Welcome to my latest summary of recent ecommerce news, resources & studies including search, analytics, content marketing, social media & Etsy! This covers articles I came across since the early May report, although some may be older than that. Due to a need to get my taxes filed, and a continued busy jewellery business, I don’t expect to be able to do another update for a few weeks. You can follow me on Twitter for important breaking news, though!
Have any topics you would like to see me cover in more detail? Drop me a line here on Tumblr, or email me through my website.
TOP NEWS & ARTICLES
Small businesses can survive the pandemic and beyond, if they learn to provide what customers are now looking for.From desks to 3-D printed face shields, to including toilet paper on your takeout menu, to moving online, acting quickly has given these businesses hope. ABC also did a piece on this topic. [text & video; mentions Etsy & masks] Here’s another article discussing adapting to pandemic ecommerce “new normal”, with interviews with staff from Etsy, TechStyle and Zulily.
Ecommerce is about to get way more competitive (it probably is already), & arguably the retailers who will succeed are the ones who already put plans in action, including advertising plans. (mentions Shopify, Google Shopping & Etsy.)
Facebook and Instagram will now have “Facebook Shops”, which are free to set up. Sounds like it will be a slow rollout, though. Many take this as direct competition for marketplace sites such as Etsy, but it will probably also have a large impact on small website builder sites such as Indiemade.
Etsy’s first quarter for 2020 was good, but April was astonishing by any standards; I covered it all here.
Etsy Paymentswill soon be available to sellers in Turkey, Malaysia, & Mexico. This will likely be welcome news to sellers in Turkey in particular, who haven’t had an easy way to accept payment for Etsy orders since PayPal left Turkey a few years back. It looks like this move will be optional at the moment for those 3 countries, unlike those of us who are forced to use EP if it is available in our countries.
Etsy is beta-testing a new listing video tool. You can join here; if you want more info first, here are some details. Note that the videos must be quite short, and will not include sound.
Etsy is still getting some good traction from the face mask initiative: “I would argue they were just in the right place at the right time,“ says Kodali. "When you think of who is able to consolidate the power of a million sewers in the country, the only answer is Etsy." However, they are also getting some criticism for masks taking forever to arrive, if at all. The slow customer support is also annoying many of these new customers that the CEO was so happy to attract, with little to no response from Etsy.
More trend info directly from Etsy: first, summer at-home ideas with Dayna Isom Johnson [podcast links with transcript]. It also covers what to do for socially-distanced celebrations. “[P]eople are taking what they would typically do for a birthday, but then doing it virtually. So many people love paint night parties and I’ve actually seen quite a few paint kits that Etsy sellers are creating. It’s a wonderful way to celebrate your birthday and still have that experience of expressing your creativity and having fun with your friends, but just through a screen.” Also, “tie-dye is blazing hot right now.”
Second, craft supply sellersget their own trend article for a change. Supply searches close to doubled in April, with “346% YoY increase in searches on Etsy for “diy”. Many buyers are making their own masks with supplies from Etsy; “2,089% YoY increase in searches on Etsy for “elastic”. Do read the whole article if you want to spin your shop in this direction, as there is a lot of good info included.
SEO: GOOGLE & OTHER SEARCH ENGINES
Google pushed out a core algorithm update starting May 4, which finished rolling out on May 18. It seems fairly large, maybe the biggest in some time, and may have hit more areas than other recent core updates. They did take some criticism for releasing it during a pandemic. Possible targets aren’t agreed on yet by the people tracking it, but could include cryptocurrency, travel, real estate, health, tech, finance & dating. Or maybe we shouldn’t rush to pick winners & losers so quickly? News media changes may be affected by the regular algorithm reaction to people reading a lot more news these days, and some ecommerce companies had a boom that could affect their rankings. This article discusses Etsy among other companies, who might have benefitted from the update. [I’m not sure on the Etsy complaints, as I have been seeing multiple links for some searches for well over a year now.]
Link building is generally the hardest part of Google SEO, in part because you aren’t allowed to do any of the obvious things that might get you easy links. Anyone confused about the rules & the benefits should check out this guide for 2020.
While you can learn a lot from general SEO guides, if you have a Shopify site, this guide provides some specific SEO tips.
LinkedIn managed to de-index itself from Google on May 6, at least for the United States. Here’s one theory. Well-paid webmasters for major internet companies can still screw up, it turns out.
(CONTENT) MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA (includes blogging & emails)
If you are one of those organized marketers who plans their campaigns ahead of time, here are5 content marketing ideas for June.
With so many people not working as much as usual, this might be a good time to start a podcast. Gizmodo has compiled instructions on doing it cheaply.
The best time to send an email depends on the purpose of the email. For example, “General site traffic emails have always been most effective mid-week — mid-morning or mid-afternoon. Mondays and Fridays tend not to perform as well” while “A general awareness campaign can be sent almost any time to be effective.”
Here is a good brief overview of the new free Google Shopping listings, including the 3 main reasons the author believes Google made this change. Here is another much longer overview, with screenshots for those not in the US, and info on how to set this up for your website. The PayPal integration is now available.
Online advertising clicks seem to be bouncing back from the worst of the pandemic, according to several sources, including this one. It is still far too early to tell if this will last, however.
YouTube has re-conceived its premium ad program, now called YouTube Select.
If you have ads that slow down people’s computers or drain batteries by being too “resource-heavy”, note that Chrome is going to begin blocking those in August. “Chrome will filter ads based on the following thresholds: 4MB of network data or 15 seconds of CPU usage in any 30 second period, or 60 seconds of total CPU usage.”
STATS, DATA, OTHER TRACKING
Seeing all hits to one page in Google Analyticsis a lot easier if you exclude the URL query parameters (but note that sometimes they are useful, such as for various pages on Etsy.) If you like the idea of filtering your GA results in general, here is another tutorial on that.
If you want to do A/B testing on your website, here is a fairly straightforward introduction to Google Optimize, which is free to use.
ECOMMERCE NEWS, IDEAS, TRENDS
Many online companies had a good first quarter despite the pandemic, including Shopify, which beat income estimates and saw its stock rise 5% after its first quarter report. “New stores created on the company’s online platform jumped 62% between March 13 and April 24 as many brick-and-mortar businesses migrated online.”
Shopify rolled out software that allows its users to more easily do curbside pickup orders. “…Shopify was already in the process of redesigning its POS before the coronavirus, but decided to accelerate the development of a few new features, namely fulfilling curbside pick-up orders and home delivery. Shopify said that by the end of April, 26% of its merchants with a brick-and-mortar presence were offering local delivery or buy online, pickup in-store, compared to 2% in February.”
Rolling out for the US first, Shopify is also getting into financial products, offering a new debit card which you can use to receive your sales income on the same day you earn it. Shopify Balance can be described as “a merchant account with no fees and no minimum balances.” It’s also setting up an instalment plan feature for customers.
An Amazon VP quit - very publicly - over the company firing several whistleblowers and labour organizers. “Amazon declined to comment.” The company is taking heat for those issues as well as poor management of and information about how many employees have tested positive at various warehouses. Several employees are known to have died of COVID-19 so far.
Amazon has extended its order performance suspension exceptions for the pandemic to May 31. Which is a good thing, because it seems that buyers are leaving more bad feedback than ever before [soft paywall] “More than 11 percent of reviews left for sellers in the past 30 days are negative. That’s nearly twice the level of frustration vented by shoppers regarding Amazon’s third-party sellers during the holidays, when customer anxieties spike over not getting presents on time”. eBay extended some seller protection changes until July 19. [note: if you sell on these platforms outside of the US, lease check for your own country’s rules, as some of them are different.]
Amazon Handmade sellers from the US got a boost from a new local makers page and the accompanying blog post. [I was unable to find any similar promotions for other countries; seems like a missed opportunity]
Buyers in Canada and the US are trying to get class-action lawsuits certified against Amazon for their policy preventing/discouraging its vendors from offering lower prices elsewhere. This article includes the US class action complaint paperwork.
USPS, complaining of deficits and being pressured by Trump, is reportedly reviewing its package delivery contracts with large companies such as Amazon. “According to the Washington Post, over the last few weeks the USPS has been seeking bids from consulting firms to reexamine what the agency charges companies like Amazon, UPS, and FedEx. Contracts are generally reviewed on a yearly basis, and analysts have repeated warned that suddenly raising package prices that drastically would cause more bad than good, not just for the USPS or Amazon, but for small businesses and individuals too.”
Gen Z wants to see “fun and exciting advertising” during the pandemic, because they are bored. They are apparently not really fond of “things are different now” ads. Also: “A survey taken seven weeks ago indicated that younger consumers were more likely than older adults to say they wanted to see purpose-driven advertising that showed how companies were helping others.” Actually, Gen Z isn’t alone in wanting something different from commercials right now
Not surprisingly, mobile usage is up during the day time since the pandemic was declared, and people are also staying online later during the week. Web browser usage is up, and more serious news and information is getting attention.
Canadian retail sales were down 10% in March compared to 2019, but many things went up, including general merchandise stores (6.4%) and online retailers (40%). Note that the online numbers didn’t include sales made from Amazon.com or Amazon.ca and delivered in Canada, so ecommerce was actually higher than that. In the US, March retail sales were down 8.7%, but April looks like it turned around for many ecommerce sites.
So-called “cookie walls” are not enough to comply with the EU’s privacy laws. “[I]n order for consent to be legally valid under Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) there are specific standards to meet: It must be clear and informed, specific and freely given. Hence cookie walls that demand ‘consent’ as the price for getting inside the club are not only an oxymoron but run into a legal brick wall.”
Website layouts (and even other elements) are starting to look like each other more & more.
Designing Business Websites to Ensure Exciting Online Shopping Experience
A perfect and effective eCommerce website design ensures good traffic to the business website of an online business company. An internet marketing company will flourish only if the company is able to establish its presence in the global market and for that, the company must have a perfectly designed as well as developed eCommerce Store. Small as well as large enterprises require the best solutions to develop their business websites. Professional web development companies have a key role in designing e-commerce business websites for internet business enterprises. An efficient and reliable eCommerce website development company will be having a proven track record of providing cost-effective as well as quality solutions to their clients for business website designing as well as developing.
The web designing company with highly qualified as well as experienced web designers can ensure prompt delivery. Moreover, the highly skilled professional web designers are able to design and develop customized eCommerce Stores for their clients. A perfectly designed eCommerce website serves as the most powerful weapon of the internet marketing company and facilitates effective promotion of the company’s brand in the international market. A powerful e-commerce website enables the company to develop customers in different parts of the world.
Ensuring Rapid Business Enhancement
When the eCommerce website design is unique, the online business firm can easily establish its identity in the global market in spite of severe competition. The marketing company which has a professionally developed eCommerce store equipped with a variety of functions that are interactive will be able to meet the exact requirements of the customers without delay. Unless and until the business firm has a customized business website it cannot ensure 100% customer satisfaction.
When the customers are satisfied the company gets repeated business and the website will be able to attract more new customers. Ultimately the company becomes successful in rapidly enhancing its business. While designing as well as developing a customized eCommerce website, the professional web designing company ensures that the website is compatible with mobile devices also. The highly skilled web designers will have the expertise to create websites that are compatible with screens of varying sizes.
Designing as well as Redesigning
While creating an eCommerce website design, the web designing company will see to it that the user interface of the website is of amazing quality. They make the user interface a galaxy of awesome features such as ‘add to cart’ facility, simple and easy ‘check out options’, ‘favorites’, ‘wishlist’, ‘search’ and so on. Apart from creating unique designs for business websites, these professional web designers offer redesigning services also for eCommerce websites. Whenever the online business enterprise needs to make its business website more responsive, the task may be entrusted to the professional eCommerce web designing company that will optimize the eCommerce store for mobile shopping also in addition to desktop shopping.
Creating Technologically Advanced Business Websites
The e-commerce web designing company develops the business website of its client in such a way that while their client finds it easy as well as convenient to carry out the online marketing tasks, the client’s customers have an easy and exciting online shopping experience.
The best e-commerce web designing company will ensure that the business websites that they create have the most advanced marketing tools, facilitate easy and efficient management of inventory, ensure proper and efficient content management, have Payment Gateway Integration, facilitate easy and quick creation of pages, categories, and products and also have customized product details and keywords.
Looking for a fast-growing eCommerce web development company?
Alphonic network solutions capable of delivering customized eCommerce website design and development services on popular platforms
How to set up a FREE SSL certificate for eCommerce
It is now crucial to have a SSL certificate for your website. Whether you own an e-commerce store or a personal blog, Google will penalize your website if you do not have a secured site.
For many years, SSL certificates were a costly expense when running a website. They were normally used only for e-commerce sites where transactions were taken place.
These days, you can add a SSL certificate to your site, for FREE !
Free SSL certificates come with not all, but some hosting plans. If your web hosting company doesn’t offer free certificates, then it may be time to reassess your options.
The amount of money spent on SSL certificates per year with web hosts that don’t offer free SSL, can be used to pay for your yearly web hosting needs, plus have money left over.
The web hosting company I use is SiteGround. They offer an unlimited amount of SSL certificates with their hosting plans. Great news if you are running multiple websites.
Set up a free SSL certificate for your E-commerce website
Before we set up the certificate, you need to sign up with SiteGround and add your domain to the account. You can find the current web hosting plans here.
In cPanel, go to Security, then Let’s Encrypt
Choose your domain, then select SSL Wildcard (this will cover any sub-domains you may use)
After confirming, it may take up to an hour for the certificate to become active.
And that’s it ! Your SSL certificate is ready.
Now, all you need to do is change your web address in your e-commerce store from http://www.your-domain-name.com to https://www.your-domain-name.com.
Your website is now Google-friendly :-)
you think you make some finger-licking’ bakery stuff? Well, you’re in
luck, because the online bakery business is getting off fine and people
ready to roll up their sleeves can do amazingly well.
fact, it’s no longer a side-project or a gig anymore; it’s got the
potential to be a very profitable business! And the best part about
starting an online bakery is that with the right amount of passion and
tech support, it can take wings!
starting a bakery business online, Consider points like where do you
start? How do you correctly go about it? Read on to find out the entire
process of how to start a bakery business online and running it
#1 Find what you’re really good at
What do you cook best? A rather delicate chocolate soufflé? Or the classic chocolate chip cookie? A croissant, perhaps?
long as you’re really good at something, a good deal of your headache
is gone. There are numerous advantages of knowing your specialty before
opening an online bakery.
First, it’s easy to have your name associated with a particular product rather than with something as generic as “bakery items”.
you can win a loyal customer base. And thirdly, it helps you charge a
small premium if you’re known as a specialist like: “If you haven’t
tasted Madalyn’s macarons, you haven’t tasted anything!”
#2. Understand your business model
next step is to find out and finalize the way you’ll operate. Some
decisions are strategic, like if you’d be starting only with two
products. Others are more specific, like, whether you will give
Here are some of the many questions you’ll want to answer as early as possible:
In what area would you be making deliveries?
How do you intend to price your products?
What will be your break-even numbers?
Ask as many questions you can; it will improve your understanding and help you in the long run.
#3. Give your business a name and a logo
While finalizing a name, in case you don’t have one, it’d best to have a name that reflects what you’re good at.
names have little if at all any, advantage. Instead, try to fit in your
brand name with the product you specialize in. Thus,
www(dot)atlinkarbin.com is of no value, while www(dot)joesmuffins.com is
Next, get a logo design
done. A logo with contemporary looks can make a powerful statement. But
hey, spend enough time on the name and the logo, but not excessive.
Remember, there’s a lot of work pending ahead of you! Read More… How to start online bakery store
How to Accept Credit Card Payments on a Website - The Easiest Way
Setting up credit card processing on your website is easy than what you think. Gone are the days of having to use your local bank to sign up for a merchant account.
The costs involved with set up, monthly fees, and transaction fees for a merchant account with major banks, can really add up.
Enter Stripe, the easiest way to accept credit card payments online for small businesses.
In under 10 mins you can sign up with Stripe, enter your banking details where you want to be paid, and start to accept credit card payments on your website.
No monthly fees, No set up costs !
They do however take a 3% transaction fee (which is normal for any merchant account) and it can take up to 7 days until your money is paid out. A small setback, but worth it in the long run.
How to accept credit card payments online - Step by Step
For this tutorial, I will set up the easiest way to accept credit card payments online using WooCommerce. Stripe only allows sign ups from certain countries. To check if your country is supported, go to Stripe - Supported Countries.
Sign up to Stripe
Go to www.stripe.com and select Create Stripe Account, or Start Now button
Once you’ve created an account, you’ll be taken to the Dashboard. Here, you will “Add a Name”. This will be your business name, or whatever you want to call this account.
Next, Activate your Account.
Enter all your business details. When it comes to “Credit card statement details”, enter a short description that you want to show on customer’s credit card statements.
When all your details are entered, you are now ready to use Stripe.
Set up WooCommerce
Go to Plugins > New > Search for Stripe for WooCommerce
Install Now, then Activate
Once activated, go to WooCommerce > Settings > Payments > Stripe > Setup
Go back to your Stripe Dashboard. You need to copy both the Publishable API Key and Secret Key you will see on your Dashboard into the WooCommerce plugin.
If you can’t see your API keys on the Stripe Dashboard, go to Developers > API keys.
Now go back to the WooCommerce Stripe setup where you will
Enable Test Mode, and
Copy and paste API keys from your Stripe account.
Back in Stripe, go to Developers > Webhooks
Paste the Webhook address from WooCommerce into Endpoint URL
Choose receive all events
Add endpoint to finish
Congratulations ! Your Stripe account is now setup with WooCommerce.
Test your Stripe account in Test Mode
Before going live taking credit card transactions, you need to test a transaction to make sure everything is working.
Go to your Stripe Dashboard and make sure that Viewing Test Data on the left menu is activated. This is important.
Now go back to your WooCommerce website, add products to your cart, and start the checkout process.
When you get to the payment section you should see the “test” version of the credit card section.
Enter credit card number 4242 4242 4242 4242. This is Stripe’s test credit card number. Enter a future expiry date, and any 3-number CVC.
Submit your order, then go back to your Stripe Dashboard. You should see your payment come up for Today’s sales.
Accept credit card payments
Once the test sale is working you need to Deactivate Viewing Test Data. You site is now live, ready to accept credit card payments.
9 Top Reasons Why Blogging is Important for your Business
Why is blogging important for your online business ?
It’s all about Website Traffic !
But before we begin, it’s important that your website’s blog is written and structured in a certain way to create interest, be informative, and to keep the traffic flowing.
If you are starting a blog, for the first year it’s recommended to write your articles in 3 blocks, about 20-30 articles per block, and in this order:
A third response articles - short simple 1300 word articles that answer specific questions about your industry
A third staple articles (written after response posts) - longer more in-depth 2200 word articles eg. list articles ~ 10 tips, etc.
A third pillar posts - Big articles over 3-4,000 words that cover major topics in your industry.
The combination of these 3 types of articles, in the correct order, will see your blog and website, increase the traffic, which in turn leads to more sales.
1. Increases your website’s Search Engine Optimization ranking
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the most important aspects of any online business. Why have a website if no one will find you in search results?
SEO drives traffic to your site. It’s the street equivalence of customers walking past your shop and coming in the front door.
Search Engine Optimization is the foundations of all online businesses to succeed, and without a solid SEO plan or structure, your business website will be buried under the millions of other ones out there.
So how does blogging increase your SEO?
The more content you have on your site related to your industry, the more keywords Google and other Search Engines can index for your page.
When you blog and you include a combination of links, photos, videos, questions, answers, information, tutorials, how-to articles, etc, the chances of your site ranking on page 1 of search engines dramatically increases.
Fresh content is key to beating your competitors on the search engine results page.
Content, content, content. Important !
Tip: Try this. Type into Google the keyword most related to your business.
Have a look at the Top 10 results and go to these sites.
Do your competitors have a blog within their website?
If not, then starting a blog will give you an upper hand !
2 . Position your Business as an Industry Leader (Authority)
The more information your blog has about your industry, the greater your authority as an information point in your industry.
By creating articles based off questions, how-to’s, lists such as Top 10, etc. you will become the hub, or the place to be, for your industry.
Your customers will benefit from what they will learn from your articles.
3. Provides Extra Value to your Clients
Adding that extra information about your products and services is one way to give extra value to your clients. Blogging is one of the best ways to talk more about your business in detail and, in turn, your customers will feel like they know your business better.
Your current clients will return to your site more often.
Asking clients to subscribe to your blog will keep them up-to-date with your latest products and services. This can be a better marketing tactic than using Social Media, because
They receive an email that can be read in their own time,
People scroll through social media on their phones fast, often overlooking posts, and
Social Media platforms are not always delivering every post made by who you are following.
which leads me to:
4. Collect Emails for Marketing
A blog is a great way to earn trust with your customers, as well as readers who stumbled across your site via search engines, and in turn you can ask for their email address if they want more information.
This is important in a number of ways.
Send out updates to bring people back to your website
Offer exclusive deals or offers not made public
Create “lookalike audiences” for Social Media advertising (I will write more about this soon)
Emails can be forwarded easily to friends of subscribers
Keep track of open rates and click-through rates on emails. Gives good statistics of what is working for your promotions
5. Creates Customer Loyalty
Blogging is a great way to build trust and loyalty for current and future customers. Business websites that are continually updating their blog (or website) shows that the business is up-to-date in the industry.
From a customer’s point of view, a business that is continuously in the current market, will near guarantee repeat business.
A blog is also a great way for current or future customers to interact with the business by leaving comments, questions, or even able to easily share the articles on their own Social Media platforms, which leads me to:
6. Creates shareable Content for Social Media
Once setup correctly by using Social Media sharing bars and buttons, blog articles can easily be shared by readers to their social media platform of choice.
The benefits of this are:
Your content is shown to new readers, leads to more website traffic.
It helps with the website’s SEO score. Search Engines take into account the Social Media activity of a site for improved rankings.
When others share articles, it shows to others your business is up-to-date with the latest in your industry.
7. Increases Backlinks to Website
Backlinks, also called “inbound links” or “incoming links,” are created when one website links to another. Backlinks are especially valuable for SEO because they represent a “vote of confidence” from one site to another. - https://moz.com/learn/seo/backlinks
A blog with multiple articles is great for Backlinks. The more shares, and the more traffic to your site, the more that other website owners, or bloggers will start to reference your articles.
It’s important that your blog contains the 3 building blocks of creating a successful blog as mentioned at the beginning of this article. Short articles, medium articles, and large articles.
Following this procedure will generate more shares and backlinks.
8. Crush your Competition
Depending on your industry, you’ll most likely find that not many of your competitors are blogging on their business websites.
If not, then you will eventually crush them when it comes to Google and other search engine results.
You will be the leader in your industry with the most content, and you will eventually stand way above your competition, taking all the search results traffic.
9. Adds Personality to your Brand
Last but not least is how a blog can bring personality to your business and brand.
How many faceless websites have you come across ? Do you really know who you are dealing with ?
The great thing about blogging for business is that it gives the chance for the business to bring in a human aspect to the service or product. By writing creatively, the reader will feel more in touch with the business, rather than just reading product information, or a list of what services you offer.
It also pushes the reader to interact with the articles, as well as making them more likely to share the articles.
Why is blogging important for an online business?
Increases your website’s Search Engine Optimization ranking (SEO)
Position your Business as an Industry Leader (Authority)
Provides Extra Value to your Clients
Collect Emails for Marketing
Creates Customer Loyalty
Creates shareable Content for Social Media
Increases Backlinks to Website
Crush your Competition
Adds Personality to your Brand