Author: Jessica McDonald

Singles Day – What Merchants Outside China Need To Know

singles day

No one is exactly sure how singles day started, but the most popular e-commerce legend is that it emerged from the dorms of Nanjing University in 1993 when four single male students got together to discuss how to make single life more fun. One suggested that because of the ones in the date, November 11 would be a good day on which to organize activities for singles. What started as the tradition of a small group of friends gradually became a tradition for the whole university, and by the early 2000s had spread throughout the country. A kind of anti-valentines day, hard-working young singles could use the day as an excuse to get together and do fun stuff like visit karaoke bars together and eat youtiao – fried dough strips that resemble the number one. All good-hearted, innocent fun.

Then in 2009, Jack Ma decided to populate a lull period in Alibaba’s sales calendar by monetizing singles day; and the rest is now e-commerce history.

Over the next few years, Alibaba, JD, and other Chinese e-commerce players all expanded their one-day discounts, and sales grew exponentially. Singles day has now grown so big, Black Friday and Amazon Prime Day look trivial in comparison. Cyber Monday saw sales reach $3.4 billion in the United States last year, which sounds impressive until you find out that it was less than one-fifth of Alibaba’s sales from Singles Day.

In 2016, retailers on Alibaba’s eCommerce platform took in $17.8 billion in gross sales on singles day. $1 billion worth of orders were placed in the first five minutes of Alibaba’s event.

More items were bought on Alibaba’s platform in that 24 hours than were bought during the entire combined Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in the United States.

Amazon’s total revenue for 2016 was $136 billion. This means that the 24 hour singles day period of sales on Alibaba would account for more than 10 percent of Amazon’s total annual revenue — and that includes the vast array of Amazon’s ecosystem.

Why Is singles day so big?

Part of the reason is just sheer numbers. Of course, the Chinese market is going too far outstrip the UK or even the U.S. market – by 2022, just the middle class of the Chinese market is expected to reach 550 million people, significantly more than the projected 340 million or so people in all of the United States.

Another reason is the diversity of Singles day in terms of products sold. Last year’s singles day broke eight product-sale world records; these included selling 10.1m litres of milk, 3.1m mobile handsets, 1.1m watches, and 643,964 televisions.

It has been suggested by some industry experts that singles day being a celebration day and not just a shopping holiday may also be an encouraging factor some customers.

How has Singles Day affected retailers outside of China?

Last year, Topshop saw its sales surge by over 900% compared to Singles Day in 2014. “These results clearly indicate how impactful this online calendar moment has become, and as a key focus market for the brand we see 11.11 as a great way to raise brand awareness and conversion in China,” says a Topshop spokesperson.

Quintessentially British greengrocer Waitrose has already expanded its product offering from 30 items to more than 50 on Tmall, and its first Singles Day this year will doubtless provide more valuable insight into what tickles the fancy of Chinese consumers.

Singles day outside China 2017

Singles Day gets more attention outside of China every year, and this should be no huge surprise. The U.K.’s own adoption of Black Friday is proof that one country’s shopping holidays can be exported to other countries. Adopting singles day would allow retailers outside of China to add a few more weeks to their holiday shopping season, helping to smooth some of their sales peaks, hire fewer people for a longer time, have some wiggle room to respond to unexpected spikes in demand or supply chain disasters, and still keep Black Friday as a lower-pressure, enjoyable shopping day – and as a result, make more of those all-important sales at a better margin to begin with.

Preparing your business for Small Business Saturday

Small business Saturday

What is Small Business Saturday?

Black Friday and Cyber Monday tend to be dominated by big businesses. Small Business Saturday was introduced by American Express, in an attempt to redress the balance. Initially introduced in the US 7 years ago, an impressive 72 percent of U.S. consumers now know about Small Business Saturday. In 2016, an estimated112 million shoppers showed their support for small businesses on the seventh annual Small Business Saturday, setting a new record for the retail event in the US. Introduced to the UK five years ago, last year’s event in the UK is estimated to have earned smaller businesses an additional £717m of sales, up 15 percent on 2015.

This year’s small business Saturday will be November 25th in the US, and December 2nd in the UK.

Here’s our advice on getting ready to cash in on what is set to be the biggest Small Business Saturday yet:

Plan

Make a point of including Small Business Saturday in your plans for the season. Think of your goals and how the day can help you. It could be as straightforward as using the day to increase awareness of your business or to grow your email list by encouraging customers to sign up for special offers and news.

Your goals will help drive your tactics, so spend time researching and planning these.

Create a Special Offer

This is a great day to rally your customers and attract new ones by enticing them with special offers like a one-day coupon code, or a free sample. Whatever you do, go above and beyond to make your customers feel special and give them a compelling reason to keep coming back throughout the holidays and beyond. If you have a physical store, make sure any offers can be redeemed both in-store and via e-commerce as well.

Use Free Shop Small Resources

American Express, who founded Small Business Saturday in 2010, offers a number of free marketing materials to help you promote your involvement. These can be easily customized for your own business and include printable signage, free online ads, sample email templates and social posts and Shop Small logos. If you’re an American Express merchant, then you can also use the Shop Small map to make it easy for people to discover and locate your business.

Shop Small resources US

Shop Small resources UK

Be social

Between Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media tools, it’s hard to keep up. But don’t despair; social media can be your greatest asset if used correctly. The Small Business Saturday page on Facebook has more than three million fans, making it a great resource. Always use the #SmallBizSat or #ShopSmall hashtags on Twitter and Instagram to highlight special offers or discounts when the topics are trending.

Be Local

Update your Adwords by optimizing or adding keywords to match whatever deals you’re running for the big shopping days. These strategic changes, while minor, can really help you attract customers come Small Business Saturday. In addition, consider using geographic targeting. Geo-targeted messages on Twitter and Facebook will help you attract customers on the go.

Stock Up

Stock up on potentially popular items. The last thing you’ll want is to run out of your most popular merchandise before the season is over. It’s critical to understand your product or service demands during the holiday season. Look at what you sold during previous holiday seasons, and make sure that you order enough stock to cover you for additional events and promotions this year.

7 signs your e-commerce website design needs to change

e-commerce website design

An online store’s appearance, usability, and features should convey trustworthiness and professionalism. How an e-commerce site looks and behaves speaks to its safety and credibility. The essential element of good e-commerce website design is understanding what makes your website enjoyable for a customer to use. The moment your website stops making customers feel good about doing business with you is the moment it is hurting your business.

If your e-commerce site is experiencing any of the following seven signs, it may be time to upgrade.

1. Your site is slow

The cardinal sin of e-commerce website design has to be slow load time. Customers hate slow loading websites. It has always been this way, but with fast connections now being the norm even on mobile devices, customers are becoming even less patient.

40% of customers will leave a website and not return after waiting three seconds or longer for loading. Source

If your site is slow, it may be time for a new site or at least some site improvements.

We have written a free guide to improving your site’s load speed which you can download for practical advice on improving your site speed.

2. Your site is difficult to maintain

If changing the home page banner or updating product information on your site requires a developer or is just difficult, you may need a new website.

E-commerce platforms such as BigCommerce or Shopify have many functions, not the least of which is to manage content — whether that content is product information, images, or blog posts. Your business should be able to make rapid changes in a few easy clicks.

3. Your Code Base Is Out of Date

It is the golden age of web development. Almost daily there are new capabilities, new APIs, new frameworks, or new libraries available. It can be hard to keep up. Unfortunately, being behind isn’t just a matter of missing out on features or performance. From a security point of view, out of date code is often vulnerable code.

E-commerce websites need regular maintenance to ensure safe code is used. If your site has an old code base, a new website could be in order.

4. Your Site Is Hard to Navigate

Shopping online should be easy. A good e-commerce website design needs a functional search tool that returns relevant results in a flash. It also needs product categories that customers can use to filter down to the products they want. Layered and faceted navigation is needed to help make it easy to sort through your offerings.

Customers won’t always tell you when your site navigation is bad. They will just leave. If conversion rates or time on site stats are poor, a possible navigation problem should be one of the first you investigate.

Long drop-down menus are a notorious conversion killer. This is obviously a problem for merchants with a wide inventory. A mega menu is a solution to this issue. A type of expandable menu in which many choices are displayed in a two-dimensional layout. Navigation is structured through typography and everything is visible at once, eliminating the need for scrolling.

Good e-commerce site navigation, like this header menu on wildaboutcarts.com ; an e-commerce website design created by Frooition BigCommerce developers.

e-commerce website design

5. Your Site Is Difficult to Expand

It should be easy to integrate your e-commerce platform with third-party services. Want to start using a great new order processing software suite? You should be able to tie into it via an application programming interface (API). If your site or platform can’t, you are at a competitive disadvantage.

If your goal is to increase turnover and profits, then your website must be easy to extend and integrate. If it is not, you might need a new site.

6. You’ve just turned over your first million

The e-commerce platform that got you your first million in online sales may not be the best choice to get you to 10 million.

Online shops with annual sales below a million are grouped as small e-commerce retailers, and often face significantly different challenges to larger online sellers. Because of this, it only makes sense that you might need a different e-commerce platform to make that jump from small to medium e-commerce.

Look for a solution that helps you automate processes.

When your business had ten orders a day, as an example, it was simple to look out for fraud. When you have 1,000 orders per day, fraud prevention may need to be integrated into your site.

When your business grows, your site must evolve too.

If you are interested in seeing more live e-commerce website design examples, check out our Shopify and BigCommerce portfolios.

Cross-selling in eBay listings

cross selling in eBay

Some of the biggest retailers of all time owe much of their growth to cross-selling. Cross-selling can help companies nurture and maximize relationships with current customers, increasing profits and efficiency. From the sweeties at the supermarket checkout, to the plant pots in Ikea displayed with a plant sold separately ready placed inside, cross-selling is every retailer’s favorite profit-boosting trick.

McDonald’s have built an empire from cross-selling; never failing to ask if you would like fries or a drink with your burger. Online, Amazon has leveraged the power of cross-selling to help them become one of the largest retailers of all time. Both the “Frequently Bought Together” and “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” sections on Amazon product pages promote products related to the item that you are currently viewing. Amazon’s “customers who bought this also bought” is especially clever, because it combines social proof (telling you others bought it) with cross-selling related items. This technique is so effective, that Amazon has previously attributed as much as 35% of their total revenue to cross-selling.

But how can we profit from cross-selling in eBay listings?

Regardless of where it is, the best cross-selling identifies products that satisfy additional, complementary needs that are unfulfilled by the original item. For example, a case could be cross-sold to a customer purchasing a laptop. When items suggested by cross-selling are relevant, they help the customer and enhance the shopping experience.

Cross-selling often points users to products they would have purchased anyway; by showing them at the right time, a store ensures they make the sale. The best place to cross-sell is on a product page. When on the product page, the customer is already in buying mode, and it is at this point that cross-selling can offer genuine benefit to a customer, enabling them to buy all the items they need at once, from a seller they trust. This is why cross-selling in eBay listings is so effective.

cross-selling in eBay listings

To cross-sell effectively, the most important point is to think about those products that naturally pair well, like shoes and socks. You must decide, what is the sock to the “shoe” that you’re selling? Pay special attention to the price points of the items you pair, and cross-sell products are typically similar in cost. If you are selling a laptop for $1,200 a printer for $100 would be a logical cross-sell, but if you are selling the printer, the laptop would be too big a purchase for the cross-sell. Better to suggest a pack of paper, or extra ink cartridges.

Pro Tip: If you don’t offer free shipping, combined shipping on multiple items is a powerful extra incentive for customers to buy from cross-selling.

Some of the biggest sellers on eBay have grown using cross-selling in eBay listings to increase basket value. Changes to eBay policy mean that many of the coding techniques people previously used to create dynamic cross-selling galleries are no longer permitted on eBay, but it is still possible to cross-sell your own items within your own listings and stay within eBay’s policy guidelines. Frooition cross promotion is eBay certified and totally dynamic. This means that it automatically shows relevant items based on criteria you set and instantly updates itself when those items are no longer available or listings are no longer live.

GolfMad have a Frooition custom design and make excellent use of its cross-selling features. The item shown below is a golf bag, and the items cross-promoted with it are other small accessories that a golf player who has just bought a bag is likely to buy; a bag rain cover, straps, and an umbrella holder even. These are not disposable items, but their price point makes them likely to be a less considered purchase than the item they are viewing.
cross-selling in eBay listings

 

As GolfMad already offer free delivery to encourage sales, they use eBay’s promotion manager to offer an additional 5% off for customers who buy three or more items. Positioning this offer alongside the cross promotion makes a very strong proposition for a customer.

If you would like to learn more about leveraging the power of dynamic cross-promotion in your listings, leave an enquiry on our website and one of our eBay certified advisors will be in touch.

eBay Links Policy 2017

eBay links policy

eBay links policy

 

From October 2017, eBay links policy states that sellers are no longer allowed to share contact information in item descriptions, images or eBay Shops.

Ebay sellers now need to remove contact information from both active and new listings. This includes information included in images such as phone number, email, or even a store physical address. Ebay messaging tools, such as My Messages or Best Offer, make it easy to communicate with customers and create a clear record of interaction in case of disputes.

Fraud on eBay is very low, but scams still happen, and eBay want to stop them completely. Most fraudulent eBay sales happen because a customer has been convinced to take the sale off eBay. When a sale is made away from eBay, the security of eBay and PayPal is not there, and the customer is vulnerable. Fraud on eBay erodes customer’s trust in the platform and ultimately hurts all sellers. By getting rid of outside links, eBay is protecting customers from scammers who try to lure them away from the safety of the platform.

Links that direct customers to a site other than eBay are only permitted from approved domains as long as they link to:

  1. Information on delivery services.
  2. Product videos, e.g. reviews, product demonstrations or installation.
  3. Other legally required information.

Any links which take you to another page on eBay are fine, and updates to eBay’s links policy do not affect externally hosted pictures and CSS media files.

Updating hyperlinks in item descriptions

For the links that you are permitted to use in your listings, be sure to use the target=”_blank” attribute in your HTML item description.

Until the end of 2017, eBay say that they will temporarily auto-correct any links that do not contain the target=”_blank” attribute.

We recommend you update your compliant hyperlinks at your earliest convenience to ensure they continue to work correctly in the future.

If you have lots of listings with links in, the quickest and easiest way to remove them is to use the Frooition link rescue service. Enquire today about having your listings made policy compliant.