As I predicted months ago
Does that mean Google is overstepping the bounds of online privacy? After all, Facebook has been doing the same thing with ads for the last few years without a great deal of controversy. But critics rightfully argue that Google is an essential tool in some businesses, and that many people cant simply choose to opt out. They argue that search, unlike ads, should NOT be personalized. After all, if you are Googling something for business, you probably would not want your personal hobbies to affect your results. Some proponents of the new changes, however, argue that if they have to see ads, theyd rather see ones theyre interested in. Ultimately, it is Google users themselves that must make the decision to support or to reject the new policy.
Do like customized ads and search?
Selling through social media, or s-commerce, is a relatively new phenomenon that has only become possible through the increasing prevalence and popularity of networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. While the term generally refers to selling directly through a social media, in practice that is not the only way you can generate sales through social media. Here are a few effective ways you can boost your sales through social media.Start a Conversation
One way of encouraging sales is by connecting with and motivating your customers. The ways in which you can connect to your customers are practically endless, but they all boil down to this. Start a conversation. Unlike other channels of communication, social media is a two way street, and companies have to do more than talk: they have to listen. Asking questions, getting opinions on new products, holding contests, and highlighting customer responses are all great ways of getting people interested in your brand. The more people that are interested in your brand, the more likely they are to pay attention to your new products, events, and promotions. Keeping your customers interested is one of the most important benefits of social media.Encourage Recommendations
I mentioned in a recent blog post that 70% of social media users have recommended a product to their friends or family through social media. Thats an incredible statistic when you consider that two thirds of online adults use social media. Similarly, 90% of eCommerce buyers trust a recommendation when it comes from a friend or family member. So how does an eCommerce retailer take advantage of that? Make it easy to recommend your products. Post wall posts of your products on Facebook and tweet about it on twitter so users can easily share or re-tweet it. If someone says something good about one of your products, post it on your page so everyone can see. Get people excited about your product, make it easy to share, and watch the sales take off.Sell Directly Through a Social Media Channel
The most obvious way of utilizing social media is to actually sell through social media. Some eCommerce stores have taken a social-only approach to selling, eschewing websites in favor of Facebook pages. They do this by using apps which allow people to purchase items directly on Facebook through Paypal or other payment processing services. Depending on the type of product you offer, this can be a great benefit to your business or it can flop. Social commerce makes up only a small percentage of all eCommerce buying, showing that the field is still in its infancy. However, this aspect of social media is one that is evolving, and growing rapidly. Only a few days ago, Facebook rolled out a new feature that allows people who buy on Facebook to share products and wishlists.
Selling online doesnt just mean putting your products on the web. It means opening your virtual shop to a population that is more interconnected and savvy than any other, and social media is a great way to turn that connection into a benefit for your company. If you dont have a social presence already, make it the next step in your sales plan!
The growth of online and mobile commerce last year continue an exciting trend that shows no signs of slowing down. But perhaps the biggest news for online retailers comes out of a field not unrelated to eCommerce: social media. Recent statistics from eConsultancy unveil some growth numbers for major social media sites that nearly defy belief. A year ago, Twitter had around 75 million user accounts. Today, it has over 175 million. LinkedIns membership have jumped 100% to a high of 100 million, and over a million companies have pages on LinkedIn. Facebook reached 640 million users from 350 million last year, and experienced a 200% growth in number of users accessing the social media site through their mobile devices. So what accounts for this growth?
One interesting note is that while social media sites like Facebook have grown at remarkable speeds, the growth of other sharing sites has slowed or even stagnated. Sites that have experienced this slow down are generally single purpose sites like Blogger, or Flikr. Taking this into account, its not only possible but likely that more internet users are consolidating their activities into social networks. Thanks to the growth and changes to existing social networks, its easier than ever to upload photos and videos to your profile, and a typical internet user no longer has to go to an image uploading site to share a picture.
The prevalence of mobile devices with internet access have undoubtedly contributed to this consolidation. New, built-in apps on smartphones allow users to upload pictures and videos instantly with the touch of a button. Social media with its status updates, and twitter with its short messaging, are ideal for mobile users to access on-the-go. Even users who wouldnt actively use social networking might type up a short twitter update on the train or bus.
Causes of growth aside, there is one concrete conclusion that can be drawn from this: the social media phenomenon is not going anywhere. More people are jumping on the bandwagon than ever before, and online businesses most integrate social media into their strategies or lose out on a significant platform that can be used to sell products and connect with their customers.
I recently mentioned that major social media networks are growing at an extraordinarily quick pace. So what does that mean for eCommerce? It means that another avenue of online selling, social commerce, is becoming increasingly prevalent and useful. While social commerce is still a relatively small proportion of online commerce, the growth of social networking means the relevance of social commerce is also growing. Not only that, there are also less visible ways in which social media is involved in an online purchase. 81% of online shoppers receive advice about their online purchases through a social networking site from friends or family. That means of the customers online retailers are generating from word-of-mouthing marketing, 4 out of 5 of them are getting their advice through a social networking site!
Does that mean all online retailers should be selling their products on Facebook or LinkedIn? Not at all. In fact, commerce through Facebook is limited to certain kinds of products and has not yet reached maturity. What it does mean is that all online retailers should at least have a presence on major social media sites. This not only makes it easier for customers to refer business to you and promote your products, but also gives you a chance to directly interact with potential buyers. The easier it is to share your product, the more traffic you will get from social media.
How have you promoted your product through social media recently?
Christmas is one the most exciting, and one of the most stressful, days of the year for most eCommerce retailers, and more so this year than any other in history. The National Retail Federation has projected that retail sales will climb 3.8 percent from last year to 469.1 billion this year, a record number. How important is the speed and accuracy of order fulfillment to taking advantage of that Christmas rush? eConsultancy surveyed holiday buyers in the UK to find out.
During Christmas 2010, 26.24% of customers ordering online for Christmas received late orders. While some of that can be attributed to poor weather in some parts of the country, slow fulfillment can also be the result of an inadequate fulfillment operation. The worst Christmas gift is a late Christmas gift, so it shouldnt be surprising that 28% of respondents said they would not shop again at an online retailer if they received a late package. In other words, slow fulfillment can cost you almost a third of your potential future business. Even having festive holiday theme for your website, a good product, and strong customer service arent enough to offset the importance of getting orders to customers quickly.
If you fulfill your orders in-house, remember to keep your warehouses as organized and focused as possible during the holidays to avoid any errors. If you dont want to worry about any of that, consider outsourcing your fulfillment to a service like Webgistix, which guarantees shipping within 24 hours and has a comprehensive 2-day delivery model.
eCommerce is a growth industry, and has been breaking records year after year. So it shouldnt come as a surprise that this years Cyber Monday was the biggest day for online shopping in history. With over $1.25 Billion spent at online retailers, it signifies a 22% growth from 2010 overall, with the average online shopper spending about $125 across 1.9 online transactions. This data confirms that eCommerce is not losing any momentum even in the midst of a recession, and that consumers continue to shift their buying from traditional brick and mortal retail to online stores.
What is surprising is the growth in mobile commerce. Mobile traffic has grown from 3.9 percent last year to 10.8 percent this year. Online transactions through mobile sites have jumped to 6.6 percent of all online commerce, from 2.3 percent in 2010. Even disregarding the almost 200% increase in mobile commerce, 52% of Smartphone users plan to or have used their phone to do research on purchases and redeem coupons during the holidays. These astonishing numbers signify just how mobile our society has become. It is now possible to buy things on your phone with unlimited choices, on the go. If we are to judge current trends, then, based on these statistics, mobile commerce appeals to a large percentage of shoppers. eCommerce trends are only going to continue to grow as more and more US mobile users adopt Smartphone technology. As of August 2011, over 78.5 mobile phone subscribers in the US use Smartphones, a 50% growth from 2010. The lesson to online retailers? Adopt mobile technology into your eCommerce site to take advantage of this new trend.
Does your online store have a mobile site?
Has a customer ever considered purchasing from a competitor because they didnt know of certain services you provide? Offering special deals and services only brings in new customers if they know they exist. Regardless of what product you sell, the ability to properly communicate special deals and services is essential to attracting new and repeat business.
This is even more important if you have some services that add value to your product. For example, free or discounted shipping, dedicated customer service, or money-back guarantees. As I mentioned in a previous post, price-comparison shopping is more prevalent than ever before. The ability to compete against rock bottom prices depends on your ability to communicate the services your company offers beyond price.
How do you differentiate your eCommerce store beyond price?
I just got back from the X.commerce Innovate Developers conference yesterday. Hosted by a number of prominent tech companies such as eBay, Magento, and Paypal, there were over 3000 developers, business owners, and online sellers attending the event when they announced a new development platform for the Internet: X.commerce. The X.commerce platform is a centralized development platform for eCommerce stores, payment systems, and shopping carts. Described as the first end-to-end, multi-channel commerce technology platform designed for all the ways consumers choose to shop today, the idea is to create a single unified language for the web, instead of the dozens of competing ones we currently have.
Im convinced the idea itself is solid and could gain traction because of the current state of the online industry, which is completely fragmented. Due to this fragmentation, Webgistix has developed customized integrations for each major shopping cart system. Utilizing X.commerce, however, the integration process would theoretically require only a single piece of code that could be applied to any
shopping cart. Bringing everyone onboard X.commerce would simplify things immensely, cut down the time required to create and integrate new programs, and broaden our ability to help our customers and partners.
How well the idea catches on depends on the companies involved in developing it, primarily eBay. If the platform is well-designed and properly promoted then its something that can change the face of how online companies interact with each other and their customers. If not, then it might just flame out like a lot of other ambitious projects. Only time will tell for certain, but Im looking forward to see how X.commerce will change the state of the eCommerce industry.
I recently read a blog post
on how different aspects of online stores affects who buys from them, and discovered that the term presentation is everything doesnt just apply to food. 42% of shoppers base their perception of eCommerce sites entirely on the sites design!
That means almost half of the people coming to your online store will make a decision not to purchase based on how good or professional your site looks, no matter what level of quality your products, prices, or customer service are. The message to online sellers is clear: watch the colors, mind the buttons, and iron out the creases of your eCommerce site to ensure potential customers judge your site favorably.
Have you ever refused to shop at a site because of aesthetics?
The world lost a true visionary with the death of Steve Jobs (1955-2011) on Wednesday. As entrepreneurs, we all wish to come up with an idea to change the world. But an idea alone will not change anything. To become reality, ideas must be accompanied by will, leadership, and effective execution. Steve Jobs did this as well as anyone who has ever walked the planet, and will be remembered along with the likes of Henry Ford and Alexander Grahm Bell. Harvard business students will study his genius for generations, maybe forever.
At Webgistix, we have always taken our inspiration from industry leaders such as Steve Jobs. We have a huge banner hanging in our warehouse with a picture of Steve and a quote from him that says "Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower." When I heard of his passing I felt a strong sadness come over me. The death of Steve Jobs is a great loss for humanity.