Once you’ve been in ecommerce for a while, you’ll know the industry’s symbiotic relationship with technology. Ecommerce only exists thanks to the rise of the internet. The global spread of smartphones then helped put online stores in everyone’s pockets.
Ask those in the know what the next trending tech is, and many will tell you it’s artificial intelligence (AI). AI is fast taking hold across niches and in a plethora of guises. The ecommerce sector is far from immune.
AI, and particularly the machine learning subset of the tech, is having a profound impact on ecommerce businesses. There are many applications of machine learning within the ecommerce industry.
Read on, and you’ll learn about a few of the most notable. What’s more, we’ll explain why you’re missing out if you’re not already leveraging the potential of AI for your brand. First, though, let’s cover the basics.
Machine Learning Has Developed Over the Years
Before we get to the nitty-gritty of machine learning and ecommerce, it’s vital to understand just what machine learning is. At a basic level, it is what it says on the tin, a process by which a machine can learn. As you may guess, though, things are a bit more complicated in practice.
Machine learning is an application of the wider tech area of artificial intelligence. It involves creating algorithms or programs that can access and learn from data. All without having to get programmed by a human.
How those algorithms ‘learn’ is primarily by pattern recognition. You train a machine learning algorithm by introducing as much data as possible. It then analyzes the information and finds the trends included within. Eventually, the algorithm is ‘intelligent’ enough to apply what it’s learned to new data sets.
Machine learning algorithms are typically categorized in one of three areas:
- Supervised – These apply what’s been learned in the past to new data using specific labeled examples. They can predict future events and compare their output to the intended results. That helps the algorithms improve themselves with ‘practice’.
- Unsupervised – These algorithms analyze unlabeled and unclassified data. There are no specific examples upon which to base predictions. Such programs, then, draw inferences and ID hidden structures or patterns within data.
- Reinforcement – Reinforcement algorithms interact with their environment to test outputs. Through trial and error, the programs discover correct behavior. They then tailor their future responses in accordance.
The premise of machine learning stretches back longer than you might think. The discipline began soon after scientists found out how neurons in the brain worked.
In 1952, Arthur Samuel created a computer program that could play checkers. Six years later, Frank Rosenblatt built the first wholly artificial neural network. That’s a machine learning algorithm based on the general structure of human neurons.
The field of machine learning continued to develop in the ensuing decades. By 1997, IBM had created a computer called Deep Blue. It successfully beat the world chess champion. It’s in the 21st century, though, that the field has accelerated in earnest.
That acceleration is primarily thanks to the invention of GPUs (Graphics Processing Units). These processors have the power to let algorithms analyze far more data in a far shorter time. As such, modern machine learning can understand more complicated data-sets. It can also make far more accurate and complex predictions.
Differences Between Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
You may have read this far and thought ‘hang on, aren’t you describing AI rather than machine learning?’. Well, the answer is both yes and no. Much like fingers and thumbs, all machine learning is AI, but not all AI is machine learning.
1. Machine learning.
Machine learning is a subset of artificial intelligence. Machine learning technology uses data to make predictions or perform actions. The more data the tech gets exposed to, the more accurate its outputs. That’s how algorithms in this area can get described as being able to ‘learn’.
2. Artificial intelligence.
A far broader range of tech falls under the umbrella of AI. Artificial intelligence is any technology that exhibits human behavior. That may mean learning, but could also be reasoning, sensing, or adapting.
Deep learning, too, is another subset of AI, and in many ways of machine learning. It’s where complex neural networks analyze and learn from massive data sets. We’re talking the volume of information that’s only become available in the era of big data.
Business Benefits of Ecommerce Machine Learning
Along with other tech such as augmented reality, machine learning offers many business benefits. Especially to online retailers. The ability of algorithms to make sense of vast swathes of data is invaluable.
There are now machine learning applications for almost every area of ecommerce operations. From inventory management to customer experience, ecommerce machine learning truly delivers. Let’s dig deeper into how machine learning could benefit your business.
1. Increased conversions.
Turning browsers into online shoppers is crucial for any ecommerce website. That’s why you’ll no doubt be a little obsessed with your site’s conversion rate. One reason machine learning is so useful to ecommerce is that it can help boost that rate in many ways.
We’ll cover how machine learning aids conversion rate when we look at ecommerce use cases. Typically, though, its value in this regard comes in two areas. These are how it can empower on-site search engines and product recommendations.
Machine learning algorithms can deliver smarter search results. Via natural language processing, they can understand what’s typed in the search bar. They’ll then use what they’ve learned from previous searches to show what the searcher genuinely wants to find. That’s even if they don’t type the name of a specific product or even an accurate description.
Product recommendations powered by machine learning are also smarter. Algorithms can analyze the behavior of visitors to an ecommerce site. They’ll recognize products a visitor browses or buys, and the content with which they interact.
When an individual returns, then, they get presented with similar items to those they’ve shown an interest in before. That’s how, when you visit Amazon, you’ll see swathes of things related to those you’ve recently bought or looked at.
2. Run more relevant marketing campaigns.
Ecommerce marketing shares many similarities with sales prospecting. The best campaigns are highly relevant to their target audience. Machine learning can help an ecommerce company maintain that level of relevance.
In the era of big data, ecommerce stores have access to more information than ever before. Machine learning can help them make sense of customer data to better tailor marketing campaigns.
The patterns IDed by machine learning algorithms are vital. They show what interests different customers or visitors to your website. That allows for more accurate customer segmentation. You can split your prospects based on their interests. That lets you target them with far more relevant marketing material.
Retargeting is another area where machine learning is invaluable. Algorithms can understand customer behavior to suggest highly relevant retargeting campaigns. For instance, say a would-be customer visited the Bliss website.
That visitor might have browsed the brand’s skincare products for dry skin. They may even have added items from that range to their cart. In the end, though, they didn’t buy. What they did do, though, is provide an email address.
Via machine learning, Bliss will see the visitor is a prime target for a retargeting campaign. The firm can then send an email selling precisely the dry skin products it knows the lead is interested in.
3. Improve in-house operational efficiencies.
Not all benefits of ecommerce machine learning regard customer-facing processes. Algorithms can also deliver real-time insights to help you make your other operations more efficient.
Take managing your stock levels and accounting for your inventory as an example. Many brands struggle with the age-old FIFO vs LIFO decision. The best way to choose which method is best for you is by analyzing customer data.
Machine learning makes such an analysis swifter and more accurate. A program can crunch the numbers on ecommerce sales, warehousing costs, tax implications, and more. It can also help predict future demand. Thus, you have all the info you need to adopt the most efficient possible processes.
4. More informed decisions.
Following on from the previous point, machine learning is an excellent tool for improved decision-making. You might need to decide whether dropshipping is right for you. You may be wondering whether there’s consumer interest in a new product line. Whatever the choice that faces you, machine learning can help.
How machine learning helps in this area is by allowing all your decisions to be backed by data. Algorithms or programs process and make sense of high volumes of information swiftly. That delivers actionable insights you can use to inform your choices.
Use Cases for Ecommerce Machine Learning
We’ve looked at the business advantages of machine learning in general terms. Now it’s time to get more specific about the tech’s impact on the online shopping experience. The following are six use cases for ecommerce machine learning.
Today’s consumers don’t want to get treated as one of many customers. They prefer a highly personalized customer experience.
It’s that kind of personalization that keeps a customer loyal to your brand. If you can’t provide it, they’ll find a competitor who can.
Why should you use machine learning for personalization?
AI, and specifically, machine learning, is the only way to deliver high-level personalization online. Algorithms analyze customer data and behavior to tailor the user experience to each site visitor.
Your site can show each user product recommendations based on their known preferences. Such a recommendation engine is an excellent way to deliver personalized customer experiences. It’s also the tech utilized by hugely successful brands like Amazon and Netflix.
2. Site search.
Anyone who’s used Google lately can tell you that online search has come a long way. Far too often, though, site searches on ecommerce stores don’t measure up. Unless you know precisely what to type, it can be maddeningly tough to find the products you want.
There’s no excuse for that in the age of big data and machine learning. Intelligent algorithms – leveraged correctly – make smart searches a cinch to deliver.
Why should you use machine learning for site search?
Many visitors to your online store will have an idea of what they need. What they might not know is the name of a specific product. Or even which item would meet their needs. Your site search, then, must be intelligent enough to present the right solution. That’s no matter what gets typed in the search bar.
Say, for instance, someone visits Camelbak’s website. They might need something to help stay hydrated more easily while hiking. They may simply type ‘Hiking’ in the site’s search bar.
Fortunately, a smart search powered by machine learning can handle that. As you can see above, that exact search delivers highly-relevant results. The products returned are all packs and reservoirs designed for hiking.
3. Managing supply and demand.
When you get down to it, ecommerce, like many areas of business, is about supply and demand. As an online retailer, you must ensure you have the right stock in the correct amounts to satisfy consumer’s needs.
Those needs change over time. As such, the more proactive your inventory and supply chain management, the better. That’s why demand forecasting is so crucial to online stores. Being able to predict fluctuating customer needs keeps you ahead of the competition. Machine learning helps you make those real-time, accurate predictions.
Why should you use machine learning for supply and demand management?
Managing your supply chain is essential to success in the ecommerce sector. Balancing consumer demand with expenses like landed costs and logistics is how to get ahead. Via machine learning, you can crunch all the relevant numbers with ease.
By using an AI-powered algorithm, you can perform quantitative forecasting. That means making predictions based on cold, hard evidence. It’s the best way to ensure the forecasts you produce are as accurate as possible. As a result, the inventory and supply chain changes you make in response are more likely to pay off.
4. Churn prediction.
Customer churn is often discussed in the B2B niche. It’s the rate at which customers abandon a brand – potentially to patronize another instead. It’s worth considering as an ecommerce company, too.
It’s quite simply more straightforward to sell to an existing customer. That’s why retention marketing is so valuable to online retailers. But what if you could improve that part of your marketing strategy by predicting the customers most likely to churn? That’s the opportunity afforded by machine learning.
Why should you use machine learning for churn prediction?
Churn prediction is about using data on existing and prior customers to find patterns. What behaviors, for instance, do customers do when they are about to churn? These are the insights machine learning algorithms can deliver.
With that knowledge on hand, you can pinpoint the people who may be about to leave you. Then, you can tailor marketing campaigns, by email, social media, or other channels, specifically to keep them on board.
5. Fraud detection.
In this age of cybersecurity awareness, you may think ecommerce fraud is a thing of the past. Unfortunately, you’d be mistaken. The value lost by online retailers to fraud continues to grow steadily.
Fraud detection and fraud protection, then, are essential processes for all online stores. Machine learning technology can beef up these processes and make them more efficient.
Why should you use machine learning for fraud detection?
It’s the sheer volume of data machine learning algorithms can process that helps with fraud detection, too. They’re able to analyze customer data when it comes to genuine transactions.
That means they can pinpoint the hallmarks of an actual purchase. What’s more, they’ll immediately notice a transaction that diverges from the norm. If something about a supposed purchase is off, it’ll get flagged up as potentially fraudulent. That may be if the payment comes from an unusual location, happens on an unverified device, or occurs at a strange time.
6. Improved customer service.
All ecommerce businesses understand the importance of customer service. Just what is world class customer service, however? In today’s competitive retail world, it’s characterized by delivering customer support both how and when each customer needs it.
One way to offer such 24/7, omni-channel support is by taking on a raft of additional staff. Even for the largest brands, though, that’s often not viable. Instead, companies typically seek to boost customer satisfaction via AI and machine learning.
Why should you use machine learning for improved customer service?
Chatbots are amongst the most accessible examples of machine learning in ecommerce. Lots of sites feature a chatbot offering you assistance. For online stores, the tools help with common queries and direct visitors to specific products.
Where machine learning comes in is when it comes to improving the responses of chatbots. An AI-enabled bot can use the interactions it has to learn and tweak its future replies. The more a chatbot gets used, then, the more human it seems, and the better the information it provides.
Steps for Adopting Machine Learning in Your Ecommerce Business
You should now have a handle on how machine learning can apply to ecommerce. You may even have some ideas for your own online store. That’s great, but how can you get started adopting the tech? The following are six straightforward steps to get you started.
1. Get familiar with everything machine learning.
Before you can leverage machine learning effectively, you must fully understand its capabilities. That means putting in the time researching the present state of the technology. Look into the AI-enabled solutions around and what processes can get bolstered by machine learning.
2. Leverage third-party expertise.
If you can’t find all the answers yourself, look to existing experts in the field who can help. You might simply reach out to a pro to give you some general advice. If you’re going to go deep with the tech, you could hire a machine learning engineer. They’ll be able to manage adoption across your organization.
3. Identify problems you want machine learning to improve.
Before adopting any tech solutions, you must define what you want to achieve. The same goes for machine learning. It’s not enough merely to say you want to streamline your ecommerce store. You must draw up some identifiable goals.
For instance, you may find your home page has a high bounce rate. Your aim could then be to reduce that bounce rate with improved personalization. That’s a specific goal that a machine learning-driven solution can help you to address.
4. Acknowledge your technology and capability gap.
This step is best taken in concert with the previous one. When defining your machine learning goals, take your organization’s capabilities into account. Don’t dream bigger than your staffing or tech resources allow.
Many machine learning solutions have comparatively low barriers to adoption. That’s not always the case, however. Full-blown machine learning implementations, moreover, aren’t something to take on lightly.
5. Create a team dedicated to implementing machine learning technology.
With clear and achievable aims in mind, you can start the process of adopting machine learning. Creating a team devoted to the process will help keep things on track. It avoids putting extra work on your existing staff’s plate. It also ensures implementation gets the attention it deserves.
Some of the tasks this team must handle will include:
- Collecting and collating data.
- Setting up systems to centralize future data collection.
- Choosing existing machine learning tools or coding unique solutions.
- Implementing pilot programs of solutions.
6. Measure and scale.
Any adoption of a new machine learning solution should start on a small scale. Use a new tool or program to analyze a small and specific data-set first. That way, you can test the insights, predictions, or results that arrive.
If you’re pleased with the performance of your new application of machine learning, then you can scale up. What’s more, by proving its efficacy at a smaller scale, you’ll get more buy-in from key stakeholders. That will make it more straightforward to get their support for expanding the adoption.
Once upon a time, machines that can learn independent of human input were the realm of science fiction. Now, it’s very much a part of everyday life. Machine learning and other AI-driven processes are ubiquitous. And their influence is only growing.
If you’re an ecommerce business and you’re not on board with machine learning, you’re getting left behind. The benefits of the tech to your sector, after all, are numerous. From customer experience to inventory management, machine learning can make you more efficient.
Leveraging solutions in the area is easier than you may think, too. You’ve taken the first step by learning more about the basics of ecommerce machine learning. Now all that’s left is to ID what you want the tech to do for you and set about working toward that goal.
In the modern retail market, nothing matters more than ecommerce. The past several years have seen a whopping 300% growth rate, and this trend is only expected to continue.
While traditional in-store sales are still strong, all things considered, the rapid trajectory of ecommerce, and especially mobile ecommerce, shows no sign of stopping.
Some small businesses feel that’s sending a clear message to retailers:
Customers want to shop online, and if you can’t give that to them, they’ll go elsewhere.
As Jonathan Midenhall, CMO for Airbnb, puts it, “Amazing things will happen when you listen to the consumer.”
A solely brick-and-mortar business can be sustainable under some circumstances, but it’s not the only way forward. If you want to trounce the competition, drive more sales, and keep your small business growing, nothing matters more than becoming an ecommerce business.
What Is a Small Business?
Contrary to what the name implies, the term “small business” doesn’t just apply to any business that’s small in size. According to the Small Business Administration, a small business must meet standards related to income, number of employees, and other factors that can fluctuate from one year to another.
In general, small businesses are those that sell products or otherwise operate on a local or national level, make limited money, and have a small number of employees in relation to large multinational corporations. While size doesn’t have to be restrictive in a business sense, it often can be. Unfortunately, almost half of small businesses exit within five years.
The failure rate for small businesses isn’t ideal, which means small businesses that don’t want to see the doors shut and the lights go off need strategic action from the very beginning.
Without investing in ecommerce — one of the fastest-growing areas in retail — newcomers in the market aren’t setting themselves up for success. This is especially true in a world dominated by Amazon and eBay. Failing to sell online can mean a failure to measure up at all.
Small Businesses Need an Ecommerce Component
In a world increasingly dominated by ecommerce, online sales aren’t exactly negotiable. Customers want to buy their favorite products without leaving the comfort of their couches, and failing to meet that need can put you immediately at a disadvantage. There are plenty of benefits involved in ecommerce, making the investment of time and money required to get started well worth the effort.
1. Reach new customers and sell more products.
With a physical retail location, sales are limited to people who walk in the door and put cash on the counter. This is all fine and well, but it excludes those who don’t know your company exists. When your target audience sits down to buy products like yours online, you won’t even be in the running.
Branching out into ecommerce is somewhat akin to jumping up and down and yelling, “Here I am!” in a crowd. You will have a far easier time reaching customers with an ecommerce platform — and more customers means more product sales.
The costs of establishing an ecommerce website are comparatively quite low, but the payoff can be substantial.
2. Customer buying analytics.
Traditional retail sales are fairly limited in analytical capabilities. There’s not always a way to know who bought what; many customers choose not to provide personal information at checkout and make payments in cash. Yes, retail store owners can evaluate things like inventory trends, but there’s a lot more to be gleaned with web analytics.
Using online tools, retailers can learn all kinds of valuable data, including:
- Page views
- Average time spent shopping
- Clicks on particular products or offers
- Bounce rate
- Shopping cart abandonment statistics
- Products frequently purchased together
- Specific customer-level information
All of these details can play a big role in how you choose to operate your business. For example, if you see trends in items customers tend to purchase together, you can curate promos or sales around this pattern.
3. Relatively low operational costs.
A lot of time, money, and energy goes into opening a brick-and-mortar store. But, compared to the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars you needed to open your physical doors, ecommerce costs a lot less.
A modest investment can yield a professional site that ranks well and provides a pleasant user experience. Further, a well-crafted site won’t require significant maintenance, giving you a way to boost sales that doesn’t divert much attention away from the day-to-day course of business.
4. Search engine traffic.
Over half of all shoppers do some digital digging on search engines like Google before shopping, so a digital footprint can be a big benefit. While it’s certainly possible to build a compelling web presence without an ecommerce shop, breaking into the ecommerce market can be a great way to draw attention to your company that is otherwise unavailable.
Tools like category pages, product landing pages, and product descriptions work wonders for SEO purposes. Your ecommerce site can attract both users researching area options and those considering buying online.
5. Automated marketing engine.
Marketing is no longer limited to ads in the local paper or sale signs in your front window. Online advertising is extremely popular, expanding reach and growing visibility. Your ecommerce platform can essentially function as an all-in-one automated marketing engine, providing a way to drive ads and direct traffic to boost sales.
Making ecommerce purchases doesn’t require a customer to drive to your store and exchange cash. Instead, a customer can click on your ad, reach a dedicated landing page, and make a purchase in a few easy steps. You can then use email marketing to reach them with other products they might like. This is a benefit otherwise unavailable, and failing to embrace these opportunities can cost your business quite a bit.
6. Better customer experience.
Not everyone wants to show up at your storefront and browse your shelves in person. A growing number of people do most or all of their shopping online or even on mobile devices. Failing to offer an ecommerce platform, and one that offers a good mobile experience or dedicated mobile app, can put you behind the curve.
By diversifying your sales channels with both in-store and online sales opportunities, you create a better customer experience by default. Web users don’t want to see a limited page with hours and contact information; they want the robust experience your competition can provide.
3 Types of Ecommerce Solutions
Operating an online store isn’t one-size-fits-all; it’s an overarching category of ecommerce software that comes in a few different shapes and sizes. Before diving in head first, take time to do your due diligence on the available options.
1. Open source.
The term “open source” refers to the source code used to structure a website. These kinds of infrastructure opportunities are available and accessible to everyone, providing a foundation upon which to create an ecommerce platform. There are a few different advantages to open-source code, including:
- Freedom from any one particular vendor
- Easy integration with existing systems
- Opportunity to customize platforms
However, open source isn’t perfect, and the cons can be enough to drive some users elsewhere. Open-source solutions require more security interventions, can be a struggle to properly host, and may come with additional costs, like higher IT team involvement, that are not immediately obvious.
2. SaaS (Software-as-a-Service).
Software-as-a-Service, more commonly referred to as SaaS, is commonly confused with cloud software. Like cloud software, SaaS products are hosted on a server maintained by someone other than your business — but there are a lot of differences, too. SaaS software is more like renting technology than owning it, and that means you get a lot more for your money.
All kinds of programs rely on SaaS resources, and that includes ecommerce. SaaS can be a quick, convenient way to establish an online presence without figuring out hosting and source data solutions individually.
Going through a trusted SaaS ecommerce provider can help you lay the foundation for a great website without any hassle, guaranteeing expert service. A third party does all of the heavy lifting, providing access to professional tools and resources that can ensure a smooth launch and strong performance. SaaS pricing can vary significantly, but investing in a robust platform can result in a hefty ROI.
3. Headless commerce.
Headless commerce isn’t the most common choice, particularly for small businesses, but it is an option for those with unique needs. This strategy uncouples the backend that manages the tech side of ecommerce from the frontend, or the presentation layer customers see when shopping.
This approach is most valuable when you want to keep the presentation of your products flexible but the mechanics of selling products consistent. For example, companies with an international presence that requires different front-end appearances but the same back-end functionality often employ this strategy.
Despite the flexibility, the cost and complexity can outweigh the benefits, leading most small businesses to seek open-source or SaaS solutions instead.
Things to Consider When Selecting Your Small Business Ecommerce Platform
Ecommerce platforms come in all shapes and sizes, from DIY templates to partnerships with key industry players. What works for one brand may not work for another, so keep these factors in mind when weighing the pros and cons of various ecommerce platforms for small business.
1. Price, cost, and additional fees.
Most small businesses don’t have an unlimited amount of resources to pour into a website. That means the price of an ecommerce platform will be a major point of consideration. However, prices on the surface don’t always tell the whole story.
Some options that appear to be extremely cheap with very low rates per month may require more expenditures down the line, like domain names. These extra costs can also include:
- Security: The bare minimum provided by some platforms may not be enough. Proper protection may mean third-party software or an additional investment in in-house infrastructure.
- Transaction fees: Credit cards are a staple in the retail world, but accepting credit card payments isn’t free. Many payment types have transaction fees associated with purchases. As the vendor, these are your responsibility.
- Themes: If you want a custom design, some platforms will require additional payment. The most basic DIY editors may only have a few stock themes available for free. Using a custom interface may require paid access to premium themes or partnership with a third-party web designer.
- Analytics: Some ecommerce platforms provide access to comprehensive analytics, but others may offer a limited array or nothing at all. Due to the importance of analytics in ensuring strong performance, a platform without adequate resources may require additional spending.
- PCI compliance: Payment card industry compliance can be a tricky thing. All vendors are required to meet legal standards regarding how payments are collected and processed. Without the right measures in place, you could find yourself in trouble down the road.
Most businesses have growth goals, whether in a year or a decade down the road. Regardless of how you see your business evolving, you’ll need support from your ecommerce platform as your business grows and changes. This may mean space for more products, expansion capabilities overseas, more payment gateways, or additional images and video content.
Some platforms are designed with growth in mind, while others offer caps on what is available. If you’re planning to grow or change your business over time, focus on a provider that can evolve with you. Otherwise, you may find yourself forced to switch platforms at an inopportune time.
It takes less than a second for a potential customer to draw conclusions about a website, so how you present your product needs to hit the right notes. A site that is slow to load, full of burdensome graphics, or dominated by ads will be an immediate turn-off, sending sales to your competition.
Instead of hoping customers will find you based on the quality of your products alone, be sure you are presenting an excellent site that performs in line with industry standards. This can mean things like:
- Fast loading speed on the homepage and between pages
- Mobile responsiveness
- Easily identifiable navigation cues
4. Ease of use.
A good platform should be, above almost all else, easy to use. The more complex a site is to use, the harder it will be for you to make sure no step of your process falls by the wayside. Consider platforms that focus on these key areas of emphasis.
From registering a domain name to managing payment processing, a lot goes into a new ecommerce site. A good platform will ensure you don’t miss a beat.
Centralized channel management
Managing your ecommerce site should be as easy as possible. With a way to organize and oversee all channels at one time, centralized channel management is key to staying organized.
Product and SKU management
If you have a lot of different SKUs and product categories, the last thing you want is to have to manage this by hand. Being able to upload CSV files, for example, can make inventory management very easy.
5. Built-in features.
Success in ecommerce comes from a lot more than simply listing your products for sale. In fact, the features offered by an ecommerce site can play a big role in the results you see. From things like easily automated promotions and discounts to comprehensive analytics, the built-in features an ecommerce provider can offer should play a big role in the decision-making process.
6. Marketing tools.
To succeed in the online sales space, customers need to know you exist. While it’s possible to do things like manage customer relationships, organize promos, optimize for SEO, and curate email messages using a third party, many ecommerce platforms can do this for you. These kinds of marketing and SEO tools can streamline results and minimize effort, saving you time and earning you money.
7. Extensive application marketplace.
Want to integrate your social media into your site? Need to emphasize ratings features? All of these kinds of ecommerce tools can be added through applications, add-ons, and plug-ins — but not all platforms offer expansive application marketplaces that can meet varying needs. Consider what you may want to highlight on your site and be sure the opportunity to do so is available.
7 Ecommerce Platforms for Small Business Owners
There are plenty of big-name players in the ecommerce world, each with their own pros and cons. These overviews can help you evaluate the state of the market — and help you choose the right fit for you.
BigCommerce is the ecommerce platform of choice for some major companies like Skullcandy and Solo Stove. BigCommerce boasts a comprehensive suite of tools from marketing to analytics, high caliber design options, and plenty of support from the pros. It’s considered a top choice for companies of all sizes, and many small businesses can benefit from what BigCommerce has to offer.
Shopify is another choice for small businesses, offering a convenient SaaS platform ideal for companies with 100 SKUs or less.
Volusion is an ecommerce solution ideal for small companies and hobbyists, with a simple onboarding process and affordable pricing.
3dcart is one of the smaller players in ecommerce, making it a good choice for small businesses with limited needs. As a SaaS platform, 3dcart is easy to access and easy to use.
WooCommerce is another of the major names in the ecommerce game. It utilizes an open-source code in conjunction with WordPress compatibility, providing an easy way for companies to get started.
Prestashop is an open-source ecommerce model that operates on a “freemium” basis, indicating that basic functionality is free while more sophisticated features require payment.
Squarespace is a SaaS provider that focuses primarily on the creative community. Many of their templates showcase art, video, or music products with limited sales requirements.
3 Small Businesses That Use the BigCommerce Platform
Picking the first website builder that appeals to you may work out, but it also may not. Some companies have unique needs that are better served by one provider over another. Take a look at these three successful brands and see what BigCommerce was able to offer that no one else could.
1. Bavarian Clockworks.
As a manufacturer of high-quality certified Black Forest cuckoo clocks, Bavarian Clockworks functions in a niche market within a niche industry. As such, getting noticed online had the potential to be an uphill battle. To guarantee visibility without compromising business goals, owner Robert Ellis chose BigCommerce.
Robert had many motivations in picking BigCommerce, including the wide selection of apps and extensive array of customization options. He also appreciated the superior customer service and scalability opportunities. While some other platforms may have been able to tackle the basics, nothing could provide the whole package like BigCommerce.
2. Hincapie Sportswear.
Sportswear company Hincapie Sportswear needed a platform that would cater to unique B2B needs while still meeting B2C objectives. BigCommerce was the perfect choice for taking the almost 20-year-old company into the present. Unlike the competition, BigCommerce was able to integrate the existing company infrastructure in order to save money and provide a faster, easier experience.
BigCommerce was able to streamline the ecommerce store environment, allowing the company to grow and evolve in positive ways. The results speak for themselves: Hincapie Sportswear saw a 123% boost in lead generation, a 67% increase in conversion rates, and a 19% spike in revenue since the completion of the site redesign.
Australian toy company Kidstuff has a long history in the world of children’s playthings. However, skyrocketing sales over recent years left the company without the resources to support its new needs. After hitting the limit of what Magento could offer, Kidstuff made the choice to pivot to BigCommerce.
Due to the user-friendly opportunities, a caring customer support team, and a presence in the Australian market, BigCommerce was the obvious choice. Unlike the smaller platforms that couldn’t accommodate things like rapid scaling or payment diversification, including the use of PayPal, BigCommerce could easily meet online business goals without a significant investment in new IT infrastructure. Thanks to the switch, Kidstuff saw a 73% increase in revenue year over year and a huge boost to online sales.
Ecommerce can be an excellent way for small businesses to stand out, offering a way to drive sales, increase visibility on the web, and meet growth goals in a way that achieves everything you need. By choosing a dependable platform that can accommodate current and future needs and focusing on the most valuable features for success, it’s possible to take your business to the next level.
It’s tough to succeed as a small business. To establish a new enterprise and keep it alive long-term takes an astonishing amount of work. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, only half of all new businesses with employees survive past the five year mark.
That sobering introduction isn’t meant to dishearten you. It merely serves to underline the importance of every decision a business owner makes. That starts at the very outset of developing a company, too. Long before you consider startup funding stages or even products to stock. It begins when choosing your business name.
Selecting the name of your business is no small undertaking. Adopting the wrong company name is choosing to do all the hard work of getting a new business off the ground with a handicap.
Before you think about products, prices, or promotions, you must devise the perfect name. This comprehensive guide will help you on your way. We’ll delve a little deeper into just what’s in a business name. Then, we’ll take you step-by-step through the process of finding the ideal one for your company.
Why Your Business Name is Just as Important as its Function
Nobody sets out to erect a building on shaky foundations. That’s precisely what you’ll be doing, though, if you don’t give your business the best name. Here are the top three reasons you need to give proper attention to the naming process.
1. It is the first thing customers see.
Your business name is fundamental to your organization. No other asset plays a more significant role in operations. The first thing anyone will learn about you is what you’re called. Both through your online and offline communication.
Your brand name will headline your advertisements. Your domain name is what potential customers must type to check out your online presence. What you’re called defines people’s first thoughts about you – and you only get one shot at a first impression.
2. It sums up everything about your business.
The perfect business name says everything about its owner. In only a few words, your moniker can tell consumers what they need to know about you, your products, and your company. More than that, it can help convince them that you’re the company for them.
3. It is your unique position in your industry.
Unless you’re an arch-innovator who’s invented their own niche, you’re going to have competitors. They’re those pesky other businesses who also have their sights set on your target audience.
Your name is your statement of intent and the first step to establishing your unique position in your field. The best business names help brands stand out from the crowd. They denote trust, authority, and expertise within any industry. They tell consumers in a few short words to expect world class customer service.
5 Steps to Naming Your Business
Now you know why a good business name is a must, you’ll want to know how to find one. The following five steps will give you the best chance of devising a great business name, the first time.
- Brainstorm business names.
- Make a list of the best names.
- Following naming rules for business structure.
- Check if the business name is available.
- Register your business name.
Brainstorm Business Names
The naming process for your company must begin as a creative one. Before you can get down to the perfect name, you need to come up with some options. Sit down – either alone or with trusted advisors – and let those juices flow. There are loads of ways to jog your mind into action:
1. Do a word dump.
Your business name should tell potential customers all they need to know about your firm. So, why not start by jotting down all the words you can think of that are relevant to your brand and industry? Doing so is often known as a ‘word dump’.
Don’t get analytical at this point. Simply write down everything you think of. Give yourself between 20 minutes and an hour, and try not to stop writing in that time. What you’ll end with is a whole host of words and phrases that relate to your new business.
2. Use a thesaurus.
This next step may sound counter-intuitive but stick with us. What you’re going to do now is take your long list of words and add more to it. Doing so ensures you leave no stone unturned in seeking out the perfect business name idea.
Take each of your words and find synonyms or related terms using a thesaurus. When you find any not already on your list, add them. You don’t need to be too picky at this stage, but if there are any that are clearly not relevant, you can leave these out. Now, you’ve got a vast list of words to work from in finding your company name.
3. Use a name generator.
Technology can help you with the next step of the brainstorming process. Trying to find out the best new names isn’t an uncommon process. That’s why there are plenty of business name generators around to help. They exist to help established firms and digital nomads alike, find the labels that will best suit them.
These tools let you pop a few words into a dialog box and create a whole host of business name ideas. Here are a handful of business name generators to choose from:
- Namesnack.com – Namesnack.com is the ‘#1 free business name generator’. You type in your keywords and get more than 100 possible company names in seconds. What’s more, the generator displays the domain names available for each option.
- Name Mesh – Another excellent business name generator, Name Mesh is broadly focused on domain names. You can still use it for your business name, though.
- Wordoid – If you’re looking for a distinctive name, you might want to check out Wordoid. The tool helps develop made-up, yet catchy and meaningful terms to use as a business name. It’s also linked to the GoDaddy domain hosting firm, to make it easy to buy a domain name if you wish.
Make a List of the Best Business Names
Using your word dump and a business name generator, you can create a long list of business name ideas. Using more than one of the above tools might get you a more varied selection.
It’s at this stage that you can start using your instinct and taste. If you utterly hate a business name idea, strike it from your list. If an option feels too similar to the moniker of an existing firm, do the same. Then, segment the remaining names based on these questions:
1. Does the name make sense for the business?
You’ve probably got lofty ambitions for your new business. You may be dreaming of world domination or of diversifying into many niches. You might believe that the future of remote work means you can operate internationally. When you start, though, your name must make sense for your brand as it is now. Maybe park those ideas about ‘Smith and Jones Global Enterprise Inc.’ for the time being.
New ecommerce firms usually have quite a narrow focus. Their business names tell potential customers as much. The right name for your organization is one that leaves no doubt in consumer’s minds. If they see you on Google or another search engine, you want them to know in an instant that you’re the brand for them.
2. Is the name easy to remember?
Great names are memorable. You can run the best marketing campaign going, and it will still fail if consumers forget the name of the brand behind it in moments. For a company name that’s easy to remember, you’re shooting for a blend of familiarity and uniqueness.
Make up long, unusual words for your moniker, and they won’t stick in the customer’s minds. Be too generic, though, and your target audience might stumble on a rival instead. That’s especially if they’re searching for you on Google after dimly remembering an ad they saw.
3. Is the name easy for people to spell?
There are any number of reasons small businesses fail. Don’t make the cause of your downfall that no potential customer could type your name correctly in their search engine.
You must make it as straightforward as possible for people to do business with you. Awkward business names make it tough for them to find your website. Not to mention to visit you on social media, send you emails, and much more.
Keep it simple. That may even mean underselling your company somewhat. Perhaps you’re going to specialize in omnichannel recruitment. That’s great, but will all your prospective customers know the word ‘omnichannel’? If not, maybe leave it out of your name.
4. Does it look appealing?
Unless you use different brand names, you’re going to use your company name for many things. It will likely feature on your logo, in your marketing, and on other branded materials. The perfect business name, then, is visually appealing alongside everything else.
Take the name ‘Amazon’, for example. The word itself is visually appealing. It has a kind of symmetry that’s easy on the eye. The company could then build on that to develop their now world-renowned logo.
Follow Naming Rules for Business Structure
So far, we’ve covered the creative side of finding new names for your small business. There are, though, some more practical considerations. These are broadly related to your business plan and type of business.
1. Formal business structures.
How you structure your business determines which naming rules you’ll have to follow. There are stricter guidelines in place for firms with these two formal structures:
- Limited Liability Companies (LLC)
Limited Liability Corporations
Setting up shop as an LLC is a common choice for small business owners. The structure helps protect personal assets if a company faces legal action.
If you do structure your company as an LLC, there are particular business naming rules. They differ from state to state, but there are a few which apply pretty much everywhere.
Firstly, company names must include the phrase ‘limited liability company’ or one of the acronyms ‘LLC’ or ‘L.L.C’. It’s also forbidden to name your business in a way that it may get confused with a government agency. Finally, you may need further dispensation and special arrangements to use certain words. These include things like ‘University’, ‘Bank’, and ‘Attorney’.
A C-corporation is a more complicated entity than an LLC. It goes further to protect a business owner’s personal assets and often has shareholders, officers, and more. Once again, there are state-level rules for naming this type of company.
The most widespread requirement is that a business name must include one of four phrases. These are ‘corporation’, ‘company’, incorporated’, or ‘limited’. Abbreviations of the terms – e.g., corp. – are also allowed.
Once again, your name can’t seem like that of a government body. Finally, too, any moniker must be distinguishable from existing organizations in your state.
2. Informal business structures.
Lots of startups opt for a less formal business structure. If you’re a one or two-person outfit, you’re most likely to set up as a sole proprietorship or a partnership. There are fewer rules for these kinds of businesses. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any, though.
There’s one cardinal rule for naming a sole proprietorship. That’s that your firm must operate under the surname of its owner – i.e., you. You can, however, trade under a separate brand name if you file for a DBA.
DBA stands for ‘doing business as’. It’s how you can trade under an official, legal, brand name that isn’t merely your surname.
Partnerships are similar to sole proprietorships. The only difference is that they have two or more owners, rather than one. Once again, registered partnership names must include the surnames of those owners. Filing for a DBA is how you can trade under a different name.
Check if the Business Name is Available
Things are getting exciting. You’ve distilled your list of good business names down to a few great alternatives. You’ve tweaked them to ensure they adhere to the rules for your business structure. Now it’s time to check the availability of your name choices.
1. Domain availability.
Every company needs an online presence. It’s not just something for ecommerce brands to think about. Ideally, you want your domain name to match your company name or be as close as possible.
That’s why you must perform a domain availability search. There are plenty of tools out there to help you do this. The business name generators we mentioned earlier are a sound place to start. Once you’ve found a business name idea with an available dot com domain, you can move to the next step.
2. Search federal trademark records.
Once you’ve ensured domain availability, there’s one more check to perform. You must find out if somebody else has trademarked your business name idea. Fortunately, this is straightforward.
All you need to do is head to the US Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). Once there, you type in your business name idea. The specialized search engine performs a trademark search and tells you if your choice is available.
Register Your Business Name
We’ve finally reached step five of our five-step guide to how to name a business. That means it’s time to register your chosen company name. There are two principal parts of this process:
Registering should be simple. That’s as long as you follow the rules for your business structure and check trademarks. Primarily, things get done at the state level. You can file Articles of Incorporation with the relevant state authorities. If you wish to trademark your business name, though, you must file an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
As soon as you choose the name of your business, snag as many relevant domains as possible. There are lots of domain registrars to choose from, including GoDaddy, and more. You may end up using only the dot com domain with your exact company name. Owning the other similar alternatives, though, prevents others from buying them.
Guidelines for Business Name Ideas
Follow the above steps, and you’ll land on the perfect business name. Before you set about the process, though, let’s recap some crucial factors to keep in mind throughout.
1. Understand your business.
As with many business processes, naming requires a solid understanding of your company. Your chosen label must be meaningful and convey the benefit your firm provides. Try to keep this in mind at all stages of finding and narrowing down business name ideas.
2. Use descriptive words.
An excellent way to convey that meaning we mentioned above is with descriptive words. Think about including such a word in your business name. Including a term like ‘instant’ or ‘rapid’, for example, might be an option for firms devoted to speedy service.
3. Be literal.
You want to get creative when choosing your company name. Uniqueness is, after all, essential. Don’t make potential customers work too hard to know what you’re all about, though. They should recognize what you can provide simply from reading your name.
4. Choose a name style.
There’s no hard and fast rule for the style of business name that works best. There are a few tried and trusted options from which to choose, however:
- The Literal – The very definition of keeping things simple. This type of business name lays out precisely what a firm does. Think ‘Kentucky Fried Chicken’.
- The Owner’s Name – Some companies stick with using a founder or owner’s moniker as their brand name. This is particularly prevalent in finance, i.e., JP Morgan.
- The Acronym – Choosing a set of initials is another popular business naming tactic. It can help potential customers remember a more extended title, but often gets adopted instead. Think ‘AT&T’.
- The Unrelated – Sometimes, firms choose an entirely unrelated word to adopt as their name. Doing so is risky but has a lot of upsides. Some of the biggest brand names are now more closely related to their companies than the original meaning. Take, for example, Apple, Google, Amazon, and Twitter.
5. Avoid hard-to-spell names.
Potential customers must use your business name. They need to type it in to reach your website or send you emails. Don’t make their lives more difficult by choosing a tough to spell alternative.
Keeping things simpler, too, avoids the danger of future misspellings on business cards, merchandise, and more.
6. Tell a story.
Your company name can present an opportunity to tell a tale. In a few short words, you can share something about your firm’s ethos and origins. You might think about a name like ‘Ma’s Old Fashioned Pizza Company’, for instance. Although probably not that corny.
7. Get feedback on the name.
Feedback is critical in many areas of business. As much as you need to take ownership of naming your firm, outside input is still vital. When narrowing down your company name ideas, seek as many other opinions as you can. Don’t limit that to friends and family, either. Try to perform some proper market research on your target audiences.
8. Do not be too narrow.
Your chosen label must tell potential customers what you offer. You don’t, however, want to sell yourself short. Avoid choosing too specific or narrow of a title. If your name suggests you only sell one product, no customers looking for anything else will consider you.
9. Be careful about geographic names.
It’s fine to be proud of your hometown or state. Be aware, though, that including those places in your business name is risky. It could put off possible out-of-state customers who may wrongly assume you won’t serve them.
10. Choose a name that is scalable.
Scalability isn’t something that only applies to cloud migrations or other digital transformation. It must play a part in your choice of name, too.
Finding a name is about the future as well as the present. Select a moniker that can grow with your business. Something like the ‘12th and 3rd Bakery’ is excellent for a company with one outlet in that location. It makes far less sense if you expand and open more stores, though.
4 Interesting Ecommerce Business Names
We’re drawing to a close of our in-depth guide to how to name a business. By now, you’ve learned what to think about and what steps to take to develop the perfect name. You may also feel like you’re suffering a bit of information overload.
To help you clear your head, then, let’s leave the theory behind. The following are some real ecommerce businesses with great names. Looking at these company names and what makes them unique, should give you some final inspiration.
1. Bon Bon Bon.
Bon Bon Bon is a confectionery company in Michigan. Their brand name is an ideal example of how a simple title can hit many of the marks we’ve discussed. From one quick read of the name, you know what the company sells. What’s more, anyone with some basic French also thinks their products will be ‘good good good’.
Both alliteration and repetition are used well, too. That helps make the name memorable and means it looks excellent as part of a logo or branded material, as you can see above.
Our second example shows how a seemingly unrelated word can make for a great name. At first glance, ‘Burrow’ doesn’t seem an obvious label for an online sofa company.
Drill down, though, and you’ll see the genius. The brand’s ethos is about offering the ideal furniture for the modern home. They’re all about providing the items to let customers build a cozy, safe place to live.
Kind of like an animal’s burrow, right? You might not realize it immediately, but that’s the idea that the name evokes. It’s terrific branding that works subtly and effectively.
Not every great name begins with B, but our third example does too. Bliss is a face and body skincare brand. Their company name speaks volumes about the firm in just five letters.
Buying skincare products is often about pampering yourself. The word ‘Bliss’ conveys that immediately. What’s more, the simple moniker also marries well with the fact that all products made by the brand are cruelty-free.
Finally, the word ‘Bliss’ is also an attractive one in of itself. It looks good written down. What’s more, when you hear it, it makes positive connections. Bliss, sounds like kiss, maybe I’d get one with glowing skin.
4. Solo Stove.
Solo Stove is a perfect business name thanks to how well it tells a story. By reading only two words, you know what the company sells and which problem it solves.
You’re not looking at a firm selling ovens for your kitchen; their stoves are ‘solo’. You know instantly that this is where to turn if you want a camp stove or outside grill.
Being able to convey your brand’s raison d’etre in two words is the dream when finding business name ideas. What’s more, Solo Stove does it with a moniker that’s also satisfyingly alliterative and visually attractive.
So, what’s in a name? As it turns out, a hell of a lot. Your company name is your initial point of contact with potential customers. It’s the first thing they’ll learn about you. Make a poor first impression, and it’s tough to recover.
A great name speaks volumes. To find the right one for your business, you need to give the process the time and effort it deserves. Brainstorm every term and phrase related to your brand. Use a thesaurus, feedback, and business name generators to devise a shortlist of ideas.
From there, consider business structure rules, existing trademarks, and domain availability. That will show you the business name ideas you have to choose from. Make your ultimate choice, register it and its related domains, and you’re in business – literally.
Do you want to be part of a fast-growing industry that’s proven it can withstand economic and geopolitical storms, including global pandemics?
You might want to join the ranks of ecommerce companies, and create an online store. According to Statista, retail ecommerce sales in the United States alone are projected to rise to more than $476 billion by 2024.
In 2020, penetration for ecommerce businesses is 77.3%. This means that around that many users in the U.S. are shopping online somewhere. While leaders such as Amazon are at the forefront of this charge, business owners of all sizes and types have a place in this market, which is still growing. By 2024, user penetration is expected to reach more than 82%.
Those are some fairly technical numbers, but the takeaway is simple: The majority of people are shopping online at least some of the time. An ecommerce website is a great way to connect with these large numbers of consumers, but how do you become a successful ecommerce store such as Natori or Burrow?
You might start with an ecommerce course to ensure you have the knowledge and skills to make this dream happen. Technology is making it increasingly easier for anyone to launch their own business online, but you do still need to know about taxes, shipping, fulfillment, payment gateways, how to build an ecommerce team, and many other details.
Find out more about choosing the right courses below to ensure you have everything you need to succeed.
Why Take an Ecommerce Course?
Ecommerce courses can provide information about the basics, as well as new advances, straight from people who have learned the ropes, made the mistakes, and come out on top after a lot of trial and error.
Whether you’re just starting an online store or you’re ready to take the next step in using your ecommerce platform to connect with more customers, ecommerce training can be an ideal way to move forward.
1. Learn new skills and advance old ones.
The great thing about online courses in this space is that they meet so many needs. Whether you need a crash course in Ecommerce 101 to help you understand the basics or you’re ready to advance in certain areas of business strategy, such as SEO or content marketing, you can find a course that’s right for you.
These classes, which run the gamut from free courses to paid workshops, can help you learn new skills, such as how to use tools like Magento and WordPress. They can also help intermediate or advanced online business owners build on skills they already have, such as advancing your social media marketing and Facebook ads prowess.
The truth is that a small-to-midsize business owner launching into or managing a site in the ecommerce world needs a lot of skills — and so do their staff. Ecommerce courses help you develop the necessary skills, whether it’s online advertising and marketing, independent design basics, product management, or digital customer service.
2. Make potential business connections.
Ecommerce courses can also be a great way to network. Both the instructors and your potential classmates may have something to offer, whether that’s mentorship, future business partnerships, or simply friends you can discuss ideas with.
Starting a digital business can be isolating, especially as you launch and grow your online store. You might start your company from home, and that can mean reduced human interaction, which leaves you at risk for creative and social stagnation.
An ecommerce course opens doors for more human interaction — even if you’re still working from home or a small office with a limited number of employees.
Things to Look for in Beneficial Ecommerce Courses
Taking the wrong ecommerce courses won’t provide the benefits you need. And in all cases, you want a course that’s high-quality.
When you’re looking for ecommerce courses, start by determining what you want to learn. Do you need help with email marketing, Google Analytics, or social media marketing? You’ll want to look for courses that list those things in their descriptions.
Once you find courses that are teaching the skills and knowledge you want to obtain, consider whether they meet your requirements with regard to the factors below.
1. Reputable instructor.
Ensure that you’ll be learning from someone who knows what they’re talking about. They should have documented knowledge or experience. Some things to look for include:
- A relevant degree from an accredited university. Business, marketing, sales, or even web design degrees might be relevant. But something like a biology or literature degree would likely be irrelevant.
- The person has real-world experience. They have run or been involved with successful ecommerce businesses.
- The instructor has other credentials, such as Adobe certifications, that prove they have skills in a specific area.
Don’t just take the course listing at face value when it says the instructor is an expert. Read reviews for the course to determine if other people were satisfied with the level of information and expertise.
Understand the price of the course, and what you’re getting for the money you pay. Ecommerce is appealing to many because it’s a business venture with a potential low start-up cost, and you can find free or low-cost webinars that provide step-by-step information on how to get started. But, you should also be willing to pay for higher-cost courses that provide very specific skills you’ve been unable to learn elsewhere.
3. Access to course documents.
Make sure you’ll have access to the course documents, including digital books, presentations, slides, checklists, and other materials after you’re done with the course. The human brain can only focus on and take in so much information at a time, so it’s unlikely you’ll be able to remember everything you learn in a course.
Even if you take meticulous notes, an ecommerce course might be technical and include numerous diagrams, charts, or other materials that are difficult to record in handwritten or typed notes. The ability to reference these materials as you put your new knowledge to work can be invaluable.
8 Best Ecommerce Courses to Try in 2020
With so many options available, it can be difficult to pick a course to start with. If you’re spinning your wheels trying to decide where to put your money or time resources, we can help. We’ve done the research and come up with a list of 9 top ecommerce courses for 2020. We’ve divided them into three categories to help you find one that works best for you:
- General ecommerce courses
- Ecommerce marketing courses
- Ecommerce dropshipping courses
1. General ecommerce courses.
Start here if you’re new to ecommerce or have just launched a store but feel like a fish out of water. General ecommerce courses cover topics such as how to set up an online store, basic marketing strategies, and some best ecommerce practices anyone in the niche should know.
Ecommerce Masterclass: B2B Sales
Learn how to optimize your wholesale tools and processes from BigCommerce with this on-demand video series, and get set for a successful B2B journey.
- Cost: This series of on-demand videos is free, but requires registering.
- Course summary: This course covers everything from setting up a B2B portal, back office, and PIM to digital procurement and choosing the right suppliers. It also covers account management, B2B shipping, pricing and more.
- Who is the course right for? Whether you’re expanding your existing hybrid business or testing the waters of B2B for the very first time, this course is perfect for anyone looking to understand the nuances that separate this channel from B2C.
How to create, make, and build an online ecommerce store: Udemy
Make an online ecommerce store, design without coding, dropship, make logos, and create your own online business website.
- Cost: This Udemy course typically runs around $120, plus $60 for materials, although coupons often bring the price down to as little as $20, plus the cost of materials. These are purchased separately, so you do have some control over those expenses.
- Course summary: According to Udemy, once you complete the course, you’ll be able to build and customize a website, design a boutique online store with a logo, and sell items such as clothing and jewelry without stocking anything upfront.
- Who is the course right for? This course may be ideal for those wanting to enter the ecommerce arena in the area of boutique fashion, without spending a great deal of money to start their business.
Diploma in E-Business
Learn how to create a strong online business strategy.
- Cost: This is a free course from Alison.com, with about 6 to 10 hours of instruction.
- Course summary: The publisher of this course is listed as Google, and not surprisingly, the skills are Google-heavy. You’ll learn how to use Google Ads and Analytics, for example. But the 15 modules are fairly comprehensive, and start with some online marketing basics before moving into the technicalities of Google tools. The modules do include an assessment, and you can get a certificate showing you completed the course.
- Who is the course right for? This course is good for people who need more information about the role of Google tools in their business and how to use them, including both ecommerce business owners and staff.
Introduction to Ecommerce
Discover the basics of ecommerce infrastructure and communication.
- Cost: This is also a free course from Alison.com. It has about 2 to 3 hours of content.
- Course summary: This free course is akin to a 101 ecommerce class. It provides a brief overview of important concepts, such as ecommerce technology and security. You do get a certificate for completing the course.
- Who is the course right for? This course can serve as a high-level introduction to common challenges and considerations relevant to ecommerce businesses, making it a good option for someone just considering this niche.
2. Ecommerce marketing courses.
Ecommerce marketing courses are more about how to get the word out or engage new consumers online. The types of topics covered in these classes can range from general ecommerce marketing to specifics, such as Google SEO or using social media sites like Facebook or LinkedIn for advertising.
Digital Marketing Specialization
Gain an understanding of core digital marketing concepts and how you can apply them to your own business.
- Cost: This is a free specialization from Coursera. You do have to enroll at certain times, as it’s taught somewhat like an online college class.
- Course summary: This specialization actually has seven courses, which include Marketing in a Digital World, Digital Analytics for Marketing Professionals (two courses), Digital Media and Marketing Principles, Digital Media and Marketing Strategies, Marketing in an Analog World, and Digital Marketing Capstone.
- Who is the course right for? This series of courses may be ideal for anyone who has the time to spend on them and wants some in-depth information about digital marketing and branding from industry experts. The courses are part of the overall iMBA degree offered through the Illinois Master of Business Administration. The specialization does take up to 8 months to complete, working 5 hours per week.
Learn tips and tricks for attracting and converting more ecommerce store customers.
- Cost: This Hubspot Academy course is free for anyone who signs up.
- Course summary: This short course gives you a high-level look at ecommerce marketing and enforces the lessons learned with interactive quizzes. The information is provided via 10 short videos, ranging in length from a couple of minutes to around 10 minutes each.
- Who is the course right for? This is a great option for anyone who wants a crash course in ecommerce marketing in short sound bites. While it won’t provide anything in-depth, it does give you a jumping off point into further learning.
Ecommerce Marketing Mastery
Find out about all of the necessary marketing tools needed to run a successful ecommerce store.
- Cost: Tuition for this Digital Marketing course is $495, which includes a certificate of completion.
- Course summary: The course is around 4 hours long, with a recommended completion time of about one week. It includes 40 video lessons, multiple worksheets, and quizzes for each of the five modules. Topics covered include the ecommerce ecosystem and supporting technology, store architecture, how to optimize various aspects of your store, email automation, and some basics of content marketing and lead nurturing.
- Who is the course right for? This may be a good option for those who want a more technical look at how to integrate marketing specifically into an online store.
3. Ecommerce dropshipping courses.
Dropshipping courses concentrate on the ecommerce strategies and skills needed to succeed in dropshipping including online marketing and choosing the right partners.
Build an Ecommerce Dropshipping Empire by Scratch: Udemy
Hear about what it takes to build a dropshipping business.
- Cost: This Udemy course typically runs around $110, but discounts can bring the price as low as $15.
- Course summary: The course includes 8 hours of videos, 12 articles, and more than 30 resources you can download for use as you practice the skills learned. Topics covered include choosing products, setting up a website, working with suppliers, and sales and marketing tactics — all relevant specifically to dropshipping.
- Who is the course right for? This is another course that might be ideal for anyone who wants to start a dropshipping business, or add a dropshipping element to a current business.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Ecommerce Course
Finding the ideal ecommerce course that teaches the skills you need is only the first step. To get the most out of your course, be willing to put some extra effort in before and after you start.
1. Establish goals you want to achieve.
First, take some time to determine why you’re taking a course, and what you want to gain from it. If you only want to get a quick overview of a topic so you know whether it’s worth your time investing more effort, you’re going to take a different approach to learning that you would if you know you need to master the topic soon to support ongoing success.
It’s a good idea to start establishing your goals as you’re looking for online courses. You want to ensure the ecommerce learning opportunities you choose align with your personal and business goals.
Once you pick an appropriate course, plan ahead to ensure your goals are achieved. This might involve setting time aside when you can pay attention to the course in a quiet area or ensuring you have someone you can discuss the material with as you learn it.
Ultimately, know that you’ll get out of the course what you put into it.
2. Practice your new material.
Most of the material you might learn in an ecommerce workshop or online class isn’t like riding a bike. You can’t lay it down for weeks and then pick it back up and rely on muscle memory to do the rest.
This information is a lot more like math. It takes practice to ensure you really understand it, and if you don’t use the skills for a while, they’ll become rusty or even lost.
Plan to continue developing your skills outside of the course. If you’re actively working on your ecommerce site, this may not be something you have to work at. You may be implementing the new skills on a daily basis within your current workflow.
But, if you take a course to learn a specific skill, such as digital marketing, you might need to schedule time two to three times each week to practice that skill.
An ecommerce course can help you learn valuable skills and information, boosting the chances that your online shop is a success. If you’re already doing well, courses can provide you with the tools you need to grow or succeed even more.
Whether you’re looking for information on lead generation, search engine optimization, using eBay for ecommerce, or just general online business strategy, there’s a course for you. Investigate some of the best courses above or other options, and sign up to expand your knowledge today.
BigCommerce Named a Leader Among B2C Ecommerce Platforms in IDC MarketScape Report
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The importance of ecommerce capabilities for B2C merchants has increased significantly in 2020. Many businesses went online for the first time, and many more honed their online presence to better adapt in competitive markets. More than ever, choosing the right ecommerce platform is foundational for your B2C ecommerce business success. But how do you choose?
The truth is: there is no one right ecommerce platform that is the perfect fit for every business. That might seem like a strange thing to read on a blog run by an ecommerce platform. It’s true, at BigCommerce we firmly believe we have a product equipped to help many brands from SMBs to enterprises build, innovate, and grow their businesses.
However, every business is unique. We also think it’s important for you to consider all the options and truly choose the right choice for your specific needs and challenges. That will depend not only on factors like what you sell and where you are in your growth, but also on how you want to differentiate yourself in the market.
We want to give you the tools to help you make that choice by offering not only our own opinions, but also those of independent analysts. That’s why we’re thrilled to provide you access to an excerpt from the IDC MarketScape: Worldwide SaaS and Cloud-Enabled B2C Digital Commerce Platforms 2020 Vendor Assessment (Doc # US45741420, September 2020).
This report evaluated 19 ecommerce providers, and we’re excited to announce it named BigCommerce as a Leader in B2C digital commerce.
In addition to giving you an opportunity to see the chart comparing the 19 platforms along with key insights for B2C businesses from the IDC MarketScape, read on for a quick background on the IDC MarketScape and some of what led to BigCommerce receiving the recognition it did.
What is the IDC MarketScape?
IDC, or the International Data Corporation, is the self-described “premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets.” They have over 1,100 analysts worldwide working to investigate new opportunities, technologies, and trends to help businesses make fact-based decisions.
IDC MarketScape is a vendor assessment model designed to provide an overview of the competitive fitness of information and communications technology suppliers in a given market. In this case, the market focused on is B2C digital commerce providers. The report utilizes a rigorous scoring methodology based on both qualitative and quantitative criteria. That information is used to create a single graphical illustration of each vendor’s position within the market of focus.
One of the advantages of the IDC MarketScape is that it provides a clear framework in which the product and service offerings, capabilities and strategies, and current and future market success factors of digital commerce platforms can be meaningfully compared. The framework makes it possible for businesses shopping around for new technology to get a 360-degree assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of current and prospective vendors.
Why BigCommerce is a Leader
IDC analysts considered a number of factors when positioning each digital commerce platform within the market.
They remarked on BigCommerce’s strengths for B2C digital commerce in the following areas:
- Level of Value: Customers that IDC interviewed rated BigCommerce above average for the level of value delivered, relative to the price paid for the application.
- App Marketplace: BigCommerce offers an App Marketplace for add-ons to the core commerce offering in areas such as PIM, order management, shipping, and marketing content management. In total, there are over 800 apps on the marketplace.
- Implementation Experience: Customers that IDC interviewed rated BigCommerce above average for its implementation experience. Smaller customers IDC spoke with were able to implement without developers.
While many different types of businesses could benefit from a high-value product, a robust app marketplace to extend the platform, and an easier path to implementation, the report further outlines which specific types of businesses would best benefit from BigCommerce.
The report indicates that B2C businesses may want to “consider BigCommerce if you are a fast-growing, experience-driven brand looking for a multitenant SaaS B2C digital commerce platform,” and “if your organization is primarily focused on differentiating with business agility and a fast time to market with a platform that is very business user-friendly.”
Not all ecommerce platforms are alike. Just as not all businesses are alike. And choosing the platform that is the right fit for your business has never been more important.
You need to find the technology that is in lockstep with your vision for your business. Is time to market the most important factor for your business? Or is differentiating based on digital experience the crucial way you’ll beat out competitors in your niche?
To help you make these mission-critical decisions based on impartial analysis, we’re providing access to an excerpt from the 2020 IDC MarketScape for B2C Digital Commerce. This will contain not only the chart comparing all 19 digital commerce options but also IDC commentary on how to make this important technology decision. You’ll also have to access to the full BigCommerce profile.
A successful holiday strategy is the key to competing during the busiest time of year. Add in this year’s surge in online shopping due to the global pandemic and suddenly, your ecommerce holiday strategy has become more important than ever.
That’s why we’ve put together a 2020 holiday guide to help set you up for success this season. Our chronological, month-to-month guide will give you exclusive access to the insider tips, proven tactics and expert advice you need to create an award-winning strategy.
Plan For The Holidays, Month-by-Month
Our chronological planning guide provides a deep dive to prepare your business for a holiday season unlike ever before. But first, you’ll want to mark these key holiday shopping dates.
In the 2020 Guide to Holiday Planning we’ll discuss all of the following points; at its conclusion, you’ll be ready to craft an award-winning holiday strategy.
Here’s a sneak peek at what our holiday guide has to offer.
August: Customer and User Experience
Early planning is essential. Learn how to evaluate your ecommerce store and what you need to optimize to deliver an unforgettable online experience.
September: Selling, Shipping and Fulfillment
To execute on a great customer experience strategy, you’ll need a clear plan on where to sell your products and how to ship and fulfill orders.
October: Marketing and Promotions
Create holiday magic and spark customer joy with tactical ways to connect your brand to the season — and incentivize customers to shop.
November: Customer Service and Support
Major holiday shopping dates are right around the corner. Learn how to equip both your business and your customers with adequate support.
December: Reporting and Analytics
Learn how to measure the performance of your promotions and campaigns and plan for 2021.
What are you waiting for? Download the 2020 Guide to Holiday Planning and unwrap everything you need to succeed.
In 2019, only 13% of all B2B sales were generated digitally. By 2023, when U.S. B2B online sales are projected to reach $1.8 trillion, this is expected (based on a pre-pandemic forecast) to reach 17% — which is not an insignificant slice of the pie.
And with COVID-19 still impacting the ways we live, work, and purchase, the call to ecommerce is growing stronger. Across every industry, businesspeople and consumers are learning tough lessons about agility and resilience.
It’s increasingly clear that both require at least some degree of digital presence.
Couple that with the growing financial opportunity, and you may wonder what’s holding traditional B2B companies back from embarking on their journey of digital transformation.
There are a lot of answers to that question, but one is that B2B sales tends to be quite a bit more complex than a typical B2C transaction.
The traditional sales-meeting, hand-shaking, demoing, negotiating, contracting, and procurement process isn’t easy to translate to a consumer-like digital experience online. Or, at least, it wasn’t always. And besides — the modern B2B buyer has different expectations.
Between the evolution of customer expectations and advancement of ecommerce technologies, taking your business online has a lower barrier to entry than ever.
Let’s take a look at what’s changed over the past decade in B2B, and what challenges merchants still face when moving from bricks to clicks.
The Modern B2B Buyer
Today’s B2B buyers are increasingly tech-savvy — 61% of all B2B transactions now start online.
In fact, buyers want to be empowered to go through as much of the process on their own as possible. According to a report from Accenture, most buyers are about 57% of the way through the buying process by the time they speak with a rep.
That they’re willing to shoulder so much of that research is a good thing, considering that same report notes today’s buyers are more cautious — more than 90% of decision-makers never respond to cold outreach.
But buyers are also growing more demanding, with expectations highly impacted by their personal buying experiences. Thanks to sites like Amazon, customers expect fast page load times, effective, easy-to-use on-site search, intuitive navigation, detailed product images and descriptions, self-service options, and quick checkout.
B2B ecommerce has lagged behind B2C counterparts in their ability to deliver a positive, holistic customer experience.
The primary challenge of B2B ecommerce, then, is to deliver a beautiful, easy-to-use ecommerce site that also supporting complex business workflows like customer-specific contract pricing, custom catalogs, purchasing approvals, payment on credit terms and other business-specific types, easy re-ordering, delivery and pickup methods, and digitization of other traditionally offline processes.
B2B Ecommerce Challenges
Your B2B buyers want the same experience as B2C shoppers: efficiency and ease of use. But they have different needs — and therein lies the major challenge of B2B ecommerce sales.
1. B2B relationships are personal.
You probably don’t have an account manager to be the liaison between you and your favorite department store. But B2B relationships often are personalized in this way and have developed over time.
These personalized needs include customer-specific pricing, whether based on a tiering system or specifically negotiated deals, and bulk pricing. You may also have customers who don’t need access to your entire catalog.
B2B buyers expect pricing, catalogs, and product selection to be organized according to their particular requirements. How will those relationships translate online? How do you keep relationships unique and personalized at scale?
Assigning customer catalogs to specific customer segments is a way for you to start to personalize the B2B customer shopping experience for your users. This enables logged in customers to see only what is relevant to them, showing the prices that have been specifically negotiated for their account.
2. The B2B buying process involves a lot of decision-makers, and the buying cycle is long and complex.
The B2B purchasing workflow can consist of a wide range of people with their own specific roles and responsibilities. There will be people researching the solutions, stakeholders whose buy-in is needed to move forward, financial representatives to approve the spend, and so many more. And depending on the value of the purchase, this could take up to a year or more — a far cry from the one-click purchase button on Amazon.
All that complexity means there’s a lot to keep up with. This is where solid back-office management comes in. You have to be able to efficiently provide each stakeholder your business interacts with the information they need to do their jobs.
This is not a job for a manual process. You need powerful tools on your side, like customer relationships management (CRM) software, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software to integrate all your data, and self-service options so buyers can find as much information on their own as possible.
3. Buyers have complex procurement processes.
B2B buyers expect flexibility on how they order and how they pay — and they need it, because some companies’ purchase processes are as complex and analog as the laggards they buy from.
Procurement refers to the activities around acquiring the products and services that support business operations. It’s often tightly monitored and controlled, with clearly defined policies and processes. This can include a lot of documents, like contracts, requisition orders, purchase orders, invoices, and more.
According to an August 2019 survey of B2B buyers, almost three-quarters of respondents said they’d switch to a new ecommerce site for better purchasing options. The same share of respondents stated that they would purchase more products if they could pay by invoice.
eProcurement is the digitization of the procurement process. B2B buyers use eProcurement platforms to help improve efficiency and gain greater control over spending across the organization.
These platforms enforce best practices and consolidate data, but getting data into the platform can be tricky. An eProcurement integrator, bridging the divide between buyer and seller platforms, facilitates the flow of requisition, purchase order, invoice, and other data between ecommerce and eProcurement platforms.
4. Buyers need many ways to pay.
Offering flexible payment terms to B2B customers can help you win new customers and keep existing customers happy.
B2B credit solution
Using a B2B credit solution can give you the advantage of:
Improving customer loyalty and keeping pace with buyer expectations by offering
Net 30 (or longer) terms.
- Allowing you to keep growing your business with immediate capital instead of waiting for customer payments.
- Avoiding the financial risk of offering credit to new customers.
5. Data for multiple channels may be siloed.
Selling online requires locking together a number of moving pieces, and that number can be even greater when you’re talking about B2B. Particularly if you sell via multiple channels (e.g., B2B and B2C, or have multiple lines of distribution), you may have many different sources of data. Keeping that data siloed is not the best option for your business.
Enterprise resource planning (ERP)
ERP software integrates order management, accounting, and a 360-degree view of your clients into a single, real-time system, providing all the flexibility you need to customize the workflows and functionality of your back-office environment. A strong ERP integration provides you with a clear, holistic view of your business and your inventory levels so you can strengthen overall operations and meet buyer expectations.
6. Shipping B2B has its own set of requirements and constraints.
Determining the best shipping strategy for your B2B business comes with its own set of unique challenges, from freight shipments to client-specific requirements and more. Some of the factors you may need to consider include:
- Possibility and frequency of repeat orders
- Small shipments
- Bulky items that are difficult to rate
- Quoting and real-time rating
- Existing agreements and contracts
But the added complexity doesn’t mean you can shy away from the shipping options offered by B2C merchants. In fact, buyers expect a B2C-like experience that delivers on personalization, quick delivery and convenience. And the growing demand for alternative delivery options in B2C shipping is just one example of this.
Price transparency and tailored shipping options
As you develop your B2B shipping strategy, aim for complete price transparency, multiple shipping options, and tailored shipping options based on product, order, or customer. Two things you can do now? Use different rules per product group, especially if you’re introducing a brand new product line, and make sure you are fulfilling orders via appropriate services (e.g., no LTL freight for small package shipments).
7. B2B buyers need to find more complex products just as easily.
Modern buyers are moving away from in-person sales meetings and ordering via a paper catalog. Online B2B buyers, like B2C shoppers, want relevant search results, easy website navigation, and suggested product content.
But they also need accommodations that meet the complexity of B2B buying, such as a unique account with a custom catalog, specialized pricing, and sensitivity to product availability. The future of B2B is in ecommerce, and the need for personalized, intelligent, search-driven experience is essential.
Leveling up your B2B site search solution can turn your site into a dynamic, customer-centric shopping experience. Adaptive search is a technology that learns from and adapts to B2B buyers’ behavior over time. It uses machine learning to display products based on each buyer’s unique browsing and search behavior, thus personalizing the shopping experience.
When adaptive search is combined with autocomplete, it completes the word in the search bar and presents suggested answers or results based on the search term.
Here’s how to leverage adaptive search for B2B functionality:
- Search by exact part number or SKU
- Search by exact keywords, including industry terms
- Search by problem or issue solved
- Search by content
Back in 2017, McKinsey released a report finding that B2B companies lagged behind B2Cs in how they use digital tools and data to set strategy. Fewer than 24% of executives understood how their industries were being disrupted by digital.
A combination of factors lead to B2B’s slow movement toward digital transformation — like the ones discussed in this article. But today, with evolving technologies and buyer demands, you’ll be able to find more ways to easily enable successful B2B sales on an ecommerce website.
This year has been unlike any other, and as the holiday shopping season approaches, many are wondering what it will look like.
During the spring and summer, COVID-19 forced many businesses to close temporarily, while other major retailers — including J.Crew and Neiman Marcus — filed bankruptcy. A majority of companies found ways to pivot and offer online shopping options as a way to survive during lockdowns. In-person services such as gyms and yoga studios went virtual, while travel-related businesses including rental cards and airlines, suffered in sales.
On the other hand, some companies saw a boom during the pandemic. With consumers spending more time at home, video game companies and businesses supporting at-home workouts saw a spike in purchases. Peloton saw a 66% growth in revenue from its in-home bike and treadmill sales.
Grocery delivery and takeout options also saw tremendous growth this year.
After such an unprecedented year, many consumers and retailers are looking to the holiday season knowing that traditional Black Friday shopping isn’t a reality. Instead, stores are focusing on ecommerce sales, which are expected to increase during the final quarter of the year.
As many as 61% of retailers are expecting more engagement and sales through social media and businesses are ramping up their holiday marketing plans because of it.
So, how can you properly prepare for a holiday shopping season with ecommerce right at the center? Our Ecommerce Holiday Checklist is a great place to start.
2020 Ecommerce Holiday Checklist
Each year, retailers rely on the holiday season to make a heavy portion of their annual revenue. This year has brought forth many changes in consumer shopping habits, but businesses can still expect a boom in holiday shopping. It’s not too early to start preparing, as you’ll want to create a seamless experience for customers that will keep them loyal. Let’s work our way through a checklist to ensure we don’t miss anything:
- Ensure customers will have the best user experience.
- Automate selling, shipping and fulfillment.
- Create strategic holiday marketing and promotions.
- Ramp up customer service and support for holiday traffic.
- Measure the success of your holiday campaign.
Ensure Customers will Have the Best User Experience
Today’s consumer craves a personalized experience when they shop online. Is your site ready to deliver? To have a successful holiday season, your ecommerce store should have a solid infrastructure, industry-leading uptime, and updated third-party integrations.
Let’s take a look at some of the crucial ways you can update your site to meet — and exceed — customer expectations before the holiday season:
1. Evaluate the overall store experience.
Use your website design to bring your brand to life and create a custom experience.
Building a personalized shopping experience for all of your customers means that if you’re having a holiday sale on different products, you should cross-sell and upsell products that directly complement the sale for visiting customers.
Product recommendations that speak to the consumer as an individual shopper can have a lasting impact. By using vital consumer data points that are specific to individual customers (such as search, shopping cart, and purchase histories), you can boost sales during the holiday seasons and help raise your overall conversion rate.
Test your infrastructure. Your ecommerce store needs to be able to handle a surge in traffic and transactions. Do a round of load testing to ensure servers can handle increases in traffic and transactions. Reach out to your technology provider like BigCommerce. These companies can help you perform load testing to determine visit numbers and traffic patterns.
Check your site speed. Your page load time should be under three seconds — any longer than that and you’ll be looking at very high bounce rates. If your load speed isn’t optimal, a tool such as GTmetrix will provide you with a detailed list of recommendations on what to change, such as optimizing your image sizes for the web or reducing redirects. Having too many plugins and apps that need to load can also slow down your site speed.
Evaluate your third-party integrations. Take a look at your third-party integrations. Are they up-to-date? Test them, make sure they can handle the load, and then don’t add any others. Additional or last minute app add-ons can break aspects of your flow or slow down your site. This is exactly what happened to GymShark in 2015 when an app integration caused their site to go down for eight hours straight on Black Friday. Unless something is broken, put a “code freeze” in place a few weeks before Thanksgiving.
Enable cart abandonment notifications. There are many reasons a customer might leave your website with a shopping cart full of items. Sending them a push notification will remind them of the products they left behind, with a goal of convincing them to make the purchase. These notifications have double and sometimes triple the click-through-rate of a targeted email.
2. Update your merchandising strategy.
This holiday season, many consumers will be shopping online. This means retailers face massive competition for consumer attention.
Typically, mobile bounce rates are higher and with more consumers turning to their phones to make purchases, a business’ mobile experience is vital. In fact, consumers give just 0.05 seconds to form an opinion about a site and 38% of them will stop engaging if the content or the design is unattractive.
The key to succeeding is personalized merchandising: analyzing each user’s unique shopping behavior to deliver content and product recommendations that are relevant to them.
During the holiday season, if retailers don’t have something relevant to show shoppers right away, they risk losing a sale — particularly on mobile devices, where screen real estate is limited.
Capture consumers’ immediate attention with a robust online merchandising strategy. Follow these online merchandising strategy best practices to make holiday magic this season.
Showcase your holiday products. Start by determining which products you’re going to sell this holiday season. Are there specific holiday bundles your target audience has been wanting? What about seasonal favorites?
Next, consider how you’ll display these seasonal items on your site. For example, you could have a holiday-specific category in your site navigation. Make shopping easy by organizing gifts in one place.
Personalize your customers’ experiences. Content is still king, although personalization is the crowning glory. By analyzing behavioral and contextual customer data, as well as business-related data like margin and inventory, merchants can surface relevant products to inspire customers and encourage them to make a purchase.
Basing product recommendations on customer data — such as geo-location or demographic — leads to a significant increase in conversion rates and a decrease in cart abandonment.
For example, say a particular toy is trending in New York City. Parents of a certain age that live in the city can be targeted with content related to that must-have toy, which simultaneously removes an entire step (searching for the toy) in their buying journey and leads them deeper into the site (and closer to checkout).
Retailers can also use insights from previous browsing history to surface relevant content to shoppers, perhaps reminding them of the perfect gift they browsed last time they visited or showcasing something related to a previous purchase.
By understanding the landscape of gifting during the holidays, as well as the context and behavior of each customer, retailers can build entire stories simply by guiding site visitors through relevant product recommendations.
If telling an intricate, multi-page story with personalized product recommendations isn’t in the cards this year, then retailers should at least start with location-based gift recommendations on each category page.
Tune site search for each customer. The same search data you’re using for SEO can give you a boost with your on-site search. Make sure your website’s search results return accurate products to help your customers find exactly what they’re looking for.
Not only will a customer get to the item faster, but a seamless shopping experience will not go unnoticed. Customers are loyal to brands that make shopping easier, especially during the holidays. If they run into problems and can’t find what they’re looking for on your site, they’ll find it somewhere else.
The great thing about updating your own search is that you’ve got complete control over the keywords, pages and results. Use it to your advantage while creating a frictionless experience for holiday shoppers.
Evaluate your site’s error tolerance. You know those ‘did you mean…’ messages that pop up above the search box when you make a spelling error? This is a form of error tolerance. In a nutshell — the search engine recognizes that you made a mistake and attempts to fix it for you.
Until recently, all the possible errors and their corrections had to be pre-programmed into a search engine’s list of possible results. Smarter site engines use the search data they collect on a continuous basis to work out what customers meant, even when they make a spelling or grammatical error.
And it works.
Digital equipment supplier Xpres struggled with their website’s restrictive built-in search functionality. Search results were often incorrect, and some products were undiscoverable. Klevu’s search engine brought them the level of precision their customers needed to find their products, and they saw a 19.8% increase in revenue after switching.
Despite this leap forward and the real-world benefits to companies like Xpres, the vast majority of websites are still using the old technology.
Create a visual search interface. Search results should be displayed visually in the search box itself, even as autocomplete options while you type. Instead of a drop down menu to house your search filters, they are displayed as categories in an open sidebar. All of these visual and predictive features combine to make something that Klevu calls ‘Smart Category Navigation.’
Like error tolerance, it helps reduce friction to the checkout. But it goes much further, too — offering an intuitive interface that customers, once they’ve used it, won’t ever want to be without.
3. Optimize the checkout page.
By the time a customer reaches the checkout page, they’ve already decided they want to make a purchase. Optimizing your checkout page means making the process as smooth as possible, so the customer doesn’t leave before completing the purchase.
Create a seamless checkout experience by only having one checkout page, enabling guest checkout, and offering several payment options.
Simplify checkout to one page. Having all of your checkout-related forms on a single page makes the process easier and quicker for customers. Loading a single page vs. waiting for multiple pages to load — especially on a mobile device — can be a game changer. Don’t give customers time to leave your site. All of these factors boil down to one: customer satisfaction. A single checkout page adds to the overall user experience of your site and you want people to walk away feeling satisfied with all of it.
Enable guest checkout. Anonymous checkouts are especially important for first-time customers. Online shopping requires trust in the merchant, and many customers don’t feel comfortable saving their contact information during their initial visit to a store.
Requiring a registration also interrupts the shopping process. Once customers decide to buy, they want the checkout process to be easy – which should be the aim of merchants as well. Checking out as a guest is often quicker than creating an account, is viewed as a lesser “commitment,” and erases the potential perception that you’re after user data.
Offer several payment options. When a customer is ready to enter their payment information, the last thing they want to see is that you don’t provide their payment method of choice. Consider offering more payment options such as PayPal/Venmo or American Express. Providing as many secure payment options as possible is convenient for the customer and they’ll appreciate being able to pay however they wish.
Enable multi-recipient functionality. Instead of having your customers place a plethora of orders for holiday gifts, enable multi-recipient functionality to remove unnecessary stress during the busy holiday season. This functionality allows customers to send specific items to other addresses, making your store a one-stop shop.
“Often we’ll have one customer — usually ordering for a corporate gifting program — who wants to send gifts to a thousand different recipients, literally. Instead of placing a thousand unique orders, it’s a better customer experience if we can simply route different items to individual addresses.” – Lauren Cevallos, Ecommerce and Mail Order Manager, Lammes Candies.
Selling, Shipping and Fulfillment
To execute on a great customer experience strategy, you’ll need a clear plan on where to sell your products and how to ship and fulfill orders.
1. Expand your sales channels.
Your ecommerce store isn’t the only place to spread holiday cheer. Consider other sales channels such as:
- Online marketplaces.
- Social commerce.
- Brick-and-mortar shops.
Treat other digital sales destinations the same as you would your own ecommerce site and ensure the customer experience is as smooth as possible.
If you’re selling in a brick-and-mortar, offering the option to buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) will be vital. BOPIS is a great option for shoppers who prefer to browse online, but also want the items in their possession on the same day.
This method allows retailers to blend the online and in-store experience to engage with customers while still offering a more convenient way to shop.
In fact, according to a recent study by Adobe:
- BOPIS increased by 195% YOY in May due to the pandemic.
- BOPIS is becoming the delivery method of choice for consumers.
- Shopping trends adopted during the pandemic are likely to become permanent.
This holiday season, retailers can enable BOPIS to eliminate the pains of shipping and processing while delivering a convenient and safe shopping experience.
2. Sell to your international customers.
Going global with your business may sound intimidating, but it should be a good chunk of your strategy as you’re looking toward the holiday season.
Of course, it is the busiest selling period of the year so you’ll want to make certain steps during this critical planning period to ensure everything works correctly and you avoid any large-scale disasters come the holidays.
Know that selling internationally isn’t just for larger brands. Businesses of all sizes can plan to go global for the holidays as long as they use the right methods and plan effectively.
Start by researching your markets. Before taking your products international, you will need a better understanding of the taxes, customs, duties, and any other requirements of the countries you are looking to sell in. This will ensure you position your business and your products more effectively and keep your customers informed of any charges they may incur on their end.
Your customers and their purchasing habits should also be a key part of your research and planning. Just because you have a clear understanding of your buyer personas and sales trends in your current market, doesn’t mean this will translate well in another country.
Using tools like PayPal’s PassPort Site will provide you with more information on global buying trends. Learn what products are in demand in your targeted sales region so you can make the best decisions when it comes to positioning your business on a global scale.
Test the markets early. Take a look at your current data and see where customers are already buying from. If specific countries are more popular than others, use this time to test those markets with your global selling strategy.
Look to expand your reach by investing a little more in these markets. You could start small by using other sales channels such as eBay and Amazon to gain a greater presence in new countries and test demand before committing fully.
Seeing how these geographies perform prior to the holiday season will give you a better indication of where you may want to invest more in the future, such as setting up a web presence specific to those locations.
Secure customers with payment method options. When selling globally, a huge portion of abandoned carts come from customers not being able to use their preferred payment method when shopping online.
Buyers want to feel secure and protected in making a purchase, which is why using a payment gateway they recognize can help to increase those conversions.
Consider using a payment method that already has a strong global reputation, such as PayPal. Already built into BigCommerce so it’s easy to set up, PayPal is used worldwide and is known for its security and purchase protection.
Remember, it is all about familiarity. Going global necessitates building trust, so doing what you can to make the buying process as familiar and native to specific markets as possible will increase your sales and improve your international presence.
Optimize your website. Optimizing your website can mean many things. From making sure to clearly display relevant shipping and delivery information per country, to installing a multi-language toggle for your website — you should be thinking about your customers all over the world and their experience of using your website.
You might also want to consider building a targeted website specific to a region. For example, you already have a U.S. site but find online shoppers from Germany have a particular interest in your products. How can you cater to this market more effectively? Setting up a website in a local domain name for the German market, along with currency conversion, text translation, and delivery costs all specific to the region, will provide you with more flexibility and provide your German customers with a better shopping experience.
It’s also important to recognize that different cultures may perceive images and content differently. Colors are a prime example of this. In South Africa, the color red can symbolize mourning whereas, in Chinese culture, red represents a celebration. Think about your promotional materials and how you can tailor your content to suit each sales region.
Showing your customers around the globe that you care about their purchases and strengthening your relationship with them will help you to increase their lifetime value.
Take your discounts international. The pandemic has pushed many consumers around the world to shop online and 85% of retailers believe online sales will see higher numbers than last year, as a result.
When establishing your holiday promotions, think beyond the Black Friday and Cyber Monday mayhem. Change up your messaging by looking at the global promotional calendar, increasing your sales with international shoppers in the quiet space before your regular promotions begin.
Prime Day is scheduled to be delayed until at least October, which could make for a great time to offer discounts when consumers are looking for sales. This could also jump start the holiday shopping season around the globe.
3. Determine how you will carry out shipping and fulfillment.
During the holiday season, you’ll likely experience an increase in orders. To prepare for the
heightened traffic, you’ll need to determine how you will handle shipping. There are three
- Handle shipping and fulfillment in-house.
- Outsource shipping and fulfillment with a third-party logistics provider (3PL).
- Outsource shipping and fulfillment with a dropshipper.
Whichever path you follow, you’ll want to automate your shipping process. Shipping software gives
you access to one dashboard where you can compare rates, print labels, manage orders, print
shipping labels in bulk, and reconcile shipping bills. You can also set shipping rules to automatically
select the cheapest rate, fastest method, etc. To understand how sales tax affects your shipping cost, integrate a tax and accounting software like Avalara, Vertex, or Quickbooks to help determine where and when you need to charge tax.
With the right shipping strategy in place, you’ll be able to offer your shoppers a better shipping
experience, improving conversion and brand loyalty. BigCommerce offers partnerships and
integrations to help accomplish this, such as ShipBob, Shipstation, ShipperHQ, and FedEx —
and global solutions like Route, EasyShip, Flavorcloud, or Global-e.
In-house shipping and fulfillment.
In-house shipping and fulfillment means you’re managing the inventory and the shipment for all of the orders. For many businesses, this method is convenient and works just fine. However, once the volume of orders reaches a certain point, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with managing all of the steps it takes to get items safely out the door.
Outsource shipping and fulfillment with third-party providers (3PL).
Working with a third-party provider (3PL) for shipping and fulfillment means that another company will take care of this part of your business for you. With a 3PL, you’ll be able to take advantage of bulk shipping discounts and advanced tracking technology. Utilizing a 3PL also means customers will receive their packages faster and if there’s any questions or issues regarding shipment, they can reach out to the 3PL. All of this frees up you and your team to focus on other aspects of the business that need your attention.
Outsource shipping and fulfillment with a dropshipper.
With dropshipping, products are sent directly from your wholesaler to your customers. Outsourcing shipping and fulfillment with a dropshipper cuts down on time and money spent shipping each item. Since products only leave the warehouse one time, there’s less costs involved and you don’t have to keep track of inventory, shipment or returns.
4. Create a memorable packaging and unboxing experience.
Ecommerce shops don’t just have a “brand,” they often have a deeply rooted story.
This story reminds shoppers why they aren’t buying the item from a discount store or a large marketplace, but are instead going directly to your website for your products. Yes, it is critical that you tell this story on your website, email communications, and social media channels, but there is no denying the power of physically seeing and reading a message to make it stick.
And, at a time of year when your customers are likely to come home to a myriad of generic large RSC boxes from mass marketplaces that contain more air than product, you can truly set your company apart with a thoughtful packaging experience that elevates your direct customer connection.
A simple printed name on your packaging can make all the different to a customer’s experience.Use your packaging to show your brand imagery, but also as a reminder of your resourcefulness and sustainability.
5. Have a clear return policy.
In some categories, such as apparel, up to 30% of online purchases are returned. And 96% of consumers will go back to companies who made returns and exchanges as seamless as possible.
Making returns painless not only strengthens customer loyalty, it also benefits your operations — fielding those return requests takes customer service a lot of time. How can you build the dream return process during the holiday season?
- Use resealable mailers (mailers with a “dual peel and seal”) or add an extra poly mailer to each shipment.
- Include instructions on how gift recipients can reuse the original shipping package for returns.
- Consider adding a return label to each shipment that can be given to the gift recipient.
- Include a short note that can be given to the recipient, detailing how to make a return or exchange.
If your return policy is too strict during the holiday seasons, you risk losing the sale.
The holidays are a time when you should be a little more flexible and provide convenience for your customers when it comes to returns — simply because things happen. Wrong sizes are ordered, a product is faulty, expectations weren’t met, etc.
The important thing for you to do is build trust by making sure your return policy is fully transparent and fair.
Also, have an extended return window around Christmastime (usually until the end of January) so consumers have time to return gifts. This will increase overall customer satisfaction and keep them coming back even after the holidays are over.
Create Strategic Holiday Marketing and Promotions
Whether it be new technologies or promotional strategies, merchants have had to adapt their stores to meet lots of unexpected changes this year in order to sell their products in the most efficient way.
This story will be no different when it comes to businesses preparing for the craziness of promotion and selling during the holiday season.
That’s why it’s important to make sure your store is fully optimized and ready with its campaigns and promotional strategies before big holiday spending periods like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Here are some key planning points on what you can do to make sure your store is fully optimized and equipped for the frenzy of holiday selling.
1. Adopt promotional strategies to engage customers.
Sometimes it’s essential to use the holiday seasons as a part of your marketing strategy to increase overall sales. This means that you should run sales that are specific to a certain holiday in order to increase festivity and enthusiasm among your consumers.
Consider using gift cards to upsell at checkout, offering seasonal services such as free gift-wrapping or shipping, or creating limited-time offers to add urgency.
The possibilities are bountiful when you consider your own brand and products and how you can bring in customers with promotions while simultaneously helping them celebrate the holiday season.
Consider free shipping and wrapping in your holiday marketing plan. Since Amazon has made free shipping a staple part of online sales, you can expect to drive more sales and conversions if you offer some sort of free shipping deal during the holidays.
Potential customers will most likely go through with a sale if free shipping is involved. This could mean you offer free shipping on orders over a certain price or maybe offer free shipping during a specific time period, such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
If you’re lost, take a look at your competitors’ shipping plans and see how you can adjust your store to attract the most customers possible during the holiday seasons and boost your conversions.
Plan for holiday contests and giveaways. Enacting different contests and giveaways during the holidays is a great way to help you increase customer satisfaction and engagement while also boosting sales. This can be done directly on your store’s website, or you can utilize social media tools.
For instance, on Instagram you could post a picture of one of your products during Christmas, and run a contest for people who comment about their favorite part of the holiday in order to win that specific product.
Not only are you engaging customers and fostering a sense of community around your brand, but you’re also promoting specific products and deals you might be running during the holiday seasons. This is why planning contests and giveaways before a certain holiday season starts will be an effective marketing strategy for your ecommerce store.
Have a rewards or loyalty program in place. Having a customer rewards or loyalty system in place that is tailored to your brand before the holidays might be a crucial step for you as a business owner.
By making an investment in your returning customers (and encouraging new customers to join), you’re adding extra consumer incentive and value to your store.
A good rewards program will be easy to use, have membership-only benefits, place higher value on your products, and increase member engagement and interaction. This is a good way to turn one-time holiday shoppers into lifelong customers.
If you’re searching for apps, Smile.io is a good place to start looking for your reward system service needs.
2. Integrate your marketing efforts.
Keeping a constant stream of content flowing is an essential part of planning a marketing strategy for the holidays.
This can be done with social media channels, blog posts, video content, etc. Any web search traffic directed to your business is good traffic. When your content is original, up-to-date, and relevant to the holiday season, chances are customers will be directed to your store and therefore boost your holiday sales.
For example, if you create a blog post on how to properly decorate for the holidays and feature a variety of your products, you have a higher chance of making a sale from customers visiting your blog. This example can be translated across many different brands, as long as the content is relevant to not only your brand but also the holiday/season you’re promoting.
Reach your customers on social media. Posting to your store’s Instagram story, making Facebook posts promoting deals and discounts, and tweeting a product campaign with a #hashtag slogan are just some of the various ways you can use social media during the holiday season.
This is where your brand needs to be unique and creative to garner the attention of consumers. Ensuring that your social media campaigns and marketing techniques are in place (before holidays like Christmas) will help you boost sales and get the word out about why shoppers should visit your store.
For instance, if you make sure that you are set up with Instagram’s feature, Instagram Checkout, you can start campaigning special discounts and deals way in advance of the holiday season, and utilize this feature by selling directly on the app.
Garner views with paid advertising. Organic traffic is valuable, but paid advertising can boost your brand in a saturated market. A quick place to begin is Facebook or Instagram Ads, since you can simply boost organic content. Where you’ll want to spend a little more time is search engine marketing and overall conversion rate optimization.
Organic SEO will help you rank on Google, but, similar to social media, a paid boost can garner
thousands of more views. Google Ads is key to any paid strategy as it can help drive both website
and in-store visits. If you have an omnichannel approach, investing in paid advertising can help
drive traffic across channels, too.
Send holiday emails. Sending promotional emails is a key and essential part of holiday campaigns. If you have specific holiday sales, discounts, or special offers — do not wait until the last minute to get those promotional emails out.
By capturing the attention of your customers beforehand, with the help of automated email features, you can get the word out early about any holiday promotions that will increase conversions when you need them most.
This also goes for email reminders about abandoned carts. Since consumers are shopping across multiple online stores during the holiday seasons, they might forget to check out at yours. A gentle reminder to your customers if their cart is abandoned will be a great way to boost your holiday sales.
Send holiday texts with SMS. When it comes to holiday, SMS provides a special opportunity to connect with your customers. Automated text messages bring a new level of personalization to virtual communication.
Many brands leverage SMS marketing to execute pre-built sequences and conversations specific
to cart abandonment, order and shipping confirmations, personalized rewards, limited-time
promotions and more.
Use SEO tactics to rank on Google. Everyone knows that earning top positioning with search engines through SEO can sometimes take months to achieve, depending on the keyword competitiveness.
So how can you quickly modify your SEO to capture holiday traffic in time for the winter months?
Getting a jump on your holiday SEO now is critical to make sure you capitalize on seasonal SEO opportunities. Not only can a great holiday SEO plan help reduce your dependency on PPC advertising, it can also help improve performance through other marketing channels.
Do a bit of keyword research to find out what gets the most interest in your vertical, and start optimizing pages for your base keywords plus these modifiers.
It’ll be more important than ever during the holidays to make sure that your landing pages are top notch — because these pages will most likely be redirected from content searches or direct links from emails or advertisements.
It’s a vital aspect of your store to have landing pages with designs and layouts that are appealing and easy to navigate. Elements such as the shopping cart and social buttons need to be visible and easily accessible so that holiday shoppers can browse once they’ve been redirected from a link.
If you’re worried that your store’s visual content needs updating, look into apps that will help you create landing pages and raise conversions well before the holiday season approaches.
Ramp up Your Customer Service and Support for Holiday Traffic
The holiday season is quickly approaching and, to be prepared for success, both your business and
your customers need adequate support.
1. Make sure your ecommerce platform provides 24/7 support.
The holiday nightmare: a crashed website on Cyber Week. After months of hard work, your
customers are disappointed and unable to make purchases. It’s often overlooked, but support for
your business is make or break for success.
Now is the time to make sure your ecommerce platform has 24/7 global support, premium security features, and industry-leading uptime.
BigCommerce comes with all of this and more. Our support team can help you with anything related to selling online and growing your business, like boosting conversion, improving your shopping experience, managing catalog transfers, and recommending solutions for taxes, payments, shipping and software integrations. We also stand out from the crowd with ongoing
content resources, like our product blog and BigCommerce blog, and our offering of growth and
launch services where you will work with a dedicated ecommerce expert.
2. Develop a robust customer service plan.
You’ve got a dedicated support team behind your store. Now, you must take care of your customers.
The holidays are undoubtedly a busy and sometimes stressful time. Be prepared to handle any
questions and concerns, and make information readily available.
Have dedicated support and respond to inquiries quickly. Even when something goes wrong, a positive customer support experience can lead to a loyal customer. You should have dedicated support for phone, email, and social media — and be sure to respond to all inquiries within 24–48 hours.
Make your contact information prominent and easy to find.
Adding updated contact information to your website and all order confirmations can enhance a customer’s trust with your store. Creating an FAQ page that offers quick and easy answers can also build trust with new customers. Providing answers to common questions may also lighten the load on your customer service team.
Ask for feedback from customers.
“How was your experience today?” This is a simple question that brings a lot of value to your
business. Not only are you obtaining customer testimonials, but you will also learn a lot about how
you can improve as a business.
You can also incentivize your customers to leave a review with a special one-time discount or free shipping.
Measure the Success of Your Holiday Campaign
Once Cyber Week 2020 is in the books, the holidays still aren’t quite over. Now, it’s time to measure
the performance of your promotions and campaigns.
1. Have goals and KPIs for the holiday season.
Numbers don’t mean much until you translate them into insights. Measuring key performance
indicators (KPIs) can help you understand your overall performance.
BigCommerce merchants benefit from Ecommerce Analytics and Insight reports, directly in the platform, that provide a deeper look at customer data all in one easy-to-view dashboard, at no extra cost. Google Analytics is another great tool to integrate to further optimize your website. When it comes to KPIs, you’ll want to look at your ecommerce data and marketing success factors.
Measure ecommerce success. This group of data helps measure the performance of your website, customer journeys, and what content or products are performing best. Here are few KPIs to consider:
- Average order value (AOV)
- Conversion rate
- Shopping cart abandonment rate
- Traffic (new vs. returning)
- Site speed
- Bounce rate
- Traffic source
- Mobile site traffic
- Day part monitoring
- Product affinity
Measure marketing success. This group of data will help you understand how specific campaigns are performing. Consider these KPIs:
- Pay-per-click (PPC)
- Click-through-rate (CTR)
- Subscriber growth rate
- Email open rate
- Social followers
- Number and quality of product reviews
- Banner or display advertising CTRs
- Blog traffic
- Affiliate performance
- Average position (search)
2. Evaluate data and make adjustments.
Once you’ve gathered all of the necessary data, adjust your efforts accordingly. If you notice that customers are engaging more with certain advertisements, increase them. If a majority of your site traffic is coming from a single source, continue your efforts and make a plan for increasing traffic from other channels.
3. Use 2020 holiday data to guide your 2021 holiday strategy.
A new year sparks new resolutions and goals. Apply the same mindset to your business and take
the time to evaluate your annual growth. Take note of what worked, what didn’t, and
what you learned.
Taking a moment to reflect on your growth will confidently set you up for the future. Every year will
bring new challenges, but creating a future-proof strategy will help you build, innovate, and grow.
As you begin crafting your 2021 strategy, be sure to:
- Set goals and objectives to hold your team accountable.
- Identify areas of improvement and invest in the right solutions.
- Continue to grow your business and engaged customer base with creative marketing.
This year, businesses and consumers are looking forward to the holiday season more than ever. Many shoppers will be looking for gifts to send to loved ones they haven’t seen all year, and business owners are hoping to make up for lost revenue during the year and start 2021 with a positive note.
As you can see, preparing your business for the holiday shopping season during any year is no small task. This year, more people will be ordering online, and whether they’re picking up items in-store or having them shipped, it’s important for the experience to be smooth from start to finish.
Once 2020 is behind us, many experts predict that the shopping trends adopted this year will be around for the long-term. In a way, prepping for the holiday season is a great way to set up your website and mobile elements for whatever the New Year brings your way.
Take holiday readiness with a step-by-step approach, and before you know it, you’ll be on your way to welcoming jolly shoppers with ease.
You’ve heard of B2B, B2C, and maybe even D2C. To add to the alphabet of business models, there’s also B2B2C, which is business-to-business-to-consumer. This model has also been referred to as B2X (business-to-x), B2E (business-to-everyone), or even B2M (business-to-many).
In recent years, more B2B models have decided to expand their approach to create a B2B2C model that reaches the final consumer. With nearly everything making its way online in one way or another, consumers are demanding much more from those who get their dollars.
This means businesses must take control over the customer’s shopping experience and create a lasting relationship with the end user. This is another way technology has changed how people shop for everything, from groceries and mattresses to clothing and electronics.
Consumers will buy just about anything online, as long as it’s a positive experience. As many as 60% of millennials are loyal to brands that offer a unique shopping experience, and since millennials are positioned to be the biggest spenders in the country, businesses are following their lead. This need to control more than just the product has B2Bs looking toward the B2B2C model.
The B2B2C model can work in several different industries and it doesn’t look exactly the same for each business. So, let’s dive into the corners of B2B2C and take a look at what it is, the benefits and the challenges of it, and how it can succeed.
What is B2B2C Ecommerce?
B2B2C ecommerce takes out the middleman usually between the B2B organization and the B2C, putting the businesses directly in contact with the consumer. The B2B2C model can best be described by looking at how a wholesaler or manufacturer interacts with traditional B2B and B2C models.
In those cases, the wholesaler or manufacturer sends goods to the B2B, and those goods are then sold to the final consumer. In a B2B2C model, the wholesaler or manufacturer reaches the final consumer by either partnering with the B2B or directly selling to the consumer. With B2B2C ecommerce, these transitions happen online, often through virtual storefronts, an ecommerce website, or even apps.
In many B2B2C ecommerce models, the consumer knows they are getting products from a business that’s separate from where they purchased it. For example, the consumer may purchase a product from an affiliate blogger but the product is branded and sent by the manufacturer.
For many long-standing B2B companies, taking things one step further and moving from a B2B model to B2B2C is becoming a popular choice. Let’s take a look at why.
Why are B2B Businesses Expanding to B2B2C?
For some businesses, the B2B2C ecommerce model simply makes sense given today’s retail climate. As consumers grow more comfortable with shopping online, they’ve come to expect a seamless buying experience, which includes having a relationship with the brand.
Because of this, many B2Bs are finding it difficult to stay relevant. In some cases, the relationship between B2Bs and B2Cs is siloed, and savvy consumers—especially millennials and Gen Z—are starting to notice.
Millennials have forced many brands to change the way they work and interact with consumers. With the power to spend $1.4 trillion (accounting for 30% of all retail sales in 2020), this unique group of consumers is not one to ignore.
Having grown up in the digital landscape of Google and Amazon, along with a myriad of social media platforms, millennials expect a lot from the places where they choose to shop. They want a store to offer self-service, with 24/7 access, so they can purchase at their convenience.
Even business buyers have become more critical of the wholesalers they work with. According to research, 70% of business buyers are looking for a user experience similar to Amazon when they purchase goods and 74% of business buyers want their shopping experience to be personalized.
B2B2C Ecommerce: Maximizing Business Opportunities
B2B2C ecommerce models have plenty of benefits for the B2B and the B2C to make the bridge. In a B2B2C model, it takes work on both sides of the hybrid agreement.
A B2B2C benefits the B2B — or the wholesaler or manufacturer — by reaching a large and loyal customer base, making bulk sales, retaining credibility by working with trusted brands, and having low customer acquisition costs.
A B2B2C benefits the B2C — the retailer or service provider — by making sales without backend logistics, attracting loyal customers to the store or website, having a wide-range of high-quality products to offer, and selling similar products and services.
Let’s take a deeper look into the benefits of B2B2C ecommerce:
1. Strategic customer growth.
When a business is a B2B2C, one of the major benefits is getting access to customers who are ready to buy. Consider this: if a B2B decided to switch to a B2C model, they’d have to create a consumer-facing brand from the ground up, including building a robust marketing strategy.
When a B2B decides to partner and move to the B2B2C model, the consumer-facing elements are already in place and successful. A B2B2C hybrid also looks to make business sense, in terms of the consumer. For example, a discount store isn’t going to partner with a high-end candle wholesaler. The partnership is targeted, so the B2C already knows the consumer will be excited and ready to purchase items from the manufacturer.
2. Removes disconnect.
In the traditional B2B model, a manufacturer sells their inventory to a retailer and the transaction for the B2B is over. The retailer, or the B2C, can then take those items and sell them at a price-point they choose and can market them in any way they like.
In a B2B2C model, the manufacturer gets to create and maintain the relationship with their customers. The sales process is also simplified. The business has control over all of the branding, and they get to keep consumer data. This improves the customer experience and can help make for a frictionless buying process.
3. Maintain control over supply chain.
Remember, in a B2B2C ecommerce model, there’s no middleman. This means a supplier can bypass the supply chain, purchase items for less and sell products for a lower price point. Lower prices make everyone happy.
Skipping the supply chain also means manufacturers can offer products faster. Today’s buyer wants to be able to purchase and return items as fast as possible. Many times, traditional B2B and B2C models couldn’t keep up with buyer demand. A B2B2C is more efficient, especially for the fashion industry which must keep up with seasonal fabrics and styles.
Challenges of B2B2C Ecommerce
Of course, the B2B2C ecommerce model has its challenges along with the benefits. One of the disadvantages of the B2B2C model is creating an effective marketing strategy. Generally speaking, a B2B2C is dealing with different groups of buyers — the retailer or the affiliate and the consumer — so creating a cohesive plan can be a unique challenge.
There’s also the issue of integrating the technical side of the business. In a B2B model, the manufacturer used a website created for selling to other businesses. While B2Bs often work years to create innovative online options for their clients, creating a consumer-facing site has different needs. With a B2B2C, there’s a more complex online buying experience that must work seamlessly with an inventory warehouse.
Does B2B2C Make Sense for All B2B Ecommerce Businesses?
In short, B2B2C doesn’t make sense for every B2B ecommerce business. In order for this model to be successful, everyone involved should benefit.
If a B2B is considering the B2B2C model, their clients would have to be willing and ready to provide access to consumers who would be interested in purchasing the products. The B2B would also need to have direct access to consumer data so they can personalize products to match customers’ needs.
If a B2C is considering the B2B2C model, their B2B partner should be willing to sell additional products or services outside of its core business. The B2B partner should see the advantages of working with you, instead of entering the market on their own.
The B2B2C model is a hybrid solution; a true partnership. Although it’s not for every business, it does work for many, especially as consumers’ buying habits continue to evolve. Even if the B2B2C model isn’t right for a business today, it might be the right solution in the future.
Building the Ultimate B2B2C Strategy
If the benefits of a B2B2C ecommerce model are enticing, next comes creating a strategy that’s built for success. There are several parts to a strategy, but having an ecommerce solution — such as a B2B2C ecommerce platform — that works for the customers and for the business is key. Here’s what any B2B2C should prioritize in their strategy:
1. Prioritize customer experience.
The customer experience is one of the major differences between the B2B and B2B2C models, which is why it’s at the top of the list. B2B2Cs should create a customer experience that drives loyalty.
The consumer-facing website needs to have the bases covered when it comes to page load speed, page structure and overall design. It should also feature relevant content and a seamless buying experience, from selecting items to completing checkout. Finally, the security of the site is paramount since it will house sensitive customer data and payment information.
2. Make your store web responsive.
Mobile ecommerce in the U.S. in 2020 will bring in $314 billion, which is 44% of total ecommerce sales. Making your online store responsive to mobile will cater to those smartphone shoppers. Having an omnichannel approach to B2B2C sales will also work in your favor.
Millennial and Gen Z consumers prefer using their phones to shop because of the convenience. Once you’ve gone through the efforts of creating a responsive mobile site, you can also attract buyers with exclusive discounts or rewards by using branded shopping apps.
3. Cross-selling and upselling.
An online store can — and should — offer similar products to customers in real-time, just as an in-store sales associate or a member of a sales team would do. Certainly we’ve all found great products by looking at those suggested under “Customers who viewed this product also viewed…”
This kind of product suggestion really comes in handy if an item requires multiple pieces, such as a desk and the matching chair or electronics with proper charging equipment. This is another small way to build loyalty, as the customer will appreciate the helpful and frictionless buying process.
4. Flexible and fully integrated platform.
Having a fully integrated platform means catering to B2B customers as well as the end consumer. When B2B clients visit your site, they will likely be looking for catalogs, ready-to-ship kits and multiple payment options. On the other hand, consumers are more interested in the overall look and ease of your site as they complete transactions.
Tactics for Being Successful with B2B2C
Once you’ve got the components of a winning strategy figured out, it’s time to get into the tactics that will create a successful B2B2C.
1. Create B2B specific promotions.
It’s easy to forget that even in the B2B space, buyers are humans. B2B customers want a great shopping experience and, just like end consumers, they’re less-likely to walk away from a targeted promotion. Expand your B2B reach by offering trade-ins and price reductions.
You can also tap into other sales channels and create social media promotions for your B2B clients. A study from Hinge Marketing revealed that more than 60% of buyers research service providers online before making a purchase.
2. Advertise customer service.
Good customer service can help your business stand out, but it’s usually only considered in the B2C model. Having customer service — and making it known — will also help customer retention.
Use your customer service to help your clients save money. You can also use this department to reach out to clients for feedback. Answering questions and assisting current or potential clients on social media is also a great way to help them, while also letting others know that you have a team available for assistance.
3. Create a referral program to benefit your dealer network.
If customers consistently have a positive experience with your product, a referral program can expand your reach to new clients. Consider the type of reward that would resonate best with your current clients — this could be a discount, a free training, a gift card, etc.
Next, figure out when and how the client will be rewarded. Of course, you’ll want to automate this process so it doesn’t require additional business processes on the backend. Finally, promote the referral program so clients can start spreading the word.
Examples of B2B2C Ecommerce
There are B2B2C ecommerce models in many different industries, from insurance and construction to fashion and food. Let’s take a look at some of the companies that have morphed into B2B2Cs to meet consumer demand and reach business goals.
1. Lammes Candies.
The family-owned candy company in Austin, Texas opened in 1885, long before ecommerce was an option. Lammes Candies made a name for itself with its pecan pralines, mailing them around the world in the 1920s. But over the years, Lammes Candies has shifted its model to keep up with consumer demand and business needs, all while utilizing available technology.
With the birth of the internet, Lammes Candies took a step toward ecommerce by creating a visual online catalog, but making sales over the phone. Today, the company has a robust online ordering system and they make 50% of their revenue from wholesale customers, and the other 50% from consumers. The B2B2C model works for Lammes Candies because of the relationships they maintain with other businesses, but also because of their direct sales with the end consumer via their website and retail shops.
UPLIFT Desk, a manufacturer and retailer of standing desks, ergonomic chairs and other office accessories won over customers by creating an online experience that lets them customize and truly see their desk before purchasing it. Customers enjoy this type of option, especially when the item is a higher-priced investment piece.
UPLIFT Desk sells directly to consumers online, but is working to expand their B2B efforts. Through their website, they’ve provided desks for large employers including Google, NBC and M.I.T, among many others. Their unique online buying experience makes UPLIFT Desk attractive to end-consumers, but also to B2B customers.
Before all of the changes of 2020 came along, more consumers were making the shift to shopping online. The effects of the pandemic was the push many businesses and consumers needed to get online, and it looks like they’re going to stay for a while.
Consumers are now looking for personalized shopping experiences that are convenient and financially savvy. This demand has not gone unnoticed from B2Bs around the globe. Making the transition to a B2B2C model allows businesses to have more control over the customer experience and, if done right, it can also result in more revenue and more opportunities.
The global ecommerce industry is vast. In 2019, the value of ecommerce sales worldwide reached $3.535 trillion. Yes, trillion…with a ‘T’. The size of the sector has been growing year-on-year for over a decade.
It’s fair to say that online shopping has revolutionized retail. As ecommerce first took hold, pessimistic prognosticators claimed it would be a death knell for retail jobs. The age of shop assistants, they argued, was over.
That may have proved right to an extent, but the idea that ecommerce would harm the job market isn’t. You don’t need an in-person shop assistant for each purchase, but you do need 1000s of workers behind the scenes. They’re who make online shopping work.
If you’re looking to join their ranks, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’ll tell you all you need to know about jobs in ecommerce. That includes:
- Why jobs in ecommerce are so sought after
- Which are the hottest ecommerce jobs around
- Where you can find the right ecommerce job for you
- Which skills you should hone to improve your chances of landing that ideal role
Why Look for an Ecommerce Job Right Now?
Ecommerce is big business. Ask someone to name the most significant company they can think of, and many of them will come back with ‘Amazon’. As such a thriving sector, there are many reasons to seek either full-time or part-time jobs with ecommerce companies.
1. Ecommerce has a fantastic long-term global growth outlook.
As we saw earlier, the ecommerce market has seen sustained growth for years. At a time when many sectors are struggling, the industry’s future prospects also look brighter.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have shopped online more rather than less – at least for many types of products. It’s been one of the biggest changes alongside the growth in remote working. Plenty of people have had greater exposure to ecommerce during lockdowns. That’s likely to impact shopping habits well beyond the end of the crisis.
2. Ecommerce gives you a “feel” for customers.
Modern ecommerce businesses are obsessed with giving superior user experience. To succeed in the competitive niche, an ecommerce company must be customer-centric. That means teaching their staff to empathize with and understand consumers. It’s as essential as providing tools such as a VoIP phone system for small businesses to aid communication.
A job in ecommerce, then, is a great way to get a ‘feel’ for customers. You’ll learn how to ID pain points and understand how to serve consumers best. Those are transferable skills that will stand you in good stead in your career.
3. Ecommerce exposes you to all aspects of a business.
Ecommerce jobs are, by nature, multi-faceted. When you work for an ecommerce business, you’ll get presented with varied tasks. It’s how the sector operates. Workforce optimization in the niche usually means using the same staff for many activities.
One day you may need to monitor the brand’s social media, the next, you could be editing their ecommerce platform. The wide-ranging experience you’ll gain will stand you in good stead for the future.
4. Learn fast by instant feedback.
Online shoppers expect a seamless customer experience. Part of that is expecting ecommerce companies to react at speed to criticism or issues. The need for speed trickles down to all ecommerce staff, even those in entry level positions.
Working in such a high-pace environment presents lots of learning opportunities. You’ll get instant feedback on your efforts and be expected to respond. If you can handle the pressure, your hard and soft skills will improve in no time.
19 Hottest Jobs in Ecommerce
As the ecommerce sector grows, so do the job opportunities within it. Far more than you may realize goes into making your online order go smoothly. The following are just 17 examples of the types of ecommerce jobs out there waiting for you to grab them.
1. Entry-level jobs in ecommerce.
As with many industries, new hires in ecommerce may have to start with an entry level job and work their way up. Unlike other sectors, though, you’ll find plenty of these types of job postings from ecommerce businesses.
Internships are a great way to get a foot in the door of any organization. An ecommerce business is no exception. The beauty of being an intern is that you can prove your utility to a company without much prior experience.
It’s likely only to be the largest firms that take on interns. Such positions can be paid, stipend, or unpaid. The first and last of those options are self-explanatory. A stipendiary internship is one where your travel or other expenses may get covered. You don’t, though, receive a wage or salary.
As an intern, you’re expected to turn your hand to whatever an ecommerce manager asks. You won’t be doing anything glamorous like developing new products. You may end up making lots of coffee. No matter, you’ll gather loads of invaluable experience.
Customer service representative
Of all ecommerce job titles, customer service representative is the most fundamental. No ecommerce company can thrive without these employees. They’re the frontline workers who handle orders and answer customer queries. Often, they may also deal with inbound sales over the phone.
In smaller firms, these individuals may also dabble in other areas at quieter times. That means things like email marketing, ecommerce website design, and more. At time of writing, the US national average wage for a customer service representative is $16 per hour.
Marketing is an essential part of ecommerce. Marketing specialists help businesses track and understand prevailing market trends. They ensure that new products, promotions, and more get tailored to consumer demands.
Larger ecommerce companies may have a marketing manager above a team of specialists. At an SME, a customer service rep or another team member may be asked to be a marketing specialist, too.
SEO content writer
In the online world, the search engine is king. No ecommerce business can thrive if their pages don’t get plenty of traffic. An SEO content writer is essential to vaulting a site up the search engine results pages.
These workers are responsible for optimizing all the written content on ecommerce websites. They use platforms like Google Analytics to track and improve the performance of product, category, and other pages. They’re likely also to be involved with link building.
Once again, the role of SEO content writer may fall to another worker at the smallest ecommerce businesses. Major brands like Clarks, meanwhile, might have a full team of writers. They may even outsource the work to specialists.
Logistics is a critical aspect of ecommerce. You can have all the SEO or digital marketing in the world, but your firm will fail if you can’t fulfill orders. Warehouse personnel are essential to order fulfillment.
They pick the items needed for each order, pack them, and ensure they leave on time. Workers in the warehouse are also vital for inventory management. They update colleagues or systems on stock levels, ensuring firms don’t over or undersell. All ecommerce firms – except those who only dropship – will have warehouse personnel.
Operating an ecommerce business generates a lot of admin. That includes handling supplier payments, doing the accounts, and more. An administrative assistant shoulders the burden of such paperwork and organization.
An admin assistant’s role may form part of a customer service rep’s job in a smaller firm. That’s even though their job title does not cover it. More notable brands, meanwhile, will have specialists who are not customer-facing.
This is one of the broader job descriptions in the world of ecommerce. A retention specialist works to keep customers loyal to a brand, in whatever way they can. Maintaining a customer base, after all, is critical to any business.
These employees can be either full-time or part-time. They are usually restricted, though, to more established brands. They’re not strictly ecommerce specialists and can work in other fields, too. Their job is to ensure customer experiences that keep shoppers coming back for more. They might create ebooks of product usage instructions or reach out to customers for feedback.
2. Experienced-level jobs in ecommerce.
That accounts for the entry level jobs in ecommerce. One of the great things about the sector, though, is that there are also plenty of opportunities for more experienced candidates.
User experience designer
User experiences are fundamental to ecommerce. They’re the interactions between customers and a brand’s services – i.e., their website or apps. A user experience (UX) designer must ensure those services work as well as they can. Take the below screenshot of the Glory Cycles website as an example:
A UX designer would have been responsible for tailoring the site to its audience. They will have decided on the placement of the search bar, and the titles for the navigation tabs.
That’s only scratching the surface. These professionals must understand online marketing, customer experience, and more. That’s the only way to get UX design just right. They may even play a part in optimizing tools like ACD call center software to aid customer support.
All businesses – in ecommerce and otherwise – want loyal customers. Consumers who keep coming back for more are great for the bottom line. One way to boost loyalty is by building a community around your ecommerce brand. This is something that often leverages the power of social media.
We can all think of those brands whose customers are more like fanatics. They’re always talking about the latest new product or what else a firm is up to. They’re hugely useful as brand advocates. A community builder aims to create such a following by combining the roles of a social media specialist and project manager.
There are two main types of developers who work for ecommerce businesses. Those are website and software developers. The role of the former is self-explanatory. The latter are often tasked with building specialist databases or applications.
These roles are amongst the most sought after. Recruiting top tech talent, after all, is always tricky. Less established ecommerce businesses may not have such professionals in-house. They’re more likely to use ready-made ecommerce platforms or outsource development work. The biggest brands – who can afford the higher wages – are where these roles exist.
Ecommerce companies have extensive IT infrastructures. Many run various types of software solutions and have lots of hardware in offices and warehouses. An IT technician is charged with providing the all-important technical support. The more complex the infrastructure, the more crucial that technical support gets.
This is another job title that’s unlikely to get found at smaller companies. The big boys of ecommerce, though, certainly have in-house business analysts. Their job is to keep their fingers on the pulse of business operations.
A business analyst will analyze the data generated by an ecommerce company. They’ll then report back to ecommerce managers, project managers, and others about what is and isn’t working.
Ecommerce is a visual niche. The imagery used on an ecommerce website or in marketing materials plays a major role in influencing customers. Online consumers, after all, can’t see products ‘in the flesh’.
A graphic designer for an ecommerce business handles that crucial visual communication. They may get charged with designing a new homepage or drafting images for new products. A more significant firm with lots of need for original content would employ several in-house graphic designers.
3. Management jobs in ecommerce.
There is also a range of managerial positions within the ecommerce niche. It’s little wonder, with so many different professionals for each firm to keep track of. These are some of the most common management jobs in ecommerce.
Supply chain manager
Keeping track of the supply chain is essential for any ecommerce brand to succeed. A supply chain manager has ultimate responsibility for that process. That means they must stay across many activities and areas. Those include relationships with suppliers, inventory management, deliveries, and reverse logistics. Amongst other elements.
A supply chain manager is in charge of their company’s warehouse personnel. In ecommerce businesses with tight budgets, an owner may take up this role by proxy. Many companies, though, will employ a dedicated supply chain manager.
Digital operations manager
A digital operations manager is similar to a project manager. In their case, though, the project encompasses all the firm’s digital activities. Think website maintenance, SEO, email marketing, and more. In essence, this ecommerce specialist must keep all digital platforms operational and stable.
Digital marketing manager
There’s a fair bit of crossover in the roles of digital operations and digital marketing managers. This job title, however, is more specialized. This type of ecommerce manager focuses on material that’s customer-facing.
A digital marketing manager is in charge of all online promotion of a brand. They use tools such as Google Analytics and manage staff, including SEO content writers and community builders.
Customer satisfaction manager
We’ve already touched on the importance of world class customer service in ecommerce. Dissatisfied customers swiftly abandon online brands. Some larger ecommerce companies, then, employ a dedicated customer satisfaction manager.
This individual must keep an overview of all the brand’s attempts to improve user experience. They would have responsibility for non-managerial customer service employees. They also play a part in tech decisions impacting those staff. For instance, they might recommend a call forwarding service to connect customers better to support agents.
In ecommerce, as elsewhere in business, managing the money is vital. A financial manager has ultimate control over a firm’s finances. That means they look after budgets, expenditure, payroll, and more.
The role of a financial manager is crucial to all ecommerce businesses. For those with limited budgets, though, their tasks may fall to other managers. Multi-tasking is a hallmark of SMEs, after all.
Director of ecommerce
The big cheese. The head honcho. The…well, you get the idea. The director of ecommerce is in charge of all a firm’s online shopping operations. The previous managers and all other ecommerce project managers answer to them. For the most significant decisions, this is where the buck stops.
Skills Necessary for a Successful Ecommerce Career
Now you’ve read our rundown of the hottest jobs in ecommerce, you may have found the one you want. What’s left is to do everything you can to go out and get it. That starts with honing the essential skills you’ll need in your new job.
1. Technical skills.
Here are the technical skills you may need for a great job in ecommerce.
Web traffic is like gold dust to any ecommerce brand. Getting more people to visit their site is one crucial way of growing revenue. Ecommerce SEO is fundamental to increasing traffic. You stand a much better chance of getting employed, then, if you’re an expert. Try to learn about things like keyword research, metadata, and link building.
Much of succeeding in ecommerce is about being persuasive. An ecommerce website must convince visitors to buy. So must any online marketing materials. The copy used on product pages and elsewhere, then, must be top-notch. If you’re able to write such content, a potential employer will sit up and take notice.
Ecommerce businesses generate lots of data. Information comes from diverse sources like Google Analytics and order management software. That info can build up quickly and is invaluable if interpreted correctly. Teach yourself to analyze data and recognize patterns. That way, you can help a new employer track consumer trends and perform more accurate demand forecasting.
Understand the market
No ecommerce brand exists in a vacuum. Each one gets affected by market trends and the actions of their rivals. It’s crucial for team members at each brand, then, to understand the broader market. Educate yourself on this before you start a new job, and you’ll have a head start.
2. Soft skills.
These soft skills will help advance any ecommerce career.
Getting new jobs in ecommerce isn’t all about practical skills. The top companies will take it as read that applicants can use Excel or understand product management. They want candidates who support those abilities with soft skills like creativity.
Take the above example of Hyphen Sleep’s homepage. It took out of the box thinking to develop such an impactful page. Such creativity is what helps an ecommerce business to shine. Show a firm that you have it, and they’ll want to bring you on board.
You should have realized by now that working in ecommerce is fast-paced and unpredictable. Whether you work in a customer-facing or backroom role, no two days are the same. Being able to adapt to what each shift throws at you is essential, therefore.
You might think that there’s less human interaction in ecommerce than traditional retail. In sheer numbers, you could be right. The interactions there are, though, are more critical and trickier to navigate. It’s not as easy to ease an unhappy customer’s concerns via email as it is in person. Nor is it as straightforward to sell the benefits of a product that someone can’t see or touch. People skills, then, are crucial to ecommerce roles.
I’m Ready to Work in Ecommerce. Where Should I Look?
Identified the ecommerce job you want? Sharpened up your practical and human skills? Then you’re ready to get out there and capture your dream role. Here are some tips to help you on your way.
1. Get a referral.
We’ve all heard the adage that ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’. You can’t show off your skills, after all, until a manager or recruiter agrees to meet you. Getting a referral from an existing employee is an excellent way to get your foot in the door.
Employers like hiring candidates recommended to them by trusted colleagues. It’s quicker than traditional recruiting, and the applicant has already been vouched for. Reaching out to contacts who already work in ecommerce is a superb first step to getting new jobs in the sector.
2. Expand your network.
You might be unfortunate and not know anyone working at a company you want to join. This is more likely for those looking to get an entry level job. It’s not the quickest or most straightforward tip, but it pays to grow your network.
That means making new connections who could help you with referrals down the road. There are plenty of ways to do this, including:
- Attending ecommerce conferences and events
- Joining professional groups on LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.
- Enjoying hobbies and interests that introduce you to different groups of people
3. Create an ecommerce presence.
If you’re looking for a higher-level new job, a prospective employer expects a level of expertise. They’ll want to see proof you’re an authority in your field. You need to present them with evidence of precisely that.
This is another long-term strategy. You must build your ecommerce presence throughout your career. Try things like writing educational blogs or speaking at conferences. Maybe you could even sign up to Help a Reporter Out as an expert source on all things ecommerce.
4. Work with a recruiter.
Finding the perfect new job is a personal endeavor. That doesn’t mean you can’t get help, though. Recruiters are there to do all they can to get you that dream role. They can guide you through the whole process. That includes getting you access to positions that may not get publicly advertised. Some ecommerce companies, after all, work exclusively with recruiters to fill their vacancies.
5. Explore a job board.
When new jobs get advertised, they appear on job boards. These are online forums you can sift in search of the perfect opening for you. The following are four useful platforms to get you started.
Indeed is a job board with a global presence. It’s designed to make it straightforward to find whichever new career you desire.
You can upload your resume to make it searchable by recruiters. What’s more, the intuitive search feature lets you find specific roles where you live.
We’ve all heard of LinkedIn. It’s the more professional, big brother of the usual social media channels. You might have used it for networking remotely, or even a bit of marketing if that’s your field.
You can also utilize the platform as a job board. Simply head to the ‘Jobs’ tab of the network, and get started. A prominent search feature makes it straightforward to find those ideal positions. You can also set up job alerts to ensure you don’t miss any new opportunities that get posted.
ZipRecruiter is another readily available board for job seekers to search. Headquartered in California, the company’s reach is worldwide. The job board often boasts over one million opportunities.
Once again, the easiest way to use ZipRecruiter is by performing a swift search. You can also, however, set up a profile and use a range of extra features. They include being able to browse ‘Suggested Jobs’ and create job alerts.
Ecommerce job board
As its name suggests, our final job board is one specifically for the ecommerce sector. Ecommerce job boards are devoted to advertising full-time, part-time, and freelance roles in the industry.
The principal benefit of this board is that more of the advertised jobs will apply to you. You don’t have to filter out all those opportunities in different sectors. Instead, you can browse only roles related to your area of interest.
Ecommerce is a booming sector. Sales and revenue in the market have grown year-on-year for over a decade. Even amid the uncertainty of COVID-19, online shopping is a robust industry. That makes it an excellent one in which to launch a career.
Whether you’re starting out or have experience, there are loads of hot jobs in ecommerce. Hopefully, thanks to our rundown of those opportunities, you know the role that will suit you. What’s left for you to do, then, is place yourself best to grab that dream job.
Build your technical and soft skills to make yourself an irresistible candidate. Then, trawl your network, recruiters, and job boards to pinpoint the opportunity you’re going to turn into a new job. With your new grounding in jobs in ecommerce, you can’t fail.