By the ZippyCart eCom Team
January 9, 2013
The social media landscape has changed quite a lot over the last one year. While there are many start-ups that have yet to embrace social media, you should gear up, anticipate current trends and include social media into your overall marketing plan as soon as possible. To develop a powerful social strategy, however, you’ll also need to abide by some essential guidelines and best practices.
Given below are thirteen tips that start-ups should use to get the most out of their social media marketing efforts in 2013.
#1. Go Beyond Facebook and Twitter
Most of the startups think that social media is all about Facebook and Twitter, which is not true at all. Though these two online platforms have proven to be big players in the social media arena, they are not all that is needed. As a smart start-up, you should also devote time to other potential social platforms like YouTube, Google+, Linkedin, Pinterest etc. At the same time, you shouldn’t hesitate to experiment with a new platform as it emerges on the social media scene.
#2. Invest in a Blog
While talking about owned media, starting a self-hosted business blog is the best that you can do. If you are really serious about giving your competitors a hard time in 2013 and beyond, you should have a blog up and running before late. It’s also advisable to hire an experienced blog or content writer so that your blog stays fresh, relevant and keeps visitors coming. Blogs are an easy addition to any eCommerce site and if you’re in eCom sales and own an online store, your eCommerce solution should be providing one for you.
#3. Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly
Mobile is today’s buzzword. The number of mobile device users continues to swell with each passing day. If your site is not accessible via mobile devices appropriately, you are in serious trouble. Take action right away. Again, look to your eCommerce solution (aka Shopping Cart Software) as they should be making your transition into mobile an easy one.
#4. Know Your Customers
Understanding the needs of your customers is always at the core of a social marketing strategy. If you want to achieve success with your social media marketing efforts, you must know what an ideal customer for your business looks like. Who is included in your target audience? Focus is important for successful marketing.
#5. Continue to Educate Yourself
Knowledge is the ultimate power. In order to create original and unique content, you need to keep yourself abreast of all the latest changes and developments in a niche you cater to. Devote adequate time reading blogs, books and magazines so that you are always ahead of others. Go ahead… subscribe to our RSS feed. ;-)
#6. Define Your Goals
Before you get started with social media marketing, make sure you know what your business goals are. It’s only when you clearly know your goals that you can efficiently track your progress.
#7. Improve Your Email Marketing
Don’t get surprised. As we enter into 2013, we have an urgent need to integrate social, content and email. Provided you integrate them appropriately, you can gain a huge edge over your competition as far as social media marketing is concerned.
#8. Create Quality Products
No matter how much effort you put into marketing, you won’t be able to make an impact if your product doesn’t have quality. Whether you are offering a product or a service, you should make sure it does an excellent job of solving the day-to-day problems of your target audience.
There’s so much that you can learn only if you listen to your customers.
#10. Skip Blatant Promotion
You’ll need to skip promotional speak immediately, if you want to achieve success with social media marketing in 2013. By doing blatant promotion, you’ll lose the trust of your customers even before you build it.
#11. Use Pictures
While creating social media content, you should focus on using pictures or images more and more. Creating engagement among the audience becomes easier with original, top quality images. Use them to your benefits.
#12. Connect with Influencers
First of all, locate the major influencers in an industry you cater to. Then find good ways to reach out to them and connect. Building relationships with industry experts and top professionals can bring you so many benefits.
#13. Memorize All of the Above.
Do you want to share an opinion? Feel free to comment below!
By the ZippyCart content team
August 23, 2012
As the owner of an e-commerce site, you spend your day acquiring products, marketing them beautifully, targeting your customer base, and fulfilling sales. You don’t have time to mess around on Facebook.
If you feel this way, you may be missing out on a huge opportunity to boost your bottom line.
Facebook as a Marketing Tool
Facebook has always been good at keeping people connected, no matter how busy or far away they are from each other. Now, savvy companies and advertisers are starting to utilize this connectivity to link their products with Facebook’s millions of users. This shouldn’t be surprising; after all, word of mouth is usually the most effective type of marketing. So if someone buys your product and discusses it on Facebook, his or her friends and followers are probably more likely to purchase it as well.
So how can you leverage the power of Facebook for your e-commerce business?
Using Facebook for E-Commerce
The most basic way is to incorporate Facebook’s Like, Share, and Review “buttons” into your own e-commerce site. Each time that a shopper Likes one of your products, Shares it with their friends, or writes a Review about it, your product will be splashed across the News Feeds of the shopper’s Facebook Friends. (Click here to get started.)
Another option is to use Facebook’s advertisements to promote your products and your e-commerce site. Facebook is constantly improving its ad offering to allow you to better target the right customer by location, age, gender, and interests. (Click here to get started.)
You can also choose to take your business’s relationship with Facebook to the next level. There are plenty of applications that allow you to conduct e-commerce directly on Facebook (which is becoming known as “F-Commerce”). Some of these apps provide turnkey e-commerce solutions directly on Facebook while others simply let you turn Facebook into a storefront for your products, then direct buyers to your site for payment processing (like BigCommerce, PinnacleCart and CoreCommerce). Consider app pricing, customization capability, and technological compatibility to determine which app is right for your business.
In addition, you also have the ability to track the performance of your collaborative efforts with Facebook. If you already work with an e-tracking system like Google Analytics, you can use it to monitor pages within Facebook to identify traffic, trends, and revenue. But Facebook has its own analytics software known as Facebook Insights. This service can show you Likes, Shares, Reviews, and other Facebook-specific aspects, as well as the standard metrics that are monitored by traditional reporting programs. Whichever choice you make, an examination of the social media data provided by Facebook will allow you to more sharply identify your customer base and tweak your marketing strategies accordingly.
If you do choose to link your e-commerce site with the world of Facebook, here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Make sure it’s still easy for customers to make purchases. Since F-Commerce is still in its infancy, some of the apps may be a bit more cumbersome than hosted shopping cart solutions that are found on traditional e-commerce portals.
- Be aware of customer privacy. Sometimes, involving Facebook in a purchase from your site may spur Facebook to send information to other users that they may not want published (for instance, if they are buying underwear online, or making a gift purchase for one of their Facebook Friends). To the extent you are able, you must monitor Facebook’s privacy settings to ensure that your customers’ confidential information remains private.
- Monitor your marketing costs. If you advertise on Facebook, you can target your ads based on many demographic factors. But as your potential customer base grows, your marketing expenses will, too — so keep an eye on that periodic payment that you submit to Facebook.
- Get creative. Think outside the box and come up with ways to use Facebook to generate business. Examples may include daily deals, Facebook Like contests, posts/links on your Facebook page’s Wall, and even discounts for buyers’ Facebook Friends (its Buy With Friends program can help with this).
Facebook isn’t just a time waster anymore. If used properly, the social networking site can be a major source of revenue for e-commerce business owners, while using its metrics to target your chosen demographic audiences with pinpoint accuracy.
Photo credit: MoneyBlogNewz
By Kate Endress
Aug 20, 2012
For many people shopping online just can’t beat the experience of shopping with friends at the mall, but online “social shopping” is trying to change this by facilitating more social interactions on e-commerce sites. Here are 3 tools that can help make your shopping site more social:
Video reviews: VideoGenie is one-upping star rating systems by adding 20-second reviews for products. ShoeDazzle is one of their biggest customers and claims these video reviews have led to over 1,000 conversion. If you can’t afford VideoGenie consider Tout, which is free and has an open API.
Live chat: More and more sites I see these days have Olark live chat on their sites. The really smart sites are using live chat as an active salesperson or personal recommender. If your customer service team has spare time, consider adding this feature to better connect with customers and provide a personal touch point on your site.
Customer curation: I can’t find a good tool that let’s you do this on your website, but you can quickly hack it yourself. Sites like ModCloth let users pick what they should purchase next, and you can do the same with a simple polling tool on your site. You can also let customers create and share lists of their favorite products to help encourage product discovery within your site.
Facebook Connect: This isn’t new but it’s still the standard for helping people share before they buy. I’m seeing more shopping sites that require you to log in to Facebook before you can even see what they offer. Take this one step further by creating templates for sharing so that customers get cool pictures or voting tools on Facebook when they want an opinion on a purchase.
Easy sharing: So many shopping sites are popping up these days that it’s hard to keep track. If you have a favorite or two (Pinterest, Polyvore, Fancy, etc.) you can add its button to your website to make it easy for customers to share what they like.
Guest author Kate Endress is the CEO and cofounder of DITTO.com, a new cutting edge ecommerce site selling a curated collection of designer eyewear including prescription sunglasses. Kate is a graduate of Stanford Business School and was previously a private equity investor before becoming an entrepreneur.
May 5th, 2012
By Susan D
Other than being the newest online buzz, what is social gifting?
Social Gifting is an interesting new marketing idea that can be used in 2 ways. It can help a group of friends to get together and give a large gift card for a someone’s upcoming celebration (instead of everyone buying individual gifts) or, it can help an individual shopper find free gift cards to spend on themselves. This process involves a few hot items: mobile commerce, social networking, a gift buyer’s love of gift cards and everyone’s love of free money! Now… what does a small business owner do with this new marketing tactic? Everything may point to hot current trend but, is it a good marketing method for your online store? Some experts think it’s the best new marketing tool while others throw words of caution.
How It Works
Social gifting is a simple concept which uses the same idea that my friends and I have been using for years. (Man, another grand idea we didn’t think to monetize!) It basically organizes for friends who want to throw money into a collection pot so they can purchase a ‘big’ gift for an upcoming birthday / wedding / celebration. The best part is that it social gifting makes giving a gift easy because you can do it through your smartphone’s mobile apps or social media. So if it’s your party, instead of receiving gifts that you don’t need or a bunch of small gift cards that sit around unused, you have one mega gift card worth big money!
The idea is so popular because many stores have started bartering free gift cards in exchange for cheap (and hopefully powerful) marketing. And of course… consumers rush at the opportunity to free gift cards.
Why does it work?
For the retailer, social gifting drives traffic to both online and brick and mortar store. Sure, they’ve given away $5, $10 or $15 dollars but really, the average consumer spends up to 6 times the amount of the gift card during their visit. The store also gets tons of advertising and a way into the exclusive FaceBook social marketing as friends group buy for friends and tell friends…
The consumer… well, most people love a gift card and a good deal. Also, social gifting makes getting a gift simple and fun. It’s a fact that Americans ask for gift cards more than any other gift so it’s a win-win situation. It has so much potential that companies like Wrapp and Dropgifts expanding to the United States to deliver their social gifting services.
The Goods: how social gifting can help your online store
- Marketing directly to consumer through social media
- Being accessible on mobile devices
- Attracting new customers… a group of them in fact!
- Bigger gift cards mean more purchases on higher priced items
- It’s easy to set-up with sites like Wrapp, Dropgifts, FriendFund or SocialGift.
The Bad: how social gifting can possibly hurt your eCommerce business
- It could be just another ill thought out marketing ploy… much like Groupon was last year.
- It takes a percentage of your profit from the free gift cards.
- It can’t promise that customers will return or spend more than the gift card amount.
- It could overwhelm your business with too many new customers at once.
The Verdict: is social gifting a marketing idea worth looking into?
Of course it is! When you sign on, just be careful and manage your finances and resources around realistic expectations.
March 18, 2012
By Susan D
Online sales are taking over. From 2002 to 2011, annual ecommerce spending went from 72 billion to over 256 billion, according to comScore Internet Marketing Research Company. This surge in online consumer activity has brought about millions of virtual stores and some stiff competition amongst retailers. Because of this, online business owners need to make sure they’re doing what they can to attract customers and guide them through to a satisfactory sale completion… and avoid the issue of abandoned shopping carts.
There is so much work that goes into making a successful online business. First, you have to put time and money into building an attractive storefront. Then you work on getting healthy traffic flow and marketing your products in an appealing way. Once these tasks have been completed, nobody wants to have a sale dropped in the final step of checking out! It’s terrible to see potential revenue sitting in an abandoned cart.
How can you avoid this? Choosing the best hosted eCommerce software solution for your store is the first step but there are other areas that we should look at as well. And first, let’s look at what causes a consumer to leave a shopping cart unfulfilled.
What can cause shopping cart abandonment?
There are a number of factors that leave a cart abandoned but here are some of the leading reasons.
- The cost of shipping is too high.
- The shopping cart check-out process is too long or complicated.
- The online store doesn’t seem trustworthy.
- The customer simply gets distracted or changes their mind.
Consumer decisions are made around these factors and in the end, you’re left with an uncompleted sale and lost revenue. Shopping cart abandonment is a serious problem. Depending on whose study you’re reading, it’s reported that anywhere from 30% to 75% of online sales are dropped with items in the cart, before the sale is complete.
How can we combat cart abandonment?
- Snip Shipping Costs: There are several things you can do to cut down on carts being dropped due to shipping costs. Most simply, you could offer an across-the-board lower shipping cost. If shipping costs seem fair and are closer to what the customer would expect to pay if they were shipping the product on their own, the sale is less likely to be dropped. If that isn’t a route you want to take, offer incentives such as free or discounted shipping with orders of more than say… $50. Promotions like this help take your customer to sale completion and boost the total amount of a sale. The important thing here is to figure out which shipping model works best for your company. Options include free shipping, shipping by weight/price/item or flat rate shipping.
- Un-Complicate the Check-out: To avoid confusion or distraction due to a long or complicated check-out, simplify your process! This is an incredibly important step in cart retention. The check-out process should have as few steps as possible and even offer 1-click check-out in certain situations, such as for returning customers. This means your store should not require registration to complete a purchase, should not ask questions that take a lot of time or are too personal, and should take all possible credit cards.
- Address Anxiety Over Site Security: Security is a big concern for many consumers and as an ecommerce merchant, it’s your personal responsibility to keep the customer safe and make them feel comfortable giving you their credit card and personal information over the computer. PCI-compliance is the first step to making sure you’re e-store is protected but in such a competitive market, it’s best to go the extra mile and make sure you’re using one of the few shopping carts that go the extra mile with online security and are PA-DSS compliant. Once you’ve protected your customers, tell them! Let them know you’ve taken care of them with a verification seal on your home page and at the beginning of their check-out process.
- Bring Back Distracted Consumers: There’s a chance your customers are simply getting distracted or changing their minds before they complete a sale. To reduce the chance of this happening, think about what may be causing it to happen. Do you have streamlined, user-friendly navigation to the shopping cart? Is the buying and shopping cart easy to edit and understand? If these types of questions check-out and you’re still looking at lost income from abandoned carts, reach out to your potential customer with emails that offer incentives and discounts to pull them back into the buy. Some shopping carts have this type of feature included in their set-up, which makes it an extremely easy and powerful way to stop shopping cart abandonment.
After managing your site with the above steps, you will see an increase in cart completion and customer retention. Dealing with these factors can help any ecommerce business owner turn ‘window shoppers’ into buyers and bring back customers that have abandoned their cart.
December 5, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Walmart, one of the highest grossing retailers on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, last week launched a holiday shopping gift-guide application on Facebook called Shopycat. Created by @WalmartLabs, Walmart’s tech shop in the Silicon Valley, the app is designed to help users with often difficult task of Christmas shopping for friends.
The application officially went live on Wednesday evening (11/30) and has already drawn 8,000 users to the platform. Users can download the app directly from Walmart’s Facebook fan page, which has close to 11 million fans. Shopycat is easy to operate, allowing users to scroll through their friends or search by name and providing a selection of gifts that person would enjoy. Users can also check out the gifts suggested for them. Shopycat creates gift suggestions for friends based on data from their Facebook profiles such as interests and likes.
The gift suggestions offered on the app are sometimes creepily accurate and at times hilariously erroneous. Users can personally edit their profile and add interests to ensure Shopycat gives their friends good gift recommendations. Currently Shopycat has more that 600,000 items in its gift database, which is comprised of Walmart products in addition to items from Barnes and Noble, NBC Universal, ThinkGeek and more. @WalmartLabs has partnered with 20 retailers to ensure a wide range of gift offerings. The database includes many special edition products as they are viewed as more “gift worthy”.
If there is not enough information on a friends interests to generate gift ideas, Shopycat provides generic suggestions like a Starbucks gift-pack, a George Foreman Quesadilla Maker, and various other gifts that tend to be Walmart best-sellers. Users may also encounter suggestions of gift cards from Walmart.com, iTunes, and Zynga.
@WalmartLabs Shopycat app may look similar to GiveEmThis.com, a web app launched by Imply Labs in September of this year. The two applications provide strikingly similar services, but do so through different platforms. As a web app, GiveEmThis.com integrates several different social media platforms, while @WalmartLabs only incorporates Facebook. The most notable difference between the two apps is their business models. @WalmartLabs serves Walmart’s technology needs specifically, while Imply Labs provides a universal service to all online retailers.
Shopycat joins several other social gifting apps on the Facebook platform such as Giftiki. Giftiki is a group gift giving platform, launched in October, that allows Facebook friends pool their money together to buy a combined gift for friends’ birthdays, holidays, weddings, and other gift-worthy occasions.
December 1, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
The successes of both Black Friday and Cyber Monday are encouraging signs for the ecommerce industry. Merchants worked hard this season to draw shoppers to their online stores and get them to fill their shopping carts. Record numbers of consumers flocked to retailers online storefronts to make purchases making it apparent that consumer confidence in online spending is at an all time high.
Although 2011 greeted merchants with many opportunities in the thriving ecommerce sphere, 2012 is sure to bring them unmatched success. The new technology and tools available in the marketplace in 2011 have helped retailers greatly increase sales and will only become further refined and useful in 2012. With the amount of competition in the ecommerce industry, 2011 brought innovation and diversity among retailers. 2012 will see retailers build upon new revenue streams and refine last year’s innovations.
To ensure success in the upcoming year, merchants should pay close attention to the 6 ecommerce trends for 2012 outlined below.
6 Emerging Ecommerce Trends For 2011
We recently spoke with co-founder and CTO of Baynote, Dr. Scott Brave, regarding the importance of leveraging new forms of personalization on ecommerce solutions. Personalization is moving away from the old-school idea of simply creating personalized greetings on a web page into complex personalization that is behaviorally infused. Brave suggests for success in 2012, retailers will need to focus their personalization efforts on shoppers “real time interest and intent.” We are moving beyond the days of reaching consumers through demographic and other types of segmentation. Retailers must now be in touch with what consumers are thinking and feeling at the specific moment they are shopping. According to Brave, retailers can gain access to this information by collecting consumers behavioral signals. Behavior signals include where shoppers are engaging, where they are spending their time online, what words and phrases they use to find products on search engines, etc. Old methods of personalization do not gather any information on consumer interest and intent and therefore will not efficiently leverage the benefits of personalization as we will see it in 2012.
Online and Offline Integration
Online and offline integration is also a developing trend that will only become more vital to retailer success in 2012. This integration is taking on a completely new meaning than it had in 2011. Throughout the past year, integrating on and offline shopping simply meant offering features such as in-store pick of products purchased online. However, the type of integration ecommerce solutions will see trending in 2012 is bringing the offline shopping experience to the online marketplace. This can take the form of social shopping, extra personalization, one click checkout and more. Websites like sneakpeeq have engaged in this trend by creating online social shopping experiences that match the offline experience. Additionally, PayPal opened a pop-up store in New York City to show users how they plan to integrate on and offline shopping in the new year.
Whether retailers are prepared for it, or not, shoppers are already integrating these two spheres in their own way. Consumers rely on their smartphones almost immediately upon entering brick-and-mortar stores in order to look up online reviews and price comparisons. Retailers should use this integration to their advantage by designing physical storefronts to accommodate interface with ecommerce solutions through consumers use and reliance on smartphones.
Continuing on from online and offline integration, retailers in 2012 must have a handle on their mobile commerce solutions. Consumers are embracing mobile commerce more than ever and mobile is now strategically important for all retailers. PayPal reported a 516% increase in global mobile payments this Black Friday compared to Black Friday 2010. Furthermore, there was a reported 371% increase in the amount of consumers shopping on mobile devices this Black Friday from the same day in 2010. In addition, mobile commerce solutions could see a shift from apps to m-sites in 2012. It may be time for merchants to ditch apps in favor of m-sites as shoppers are increasing looking to m-sites due to their immediacy.
Marketplace Optimization is a fairly new term coined by Zoovy but has potential to be a big ecommerce trend in 2012. It is an important tool for merchants who depend on business gained through their storefronts on marketplaces like Amazon or eBay. On these marketplaces, merchants aim to be the highest ranked seller when it comes down to consumers deciding on purchases. Competition on marketplaces is stiff and sellers need ways to separate themselves from others who offer identical products. Marketplace optimization is the idea is that merchants can increase their ranking and position on marketplaces, thus close more sales when a competitive price isn’t enough. Zoovy has developed specific techniques to help merchants achieve marketplace optimization and improve performance and plans to announce these techniques in January 2012.
Facebook commerce thus far has been a lot about experimentation for retailers, but with growing success in the area it is important for retailers to add a sales channel to their social strategy in 2012. Although f-commerce has mostly been in the testing stage, F-commerce will prove to extremely valuable for retailers, especially with the growing amount of users who “liked” and shared products in their news feeds in 2011.
Social shopping through Facebook is also gaining popularity with platforms like Shopcade and sneakpeeq, both of which attempt to recreate the offline shopping experience using an online platform (ahem, online and offline integration). Facebook commerce is beneficial for both these sites due to the amount of likes and shares products receive from shoppers using these apps. Although Facebook has been slower starting in the ecommerce scene than originally expected, consumers are beginning to feel more comfortable making purchases through social media outlets, making F-commerce a trend that will only gain momentum in 2012.
As we’ve seen with Shazam’s new technology, Shazam for TV, the ability to purchase products seen on television or other kinds of video media is gaining momentum. Currently, Shazam for TV has partnered with television shows in order to allow audiences to access products from their mobile devices while watching certain television programs. In 2012, video commerce will continue to be further developed in the ecommerce sphere as follows: Suppose you are on a brand’s online store and there is a video of someone in a particular outfit, you might click on her skirt and move it into your cart. This video commerce is different than what it looked like 2011, as consumers will not only see automated products videos. The video commerce trend of 2012 is moving beyond automated product videos and becoming an interactive process where shoppers can access products they see on TV at the same moment they are watching it. Ecommerce solutions who can leverage this technology will put themselves ahead of the pack in 2012.
There are several trends that were considered for this list such as group buying, private sales sites and push shopping. Push shopping and private sales sites are definitely still relevant, but are not new or emerging trends for 2012. As far as group buying, it’s hard to say if it will continue to be a relevant trend considering the ups and downs Groupon has experienced on the road to their IPO. Although Groupon and competitor Living Social met some success this past weekend on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s difficult to be certain whether they will continue to thrive in 2012.
Opportunities and methods for connecting with customers and making sales are constantly evolving. As merchants prepare for the new year, they should consider trying out a couple of these emerging trends. With the increasing amount of consumers turning to online storefronts to make purchase, there will inevitably be more new trends that pop up in upcoming months.
November 23, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Just in time for the holiday shopping season, Shopcade has introduced a new social shopping application for Facebook users. Launched yesterday, Shopcade attempts to offer the millions of users on Facebook a true social shopping experience. The app allows users to browse, buy, and share products while earning cash rewards.
Shopcade has a catalog of over 40 million products from 20,000 brands in categories like fashion, electronics, books and movies, home decor, beauty and more. Users set up “Shopcades,” or personalized lists of products they want to share with friends through their social network. To assist users in finding desirable products, the application collects product data and displays trending products in real-time. Another unique feature is the product recommendation feed, which provides suggestions of products users may be interested in based on their activity and “likes” on Facebook. Also on the Shopcade home page, shoppers can stay up-to-date with information about what their friends are adding and buying.
Shopcade founder and CEO, Nathalie Gavaeu explained the application:
“Shopcade leverages the power of Facebook to the benefit of consumers and brands alike. It turns the ‘social network’ into the ‘social shopping network,’ allowing 800 million socially-connected people to shop, share and be rewarded all in one place. Rather than brands dictating what people should buy, Shopcade empowers people to share products that actually matter with each other. Now the customers are in control.”
Retailers are increasingly trying their hand at tapping into the growing social media population by creating effective “social” shopping experiences. In a survey conducted by Shopcade and YouGov 60% of social media users in the United States between the ages of 18 and 54 admitted their shopping decisions are, to some extent, influenced by their friends activity on their social networks. However, social media users usually don’t look to social networking websites to satisfy their shopping needs.
Harish Abbott, co-founder of social shopping platform Sneakpeeq had this to say regarding the difficulty of tapping into Facebook commerce:
“People don’t go to Facebook to shop. They never have.”
In order to reach social media users in a way that changes this trend, a social shopping application must be creative. Abbott suggests using “Facebook norms” and making applications game-like to spark user curiosity and interest. Sneakpeeq, which recently moved out of beta, offers an innovative social shopping experience by combining components of flash sales, gaming, and social networking. By leveraging game-like features, Sneakpeeq has captivated users and found success much success in Facebook commerce.
Shopcade attempts to produce a creative social shopping experience of their own by offering users several unique features including: Top-trending products, top-trending Shopcades, easy browsing and filtering, mutual rewards when a product is purchased from a friend’s Shopcade, personalized recommendations, and a personal URL, which allows users to add their Shopcade to blogs and other social media websites.
Launched just in time for the holiday shopping season, Shopcade is optimistic about the role social media will play in consumer spending.
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 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 6, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
StyleOwner is a new site that allows fashion bloggers to create a virtual storefront and sell products from partner retail stores.
Fashionistas who dream of opening their own store can become part of the virtual mall that StyleOwner creates and start selling items from more than 2,000 retail partners like Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue. Not only do bloggers get to display their writing and recommendations, but they also make a 10 percent commission on all items that get purchased through their storefront. StyleOwner provides the full ecommerce solution from shopping cart to shipping.
StyleOwner aims to increase growth of online fashion sales by creating a social and personalized marketplace. The site benefits both fashion enthusiasts, who want to curate their own virtual storefront, and retailers, who want their items to be recommended and purchased online. Fashion bloggers have been getting retailers online sales for a long time by posting “recommended looks” on their blogs with links to places that the items can be bought. Now, with StyleOwner, there is the 10 percent commission as a benefit for bloggers recommending items for shopping carts.
30 well-known fashion bloggers have already become a part of StyleOwner and the site hopes that this will attract fans of their blogs. The site is currently still private and has just 1,000 storefronts; new users need an invite to join. However, users don’t need to be among the top ranks of fashion bloggers to get a virtual storefront–StyleOwner hopes that average fashion enthusiasts will become part of the site and bring members of their social network with them. StyleOwner creates a collaborative experience where trendsetters get to do what they are passionate about and get compensated for it, and retailers know that their products are being seen by the right audience.
The company has attracted investors such as Forerunner Ventures and Andy Dunn, CEO and founder of Bonobos. Dunn had this to say about the ecommerce solution:
“It puts power in the hands of tastemakers and individuals and gives brands an authentic audience in the process. Bloggers and individuals add a lot to brands already but rarely get compensated for it in transparent and authentic ways.”
StyleOwner is committed to creating a trusted and authentic marketplace and will be encouraging storefront owners to attend forums, meetups, and webinars to get educated about aspects of marketing. Currently, ecommerce only accounts for about 10 percent of fashion sales annually, but it is growing quickly due to the rise in popularity of social selling and flash sales sites such as Rue La La. Shoppers are becoming more Web-oriented and increasingly engaging in ecommerce as an alternative to shopping in brick-and-mortar stores.
September 30, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Wednesday morning, daily deal site Groupon.com quietly rolled out their latest endeavor: Groupon Goods. Coming just one day after the introduction of Groupon Rewards, a customer loyalty program to officially launch next month, Groupon Goods features discounted direct buy products instead of their usual coupon deals. Unlike Groupon’s other discount offers, Groupon Goods does not feature a deal from another business.
In the company’s own (interesting choice of) words:
Groupon Goods features really good deals on great products. To get airspace on Groupon Goods, a product has to be cool enough to share and innovative enough to inspire. It also must be made of reliably bonded molecules and stardust.
Honestly, if we think a product is remarkable and we can offer a good deal on it, we’ll do so.
Groupon’s venture into the world of ecommerce came with no prior announcements, just a single email to subscribers advertising current Groupon Goods with a small header that read “Introducing Groupon Goods – Products that inspire. Deals that delight”. The site’s inaugural move into online retailing brings an explanation to why the company bought out a series of domain names tied to the words “Groupon Goods” in the past month.
Although it may be a bold move for Groupon, with 134 million email subscribers this ecommerce solution could become a huge source of revenue. It is also necessary for Groupon to move into full-blown ecommerce to compete with discount deal leader, Amazon.com.
Groupon has been forced into competition with the ecommerce solution giant after Amazon bought Woot last year and launched its own deal-of-the-day offering. In addition, Amazon has significantly helped Groupon’s main competitor, LivingSocial, by investing $175 million in the company late last year and then began offering LivingSocial-branded deals through its own offers platform, Amazon Local.
On the heels of a series of setbacks for Groupon, including cutting revenues in half- from $713.4 million in 2010 to only $312.9 million- losing their second COO in less than three years, and canceling their IPO roadshow, the introduction of Groupon Goods and Groupon Rewards seems to be a calculated attempt to attract new customers and merchants and to spark interest in its IPO. Despite the rocky road Groupon has been battling since initially filing for IPO early in the summer, the company remains a strong force in the daily deals market and shows promise with their entrance into the online retail market.
September 28, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
An online shopper is comparing cases for one of her most precious investments: her laptop. She wants to be sure she’s getting something that will do the job, and not just for a week, so she reaches out to her fellow ecommerce customers for opinions. Will our heroine solve her dilemma before it’s too late? Will her laptop be cozy and scratch-free, or will her search continue into the holiday shopping frenzy? Join us in this highly theoretical–but entirely plausible–journey down Ecommerce Q&A Lane.
(Potential) Customer: “I’m thinking about buying this laptop case, but I’m wondering about the durability of the zipper. It looks a little flimsy in the picture, especially for the price tag. Can anyone vouch for it?”
Q&A Forum: [crickets]
[Two Days Later]
(Apprehensive) Customer: “…Hello?”
[Another Day Later]
Q&A Forum: “Hi there, I’m Dave from [website] Customer Service. I can assure you this product is a great value and comes with our 30-day no-risk return, standard on all our items. If for any reason you’re dissatisfied with the product, we’re happy to help.”
(Not a) Customer: “Thanks. For nothing.”
The Customer Service Rep has thwarted our heroine. There is certainly nothing wrong with getting the opinion of an employee; let’s make that clear. Sometimes a customer’s question could only be answered by someone who works for the store, such as inquires about return policy or shipping costs. Other times either a CSR or a consumer could help, such as with a clarifying question about materials. However, in this case, it’s obvious CSR Dave was not the right person to contribute his opinion. Dave has only provided assurance that if her suspicions about the product are correct, she can return it. But really, wouldn’t you rather just buy a durable product in the first place? So would our heroine. That’s why input from actual consumers on a Social Q&A is so valuable to shoppers.
Why not just trust product reviews? According to George Eberstadt, CEO and Founder of social ecommerce solution TurnTo, reviews can be a good tool when available and employed properly. However, Q&A offers some advantages in conjunction with reviews.
“We’ve … done sentiment analysis on social answers and found that it tends to run more positive than for customer reviews,” he told us, adding that “reviews tend to come disproportionately from those who have had extreme experiences – the 5s and 1s.” The ability to ask a specific question and get targeted answers can reduce that bias that comes from an employee or general product review. And “exposing sincere criticism has been shown to have a net positive effect by building credibility,” according to Eberstadt.
TurnTo released some exciting data for the Q&A world this week. They posted questions to four different categories of online stores across three different Q&A providers: PowerReviews, BazaarVoice, and themselves. They asked four questions per site. TurnTo’s Social Q&A forums generated 117 customer answers over four weeks. PowerReviews and BazaarVoice combined only got 16 consumer responses in that time. That’s less than 14% of TurnTo’s results. (The two of them also got a total of 15 replies from store employees.)
With this kind of success, where’s Social Q&A headed next? How might it play into Q4 and the upcoming shopping season? Eberstadt has a good feeling about the future:
“My guess is that 2012 will be the year that social Q&A starts to become commonplace on ecommerce sites, and by the end of 2013, sites that don’t have it will be the exception rather than the norm – much like customer reviews are today. As far as the 2011 holiday season: there are a number of sites out there using social Q&A today, but consumers haven’t yet become accustomed to it the same way they have to ratings and reviews.”
Social Q&A: the world of tomorrow, today!