Ecommerce Platforms https://ecommerce-platforms.com Top 5 Ecommerce Platforms Compared: Which One Is Best for You? Tue, 16 Oct 2018 08:16:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 Zoey Review- High-End B2B Ecommerce Platform? https://ecommerce-platforms.com/ecommerce-reviews/zoey-review https://ecommerce-platforms.com/ecommerce-reviews/zoey-review#respond Mon, 15 Oct 2018 14:44:12 +0000 https://ecommerce-platforms.com/?p=18205 This Zoey review dives deep into all the important aspects- its features, functionalities, pricing structure, and the corresponding weaknesses. I don’t mean to sound like a buzzkill to some, but let’s face it- the big money lies with B2B ecommerce.…

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This Zoey review dives deep into all the important aspects- its features, functionalities, pricing structure, and the corresponding weaknesses.

I don’t mean to sound like a buzzkill to some, but let’s face it- the big money lies with B2B ecommerce.

Ok, it goes without saying that B2C has unlimited opportunities for strategic entrepreneurs. That’s a given.

But so is the fact that B2B is outdoing B2C in online revenue.

And here’s the thing to prove it. A report by Statista estimated that while B2C was able to cumulatively achieve an impressive $2.2 trillion from online sales in 2017, B2B outdid it by not 100% or 200%- but a solid 234.78%. B2B ecommerce in 2017 had grown to a value of $7.7 trillion.

In the U.S. alone, this growth curve is expected to progress to $1.2 trillion by 2021– at least according to Forrester.

And that’s principally why I got myself into the B2B space.

One of the first lessons I learned as I started off was that specialized B2B ecommerce platforms are not as readily available as their B2C counterparts.

Well, I’ve seen multiple businesses engage B2B on standard platforms that are otherwise developed for B2C. While that might seem to work to some level, it’s pretty evident that B2B is best conducted on a platform that’s holistically optimized for its elements.

That said, I’ve always been particularly interested in ecommerce platforms that can effectively handle B2B, while comfortably supporting B2C when the need arises.

Consequently, someone introduced me to this new platform called Zoey.

Ever heard about it?

Zoey Review: Overview

To understand where Zoey is today, let’s first asses where they came from.

Zoey was launched in 2014 as a SaaS solution for businesses seeking to combine the power of high-end solutions with the convenience of managed services.

Interestingly, before the service came to be, Zoey’s core team worked in the web development space. Over time, they noticed that businesses were facing the following challenges with their platforms:

  • It was difficult to make certain theme changes. If you wanted to edit a phone number in your footer, for instance, you’d be forced to call a developer.
  • While closed-source platforms came with a lot of limitations,open-source platforms, for all their additional features, were costly and required extensive management.
  • The existing ecommerce platforms were not comprehensively addressing all the common website glitches.

And so the building process began

They first focused on streamlining B2C eCommerce to make it more accessible without necessarily eliminating the critical features.

The team then subsequently discovered a particularly unserved market set- B2B users. They found out that this group of customers were hungry for the same system capabilities as B2C users, but were stuck with options that seemingly only favored the latter.

Customer segmentation itself was an issue. B2B users complained that pricing, products and content were not well-adjusted so serve them.

Consequently, Zoey's team saw the need to implement a solution that would grant B2B users universal control and flexibility over their sites. Now, add an array of wholesale tools to the resultant mix- and that’s how Zoey has become the company it is today.

Today, Zoey claims that it’s diverting from the norm by availing high-end eCommerce technology to users without an enterprise budget, while still offering the do-it-yourself approach that has been popularized by SaaS eCommerce platforms in recent years.

All things considered, it seems that while Zoey is primarily focused on the B2B market, it still manages to extend its capabilities to the B2C segment.

How that works out for B2B users is something we’re going to look into comprehensively. This Zoey review dives deep into all the important aspects- its features, functionalities, pricing structure, and the corresponding weaknesses.

So, would Zoey be an ideal platform for your B2B ecommerce site?

Well, let’s find out…

Zoey Review: Features

Customer Management

Building a platform that has the ability to serve both B2B and B2C needs a broad array of tools to get the job done.

And Zoey has adopted quite a number customer management methodologies.

Now, Zoey, for starters, provides a Request-a-Quote feature for submission of potential orders for subsequent review and quoting. It basically allows prospects to create draft orders, which are then tweaked accordingly by customer support teams to establish all crucial parameters like cost and shipping.

And you know what? You can control what your prospects are able to see and order by restricting visitor access to selected site elements and products. For example, you could trigger lead registrations by strategically displaying the most attractive products to new visitors while locking them out from accessing the respective prices.

But, wait. Hold on a minute there. How do you even begin separating various types of site visitors?

Well, it turns out that Zoey also provides customer segmentation. By placing different customers into separate groups, you’ll be able to offer personalized shopping experiences. And this stretches through the whole pipeline- product display, pricing, order volume, payment, and shipping.

If you run both B2B and B2C, you should find this function particularly useful in creating different experiences for each set of buyers- regular customers and businesses.

And speaking of B2B buyers, you might have noticed that they are quite fond of ordering in bulk. As a matter of fact, that’s one of the principal reasons why B2B is outdoing B2C in sales volume.

Sounds like a solid, promising prospect, right?

But here’s the kicker- due to logistical complexities, processing bulk orders can be cumbersome and often requires buyers to get in touch directly with the customer support teams. Interestingly, B2B customers usually don’t have time for this, considering 72% of them want quick self-service in order and account management.

Zoey goes ahead to facilitate just that. Through an advanced quick order feature, your customers will be able to take a shortcut by simply entering SKU and their corresponding quantities. With that alone, they can proceed straight to checkout for payment and processing.

Visual Design Editor

Zoey provides a visual design editor for building your ecommerce site.

It’s a simple drag-and-drop editor with a wide range of tools that can be used without any coding knowledge. Just jump right into it and don’t bother calling your developer.

And while you’re at it, you can even forget about hiring a graphic designer too. The themes provided for free are quite responsive on both PC and mobile.

Then comes the customization stage. I assume that you’ll need an online store that is well-aligned to your brand, right?

 

Well, to facilitate this, Zoey’s presets library features an array of pre-built design elements like slideshows, banners, buttons, and menus- all of which can be embedded on your site’s theme.

There is also a theme and fonts manager that lets you set your colors, fonts, sizes and so on- globally across your site, so you don’t have to change each element individually.

Moving on to the finer details, you’ll be able to capitalize on snap-to guides for alignment to set up fine and crisp layouts. This basically forms the base for stress-free site navigation.

In addition to that, you can tweak the colors, font size, fonts, and padding for various components with just a couple of clicks.

Quite simple and clear so far. However, Zoey saw the need to further enhance customization, and they subsequently rolled out a visual design editor update earlier this year.

Among its primary changes was a new CMS system for independent content editing that would not affect the base site design. It also improved the overall design process by introducing dozens of new blocks, plus full-width elements, component locking, as well as an asset manager for uploading custom elements and code.

That said, you might want to assess your site comprehensively as you finish up the design process. To help you detect any problems before publishing, Zoey provides a live preview function. And the best thing about it is the fact that it supports previews across multiple devices.

Analytics

As traffic continues to stream into your site, you’ll need powerful analytics to make informed business decisions.

Earlier this year, as part of upgrades to Zoey’s analytics offerings, they partnered with the masters in this craft. Glew.io came in as the primary analytics provider, with extensive data granularity.

When it comes to abandoned cart analytics, for instance, you can now view not only the abandonment rate but also the specific products left behind.

As you do so, you’ll also be interested in establishing the efficacy levels of your marketing campaigns. Consequently, Glew assesses the traffic to help you identify your customer sources, plus the ROI of each corresponding channel.

In addition to that, the analytics engine tracks your customers to generate info on their behaviors, activities, order frequencies, average order size, cumulative revenue, and more.

Glew also takes a deep dive into your inventory to assess the products and subsequently review their respective performance levels. This should give you a comprehensive insight into the best and worst performing items.

Then finally, Glew integrates with a number of third party solutions to boost your data analysis. Examples include:

  • Google Analytics- for generating traffic statistics, marketing tracking, and other details you might not find in your shop’s data.
  • ShipStation-  For merchants who process their orders outside Zoey, information like shipping cost and shipping provider can be added to help customers analyze their shipping options.
  • MailChimp: You can build customer segments based on the data in Glew, and push them to MailChimp for targeted marketing.

Integration

As you’ve probably guessed after learning about Glew, Zoey is not a lone wolf. The team behind it seemingly understand that B2B businesses come with extensively dynamic needs.

As a result, Zoey provides a library with an array of pre-built apps and integrations that connect it with various powerful software. Some of the chief categories include subscriptions, POS, marketing, inventory management, accounting, and payment processing.

In fact, there are more than 30 possible payment processing options, including Stripe, Authorize.Net, Amazon Payments, and PayPal. Then some of the notable platforms that can be integrated with Zoey include Google, Facebook, eBay, and Amazon.

Well, this barely scratches the surface of the native apps in the library.

And you know what? That’s not all. Zoey also provides an open API that can link with other non-library applications.

If you’re interested in exploring that option, you might want to start by looking into Magento 1.9 integrations. Zoey’s API compatibility with that platform pretty much allows it to link to apps within Magento’s ecosystem.

Zoey Review: Pricing

To test out Zoey, it would be advisable to leverage its 14-day free trial offer. It doesn’t even require any credit card information- simply sign up and fire up.

Beyond that, the platform comes in three plans:

Entry- $299 per month, or 10% less on annual prepay.

  • API Access
  • Standard features
  • Google Analytics Enhanced eCommerce
  • Advanced Registration/Approval
  • Basic Quick Order Form
  • Access Restrictions
  • Flexible Discount/Promo Pricing
  • Pricing by Customer Group
  • Payment/Shipping by Customer Group
  • Tiered Pricing
  • Email Ticket Support
  • 25,000 SKUs
  • 5 Customer Groups
  • 2 Staff Accounts
  • B2B and B2C on one site

 

Power- $499 per month, or 10% less on annual prepay.

  • All Entry features
  • io Analytics
  • Google Shopping Feed
  • Product Attachments
  • Advanced Custom Options
  • Multi-language SEO
  • Multi-language & Currency
  • Universal search
  • Advanced Quick Order Form
  • CMS Pages by Customer Group
  • Quantity Increment by Customer Group
  • Tiered Pricing by Customer Group
  • 50,000 SKUs
  • 10 Customer Groups
  • 5 Staff Accounts

 

Advanced- $699 per month, or 10% less on annual prepay.

  • All Power features
  • Standard features
  • Single Sign-On Compatibility
  • Staff Account Data Restrictions
  • Table Category View
  • Request a Quote
  • Priority Email Ticket Support

Who Should Consider Using Zoey?

Evidently, Zoey is not cheap at all. $299 for the base package is a bit of a stretch for startups and small businesses.

That said, this platform is not exactly targeting startups. Its advanced features would only be ideal for B2B businesses that have already established themselves elsewhere, before graduating to Zoey.

But, don’t me wrong. While it might not be the go-to platform for startups, it can comfortably serve advanced small businesses that afford to pay at least $299 each month. Plus, of course, their mid-sized B2B counterparts.

 

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How to sell with BigCommerce in the UK https://ecommerce-platforms.com/articles/bigcommerce-uk https://ecommerce-platforms.com/articles/bigcommerce-uk#respond Mon, 15 Oct 2018 08:00:12 +0000 https://ecommerce-platforms.com/?p=18897 2018 has been a very big year for BigCommerce in the UK. After a successful round of growth funding, which saw the company raise $64 million, BigCommerce decided their next expansion would be into the UK. It is the first time…

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2018 has been a very big year for BigCommerce in the UK. After a successful round of growth funding, which saw the company raise $64 million, BigCommerce decided their next expansion would be into the UK.

It is the first time that BigCommerce has expanded into Europe, after opening offices in the US and Australia. Brent Bellm, CEO for BigCommerce commented that “Establishing a presence in Europe has long been an aspiration of ours, and this London office will allow us to deliver more tailored programs and service to our customers and partners across Europe.”

Some of BigCommerce's largest customers are UK based including Kier Limited, AwesomeGTI and Trust Ford. With the new 20 employees being housed in their London office, including support staff, now is a great time to start considering BigCommerce if you are a UK retailer.

Initial Setup with BigCommerce UK

As BigCommerce becomes more of a presence within the UK there are some retailers who may feel that switching from Shopify to BigCommerce might an option for them. Whereas some UK retailers felt that the support options weren't great for BigCommerce in the past, this looks likely to change.

BigCommerce labels themselves as a solution for “fast-growing businesses” and offer a better rate on their Enterprise packages than their main competitors Shopify and BigCommerce.

With this in mind, when you initially set up your store you are greeted with a banner to transfer your Shopify catalog. BigCommerce has identified that UK retailers may be doing this and have very clearly placed this in full view on the home screen of your store.

There are still improvements that I feel BigCommerce could and probably will make for UK retailers. You are met with a couple of quick actions when setting up your store, one of them includes setting up your shipping.

As you can see from the screenshot these are set up in dollars. Therefore it's best to select the advanced shipping options button and configure the details yourself.

Even the emails you start getting through from BigCommerce once you sign up aren't tailored for a UK audience.

email marketing from BigCommerce

As a BigCommerce UK Retailer, you have all the shipping options offered to you that a US webstore would have, such as flat rate shipping, shipping by weight and store collection.

Also, you can add a shipping zone if you want to ship to a different country. The United Kingdom is automatically setup as the default option.

Despite issues such as shipping showing in dollars, when you preview your webstore all values are listed in pounds.

BigCommerce has been very proactive in removing a lot of admin tasks based on your location. When you enter date and timezone settings you can see that this information is already populated and will appear in the correct format on your website.

However, if you are a UK retailer and you do more of your business in North America then you may want to change the settings here.

Read our Ultimate BigCommerce Review.

Partners

What is great for BigCommerce UK retailers is that you can very quickly find partners to collaborate with in the BigCommerce partner directory.

There are currently 33 BigCommerce partners available within the UK. This may not sound like a lot, but when you consider that there is 44 in the whole of Europe it shows how fast BigCommerce is growing in the UK.

You can also identify which partners are the most reputable. Alongside a rating system is also a tiered system to showcase the best partners in each area. As you can see from below 5874 have both a certified and Elite logo next to them, so what does that mean? According to BigCommerce…

Certified partner tier identifies category-leading solutions that have a proven ability to drive high-volume sales through the platform.

Whereas for Elite…

Elite bring differentiated vertical solutions that extend core platform functionality for BigCommerce merchants.

As you can see from the screenshot above you can see the location of the company. By simply clicking ‘learn more' you can see a bit information about the company such as their services, previous work, clients, verticals, video content as well as a more specific location.

On the search screen you can break down partners via the following categories:

  • Expertise – Designer, Web Development, Marketing
  • Budget – Again this is in dollars, but use the current exchange rate to convert it back
  • Partner Tier – Elite, Preferred
  • Services offered – Social media, training, branding
  • Verticals – Fashion, Media, B2B

Verticals are particularly helpful as you can instantly find partners who have dealt with very similar businesses to yours in the past.

Free Trial

BigCommerce offers a 15 day free trial which is one day better than it's competitor Shopify. Additionally, no credit card is required so you can't get roped into a contract that you didn't sign up to.

You can sign up for a paid plan at any point just by selecting the ‘Select a Plan' option in the top right-hand corner. BigCommerce also tells you how many days of your trial remain in this area.

select a plan with BigCommerce UK

Pricing

Frustratingly for BigCommerce UK retailers, all the pricing is only available in US Dollars and there isn't an option to change this.

With the current exchange rate this is how the pricing will convert into UK pounds:

  • Standard – £22.92 per month
  • Plus – £61.19 per month
  • Pro – £191.30
  • Enterprise – contact BigCommerce's UK helpline on 0808 189 3323

You also have the option to save 10% on the Plus and Pro packages if you decide to pay upfront for the year. Also if you are planning to use the Enterprise package then BigCommerce promise that they will be cheaper than both Magento and Shopify Plus.

bigcommerce UK pricing

Again, which is another thing that BigCommerce could improve on for UK retailers is to promote the UK contact information when you are redirected to selecting a plan. As you can see below they use the contact information for the USA.

enterprise package for BigCommerce UK

Read our Ultimate BigCommerce Review.

Setting up Royal Mail

A fantastic benefit for BigCommerce UK retailers is that they support Royal Mail.

Royal Mail delivers 6 days a week, with a flat rate to almost 30 million address across the UK. You can also provide real-time shipping quotes within your BigCommerce account.

To enable Royal Mail simply follow these instructions:

  1. Head to Store Setup > Shipping
  2. Click Edit next to the United Kingdom shipping zone
    UK shipping option in BigCommerce
  3. Select Real time shipping quotes and click Connect when you see Royal Mail
    royal mail option in BigCommerce
  4. From here you are shown all the delivery options available to you which you can select fromspecial delivery royal mail options in BigCommerce

Payment Gateway Options

If you weren't already aware a payment gateway is a service offered by a merchant to ecommerce companies so that they can authorise and process credit and debit card payments.

Here is a list below of all the payment gateways that are offered to Bigcommerce UK retailers.

bigcommerce UK payment options

In regards to the ‘popular' options, it's very reassuring that Amazon Pay, Paypal, Square and Stripe are available in the UK. However it is worth noting that BigCommerce doesn't yet support Worldpay for UK retailers and Paypal needs to be set up manually, whereas it's done so automatically for the US.

When users are in the checkout process of your website it is worth being aware that Zip Code appears (as well as Post Code). If you want to remove this and also have the United Kingdom selected as default then this will require some development work.

Customer Support

If you are looking to contact sales in order to get set up as a BigCommerce UK retailer then be aware that they are available from 9 am to 5 pm CST. There is a 6-hour difference between CST and GMT so this means you can contact them between 3 pm and 11 pm.

bigcommerce sales

A great benefit for UK users is that support via chat, community, phone and email is available 24/7. You can even make use of this great support option on the lowest Standard package as well.

Coming Soon to BigCommerce UK

UK retailers can take advantage of a whole host of features that BigCommerchasve to offer. However, there are a few notable exceptions that are only available to US customers that you might want to make note of before making a decision on your payment plan.

Amazon and eBay integration

On BigCommerce's site, they have an ‘ideas' section where users can share ideas and collaborate with partners on product enhancements. A voting system is used to see which ideas are the most popular and then a decision from there.

A quick search for United Kingdom related ideas shows that there is currently no option with BigCommerce to pull in orders from Amazon and eBay, which is available to US customers.

This feature would allow viewing all your orders from BigCommerce, Amazon and eBay in one place. To avoid you logging in to different systems and to also better control your stock.

amazon uk for BigCommerce UK

Both of these are listed as ‘future' on BigCommerce and both have been present on the page for over a year. A quick look at the Amazon feature and there's a comment from Marissa at BigCommerce who believes they  “don't expect this to be delivered within the year”, which also goes for eBay.

In order to combat this, you can look at using a third-party inventory management software solution. If you use this you can also get the benefit of integrating your accounts and a physical store, if you have one.

For a full list of integrations visit BigCommerce's section on multichannel listings.

Northern Ireland exclusion

One other to note as well is that Northern Ireland isn't excluded by default from the United Kingdom. If you only deliver to mainland UK then it's worth bearing in mind. There is an idea to exclude Northern Ireland but this hasn't been put in to place yet.

If your shipping is a flat rate it's worth bearing in mind as shipping to Northern Ireland is a lot more expensive than mainland UK and you could find yourself out of pocket.

Conclusion

It's an exciting time for BigCommerce in the UK and now is the time to get on board. In my opinion, BigCommerce has still got a little way to go to making UK retailers feel more welcome. This can be done by using the UK support number more often, updating their marketing collateral and having the UK based support tickets and ideas answered more promptly.

With the new office opening in London and the $64 million investment recently, BigCommerce can only go from strength to strength.

Are you in the UK? Have you used BigCommerce before, or looking to get started up with them? Give us a message in the comments below with any questions you might have.

For more information on BigCommerce, read our Ultimate BigCommerce Review.

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The Ultimate AmeriCommerce Ecommerce Review 2018 https://ecommerce-platforms.com/ecommerce-reviews/the-ultimate-americommerce-ecommerce-review https://ecommerce-platforms.com/ecommerce-reviews/the-ultimate-americommerce-ecommerce-review#comments Fri, 12 Oct 2018 08:00:09 +0000 http://ecommerce-platforms.com/?p=338 What’s the best ecommerce platform for your store? With such a wide array of choices, picking the right ecommerce solution for your business is not an easy task. Different platforms have different pros and cons, and the right one for…

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What’s the best ecommerce platform for your store?

With such a wide array of choices, picking the right ecommerce solution for your business is not an easy task.

Different platforms have different pros and cons, and the right one for you could be lurking in the shadows.

For most merchants, the top contenders in our comparison chart are the way to go.

But each business has its needs, and the mainstream options are not the way to go for certain companies. Instead, an out of the box solution with unique features is what they require.

That’s when AmeriCommerce steps in.

Get ready – You’re about to learn what makes AmeriCommerce a viable choice, and for which types of stores.

Could it be the right pick for your business?

AmeriCommerce Review: Features

Let’s start off at the top with what’s considered the main feature of AmeriCommerce.

Keeping it simple, it lets you manage multiple stores from the same admin panel. Merchants who’re looking to simplify their lives a tad seek AmeriCommerce for that reason. Having a single login allows you to look at the catalog, orders, reports, and customer data of all stores within the same place, and that lets you forget about the hassle of having to deal with multiple account logins.

This feature is the best weapon AmeriCommerce has against its competitors. Its multi-store operations are what truly differentiate it from the other ecommerce platforms.

And well…

AmeriCommerce might be lacking in certain areas, but it’s got many things that make it the preferred platform for some.

Other than multi-store operations, a couple more features are worth mentioning.

First of all, it lets you expand your store to other platforms like facebook, twitter, blogs, Amazon, eBay, and pretty much anywhere else. Your products can be sold through any website by copy-pasting code snippets created with one of its many tools.

Expanding your store to other platforms lets your business reach customers that lie in other marketplaces. Fortunately – AmeriCommerce’s got you covered on this one.

Another highlight of AmeriCommerce is that you can decide how simple or robust you want the dashboard to be.

For merchants looking for more advanced features and customizability, AmeriCommerce offers the option to enable ‘power features.’ This is a set of additional options that can be a bit overwhelming for newcomers, which is why users have to click the “power features” checkbox before activating them.

Isn’t that nice? You get to make the configurations as complex as you need them to be.

AmeriCommerce Review: Ease of use

The current dashboard is easy to use and navigate, but it wasn’t always this way.

In 2013, AmeriCommerce went through a revamp that made it much easier to use. Before this update, navigating through the platform used to be much harder and confusing.

The dashboard wasn't intuitive enough for those who weren't tech-savvy, and you couldn’t even access it from a mobile device.

Many customers reported how hard it was to use, and AmeriCommerce had a bad reputation for its admin area. The company knew this, and they responded with the update mentioned.

Now, the graphics are up to date and managing your store is much more comfortable.

When you go to the dashboard for the first time, you’re met with a clean, minimalist looking design. The menu at the left holds different categories that make the management of your ecommerce store neat and straightforward.

It shouldn’t take the average user too long to get used to the interface. Within a few days of using the platform, you’ll feel comfortable with the buttons and options.

The company has done a great job at making the platform appealing to new users. Not only with the design but with the setup process as well.

To make the setup easy a setup wizard guides you through the steps you need to take to configure your store. You just have to follow the instructions laid out for you and, in no time, you’ll have your products in place.

If you need to, you can visit its knowledge base. They’ve got many tutorials and guidelines about the interface and other aspects of the platform for users who need some extra instructions.

AmeriCommerce Review: Pricing

In terms of pricing, there are five different tiers offered by the company.

The lowest tier, steel, costs $24.95 per month. This entry-level plan allows users to add up to 100 products, which isn’t much comparing it to other ecommerce platforms’ cheapest plans.

The highest tier, platinum, costs $299 per month. It supports unlimited products – something that doesn’t happen until this tier level – and up to 50 GB of traffic.

AmmeriCommerce also scopes bigger plans for larger stores. The platinum tier simply falls too short for many big enterprises that require large amounts of bandwidth and storage capacity.

However, that’s not a concern for most of its users – small to medium sized retailers.

And speaking about the pricing of AmeriCommerce’s hallmark:

Their big boy, the multi-store feature, has a price of $39/ month for each additional store you add. If you’re picking AmeriCommerce over the other ecommerce platforms, it’s probably because this specific feature caught your eye.

Extra bandwidth costs between $3 to $8/GB/month depending on your tier. If you think your store will overdo the bandwidth usage for that month, but you don’t want to upgrade your current plan, you can pre-purchase additional bandwidth.

AmeriCommerce Review: Templates and Design

One of AmeriCommerce’s weakest points is its theme options.

First of all, its template pool lacks variety and sheer volume. It has around 80 themes, which seems like a decent amount of alternatives at first glance.

But don’t be fooled by that number. A considerable portion of its designs looks outdated and old-fashioned.

A good visual impression on is one of the most critical aspects of running a successful ecommerce store. Customers care about looks, and the appearance of your website directly affects sales and revenue.

But don’t let me scare you too much. I’m not saying that your website’s looks will be doomed if you choose AmeriCommerce. You can still have an excellent looking website that’s appealing to your visitors.

Their newest themes, although not great in quantity, have up to date looks that meet the current design standards.

With their mobile-optimized templates, you can design a storefront that’s responsive and appealing to customers visiting you with their phone or tablet.

And, to make customization easy, they’ve got a “live design” editor that allows you to tweak your website intuitively with a drag and drop interface.

If you want to take the customization of your website up a notch, AmmeriCommerce lets you access the HTML and CSS files directly. Being able to play with the code allows you to gain full control. And that means its small template pool does not limit you.

AmeriCommerce Review: SEO & Marketing

Marketing wise, you’ll get most of the tools required to promote your brand.

Whether you're looking to promote your store with content marketing or social media marketing, AmeriCommerce’s got your back.

The software allows you to implement a blog so that you can build your brand and increase organic traffic.

And to lend a hand with SEO, It has various tools to help your site rank well in search engines.

It even has email marketing add-ons that let you send newsletters and automated messages to your email list.

AmeriCommerce Review: Security

In terms of credit card security, they’re PCI certified. So they meet a set of security standards that ensure the safety of your business’s transactions.

To keep those pesky hackers at bay, they include protection against DDOS attacks and enterprise-level firewalls. These security measures come at no additional cost.

And, to make sure employees don’t screw up, it lets you create accounts with limited permissions. You know, just in case some rebel screws around with the wrong parts of your business.

AmeriCommerce Review: Customer Support

One of the drawbacks of AmeriCommerce’s support is its limited availability during the day. Their limited support hours – 8 AM to 6 PM CST – can be quite bothersome, especially for people living far from the US.

To speak with a support member, you can use either phone, email, or live chat.

To help users with common issues, AmmeriCommerce has resources like guides, ebooks, and a knowledge center. They’ve also got quite a few video tutorials that you can find on their youtube channel.

AmeriCommerce Review: Conclusion

AmeriCommerce might not be as powerful as some of its competitors, but it’s solid enough to be the right pick in certain conditions.

Businesses that greatly benefit from the ability to manage multiple stores find AmeriCommerce to be a very appealing choice. And for some companies, the multi-store feature isn’t just useful and convenient, It’s crucial.

But if your business doesn’t benefit from this specific feature, AmeriCommerce might not be the best alternative.

Shopify, BigCommerce, and many other platforms offer a better overall experience without many drawbacks.

You see, AmeriCommerce doesn’t have that many negatives. But it’s got a few weak areas – like the poor template list and the limited support hours – that are worth considering.

Will these weak spots break your business? Probably not.

But there are other options worth considering if you don’t specifically benefit from their multi-store functionality.

What’s your take on AmeriCommerce? Let us know in the comments down below.

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Do Ecommerce Marketplaces Have Tax Problems? https://ecommerce-platforms.com/articles/ecommerce-marketplaces-tax-problem https://ecommerce-platforms.com/articles/ecommerce-marketplaces-tax-problem#respond Wed, 10 Oct 2018 09:26:56 +0000 http://ecommerce-platforms.com/?p=10312 For a long time, ecommerce marketplaces have had issues regarding tax collection. Countless merchants from all around the world have been able to sell their products online without paying sale taxes. Amazon, the biggest ecommerce marketplace, is an excellent example…

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For a long time, ecommerce marketplaces have had issues regarding tax collection. Countless merchants from all around the world have been able to sell their products online without paying sale taxes.

Amazon, the biggest ecommerce marketplace, is an excellent example of what I’m talking about.

The company works with hundreds of thousands of third-party sellers from all around the world to sell products in its gigantic marketplace.

These third-party merchants are such a big part of Amazon that in 2017, they constituted more than 50% of the retailer’s paid units, generating billions of dollars every month.

And yet, most of them don’t pay taxes.

Regulating and enforcing tax payment from thousands of third-party merchants is not an easy task. And since the ecommerce world is a relatively new thing, previous laws haven’t been able to keep things under control.

However, the economic impact of online retailers is growing by the day. And thus legislative forces have fewer reasons to disregard the issue.

In 2017, the global share of ecommerce retail sales hit 10.7%. And by 2021, Statista estimates it’ll grow up to 17.5%.

source: Shopify with data from Statista

It’s no surprise that the political relevance of the topic has noticeably increased in the past few years.

Truckloads of money would go to governments if these taxes were paid,

hence why many states have resorted to the enactment of new tax laws in recent years.

Are you an online merchant?

Staying up to date and making sure you do taxes right is your responsibility. Not doing so properly means you might have to face legal consequences that have broken many businesses.

In this post, I’ll tell you what you, and every other ecommerce merchant, should know about this topic.

Let’s dive right in!

Amazon’s tax fight

When speaking about ecommerce tax problems, Amazon is one of the first things that come to mind. It’s common knowledge amongst people involved in the ecommerce industry that Amazon has skirted taxes for quite a long time.

And we’re not talking about a few dollars. We’re talking about billions. Amazon’s sheer size is no joke, and the amount of tax revenue it can generate for governments is considerably high.

After all, Amazon’s share of the ecommerce market in the US is nearly 50%.

Think about that.

Amazon alone takes almost as much as every other ecommerce marketplace combined.

The impact of this business is so powerful that states have taken legislative action just because of it, creating tax laws commonly referred to as “Amazon” laws.

All because the gigantic store found a way to pay fewer taxes.

States can’t force retailers to collect sale taxes if the retailer doesn’t have nexus in that state. (having nexus means having a physical presence in that state) And since Amazon is an online retailer, it doesn’t need to have a physical presence to sell its products.

Which means that legally speaking, Amazon couldn’t be forced to collect taxes in most of the country.

Instead, customers were supposed to pay an equivalent “use” tax. But states have always had difficulties collecting use taxes.

And many states obviously didn’t like that, so some responded by creating the “Amazon” laws I just mentioned.

Thanks to these new laws, state agreements, and the establishment of new Amazon facilities, the company now collects taxes on the majority of the US.

As of January 2014, the company collected taxes on only 17 states. Now, they do so nationwide with the exception of a few places.

source: ilsr.com

Unfortunately, that’s not where the tax problem ends.

Even though Amazon collects taxes for its own products, it takes no responsibility for what it's third-party merchants do.

This poses a new set of problems that states have to deal with.

Most third-party merchants aren’t paying the taxes they’re due. Not only because it’s bothersome, complicated, and negatively affects sales, but because many sellers aren’t even aware of their tax liabilities.

Collecting taxes from hundreds of thousands of sellers is nearly impossible, and as I said before, the use tax alternative isn’t effective as well.

This leaves states with one clear choice:

Make Amazon responsible for the sale taxes of all of its merchants.

The price difference that Amazon offers thanks to tax skirting is enough for customers to pick it over other brick-and-mortar retailers like Walmart.

Amazon executives know this, and they’re willing to do what they can to prevent these laws from taking place.

The fight is on.

On one side of the ring, we’ve got Amazon, its third-party merchants, and other ecommerce stores doing the same tricks.

On the other side, governmental entities and brick-and-mortar retailers.

For now, third-party sellers and customers are responsible for tax collection in most of the country. But in the next few years, we might see the conditions turning around and retailers becoming responsible.

So far, only Washington, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma require Amazon to collect third-party merchant’s taxes. But we’ll probably see more states doing the same in the next few years.

If Amazon is to lose the fight, it will surely make it’s best to prolong it as much as it can. So that it can, at least, benefit from its current condition for longer.

A message for ecommerce merchants

What all of this means for you as a merchant is that you should be informed about the tax policies that apply to your case.

Since laws vary from state to state and from country to country, your responsibilities can be unexpected.

It can’t be pleasant to have a lawyer coming at you for things you weren’t even aware of. And you can prevent that now by knowing about your fiscal burdens.

Are you prepared?

Do you know whether it’s you, the customer, or the retailer the one who’s responsible for collecting taxes?

Getting a tax attorney can help you figure this out along with all of the other questions you might have. And, you’ll make sure that an expert is helping you and you won’t make any mistakes.

Mistakes that can be expensive enough to break your business.

What do you think? Should third-party sellers have tax liabilities?

Let us know in the comments down below.

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W3bstore Review: Ecommerce Platform For Omnichannel Stores https://ecommerce-platforms.com/ecommerce-reviews/w3bstore-review https://ecommerce-platforms.com/ecommerce-reviews/w3bstore-review#respond Mon, 08 Oct 2018 08:00:04 +0000 https://ecommerce-platforms.com/?p=17907 This W3bstore review assesses not only its omnichannel capabilities but also other it’s ecommerce features that would be critical to online stores. It does not access it’s POS (point of sale) or multi-store back office. All three are required for…

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This W3bstore review assesses not only its omnichannel capabilities but also other it’s ecommerce features that would be critical to online stores. It does not access it’s POS (point of sale) or multi-store back office. All three are required for omnichannel retail where orders, inventory and fulfillment must be managed across multiple channels and locations.

Imagine this…

You’re surfing for a specific product on your PC. Then you end up in an ecommerce site that happens to operate a parallel local store or stores.

From your end, you’re able to see the product’s availability not only at their shipping warehouse but also at the local store. Plus, you can choose whether you’d like to pick it up in-store or have it delivered to your exact location.

Delivery sounds good, but it turns out the merchant has a local store is positioned midway between your workplace and home. So, to expedite things, you decide to pick it up in-store as you head home.

Now, have you noticed anything out of the ordinary yet? You chose the fulfillment method AND location.

That right there is a relatively new concept we like to call omnicommerce. And that’s how I came across W3bstore.

Want to see how it works?

W3bstore Review: Overview

I guess you’ve already seen numerous offline-based businesses establishing separate versions of their stores on the web. Or alternatively, the vice-versa- online-based enterprises finally setting up local stores.

Well, both are considered good strategies for increasing sales. But, it can be better. Much better.

You see, the problem here is that whole “separate” notion.

But, don’t get me wrong. Of course, stores in both frameworks will always be physically detached. Nonetheless, instead of operating as two distinct elements, they can be synced in real time to run as a single, integrated unit.
Or can they?

Synchronizations occur when two (or more) disparate systems share data, usually on a pre-set schedule. In between these events, these systems are not in sync. Murphy knows that’s exactly when your online customer orders an item that just walked out the door. The only way to avoid this is if both your online and retail store operates on the same inventory records. In other words, your online store and POS are the same system accessing one set of records,  NOT multiple synchronized records.

The other issue is data reconciliation when things do get out of sync, if only for a few minutes. After all, there’s a lot of moving parts between disparate services, like networks, servers, software and humans. Check the user forums. This happens more often than you ’d think. Imagine discovering that your monthly sales reports don’t match your inventory. Backtracking through the last month (or longer) is not fun when you have no idea what was missed and when.

And what happens when you have two or more retail stores? Your shopping cart must now direct orders to the customer selected store and possibly stage the order for pickup in the next thirty minutes. When was the last time you saw an eCommerce platform offer a choice of inventory locations? Offering customers the choice of shopping location, also means your back office must now handle complex orders. Imagine ordering a drill for pickup and the out of stock drill bits from a remote warehouse. Even if you didn’t lose the sale, how would you process the order for pick, pack, ship AND in-store pick-up. Are you starting to see the difference between ecommerce and omnicommerce?

You can’t merge a sports car and a semi-truck to create an SUV any more than you can merge eCommerce and retail to create omnicommerce! This is why W3bstore created a new platform from scratch, architected for this new way of serving customers. Retail and eCommerce are not platforms, but rather sales channels for one platform that operates on one real-time copy of data for orders, inventory, and fulfillment. Every store is simply a new sales channel.

This essentially means that a shopper’s interaction with a business whether in-store, via its main site, on a mobile version of the site or even social media is consistent, regardless of channel or store location.

According to a recent survey, large enterprises that have adopted this omnichannel framework continue to attain annual customer retention rates that are 91% higher than their counterparts who don’t.

And you know what? Omnichannel customers have 30% greater lifetime value than other types of shoppers.

And that’s why the team at W3bstore decided to build this platform in 2011. Instead of taking the standard route syncing platforms they created a native omnicommerce platform for a trend that has been increasingly taking shape in the online business world.

Back then, only a handful of business owners understood the whole omnicommerce idea. It later grew to become a buzzword and has since developed exponentially across all industries. Currently, only 55% of enterprises run without any cross-channel strategy.

But small and medium-sized merchants are being left out due to the cost and complexity of deploying omnicommerce. W3bstore levels the playing field by simplifying omnicommerce and bringing costs down where even cash-strapped startups can participate.  Only businesses leveraging effective omnichannel tools are able to achieve good results. Their counterparts running on weak systems can only manage a 33% average customer retention rate.

My point?

Well, if you intend to do it, at least plan to do it right. And it all depends on the capabilities of your foundational ecommerce platform.

W3bstore comes as a cloud-hosted service for streamlining in-store and online retailing across multiple brands or stores. It markets itself as a system that essentially provides a unified, real-time view of orders, stock, and fulfillment across online, retail stores and warehouses.

Sounds interesting. But, how good is it at that?

That’s something we’ll establish as we proceed. This W3bstore review assesses not only its eCommerce capabilities but also briefly describes it’s omnichannel POS that would be critical to retailers.

So, let’s get to it.

W3bstore Review: Features

Designing Your Ecommerce Store

First things first. You’ll need a well-optimized online store if you intend to engage omnicommerce. Thankfully, W3bstore comes in handy with an array of web-design functionalities.

Among them is a theme editor that can work on page elements like links, backgrounds, text, images, logos without extra coding. Even a complete novice in programming can comfortably use it to design web pages.

And speaking of images, W3bstore has stocked quite a solid collection of thousands of images in its gallery. However, if none tickles your fancy, you can still upload custom ones from your PC or mobile device.

Now, when it comes to secondary devices, you’ll notice that W3bstore is optimized for mobile right from the design stage. Your store’s pages will adapt to any mobile device, and still manage to respond accordingly to offer a smooth shopping experience.

This feature alone is particularly critical to the omnichannel strategy, considering current mobile usage trends among consumers. In the U.S, for instance, 98% of them switch between devices on a regular basis.

To further boost your sales, W3bstore automatically generates relevant in-store product details on your web pages. This should be extremely useful to about half of online shoppers, who, in general, look forward to buying online then subsequently pick up their products in-store.

Managing and Selling Products

Then comes the most fundamental stage- managing and selling products.

As one of the principal challenges of omnicommerce, inventory tracking and management is one thing I was exceptionally keen about.

W3bstore, to begin with, has addressed what is, by far, the biggest complexity in multi-channel selling. To avoid those awkward cases of underselling or overselling, the software employs a real-time tracking system that keeps tabs on stocks across all retail stores, warehouses and third-party logistics providers.

But that’s not all. It goes ahead to provide information on all shippers, warehouses, suppliers, and stores on a single, centralized dashboard. And if you’re a company with lots of brands each with their own online store, well W3bstore does that too from a single dashboard!

Well, that should help you notice when you’re low on stock. On the other hand, however, let’s face it. It’s possible to overlook even some of the most obvious details from time to time. So, I was pleased to see that W3bstore supplements inventory tracking with threshold emails for notifications when the stock is a bit on the lower side.

Now, moving onto the selling process, you’ll notice that W3bstore comes with a considerably rich array of product categories. You can even offer personalized items by capitalizing on your store’s virtually unlimited product options,  variants. accessories and subcategory nesting levels.

And when you feel like offsetting shipping and inventory management, you can expand your store’s reach with Amazon Products. This would be a thoughtful strategy for assessing new markets without worrying about the possible risks.

Come to think of it, you bet customers would love such a huge selection of products. Unfortunately, that’s barely enough to effectively drive sales.

So, W3bstore also throws in customer engagement features to optimize the conversion process. You can take advantage of cart abandonment reminders, flash sales, wish lists, and coupons to convince leads to proceed to checkout.

Now, combine that with customer reviews on products, and you have yourself a potentially effectual conversion framework.

Then get this. You can take orders from pretty much anywhere. W3bstore’s interface is flexible enough to fit into any web-connected PC or mobile device. And to top it off, the payment system covers credit cards, cash, debit cards, plus invoiced payments stretching to more than 190 countries globally.

After payment comes yet another complicated stage- shipping. And W3bstore provides notable features for simplifying and streamlining the entire process, in addition to expanding your store’s potential reach.

Customers, for instance, are able to choose from numerous delivery locations, shipping times, and the corresponding costs. Consequently, they can specify how, where and when they want their products.

Marketing Your Store

Fact is, there will be no selling if prospects don’t learn about your brand or store.

So, to help you with this, W3bstore prioritizes on Search Engine Optimization, Google Product Listing Ads, social media marketing, and email marketing.

The SEO strategies are embedded deep into the system’s engine to promote not only your overall site but also the individual products. This increases exposure to potentially warm leads searching for products on Google.

You can also leverage Google Product Listing Ads to hunt for more buyers- complete with item description, image, and pricing.

Then, to go for prospects exactly where they predominantly hang out, W3bstore supports Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook integrations.
Retail POS

W3bstore also hosts the POS (Point of Sales) for each retail store. We’ll save this evaluation for another day, but W3bstore reportedly works with credit card terminals, barcode scanners and printers. Unlike mobile app based POS systems, W3bstore’s uses a web-based POS to guarantee real-time inventory.

This also means the POS can be deployed on any mobile device with a connected browser. Retail stores don’t even need a WIFI network. Any hotspot will serve as a reliable data connection. Bringing on seasonal staff? Hand them a tablet (any brand) and login credentials and they’re ready to start selling.

Even the interface should look familiar for any cashier that’s purchased online. Here’s a quick snapshot of what your cashiers will be looking at during the final stage of checkout. It’s designed to scale to any screen size and provides all the flexibility needed to operate in a retail environment. Product returns and exchanges, restocking to any store, price adjustments, digital coupons, shipping, and over-the-counter fulfillment in one order are all supported in this eCommerce-like interface.

W3bstore Review: Pricing

If you’ve checked out W3bstore, you might have noticed that its pricing information is not readily available right off the bat. The main site doesn’t even have a “Pricing” tab.

So, beginners are pretty much forced to mine the entire site for elusive details that should have been obvious right from the start.

Now, fortunately, I was able to ultimately uncover all the info after minutes of extensive research. So, here’s the blurb…

W3bstore comes in four principal subscription packages, whose prices are based on the number of channels supported, plus the corresponding functionalities.

To test them out and get the feel of the whole platform, you can take advantage of W3bstore’s 30-day free trial offer, which is essentially open to all pricing plans. And most importantly, you don’t need credit card information to get started.

That said, here is the overall pricing structure, and the corresponding plan details:

Starter Plan- $25 per month

  • Setup and Conversion Services
  • Automated Notifications
  • Fulfill Over the Counter, Delivery or Pickup
  • Secure PCI Hosting
  • Sell Amazon, Dropship or Branded Products
  • Unlimited Categories & Sub-categories
  • Unlimited Products & Options
  • Mobile Optimized Website and Shopping Cart

Standard Plan- $79 per month

  • All Starter Plan features
  • Print Online Orders Direct
  • Cross-sell Related Products
  • Accessorize Products
  • Etsy Uploads
  • eBay Uploads
  • Amazon Uploads
  • Google Shopping Uploads
  • Customer Marketing (Email & Text)
  • Customer Profiles & Wishlists
  • Customer Reviews
  • Tiered Quantity Discounts
  • Content Managed Blogs & Pages
  • One-click Coupons

Pro Plan- $129 per month

  • All Standard Plan features
  • Unlimited Role-based Users
  • Card Terminal, Scanner, Printer Integration
  • Receipt Printing & Cash Drawer Management
  • POS works on any Mobile Device
  • Real-time Reports & Detailed Transaction History
  • Multi-Destination Orders
  • Shipping Discounts & Label Printing
  • Wholesale Catalog
  • Kitting (Product Bundles)
  • Lot Based Inventory Management & COGS
  • Robust Order Management

Enterprise Plan- $99 per month for each store location

  • All Pro Plan features
  • Multi-state Nexus Tax Automation
  • Re-stocks and Transfers to any Store or Warehouse
  • Multi-Location Inventory Management
  • Multi-Brand Marketplace Management
  • Multi-Source Selling & Fulfillment

Who Should You Consider Using W3bstore?

To recap, here are W3bstore’s principal capabilities:

  • Complete Order management across all stores and warehouses for online and in-store channels
  • Real-time inventory management across all locations, accessible via online and in-store channels
  • Robust fulfillment model including all major carriers and pick-up from any store location
  • Web-based POS deploys on any device in seconds
  • Unlimited blogs and custom pages
  • Every brand, warehouse, and store location managed from a single dashboard console
  • Role-based user management including custom role assignment
  • Simple to build and manage with 24×7 technical support
  • Custom design, setup and product import services
  • Robust selling features include customer profiles and reviews, customer re-marketing, related products, product bundles, coupons, and tiered discounts.
  • Free setup and/or hosting for qualified merchants
  • Supports Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook integrations.
  • Prioritizes on Search Engine Optimization, Google Product Listing Ads, social media marketing, and email marketing.
  • Payment system covers credit cards, cash, debit cards, plus invoiced payments stretching to more than 190 countries globally.
  • You can take advantage of cart abandonment reminders, flash sales, wish lists, and coupons to convince leads to proceed to checkout.
  • Customers, for instance, are able to choose from numerous delivery locations, shipping times, and the corresponding costs.

While W3bstore is evidently well-optimized for omnichannel selling, it fails to provide the same scale of functionalities on other ecommerce components.

Take marketing, for instance. The platform comes with basic marketing capabilities that can only be ideal for startups and retailers. Advanced marketing for eCommerce, on the other hand, requires specialized tools, which are not yet available on W3bstore.

All in all, W3bstore is a pretty decent platform for individuals, startups, and retailers running multiple sales channels across one or more physical locations.

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Must-follow Best Practices for Content Collaboration in Ecommerce https://ecommerce-platforms.com/articles/content-collaboration-ecommerce https://ecommerce-platforms.com/articles/content-collaboration-ecommerce#respond Tue, 02 Oct 2018 07:00:50 +0000 https://ecommerce-platforms.com/?p=18354 Your ecommerce store requires a wide range of tasks and people to complete the tasks. As your online store grows, you start to realize the need for marketing people, customer support reps, and designers. Dozens of other responsibilities are required, some…

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Your ecommerce store requires a wide range of tasks and people to complete the tasks. As your online store grows, you start to realize the need for marketing people, customer support reps, and designers. Dozens of other responsibilities are required, some of which might be filled by you, freelancers, or full-time employees. Regardless of your setup, content collaboration is key to a successful workflow.

Take product descriptions, for example. These are essential parts of your sales process, providing information, images, and storytelling tactics to show customers how your products can solve problems in their everyday lives. Well, a product description requires quite a few elements, from creative writing to graphics, and videos to the actual specifications of the item.

These elements come from different sources such as designers, writers, manufacturers, and marketers. As you link those pieces together and send feedback, it becomes difficult to collaborate and keep the conversation flowing through something like a long email thread.

Therefore, the productivity and effectiveness of your content creation process rely on a few factors. That's why we want to outline some of the must-follow best practices for content collaboration in ecommerce.

Find a Powerful Content Collaboration Tool

As most ecommerce professionals quickly realize, email is no place for team collaboration. It's nice for some coordination and receiving communications from outside sources, but when it comes to internal dialogue, email becomes far too cluttered and tedious. The same can be said for the many other communication methods. This includes texting and calling, and even having meetings where people are more likely to forget what was talked about and there's no way to save and talk about files such as images and videos.

This is where a content collaboration tool comes into play. There are several excellent content collaboration tools on the market, many of which allow you to get on the same page with other workers and establish a solid workflow for certain projects.

For instance, you might be compiling ideas and media for an upcoming blog post. In order to do this, your collaboration tool should provide options for establishing a timeline and outline. You also want options for uploading media such as GIFs and videos.

After that, the collaboration tool lets everyone in your project group access and edit the items in question. You'll also want the ability to send feedback and talk about the next steps needed to get that blog post written, edited, and published.

Figure Out What Your Customers Want

Once you have a collaboration software, it's time to hammer down what your customers are like and what they are looking for in terms of content. This is slightly different from your customer profile for sales, but you're still considering things like demographics, personal lifestyles, and purchasing tendencies. However, you now need to establish how these traits relate to content like YouTube videos, product descriptions, and blog posts.

It all starts by creating broad descriptions of your ideal buyers. You might already have this for your sales side of the operation, but now it's time to relate these descriptions to your content. How do these customers find their information online? Is it through blog posts, YouTube, or Instagram?

What are your customer's goals before and after purchasing one of your products, and is there information you can share with them that might either help them making the purchasing decision or while using the product?

Establish Several Content Types for Variety

It's easy to decide on one content type and stick to it. For instance, making a blog with mainly text-based articles is a go-to in the ecommerce world. However, you're missing out on potential customers by not expanding your reach. Not only that, but you're removing the necessary step of testing your content options.

Therefore, we suggest choosing three to four content types that you would post on your blog, social media accounts, email newsletters, and website. This way, you can understand which ones work well and potentially stick with all of them if they seem to resonate with users.

Some of the types of content that boost sales include:

  • Infographics
  • Memes
  • Videos
  • Guides
  • Reviews
  • Lists
  • Interviews
  • Case studies
  • Podcasts

Outline Your Projects Before Diving In

A quality blog post could be the result of a writer starting with nothing and coming up with ideas on the fly. But you're not guaranteeing success.

A better route is to include suggestions from your entire team, compiling an outline through the content collaboration software.

Outlines like this may only take you ten minutes to complete, and they are bound to improve the quality of your posts.

After that, the outline serves as the basis for the actual content being shared, from source links to images, and videos to infographics–all of which can be uploaded to your collaboration software.

Make Sure There's a Valuable Process for Feedback

Collaboration is nothing without feedback, so it's important to ensure that each piece of content you create for your online store goes through its respective feedback process. The key is to keep this feedback in the same place as your outline and content collection. This way, someone can take a look at a line of text, or an image, and immediately see what needs to be changed or what someone else isn't fond of.

Assign a Person or Group to Work on SEO

This is another area where your content collaboration software comes into play. You must have a person in your organization who takes the finished content and optimizes it for search engines. Yes, writers should also incorporate keywords into articles, but there is more work to be done, regardless of the medium.

YouTube allows for keywords in titles and descriptions. You can include hashtags in social media posts for better discovery. You'll especially want your product descriptions and blog posts to get the green light in terms of keywords, readability, and more.

Are You Ready to Improve Your Ecommerce Content Collaboration?

The first step is to find that perfect content collaboration tool. After that, you're able to create a better environment for outlining, planning, sharing, and giving feedback.

If you have any questions about improving your ecommerce content collaboration, let us know in the comments section below.

This is a sponsored post for Dropbox. All opinions are my own.

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Shopify Goes Multilingual: What To Expect and How it Helps Your Store https://ecommerce-platforms.com/articles/shopify-goes-multilingual https://ecommerce-platforms.com/articles/shopify-goes-multilingual#respond Mon, 01 Oct 2018 08:00:09 +0000 https://ecommerce-platforms.com/?p=18367 One of the easiest ways to expand your store's reach around the globe is by incorporating a multilingual interface. This means that a website that's usually shown in, say, English, could be instantly translated to German, Italian, or whatever language…

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One of the easiest ways to expand your store's reach around the globe is by incorporating a multilingual interface. This means that a website that's usually shown in, say, English, could be instantly translated to German, Italian, or whatever language the current user wants.
In addition, multilingual websites often have options for accepting multiple currencies at checkout. In the past, one of the primary downsides (there aren't many) of Shopify was the fact that it didn't offer many multilingual tools at all. However, Shopify has recently gone multilingual, so it's time to celebrate and talk about what this means for your business.

What it Was Like Before

Prior to Shopify going multilingual, you would have to either consider a completely different platform, or you would have to find a Shopify developer who would be willing to custom code some multilingual tools into your website.

And if you've ever asked a programmer to work with language functionality, it doesn't always go that well–or it's extremely expensive.

In terms of web design, the current options for getting a multilingual, and multicurrency, website is to hire a custom developer or to find a template that offers this type of functionality built-in. For instance, you can locate several WordPress themes with multilingual tools–although not all of them are that reliable.

Your best bet is to go with an ecommerce platform that has the multilingual and multicurrency features built into the system. This way, you don't have to worry much about it and you know that the features have been tested and rolled out to thousands of other users.

The Big Change

That was what multilingual functionality was before. But now, that's all changed.

In mid-2018, Shopify announced that it has developed and implemented a multilanguage and multicurrency system inside of the platform. The primary release is expected during the Fall of 2018, but testing and implementation have already begun.

In fact, many current Shopify users already have the multilingual features through the beta access.

What Are The Main Multilanguage Features?

The main thing to look forward to is the multilingual tool in the Shopify admin section. With this, you're able to activate the feature so that customers can automatically translate your content to their own language. From the sounds of it, Shopify only expects to roll out a select number of languages at the time being, but we're sure this number will increase into the future.

In addition, you can set your store to accept a wider range of currencies. In this situation, your store might typically accept credit cards but only provide transactions to go through if the customer is paying with US Dollars. Now, a customer from, say, Germany, comes to your website and may be able to checkout with the Euro.

Similar to the languages, currencies in Shopify will be limited to about six during the early months. However, one can expect these numbers to increase so that you're not so limited.

What to Expect With the Implementation

Shopify is being very transparent about the release of the multilingual and multicurrency tools. It states that beta users do indeed only have access to a handful of languages and currencies. In addition, the company talks about how you might notice some portions of your website not getting translated, especially on the mobile version of your site.

This is normal and should only improve as time passes and testing gets rolled out to more users.

If you're not used to working with a feature that's not quite perfect, the beta version of the multilingual Shopify isn't for you. However, you can join the beta today if you want to get your hands on the feature and potentially provide feedback from your experience.

It's also worth mentioning that the current feature only allows the admin to change the language. Therefore, you won't see a situation where a customer comes to your site and the site detects the location and changes the language. We can only hope for this in the future. Instead, the admin of the store can change from English to a different language, converting the entire site to that language.

Now, you might be wondering, how does this help, for instance, a company in the USA that primarily sells to English-speaking customers?

Well, we have two answers to that. First, many companies have predominately non-English speaking customers, so those particular stores will be able to now consider Shopify as a full-fledged ecommerce solution.

Secondly, companies with primarily English-speaking companies still have the opportunity to expand into a different market, with a bit of work.

To do this, you would have to make a completely different site in that target country. Take Amazon.com, for instance. The brand has completely separate websites for all countries, which allows it to target better based on language and currencies.

So, you might have a site like myawesomewebsite.com and then make a new one called myawesomewebsite.de for the German version. Then, you'd have the option to flip the switch on the German site to Euros for the currency and German for the language.

Keep in mind that I'm not even sure if German is offered at the time, so this is just an example.

What Do You Think About Shopify Going Multilingual?

This is big news no matter who you are and what type of online store you're running. It at least shows that Shopify is working hard to make multilanguage and multicurrency sites a real possibility because other competitors have definitely been in front of Shopify in this realm. What's more is that Shopify has some current workarounds for you to enable a more user-friendly multilingual website, especially for getting a button that actually asks customers to choose the language they want to see. From what I've seen from the user feedback, this isn't exactly an ideal configuration, but it's at least a start. We can only hope to see better options in the future.

If you have any thoughts or questions about Shopify going multilingual, let us know in the comments below!

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10 Best Shopify Dropshipping Apps https://ecommerce-platforms.com/articles/10-best-shopify-dropshipping-apps https://ecommerce-platforms.com/articles/10-best-shopify-dropshipping-apps#respond Fri, 28 Sep 2018 08:00:12 +0000 https://ecommerce-platforms.com/?p=18575 Once upon a time, running a business meant creating your own products from scratch, spending loads of upfront cash, and handling everything from shipping to packaging and customer support. That's changed quite a bit of the years, and one of…

Continue reading 10 Best Shopify Dropshipping Apps

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Once upon a time, running a business meant creating your own products from scratch, spending loads of upfront cash, and handling everything from shipping to packaging and customer support. That's changed quite a bit of the years, and one of the most popular trends is called dropshipping.

If you're unfamiliar with the selling tactic, it basically allows merchants to partner with a “dropshipper,” or supplier, what creates and stores products, then ships them out to your customers after you've made sales on your website.

So, essentially, your only job is to run your website and work on marketing. Seeing as how this is so intriguing to new online businesses and even large companies, we want to outline some of the best Shopify dropshipping apps to start you on the right path.

We like Shopify as an ecommerce platform because of its affordability and the “everything in one place” interface. You receive access to beautiful design tools, thousands of apps, and payment processing settings that help you secure your transactions and expedite the checkout process. It's also one of the best platforms for creating a dropshipping business.

The reason for this is because Shopify has dozens of dropshipping apps, some of which provide diverse product selections, and others that focus on one or two types of products.

What to Look For (And Avoid) From the Best Shopify Dropshipping Apps

Not all dropshipping apps are created equally. In fact, the dropshipping industry has plenty of downsides, especially if you partner with the wrong supplier or app. Here's what to look out for:

  • The best Shopify dropshipping apps let you choose products from Shopify or instantly sync your chosen products with your shop.
  • Look for apps that curate quality suppliers. This involves some research, but you can usually find ratings and reviews on the suppliers.
  • A big problem with dropshipping is longer shipping times. Look for apps with suppliers from all over the world (or at least near where your customers are). For instance, a merchant based in Chicago would benefit from finding suppliers in the US. Otherwise, your customers will potentially wait a month to receive deliveries from places like Vietnam and China.
  • Another difficulty with dropshipping is keeping prices low but margins to a point where you can still make money. Since you're not handling shipping or storage, dropshippers tend to charge you more than wholesale pricing. The key here is to research suppliers on each app to see if you can actually make a profit without gouging your customers.
  • Does the dropshipping app provide great customer support? You'll definitely need it if a customer is angry with you or if people start making returns.
  • Are you able to get product samples? This is one of the only ways to maintain quality control with dropshipping.
  • Are you able to put your own branding on the packaging? I've dropshipped before with some Southeast Asian suppliers and they often come written in a language like Vietnamese and lacking in any branding from my own store. That's not all that helpful for my own brand, and it's confusing for customers.

1. Oberlo

Shopify dropshipping apps

Oberlo is probably the most popular of all Shopify dropshipping apps. The reason for this is because Oberlo was one of the first to implement a system that automatically syncs products and product information with your Shopify store. Because of the major success of Oberlo, Shopify now includes it with new stores, without even having to install the app yourself.

In the past, I have always liked the functionality of Oberlo. The only problem I had was how you were forced to work through AliExpress, which is known for long shipping times to many locations. However, Oberlo has added more suppliers from around the world to mitigate this problem.

What Makes This One of the Best Shopify Dropshipping Apps?

  • You can search for products from many approved suppliers. Oberlo has one of the largest selections of items you can find.
  • Once you find the products you like, Oberlo instantly syncs the information to your store.
  • All items remain up-to-date on your store. So if a product is out of stock, your customers won't end up buying it.
  • Oberlo offers a Free Starter Plan, making it easy for people without much upfront capital.
  • The shipping times are improving with partnerships with other suppliers and markets like AliExpress. Don't get me wrong, AliExpress is great, but most of the suppliers are in India, Vietnam, or China.

2. Spocket

Spocket is a highly rated, excellent alternative to Oberlo. In fact, I would argue that it's far more advanced than Oberlo in terms of the quality of suppliers. Most of the suppliers come from Europe and the US, so it's great for merchants based in those areas.

What Makes This One of the Best Shopify Dropshipping Apps?

  • You get to work with European and US manufacturers, so the shipping is generally faster for stores located in those countries.
  • The Spocket pricing is some of the most competitive of all apps on this list. The average discount for merchants is 45%, giving you plenty of room for your own margins.
  • Your company branding is added to all receipts and invoices that go out. It's not exactly the same as a logo on the packaging, but it's better than nothing.
  • The real-time shipment tracking keeps your customers in the loop.
  • Since the products mainly come from the US, Canada, and Europe, I've noticed they're often higher quality in general.
  • Spocket has options for testing out products before putting them on your website.

3. SMAR7 Express

SMAR7 Express is similar to Oberlo and Spocket with a few unique advantages, First of all, it's a full dropshipping solution with a large collection of items to choose from. In addition, you can ask SMAR7 Express to find suppliers for current products you have in your store. In a situation like this, you might decide that you'll make more money not storing or shipping the item as you've done before.

What Makes This One of the Best Shopify Dropshipping Apps?

  • SMAR7 Express has an extremely smooth integration process with Shopify. You link up to AliExpress and instantly transfer items you like into your store.
  • You have the option to take your previously listed products and get them fulfilled by a supplier. This is completely unique to SMAR7 Express.
  • Although most of the AliExpress suppliers are in Southeast Asia, SMAR7 Express still tries to improve shipping times by using the E-Packet shipping option.

4. Modalyst

On the surface, Modalyst works like most of the apps on this list–where you search for products and sync them with your online store.

The primary difference is how Modalyst focuses on providing access to name brand suppliers like Calvin Klein, Timberland, and Puma. Yes, the pricing is much higher than the average Chinese supplier, but you're able to offer the best possible products for your customers. And, if you put in the research, I've found that you can locate many decent items with great margins.

What Makes This One of the Best Shopify Dropshipping Apps?

  • Modalyst primarily dropships name brand products, so your customers don't get stuck with questionable items from random suppliers.
  • There are also independent brands that you can partner with, which is a great way to boost margins (since the perceived value of these products is higher).
  • The shipping is faster than most dropshipping apps. You also get free shipping to the United States, since most of the dropshippers are from the US.
  • Modalyst provides an excellent tool for pricing rules. It helps with automatically setting and changing prices based on how much profit you'd like to make.

5. Inventory Source

Inventory Source has gained some traction in the dropshipping world for its ability to list your products to not only Shopify but to other marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay. In fact, over 20 different ecommerce platforms are supported giving you more flexibility and reach with your customers.

What Makes This One of the Best Shopify Dropshipping Apps?

  • The dropshipping network from Inventory Source has over 180 suppliers with dozens of categories for you to choose from.
  • The automation tools and management areas are fairly easy to understand and move around in.
  • Inventory Source has a free account with access to all suppliers and niches.
  • You can even add custom or private integrations if you upgrade to one of the paid plans.
  • The customer support is willing to work with you on many facets of your business, including backorders and returns.

6. Printful

Printful combines custom printing and dropshipping so that you can sell anything from posters to t-shirts, and pillows to mugs. The great part about Printful is that it has an ever-growing collection of quality products, and the design module is well-structured for you to upload your designs and start selling them on Shopify.

What Makes This One of the Best Shopify Dropshipping Apps?

  • The printing and dropshipping is all handled for you. You have to design your products, but the graphic uploading tools are easy to use.
  • Printful provides thousands of products in its library, making it easy to sell custom and branded items.
  • Printful has several locations, including California and North Carolina. Therefore, you're able to get your products shipped to customers in a reasonable time frame.
  • The pricing is completely free, so you can launch a store without any upfront costs. You only pay for the products sold.

7. Printify

Printify is almost identical to Printful. This is a good thing since they both have large selections and decent customer service. If you plan on custom printing and dropshipping, I would recommend trying out both of these companies, since some of the products and suppliers are better than others. So, you might find that the shirts are nicer in Printify but the mugs are better in Printful. Then, you can decide which products you plan on selling more and land on the app that works best for you.

What Makes This One of the Best Shopify Dropshipping Apps?

  • You get to choose from over 250 custom products on Printify.
  • Printify has a large network of printers so that you're always getting the highest quality products.
  • You're able to put your own branding on the packaging.
  • The mockup generator is simple to understand and upload your own designs.
  • You can also integrate your products with Etsy.
  • A free plan is offered for an unlimited number of product designs and up to three stores.

8. Spreadr App – Amazon Importer

The Spreadr App takes an interesting approach to dropshipping by only linking you directly to Amazon for your supplier. You have the option to either dropship products or earn affiliate profits through your sales.

What Makes This One of the Best Shopify Dropshipping Apps?

  • The app gives you a unique opportunity to view items that are already selling well on Amazon.
  • There's a quick import tool, where you search on Amazon and instantly add it to your store for selling.
  • Dropshipping is allowed, but you can also decide to simply take an affiliate commission if you'd like.
  • The basic plan is only $5 per month for an unlimited number of product imports.

9. Gooten

I have a love/hate relationship with Gooten. On one hand, it has by far the largest selection of custom products for you to sell on your store. It's all custom, so you're able to find and design more unique things like totes, phone cases, and more. It's better than Printify and Printful in terms of the selection. However, these products come from a wide range of printers, so if your customer adds five items from five different printers, they receive five boxes, and have to pay for shipping on all of them.

What Makes This One of the Best Shopify Dropshipping Apps?

  • You receive custom printing and dropshipping all in one package.
  • The collection of products is impressive, with over 100 to choose from and unique categories.
  • Monitoring orders is easy for both the customer and merchant.
  • The company is located in New York City, so you should be able to expect faster shipping in the United States.
  • The app is completely free to install, so you only pay for when you make a sale.

10. Dripshipper

Dripshipper is a niche coffee dropshipping app with strong ratings and reviews. The app lets you design your own coffee and coffee packaging, along with the labels and other information on the package. The orders are then shipped out to your customers when you make a sale.

What Makes This One of the Best Shopify Dropshipping Apps?

  • The shipping time is within three days for US customers.
  • Dripshipper is an awesome and fun way to get into the dropshipping business.
  • You only have to focus on one niche, so your product management is easier to understand.
  • The packaging and coffee design tools are sleek and easy to understand.
  • Everything on your coffee is branded to your company.
  • There's a 14-day free trial.

Which Of The Best Shopify Dropshipping Apps Are Best For You?

This all depends on your needs!

If you really want to sell coffee, the best Shopify dropshipping apps would be Dripshipper. As for custom printing, I like Printify and Printful. For regular products and fast shipping, I'd go with Spocket or Modalyst. As for Oberlo, it's still one of the best interfaces.

If you have any questions about the best Shopify dropshipping apps, let us know in the comments.

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Hotjar Review: All-in-One Analytics and Feedback Tool https://ecommerce-platforms.com/ecommerce-reviews/hotjar-review https://ecommerce-platforms.com/ecommerce-reviews/hotjar-review#respond Tue, 25 Sep 2018 11:11:10 +0000 https://ecommerce-platforms.com/?p=18194 Wouldn’t it be great if you could compare your results with Google Analytics with an even better web analytics tool? Certainly, Google Analytics is a key player when it comes to website tracking, but it’s not the only game in…

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Wouldn’t it be great if you could compare your results with Google Analytics with an even better web analytics tool?

Certainly, Google Analytics is a key player when it comes to website tracking, but it’s not the only game in town.

Look:

I am not debating that it’s the market leader boasting an 85.7% share. My point is, even though some consider Google Analytics the standard, it’s vital to get a grasp of issues that may be out of view if you focus on just one tool.

As an ecommerce business owner, you have to make better decisions faster based on accurate metrics. You can’t afford to let some metrics slip through your fingers and risk getting crippled by your competition.

That is why you have to supplement Google Analytics with Hotjar to cross-check for accuracy and redundancy.

Keep reading to find out what Hotjar has to offer, how it has helped other brands and more importantly, how it can help your business too.

 

Hotjar Review: What’s It All About?

Hotjar is a powerful tool that online businesses can use to optimize the conversion and usability rates of their websites. Its most sought-after features include conversion funnels, heatmaps, and visitor recordings.

It also combines both feedback and analysis tools to help users discover where visitors are clicking, how much time they spend on each page and their scrolling patterns. All these help you pinpoint areas that need improvement.

With more people hesitant to share personal information, Hotjar provides an easy way to truly understand your mobile and website visitors without asking them to fill out a form.

Hotjar Review: The Best Features

Let’s dig in to find out what Hotjar has to offer.

1. Visitor Recordings

Hotjar garnered its fame from being the first analytics tool to offer visitor recordings. It records the screen of user sessions for you to see how web visitors interact with different elements of a page such as how they scroll.

As an online business owner, you get a behind the scenes look at how web visitors consume your content. This helps you get a better understanding of what issues are getting in their way to make a purchase.

StudentCrowd is a platform for university students in the UK to review courses, accommodation, and part-time jobs. They used visitor recordings and saw successful and half-completed reviews.

The results showed that students struggled to answer two parts of the review criteria and the ‘Submit Review’ button wasn’t visible in some mobile devices. Fixing this led to a 55% increase in conversions on the review form.

2. Heatmaps

This feature helps you to know where visitors click. This provides relevant information about which sections of the webpage is clicked the most and which receives the least attention.

You can therefore include a strong call to action (CTA) buttons in spots with the most clicks. Even go a step further to add a hook to spots with the least attention and reduce bounce rates.

Trampoline Plezier is a good example of heatmaps in action. The company started a blog to address the need for information on customizing trampolines for backyards. After reviewing a scroll heatmap, they noticed that the CTA was too low.

To fix this, they added the primary CTA button at the top of the page. And boom! It led to an 11% increase in clickthrough rates.

3. Conversion Funnels

Conversion funnels allow you to see where your visitors are dropping off from turning into customers. Hotjar provides a visual overview for you to see where site visitors leave your site and reduce bouncing rate.

So how do conversion funnels actually work?

Let’s find out:

Netguru wanted to grow their website traffic. They soon realized that they needed more than guesswork to know why users landed on their site. The software and design agency set up funnels in Hotjar and started collecting data.

A few months later after fixing issues highlighted by the tool, Netguru was able to:

  • Drive up ‘Services’ page traffic by 30.93%
  • Drive up ‘Career’ page traffic by 58.76%
  • Decrease bounce rate by 50.45%
  • Increase the number of users in the sales marketing funnel by 17%

4. Feedback Polls

Hotjar’s unique selling point is combining analytics with user feedback features. Feedback polls help you to ask web visitors why they do or don’t take specific actions such as filling out a form or clicking the ‘Buy’ button.

There is also the incoming feedback feature that adds a widget on your page. This provides an outlet for users to leave feedback if they experience any problems.

If you’re wondering how this works, here’s one company’s story:

Hubspot Academy used Hotjar’s feedback polls to understand why visitors abandon the course registration page and how the team acted on such feedback. After fixing issues the poll revealed, the brand was able to boost signups by 10%.

5. Recruit Testers

Hotjar allows you to call on users to participate in user testing. To achieve this, it helps you add a widget on your site that asks people to take part in the exercise. Users then fill out basic information to sign up and can also minimize the widget.

To motivate your users to take action, offer an incentive such as a gift voucher or discount. Remember, people are reluctant to share personal information online.

6. Surveys

Existing customers offer the best resource for conversion optimization because they have valuable insight into your company’s barriers and drivers. Hotjar provides user-friendly surveys to help you get to know your audience.

Some questions to ask your existing customers include:

  • What led you to look for product type or service?
  • Reasons you stopped using our services?
  • Why did you  buy or signup?
  • What could we have done to make your decision easier?

Remember:

Ensure that all of your questions are open-ended.

7. Form Analysis

So how do readers use your forms?

Hotjar’s Form Analysis helps you to visualize form and field engagement. It achieves this by allowing you to view drop-offs and submission stats.

You can therefore discover the fields that took too long to fill and those left blank. You will also see why visitors chose to abandon the form altogether. All these will help you improve your online form completion rates.

Hotjar Review: Pricing

This is where Hotjar outshines its competitors. Instead of paying for different services separately, you end up paying a few dollars for a combination of three to four services.

Hotjar even emphasizes its competitive pricing on its homepage.

Take a look:

 

So let’s take a look at the plans available for you to choose from with Hotjar.

Basic Plan

The Basic Plan is absolutely free. It’s ideal for users with low traffic volumes or for those who prefer to sample the tool first before settling on it.

The features that come with this plan include:

  • Heatmaps-3 snapshots of 1000 page view each
  • Video recordings- 300 recordings of 100 at a time
  • Funnels- 3 funnels collecting unlimited data
  • Forms- 3 forms of 1000 sessions each
  • Polls, Surveys, Recruiters, Incoming Feedback

Hotjar avails data for Recordings, Heatmaps, Funnels, and Forms for 1 year but the rest are availed indefinitely. When traffic exceeds 2000 daily page views, it automatically distributes data collection.

Plus plan

The Plus Plan costs $29 per month and offers unlimited use to all of its tools. This helps you to track the following:

  • Heatmaps- unlimited for 2000 page views each
  • Video Recordings- unlimited for 2000 recordings each
  • Funnels- unlimited funnels for unlimited data
  • Forms- unlimited for 2000 sessions each
  • Polls, Surveys, Recruiters, Incoming Feedback-unlimited for unlimited responses

Additional features that come with the basic plan include:

  • Adding notes to recordings
  • Recordings for specific pages
  • Using JavaScript Triggers for targeting

Once traffic exceeds 10,000 pageviews, data collection will be distributed through sampling. When you reach your plan limits, you can either delete items or upgrade to Hotjar Business.

Business Plan

The Business Plan costs $89 per month and it’s best for business owners with traffic exceeding 300,000 page views each month. It also comes in handy when you want to remove the Hotjar branding for visitor-facing tools.

The features offered here include:

  • Heatmaps- unlimited for 10,000 page views each
  • Video Recordings- unlimited for 5,000 recordings each
  • Funnels- unlimited funnels for unlimited data
  • Forms- unlimited forms for 5,000 sessions each
  • Polls, Surveys, Recruiters, Incoming Feedback- unlimited for unlimited user responses

Some additional features that come with the plan include:

  • Removing Hotjar branding from shared Recordings, Heatmaps, and Feedback tools
  • Optimized integration
  • Changing the style of Incoming Feedback with emojis
  • Showing feedback tools such as Polls, Survey Invites, Recruiters and Incoming Feedback to a percentage of web visitors.

When traffic exceeds 20,000 daily pageviews, Hotjar automatically distributes data collection through sampling.

 

Hotjar Review: Who Should Consider Hotjar

Hotjar caters for all types of business websites regardless of traffic volumes. You may have noticed the diversity of the brands from the examples given above that make up their customer base.

Bottom line:

Hotjar is a valuable asset for online brands that want to improve the site’s user experience and increase conversion rates.

Do you have any questions about this Hotjar review? Let us know I the comments section below.

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The Ultimate Guide to Starting a Clothing Line https://ecommerce-platforms.com/articles/starting-a-clothing-line https://ecommerce-platforms.com/articles/starting-a-clothing-line#respond Fri, 21 Sep 2018 08:00:09 +0000 https://ecommerce-platforms.com/?p=18467 I think we can all agree, the thought of starting a clothing line is pretty exciting. So, bite the bullet and do it! Does creating an online brand and launching a digital store selling your apparel fuel you with excitement?…

Continue reading The Ultimate Guide to Starting a Clothing Line

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I think we can all agree, the thought of starting a clothing line is pretty exciting. So, bite the bullet and do it!

Does creating an online brand and launching a digital store selling your apparel fuel you with excitement? If the answer's yes, then make it happen; it's as simple as that.

There are tons of success stories of people setting up an online store and making their first $1,000 in just a few weeks! It stands to reason if they can do it, then you can too.

Luckily for you, we're here to help. Let's dive into this handy guide!

Step 1. First Things First, Choose a Winning Product

Firstly, you need to decide on the products you want to sell.

Chances are if you're finally living your dream and launching a fashion line; you'll have a rough idea of what you'll want to create.

However, if you're not settled on a particular product yet, never fear because the fashion industry opens up a whole world of opportunity.

You could consider selling any of the below apparel:

  • Tee shirts
  • Formal shirts
  • Sweatshirts
  • Leggings
  • Dresses

Just to name a few!

winning product Starting a Clothing Line

It doesn't matter what product you want to launch; you need to pick an initial piece to build your business around. You can be sure that each article poses a new set of challenges and opportunities for your online clothing business.

Homework: Take some time and think about the kinds of clothes you want to design, create, and sell. Consider the style and vibe you want your brand to exude. How will your products reflect that?

Step 2. Which Business Model's Best for Starting a Clothing Line?

Now, you have a product in mind; you need a business model. There are four main options (as listed below) the expense and practicality of each of them vary massively; so you'll need to consider your options carefully.

  1. Print-On-Demand

Out of all four possibilities, this is by far the easiest.

Print on demand is when a company prints your design on a blank version of your product by utilizing a digital ink-jet printer. This allows them to print directly onto the garments with impressive accuracy.

This business model might be ideal for you, if:

  • You're on a low budget. There're no startup fees, so it's cost-effective for fulfilling small orders. In theory, you could hit the ground running within a few hours, for under $50!
  • You value automation in your business.
  • You want to produce printed clothing quickly (a matter of days).
  • You don't want to be limited by your choice of colors.
  • You want room for expansion. You can design a plethora of clothes; from tees to leggings and everything in between.

blank tee Starting a Clothing Line

However, there are a few disadvantages to note:

  • Lower profit margins in comparison to the other two business models.
  •  You won't have much of a say when it comes to; the  quality of material, the stitching, the sizing, etc., because you're using standard wholesale clothing,
  • It's not cost-effective for fulfilling larger orders
  • You don't usually benefit from volume discounts
  • You'll have limited finishing options

Top Print-On-Demand Tips

If you like the sound of this business model, research both Printful and Shopify. They're both perfect platforms for laying the foundations for your online store.

When you get an order, the printing process automatically kicks in; they also handle the shipping for you.

You should note, Printful flawlessly integrates with your Shopify store, allowing you to get the best of both these services.

Printful Starting a Clothing Line

2. Dropshipping

Dropshipping is a popular choice of business model. It allows you to fulfill orders while entirely removing you from the process- how awesome is that?!

This is how works:

  1.  A customer orders something from your online boutique.
  2.  Your drop shipper handles, packages and ships the customer's order directly to them.

As you've probably guessed, the products you advertise and sell online are stored in your supplier’s warehouse.

Although you'll be responsible for customer service issues, your drop shipper usually handles returns. Meaning you've one less thing to worry about!

Dropshipping's ideal if you're on a budget. A lot of us don't have the capital to either rent or stock a warehouse, and this business model provides an excellent workaround.

Plus, if you want to market a new product, there's way less financial risk involved. You don't have to waste money stocking products to test them. Instead, you can hit the ground running with an array of apparel at your fingertips.

dropshipping starting a clothing line

However, there're a few cons to drop shipping you should be aware of:

  • You lack control over order fulfillment and shipping times: if your drop shipper fails to send your products on time, your customer's will have a poor experience. This can lead to complaints, poor reviews, and decreases the likelihood of repeat custom and referrals.
  • Lower profit margins: with dropshipping you're more likely to pay more per item in comparison to stocking an extensive inventory of products; making less room for profit.

Tips for dropshipping:

It's of paramount importance you find and use a high-quality drop shipper.

While conducting your research, check online reviews and see whether their customers are happy with the service they're receiving. If they're not, run for the hills!

Read more about how to setup your own dropshipping business.

3. Private Label Clothing Line

Setting up a private label clothing line is very similar to print-on-demand.

However, you need to buy blank clothing in bulk. Then, add your design using screen-printing, as well as inserting things like labels, tags, etc. So, it requires more of your time and attention than print on demand.

However, a private label clothing line boasts the following advantages:

  • A greater variety of customization over things like labeling, packaging, tags, etc.
  • The potential for higher profit margins. As you're purchasing items in bulk and upfront, you'll usually receive a volume discount. You can also add unique details which increase the perceived value of your product.
  • Screen printing produces high-quality results
  • It's cost-effective if you need to create higher volumes of your product because there isn't a minimum order.

However, you'll have to battle through the drawbacks below to reap the rewards:

  • The initial costs are expensive. Although screen printing provides a better quality finish, it's labor-intensive. You'll need to budget for around $2,500 to get up and running.
  • You can only print simple designs.
  • You'll need to organize warehousing to store and ship your products.
  • It takes more time to launch (weeks rather than days).
  • If you have plenty of designs, colors, and sizes, in your clothing line, this isn't a cost-effective option.
  • You can't fulfill smaller orders (typically ten units or less)

Our Advice for Launching a Private Label Clothing Line

Set up an account with either ThreadBird or Just Like Hero.

ThreadBird provides blank products, printing, and a ton of finishing options. Typically, you'll need a minimum order of 25 pieces to kickstart the process.

Just Like Hero also offer blank apparel, but for what they lack in variety they make up in quality. However, unlike Threadbird, you'll need to source a printer.

4. Custom Cut and Sew Clothing Line

Last but not least, there's the custom cut and sew clothing line business model. This requires you to do everything.

From the initial sketches to sourcing manufacturers and everything in between. Put simply; it's hard graft. So there're a few drawbacks to consider:

  • It can take months until you're ready to launch.
  • Finding a manufacturer that'll accept smaller orders can be tough.
  • Sourcing and working with a pattern maker can be a hassle.
  • You'll have to find and test potential fabrics
  • You'll need to budget for thousands of dollars to get up and running
  • You'll need to fathom a warehousing and shipping strategy

Despite all the disadvantages, you'll enjoy the benefits below:

  • You're able to completely customize your product, which is fabulous you have a specific vision in mind.
  • There's a lot of potentials to increase the perceived value of your product, and therefore your profit margins.
Homework: Research these four business models and work out which suits your needs the best.
fashion design Starting a Clothing Line

Step 3. How to Pick a Unique Selling Point

Now you need to pick a unique selling point (USP).

This has a twofold benefit:

  1. Your clothing will be way easier to market online.
  2. It'll help you stand out in a very crowded marketplace.

It's very rare entrepreneurs are successful in selling to large groups of people, which is why a USP is essential for defining your brand.

For example, if you want to sell hoodies, think about how you'll specialize them to suit a specific audience. For example, super thick fleeces for people who enjoy camping. Or, lightweight sweatshirts for guys who spend their time hanging out on the beach.

You get the idea!

Ask yourself; who's my ideal customer, and how can I create a brand that speaks to them? This process starts by picking a unique niche.

If you're struggling to work out who your audience is, ponder the below questions:

  • What type of clothing do I want to make?
  • Who purchases these kinds of products?
  • How will I provide value to my customers?
  • What's my competition doing and how will I stand out against them?

Blank tees Starting a Clothing Line

Once you've fathomed your target audience, you can tailor your brand to fit their precise needs; which leads us excellently to step four…

Step 4. Branding 101

Branding is key to your success.

It's the only way to separate yourself from your competition.

Every part of the branding process should focus on communicating your businesses values, message, and your story.

So, how do you achieve this?

Sit down. Grab a notepad and write a few words that spring to mind when you envision your clothing line.

In other words, what do you want your brand to embody?

Then, pin these words around your workspace to ensure every part of your brand persona reflects these attributes. This will remind you to brand consistently while starting a clothing line.

From website design to customer service, your brand should embody the persona of your brand.

What About the Visuals?

By brand visuals, we mean things people see and associate with your brand. For example, your logo, choice of fonts, colors, etc.

Before you settle on anything, do some research.

Scour Pinterest and save ideas that inspire you. Look through magazines, catalogues, newspapers, etc. and cut out branding elements you like the look of.

Once you're done, refer back to them as you begin creating your visuals.

Now, pick a color scheme, and stick to it. Like we've said consistency is critical when it comes to branding. Look at all the inspiration you've gathered, and decipher which colors appear the most.

Use these as a basis for your color palette.

Once you've got a color scheme in mind, you can create a logo. Remember, simple is always more effective. If you're on a tighter budget, use software like Canva to make a professional looking logo.

Step 5. Pricing Products to Make a Profit

Before you consider the product development process, you need to get your budget in order. If costs constrain you, this will fuel your choice of fabrics, extra branding features, the quality of manufacturer, etc.

To help you out, we've compiled a list of things to include on your budget sheet (if you've opted for either a print on demand, private label clothing line or drop shipping business model, some of these aren't relevant to you).

  • Product development pros
  • Samples
  • Materials (fabrics, zippers, hook and eyes, diamontes, etc.)
  • Fuel to get to factory meetings
  • Labor
  • Shipping
  • Production

Once you've thought about this, you'll have a better idea of your budget, and what you'll need to price your products to make a profit.

This info is essential when it comes to communicating with potential factories.

budget Starting a Clothing Line

Step 6. The Nitty Gritty of Product Development

Please note, if you're following the print on demand business model, this isn't relevant to you.

If you're brand new to the fashion industry, this is often the most complicated step. You might want to consider partnering with people who have experience in the below areas:

  • Pattern making
  • Tech pack creation
  • Designing

You get the idea!

When you get help from a professional, you'll find the whole product development process way easier, and your manufacturer will breathe a sigh of relief!

fashion Starting a Clothing Line

Where Do I Find This Kind of Help?

Start by researching potential manufacturers.

Some manufacturers offer a handy product development service. Not only is this useful, but sometimes they won't work with you unless you've used their specific process.

However, not all manufacturers offer this, but they usually have a list of preferred partners, so be sure to make some inquiries.

What's the Product Development Process?

Here's a quick rundown of the product development process from start to finish.

#1. Design

To kick things off, you'll need an initial design crafted using software like Illustrator.

Top Tip: As you sketch your first ideas on paper, start annotating your unique features.

#2. Tech Pack

A tech pack is a fancy term for your product's blueprint. This gives your manufacturer all the technical specifications of your product. Be sure to include:

  • Your design and artwork
  • Measurements
  • Choice of fabric
  • Information about accessories
  • Trim
  • Stitching
  • Info for your labels and tags
  • Packaging Instructions

#3. Pattern Making

This is the stage where you transform your technical drawings into patterns for production.

This also includes grading, where you take a standard design and use it as a template for different sizes.

#4. Choosing a Manufacturer

This involves finding, researching and sampling multiple manufacturers.

Get a small batch of samples from each potential manufacturer to identify which provides the best product. It'll also highlight any potential issues with your line; win-win!

There are a few things you'll need to know about a potential manufacturer:

  • Their location (this is important for effective communication, if your manufacturer is the other side of the world, you'll need to bear that in mind when you're emailing and budgeting your shipping timeframe).
  • Their reputation
  • What other companies they've worked with
  • What they're capable of producing

Top Tip: Not all manufacturers offer the same services or have the same values. Do your due diligence and thoroughly research each potential manufacturer. It's the only way you'll source the best regarding both quality, ethics, and practicality.

factory Starting a Clothing Line

Any Advice for Contacting Manufacturers?

By this stage, you should have a shorter list of potential manufacturers. Before pingING off an email, there are a few things to bear in mind:

ALWAYS show a serious interest in their services. Otherwise, they probably won't get back to you. After all, time is money; they only want to work with people who're serious about using them. In your email, be clear about what you need by informing them about the services you require, and the timeframe you have in mind.

ALWAYS be courteous. If you decide to go with them, you'll want to establish a long-lasting business relationship. Be respectful in your email, and familiarize yourself with their processes. This will help you manage your expectations realistically.

Be prepared to follow up. If after a week or so, you don't hear back from them, follow up your initial email. In this industry, there's nothing wrong with demonstrating how serious you are about your venture.

DON’T give too much away. Always introduce your brand, as well as the kinds of products you want to produce, but don't fall into the trap of overcomplicating your inquiry.

#5. A Full Product Run

Last but not least, your product will be ready for mass production. This usually involves the creation of hundreds, if not thousands of pieces.

product line Starting a Clothing Line

Why Do So Many Clothing Lines Fail?

That last section can seem a little daunting.

Yes, setting up a clothing line takes a lot of time, and potentially money (depending on your chosen business model). So, naturally, you don't want your venture to fall flat on its face.

As cynical as it sounds, we can learn a lot from why previous clothing lines have failed:

#1. Failing to Test Your Design

Before you start printing, always get feedback on your designs; and no, family and friends don't count. Their opinion will naturally be biased.

Instead, if you have a social media following or an email list, why don't you ask for their views? You could offer them a freebie to incentivize people to provide their thoughts.

#2. Attempting to Crack Traditional Retail Stores 

This may seem like the aim, but trust us, it's not the most profitable way of running a clothing line.

Usually, the majority of profits go into slashing your prices to offer retailers a wholesale price. So, although you'll shift a higher number of units, you won't make anywhere near as much as selling your products yourself.

#3. Failing to Listen to the Facts

It's not enough to go with you ‘think' is right. You have to know.

You need to do plenty of market research before launching your line. It's the only way to know what people will spend their hard earned cash on.

#4. Failing to Prioritize Quality

Although you'll acquire a higher profit by opting for lower quality blanks and cheap screen printing, your final product will suffer.

When you compromise on quality,  you'll give your customers a miserable experience, which will affect your sales in the long-run.

high quality clothes Starting a Clothing Line

Step 7. Package like a Pro

Packaging is something we often forgot about, but it's a vital component for reinforcing your brand in the minds of your customers.

When done well, your packaging can add to the perceived value of your product; so it's essential you get this right.

What Are My Options?

You have a few choices:

Boxes: These are a great option because they're robust, which makes them ideal if you need to transport either bulky apparel or delicate goods that need extra protection.

Although they add to the weight and size of your package, which increases the price of shipping, it's usually worth it. This generally reduces the likelihood of customer returns and a bad experience.

Top Tip: you can create customized boxes to reflect your brand and to produce a more professional aesthetic.

shipping Starting a Clothing Line

Poly Mailers: AKA shipping bags. These are fabulous because they hardly add any weight to your package. Therefore, they're a more cost-effective option than boxes. However, they're not as sturdy, so they're only useful for clothing that isn't prone to damage.

Just like shipping boxes, you can customize poly mailers to make them look appealing.

Bubble Mailers: If you're looking for something between a poly mailer and a shipping box, bubble mailers are a perfect choice. They're very similar to poly mailers, but they boast an extra layer of bubble wrap inside the envelope. This provides additional protection to whatever you're shipping.

Tissue Paper: This is wonderful if you're looking for something that'll enhance your customer's overall experience. It adds perceived value to your product; making it feel more like a present than a delivery.  Prospects love this! You can even personalize tissue paper with your logo and brand colors.

Packaging Tape: If it complements your brand, opt for a tape that reflects your brand's color palette, or has your logo printed on it. This is a fabulous way of decorating your package while adding a further layer of security.

Stickers: These are ideal if you don't require robust packaging tape. You can use labels to seal your mailers closed while promoting your brand with your logo and tagline. They're incredibly versatile, making them the perfect accessory for improving your customer's unboxing experience.

Bonus Section: 6 Digital Marketing Tips for Marketing Your Clothing Line

#1. Use Shopify

Like we've already said, Shopify is a fantastic platform for launching your online store.

With just a click of a button, you can insert all your brand visuals. This works wonders for strengthening your brand.

You can also craft an engaging ‘About Page,' this is a fantastic place for communicating to shoppers who you are, and what your company stands for. Be completely transparent with your story; this is a really effective way of building trust with potential customers.

Last but not least, you can also SEO optimize your store to rank higher on Google. Do some keyword research and fix your store, so prospects find you while they're surfing the web.

#2. Connect With Influencers

If you want an online following and fast, connecting with influencers, who're already established in the fashion industry is an absolute must.

All you need to do is to reach out to these authorities and see whether they'd post about your product in exchange for a fee.

Depending on their level of influence, just one post could send an influx of traffic to your site. This is amazing for boosting your following.

Homework: Make a list of potential influencers you'd like to collaborate with and drop them a friendly yet professional email. Always offer to send them a sample of your product for free, this usually sweetens the deal!

#3. Take to Instagram

If you're new to the digital marketing sphere, Instagram is one of the most accessible platforms, to begin with.

Typically, Instagram users are more engaged with brands, and therefore more responsive to what you post. Plus, you can insert a ‘buy-now’ button on your posts, which is ideal for promoting your clothing line.

Publish high-quality images of your apparel, and interact with both your following and other people in the fashion industry. This is a winning combination for generating an audience on Instagram.

#4. Prioritize Email Marketing

When done right, email marketing is incredibly useful. This is a fabulous method for gaining repeat custom. The people on your list are some of your most dedicated customers, so they're way more likely to purchase from you again.

Homework: Register with a marketing platform like MailChimp to enable you to start collecting the names and email addresses of customers when they buy something. You can also insert a signup form on your site to capture the details of those who might be interested in purchasing at a later date.

#5. Content is King

Start a blog in conjunction with your online store. This is amazing for engaging and building a rapport with new customers by providing them valuable information.

For example; fashion advice, fashion hacks, top trends, etc. You get the idea!

Homework: start writing a weekly blog. Product reviews and listicles are both popular and easy to consume, so try drafting these kinds of articles. See how your audience responds to them and continue to tweak and improve your content marketing strategy.

#6 Launch a Facebook Ad

Other than influencer marketing, all of the above methods take a while to take off.

However, with Facebook ads, you can see results in a matter of days, and in some cases, hours. Facebook's algorithm allows you to target niche audiences (which is one of the reasons why picking a unique selling point is so important).

You can target people based on their:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Interests

This is honestly one of the most powerful ways of finding your ideal audience and marketing directly to them.

However, be savvy, and only invest a small amount of money, to begin with. Test different ads and compare to see which converts the best. Once you've got a winning ad, you'll then be in a safer position to increase your budget.

Still Thinking of Starting a Clothing Line?

If this blog post's given you the nudge you need to begin starting a clothing line, then we're over the moon to hear that! Contact us today and see how we can help you make the most of this venture.

P.S. you may also find this guide to running a successful online business helpful. Enjoy!

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