Andrea has written 52 articles so far, you can find them below.
Andrea is originally from Vancouver (not Canada), Washington (not D.C.) but currently resides in Seattle, WA as she finishes up her last two quarters at Seattle Pacific University. Majoring in communications and minoring in business administration, Andrea has big dreams of a career in public relations. When not writing for Zippycart or studying for class (hah!) she enjoys the chaos of living in a house with 5 other girls. Follow her adventures on Twitter: @andrea_ruge
November 3, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
New collaborative ecommerce solution Giftiki is a group gift giving platform that allows friends to pool their money together to buy a friend a combined gift. Launched less than 4 weeks ago, Giftiki is in its first stage of beta but has already enjoyed more success than founder and CEO Justin Stanislaw could have expected.
Described as a hybrid between WePay, Charity:Water and KickStarter, Giftiki offers a unique approach to a many to one platform. Instead of raising funds for a charity or a project, Giftiki users contribute to raising funds for a gift.
Stanislaw was inspired to create Giftiki after his past birthday when he received several unwanted gifts and realized the large number of people who left him messages on Facebook. He came up with an idea that would enable those Facebook friends to pool money together online, which would then be gifted to an individual on their birthday (or any other occasion). The idea behind Giftiki, is that friends can pool money together for an individual and then the recipient gets to choose what gift they buy with that money.
The buying power is in the hands of the recipient, although Stanislaw mentioned the site is working on a feature that will enable friends who give money to make suggestions of what the recipient should buy. So far, Gifitiki has partnerships with 26 retailers including Starbucks, Amazon, and Sports Authority. The recipient can choose to redeem their gift in the form of a gift card or an instant ecode.
Giftiki is completely wrapped up in social media and is integrated into Facebook. Operating through Facebook Connect, Giftiki users will have access to friends’ birth dates just as they do on the social media website. Giftiki users also have personal profile pages- similar to those on Facebook- that feature a gift-o-meter which shows how many monetary donations their account has received to-date.
The start-up is working on a tool for users to tell their friends how much money they are trying to raise for a particular birthday gift, which would make the gift-o-meter increasingly helpful. They are also developing a wish list feature, which would allow users to show their friends what they would like to buy. With this feature, instead of friends as the initiators, an individual can let their friends know what they want. Stanislaw is looking forward to Giftiki creating a future of more rewarding gift-giving.
Stanislaw also sees this platform as becoming innovative for wedding gift buying. He explained how couples getting married often want a big screen television or a dining room set, but those types of items are far too expensive to add to their registry. Giftiki could help in this situation by allowing the couple’s friends to donate money towards the bigger items.
Social ecommerce solutions have been gaining popularity throughout the past year, as consumers are becoming more and more comfortable spending money on the Internet. Giftiki joins Letsgift.it, SocialGift, and thegiftsproject (acquired by eBay earlier this year) in the social gift giving market.
November 1, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
November is here and if you haven’t started already, now is the time to optimize your ecommerce solution and marketing plan for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This Thanksgiving weekend is predicted to be more profitable than last year, but there will also be more competition for consumer dollars than ever before. The online sphere is particularly competitive with e-tailers trying to compete with ecommerce giants like eBay and Amazon. In order to attract consumers, many businesses have already begun advertising and promotions for the holiday shopping season.
If you have not yet begun holiday promotions (or even if you have), ecommerce software provider Volusion has released their “2011 Ecommerce Survival Guide for Black Friday Weekend“. We have outlined 4 of the most notable tips from their guide:
1. Increase Average Order Value
The easiest and most obvious way to boost AOV is to simply increase the price of merchandise. Increasing prices may be a good way to go if your merchandise is already priced lower than competitors or if you are planning on offering deep discounts. However, raising prices is risky business because shoppers will be especially sensitive to prices during Thanksgiving weekend due to the amount of discounts and promotions offered by a wide range of retailers.
Another approach to increasing AOV is by offering free shipping for orders over a certain amount. Consumers are attracted to free shipping and e-tailers can leverage this by offering free shipping on orders that exceed a specified amount such as $50. This will encourage consumers to fill up their shopping carts and increase the value of their order.
An alternative to offering free shipping is giving away gift cards with orders that exceed a specified amount. For example, retailers could offer a $10 gift card with a $100 purchase. This draws in consumers and also benefits merchants because consumers will more than likely spend more than the gift card amount when they decide to redeem it.
2. Decrease Bounce Rates
To decrease bounce rates it is important to make your best holiday deals known. Consumers often move onto the next website because they aren’t finding the right product or a convincing deal. Make your best holiday deals known by prominently displaying them on your homepage. Let consumers know about the promotions you’re running during Thanksgiving weekend by announcing them front and center on your webpage. Another way to decrease bounce rates is highlighting featured deals and/or popular products with banners or icons.
3. Optimize Use of Email
Throughout the holiday season shoppers will be looking for gift ideas and special offers in their email inbox. Last year there was an average of 17.3 retailer emails sent during the months of November and December, in order to increase the chances of your email being seen you may need to up the frequency in which emails are sent. However, you must pay careful attention to avoid sending too many emails and spamming your customers. Another way to optimize the use of email is to start sending promotions out early. Many retailers have already been sending out holiday promotions for the past couple weeks.
4. Employ a Smart Coupon Strategy
70% of consumers expect retailers to offer better prices and promotions this year versus 2010 due to the state of the current economy. In addition, 38% of adult consumers will spend between 1 and 3 hours researching coupons on the Internet. Many ecommerce solutions will be offering great deals this Thanksgiving weekend and in order to compete you will need to employ a unique coupon strategy. When deciding on a coupon strategy, it is important to consider whether you are offering too much or perhaps too little. Whatever coupon or discount strategy you decide to employ, make sure you aren’t stretching your profits too thin. It is important that your business can support whatever deal you choose to promote.
October 31, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Mega-retailer Macy’s is adding a blog to their already successful ecommerce solution. Macy’s blog, or mBLOG, was officially launched last Wednesday (October 26th) and is set to include posts on various topics such as men and women’s fashion trends, home and lifestyle news, and beauty. The blog will include embedded ecommerce, which will allow readers to fill their shopping carts and purchase merchandise directly from blog posts.
Macy’s has partnered with FoodRepublic.com and Fashionista.com, who along with Macy’s style experts, will work to integrate exciting content and variety into mBLOG posts. Readers can look forward to blog posts that provide fashion and beauty tips, announcements of product launches and major sales, expert advice, and exclusive access to in-store events.
To encourage readership, the mBLOG will dedicate each day of the week to a specific topic/category. In each post Macy’s along with experts from their partnerships will provide tips and discussion in the form of how-to videos, reviews, trend-spotting, original blog posts and more.
On Monday’s, mBLOG readers can expect posts related to specifically women’s fashion. These posts might include reviews of featured products and trends, with captivating and informative articles targeting women. Guest bloggers, Macy’s fashion executives, and celebrity designers will contribute to “In My Humble Opinion”, which will be a reoccurring editorial about style.
Readers will find a fashion advice column “The Ugly Truth” on Tuesdays where men can gain insight to a female’s opinion of the clothes they wear. Tuesday’s will always feature style advice for men, while Wednesday blog posts will be dedicated to all things home. Home blog posts will offer readers decorating ideas, cooking advice, and housewarming gift suggestions. FoodRepublic.com will be a regular contributor to these posts.
Thursday’s will focus on accessories such as shoes, handbags and jewelry. Fashionista.com will offer readers tips on how to correctly accessorize. Beauty posts are reserved for Fridays and will feature posts that review popular beauty products as well as tips and tutorials from industry experts.
Saturdays and Sundays will cover a mix of miscellaneous topics. A few reoccurring posts will be “Buzz and Weddings”, “Destinations”, and “All in the Family”. Macy’s “Buzz and Weddings” will provide readers with updates in the fashion and design world, book reviews, and more. “Destinations” will outline must-see locations throughout the United States, while “All in the Family” will have posts about ideas for entertainment, DIY projects, and sometimes pet-training tips.
This new blog seems like a logical move for Macy’s who leads the industry in social media innovation. Just this year, they launched their “Million Dollar Makeover” campaign that boosted Facebook fans from 900,000 to 1.8 million. The introduction of mBLOG comes just in time to provide shopping advice and offer ecommerce promotion for holiday shoppers.
October 27, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Millions of Internet users are members of social websites. In order to access that growing market, more and more retailers are utilizing social shopping platforms in addition to their ecommerce solutions. Just this week, Sociable Labs, a popular social ecommerce software provider, announced the $7 million success of their Series B funding round. There’s no doubt the social shopping sphere is expanding, but how important is it for retailers to invest in social shopping platforms for their ecommerce solution?
A social shopping survey conducted by Performics revealed the necessity of retailers’ acknowledgment of the opportunities to be had through the optimization of social ecommerce. The 2011 Social Shopping Study released by Performics on Thursday examined the usage of shopping sites, social networks, and deal sites in several different aspects of the shopping experience.
Some of the most notable results included those about how many people are using social shopping sites daily and what they are using them for. Between 17% and 19% of respondents use daily deal sites, shopping sites, and social networks every day to find coupons, deals, and specials. Also, 10-12% use these sites every day to read product reviews.
The survey also showed the gaining popularity of people using online networks while shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. A significant amount of respondents said they occasionally or frequently engage in in-store social or search activities. A few interesting figures include:
- 65% responded that they compare prices online while in a retail location
- 45% “check-in” at brick-and-mortar store locations
- 41% look for information using a search engine on their mobile phone
- 30% use a barcode scanner on their mobile phone to shop for prices
In addition, twenty-five percent of those surveyed will take the time while at a physical store location to seek information on a social network prior to finalizing a purchase. Immediately before consumers make a purchase is a vital moment for retailers. The fact that 1 in 4 customers may be conducting last minute research and seeking validation of their purchase through social networks deserves attention from retailers. People are also willing to wait for information longer than you would expect. Results showed 41% of respondents are willing to wait between 5 and 10 minutes to obtain information about products online while physically present in store.
Not only are social sites being used as part of both the online and brick-and-mortar shopping experience, but they are also breaking gender stereotypes. When it comes to social network usage, people assume that women are more active than men. However, as revealed by Performics’ survey, men engage social networks more frequently than women in five of six online shopping activities. Men research product information, read reviews, compare products, find product availability and get store information using social networks, shopping and deal sites more often than women. Women trump men when it comes to how often they look for deals and coupons.
Although “social shopping” is still a fairly new idea, its popularity is undoubtedly increasing. Retailers may want to consider their social presence on the web before the holiday shopping season is upon us to avoid missing precious sales.
October 27, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Social ecommerce solution provider Sociable Labs has raised $7 million in a Series B funding round led by Battery Ventures. The announcement came Wednesday after the company emerged out of stealth. Existing investor Javelin Venture Partners also contributed to this round of funding.
Sociable Labs, a 25-person start-up based in San Francisco, also received seed funding from Facebook’s 2009 fbFund. The unique ecommerce solution provider helps clients draw in customers by focusing on the brand’s ecommerce website and encouraging users to share purchases within their social networks.
Sociable Labs offers customers a unique approach to social commerce by focusing on sharing within a brand’s ecommerce solution rather than building fan pages and accumulating “likes.”
The company has an array of tools merchants can integrate into their online retail stores. Sociable Labs sees the social commerce value in real communication and interaction with consumers while they are on a retailer’s website. Sociable RSVP and Purchase Share, the company’s most popular features, are integrated directly into a retailer’s website, which allows customers to share their purchasing via Facebook. The technology employed combines features of Facebook’s social graph with ecommerce functions of a merchant’s site.The focus is on delivering “hard” ROI to retailers. “Hard” ROI refers to traffic, sales and conversions. Sociable Labs asserts its technology works exponentially better than simply adding a “like” or “share” button.
Sociable Labs Founder and Chief Executive Officer Nisan Gabbay evaluates the success of their ROI-platform:
“Traffic converts 300 percent better into sales than traffic from Facebook fan pages, and also better than traditional forms of online marketing. It’s a win-win for marketers and consumers.”
Sociable Labs provides an innovative platform that enables consumer social sharing straight from retailer websites. They understand that word-of-mouth marketing is the most powerful tool in today’s market. Their applications allow consumers to share purchases with friends or identify friends they want advice from before completing a purchase. Their platform is already used by several top retail brands such as Rue La La, HauteLook, Chegg.com, and Active.com.
The most social shopping experience online is currently the “like” button on Facebook. However, the “like” button is not a useful shopping tool to consumers until they are preparing to make a purchase. If the social shopping experience is moved to retailers’ ecommerce websites, people will find the social sharing of friends’ buying activities much more beneficial.
For example, if you log onto Rue La La (and have authorized Facebook Connect for the site) and are looking at a certain brand, it will show you which of your Facebook friends are fans of that brand.
Sociable Labs currently charges merchants $50,000 a year to use their social commerce platform. The company plans to use the new funding to market their software more extensively now that it has moved out of beta.
October 26, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
“You are what you buy.” Whether or not you agree with this statement, it’s the way the folks at MasterCard see it and they want access to everything you buy. MasterCard and Visa want to take what they know about your purchasing habits and use that information to accurately target ads to you online.
Credit card companies have long had relationships with advertising agencies, selling them information about customers in order for marketers to better target buyers. What you buy and what you do with it unveils precious details about who you are as a consumer. Marketers yearn for this data due to the ever-increasing value of information on the individual buyer. Marketers want more and more information and credit card companies like Visa and MasterCard want to give it to them. Ad executives suggest details about consumer’s credit-card activity would be extremely beneficial because it gives insight to their budgets, where they are shopping, what products and services they are buying and how they spend their time.
Most everyone with a mailing address receives junk mail, which is a sign of credit card companies providing marketers with customer information for offline advertising. The only difference is they now want to move into the online sphere. It is an attempt to tie together consumers’ online and offline lives.
An example of what credit card companies are envisioning is when a customer purchases lunch from a fast food restaurant, they may come home to online advertisements for weight-loss products. If they end up purchasing one of the products advertised, credit card companies will be able to track the full circle of their buying behaviors.
It is a way for credit card companies and marketers to gain a deeper understanding of individual consumers. However, it runs into a common problem- Where is the line of anonymity drawn? How much customer information is too much? At what point does it become invasive and a breech to our privacy?
The original plans MasterCard had about how to access and use customer purchasing information have been thrown out because they realized it would reveal too much about individuals. Visionaries at both MasterCard and Visa are now working on ways to sell marketers an analysis of aggregated anonymous data sorted into marketing segments.
An ad executive who recently met with Visa shared with The Wall Street Journal an example of how this method would work:
“[It] would let advertisers, for instance, show cat-grooming offers to people in one area, and dog-grooming ads to people somewhere else, based on the group buying behavior in the areas as a whole.”
MasterCard currently analyzes anonymous aggregate data of customer spending behaviors. Although they are insistent there is no way to link the data to individuals, MasterCard customers can choose to opt out of the studies. Information can be removed from their analysis by providing your card number on the “Data Analytics Opt-Out” page at www.mastercard.us/privacy. Visa always provides notice and choice for use of personal information.
MasterCard and Visa have submitted various patents outlining how they plan to use data collected from offline purchases to target customers online. Both credit card companies say everything is still in the preliminary planning process.
As it is, marketers already use online behaviors to target individuals with web ads. Would it be too intrusive for our offline behaviors to be tracked as well? You decide.
October 25, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Ecommerce solutions are the preferred method of shopping for many consumers due to the convenience of 24/7 availability. Some consumers enjoy the one-stop-shop the Internet provides, and others appreciate free shipping and other incentives online retailers offer. Whatever their reasons, more shoppers than previously expected will be turning to ecommerce solutions to complete their holiday shopping this year.
According to new data from the National Retail Federation, the average shopper plans to complete 36% of their holiday gift-buying online this year (up from 32.7% last year). In light of the increase of shoppers planning to use ecommerce solutions this holiday season, e-tailers have become more optimistic than ever before about their holiday sales. Revealed in Shop.org’s eHoliday survey conducted by BIGresearch, 68% of retailers anticipate their online sales to increase by at least 15% or more compared to last holiday season. This expectation is up from 63.8% who felt the same last year.
Shoppers will also be able to take advantage of holiday deals earlier this year. Along with their brick-and-mortar counterparts, some online retailers are planning to begin their 2011 holiday promotions by Halloween. 52.9% of retailers plan to start their Holiday marketing and promotions by next Monday (Halloween), which is up from just 40% who did the same last year. Approximately 37% of retailers are planning to start by mid-November. Thus, shoppers may not have to wait until Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving and Black Friday) to snag the best deals of the season.
Shop.org’s head of research, Fiona Swerdlow, suggested companies are taking steps to prepare for the increase in online shoppers. In her own words:
“There’s no question consumers are eager to hit the Web this holiday season, and online retailers are prepping by optimizing their sites, beginning their marketing and promotions early, and planning plenty of free shipping promotions as they aim to provide value and convenience for their shoppers. Online retailers will also leverage their social media and mobile platforms for savvy shoppers on the go, knowing how important customer reviews and comparison shopping applications are to holiday shoppers.”
Specifically, the survey concluded that 51% of retailers have invested in optimizing their mobile commerce solutions and many have also invested in tablet device apps. Companies have also been working on their Facebook and Twitter pages in preparation for the holiday season.
The survey also outlined the primary reasons why shoppers plan to spend more time shopping online:
- 24-hour availability and convenience are the primary considerations for 43.2% of shoppers surveyed
- 36.3% admitted they will spend more online this year if shipping comes free
- The annoyance of fighting crowds at brick-and-mortar store locations is a factor for 37.2%
- 29.6% of shoppers will turn to ecommerce solutions due to the ease of comparing prices
With this new data, e-tailers are becoming more optimistic about upcoming online sales and re-evaluating their holiday promotions.
October 24, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Anxiety is rising among retailers as the holiday season approaches causing them to offer some unusual promotions.
This holiday season, many ecommerce retailers are willing to sacrifice profit in order to make a sale. Beyond that, some retailers are even giving away free gifts as shopper incentives.
For example, Stauer Jewelers is offering an amethyst necklace valued at $249 to customers for free. The only catch is that shoppers must be able to pay $24.95 in shipping costs for their gift to be delivered. Although it seems Stauer Jewelers will be losing thousands of dollars by implementing this offer, President Michael Biscelgia believes it will actually act as an incentive to persuade customers to add more products to their shopping carts. Biscelgia recalled a similar promotion the jewelry company offered in 2009 when they gave customers a free $149 pearl necklace (customers paid shipping costs). The company ended up making profits from customers who were drawn to the site because of the promotion and purchased additional items.
Sales in November and December account for up to 40% of a company’s revenue. With high stakes, retailers are desperately looking for ways to drive sales this holiday season. Many ecommerce solutions have already eliminated shipping costs from customer purchases. Most notably, Nordstrom recently began offering free shipping on any size order. Although paying for shipping may cut into Nordstrom’s profits when customers make a low cost purchase, it is a necessary incentive to promote sales on their online storefront.
Increased pressure on brick-and-mortar stores to offer bigger and better deals this holiday season is partly due to the growing success of ecommerce giants Amazon and eBay. Because both ecommerce solutions are completely online, they avoid costs associated with operating a physical storefront and are able to offer products at discounted prices.
Another reason ecommerce solutions are looking for creative ways to generate traffic and sales this holiday season is the threat of deceased sales. Although early predictions assumed holiday sales to rise a small percentage this year, many Americans believe we are in the midst of a second recession. Retailers fear shoppers will be tighter with their wallets this season due to the current state of the economy.
In addition to the uncommon holiday bargains shoppers will find on ecommerce solutions, brick-and-mortar stores will also be cutting special deals. Many retailers have notoriously accepted competitor coupons to avoid losing a sale. However, this holiday season several retailers will match the best prices customers can find online. In an attempt to compete with the deals shoppers can find on eBay and Amazon, Bed Bath and Beyond has promised to match deals offered by online-only competitors. Sears has also announced they will not only match online prices, but they will also offer 10% off of the difference.
Retailers are pulling out all the stops this holiday season to attract shoppers to their ecommerce solutions. Even if it means a loss in profits, companies are willing to make the sacrifice to create a sale.
October 21, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Google has partnered with New Jersey transit to offer their contactless payment platform Google Wallet for customers purchasing transit tickets at a couple popular train stations. Both New York City’s Penn Station and Newark’s Liberty International Airport Rail Station have implemented the necessary technology to support a tap-and-pay system for customers with Google Wallet. New Jersey transit is the first public transit system to accept payments using Google Wallet. The application, which utilizes near field technology, or NFC, to wirelessly collect payments, will allow customers to purchase transit tickets by simply tapping their phone on a point-of-sale sensor.
Google hopes to reach a large consumer market by offering their innovative payment service in the transit system. Their decision to partner with NJ Transit gives them access to the third largest public transit system in the country, with more than 895,000 bus and rail trips weekly to New Jersey, New York City, and Philadelphia.
In the words of Google vice president of commerce, Stephanie Tilenius:
“Transit is the fastest way to accelerate adoption and reach usage density in major urban centers by habituating the behavior of tapping and paying with phones.”
The announcement of Google’s partnership with NJ Transit comes just days after Google Wallet’s expansion of the SingleTap platform, which gives customers the ability to redeem coupons and/or earn rewards points with one tap of their phone. In addition to several Walgreens and Subway locations who have already implemented the technology, American Eagle Outfitters, The Container Store, Foot Locker, Guess, Jamba Juice, Toys “R” Us, Macy’s, and OfficeMax are also now accepting Google Wallet payments. Chevron, D’Agostino, and Pinkberry have also signed on to begin accepting it.
Using Google Wallet, customers can access and save coupons and loyalty cards to redeem deals and collect rewards points. It aims to enhance convenience for shoppers by eliminating the amount of papers and cards they need to carry around. Google will also be offering exclusive deals for users such as $2 off at Jamba Juice, 15% off at American Eagle, and 10% off at the Container Store. Users can save these offers to their account and then, when a purchase is made, saved deals will automatically be applied.
Though mobile commerce solutions are quickly gaining popularity, Google Wallet has a couple roadblocks to address. One being that the application is only available on Sprint’s Nexus S 4G phone. Also, it only supports Citi MasterCards or Google prepaid cards and is only available at stores using NFC technology.
Before Google can spark universal adoption of electronic wallets, they must increase the availability of their application to several mobile devices. However, the potential success of this technology is unmatched.
October 20, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Yesterday, social commerce platform ShopIgniter introduced an in-stream technology that will allow merchants to utilize Facebook users newsfeeds to create a more connected social ecommerce solution.
ShopIgniter is a Portland-based social ecommerce software platform that aims to help retailers reach customers and revenue through social media platforms. The average shopper spends 25% of their time on Facebook, making it a necessary channel for online retailers to work with. ShopIgniter aims to enhance retailers’ merchandising, marketing, and metrics by providing ecommerce software including Social Storefronts, Social Search Engine, and sCommerce Analytics. Their diverse customer base includes Nike Golf, Kaenon, CafePress, Levi’s, and Generation Orange.
The new ecommerce software, which includes first-of-its kind inventory control, will allow merchants to share promotions and deals, complete highly-secure transactions, and manage inventory, all within consumers’ newsfeeds on Facebook. ShopIngniter’s innovative software includes inventory technology that makes it possible for retailers to show how much inventory is left and make recommendations to shoppers when a desired product is sold out. Providing recommendations will help businesses accommodate the excess demand created by social promotions. Also, the in-stream technology will use geo-targeting in order to place the right products in front of the most viable consumers. For example, shoppers in Seattle may see offers for items like rain boots.
Merchants can choose to use the in-stream technology in addition to a social storefront or as a stand alone feature for impulse buys and daily deals. Connecting this new technology into a fully-transactional storefront will enable merchants to utilize features like loyalty programs and rewards.
Alan Wizemann, chief product officer at ShopIgniter, explained their new in-stream technology:
“In-stream checkout gives brands and retailers a competitive sales edge, especially when integrated with the other merchandising and promotional capabilities of the ShopIgniter platform. The newsfeed is an excellent channel to offer impulse products, time- or inventory-limited items or highly desirable promotional products. We have taken extra care to ensure our software delivers a secure and elegant experience for our customers’ end consumers.”
Consumers will need to “allow” this in-stream technology to show up in their newsfeed, which will then enable merchants to access their email address, influencer data, social graph, and transactional data. This will give merchants the information needed to identify their most loyal customers and reward them accordingly.
The addition of in-stream technology to ShopIgniter’s social commerce software turns customers into promotional tools and revenue generators, while building deeper relationships with them through connection. ShopIgniter feels this technology will turn Facebook from social network to a complete ecommerce and product promotion channel.
October 19, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Ecommerce giant Amazon is set to publish 122 books of a variety of genres this fall. By creating their own publishing line, Amazon is removing traditional publishing houses from the process and making their own deals with authors.
Amazon Publishing will act similar to a traditional publisher, completing all of the editing, printing, promoting, and selling. This will make Amazon both a distributor of products and a competitor in the publishing house market, which is bound to create tension with traditional publishing houses.
Their new project is led by successful publisher Lawrence Kirshbaum and has already signed popular author Timothy Ferriss.
Amazon has been breaking into the world of publishing for awhile and already offers self-publishing platform Kindle Direct. Self-publishing platforms are becoming increasingly popular because they allow authors to keep all the rights to their work and retain higher royalties. Other companies like LuLu.com and Barnes and Noble (PubIt) allow authors to publish manuscripts into ebooks. With more and more people adopting iPads, Kindles, and Nooks there is a shift from print to web-publishing.
Web publishing makes it much easier for an author to get their work out to the public. Electronic self-publishing of ebooks has several benefits including, cost, quality, and readiness. Web-publishing has much cheaper costs of entry than traditional publishing, and if a book fails, there are not many costs to recoup. However, traditional publishing requires money upfront to pay distributors and printing costs. Another benefit of electronic publishing is that everything is immediate; the entire publishing cycle is accelerated with ebooks. Authors can make quick edits of an ebook and they also receive payments for their work quickly.
One downfall of self-publishing is the lack of accessible distribution channels and no professional marketing plan; however, with Amazon Publishing both distribution and marketing will be handled as they are with traditional publishers.
Amazon’s entrance into the world of publishing is causing some to fear the prospect of an Amazon monopoly on the book chain. We’ve seen how they shut down brick-and-mortar stores with their cheap new and used books. They have also sparked the abandonment of physical books in favor of digital downloads for ereaders with the Kindle and Kindle Fire. Now they are expanding into the world of publishing and taking authors out of the hands of publishers. What do you think? Is Amazon becoming a monopoly right before our eyes?
October 18, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Ecommerce platform Shopify announced Monday that it has accumulated $15 million in Series B financing. The primary investors include Bessemer Venture Partners, FirstMark Capital, Felicis Ventures, and Georgian Partner.
The Ottawa, Canada start-up is a popular platform for businesses who are looking for an ecommerce solution but lack the means to buy expensive coding software. Shopify provides merchants the tools and support to create and maintain an online storefront. The platform assists everyone from individual entrepreneurs to large organizations and even recording artists. Currently, it powers stores for over 15,000 merchants including Angry Birds, LMFAO, General Electric, CrossFit, and Tesla Motors.
Shopify was launched 5 years ago by Tobias Lutke as a method of selling snowboards online after Lutke noticed the difficulty of creating a professional online store. It quickly became a useful tool for other businesses and entrepreneurs due to its ease of use, attractive templates, and scalability. Shopify aims to help businesses of any size effectively create and maintain cheap and easy-to-operate ecommerce solutions.
Lutke explained how the new funding will help future success of the company:
“This large investment will allow us to aggressively expand operations with a focus on three areas of growth. First, we’re looking to continue hiring the best developers and designers in the world. Second, we would like to open the door to strategic partnerships and acquisitions. Lastly, we will provide seed funding to developers looking to build apps that integrate with the Shopify platform.”
The seed funding mentioned is officially named “The Shopify Fund,” which is a $1 million fund to encourage independent developers to write apps for the Shopify platform. This fund will help the company attract developers, designers, and entrepreneurs by allowing Shopify to pay those with intriguing app ideas or designs. A $5,000 to $10,000 advance will be paid out to those who contact Shopify with a great app or utility design or idea. Designers can contact Shopify even if they don’t have a potential app idea as the fund will also be used to hire on talent to help create items on the fund wish list.
Shopify currently has nearly 100 applications already on their platform. The apps and utilities will be made available to Shopify customers as a tool to expand their ecommerce solutions.
The ecommerce platform is also currently in the midst of their annual Build-A-Business competition, which is an 8-month contest to encourage entrepreneurs to create an online startup company. Upon conclusion, the startup with the most successful 2-month average will be awarded a $100,000 check along with trips to California and New York City to meet with several industry experts.
Monday’s announcement comes just 10 months after their announcement of $7 million in fundraising this past December.
October 17, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Attention all bloggers! Do you live and breathe blogging? Are you passionate about ecommerce and ecommerce solutions? Can you write a more enticing introduction than this (don’t lie to yourself…)? If you answered yes to these questions, you may want to check out Vendio.com.
Vendio Services, Inc. announced last week that they will be holding an ecommerce blogger search contest. This contest will provide one lucky winner with a host of prizes including:
- A paid (!) blogging contract for the Vendio blog, Vendable
- An iPad2, which can be used to assist with research
- Opportunities to attend several social media and ecommerce conferences throughout the year
- A full subscription to Vendio’s “Get it All” package selling plan
Vendio Services, Inc. is an ecommerce software solution, which aims to help merchants reach the largest online shopping markets through their multi-channel offerings. Headquartered in California, Vendio currently has over 90,000 merchants using their platform to assist with online marketplaces. Vendio’s platform uses interface, thus no programming skills are required for merchants to create an ideal and functional ecommerce solution.
The opportunity to blog on Vendable would give the lucky winner exposure to nearly 100,000 merchants who use Vendio to assist with their online shopping carts, as well as other entrepreneurs who frequent the website. The chosen blogger will also receive a full subscription to Vendio’s “Get it All” selling plan, which would allow them to create an online store and gain access to multiple ecommerce channels, such as eBay, Facebook, and Amazon.
For those who do not blog but are interested in other current ecommerce contests, Shopify, a SaaS ecommerce platform, is currently hosting their annual Build-A-Business Competition. The Build-A-Business Competition is great for entrepreneurs who need motivation to finally start the online business they’ve been wanting to but haven’t yet. The competition also offers over $500,000 in prizes, including an $100,000 check for the most successful online business start-up.
The contest runs over an 8-month period, however, businesses are only evaluated based on their most successful two months. This means even though the contest has already been going for 4 months, it’s not too late to join if you have a business start-up that you think could be a contender. The grand prize winner of this contest will receive $100,000, a VIP trip to New York City to have lunch with popular blogger and author, Seth Godin, and meet with Gary Vaynerchuk (Author of “Thank You Economy”), as well as a VIP trip to California to meet with investor and author, Timothy Ferriss, and visit the Googleplex to meet and get advice from experts.
Whether your forte is blogging about ecommerce solutions or creating them, both of these contests offer invaluable prizes. Also, Vendio’s blogger search concludes on November 11th, so make your submission soon!
October 14, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Domain Name Service (DNS) issues may be more of a concern this holiday shopping season than expected, according to a recent study commissioned by VeriSign, Inc. Ecommerce solutions of all sizes could be at risk of experiencing the devastating effects of DNS failure and website downtime.
The main finding of the study was that sites with internally managed DNS had a minimum availability of 95.05%, while sites using DNS managed by a third-party averaged a minimum availability of 97.35%. Although these numbers only differ by 2.3%, that small variance accounts for about 40 more minutes of downtime daily for the internally managed sites. Complete DNS failure, which results in website downtime, is more costly than you can imagine- for every hour of downtime, a business could potentially lose $50,000 to $100,000. This statistic shows how detrimental 40 minutes of downtime can actually become.
If you think only smaller ecommerce solutions should be concerned about DNS failure, think again. Even mega-retailer Target suffered from downtime when their server crashed during the Missoni brand launch. DNS failure significantly affects customer loyalty to a brand and its ecommerce solution. A 2010 study showed that most shoppers will abandon a website if it take 3 seconds or longer to load- 3 seconds! Even if your DNS avoids complete failure, you can still lose potential profits from impatient consumers.
Whether you own a chain of brick-and-mortar stores along with your online store, or you rely solely on an ecommerce solution, the cost of DNS failure and website downtime is unaffordable. Not even the largest e-tailers can reconcile a loss in profits of potentially $100,000, which is why it is vital to evaluate your DNS management tool before the holiday shopping season kicks into gear.
Here are several tips on how to prepare your DNS to avoid downtime during this holiday season:
1. Invest in an alternative DNS management tool, especially if your primary DNS is internal. With an internally managed DNS, an ecommerce solution is significantly more at risk to experience total outages. Sites who took advantage of third-party DNS management services never faced total outages.
2. Avoid self-managed DNS. The study showed that sites with self-managed DNS experience 40 more minutes of downtime than those sites managed by a third-party.
3. Prepare for peak usage. Peter Merelud, VP of Product management at Kemp Technologies, was recently interviewed by InformationWeek and gave this advice:
“Plan for peak usage. [Whenever] online vendors experience their absolute peak usage, that’s what they have to be prepared to support. Otherwise they can experience a crash and will have lost all of this business.”
Identify peak traffic patterns and then prepare for them. Don’t just plan for average usage during this year’s busy season.
4. “Plan for more traffic than you can handle”. Merelud also suggests to not only plan for peak usage, but also plan for more shoppers than you can handle. It would be a shame for any ecommerce solution to lose potential business because they weren’t expecting the amount of traffic. Anticipate an extreme holiday rush, especially if you are planning to offer extra deals during on Cyber Monday or any other big holiday shopping times. Don’t repeat Target’s Missoni launch situation.
5. Consider where your servers are located. Think about having servers in different locations. In case one site becomes slow or unavailable, the traffic from the failed site can be taken on by the other site, which will allow your ecommerce solution to continue functioning.
With all the other competitive factors ecommerce solutions are already going to face during the upcoming holiday season, DNS failures should not be one of them.