As customer expectations rise around the entire shopping experience, from discovery to delivery, the competition has also closed in, making it difficult for mid-market and enterprise organizations to get by with disparate legacy commerce and ERP systems.
Leading IT market research and advisory firm IDC has pinpointed ERP and digital commerce systems as two key integrations that will facilitate agility and maintain resilience. They also stress that platforms that are SaaS and with open APIs are the most successful in helping organizations ensure that their customer-facing applications are deeply integrated with systems of record.
When it comes to the specific technology solutions for achieving these goals, IDC has highlighted the partnership between BigCommerce’s digital commerce platform and Acumatica’s ERP software in its latest Technology Spotlight white paper.
The Problems with Legacy Commerce and ERP Systems
According to IDC, both B2C and B2B markets have shifted. B2C ecommerce has seen exponential growth over the past year, and more and more B2B buyers, particularly millennials, are showing they want to buy online. However, legacy systems and weak integrations have created challenges with operational efficiencies.
IDC also indicates that ERP and digital commerce systems have traditionally been relegated to opposite sides of the business and thought of only on an as-needed basis. This decentralized approach creates silos between teams, which ultimately leads to miscommunication, lags in order processing, and an overall bad customer experience.
From a technical perspective, IDC states that many providers are on-premise, and not truly “in the cloud.” They are also monolithic with complex functionality that causes headaches with testing and installing updates.
Successful Digital Businesses Select Tightly Integrated Systems
According to IDC, the most successful digital businesses have an overarching digital transformation strategy and select unified digital commerce and ERP systems.
To learn the specific characteristics IDC recommends B2B and B2C organizations look for when selecting and assembling their ERP and digital commerce systems, as well as how the partnership between BigCommerce and Acumatica meets these qualifications, download a complimentary copy of the IDC Technology Spotlight white paper.
BigCommerce was founded to help merchants sell online. We seek to lead a new era of commerce by offering a comprehensive software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that empowers businesses to turn digital transformation into a competitive advantage.
Never has that been more essential than in 2020. In a year of unprecedented disruption to physical-world commerce, we enabled businesses to rapidly respond to the crisis, transition offline sales to online, and in many cases, grow. Experts suggest that the pandemic accelerated the shift to ecommerce by five years. We both facilitated that shift in 2020 and prepared to support further ecommerce adoption in the years ahead.
2020 was a landmark year for BigCommerce. In August, we became a public company by listing on the Nasdaq under the symbol BIGC. Over a decade in the making, this milestone rewarded the hard work put in by our employees and the ongoing trust placed in us by our partners and customers.
In my first Shareholder Letter, I am privileged to walk you through the highlights that contributed to the success we saw in 2020, and provide some insight into the plans we have for the coming year.
Doubling Down on Customers First
One of our core company values is Customers First, and 2020 stretched the limits of what it means to relentlessly focus on the needs of the customer. As stores around the world closed their doors and merchants scrambled to move business online, BigCommerce worked diligently to ensure that existing customers saw no negative impact to site performance and new customers could get up and running on the platform quickly and affordably.
Through our #EcommStrong campaign, our teams provided educational, financial and motivational resources to help our merchants weather the pandemic storm, all while enhancing the core platform through a packed product roadmap.
Over the course of the past year, BigCommerce launched a number of new updates and features designed to improve the platform experience for our merchants and their customers. 2020 also brought marked advances in international expansion through the launch of new country-specific websites in France, Italy, the Netherlands, and more recently in Mexico, Germany and Spain, with more to come. As BigCommerce continues to invest in our global presence, offering native-language web experiences further strengthens our ability to serve customers in each region.
Expanding the Partner Ecosystem
Philosophically, BigCommerce’s Open SaaS strategy is fundamentally partner-centric. We focus our efforts on building the world’s best SaaS platform, and we partner with best-of-breed specialists in the many technology and service categories adjacent to ecommerce. Unlike our closest competitors, BigCommerce does not aspire to dip our toes into verticals well-served by our partners, nor do we have any desire to invest in the development of anything other than our ecommerce platform.
We do, however, aim to offer our merchants freedom of choice. This means that, rather than building our own verticalized ecosystem, we seek partnerships with the best and most promising third-party providers in complementary industries.
Growing Industry-Wide Recognition
Mid-market and enterprise businesses lean on the coverage, analysis and commentary of industry analysts when making technology purchasing decisions. This year marked significant progress in creating ongoing relationships with the analyst community, including recognition from Forrester, Gartner, IDC and Paradigm B2B.
As a company that intentionally pursues disruptive innovation by moving up market after first building success and scale serving small and medium businesses, BigCommerce benefits from this industry recognition for our enterprise capabilities. It highlights the scalability and flexibility of our platform, which is agile enough to meet the needs of businesses of varying sizes, use cases and levels of complexity.
Building Long-Term Shareholder Value
Ongoing investment in our product, merchants and partnerships bolsters our ability to deliver long-term growth and returns for our shareholders. The continued growth of ecommerce and omnichannel shopping provides a tremendous opportunity to invest in and grow our business for years to come. BigCommerce’s financial results in 2020 reflect both industry growth and our progress toward becoming one of the world’s leading ecommerce companies.
Looking Ahead to 2021
While delivering against our financial objectives, BigCommerce seeks to lead the ecommerce industry in innovation and growth. Fundamental to both is our focus on customer success, which we consider the prerequisite of all components of our growth strategy.
Our product team has outlined an ambitious roadmap that extends and strengthens our Open SaaS platform capabilities, and our partner team is pursuing new technology integrations and service relationships that deliver competitive advantage to our customers.
This year, we will continue to invest aggressively in our repeatable growth playbook, which prioritizes the growth of existing merchants; acquisition of new small business, mid-market and enterprise customers; development of partner and service revenue on top of our SaaS subscription revenues; and the replication and expansion of this model around the world, including in continental Europe, Asia, and Latin America.
I’ll end by saying thank you. We couldn’t have reached this point without the dedication of our employees who faced a challenging year with both grace and fortitude, as well as the ongoing trust placed in us by our customers, partners and shareholders.
2020 marked an historic year for BigCommerce, but for us it’s just the beginning. We will continue to identify opportunities to invest in our company, our community and our customers, and I look forward to continuing on this journey to lead a new era of ecommerce for many years to come.
People depend on social platforms to connect with friends, watch videos, make online purchases, and more. As internet connectivity continues to penetrate the world, social media is now integrated into everyone’s daily lives. Also, these platforms are not just for posting content, they are powerful tools for ecommerce owners. As a result, you can now convert social media followers into your loyal customers with the right video marketing strategies. With the help of a video maker, you can create stunning videos that drive traffic, generate leads, create audience engagement, and increase your company’s bottom line.
Video Is Now More Important Than Ever
As of 2020, the number of online buyers is over 2 billion, which means one in four people all over the globe is an online shopper. And the majority of these buyers conduct online research before making their purchases.Take a look at these astounding figures below:
With these findings, it is clear that you have to leverage social media platforms to promote your business. For marketing to be effective, you need to send your messages to the right place, at the right time on the right channels. In today’s modern world, your clients hang out online. Since a large portion of your leads and customers use various social media apps daily, you need to be where they are if you don’t want to get crushed by your competition.
Gradually, people of the modern world are having reduced attention spans due to the technology that makes everything swift and easy. They don’t like reading lengthy blog articles without pictures. In the same token, a simple image is not sufficient enough to provide ample information. Hence, online users prefer to watch product review videos, how-tos, live demos, webinars, and the like. This is not surprising as videos convey more information using the least amount of time. It also assures better understanding because viewers utilize more senses with an audio-visual format.
The popularity of video content will continue to rise because moving messages prove to be more enticing and engaging. Most of all, viewers understand them better. Clearly, as an ecommerce owner, it is time for you to capitalize on the power of video content by using a video maker to create stunning videos that wow your audience.
What Is Social Media Video Marketing?
Social media video marketing combines two powerful approaches. First, video marketing is a noted strategy designed by marketing specialists to create and curate video content as a method of marketing goods or services to your target audience. It works by keeping viewers engaged with your brand, using an informative and entertaining format they love watching from start to finish. It is effective because video content is simple and easy to digest. It contains the power of words, the magic of images, and the beauty of sound in one remarkable marketing material.
The second component is social media marketing. This means you engage with the target audience using various social media platforms. Since everyone hangs out online, to the point of using their favorite platforms many times daily, it is no wonder why marketers believe you should focus heavily on social media to promote your ecommerce brand. Increasing your marketing efforts by using a video maker to craft stunning masterpieces for social media will allow you to increase your brand’s reach.
Remember, videos create more engagement as viewers prefer to watch them than read a huge chunk of boring text. Whether it’s to learn more about your product or just for pure entertainment, people will click that play button as long as you make compelling videos that resonate with them. For this reason, you need social media video marketing to capitalize on the popularity of social media apps and videos. You can create videos for the following social media platforms:
Lucky for you, you can utilize multiple types of videos for different social profiles. You can create a video on how you founded the company, product overviews, how-to guides, commercials, and more. For best results, you need to find out the specifications and limits of each platform so you can optimize the videos you create with your video maker.
Why Your Business Needs to Implement a Social Media Video Marketing Strategy
When you look around you, you will realize that your fiercest competitors already use social media. They don’t just post pictures, articles, and updates, but they rely on stunning video content to capture an elusive target market. If you don’t want to get left behind, you need to begin implementing a social video media video marketing strategy for your ecommerce business. Take a look at the top four reasons why you need to use social media videos for your brand.
1. Video converts viewers into customers.
Video informs, persuades, and entertains, which is why they make the perfect material for converting leads into loyal clients. With the right video content, you can capture your target market’s attention and make a great first impression. The key is using the right hook, and following it up with amazing content that keeps them engaged and interested in what you have to say.
You can use videos to inform them of your products, make announcements, and show behind-the-scenes footage. When they see real faces behind your brand, they feel more affinity for your goods or services. Besides, videos assure engagement with your target market because it is the fastest way to learn information. Videos prove to be more interactive than articles. When everything is presented visually with sound, you can show people what you mean instead of merely telling them. As a result, clients become more inclined to connect with your brand. If you don’t use social media video marketing for your business, you lose out on a fantastic way to help your company grow.
2. Video builds trust between you and your audience.
If you want to build trust, use videos to make it happen. Trust is a vital component for every business. Remember, customers will only buy your product if they feel they can trust your brand. To maintain your credibility, establish your authority, and build solid relationships with your clients, you need videos. This medium fosters trust because you can be transparent and honest. Take a look at what you can do with videos to bolster customer confidence in your brand:
- Show what goes on in your factory.
- Exhibit your company culture.
- Showcase testimonials from happy clients.
- Conduct product reviews or how-to guides.
- Let your authenticity shine with interviews.
As you can see, using videos allows you to create various video content that can help amplify your brand in the eyes of the people who matter. Moreover, leveraging this content on your various social media profiles assure higher visibility because people are more likely to watch, react, and share a video than other content formats.
3. Mobile users crave video.
Today, your competitors understand the power of videos and social media to make an impact on your audience. Besides, people of the modern world don’t just use smart TV screens or desktops to consume content. Since the advent of mobile technology, from smartphones to mobile data, your clients love consuming content anytime, anywhere. With the rise of Bluetooth earbuds, more people watch videos while on the go. You can often see everyone watching videos as they:
- Go on with their daily commute.
- Wait for appointments to start.
- Relax at home after a long day.
- Take a breather while at work.
- Pass the time while using the elliptical in the gym.
The list above is not exhaustive, but as you can see, people can do so much with mobile videos. In today’s forward-thinking society, multitasking is the name of the game. In fact, even kids young as two-years-old have their own favorite YouTube channels. Hence, creating brand videos with a video maker and releasing them on your social media profile will help you generate more leads and entice more prospects for your business.
4. Video is the best content for social media.
Video works best for social media because it receives the most engagement. People are more likely to watch a video than read an article or view a photo album. Right now, social media users are more inclined to give their likes, comments, and shares for video content.
Besides, people log into their social media profiles throughout the day. And whatever interesting tidbit they see, they quickly react as the various platforms make it easy for everyone to voice out their opinions. Thus, it is not surprising at all why videos hold a strong influence on the viewers. If you want to create leads and convert them into loyal clients, you need to start churning amazing videos for social media.
5 Types of Social Media Videos Perfect for Ecommerce
Videos dominate the social media arena because they catch the eye and prove to be more appealing than text or photo content. As a result, you need compelling videos to drive audience engagement. Doing so assures your ecommerce brand gains tons of visibility, by driving traffic to your website or increasing sales. Now, the most important question to ask, is what kind of video content must you post for social media? Take a look at the top five best video formats to include in your marketing strategy:
1. About us videos.
A brand is typically just a name and a logo. If you want people to feel more invested in your brand, you have to offer them something more valuable. ‘About us’ videos work well because they do exactly as their name says. They tell your clients what your brand is all about. If you remain a faceless name, people will not care about your brand at all.
If you want to make an impact with your target customers, you need to tell your brand’s unique story. What sets you apart from the other companies who sell the same products or services that you do? Why should they buy things from you? When your customers understand your company’s mission and vision statement, they feel more invested in your brand.
Hence, they begin to trust you more. When you ingrain your brand into their lives, they see you as something they cannot live without. If you successfully build a relationship, they will patronize your products. To illustrate, Bliss World does a great job sharing various clips on social media to inform the world about their cruelty-free and vegan skincare products. They use:
- Behind the scenes videos
- Employee closeups
- Product manufacturing clips
- Clients testimonials
2. Product close-up.
Writing about the product, no matter how in-depth, will never bring the same satisfaction as seeing the product up close and personal. Seeing what you want to up-close makes you feel more confident in spending your hard-earned money. If you want your clients to see the details and nuances of your product, a close-up video is a must.
This allows you to take shots of your product from all possible angles. As a result, your clients won’t miss out on any important details. Sometimes, whatever questions they have on their head will be answered when you show them every intricacy of what you offer. For example, Solo Stove portable fire pit and single stoves did a great job by showing every angle of their unique gadget that’s specifically designed for adventure. Those people asking if this is worth it will get their answers when they see for themselves what a Solo Stove can do.
3. Product overview.
A product overview offers so much more than a close-up. Apart from showing different angles of the product, you discuss its purpose, features, and pricing structure compared to the others in the market. You can also discuss where you distribute your product so clients know where to buy it. As an example, Natori always does a great job presenting product overviews of their sexy lingerie lines from sexy silk nighties to comfy cotton pajamas.
Take a look at the different types of content you can create for your product overview:
- Informational: This video covers what your product is all about. It helps you establish authority because you share helpful information. If you want to make sure they buy your products, always have handy informational product overviews.
- Tutorials: Tutorials or how-to videos are super popular because people want to know how to use your products. Since they’re spending a lot of money, showing them this demo overview inspires confidence in your brand. After all, this is better than just reading any instruction manual. You can even tie this up with industry-related content to make it more engaging.
- User-Generated: Nothing beats user-generated content because these come from your various clients. These act as testimonials coming from users who are happy with your brand. Best of all, this doesn’t cost you anything, as you can ask the original content creator for permission to share the video.
4. Messages from the founders.
Hearing from the founder who conceptualized the brand makes people feel at ease. Using this method is a great way to showcase your company culture. Apart from encouraging sales, it can recruit new employees. You can try the following video formats:
- Announcements: Release new product information and sales announcement to entice clients to keep adding products to their carts.
- Appreciation: Make a thank you video to show your appreciation for your customers’ loyalty.
- Q&A: An interview format with the founder makes for an engaging video. It satisfies the need for information. You can announce on your social media profiles before you release the video and ask them what they like to know.
- Live Videos: Nothing beats a live story when it comes to showing authenticity. You can do a live interview session with questions from the chatbot. Moreover, you can show event videos and actual store footage. This method is effective as you can interact in real-time.
5. Explainer videos.
As the name of the video implies, this does a great job in providing explanations about your products or services. They are very effective because they showcase both audio and visual stimuli to explain complex information thoroughly. As a result, your viewers can understand what your brand is all about, removing confusion and mistrust.
The key to making an effective explainer video rests on the script. It serves as the strong foundation from which the entire concept is built. Hence, you need to draft a good script with an accompanying storyboard before shooting. With this helpful guide, editing your project using a video maker online becomes a breeze. You can use this to explain anything you want, and they are effective when used in:
- Landing page
- Product page
- Social media posts
- Accompanying blog articles
Strategies for Social Media Video Marketing Campaigns
Creating a strategy is essential, as a goal without a plan remains a wish. You need to create a video marketing strategy for social media to further engage with the followers you’ve painstakingly built. This also assures that you can continue to attract new followers. To improve your result, remember to follow these basic rules:
1. Know your audience.
This tried and tested concept is central to any marketing strategy, and it holds even more true for videos. Since you will use a lot of resources to create your videos, you need to get things right. If you don’t know your audience, you won’t know what topics to include in your content. You need to know them to understand how and where they consume their content. Hence, you must be familiar with your target audience’s pain points, needs, and wants. These details can guide you in making your marketing materials.
Remember, knowing your ideal customers helps you write touching scripts and select images that appeal to their emotions. When you touch their hearts, they feel more compelled to support your brand. Most importantly, they will most likely share, like, and comment on your video uploads, assuring an increase in brand awareness.
2. Run tests.
Before releasing your videos, it would be highly beneficial to do test runs. It will save you from doing guesswork. For best results, conduct an FGD or focus group discussion with key interviewees who best represent your audience profile. Ask them what they think about your brand and what would work best for videos.
Later on, examine tests and analytics to gauge which among your videos gather the most attention. How many people watch a few seconds as opposed to watching the whole clip? Check your data to see which topics gathered the most engagement. Knowing these details can help you map your content. As a result, you can focus your resources on the topics that your audience love. At the same time, you can figure out what went wrong, allowing you to avoid these costly mistakes in the future.
3. Fit their videos to their platform.
While YouTube reigns supreme in terms of videos, you cannot discount that many people watch videos on Facebook Feed, Facebook Live, IGTV, IG Stories, TikTok, and Linkedin. Thus, your videos must match the platform as they have various specifications. Take a look at the following examples below:
- Always have a call to action at the end of your videos, to guide viewers on what to do.
- Though you can upload videos that are 12 hours long, the majority of your users are mobile so stick to 30 minutes or less.
- Create a custom thumbnail because people see this when they search for videos.
- When users scroll through the newsfeed, videos will autoplay without sound; so make sure your image clips stand out and consider adding subtitles.
- Upload native content on Facebook so your viewers don’t bounce out of your profile to another page.
- Max of 240 minutes video with 10GB only.
- Take note of IG’s 60-second time limit on the feed because it will cut off, while IG stories have a 15-second cutoff.
- Put the most important information first so in case they don’t watch on IG TV, they have heard what matters.
- Use the IG Loop, which continually plays your videos until the users scroll down, to create seamless clips that keep viewers engaged.
- Videos autoplay on Twitter so try to make an impact right from the start.
- Use quality captions that keep viewers interested.
- Limit videos to 20 seconds or shorter as this is mostly a text-based platform.
- Most users of the site are professionals so keep your content the same.
- Limit videos from 3 seconds to 10 minutes long, with a total file size of no more than 5GB.
- Vertical videos will look square on the newsfeed.
- Limit videos to 15 seconds.
- Longer videos up to 60 seconds must be four 15-second clips recorded natively on the app.
- Use compelling captions
If you want to get the right message across to your audience, you must keep the platform in mind. Otherwise, all your hard work crafting the video will be wasted.
If you want to increase client engagement levels, generate more prospects, and build trust in your ecommerce business, you need to start capitalizing on videos. Share these on your various social media profiles to stay connected with your loyal clients and possible leads. Remember, videos convert viewers into customers because they are more likely to buy your products if they see them. Most of all, your customers are on mobile and they crave videos. Finally, videos just prove to be the best content for social media and receive higher engagement than any other content format. As you can see, the success of your ecommerce brand hinges in part on a strong social media video marketing strategy. To stay ahead of your competition, you must rely on video content or your voice will get lost amid all the noises online.
Working for a software company with a multichannel ecommerce operations platform, I see many ecommerce businesses increase their profit margins by leveraging Fulfillment by Amazon — both new sellers and existing retailers. Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is a great way for many people to find their niche in online sales and marketing on the Amazon Marketplace and other channels.
Everyone knows that Amazon works with third-party sellers, but did you know that in 2020, nearly half of all Amazon sales came from third-party sellers and not Amazon directly? Not only that, but about 2/3 of those sellers are using the FBA platform. What some people don’t realize is that just about anyone can sell something on Amazon, provided they know where and how to do so.
Currently, more than two million people around the world are doing it, and now it’s up to you to decide if it’s the right path for your business. And FBA works not just in the United States, but in many countries worldwide. This guide will cover the major points you need to know.
What is Amazon FBA?
Fulfillment by Amazon is a service offered by — you guessed it — Amazon, as a means for third-party sellers to automate their order fulfillment and shipping services. It’s a pretty simple concept: Sellers sell, Amazon ships.
Anyone enrolled in Amazon FBA can let Amazon handle all shipping, including returns and refunds, as well as product warehousing in Amazon’s warehouses, picking and packing, and more.
Sellers send their products to Amazon, who warehouses everything and then processes all of the orders as they come in. As long as you handle the sales and make sure Amazon stays stocked with your products, the rest is done for you.
And yes, you have to pay Amazon fees for it. Of course you do. So, what do you get for the money?
- 24/7 Amazon customer service
- All fulfillment and shipping costs included (pick, pack and ship)
- Access to one of the world’s most dynamic fulfillment networks
Most people are familiar with the fact that Amazon is a giant in the online retail and fulfillment space. COVID-19 and the resulting pandemic has only served to increase the use of the Amazon platform, which has over 300 million active customer accounts around the world.
Bear in mind that FBA might not be ideal for low-value items, large dimension products or other circumstances. While it offers a lot, it’s not a guaranteed solution for every seller. How can you decide? That’s why we’re here.
Let’s take a quick look at the history and evolution of this platform, and then we’ll dig into the features, pros and cons, and more.
The Evolution of FBA
Amazon started its FBA program in 2006, but the company has been paving the way for online retail for years. The brand had been dominating the world of online sales and fulfillment, despite its modest beginnings in the 1990s, and saw an opportunity to help others do the same. Of course, it’s not entirely a valiant effort on the part of Amazon, since they’re making money from their FBA service, too.
Amazon decided that it would like to help small businesses benefit from its own fulfillment capabilities and leading customer service infrastructure. Essentially, the brand wanted to share its business model with others and help third-party sellers learn how to profit big by doing things the “Amazon Way”.
The FBA program, like Amazon itself, is constantly evolving and changing to meet the needs of the evolving consumer landscape and online retail environment. This is both a blessing and a curse for those enrolled. It will be easy to stay updated with the current trends and market demands, but it can also be difficult to keep up with the constant changes and updates to the process, the guidelines, and other aspects of the program.
Fortunately, in this guide, we’ll cover all the details about the Amazon FBA program, including the future potential it has, to help you decide on your next move.
The Newest Changes and Features of Amazon FBA
Fulfillment by Amazon is constantly changing and adapting to meet the needs of both its customers and the sellers that are using the platform. Keeping up-to-date with the latest changes and additions can help brands meet consumer demand and stay at the top of their own game with the FBA service.
For example, one big change in 2020 is the added comingling of inventory, which is permitted if Amazon barcodes are used. What is commingling? It’s when Amazon stores every unit of a single product together, regardless of the seller, and ships any one of these to a buyer. It’s also called stickerless inventory.
This has its own pros and cons, but it can possibly end up in counterfeits being shipped to your customer instead of the high-quality unit you placed in Amazon’s warehouses (since the products are picked from any available stock — including stock provided by someone other than you) or create other issues. So you’ll want to keep an eye on things if you take advantage of this feature. Some instances have occurred where legitimate sellers using FBA have been banned from selling on Amazon due to negative reviews caused by damaged or fake products.
Another new change as of August 2020 is the Inventory Performance Index, which measures a variety of elements to determine how your inventory is performing and help you improve that by getting rid of excess inventory, improving your sell-through rate, and more. You’ll want a score above 500, which is calculated based on factors like:
- In-stock inventory
- Excess inventory
- Stranded inventory
- Sell-through rates
Amazon has ASIN level quantity limits to help ensure that sellers have a variety of products and the new inventory performance dashboard makes it easy to monitor everything. You can track your inventory activity, keep an eye on your IPI score, and even get advice and tips on how to make better use of your inventory from Amazon itself.
Amazon is always changing and updating the FBA program. Fortunately, they’ve got a fairly communicative system that notifies sellers of new changes and features as they are offered. The biggest issue here is staying up to date and making necessary changes as they come down the channels.
The Costs of FBA
Here’s the part everyone always wants to jump to — the cost. It’s going to cost money, but it doesn’t have to be a small fortune. For starters, think about things like how Amazon charges fees — in storage, items are charged based on size and weight, not cost. For you, that means selling low-dollar items through FBA could cost more than it’s worth. Be deliberate in choosing what you do and don’t list through the FBA platform.
You pay storage fees and fulfillment fees with the Amazon FBA program. The more inventory you have stored, the more it’s going to cost you. Amazon also has this nifty thing where your costs go up for items that are stored for longer than 180 days, encouraging people to get and keep products moving.
In addition, Amazon tracks items that are in storage at an Amazon warehouse but are not listed for sale, or stranded inventory. Stranded inventory costs you money, but Amazon helps by providing a stranded inventory report.
You can find settlement fee reports in your reporting section of the FBA dashboard, which will allow you to see what kind of fees you’re actually paying to Amazon as a part of this program. Remember, too, that because of peak holiday demand, you’ll pay higher storage fees to warehouse your inventory during the holiday season than the rest of the year. This is the time to double-check your FBA listings and remove anything that won’t sell, so it’s not just sitting and costing you money.
Yes, there are a few different costs involved with FBA, and there are some other factors related to pricing to consider. However, Amazon generally does well to provide useful information and assistance to ensure transparency as much as possible.
The Pros and Cons of FBA
In deciding whether Amazon FBA is the right solution for you, you’re going to want a pros and cons list. It’s how all the best decisions are made, after all, and it’s a great way for you to see what’s going to work best for your situation. After doing a thorough review of the platform and its offerings, here are our best pros and cons to offer for your consideration.
1. Pros of FBA.
While this isn’t a comprehensive list (that would take a lot more time and space), here are some of the biggest things that stand out about Amazon FBA to us.
- Effortless Shipping and Logistics: Amazon does all the work for you. You just keep track of your listings, make sure they’re stocked on product, and let the fulfillment be taken care of from start to finish. For a small fee, you get a big weight off your shoulders.
- Discounted Shipping Rates: Because you’re working with Amazon, a global fulfillment giant, you’re also going to spend less on your shipping costs through the FBA platform. Therefore, even though you’re paying fees, they may be lower than you think when you factor in the shipping savings, and still cheaper than managing your own shipping and fulfillment in-house.
- Return Management: In addition to sales, FBA also handles returns and refunds because they are considered part of the fulfillment process. This takes one more thing off your plate.
- Customer Service Management: Amazon offers their own customer service for FBA sellers. You can also use their FBA platform to take care of your own customer service needs, routing all of your service through one platform for easy management.
- Quick Delivery: Products in FBA automatically get the Prime badge and are eligible from Prime free shipping (to the customer) and shipping times. Plus, you aren’t going to have to pay or charge premium shipping rates to do that, because it’s included with the service.
- More Storage Space: Without FBA, how much inventory could you realistically store? Do you have a warehouse or means to rent one? Are you capable of moving and managing inventory on that scale? This is where the Fulfillment by Amazon program really wins. You essentially have access to unlimited storage space – for a cost – because Amazon has warehouses all over the country that can hold a lot of goods.
- Omnichannel Fulfillment: Not only does FBA allow you to sell to targeted customers through the Amazon platform, but you will also have access to new multi-channel fulfillment solutions. The MCF service (or Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfillment) allows you to sell your products on various platforms and channels (such as BigCommerce and eBay) while still having Amazon fulfill them.
2. Cons of FBA.
Because no two people are the same, it’s important to look at the potential reasons that FBA might not be the right solution for your needs. Here are some of the factors to consider.
- Cost: For those who are trying to get started, money is everything. FBA is indeed a really handy service, but it costs money. That’s money that some people might not have to spend just yet. Plus, this service isn’t good for low-cost items because of the way fees are calculated, so you’ll want to be selective about products you enroll. Fortunately, Amazon has a handy FBA calculator that can help you see whether it’s a profitable move.
- More Returns: In many cases, there have been sellers who see an increase in the number of returns or their frequency. This is due, in part, to Amazon’s open return policy. While this could affect the bottom line, Amazon handles the processing, so it’s not the end of the world. While Amazon used to have returns shipped back to them and you would have to arrange to have them then forwarded to you, Amazon is making changes that will allow returns to go directly back to your facility.
- Long-Term Storage Fees: Amazon doesn’t like sitting on inventory. Therefore, you’re going to pay more for stuff that sits longer. Long-term storage fees aren’t the end of the world, but you’ll have to factor them into your ongoing budget to ensure that FBA still makes financial sense for your business goals. They also don’t like to store products that aren’t actively for sale and will charge for this and also negatively adjust your metrics. However, all of this can be viewed in your seller console and you can arrange for products to be shipped back to your own facility.
- Product Prep Requirements: Amazon has its own list of requirements for products that are coming into the warehouse to be fulfilled through FBA. You will have to ensure that all of your products are prepared accordingly before sending them off to Amazon, including how they are packaged, ensuring proper labeling, and shipped following the FBA inventory warehousing guidelines. Some of the details can be tricky.
- Sales Tax: Sales tax is managed at the state level. If your business operates in one state and has its items warehoused in a different state, you might not be sure which tax rate to use. Fortunately, there are tools to help automate various tax situations and rules, to help you figure out what to charge and Amazon can manage most of this for you.
- Amazon FBA Fee Payment: There’s no putting off what you owe Amazon. You can’t use the next sale to pay for the prior one. Amazon will deduct all fees owed to them before making any payment to you. And if you don’t have enough of a balance to cover fees? You’ll need to provide a credit card to pay off the remaining balance.
Amazon FBA vs. Seller-Fulfilled Prime
For those who want to capitalize on the valuable Prime customer base but don’t want to pay the fees of the FBA program, there is the option to create a Seller-Fulfilled Prime (SFP) account where you can sell and fulfill your own products and orders. Basically, you get to use the Amazon Prime name and shipping guidelines, but you do all of the picking, packing and shipping.
You also have to handle all of the returns, and pay all of the shipping costs. While FBA charges fees for storage and fulfillment that may be fractional in comparison, Seller-Fulfilled Prime makes you pay all shipping costs and that can eat your profits. However, these costs are generally fixed and won’t fluctuate a lot. FBA members are at the mercy of Amazon, who has it worked into the program that their fulfillment fees can change at any time.
It’s only fair to point out that Amazon is doing all the work for FBA sellers. Of course they’re going to want something in return, and over time that’s going to come in the form of fee increases. However, that means you’ve got to stay on top of those FBA fees if you aren’t going to get swallowed by them.
Inventory storage and control is also all in your hands — with FBA, you send your stuff to Amazon and they handle the rest. When you use SFP, you have to manage your inventory, find a place to store it, pay for storage and more. The logistics of fulfillment are all at your behest, and that’s a lot to handle for anyone.
With both programs, you’ll be required to work within the guidelines of Amazon’s standard rules in the marketplace, including with things like returns, exchanges and other guidelines that have been set forth. Customers are expecting the Amazon treatment, no matter who is actually selling the item, and Amazon makes sure that they get it.
Ultimately, SFP is a lot more work, so small brands and sellers tend to fare better with the FBA program.
However, if you have low cost items, large items that would incur high storage fees with Amazon, or a mature fulfillment process, SFP is a great way to get the “Prime” badge while keeping your costs down.
FBA vs Non-FBA: A Quick Cost Example
Although the exact costs involved in this process will depend on what you sell and what kind of fees you incur through the FBA platform, it can sometimes be helpful to see examples. Here, we’ll take a look at a few different types of product listings and their potential FBA vs. non-FBA costs and profits to help you see how you will need to do a step-by-step evaluation of your own products when deciding if this is the right path for your brand.
Amazon has a chart for its FBA fulfillment fees in addition to the FBA calculator, which can help you determine whether an item is profitable enough to sell on FBA or if you should use another method.
1. Example 1: Paperback Book.
Say you have a book that is less than 10 oz., which would qualify as a “small standard” product. Therefore, its fulfillment fee would be $2.50 according to current rates. You’ll also have to factor in your storage fees and any other costs, which totals $3.50 in our example.
$14.99 retail price with free shipping
-$4.05 Amazon seller fee
-$3.00 in your fulfillment costs
-$0.50 for storage costs
-$3.00 for item unit cost
$14.99 retail price with free shipping
-$4.05 Amazon seller fee
-$4.90 in Amazon fulfillment fees
-$0.60 for storage costs
-$3.00 for item unit cost
= $4.44 net profit without FBA
|= $2.44 net profit with FBA|
2. Example #2: 32” TV.
In this example, we’ll look at a larger item, which is where FBA can really come through. High-dollar and large-size items are more profitable on FBA because there’s a huge opportunity to save on fulfillment costs.
$259.00 retail price with free shipping
-$40.65 Amazon seller fee
-$20.00 in seller fulfillment fees
-$10.00 for storage costs
-$199.00 for item unit cost
$14.99 retail price with free shipping
-$4.05 Amazon seller fee
-$4.90 in Amazon fulfillment fees
-$0.60 for storage costs
-$3.00 for item unit cost
= -$10.65 net loss without FBA
|= $14.25 net profit with FBA|
Tips, Tricks and Tactics for Maximizing FBA Sales
This platform isn’t new. For you, that means there is plenty of valuable insight to be gleaned to help you maximize your FBA sales from the start. There’s no need to be a brand name or have a brand new product. If you’re looking to increase your profits and streamline your growth using this service, here are a few tips and tactics to keep in mind.
1. Use online analytics tools.
Use online analytics tools to do product research on the most profitable products and popular items that are available on Amazon — and to determine which are the best product categories to sell in. The bestsellers are at the top for a reason — take notes.
2. Be smart about your product selection.
Think about sales rank, but also about what you get in exchange. High-ranking products are competitive, but they’ll sell quickly and keep inventory moving. Low-ranking products could cause stagnant inventory and long-term fees. However, they may also give you the chance to become a leading seller since there’s less competition. You have to weigh the options for yourself.
3. Bundle items when you can.
One of the hardest parts of Amazon is competing with dozens of near-identical listings that may be a handful of reviews or a few dollars in price different, but otherwise indiscernible. Stand out by creating bundled listings that draw people’s attention and offer more for their money.
4. Build your brand.
You can’t just sell a bunch of items and hope for the best. You have to take the time to create a brand and put it in a position that creates success and reaches your target audience. It’s not just about being in the buy box. It’s about making sure that you are selling high quality products and that you are sourcing them from a reputable manufacturer or distributor. You need to make sure you get good reviews for the product to ensure your metrics qualify you for the buy box and maximizing your sales opportunities.
5. Answer questions from users.
By and large, one of the biggest factors in choosing a seller on Amazon is how well they respond and engage when provoked. If a user has a question, answer it promptly and politely to let everyone know that you’re there when they need you.
Using FBA the Right Way
As with all things, Fulfillment by Amazon only works if you integrate it correctly and use it properly. We already covered some great tips for improving your chances of success with FBA, but there are some bigger best practices and overall themes that you need to follow in your own use of this platform.
1. Start small.
You don’t have to sell everything, and you shouldn’t. Remember, Amazon FBA costs money for storage and warehousing, so until you know what’s going to sell, consider trying a few items and working your way into different products as time goes on. Choose a well-cultivated selection of items and list them through FBA so that you have a slightly easier time learning the best practices when you’re just starting out.
2. Choose products wisely.
As we mentioned above, you have to be very careful in product selection. Just because you think something would sell doesn’t mean that it will. The market is competitive on Amazon and you need to choose the most profitable products, avoid stagnant inventory, and that might allow you to stand out even if they’re not the top-selling items.
SEO FBA Best Practices
Amazon SEO practices are largely unknown, but they are not difficult to extrapolate. The infographic above should assist you in gaining a better understanding of how SEO works on Amazon.
This is one great way that brands and sellers can stand out in the Amazon FBA platform and get more attention than others. Search engine optimization is all about optimizing your content based on the way that people search for things online. It’s about giving people a website or listing that they can interact with and that delivers the information and answers that they need.
If you aren’t using SEO in your Amazon FBA listings, you’re missing out on an easy way to get those sales away from your competition.
Secrets of FBA Everyone Needs to Know
The FBA process is fairly simple, but there are a few more secrets that can help you find success through this marketplace. First, make sure that your product photos and titles are on-point.
So many of the listings on Amazon have gibberish titles that can look unprofessional, and optimizing titles takes all of a few seconds. Make sure that you take good product photos, too, and include as many views as possible. If your pictures are better, people will choose your listing over another similar one.
Also, never underestimate the power of user reviews. On Amazon, people need some way to find a reason to choose a listing. Therefore, in going through all the channels, they will eventually end up finding themselves at the reviews, looking to see what others have experienced firsthand.
Marketing is Everything. In a highly-competitive market like Amazon, you’re competing with a lot of the same or similar types of people and products. Your marketing is what’s going to make you stand out and help people choose your brand over the others. Marketing is critical to the success of all sellers who are using FBA, which is why you need to make sure that you have a solid marketing strategy in place. That’s probably the single biggest secret to success with selling on Amazon — effective marketing.
And communicating with others who have “been there done that” is also huge. There are several groups that focus on Selling on Amazon and have plenty of FBA sellers who are willing to answer questions:
And one other group we recommend joining — because you never know when Amazon will suspend your account) is the Amazon Seller Performance group.
How Can I Get Started?
If you’re ready to try out the FBA platform, you can head on over to the Amazon FBA website and start reading about the sign-up process. Amazon does a pretty good job of explaining their offering, including videos and other content, along with an entire learning section to help sellers get to know the service and how to create their own online sales success.
Be sure to take advantage of Amazon’s resources and tools, including Amazon Marketing Services, which we discussed briefly above. You can also start leveraging the benefits and minimizing the potential disadvantages by using the tips and insight provided here. The FBA program integrates with several online ecommerce platforms, making it easy for all sellers to get involved.
Amazon FBA Resources
Amazon and BigCommerce both have a lot of tools and resources to help you decide where to go from here. Whether you’re sold on FBA and just want to learn how to get started, or you want to see what other options there are, the information is out there. Here are a few important links to file away:
Leveraging the power of Amazon FBA allows you to get so much more out of your online sales, but only if you do it correctly and if you have products that are profitable for it.
There are several different ways to sell on Amazon and no two people will arrive at the same decision for the same reason. With the information presented here, it should be easier for you to decide on the correct path for selling on Amazon, whether that’s through FBA, SFP or any other means.
Ultimately, the Fulfillment by Amazon program offers sellers the best of everything in a neat little package that’s priced fairly well, all things considered. However, it may not work for all brands or products because of the fee structure and the way fulfillment is handled.
Before you decide on your next move, take a tour of the FBA platform and try out the calculator to see if you could improve profits by going this route.
In three months, the U.S. retail industry vaulted 10 years ahead in terms of digital penetration.
In other words — businesses and consumers alike have their eyes on ecommerce. If you’re looking for shopping cart software, you’ve already recognized that online sales, as well as omnichannel commerce, will likely continue growing into the future.
If you want to capitalize on this shift in consumer behavior, you need to be able to accept transactions online. You can use a shopping cart software solution to make that happen.
But with so many options, how do you select the best shopping cart software to enable online payments, prioritizes customer experience and ensures security of transmitted information?
Let’s look closer at the options for shopping cart software and how to select the one that works best for your business.
What is Shopping Cart Software?
Shopping cart software is the engine behind the scenes of an online store, making it possible to easily manage inventory, add or remove products, calculate taxes and everything else required to manage a website and fulfill orders.
But many online shopping carts do even more than that, like:
- Allow customers to add promo codes and special discounts, or auto-apply them based on loyalty status
- Check out using different payment methods and payment models (e.g., subscription, ‘buy now, pay later,’ etc.)
- Collect and transmit relevant customer data to other business systems (accounting, CRM, email marketing and more) while helping retain compliance with data regulations like GDPR
Shopping cart software can simplify complex processes in a user-friendly interface that enables even people with no technical background to oversee an entire ecommerce operation.
2 Main Types of Shopping Cart Software
Today’s vendors offer a broad spectrum of capabilities, and each shopping cart software option will have different features and functionality. Web hosting is one of the primary differentiators between types of shopping cart software — in other words, how/where your store is hosted. This will have a big impact on how your online store is set up, managed and maintained long-term.
1. Hosted shopping carts.
As the name implies, hosted shopping carts are owned, maintained and upgraded by an ecommerce vendor (think software-as-a-service, or SaaS). For an annual or monthly fee, you get access to all the vendor’s core commerce features, along with hosting for your site, bandwidth, managed security and continued software upgrades.
SaaS solutions offer a great balance between flexibility and ease of use. You don’t need to spend months developing all the features you need. Hosted shopping cart software has evolved to the point where customization and flexibility previously exclusive to on-premise is available — making it more than sufficient for most online retailers.
Some of the popular providers of hosted ecommerce shopping carts are:
2. Self-hosted shopping carts.
Self-hosted, or open-source, shopping carts require merchants to host their site themselves or use hosting through your platform provider. It also requires more hands-on development experience.
Often distributed for free as open-source software, such carts provide a base level of checkout functionality. Extra functionality and integrations with other systems will need to be developed or purchased as a third-party subscription.
Self-hosting your ecommerce site using open source software gives you near limitless freedom when it comes to the entire shopping experience. But it also requires more time spent on the technical, rather than operational, aspects of your ecommerce business.
Shoko Mimura, Owner of Kigurumi Shop, summed up his decision to go with BigCommerce over a self-hosted solution when his business started growing:
“A self-hosted platform initially appealed to us because of the customization options and low upfront cost. However, I knew firsthand that self-hosting requires a lot of effort to run smoothly, especially after adding plugins and customizations and we lacked the resources for that.
“I decided that transferring to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform would allow us to outsource the ecommerce development portion of our business, allowing us to instead focus on branding, customer experience and marketing.”
If the idea of self-hosted hasn’t scared you away yet, here are a few shopping carts worth considering:
Why Do You Need Shopping Cart Software?
If you want to start an ecommerce business, the ability to accept transactions is, obviously, a must. In the earliest days of ecommerce, developers had to build bespoke software for every store. Now, a broad spectrum of types of software help to support secure online transactions, with a wide array of capabilities and features — even including plugins that can add commerce functionality to an existing website.
You may also want additional functionality from your shopping cart solution to help you:
- Simplify marketing. Built-in SEO and easy optimization allow online stores to rank higher in organic search for increased discovery and lower customer acquisition costs.
- Automate shipping and taxes. Some shopping cart software options offer functionality for printing shipping labels, calculating sales taxes based on customer location and sending notification emails to customers.
- Manage products. From SKUs and variations (size, color, quantity) to product names and images, shopping cart software allows an online store manager to get a high-level view or drill down to the specifics without any technical knowledge required.
- Manage customer information and orders. Managing an order from inception to delivery is crucial to the success of any business. Shopping cart software software lets you filter by customer, check order status, and make changes on the fly. Integrations with email platforms provide another medium for managing customer communications.
- Integrate back-end systems. If you also run brick-and-mortar operations, you can integrate data from your point-of-sale systems and online storefront to gain a holistic view of customers’ shopping behaviors and inventory in real time. Use the resulting insights to boost loyalty and personalize your marketing.
- Remain in compliance. Keep your financial data neatly stacked for audits and mitigate compliance risks associated with non-secure payment processing or data misuse according to regulations like GDPR.
- Enable extra features. Apart from checkout, most solutions also include both native and third-party features, such as cart abandonment recovery (native with BigCommerce), discounts and an array of pre-built and custom integrations with other business systems (CRM, shipping and logistics providers, on-demand manufacturing platforms and more).
4 Shopping Cart Software Features You Need
Whether you are shopping for a SaaS ecommerce solution or a self-hosted shopping cart product, make sure that your choices meet these four criteria.
1. Secure and PCI compliant.
Online stores are an attractive target for hackers, and the move to shopping online during the pandemic made it an even more attractive venture.
American online shoppers lost over $35.07 million to COVID-related fraud since the start of 2020.
Since a shopping cart is a critical component for processing sensitive customer data, it must be secure. When assessing different types of shopping cart solutions, ensure that it has:
- PCI-DSS compliance. This is a globally-recognized standard for securely processing payments. Vendors pass rigorous testing to earn this status.
- SSL/HTTPS support. A SSL certificate is a ‘must’ standard for encrypting sensitive data a buyer provides to your shopping solution during checkout.
- Anti-fraud and data security tools. Make sure you can monitor suspicious user activity and block potentially fraudulent transactions and brute force intrusion attempts either natively or using an integrated third-party system.
Mobile commerce was predicted to bring in $314 billion in 2020 — 44% of total ecommerce sales. If you don’t offer a mobile-friendly checkout experience, you could be hurting your growth prospects.
Pick a shopping cart that lets you create a simplified mobile checkout process. Think fewer fields, bigger buttons and integration of popular mobile payment methods such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, Amazon Pay and others.
Customer experience (CX) is a primary battlefield for ecommerce brands at the moment. The CX management market is expected to double in the next several years to reach $14.9 billion by 2025. Your shopping cart software should not stand in the way of delivering an on-brand online experience for shoppers. Assess each option from the perspective of customization:
- Can we change the checkout flow or interface design to better match our business needs?
- How many elements of the overall store design can we customize? Are the templates flexible?
- Do we need a coding team for quick updates or is there a drag-and-drop builder available?
- What about integrations? How easily can we integrate into existing systems and business tools? Am I limited to pre-built integrations or can we build our own integrations?
- What existing development resources will we have access to? Is the platform developer-friendly? Does it have open APIs and developer documentation? How does customization impact future updates?
4. Easy to update.
Over time, your performance needs may shift. Security requirements may change. For that reason, open-source solutions especially need to be regularly patched and updated. This is almost always done manually by developers.
With a hosted shopping cart, updates are performed automatically by the vendor. In most cases, you don’t need to take any action yourself or re-test anything. Note that you may need to configure any new features before taking advantage of them.
How to Choose the Right Shopping Cart Software
Now that you know what a good shopping cart software looks like in general terms, let’s focus on your business needs. How do you find a solution that promotes, rather than hinders, your growth? Here are five steps to help you figure that out.
1. Determine your goals for your ecommerce site.
The decision to sell online is a big one. But you can’t proceed with action until you figure out the essential operational bells and whistles.
To do that, start with why. Why do you want to sell online? To attract more business — that’s easy. But how exactly do you plan to make this happen?
- Will you use ecommerce as an avenue for direct-to-consumer sales?
- Do you want to drive online traffic to supplement brick-and-mortar operations?
Apart from the baseline goals, think in terms of ecommerce metrics.
- What kind of growth would you like to see post-launch, and how will you measure it? For example, what’s your goal in terms of weekly sales volume?
- Do you plan to sell locally or internationally, too?
- What’s your plan for growing a customer lifetime value?
- How many products do you plan to sell?
2. Choose the features you really need.
Based on your set goals and metrics, create a list of features your ecommerce website needs. These should be closely aligned with your customer lifecycle. For example, a local small business may not need to support multiple currencies, but this will be a crucial feature for a cross-border retailer. Features will sometimes impact pricing, so it’s beneficial to know what you really need.
The easiest way to determine what shopping cart features you need is to work from general to specific.
- First, list all the general must-haves; for example, does it support your payment gateway of choice?
- Next, add extras that your business needs, like automatic sales tax/shipping rate calculation.
- Prioritize all the nice-to-haves from 1 to 5, where 1 is a crucial feature for driving revenues and 5 is a handy add-on that could make your day-to-day operations more efficient.
3. Decide if you want a SaaS or self-hosted shopping cart.
As described above, hosted (SaaS) shopping carts and self-hosted (open source) both have their merit. But each choice also comes with certain compromises.
Open source and custom ecommerce website development can carry with it extra risks. Rick Culleton, CEO of Discount Electronics shared a cautionary tale:
“We were initially migrating to a custom-built ecommerce platform, but when we did that, our servers were hacked. We were never able to fully fix the issue and our credit card processor of 18 years threatened to give us the boot if we didn’t get our PCI compliance issues fixed. In the end, we wound up spending a year and hundreds of thousands of dollars on a platform that nearly sunk our business.
“That’s a big part of what drove us to BigCommerce. With this platform, we can rest assured that we’re PCI compliant 24/7/365. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate not having any compliance concerns whatsoever.”
On the other hand, SaaS solutions pose some constraints to customization. Not every vendor supports editing CSS/HTML code of the front-end design or checkout and, while many platforms will allow design changes, you won’t be able to tamper with the solution’s underlying source code. This can limit some aspects of your ability to customize the functionality of your store.
In many cases, you will need to purchase extra apps from the vendor’s app store to connect different marketing tools or extra order management functionality. Be sure to look into what options are available for custom development via APIs if you have specific needs.
So decide which battle you’d rather fight — a continuous investment in security and website maintenance or certain limits on customization due to the lack of source code access.
4. Test ease of use.
Checkout is a critical step for conversion. 88% of shopping carts are abandoned for one reason or another — your goal is to alleviate as much of that friction as possible.
Is the solution you are looking at user-friendly? Baymard Institute runs an ongoing assessment of ecommerce UX checkout and strengthens the importance of following these best practices:
- Provide a prominent “Guest Checkout” option
- Shipping options comparison should be visible
- Allow users to edit data directly during the order review step
- All the optional and required fields have to be explicitly marked
Use these points to assess how your top choices scored. Also, check if you can customize checkout settings and microcopy to decrease cart abandonment rates.
5. Review customer support.
Having a support team within easy reach is handy because at some point, you will have a question that you or your team can’t answer.
But if some critical part of your ecommerce site breaks, the last thing your team wants is to read pages of technical docs in search of answers.
BigCommerce, on the other hand — a SaaS solution — offers 24/7 technical support, and they tend to react to critical issues fast. At BigCommerce, for example, we respond to calls within 2 minutes on average and resolve 85% of customer queries from the first call.
But fast response time and multiple support channels are not a given with all vendors. So do check how each one stacks up.
5 Best Ecommerce Shopping Cart Solutions
While ‘best’ is always a relative criterion, we’ve rounded up a list of ecommerce business owner approved shopping cart solutions including both self-hosted and SaaS options.
BigCommerce is an Open SaaS platform provider offering hosted shopping cart software as part of its all-in-one ecommerce platform, packed with other value-added features such as a drag-and-drop website builder, store management tools, pre-built integrations with popular business systems and an array of ready-to-use apps.
WooCommerce is a popular self-hosted shopping cart for WordPress websites. Developed and maintained by Automattic, WooCommerce has a decent starter selection of essential ecommerce features for checkout.
Extra payment integrations (e.g. with Stripe or Braintree) can be enabled via free plugin installs. And you can pick up free and paid extensions from their app marketplace to further augment your online store.
The disadvantage is that many must-have shopping cart features such as single-page checkout, abandoned cart recovery and discounts are not available natively (unlike the hosted solutions such as BigCommerce).
Shopify is another hosted ecommerce software option, tailored to the needs of small B2C businesses.
Shopify offers a low technical barrier for building a store with basic functionality out of the box. This makes the setup and store management part easy. Integrations with popular marketing apps such as Google Analytics and Smile.io can be activated in one click. Some non-native tools require a separate subscription.
U.S.-based business owners can also access their proprietary fulfillment network, designed to help with inventory management and logistics. But sellers should be wary of extra costs, as Shopify charges up to 2% on top of payment processors’ fees if using an alternative to their proprietary gateway.
Volusion was one of the original contenders in the SaaS ecommerce space. Operating since the early 2000s, their shopping cart solution provides a mix of core commerce and SEO/marketing tools for starting and growing your business.
Magento is available in two versions. The open-source version provides basic, extendable shopping cart functionality that is yours to properly manage and update.
Magento Commerce, formerly Magento Enterprise Edition, is the more advanced solution that also includes hosting through Adobe.
However, this solution is on the pricier side — in addition to an initial build with costs that quickly scale based on complexity, Magento Commerce (on-prem edition) starts at $22,000 annually, while Magento Commerce Cloud starts around $40,000. Initial setup costs can also be high, depending on complexity.
There’s no one-size-fits-all shopping cart software option out there. That said, some cart software options pack a bigger punch when it comes to both features and cost. The right platform for you will depend completely on how you want to run your business and what your online storefront needs to support.
Now that you know which types of shopping cart software are on the market and what core features to look into, update your list of vendors and reach out to the top-ranking ones that meet your needs.
Walmart.com has long been an extension of the popular brick-and-mortar Walmart stores, but it wasn’t until 2009 that the Walmart Marketplace launched. This opened up the Walmart.com platform to third-party sellers whose products complement the existing offerings from first-party brands.
Walmart Marketplace is now comprised of thousands of sellers, and it’s still growing. With dozens of categories spanning everything from fashion to electronics and much more, Walmart Marketplace is an effective sales channel for sellers both big and small in the United States.
As Walmart.com continues to grow (it saw 79% ecommerce growth in 2020) and online shopping becomes the norm for millions of Americans, a lot has changed since Walmart Marketplace’s inception. To learn everything you need to know about how to start selling on this online marketplace and how to get started, look no further than this blog post.
Ahead, you’ll find information about the registration process from start to finish, helpful insider tips and how to leverage integration partners to fuel success on Walmart.com.
Pros of Selling on Walmart Marketplace
1. Expand your reach.
With Walmart’s worldwide recognition and seemingly endless product categories, it’s no surprise that Walmart.com is a go-to shopping destination for many. The audience is currently more than 120 million monthly unique visitors, according to ComScore.
Leveraging this traffic is a huge advantage of selling on Walmart.com — you can get your products in front of an already established audience and unlock a whole new customer base on the site and the mobile app.
Plus, remember that Walmart Marketplace is a curated community of sellers. To get approved, you need to offer high-quality products priced competitively and provide top-notch customer service. What does that ultimately mean for you? With less competition, you get more visibility for your listings, and you’re in great company, selling alongside other professional sellers and Walmart’s first-party products.
2. Pay only for what you sell.
Let’s talk about pricing. Walmart is known for its low prices for customers, and that’s also true for its sellers. Walmart Marketplace uses a straightforward, simple pricing structure and charges no setup or monthly fees. Instead, the only cost is a reasonable referral fee on each completed purchase.
This fee varies by category (view a full breakdown here) but is typically 15%. That’s true for many categories, including apparel, beauty products and home & garden. Certain product categories, such as consumer electronics and cameras, have a lower referral fee of 8%.
3. Embrace innovation.
When you partner with a large retailer like Walmart, you get access to some of the most innovative ecommerce solutions — advanced listing quality tools, advertising options and expedited shipping programs that can organically boost conversion up to 50%, to name a few. You can see beneficial analytics up front to power your business decisions in the moment and in the future. We’ll explore more of these programs and tools later on.
How to Sell on Walmart Marketplace
Now that you’ve gotten a brief overview of what it’s like to sell on Walmart.com, you may be interested in how to apply to sell on Walmart Marketplace. Consider this your launch checklist.
1. The application process.
Requesting to sell on Walmart Marketplace consists of an application process that should take 10-15 minutes if you have the required information readily available. These requirements include:
Providing as much information about your business up front will save you time later. If you do have back-and-forth correspondence with Walmart Marketplace to fill any gaps in your application, it’s a good idea to act fast to avoid any delays in the review process.
Once you’re approved to sell on Walmart.com, the next steps begin. You’ll first receive an email that contains the link to register your business, and the entire process of registration contains six steps, outlined below.
The Walmart Marketplace registration process:
- Account creation
- Walmart Retailer Agreement
- Company registration
- Tax forms
- Payment info
- Shipping info
First, you’ll establish a username and password to rely on when managing your Walmart Marketplace seller account. Your username will be auto-filled based on the information you provided in your application.
You’ll use these credentials to log in to Seller Center, Walmart Marketplace’s portal for seller account management.
Walmart retailer agreement
Next, you’ll review the Walmart retailer agreement, a legal agreement that all Marketplace sellers sign. This document contains terms and conditions that sellers must accept before moving forward.
As you get one step closer to making things official, you’ll register your company by entering a display name and a corporate address.
- Display Name: The name that appears to customers on Walmart.com.
- Corporate Address: The address used internally.
This step consists of filling out a W-9 form for tax purposes.
The required fields include your name, address and TIN (Taxpayer Identification Number).
Walmart has partnered with Payoneer (Payoneer.com) and Hyperwallet (Hyperwallet.com) to process Marketplace partner payments, and you must register with Payoneer or Hyperwallet to receive your Walmart payments. Please note that only Payoneer is an available option for sellers with W-8ECI tax classification.
This is where you’ll select your shipping pricing model, shipping methods and the regions you’re able to ship to. Default shipping methods include Value, Standard, Expedited and Next Day.
After initial setup, you’ll be able to dig deeper into your shipping strategy by using Walmart Marketplace’s customizable Shipping Templates (more on those later).
3. List, test and go live.
The final step of onboarding as a Walmart Marketplace seller involves listing your catalog and testing orders before you officially go live. This process will ensure a smooth experience once customers are ready to add your items to their carts.
You should set up your top-selling items first, and remember that your items will go live once this testing is complete. For this reason, you should use real items with complete information and no indication that these are “test” items. If you have items belonging to multiple categories, provide a couple of items from each category for the initial round of item setup.
All of the items added successfully will automatically move to ‘stage’ status, which means that they won’t show up on Walmart.com until you go live.
Then test a few orders by publishing 2-3 items and placing your own test orders (no need to ship these). You’ll simply need to test the following scenarios in the Seller Center: order acknowledgement, order cancellation, order shipping and order refund.
Once everything is validated and working as expected, you are ready to go live on Walmart Marketplace! Walmart will complete a final review process and then will release your account to go live. Once you are live, your items are published to Walmart.com, transactable within a few hours and searchable in 24-48 hours.
Getting Started: Choose an Integration Method
There are multiple ways to manage your business and list your entire catalog on Walmart.com. If your company is capable of direct integration, you’ll add your items using either the API, Bulk Upload or a hybrid of the two.
If you need extra help, you can choose to work with a solution provider.
Walmart partners with leading solution providers that offer trusted support and a wide variety of ecommerce services. These include item setup, inventory, order fulfillment, pricing and more.
Some solution providers offer only specific functions, while others, such as Cedcommerce, offer full-service integration. Cedcommerce’s core capabilities include item setup, inventory management, order management, price management and a free 2-day shipping program via Deliverr.
Another great option is BigCommerce. Now that the company has partnered with Walmart Marketplace, sellers can easily manage their catalog and orders in one easily accessible portal using BigCommerce (learn more here).
Each integration is tailored to your specific needs, so you should reach out to your preferred solution providers directly to gather information on costs, features and capabilities.
To help you find the right fit, it’s a great idea to ask the following questions when evaluating a solution provider:
Do they offer:
- Item integration, including variation and swatch support?
- Order integration, including order cancellation, refunds and shipment services?
- Price integration, including price promotion and dynamic product repricing services?
- Inventory integration?
- Can they synchronize ecommerce data across multiple marketplace platforms?
- How much do they charge, including launch fees, setup fees and monthly support fees?
- What type of support do they offer (e.g., phone, email, chat)?
- What level of support do they offer (e.g., response time SLA, dedicated agents, etc.)?
Should you change your mind after selecting a solution provider for Walmart.com, you can switch to another one or opt to use direct integration instead. You should select the option that best suits your business’s needs. For more information, refer to the full list of Walmart-approved solution providers.
Seller Success: Explore Innovative Solutions Built to Help Sellers Thrive
Over the last couple of years, Walmart Marketplace has released a variety of innovative tools and programs designed with seller success in mind.
Once your products are live and available for purchase, you can continue optimizing your catalog and performance to grow your sales. We recommend paying attention to the following tools and programs:
- Check the health of your listings with the Unpublished Items Dashboard
- Optimize your listings with the Listing Quality Dashboard
- Win more customers with Expedited Shipping programs and services
- Take the stress out of returns with Enhanced Returns
- Stand out from competition with the Pro Seller Badge
- Advertise with sponsored products.
1. Check the health of your listings with the unpublished items dashboard.
A unique tool in the Seller Center is the Unpublished Items Dashboard, which allows sellers to view and take action on items that have been unpublished. The dashboard provides detailed insights into select items that have been unpublished, the appropriate reason code for each, and step-by-step instructions you can take to republish them. Top reasons for items unpublishing can include issues like “Primary Image Missing” or an incorrect “End Date,” and the dashboard offers easy fixes.
2. Optimize your listings with the listing quality dashboard.
Having good listings is the name of the game for any online seller on any website. But how can you really know how effective your listings are? Walmart Marketplace’s Listing Quality takes the guesswork out of this problem.
By taking a multifactor approach to analyzing listings, Walmart Marketplace created a sophisticated algorithm that results in a numerical Listing Quality Score. Reflected as a percentage, this score can range from 0-99 and appears at the item level and catalog level for each seller. It consists of four factors: content & discoverability, offer, ratings & reviews and post-purchase quality. To view and keep up with your Listing Quality Score at any time, visit the Listing Quality Dashboard in the Seller Center.
Here, you’ll not only be able to see your item and overall catalog scores, but you’ll also receive specific tips on how to improve your listings and attract more customers. For example according to Walmart data, the seller Big Red House increased its overall Listing Quality Score from 17 to 78 just two weeks after implementing tips found in the dashboard. By improving listings for its oven mitts, the company increased its reach and saw more sales.
“I used the Listing Quality Dashboard to quickly identify missed opportunities and shortcomings in my product listings,” Andrew Pancer from Big Red House told Walmart Marketplace. “The tool provided a great roadmap for me to make these improvements and the results have been significant.”
It’s not just about having the lowest prices—high-quality images, product descriptions, and competitive shipping options all play a part in good listings.
3. Win more customers with expedited shipping programs and services.
Satisfactory shipping and competitive shipping rates are at the heart of ecommerce success. Walmart Marketplace’s portfolio of expedited shipping options makes it easy for sellers to manage. When configuring your shipping settings, you can explore a variety of possibilities and choose what makes the most sense for your business.
The TwoDay program is ideal for both you and your customers. Items in your catalog that are able to keep up with 2-day delivery will benefit from eye-catching ‘free 2-day delivery’ tags on Walmart.com. These attract a lot of attention, increase Buy Box wins and drive more sales. In fact, sellers who participate on the two day program might see a 50% organic lift in conversion on average, according to Walmart data..
Another great option is the ThreeDay program. If you can’t afford to include free 2-day shipping for all of your items, 3-day shipping is the next best thing. Sellers see on average a 30% organic lift in conversion for items with a three-day delivery promise, according to Walmart data.
No matter how you choose to ship to various regions across the country, the best way to manage it all is with Shipping Templates. This recently launched tool, found in Seller Center, gives sellers the power to design custom templates to optimize their shipping strategy.
Sellers can create multiple easy-to-use Shipping Templates that include custom configurations, flexible transit times, granular delivery regions across the US and reports.
Let’s say you’re able to deliver quickly from a West Coast warehouse to adjacent states — you could create a West Coast Shipping Template, select TwoDay delivery and assign specific SKUs to this template as desired.
As another example, you could set up a template with Standard shipping, but with the transit time as flexible (it can be three, four, or five days). One template can have two shipping rules for “standard” delivery — one with a three-day transit time in certain regions close to your warehouse and another one with a five-day transit time for areas farther out.
Plus, selecting a three-day transit time for your Standard shipping method enables the ThreeDay Delivery program for your products and gives them a Buy Box boost on Walmart.com.
This template workflow provides a great way to see an overview of your shipping rules for your whole catalog, which may require different settings (if your assortment includes both small items and bulky items, for example). Quickly download reports to see which SKUs are assigned to each template.
Get a more in-depth and visual overview of Shipping Templates in this QuickStart video tutorial.
Fulfillment solutions: WFS and Deliverr
Walmart Fulfillment Services (WFS) launched in 2020 as a low-cost fulfillment option for Marketplace sellers. WFS allows sellers to leverage Walmart’s advanced supply chain capabilities and leaves the picking, packing, and shipping all to Walmart.
Approved sellers can simply send their inventory to a WFS fulfillment center, where products are securely stored and prepared for shipping when orders are placed.
Learn more about WFS requirements and how to apply here.
Another fulfillment option for sellers is Deliverr, which integrates directly with the TwoDay program to guarantee fast shipping and boost item visibility. Deliverr stores your items close to your buyers so you can affordably offer fast shipping, and you pay a fixed fulfillment rate.
4. Take the stress out of returns with enhanced returns.
Walmart is uniquely positioned to allow customers to make returns both in stores and online. Known as the Enhanced Returns program for Walmart Marketplace sellers, this flexibility can increase customer satisfaction and also lower sellers’ costs. You can lower your return-processing costs when you choose Walmart’s Returns Shipping Service (RSS) as your preferred option for label printing. This in-store service gives you access to discounted rates and allows you to save on customer service and return fees.
5. Stand out from competition with the Pro Seller Badge.
Another recent Walmart Marketplace development is the introduction of the Pro Seller Badge.
While all Walmart Marketplace sellers go through a thorough vetting process and meet high standards to sell on Walmart.com, the Pro Seller Badge helps to drive attention to the best of the best products on the site.
Products with the Pro Seller Badge offer quality customer service, consistent on-time delivery, and free online and in-store returns. This mark of excellence is displayed next to the “Sold & shipped by [Seller Name]” on Walmart.com, and customers can hover over the badge to see a short pop-up description about the criteria.
Criteria is refreshed twice every month, and Listing Quality is tied to eligibility — scores must be at least 50% for 60% or more of sellers’ trending items. Walmart Marketplace automatically grants (and takes away) badges according to the criteria, which can always be viewed in the Listing Quality Dashboard.
6. Advertise with sponsored products.
Walmart Marketplace offers its own CPC (cost-per-click) advertising platform that sellers can use to manage their own campaigns and budgets. The Sponsored Products tool increases visibility with ads that reach customers as they shop on Walmart.com, all the way from search to checkout.
Sellers can choose to leverage this service at any time, whether to reach holiday goals or to give certain inventory an extra push.
There are two types of campaigns: Automatic and Manual. Automatic campaigns allow the Walmart algorithm to serve ads against relevant search queries. Manual campaigns allow the seller to handpick keywords and bid on search queries that customers use to discover products on Walmart.com. Both methods are effective ways to drive impressions and purchases.
Summary and Helpful Resources for More Information
All in all, Walmart Marketplace is a great platform for anyone looking to expand their ecommerce business. The approval process is a selective one, but sellers with high-quality products and previous marketplace experience may want to apply.
Think you’ve got a better understanding of what it takes to become a seller? For additional resources with more information, check out the Sell Better Blog, Walmart Marketplace FAQs, and QuickStart Guides.
Headless architecture has become widely known as an emerging technology strategy that many merchants are considering. Advantages of this architecture are mostly promoted as a means of providing businesses with more choices for integrating best-of-breed solutions, superior site performance, and other technical advantages. Though all of those advantages are true and incredibly beneficial, we are most excited about the creative opportunities that this approach has unleashed for brands.
Highly branded and unique user experiences have been somewhat out of reach for many mid-market merchants looking to elevate their brand by integrating more dynamic content throughout the shopping experience. Outside of the more expensive and sometimes cost-prohibitive monolithic platforms, there hasn’t been a complete solution that supported both the unique content and ecommerce needs of a brand. Brands have weighed the trade-offs between the two, forcing them to decide which one was more important.
So what has changed? One change is the rise and support of APIs by some ecommerce platforms. The availability of these APIs has provided a new way to connect dynamic content experiences, business service applications, as well as the commerce catalog in such a way that has brought it all together, creating efficiencies and the opportunity to provide a better overall brand and customer experience.
BigCommerce made the decision early on to fully support headless by taking an open SaaS approach to their platform, exposing their catalog and features through APIs. This strategy has enabled brands to quickly adapt to change while also maintaining a lower cost of ownership by offering flexibility in supporting the front-end of choice. While there are several other platforms making similar claims, we have found BigCommerce to be much further along, having adopted their entire platform strategy to support open SaaS and headless from the start.
Headless architecture has provided a way for brands to take a step back and forward at the same time, supporting their current branding needs while also setting them up for future growth and changes. As an ecommerce design and development agency, we would like to share some specific examples of how this framework has unleashed creativity and elevated our design solutions and systems to better support a brand’s ability to manage their site in a more sustainable way.
For many years, ZaneRay has had the benefit of doing both design and development, and quite a few of our team members have significant experience and skills in both. Understanding the development and engineering requirements has helped inform our designs throughout the years, allowing us to push a little further creatively while maintaining a keen awareness of where the lines are drawn. The headless framework has significantly expanded those lines in all directions, allowing us to design brand experiences that previously would have been cost-prohibitive for our brand partners. From a design perspective, the decoupling of the front and back end has allowed our design team to work in a more robust content management system that better supports unique and inventive designs that simply weren’t possible before. Because of this newfound freedom, we have been able to explore further with our brand partners who are looking to do something more immersive and unique to better communicate their brand experience.
Skullcandy is one of those brands that has built a loyal and connected community around music and action sports, one that is quite active on their site because of their role in cultivating that culture. That cultural affinity is what sells their products as a lifestyle brand. Because of this, Skullcandy wanted a commerce site that creatively showcased their products while also telling the stories around the art and culture that are the very essence of the brand. The challenge Skullcandy presented was a question around how to best execute their 18-month Moods campaign, featuring a limited edition product, a new musician and new artwork each month. The requirements included the ability for the Skullcandy team to switch out their campaign assets each month without development restrictions and to be able to stage and schedule the release.
Leveraging the open SaaS of BigCommerce, we were able to take a hybrid approach, by integrating a headless CMS to create the page structure and components with the ability to stage and preview the assets prior to publishing the content. The CMS also has scheduling capabilities that allow the team to schedule the page to go live in the middle of the night without any assistance from the development team. This hybrid approach has been extended to other areas of the site allowing Skullcandy to push the creative boundaries and present their brand without limitations.
Yeti Cycles is another headless site that we recently launched on BigCommerce. Their previous site was beautifully designed and served their branding needs well, however, their ‘design-first’ approach had resulted in a very fragmented and tangled technical back end over time, one that was extremely disjointed, making it difficult for the marketing team to manage or update the site. Not only was it difficult, but it was also quite expensive since most updates required engineering support. In order to achieve the marketing velocity that they needed to meet their goals, the Yeti team needed a more integrated back end along with a more user-friendly front end, providing them with the insights, tools and systems they needed to better manage their site.
One goal at the outset of the project was to provide enhancements to the overall design of the site, elevating the designs while not completely reimagining them. The Yeti Cycles team also needed to be able to carry forward the integrity of these designs for future campaigns, content updates and product launches and needed the right systems and tools that would allow them to do it on their own. To achieve this, ZaneRay created a design system that is supported by a library of reusable components along with a digital style guide, providing brand consistency across the site, allowing the team to build out new pages and upload new content. This combination of front-end tools and systems, along with a robust CMS, has enabled them to carry forward the fidelity of the designs beyond the initial site design and build.
This system was put to the test just a few days after launching the site with the release of their new retro-themed, limited-edition ARC 35th Anniversary bike. What had previously taken many weeks of preparation and development coordination to set up for launch, now took hours and they were able to do it completely on their own. The bike sold out in a matter of hours.
Another primary goal of the project was to ensure that all of their backend systems were properly integrated so that they could fully monitor the purchase funnel and with that new visibility, make adjustments to their site based on data-driven insights. The integration challenges they had encountered with their previous tech stack had also contributed to their inability to monitor their purchase funnel since the backend systems were so fragmented. Being that headless is an API-first framework, the backend systems were able to be simplified and connected with minimal effort—creating a backend that was now fully integrated and structured for site analytics. Within BigCommerce’s Analytics admin, the Yeti team can now fully monitor abandoned cart rates, view specific products that are being abandoned, as well as build specific campaigns to decrease abandonment rates.
Our third, and most recent headless project, is Black Diamond Equipment. Black Diamond is a strong outdoor brand that struggled to showcase their inspiring content on their previous website that was on one of the monolithic platforms. Encumbered by limitations and cost-prohibitive development, Black Diamond chose a headless strategy that incorporated the BigCommerce open SaaS platform for their new site.
One of the primary goals of the replatform was to enable the Black Diamond marketing team to freely manage the site and their rich content, providing a more dynamic creative experience that better represents the brand, all while reducing their total cost of ownership. The headless solution included the integration of many 3rd party service applications and a feature-rich CMS.
Leveraging a strategy similar to Skullcandy and Yeti Cycles, the new design set to blend rich content with products where it matters most to their customer. With the incredible imagery and stories developed by the brand, the new design and CMS allows Black Diamond to immerse their customers into the experiences the brand is known for. Not only do they have full capabilities of managing this content, but their team can also go far beyond simply updating where they are able to create new pages and content using this advanced design system and the CMS.
Another goal for Black Diamond was to customize their messaging towards their different markets. This includes European countries and languages in addition to their pro athletes. The CMS not only supports multiple languages but the site was also programmed so the European team can present different merchandising, assets and messaging to these different customers, providing a better user experience by market. The marketing team at Black Diamond has newfound freedom that they are quickly taking advantage of as they flex their creative muscles.
While headless architecture is still somewhat in its infancy, it is leveling the playing field of what brands can do with their digital experiences. What was once only accomplished using custom programming can now be harnessed by non-technical marketing teams expressing a true, uncompromised experience. Early adopters like BigCommerce are already way ahead in terms of setting brands and merchants up for success using this approach. The landscape is only getting better where many tools and programs are emerging to make headless an even easier architecture to consider. Unleashing this creativity for brands is only one of the advantages of headless but is probably the most exciting for those who enjoy the creation of a great user experience.
Ecommerce was an industry already in flux when the events of 2020 really turned things on their head. Here are just a few examples of the transformation unfolding in online retail right now:
- Ecommerce share of the retail market increased as much in the first half of 2020 as in the last 5 years. (Common Thread Collective)
- U.S. consumers broke records holiday shopping during Cyber 5, with online sales rising 20.6% year-over-year. (DigitalCommerce360)
- US ecommerce sales are projected to reach $794.50 billion this year, up 32.4% year-over-year. (eMarketer)
The numbers tell us what most of us already know — ecommerce is growing in a big way. The COVID pandemic and subsequent shutdowns or avoidance of brick and mortar stores pushed more shoppers online. And these trends are only expected to continue in the future. Data from Statista projects the ecommerce industry will have $6.5 billion in sales globally by 2023.
Government restrictions and buyer behaviors changing due to COVID meant that some companies had to pivot their strategies and look to exploit these new markets online. This has demonstrated to businesses how imperative it is to have the right technology platforms in place. One strategy that has helped some retailers be better prepared for rapid change in consumer demand during these unsettling times is headless commerce.
Modern systems that sit on the cloud, are API-centric and leverage headless commerce, as well as microservices, are now crucial for helping businesses adapt to current and future challenges. This technology enables businesses to quickly and easily change their UX (user experience) or CX (customer experience) at speed.
Read on to learn more about what headless commerce is and how it’s helping brands face today’s challenges and future-proof their businesses for whatever challenges come next.
What Is Headless Commerce?
Headless commerce falls under a microservices, API-led approach that is sometimes also referred to under the umbrella term composable commerce. The strategy means decoupling the customer-facing frontend — the head — from the shopping cart functionality and product and order management systems on the backend. For decades, the traditional ecommerce model has tied both of these systems together in all-in-one monoliths.
While it might seem less complicated to have one system that just does it all, in actuality monolith systems lead to more complexity. Some changes to the frontend can’t be accomplished without updating the backend, which means users may need more developer work. It also means updates are slower. Marketing teams wanting to make quick updates to the frontend to meet the fast-paced demands of modern ecommerce are slowed down.
For this reason, monolithic architecture is increasingly at odds with the needs of today’s businesses. As customers can buy on more devices than ever, omnichannel has become increasingly important, and technology needs to enable easy, fast customization. Today, customers expect to shop on different devices and platforms and still have a consistent, personalized experience. Meeting customers where, how, and when they want to shop is crucial. Using apps, mobile stores, wearable devices, websites, or social selling sites, consumers don’t want to be restricted in their product discoveries and content consumption. The digital environment needs to be able to provide for all of this.
Why Headless is a Key Solution for Future-Proofing Your Business
Because headless enables businesses to choose best-in-breed solutions that are tailored to their specific needs (and those of their customers), it solves many of the challenges businesses are currently facing. It can provide the types of digital experiences that customers are increasingly expecting. It can also make updating the site faster and easier. Marketing teams are empowered to make updates to the frontend without dealing with complicated backend changes.
The flexibility and freedom of choice inherent in this model allows you to choose from any number of front-end solutions. You can use a content management system (CMS) or digital experience platform (DXP) if you have a content-led or experience-led strategy. You can leverage a progressive web app (PWA) if your audience needs a native app like experience on mobile. You can get creative with an Internet of Things (IoT) technology or even a custom built solution that suits your unique use case.
This strategy is not only a fit for our current climate of fast pivots due to extenuating circumstances, but also a way to future-proof for what’s to come because it enables you to make changes quickly and efficiently. You can change frontends without having to migrate to a new ecommerce platform entirely. This is huge for staying nimble and preparing your business for any eventuality. No one predicted that ecommerce would explode in quite the way it did — or for quite the reasons it did — in 2020. Headless commerce can keep you ready for the unknown unknowns of the future.
How Headless Commerce Affects You
Now that you have an understanding of what headless is and why it is on the rise at the moment, the real question is: how does it affect you and your business opportunities specifically?
If you’re a decision maker in the ecommerce industry, it’s important to be aware of how seizing the headless opportunity can affect your role and the business outcomes you oversee. To get a clear picture of the value of headless for various C-Suite positions, download our ebook Headless Commerce for the C-Suite.
Instagram has built a world of Shopping features that tap into people’s existing behaviors to turn your company’s Instagram into a shoppable storefront. It’s now possible for people to discover new products, add items to their cart and buy directly via photos and videos wherever they are on the Instagram app.
Last September we announced our native integration with checkout on Instagram, making this functionality available to all BigCommerce merchants in the US. With the release of checkout, the path to purchase on Instagram is easier and more convenient than ever. Consumers can buy products that they discover securely and seamlessly without ever leaving the app.
We’ve included a few helpful tips below to help you make the most of checkout on Instagram, as well as Instagram Shopping in general. If you’re not already set up with checkout on Instagram via BigCommerce, follow these instructions to get started.
Tip 1: Start Using Product Tags
Product tags enable you to highlight products from your BigCommerce catalog and help customers learn more about what you’re selling in Instagram Stories, feed posts, Live, and IGTV. Using product tags is essential for giving shoppers an easy way to find your brand and buy. Product tags should be a part of your baseline Instagram strategy, and you should leverage them whenever possible in posts.
When shoppers tap the product tag on a post, they’ll be redirected to a product detail page. A product detail page shows all relevant information about an item including pricing, descriptions, and media (photos and videos). Product detail pages pull in all media where the product is tagged on Instagram, so shoppers can see how products are used in action.
Here’s how to start tagging your products in Instagram posts:
- Enable product tagging. When creating a post, tap “Tag Products” to open the tagging menu. Here you’ll be able to turn on this feature.
- Tag your product. Tap the photo you’d like to add product tags to, and be sure to select your BigCommerce catalog.
- Review before you publish. Review the product tags you’ve selected, then tap “Done” to return to the feed post creation page.
Tip 2: Make Content Actionable
People engage with shoppable posts and videos all throughout the app. Creating engaging, actionable posts about your products across Stories, Feed, and Profile on a regular basis helps amplify your reach while building shopping behaviors.
- Use clear call to actions. Tell people how to shop for your products on Instagram. The caption in the post below is a great example.
- Update your Profile bio with shopping info. Communicate to shoppers that they can now buy from you directly on Instagram. Adding something like “Start shopping below” to your bio makes this explicitly clear when people visit your profile, especially for new customers.
Tip 3: Plan Ahead
Build a calendar of moments that are important to your brand, and be sure to incorporate social posts that center around your products. This will help plan your launches/announcements and other content for your store in advance.
Choosing moments that matter to your brand and followers (similar to how the NFL chose Draft Day and featured players wearing their team’s hat in their content) to market your products. And, don’t forget to use product tags in all of your posts!
Where can I go to learn more about using checkout and Instagram Shopping?
Here are some resources for getting started with selling on Instagram:
We’re thrilled to build on our partnership with Facebook and enable you to sell more across additional channels. For more insight on omnichannel strategies, download our free Omnichannel Guide for 2021. Comment your thoughts and feedback below, we’d love to hear from you!
The benefits of direct-to-consumer (DTC) ecommerce are clear: more first-party data on customers, you own the end-to-end relationship and it’s an additional sales channel. Plus, the timing has never been better for legacy CPG brands and manufacturers to make the shift to DTC ecommerce as Coresight Research predicts as many as 10,000 stores could close in the U.S. this year.
However, creating a DTC strategy and launching an online store is not that simple — especially for B2B brands that have never sold directly to their customers before.
For guidance, we’ve reached out to Tammy Tran, director of ecommerce at method, which launched method men, its new brand of shaving and personal care products, on the BigCommerce platform, and Jordi Izsak, senior ecommerce digital strategist at Agency Partner Americaneagle.com, to ask them how B2B manufacturers can tackle some of the biggest challenges that come with launching DTC.
What do you see as the main motivating factors for investing in an online DTC channel?
Tammy: Bringing planet-friendly, design-driven products to as many people as possible is what we are passionate about at method.
So when we launched method men, it was important to us that the full line of products would be accessible and convenient for people to purchase, and they could easily learn more about us wherever and whenever they choose.
And as more and more people are shopping online, it became clear that investing in an online DTC channel would better enable us to bring this mission to life.
Jordi: In ecommerce, we like to say your website should be your hardest-working store because it’s available 24/7/365.
By continuing to operate through distributors, manufacturers have been missing out on that scope. Additionally, they’re often placed side-by-side with competitors in the distributor’s space.
Going DTC allows a manufacturer to control the narrative around their product offering and communicate how they are a differentiator and therefore win that market share.
What strategies did you implement or do you recommend for manufacturers that are worried about potential channel conflict with their retail partners?
Tammy: I think it’s important to understand and define the role that DTC plays within your brand’s omnichannel strategy. Every channel has pros and cons, and the DTC channel may serve a different purpose for each brand/manufacturer.
Taking the time to define DTC’s role and purpose for your brand upfront will help you get ahead of any potential channel conflict, and it will ultimately help you maximize the benefit of DTC in an omnichannel retail environment.
Is there something you see that B2B brands frequently miss or forget to plan for when creating a DTC strategy?
Jordi: The expectations around product information in the DTC space is far greater than most manufacturers have readily available. Customer-facing imagery, product names, descriptions and specs are key components for a consumer in comparing and arriving at the correct product selection.
Often, we see manufacturers with no imagery or product names only internal employees understand. The effort around product data enrichment should ideally start well ahead of a DTC ecommerce implementation.
When selecting an ecommerce platform to power your DTC website, what are the most important considerations?
Tammy: I think it’s important to engage your full cross-functional team during the evaluation and consider both how the ecommerce platform can support your day-to-day DTC operation, as well as the vision you have for DTC in the long-term.
From a day-to-day operations perspective, it was important to us to ensure our team is empowered to quickly make merchandising, marketing, and pricing/promotions adjustments without any coding background. The BigCommerce control panel allows you to do so easily.
From a long-term perspective, BigCommerce is constantly optimizing the platform and rolling out new updates to keep up with the fast-moving industry. In addition, we considered how BigCommerce would support our ability to scale our DTC footprint at method securely and efficiently.
What should a manufacturer know about integrating their systems with a new ecommerce platform?
Jordi: When a manufacturer is preparing to integrate their existing systems for a new DTC website, it is important to remember that the most successful enterprises use their tools as they are designed to be used.
For example, enterprise resource planning (ERP) software may contain important product specifications and operational information, but it should not drive your enriched product data or user experience.
Evaluate your enterprise architecture and make sure that both marketing and operational divisions in your organization are using best-of-breed applications. By building a healthy application ecosystem, you ensure that your business requirements are met and that you’re eliminating tedious double-data entry scenarios.
What do you see as the biggest logistical hurdles for manufacturers launching DTC, and what steps should they take to overcome them?
Tammy: First, I think it’s important to note that logistics has a significant impact on the customer experience and can ultimately impact whether a customer wants to buy from a brand again.
If you’re able to get an order to a customer as expected, the customer will likely consider their DTC visit a good experience. On the other hand, if a customer has an issue with their delivery, you’ll need to make it easy for the customer to reach out with questions and resolve their issues quickly.
To enable this, you need the right tools, people and capabilities in place—and it all needs to work seamlessly within your DTC technology stack.
Jordi: Space and inventory are two hurdles we often see when manufacturers start selling DTC. Instead of managing inventory in cases and pallets, you’re looking at breaking-down larger units of measure from an ERP, which can get tricky.
In addition to the inventory numbers issue, the physical space needed to take apart, repackage and manage inventory can be challenging. So make sure to set aside dedicated space for DTC operations.
Get More Insights on Selling DTC
For more expert DTC tips and tactics, download our complete guide: How to Take Your B2B Brand Direct-to-Consumer. Because with a solid plan of action, manufacturers can successfully overcome challenges and sell directly to consumers.