Ecommerce Giant Amazon Launches New Social Media Tool
And taking the pulse of the younger generation of buyers has inspired Inspire – an Amazon quasi-social media app designed to mimic the popular TikTok. Not surprisingly, it’s an early hit.
Amazon Inspire began a rollout phase in early 2023, offering a downloadable app that in fact resembles the TikTok platform. TikTok is a video-centered app popular across a range of demographics, though it is mostly used by those under 40. That’s where the dollars are, say experts in ecommerce. And that’s where the Amazon future is headed.
This intriguing and nuanced app offers so much more than just a small photo on their main website. Amazon shoppers can log in to Inspire directly through their phone-based Amazon app by launching a light bulb icon. It promises personalized content (made possible by a collection of prior shopping choices and probably a bit of data collection from social media use).
Users may choose from more than 20 areas of interest such as gaming, beauty products, clothing, pet care, recreational pursuits, and beyond. Browsing the returns that pop up after you’ve chosen a sector, shoppers scroll through buttons to further customize a collection they may find interesting. The experience is similar to TikTok feeds, with engagement buttons and swiping actions that lead to promoted or favored items.
This customization feature is perhaps the key selling point of both selling and buying on Inspire. It doesn’t require typing text into a search window. Product categories appear in launchable buttons, and they are diverse. Amazon hopes they will lead you to what you’re shopping for.
What Amazon has not disclosed is how the app generates recommendations, except to say that it requires at least two recommendations before it appears as a promoted product.
Content creators may enroll in the program to upload media, including video and photos connecting to thumbnail photos of Amazon listings they fancy. These contributors may earn commissions, depending on volume. Customer reviews, always a key element in online sales, are welcomed.
Amazon Inspire is now available for use by all US consumers, and the jury is out on how this new, creative approach to a hybrid influencer/advertising function will play out. For now, it appears to be an ingenious method of following the lead in cultural and consumer trends as they develop on the internet.
Interested in buying or selling on Inspire? Get more info here.
Photo by Alessandro Bianchi on Unsplash
The Who, What, Where’s, and Why’s of Business SmartS
That softens the blow of what we’re about to discuss. As long as you’re dealing with digits, start examining the core of your business by figuring out who buys what, and how often. In the trade, it’s referred to as “customer segmentation,” and it is a critical way to make your store thrive.
Customer segmentation works best when you pin down stats and demographic data from the top 20 percent of sales. Not of customers, of sales. If you have repeat customers, that’s great, but if their volume of purchases is not especially high, it’s not a helpful measure for future performance and growing a consumer base. We all know about customer conversion, or turning lookers into buyers. The conversion rate among all ecommerce sectors in 2022 was 3.65 percent.
Studying the shared attributes of those buying across your site will guide you toward marketing more prospective customers. And unlike other strategies for growth, it can happen quickly.
Targeted marketing in the 2020 decade is about as easy as it gets. Social media platforms are practically designed for this. Facebook (Meta), for example, provides an easy breakdown of the basics – age, location, ideology – but increasingly it allows businesses to gather data about their interests based on company sites and pages they have visited. With this knowledge in hand, your task is to match your product mix with those most likely to be intrigued.
Facebook Ad Analytics Guide is one tool to help you dive into the art and science of zeroing in on potential customers. Its data reach is admirable: available are customer-reported statistics such as income, buying habits, buying likelihood, and other measures useful in figuring out who may be receptive to outreach.
Kick off your segmentation efforts with these basics:
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The Tax Man Cometh
How to Assess Sales Tax Obligations in Ecommerce
The first reality to absorb is this: if you sell merchandise over the Internet and you have a physical presence in a “nexus,” or state, you are required to follow that jurisdiction’s sales tax laws – but only from customers who are subject to sales tax because of their residence in that state. Sounds pretty simple until you understand that there are 50 states to keep track of. Add to that the wonky official rule that if customers do not remit sales tax payments to sellers, they are technically required to pay them directly to their state. Don’t ask how that enforcement mechanism would work; truly, it’s anyone’s guess. Mostly only very high-end purchases would come to the attention of each state’s tax collector.
We’ll make it easy for you. Only five U.S. states do not impose a sales tax. They are Alaska, Oregon, Montana, Delaware, and New Hampshire. Now you know.
But what is your obligation in terms of making sure your customers pay up? That’s more confusing.
If you’re committed to avoiding future problems and doing the right thing at the outset, here are steps to take that will keep you in the clear:
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
Style Spotlight: Next Level Rental
Design Tips When You Don’t Own Your Home
More then ever before, Americas are renting their homes. And while there are certainly perks to that choice, but there are a few drawbacks when it comes to your interior design. Namely, that you’ve got rules to follow. And while they’ll vary from one home or apartment to the next, generally, you can’t make big design changes.
Don’t love the chandelier in the dining room? Not a lot you can do. Wishing you could add a ceiling fan in the bedroom? Probably not going to happen. And forget making wholesale changes to flooring…
But that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to really reinvent your space and make it feel a whole lot more unique and personalized to your taste.
So, here are our best tips for creating a look you love:
Patterns! From peel-and-stick wallpaper to create an accent wall, to funky throw pillows on the sofa, adding patterns in your home create instant texture and dimension. And don’t sleep on peel-and-stick tiles! They’re a great way to perk up a backsplash, add detail to bathroom, or even define and entryway.
We love these Terrazzo tile decals from Chasing Paper.
Flooring! Sure, you can’t tear out that wall to wall carpeting and add hardwood, but you can certainly add area rugs that introduce personality and create a look that’s a whole lot more interesting than boring beige. We love Ruggable – they’re washable! – and come in tons of fun patterns, colors, and sizes. You don’t have to commit right away, start with a couple small rugs in the entry or kitchen and then when you love it, graduate to that 8x10 in your living or dining room to really make a statement.
Something like this rug from Wayfair adds color and pattern, but you can go as subtle, or as bold, as you’d like here.
Of course, there’s a ton you can do with decor – everything from bedding to upholstery to furniture style – to make you home feel like, well, home.
What are your best tips and tricks? We want to hear about them in the comments.
All images belong to their respective owners, each linked above.
Peruse the seemingly endless rows of tulips in a litany of colors, and buy bunches at the gift shops run by growers. And … then what? Well, pick a vase to show them off once you get home.
It’s not rocket science, but it seems like a décor guru’s dream to pair their fave flower with a receptacle that brings it to life. We’ve found a few that whet our whistle, and work for budgets from meager to extravagant.
three we love:
Be mindful of the sadly short seasonal life span of tulips. The premiere Skagit Valley variety stick around just a few weeks before growers harvest bulbs for future blooms. And maybe that’s a good thing. We appreciate them more when they make a timed appearance.
Photo Credit: Pam Headridge
Images belong to their respective owners, each linked above.
Ultimately your environment is personal; expressing your signature design statement may initiate with an “expert” idea, and drawing on that is inspiring.
Here’s what else these gurus of style have to say:
One reason newbies might let items sit in your virtual cart? Reluctance to sign up for an account. We all know building an identified account roster is a win-win for both sellers and consumers, with easy options for a quick checkout, and the ability to target promotions. But not everyone is eager to divulge tracked info including email address, phone number, or even a name, to a vendor that they don’t know well. The answer is to provide a seamless guest checkout system. Offer clear opt-in choices to be “remembered” by your site even in the absence of a formal sign-up. A subtle trick like that can work wonders for skeptical buyers.
Here are other ways to turn abandoned shopping carts into sales:
Photo by James Watson on Unsplash
So, what should ecommerce vendors (and their service providers) be looking at with respect to security? Much of it is out of your hands, but if you entrust a third party to handle payment transactions, you have the right and the obligation to observe best practices. Look at it this way: they are aware of their high burden, and your constant inquiries will keep them on their toes.
Smaller online merchants should build a rigid threshold of in-house and exterior policies and procedures, say cybersecurity experts. Irrespective of compromised customer or internal data, the more down time a small vendor experiences, the greater the hit they take.
So what exactly are the secrets to protecting your data to the best of your ability? How about tighter access control and data security software? Both will vest more confidence and safety in your business. Business News writer Jeremy Bender reminds merchants that the big kids such as top-tier credit reporting agencies have fallen victim to mass data breaches, but they aren’t alone. The idea is to limit who may have a path to reaching your data using UTM (Unified Threat Management). Here’s a useful read on steps to take to protect your treasured business.
Whether you go all in with a deep dive, or just take cursory steps to ensure your security, your first priority is to be prepared for a cyberattack, however unlikely that is. Ransomware – the pernicious method of a nefarious party blackmailing your very access to your own data in exchange for a payoff – is not common among small sellers, but never say never. Develop an incident response plan to be ready for whatever comes. That means keep whatever backup data you can on a separate server. Your customers will love you for this, and your business may experience less costly down time.
It's a New, Scary World.
Pantone’s 2023 Color of the Year “Viva Magenta” on the Red/Pink Carpet
Designers yearn for this time each year when the world’s most prolific color entity weighs in with its annual celebration of a particular shade. Pantone, the Mother of all Shade Experts, facilitates design-related colors for home décor, graphical arts, and so much more, and no one knows pigment like they do.
Viva Magenta has roots in nature, originating from the primary red family yet embellished with subtle undertones of pink and blue. But make no mistake: there is nothing subtle about this delicious hue. It serves bold notice as a dominating tone when, used carefully, transforms interior spaces.
Magenta itself is not a newbie. It was a mainstay in retro times, hinting at a renaissance motif. Typically it is used sparingly because of its richness. Pantone leaves that distinction up to the beholder, suggesting generous incorporation with gradient shading, or even coating walls it its romantic splendor.
Viva Magenta’s moniker is an indicator of intensity and festivity. “Viva” translates to “life” and “living,” celebratory terms that vest permission to go all out in making this scrumptious color part of everyday life.
Some suggestions on how to accomplish that:
- Walk the talk. These festive sneakers from Cariuma commemorate this year’s COY with some high-tops that will not go unnoticed.
- Emphasize the botanical aspect of Viva Magenta with this stylish throw pillow cover, a lush, texturized addition to highbrow living spaces made available by Wayfair.
- Go fully modern with the geometric aesthetic of peel-and-stick wallpaper, a boon for kitchens and utility rooms.
- Words count! Simplicity is at work in a casual poster with the COY’s name in plain text here on Pinterest.
AI needs no further introduction for most. It’s Artificial Intelligence, for those who don’t know. And it’s becoming a staple in commerce of all types. You’ve seen it in grocery and departments stores that are increasingly replacing human beings with self-checkout machines. Whether it’s a positive or negative development in society is a topic for another day. Let’s see how it can work for you.
While major utilities and mega corporations are most likely to avail actual staffers for receiving chatbot requests, don’t immediately dismiss their ability to offer specialized help. A database of inventory can easily translate to a searchable body with which the chatbot suddenly becomes a personal shopper by responding to search criteria. If your customer asks whether you sell faux leather covered ottomans, your search string is fashioned for you, and programming follow-up questions (including style, color, etc.) refines the process.
Analysts estimate that the global chatbot market may reflect almost $4 billion in just over six years, so maybe it’s time to at least familiarize yourself. An engaged response policy may cement a sale in real time, but at very least, highlighting information in a setting that feels comfortable and customized to a shopper is a win-win. Intercom is a perfect place to start with respect to learning more about AI, and finding an appropriate service level in chatbot functionality. Zendesk is an AI provider already to help you explore the technology with a free trial.
The key to an effective chatbot system is to let potential buyers in on its limitations in advance. Make sure they know they may not be interacting with a real person as they type into that window. Tell them the bot is their second-tier personal shopper who can ease the search process.
But if you’re able to tap the real thing, there are also expectations among consumers that you should meet. Long timeouts, inaccurate information, and a failure to reconcile the shopper’s purpose for visiting will probably ensure no further usage. Like a lot of aspects of technology, it’s as good as its feasibility. But play it right and it could be a valuable addition to your team.
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