In the year 2012, If Prestige Marketing’s Infographic is anything to go by – with due thanks to Pablo at Fortune 3 Blog — then ecommerce changes every few weeks or months. For instance, there’s been an increase of 400% in mobile searches between 2011-2012. At least 44% online retailers are investing more in mobile tactics while at least 70% of social network users are shoppers.
In 2010, only 2/3rd shoppers from Great Britain went online. That number rose to 70% within a year (2011) while they spent 35 billion GBP online according to the UK B2C e-commerce Report 2012 by ystats.com. Now, that’s just the UK.
E-commerce spending is all set to increase 62% by the end of 2016, according to Internet Retailer. In total, Forrester Research estimates that customers from the U.S alone will spend US $327 billion online in the year 2016.
Talking about 2016, here are the latest set of stats from BigCommerce:
51% of Americans think shopping online is the best way to shop, with 49% preferring shopping in-store.Americans spend 64% of their shopping budget in-store, and 36% online.In the last year, shoppers have spent the most with ecommerce marketplaces ($488), closely followed by major online/offline brands ($409) such as Nordstrom or Best Buy.
Great Ideas, Big companies, and Promotions are out; relationships are in
If you have a large business, the only advantage you’ll have – when compared to smaller businesses and startups — is resources, funds, and maybe a rock-solid brand.
Small business won’t find it hard to compete what with tools, resources, information, and the guts they have in store.
You certainly don’t need great ideas; you just need to figure out a way to deliver products and services that solve customer problems better, faster, easier, etc.
Newspaper advertisements, street shows, brochures, flyers, and all other forms of marketing will step aside (actually, they are already out)
Only relationships (prospective and current) that businesses work hard to develop will work. The “hard” part is underestimated here since there are too many parameters, across multiple-channels.
Social Shopping is in
I strongly believe that social media isn’t for “selling”. It’s not for marketers to flaunt their wares. It’s the last place on earth – after your own parties, hangouts, and outings – where you should be discussing anything related to business. Yet, business is big on social media. Sally Ormond, writes that social media is literally changing the way we shop. According to her post “The Onset of Social Shopping” on Ecommerce Trends, where she refers to research from Reevoo and Ofcom 2011, she says it best:
“With over a quarter of all adults and nearly half of all teens now owning a smart phone (Ofcom, 2011) connecting to the Internet on the move has never been so easy. In fact, it is now so easy it is beginning to affect the way we shop.”
“…Consumers said that social content is now beginning to shape their online shopping behavior. Over half of all consumers found social media comments helpful when shopping online, with user reviews (48%) and friend recommendations (52%) being the biggest influencers.
The vast majority (88%) said they always consulted reviews before proceeding to the checkout, with 60% adding they were more likely to purchase from a site that carried such reviews.”
Social shopping is predominant; it’s just not the way traditional marketing works though. Selling is by goodwill and engagement. Sales happen after relationships happen. No transactions are based on the word of the manufacturer, business owner, or marketers; it’s based on what others are saying.
There’s a huge difference, with tons of work pending to make it happen for your business.
Remarketing and Behavioural targeting
For one, there’s no escaping the fact that your online behavior is tracked continuously. Google, Facebook, and every business that can afford the tools will at least embed cookies on your computer to analyze what you like. Every Facebook application you subscribe to, every search you make on Google, and every website you visit adds to the collective data which is used for new trends in e-commerce: remarketing and Behavioral advertising.
Internet allows such leverage, so businesses will use it. If you visit certain websites, you’ll see that the ads displayed have some sort of connection to your Interests. Youtube already does that to you when you sign-in using your credentials, by the way. Literally, the ads, recommendations, and content follow you around.
The Facebook recommend bar; Amazon’s recommendations on Kindle books, audio, music, products, and services; behavioral ads that show up on websites are all examples of this type of marketing.
Try and escape that.
Mobile Marketing: Businesses now talk to the handhelds
The mobile web is evolving, as we write this. ThinkWithGoogle – a document from Google’s research library – states that 43% of smartphone users will give up beer (and 32% of users will give up chocolate?) instead of giving up on their smartphones (Funny, that one).
A whopping 81% of smartphone users access Internet on their mobile while another 59% use their phones while “waiting” – the downtime that marketers would love, eh?
At least 89% of smartphone users can’t get enough of their smartphones after using it all day using handheld devices to research and read news 82% of the time. Over 72% of smartphone users need “Information on the go”.
Go serve that!
Clearly, ecommerce gets exciting while the field is leveled.
What are you going to do about it?
The Indian ecommerce industry is al set to touch a whopping $38 billion mark this year (2016)
It’s 38, with a B.
So, you have FlipKart, SnapDeal, Myntra, and many more but the market is only beginning to take shape.
For the small business owners in India, there’s humongous potential. There are tons of niches that can still go online exclusively.
We are a digital marketing agency in India, and that puts us in a really strange spot: We have the whole world to serve, but not much happens where our roots really are.
Yes, this is in the face of a booming ecommerce scene, and a fantastic opportunity for more businesses to thrive.
Many SaaS tools, web apps, and many shopping platforms (include popular website builders which allow for eCommerce) cater to U.S, Canada, and a few other countries.
India is almost always out of the equation (despite the growth and opportunity).
While the perennial search for the best ecommerce platforms continues, it’s an exciting time to be in business. With so many options to choose from, however, it could be a serious pain just trying to choose one to begin with.
We have some of the best and the greatest options available already: from the ever so simple ones to gigantic ecommerce platforms such as Shopify.
However, ever so often, I get the privilege of getting in touch with some UberCool startups with some degree of focus on India.
Shenaz Bapooji, CMO of Shopmatic Group (India), believes that India has tremendous potential with ecommerce. She believes that the small businesses in India haven’t even woken up to the real opportunity ecommerce is.
In fact, she believes (and we quote her verbatim) that:
If you are not spending 48 hours a day thinking work, then you’ve not joined Ecommerce.
Say Hello to ShopMatic
If you’ve worked with any of the Indian “build your ecommerce site” solutions, you’d realize that it’s not cakewalk. There’s just too much going on. I tried signing up with Instamojo and it felt more like I was filing my taxes. Forms, and some more forms. Most other platforms are just as cantakerous, if not, soul-sucking.
Shopify always ends up being my default choice to setup a store for clients.
That was until Shopmatic came along which really has clean interface, amazing design, and it’s very easy to set up.
Drag & Drop to Awesomeness
The templates look fantastic and are even better than any web designer or developer can ever give you.
Pick out on each page, edit your content, and go. If you’d like to use the advanced editor, you’d have to click on Toggle Switch (upper right corner) to see something like this:
Tweak header, footer, layout, forms, elements, and more.
At the moment, I don’t see the ability to export code or do any extreme customization but I also don’t see any reason why you should bother.
Few Clicks to Go To Market
A few clicks, one payment (with a choice of three plans – 1 month, 6 months, and 12 months), and you are good to go live.
No matter which plan you choose, you get:
- Free custom domain
- A choice of 50 industry-specific templates for you to choose from, also optimized for mobile and responsive.
- Ability to host unlimited products
- Sell on other marketplaces and channels
- Get ready to accept payments instantly
- Automated shipping and logistics
- Marketing Modules
- Intelligent data insights (analytics)
- A single dashboard to manage your business from.
Display Prices In Rupees, Or Whatever
If you are looking to setup an ecommerce store in India, you’ll do better to display your prices in Rupees. It’s surprising how many “ecommerce store solutions” ignore simple things like GeoIP or customizing content to reflect visiting audience.
If Indian customers look at store, a lot happens for good when they see prices in Indian rupees (dollars or pounds can freak us Indians out, with a few exceptions)
When you are out to setup products, you’d see that you can easily setup your list price, images, SKU, add tax rates (if any), specify quantities, add descriptions (product copy), and add tags.
Repeat this for every product on your inventory and you are set.
Bonus 1: Why You Should Stop Shopping & Get to Work Instead?
The biggest problems you have, as a business owner, are information overload and the paradox of choice. You’d spend way too much time just trying to decide which platform to use for your ecommerce business. I agree that it’s an important decision to make but it’s not as important as “starting up” first.
Ecommerce platform like Shopmatic or Shopify take care of hosting, security, and regular maintenance. They come secure, out of the box. The reason why these tools exist is to help you “not” worry about the choice you make with respect to ecommerce platforms but instead focus on what your business really needs: marketing and conversions.
Put your energy into marketing and work to grow your conversions and sales over time. Digital marketing already takes a tremendous amount of energy and time and you don’t want to sit and knock on the tables wondering why sales don’t happen.
Read my post on why you should focus on the entire digital marketing spectrum and not just SEO or social media.
Bonus 2: How to promote Your New Shopmatic Store
Now, If you are in India, you are likely to hear all sorts of stories about digital marketing (since everyone is an expert). The fastest and the most effective way to promote your new ecommerce store is with Google Adwords. More specifically, it’s Google Shopping Ads.
When someone types “Leather shoes”, this is how shopping ads look like:
The best part of doing ads with Google is that you will start showing up for relevant searches on day 1 (unlike SEO which takes months). Plus, you choose your budget, control your ad spend, and you also have the ability to continuous test your ads (A/B testing).
Try out Shopmatic For Free. See what It can do for that ever-thinking, Idea-hatching brain of yours.
If you’d like to promote your store or your products or have us manage your PPC campaigns, sign up for our free trial
Ecommerce is a multi-billion dollar industry and the good news is that it’s an opportunity for everyone.
No high barriers. No stupid politics.
If you have a dream, and have products to sell, ecommerce is your way out.
According to Mashable,
In fact, U.S. consumers spend $1,200-$1,300 per year online, but that number will increase by 44%, to $1,738, by 2016. In that year, ecommerce sales are expected to hit $327 billion.
Magento Go (cloud-based derivative of the popular Magento platform) doesn’t exist apparently, and for Small businesses who’d like the Do It Yourself approach, Magento now has the hosted partner solution model with Pixafy starting at $89/month.
That’s a little steep.
Apart from BigCommerce, which has an excellent blogging platform in addition to everything an ecommerce solution should provide, Shopify makes for a viable choice as an ecommerce platform.
Here’s why you should stop wasting time and switch to Shopify:
Expensive is more expensive than you think
While there’s a softalicious that can do a 1-minute quick install, you’d either have to buy a reasonably good Magento theme or get one custom developed. This alone costs you hosting and the price for the template. If you are not technically inclined, you’d look for help to install your Magento theme and only adds to your expenses.
With Shopify, there’s no need to configure databases, look for PHP5 availability, worry about hosting, wonder if you should continue with your shared hosting or look for dedicated servers (and pay for those).
If you work with Magento, you’d have to work with modules. These modules can cause conflict, have API restrictions, and can cost you a bomb.
Really, you should install, set off, and work on your business instead of worrying about all things technology.
Data insecurity is like a super ice water shower that kills
Ecommerce isn’t like blogging. There are products with product related information. You are likely to store your customers’ credit cards and payment information. Getting hacked is probably the end of your business, so to speak.
If, for any reason, you lose customer information, email lists, credit card lists, or your own financial data along with customer data, you’d go belly up.
Shopify is a protected wall-garden. It’s a fortress. Since it’s not Magento (open-source) and is not used in volume, the chances of getting hacked are less.
Shopify “owns” everything from hosting to your checkout process. It takes care of data security, security breaches, software upgrades, and any other vulnerability issues.
You can just sit and collect cash from your bank deposits.
Take care of the marketing, and not the platform
Consider this: if you are in business, there’s tons of work you need to do for marketing. Do you have time to work on the backend? Worry about hosting? Setup and install modules? Figure out why your checkout process doesn’t seem to work?
Leave the heavy lifting like servers, hosting, database, configurations, backend techno mumbo-jumbo, and everything else that takes you away from your business to folks at Shopify and work on your marketing.
Shopify themes already exist so you don’t have to get a new one developed. Next thing you know, you should be uploading product photos, descriptions, and do blogging. Then get on social media and build your list.
Shopify will take care of everything else, thank you.
Work with something beautiful
Code is a mess. It’s ugly to look at. For everyone else except developers, code is meaningless. If you are a business owner, code is nothing for you.
Instead, when you login into your ecommerce platform dashboard, you should be working on something beautiful. You’d need an intuitive dashboard that shows numbers that matter.
The folks at Lucid path Consulting actually liken Shopify’s interface to that of an iPhone (Magento is like Linux or was it the green screen monster computers running on DOS?)
Shopify is beautiful – from the themes to the platform backed, from the frontend to the dashboard, and from the store to your cash register.
Talking about cash registers, Shopify has bells and whistles such as Online POS, mobile POS, and much more.
There are apps. There are more apps
Here’s the favourite part, and we absolutely love this. As if all the good things about Shopify weren’t enough, the Shopify app store is a treasure trove of various apps that you can use to make your ecommerce business work.
Marketing, sales, social media, inventory, accounting, reporting and shipping – you have apps for all of these.
Shopify is fast and capable
Finally, Shopify stores are super fast, agile, and capable of taking all that traffic you can throw at it. Meanwhile, it’s underbelly is massive which gives you the capacity to handle massive numbers of customers.
The belly, by the way, can also take unlimited traffic, product inventory, and a lot more. If you worked with Magento with that kind of capacity, traffic management, and customer management, the resulting PHP-heavyness would break the servers, your head, or make the customer happily leave for your completion (which is likely to be on a Shopify Store).
Move to a Shopify now. Tell us when your store goes live.