How To Utilize Social Media For Your Ecommerce Business

Social Media Promotion

Is your business on social media? While platforms like Instagram began as a way to stay in touch with friends by uploading pictures of your last European trip, or plate of cacio e pepe #italianfoodlover, it’s graduated towards the next phase: becoming an amazing social commerce channel for brands to showcase their products and services while connecting with their community of followers/customers.

Almost every social media platform at this point, whether it’s Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or Tiktok, has the ability to take your ecommerce site to the next level.

On average users are spending around 2 hours and 27 minutes per day on social media in 2022, which is the highest recorded amount of time ever spent on social engagement. Learning how to capture their attention by having a strong social media presence can help drive conversions back to your online store.

Keep reading to learn how social media marketing can benefit your ecommerce brand and the steps you need to get started.

Benefits Of Using Social Media For eCommerce

1. Build Brand awareness

Social media is a fantastic way to build brand awareness, especially if you are just starting out. Making people aware of your brand is the first step in getting them to the top of your marketing funnel, so you definitely want to pip their interest!

Especially if you are still working on your website SEO, social media marketing is a great way to get noticed while you are working on building up a trusted following of customers.

In some cases, social media is not just another touch point for potential customers to find you. It is the first touchpoint. So building out your social profile can go a long way.

Nowadays social media platforms like Tiktok, which gained major traction during the pandemic, have now become a social selling powerhouse.

As people chime in that they bought it because ‘they saw it on Tiktok’, businesses are flocking to this social channel hoping that their product gets on track to become the next hot item. Everything from handy kitchen gadgets and sunset lamps for golden hour photos are getting the viral treatment. And those who don’t get in on the craze are getting a strong sense of FOMO.

2. Create a community

Urge others in your social network to join your tribe by stating your brand’s mission. What is your brand’s purpose? People love to be a part of a community that aligns with their interests and values.

An Instagram post from Lululemon that uses their branded hashtag #TheSweatLife

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Lululemon built a community around the hashtag #TheSweatLife.

Show off what makes you stand out with a branded hashtag. Fitness clothing brands like Lululemon leverage their own hashtag #TheSweatLife to promote living a healthy and clean lifestyle.

Or have a look at beauty retailer Sephora’s inclusive messaging We Belong to Something Beautiful, that acknowledges their diverse community of beauty shoppers and team.

sephora instagram post screenshot
A post that showcases Sephora’s diverse and inclusive team.

A post that showcases Sephora’s diverse and inclusive team.

These are great examples of brands that do a fantastic job of expressing what makes them special and communicating that to their like-minded customers.

3. Ability to set up shopping features

Your e-commerce store may already be up and running, but you’ll want to turn on the shopping features on your social media channels too (they can be your sales channels too!).

Setting up your Facebook shop, shoppable tags on Instagram, or syncing your product catalog with your Pinterest page gives one more touch point with the customer, and one interaction closer to persuading them to ‘add to cart’.

4. Run retargeting Facebook ads

Social commerce is also great for retargeting existing visitors to your site. With all this information you can filter by a detailed amount of criteria such as age, location, interests, and how recently they were active on your site.

Once you’ve built up a following you can also retarget by who has liked or saved your post and start experimenting with different ad segments.

5. Shows that you have a presence

At this point, it’s almost a little weird for a brand not to be on social media. That doesn’t mean you have to be on all of them (more on that later), but having an online presence, and leaving a valuable digital footprint, can help legitimize the brand in an age of online scams and phishing scandals.

Customers will feel more confident knowing that they can find more information about the brand. And, as the brand representative, you have full access to how your customers are responding to your product or service via sentiment analysis.

6. Social media channels can be search engines too

Have you heard? Almost 40% of Gen Z prefer using Instagram and Tiktok as a search engine over Google. What that means is making sure your social media content is SEO optimized is now more important than ever for maximum visibility.

The younger generation is relying less on Google Maps to find the hot new restaurant and rather relying on #FoodTok recommendations instead. Diversifying your marketing channel strategy is key to surviving the ever-changing eCommerce landscape.

Steps On How To Get Started With Social Media For eCommerce

1. Figure out what your goals are for social

Now, before you start creating a business account for every social media channel possible, you might want to evaluate what your goals are first.

I like to set up some SMART goals about what I hope to achieve on these platforms. Do you want to gain 10K followers in 6 months? Have a look at other businesses in your niche to see what’s attainable so you can ensure these goals are possible.

2. Define your audience

Where is your ideal customer spending most of their time? Millennials and baby boomers gravitate more towards Facebook, while Pinterest attracts mostly females in the 18 to 64 age group who are interested in topics like wedding planning or home decor.

If you’re targeting Gen Z, Tiktok and Snapchat are your best bet to catch their eye. Knowing who your target audience is key in figuring out what makes the most sense for you strategically.

3. Come up with content pillars to inform social media strategy

After narrowing down what social channels to focus on, think of what your content pillars will be. Your content pillars are three to five topics you want to educate your audience on.

Let’s look at the vegan beauty brand Osea for a second. Their content pillars are be Clean Beauty, Sustainability, Transparency, and Health & Well Being. So all of their content will relate to these pillars in some way, creating a cohesive content strategy.

Mapping out your pillars ahead of time lets you see what topics are on-brand and which ones might be fun to do but ultimately off-brand. For Osea, doing a post on yoga aligns with their health & well-being pillar.

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A yoga post from Osea’s Instagram that aligns with their Health and Well-being content pillar.

4. Determine your brand personality

How are you talking to your audience? As a close friend or with a professional tone? You don’t need to don a Duolingo costume to catch someone’s attention, but developing a specific tone or catchphrase makes the brand more likable and memorable

The dating app Bumble is great at nailing that relatable brand voice that is funny, and sarcastic but empowering and uplifting at the same time.

This is also a reflection of the user experience you’ll have using their app and resonates well with the largely female audience they are catering towards. If you don’t know what your brand personality is yet, ask yourself this: how would you want this brand to make you feel?

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A Instagram post from Bumble that aligns with their brand voice.

5. Find out what people are searching for

Once you’re armed with some content pillars and ideas, it’s time to do some optimizing. Conduct some research on the explore page on Instagram or the For You page on Tiktok to see what keywords others are using.

Include some popular general keywords and hashtags with your posting, and any niche ones that are more relevant to what you are doing, to capture other followers who may be interested in seeing your content.

6. Work with content creators

If you don’t have a big budget to hire a professional photographer, work with a few local content creators on creating stunning visuals for your brand instead.

Content creators are already experienced with the social media landscape and understand what it takes to educate and entertain followers. They can post on their social channels while tagging your brand to give you additional exposure. You can also recycle this user-generated content to fill your feed with on-brand images that match your aesthetic.

As online sentiment shifts from idolizing big-time influencers to valuing more authentic and ‘real’ small creators, UGC is becoming one of the most in-demand forms of marketing for social.

7. Optimize account for social commerce

Make it easy for others to find you on other platforms. Use link add-ons like Linktree or Beacons in your profile to lead others to your website, Youtube or other social channels.

Add a call to action in your profile and posts, so followers know that they can take action to lengthen the interaction. Whether you want them to download an e-book or visit your website to learn more, you want the destination to be a memorable one.

8. Look into paid strategies

There are so many other ways to amp up your social commerce strategy. Along with running ads, you can also work with high-profile content creators or influencers to review your product. Running an affiliate marketing program can also give you exposure with smaller-sized creators.

9. Plan ahead and make use of scheduling tools

Using tools like Hootsuite or Buffer to plan your content in batches frees up a lot of time. Creating a month’s worth of content in one day has never been easier. Look out for key dates and fun holidays in your niche that you can use to tie in with sales and promotions.

For the local brand Craig’s Cookies they used National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day to run a sale and drive online orders. Ask yourself: what are some notable days within your industry that you can parlay into fun promos?

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A post that shows how Craig Cookie leveraged relevant holidays for a fun promotion.

10. Review analytics to see what’s working and what isn’t

Once your content goes live don’t turn off your computer and call it a day. Take time to review your post and study the analytics afterwards to see how it performed.

Some will inevitably do better than others, but don’t be discouraged if a post doesn’t perform the way you expected. These insights allow you to see what content resonates best with your audience and those that have missed the mark, you can learn something from those too.

Remember: some posts may flop but it’s not a flop era. Sometimes after the hardest flop comes the biggest slay.

11. Be consistent

This is one of the hardest things to follow through on social media. Whether you are posting a few times a week or multiple times a day, make sure that there is enough bandwidth to keep these channels running.

If the pace is not sustainable, you can become susceptible to burnout. Inactive accounts on social media are de-prioritized by the algorithm and can lead to a loss of engagement in the long run that takes time to recover from.

12. Find other brands in your niche

Social media is a great opportunity to discover other brands in your niche and network. Connect with other like-minded individuals who are in the same industry so you can stay on top of trends and what’s happening in the market.

13. Cross-promote social channels

If you are venturing onto a new platform make sure to leverage your existing platforms. If you have 1 million followers on Pinterest, use that as an opportunity to cross-promote your Tik Tok videos.

At this point, every social media network is prioritizing video, which can help you get a boost in visibility. Who knows, maybe you’ll even end up on the For You page!

14. Engage with your followers

Don’t forget to take time to engage with your followers. They may have questions about your brand like where you source your materials or if your fig jam is organic. Don’t leave them hanging!

Tip: Create a weekly post or add to your highlights of commonly asked questions. 

There are so many features available now to promote social engagement. Run a poll on Instagram stories to get a better sense of your customer base’s favorite colors or pain points, create a private chat with your best customers, or you can even give your community behind-the-scenes content using the Close Friends Instagram stories feature.

The opportunities to meet your future customers online are endless. You’ll just need to get a bit creative.

15. Don’t let complaints go unheard

Not everyone will be happy about your product 100% of the time. But, rather than ignoring the negative feedback, address it calmly and professionally. Troll comments we can delete, but for real customers we will want to nip things in the bud and give them a fantastic customer experience.

16. Surprise and delight over and over

Aside from seeing beautiful visuals of your products, users on social media want to see something different from your brand that they can’t get from looking at your ecommerce website.

Engage with them on IG stories with polls, get them to vote for the next flavor of ice cream or the next color of a top that’s going viral. Run a giveaway, promote a bingo card, or even let them know of a scavenger hunt you are running downtown.

Next Steps

Selling on social media doesn’t have to be difficult. Taking the time to think about your goals and social strategy can help you create a cohesive and aesthetic page that can attract potential customers and create buzz for your brand.

Every mention, tag, and comment is social proof and helps build your brand’s presence. And in an era of short attention spans, being bold, authentic, and real stands out.

No matter what stage of the business you are in, these social media tips can help you take your ecommerce marketing strategy to the next level.

Source: theecommmanager.com ~ By: ~ Image: Canva Pro

Growth of E-Commerce in the 21st Century, Current Trends, and What the Future Holds

Growth of eCommerce
How did e-commerce begin, and what does its future hold? As the world of shopping and finance continues to grow and evolve, new e-commerce trends emerge.

In 2018, retail e-commerce sales in the United States totaled $504.6 billion, according to Statista. By the same graph, these numbers are expected to increase. Rising alongside these sales are considerable fears that online shopping is killing brick and mortar retail, and a slew of high-profile downsizes and bankruptcies in recent years seem to support that theory.In 2018, retail e-commerce sales in the United States totaled $504.6 billion, according to Statista. By the same graph, these numbers are expected to increase. Rising alongside these sales are considerable fears that online shopping is killing brick-and-mortar retail, and a slew of high-profile downsizes and bankruptcies in recent years seem to support that theory.

Is the impact of e-commerce on brick-and-mortar business so negative? Arguments can be made for both sides, and there are compelling e-commerce stats to back them up. In order to make accurate predictions about what the future holds for both e-commerce and physical stores, we must first understand the origins of e-commerce.

A Short History of E-commerce

E-commerce has a surprisingly long history, stretching back even before the first web “browser” as we know them. It has developed alongside other internet-based industries and become a powerful part of online and physical business. Today, creators and entrepreneurs everywhere can sell them around the world, thanks to e-commerce.

The First Online Transaction

The first e-commerce transaction was completed in 1971, 19 years before the first web browser was invented. It was conducted over a network between two universities — the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — between students organizing a sale.

The Dotcom Boom

The first commercial website in the sense we know it was created in 1992, two years after the creation of the World Wide Web browser. But e-commerce moved slowly until 1995, when the US National Science Foundation lifted its ban on commercial enterprise operations via the internet. That year, both Amazon and eBay were founded, and the first internet-only radio stations appeared.

In 1999, global e-commerce reached $150 billion, just one year before the infamous dotcom bust.

The Dotcom Bust

In 2000, the bubble burst, and an era of rapid, unchecked growth in internet-based companies came to an end. Companies began to go bust mere months after entering the stock market, investors began to panic, and the Nasdaq would drop by 78% through 2002.

It was a disaster for companies and investors alike, but not for everyone. Companies that were resilient enough to survive the crash began to consolidate and took a greater share of the industry.

The Aftermath of the Dotcom Bust

The companies that survived the dotcom bust, like Amazon and eBay, went on to dominate the e-commerce industry. The bust was a major setback, but the survivors learned their lessons and forged ahead.

It didn’t take long for those companies to recover. In 2002, eBay acquired PayPal for $1.5 billion. Companies like Wayfair began to enter the market, selling products through individual targeted domains to reach very specific markets.

The early 2000s also saw the boom for China’s biggest e-commerce player, Alibaba, and China’s sudden growth in the digital market began to make global waves.

What Makes E-commerce so Important and How Big Has it Become?

Here’s one of the best e-commerce stats that exemplifies the market dominance of giants like Amazon: in 2015, Amazon alone accounted for more than 50 percent of e-commerce growth. In total, this growth accounted for nine percent of all retail sales the year before. Due to the sheer volume of e-commerce transactions that take place on Amazon alone, it is clear to see why they have become the go-to storefront for a vast majority of online sellers, competing with one another to get to the top of Amazon’s search results.

Since then, e-commerce has continued to grow, which has had an adverse effect on brick-and-mortar retail outlets.

What e-commerce trends are responsible for driving the growth of the industry?

    • Better Consumer Experience: E-commerce provides a number of consumer-friendly innovations that are extremely attractive to some shoppers. Amazon, for example, provides user reviews; a way for people to evaluate products independently of marketing. For users, it’s a way to crowdsource quality control, talking to one another about what is and isn’t worth their hard-earned money.
    • Convenience: E-commerce also relies on the fact that people will often pay extra for convenience, happily putting down shipping fees if they don’t have to leave the comfort of their own home to acquire items.
    • Customization Data: E-commerce’s true power lies in something a little more difficult to nail down to any specific feature. It’s personalized and convenient while being able to reach so many more people than physical stores ever could. This is partly thanks to development in data gathering and analysis technology.
    • Customer Tracking: E-commerce is trackable, and savvy brands use this to their advantage to provide consumers with exciting content and advertising that speaks to their needs.

Common Myths About the E-commerce Industry

With all the hype about e-commerce, it’s easy to assume that it’s going to continue disrupting industries and growing exponentially… But remember the dot com bust?

There are many misunderstandings and myths about e-commerce, and they can be dangerous. Amazon didn’t turn a profit until 2001, and its profit margins have always been below retail industry standards. However, volume accounts for their wild success.

Contrary to popular belief, customer acquisition is extremely difficult and can become costly in a digital market. Digital advertising has become such a crowded space that getting noticed, even on major platforms like Facebook or Google, is very difficult.

Another common myth is that the advanced technologies helping to drive online sales are strictly available to e-commerce businesses. However, brick-and-mortar stores can absolutely make use of the advanced inventory management and customer experience innovations available to businesses of all shapes and sizes through software services.

Relying on unchecked growth is what got investors and businesses into so much trouble in the 1990s. E-commerce is a vital part of today’s marketplace, but it requires careful and strategic implementation and operation. It shouldn’t just be tacked onto a sales strategy “just because everyone is doing it.”

Is E-commerce Destroying Brick and Mortar Retail?

The short answer: no.

The long answer is that the impact of e-commerce on brick-and-mortar retail is more nuanced, with a blend of both positive and negative effects. E-commerce trends, in general, have brought about a market correction that punishes unchecked growth, just like the dot-com boom. Abandoned malls, the closing of massive stores, bankruptcies — these are the signs of irresponsible growth. E-commerce happens to be a force that is furthering this correction, but the fact is that brick-and-mortar retailers are surviving. The internet is killing the boring, uninspired, change-resistant brands. The brick-and-mortar businesses that are dying were often unsustainable anyway.

Those brands that make use of the technology that built e-commerce, and understand why e-commerce is such a powerful force can and will thrive, even while maintaining brick-and-mortar establishments.

The Future of E-commerce: How Industry Trends and Growth are Changing

Enough about the past. How is e-commerce expanding? Where is it going?

Well, we know that the projections for e-commerce global sales are growing, but if e-commerce isn’t going to kill physical retail outlets, how does the industry develop?

In the U.S., storefronts like Etsy are giving individual makers, creators and artists access to a much wider market to sell their wares. Amazon and Google are continually refining their systems, and are introducing voice-first shopping technology so that users can make purchases without ever interacting with a screen. Monthly subscription “boxes” like Dollar Shave Club, Blue Apron, and others are becoming huge hits. What else is in store?

E-commerce Around the World: Global Trends and Predictions

China is becoming an increasingly big player in the e-commerce scene, however, and its e-commerce platform provider Alibaba is much bigger than Amazon. It’s a good idea to look at the innovations and experiments in China to get a better glimpse into the future of e-commerce. China is such a quickly growing economy, and its tech companies are exerting so much power over global markets that it would be unwise to ignore them.

For one thing, e-commerce platforms are being customized to suit small brick-and-mortar operations, giving mom-and-pop shops access to all the tech and power behind those platforms for a subscription fee. This outsourcing of retail logistics is a powerful tool for small businesses that don’t have the budget to compete in the digital marketplace on their own.

China is also going beyond even same-day delivery; in some locations for food and grocery deliveries, they’re fulfilling orders and sending them to the consumer’s door in 30 minutes. This kind of speed and convenience requires a great deal of infrastructure — warehouses, advanced inventory management systems, and other quick delivery solutions. These are things that Chinese tech giants are rolling out, and their technology may serve as the basis for, or even become the providers of, these solutions in other parts of the world.

Sustainability in E-commerce

One of the major issues at the forefront of e-commerce is sustainability. Today’s consumers are apt to be more interested in supporting environmentally and ethically responsible businesses, but supply chains are still massive producers of greenhouse gases and waste.

E-commerce businesses can still do their part. There are a number of ways to reduce waste in your supply chain with the added benefit of reducing unnecessary costs. Using advanced data collection and analysis software can help implement a lean supply chain, resulting in a win for everyone involved.

Automation in E-commerce

Automation in the e-commerce realm, as in many industries, is highly visible in consumer-facing functions but has quietly progressed into more of the logistics and fulfillment processes. Many of the most high-profile experiments with e-commerce fulfillment automation involve Amazon’s work on self-driving delivery trucks and autonomous delivery drones. These autonomous vehicles and drones will be dispatched from warehouses to drop items directly to people’s doorsteps.

There are lesser-known places where automation is nonetheless extremely important, and, unlike self-driving trucks, already in circulation. Automated customer service in the form of chatbots is increasing in efficiency and effectiveness and is adapting to be able to handle customer queries of many different kinds.

Automated marketing and outreach platforms are also becoming more popular, marked by the wide adoption of automated social media management systems and other marketing suites. Automated fraud detection is another vital part of e-commerce, where payment information is saved to account credentials and constantly monitored against foul play.

Automated purchasing is also appearing in brick-and-mortar stores, grocery stores, and even restaurants, allowing customers to order and purchase items without visiting a register at all. Some Chinese furniture stores are now just experimenting with virtual and augmented reality to let customers see how products might look and fit in their homes, creating a completely self-directed experience even inside the store, automated from the moment they walk in, to the moment they walk out.

Big Data and E-commerce

Data is one of the pillars upon which e-commerce stands. After all, the technology to transfer data from one place to another is the basis for its existence. Big data is an expression of modern-day evolutions of how we handle data; in amount and in potential.

External Big Data: Marketing and Privacy

Data is the key to so much of e-commerce success. Tech companies are getting so good at acquiring and using data, in fact, that it’s sparking privacy debates across the world. Data about how people use their social media accounts, what they look at, what they watch, listen to, buy, and even what they post, is being bought and sold for use in advanced data-based marketing campaigns. These campaigns return specific, personalized advertisements to users that are based on their preferences, or inferred from their online activity.

Internal Big Data: Improving Operations and Value Chain

Big data has even more potential use in areas other than marketing. It can be used to assess every aspect of a business’s operations, analyzing how the value chain of a business affects profitability. E-commerce companies use the strategy of breaking down how business activities affect the value offered to the customer. This is an important cost-reduction strategy, especially in an industry plagued by slim profit margins.

In basic terms, big data is allowing businesses to both collect and analyze greater amounts of information from a wider variety of sources. This allows managers to get a top-level view of operations by analyzing every step in the chain; how much it costs, how long it takes, what value it adds, and whether it’s the most efficient solution.

The Future of Big Data in E-commerce is Uncertain

With entities such as the EU regulating data use and consumer privacy more heavily, it’s uncertain where big data fits into the future of marketing. The potential for big data can only be capped by ethical and legal regulations. Internally, big data can be used to assist and improve all operations that a business engages in.

Big Data Benefitting Small Businesses

Increasingly, we’re likely to see business software providers packaging big data products and selling them to smaller businesses. The biggest players in the e-commerce space are already profiting from consumers’ desires to support small or local businesses by selling access to tools and software; access to audiences and to technology. This is a strange, symbiotic relationship that seems to be becoming even more prominent as the technology behind those data solutions becomes more advanced.

Software as a Service Will Get Bigger

Businesses small and large are likely to rely on specialized data service providers moving forward to keep up with the demands of the retail market. Even brick-and-mortar stores benefit from e-commerce technology and understand that e-commerce is exposing poor branding, not killing physical retail. There’s a lot to learn — and benefit from — as long as you’re paying attention.

The History of eCommerce: from Its Origins to Modern Day

History of Ecommerce

Electronic commerce, or eCommerce, refers to buying and selling products and services on the Internet.

eCommerce can happen in many forms, like ordering goods, purchasing a service, buying a subscription to an information source, or even setting up an online bill-paying schedule.

For most of us, it’s hard to imagine modern life without eCommerce. It would not only be inconvenient but also much more complicated.

Still, as ingrained as eCommerce has become in our lives, it wasn’t that long ago when it didn’t even exist. We can trace the origins of eCommerce back about 40 years when “teleshopping” first appeared as the precursor to the modern version.

Of course, eCommerce, as we know it today, really got its start when retail giant Amazon created one of the first eCommerce websites back in the early 1990s. Since then, countless companies have followed its lead.

When Was Online Shopping Invented?

Companies have been using computer networks to conduct business since as far back as the 1960s, but that version of eCommerce would be almost unrecognizable to us nowadays.

In 1968, ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency) commissioned the world’s first routers. Within a year, a network called ARPANET was created to ensure that crucial lines of communication would be maintained in the event of a nuclear attack.

Three years later, researchers developed a new method for dialing into ARPANET using just a computer terminal. Terminal Interface Processor (TIP) eventually led to Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), a familiar combination even in modern times.

This technology helped take the Internet from military bases and university labs to business offices.

Companies used it to share business documents with one other, relying solely on Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), a digital information transfer technology that could replace mail and fax for sharing documents. This technology made it possible to transfer information from computer to computer seamlessly without the need for human involvement.

It wasn’t until 1979 that the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) finally stepped in and introduced a standard for sharing business documents. It was called ASC X12 and gave companies a reliable standard for sharing documents over electronic networks.

1979 also witnessed another first for the Internet Age: the origin of eCommerce.

The Origins of eCommerce

In 1979, English inventor Michael Aldrich introduced and pioneered what would eventually become known as eCommerce by connecting television and telephone lines.

The story goes that Aldrich thought of the idea while on a walk with his wife, bemoaning the inconvenience of making regular trips to the market. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if you could just order what you needed through the TV?

Shortly, thereafter, he invented a system that advertised goods and services on television, giving viewers the ability to call a processing center to place orders. Aldrich called his system “teleshopping.

eCommerce was born.

Throughout the 80s and into the early 90s, the Internet continued to evolve as new technologies like SSL made it something more and more people were comfortable using.

In 1982, French innovators launched the Minitel, a service that was a precursor to the World Wide Web. This service was free for telephone subscribers and used a Videotex terminal and telephone lines to connect millions of people. The Minitel expanded, and by 1999, more than 9 million terminals connected about 25 million people.

However, the World Wide web soon caught up. Debuting to the public in 1991, its rapid rise quickly eclipsed the Minitel. In 2012, France Telecom officially discontinued the Minitel service.

The First eCommerce Stores

Technically, the first eCommerce company was Boston Computer Exchange, which launched way back in 1982. It was primarily an online market that served people who wanted to sell their used computers.

With the arrival of the Internet, another, more familiar kind of store debuted. Book Stacks Unlimited, which opened its virtual doors in 1992, was an online bookstore that actually predated a company that would quickly become synonymous with the term by two whole years: Amazon. Eventually, Book Stacks Unlimited was acquired by Barnes & Noble.

The World Wide Web Becomes User-Friendly

In 1990, Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau published a proposal to build a hypertext browser called “WorldWideWeb.”

During that same year, Berners-Lee also designed the first Web server.

On August 6, 1991, Berners-Lee made history yet again when he debuted the first website, ushering in the World Wide Web as a publicly-available service.

The National Science Foundation relaxed restrictions governing the commercial use of the Internet a short time later, which paved the way for online shopping.

In 1995, the National Science Foundation started charging user fees for the registration of domain names. In just three years, registered domain names jumped from 120,000 to more than 2 million.

Many concerns around the security of online shopping persisted, but the development of Secure Socket Layers (SSL) technology made it possible to send data over the Internet safely.

Browsers identified authenticated SSL certificates on websites, indicating whether websites were safe and trustworthy. The SSL encryption protocol continues to be a prominent feature of Web security.

Marketplaces, Payment, and Mobile eCommerce

After the formative years of the Internet, advancements began to take hold that increased its commercial use.

As we’ve covered, Amazon launched in 1995, initially as an online bookstore. During that time, large brick-and-mortar bookstores could only be expected to carry about 200,000 books –at most.

However, as an online store, Amazon had no such limitations. It could carry countless titles, from best sellers to obscure texts.

Since its founding, Amazon has expanded to the point that it now offers virtually every type of product imaginable – including eBooks and movies. Amazon also pioneered the sharing of user reviews, an idea that was originally considered eCommerce suicide.

Of course, the exact opposite happened. By letting customers share their feedback, Amazon became one of the most powerful companies in the world seemingly overnight.

Meanwhile, eBay emerged as a successful online auction website, debuting in 1995.

In 2005, Etsy launched as a global marketplace where people could create shops to sell their unique and often handmade items.

During that same year, Amazon launched Amazon Prime, a service that offered members free two-day shipping within the continental United States. This program set a standard in eCommerce, forcing other merchants to decrease shipping time and charges.

PayPal launched in 1998 as a global eCommerce company that offered payment processing for online vendors and other commercial users. PayPal customers can hold, send, and receive funds in many different currencies.

In 2004, the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council was created to make sure that businesses comply with security requirements. This organization develops and implements security standards for account data protection.

As mobile computing began to develop and grow, Amazon launched its first mobile website in 2001, starting the mobile eCommerce race. Because more people were using their mobile devices to access eCommerce websites, the push to make mobile sales possible was strong. Consumers today use mobile devices not only for purchases but also for product research, finding coupons, and engaging via social media.

eCommerce Timeline: from the Beginning to Modern Day

Here is a condensed version of the most important milestones throughout eCommerce’s history:

    •        1969: CompuServe is founded. It will go on to become what many consider to be the first true eCommerce company.
    •        1979: Fed up with regular trips to the market, Michael Aldrich introduces the world to electronic shopping
    •        1982: Boston Computer Exchange becomes one of the first eCommerce platforms
    •        1992: Charles M. Stack launches Book Stacks Unlimited, one of the first online marketplaces
    •        1994: Netscape releases Netscape Navigator, which becomes the most prominent of the early web browsers
    •        1994: Jeff Bezos unveils Amazon
    •        1995: AuctionWeb launches. Its name will eventually be changed to eBay.
    •        1998: PayPal revolutionizes eCommerce with a secure way for websites to accept payments
    •        1999: Jack Ma launches Alibaba.com, a first-of-its-kind B2C, B2B, and C2C eCommerce company.
    •        2005: Amazon changes eCommerce forever by introducing flat-fee, two-day shipping through Prime
    •        2011: Facebook throws its hat in the eCommerce ring with sponsored stories
    •        2011: Stripe enters the world of online payments
    •        2014: Apple follows suit with Apple Pay
    •        2015: Google responds by introducing Android Pay
    •        2015: Cyber Monday sales reached a new record high of more than $3 billion
    •        2016: Alibaba sets a record with $17 billion in sales in just one day
    •        2017: Instagram enters the eCommerce game with shoppable posts
    •        2019: ECommerce sales reach$3.5 trillion

As you can see from this timeline, eCommerce is progressing at a rapid rate. The next 10 years maybe even more dynamic than the last 40.

What Does the Future Look Like for ECommerce?

ECommerce and consumer trends will continue to evolve as technology expands and changes. The Census Bureau estimated that U.S. retail eCommerce sales for the fourth quarter of 2019 were $158.0 billion, an increase of 2.6% from the third quarter.

Expect that trend to continue for years to come.

One example of technology dramatically shaping the future of eCommerce is advancements in different screen types. Soon, consumers will interact with eCommerce touchpoints via wearables, kiosks, and improved voice interactions.

eCommerce personalization will continue to push the field, too. We’re already at the point where sites can “remember” customers and tailor their eCommerce experiences accordingly. This doesn’t just improve conversions and customer satisfaction. It also produces game-changing data that companies can use to craft even better experiences for their website’s visitors.

How to Compete and Thrive in the Modern Marketplace

As successful as Amazon is, there’s no reason your company can’t compete and even thrive alongside this retail giant.

Much smaller, independent merchants can often connect with consumers in ways that a behemoth like Amazon can’t match. These companies can also work to create a memorable brand experience, which helps gain customer loyalty.

While the Amazon Effect is often seen as a negative for retailers, many have adapted by adopting which practices they can and offering the aforementioned brand experiences Amazon can’t.

Buyer Preferences Driving Rapid Distribution

Figuring out what shoppers want next is a constant challenge for retailers of all stripes, but online merchants must also continually find advantages over brick-and-mortar stores.

For example, new advances in product visualizers can enable online retailers to show products in various situations before purchase.

It’s also crucial to keep your website fine-tuned so that it loads quickly, or you risk losing visitors. And, since many shoppers browse the Internet to read reviews before buying an item, it’s important to monitor social media, answering questions and responding to comments in order to maintain a good reputation.

 Learning from the History of eCommerce

If there’s one takeaway from the origins and history of eCommerce, it should be that the industry is constantly changing. New innovations are always just around the corner, which means your company must constantly adapt to stay ahead.

Fortunately, countless online businesses have proven this can be done.

You just need to follow two rules.

First, always put your customer first. The very origins of eCommerce are rooted in a desire to give customers more of what they wanted: convenience, selection, and savings. No matter what Google does to its algorithm or which devices become the next user favorite, if you put your customers first, you’ll be set up for success.

Second, stay flexible. If you let success lead to complacency, you won’t be successful for long. Always look for new ways to keep your customers happy and they’ll be sure to repay your efforts.

The future of eCommerce looks to be just as exciting as its past. If you keep these two rules in mind, you’ll have plenty to be excited about, too.

Source: iwdagency.com ~ Image: Canva Pro

Top 10 Emerging Trends in e-Commerce and m-Commerce technologies in 2023

E-commerce and m-commerce market overview in 2023

E-commerce has been growing at a high speed for the last ten years, but the pandemic of 2020 has become a turning point for many industries, including online and offline shopping. Businesses that had no online presence have realized their role in the modern world and started to create e-commerce websites en masse. Е-commerce and m-commerce technologies are keeping up and evolving each day as well.

By 2022, the global e-commerce market will reach almost $5 trillion, with B2B e-commerce even surpassing this figure. In the US alone, retail e-commerce sales will reach over $1 000 billion by 2023 according to Statista.

In many countries like China or India, e-commerce sales are even more widespread

The largest e-commerce market in the world is China: in 2019, its e-commerce sales reached $1.935 trillion. However, the Chinese market is hard to tackle, so here’s a list of all the fastest-growing e-commerce markets according to Statista:

emerging technologies in e business
The fastest-growing e-commerce markets now are Turkey, Argentina, and Indonesia

All businesses that already have online stores may be interested to know that mobile shoppers prefer to choose and purchase products online through a mobile phone rather than a computer. So if you already have a web store, it may be a good idea to optimize your e-commerce store for mobile platforms.

ecommerce trends

According to 99firms, mobile shopping will take almost 73% of the e-commerce market share by 2022, as new generations of buyers are more and more likely to purchase products with their smartphones.

The e-commerce trends listed in this article are mostly relevant to both web and mobile e-commerce. However, there are also some mobile-specific trends in the e-commerce industry and technologies that are currently taking the market by storm. Let’s review these e-commerce trends in 2023 to find out what to look out for in the next few years.

What is trending in e-commerce?

Augmented reality

Though it’s been available for a long time now, augmented reality (AR) hasn’t yet become a standard for shopping apps: most e-commerce applications that have AR offer it as the killer feature that distinguishes them from their competitors.

emerging and current trends in e commerce
Ikea is one of the most famous and successful examples of using AR in mcommerce

AR is one of the technology trends that can affect a business in a number of ways. You can make it your selling point too, as it will allow you to make yourself special — for now. AR is a growing trend, and each year it becomes more and more widespread. And if you think that AR is only for games, I’d like to give you a few examples of how this technology can be used in online shopping.

1. To merge the online and offline experience
Ikea offers the most famous example of using AR for connecting the offline and online experience. The Ikea app allows users to see how furniture will look in their homes with the help of AR.

Ikea’s AR app became the second most popular free application built with the help of Apple’s ARKit in just six months after the app release according to SensorTower.

2. Gamification
AR is a mobile-specific technology that’s most often used in games. It was only natural that businesses would start using it for gamification.

Gamification in e-commerce is huge: businesses use loyalty programs along with games and challenges to encourage users to buy more, share their experiences with friends on social media, and win special offers that increase their brand loyalty.

Augmented reality can be an effective marketing tool to attract users to your e-commerce application.

Artificial intelligence and big data

Artificial intelligence (AI) and big data are used by all large e-commerce players like Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba. These companies use large amounts of data about individual users to suggest products that will be relevant to them, increasing conversion rates like crazy. AI has been among technology trends in e-commerce for several years now, and it’s only evolving.

It’s hard to imagine a modern middle to large size ecommerce business that operates without big data

Also, you don’t need to create overly complex algorithms to bring benefits to your business. There are lots of ready third-party solutions you can integrate into your shopping app or website to start getting information about your customers.

AI can also help you to predict demand so you can manage your supply chain efficiently. AI and big data are rather costly investments, but they can bring lots of benefits to your business.

Social media marketing

If you cater to Millennials and younger generations, you can’t ignore the power of social media. In 2020, 44% of Generation Z consumers say that social media leads them to purchase certain products. Among Gen Z consumers, 37% increased their social media usage to decide what products to buy.

Social media is extremely important for both small and large e-commerce brands. Integrating social media is a baseline requirement for modern e-commerce solutions, but it’s not enough.

For example, AliExpress combines gamification with social media marketing, exchanging online reviews and ratings for bonuses. There are already thousands of AliExpress brand ambassadors that recommend shops and products to thousands of their subscribers.

Online experience in offline stores

If e-commerce is only part of your retail business, you can still make your application useful in brick-and-mortar stores.

For example, you can integrate a QR code scanner into your app so customers can find out more about a product that’s in front of them, or you can implement an app-based loyalty card your customers won’t need to carry in their wallets. Location-based notifications are also an interesting idea: with their help, you can promote your stores as a user is near them.

Voice search

With the rise of voice assistants like Alexa that can purchase products on Amazon for you, voice search has become one of the latest online business trends and a vital part of the user experience in e-commerce applications.

Voice search isn’t very hard to implement thanks to available voice recognition and machine learning technologies. Pairing your online store with a voice assistant will open your store to a new audience who prefers ordering by voice.

Video Marketing

The video provides high conversion rates to everyone, from social media influencers to businesses. Many companies create their own video production departments to create video ads or even just display their products online.

There are three main ways to increase your conversion rate with the help of videos in your e-commerce app or on your e-commerce website:

  • Insert a video player into your product page and present each product with a video alongside images.
  • Allow users to attach videos to their reviews.
  • Create a video streaming feature that will allow users to share their experiences with your products.

Subscription services

Unlike Baby Boomers, Millennials and Gen Z consumers are less passionate about actually owning things. They prefer renting or making recurring purchases. This is where subscriptions come into play.

The subscription model in retail helps e-commerce businesses increase their sales and also get lifelong customers who are loyal to their brand.

Retail subscriptions are especially popular in the fashion industry: clothing trends change all the time, and many young people would rather try something new each month than own their own wardrobe entirely.

However, retailers offer subscriptions for almost anything, from personalized product boxes to free delivery and even products that don’t exist yet. Be creative and find something you can turn into a subscription for your customers.

Chatbots

Chatbots have been a hot topic in the last few years, but few companies have done them well. There’s still room for improvement in the range of their abilities.

best technology for ecommerce site
Chatbots can help users find information on delivery or even make a purchase decision

What chatbots are already doing, however, is improving the shopping experience for customers, who now can get answers to common questions immediately without having to wait for an email or a live support manager.

Chatbots are implemented in both e-commerce websites and apps and usually can handle a simple consultation on delivery, products, and services, or the latest special offers.

Headless e-commerce architecture

The demand for an omnichannel experience has made headless e-commerce architectures popular in recent years.

A headless architecture is basically a content management system (CMS) that has only a back end. The front end is displayed via REST APIs. Because the front end isn’t predefined but is realized through an API request, you aren’t dependent on a particular front-end framework. This allows you to store all your content in one place and show it on any screen without having to modify the database for each platform.

technology behind the web in e commerce
Headless architecture makes your website more flexible and maintainable

Here are some benefits of a headless approach to e-commerce software:

Flexibility — You can change the front end fast without having to make any adjustments to your back end.

Better customer experience — You can provide a consistent experience across all your users’ devices.

Simple integrations — Because an API is the core way of communicating between the back end and front end in a headless architecture, it will be easier for you to integrate other services with the help of APIs.

Customizable products

In the world of mass production, unique and personalized products are what many people are after. You can create different ways of customizing the products you sell in your e-commerce store, be it mere packaging or something more.

A personalized experience is something you can easily achieve on your e-commerce website or in your app. People love to take quizzes, surveys, and tests. In exchange for completing these activities, offer loyalty program bonuses and learn how to personalize your users’ experiences.

If your retail business is connected to health and wellness, personalization is definitely for you: go for deep customization and product suggestions for the best conversion rate.

One-Click Ordering

Amazon was the first company to successfully integrate this feature into their e-commerce mobile app. One-click ordering is a technology that allows users to buy products with just one click without having to enter any information like address, credit card information, and so on.

One-click ordering shortens the customer journey and helps to minimize issues like abandoned carts.

Final thoughts

E-commerce opportunities in 2023 are massive. Online shopping has been growing since the day it appeared, and the competition is as fierce as the demand for great e-commerce apps and websites. In this article, I’ve shared top trends in e-commerce that will soon become standard for most e-commerce businesses that want to stand out from their competitors.

To create a successful e-commerce business, you should pay close attention to creating a consistent and personalized user experience. Create loyalty programs and gamify them for the best conversion rates and customer satisfaction.

A chatbot will improve your customer service, social media and video marketing will build credibility, and big data will help you offer only relevant products to your users

To improve your customer service, implement a chatbot that will be able to solve at least the most common issues your customers face. To understand what your chatbot should be able to do, ask your customer support team about the questions your customers most frequently ask.

Source: mobindustry.net ~ By: Andrew Bloomenthal ~ Image: Canva Pro

Social Media for eCommerce

marketing strategy

“Ecommerce isn’t the cherry on the cake, it’s the new cake” Bob Howland

7 Easy Steps to Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing can help you build engaged audiences where your customers and target audience already spend their time.

Or, it can be a time-consuming obligation that spreads you thin, resulting in a drain on time and money rather than the asset you’ve seen it become for many established brands.

The difference is having a social media marketing plan that keeps your actions focused, along with a process that enables you to execute without taking too much attention away from running your business.

But starting from scratch can be a daunting task, especially with so many different channels to build a presence on and the commitment that comes with it.

That’s why we’ve put together this guide to walk you through how to approach your social media marketing strategy, along with tools and tips to help you pull it off. READ MORE


How to set ecommerce social media up for success

When social media first came onto the scene, it was designed for people to connect. But as the platforms developed and the user base grew, the money needed to be made, and brands found opportunities to participate and reach their customers in a new way. Nowadays, it seems unimaginable for a new business to open up without any social media presence.

The direct-to-consumer (DTC) model is still relatively new when compared to brick-and-mortar retail shops. For those that are solely based online, an investment in social media comprises a significant part of the marketing budget. When companies like Warby Parker and Casper first launched, the DTC model was fresh and unique. Nowadays, nearly every retail segment has a DTC brand and the competition is heavy with new brands.

In 2010, eCommerce sales made up only 4.2% of total US retail sales. One decade later, the number is now 11.8% and it’s only steadily climbing. In 2020, as the pandemic continues to prohibit retail companies from opening their stores, having an eCommerce marketing strategy seems more needed than ever. READ MORE


5 Practical Social Media Marketing Strategies That All eCommerce Sellers Must Know

ecommerce marketing strategy
ecommerce marketing strategy

With more customers shopping online than ever before, and ever-increasing competition for attention, online businesses will only be able to maximize their success if they learn how to build on organic engagement in social media.

Don’t get me wrong, gaining organic traffic through search, and even conversions from paid ads, are still great ways to build a business. However, leveraging a community to build sales from organic engagement costs nothing more than your time. And besides that, there are plenty of tools available to help you along the way.

Here are five practical strategies you can implement straight away which will help boost traffic and sales through your social channels.

1. Create, Curate, and Share Awesome Content

If all you do through your social channels is promote your products, your audience is going to burn out on your pages and posts pretty fast. READ MORE


Social Media for eCommerce Businesses – Tips, Stats, Best Practices

Social-Media-for-eCommerce-Businesses-Tips-Stats-Best-Practices
Social-Media-for-eCommerce-Businesses-Tips-Stats-Best-Practices

Social media has become one of the most dependable and powerful sales tools for eCommerce businesses. Companies can go the patient route by building an organic following or the more direct route, with highly-target ad campaigns.  

With 35% of millennials (and a significant number of older shoppers) making purchases via social media, there has never been a better time to get on board. Use this article as a guide for understanding the real value of social media for eCommerce, how to build an effective strategy, and tips & best practices for getting the most out of your social presence.  

Why social media is crucial for eCommerce brands

The idea used to be that using social media in eCommerce was a bit wishy-washy; no tangible return to the business and “while it could work for some brands, it wouldn’t work for us”—this was a very common belief.  

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