Tag Archives | ecommerce

Enalito Thriving eCommerce Summit Nov 2020

Enalito is a company that provides various software tools to empower and support eCommerce businesses.

On a regular basis they conduct a summit in which they host these style of discussions to help educate and support their existing and their potential customers.

Currently, I do not use any Enalito's products and at no point during this process did they pitch me. This is an important thing for me to point out because Enalito appears to be focused on truly supporting and empowering their audience. This attitude of being useful and valuable first, and then exchanging money second sets a great example in their space.

Here is the video recording of the panel in which I participated:

Things we discussed:

  • The importance of identifying and communicating your brand's deepest purpose and passion
  • How is COVID affecting the eCommerce space and how does that affect different business categories?
  • What are the best marketing strategies to dominate your market in the next 5 years?
  • The growth of SMS and direct messaging
  • How does the ROI on paid advertising vary by category?
  • How to understand your consumer's behavior
  • The single greatest point of advice for new internet entrepreneurs

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Has Amazon Ruined eCommerce For Everyone Else?

I operate an eCommerce website. We sell stuff… and while as a consumer I LOVE Amazon I can't help but wonder if, as a business owner, I should hate Amazon.

I'll get specific in a moment but the short story is that Amazon has raised the bar so high that the rest of us almost can't compete. If you are a consumer this is great news…. just get Amazon Prime and always check there first but as you will see below… don't assume Amazon always has the best deal either.

Amazon As A Marketplace Drives the Price Down on EVERYTHING

Imagine a world before Amazon.com. Imagine that there is a product that many different companies choose to stock and sell. As an example lets talk about a book. Before Amazon.com existed you would probably search for that book on Google and click through to about 10 different websites checking prices on each before you ultimately just got tired and bought. Most people will only check 3 sources before making a purchasing decision. All the different websites who sell that book are likely to list it at or near the MSRP price because there isn't a lot of reason to believe that customers are going to do a lot price comparison and even if they do it can't HURT you to be the same price as the next vendor.

Enter Amazon.com: Now consumers are likely to check Amazon first or at least last before making a decision so at least one vendor is going to make sure they list that book for sale on Amazon.com. The other vendors will follow. Now you have a dozen or more vendors that all sell the same book on Amazon.com. Now the vendors are far more likely to recognize the power of undercutting the competition. They all win the eyeball/attention game of getting the customer to look because they are all on Amazon in the same place. The ONLY way they can now compete is to lower price. This of course leads to the proverbial race to the bottom. Who is willing to make the least amount of money on the sale?

Amazon Won't Let Me Do Any Ongoing Marketing To Customers

Now, traditionally I wouldn't mind making little to no profit on acquiring a customer because once that customer has completed a transaction with my brand I can build a relationship with content, email, and social media which will eventually lead to additional sales from that customer.

Enter Amazon.com: Amazon is not incentivized to allow me the vendor to have an ongoing relationship with the customer because I might drive them to my own website to purchase more products. Amazon wouldn't like that. So they have policies that prevent me from sending the customer an email with anything other that current transaction related messaging. They also have policies that regulate what I can put into the packaging of the purchased product I ship to the customer.

Amazon's 2-Day Shipping Magic Creates Unrealistic Expectations For Normal Companies

Last week we had a customer place an order on Friday night after business hours. Between Sunday and Monday morning early he left us a voicemail, text message, and an email. Our customer service team doesn't currently work weekends (which it shows on our website next to the contact info) so we didn't get back to him until Monday late morning. At that point he was angry enough to berate us on YouTube and call us out as a SCAM.

Consistently we have customers who place orders on a Friday and wonder where there tracking number is on Sunday. The Amazon.com consumer expects not only for their order to be shipped 2-day delivery but it should be out the door within 12 hours and the app on your phone notifies you when it ships and when it is delivered. While there are a lot of great solutions out there for small businesses like us you need to understand that Amazon's execution in this arena is mind-blowing and not duplicable… which they of course love and their customers do too.

Amazon's Commission Forces Me To Charge More For Amazon Customers

Depending on the product category, Amazon.com will keep about 15% of the product purchase price for any sale. So if I sale a product via Amazon for $100 only $85 will get to my account. For a lot of small businesses operating on small margins this is an extreme challenge. One that could be overcome if it were not for Commodity Issue and Ongoing Marketing Issue referenced above. Given those challenges vendors are crippled and forced to take a hit or get out.

What Does This Mean To The eCommerce Company?

First, it means that exclusivity on products is critical. If you are a company that has products that are your own… meaning you are the manufacturer of the product you have the ability to create the rules to protect your business. Either not allowing dealers to sell your product online or forcing a MAP (Minimum Advertising Price) is SUPER IMPORTANT to prevent the race to the bottom that will otherwise destroy the value of your products and lead your dealers to hate selling your products. If you are selling your own products and don't have to worry about competition you may charge more on Amazon.com for the same product in order to offset the Amazon commission while giving the customer an incentive to buy direct from your own website where you can build a relationship in ongoing communication.

Second, it means you have to more carefully choose what products to stock in your own store. I have vendor's whose products I'm interested in selling on my site but effectively cannot because the products are marked down to cost or close to cost by the vendor or their dealers on Amazon. So while I may think I'm getting a great deal in sourcing the products at 50% below MSRP I may be buying them for about 2% under the Amazon Advertised Cost (AAC). This leads me to walk away from what could have been a great product to sell in my store… but gone are the days that I want my customers to have to overpay for a product in order to buy it from me.

Well Amazon… I love you when I need to buy stuff… but I hate what you do to me as a vendor.

And to you manufacturers of products…. set a MAP and enforce it. It may be the only thing that saves you from long term collapse from the Amazon Effect.

 

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The Three Cs of Internet Marketing

When I sit down to talk to clients about their internet marketing strategy I'm often surprised how quickly the conversation gets lost in details and lacks clear objectives and goals. After all when you sit down in a meeting you want to have a clear idea of what you plan to discuss and what you want to achieve. Often however, because I'm a professional in the space I forget that the plan inside of my head may not make complete sense to my client when I try to explain it.

That is why I now always talk about the three Cs of Internet Marketing. This gives me a framework around which I can organize my thoughts and in which the clients can better understand the complete strategy and action points. The three Cs are in a certain chronological order and need to be addressed accordingly. Strategies revolve around these three points and always in this order.

Content

Your internet marketing strategy starts with creating content. It doesn't matter if you are a plumber, blogger, or widget salesperson; you must create online content. Content is IMPORTANT because it sets the stage for everything else you do. Creating content gives you added credibility in your profession. Content gives you informational products to offer to entice people to join your email lists etc. Content gives you something to publish to social media networks on a regular basis. Content gives search engines something to read and index in reference to your website and what you are about.

At the very beginning you must map out an internet marketing content strategy. Use these questions as a guideline to help you define your content strategy:

  • What are you going to write about? It should be related to your industry/products/services. It should have a wide audience. It should be generic enough that you can create endless amounts of content moving forward.
  • Where will you need to publish the content? Your blog is an absolute must but you may need unique content for newsletters or info products to giveaway.
  • How often do you need to produce content? Consistency is key so decide in the beginning how often you can commit to publishing new content.

Community

The second C is all about getting visitors to your site and followers in your social media and email lists. One time visitors to your website are an important part of your community plan but ultimately they will come as a bi-product of your focus on content and building the other communities we will discuss.

You should really be focusing on getting more people to join your email list, Facebook Page, Twitter Profile, YouTube Channel, and any other social profiles you focus on. Just creating content and sending it out to the world is not enough to believe that people will just start to find and follow you in these different mediums. Here are some pointers to consider as part of your community internet marketing strategy:

  • Putting a widget (like the one over there on the right) on your website that quickly allows visitors to find your social media profiles is a good idea but don't think it will be enough all by itself.
  • Building a Twitter following is as easy as being able to target your audience and then follow them, and give them ample reason to follow you back. Here is a larger overview of the software and strategy I recommend. Here are other Twitter tutorials.
  • Building a Facebook following is more difficult that Twitter because you cannot solicit users and ask them to “like” your page. You need to use your other communities (offline and online) to drive people to like your page, and this will go much more smoothly if you give people an incentive to “like” you there. Do product and service giveaways and contests. Produce unique (valuable) content that can be found exclusively on your Facebook page.
  • Building your email database is as simple as giving people a compelling reason to join your list. Offer a Free Report, a Free Preview/Trial, Free Training or Video Tutorials, or an E-Book.  The more compelling the offer the more likely people are to give you their information.

Commerce

This tends to be the easiest part of the strategy for most of my clients. Most of us already know how we want to make money on our website. The bigger problem tends to be in getting enough eyeballs to look at what we are doing and offering. In case you don't know fully how you can profit from your website and it's content read this guide that explains how websites make money.

Commerce boils down to providing products that are targeted for your audience. This doesn't mean you have to produce or sell the products yourself. Many website publishers generate their revenue in affiliate marketing opportunities.

 

I hope the three Cs of internet marketing serve you as a road-map the same way they have served me and the many advertisers and small businesses that I work with around the country!

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10 More Useful WordPress Plugins

wordpressIn the past I have done a variety of tutorials about great WordPress Plugins. It started with my youtube video about how to post correctly on WordPress back in April 2009. Since I have also done a tutorial video about All In One SEO, cForms, Google Analytics, and Google XML Sitemap plugins. In January I also did a very popular article about WordPress Blog security which gave an overview of plugins that can be used to protect your site from hackers.

Today I want to talk about 10 other plugins that I use on almost all of my WordPress sites!

    1. Digg Digg. This plugin tends to be the cleanest and most effective way to insert “Share Via” buttons such as Digg, Twitter, Facebook, etc. You can see how it is executed here at the top of this page.
    2. Exclude Pages From Navigation. In building a wordpress site you often have pages that you do not want visible in the main site’s navigation. This plugin inserts a checkbox that allows you to designate which pages will and will not appear.
    3. Hana FLV Player. If you have been looking for an effective way to insert native videos on your site this is it. I have been impressed with this plugin (which utilizes FlowPlayer) to embed native video files into a video player on your posts and pages.
    4. Social Media Widget. The cleanest way I’ve see so far to insert “Follow Me” buttons for the most popular Social Media sites.
    5. Tweet Old Post. This plugin will regularly tweet your older posts for you at designated intervals. If you have a strong twitter following this can be an effective way to bring additional traffic and keep your Twitter feed active.
    6. WordPress Mobile Pack. This is my favorite plugin for mobilizing your blog into a friendly format for Smartphone browsers.
    7. WP Polls. This is an effective and clean polling service plugin.
    8. What Would Seth Godin Do. This plugin inserts a message into pages and posts that will only be visible by first time visitors to your site. An effective way to ask first time visitors to take an action.
    9. WP e-Commerce Plugin. The most effective way to set up a shopping cart on your site. Its free and offers a wide range of strong options.
    10. Datafeedr Random Ads V2. This plugin allows you to rotate amongst several ads in one position. You can setup ad groups and it will generate a php code for you to enter into the most appropriate places in your template.

Jacob S Paulsen

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