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video in ecommerce

Everywhere we turn, videos are in our feed. Video is often how stories get told in the 21st century, so it's a good idea for e-commerce business owners to consider ways they can use this trend to their advantage.

Everywhere we turn, videos are in our feed. Video is often how stories get told in the 21st century, so it's a good idea for e-commerce business owners to consider ways they can use this trend to their advantage.

Everywhere we turn, videos are in our feed. Video is often how stories get told in the 21st century, so it's a good idea for e-commerce business owners to consider ways they can use this trend to their advantage.

"Today we are constantly bombarded by content, and video is one of the best ways to cut through that noise," said Chris Lueck, CEO of FastSpring, a global digital commerce platform based in Santa Barbara, California.

"It pays to take the extra time and effort to incorporate video into your strategy," he told the E-Commerce Times.

Because video is so immersive, it can make your site fun and personable, drawing people toward both your brand and your products.

Video "can lend an experiential layer to e-commerce," noted Oren Boiman, CEO of Magisto, a video-editing software provider based in Menlo Park, California.

"It offers businesses the chance to create a personality for themselves and start an ongoing relationship with customers that builds trust, loyalty, and value for the customer and the e-commerce site," he told the E-Commerce Times.

The push toward video is in part generational. Increasing numbers of consumers expect videos to be a component of their interaction with businesses.

"Everyone talks about the millennials changing the landscape of commerce," remarked Liz Pekarek, marketing team lead for ecomdash, a multichannel e-commerce management software provider based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

"Really, there is a new generation to think about -- Generation Z," she told the E-Commerce Times. "These kids have grown up with tablets and phones in their hands. They've grown up watching YouTube sensations and various other video-oriented content. They are savvier than the millennials and have higher technological expectations for businesses."

Where to start with incorporating video into your overall strategy? Following are some ideas from the experts.


1. Use Video to Build Your Brand
Because video is a natural storytelling medium, "creating branding videos for your website is a great start," said Jon Reyes, CEO of EcomVids, a custom video ad creation company based in Santa Ana, California.

That can mean "shooting a simple About Us video on your home page, creating 20-second product demonstration videos on your product pages, adding real customer testimonial videos, [making] videos promoting exclusive offers, or filming a post purchase video on your thank you page," he told the E-Commerce Times.

One reason video works for branding is that it's an intimate medium that draws in viewers.

"These establish trust and credibility with your customers," said Reyes. "People want to know that they're buying from a real company with real people behind it, and not just some faceless store."

The magic of using video for branding, in part, is that it can give a glimpse of a company's internal workings.

"Businesses can use video to better showcase their brand and connect with their customers on a more personal level," noted FastSpring's Lueck.

"Every company has their own culture and quirks that cannot be articulated through words or still images," he pointed out. "With video, you can provide customers a 'behind-the-scenes' sneak peek of how their favorite brand operates, benefiting customer engagement, sales and employee recruitment."


2. Build Video Into Your Advertising and Marketing
Video is a natural medium for advertising and marketing.

"If you're not advertising on Facebook or Instagram, it's time to start," said Reyes. "The ad inventory on these platforms is getting more and more saturated every year, but it shouldn't prevent you from taking advantage of these massive platforms that reach billions of people. It's all about creating content that's unique and speaks directly to your target audience."

In addition to using advertising videos, it's a good idea to incorporate video into your overall marketing plan.

"You can do indirect video marketing such as Facebook Live, or post educational or entertaining video content on your social media pages to help grow and maintain your following," said Reyes. "Video promotions are also a great way to engage your audience, such as introducing limited time sales or holiday promos."


3. Post Product Videos
Showing products being used and highlighting the features of those products is another key way video can help boost your business.

Based on client feedback, it appears that many customers have become more aware of product features after viewing a video on an e-commerce company website or in its advertising, noted Joshua Hall, the owner of Micromercial, a product video production company based in Virginia.

"Customers are more likely to watch a video that shows the features in use than they are to read about them," he told the E-Commerce Times.

Product videos are one way e-commerce businesses can stand out from the competition, said Hall. "If your competitor has pictures of their product, and you have fluid video showing your product, what it looks like in use, and highlighting the key features, the product is definitely more likely to convert."

Video grabs and holds the attention of buyers or potential buyers, and they end up spending more time on your site and with your products than they would just by scrolling through static images.

"It takes only a few seconds to skim through a catalog of products, a minute to read a review or blog," explained Lueck. "With video, you have the potential to keep a customer on your site for much longer."

However you decide to use video, it's important to do it regularly, so that customers will come to expect it.

"The key here is being consistent," said EcomVids' Reyes. "You need to be putting out new video content regularly to keep your audience engaged. This is easier said than done, but it's about prioritizing video content in your business and sticking to a routine."

With all the potential uses of video, experts recommend picking a few channels that really work and focusing on those.


"There are limitless ways for an e-commerce business to use videos," Reyes said, "but focus on one video and channel at time, and don't try to do everything all at once."

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snapchat

July 12, 2018SOCIAL MEDIA

You could soon shop on Snapchat

Shopping and Snapchat could soon be synonymous. As originally reported by TechCrunch, the popular social media platform is experimenting with a new visual search feature called “Eagle.”

Shopping and Snapchat could soon be synonymous. As originally reported by TechCrunch, the popular social media platform is experimenting with a new visual search feature called “Eagle.”

Shopping and Snapchat could soon be synonymous. As originally reported by TechCrunch, the popular social media platform is experimenting with a new visual search feature called “Eagle.” App researcher Ishan Agarwal was the first to notice the Snapchat code in the Android version of the app, and has previously been the tipster behind a number of other app features, including Instagram’s video calling app, Focus portrait mode, and others.

In essence, in the case of this latest hidden feature, if you take a photo of a product or its barcode, you’ll be redirected to Amazon, where you’ll have the option of purchasing said product. Agarwal discovered the new feature when poking around the app’s Android code, which details a “Visual Search” feature. The description notes, “Press and hold to identify an object, song, barcode, and more! This works by sending data to Amazon, Shazam, and other partners.”

While Snapchat may have started off as nothing more than a way for friends to share ephemeral moments with one another, it soon turned into an attempt at a revenue-generating machine, one that has fallen off in recent months, especially with increasing competition from rival Instagram. The Facebook-owned photo-sharing app has copied many of Snapchat’s more popular features, like Stories, and has managed to attract a larger user base. This, in turn, has made it more difficult for Snapchat to make money, which has certainly concerned its investors.

But with its new Eagle function, the app could be turning things around. If Snapchat is able to work out an affiliate deal with Amazon — which is to say, get a cut of all Amazon sales generated by a photo sent through the app — that could represent a significant new revenue stream.

Snapchat has indicated several times throughout the year that it is harboring a growing interest in visual search. Earlier this year, the company reportedly engaged in talks to acquire machine vision startup Blippar. While these negotiations ultimately fell through, it comes as little surprise that Snapchat is now trying to chart its own course in the field. We’ll just have to see what comes of its latest efforts.

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insta igtv

June 21, 2018SOCIAL MEDIA

Instagram launches IGTV app for creators

Instagram is ready to compete head-on with YouTube. At a flashy event in San Francisco, the company announced it will begin allowing users to upload videos up to one hour in length!

Instagram is ready to compete head-on with YouTube. At a flashy event in San Francisco, the company announced it will begin allowing users to upload videos up to one hour in length!

Instagram is ready to compete head-on with YouTube. Today at a flashy event in San Francisco, the company announced it will begin allowing users to upload videos up to one hour in length, up from the previous one-minute limit. And to house the new longer-form videos from content creators and the general public, Instagram is launching IGTV. Accessible from a button inside the Instagram homescreen, as well as a standalone app, IGTV will spotlight popular videos from Instagram celebrities.

The launch confirms TechCrunch’s scoops over the past month outlining the features and potential of IGTV that we said would arrive today, following the WSJ’s report that Instagram would offer videos up to an hour in length.

“It’s time for video to move forward, and evolve,” said Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom onstage at the event. “IGTV is for watching long-from videos from your favorite creators.” Just before he took the stage, Instagram’s business blog outed details of IGTV.


How IGTV Works
IGTV will let anyone be a creator, not just big-name celebrities. People will be able to upload vertical videos through Instagram’s app or the web. Everyone except smaller and new accounts will be able to upload hour-long videos immediately, with that option expanding to everyone eventually.

The IGTV app will be available globally on iOS and Android sometime today, as well as in the Instagram app through a TV shaped button above Stories. “We made it a dedicated app so you can tap on it and enjoy video without all the distraction,” Systrom explained.

In IGTV’s dedicated app or its in-Instagram experience, viewers will be able to swipe through a variety of longer-form videos, or swipe up to visit a Browse tab of personally recommended videos, popular videos, creators they’re following and the option to continue watching previously started videos. Users will also get callouts from the IGTV button alerting them to new content.


IGTV will also let creators develop Instagram Channels full of their different videos that people can subscribe to. Creators will be able to put links in the description of their videos to drive traffic elsewhere.


No Commercials In IGTV…Yet
“There’s no ads in IGTV today,” says Systrom, but he says it’s “obviously a very reasonable place [for ads] to end up.” He explained that since creators are investing a lot of time into IGTV videos, he wants to make that sustainable by offering them a way to monetize in the future. Instagram isn’t paying any creators directly for IGTV videos either, like Facebook did to jump-start its flopped Facebook Watch video hub.

With 1 billion users on Instagram, IGTV could be popular with creators not only trying to earn money but grow their audience. Instagram is expected to build out a monetization option for IGTV creators, potentially including ad revenue shares. The big user base could also attract advertisers. eMarketer already expects Instagram to earn $5.48 billion in U.S. ad revenue in 2018. Facebook shareholders loved the sound of more premium ad inventory that businesses crave as they shift spend away from television. Facebook’s share price is up over 2.2 percent today to nearly $202.

Instagram has evolved far beyond the initial simplicity of just filtering and sharing photos. When it launched, mobile networks, screens and cameras weren’t ready for longer-form video, and neither were users. As more families cut the cord or teens ignore television altogether, though, Instagram has an opportunity to become the TV of mobile. YouTube may always have a wider breadth of content, but through curation of creators and publishers’ video content, Instagram could become the reliable place to watch something great on the small screen.

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web design

As every kid knows, making cool stuff is the fun part. You dump all of your toys on the floor, and sort through them until you find what you want?

As every kid knows, making cool stuff is the fun part. You dump all of your toys on the floor, and sort through them until you find what you want?

As every kid knows, making cool stuff is the fun part. You dump all of your toys on the floor, and sort through them until you find what you want, and make it all fit together to build a spaceship, or something. That’s the part everyone likes.

But then someone comes in to tell you that it’s over. It’s done. Now you have to pick up after yourself so Dad doesn’t step on a Lego piece in the dark and shout bad words at 2AM. Few people enjoy this part. But as we get older, most of us realize that cleaning up after ourselves after work or play will save us trouble down the road. Web design is no exception.

If you’re new to web design (and yes, this article is for newbies), it might feel like you’re “done” when you upload your HTML files to the server, and the client says it all looks great. And sure, you’re done for now. Take a day off, or at least take a coffee break. One day, however, either you or someone else is going to have to pick up that design and play with it again. On that day, you will want to have everything put away where it’s supposed to be…

 

1. Clean up Your Layers
If you do a lot of design work in any graphics app, whether it’s Sketch, Photoshop, Affinity Designer, or some random wireframing app, you want to make sure that stuff is easy to make sense of. When you’re iterating fast, it’s easy to end up with a long list of layers that have no names, or that have been hidden away because you decided a previous approach didn’t look quite right.
Make sure every layer is named, and that you don’t have any layers or elements you don’t need. Organize your objects into groups, layer groups, and folders.


2. Clean up Your Code

HTML, CSS, and JavaScript can also add up very quickly when you’re iterating and experimenting. Perhaps you left in some bits of HTML from an element you didn’t need in the end. Maybe you wrote styles for that element, and forgot you left them in. Random class names can definitely pile up when you’re not looking.

Give your code a once-over, to make sure you’re not leaving anything extraneous in there. If you have a lot of CSS to work through (and this can happen easily), you might try a tool like JitBit to help you find CSS you aren’t using.

 

3. Clean up Your Files
Grab your file manager of choice and get sorting. Maybe you downloaded a framework like Bootstrap, or a library like jQuery, before realizing you didn’t need them for this project. Maybe you made some files for experimenting in, but those experiments are over.

Frankly, file management is one of those tasks I always put off ‘til later because it’s annoying, but even so, it needs to be done. You have to delete those extra files. Putting unused files on a server is bad practice, and you do not want to be trying to guess which files were actually important in three years, when you’ve more or less forgotten how you put everything together.

 

4. Consider Your Storage Options
Kindergartens, schools, some mechanics, warehouse administrators, and parents who’ve had a bunch of kids and have been collecting toys for fifteen years all recognize the value of clearly-labelled storage. There‘s nothing so annoying as getting kind of lost while you search through stacks of boxes for that one thing that’s got to be in there somewhere.
When it comes to storing past work, having a bunch of randomly-named folders on your hard drive won’t cut it. You need a system. At the very least, you could start by separating finished projects from current projects. Then, start looking into ways to back up your files. Whether you use a local external drive, or a third-party service, a good backup solution has the benefit of both loss prevention, and freeing up some space on your local drives if need be.

This is especially important because clients lose files all the time. Sometimes they hire someone else to change things, and they mess it up. Sometimes data is lost in server crashes. Being the guy who can save your client’s website in a pinch is a good way to maintain healthy relations with said client.

 

5. Documentation
Now we get into “Putting Your Stuff Away 102”. Unless your project is the simplest HTML/CSS template known to man, it can help to write down some things like:

  • The original goals for the project as defined by the client.
  • The reasons why you made the design decisions you made.
  • Which CSS hacks you used (if any).
  • Which parts of the code just seem to work as long as you don’t dare to touch them ever.
  • Which libraries and frameworks you used, and their version numbers.

It’s also a good idea to include any resources given to you by your client, such as style guides, mood boards, and any content they provided. You never know when you’ll need to go back and refer to this material, and having it all in one place will make it much easier to pick up an old project again.


Wrapping Up
This might all seem like a lot of extra work for a four-page site that you built in a relatively short time, for example. But really, this kind of organization saves a lot of time and potential headaches in the long run.

Don’t ever under-estimate your ability to forget which file contains the latest design, or exactly why that CSS style is overriding that other one. As soon as you start on the next project, all this mental organization will evaporate.

It’s a simple question, really: Would you rather sort all of this out now, or run around frantically searching for everything you need when a past client comes asking for a “quick change” that needs to happen “today, if possible”?

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advertising

Personalisation in the advertising industry probably began 60 years ago when Lester Wunderman first invented the idea of direct mail and the concept of targeting messaging to individual consumers.

Personalisation in the advertising industry probably began 60 years ago when Lester Wunderman first invented the idea of direct mail and the concept of targeting messaging to individual consumers.

Personalisation in the advertising industry probably began 60 years ago when Lester Wunderman first invented the idea of direct mail and the concept of targeting messaging to individual consumers.

It took the rest of the industry a few years to catch up but catch up it did and so began half century of mailboxes piled high with “personal offers” addressed to you, or similar(ish) to you, or someone who lived in your house three moves ago.

While it was understood that the more personalised the approach, the more likely it was to be read; the execution was too often poorly carried out, losing the impact for the intended consumer.

However, just as personalised advertising was approaching its half century it had the opportunity to reinvent itself with the advent of the internet. Digital advertising enabled newer, better opportunities for targeting, tailoring and personalisation. However, collectively the industry failed to treat this new toy with the appropriate respect and so consumers went from junk mail in the post to being stalked online by a product they might have idly clicked on during last week’s lunch break.

These blunt-force trauma tactics applied by the industry could be less like a friendly invitation to respond, than doorstep intimidation demanding money (or at least attention) with menaces.

Getting personalisation right is the Holy Grail of digital and as a result of conversations with clients, rarely get past social niceties before it’s brought up. Every client demands personalisation because they realise (much like the first agencies to get typists to address individual mailing labels) it can drive instant, measurable results to the bottom line, especially when sat on top of a smart e-commerce platform.

The steady move to e-commerce over the last two decades has increased the need for personalisation. Even the most traditional of companies, who may be used to selling through distributors, dealers and partners, are actively looking to incorporate e-commerce in their channel mix. However, this can be confusing to businesses relatively new to digital thinking as traditionally, the e-commerce and customer experience have been kept separate from each other.

Customer experience has taken the role of relationship builder or the “heart” of a brand, while the e-commerce function acts as the “head”, powering transactions and operations. For a truly personalised experience, head and heart need to converge and work together.

To date, the commerce experience has tended to be behind the login wall where it interacts with enterprise systems - often on an entirely different technical platform, with an entirely separate team to the front-end customer experience, which often sits under marketing’s purview. This can mean that personalisation is also disjointed with the front office employing tactics like geo-targeting or device analysis to tailor recommendations, while the back-end deploys different tools from logged-in journeys using more specific data to proactively suggest products aka The Amazon Approach.

However, adopting a truly joined-up approach requires not just lip service but substantial investment in infrastructure such digital platforms or data capability and more importantly, a true culture shift for many organisations.

Customer experience is now recognised as a journey that connects all touchpoints, meaning that personalisation needs to seamlessly span multiple channels regardless of where the customer is. As a result, the concept of “headless e-commerce” is starting to gain traction, recognising that customer experience is best handled by a unified experience platform for a more harmonious approach.

This approach recognises that the path to personalisation may begin way before a customer reaches a site. Advances in programmatic advertising can now not only crunch the analytics on visitor data before displaying an advert but can apply dynamic creative to assemble a creative execution targeted at that individual. This data can be passed onto the website on click through, replacing the outdated concept of a “landing page” as the site itself can be fully personalised for the visitor - down the product or service recommendations determined even before a customer reaches the e-commerce engine. Crucially, this can be done without using any personally identifiable data and so avoids issues around GDPR.

Once the customer reaches the logged-in experience, then the granularity of data increases exponentially and new AI (artificial intelligence) tools help to bring this information together rapidly with customer specific data such as purchase histories aligned to other sophisticated data sources. For example, ASOS can use AI to match clothing images that customers upload to similar items in their catalogue.

Some tools even combine this with external data such as local weather forecasts to tweak recommendations - imagine if ASOS can suggest an umbrella that matches the new coat you bought last week that can be delivered with a drone to your office just as the heavens open?

Now that personalisation is officially a sexagenarian perhaps it’s time to retire the old way of working and thinking to really maximise the e-commerce experience to create experiences that transcend organisational silos and enhance the customer journey.

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Adobe Buys Magento

Adobe have today announced they’re acquiring Magento for $1.68 billion. Brad Rencher, Adobe’s Executive VP of Adobe Digital Marketing business, announced the purchase over on Twitter, and via a blog post!

Adobe have today announced they’re acquiring Magento for $1.68 billion. Brad Rencher, Adobe’s Executive VP of Adobe Digital Marketing business, announced the purchase over on Twitter, and via a blog post!

Adobe have today announced they’re acquiring Magento for $1.68 billion. Brad Rencher, Adobe’s Executive VP of Adobe Digital Marketing business, announced the purchase over on Twitter, and via a blog post:

“Combined with Adobe Experience Cloud, the Magento Commerce Cloud will bring digital commerce, order management and business intelligence to enable both B2B and B2C shopping experiences across the customer journey.”

This is good news for Adobe, and fairly good news for Magento who were on a fairly strange path, but brings a little uncertainty to Magento customers in the short term. Switching from Permira Holdings LLP, the private equity firm who picked up Magento from Ebay, to Adobe means some customers may wonder whether they’ll be locked into using Adobe’s marketing cloud at some stage in the future.

Adobe’s past experience
Adobe have of course done this before: They purchased Omniture, instantly jumping them from a pure ‘desktop creative software’ business to a big player in the digital marketing business. Now they’re obviously taking the bet they can do the same with a purer commerce platform.

This does of course also offer obvious ‘synergies’ from a business function point of view: Adobe has a very large sales & marketing operation, culminating each year in their ‘Summit’ conference, bringing together 12,000 marketers who could just as easily be learning about ecommerce product updates as they could digital marketing product updates.


Magento’s strange path
At one time, Magento was the go-to platform for any ecommerce business looking to replatform. Over the last 5 years they’ve given that position away to IBM and Oracle at the very top end of the market, Salesforce at the upper-mid, and Shopify have eaten their way up and up from micro to small to medium businesses.

The comparison with Shopify is interesting: At one stage, Magento had a small business flavour called ‘Magento Go’. Ebay (who owned Magento at the time) made the odd decision to hand all those small business customers over to BigCommerce back in 2014. At that stage Shopify was a fairly capable platform, but still pretty niche. Today Shopify’s market cap is $15.1 billion, or roughly 10x the amount Magento just sold for. The news gave Shopify a little shock: Shares dropped roughly 5%, but we’d expect in reality Magento stick a little higher up the chain for the next couple of years.
Magento are in the somewhat odd position of having over 650,000 websites sat on their technology, but only 60,000 of those have switched up to the latest version (‘Magento 2’) according to BuiltWith, the scraper who index the technology platforms behind millions of websites. Notably the first 6 months post launch of Magento 2 was a period full of horror stories, though it seems to have found its feet latterly and several very well regarded ecommerce businesses sit on top of the platform.


Why would Adobe do this?
For Adobe it makes perfect sense when you look at the diagram below.
At the top right there, Adobe sit there competing with companies offering full-featured ecommerce platforms as part of their main offering. If you’re a top end Adobe customer, IBM, Oracle, and of course Salesforce’s people will be on to you every quarter to try and convert you across to their platforms, each of which now centres around a fully featured online shopping platform.

Equally, if you look at Adobe’s Marketing Cloud product suite, it’s fairly easy to answer the question “What’s missing from this?” with “An ecommerce solution like Magento”!


Creative + Performance: Interesting possibilities
Whereas most of the major Marketing/Commerce Cloud providers focus the bulk of their efforts on performance marketing and direct commerce, and more ‘creative’ platforms such as SiteCore, Umbraco, Drupal are somewhat lacking on the commerce side of things, a combination of the Adobe cloud & Magento offers the opportunity for a platform to marry the commercial and creative sides of marketing and retail in a way that offers more than the sum of the two separate platforms.

If they get that right it firstly offers a massively attractive story for both existing online retailers, and for FMCG and manufacturing businesses for whom ‘direct to consumer’ is an ever creeping buzzword, and more importantly it may offer better experience for end customers, for many of whom online shopping is entertainment as much as it is product consumption.


We look forward to updates over the coming weeks.

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facebook b2c

The social media giant will begin testing business-to-consumer transactions on the marketplace this month ahead of a soft launch planned for June.

The social media giant will begin testing business-to-consumer transactions on the marketplace this month ahead of a soft launch planned for June.

After making inroads into India’s payments sector via WhatsApp, Facebook is eyeing a larger piece of the country’s fast-growing ecommerce market where the world’s largest retailers Amazon and Walmart are gearing up for a direct faceoff.

The social media giant is in talks with several brands and businesses to list on Facebook Marketplace, according to two people familiar with the discussions. It will begin testing business-to-consumer transactions on the marketplace this month ahead of a soft launch planned for June, one of them said. Facebook “will build more tools (on its marketplace) for businesses to upload products and manage inventory and orders, and will also add payments to it by the end of this year”, the other person said. “For now, Facebook will start with directing consumers to sellers’ (Facebook) pages or websites.”

Facebook launched its marketplace as a consumer-to-consumer interface in India about six months ago only to receive a lukewarm response to its attempt at creating a domestic Craigslist, competing with startups such as Quikr and OLX.

Facebook confirmed it is testing ways to feature content from shops on its marketplace.
“We first introduced Marketplace in India last November, and since then we’ve been continuously learning and evolving the experience to meet people’s needs. We’ll continue to explore new ways to help these communities connect through commerce,” a company spokeswoman said.

India’s online retail sector is expected to grow to $27 billion this year after registering sales worth $19.6 billion in 2017, estimates Forrester Research. Global retailers are betting more on the massive growth potential for the fledgling market, which Morgan Stanley estimates will be worth $200 billion by 2026. While Walmart is getting closer to acquiring a majority stake in India’s largest online marketplace, Flipkart, Amazon has committed to invest $5 billion in its India operations. Google’s parent company, Alphabet, may also invest $1-2 billion in Flipkart if the Walmart deal goes through, ET reported first on April 27.

Google is also preparing to tap the domestic ecommerce market more directly after recently investing in Bengaluru-based personal concierge app Dunzo and ecommerce company Fynd, said people familiar with the developments.

A Google spokeswoman, however, denied such a move, saying “currently we have no plans”. The company operates Google Express in the United States via a partnership with retailers including Walmart and Costco.

As for Facebook’s marketplace plans for India, industry experts said it would take time for sellers to recognise the social network also as an ecommerce platform. “Onboarding sellers on Facebook may be a challenge. I think it will take significant time before people understand and see value in (business-to-consumer transactions via Facebook),” said Shrinath V, an independent product consultant.

Then there is competition from incumbent ecommerce giants. “Facebook Marketplace is going to compete with Flipkart and Amazon because all of them are ultimately fighting for the same customer,” said an industry executive, requesting anonymity. “But this is good news for sellers and brands because it adds another distribution channel for them.”.

Facebook Marketplace is available in 70 countries and has more than 800 million people visiting each month to buy and sell goods.


By Varsha Bansal, ET Bureau
Source

Understanding ecommerce ROI

In the age of digital transformation, ecommerce teams have become one of the most vital commodities for businesses, especially for companies struggling with loss-making traditional channels to market.

In the age of digital transformation, ecommerce teams have become one of the most vital commodities for businesses, especially for companies struggling with loss-making traditional channels to market.

In the age of digital transformation, ecommerce teams have become one of the most vital commodities for businesses, especially for companies struggling with loss-making traditional channels to market.

And, yet how many organisations are actively empowering these teams to maximise their corporate value? Facing the escalating cost of talented ecommerce experts, there is a pressing need to unlock the potential of existing teams.

Right now, far too many ecommerce teams are operating blind, using gut-feel and best practice to prioritise activity. They are wasting vast amounts of time on unproductive content changes and irrelevant optimisation tests; time which no business can afford to squander.

Yet new UX analytics tools and AI prediction engines can transform the speed the insight, empowering teams to prioritise activity and rapidly respond to customer behaviour.

It is critical to empower this vital ecommerce resource with the tools to accelerate their speed to insight, maximise their skills and deliver measurable ROI.


Customer priority

Nearly every business has a ‘customer first’ strategy, but few have fast, accurate access to the customer understanding they need to deliver it. How many changes to the home page or tweaks to the checkout journey are truly data-driven?

Why invest in fantastic teams of content producers who are inspired by the brand and committed to success, when no one is able to understand how the content performs or its business impact?

Too often, ecommerce teams are flying in the dark, making content changes and optimisation decisions based on gut-feel or creative inspiration. Often they aren’t responding to the customers’ behaviour and expectation based on actual insight or prioritising optimisation tests based on actual customer problems.


Actual insight

A company only has to look at the new players in banking, in retail, in gaming, the companies that design the business around the customer and empower teams with data, to see the difference in customer experience – and, as a result, in financial success.

From Airbnb to Uber, these new companies provide their teams with the speed to insight required to deliver an optimal customer experience, every time. They have the ability to understand how customers – millions of customers – respond to specific content, to journey changes or new branding – and respond accordingly. They are not wasting days, weeks, months on creating content that will fail to resonate, or embarking expensively upon hundreds of tests in an unfocused bid to optimise the customer journey. They are quickly leveraging actual insight to make changes that work.

It is this speed to insight that is the primary differentiator between ecommerce success and failure. Most companies have great ecommerce teams committed to the brand; what far too many still lack is any way to quickly understand the evolution of customer expectation, how that affects behaviour and what that means for the online experience. Relying on IT and data scientists to provide insight is too slow and lacks context.

The result is wasted resources and ill-focused ecommerce activity.


Strategic and tactical insight

There is no need to wait for insight when UX analytics tools can deliver at the touch of a button information on how customers are responding to specific content; when AI tools can be used to prioritise activity and enable the ecommerce team to focus on the biggest wins. Whether it is undertaking more optimisation tests, concentrating on those tests that will make a tangible difference, or tracking customer response to the new hero banner, with speed to insight every member of the team can be more effective and hence have positive impact on customer experience and conversion.

This speed to insight should also feed into strategic thinking – boards are also constrained by the lack of relevant ecommerce ROI insight and too many are still reliant upon the big consultancies to inform strategy.

But, why would any company looking to change the way it operates rely on a small generic market study when it has access to deep information about its own customer behaviour?

Providing a board with fast insight into not only revenue per channel but the ROI on specific activity – from new mobile checkout journeys to updated online branding – is transformative. A board able to understand exactly how much revenue is generated by each element of the ecommerce site, how content changes and optimisation can be used to improve performance and revenue, is far better informed to make the essential strategic decisions than one relying on generic market trends.


Conclusion

When the heartbeat of the business is weak, the entire business is in jeopardy.

Delivering speed to insight is not just about making essential, fact based decisions today – it is about empowering and retaining the talent to deliver long term value. When ecommerce experts have the pick of jobs, they are going to work with the brand that offers the best chance to shine, the brand that actively explores data to empower its people to outperform the competition, not the one that relies on guess work and month old ‘insights’ squeezed out of the data scientist and IT team.

A content merchandiser wants the chance to see in real time how the home page is performing – and respond accordingly. In a market increasingly demanding accountability and ROI, experts need every possible chance to optimise their performance, to maximise their expertise and experience – and deliver for the business.

The only way to deliver a truly customer first business model is to empower talented people – and that requires fast access to great insight.


By Duncan Keene
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google seo

Google has confirmed that they ran a “broad core algorithm update” last week that has impacted the appearance and rankings of some websites in the search results.

Google has confirmed that they ran a “broad core algorithm update” last week that has impacted the appearance and rankings of some websites in the search results.

Google has confirmed that they ran a “broad core algorithm update” last week that has impacted the appearance and rankings of some websites in the search results.

Google posted on Twitter that Google does these types of updates “several times per year” and there is nothing a site can do specifically to “fix” their ranking after the core update runs. “Some sites may note drops or gains,” Google explained and said if a page drops, it doesn’t necessarily mean there is something wrong with that page, it is just how Google changed their ranking models that now benefits “pages that were previously under-rewarded.”

Here is Google’s statement on Twitter:

Each day, Google usually releases one or more changes designed to improve our results. Some are focused around specific improvements. Some are broad changes. Last week, we released a broad core algorithm update. We do these routinely several times per year.

As with any update, some sites may note drops or gains. There’s nothing wrong with pages that may now perform less well. Instead, it’s that changes to our systems are benefiting pages that were previously under-rewarded.

There’s no “fix” for pages that may perform less well other than to remain focused on building great content. Over time, it may be that your content may rise relative to other pages.

There was speculation over the weekend about a Google update; this is Google confirming that speculation.

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digital marketers spend their AdWords budget

With ever-growing opportunities to promote businesses via Google, it can be difficult for digital marketers to know where to focus their efforts!

With ever-growing opportunities to promote businesses via Google, it can be difficult for digital marketers to know where to focus their efforts!

With ever-growing opportunities to promote businesses via Google, it can be difficult for digital marketers to know where to focus their efforts. Whilst a number of search specialists are – quite rightly – deploying clever tactics to boost organic listings, businesses should also remember the benefits that paid search can bring – speed, insight and ROI. However, if budgets are limited, what’s the best way to invest time and money with AdWords?

Google Shopping is not new – in fact, it was first released in late 2002 and known in the early days as Froogle. It’s changed a lot since then, primarily in that it is now a form of paid advertising through Google AdWords.

With often limited budgets available, digital marketers must therefore carefully consider their allocation of spend – should they plough their budget into Shopping campaigns or stick to more mainstream text-based PPC activity?

In truth, this quandary is only really of concern to ecommerce brands and retailers with stock to sell online. But there are still pros and cons that such organisations need to be aware of.


The benefits of spending with Shopping

Ultimately, when analysing paid advertising with Google over the last two years, Shopping campaigns have steadily grown to be a major source of traffic and sales. As a result, more than 50% of all AdWords spend has shifted from traditional text adverts to Shopping ads. That is a massive shift, which shows how effective shopping campaigns can be.

Brands can bid on products for a relatively low cost per click (CPC) usually ranging from £0.15 - £0.45. Compare that to text ads and the cost is likely to be four or five times more for a top three position. This is the great benefit of Google Shopping – the lower CPC allows marketers to drive relevant traffic directly to product pages efficiently.

But the success of a Shopping campaign almost always comes down to price – shoppers can filter according to the cost of a product, so competitiveness is crucial if the item is to appear in listing results and convert.

It is also possible to gain an advantage over competing retailers using tried-and-tested promotional techniques including free delivery, discount codes and even complimentary add-on products.

Like any AdWords campaign, Shopping ads should not be set up and left alone – optimisation is required to get the best ROI. For example, once enough data has been acquired it is often possible to identify poor performing products or brands that could be excluded from the campaign moving forward, to make it more efficient. Likewise, bids could be increased on products where returns are good.

Digital marketers will often refer to a target ROAS (return on advertising spend) when analysing the effectiveness of Shopping campaigns. This target ROAS will depend on the margin in the product and therefore the allowable cost per sale. Retailers will be aiming for a ROAS of 800% plus, but a brand owner selling higher-margin products may be able to work to a much lower target. Working this figure out before committing to significant spend is important. There are systems out there that will use machine learning to work to the target ROAS – at a cost, of course.

It is also worth noting that with Shopping campaigns, it is possible to control some elements in AdWords, such as visible products, the bid amount, adjustments for devices and location. But the marketer has no influence over keywords – they must rely instead on the search popularity of the products they sell. Shopping campaigns are therefore excellent for products where users have a good understanding about what they are searching for. But they will not prove as effective for new or unbranded products where there is no search volume.


Generate sales or leads with text ads

Text ads, on the other hand, are incredibly customisable depending on the goal of the campaign. Different ad variations can be tested, with ease, which helps to improve ad performance and protect spend levels. For example, if the goal is to drive more phone calls, the marketer can feature a number more prominently with a ‘click to call’ button.

Text ads are also more flexible and can be used to target a wider range of audiences – not just people searching for product-related terms – with very relevant content. The digital marketer therefore has more options for promoting products or services at various stages in the user journey, from research to sale or enquiry. For this reason, traditional text ads are often used for lead generation campaigns, in both B2C and B2B industries. For retailers they might be better used to focus on key lines and brands, increase awareness, or to promote brand new products that a user may not be directly search for.

That said, the average cost per click is usually a lot greater than a Shopping ad, depending on the sector and its competitiveness. So, this could prove a very expensive digital marketing activity if it is not underpinned by some clear commercial objectives.


So where should a brand spend money?

As with any digital marketing strategy, the chosen approach should reflect the situation and goal(s) of the business concerned. If driving more leads from a website is the priority, or there’s a need to target a wider audience, then text ads will no doubt prove the most effective type of campaign. However, the uplift in Shopping ad usage is undeniable, so, for e-commerce brands, Shopping campaigns will normally deliver a better ROI for the spend.

Of course, the investment could be split across both, if budgets would allow. But with only so much space on that all-important first page – and because money is often an issue – it may be more intelligent to adopt a quality over quantity mindset.


By Andy McCaul
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ways to combat shopping cart abandonment

It’s February, and that means only one thing - its 11 months until the next set of January sales!

It’s February, and that means only one thing - its 11 months until the next set of January sales!

It’s February, and that means only one thing - its 11 months until the next set of January sales.

A few years ago, consumers would have to battle huge crowds, trudging from shop to shop in the freezing cold, elbowing people out the way to get the best deals only to find they’ve run out of stock...but, this year it is likely that many of us were getting our hands on cut price products from our warm and cozy living rooms.

In 2018, sales shopping on the high street is but a distant memory for many of us. Sales figures continue to fall as we increasingly choose to browse and buy via our laptops or mobile phones.

It’s true, we love online shopping. But it’s not without its flaws. In fact, online shopping is in the throes of a crisis. 76% of people who visit an online store abandon their carts without finishing their purchase. And a report by Barclays showed that this means UK retailers are missing out on a whopping £3.4bn worth of potential sales.

Why does this happen at such an alarming rate? The truth is, just like heading out to Oxford Street, the path to the final purchase online is often also long and arduous, fraught with unnecessary payment obstacles, unexpected costs or complicated delivery methods. Really, it’s no surprise that so many customers end up giving up on their purchase before payment.

Of course, there’s no denying that since online shopping is minimal effort, it’s a lot easier for a customer to fling something in their cart with no real desire to buy it in the first place. In fact, data from Statista claims that 38-40% of shoppers have no intention of purchasing the items in their shopping cart.

But the study also exposed issues with the shopping experience: 56% of consumers were shown to have abandoned cart due to unexpected costs, 25% because the navigation was too complicated, 21% felt the process took too long and 17% because of concerns about security. These are issues that retailers can easily rectify.


So how, exactly, can you make the road to purchase as smooth as possible so the customer pushes their virtual cart all the way across the finish line? Here are some practical tips:

1. Optimise the omnichannel experience

Everyone shops differently. But nobody wants a clumsy user experience. Whether they’re scrolling on an iPhone or an Android or clicking on a Mac or a PC, the online shopping experience needs to be seamless on every possible device. That’s easier said than done considering there are over 24,000 unique Android devices alone, each with their own nuances.

25% of shopping cart abandonment is because of complicated navigation - make sure there’s a straightforward path from cart to checkout on every single device a customer might be using. You can do this by testing the customer journey on as many different devices and for as many different groups as possible - have all bases covered. Thorough attention to detail during the testing process will pay off.


2. Keep the admin to a minimum

Don’t make it hard for the customer by asking them to fill out every last personal detail or redirecting them to third party sites. 46% of total shopping cart abandonment happens at payment stage, according to Internet Retailer. Entering endless bits of unnecessary information isn’t only time-consuming, it also reminds the user that their details are going to be fed into your omnichannel marketing machine.

The site’s design should reflect this simplicity. It’s worth remembering that the payments page is the very last stage of the customer’s journey - now is not the time to distract them. Don’t redirect them to another site, don’t offer them marketing material - just make sure that all they have to do is pay


3. Provide options for check-out

Don’t force new customers to make an account with a password and a profile if they don’t want to. Instead, you should provide a guest checkout option. You won’t lose out on their details - they have to include them for shipping and payment - and this way, they won’t feel like they’re being mined for their data.

On the flip side, however, you should give users who plan to return the option to create profiles where they can store valuable information. This means that next time, they can simply sign in and go, with no need to re-enter details.

And as the number of payment options continues to increase, particularly with the rise of mobile wallets, the main take-away for retailers is that no matter the method they should be able to support how each customer choose to pay.

4. Ensure trust

Purchasing online requires the customer putting their faith in an e-retailer. When consumers are handing over their personal and financial information, they must be reassured that it’s not going to be misused. Security breaches aren’t exactly uncommon - seldom does a week go by without a major one being reported. And it’s increasing - more data was lost and stolen in the first half of 2017 (1.9 billion records) than the whole of 2016 (1.37 billion).

It’s key that your customers have enough trust in the buying process to enter their data. The easiest way to do this is to show them that their information is secure. You should also display trust symbols on your site, particularly well-known security logos: Verisign, or PayPal Verified, for example.


5. No hidden surprises

There’s nothing worse than making it to checkout, preparing to take your card out of your wallet, but then to be presented with a nasty surprise: a delivery cost you weren’t prepared for.

Make sure your shipping costs are totally transparent before the customer has added it to their basket. You can even add a delivery calculator before checkout to estimate the costs. And it goes without saying that a surefire way to your customer’s heart is to offer free shipping where possible, or at least discounted shipping based on the order value.


Another way of avoiding shipping charges is to offer in-store pick-up. This is a growing trends - a survey conducted by Internet Retailer in August 2016 showed that 57% of respondents had chosen to buy online and collect their item in-store, saving money on shipping and eliminating the need to wait at home for a package.


There you have it: whilst shopping cart abandonment may be an irritation, it’s not hard to solve. The key is to make the potential customer’s journey go as smoothly as possible: no potholes, no unexpected tariffs, no endless data entry. By making the process as easy as possible, there shouldn’t be any reason for a potential customer not to become a returning customer.


By Sam O'Meara
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ecommerce content marketing lessons

"Informative product descriptions can increase conversion rates by as much as 78%"!

"Informative product descriptions can increase conversion rates by as much as 78%"!

In a recent interview with The Telegraph, Josh Silverman, the new CEO of global craft marketplace Etsy, discussed giving the company a much-needed shake up.

As part of a lean new marketing strategy, Silverman has reportedly scrapped any activities that aren’t likely to immediately grow sales for Etsy’s vendors – including TV advertising – to focus on driving performance instead. These changes are already benefiting the business, with the share price reporting a 50% increase and Q3 earnings increasing by 13%.

Whilst this stripped-back strategy might be too extreme for some businesses, marketers can take some valuable lessons from Etsy’s ‘focus on the fundamentals’ rationale. Many brands still plough the lion’s share of their creative resources and budget into top-of-funnel awareness campaigns, whilst neglecting the hugely important latter stages of the purchase funnel – continuing to drive their customers from expensive advertising campaigns to sub-par online stores with poor quality content.

This leads to those customers being ‘put off’ at the critical pre-purchase stage, and is ultimately a huge lost revenue opportunity for those retailers.

Remembering that these content fundamentals can materially impact ecommerce performance by enhancing the overall user experience, improving SEO and increasing conversion rates – here are the three top tips for online retailers to maximise their performance using high-performing content.


Create product content that is fit for purpose

It’s sadly not uncommon for a consumer to be driven to a brand’s website by an engaging ‘hero’ campaign (e.g. a YouTube pre-roll ad) promoting a flagship product, only to be faced with poor-quality product description content that fails to provide detailed, persuasive information about the product itself in order to convert the browser into a buyer.
At Quill, we routinely see brands publishing product descriptions that are not fit for purpose – taking the fashion vertical as an example, product descriptions often consist of a couple of cursory bullet points, lacking useful details around how a garment fits and feels, or the product’s key features and benefits.

In failing to provide this information, retailers are really missing a trick: research has shown that informative product descriptions can increase conversion rates by as much as 78%. Similarly, 75% of consumers say they’d be more likely to make a purchase if there was a video explaining what they are buying, while 31% are more likely to buy if the business offers helpful online buying guides.

Don’t neglect SEO

It’s widely accepted in the digital marketing community that the old, keyword-centric SEO tactics are no longer valid in a post-Panda world. Relevant, high-quality, authoritative content has become one of Google’s key ranking factors. And given that Page 1 results on Google now account for around 95% of all search traffic – while paid ads continue to deliver diminishing returns, in the context of increased ad blocker adoption – this isn’t something that businesses can afford to ignore.

One of the most effective ways of driving the large volumes of organic search traffic using generic search queries is via category pages.

Despite this, we’ve found that just 15% of online retailers have fully optimised their category pages with informative category description content for SEO, meaning a significant number of retailers are losing out on this highly efficient source of new online customers.

Improve on-site search functionality

Being able to find the right product on a site is a basic, but crucial, customer need. One in eight consumers will abandon a site after a poor search experience – leading to lost conversions for the business, as well as potential reputational damage to the brand, and a decreased likelihood that the consumer will ever return to the site.
On the one hand, an important part of getting this right is having quality on-site search functionality (fast results, logically structured, with semantic reasoning to recognise natural language variations, like synonyms).

But it’s also about ensuring that searchable content (i.e. product descriptions) contain relevant keywords and phrases to maintain their accuracy and relevancy in onsite search results – so that all of the right products are presented to customers. This means that retailers to need to invest in maintaining the same level of quality and integrity in their online product data and content as they do in-store.

It is also critical for retailers with large product ranges or complex product features to supplement their onsite search with buying and how-to guides or videos, to assist customers who are looking for the information and advice they need to make their purchasing decision, often from an overwhelming choice of options both onsite and from competing sites.

The power of the fundamentals

Whilst these content fundamentals may not be particularly attention-grabbing – or likely to put any CMOs in contention for awards at Cannes – treating them as an afterthought means that brands are losing millions in online sales every year. At a time when ad blockers and ad blindness are blighting the performance of paid campaigns, strong content and a laser focus on content performance strategies is critical.

And ultimately, getting the fundamentals right will improve the ROI on all marketing activities further up the funnel – including those that might also win you those creative awards.


By Ed Bussey
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