Muddling through an unprecedented time of global disruption has been devastating for businesses, and yours may be in the crosshairs. Although closed physical retailers have increased the volume of ecommerce business, it’s still a crapshoot to take full advantage of this shift. It may be time to expand your horizons, and explore alternate selling platforms beyond the big names of Amazon, eBay, and Google.
To be clear, any exposure is good exposure, for the most part. Once you capture a loyal customer from a third-party platform, you hold the cards in your hand.
Almost four months into a global pandemic that has thrown much of the world off its proverbial axis, virtually every facet of our lives is still chaotic, in question, and fraying nerves as we look to an uncertain future. The glass-half-full perspective on how Covid-19 has shifted our focus and tested our grit shows that we are, indeed, resilient. But denying the seismic impact on economies – both micro and macro – comes close to reflecting the horrific loss of life and health seen around the world, is impossible. Our survival depends on a strong economic status.
In the United States and elsewhere, a true trickle-down model has met our dire expectations: millions of small businesses have closed permanently, thousands of larger retailers are struggling to keep up with inventory demands, and individual consumers are faced with having to make purchases on a limited income, or with sufficient funds and a lack of venues operating in the midst of a viral epidemic.
No matter where your business is on the survival scale, there are ways to navigate through an unforeseen crisis that is benevolent to online sellers. Overall, analysts estimate that online sales have increased by 50 percent compared to this point in 2019. You’re already poised to take advantage of a gaggle of virtual shoppers, but the same obstacles facing brick-and-mortar retailers and large ecommerce sellers have probably upended your operations, as well. Here are some ways to adapt.
If you’ve leveraged the power of social media to drive sales to your ecommerce business, you will be excited to hear this news. Facebook’s unrolling of “Facebook Shops” opens up wide doors of opportunity to go beyond just advertising, and straight into conducting commerce on the premier social media site.
If you haven’t bothered to engage with social media to drum up business for your business, now is a good time to start. Trends indicate the shift in retailing toward online sales is a real deal, made more robust in this unplanned and uncertain time of restricted public movement due to a global pandemic. Analysts predict that once the situation evens out and stores reopen, a significant portion of commerce will continue to occur over the internet. Put simply, the barriers that made many hesitate in the days before Covid-19 are all but shattered.
Enter Facebook, always in search of ways to capitalize on any marketing trend. Their advertising revenues—gained from more than 8 million businesses—have been astronomical, and that in turn has led them to jump in with both feet, offering up a first-line sales platform for ecommerce vendors like you.
This new, cost-free feature allows businesses to set up product listings on their Facebook page, Instagram profile, and in stories or in ads. Future plans include direct sales through chat features of WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram Direct. Facebook owns all of these entities.
Every ecommerce vendor has a fantasy of standing out among the competition. And why not? Name recognition gains new customers and retains current customers, if you play your cards right. The way to rise above the crowd comes down to the ability to provide excellent products and service or services. It also comes down to a concept known by entities for a very long time: branding.
Brand Management involves personalizing your business with an aspect of familiarity that makes you recognizable, attractive, approachable. Marketing experts call it a way to translate emotions into behavior on the part of consumers. To get there, you have to do the heavy lifting first.
Consider large companies we all know well. Apple Computer. REI. Microsoft. Nike. IBM. Uber. All of these mega-corporations have packaged customized imaging, slogans, philosophies, and outreach through advertising that requires little attention to know whom it’s coming from.
Branding occurs with a consistent presence through all of your correspondence, advertisements, web page design, and everything connected with your business. When you have it down right, your path is practically obstacle-free. When you don’t, you’re left vying with countless others.
Marketing, marketing, marketing.
If you’re weary of hearing the term, let alone employing it in your ecommerce business, you’re not alone. It feels like a never-ending, energy-sucking pursuit. You know it’s essential, but with the vast expanse and reach of the internet and its mind-numbing competitive obstacles, it ought to be ranked among your highest of priorities.
Developers and app geniuses know this. They’ve responded to the call, rolling out a wide array of tools to assist you along the way.
Unlike advertising, marketing requires an ability to gauge your most promising audience. Real-time features of online tracking, analytics, and other tailored options that help avoid wasting too much time, are in reach. One relative newcomer is Traffic Jet, a release by SEMrush, a digital marketing firm devoted to streamlining successful marketing campaigns.
A recent study shows that more than half of all marketers indicate machine learning is speeding up their day-to-day work a bit, while just under one-third said it does so a lot. Traffic Jet, with its Artificial Intelligence (AI) process, is likely to make those numbers grow among fledgling, growing businesses.
Traffic Jet allows full automation of your traffic acquisition, or new traffic flow, offering easy access to quick numbers. Those are all words you like to hear, so read on.
Seasoned ecommerce merchants likely have studied up on the various legal aspects and regulations related to the collection of consumer information, financial and otherwise. There are laws in place, both in the United States Code and in individual state statutes, with rather harsh consequences for violators.
Others of you who are small-time sellers might have given a thought to this issue, but not taken the time or effort to determine whether you are in compliance. That’s a big mistake.
Data protection is shaping up to be one of the most pressing factors of online activity in the 21st Century. Even with the advanced efforts from private entities developing new technologies as quickly as they can, it all goes awry when cracks form and bad actors create new and different reasons for these same virtual guardians to patch a new hole.
Online merchants face complicated, unusual challenges due to the lack of visibility and control over external services administering their websites, including the type and volume of data that is being collected. Even if you believe you have an agreement with a third-party, that doesn’t mean it isn’t farming out some of its duties to a fourth party with no such contractual relationship.
Ask any executive or analyst in a given sector of commerce, and you’ll hear the same answer with respect to fraud. It’s one of the most nefarious and damaging elements poised to put a dent in both revenues, trust, and even security.
With ecommerce merchants, fraud has found a ripe target given its virtual presence requiring online payments and strictly virtual interactions with customers. Fraudulent activity—both attempted and failed, and successful—has skyrocket in the last few years, hitting large ecommerce retailers the hardest, with a $10 million annual revenue loss. Mid-size merchants averaged 249 fraud attempts per month in 2018, and are on track to far exceed that as the platform grows and bad actors proliferate.
What can you do? No matter how grand or minimal your business is, you can track both payment and channel fraud. Fraud detection solutions are available for both no-cost and minimal-cost investments. Entities that specialize in online commerce fraud can assess your unique risks and advise you on how to minimize them.
If it seems as if the entire world has changed, it has. We know this. Nary a region, city, continent on Planet Earth has escaped the ravaging effects of Covid-19, now a global pandemic that has severely shifted commerce, labor, and everyday living in a social distancing environment.
As commerce is the backbone of all free societies, this is a startling fact. Here’s a jaw-dropping statistic: Global Web Index found that 80 percent of consumers in the US and UK have increased their online purchasing in the wake of this pandemic. A sudden emphasis toward ecommerce is opening up markets that in the past were strictly in-person, and padding revenues for existing online sellers. It’s critical to closely examine your business model to make the best of a dire situation. With the right information, tools, attitude, and devotion, you may get through this unprecedented time.
The most essential factor here is understanding consumer behaviors in the wake of closed storefronts and empty grocery shelves. How are average citizens choosing to replenish basic supplies? How are they spending mostly limited dollars on “luxury” goods, which were not so luxurious just three months ago?
Commerce crashes are hitting virtually every sector of the economy and society. From entertainment to education, new purchases have all but disappeared. And in the runup to a real recession, many consumers are finding themselves out of work and unable to meet their current financial obligations for basics like utility bills, rent, and credit card payments.
But not all. Some are positioned to ride out this storm with a modicum of buying power. Can you take advantage of that? Take a look at some digital marketing trends that are helping businesses stay afloat, taking advantage of the nearly captive audience of consumers stuck at home with only the internet as a source of information. It’s also their source of purchasing.
As our economy is ravaged by uncertainty as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic, it can be easy to find ourselves in a downward spiral of doom and gloom. From hotels to fitness centers to restaurants and more, industries across the spectrum are bracing themselves for unprecedented changes that no one can quite yet predict.
It’s vital to the health of our businesses - and ourselves - to look for opportunities and silver linings. Ecommerce business owners are in a unique position to leverage new opportunities and stay afloat in a rapidly changing marketplace. In an age of social distancing and sheltering in place, online shopping offers a sense of safety, comfort, and peace of mind.
Our customers need us now more than ever. If there were ever a time to get creative, this is it.
And what better place to adapt to our new reality than social media?
Even in the best of times, social commerce is an excellent way for ecommerce stores to make themselves visible to their target audience. And in the absence of face-to-face connection, more and more people are flocking to social media to virtually connect with friends and loved ones.
Here are three reasons to consider using social commerce to amplify your social media presence during these trying times.
Grow your audience. With more eyes on social media platforms, more eyes will be naturally drawn to the content and products you share.
Life has slowed down for most of us, and people have more time on their hands. Focus on catching their attention, rack up the likes and shares, and you just may find yourself connecting with people like never before.
An added bonus: From tweets to Facebook pages to Instagram business accounts, most platforms make it easy to track these metrics and tweak your message accordingly.
Create customer loyalty. The state of the economy is affecting us all. People are clutching their purse strings tightly, and understandably so. No matter how enticing an ad may look, even the most eager customers may be focusing on more pressing essentials.
Even though sales may be sluggish, social commerce lets businesses connect with people in a myriad of other unique ways. You could focus on offering entertaining, thought-provoking content, or you could focus on communicating and building rapport. Whichever strategy you choose, now is the time to make a mark on people’s minds so they’ll remember you when they’re ready to buy.
Become a beacon of hope. Simply put, people are terrified. They’re afraid for their families and their finances.
Engaging with customers with social commerce offers business owners a special opportunity to be a calming, soothing presence for people amidst all the chaos and uncertainty.
We - our customers, our suppliers, our businesses, and ourselves - are all in this together. A common thread connects us all.
You and your customers can help each other through this. Communicate this to them.
Whether it’s promoting your work with local charities, providing easier access to comforting essentials, or simply offering some reassurance, people will remember the businesses who helped them through these unprecedented times.
These will be the businesses who weather the storm.
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.