For seasoned ecommerce sellers, those struggling through their first year, or even newbies, the decision on how and where to peddle your goods is critical. Everyone is familiar with the colossal platforms Amazon and eBay, Shopify, and more. They offer a vast audience full of potential customers. They also offer an almost insurmountable level of competition.
You aren’t stuck with them. Using good research skills, you can pinpoint an alternative market. We have some tips for exploring product-specific markets, or those that are best suited to your business.
The importance of choosing the right platform relates to the reason they exist in the first place. Ecommerce stores allow you to collectively manage products, offer promotions and sales, personalize the sales and service experience, and access analytics to see what is and is not working. Completely customizable, the best of these facilitate personalized content. In short, you can create a brand for yourself without investing in and counting on a solo website.
Surprise! Count yourself as one of millions of ecommerce merchants who likely never anticipated the type of global disruption facing virtually every individual and every entity today. By now you and everyone you know is operating in crisis mode both personally and professionally. Your business may be your first priority, and the news there is mixed.
Since the COVID-19 virus took hold overseas, eventually making its way to the US, economic impacts have been devastating. The financial markets tumbled. Tourism is in near-halt mode. And those who sell goods and services are in a veritable desert; a Catch-22 scenario of either lacking customers or a supply chain to meet customer needs.
The struggle is real, and despite criticism of unnecessary panic, an all-out shift in operations is no longer just a possibility. Running an online store during this cross-continental crisis demands creativity to mitigate inventory shortages, shipping uncertainties, and uncomfortable customer communications. Industry analyst Bruce Biegel notes that this is the first genuine global crisis experienced in high volume by the ecommerce sector.
Amazon sellers are all too familiar. That company, in a panic over how to fill orders safely, has placed a temporary moratorium on third-party vendors. No word on when or if that will lift in the near future.
Even giants like Microsoft and Apple Computer are sounding the alarm about significant sales drops, with Apple recently deciding to temporarily close all retail locations outside of China.
The constant stream of comparisons and differences between brick-and-mortar retail establishments and online stores may become trite over time, as more and more commercial activity unfolds in cyberspace. There are definite overlaps that call for the same basic principles, but as the internet becomes more sophisticated, and more buyers navigate there to make purchases, the differences are starker than ever.
Marketing analytics is a function made simpler for those who operate online, by sole virtue of the complex, computerized system you already have in place. Tracking sales, customers, inventory, and just about everything else is somewhat automatic. In most cases it’s not necessary to actually ask a customer how they stumbled onto your store. Identifying strategies and efforts that are paying off is also much easier when your shortcut to analysis is effectively done for you.
But that doesn’t mean it requires no efforts. Putting in place an accurate, useful, and – more important – tailored process for tracking these markers demands a plan; it necessitates putting a sensible marketing analysis strategy in place.
Navigating Changes at Facebook
If you have woven Facebook into the menu of social media platforms you use to engage existing customers and attract new ones, you’ve noticed their somewhat annoying trend of endless alterations to both policy and offerings. The Mother of All social media networks, Facebook is, for all intents and purposes, a social media monopoly. That won’t be changing any time soon.
No one feels sorry for them, but it’s fair to acknowledge that Facebook executives who need to continually balance the need for revenues while keeping users happy face their share of challenges. And for an online platform that is now regulated by Federal and state entities because of its heavy volume of political content, it creates an ongoing need to shift gears.
In 2011, Facebook started forwarding only critical notifications through email, so as to cut down on high-volume inbox flooding. Photo tags, security, payment, and privacy notifications made the cut. Business owners who are accustomed to a high volume of email communications, but not having to access Facebook several times per day, will have made that adjustment.
Now there’s a new revision that business users need to be aware of. Beginning March 4, 2020, access to supported “Message Tags” after the standard 24-hour window (following the last customer contact) whittled down from 17 supported tags to three, plus an additional tag in beta. Message Tags facilitate one-to-one interactions with customers, including updates, customer service questions, promotions, and pretty much anything relative to your customer relationship.
With that pathway narrowing, it’s critical to build in adjustments that will maintain your presence on Facebook and keep you in good standing with the platform. In order to bypass the allowed 24-hour period, you must use these remaining tags with your messaging.