Tracey Wallace – The BigCommerce Blog Ecommerce Blog delivering news, strategy and success stories to power 2x growth for scaling brands. Wed, 21 Mar 2018 21:02:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Tracey Wallace – The BigCommerce Blog 32 32 Shopping on Instagram Now Available to International Brands and Accounts Tue, 20 Mar 2018 06:03:12 +0000 In fall 2017, Instagram and BigCommerce enabled shopping on Instagram for U.S. merchants through shop on Facebook. This feature allowed…]]>

In fall 2017, Instagram and BigCommerce enabled shopping on Instagram for U.S. merchants through shop on Facebook.

This feature allowed businesses to tag products in Instagram posts, making it easier for consumers to learn more about a product with a single tap, and streamlined the path to purchase.

In beta, participating stores like Natori saw up to a 1,417% increase in traffic and sales from Instagram.

Since the end of beta, BigCommerce merchants using shopping on Instagram have seen a 50% increase in Instagram referral traffic to their site.

Such high impact can be attributed to the fact that:

  • More than 500 million people are active on Instagram every day
  • 60% of users say they discover new products on Instagram

Those two stats make Instagram a de facto sales channel for brands both in the U.S. and globally.

Today, we are excited to announce that shopping on Instagram is expanding to online sellers outside of the U.S.

All supported territories for shopping on Instagram now include:

  1. Australia.
  2. Brazil.
  3. Canada.
  4. France.
  5. Germany.
  6. Italy.
  7. Spain.
  8. United Kingdom.
  9. United States.

“While Instagram has given us the ability to connect our brand personality with our audience, social media conversation is most effective for businesses when based around product; we’ve always felt the experience would be stronger with an added commerce element,” said Rohan Moore, managing director at Olive Clothing Limited.

“Shopping on Instagram offers us an elegant and intuitive way to bridge the gap between creative content and a shoppable catalogue, allowing us to increasingly position our merchandising in the social space.

In an ecommerce market crowded with digital solutions promising high returns, this feature stands out as a uniquely powerful tool to leverage one of our brand’s most valuable assets.”

80 Shopping on Instagram Examples

You don’t have to go digging around the internet for Shopping on Instagram examples. So, we did it for you.

You’ll get to:

  • Explore more than 80 real examples of Instagram Shopping in the wild, no more stalking to see who is doing what
  • Draw inspiration to educate your own posts and your own strategy. Some folks are seeing as much as a 1,416% increase in sales and traffic!

Request your examples.

How to Get Shopping on Instagram for Your Store

To sell on Instagram, the first step is to get your store approved by Facebook Shop.

You can then tag products in your Facebook Shop on your Instagram posts.

Facebook allows merchants who sell physical goods in select product categories that comply with their Commerce Policy to push products over to the platform.

For BigCommerce stores, simply use the Facebook integration in Channel Manager to bulk sync your catalog with Facebook Shop.

How to sync your catalog with Facebook.

Once your catalog is approved by Facebook and connected to an Instagram business account, your account will be reviewed for shopping on Instagram.

If your account is approved, you will see Shopping in Business Settings within your Instagram app.

Tapping it will guide you to connect your Facebook Product Catalog to enable product tagging on your Instagram posts.

The review process for shopping on Instagram typically takes a few days, but sometimes accounts need to be reviewed in more detail, which can take longer.

How Shopping on Instagram Works

Through shopping on Instagram, your brand can tag products in Instagram posts, making contextual information such as pricing and product descriptions accessible with a single tap, enriching product discovery without the need to leave the app.

When ready to make a purchase, product tags quickly and conveniently direct shoppers to the associated product page on the your store, streamlining the checkout experience.

Market to 800M Customers

“We’ve seen a 12.61% increase in Instagram traffic and an 8% lift in purchases attributable to Instagram Shopping. The integration has been seamless. It is easy to tag products and drive customers directly to the product page right from Instagram.”

– John Lott, CFO/CCO of Spearmint Love

Launch Shopping on Instagram.

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Shopping on Instagram Results Are In: Brands Report +1,416% Traffic, +20% Revenue Tue, 20 Mar 2018 05:01:00 +0000 In March, BigCommerce merchants were among the first to gain access to Instagram’s new product tagging capabilities — built specifically…]]>

In March, BigCommerce merchants were among the first to gain access to Instagram’s new product tagging capabilities — built specifically for ecommerce brands — which significantly enhance product discovery on the platform.

Today, Shopping on Instagram is now available for online stores based in the following countries:

  1. Australia.
  2. Brazil.
  3. Canada.
  4. France.
  5. Germany.
  6. Italy.
  7. Spain.
  8. United Kingdom.
  9. United States.

To use the feature, brands need only to push their inventory to Facebook (you can make this visible or not to your Facebook audience).

See Native Union’s Facebook shop.

After doing so, the Shopping on Instagram toggle should appear in less than 2 weeks.

Need to Know

Currently, Facebook is restricting Shopping on Instagram to merchants who sell physical goods in select product categories that fit their Privacy Policy.

The fastest way to get ready to sell on Instagram is to get your store approved by Facebook Shop.

Once approved, you will see a message within your Instagram app guiding you to connect your Facebook Product Catalog to tag products on your Instagram posts.

Early adopters of the technology are reporting increased traffic and sales from Instagram as a result of the tagging capability.

But what about Instagram is so unique – and how should you adopt this channel as part of a larger strategy?

Let’s dive in to get:

  1. The background
  2. The stats
  3. 80+ examples

80 Shopping on Instagram Examples

You don’t have to go digging around the internet for Shopping on Instagram examples. So, we did it for you.

You’ll get to:

  • Explore more than 80 real examples of Instagram Shopping in the wild, no more stalking to see who is doing what
  • Draw inspiration to educate your own posts and your own strategy. Some folks are seeing as much as a 1,416% increase in sales and traffic!

Request your examples.

Why Instagram Shopping?

Instagram has been the de-facto platform for visual storytelling for years.

It is lauded by consumers and brands alike for its unique focus on beautiful photography and videography, which collectively serve as vignettes into the lives, and lifestyles, of their creators.

With shoppable posts, customers have even greater opportunity to connect with the brands they love through the ability to quickly see relevant information — like product descriptions and pricing — with a single click without ever having to leave the Instagram app.

Additionally, once they’ve found an item to purchase, shoppable posts automatically provide links to corresponding product pages on your website so that customers can quickly add to cart and check out, or browse the remainder of your catalog.

Build an Engaged Community with Shopping on Instagram:

If you want to increase ROI on Instagram – or any channel for that matter – figure out how to use the platform the way consumers use it.

If you’re salesy, people are going hate you.

But, if you’re engaging, it will go a long way in terms of bringing you real, lasting customers.

– William Harris, CEO, Elumynt

Instagram Statistics Businesses Should Know

More than 800,000 shoppers use Instagram every month, and brands around the world are using the platform to share their stories and products with consumers in a visually engaging way.

When it comes to Instagram, ecommerce businesses by and large recommend the platform.

Whether you are advertising, building an audience or both – Instagram has fueled hundreds of thousands in sales.

Here’s why.

  • 800M — Number of monthly active Instagram users.
  • 500M — Number of daily active users
    • Increased from 400M to 500M since March 2017
  • 5X — Instagram growth rate compared to overall social network usage in the U.S. (Source: Inc.)
  • 25 — Percent more likely it is that Instagram users are in the top income quartile than average Internet users. (Source: GlobalWebIndex)
  • 5M —  Number of active Instagram business profiles (Source: Facebook)
  • 60 — Percent of people who say they discover new products on Instagram (Source:  Instagram)
  • 70 — Percent of users who follow a business on Instagram (Source: Instagram)
  • 75 — Percent of users who take an action after seeing a business post (i.e. visit a website, search, shop or tell a friend) (Source: Instagram)
  • 500,000 — Instagram advertisers (Source: Facebook)
  • 150M— Number of daily active Instagram Stories users just 5 months after launch (Source: Instagram)
  • 33 — Percent of the most-viewed Instagram Stories that come from business accounts (Source: Instagram)
  • 36 — Percent of B2C brands that consider Instagram to be “very important” or “critical” to their social media marketing, compared to 13% of B2B brands (Source: Inc.)
The Risk of Not Using Shopping on Instagram:

If you think about it, there is an obvious risk if you don’t have a shoppable Instagram.

For example, if a customer sees an item they like on the platform, but there’s no way for them to buy the item or link to your site, you risk losing that sale.

– Tara Johnson, Lead Reporter – Retail, CPC Strategy

How to Start Using Shopping on Instagram

The rest of this article will walk you through the best-practice advice and revenue stats seen by brands using Shopping on Instagram.

But, this is an Instagram feature — which likely means you don’t need stats or stories to convince you to to start using it.

So, here’s how to get it for your brand right now.

1. Make sure your Instagram app on your phone is updated.

Go to your phone settings and update the app if it is not. If you do not see any Instagram Shopping tags, this is because your app on your phone is not updated.

2. Make sure your product catalog is synced with Facebook Shop.

Instagram pulls your Facebook product feed through – and you can connect your store with Facebook using BigCommerce’s Channel Manager.

3. Click the options tab on your Instagram business profile, scroll down to products and click.

You’ll then be taken through a series of screens introducing you to the product.

4. Authenticate your Instagram business account via your Facebook account.

The product will take you to this next step immediately.

This is how Instagram knows what products you have. If you have not connected your store to Facebook Shop, do that now (step #2).

Choose the product catalog you want to sync with Instagram for Instagram Shopping.

5. Upload your product photo.

Now that you’re set up, go to upload a photo as you normally would.

Then, on the caption page, you now have the options to tag people *and* products.

6. Tag your products.

Select “tag products” and tap on the photo to tag products, the way you would if you were tagging a person.

In the search bar, type the name of the product in the photo. Select the product you are tagging and then move the tag on the photo to the correct spot.

Instagram will pull in all product catalog information from Facebook, including a link back to your site from the photo.

Again, go back to step #2 if this isn’t working for you. You can add up to 5 product tags per photo.

7. Hit share and your post with your shoppable tagged products is live!

It is now time to reap the benefits of shoppable Instagram posts!

Instagram Shopping Tutorial:

Here is a gif walk-thrus of how Shopping on Instagram works.

Instagram Shoppable Posts Increased Traffic 1,416%

More than 50 brands have been using Shopping on Instagram since before it’s Fall 2017 release.

We’ve followed up with these beta brands to understand how the solution continues to work for them.

We wanted to know a few things:

  1. If it was easy to use for the brands themselves.
  2. If their fans and customers like it.
  3. And, most importantly, if it increased engagement and revenue.

Below, you’ll find the successes of 6 brands using the feature prior to public availability.

Examples Of Businesses Who Have Had Success With Instagram Shopping:
  1. Natori: Increased Instagram traffic by 1,416%.

  2. Magnolia Boutique: 20% increase in Instagram revenue.

  3. SpearmintLOVE: Instagram traffic grew by 13%.

  4. Native Union: Instagram traffic was a 2,666% increase.

  5. Announcing feature via email.

  6. Marucci: Easy implementation.

1. Natori: 1,416% increase in Instagram traffic.

  • # of posts with tagged products at time of writing: 61
  • Increase in traffic from Instagram: 1,416% WoW
  • Increase in revenue from Instagram: 100% WoW

“Instagram has played a major role in helping us build a brand, and we love how the new shopping features allow us to easily showcase our products in a way that feels authentic to the community we’ve built,” said Ken Natori, President for The Natori Company. 

“In just a few short weeks of using the new shopping features on Instagram, we’ve seen a 100 percent increase in revenue from the channel and a massive 1,416% increase in Instagram referral traffic to our website.”

Instagram Shopping Promotion + Best Practices from Natori:

“We announced the availability of Instagram Shopping on Twitter and Facebook. Overall, it has increased our traffic, the integration was quick and tagging is easy,” says Colin Talbot, Digital Marketing Manager, Natori.

“We can’t wait for the teams to offer increased analytics and the ability to tag both products and people in the same post.”

2. Magnolia Boutique: 20% increase in Instagram revenue.

  • # of posts with tagged products at time of writing: 117
  • Increase in traffic from Instagram: 4% WoW
  • Increase in revenue from Instagram: 20% WoW

“We’ve seen a traffic increase of 4% increase WoW since starting the shopping campaign and a 20% increase in revenue WoW,” says Susan DelPriore, Magnolia Boutique.

Instagram Shopping Promotion + Best Practices from Magnolia Boutique:

“To promote it, we included specific instruction on how to shop our feed in our email blasts. Did an Instagram Live video telling people about the debut of Instagram Shopping. We also included instructions in the posts in our feed, had several Instagram stories reminding people to shop our feed and cross-promoted on other social media channels.”

“In all, I’d recommend Instagram Shopping to other online brands. It makes shopping easier for our Instagram fans. We get many questions from people asking how to shop our items, and this makes that process easier.”

“My best piece of advice is that, since this is very new, it is important to provide instructions and to cross-promote. Making sure your product feed is updated is very important,” says Susan DelPriore, Magnolia Boutique.

3. SpearmintLOVE: 13% increase in Instagram traffic.

  • # of posts with tagged products at time of writing: 208
  • Increase in traffic from Instagram: 12.61% MoM
  • Increase in revenue from Instagram: 8% MoM

“We’ve seen a 12.61% increase in Instagram traffic (month over month) and an 8% lift in purchases attributable to Instagram Shopping (month over month),” says John Lott, CFO at SpearmintLOVE.

“The integration with the BigCommerce Catalog has been seamless. It is easy to tag products and drive customers directly to the product page right from Instagram.”

Instagram Shopping Promotion + Best Practices from SpearmintLOVE:

“To build awareness for Instagram Shopping, we created Instagram stories and organic posts that announced the new feature and showed our audience how to click to shop. We continued these posts for the first two weeks of the launch,” says John Lott, CFO at Spearmint LOVE.

“Overall, Instagram shopping is a natural fit for ecommerce stores and is an organic way to engage with your audience.”

4. Native Union: 2,662% increase in Instagram traffic.

  • # of posts with tagged products at time of writing: 9
  • Increase in traffic from Instagram: 2,662% MoM
  • Increase in revenue from Instagram: 100% MoM

“We are seeing the analytics in BigCommerce and it’s great to finally see Instagram traffic to the site,” says Tanya Keller, Community Manager, Native Union.

5. Still fine-tuning their approach.

  • # of posts with tagged products at time of writing: 1
  • Increase in traffic from Instagram: None yet
  • Increase in revenue from Instagram: None yet

“We will be announcing it in an email blast and ICYMI sections of future email blasts,” Danny Hunsaker,

“Overall, we feel that Instagram Shopping during the holidays will provide the opportunity for busy shoppers to quickly see a watch they like on our IG post and quickly make a purchase.”

“The ease of use for Instagram Shopping is great. Plus, it’s still early in the beta testing, so we’re still analyzing and fine-tuning our approach.”

6. Marucci: Easy to implement.

  • # of posts with tagged products at time of writing: 3
  • Increase in traffic from Instagram: None yet
  • Increase in revenue from Instagram: None yet

“We love the ability to use Instagram, our most engaging social platform, to direct customers to our products,” says Chad Vinges, Marketing, Marucci.

“While we’ve been able to implement the product-tagging feature, we’re in the middle of a low-selling, low-engagement season, so we’re not able to see any real change thus far (only one week of use).

I’m extremely confident, however, that Instagram shopping will be very beneficial to our holiday selling efforts and in our peak selling season in Q1 & Q2 of 2018!”

Shopping on Instagram Tips:
  1. Alert your customers to the new feature via email or Instagram stories.

  2. Start tagging all of your products to build an expected behavior.

  3. Track results in your analytics via the l.instagram option.  

How to Measure Instagram Shopping Success

Do you want to see similar results to the stats and stories above?

Great – then you need to know how to find how your Instagram Shopping tags are performing.

To do that, you have 2 options:

  1. On Instagram: Under your post analytics, there are Instagram Analytics on your click-thru on Instagram Shopping as well as to your site.
  2. Your BigCommerce Analytics: If you are using the new analytics, then under Marketing >> click on Social >> click on Instagram >> measure l.instagram revenue and traffic week over week (or month over month) to see how much Shopping has worked. You can even make sure BC and Instagram Analytics are showing similar #s based on visits.

Faster Checkout Equals More Sales with Shopping on Instagram:

I’m actually quite excited to try Shopping on Instagram out for myself. I love how seamlessly integrated it is and how you can showcase the product and price upfront. Many consumers want to know as much about the product before they head to buy.

In a world where many people have a short attention span, this HELPS!

– Nancy Badillo, Digital Marketing Specialist,

How to Grow an Engaged Instagram Audience

Shopping on Instagram is not an advertising opportunity.

As a result, you will see better engagement if your customers are already engaged with you on Instagram.

Here’s how to build an engaged Instagram audience to increase the effectiveness of the Shopping on Instagram feature.

Quick Tips To Improve Engagement On Instagram:
  • Post genuine pictures: Anything that looks too photoshopped or too perfect won’t fly.

  • Showcase your customers: Encourage user generated content via packaging and then use those images on your feed.

  • Take photos everywhere: Don’t get distracted by the need for camera “gear.” Your phone is your gear. Get to snapping!

  • Partner with others: You don’t have to do Instagram alone, and you shouldn’t. Partner with complementary brands to build your audience and share the love.

  • Don’t make it all about selling: Instagram users need a personal reason to follow a business.

1. Wooing 164,000 instagram followers.

With more than 164,000 Instagram followers and $0.11 average cost per conversion across Instagram and Facebook audiences, Spearmint LOVE is one of the most successful Instagram advertisers on the platform.

Shari and John Lott credit the success to Shari’s expert eye for merchandising and design. Here’s their advice on how to grow an audience and advertise to them effectively.

Spearmint LOVE Sees 991% Yearly Revenue Growth

Get the details on how this brand broke the SMB glass ceiling.

What is your #1 priority in creating an engaging Instagram business profile?

If I had to pick the most important thing, I would say the pictures need to feel genuine. Posts that feel over “photo-shopped” often lack an authenticity that is really critical to connecting with your audience. Find a style that works for you and post often, i.e. 3 to 5 times a day.

What advice would you offer other online businesses looking to grow on Instagram?

The most important advice is be very particular about what you post. If your feed lacks a cohesive feel, your audience will have a hard time relating to your content.

Once you have a clear aesthetic that is resonating with your audience, network with other Instagrammers with a similar size audience. In our early days on Instagram, we did a lot of “friendly follows” with other Instagram accounts that we respected and that were a good fit for our audience.

Higher AOV from Shopping on Instagram:

Shopping on Instagram is going to be huge for ecommerce businesses. Pinterest has already proven this to be a successful model. The average order value of sales coming from Pinterest is $50.

Thinking about that in terms of Instagram, Yotpo found Instagram engagement rates were 45% longer than visitors from Facebook, 62% longer than visitors from Pinterest, and 40% longer than visitors from Twitter.

– Jason Quey, Cofounder,

2. Using Instagram to drive 25,000 visitors per day.

With more than 261,000 Instagram followers, The Pink Lily Boutique has successfully turned their Instagram feed into a highly profitable channel, helping to turn $1M in monthly revenue for the brand.

Here is how the Pink Lily team engages with their audience to grow a massive fan base and tons of sales.

How Pink Lily Handles 600+ Orders Per Day

With 600+ orders and 25,000 site visitors per day and $1M in monthly revenue, see exactly how Pink Lily Boutique scaled operations to meet their massive demand.

What are the top priorities in creating an engaging Instagram business profile?

There are many things we do to dominate on Instagram. Here are a few:

1) We post 8-10 times per day, 7 days a week, so there is always fresh content to be seen by our fans.

Some are product images, some are lifestyle shots, some are funny videos. We like to mix it up!

2) We offer Instagram photo contests and giveaways for customers to win free merchandise or a gift card!

A customer has to tag their friends and share one of our contest posts and we will pick a random winner every week! Everybody loves free stuff, so this is always a popular promotion for us.

3)  We ship all items to our customers in a custom poly mailer bag to drive user-generated content.

The bag has our logo and our own exclusive hashtag for customers to tag us on Instagram when they take a selfie in their new outfit.  If customers post a selfie on Instagram wearing our clothes and tag #pinklilystyle, they will be featured on the front page of our website. This has been a great promotion. Customers love the idea of being featured on a website that has 25,000 visitors per day.



4)  We let our customers choose which items we buy.

When shopping for new items or attending a market, we let the customers ‘Be the buyer.’ We take pictures of the items we are considering and then we post them to our social media pages, asking our fans to ‘be the buyer’ and let us know what they think about particular items.

For example, we will post a picture holding a dress in each hand and ask the customer, ‘Which dress do you like best? Left or right?’

This not only gives us a look at the specific buying habits of our customer, but our fans feel great knowing that we value their input and we try and stock our website based on the items that they truly want.


What advice would you offer other online businesses looking to grow on Instagram?

Keep your customers engaged! Ask their opinions, give away items, make them laugh, etc.

An engaged fan is more likely to turn into a customer. Make sure they know that you value their input and want them to be extremely satisfied with their purchase.

3. Using stories to sell 48,200 fans.

With more than 48,200 Instagram followers, Grace & Lace skyrocketed to a household name when they appeared on Shark Tank. Today, the team uses Instagram to connect with their audience and fans across the country.

Here is their best advice on how to grow a loyal base.

How Grace & Lace Manages Inventory Across Channels

Selling so much through Instagram and other channels including Facebook and Pinterest can be challenging. Here’s how the Grace & Lace team figured it all out.

What are the top priorities in creating an engaging Instagram business profile?

For us, we work to strike a balance between promoting our products, giving our fans a behind the scenes look at Grace & Lace, sharing my life as a mom, wife, and entrepreneur, and adding a little levity or inspiration to their week.

We try to build a valuable relationship with our fans so that when they’re ready to buy something they can’t try on first or see in person, they have had positive interactions with our brand online and they trust me and Grace & Lace enough to take that leap of faith.

What advice would you offer other online businesses looking to grow on Instagram?

Tell your story. Facts tell, stories sell.

Successful brands drive engagement with a story or an experience around their products. Stories enable us to create a connection not only with our fans but with a new audience.

Instagram is a powerhouse for you to visually tell that story and showcase that experience. It’s not about marketing your product; it’s about marketing the experience that comes with owning your product.

Most products we sell are shot on a mannequin first. We’ve tested and 100% of the time, a model photo, flat lay, or even a selfie photo gets more engagement than a mannequin photo.

It’s the same product, but a shot of the model walking down the street on a pretty day shows an experience. The flat lay complete with accessories shows an experience. The selfie shows an experience. And don’t get sidelined by ‘the gear’ involved in taking great photos. It’s not about the gear. It’s about connecting people to your story, to the experience, of your company.

4. How to find a balance with 45,200 followers.

With more than 45,200 Instagram followers, Nickel & Suede admits they began on Instagram early –– and have long been awaiting shoppable posts to make Instagram advertising as successful as Facebook’s.

Here is their best advice on how to grow a large following and advertise effectively.

What are some tactics you’ve used to create an engaging Instagram business profile?

Our followers appreciate using IG as a platform where they can get to know us without scouring our website.

When we started Nickel & Suede, Instagram was still growing in popularity and we knew that it was somewhere we needed to have a strong presence. We started off by networking and collaborating with other brands that we related to and that was a big initial boost at a time when users were first creating IG accounts and choosing who to follow.

We quickly found that the biggest struggle was having enough continually engaging, high-quality content. We’ve worked hard to create great imagery to share with our followers that is informative and personal. We try to keep our followers updated in real-time with information about new releases, behind the scenes and sneak peeks.

We also try to think of our audience as “new” every couple of months so we shift to introducing ourselves every so often or sharing little “did you know” bits about us. We think our followers appreciate using IG as a platform where they can get to know us without scouring our website.

What advice would you offer other online businesses looking to grow on Instagram?

It’s been interesting to find a balance for our business on a platform like Instagram because most of its users are there and have been there for personal reasons. They want to connect with friends and family there and so finding a way to fit your business into someone’s personal feed is a hard thing to do.

So, my advice is first, you have to have great images. Whether you take them with your phone or your camera, make sure they are interesting and high quality. What you say in your caption also matters, but the picture is what sells you.

Second, I would suggest finding ways to keep the platform personal to your customer. Find ways to make them feel like an insider. Offer behind-the-scenes shots or share something personal about employees. Don’t make it all about selling. Instagram users need a personal reason to follow a business.

That being said, Instagram has been shifting and changing over the last year. It is becoming more like Facebook in that it is slightly less personal and will soon have more ways to boost for businesses.

Follower growth is slower than ever right now, but we don’t think it will stay that way. We are sure Instagram will slowly become an even better and better place for businecrsses to be. And when they start offering more ways to advertise and easier ways to sell through the platform, it will be pay to play. It will be worth it just like it’s worth it to pay to play on Facebook.

80 Shopping on Instagram Examples

You don’t have to go digging around the internet for Shopping on Instagram examples. So, we did it for you.

You’ll get to:

  • Explore more than 80 real examples of Instagram Shopping in the wild, no more stalking to see who is doing what
  • Draw inspiration to educate your own posts and your own strategy. Some folks are seeing as much as a 1,416% increase in sales and traffic!

Request your examples.

Executive Summary

No longer do you have to point people back to the link in your bio.

Shopping on Instagram is here. It is working.

Brands like Natori, Native Union and Olive Clothing are seeing increased Instagram traffic and sales.

This channel works best if you already have an engaged Instagram audience. The more engaged, the more sales you will get.

Shopping on Instagram Saves Time and Money:

I really love Shopping on Instagram. You now have the possibility to show images of your products without having to link to them in your bio. This is a feature I’ve really been looking forward to.

I used to work as an ecommerce manager at a furniture and interior design ecommerce store, where we would show beautiful images of our products in different environments to illustrate how you could use them.

The problem was that people couldn’t just click the image and buy the product.

We had to list every single item on the image correctly according to the product name on the website.

This quickly becomes a problem if you have many products in one image.

Moreover, users had to click the link in our bio, and search for the product on the website and then buy it. That process is way too complicated, and most users will drop off before completing the purchase.

The new feature allows you to tag your products in the images and then users can click on the product on the image and be sent directly to the product page where they can buy it.

– Emil Kristensen, CMO & Co-Founder, Sleeknote.

Want more insights like this?

We’re on a mission to provide businesses like yours marketing and sales tips, tricks and industry leading knowledge to build the next house-hold name brand. Don’t miss a post. Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

]]> 6
The Benefits of B2B Ecommerce: “We Now Have a Thriving Business Thanks to the Internet” Thu, 15 Mar 2018 16:03:15 +0000 It’s no secret that the rise of the internet heavily disrupted nearly all industries. Suddenly, earning customers wasn’t just about…]]>

It’s no secret that the rise of the internet heavily disrupted nearly all industries.

As consumers gained immediate access to brand and product information, business sales cycles were thrown off.

Suddenly, earning customers wasn’t just about putting your number in the Yellow Pages or driving to a new city and taking potential customers out for drinks.

The sales cycle changed – from outbound to inbound.

  • Inbound marketing is now a no-brainer for successful businesses with online storefronts.
  • Outbound marketing is falling more and more by the wayside.
What is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is the process of producing valuable information and content in an effort to increase your search engine rankings and therefore increasing traffic to your site as well as brand discoverability.

This is an important shift in how selling has long been accomplished.

Few salesmen travel door to door anymore. Few even do so much as leave their home office.

Now, customers call upon businesses – and they often do this when presented with helpful, educational content that earns their trust.

Sure, sales people do still call out and talk to potential customers, but…

Inbound marketing is an undeniable business need in today’s world.

And, nearly all industries are taking full advantage.

This why the number of blog posts produced each day is so high (2 million) and why the SEO game has gotten so competitive.

Writers aren’t cheap, and good writers can be difficult to find. Plus, you need more than a writer to make an inbound strategy effective.

You need the whole company to sign on to the effort.

Lagging behind on this, however, are often businesses in the B2B space.

Estimates predict that online B2B selling will top $1.18 trillion by 2021.

But it isn’t that these businesses are going to necessarily boom unexpectedly.

It’s instead that they have yet to fully implement modern success strategies the B2C world has long known produce incrementally high ROI.

These include launching:

  • Online storefronts.
  • Optimizing for SEO.
  • Putting a smart inbound strategy in place.

Texas America Safety Company (T.A.S.C.O.) knows just how well online and inbound can work.

The team launched their online store in 1996, and immediately saw the business benefit.

I caught up with Gary Brownlee, Vice President at T.A.S.C.O. to talk about:

  • Their online selling success as a B2B brand.
  • What they’ve learned over the last two decades online.
  • What they are planning for the future.

Read the full interview below.

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When did you first launch your B2B ecommerce site?

Texas America Safety Company (T.A.S.C.O.) started business almost 20 years ago selling occupational safety supplies through the oil patch in West Texas.

For many years, we visited as many customers as possible with our delivery van and sold our products directly from the vehicle.

Around 1996, we opened up our first website and soon thereafter discovered the B2B ecommerce benefits of selling online.

No more spending hours driving the countryside to visit a few customers. Now, the customers could shop our products 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Adding our products online and effectively marketing our website was able to dramatically increase our sales.

We now have a thriving business thanks to the internet.

Has online B2B customer behavior changed in the last 22 years?

Our main website was designed using older HTML, and for 16 years had performed exceptionally well on the search engines.

The code was written free hand using the best tools of the time.

Over the last few years, however, the search engine algorithms and customer expectations have changed.

Customers and search engines now want a more integrated website design that is mobile friendly and more responsive to customer wants and needs.

T.A.S.C.O.’s mobile site.

We noticed our online clicks and sales had started to slip a little at a time.

Over the last year, it became obvious that no amount of modification to the old design was going to help recover our search engine relevance.

It was time to find new tools that are the best of our time to make sure we continued to see the benefits of b2b ecommerce.

What B2B ecommerce features did you need?

It was a difficult decision to move from our old tried and trusted platform, but after quite a bit of research we choose BigCommerce to host our new ecommerce site.

I was able to visit their facility and meet some of the people that would help us with our account.

Both the BigCommerce ecommerce platform and their staff was top notch and very helpful with the change over.

When we did have a question, we were able to quickly answer them with a simple chat or email ticket.

In addition, the interface was easy to use, and the batch import/export features greatly sped up the migration.

The wide range of templates helped us to construct a site that perfectly fit our needs.

We still maintained the look and feel from our old site, but with all of the all of the tools and b2b ecommerce benefits of a modern platform.

Finally, we were ready to make the switch.

We then re-launched our flagship website and right away starting seeing positive results.

Compare Your B2B Solution Options

B2B features are complex. Compare your options to find what works for your business. 

Compare now.

Were there any moments of fear during migration?

Moving the site was very worrisome.

However, with help from BigCommerce, the new site launched without a hitch.

We were able to seamlessly transfer to the new ecommerce site without any loss of sales or down time.

In addition, our existing customers have sent all positive messages concerning the change-over and are happy with the new site.

We also noticed the shopping cart was much better now.  

T.A.S.C.O.’s checkout keeps users on the same site with navigation, showing customers additional upsell options for all their safety needs.

We have been able to recover many more orders with the shopping cart abandonment feature.

All in all, the analytics are showing a measurable improvement.

What trends are you seeing in B2B ecommerce right now?

It would seem customers now prefer to have specialized goods and not just a one size fits all approach.

Since there are so many online re-sellers, price has become much more competitive as well.

Each company needs to find what they do best and try to capitalize on their strengths.

For us, we have introduced several new types of products that are not highly marketed online.  

  • We have started our own line of hydro dipped custom made hard hats.
  • Also, we’re adding several new colors and designs of safety vests that we think will be a hit.
  • We also have been offering more customization services with much lower minimum quantities: hard hat custom logos and screen printing on vests, for example.

Customization options like this are easy to add via product variants.

What are you doing to grow B2B sales this year?

Over the next month, we plan on improving the site one product at a time with:

  • Better images.
  • Videos.
  • Better text and usage tips.

Doing this for our 4,000+ plus products will take some time if it’s done right.

We are trying to incorporate information and tips in prominent areas of the site and not just cramming the page full of hundreds of products.

In addition, we are trying to focus the pages around a central theme and keyword in the hopes of offering the customer a usable, informative and attractive shopping place.

T.A.S.C.O.’s Construction Safety 101 guide includes 13 chapters and is only one of more than 10 guides offered on the site.

We want to offer service and information in addition to our products.

Then, once a purchase is made, we want to make sure the customer receives shipping information and delivery status in a simple and non-obtrusive form.

It’s not just about the online shopping experience for us. We also want to supply trust and comfort with the fulfillment aspects of the transaction.

In addition, we are looking to improve our product selection to stay on top of modern trends. In some instances we are hoping to open new markets in our safety arena.

Do you have advice for other B2B brands in launching online?

My advice is to be patient and consistent.

Be sure to concentrate on offering the end user the best shopping experience, and then deliver the products or services promptly.

In addition, make sure the businesses back end systems are as prioritized as the sales and marketing.

Don’t just concentrate on selling, and then have little time, energy, and/or inventory to actually deliver the goods.

4 Keys to B2B Ecommerce Benefits and Sales

Gary Brownlee identified 4 keys to achieving high search ranking and high conversions in the B2B ecommerce space.

These 4 tactics have set his business up for success over the last 22 years –– with tweaks every couple of years to account for algorithm changes and industry updates.

Here is what you B2B business should focus on now:

  1. Mobile-friendly website.
  2. Product customization.
  3. Educational guides for SEO and to prove industry expertise.
  4. Easy checkout and payment options (PayPal + Consumer Credit).

If you take nothing else away from this piece, let those 4 tenants guide you to the benefits of B2B ecommerce for your own brand.

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7 Brands Discuss the Benefits of the New Cashless Economy and Apple Pay’s Growing Ubiquity Tue, 13 Mar 2018 14:00:37 +0000 Technology is restructuring how money moves. From crypto-currencies to peer-topper payments and one-click checkouts, modern innovations are shifting the basic…]]>

Technology is restructuring how money moves.

From crypto-currencies to peer-topper payments and one-click checkouts, modern innovations are shifting the basic payment infrastructure of our economy.

The gadget we carry in our pockets is becoming more than ever thought possible. And the wallet is its next target.

Adii Pienaar, Founder of Conversio and WooThemes (later acquired by WooCommerce), sums this up best:

Customers worldwide are using their mobile devices for online shopping more often.

Depending on who you want to believe, it’s estimated that since late-2014 more than 50% of all online purchases are made from mobile devices. Apple / iOS has about a 15% market share of mobile devices, which is a huge potential user base for Apple Pay.

The attraction of Apple Pay is the convenience of already having your credit card details on your device. Your customers are also already familiar with spending money on their Apple devices (even if it’s just via iTunes or the App Store).

In general, there’s a trend where customers are spending more dollars when they can act impulsively and with a low-level of friction.

Think about how easy Amazon makes this with their 1-Click Purchases.

From a historical standpoint, Apple Pay, was announced in 2014. But it wasn’t the first of its kind.

The Evolution of Mobile Payments:

A brief history of mobile payments, according to TechCrunch:

  • 1983: David Chaum, an American cryptographer, starts work on creating digital cash by inventing “the blinding formula, which is an extension of the RSA algorithm still used in the web’s encryption.” This is the beginning of cryptocurrencies.

  • 1994: Although this is disputed, some believe that the first online purchase, a pepperoni and mushroom pizza from Pizza Hut, occurs in this year.

  • 1998: PayPal is founded.

  • 1999: Thanks to Ericsson and Telnor Mobil, mobile phones could be used to purchase movie tickets.

  • 2003: 95 million cell phone users worldwide made a purchase via their mobile device.

  • 2007: Both the iPhone and the Droid operating system are released.

  • 2008: Bitcoin is invented.

  • 2011: Google Wallet is released.

  • 2014: Apple Pay is launched, followed a year later by Android and Samsung Pay.

  • 2020: 90% of smartphone users will have made a mobile payment. 

At the time of Apple Pay’s release (years following Google’s own Wallet application), Apple CEO Tim Cook described the magnetic stripe card payment process as broken for its reliance on plastic cards’:

  • Outdated and vulnerable magnetic interface

  • Exposed numbers

  • Insecure security codes

Since then, the same technology Apple uses for Apple Pay has become ubiquitous worldwide: EMV, a payment tokenization specification.

It is why your credit card has a chip in it.

Still, digital payment methods remain more secure than physical cards. They can’t be stolen, for one.

“Payments like Apple Pay are the the most secure payment method out there. Apple Pay contains multiple layers of dynamic encryption and is also protected by TouchID, Apple’s fingerprint technology,” says Jennifer Pollock, Content Marketing Editorial Lead, Square.

But digital payment methods like Apple Pay have another upside: emerging generations with cash flow and raised on cell phones prefer them.

From a study conducted by The Washington Post.

And by 2030, those surveyed expect digital wallets to be the primary source of payments.

“Obviously, consumers are nervous about credit card security so offering the many payment choices is a good idea. Apple Pay means they don’t even have to pull out their credit card at a register,” says Rieva Lesonsky, CEO,

To see how these trends are vying in 2018, I’ve interviewed 7 BigCommerce brands using the technology to understand their use case, their data and thoughts.

These two questions reigned supreme:

  1. Are people using Apple Pay?

  2. Would you recommend Apple Pay?

Here’s how their experience shook out.

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SerengeTee Targets Its College-Aged Audience

Experience SerengeTee’s site.

Why did you add the Apple Pay button?

We have a young demographic made up of high school and college students. We’ve noticed a spike in mobile usage so this made all the sense in the world.

It makes the checkout process incredibly easy.

How was the implementation process?

Not bad at all. We had our developer do some simple styling, but that was about it.

Can you quantify the results?

We are continuing to see more and more users using mobile and fewer bounces in our cart. We can’t quantify Apple Pay effectiveness just yet, but we think that’s a helpful piece of the puzzle.

Would you recommend Apple Pay?

Absolutely, especially if the analytics are showing high mobile and iPhone usage.

Apple Pay is a solution to those low mobile conversions.

Typing in address and credit card info is an awful experience on desktop, never mind mobile devices. Add to that the fact that most people are on the go while using their mobile device and it’s not hard to understand why mobile conversions remain so low.

Adding Apple Pay gives your customers a frictionless way to instantly make a purchase without thinking twice about it.

– Richard Lazazzera, Founder, A Better Lemonade Stand

Spearmint LOVE Sees Mobile Orders Take Off

Experience SpearmintLOVE’s site.

Why did you add the Apple Pay button?

Our traffic is now over 80% mobile. Any technology that improves the user experience for mobile users is something we consider testing.

Apple Pay makes the checkout process seamless and improves conversion.

How was the implementation process?

Like most native features on BigCommerce, implementation was easy. It took less than 10 minutes and required no developer time.

How has the button been working?

Our customers love it and we have had no technical issues since we implemented Apple Pay.  It is a core part of our mobile checkout process.

Would you recommend Apple Pay?

Yes, if you have high mobile traffic it is a must have feature.

One Click to One-Touch Checkout

Around 68% of all shopping carts are abandoned, and complicated checkouts are a major factor.

The Apple Pay integration streamlines the checkout process, increases security and decreases cart abandonment for mobile and desktop shoppers.

Plus, integration is a breeze. 

Activate Apple Pay Now.

CocoWeb Increases Conversion Rate 15% Across Devices

Experience CocoWeb’s site.

Why did you add the Apple Pay button?

As a small ecommerce business, we feel the brand of “Apple Pay” will surely help our credibility as our customers checkout.

Needless to say, we also believed that the technology and user base would help us increase conversions.

How was the implementation process?

BigCommerce had been amazing in providing the support and technology for a smooth implementation process.

It literally took us less than an hour to implement and fully test Apple Pay on our website.

How has the button been working?

It has worked wonderfully.

In particular, it has help us increase our mobile conversion by more than 20% and our desktop by 15%.

Would you recommend Apple Pay?

I think it is no-brainer to use Apple Pay for any serious ecommerce business, especially those small stores in which any additional conversion counts.

Apple Pay Exists Both On and Offline

It’s also worth mentioning that Apple Pay should help shrink the divide between online and offline sales, since customers can use it for both types of purchases.

Therefore, you may end up getting better sale management options along with more sales in general.

– Catalin Zorzini, Founder, 

Zin Home Grows Mobile Sales 20%, AOV 10%

Experience ZinHome’s site.

Why did you add the Apple Pay button?

We added the Apple Pay button to allow customers a better, and more convenient, purchasing option.

We had noticed an increase in sales from mobile devices, and knew that by providing apple pay as an option, it would only increase them further.

How was the implementation process?

The implementation process was quite simple. When we switched to Paypal Braintree, and with the BigCommerce platform, it was as simple as flicking a switch to implement Apple Pay.

It couldn’t have been simpler.

How has the button been working?

Since implementing Apple Pay, we have seen a steady increase in the number of sales in which customers have selected it as their payment option.

We also know that as more people grow accustomed to using it, they will expect to find it on all online retailers as an option.

For us, providing that kind of ease of use, and the added security it gives our customers, is an important element of having an ecommerce business.

Can you quantify the results?

In the time since we implemented Apple Pay, we have seen a 10-20% increase in sales on mobile devices.

In addition, it should also be noted that there has been a decrease in abandoned orders that had been started on a mobile device.

Although we did not expect it to be impacted by the implementation, we have also seen an 5-10% increase in AOV on mobile orders.

Would you recommend Apple Pay?

The answer is a simple one — we would absolutely recommend Apply Pay to other online stores.

The demand for such convenience is only going to grow, and the ease of implementation makes it a simple task to complete.

In addition, our increase in AOV and conversion rate are a testament to the smooth, seamless shopping experience that Apple Pay provides.

Less Mobile Abandoned Cart

One of the major hindrances to mobile buying has always been the checkout.

It’s easy to browse, it’s easy to add-to-cart, but the checkout process has always been cumbersome on mobile. Apple Pay streamlines the checkout and makes it easier.

– Allen Burt, Founder & CEO, Blue Stout

Natomounts Eliminates Chargebacks with Apple Pay

Experience NatoMounts site.

Why did you add the Apple Pay button?

From a text to a call or even an Instagram notification, just about anything can take a visitor from our website.

We wanted to add a payment option that would allow someone to check out in seconds, so they can get back to whatever they were doing before linking to our site.

How was the implementation process?

Easier than I expected. BigCommerce and Stripe’s integration made it so we were up and running in literally minutes.

How has the button been working?

The integration has been working flawlessly and chargebacks for that card-type are practically non-existent.

Would you recommend Apple Pay?

Implementing Apple Pay has only helped our website conversions, bounce rates, checkout process, and chargebacks.

I have yet to see a downside to enabling one of the easiest checkout processes we’ve ever implemented on our website.

Apple Pay is truly frictionless commerce.

Apple Pay is truly frictionless commerce geared to increasing mobile transactions.

My advice to retailers would be to run a thorough mobile UX audit and deliver a truly mobile first user experience to shoppers and customers.

Now that the mobile checkout has been more or less ‘fixed’ with Apple Pay (with Android Pay to follow), mobile devices will becoming the primary de facto online shopping device.

– Kunle Campbell, Founder, 2X Ecommerce

See how Natomounts created a mobile-first experience.

Giant Teddy Sees Faster Checkout, Higher Conversions

Experience Giant Teddy’s site. 

Why did you integrate the Apple Pay?

We decided to add the Apple Pay button due to the smooth transition offered during the checkout process.

Customers are now able to quickly proceed to check out and pay for their desired item – much more quickly than pulling out a credit card.

Apple Pay already has their billing, shipping and contact information saved to avoiding having to re-enter. This leads to easier navigation for our customers.

Can you quantify the results?

We have seen an overall increase in conversion since adding the Apple Pay button along with a few other additions were made to the website.

We can’t say for certain it was the Apple Pay button, but it certainly helps.

Would you recommend Apple Pay?

We would definitely recommend Apple Pay to other stores for many reasons.

The biggest one is the security and safety it brings to the customers at checkout, especially for smaller businesses.

The button allows a business to offer a very fast and efficient payment method. It also is great for mobile users. So many people are already on their phone so much, so paying with it just makes it that much more convenient.

Speed + Trust

Speed and trust: the less info you need a consumer to enter on your site, the more likely it is that they will complete the transaction with you.

Services like Apple Pay help take that mental roadblock of manually giving you their credit card info out of the equation. Really, it is all about convenience.

– Chris Van Dussen, CEO, Parcon Media 

Nine Line Processes +600 Sales Immediately Through Apple Pay

Experience Nine Line’s site.

Why did you add the Apple Pay button?

Apple Pay has become increasingly popular over the years.

Offering new ways for our users to checkout allows us to stay ahead of the curve.

Since 80% of our traffic is mobile or tablet, it made sense to offer payment options that are baked into those devices.

We really want to offer our users the ability to check out faster without too much manual input. Apple Pay offers a much more speedy checkout process.

How was the implementation process?

The implementation process was pretty straightforward. We were able to get the payment method live in under an hour.

All we had to do was enable the feature and do some minor HTML adjustments to our checkout.

The implementation is incredible easy and can be integrated without a developer.

Can you quantify the results?

Just this year (2018), we’ve captured over 600 sales with Apple Pay. It has made up 2.5% of our orders in 2018 and we expect that number to increase as Apple Pay becomes more popular.

Would you recommend Apple Pay?

I would highly recommend implementing Apple Pay.

For a successful ecommerce strategy, implementing multiple payment methods allows you to capture more orders and streamline the customer journey.

We’ve noticed a huge spike in our mobile traffic, and implementing features such as Apple Pay only enhance that experience.

Because of the easy implementation and low risk, there is no reason not to offer this option.  

More Options, More Sales

Every time you add a payment solution, you make it easier for a related customer segment to buy and improve their conversion rates.

If you offer an impulse buy product, have a lot of mobile shoppers, or have items with lower AOVs, the Apple Pay user segment is probably not insignificant.

Go get them!

– Drew Sanocki, Private Equity Operating Partner, Empire Growth Group

One Click to One-Touch Checkout

Around 68% of all shopping carts are abandoned, and complicated checkouts are a major factor.

The Apple Pay integration streamlines the checkout process, increases security and decreases cart abandonment for mobile and desktop shoppers.

Plus, integration is a breeze. 

Activate Apple Pay Now.

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]]> 6
How to (Realistically) Start an Online Ecommerce Business That Actually Grows Fri, 02 Feb 2018 14:00:12 +0000 Why people are starting online businesses The most popular course at Stanford isn’t a STEM class. It isn’t in entrepreneurship,…]]>

Why people are starting online businesses

The most popular course at Stanford isn’t a STEM class.

It isn’t in entrepreneurship, how to start a business, nor coding.

It is one in how to design a happy life.

The course is co-taught by Dave Evans, the former lead designer of Apple’s first mouse and co-founder of Electronic Arts.

In those positions, he learned how to design for user experience and remove unnecessary elements.

Apple’s first mouse, if you remember, had one button rather than the conventional two of the time.

The same elements that go into designing for user experience, it turns out, work well for designing your happiest life.

In fact, they work well for designing success in general.

Selling yourself short isn’t an option. It’s go big or go home, and it starts right here.

The key is knowing your options and yourself.

“I have true agency over my work, because I know what I stand for and I have tools to fix the things that I encounter in my life,” Kanyi Maqubela told Fast Company about the course he took as a Student at Stanford.

Today, Maqubela is an investment partner at an early-stage venture capital firm.

For those looking to start a new ecommerce business venture, those dreaming of turning a side-gig into a full-time job and long-term, sustainable business, the key to your success is the same.

You must know your options. And you must know yourself.

It is hard to be successful as an online store. Competition is fierce and customer expectation even more so.

The best offense to these industry realities is a planned defense – and knowing what you are getting yourself into before you ever begin.

Who is this guide for?

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to be successful for the long-term.

You’ll find in it countless of success stories from entrepreneurs selling across the web, whose sage advice you’d be wise to take.

You’ll also get step-by-step instructions for how to start an online business:

  1. Determine your product niche.
  2. Size up your competition.
  3. Nail down your target market.
  4. Determine market viability for today, tomorrow and next year.

Your business can become your personal legacy, providing jobs for hundreds and changing hearts and minds, one checkout at a time.

BigCommerce powers tens of thousands of online stores making billions in online revenue.

Most of these stores didn’t exist a decade ago, many still not even five years ago.

It is possible to build a legacy brand beginning right now.

It won’t be easy. It comes with costs. It will take know-how and strategy. It will take dedicated design from day one.

But do it right, and your business will bypass those one-hit-wonder brands to become something much more than a dream, a side gig or a even a small business.

It will become your personal legacy, providing jobs for hundreds and changing hearts and minds, one checkout at a time.

Buckle up. You’re about to go on a deep planning dive to prepare your business for long-term success.

Selling yourself short isn’t an option.

It’s go big or go home, and it starts right here, by learning how to start an online ecommerce business — no more procrastinating.

Show Up Every Day. Start Right Now.

Be patient, use the tools provided and never give up.

Each day I contribute something to make my business better. Literally, everyday.

  • New products
  • SEO metatags
  • Better pictures
  • Marketing
  • Blogs

Your business will grow. It has too! BigCommerce offers all the most innovative solutions in a simple way to grow and grow and grow!

– Daniella Park, Designer, Webmaster, SEO expert, Jewelry Maker, One woman show, Doing It Sober.

9 Steps to Start an Online Business

The following guide breaks down the process of starting a small online business into manageable chunks.

We will discuss all of the following points throughout every chapter in this guide; at its conclusion, you’ll know how to start and run your own ecommerce store.

Here is an overview of the 9 steps for building and growing your successful online business:

1. Find a niche.

Before you start selling, you need to find the right product with the potential for serious profitability. You’ll learn how to research different niches and even examine your own life to find problems that can be solved.

2. Evaluate market viability.

Now that you have a business idea, it’s time to dig deeper into product viability. Think about the kind of details that can make or break your business, like number of SKUs and shipping weight.

3. Conduct market research.

Validate your product using tactics such as keyword research and evaluating trending products.

4. Conduct competitive analysis.

find out what’s working — and what can be improved upon — from your biggest competitors. This will tell you more about how to define your branding and positioning in the market.

5. Learn online business laws.

Shipping restrictions, zoning laws, and trademark considerations. These can all make or break your business. With this list, you can avoid the ecommerce landmines that derail your business before it gets off the ground.

6. Analyze your target market.

This is where you dig even deeper to understand your ideal shopper. Who are they? What do they like? How can you tailor both your product and your website experience to appeal to your perfect shopper?

7. Source your product.

You know you have the right product, who your customer is, and how to set up your business. It’s time to get the physical product. We’ll walk you through different ways to source your product and how to avoid common pitfalls.

8. Build your store.

None of the above matters if you don’t have an ecommerce store that sells your product, provides an intuitive shopping experience, and makes customers want to return. We’ll show you how to go from zero to beautiful online store in a matter of minutes using powerful ecommerce software (spoiler alert – we have a recommendation).

9. Become productive.

The difference between operational and successful is in mastering man’s greatest nemesis — time. Get firsthand accounts from successful entrepreneurs who have grown their home based business into online behemoths.

Let’s get started.

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59 Productivity Hacks for Online Small Business Owners Thu, 01 Feb 2018 14:00:54 +0000 There are a lot of ecommerce resources that are publicly available. So, we’ve put together a quick hit list that…]]>

There are a lot of ecommerce resources that are publicly available. So, we’ve put together a quick hit list that will enable you to be more productive and stay up-to-date on your industry.

We’ve limited and categorized the list for easier handling.

Our goal is not to overwhelm you, but rather give you a solid foundation on which to get started.

Productivity Tips for Business Owners

Everyone is looking to save time and money, and no one is more eager to increase productivity than those running their own businesses.

Here are some simple, inexpensive tools to help.

1. Decide what’s vital versus what’s nice to do.

First off, you need to prioritize your tasks. Start by making lists of tasks you do on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis.

This can include small things like checking email, to large things like doing your taxes. You might be surprised by exactly how much you do on a regular basis.

Next, for each of these lists, prioritize the tasks.

Organize them in order of the things your business couldn’t live without to the things that would be nice to get done, but usually do not.

Finally, annotate next to each task how well you are able to complete them. Some annotations may include quick and easy, must be done by me, not good at it, time consuming, and similar.

Once you have done these things, you should be able to easily see what tasks are vital to your business, and which ones you are the most capable of completing.

With these things in mind, it’s time to move onto the next step.

2. Find out what your team is good at and delegate.

If you’re a solopreneur, you will want to skip to the next step.

For those small business owners with one or more employees, you will want to consider which tasks can be delegated from your to-do list to your employees.’

For example, let’s say that one of the tasks you want to delegate is creating content for your business blog. First, you will want to consider your employee’s interest and ability to do this task.

If you have a few employees that love the idea of writing for your blog and they have some time to devote each week to the task, then they would be the perfect people to delegate the task to.

On the other hand, if they are not good writers, or are fully consumed with other revenue generating activities, it might be better to go with the next step.

3. Understand the value of your time.

When you have tasks that would be better suited to a skilled expert, but you’re not ready to hire a full or part time employee, then outsourcing to a freelancer, contractor, or other professional might be a good alternative.

If your biggest objection is price, consider this:

How much money could you be making if you fully focused on the things you do best for your business, and leave the rest to others?

So instead of you spending a full day trying to figure out how to design a new logo for your business, spend your day generating revenue and use a fraction of that revenue to pay a designer.

And instead of stressing about your quarterly taxes, hand that job over to an accountant.

By outsourcing, you free up your time, reduce your stress level, and ensure someone better suited to it is getting the task done.

While it may feel like a hit to your bottom line, in the long run, it gives you time to focus on the areas of your business you really enjoy working on.

Also think about the random tasks that consume too much of your time. For example, use a scheduling tool like Calendar or Mixmax to organize meetings.

4. Batch your day into productive chunks.

One thing that can be time consuming in managing the day-to-day tasks in a business is bouncing back and forth between tasks.

The ability to focus on one task at a time and keep a consistent rhythm can make it easier to finish that task in less time.

This is why you want to batch the tasks you do as much as possible.

Let’s say that you are a solopreneur that has to handle emails from customers, packaging and shipping products, and marketing via your social media networks.

Instead of prepping an item to ship each time a sale comes in, answering emails each time the notification pops up on your desktop, and checking your social media networks in between, try batching.

  • Check and respond to emails at the beginning, middle, and end of the day.
  • Check social media network notifications and post a new update to your social media networks twice a day.
  • Set aside an hour or two before you need to leave to drop off packages or before your carrier comes to pick up packages to do shipping and handling preparation.

By doing this, you’ll get into a rhythm with each task instead of having to start and stop throughout the day.

This allows you to be productive with the time you would normally spend shifting gears from one task to another.

5. Monitor, measure, tweak, repeat.

Last, but not least, you need to monitor & measure your activities to see the profitability and efficiency in everything you do.

By analyzing your activities continuously, you can identify when one task is starting to take longer than usual, or when one task that was once profitable no longer is. Here are some examples.

  • By setting up Google Analytics, you can find out which online marketing activities are driving traffic to your website. If you see that Facebook generates more traffic than Twitter, for example, you’ll know that you need to focus more of your efforts towards Facebook.
  • By using unique coupon codes in your email marketing campaigns, you can find out whether your emails are generating more revenue than your paid marketing. 
  • By calculating how much an hour of your time is worth and using a timer to monitor how long it takes to do a specific task, you can find out whether something is taking long enough to justify delegating the task to an employee, hiring an employee to handle that task, or outsourcing it.

6. Get design help on the cheap.

Need some simple graphic design help for a logo, PPC banner or social media ad?

  • Check out Fiverr, where as little as $5 can go a long way.
  • You can also use a service like 99designs for help with logo and site design.
  • Depending on the complexity and quality you need, you can also search for a design agency.

7. Streamline your bookkeeping.

This is a huge pain point for many startup businesses. Although it pays to hire a professional as you grow, try QuickBooks and Xero when you’re starting out. Both integrate with one-click into BigCommerce.

8. Schedule social media.

Social media is a 24/7 gig. You should schedule your tweets and Facebook posts to make sure you’re regularly posting, plus test which times of day see the most engagement. Try for times not on the hour –– like 9: 13 a.m. or 1:47 p.m. Tools like Hootsuite and Buffer can provide a one-stop-shop for this type of work, maximizing your productivity.

9. Improve your email marketing.

Are you using your personal email for marketing? Stop! There are plenty of email marketing tools out there that will help you work smarter with pre-built templates, scheduling and list segmentation. Test out options like MailChimp, Constant Contact or Klaviyo.

10. Schedule shipping pickups.

At no extra charge (unless you want a time outside normal mail delivery hours), you can schedule your shipping provider to pick up a shipment rather than waiting in line at their offices. Check out options for FedEx, UPS and USPS.

11. Manage your email inbox.

Boomerang for Gmail schedules emails to automatically send based on criteria you set.

12. Collaborate and manage projects.

Trello is a great option for growing businesses struggling to manage it all. You get integrated file sharing, project management, workflow automation and centralized communication from any device. Also check out Slack or Pivotal Tracker as alternatives.

13. Share resources.

There are so many tools out there to help you share notes, ideas and even files. Try out Google Drive or Evernote as a start. For larger items like images and video, try Dropbox.

14. Take care of yourself.

Forgetting to take care of yourself is a common issue for entrepreneurs.

  • A Fitbit or similar device will help you stay active, monitor your sleep and eat right.
  • Try out a financial service like Mint to track what you’re spending.
  • Use a virtual assistant like EasilyDo to help you stay on top of your schedule.
  • Set up a few triggers on If This Then That to stay relevant on social networks without having to manually post.
  • Finally, download an app like that allows you set and track goals like increasing productivity, improving your health, etc.

Less work. More money.

Want more productivity tips and applications? Head on over to the BigCommerce app store for hundreds of one-click apps to maximize productivity and revenue.

Get the tools you need.

Keep Track of Great Content

There’s a lot of information out there concerning small businesses and ecommerce, and it can be difficult to keep track of it all.

Here are three tools to make sure you never miss a thing.

  • Google Alerts: Get email notifications at whatever cadence you’d like any time Google finds new results on your industry, competition, related news and more.
  • Feedly: Organize all the blogs and publications you like to read via a simple (and pretty) RSS feed.
  • TweetDeck: This powerful tool lets you see what everyone on Twitter is saying about your industry, get involved in tweetchats (and perhaps run your own), follow experts in ecommerce and track your competitors.

Follow the Best Blogs

Staying on top of industry information, government regulations, ecommerce best practices and marketing trends is key to your success.

Don’t forget to subscribe to your competitors’ blogs to keep abreast of your industry, products and how the competition markets themselves.

Also, don’t forget about the big guys like Inc, The Wall Street Journal and Entrepreneur.

Of course, there are countless great blogs out there to follow to help you sell more and educate you on the industry.

There are so many in fact that it’s hard to tell which are the most helpful.

So, I went out to the ecommerce experts and influencers and asked them: what blogs and publications do you recommend?

These are the people who were once in your exact shoes –– and have since found multi-million dollar success.

Here is what they read to help them stay on top of their game.

Alex Birkett, Growth Marketing Manager, HubSpot

I like Conductrics Blog and the Testing Discipline blog for tactical business info. You can tell they aren’t writing for BS reasons like social shares, and more to put good information out into the world.

I also like The Atlantic and FiveThirtyEight, though they aren’t business specific.

Jan Lastuvka, CEO & Co-Founder, MonkeyData

The Hubspot marketing blog is an absolute must for online entrepreneurs.

These guys have been in the game a long time, have a ton of great content, and, very important for me, great visuals, which helps to illustrate the results of their recommendations.

They also have a ton of other great resources that can help your business.

Everett Sizemore, Director of Marketing, Inflow

Aside from our own blog at Inflow, I recommend the Get Elastic ecommerce blog and Moz.

Jamie Turner, CEO, 60 Second Marketer

Right now, I’m a big fan of both The Hustle as well as Nate Silver’s website. Both are knocking it out of the park right now. Bravo.

Ted Rubin, Social Marketing Strategist, Keynote Speaker, Brand Evangelist and Acting CMO Brand Innovators

Harvard Business Review for great insights. has brilliant thought leadership.

Jason Dea, Director Product Marketing, Intelex

My favorite online resource for business information is actually Quora.

Once you get the hang of navigating the site, it’s incredible the type of advice and the caliber of advisers you can find in that community.

It’s a great example of how the internet has allowed us not just as entrepreneurs but people to connect in ways that were unheard of only a few years ago.

Andy Etemadi, CEO, EYEMAGINE

I get a lot of valuable information from LinkedIn Pulse and HubSpot’s sales and marketing blog.

There is so much good content on almost every topic that a simple search will return the relevant information I’m looking for.

Taylor Sicard, VP of Growth,

My favorite online business resource is Saastr.

Every business needs to grow and SaaS (Software-as-a-service) businesses are turning growth into a science.

Understanding how to use those key metrics to grow a SaaS company is extremely beneficial for an online store as they have to deal with the same challenges (customers acquisitions, customer retention, monthly recurring revenue, etc).

Ruthie Berber, Co-Marketing Manager, Yotpo

Not to do a shameless plug, but the Yotpo blog is packed with original data, unique customer case studies, and tons of deep dive how to’s.

It’s a super valuable resource for me when looking for the latest ecommerce tips, trends and benchmarks.

Adii Pienaar, Founder, Conversio

My suggestion here isn’t a must-read, as much as it’s a must-listen.

I have really enjoyed the ZenFounder podcast in the last year, because it uncovers some of the entrepreneurial challenges that aren’t spoken about as often.

I see so much advice for entrepreneurs that focuses on tactics or things they need to do within their business, but it ultimately neglects one of the most important parts of any business: the founder or entrepreneur.

The podcast has definitely helped me be more aware of my own triggers for bad (business) behavior or to just be more aware of when I need to take a break for example (to avoid burnout). As a result, I’ve definitely learnt to take much better care of myself.

Jacob Firuta, Content Manager, LiveChat

I was always a fan of the content HubSpot produces. You always get a two-for-one deal with them.

First, you can read up on all kind of topics, from email marketing to landing page creation. Second, you see the things they preach put into practice – either in their content or on their landing pages. Especially their reports are worth checking out!

Meni Morim, CEO and Co-founder, Findify

Without a shadow of a doubt, this blog. There are quite a lot of startup blogs out there, but nothing beats the Groove blog.

First of all, it’s honest, transparent, and humble.

They share everything, from the huge wins, to the horrible losses. They take you with them on their journey, which is incredibly inspiring.

An absolute MUST READ for any online business.

Sanjay Arora, CEO & Founder, Nextopia Software Corporation

I am a huge fan of Practical Ecommerce, as it’s a well-rounded source of ecommerce news and covers everything from marketing and social media to practical tips and strategies to improve your ecommerce store.

It’s a great resource for anyone working in the ecommerce industry as it publishes high-quality, informative content that can be applied to everyday business.

Grant Thomas, Digital Marketing Manager, Justuno

Ecommerce Influence has been my destination of late. Great for articles, podcasts and also have a members only community which gives you access to a bunch of free ecommerce marketing content.

Tracey Wallace, Editor-in-Chief, BigCommerce

I’d be remiss not to include myself, right?

Naturally, I firmly believe the BigCommerce Blog has tons of great insights and actionable info to help you grow.

But, insofar as what I’m reading everyday, I’m actually much more of a listener.

Here on the Podcasts topping my list:

  • On Being: Krista Tippett navigates the spiritual world like a saint herself, and the caliber of people she speaks with will blow your mind. This isn’t business related, but often the best business ideas come from outside the business box. So, listen up!
  • More Perfect: After watching Harvard’s Justice YouTube series, I’ve become obsessed with principles and philosophy and more More Perfect tells great stories around those 2 themes. Better yet, it covers how those two themes are the basis of everything in the U.S. (and the world). It’s great thinking for how mindset, beliefs, principles, and action impact our lives in both micro and macro ways.
  • The Tim Ferriss Show: This choice is pretty cliche, but the man does speak with some of the best in the industry –– and you get an inside look at how they live their lives to be so insanely productive. It’s a good place to get a few tips and try a few thing sout (i.e. meditation, which Krista Tippett would also recommend!).
  • Longform Podcast: This podcast talks with writers, interviews, editors and more about the process of storytelling and connecting with audiences. For any online marketer, it’s a must-listen. Customer loyalty is driven by engaging storytelling.
  • 2x Ecommerce: This podcast is how I ever even found Kunle Campbell (who writes often for the BigCommerce blog). Here, he talks with leading ecommerce experts on how to grow an already successful business (about $1M or so in revenue) to $10M or more. It is definitely more for an already experienced audience, but it is aspirational for anyone just starting up.

And, when I do read, it is often a Medium post, like this one: Why People Buy Things.

Want more insights like this?

We’re on a mission to provide businesses like yours marketing and sales tips, tricks and industry leading knowledge to build the next house-hold name brand. Don’t miss a post. Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

]]> 7
How to Conduct Online Market Research for Your Ecommerce Business Thu, 01 Feb 2018 14:00:44 +0000 Conducting market research for your ecommerce business ideas is not only wise, it’s essential. Taking the time to go through…]]>

Conducting market research for your ecommerce business ideas is not only wise, it’s essential.

Taking the time to go through this process will help you uncover whether or not there is a healthy demand around your business idea.

No matter how stellar you feel your idea is, you’ll want to spend some serious time evaluating market demand and gathering hard facts before you order 2,000 product units or sign any contracts.

In this chapter, you’ll learn to use your startup capital strategically.

When completing market research around your small business idea, there are several different methods you can use.

However, it’s always smart to use a combination of tactics to be certain you have an accurate picture of your market and make the best business decision possible.

1. Conduct keyword research.

Looking for a super easy, fast and free way to get a feel for your product or business demand?

The Google Keyword Planner helps you visualize how many people are searching for your business or product idea during any given time period.

An added bonus is that this tool will provide you with various related keywords which can help you generate ideas around which words to use in your:

  • Product name
  • Descriptions
  • Blog posts
  • Website as a whole.

Conducting keyword research will tell you what consumers are searching for all over the world.

If no one is looking for what you want to sell, that’s not a good sign.

On the other hand, if thousands of searches are being done for keywords closely related to your product, you might want to take the next step sooner rather than later.

How to Use Google AdWords Keyword Planner:
  1. Login.
  2. Go to the keyword planner tool page.
  3. Use the “Search for new keywords” option.
  4. Type in your desired keywords, each on a different line. You can also upload a list.
  5. View search volume results to target a specific, relevant keyword and group.
  6. Browse additional keyword suggestions to find new, relevant keywords to target.

Here is a photo breakdown of the process.

First, go to the Google AdWords planner tool and use the first drop down to type in your keywords.

I am selling line drawing online at Art Is Resistance, so I use:

  • Line art
  • Custom art
  • Drawings

Then, looking at the results – I can see that “drawing” is too broad. Instead, I should focus on line art given that it:

  • Has the highest search volume with the
  • Lowest competition and
  • Is the most relevant.

I also browse additional recommended or related keywords and find a whole new group of terms I should also target.

What do I mean by “target?”

These are the terms I want to pepper in to my:

  • Site copy
  • Product page copy
  • Meta titles
  • Meta descriptions
  • Social media copy
  • And more.

The Long Term Benefits of SEO

Our use of good SEO practices and Google AdWords has been particularly helpful to our growth as a company.

We have been fortunate in that we identified early on the key search terms that brought customers to out website and ultimately fine tuned our SEO and Google AdWords campaigns to accurately reflect these search terms.

– Ken Sadowsky, Co-Owner, Ribbon Warehouse

2. Find trends and put the big picture in perspective.

Another cool Google tool you can use is Google Trends.

Do a search for a product or business idea, and then view the directional search demand for that keyword throughout the past few years (you can go all the way back to 2005, as of this writing).

You can also compare the volume of searches between a few terms, geographic locales and even view how particular events affect search popularity.

Here’s how that looks for my original term: line art.

3. Examine social media.

Examining social media is a great way to start understanding the volume of conversations and mentions around your business idea.

Social media also helps uncover aspects of your target market that can inform your marketing efforts later.

By probing into all of the different social media channels out there, you’ll start to identify how potential customers talk about your product or industry as a whole.

This will help you learn their language so you can leverage it later via your product descriptions, blog posts, ads, social media and promotions.

Using the language of your target customers will help drive quality traffic to your site, build a loyal customer base and increase conversions.

  • Look into hashtags and what’s trending overall.
  • Use Instagram’s search tool the same way you did Google Trends.
  • Hashtag and type in your product to see how many others are using that hashtag, related hashtags and popular images.

You’ll want to use similar keywords and images on your social media accounts as well as on your webstore to engage the already socially active community.

Power in the Community

Our most successful marketing tactic to date has been engaging with the community on Instagram. We put a lot of time into original photography and growing our relationships with our Instagram followers – and it works wonders.

– Cody Martin, Co-Founder, Option Gray

4. Build an online store and test the waters to gain momentum.

Dive in and open an online store.

You can do this long before your product or service is ever developed to start driving traffic or even to collect some pre-orders.

A good ecommerce platform will have this option built-in to its product pages.

Here is what it looks like on BigCommerce:

But how easy is this to setup?

Here’s what it looks like on the backend:

And here is the click of a button to set it up and live:

You can even add in expected release dates, and schedule for it to be live.

This tactic can help you gain immediate feedback from your target consumer or gauge demand for your product before manufacturing or buying inventory.

Create some ads on Google and Facebook and spread the news via word-of-mouth.

You’ll be able to start attracting potential customers who can provide feedback, sign up for your mailing list, or be placed on a waitlist to be notified when the product has launched.

The investment community is more likely give money to a company that has shown proven market demand by collecting pre-orders or signups from real consumers.

A word of caution: make sure your website is clear in communicating that your product or service is not ready to ship.

Also, provide an estimated date for release and details around whether or not you will provide refunds.

You’re not trying to take people for a ride — you simply want to test the waters and gain momentum to carry you to the next step.

Routes to Building an Audience without a Product

This is tricky, but doable.

Leveraging an already existing audience to sell new product to is a great way to quickly scale a business, and there are various ways to do this.

Launch a Narrative Brand

Narrative brand’s do  incredibly well online.

This is because they use content to drive organic traffic and engage audiences on social media platforms.

Casper is a great example of a narrative brand.

Their Van Winkle blog attracts hundreds and thousands of monthly readers – giving rise to the overall Casper brand and building long-term trust with readers.

But, let’s look at something a bit more realistic for startup businesses.

Spearmint Love is another brand which used a narrative long before selling any products (read more about their incredible story here).

Shari Lott started the Spearmint Baby Blog is 2009 after the birth of her first child.

The blog reviewed products and gave advice, eventually earning her thousands of Facebook and Instagram followers –– many of whom were asking her where they could buy the goods.

Three years in, Sheri decided to launch her own store, selling the items she most loved.

Today, Spearmint Love has hundreds and thousands of followers, and is about to relaunch the blog to continue educating and engaging customers for the long-haul.

Use Kickstarter or IndieGoGo

Kickstarter and IndieGoGo give you the crowdfunding platform and audience to build a customer base and an email list.

The support you garner on these sites gives you communication access and eventually product-touting people who can spread word-of-mouth marketing.

Plenty of businesses have taken this route to launch, and even use it for new product launches as well.

Native Union for instance does this on IndieGoGo.

New products are launched on that platform, and when they gain enough support, the team builds the product and launches it on their site.

Leverage Kickstarters Audience

Kickstarter has a huge customer base that wants new things and we had a new product.

We believe our teabook teas are stories and who better to tell that story than those doing it professionally and have an audience.

– Noah, Founder, Teabook Teas

5. Leverage your networks and get a temperature check.

Leveraging your digital networks is a must, including your Twitter, Facebook and Instagram followings.

These folks are all potential customers who can help gauge interest, fulfill some test orders and offer valuable feedback at every step of the journey.

Make sure to let them know you want real, honest feedback, not that sugar-coated stuff that serves no purpose.

Here are some great forums to get honest feedback:

Your Network. Your Community. Your Value.

Do everything in your power to create as much value as you can.

All facets of your business can create value, not just the product that you sell.

  • Giving back to your community creates value.
  • Inspiring others creates value.
  • Providing opportunities to others creates value.

The more value that you create, the more buoyant your business will become.

– Jason Harrington, Owner, Lullaby Sound

6. Scope the competition.

You’ll want to take a look at your competition at this point in time to get a lay of the land.

Here are a couple questions to start you off:

  • Is there a clear owner of the space?
  • Is the market saturated with competitors?
  • Can you spot a weakness in the competition that you can take advantage of?

Don’t get discouraged if the market feels full at first glance.

That just means you’ll want to take a deeper look to see if each site is actually performing well or if there is an opportunity for improvement.

So often those businesses that come to market first make mistakes in the uncharted territory.

Think about MySpace and Facebook or even Yahoo and Google. Often, the second-comer wins customer loyalty.

No Product is Without Competition

People buy your story and your product. Not many products or services are without competition, and the consumer has many choices.

You have to be relevant through concentrating upon the market you like to serve. It shows when you like your customers and provide a product that meets or exceeds their expectations.

We strive for those goals daily and try to focus our team to be part of it.

– M. Carey, Co-owner, Spartan Blades

7. Google it.

This may seem obvious, but many potential entrepreneurs don’t search for market data or surveys on their industry or specific business idea before launching.

By completing just a few quick searches, you can end up with a vivid picture of the market opportunity for your idea, which will help to justify or trash your proposed product.

Here are a few ecommerce and retail industry publications to check out:

In the next chapter, you’ll learn how to categorize your competitors before you conduct a complete competitive analysis.

Want more insights like this?

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]]> 8
How to Create, Setup and Launch a Profitable Online Store (Seriously) Thu, 01 Feb 2018 14:00:07 +0000 If you’re just dropping in to this guide here, then we have a lot to cover! First, this is one…]]>

If you’re just dropping in to this guide here, then we have a lot to cover!

First, this is one chapter in a 9-chapter guide on how to start a profitable online business.

We’ve covered everything from laws and nuances to how to source product to even giving you a free startup template for a competitive analysis in your industry.

Let’s review really quickly.

Learn How to Create Your Own Online Store:

how to create an online store

You may be wondering why the actual launching of an online store is a chapter so late in the game for a guide on How to Start an Online Business.

The answer is simple: planning is the key to starting a successful online store with long-term success.

And, planning isn’t hard.

The first step is simply to get started.

Here’s what we’ve covered in terms of planning up to this point to prepare smart entrepreneurs for the next step: actually going live!

1. Decide what to sell.

You have two choices here – commoditized or unique products.

By and large online, unique products sell best. So, find yourself a product niche you are passionate about or one that is trending.

Bonus points if you can manage to find both. Google Trends can help you spot trends. For passion, you’ll have to look deep within yourself.

Reference Chapter 1 for a breakdown with examples of how other entrepreneurs found niche success.

2. Make sure you can actually sell it.

Beyond other people potentially wanting to buy what you are selling (which is another exercise almost entirely), it is important that you consider the challenges in your product niche before you move forward with launching a store.

For instance, have you thought about your product’s weight and size? Sure, you might be able to sell your item for much less than the competition, but will shipping costs obliterate your margins? They will if your item is too big or heavy.

Reference chapter 2 for more information.

3. Get to know other people who are selling it (and already buying it).

Online competition is fierce, and your best offense is a good defense.

Or, rather, your best offense is knowing your competition thoroughly and differentiating yourself in the market.

At this stage of the game, you’ll want to do some keyword research. Then, you’ll want to get a good understanding of your product market and the overall trends driving that market.

Read chapter 3 for more information on how to do this effectively.

4. Analyze what your closest competitors are doing.

Now that you have a better feel for the lay of the land, use this competitive analysis template to get a top level view of your top 10 competitors in the space.

Remember, there are three types of competitors: primary, secondary and tertiary.

You want to have a good eye on each of them. Pinpoint strengths and weakness of each brand. Note where they are selling. All of this will help you to easily find the holes in the market. Those holes are yours to fill.

Reference chapter 4 for more detail.

5. Make sure you aren’t breaking any laws.

Of course, before you begin anything, double check that your business is operating within the confines of the law where you’re selling  — local, state, federal and even international, if applicable.

This applies both before you launch (i.e. can you legally sell that?) and even after you launch (i.e. have you paid the proper taxes?). This can get complicated, and different states have different rules.

Grab yourself some coffee and sit down for a legal lesson in online sales.

6. Identify your market (and your differentiators).

Now that you have your competitive analysis on lockdown, you can easily identify your target market.

This will be the market that is interested in the product, but is currently underserved. You’ll use this targeting in determining your brand look and feel, tone and overall point of view. You want your brand to be the trustworthy confident of these underserved customers in a trending category.

So, speak to them like you are.

7. Source your product.

And once you have all the background information figured out, it is time to source your product.

Will you dropship, make the item in house or use a 3PL? The answer to this is different for every single brand, even within the same selling category. There are benefits and pitfalls to all of your options.

Figure out which one works best for your margins, your sales channel and your customer’s expectations.

8. Choose the right ecommerce solution.

There are a few basic things you need to keep in mind while choosing an ecommerce platform for your business such as necessary functionality, cost and what types of third party integrations are needed.

Choosing An Ecommerce Platform:

Now that you’ve done all the research, it’s time to choose your ecommerce platform, build your store, and launch your online brand.

The vast majority of new online stores today choose to go with a SaaS solution like BigCommerce (even B2B businesses are making the transition to online).

This is because there is:

  • A low cost to entry
  • No costly development or technical headaches
  • A scalable framework that’s designed to help you grow.

Look for a platform with a great community of people both running it and using it who will testify to their success on the solution.

Get on their forum, check out their blog and take a peek at their support materials.

1. Ask the right questions when considering an online store platform.

Next, make sure you ask all the right questions before you commit.

You can connect with sales and support staff to get your burning questions answered, or test out features yourself by starting  a free trial.

Just make sure you go through the following ecommerce planning checklist for each platform you consider:

Ecommerce Platform Functionality Checklist:
  • Does their website builder have everything I need, including drop down menus or an editor?
  • How simple is the platform to use? Do I feel comfortable using it?
  • Does it offer reliable hosting? Will my site stay up even when I get a flood of traffic?
  • Who is going to be there to support me when I have questions? Do I need to pay for support?
  • Will the platform support the type of products I want to sell? If the product has variations, how does the platform display all of these options? How simple is that to manage?
  • Is there a limit to how many products I can sell? Are there any transaction fees?
  • Can I sell directly to customers on Facebook, eBay, Amazon, and Pinterest without managing separate inventories?
  • How do I manage inventory?
  • What options do I have to accept payments? Should I use PayPal or Stripe for credit cards? How much do they cost?
  • What options can I offer for shipping?
  • What are my options for themes? How customizable are those themes?
  • How will my store look on a mobile device? Can I customize the mobile experience?
  • How do I show up for Google search results and improve my search engine optimization (SEO)?
  • Does it offer integrations with additional applications so I can customize my ecommerce business as it grows? Do I need to pay for any additional functionality I might need?
  • Are there open APIs I can use to customize and automate my business grows so I won’t have to migrate to a new solution?
  • What are the out-of-the-box UX features that will make it easier for customers to shop on my site (i.e. faceted search, HTTPS, etc.)? Do I have to pay for these features?
  • How will this platform help me show up in search engines so potential customers can find my online store?
  • What material is available to help me learn more about growing my online business?

Even after you get the answers to these questions, make sure you take the ecommerce solution for a spin before signing up for a plan.

Most solutions off at least a 14 day free trial. Take advantage of that!


The remaining steps are some of the top concerns for new store owners when looking for an ecommerce platform.

2. Compare the cost of platforms.

Ecommerce platforms are not free.

The services they offer combine the need for multiple technologies all in one:

  • Hosting
  • Checkout
  • Payments
  • PCI compliance
  • Fraud
  • DDoS attacks
  • Analytics and more.

And, they organize all of this on the backend so it’s easy for you to access every point you need.

Their pricing models do differ, though, and it’s crucial that you research your options. Pay special attention to what is included at each price point.

For instance, it costs roughly $6,000 – $20,000 more per year for Shopify merchants to achieve feature parity with the out-of-the-box functionality of BigCommerce.

Don’t believe it?

Shopify vs. BigCommerce:

As of February 2018. 

Functionality Price on Shopify Price on BigCommerce
Product shipping dimensions

$228 – $1,200

$0, Built In

Related product recommendations

$108 – $2,000

$0, Built In

Quantity breaks

$180 – $1,200

$0, Built In

Expanded customer info gathering forms

$72 – $840

$0, Built In

Swatch options

$60 – $120

$0, Built In

Hide out of stock products


$0, Built In

Simple email marketing capabilities

$0 – $60

$0, Built In

Custom form fields

$0 – $230

$0, Built In

Low / out of stock notifications

$0 – $180


$0, Built In


Low stock levels on live store


$0 – $120


$0, Built In


Customers also purchased… feature


$60 – $70


$0, Built In


Other product option selection buttons


$96 – $180


$0, Built In


Faceted search


$3,000 – $6,000


$0, Built In


Discounts (BOGO, cart-level, etc)


$228 – $1,200


$0, Built In


Edit placed orders




$0, Built In


Customers can edit account info




$0, Built In


Calculates shipping rates on cart page




$0, Built In


Basic bundling




$0, Built In


Wishlist capabilities




$0, Built In


Product pre-order




$0, Built In


Show product CTAs, post order




$0, Built In


Checkout checkbox terms




$0, Built In


Product quick view




$0, Built In

Product comparisons



$0, Built In

Product cost / ability to calculate profit


$0, Built In


Bulk 301 redirect import



$0, Built In

Customer group discounting



$0, Built In

Image optimization / resizing



$0, Built In

Category / Sub-category structure



$0, Built In

Gift wrap & ship to multiple addresses



$0, Built In

Reorder functionality



$0, Built In

Digital products



$0, Built In

Customer credit



$0, Built In

Login to view price



$0, Built In

Total Additional Cost on Top of Subscription Fee



Thinking About Magento?

Not so fast.

On-premise solutions like Magento are often much more expensive than SaaS solutions like BigCommerce or Shopify.

Use this total cost of ownership calculator to determine exactly how much more you’d be paying for your specific business.

3. Determine which platform is best for your store’s design.

Your site’s design is a fundamental part of your business.

It is your first foot forward with your consumers. And today’s consumers are used to excellent web design and UX.

When starting up a online store, it’s important to find a theme or template that best represents your brand.

Also, you want one that is customizable enough for immediate differentiation at launch and for long-term growth overtime.

Most platforms have free and paid for themes.

I recommended starting trails with your top ecommerce platform choices, uploading filler content to the backend and then previewing your site on multiple themes to see what will work best for you.

Look specifically for attention to device size, ease of use, customizability and scalability over time.

Here’s how you would do this in BigCommerce.





4. Test store functionality and ease of use.

When it comes to ease of use, you want to be able to do your job (typically marketing your brand) without having to also become a technologist.

This means that the platform needs to be easy to navigate, setup properly and use over time.

Here are a few things to look for.

Setup Flow

Does the platform offer an easy setup flow, explaining everything you need to do before you launch, including loading in products, setting up taxes, domain name registration, payment processing and the like?

Here’s how BigCommerce walk you through it.



Product and SKU Management

Bulk uploading products from CSV files is a much faster way to add products to your catalog once you have the basics set up.

Be sure the platform you are on allows this, especially if you have a large or growing catalog.


One-Click App Marketplace

You’ll want a plethora of one-click apps or already built-in integrations to help you grow without having to hire developers.

Use your platform’s App Store to browse and integrate tools you want or need to use.


Centralized Channel Management

The current state of ecommerce in omnichannel.

Customers shop everywhere and anywhere –– and it’s important that your product be there so you can win the sale. Once you launch and begin to see sales, you’ll likely want to expand pretty quickly into additional channels.

With many ecommerce platforms, you’ll then be required to manage both your ecommerce site platform as well as the platform of any other channel.

This can get confusing, and even get you kicked out of certain marketplaces for unintentionally breaking the rules.

Look instead for a centralized channel management platform where you can push your product directly over, manage price points, product descriptions and more without ever level the page.


5. Determine the scalability & customizability of the platform.

Because you’ve planned your business so well, over time you will grow. And as you grow, you’ll need additional support from your ecommerce platform.

What kind of support?

Well, that is hard to predict. Every business is unique. That’s why many brands use APIs to customize and automate their stores based on their needs.

Businesses in their infant stage aren’t quite to this point, but it’s something you want to plan for if you intend to scale (and if you’re reading this then you probably do).

Plan well for this stepping stone in your brand’s growth and look for platforms with trusted and fast APIs.

Some platforms limit API calls at 2 requests/sec. On request, they might up this to 10 requests/sec.

That’s fine for the short-term, but it doesn’t allow for real-time syncing of catalogs or immediate data pushes (so you can automate fulfillment at various warehouses, for instance).

BigCommerce’s API allows for 100s of requests per second. To translate that, BigCommerce updating a 25,000 product catalog vs. other platforms updating that same catalog is roughly 60 seconds versus two hours. Four hours, even, if you are referring to the 2 requests/sec.

Think long-term here. Your future self won’t have that time

Launching Your Online Store:

Now that you’ve picked a platform, committed to a product and worked on winning over a target audience, we can focus on essential tips for creating and launching your store.

Sure, you could whip a website together in a few hours, throw it up on the internet and just wait to see what happens.

But I’m going to ruin the surprise and let you know you’ll only have a handful of visitors and an empty bank account to show for it.

1. Ensure your online store looks professional.

If you want to have a viable online business, you need to focus on quality from the get go.

You need to build a store that looks professional, attracts the right kind of customers and has the right calls to action once they arrive.

These next three steps are going to show you the basic blueprint to make sure you’ve got the right stuff to run a successful online store.

It’s not about your website, it’s about your product.

It is very easy to blur the lines of “design” and “functionality” when building your online store.

Not to say that design isn’t important, an attractive website design can drive online sales. But your design shouldn’t outshine what you are trying to sell.

Take Risks. Make Great Things. Don’t Zero in On Only Design

My advice to folks starting up is to not be scared, to just try it! Honestly, BigCommerce makes it so easy to start an ecommerce brand.

For me, what I would have done differently is I spent a lot of time developing the brand, the brand look and feel. It looks great, but it’s evolving over time as I learn more about my customer. I think the hardest thing for me is to not be precious about the brand and to take risks right now. Make the product great. Take risks. Focus less on design.

Even though I’m with it every day and thousands of women now know about and love Andie, we’re still very small. The vast majority of women do not know about Andie.

There’s so much room to grow, so now’s the time to test everything, go crazy and try wild things. I try to remember that every day.

– Melanie Travis, Founder, Andie Swim

Make your products the star of the show!

Online shoppers will decide if they trust and want to purchase from your website in about three to five seconds.

That means you need to have a simple, trustworthy and easy-to-use website.  

What you are selling and where a customer needs to go to find it should be crystal clear. Resist the urge to overload your website with so much “stuff” that people get overwhelmed or lose patience waiting for everything to load.

Marucci Sports is a great example of clean, focused design. Their unique product is front and center in every way.

Marucci Sports-design

Build your design on the right foundation.

Don’t worry about colors or logos yet. Start by by selecting a design template that really showcases your products or services.

Your website should serve as a tool for effective online shopping. Overly styled sites run the risk of distracting customers rather than guiding them towards checkout.

Secondly, while picking a design template, make sure that the navigation menu is clear and does not overwhelm your customers.

By having clear navigation you will be able to present various product categories and ensure your customers know where to go within your store and also never get lost.

If you only have a handful of product categories, selecting a theme with menu navigation across the top will work great.

However, if you have loads of products and categories, think about consolidating them as best you can (get feedback from friends and family if you need an outsider’s perspective) and choose from the templates that have navigation running down the left or right side.

You don’t want to force shoppers to scroll far down the page to get the information they need. Potential customers should be able to see nearly all of the relevant and compelling parts of your site upon arrival.

Best yet, if you have a lot of categories, use your homepage to let customers self select their shopping journey.

Last, but certainly not least, make sure whatever design template you choose has a rock solid mobile version as well.

You will 100% lose sales if you don’t provide your customers with a good mobile experience and streamlined checkout process.

Rather than quote stats, I want you to answer one simple question:

How much distance is between you and your mobile device right now? Is it right beside you? Is it in your pocket or purse right beside you? Are you reading this blog post on your smartphone or tablet?

Yeah, I thought so.

Get all the nuts and bolts in place.

There are a few key pieces you need to put in place to make sure your store is ready to accept orders.

The following steps are essential in helping you launch your store and setting you up for long-term success.

2. Pick a payment gateway.

If you want to get paid, this is a pretty important step!

Payment gateways are how you collect money from your customers. Your ecommerce platform can tell you what gateways work with their system.

Bigcommerce supports over 60 different payment gateways and features one-click, digital wallet options like Apple Pay and PayPal One-Touch.

Once you have a list of options, you need to get the full picture of how it works and how it will affect your bottom line.

You also want to pick something that can grow with your business. So before you lock yourself in, ask the following questions about each payment solution:

  • Are there set up fees?
  • Are there monthly and/or transaction fees?
  • Are there penalty fees? If so, what triggers them?
  • Is there a minimum balance requirement?
  • What about transfer delays?
  • When I need help or support who do I contact? How do I contact them? What hours are they available?

Pro Tip

Ecommerce platforms like BigCommerce can help you get the lowest possible rates. For instance, the rate offered to BigCommerce customer who use PayPal powered by Braintree is the lowest possible one out there. Research it. Go ahead. We’ll wait.

“Relative to our sales, the cost of BigCommerce is negligible. The Braintree rates alone can easily pay for what your store costs.”

– John McCann, CEO, Spectrum Audio

3. Set up shipping integrations.

This step can feel a little overwhelming to someone just starting an online store.

Shipping options depend heavily on your product, your business model, your target audience and your ecommerce solution.

The trick is making sure all of these factors are working together. Fortunately we have some tried-and-true best practices to put your mind at ease and increase your sales.

Shipping is an important value proposition for your store. It has the power to attract customers, but it can also push customers away.

So if you are new to selling online, think about starting small.

That means you may want to stick with domestic shipping and master that before you dive into international shipping.

There are a couple tips to keep in mind when you’re getting started with online shipping.

  1. Start by researching your competition, you may uncover some really great insights on what works and what doesn’t in your category.
  2. Make your shipping policies are very straight forward, this will prevent confusion or surprises, making it more likely the your potential customer will follow through with their purchase.
  3. Lastly, offer multiple shipping options based on different shipping speed or carriers. How quickly a shopper gets their product can be just as important as how much they pay for shipping.

Now, if you can offer free shipping on your products, do it! According to a BigCommerce and Square study, high shipping costs are the number one reason for cart abandonment.

You can actually increase your average order value with free shipping or by offering free shipping at a minimum order amount.

Getting something for free has a huge impact on the psychology of making a purchase. Also, if you can provide local pick-up as an option, you should. It’s often easier for everyone involved, plus the customer doesn’t have to pay any shipping costs.

On the back end, you need to plan and organize your order fulfillment process.

A lot of new merchants neglect this step, and that can be extremely detrimental to your business as you grow.

If your products are sprawled across your coffee table right now, you have work to do. Even if you only carry a few items, you need to work drafting up a procedure for what happens when an order come in.

Here are the questions you should answer around fulfillment:

  1. How do you know you have an order?
  2. How do you print the invoice? How do you print the packing slip?
  3. What packaging materials do you need?
  4. What information goes with the product in the box? Directions for assembly or use, batteries or additional parts? Maybe a thank you note or coupon? The options are endless.
  5. What does the presentation look like when opening the box? Does the look and feel of your packaging reflect your brand?
  6. How do you organize products that need to be shipped? Are they in bins, refrigerators, rooms or a warehouse? Can you place the product location in your online store so it prints on the invoice for a more streamlined approach?

If you don’t spend time planning out this process, your customers may not get their orders on time, which makes for a bad first impression.

You’ve already turned a browser into a buyer, so do everything you can to keep them happy and coming back for more.

4. Setup taxes properly.

We’re talking about taxes for your business at this point, not local sales tax. So this step is pretty short and sweet — talk to a tax professional.

This doesn’t necessarily have to be an accountant or CPA, it can also be a state comptroller or another authority on taxes in your area.

They will help you do things like attain your tax ID and understand your area’s tax classes, rates and structure. All of this can vary from location to location.

Trust me, you’ll save money and headaches in the long run by consulting a pro.

5. Choose a great domain name.

Picking a domain name is critical. It is your web address as well as your brand and an important marketing tool.

Your domain name will serve as a way for potential customers to find you and then come back to buy more. So keep it simple. Resist the urge to include difficult spellings or unknown acronyms.

If you have an established business already, don’t change lanes and switch your domain!

Choosing a credible domain will instill confidence in customers and build customer loyalty, so take your time.

The Ultimate Guide to Ecommerce SEO.

Your domain name is important for a variety of reasons – but likely the most important reason is because it is the URL off which you will build your entire brand. And that means it is the bedrock of your SEO strategy. 

Make it irrelevant to the products you sell, and you’ll have a long road ahead of you in communicating to Google (and the world) what you site is about. 

Learn more about SEO best practices in the guide below.

The SEO basics you need to know.

6. Set up analytics to measure your success.

You need data and benchmarks to grow your business.

We recently highlighted 55 ecommerce metrics you should be tracking. Download the spreadsheet to get started with that here.

To start, examine your platform’s in-store analytics.

At the minimum, your platform should be able to help you with basic metrics like:

  • Unique visitors
  • Conversion rate
  • Most popular products
  • Average revenue per customer.

Also take a peek at platform options like in-store site search that could provide you with valuable insights into what your customers are looking for.

It’s pretty safe to say that no matter what, you should use Google Analytics for your online business.

This will help you understand what the search giant sees happening both inside and outside your store. Google Analytics can give you the following insights to help you expand and improve your business:

  • Get to know your target audience
  • Track where shoppers come from, where they go and where they leave
  • Track how your visitors engage with your store
  • The ability to annotate your efforts

That last one is my personal favorites. You can tag the important actions or events on your timeline, like adding new products or a sale, so you can see the impact they have on your store.

Talk about efficient!

Analytics in general are a key element in helping you act on facts rather than assumptions about your customers and business.

6 Data Driven Strategies to Sell More Now

Read the full free article here or click below to get the downloadable PDF to print out.

Data-driven strategies to growth.

Online Store FAQ:

Can you make an online store for free?

Many open-source platforms are free, but can have steep learning curves and added fees for functionality. To expedite online store setup, SaaS solutions are often a better option because they have all necessary functionality and a free trial (to test the software), but do cost a monthly fee.

How easy is it to create an online store website?

Setting up an online store has become easier because it no longer requires advanced technical knowledge. For example, many platforms allow you to use well-designed themes, easily add products, set up payments, shipping and other necessary functionality to quickly launch your store.

When should a business start creating an online store?

Businesses that do not sell online have are at a huge disadvantage because online sales are rapidly increasing each year. A business should launch an online store ASAP to take advantage of this growing trend and add additional revenue to their company.

How do you set up an online store quickly?

Time is money when setting up an online store. It is much faster to utilize a SaaS ecommerce platform to launch your web store. There are many open-source ecommerce platforms you can download and install yourself but it will require technical knowledge.

How much does it cost to build your own online store?

Building an online store yourself can be expensive due to hosting, development work and security costs. These costs also increase as your traffic and sales do. Luckily a solution like BigCommerce costs $29.95/month to quickly launch a web store and can be upgraded as your company grows.

Is building an online store complex?

The complexity of building an online store will vary. If you are building a customized solution it will likely require technical expertise. If you are creating an online store with a SaaS solution it is possible to quickly build and launch a web store

What are common mistakes made after launching an online store?

  1. Thinking all you need is a store (and that customers will magically find it).
  2. Not tracking your conversions with Google Analytics ecommerce tracking.
  3. Not having a marketing plan to drive customers to your store.
  4. Not utilizing the power of social media.
  5. Not implementing an ecommerce SEO strategy.
  6. Forgetting to create and about and contact page.
  7. Not having a customer service plan.
  8. Using low-quality product images and bad descriptions.

You’re Ready to Launch

Tackle these key areas — site functionality, business basics and analytics — and you’ll have created the solid foundation you need to build out your online store.

Now, you’ll need to read up on how to drive traffic to your online store.

Want more insights like this?

We’re on a mission to provide businesses like yours marketing and sales tips, tricks and industry leading knowledge to build the next house-hold name brand. Don’t miss a post. Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

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How to Build an Ecommerce Sales Funnel to Drive Growth [21 Examples + a Free Workshop] Fri, 19 Jan 2018 14:46:47 +0000 Online sales accounted for 11.7% ($394.9 billion USD) of total retail sales last year, according to the U.S. Department of…]]>

Online sales accounted for 11.7% ($394.9 billion USD) of total retail sales last year, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

That’s up 15.6% year-over-year.

With this move to online, having an ecommerce presence is no longer innovative enough to win you sales.

No matter your industry.

Instead, retailers need sound strategies to drive business growth — that means:

  1. Retaining existing customers
  2. Attracting new ones by meeting them when and where they shop.

To help drive that growth, online brands need to think about their consumer and that individual’s buying journey.

One way to model the consumer journey is through a funnel, starting at the top with awareness and going through to an ultimate, final action — a purchase.

Though a consumer’s journey through the funnel is not linear, it provides businesses with a strategic framework from which to build out a plan.

Below are the four stages to the funnel, what the goals of each stage are and examples for bringing those stages to life.

In all, we’ve brought you 21 examples showing you exactly how other online brands are building their funnel –– and how you can, too.

Build an Ecommerce Sales Funnel to 2X Growth

Real feedback from real workshop attendees:

“I have almost doubled my internet sales using only 3 points from this workshop.

Plus, I do zero paid marketing.

The full hour is worth every second!”

That story can be yours, too. Register now. 

Get The Data Now

The Awareness Stage

  • What it is: The “top of funnel” is the first stage in the sales funnel; it’s the awareness stage.
  • When it matters: This is where potential customers become aware of your business and offerings (e.g. a product or a service) and how it may solve a pain point.
  • Keep in mind: The potential customer may not even know they have a problem that you could solve. Therefore, the goal of this stage in the funnel is to make the potential customer aware by focusing on content — or information — that identifies consumer segments, highlights a potential problem and introduces your brand.

Think of the awareness stage as an initial conversation between you and the potential customer.

You both are getting to know each, with the potential customer demonstrating some interest. Introduce yourself.

Do not try to make a hard sell.

In practice, this can take many forms.

The B2C Awareness Stage

If you’re an ecommerce B2C brand selling razor blades, for instance, your initial interaction with the potential customer could take the form of content that tries to draw people into the brand’s website or community.

Take a look at Dorco’s Shave Talks content site, for example.

The brand isn’t hard selling their razors.

Instead, the goal is to education –– bring the customer along to journey to begin to think they may need a different razor.

That’s always the first step.

Look at a few of the examples they are using to really hit on pain points potential customers may be having, and then educating them on how to solve for those.

  • The goal is to become a valuable resource for people looking for solutions – which Dorco happens to have.
  • The goal –– again –– is to give value long before the brand gets anything in return.

Check out some these content pieces Dorco is using to achieve those 2 goals:

In general, this content provides information that the customer may find valuable.

It may even solve a problem — whether they knew it beforehand or not — that they have.

Again, this content in the awareness stage does not attempt to sell anything.

The B2B Awareness Stage

Likewise, a B2B brand needs to offer up similar content that tries to be a valuable resource and not a hard sell.

In the case of the B2B brand, though, your content might be very specific to a particular audience — the C-suite, product managers, marketers, etc. — and it may offer up more thought leadership and technical content.

Freund Container is a great example of this.

This B2B brand provides valuable content resources to prospective buyers, getting down and dirty in the details to educate customers.

Here’s a 3 step walk through of some of their helpful content in the awareness stage (which is also good for SEO!).

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

The Role of SEO in the Awareness Stage

Driving awareness of your brand is not just about content, though.

Whether the potential customer is searching for a product (e.g., razor blades for men) or trying to find a solution to a problem they have (e.g., eliminating ingrown hairs), they will likely do an online search.

Your job, then?

Be one of the first batch of results that populate the search results.

According to Ignite Visibility, a digital marketing firm, position 1 on Google receives a 44.64% click-through rate.

That number drops to 28.92 percent for the result in position 2, and 17.26 percent for the result in position 10.

Let’s take a look at how Dorco is doing with a “mens razors” keyword search:

As you can see, by having a well-honed search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) strategy, you can increase your chances of catching your customer’s eye.

Dorco’s SEM strategy is strong given the competitive market – allowing it to rank #2 in the ad placements.

Similarly, it’s men’s shaving category page ranks #3 on Google for a high traffic, very brand-relevant keyword.

But look at what would happen to their traffic if they could move to #2…

Google uses a handful of barometers to gauge which sites it delivers to searchers, including site speed, relevance and mobile-readiness.

Above, you’ll see Ahrefs pulls in Domain Ranking as well –– showing that one quick fix Dorco could make is increasing its DR.

You do that by getting more links from other sites with high DR.

Here are three things you can do to help boost your brand’s Google search engine ranking.

  1. Improve site speed by using the HTTP/2 network protocol by accepting multiple concurrent requests and therefore reduce dormancy. Faster speed can also be achieved by limiting 404 errors, too many redirects and orphaned pages.
  2. Shift your focus from content quantity to content quality. Previously, Google rewarded sites for their breadth of content. No more. Today, sites with well-researched, organized content, with an emphasis on multi-media, are in favor. Why? Because backlinks matter (as you can see in the Ahrefs chart above). And you only get backlinks from quality sites when you publish quality content.
  3. Make sure your site is mobile-optimized. How long someone stays on your site and what they do there (click, for instance) matters. Google reads this as engagement, and the more engagement you have, the higher you rank. Why? Because engagement indicates that they content is answering the query the user input. If your site isn’t mobile-optimized, folks won’t stay on your site long and Google will lower your ranking.

Here are a few next steps your brand can take to increase your search results ranking and drive increased awareness stage traffic.

1. Write long-form, educational content including video and/or downloadables.

Google measures engagement on a page, and anything that gets someone to click counts.

A good way to do this is via a lookbook or on-site magazine, which requires –– you guessed it –– clicking!

Check out LEMS’ below (or the version on the site here).

Or Natori’s here (or the site version here).

2. Create educational videos about your brand and why you started.

Use those in blog posts and on your homepage –– as well as in Facebook ads.

BombTech Golf does this well –– both using videos to tell the brand’s story and advertising that on Facebook to drive fans and conversions.

Here’s their getting started video (with more than 12,000 views).

3. Create short, educational videos or visual content that showcase your product.

Use those to advertise on Facebook and in blog posts to drive traffic.

And use personality, too!

See how GoRuck makes this work with their visual blog content.

See the entire post here.

Here is another great example from Renogy.

They sell B2C solar panels – and must do a lot of leg work to educate customers on why they need them, how they are made and their long-term value. They use tons of content, calculators and more to do this – as well as this video.

4. Create tools to help educate consumers and build trust with your brand.

Speaking of Renogy and the calculators they have created, these are great examples of tools to help educate your audience.

Tools like these help potential new customers dive deeper into the benefits and bring them closer to the purchasing phase.

Plus, they generate high SEO value due to the engagement that occurs on the page.

Let’s look at another example – well, 2 – from

NaturallyCurly uses tools to educate those with curly hair on their type and what to expect in the coming days. They do this with two tools (and push their product through them as well).

First, the Texture Quiz – which lets people know what type of curly hair they have (and the products that go best with it).

Here’s the full page.

They also have a Frizz Forecast that allows folks to drop in their zip code and will show them their hair forecast for the next few days.

Editor’s note: mine is *always* frizzy. The perils of living in Austin, Texas. Here’s the full page.

The Interest Stage

  • What it is: The second stage of the sales funnel is the “interest” phase.
  • When it matters: When a potential customer moves into this stage of the funnel, it means they are interested in your brand’s story or the pain point you may be solving. They are, well, interested in learning more.
  • Keep in mind: Just because a potential customer is aware of a brand and its products and/or services, it doesn’t mean that the potential customer has an interest.

It may just be bad timing for some.

For others, there can be varying lengths of “awareness” that stretch out over days, weeks, months, and so on. Or, there will be those you might not be able to interest at all.

This is to be expected. Each customer is different, and each moves (or doesn’t) through the funnel at their own pace.

When the potential customer does move into the interest stage, it takes the form of making further initial contact.

Meaning, for example:

  • if you have a newsletter, they subscribe
  • if you have a white paper, they download
  • if you have a social media presence, they connect.

The interest stage is a way for the potential customer to engage further with your brand to see what you have to offer, still without the hard sell.

Let’s go back to our NaturallyCurly example.

A tool like the Frizz Forecast is a chance to connect their content to their product.

The potential customer uses the tool, sees the forecast and then immediately gets product recommendations that can solve for their immediate needs.

Beyond that obvious connection, the interest stage in the funnel is a chance for the potential customer to essentially window shop.

Here are 3 ways to help keep that interested consumer browsing and potentially move them into the next stage of the funnel (where you make money!)

1. Use navigation wisely.

Your visitor needs to know where to go, how to get there and what to do.

A header that travels with him to allow him to toggle between pages will keep him on the site longer.

Help by including filters that allow him or her to scale down the products he sees on each page to a list that speaks to what he is looking for, and buttons that allow him to quickly make a purchase.

This is called faceted search.

Here’s a great example from online boutique YALA, where you can clearly see the cookie trail of the page you are on, have access to faceted search and can filter based on additional preferences.

2. Integrate social media into your site.

Include links to your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts, to ensure that potential customers have a way of connecting with you, and you with them, on the platforms they use most.

Olive Mattress does this in a really cool and innovative way.

First, they include their social media accounts in the footer of the site so that they show up on every single page.

This makes their social media accounts easy to find, but not interruptive of the shopping experience.

Then, they also include social media links out to the founders on the About Us pages.

This allows folks to follow and interact with the founders themselves.

Why does this matter?

Because buying a mattress is a high cost purchase – and people often want to be able to talk to the retailer about it.

On site customer service chats can help – but so can social media, where people already are.

3. Provide an offer and have clear calls to action.

In exchange for his or her email, give your visitor an offer for a discount off a first purchase, or bonus item upon a certain spend.

This will reel him in and provide a way for you to reach our after he has left the site.

Crossrope does this well by on inviting members to a 30-day fitness challenge, and using pop-up social proof to show others joining in.

Using a pop-up offer when someone lands on the page, they then push you to a landing page (this allows them to advertise this page across the web, rather than relying on the pop-up alone) to gather an email address.

Here is the two step process:

Step 1. See the site here.

Step 2. See the full page here.

You can also choose to eliminate the landing page potion, and nab email addresses with a discount.

Rock Revival does this well.

Here’s their example.

The Decision Stage

  • What it is: The third stage in the funnel is the “decision” stage.
  • When it matters: Here, the consumer has moved beyond browsing products and solutions to contemplating a purchase. In this stage, your job as the brand is to convince the consumer of the value of the actual product or service.
  • Keep in mind: Proving value can be achieved through a variety of means. For example:
    • Word of mouth
    • User-generated content
    • Social proof
    • Case studies

Here are three tactics to help demonstrate product/service value to the consumer and help move them to a purchase decision.

1. Provide clear, compelling product descriptions.

When your shopper can’t touch the pair of jeans he is eyeing or hold them up to his legs to gauge their fit, he is forced to rely on the information you provide him.

Seize this opportunity by providing:

  • Clear product descriptions, including specifications like sizing charts, measurements, weight, and key materials,
  • Using bullet points and high-resolution visuals to display this information in an easy-to-digest format.

Yumi does this well with a pop-out sizing chart for all of their products.

See the full page here.

Beatific, the seller of a paper journal, also does this well, calling out the product’s specific build and materials.

This helps buyers understand why *this* journal over others.

See the full page here.

2. Online shoppers trust peer reviews.

Be sure to include those online reviews on your site.

Make the experience a valuable one for potential customers by providing written reviews rather than a star system only, and make the time to keep on top of the reviews coming in and reply to valid complaints promptly and professionally.

See below how Enertion Board assures customers that product reviews are real and verified – to add additional social proof for the purchase.

See the full page here.

Here’s another example from

See the full page here.

3. Offer perks.

Perks such as free shipping, relevant discounts, and easy returns can both make buying seamless, get customers into follow through on their purchase and entice them to buy from you again.

Look at how SerengeTee adds immediacy to their discounted shipping messaging just by using, “Today.”

This helps to increase engagement with a promotion by using a psychological trigger.

The Action Stage

  • What it is: The fourth, and final, stage in the sales funnel is the “action” stage.
  • When it matters: Once a consumer has made their decision to purchase, they need a final push to action — making that purchase from your ecommerce site.
  • Keep in mind: One way to ensure the consumer takes action on your site is by focusing on a frictionless purchasing experience.

Here are 4 tips to help improve the online checkout experience.

1. Use predictive entry to auto-populate fields.

Help your customer save time at checkout by allowing him to create an account which will fill in transactional fields such as shipping and billing addresses, saving him precious minutes and getting him to the “Buy Now” button faster.

Many customers’ computers will do this for them –– as you can see in the example below.

One-click technology via digital wallets can also alleviate this pain point.

3. Use progress indicators.

These keep users up to speed on what part of the checkout process they are in, and keep your customers’ baskets in full view throughout the checkout process so they are less inclined to move away from the transaction to check cost, size, and other specifications.

This is particularly important is you are not using a one-page checkout.

In the example above, you can see the hover price, product, shipping and tax indicators.

On multi-page checkouts, you want to ensure you are using progress indicators to move customers long.

A good way to do this is my sandwiching next steps and expectations for a customer on a single page. Your ecommerce platform should be able to do this for you out of the box.

Here’s an example for Osmotics Cosmeceuticals.

2. Make customers aware of your site’s security.

Educate consumers on the security measures of your website to let them know that their personal and payments information is well guarded.

With high-profile data breaches announced in the news, this could help alleviate concerns during uncertain times.

A good place to do this is in your footer –– which will remain persistent throughout your site and continue to security message.

Here’s an example from NextAge Mississippi’s product page.

3. Accept all forms of payment.

With the myriad of ways to pay, it’s crucial to meet the preferences of your customers by offering acceptance of all card types.

Your customer might carry multiple cards for different purposes.

Likewise, this includes integrating digital payments into your checkout experience.

For example, explore accepting digital wallets such as Android Pay, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay and Samsung Pay.

How to Setup an Ecommerce Sales Funnel

In all, an understanding and proper use of the sales funnel can help fuel and increase your online sales.

Think about your customer, and think about how you can facilitate each stage of their buying journey.

Here are the steps:

  1. Build awareness by offering value.
  2. Optimize your content offerings for SEO and paid social to drive traffic.
  3. Create tools to solve potential customer pinpoints and win hearts and minds.
  4. Use data from tools and on-site engagement to push potential customers to the products most helpful for their needs.
  5. Setup on-site navigation to allow customers to find what they need quickly and easily.
  6. Use clear calls to action.
  7. A/B test content, calls to action and advertising copy to see which messages and offers engage the most.
  8. Provide in-depth product breakdown content to drive home the final purchasing decision
  9. Use security seals to prove site security.
  10. Offer perks like free shipping or promotions to make the offer sweeter.
  11. Use predictive entry to auto-populate fields to make checkout easier.
  12. Accept all forms of payment.

And that’s it! For a walk through of exactly how to set this up on BigCommerce – checkout our workshop below.

Build an Ecommerce Sales Funnel to 2X Growth

Real feedback from real workshop attendees:

“I have almost doubled my internet sales using only 3 points from this workshop.

Plus, I do zero paid marketing.

The full hour is worth every second!”

That story can be yours, too. Register now. 

Get The Data Now

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The Complete Handbook to Sales Tax, Business Tax and Amazon FBA Tax (+92 Ways to Save) Thu, 11 Jan 2018 15:00:31 +0000 Paying your taxes isn’t what any entrepreneur dreams of when starting a business. You don’t think about the spreadsheets and…]]>

Paying your taxes isn’t what any entrepreneur dreams of when starting a business.

  • You don’t think about the spreadsheets and the constant state updates.
  • You don’t think about how to charge sales tax, when, where, why and on which products.

That’s because taxes are just the cost of doing business.

Sadly, doing them incorrectly (and definitely not doing them at all) can cost you your business.

So, to make sure you are zipped up on everything you need to know to pay the right amount, charge the right amount and do it all in accordance with state and national laws, we’ve put together a comprehensive resource you can bookmark for future reference.

What’s in the Ecommerce Tax Guide:

  • The basics of sales tax, including when you need to collect based on state laws.
  • How to register for a sales tax permit (and what could happen if you don’t).
  • The difference between origin and destination-based sales tax sourcing.
  • The true definition of sales tax nexus, and what it means for your business.
  • How to file regularly and on-time, without taking focus from growing your sales.
  • How Amazon FBA sellers need to file sales tax.
  • Where Amazon has fulfillment centers (and what that means for sellers).
  • How to collect sales tax on Amazon and set up product tax codes on FBA.
  • How to report sales tax collected from Amazon.
  • When you need to pay business taxes –– with a calendar you can keep.
  • 92 business deductions to look into (and 11 you shouldn’t even try).

First things first, though, let’s talk about tax compliance automation.

The Benefits of Sales Tax Automation

Bigcommerce automatically configures sales tax if your business does not have any special tax needs.

U.S. merchants use automatic U.S. state sales tax calculation that determines sales tax rates during checkout based on a standard tax rate for states in which these businesses are required to collect sales tax.

And for merchants who require any special sales tax exemptions, BigCommerce has partnered closely with Avalara AvaTax to streamline the tax collection process by integrating with their sales tax automation software.

AvaTax serves as an automated end-to-end tax compliance solution that provides BigCommerce users with a one-and-done option for nexus and taxability requirements in all states.

It uses real-time tax rate calculations and calculates sales tax via geo-spatial mapping, ensuring accurate results every time.

Plus, flow-through data from Avalara AvaTax Calc to Avalara AvaTax Returns ensures a merchant’s sales tax returns are always on time.

Why is this important?

Because there are more than 12,000 tax codes in the U.S. alone. And those tax codes are individually subject to change throughout any given tax year.

Businesses without their own accounting departments, i.e. most folks in the process of building a sustainable, long-term venture, cannot afford the time cost in keeping track of compliance across 12,000 jurisdictions.

While this guide will walk you through everything you need to know and cover any “Gotchas” in ecommerce tax, it is much more efficient to use automation instead.

This is especially useful when it is tax time.

Here’s how it works with BigCommerce and Avalara’s sales tax automation software when needing to file your business taxes.

1. Enable document submission:

Available within “Tax Options” in the BigCommerce “Store Setup”. This feature ensures completed invoices and credits are recorded in Avalara and populate sales tax reports to help you reconcile and file returns.

2. Tax settings: 

Login to Avatax to ensure you have enabled the proper tax settings for your BigCommerce store. Most importantly, identify where you’re registered so Avalara knows to apply sales tax on all orders shipped within your jurisdictions.

3. Filing tax returns:

Don’t forget that you must file a sales tax return and remit all tax collected on a regular cadence for each jurisdiction. You can do that by either:

  1. Accessing free tax reports from your Avalara account to reconcile and file yourself
  2. Enabling Avalara’s automated tax return service and put your tax filings on autopilot

Still want to do it all yourself? Let’s dive in!

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