Author: Jessica McDonald

Where is the best place to start an e-commerce business?

best place to start an e-commerce business

Where is the best place to start an e-commerce business – eBay, Amazon, or an online store?

At Frooition we work with eBay, Shopify, and BigCommerce. Enhancing the customer experience of marketplace listings, and developing custom standalone stores which have the capability to list to multiple platforms, including Amazon. All of these e-commerce options are proven to grow profitable businesses.

But which is the best one for you to start with?

We will answer this question by covering the advantages and disadvantages of each platform, whilst running through a step by step plan that you can start straight away!

There are 4 main considerations for deciding where is the best place to start an e-commerce business:

  1. Goals
  2. Level of experience
  3. Budget
  4. Time

We will go through each of these considerations, to evaluate your own personal situation,  as the best place to launch your business will be determined by your specific circumstances.

goals

Your goals are the most important thing to consider when deciding the best place to start an e-commerce business. Do you want to sell online as a side business to complement your full-time income, or do you want e-commerce to be your full-time job? Are you planning to source stock and sell at a profit or are you the manufacturer? Is e-commerce purely a revenue stream, is it a vehicle to strengthen your brand, or is it both?

For those who are looking to create a side income, working just a few hours a day, eBay is the perfect platform. You don’t even have to ever look into other selling channels as eBay alone can provide you with the income level you’re looking for, even from selling part-time.

People who are looking for serious commercial growth should aim to use all 3 platforms to maximize their business’ potential. This usually means starting with eBay and then expanding to an eCommerce shop and Amazon. Not only does this allow you to reach more customers and therefore make more money, it also diversifies your risk. Selling on multiple platforms means that you won’t lose your entire business if something goes wrong with one platform.

It may be that massive sales are not your primary aim. Strengthening your brand online and building awareness may be the reason you are looking to sell online. If this is the case, being on all marketplaces is important because that will give you exposure. Equally, your own independent web store is important because that is a place to offer deeper information about your products and brand. All three platforms would obviously be quite a grand undertaking for someone who was not already selling online, so if you are new to e-commerce I would advise to start selling with eBay to get some selling experience and generate cash flow, then expand to a custom branded multi-channel store.

If you’re totally new to e-commerce and have very little knowledge on the topic, eBay would always certainly be the best place to start your e-commerce business. Why? Because eBay has millions of customers just waiting for new products, and it’s the easiest, most user-friendly selling platform to use when starting your first online business.

Traffic is probably the biggest disadvantage of a stand-alone website for new sellers. You really need to know what you’re doing marketing wise to achieve any decent results. With your own eCommerce site, it’s not enough to have a beautiful shop. You have to know exactly how to promote it – otherwise, no one will know your products are there to buy. Marketing an e-commerce store can be a full-time job in itself, and involves many skillsets which take time to master. If you are inexperienced in e-commerce, you should give yourself learning time and expect a bit of trial and error when you start marketing a new site.

Ebay is massive and many businesses grow into turning over millions without ever leaving the platform. On eBay, you can start with one listing, selling a used item you already own and learn along the way. You do not have to worry about attracting customers to your site.

If you’re totally new to the online selling world, eBay is the best place to start an e-commerce business. Begin with used goods, and then once you’ve gained some experience, you can look at expanding out into multi-channel selling.

Budget

How much money can you invest in setting up your business and buying stock? Ebay is always the best place to start an e-commerce business on a shoestring.

On eBay, you can start selling with no investment at all. Just start selling unwanted items from around your house. You can take product pictures with your phone camera and create listings in minutes. This is exactly how millionaire eBay seller Linda’s Stuff started out on eBay.

With Amazon, you’ll need to purchase brand new products in real bulk to make it work. This, of course, means a higher level of investment compared to eBay. You can still start with just one product on Amazon too but you’ll need to source it in bulk. Besides that, to list your own unique products in separate listings you’ll need to subscribe to Amazon’s Pro account, which starts at $39.99 a month.

This is probably less daunting if you already sell a product and can make some sort of prediction for stock volume, but if you have no e-commerce experience, or are going to be selling a new product, making a large initial stock investment is a big risk.

An eCommerce Shop is another step further into your pocket. Design and set up costs aside, you’ll need to buy a range of products to sell, and pay to promote them. There’s no point in starting an online shop with just one product unless it’s a very popular product that is a niche in itself, and even then, that means it will probably be extremely expensive to bid on keywords for paid search, and very difficult to build SEO. So, no matter what your inventory is, advertising and promotion will be a big cost.

If you are on a shoestring, start with eBay. You have nothing to lose, but stand to learn a lot of valuable lessons and make a profit while you do so. If you have a more serious budget, and existing eBay selling experience, you can start looking into setting up your own eCommerce Shop and linking that to an Amazon store.

Time

If you have a full-time job, you should start with a platform that is less time-consuming. Many people start building eCommerce shops not realizing how much time they have to put into them before they’ll even get that first sale. This is definitely NOT for people who can only spend a maximum of 1-2 hours a day on their online business.

Amazon is also relatively easy to maintain, especially if you use Fulfilment by Amazon – a service which takes care of your stock storage, order processing, and dispatch.

An eCommerce shop is the route that requires the most time and energy on your part. Everything takes time when we talk about creating a successful eCommerce shop – starting from setting it up, adding products, creating descriptions and ending with the actual promotional part – which is a science in itself. It’s definitely not suitable for people who can spend just 1-2 hours a day on the project.

It is possible to do it with just 1-2 hours a day, but anyone doing this should expect to spend many long months on it before they even see their first sale.

Compare this to eBay where you can list a product in the morning and dispatch your first three orders that very afternoon and it’s a BIG difference.

Summary

If in doubt, start with eBay. Even just selling a few things from around your home could be a valuable learning exercise if you have no previous experience. You can experiment without investing, and find what works for you in terms of shipping, returns, and stock.

If you are confident that e-commerce is where you want all, or the bulk of your revenue to come from, then you need to sell multi-channel. Starting with a custom branded multi-channel site would be the easiest way to do this.

Likewise, if you are building a brand, then multi-channel will be the way to go. If you are less experienced in e-commerce, start with one platform and perfect your branding on that before spreading out.

If you need any further advice on your e-commerce journey and creating a brand online, you can contact us to discuss with one of our e-commerce experts.

3 Steps to Improving Conversion Online

improving conversion online

Frooition works solely with online retailers, improving conversion online. It’s all we have done for over a decade – and it is a never-ending quest for perfection.

There are so many articles online about getting customers to your site with PPC, SEO, and social media, but a poorly optimized page will drive away visitors and waste most of the money you invested in lead generation. Customer conversion may not be as talked about as customer acquisition, but it’s just as important.

E-commerce and customer expectations are evolving fast, so the goal posts are always shifting slightly and there is always room to improve both customer experience and conversion online. These three simple points are the most important core basics of improving conversion online that we see many retailers missing out on.

1. Cart Abandonment Emails

Cart abandonment is a thorn in the side of any retailer interested in improving conversion online. Statistics show that, while numbers can vary between industries, the overall rate of cart abandonment is 68%. Reasons for abandonment vary, with distraction, confusion, security, mobile accessibility, and delivery costs being the most common.

If an online retailer knows a shopper’s email address, it is possible to remind that shopper about products left at checkout and recover a significant number of sales.

Both BigCommerce and Shopify stores feature cart recovery functionality. Developing a cart abandonment strategy to use with these tools will help you to save those otherwise lost sales.

Read our post on creating a successful cart abandonment strategy for practical advice on how to write emails that will save sales.

2. Video

Facebook live, Youtube and branded content on Snapchat are some of the most powerful, fastest growing internet channels. Video is the internet’s most popular and powerful medium.

Only a short time ago, retailers were focused on improving conversion online by using high-quality images to increase conversions and sales. As attention spans have reduced and customers have come to expect more instant information with less effort, video has become even more attractive than photos.

Our brains processing visuals 60,000 times faster than text. Using video in your e-commerce provides customers with the information they need to make a confident purchase, without any extra effort on their part.  73% of consumers say they are more likely to buy a product after watching videos that explain how it works.

Where to put videos

You can put them on virtually any page where you are trying to convert.

    • Embedded in eBay listings
    • Homepage
    • Product pages
    • Landing pages – a study by com found that using video on your landing page can increase conversions by 80%
    • Embedding in blog posts
    • Social Media content
    • Testimonial pages – The key is to introduce them at the right time, when users are ready to make a decision about requesting more product information or making a purchase.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Videos

Investing in and producing a great video is only half of the equation. It’s no secret that we all want to get thousands of views, have our videos go viral, and boost our sales. Most videos don’t do this because they are missing a number of important, yet simple to implement, strategies to increase viewership and engagement:

      1. Place videos above the fold: Make sure videos are immediately identifiable by users when they land on a page.
      2. Include a text call to action: Invite users to watch your video using actionable call to action text. Be direct and use text such as “Watch the video” to increase engagement.
      3. Size matters: Ensure the size of your video player is 480x720px or larger. Smaller video players may get missed by users.
      4. Video thumbnails matter: Whether you are using text or an image for your video thumbnail, make sure that it’s engaging and will pique the interest of viewers.
      5. Embed rather than link: When you share a video link, you can expect a 5-15% view rate, but when you embed a video, you can expect a view rate of 10-35% on the same page.
      6. Keep it short and to the point: Viewers are impatient, and most won’t watch a video to the end. It’s recommended to keep your video to about 30 seconds or so to keep people’s attention.

3. Live Chat

If customers are not able to find answers to their questions, chances are you will lose them.

Live chat helps an online retailer answer customer questions, respond to customer concerns, and boost sales. In fact, adding live chat may be one of the easiest ways to improve an e-commerce business overall, and it can be simple to implement.

It is worth noting that live chat is not new to the web or to e-commerce. Live chat is a feature that has been around for years, and there is a lot of data showing the value of adding live chat to a site. For example, as far back as 2010, a Forrester Research report stated that 44% of online shoppers liked having questions answered and concerns addressed in the very middle of the purchase process.

Live chat addresses the reasons that shoppers leave a site without making a purchase. It can help identify problems in site design or the checkout process. It can provide insights about how product photography, product descriptions, or even price are impacting sales, and it can be a great marketing tool too.

With live chat is it very easy to identify shoppers’ most common questions or concerns. Those questions can be addressed in blog posts, other site content, or even in social media. In this way, what the merchant learns through live chat becomes part of a content marketing campaign — helping shoppers and encouraging an increase in site traffic.

The most difficult part of offering live chat is having someone available to answer customer questions. But merchants can easily control when live chat is available and offering it even a few hours a day is better than not having it at all.

New year’s e-commerce resolutions

The start of each new year is a time for reflection on the year that was, as well as a time for planning for the successes of the coming year.

You probably have a whole host of personal resolutions revolving around health, fitness, relationships, and self-fulfillment, but let’s take a moment to shed some light on what you could focus on to improve your business.

Even if you’ve already made the same, clichéd personal resolutions for yourself (that probably won’t stick past January), it’s not too late to make some resolutions for your e-commerce business. Simple resolutions that really could change your business and your life.

Below are five easy resolutions that could help make 2018 your most successful e-commerce year yet:

Explore New Marketplaces

Being happy with just selling from one place online means you’re potentially missing out on finding, connecting, and selling to customers who are loyal to other marketplaces.

With a Shopify or a BigCommerce store adding a new marketplace is incredibly simple. Read our post on choosing online marketplaces for your business and increase your customer base for 2018.

Get Serious About Accessibility

With 125 Million U.S. consumers now owning smartphones and 62% of smartphone users having made a purchase online using their mobile device in the last 6 months, having a mobile-friendly website is a must. These days, ignoring smartphones and tablets means leaving money on the table. Not to mention hearing from disgruntled and previously interested visitors annoyed at how difficult it is to get around your site.

If you need more convincing, nearly 70% Amazon’s 2017 holiday sales happened via mobile devices.

That’s why all Frooition designs are fully responsive to any device type.

Refresh Your Product Photography

Larger product images can increase online sales by up to 9%. And that’s just the size of the images. From lower bounce rates to visitors browsing multiple product pages and spending more time on them, beautiful product photography can be an e-commerce game changer.

Consider things like the background, lighting, color that you’re using as well as how your product is portrayed in real-life scenarios to avoid losing sales just because of your photography. Then there’s optimizing images and product pages to make them more searchable, shareable, and attractive.

We also strongly suggest incorporating user-generated images taken with services like Instagram using a plug in for Shopify or BigCommerce. Sharing customer pictures not only demonstrates social proof but also gives browsers insight into how your product looks like on a real-life customer, which in turn enables them to envision it on themselves.

Preen your Mailing list

Sending the exact same email to every single contact on your mailing list is probably no better than sending out a direct mail campaign and gauging success based on how many coupons were used or how many surveys were filled out. Some of your customers will like it, but some won’t, and that makes it a risky tactic.

If there’s one thing people hate about their inbox, it’s the amount of irrelevant email they get from lists they have long forgotten signing up to. Your list will be made up of many different groups with different interests. Even if you only sell one product; there’s prospective customers, existing customers, new customers, and former customers.

Each one deserves a unique and tailored email strategy. Using tools like MailChimp, you can segment and create lists based on things like customer type, interests, location, and so much more.

Relevance is the difference between the best email marketing and spam mail. Curating a good mailing list could bring real dividends for you in 2018.

Clear the Clutter

Holding stock costs you money. If you have stock sitting around, use retail discount days in 2018 as a time to clear out, and generate more visits to your store. Plan your discounting to coincide with peak shopping periods such as Black Friday or the first week of December for maximum traffic, then follow up with mail campaigns.

Selling on multiple marketplaces – How to choose which is right for you.

online marketplaces

The higher number of customers that see your products, the higher the number of sales you make.

The simple science of e-commerce.

Only it’s not simple, is it? Cutting through the noise online and making shoppers aware of your products and offers is hard. Marketing is a never-ending task – social media, email, and other channels are of course all important. But one way to instantly guarantee exposure to an increased audience for your products is to showcase them on more marketplaces.

Selling your products on online marketplaces gives you access to customers who often start their shopping on these third-party platforms. For example; listing your items on eBay, gives you access to another 171 million shoppers, and Amazon is home to over 310 million active accounts of its own.

55% of online shoppers start their product searches on Amazon

Different marketplaces work best for different businesses, and finding which marketplaces work best for your business is key to success here. That’s why we’ve put together this roundup to walk you through some of the marketplaces you can sell on with BigCommerce or Shopify and when to consider them.

Adding online marketplaces

Each marketplace has its own nuances, rules, and audience. Some will take a commission on every sale that they bring you. Others might charge you a listing fee. Either way, you’ll need to weigh the costs and benefits of getting access to a certain marketplace’s customers.

As tempting as it might be to list your products on all of these marketplaces, you should consider focusing only on the platforms that are a good fit for your products, and one at a time until you’re familiar with it.

To get started with a particular marketplace in Shopify, simply log into Shopify and click the plus (+) sign under Sales Channels to select the marketplace channel you’d like to add with additional details in the Shopify App Store.

To list products to an online marketplace from your BigCommerce dashboard, click Channel Manager in the left navigation and simply click get started next to the channel you want to use.

Amazon

Thanks to the trust consumers have in its powerful shipping and fulfillment abilities, and the consistency of its shopping experience, Amazon is one of the most well-known online marketplaces.

In fact, studies have shown that shoppers start research nearly 2x more often on Amazon than Google. So it might be worth having a presence where consumers flock to do much of their comparison shopping.

Amazon merchants can also use Amazon Pay on their Shopify or BigCommerce store. Amazon Pay lets customers check out with just a few taps on a phone or tablet. BigCommerce surveyed their merchants and 71% said that Amazon Pay increased their conversion. Enabling payments through Amazon’s trusted service increased conversion by up to 34%, and average order value by up to 30%.

Fees: 15% average referral fee on orders, but it can be anywhere between 8-20%, depending on the product category. You’ll also need an Amazon Professional Sellers account which costs $39.99/month. Check Amazon’s referral fees by category to see where your products fall.

Best for: Merchants who aren’t selling heavily commoditized low-margin products where you compete mostly on price. As long as there is a clear value-add to your products, and your margins are big enough, Amazon is one of the most versatile marketplaces on this list.

eBay

Ebay is one of the world’s most popular marketplaces, with over 169 million active shoppers, and excellent customer loyalty. Originally started as a consumer-to-consumer, auction-based service for used items, today 80% of all products sold on eBay are new.

Fees: Insertion fees for listing on eBay and/or commission on the total value of a sale (including shipping). You can find a breakdown of their fee structure in eBay’s help center or you can use their fee calculator.

If you have a BigCommerce store, it is worth noting that new eBay sellers who register through the BigCommerce integration get 3 months of eBay Premium Stores, worth $225.

Best for: Merchants who are interested in fixed price listings on eBay. You don’t need an eBay store to use the eBay sales channel, but can consider upgrading based on the additional features on offer. One of eBay’s strong points for multi-channel sellers is that stores can be designed to mirror your own website. Strong branding lets you make the experience less about the marketplace, and more about your individual brand for the customer. Check out our eBay portfolio for inspiration.

Pinterest

Pinterest may be social media, but its focus on curating and collecting good finds and ideas make it a natural marketplace for products, rather than a place to share pictures of your day.

You can add the Pinterest channel in your Shopify store to list your items in Pinterest’s “marketplace” of pinnable products. Special Buyable Pins let users discover and purchase products without leaving Pinterest.

Fees:None

Recommended for: Brands with products that sell on visual appeal. Especially those whose target audience is women with disposable income. According to a study by Pew Research Centre, 31% of all adults online in the U.S. use Pinterest, many of whom are women with disposable income. Fashion, food and children’s items sell particularly well here.

Etsy

Etsy is an online marketplace focused on handmade, vintage and unique items. Creatives are able to sell what they make and curate, and buyers are able to obtain items they can’t find anywhere else. Like Pinterest, Etsy is particularly popular with female customers. Etsy had 31.7 million active buyers in 2017.

Fees:It’s free to join Etsy and set up your shop, but there are fees when you start listing your items for sale. It costs £0.13 for each listing added to the marketplace, the transaction fee on a sale is 3.5% of the sale price, and if you choose to accept payments via Etsy’s Direct Payments system, there is a 4% + £0.20 payment processing fee for each item sold.

Best for: Sellers who create and sell unique items, or items which are rare or vintage.

Online Shopping in 2017 – All The Essential Stats

online shopping 2017

Online shopping 2017

Customers in the UK

77% of adults in the UK bought goods or services online in the last 12 months – unchanged from 2016, but up 24% on 2008.

E-commerce market worth £74.5 billion

Clothes or sporting goods were the most popular online purchase in the UK in 2017 -bought by 56% of adults.

Household goods (inc. furniture and toys) were the next most popular, purchased by 50% of adults, while holiday accommodation was purchased by 44% of adults.

93% who had bought online in the last 12 months, bought  from online sellers in the UK – a 6% increase from 2008

31% had bought from sellers in other EU countries – a 19% increase from 2008

figure-5_-frequency-of-online-shopping-by-age-group-2017-great-britain

Customers in the USA

51% of Americans prefer to shop online

US e-commerce market is worth $340 billion.

40% of US males aged 18-34 say they would ideally buy everything online.

57% of online spend in the US is made through Amazon.

96% of Americans with internet access have made an online purchase in their life, 80% in the past month alone

Online orders increase 8.9% in Q3 2016, but average order value (AOV) increased only 0.2% — so we are buying more, but the increase is from low-value items.

75% of online shopping returns in the US in 2017 were fashion and clothing.

49% of American customers say that not being able to touch, feel or try a product as one of their least favorite aspects of online shopping.

Customers globally

53% prefer to pay by credit card

43% prefer digital payment systems such as PayPal

75% want to buy products in their native language

59% rarely or never buy from English only sites

92.2% prefer to make purchases in their local currency

Shopping days 2017

Amazon’s sales totaled $2.41 billion on Prime Day 2017 – up 60% on the previous year.

Amazon Prime Day sales 2017
$25 billion was spent on Single’s Day

140,000 brands participated in Singles Day 2017 – a 40% increase from 2016.

90% of Singles Day sales were completed via mobile devices.

Share of traffic and sales: Desktop to Mobile

51.3% of traffic coming from mobile devices, and this traffic accounts for 36.8% of sales.

Fashion bucks that trend to an extent, with 65.4% of traffic and 57.1% of sales coming from mobile devices.

Retailers

Ebay had 168 million active users in the third quarter of 2017 – 96 million monthly unique visitors.

eBay is one of the most popular mobile shopping apps in the United States. with a 14% audience reach as of February 2017.

Amazon averaged 183 million users per month during the third quarter.

Almost half of all purchases online begin on Amazon!

The ONS Internet access – households and individuals: 2017 report
Ampersand’s Multichannel Retail Report
Statistica

E-commerce trends set to boom in 2018

e-commerce 2018 trends

2017 was an amazing year in e-commerce. New technology emerging towards the end of 2016 flourished this year and took stable hold throughout the online retail world, with trendsetters paving the way for the future. Technology and e-commerce are still growing and 2018 is an exciting time for e-commerce.

With e-commerce expected to top out at $2.77 trillion in 2018, competition is becoming fiercer than ever before. Staying on top of e-commerce trends will keep you ahead of the competition, so you can keep, and hopefully increase, your piece of that 2.7 trillion dollar pie.

Mobile

According to Statista 2017 report, about 39% of sales are via mobile devices and mobile traffic will increase 8 times by 2020. Above everything else, pay attention to this. If your e-commerce website isn’t still mobile responsive, that needs to change.
According to Goldman Sachs, the global revenue share that mobile e-commerce will hold in 2020 will be approximately $626 billion.

All Frooition BigCommerce and Shopify designs are fully responsive to all devices and screen sizes.

Video Content

Video content is a more attractive channel of interaction with customers. For the past couple of years, video has been one of the strongest e-commerce trends. Video helps users to better understand your product, in turn increasing conversion. Facebook already ranks posts containing video higher than other kinds of post, and video appears in 14% of internet search results. For e-commerce specifically, video content is shown to increase sales by 64 to 85%.

Video is such a powerful sales tool, Frooition developers have created an eBay policy compliant method for embedding video into eBay listings.

User-generated content

User-generated content (or UGC) is one of the most valuable pieces of content you have access to. Not only does it give you real feedback on your store and products, but it’s fresh content that you don’t have to create.
You know who loves fresh content? Google’s search algorithms.
In 2018, UGC will be more important than ever before with the rise of multichannel customers. Social sharing of your products makes friends and family of your customers that much more likely to trust your site, and a customer is 97% more likely to purchase after having interacted with UGC.

Want that trend make excellent use of user-generated content. Customer’s own photos wearing the product being shown on the product page helps to reassure first-time buyers about garment quality, and can also help customers to decide what the garment may look like on different body types.

Including instructions on how to submit images ensures that Want That Trend get maximum social media exposure from any user content.

user generated content

B2B

Although e-commerce is often discussed under the B2C lens, let’s not neglect the steady growth within the B2B space.

Projected to surpass $1 trillion in total sales by 2020, there’s no denying that B2B e-commerce still represents rocky territory for many brands. As merchants continue to iron out the finer details of pricing schemes, bulk shipping and quoting customers, streamlining the purchasing process remains a top priority for B2B e-commerce brands moving forward.

For small to medium size businesses, BigCommerce sites offer wholesale login functionality. This allows you to show wholesale or trade prices to customers with a login, and regular prices to the public, all from one site!

Multi-Channel

In e-commerce, multi-channel refers to selling your products not only on your own website but on multiple other sites too – like Amazon, eBay and numerous other emerging or niche platforms like Etsy, Asos – and even Facebook.

As a general rule, it is safe to say that retailers who sell across multiple platforms make more money.There are many reasons for this, and all of the reasons are gaining importance as e-commerce evolves, so the gap between multi-channel and single-channel retailers is only set to widen over the coming year.

Customers have more choice than ever before, so the value of convenience is at an all-time high. Being able to buy multiple items they want in one transaction, on one site, possibly even saving postage costs by doing so, definitely makes customers more likely to buy.

Long established marketplaces like eBay and Amazon have built strong customer trust and loyalty. If the item is available on the site they are loyal to, customers will choose to buy there. Any retailer who is not selling on these large marketplaces is almost certainly losing sales to a competitor who is.

E-commerce will continue to become increasingly multi-channel as customers increasingly expect to find what they want, where they want it.

The multi-channel model for each business is unique, but it needn’t be difficult or complex. Book a talk with a Frooition advisor today to discuss how multi-channel could look for your business.

Christmas Day shopping online

Christmas day shopping online

Figures show that Christmas Day is no longer a retail day of rest, with increasing numbers of people opting out of family festivities in favor of Christmas Day shopping online with their smartphones and tablets.

Christmas Day shopping online is fast becoming “the norm” with research by travel firm Inghams showing that one in five shoppers this year are expecting to start their online bargain hunt on the 25th.

Christmas Day 2017 is set to see a surge in shopping online, according to research from affiliate network affilinet. The study was commissioned in order to learn more about the public’s shopping habits over the festive period. 2,758 UK adults took part in the poll, all of whom were aged 18 or over and celebrate Christmas.

The study revealed that more than half of Britons indulged in Christmas Day shopping online last year. Of the 53% of participants that admitted to shopping online last Christmas Day, the majority (43%) did so on a smartphone, 28% used their iPad or tablet device, 27% used either a laptop/desktop computer and 2% used a TV/games console.

While the majority were keen to spend money they had been gifted, 53% were also driven to shop out of boredom and 21% confessed that they felt ‘unsatisfied with their presents’ and so were shopping to fill gaps in their own wishlists.

61% shopped on Boxing Day, 53% shopped on Christmas Day, yet only 18% shopped on Christmas Eve.

The average spend for Christmas Day shopping online in 2016 was £128.

59% of those who shopped on Christmas eve, Christmas day or Boxing day said that they spent more than they intended. Only 10% bought something that dropped in price due to Boxing day or New Year sales.

Christmas Day Shopping online with Amazon

Amazon, the largest online retailer in the world, released an hour-by-hour breakdown of their Christmas day performance. Its sales on Christmas Day have more than doubled over the past five years and it is anticipating its busiest Christmas Day ever this year.

Amazon find that last-minute panic shoppers go online early in the morning to buy presents, with orders of gift cards peaking at 10:00am.

Sales of e-books, mp3s, apps and TV downloads climb sharply at about midday. Last year more downloads were sold at 12.13pm than at any other time.

This surge is most likely due to people unwrapping their electronics gifts and then wanting music, books and games to load onto them minutes later.

Many of those use the gift cards they were given hours earlier, with a spike in the number of vouchers being redeemed at lunchtime.

Sales dip at 3pm in the UK as the Queen’s televised Christmas speech is broadcast, before DVD sales linked to festive TV shows increase around  7pm.

Last year, 8.52pm was the busiest minute of the shopping day, with people relaxing on the sofa, shopping the early Boxing Day sales.

Christmas day shopping on tablet

Takeaways

  1. Mobile responsive store design is essential to Christmas day sales success
  2. Vouchers are essential. Both BigCommerce and Shopify stores are fully mobile responsive and can sell vouchers.
  3. Sell everywhere. This is a time of high impulse and people are most likely to head to big marketplaces. Sell to eBay, Amazon, Etsy and more at the same time as selling from your own website with a Shopify or BigCommerce store.
  4. Don’t think of it as a dead shopping day. You have seen the stats, people are shopping on the 25th. If you are planning a Boxing Day sale, it may be worth putting that live a day early
  5. This is a chance for you to be in early on an emerging trend. Smartphones and the increasing ease of shopping have enabled Christmas day purchasing to rise significantly, but many retailers are yet to fully embrace the smartphone shopper mentality. Perhaps a mail campaign on Christmas day may be a little overzealous, but a targeted Facebook campaign could catch potential customers who are bored whilst waiting for lunch or relaxing on the sofa in the evening and perhaps even feeling a little less cautious about spending after a few Baileys.

Boosting Sales With Gift Guides

gift guides

Over half of customers start researching Christmas gift ideas before December. These customers want gift guides. For those that haven’t yet started, gift guides are the perfect reminder that Christmas is coming up soon, to get them thinking about everyone they need to buy for, and showcase your products as great gifts.

Anyone who has ever had to shop for Christmas gifts will empathize with the stress of having to find a gift for someone who is difficult to buy for. This is why gift guides are really helpful for customers at Christmas, boosting sales through great user experience. Gift guides are so good for user experience in fact, that Marks & Spencer have updated their homepage to a gift guide format during the Christmas period.

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Gift guides do double-duty, providing useful, shareable content for customers, and good long tail keywords for search engines being used by desperate gift-hunters who have no idea what to buy for guitar players, or fishermen, or vegans, or yogis. Making your own lists, you’ll be able to put your products into context, and even include some other stellar ideas that you think your target audience would love from other retailers if you choose to. It can be anything from related books to other brands, but your goal is to provide a genuinely helpful list of gifts that your audience would adore. Including complimentary items can be a great way to partner with other retailers, or to position your products in relation to the latest must-have items from large retailers. For example, you may not sell the latest i phone, but you could partner with a seller who does, and include it on your list alongside cases, headphones and other tech accessories.

For your gift guides you will need…

  • A list of 8-12 items that would be perfect gifts for your target audience (including 1-3 of your products)
  • An image of each item
  • The price of each item
  • A short description of each item and why its great for your audience
  • A link to each item

Choose a specific category

Keep groups simple.Create gift guides that cover a specific topic or group. By organizing your gift guide into groups, you can help your customers find what they’re looking for with ease. For example:

  • Gifts for Mum
  • Gifts for book lovers
  • Gifts for pets
  • Gifts for under $20

Highlight three to seven items

This is just a guideline number. You don’t want to overwhelm your viewers, so don’t try to highlight every product or service that you offer in one guide. You are just looking to inspire enough interest to get them to visit the store. And remember, you can create and send more than one guide during the holiday season. It’s better to send several smaller guides than it is to send one big one.

Give your guide exposure

Your gift guide should live on your website or blog. Then, email the guide to your audience linking back to your blogs of gift guides. Use that same link to promote it on your social media channels. Pinterest is an excellent place to get free exposure for gift guides.

Maximising Christmas Sales – It’s not Too Late!

last minute e-commerce christmas preperation

According to Yes mail Interactive, 69.8% of people starting their Christmas shopping before the 1st December.

With singles day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions coming at us from every angle, it’s impossible to miss that we are already into core Christmas shopping season.

But even if you don’t want to lose all of your profits to massive sale day reductions, this is still prime holiday shopping time, and it’s not too late to start taking action to make sure that you catch as much custom as possible this holiday season.

The last major shopping holiday was 11/11 and Chinese super retailer Alibaba reported US$25.3 billion in gross merchandise sales on this one day. 90% of which was processed on mobile platforms. Take this clear early indication of buyer behavior for this holiday season and check that your e-commerce works well on mobile. Don’t just scroll and view, try to mimic a customer’s behavior; from browsing and looking for delivery info, to completing the checkout and seeing confirmation.

Secure the repeat sale

Focus on your loyal customers. Yes, spend time getting new customers. But don’t forget the customers who already buy from you. It is a lot easier to secure the second sale than the first. Curate your mailing lists and create campaigns to get them to become loyal, repeat customers.

Never lose a cart

With retailers bringing out their strongest offers and biggest discounts during the holiday period, customers are comparison shopping more than ever, and cart abandonment rates peak. Make sure you save as many of these sales as possible by taking a little time to put together a strong cart abandonment strategy. It can be very simple, but at this time of year, setting up even the most simple of reminders can pay serious dividends. Here is our advice on creating a cart abandonment strategy.

Answer Questions

What could any new customer possibly need to know about your products? You need to give answers to someone who may have zero experience with your products or brand. Stepping outside the comfort zone of your buyer personas is not easy, But if you’re not diligent in answering the questions a “newbie” might have, you might just miss the sale. A great way to test this is to show your website to people who have never used it before. Ask them questions about your products, delivery, returns. If they can find the answers easily, you are doing great. If not, look at making that key buyer information easier to find.

Make Partnerships

Partnerships can be important. Do you know complimentary businesses you can consider joint marketing campaigns with? For example; if you sold chocolates, you could create a discount offer for customers of a mail order florist. If they featured that in their newsletter, they would be offering their customers something of value, and you would be reaching their customers for free.

Make the most of social

The majority of e-commerce page views are potential customers, researching their options. The decision to buy is most often made long before the purchase button is clicked. Image lead social media posts on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest  By showing your products on social media you can ensure that your products get in front of more customers while they are still in this researching phase.

Make a list

Gift lists are helpful, fun, and interesting for customers. There is always one person you struggle with gift ideas for, and gift guides offer inspiration and easy options for people struggling to find the right gift for that difficult to buy for person. Here is our guide to making gift lists.

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.