. This is convenient as I can see what it looks like on my live site, instead of going to the backend, then editing, then checking it out through my store view. This tool makes your life so much easier, especially if you have a small edit.  

Shipping & Payment

There’s a lot of different ways you can go about shipping as you can see from the image below. screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-1-49-38-pm Volusion has another amazing feature for shipping that might be beneficial to you. Since I was building a bookstore, I thought it would be cool if I could have a downloadable shipping feature for eBooks. Turns out, Volusion offers that! I found this Volusion support article detailing how to make your products downloadable. Volusion has a lot to offer in regards to how your customers can submit a payment. They accept your basic cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover) and on top of it: Amazon payments, money orders, checks by mail, COD, purchase order numbers, wire transfers, cash, PayPal, electronic checks, or they even let you make a custom way to be paid. While Volusion doesn’t charge for payment transactions, your payment gateway will. Volusion offers their own payment gateway too, so you can have everything all in one space.

Special Features

Volusion may not have a built in blog like BigCommerce, but it does have a lot of marketing strategy / product tracking available to you. All of these things are immediately available on your dashboard, which I personally think is awesome. A lot of eCommerce business owners want to see trends in their products, and they want to see what’s selling. To have this information readily available to you on the first page of your backend is extremely convenient, and helpful. And to be able to track marketing efforts through the backend of your store is beneficial; everything is in one place! screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-2-09-30-pm screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-11-07-28-am Since I had contacted customer support for BigCommerce, I thought I should do comparison of how their customer support stacks up against Volusion. Volusion has a lot of help articles, and helpful tips all around their site. They do have a little section readily available for you on your dashboard at all times that takes you to support articles, or tells you how to get in contact. If you need help, or a have a question, they definitely make it easy for you to find your answer! If you’re on the site for some time, a chat window appears to ask if you need help with anything:   Although Samantha F. didn’t have an answer for me off the bat (and why should she? It’s obviously a chatbot) she was active about sending me to a place where I could find my answer. And when I did get on with a live chat support specialist, they answered my question extremely quickly.  

Overall Opinion

I see all the potential in Volusion. There’s so much there, but I think I’m too much of a beginner for a platform of this caliber. This is definitely for those who have been in the eCommerce business a while and have a specific vision of what exactly they want, and know how to achieve it. Or have a staff on hand who know how to achieve it. Or have the budget available to hire someone to be able to achieve it.   I don’t want that to come across as a bad thing, because it certainly isn’t. I can see, right in front of me, how much you can actually do with this platform. Volusion is so well developed in regards to capability, however the user interface, although decent, hasn’t designed itself to make it intuitive for complete beginners. Ultimately, I think Volusion is an excellent platform, but maybe not for a complete novice. If you need help with your Volusion eCommerce store, feel free to reach out to 1Digital Agency! They’re eCommerce and Volusion experts, and they want to hear from you. You can send them an email at info@1digitalagency.com, or you can call their toll free number at 888-982-8269.

Marketing to One of the Toughest Demographics Yet- Generation Z

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How do you market to an age group that has a shorter attention span than a goldfish (6-8 seconds)? How do you target an age demographic that has not been without the Internet? Generation Z, or people born in 1996 or later are one of the toughest groups to market products and services too. This is because, Gen Zers “ have a fast-paced, highly selective and decisive filter”. Creating impressions are hard enough, creating a lasting one is almost impossible. We say almost because it can still be done. Gen Zers are all about forging a connection. Cultivating a relationship, or even a “friendship” with Gen Zers will result in brand loyal customers. Brand loyalty allows for repeat consumers and business, and keeping up with this new friendship will allow for your brand to retain these customers. Follow these tips to ensure you’re reaching Gen Zers in a way they can understand.  

Don’t Try Too Hard

Generation Z thrives on relatability. They are more than often going to gravitate towards a brand they feel a connection with or feels familiar to them. From a marketer’s point of view, finding trends within these groups of people can really help. Many brands and marketers have a preconceived notion that you can relate or talk to a Generation Z customer through Instant Messaging vernacular. Many think using “LOL”, “TTYL”, or ”JK” will help them relate to younger consumers. But it’s quite the opposite. In fact, this could damage your brand’s image in front of Gen Zers. They could see you as immature, and out of date. Instead, Gen Zers are more than likely to relate to something trendy and current. For example, clever and quick responses on social media when you’re engaging with your customers, or even funny memes will all help you reach Generation Z. Memes are a great way to add a touch of humor and relatability to your brand. Gen Zers often use memes to express how they’re feeling towards a particular situation. Using memes could help you relate to your younger customers and help increase sales and profits. online-shopping-buy-all-the-things

Know Your Social Media

Social Media marketing is nothing new in the marketing world. In order for your product to reach as many customers as possible, brands and services must utilize social media and take full advantage of their potential reach. Not only should brand’s utilize social media, but they must do it correctly. There’s nothing worse than when brands try to market their products on social media but do not do it correctly. It is said “nearly 40% of Gen Zers says social media has a direct impact on their happiness.” according to the Center for Generational Kinetics.   Brands now must use social media to “lift up” or boost their customers. An example of this can be seen in Snapchat. DJ Khaled has become viral for his Snapchat because of his motivational stories. He builds confidence in his viewers by saying motivational phrases such as “You smart! You loyal!” He builds a trust with his viewers and even partners with brands to promote their products directly. With this trust already established, customers are more likely to purchase these products because someone they look up to tells them to do so. Utilizing social media the right way will allow brands to connect with Gen Zers that much more. tumblr_nyzsnpwoz91v12yd9o1_500

Sell Quality, Not Quantity

Customers in this age demographic are some of the smartest shoppers in the market. With information readily available at their fingertips, researching a brand’s product or services is one of the first parts of their shopping process. As a brand rather than sell the most quantity, focus on the quality of your product. Gen Zers are more likely to purchase a product or service that has not compromised on quality even if it is a bit more expensive. This is because they have the research to back their purchase decision. Being highly selective in their decision-making process, Gen Zers are more likely to take the time to purchase a product. You want to make sure as a brand you’re selling that best in quality you can. If the quality is not there, no marketing tactic can help you reach Generation Z.  

Go Digital

Marketing to a customer that has never lived without the internet can be challenging. They live in an age where information and technology go hand in hand. They are easily able to look up a brand and see what they’re product or service is all about. With that, you want to keep your digital presence sharp, unique, and completely up to date. Generation Zers want the best money can buy, and before they click on that “order” button, they’ll do extensive research. You want to make sure your website is completely up to date, modern, and visually appealing to your customer. Not only should you keep your desktop web page in mind, mobile web presence is as important. With more and more customers online shopping through their mobile smartphones and tablets, making sure your web design is completely responsive is very important.   If you need to spruce up your desktop or mobile web page and make it Gen Z friendly, do not hesitate to contact 1Digital Agency. We’re leaders in eCommerce web development and digital marketing. We know how to effectively market to Generation Z and make sure they remain a loyal customer. Contact us today and find out how! Reaching Generation Z is a challenge, but completely possible. Once you reach them and establish a connection or “friendship”, you’ll have basis of loyal customers that will return to your brand time and time again. Use these tips and create a relationship with one of the toughest demographics out there.   

eCommerce for Beginners: BigCommerce

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(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 Setup

Actually 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 Friendly

The 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. screen-shot-2016-09-07-at-3-22-58-pm screen-shot-2016-09-07-at-3-13-31-pm 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.  

Design

Themes. 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!  

Customization

Like 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). screen-shot-2016-09-07-at-2-12-59-pm screen-shot-2016-09-07-at-2-24-20-pm 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. screen-shot-2016-09-07-at-2-16-14-pm

Shipping & Payment

In 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. screen-shot-2016-09-07-at-3-44-12-pm 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 Information

I 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. screen-shot-2016-09-07-at-10-55-06-am 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. screen-shot-2016-09-07-at-4-06-34-pm

Overall Opinion

I 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 info@1digitalagency.com, or call them toll free at 888-982-8269.