Enterprise Ecommerce – The BigCommerce Blog https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog Ecommerce Blog delivering news, strategy and success stories to power 2x growth for scaling brands. Thu, 15 Mar 2018 16:11:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/cropped-e8d7fa0a-3b0e-4069-91b1-78460a4d4af1-150x150.png Enterprise Ecommerce – The BigCommerce Blog https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog 32 32 The Benefits of B2B Ecommerce: “We Now Have a Thriving Business Thanks to the Internet” https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/benefits-of-embracing-b2b-ecommerce/ https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/benefits-of-embracing-b2b-ecommerce/#respond Thu, 15 Mar 2018 16:03:15 +0000 https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/?p=27587 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 https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/apple-pay-tips-mobile-payments/ https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/apple-pay-tips-mobile-payments/#comments Tue, 13 Mar 2018 14:00:37 +0000 https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/?p=17201 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, SmallBizDaily.com.

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, Ecommerce-Platforms.com 

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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How Landing Pages Catapult Brands to Beyond $20,000,000 in Online Revenue https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/ecommerce-landing-pages/ https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/ecommerce-landing-pages/#comments Fri, 09 Mar 2018 15:00:58 +0000 https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/?p=20742 “Don’t judge a book by its cover” A short piece of wisdom we have all heard and, most likely, are…]]>

“Don’t judge a book by its cover”

A short piece of wisdom we have all heard and, most likely, are all guilty of doing anyway.

But don’t feel too bad, because, apparently, we can’t actually help it.s

As humans, we are predominantly visual creatures, meaning that:

“Wrappers in which things come not only powerfully affect what interests us but also how we react to the contents we find inside.”

We can’t help but judge:

  • Books by their covers.
  • Food by its appearance.
  • And, most importantly, brands by their landing pages.

Landing pages are a neglected but increasingly crucial brand wrapper – a key initial impression and touchpoint for many new shoppers.

Unfortunately, ecommerce landing pages represent a very neglected but increasingly crucial brand wrapper — a key initial impression and touchpoint for many new shoppers.

And even for those returning ones, ecommerce landing pages can play an important role in motivating traffic to continue engaging with your brand and ultimately convincing them to make a purchase.

Even more unfortunate is the fact that while brands today spend large portions of their marketing budget driving traffic to their digital storefronts, that paid traffic rarely reaches its full potential — as evidenced by subpar conversion rates.

That untapped value is a consequence of disjointed onsite experiences coupled with the simple truth that:

Consumers judge brands based on their preliminary experiences, abandoning them in response.

So, considering these two factors:

  1. The key role that initial landing page impression can play in the consumer journey.
  2. The painful fact that, as long as that traffic isn’t purchasing, you are likely going to have to pay for them again and again until they do.

Why not do everything you in your power to ensure that your landing page experiences are as seamless (and as revenue-driving) as possible?

This blog post will walk you through why landing pages are becoming increasingly important to positive and profitable ecommerce customer experiences.

We’ll also explain what you can do to optimize the value of your own landing pages – right now.

What is a Landing Page?

A landing page is a standalone webpage targeted to a specific cohort of your traffic, with the aim of providing a more relevant experience in order to achieve the ultimate objective of driving that cohort toward conversion.

A landing page can be defined as a:

Single page on a website that traffic is driven to from a specific campaign, whether that be an advertisement or an email campaign, for instance.

The definition and application varies from organization to organization.

The real and long-term goal of landing pages, as I see it however, is one that Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos envisioned back in 1999:

“We have 6.2 million customers, we should have 6.2 million storefronts.”

In other words, because every customer is unique and requires different types of attention and engagement to be convinced to purchase, businesses should adapt accordingly by tailoring their stores to each of those individual customers.

Enter ecommerce landing pages.

While retailers can’t be expected to actually create unique websites for every user, they can create unique digital storefronts.

Landing pages represent the tool through which brands can adapt to the user in question, creating relevant and positive-impression making experiences for each of the individuals engaging with your brand.

This is hyper-personalization.

By taking a customer-first, hyper-personalized approach to your landing page optimization strategy, you will do more than create impactful landing pages that guide your traffic in the precise direction you want them to go.

You will simultaneously unlock incremental value from each of those individuals, driving higher returns for your business as a result.

Maximize Top of Funnel Leads

Relevance is going to be your key competitive advantage in 2018.

You’re not going to be able to pull that off without becoming as 1:1 as possible in your communications with your top-of-funnel prospects.

It all starts on-site by identifying your audience through opt-in campaigns. Join BounceX and BigCommerce as we guide you through how identification begins on your site and how to guide the customer journey to increase opt-ins.

Reserve your seat now.

The Difference Between Landing Pages and Product Pages

The great thing about ecommerce brands is that you already have versions of landing pages: your product pages.

There are key differences between these two, however.

These differences may seem subtle in the chart above, but their impact is critical.

The main difference here is one of purpose:

  • Landing Pages are used to drive paid for, targeted traffic back to a specific conversion. Landing pages are considered low- funnel (closer to the final sale).
  • Product pages are used to attract browsers (both organic, direct and less targeted paid audiences) back to a page and allow for additional browsing. Product pages are considered mid-funnel, when consumers are still comparing options.

Page UXLanding PagesProduct PagesPurpose
Site NavigationNoYesBecause landing pages are most often used in advertisements to drive targeted consumers back to a specific conversion, landing pages strip the individual page of any other click through opportunities outside of the main CTA. This includes removing site navigation.
Clear Call to Action (CTA)YesYesBoth landing pages and product pages have a clear CTA (add to cart). On landing pages, however, this is the only CTA – and often uses language more targeted to the targeted audience being driven to the page.
Additional CTAsNoYesAgain, landing pages only have 1 CTA. Product pages often include a site navigation for additional browsing as well as similar or related products. Many product pages include multiple lower-level CTAs for those who are not yet ready for purchase.
Product Description + Additional ContentYesYesBoth landing pages and product pages include additional product copy. On landing pages, however, the copy is often re-written for a specific audience, rather than a more general organic or direct audience.
Optimized for SEOPotentially, but not necessarily YesLanding pages can be optimized for SEO, but many brands have landing pages unindexed so that the offer on the page remains specific to the targeted audience, and to better measure conversion rate and campaign success in terms of ROAS (return on ad spend). Product pages are heavily optimized for SEO, as one of their main goals is to attract organic traffic.

Let’s look at a few examples of each.

Inclusion of site navigation on page.

  • Landing page: No
  • Product page: Yes

Because landing pages are most often used in advertisements to drive targeted consumers back to a specific conversion, landing pages strip the individual page of any other click through opportunities outside of the main CTA.

This includes removing site navigation.

Clear CTA (call to action).

  • Landing page: Yes
  • Product page: Yes

Both landing pages and product pages have a clear CTA (add to cart).

On landing pages, however, this is the only CTA – and often uses language more targeted to the targeted audience being driven to the page.

Additional CTAs.

  • Landing pages: No
  • Product pages: Yes

Again, landing pages only have one CTA.

Product pages often include a site navigation for additional browsing as well as similar or related products.

Many product pages include multiple lower-level CTAs for those who are not yet ready for purchase.

Product description and additional content.

  • Landing pages: Yes
  • Product pages: Yes

Both landing pages and product pages include additional product copy.

On landing pages, however, the copy is often re-written for a specific audience, rather than a more general organic or direct audience.

Landing pages often have less copy than typical product pages.

Optimized for SEO.

  • Landing pages: No, not necessarily
  • Product pages: Yes

Landing pages can be optimized for SEO, but many brands have landing pages unindexed so that the offer on the page remains specific to the targeted audience, and to better measure conversion rate and campaign success in terms of ROAS (return on ad spend).

Product pages are heavily optimized for SEO, as one of their main goals.

You can choose to optimize your landing page for SEO if you desire.

4 Steps to Implementing a Landing Page Strategy

Here is how most online brands run advertising campaigns:

  • Launch a Facebook of Google PPC ad.
  • Drop shoppers who click on those ads on specific category or product pages
  • See low conversion rates on those product pages as customers begin to browse other sections of the site
  • Lose the ability to properly measure ROAS (return on ad spend).

This is occurring even outside ads, but in campaigns in general.

Here’s how most people are running email marketing campaigns for instance:

  • Launch an email marketing campaign targeted to a specific customer segment
  • Drop that customer off on a specific product page
  • See low conversion rates on those product pages as customers begin to browse other sections of the site
  • Lose the ability to properly measure ROI (return on investment) for the email campaign, and LTV (customer lifetime value) generated from individual campaigns.

In both situations, you’ve now created an attribution issue.

Why does attribution matter?

Brands quickly scaling past $5,000,000 in annual online revenue must get really, really good at attribution.

Attribution is the clear understanding of sales produced by each individual channel.

As your brand scales, it is likely that some channels will work much better for you, whereas others either need improvement, or can be dropped to swift focus and double down on where resource spend in producing high sales.

Without proper attribution understanding (ROI and ROAS from all channels), you cannot make educated strategy implementations.

Bad data returns bad investment.

Landing pages help to alleviate this issue.

If you take one thing away from this article, let it be this:

Do not simply drop targeted traffic off on any page on your website, left to either convert or not convert.

Instead, use landing pages for your targeted audiences.

Here’s how to know when you should create a landing page:

When to Create an Ecommerce Landing Page

Funnel StageCampaign TypePage ContentsPotential CTA
Top of FunnelLookalike AudiencesCreate a landing page that tells your brand story including who you are, why you exist and what you believe in. Also show off social proof (from customers and media outlets, if possible) and begins to build community with the lookalike audience.Join the Community and Take 10% Off Your First Purchase The goal here is to capture an email address so you don’t have to pay to market to these folks again. You’ll then retarget traffic that lands on the page, but doesn’t convert (i.e. give you an email address) to test a new message and offer.
Mid-FunnelRe-targeting CampaignWith Facebook Dynamic Ads, make it easy on yourself and send those folks back to product pages for similar products. Use landing pages in this segment to drive home positive sentiment after purchase. Do you have tons of social proof? Or a particular story about a customer who used your product for something really cool? Or do they just love your brand? Share those stories on landing pages to turn traffic that browsed to traffic that bought.Experience [the product] for yourself. OR Add to bag/ checkout. The goal here is to drive to purchase through social or other customer proof points which are shown to increase customer trust in your brand and solidify conversions. You’ll be doing this simultaneously with Dynamic Retargeting Ads. Note: You do not have to do this with all products. Test it out with products you know drive high customer lifetime value and customer loyalty first.
Bottom of FunnelUpsell CampaignYou are likely already running an abandoned cart campaigns back to that customer’s checkout. Great. Use landing pages to upsell additional, related products or bundles to either close the sales at a higher price, or have the customer buying again. You can also use discount codes in these – though it is best to test your audience with a bundle strategy first.Get the better bundle, now. Your goal here is to first, close the sale. And second, to ideally close the sale with a higher average order value. Look through your top performing products and see what you could bundle those with across your site. Then, create a landing page promoting those bundles specifically to audiences who have abandoned cart. This is a great way to avoid discount promotions after cart abandonment and grow top-live revenue sale-by-sale.
Already PurchasedRe-engagement CampaignRe-engagement campaigns are targeted at increasing customer lifetime loyalty (LTV) and repeat purchases (retention). Make customers feel special by offering them first access to new products, campaigns and collections before the rest of the world. You do this by creating an un-indexed landing page. Be an early adopter. OR Get the goods before anyone else. Your customers are your VIPs. Make sure they are treated like it.

Now, let’s look at examples.

1. Top-of-funnel landing pages.

  • Typical campaign type: Lookalike audiences

The Strategy

Create a landing pages that tells your brand story including who you are, why you exist and what you believe in.

Also show off social proof (from customers and media outlets, if possible) and begins to build community with the lookalike audience.


  • Join the Community and Take 10% Off Your First Purchase

The goal here is to capture an email address so you don’t have to pay to market to these folks again.

You’ll then retarget traffic that lands on the page, but doesn’t convert (i.e. give you an email address) to test a new message and offer.

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How to find this audience

Begin with a list of your current customers – or your VIP customers – which you can find here.

Note: This works best if you are B2C brand.

Upload that list into Facebook to create a Lookalike audience.

Build a landing page using a BigCommerce webpage or an app like ShoGun.

Launch your Facebook campaign and measure results.

2. Mid-funnel landing pages.

  • Typical campaign type: Re-Targeting Campaigns

The Strategy

With Facebook Dynamic Ads, make it easy on yourself and send those folks back to product pages for similar products.

Use landing pages in this segment to drive home positive sentiment after purchase.

  • Do you have tons of social proof?
  • Or a particular story about a customer who used your product for something really cool?
  • Or do they just love your brand?

Share those stories on landing pages to turn traffic that browsed to traffic that bought.


  • Experience [the product] for yourself.
  • Add to bag/ checkout.

The goal here is to drive to purchase through social or other customer proof points which are shown to increase customer trust in your brand and solidify conversions.

You’ll be doing this simultaneously with Dynamic Retargeting Ads.

Note: You do not have to do this with all products. Test it out with products you know drive high customer lifetime value and customer loyalty first.

How to find this audience

Within Facebook, re-target those who clicked-through specific ads with relevant landing page content.

Set up that landing page using either a BigCommerce webpage or an app like ShoGun.

3. Bottom-of-funnel landing pages.

  • Typical campaign type: Upsell Campaigns

The Strategy

You are likely already running an abandoned cart campaigns back to that customer’s checkout.


Use landing pages to upsell additional, related products or bundles to either close the sales at a higher price, or have the customer buying again.

You can also use discount codes in these – though it is best to test your audience with a bundle strategy first.


  • Get the better bundle, now.

Your goal here is to first, close the sale. And second, to ideally close the sale with a higher average order value.

Look through your top performing products and see what you could bundle those with across your site.

Then, create a landing page promoting those bundles specifically to audiences who have abandoned cart.

This is a great way to avoid discount promotions after cart abandonment and grow top-live revenue sale-by-sale.

How to find this audience

Go to your View But Did Not Purchase report in BigCommerce and download the emails.

Find which of the products within the list are most abandoned – or you can see that in this specific report in BigCommerce Insights.

Create a bundle to increase final checkout appeal for the product. Use the following report in BigCommerce Insights to see which products folks buy most often with other ones.

Chances are, those two would make a really great bundle.

4. Already purchased landing pages.

  • Typical campaign type: Re-engagement, LTV, retention campaigns

The Strategy

Re-engagement campaigns are targeted at increasing customer lifetime loyalty (LTV) and repeat purchases (retention).

Make customers feel special by offering them first access to new products, campaigns and collections before the rest of the world.

You do this by creating an un-indexed landing page.


  • Be an early adopter.
  • Get the goods before anyone else.

Your customers are your VIPs. Make sure they are treated like it.

Maximize Top of Funnel Leads

Relevance is going to be your key competitive advantage in 2018.

You’re not going to be able to pull that off without becoming as 1:1 as possible in your communications with your top-of-funnel prospects.

It all starts on-site by identifying your audience through opt-in campaigns. Join BounceX and BigCommerce as we guide you through how identification begins on your site and how to guide the customer journey to increase opt-ins.

Reserve your seat now.

How to find this audience

Either use your entire customer list, or section out your VIP customers from your BigCommerce Insights report.

This is the same audience you used for your Facebook Lookalike Campaign above. 

Download their emails and give them a specific customer group in which only they can see specific products.

Now, launch a landing page using either built-in webpages and the BigCommerce Buy Button or an app like ShoGun to showcase the products.

4 Key Elements Every Page on Your Site Must Have

Every landing page you build will be hyper-personalized for the audience who sees it.

But, every audience is influenced by many of the same things, including:

  • Context.
  • Clarity.
  • Perceived value.
  • Relevancy.

This is true for product pages as well (even category pages!).

Every page you build on your site needs to do these 4 things incredibly well.  

1. Create undeniable value on every page.

In a world where every consumer has an infinite number of options for nearly any given product at their fingertips — where Forbes whispers of the death of loyalty — ensuring that your visitors understand why they should buy from your brand is crucial.

Unfortunately, that undeniable value that sets your brand apart from the rest is very rarely clear outside of the homepage or the About Us page.

Just look at this standard product landing page.

Note: This is not a BigCommerce site. You can view all of BigCommerce’s optimized themes, templates and landing pages here. Industry leaders like Theme Forest have also designed optimized themes for BigCommerce customers

The problem here isn’t actually with the template, but with what most ecommerce retailers do (or don’t do) with that template.

Think about the new visitor engaging with a Facebook Lookalike product ad for sandals.

  1. She clicks through the ad and lands directly on a product page that probably looks similar to the templated one above.
  2. She sees the sandals, they’re cute, but she could probably get similar ones on Amazon for a cheaper price.
  3. And finally, she clicks back and continues browsing Facebook.

What wasn’t clear to this new user when she landed on the product page was all the details that would have likely motivated her to engage further:

  • An expiring promotion on sandals or free shipping, returns, and exchanges
  • Or the fact that for every pair purchased, another pair is donated to a woman in need

In other words, since the home page is no longer the sole landing page, it is up to you to ensure every page on your website resonates with value.

And why shouldn’t it?

Most retailers have specific value propositions — whether pricereturn policy, brand story, or social responsibility.

Those elements are a part of your business for a reason, why not share them with your consumers, especially if they will drive value for your business in return.

Here are a few examples of product pages (which can easily be turned into landing pages!) that include valuable information typically on Homepage or About Us pages – from the headline right through the details — and how these retailers weave in those storylines.

Examples of the best ecommerce landing pages

Handpicked Wines‘ Product Page

My Magic Mud Product Page

Atlanta Light Bulbs’ Product Page

This one is a bit more traditional, but still follows similar rules of visibility to show consumers the value in buying with them.

2. Make it easy.

What this really boils down to is the 3-Second Rule, or the theory that:

You have roughly 3 seconds the capture a visitor’s attention.

Otherwise, they’re gonezo.

So, with this in mind, it is crucial to ensure that on every landing page, a consumer can answer the following questions within 3 seconds:

  1. Who you are and what do you do
  2. Why you are of value or of interest to them
  3. What they should do next

Let’s look back at that templated product page we saw earlier.

Note: This is not a BigCommerce site. You can view all of BigCommerce’s optimized themes, templates and landing pages here. Industry leaders like Theme Forest have also designed optimized themes for BigCommerce customers

Now, step back, close your eyes, and open them for 3-seconds.

Can you answer the above three questions?  

I can’t — and not just because this is a templated page.

Per #1, we are already working on ensuring who you are and your value is reflected across every page.

But what about what they should do next?

In the above image, that next step is lost in plethora of page distractions. Even the add to cart button is barely visible at the bottom of the page.

This type of convoluted landing page design is not conducive to seamlessly making a purchase.

My eyes even have to move down the page to see the discounted price, and the discount itself is tiny!  

Additionally, while the product image is large and clear, I don’t really understand the associated labels.

If it’s “HOT” because of the price, shouldn’t that great discount be reflected prominently?

When it comes to making the purchase decision, consumers are flooded with hesitations:

  • Do I really need it?
  • Is it too expensive?
  • Could I find it cheaper?
  • Is it worth the investment?
  • Why should I trust them? (queue social proof)

It is up to the landing page to alleviate those hesitations.

On product pages, this means ensuring clear product images along with prominent CTAs and easily understood value propositions.

We haven’t hit on category pages too much in this post, but let me reiterate, these tips are for every page on your site.

So, on category pages, this means making sure your product images are clear as shoppers scroll through in addition to ensuring customers understand the product offerings.

In this example, while scrolling through the category page, a few things are immediately clear:

  • Value: Free Sample & Free Shipping and Returns
  • Product: Large, clear product images
  • Product Options: the “more shades” tags give interested users another reason to click
  • Next Step: persistent “Add to Bag CTA”

The brand took the idea of motivating the user to take action to the next step.

By creating the “Add to Bag” CTA button, they have simplified the checkout process, giving users the ability to easily add items to their cart.

Every ecommerce landing page (and really every page of your website) should be created with the goal of getting your user to take the next-most productive step.

Once a user has made it to a category or product page, they have essentially told you what they are interested in.

It’s up to you and your pages to ensure they are.

3: Identify the right traffic.

Now that you’ve optimized the general landing page experience across your website, it’s time to take it one step further.

Of course, it is neither feasible nor wise to try to create hyper-personalized landing page experiences for every individual arriving at your website.

Instead, you should focus on the highest-value cohorts of your traffic.

These are not only the ones you have invested your budget toward, but they are also the individuals you know you can motivate to take productive action with your business.

But, how do you identify the right traffic?

As mentioned earlier, start by diving into your website analytics.  

Specifically look into your top traffic sources, not only from a traffic volume perspective but also from a revenue perspective.

These sources typically include Email, Paid Search, Organic Search, and Direct, to name a few.

Once you have pinpointed those top traffic sources, dig even deeper and look at the specific campaigns responsible.

  • Do those jumps in traffic arise from specific marketing emails or promotions?
  • Are they a result of cart abandonment ads on Facebook?
  • Are there specific search terms you have ads for that are just killing it for you?

By sifting through all of these details, you’ll be able to get a clear understanding of which specific cohorts of traffic are the most valuable to your business.

If you are using an analytics solution like BigCommerce’s Insights, you can easily see reports that take this a step further.

Here is a taste.

Grow with Metrics That Matter

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Marketing Insights Reports

In this section, you can dive into customer lifetime value by channel on day 1, 90 and 180.

This will help you understand which channels (AdWords, Email, Facebook, etc.) drive the highest lifelong loyalty and repeat purchase rates.

What is this helpful for?

Understanding where to put your ad dollars to drive consumers back to your product landing pages for purchase.

Here are the three reports you get.

Here is what the 90 day report looks like, and how you can download the data to further investigate.

Product Insights Reports

Here, you can dive into which products (and subsequently product landing pages) are performing the best, and which need a little work.

This data is pulled based on individual product conversion rate data. So, if its a rock star product, it is likely a rock star landing page.

Further, you can use this data with the Marketing Insights data to understand which products to market for the highest return on ad spend.

Moreover, you can use these insights to see which products are bought together most often.

This is a good indicator of what additional products to include on landing pages for upsell opportunities.

Customer Insights Reports

With these reports, you can dive into various customer cohorts including:

  • Best customers
  • Customers at risk
  • Low AOV customers
  • Customer lifetime value (30, 90, and 180 days)
  • Customer lifetime value by product (day 1, 90 and 180)
  • Best products for repeat purchase (By month)

This data is helpful for understanding customer behavior on your site, which products drive loyalty and creating landing pages that best attract high AOV and full-price customers.

Most useful, however, is to use this data for retargeting on Facebook to earn more “Best customers” using already known characteristics of that cohort.

Here are the full reports you have access to:

4. Behavioral marketing.

Once you have optimized landing pages and product pages, and you know who to target, you can begin to use behavioral marketing to really personalize every aspect of your site.

When any visitor lands on your website, you should be able to detect a couple of things with the proper tagging and a behavioral marketing partner like BounceX:

  1. If it’s her first time onsite
  2. If she came through an ad and what type
  3. Which ad specifically and the content of that ad

Since you’ve already identified your most valuable traffic-driving campaigns, you can target the individuals who come through those experiences with behavioral marketing tactics.

So now, when that new user clicks through your Facebook Lookalike ad and lands on your sandals product page for the first time, two things will occur simultaneously:

  1. She’ll likely remain onsite longer because your unique value propositions are clear
  2. She’ll understand that the sandals are on sale for a limited time only

Both of these are a result of your on page optimizations.

With behavioral marketing, you can add a third element to the optimization process.

Here’s the scenario:

Knowing this shopper is a new prospect who has never purchased from you before, you know she’s going to need slightly more convincing before she agrees to purchase from you and likely won’t make the purchase in her first visit.  

So, as she’s clicking through the product images and demonstrating clear interest, you respond to her behavior by offering her ‘Free Shipping’ when she enters her email address.

Now, you’ve not only captured her information in case she abandons but you’ve also given her another reason to buy from you today. It’s people-based marketing, people.

Executive Summary

Every page on your website is should be optimized for perceived value and brand storytelling to drive conversion.

However, there are critical differences between landing pages and product pages.

These differences have to do with attribution, and effectively measuring your ROAS and ROI for specific audience segments.

Whether you are looking to drive net new customers or increase retention, landing pages are a silo-ed view into specific customer behavior and CRO that can help your grand grow far beyond $20,000,000 in annual revenue.

This is the ground floor to forecasting. It is how to make sure attribution at your brand is never convoluted. It is how you begin to build a testing culture.

Landing pages are how you ultimately build a brand from $5,000,000 to $20,000,000 and beyond.

Maximize Top of Funnel Leads

Relevance is going to be your key competitive advantage in 2018.

You’re not going to be able to pull that off without becoming as 1:1 as possible in your communications with your top-of-funnel prospects.

It all starts on-site by identifying your audience through opt-in campaigns. Join BounceX and BigCommerce as we guide you through how identification begins on your site and how to guide the customer journey to increase opt-ins.

Reserve your seat now.

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 I Turned My Father’s 90s B2B Business into California’s Fastest Growing Online Succulent Seller https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/mountain-crest-gardens-success-story/ https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/mountain-crest-gardens-success-story/#comments Tue, 06 Mar 2018 18:08:16 +0000 https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/?p=27494 When my father bought and launched a succulent company called Mountain Crest Gardens to complement his tree seedling business back…]]>

When my father bought and launched a succulent company called Mountain Crest Gardens to complement his tree seedling business back in the 1990s, it wasn’t a main focus of his.

Instead, it was a natural extension for his contract-based conifer tree seedling business:

A small side hustle that sometimes broke even and sometimes was a tax-write off when it wasn’t profitable.

Mountain Crest Gardens was a very different type of business than the type my father had grown to be an expert at.

In the beginning, the company he bought that became Mountain Crest Gardens sold plants via print catalog and mailing lists.

He tried to make it a wholesale operation. But working with big box stores, distribution centers, and large garden centers was such a pain.

He gave up by the early 2000s and decided to move the business online to sell and ship plants directly to customers.

That’s when he reached out to me – his son with a computer science and marketing degree living more than 500 miles away from home.

It was mostly my initiative to help with advertising and remaking the website. I was naturally drawn to the competitive and creative nature of retail business.

Initially, I saw it as more of a hobby and “helping our family business out a little bit” than as a viable career path.

That was the early 2000s, back when we had a funky website on an old platform. Didn’t everyone then?  

I was helping to make sure our Google Adwords were up and running and that we weren’t overspending our budget.

That was about it – and things putted along.

I still had a full time job in Southern California. My father still had his full-time B2B family business.

You might have two guys going after a side-hustle, but that doesn’t produce the outcomes of a full time focus. Sales were flat throughout the 2000s.

Nothing really happened.

Nothing might of ever happened, if it weren’t for Magento Go shutting down and recommending their customers to BigCommerce.

Today, Mountain Crest Gardens is California’s fastest growing online succulent seller. And, we’re getting better and more efficient than ever.

In 2017, we saw a 45% increase in revenue with a decrease in Google ad spend vs. 2016. That’s huge!

Here’s how we got there.

The Sunset of Magento Go Meant a New Day with New Tech

In 2012, I decided it was time to turn that funky old website into something semi-usable. I found Magento Go and used my computer science background to rebuild the site.

  • Sales went up that first year.
  • They went up even more that second year.

That’s when I started to realize:

“Oh, maybe this can be an actual job for me.”

And then, 2014 – Magento Go announced that they were shutting down.

The email they sent to alert us recommended BigCommerce. To me, it was an opportunity to seriously reconsider the mechanics of building an online brand that complemented the offline side business.

Suddenly, I was putting more and more hours into my side-gig, getting more and more serious about this website that was turning a profit despite our reluctance.

After all, things had been complicated on Magento Go.

Yes, we saw an increase in sales, but:

  • Changes required my dedicated time and attention.
  • Any new features needed to be integrated –– by me.
  • Small changes were a big demand on my already limited time.

There were a lot of reasons to not put too many eggs in the online business basket.

But then things changed – fast.

The reason? On the new platform, our sales skyrocketed.

We quickly grew from a team of three to a team of 20 – and in just about four years, our sales are up 10x.

By that time, I had already quit the corporate job, but the growth had me moving back home to Northern California to grow the team and build a world-class brand.

Today, I’m an executive at Mountain Crest Gardens and I oversee all our operations.

So how’d we get there?

How did I go from an interesting, family side hustle to bring my father’s B2B business (which we still operate) to a consumer audience via the web?

Well, that’s a story about fear, Amazon and making sure my father’s legacy survives beyond my generation.

Sunset Magento for Your Brand.

Magento doesn’t have to sunset for you to experience the success. Migrate your data over, for free and on your own time, to test out the benefits for BigCommerce. 

Test drive BigCommerce, no commitment.

David v. Goliath, or: Buffering a Family Business from Amazon

Things were going well after our initial transition to BigCommerce:

  • Traffic went up
  • Conversions went up

But there was still an elephant in the room: Amazon.

I was well aware that Amazon was (and is) taking over every industry.

I knew that it behooves small businesses like us to build out communities and lifestyles NOW before Amazon comes for our segment.

I knew I needed to buffer the brand from Amazon ASAP. This meant a shift in focus around our marketing efforts.

We specifically needed to leverage our community through:

  • Content marketing.
  • User-generated content.
  • Social content.

Because here was the thing: until I could make the elephant in the room more of a mouse, I wouldn’t be able to grow the Mountain Crest Garden brand effectively.

I needed to buffer us, and secure us from Amazon’s overarching reach.

And to get that security, I needed a community.

To build that community, well – I needed content, and lots of it.

Uncovering Amazon’s Achilles Heel

Amazon’s business model rewards cheapness of product over anything else, something that doesn’t really fly for most people in the world of live plants.

You can’t palletize and store plants in a Prime warehouse without quality suffering, for example. Amazon also can’t do community and lifestyle like niche segments can.

They can’t harness the passion and experience of my father, which he passed down to me, and that I can now share with our customers.

This is where the biggest problem comes in for brands like me (and I’m assuming like you).

How do you create the content needed to build a community to beat out Amazon?

Back in 2015, I was getting emails like crazy from apps and tool companies trying to get me to use their service.

I ignored almost all of them.

After all, sales were going up, traffic was going up. You only have so much time in the day.

But when I realized I needed content to build the community necessary to bumper ourselves in from the impact of Amazon, I knew I needed help.

That’s when I looked back into a company that had reached out a few months earlier.

Rivet Works had come to me via email with a content-based marketing solution they said helped brands promote user-generated content.

The first time they reached out, I was too busy. Google AdWords was working, and I was heads down in the day to day.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized the potential was there.

It was automated user-generated content via reviews. Their pitch was this:

  1. Scrap regular text-based reviews.
  2. Ask customers for it all: a review, a photo of their product in the wild, and a star rating.
  3. Get their permission to use all of the above for marketing purposes.
  4. Automatically update those images and reviews to the correct product pages –– and then launch social advertising campaigns with the content sent in by users, and their own reviews of the goods.

It was intriguing – though to be fair, I still don’t 100% buy in to the idea of completely scraping text-based reviews. 

On top of Rivet Works, I also use Shopper Approved (which automates a survey as well for text-based reviews).

It’s an all-in reviews strategy: get quick text reviews to establish popularity, but also get photo based reviews for social proof and great original content.

Shopper Approved does indeed net a larger number of reviews overall than Rivet Works,

They are just less exciting.

With Rivet Works, I got photo proof that people liked my products – with no extra work on my end.

And at the time, I had gotten good at Google AdWords. I figured that if the rest of the process could be automated and all I needed to do was learn a new advertising platform (Facebook), it was like a win-win.

So we moved on it.

I pushed Google AdWords management to an agency (Logical Position shout out here because it’s working great!), built out our team, and we leaned into a new marketing strategy.

Here’s what happened next.

Automation, User-Generated Content + Becoming BIG

A big part of our new strategy included leveraging social proof through user-generated content.

We wanted to start gathering user-generated content that:

  • Added context around how our products are used in buyers’ everyday lives
  • Were instances of real, authentic social proof
  • Accommodated the seasonality of our business

With Rivet’s help, we started doing just that.

We began spotlighting photos of what customers were actually doing with our plants.

Within a year, we gathered more than 2,000 user-generated photos, and began highlighting them all over our website, videos, blog and on our social accounts.

To encourage submissions, Rivet helped us incentivize this process via a contest in which customers who submit images are entered to win a $100 gift certificate once a month.

Today, we’re still doing this – and it’s working.

Year over year, we are seeing a 40% increase in customer engagement and submission.

  • February 2017: 90 photos and videos submitted.
  • February 2018: 125 photos and videos submitted.

And, February is still very much our off-season. Last year we had 119 photos and videos for March, 204 for April… then it skyrocketed to 494 for May!

So, apply 40% gains for those months, and you’ll get an idea of what we expect this year.

Then, we repackage this user-generated content as social media material.

On the average Facebook post that features one of our customer photos, we see high organic engagements: 100+ likes, a handful of shares, and 3,000+ reached.

It’s effortless organic marketing for us – and the sales keep rolling in.

The Secret to a 20-Person, 7-Figure Brand: Automation

Along with user-generated photos, we also put a big focus on collecting customer feedback and reviews, which we then leverage for both our internal and external marketing efforts.

We encourage all new customers to complete our short pop-up survey through Shopper Approved, which asks questions about why the shopper selected a particular product and why they’re buying from us.

Once they’ve received the product, we follow up with a full email survey, which again helps us gather important elements of social proof like testimonials and reviews – while also helping us better understand our customers.

The best part of all of these efforts: They’re largely automated.

That means we can remain hands-off and watch this rich, relevant content roll in month after month.

The Next Generation of Our Family’s Legacy: From Seedling to Success

Looking back at where we started, it’s incredible to see how far we’ve come.

This business didn’t take off overnight. For years, it was just…there.

It wasn’t until I was able to put my full attention into this operation and we started using automated user-generated content that it transformed from a mere side hustle into a growing, profitable operation.

Not only did this growth enable me to leave my corporate job, but it’s also now something I can pour myself into 100%.

  • That I can experiment with.
  • That I can watch grow.

It’s an opportunity to build something that lasts – as an extension of the family business.

And while I focus heavily on site design and UGC, these aren’t the only tools I use to turn what was once a 1990’s offline, B2B succulent farm into California’s most successful succulent site for both our traditional B2B customers and whole new, growing segment of B2C consumers.

I obsess about these things even more than marketing:

  1. Constant re-evaluation of all business procedures and expenses, looking for inefficiencies.
  2. Take advantage of a great ecommerce benefit: constant experimenting with pricing, new products, names, description, and onsite information.
  3. Landing pages, landing experience, and on-site SEO are supercritical! An area where sweating the small stuff really pays off.
  4. For aesthetic products like plants, obsess about the quality of your main product photos (angles, background, lenses, lighting, post processing and editing, and realism).
  5. Be honest about the luck involved with good timing in a particular market. Maybe you had a great idea but the time just wasn’t quite right! I’m not sure how Mountain Crest Gardens would have grown 10 years ago when succulents were mostly known as “cactus” and novelty collector plants – even if we had all this same tech!

In the end, though, we’re building our community. We’re buffering against Amazon. We’re bringing this family business into the next decade.

And I couldn’t be more proud.

Want more insights like this?

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How to Set Up an Ecommerce Loyalty Program to Improve Retention, Build Community and Drive 5X in Sales https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/online-customer-loyalty-programs/ https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/online-customer-loyalty-programs/#comments Fri, 23 Feb 2018 15:00:07 +0000 https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/?p=16012 A few years ago, Forbes contributor Ken Krogue noticed a lady returning rotten, moldy fruit at a Costco store. The…]]>

A few years ago, Forbes contributor Ken Krogue noticed a lady returning rotten, moldy fruit at a Costco store.

The clerk attending to the woman kindly offered her money back, even though she bought the fruit days ago, when they were still fresh.

Costco is willing to go to great lengths to keep their customers satisfied.

After a year hiatus from having the top Net Promoter Score (NPS), Costco is back in the top spot.

What is the Net Promoter Score?

The Net Promoter Score is a tool that can be used to gauge the loyalty of a firm’s customer relationships and can be related to a firm’s revenue growth.

The math is simple behind Costco’s business:

Loyal customers who buy repeatedly are more profitable than ones that buy once.


Because repeat customers have a higher lifetime value, meaning that over the course of a customer’s projected buying time with your brand, you can predict a high return on investment.

For instance, if you spent $5 to earn a customer and you know that over the course of that customer’s lifetime with your brand, they will likely spend about $100, that’s a great lifetime value to churn (or cost to acquire a customer) ratio (LTV to CAC).

Costco works hard to keep their customers because it costs 5x less to retain customers than acquire new ones and loyal customers spend up to 67% more than new customers.

Customers become loyal to a brand when the products are high quality and are delivered as promised, or when the brand can offer them amazing customer service.

Yet, due to intense competition, great customer service, like that at Costco’s brick-and-mortar stores, isn’t always enough to keep customers coming back.

So, how can you increase retention and customer lifetime loyalty?

That’s what we’ll cover today, teaching you how to Implement a customer loyalty program that works for your brand.

We’ll cover:

  • What an ecommerce customer loyalty program is.
  • Why you need one.
  • The various components involved in building out a customer loyalty program.
  • The types of customer loyalty programs available (and their hybrids).
  • Examples of ecommerce customer loyalty programs (with case studies).

Let’s dive in.

Provide Repeat Value

If you want lifetime customers, you not only have to continuously prove that your product is worth what they’re paying for it, you also have to give them that something extra.

Show them that you’re the expert in your field and reward them for their loyalty. Many businesses use loyalty programs to reward repeat purchases which has shown to be very effective, especially for ecommerce.

– Emil Kristensen, CMO and co-founder, Sleeknote.

What is a Customer Loyalty Program?

Customer loyalty refers to a customer’s willingness to work with or buy from a brand repeatedly as a result of positive customer experience, satisfaction, and the value the customer gets from the transaction.

A customer loyalty program helps push customer loyalty by providing rewards to customers that frequently patronize the business’ products and services.

Through the loyalty program, the customers may be given:

  • Discounts and rebates.
  • Rewards.
  • Free merchandise.
  • Coupons.
  • Access to unreleased products.

Loyalty programs first originated in the 1950s, when grocers gave customers stamps for making purchases, eventually spawning airline miles rewards in the 1980s.

Who Needs a Customer Loyalty Program?

Anyone who has customers can benefit from a loyalty program.

However, certain types of internet retailers will see greater value from a loyalty program.

These retailers have the following characteristics:

1. Online retailers who receive a steady stream of at least ten or more orders a month will see greater benefit from a reward program.

Repeat orders are more likely when online retailers are generating a steady stream of new customers.

If you are not generating a steady stream of customers or orders already, launch an ad program to raise brand awareness and drive traffic to your site.

Google Shopping is a tried and true favorite for most mid-market brands, but Facebook and Instagram are equally attractive and allow you to narrow down your audiences with Power Editor.

2. Online retailers operating in a niche where customers are price sensitive are ideal candidates for a loyalty program.

Price sensitive customers respond better to rewards than customers in big ticket or luxury markets where price is not an important factor.

A loyalty program in a fashion or beauty niche can also be successful. Sephora, for instance, has a hugely successful loyalty program.

If your various selling channels have different selling propositions – for instance, on your independent website your unique products are more of a draw than your prices, but on your Amazon channel, your price competitiveness wins out – then consider running different loyalty programs for those two audiences.

Or, test out a loyalty program to help grow a specific channel.

3. Online retailers operating in markets with several competitors are also ideal candidates for a loyalty program.

These retailers see the greatest benefit from loyalty programs since they are at the greatest risk of losing customers to competitors.

A loyalty program may also help you to stand out amongst your competition, giving you the upper hand and making you appear more customer-centric than other brands.

Why You Need an Ecommerce Loyalty Program (Hint: Retention)

The biggest advantage of a loyalty program is that it has the potential to align your entire business toward the most profitable segment of your customer base.

This means that your business will begin catering more to customers who have high repeat purchases or average order value – depending on what type of loyalty program you implement.

Over time, you’ll also be able to use the data collected from a loyalty program to figure out ways to make the least profitable customers more profitable, increasing your customer lifetime value, and thus company revenue and projected profitability overall.

Loyal customers often convert and spend more money with brands they like, with 78% of loyal customers willing to spread the word to their friends and family.

Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the best and most powerful kinds of marketing, with 92% of people preferring suggestions from their friends and family over traditional advertisements.

Here are some other benefits of a customer loyalty program:

  • Retain existing customers. As mentioned, it costs 5x less to retain customers than acquire new ones
  • Acquire new customers. Although the main purpose of a loyalty program is to retain existing customers and increase repeat orders, it can also be used as a benefit to attract new customers.
  • Move customers up the buying ladder. A loyalty program will systematically move your customers up the buying ladder – converting first time buyers into repeat buyers and keeping your repeat buyers spending more often with you.
  • Win back lost customers. While it may seem inevitable that a certain percentage of customers will be lost over time, a loyalty program will allow you to identify, target and bring back these lost customers.
  • Increase the lifetime value. When you increase the frequency of customers shopping with you, you will automatically increase the lifetime value of your customer.
  • Identify your best customers. A loyalty program identifies your best customers. Once identified, you can then start observing patterns in their behavior. These patterns can be used for better merchandising, advertising and customer service.
  • Create your best brand influencers. Your best customers are buying repeatedly from you because they love what you are doing. These customers are prime candidates to be your brand influencers. A loyalty program helps you to take the first step, which is to identify your potential brand influencers.
  • Set you apart from the competition. The best part of a loyalty program is that it can inoculate you from the competition. With a loyalty program in place, your competitors will have a harder time peeling away your customers.
  • Reduce advertising costs. When you learn who your best customers are, you can target your advertising to bring in more new customers who fit the profile of a best customer. These new customers are more likely to convert into repeat customers. This data can help you to cut down advertising costs by eliminating advertising in mediums that attract one-time buyers or deal-seekers.

Components of a Loyalty Program

All loyalty programs boil down to a simple concept – customers are rewarded for taking certain actions. Businesses customize on the above principle to create their individual loyalty programs.

These customizations consist of making changes to the following components:

1.  What actions will customers be rewarded for?

Successful loyalty programs focus on a single customer action: getting customers to buy again.

However, you can also reward your customer for other types of actions such as store registrations, referrals, social shares, etc.

The most successful loyalty programs focus on repeat orders and ignore ancillary actions such as social sharing, reviews, etc.

2.  How will customers redeem and use their rewards?

Once your customer has earned a reward, you will need to decide how the customer will access and use their rewards.

This is where most online stores make the mistake of complicating the program. Some common mistakes include:

  • Making the customers manually redeem points.
  • Offering rewards that are difficult to use such as coupons or gift certificates.
  • Avoid these mistakes by making it easy for your customers to earn, redeem and use their rewards.

3. What kinds of rewards will you offer?

You can offer your customers several kinds of rewards from free shipping to percentage off to store credit. It is tempting to assume that strong rewards will lead to a successful loyalty program.

On the contrary, an easy to use loyalty program will always outperform ones that offer greater rewards. It is best to start a loyalty program with one reward.

4. What are the rules of your customer loyalty program?

The rules of your loyalty program allow you to protect yourself from abuse.

However, it’s best to have a few, sensible rules and not make it overly complicated.

Below are some simple rules to get started with:

  1. Rewards are available to registered customers only.
  2. Points earned or redeemed do not apply to tax or shipping.
  3. Points are earned and redeemable by the email address on account only.
  4. Points are non-transferable.
  5. Points may only be redeemed for purchases and have no cash value.
  6. Points are accumulated by current purchases only.
  7. We hold the right to cancel an account at any time.

Ideas for Designing a Great Ecommerce Loyalty Program

According to The Loyalty Report 2017, the average customer is involved in 14 loyalty programs but can only effectively engage in 7.

When customers cannot engage in a loyalty program effectively, both the business and customer lose money on time and effort.

Similarly, research finds that 54% of loyalty memberships are inactive with 28% of customers abandoning the loyalty programs without redeeming points.

It is imperative to design a great loyalty program that customers actually make use of.

The best tip to designing a great loyalty program is to keep it simple.

“Keep it simple,” Andy Etemadi, CEO of EYEMAGINE. “Make it easy for customers to join and even easier for customers to participate. Make it fun for the customer and encourage competition with a leaderboard.”

The most common loyalty programs involve a process where the customer earns points for every purchase. These points can be translated to freebies, discounts or special perks—each depending on the number of points accumulated.

However, some loyalty programs make earning and redeeming points more complicated than it needs to be.

The best ecommerce loyalty program is:

  • Easy to understand: The best loyalty programs are easy to understand. Keep things as simple as possible. Instead of giving out 3 points for each dollar spent, hand out 1 point for each dollar spent. It is easier for customers to grasp.
  • Easy to use: Make it easy for your customers to earn and use their rewards. Try not to make your customers jump through hoops. Eliminate steps like requiring separate enrollment into the loyalty program, offering difficult to use rewards such as coupon codes. Customers become more loyal only when they use their rewards. So make it easy for them to earn and use their rewards.

Case in point: Sephora’s Beauty Insider Program.

For every purchase, customers swipe their Beauty Insider card. The card tracks the amount of money customers have spent at Sephora, with each dollar purchase earning a point.

These points can be redeemed for new beauty supply items.

Here are some other things you can do to create an awesome ecommerce customer loyalty program:

1. Give it a Personal Touch.

Customers want to feel like they are valued.

  • Train your employees to treat customers well.
  • Give a personal touch so that when you ask of something from your customers (say, a survey or poll), they will willingly oblige.

It’s important to be available to customers via different channels: chat, social networking sites, and email.

A personal touch could also mean implementing personalized recommendations based on recent product views or purchases.

86% of consumers say personalization plays an important role in their buying decisions, and 87% of shoppers said that when online stores personalize, they are driven to buy more.

Remember, too, that the most common loyalty program features often aren’t the most successful.

According to Bond and Visa Brand Loyalty Report

The more unique a loyalty experience and offering you can provide, the more successful it will be. Tailor it to your community and audience.

Focus on Authenticity

My biggest piece of advice to build customer loyalty is to focus on building authentic relationships.

Being true to your brand—and not being afraid to be playful, fun, or quirky if that’s what your brand is — is more likely to get your customers to come back again and again.

– Kayla Lewkowicz, Marketing Manager, Privy.

2. Build a Sense of Community.

“Build a community for your brand,” says Alex Birkett, Growth Marketing Manager at Hubspot. “Community building is a long term play and an underrated asset. But for good reason – it’s hard to build an authentic community”.

As far as how to execute this well?

“Building a robust and lively Facebook community at ConversionXL helped us tap into customer insights and get natural customer feedback, but it also opened a direct line of communication with customers and fans of the brand in general.

The discussions that happen there now, organically, are amazing and the community is a valuable thing on its own, outside of any branding/acquisition concerns”.

This is even more important in 2018, as Facebook algorithms change to surface more community content than brand or advertising content.

Just look at AdWeek’s advice to brands in light of the Facebook algorithm change in January 2018:

  1. Publish less content via your Facebook page, but focus on more meaningful content that reinforces key brand messages.
  2. Use Facebook advertising for awareness and promotions.
  3. Stop any engagement baiting in your posts now — the kind of posts that say, ‘Like this for yes, angry for no,’ and so on. They won’t work.
  4. Stop posting any content with a link to your blog or website. You cannot rely on Facebook for traffic.
  5. Go back to your community and produce content that encourages meaningful one-to-many discussions.
  6. Produce more live videos (not pre-recorded ones).
  7. Look at setting up groups to build your community.
  8. Look at the areas that are growing. Chatbots and messaging should now be a definite focus, alongside your Facebook brand page.

All of those recommendations are a call to community-building. It is more crucial than ever for businesses to integrate Messenger and initiate one-on-one conversations.

Begin building your community now. The best way to do that is by offering add-on services and forums to your existing product offerings.

Below, you’ll see that BombTech Golf (a brand that has grown to $12M in revenue in 3 years) offers a Facebook Community Group, SnapChat engagement, a professionals group, a fittings service and more.

Your brand doesn’t have to offer all of these, but it is smart to begin figuring out how to incorporate at least one of them as soon as possible.

WGSN calls this the upcoming generation the “crowdsourced capitalism” one.

Here is how they describe it:

Let’s face the facts – the sharing economy is here to stay and continues to disrupt. Estimated to grow to $335bn globally by 2025, this peer-to-peer marketplace is set to further impact the traditional corporate-centred economic model.

Community now – or fail later. Those are your current options.

3. Market the program

You could have the best customer loyalty program in the world but if no one is joining, then it’s not really doing anything for your ecommerce business.

  • Advertise and spread the word about your program.
  • Invite people to join through email, social networking sites, and online ads.
  • Encourage and incorporate user-generated content, so that your customers will be empowered to act as your biggest brand ambassadors.

Users who interact with ratings and reviews are 105% more likely to buy. UGC creators have an average 300-700% higher conversion rates, as well.

Here are a couple apps and tools that help brands generated user-generated content at scale:

  • Rivet Works: Combing the power of product reviews with product photos via email automation. Check out MountainCrest Succulents to see it in action.
  • Curalate’s FanReel: Combing the power of micro-influencer marketing with on-site traffic and conversion. Check it out in action at Spellbinders.

How to Build an Influencer Program for Your Brand in 6 Months

It turns out that with the right product, the right tools and the right attitude, any brand can hop on the influencer marketing train today – and see results in just 6 short months.

Here's how they did it.

4. Be Ready to Adapt.

Not all customer loyalty programs are going to be perfect from the very beginning, so be ready to make some changes depending on customer response.

A few aspects to remember:

  • Start where you’re already at: Identify and optimize new loyalty assets in your organization, that are currently hiding in plain sight.
  • Do not operate in a silo: Integrate your Program and your brand’s discrete initiatives into a cohesive loyalty ecosystem.
  • Use your people to enable a better member experience: devote your program to enabling a better brand experience across the board.

How to Create and Implement a Customer Loyalty Program

As described earlier, a loyalty and retention program has two goals:

  1. Convert new customers to repeat customers
  2. Keep your repeat customers shopping with you

It takes significant time and effort to accomplish both of the above goals using a DIY loyalty program.

A more manageable approach is to start a DIY loyalty program that focuses on your best customers and keeps them shopping with you (goal # 2).

The first step to creating and implementing an effective customer loyalty program is to start by identifying:

  • Why you need to have a customer loyalty program
  • Program goals
  • Key customers
  • What your customers like about your products

After answering these questions, you should next focus on the type of loyalty program you’d want to implement.

Above all, ensure that it is consumer-centric in its execution.

Determine how you will track the information that you’re going to get from the loyalty program, and what you will do with it.

By doing so, you will have a benchmark for knowing how well your program is doing. Below are the steps to build brand loyalty and drive LTV with a home-brewed loyalty program.

3 Steps to an Ecommerce Loyalty Program
  • Step 1: Create a quarterly or monthly report of your top customers by amount spent.
  • Step 2: Send a reward to the top 10% of customers in the monthly/quarterly list of your best customers.
  • Step 3: Rinse and repeat each month. As you get into the rhythm of doing this month-in and month-out, you’ll notice patterns and can take the following additional actions:
    • You may notice that some best customers have stopped shopping. Follow up with these customers by offering them a discount or store credit.
    • You may also notice that some customers consistently return each month. You can reward them with a simple thank you note.

After deciding on the basics, you can focus on fine-tuning your ecommerce customer loyalty program in terms of things such as:

  • Terms and conditions of your program
  • Rewards that you will offer your customers
  • How you’ll communicate with the members. Many communicate via email marketing, but there are also programs that have a dedicated website and/or app

After getting all the details down pat, you can pre-launch your loyalty program by testing out a beta or pilot program, available only to a select few.

These people should be your most loyal and profitable customers. If you are using BigCommerce, you can find those customers and their emails here:

A pre-launch beta is ideal, as it allows you to fix whatever issues pop up in the beta program before you go live.

After going live to all customers, remember to use and analyze the data you collect and make adjustments and improvements when necessary.

Here are your next steps once you launch the program fully.

Remember, redeemers are 2c more likely to be highly satisfied with the Program than non-redeemers, yet still 1/5 of Members have not redeemed, putting them at a higher risk of attrition.

  1. Focus on the redemption experience, not the reward.
  2. Encourage reward goal setting.
  3. Foster better awareness of accumulation status, and communicate progress.
  4. Take action to mitigate post-redemption attrition risk

Types of Customer Loyalty Programs

1. Points system.

A points system represents the easiest and simplest kind of loyalty program.

It’s based on the principle of spending more to get more points. Points should be redeemable in the form of rewards, such as:

  • Discounts.
  • Freebies.
  • Special items.

This works especially well for shops that encourage frequent, low-cost purchases.

This also seems to be the most popular program type for online stores.

Pro tip: make it straightforward and not too complicated.

Let’s look at several examples.

See the example below from Grow and Behold. This brand uses Smile.io to manage a straightforward rewards program.

InnerEgo has a point system set up based on order value. This one is also setup using Smile.io.

And here’s another example from Sitara Collections using S-Loyalty.

And finally, Sophie & Toffee use SLoyalty as well to run a point-based, tiered system.

2. Tier system.

A tier system is based on levels of loyalty: the more a customer buys, the higher up the rewards tier they can travel.

This is typically used for businesses with customers who make big-ticket purchases that don’t happen often, such as in the travel industry. Many airlines have adopted this type of program.

The goal is to keep members around for the long term.

Besides travel, this type of customer loyalty program can be applicable to the ecommerce industry as well. COLLOQUY found that 50% of consumers said they increase their spending or change their purchasing behavior to get a higher tier status in a rewards program of this type.

Pro tip: Start by presenting a small base reward for simply being part of the program and make the next levels easily achievable to reduce program abandonment.

CommunityDiscs.com has something similar setup, using RewardCamp.

3. Partnership program.

According to COLLOQUY, 68% of millennials will remain loyal to a business that offers them the most rewards. Additionally, Collinson Latitude found that 82% of consumers said loyalty programs would be better if they offered more choices.

A partnership program is a great way to target millennials and form partnerships with other businesses.

In Austin, BigCommerce’s HQ hometown, there is a very popular meetup group called Boss Babes. This group partners with brands and local hotels, spas, etc. to offer retreats and other discounted options to their members.

Find something similar in your area to help boost awareness and align yourself with brands and ideas that are on the rise.

4. VIP (paid) program.

Some companies offer a VIP program where customers pay a membership to join. Once you’re a member of that VIP program, you have access to exclusive perks such as discounts, freebies, and priority access to events.

One such example is Amazon Prime, which charges an upfront fee for VIP services like free and expedited shipping.

By doing this, Amazon is able to offset cart abandonment (caused by expensive shipping fees) by making customers feel as though they are getting a much better deal.

5. Other reward programs.

Other rewards that companies can opt to have include:

  • Donations to other companies. This is best if it’s aligned with your company culture, such as TOMS, which donates a percentage of profits to its many causes.
  • Gamification/Contests, such as AppSumo, which constantly runs online sweepstakes that promise to winners gadgets such as Macbook Pros, Fitbits, and software programs such as Photoshop and Dropbox Pro. By doing this, they were able to accrue hundreds of thousands of subscribers to their email list and social sites.

Pro tip: Make sure that the odds of winning the game are no more than 25% and that purchase requirements are attainable so that the members feel that they aren’t being duped.

Make sure everything is legal before taking the contest public.

6. Hybrid programs.

This is a combination of any of the aforementioned loyalty programs.

The trick is to find elements from different programs that mix well together, as is the case with Kiehl’s Rewards, which gives you a guaranteed free birthday gift as well as $10 reward for every $100 purchase.

Oxygen4Life has set up a complete hybrid program using Zinrelo. You can see the experience below, where they offer:

  • Point-based
  • Tiers through account creation
  • Birthday bonuses
  • And more.

7. No loyalty program.

Some brands, such as Apple, do not have a loyalty program but still have a lot of loyal customers — as evidenced by the many people who fall in line every time a new iPhone or Apple product is released.

Apple is able to get away without a loyalty program because their products are so hard to resist from the get-go.

If you’re a pioneer in your field or are redefining your category, it’s quite possible that you don’t need an ecommerce customer loyalty program.

How to Select a Loyalty App

To have success you need to have the right ecommerce customer loyalty software. To deploy your loyalty programs, many brands offer management via a loyalty app.

Having a mobile app is helpful, especially when customers are out and about without their wallets but still want to patronize your business.

Making it possible to pay with credits in your loyalty app also makes adding transactions to your database easier because everything is done electronically.

Many brands such as Starbucks, Dominos, 7-eleven and top airlines (such as AirAsia) have loyalty apps. Investing in this type of ecommerce customer loyalty program can be quite lucrative, as 75% of all smartphone users are interested in interacting with loyalty schemes via their mobile phones.

The good news? You don’t need to spend too much to create your own customer loyalty app. You can implement your loyalty program using one of the many loyalty apps on the BigCommerce app store.

The most successful loyalty programs make it easy for your customers to earn, redeem and use their rewards. A good app will walk you through all the decisions involved in setting up the loyalty program.

But most importantly, the best ecommerce loyalty software will do the following:

  • Keep things simple.
  • Make it easy to redeem rewards.
  • Make it easy to use the rewards.
  • Provide monthly performance metrics.

Here are top ecommerce loyalty program software apps to consider using:

Measuring the Effectiveness of Your Customer Loyalty Program

These metrics can help to indicate the effectiveness of your customer loyalty program:

1. Customer retention rate.

Measured over a given time period (a year, a quarter, etc), the customer retention rate measures the number of customers you have retained over a certain time period.

By implementing a successful loyalty program, these numbers should increase. According to a study by Reichheld and Schefter, increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.

2. Net Promoter Score (NPS).

As mentioned previously, the Net Promoter Score is a tool that can be used to estimate customer experience, which is related to a firm’s revenue growth.

It is a score on a scale of 1-10 that demonstrates how much a person would recommend your business to others. It is measured by subtracting the number of customers that wouldn’t recommend your business from the number of customers that would.

3. Negative churn.

Customer churn refers to the number of customers that cease their relationship with the company, determined by a certain time period when a customer fails to interact with the business.

Negative churn is the opposite: measuring those that have purchased more or upgraded.

Final Thoughts

With many available options in the market, it can be hard to retain hard-won customers.

With the right strategy and structure, an ecommerce customer loyalty program can level the playing field — even helping to push things in your company’s favor!

Ecommerce businesses:

  • Have you set up an ecommerce customer loyalty program?
  • How have you found success?

Tweet @BigCommerce and we’ll share the best insights with our community!

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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Your Free Ecommerce RFP Template + 176 Questions to Ask Before You Migrate https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/free-ecommerce-rfp-template/ https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/free-ecommerce-rfp-template/#comments Wed, 07 Feb 2018 15:00:51 +0000 https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/?p=19627 You’ve reached the tipping point. One last major site outage. One bug undetected for months that could have cost you…]]>

You’ve reached the tipping point.

  • One last major site outage.
  • One bug undetected for months that could have cost you millions (but you thankfully caught!).
  • One more feature that will cost way too much and take much too long to build.
  • One last peak season losing sleep wondering if the infrastructure will hold this time around.

It’s time to switch ecommerce platforms. It’s time to get it right this time.

It’s time to empower your brand to focus on marketing and selling your goods, not on being technologists just trying to keep your site alive.

Now what?

It’s time to find the right ecommerce platform fit for your unique business, which means it’s time to issue an RFP.

What is an RFP?

An RFP (Request for Proposal) standardizes your evaluation criteria across the 3-5 select vendors you choose to send it to.

It effectively puts every platform out there on an equal playing field. You are, after all, asking each vendor the same questions. You can then benchmark answers directly against one another –– without any sales chatter to trip you up.

Implied in this is something rather simple:

If you don’t send an RFP, each vendor will likely sell you on what they have –– removing your ability to judge each platform effectively across the business critical requirements of your brand.

RFPs help you minimize the number of platforms you bring into phase 2 of your re-platforming project: platform demo presentations.

Simply by a vendor responding to an RFP, you are clearly shortlisting which solution will work best for your unique requirements, which vendor took the process seriously and which have already committed to winning your business.

But RFPs aren’t easy. They aren’t designed to be.

The questions you want to ask each vendor span internal departments and needs –– and even within those have various prioritizations.

To help you begin this process as easily as possible, my team is giving away the templatized RFP we offer to large merchants we speak with who are just beginning on this journey.

How to Use an RFP

When handing this document off to brands, I typically accompany it with a few best practices to help them navigate the waters. Here’s what I share with them.

The effort a vendor puts into the RFP is also a signal of their commitment to your requirements.

  • Pay attention to the quality of responses you get.
  • Make sure the platforms you speak with are putting some skin in the game.

In the RFP itself, there is a column of priority. That’s the first column after the question. For that part, be sure to get internal sign off on which aspects are business critical and which others might not be as important.

This will help you to determine the right platform for your needs, and guide the platforms you send the RFP to on which items are the most important to properly explain. Be sure the priorities are set right for each question before you send it off.

Use this as a starting point. Please personalize it to your business requirements.

  • There might be migration questions that are not relevant to you and there might be questions missing that might be important to your business.
  • Look through each section and confirm that these are your most business critical requirements.
  • Be sure the priorities are set right for each question – BEFORE you send it off.

This is an RFP template that helps you to get started. It is definitely best accompanied with a cover letter with further details on pricing needs and services requirements.

Traditionally, this part is done in a Word document, not Excel, and includes business scope, pricing expectations and service requirements.

Here are the 176 questions you’ll want clarity on before you begin to narrow down your ecommerce platform choices when approaching a migration.

Your Free RFP Template

The hard work of an RFP shouldn’t be on you. It should be on the sales engineers at the technology companies you are vetting out.

That’s why we’re giving away the RFP template we recommend to large brands looking to move ecommerce platforms, including:

  • More than 176 ecommerce questions.
  • A convenient Google Spreadsheet format that you can easily convert to Excel

Make your platform providers work for you. Below are recommended questions to ask ecommerce providers.

Get your RFP template now.

Company Overview Questions

  1. How is your company structured? (Public / Private, Partnership, Joint Venture, Subsidiary, etc.)
  2. How long has your company been in business?
  3. Please list your top competitors and their respective market share. What are your key differentiators from competitors?
  4. Please describe your product(s)
  5. What is the most current version of your product and when was the last release date?
  6. Please list all external 3rd party applications your product integrates with
  7. Please list any formal partnerships you have with other technology vendors
  8. How many merchants are currently using your software?
  9. Please provide the size & scope of your top 5 clients. List 3 customers that are similar in size and scope to us.
  10. How many people do you employ and in how many locations?
  11. How do you price your application? Describe your license methodology or structure.

Site Design, Development and UX Questions

  1. Please describe how our team will make storefront design and user experience changes on your platform?
  2. Do you offer full access to HTML & CSS?
  3. How is In-browser editing of theme files supported?
  4. How much control do we have over customizing the checkout experience?
  5. Please describe Themes/Storefront Templates available for us to select a design from
  6. Are themes customizable? What can we not customize?
  7. Local development environment to manage code customizations prior to publishing
  8. Are themes Standards Compliant?
  9. Can we preview our product catalog in any theme, without purchasing the theme?
  10. What 3rd Party Developers/Designers would be available to us?
  11. Would we have the ability to Install & use Web Fonts?
  12. Would we have the ability to install additional Plug-Ins or Apps?
  13. Do you enable Persistent Shopping Cart?
  14. Where do you store all our images and content?
  15. How is Geo Targeting implemented?
  16. How much of the design customizations can be done in a local development environment vs in-browser editing?
  17. Are your designs Mobile Responsive?
  18. List all 3rd party programming languages required to make theme changes
  19. Do you offer Mobile Optimized Checkout out-of-the-box?
  20. How many template themes are available for us to choose from?
  21. Do you provide feature upgrades to any themes we purchase?
  22. Describe the ability to publish storefronts in multiple languages.

IT + Hosting Questions For Ecommerce Providers

  1. Describe how the software is hosted.
  2. How do you manage automatic backups? How often do you backup?
  3. Define your Server Redundancy process
  4. List your most recent uptime results. What uptime did you experience during the last holiday season?
  5. How many environments (dev/test/uat/etc) does a typical client use to manage the implementation of enhancements?
  6. Describe how the software can be monitored (at all tiers) for availability and performance.
  7. Describe how the software can be scaled to support additional user and API load.
  8. Describe how high availability and disaster recovery are addressed.
  9. What controls are used to protect against malicious code?
  10. How often are upgrades delivered to clients?
  11. What browsers and devices does the software support?
  12. Describe how Import/Export of data can be scheduled.

Important Ecommerce Security + PCI Compliance Questions

  1. Is the software PCI compliant?
  2. Describe how the software supports federated identity and Single Sign On (SAML/OpenID/OAuth/etc).
  3. Describe how security roles are defined and what access restrictions can be managed by role.
  4. Describe how Personally Identifiable Information (PII) such as customer names, addresses, preferences and shopping habits are stored and handled in a secure manner.
  5. Describe how data access and change is audited.
  6. Will your employees, contractors or support personnel have access to Client, customer, order or shopping data?
  7. Describe how security vulnerabilities are identified and mitigated.
  8. Describe any additional data protection, audit or financial control features of the software.
  9. Are SSL Certificates included?

Administration + Ease of Use Questions

  1. Please describe how we can manage our product catalog within your system.
  2. How do you import/export catalog & customer data?
  3. Is there a WYSIWYG editor available?
  4. Do you provide a Drag & Drop Editor?
  5. Can Product & Price lists be Imported/Exported in bulk?
  6. Do you provide a Staging & Preview environment so we can test before launch?
  7. What admin roles & permissions are available for Users?
  8. What types of reports and analytics are included?
  9. How do we configure Site Search Rewrites & Redirects?
  10. Do you provide a CMS for Content Pages & Blogs?
  11. How much of the store administration can be done from a mobile device?
  12. Do you provide URL Redirects?
  13. Do you offer your own POS System or integrate with an existing one? List all POS systems you integrate with.

Customer Service Questions

  1. How can we segment our customers and members into separate groups?
  2. Can customers access “Saved Addresses” during the checkout process?
  3. How can our customers manage and view order history?
  4. List all order management capabilities
  5. How can we reorder the products on behalf of a customer?
  6. Do you support Wish Lists?
  7. How are refunds/partial refunds managed?
  8. How do you manage Rewards/Points?

Ecommerce Analytics Questions

  1. Do you provide a Dashboard with business critical metrics?
  2. Does your solution offer built-In Analytics or via 3rd party app?
  3. Is Google Analytics integrated?
  4. How do you support Google Tag Manager Integration?
  5. Do you provide analytics and insights for metrics including customer LTV?
  6. Is there a report for Total Revenue/Sales?
  7. How can we report on product and merchandising?
  8. How would be generate a Tax Report?
  9. What types of shipping and fulfillment reports are available?
  10. Can we generate a low stock inventory report?

Checkout + Payment Option Questions

  1. Is mobile optimized, single-page checkout supported?
  2. Can customers pay using Amazon Pay?
  3. Can users pay in browser and on mobile with Apple Pay?
  4. Can Customers Check Out as a Guest?
  5. Are customers able to use stored credit cards and shipping addresses during checkout?
  6. Are there options for both Authorize & Capture and Authorize Only?
  7. Can Customers Save their Shopping Cart?
  8. Are Tax & Shipping Estimates provided to Customers?
  9. Can Customers Ship to Multiple Addresses?
  10. How do you support recurring payments and box-of-the-month orders?

Marketing + Promotions Questions

  1. Can we manage marketing promotions and banners separately for each category?
  2. How extensive are your cart-level discounts and promotions? Is any coding required to set these up?
  3. How can promotions be limited to specific products?
  4. Is there the ability to run Shipping Promotions?
  5. Can promotions be scheduled to launch and end at a date and time?
  6. Describe how multi-tier pricing for quantity discounts works.
  7. Are coupon codes supported?
  8. Can promotions be limited based on customer groups or audience segments?
  9. How do you support bundled products?
  10. Can the platform handle product exclusions for promotions?
  11. Can bonus products be added to the cart as a result of the cart contents?
  12. Does the platform support online and offline Gift Cards cards through the same system?
  13. Is a gift registry or wishlist supported?
  14. Is gift wrapping an option customers can choose?
  15. Can gift messaging be added to orders?
  16. How do you manage abandoned carts? Can we include offers in abandoned cart emails?
  17. How do you support Google Trusted Stores?

Email Marketing Questions

  1. Are Transactional Emails native to the platform? Can these be fully turned off if we want to use an external Email Marketing Automation application?
  2. Can we integrate with a 3rd Party ESP?
  3. How are Abandoned Cart emails handled?
  4. Can we create an email-signup form?
  5. How can we create a Contact Us form?
  6. Are Email Templates mobile responsive?
  7. What 3rd party email applications are integrated? MailChimp and ConstantContact integrations available?

SEO + SEM Questions

  1. Can product meta-tags be customized?
  2. How do you support 301 Redirects?
  3. Are SEO-Friendly URLs auto-generated for products and category pages?
  4. Can URLs be customized?
  5. What type of blog management is included in your solution?
  6. Is a sitemap included?
  7. Do you support canonical tags?
  8. What is the process to disallow URLs in robots.txt?
  9. How can we export product feed from your platform?
  10. Do you support Google AMP integration to optimize mobile search results?

Social Media Questions

  1. Does your product meta data include Open Graph Tags?
  2. Please describe how we can publish our product catalog to Facebook Shop. Is there an additional cost for this service?
  3. Are social media sharing links on PDP supported?
  4. Are social media sharing links displayed post-purchase?
  5. Can customers or end users login to our storefront using Social Login (Facebook, Amazon, Google, etc)?
  6. How can we display User Generated Content such as Pinterest or reviews in our store?

Products + Categories Questions

  1. Can we add multiple images per product? Is there a limit to the number or size of images?
  2. Do you support SKU level images with image switching on variation selection?
  3. Is Product Image Zoom enabled by default?
  4. How easy is it to add video to PDP? Is there a limit on the size and length of videos we can upload?
  5. Please describe how product options and option sets are managed in your system
  6. Please describe how variations or options can be configured?
  7. Is there a quick edit option available to modify stock levels or pricing change?
  8. Do you support both digital and physical products?
  9. Is Inventory Management built-in?
  10. How do you support real-time Inventory sync within multiple channels?
  11. Can inventory be tracked at variation level?
  12. Does the shipping system understand and support Dimensional Weight?
  13. Are Custom Product Attributes supported?
  14. Can you configure related items?
  15. Is it possible for related items to be automatically generated?
  16. Do you allow pre-orders?
  17. How do you support custom Product Pages? Can these be configured per category?
  18. Are Product Reviews built-in?
  19. Is it easy for customers to share products with friends from the PDP?
  20. Is Site Search predictive?
  21. Can Categories be sorted manually in the Control Panel?
  22. Can Categories be used for Private Sales?
  23. Are Category Filters supported?
  24. Do Categories & Products have Breadcrumbs?
  25. Are Page/Product/Category URLs auto-generated?
  26. How can we customize the product and category level URLs?
  27. Does the platform support multi-level category navigation?

Ecommerce Questions About Omnichannel

  1. List all 3rd party marketplaces you are currently integrated with.
  2. How would we manage catalog publishing with specific pricing and product information per channel?
  3. Can users check out within Facebook or would they be re-directed to our online store?
  4. Do you support publishing catalog to eBay? Is it restricted to specific verticals or categories?
  5. Is there a centralized view of all our orders across all channels?
  6. Do you support publishing product catalog to Amazon?
  7. How can we promote our products via Google Shopping?
  8. Describe your integration to 3rd party channel management applications like Channel Advisor?
  9. What additional marketplaces do you plan to integrate with in the next 6 months to a year?
  10. Do you support Pinterest buy buttons?

Services Questions

  1. Please provide details about your on-boarding processes for new clients.
  2. Please provide an example of an implementation timeline.
  3. Do you provide training and user documentation for the entire platform?
  4. Please describe your support process (including tools) along with standard SLA’s.
  5. Please describe your change management processes including the system audit logging capabilities.
  6. How does our historical data (orders, customers, products) migrate to your solution?
  7. List all Services resources who will be dedicated to our business.
  8. Provide an example of a QBR or Customer Success Plan you offer your customers
  9. Do you have extended support hours for supporting an event’s onsite operation?

Ecommerce Questions About Customer Support

  1. How big is your customer support team and where are they located?
  2. Please detail your Phone Support offering. Is it available 24/7? Is there an additional cost associated with this service?
  3. What are your average wait/response times for phone support?
  4. Is there a priority queue available for urgent and time-sensitive requests?
  5. Can we get a dedicated Support Representative if needed?
  6. What ticketing system do you use? How can we track status of our tickets?
  7. What are your Support SLAs

If you’ve made it this far down the page, you are clearly ready to take a look at a new platform.

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The Ultimate Guide to Ecommerce Replatforming and Data Migration https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/ecommerce-replatforming-and-data-migration/ https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/ecommerce-replatforming-and-data-migration/#comments Tue, 23 Jan 2018 15:00:17 +0000 https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/?p=17031 Whether you’re a developer, marketer, entrepreneur or Fortune 500 CEO, there’s an inkling in the back of your mind that…]]>

Whether you’re a developer, marketer, entrepreneur or Fortune 500 CEO, there’s an inkling in the back of your mind that perhaps, in the near future, your job or company may be obsolete.

It’s not an unfounded fear.

The rules to success for nearly all industries in today’s economy are fleeting, at best.

Everything keeps changing, and the best of the best have to be able to pivot –– quickly and competently –– in order to keep up.

Of course, to keep up with the newest skill sets and execute on the most modern of campaigns, you often need 2 things:

  1. Money.
  2. Headcount.

This need positions the biggest brands of the world well, enabling them to form monopolies, of sorts – in theory at least.

Yet, that isn’t what we’re seeing take shape.

Large organization move too slowly to pivot quick enough to execute well on trends.

Instead, those companies end up buying the brands that do (re: Walmart acquiring Jet.com and Unilever buying Dollar Shave Club).

What enables those up-and-comers to take on their legacy competitors (i.e. Amazon and Gillette)?

Agile marketing that gets these brands to the forefront of customer conversion in a more compelling way than traditional companies.

This guide will walk you through what I believe to be the first step toward agile marketing for large enterprises.

Here is what I’ll cover:

What’s in Our Ecommerce Replatforming Guide

  1. Startups focus on marketing, because their technology is covered: Enterprise brands can do this, too. I explain how.
  2. There are 3 pain points that often forces brands to migrate to new technology – and all of them are signals that you should have done it much, much sooner. But I believe in staring at a problem. We’ll walk through how you can do it right now.
  3. Your 3 options when it comes to ecommerce technology. Not every solution is right for every brand. But there are ones that will eliminate the need for you to migrate ever again –– and ones that will force this process time and time again. We’ll go through the cost/benefit analysis of these.
  4. The 6 steps to an ecommerce re-platforming and migration. The biggest 2 of which are issuing the RFP and transferring the data. I’ll give you an RFP template you can print out and use right now –– and introduce you to the free services teams that will migrate your data for you. Yes, free. Seriously.
  5. A primer on what NOT to do during a shopping cart migration. Again, I don’t like to admire problems. I address them. This is the elephant in the room. The #1 rule? Don’t over invest. The point of your technology is to enable better and more effective marketing and sales. Whizzbang is nice, but not necessary.
  6. I’ll give you an ecommerce replatforming checklist. If you it this far in the piece, I’m assuming you, like me, like to get things done. This list will let you mark off one by one the steps you and your team need to take to do it first the first time, and then never again.  
  7. I’ll teach you how to put platforms to the test. Sure, you issue an RFP and sure, you get answers back. But do not buy before you try. Do not buy before your developers try. Do not buy before your legal tries. DO NOT BUY BEFORE YOU TRY.
  8. Another word on data migration services – because some platforms offer them for free, some services are self-serve and others are just plain worth the dollars to make sure your data transfers effectively. It is how you upset. It is how you better target marketing. It is how you know how your business is running up and to the right and not vice versa. It matters, so it gets its own section.
  9. Finally, I’ll debunk the most common data migration myths out there. Just for fun.

Let’s get started.

Ready to begin the RFP process?

Issuing an RFP is the next step for brands considering a re-platform. However, RFPs can be tricky – and what you include in them makes a world of difference in terms of what you get from your new platform (and also in making the right choice to begin with).

This free RFP includes 188 questions, from big ideas to minutiae, so you don’t miss a thing. 

Download your free RFP template.

Successful Brands Focus on Marketing

What allows these companies to focus on marketing is their choice of technology stack from the onset.

Or, if not from the onset, these companies are quick to replatform to a better solution, so that website maintenance and bug patches are not taking priority over marketing activities.

  • The latter leads to sales, growth and revenue.
  • The former doesn’t have to be business as usual.

That is why you must pick the right ecommerce platform – because you need to focus on marketing and growth.

After all, marketing is expensive, competitive, and requires a lot of time.

It is pay-to-play in so many channels:

  • Adwords.
  • Facebook.
  • TV.
  • Radio.

In the ones where it isn’t – say, SEO – you’re competing against a gamut of competitors and bigger brands, often with a much bigger head start.

And, each of these channels are getting more and more saturated everyday. So why are you spending your time and money on a “good enough” ecommerce solution?


  • The Carolina Panthers: Making the switch from Yahoo to BigCommerce meant a 16% decrease in site bounce rate, 83% increase in mobile conversion rate and a 37% increase in conversion across the board. And that was just after launching.
  • Henna Caravan: Making the switch from Magento to BigCommerce gave Henna Caravan a 33% increase in revenue through SEO and a 2X industry average conversion rate, all within 2 weeks of launch.
  • Veppo: Making the switch from Shopify Plus to BigCommerce saved Veppo thousands in revenue and reduced manual work hours by 40%.
  • Awesome GTI: Making the switch from Magento to BigCommerce increased Awesome GTI’s YoY revenue more than 95%, saw conversion rates increase nearly 15% and nearly a 17% increase in AOV YoY.
  • NaturallyCurly: Making the switch from Lemonstand to BigCommerce gave NaturallyCurly the ability to sync their ERP and storefront, saving the company 520 hours of manual work a week.

Modern ecommerce platforms are the equivalent of a marketing technology, development and IT staff – all in one.

It’s Moore’s law.

Likely when you first launched your brand, ecommerce platforms were cumbersome, expensive and required hours of extra work you ended up taking on internally or that you’ve outsourced to platform experts.

Today, there are ecommerce platforms out there that take all the technical heavy lifting off your hands –– allowing your team and business the time and financial resources needed to capitalize on the market with strategic and engaging campaigns.

This is how you win.

  • You set yourself up for success.
  • You think about the future.

Would you still be using a Nokia brick phone today?

No. The Capt’n Crunch-size chip used in there is now the size of your fingernail –– and it stores a whole lot more.

Upward mobility requires change. Future-proofing is how you blockade against antiquation or even worse, extinction.

The line is drawn in the sand. It’s time you choose your side.

Do 1 or More of These Issues Apply to You?

In a perfect world, a site replatforming project would be a year in planning. You would have allotted budget and defined clear goals.

In reality, replatforming isn’t something companies proactively plan. Most often, there’s some driving issue — or a number of them — forcing a company to migrate.

Our team sees these issues regularly – and have compiled a string list of the most common below.

Go ahead, check off right next to the ones that apply to your business. Check off more than one, and it’s time to replatform.

Financial Issues Related to Your Ecommerce Platform

  • We can’t afford to continue doing business with our existing ecommerce platform due to the high maintenance costs.
  • We experienced a recent merger or acquisition, allowing for consolidation and review of current platforms for efficiency gains.
  • We’re working on new initiatives such as launching new brands, product lines or launching into new markets. With new launches, we want to test out more cost-effective solutions in order to prove out concept. We’ve begun to see that the more cost-effective platforms outperform our legacy platform the main brand is using.

Technical Issues Related to Your Ecommerce Platform

  • Our old solution has grown unstable under peak traffic conditions, resulting in slow site performance and bad customer experience.
  • The catalogue database can’t handle the physical number of SKUs we’ve added to the catalogue over the years.
  • The platform only captures a limited number of attributes, can only associate a limited number of product related assets, has a limited call volume on APIs or, as in some cases, can’t handle certain types of content such as video.
  • It takes too long to develop new features on the old platform and the backlog of projects in IT is becoming unmanageable and cost prohibitive.


Marketing Issues Related to Your Ecommerce Platform

  • In our organization, our marketing team is the tip of the spear for online growth. Our marketing team is tasked with not only reaching potential customers and driving traffic to the site, but also converting at the highest rate possible. We want something more intuitive, allowing us to be more creative and quick in our GTM execution.
  • Our old ecommerce platform prevents our marketing team from converting visitors that otherwise might have converted on a newer, more featured platform. Worse still, our old platform prevents us from competing in key areas entirely. Some of the key features and capabilities that our marketing team is looking for include
    • Improved Site Search: Directed and faceted. Marketing wants to be able to control search results for the best possible user experience.
    • Personalization: Dynamic content presentation and optimization based on multiple visitor personas.
    • Mobile Commerce: Specific design and funnel for mobile devices in the wake of mobile-first customer expectations.
    • Social Media: Hooks for marketing on the top social sites, easy share-ability and social commerce capabilities.
    • Tag Management: Re-tagging the site for efficient digital marketing, increased search functionality and better SEO based on Google’s indexing of the site map.

Any one of these requirements could be justification enough for a new platform.

Most companies looking to re-platform, however, have multiple of these issues.

Take mobile commerce, for example.

Mobile revenue has jumped dramatically with the combination of social media platforms and powerful mobile devices, over 50% for many retailers.

Not having your ecommerce website support mobile visitors cuts out a large selling opportunity, not to mention the SEO hit you take from Google’s newest search algorithms, which reward mobile readiness and penalize sites that don’t support mobile.

In fact, beginning July 2018, Google will make mobile site speed also a ranking factor for mobile algorithms.

This means your not only need to have a mobile-friendly site, but that it needs to be fast. Really fast.

Not having this one feature (which is really 2: mobile-friendly site and mobile page load speed), which takes months of coding for an on-premise or custom solution, is reason enough to switch — not to mention the financials of having to pay for such coding work.

And that’s just a basic example. What about integration with new payment solutions like digital wallets?

  • Do you want to have to build out your individual brand integration with Amazon Pay, Apple Pay, PayPal One Touch, etc?
  • Or would you rather your platform build that out, test it and ensure it works, take on the PCI compliance and ultimately just have you be able to click, one and done it’s live on the product?

It’s your choice.

The Best Ecommerce Platform Options

Before I begin to outline the process for a replatform, it’s important that you understand your ecommerce platform options:

  • Homegrown.
  • Onsite or on premise.
  • Cloud.
  • SaaS.

Below is an outline of each, including pros and cons based on your particular business needs.

This is the basic background information you’ll need for issuing a complete and structured ecommerce RFP to a technology provider, the details of which I’ll get into in a moment.

Homegrown Technology

This is usually a custom LAMP or .NET-based implementation supplemented by various middleware, the origins of which you may or may not know.

Quite often, these platforms are also connected to backend systems running custom-built ERP software.

In my experience, I’ve even run across the occasional IBM AS400 mainframe locked away in the deep recesses of IT.

This middleware could easily be replaced by your smartphone today, but nobody dare touch it lest it breaks and brings the whole site down.

Homegrown Ecommerce Pros and Cons:
  • Pros: The pros of a homegrown platform are that you have the potential for ultimate flexibility. You can customize each feature exactly the way you want, without the constraint of a template. Although in reality, real world resource constraints can mean that potential flexibility isn’t realized.
  • Cons: The cons with a homegrown platform are that you are a customer of one and every feature you want to add has to be developed from the ground up. Homegrown platforms are also often expensive to maintain on a day-to-day basis.

Focus on Brand Building, Not Building Tech.

“We knew it was going to take us 5 years to get caught up with everyone else if we went with open source or custom build.

We needed a platform that had everything we needed right then already built-in, and one with extensible APIs we could connect to our home grown ERP system.

That meant we were looking at a SaaS solution.”

– Jason Boyce, CEO and Co-Founder, Dazadi

Read the Dazadi Story.

Onsite or On Premise Technology

With onsite, sometimes called on premise technology, the ecommerce platform is licensed from and then hosted on the client’s internal network.

The client, or business owner, is then responsible for managing all ecommerce aspects including:

Commonly deployed onsite platforms include Websphere, Oracle Commerce and Magento Enterprise.

On Premise Ecommerce Pros and Cons:
  • Pros: The pros of this option are less obvious. There’s a perception of improved security, but I’ll let the security experts weigh in. “As online shopping continues to overpower in-store shopping, ecommerce sites are increasingly targeted by hackers as they have become a gold mine for credit card information,” said Shahar Tal, Malware and Vulnerability Research Manager at Check Point Software Technologies. “The vulnerability we uncovered [on Magento] represents a significant threat not to just one store, but to all of the retail brands that use the Magento platform for their online stores – which represents about 30% of the ecommerce market.”
  • Cons: The cons of onsite deployments are that you need a small army of IT staff to run, maintain and sometimes update the platform. Also, quite often, companies customize their deployments to the point that they get off of the platform upgrade path and are then stuck on an old version of the ecommerce platform. The cost of these upgrades and maintenance, however, is likely the biggest con. A scaling ecommerce business can spend anywhere from $100,000 to $500,000 per year to ensure an onsite solution is functioning properly. Here’s a calculator you can use to see what your overall costs would be if you were to migrate to or stay on an on premise solution.

Less Headaches. More Sales.

“When I first bought Spectrum Audio, it was on Magento and I was literally paying developers every couple of days to fix something.

Our overhead on Magento was more than $2,000 a month alone, just between server costs and paying developers. And the sales weren’t near where they are today.

To be a successful store owner, I can’t afford to have this huge team of developers that know everything. You can have someone on the inside for small fixes, but really we can’t be an ecommerce platform on top of being an online store.”

– John McCann, CEO of Spectrum Audio.

Read the Spectrum Audio Story.

Cloud Ecommerce Technology

There’s currently a lot of confusion in market about the difference between cloud ecommerce and SaaS ecommerce.

Let’s put that confusion to rest right now.

SaaS and Cloud ecommerce are not the same.

With Cloud ecommerce, you still pay extra in licensing fees, as well as to patch vulnerabilities and to complete upgrades.

This aspect of cloud ecommerce is similar to on-premise.

In fact, many on-premise ecommerce technologies are those that are launching cloud solutions.

The difference, however, is that the server is hosted and maintained by a third-party, similar to how it is done in the SaaS model.

Here are the differences between SaaS and cloud broken out.

Differences Between Cloud Ecommerce and SaaS:

  • Server tainted and hosted by a third party.
    • SaaS: Yes
    • Cloud: Yes
  • No need to install or keep up with software editions.
    • SaaS: Yes
    • Cloud: No
  • PCI compliance and security handled for you.
    • SaaS: Yes
    • Cloud: No
  • Automatic software upgrades.
    • SaaS: Yes
    • Cloud: No
  • No downtime with new software versions.
    • SaaS: Yes
    • Cloud: No, there will be downtime during versioning updates

SaaS Ecommerce Technology

Before we hop into this realm, know that there are multiple versions of SaaS ecommerce platforms.

  • Multi-tenant: customers share the same instance of the application and receive upgrades simultaneously.
  • Single tenant: customers have their own instance of the application, upgrades are up to the customer
  • Hybrid models: customers share the same instance with simultaneous upgrades, with open APIs for custom iterations

Multi-tenant architecture is one of the main reasons that SaaS ecommerce platforms have cost advantages over homegrown or onsite implementations.

Single tenant SaaS platforms take into account the need for specific brand customizability, but it’s easy to end up off the upgrade path and expose your brand to vulnerabilities (similar to on-premise technology).

A hybrid model is the best option for brands, allowing for low total cost of ownership, simultaneous platform upgrades and open APIs for extreme customizability without falling off an upgrade path.

In other words, business owners get the lower cost of the multi-tenant deployment with the custom capabilities of a single tenant deployment.

An example of a hybrid ecommerce platform would be BigCommerce, where you can have a customized version of the platform but still benefit from the SaaS implementation.

The main aspect all SaaS deployments have in common is their pricing model. Business owners enter into a monthly payment agreement.

Some portions of the first year’s fees are usually due up front, but not always.

Pricing terms vary widely depending on the client’s circumstances, for instance:

  • Number of SKUs
  • Monthly sales
  • Monthly traffic and more.
SaaS Ecommerce Pros and Cons:
  • Pros: The pros of implementing a SaaS platform are primarily based on cost and ease of management. With SaaS, the vendor is developing features for multiple customers and so the expense is amortized across the entire customer base, which keeps costs down for everyone. The SaaS vendor’s roadmap is also usually driven by demand from their customers, so you’re pooling requirements across multiple segments of the industry. This leads to a robust product feature roadmap, which meets and often exceeds the requirements of most clients.
  • Cons: The cons of a SaaS deployment are that you are restricted to some degree by the nature of the fact that the platform is usually multi-tenant. This means that the flexibility you might have with a homegrown or on premise platform is not necessarily there. Many SaaS providers, however, have open APIs, which allow for third-party integrators that often function similarly to if you were integrating the software on your owned and operated system. As the SaaS ecommerce industry evolves, this con is much less of concern thanks to open and malleable APIs. In fact, BigCommerce allows for 100’s of API calls per second, letting retailers sync 25,000 product inventory from an ERP in only 60 seconds.

OK, now that you know you need to switch and you know what your options are, it’s time to issue an RFP.

Your Ecommerce Replatform Strategy

Do you know the #1 reason why brands migrate from their ecommerce platform?

It’s not just about money – but that is a big consideration.

It isn’t just about being able to execute cooler, more impactful marketing campaigns – but of course everything that exists on a RFP is getting at the end goal.

No, the #1 reason is empowerment.

Ecommerce marketing is harder than ever before. It’s also more costly. Brands can’t afford to move slowly. They can’t afford to NOT be agile.

And yet, the vast majority of ecommerce platforms tie your marketing team’s hands behind their back – leaving them bobbing for conversion apples they could on other platforms simply just pick up.

OK, that might not be the best metaphor. So, let’s dive in to the real work: issuing an RFP.

This will allow you switch from one ecommerce platform to another – all without losing your SEO rankings or customized design or legally required security protocol.

1. Get ready to issue an RFP (request for proposal).

A proper Request for Proposal (RFP) process will help dramatically reduce your frustrations or concerns as you determine which SaaS provider is right for your growing business.

RFPs are used by scaling and enterprise brands looking to properly evaluate key stakeholder needs, scope and goals in large-scale projects which will affect the operation of an entire organization.

The more information you provide in the RFP process, the less room there is for confusion later on.

A sloppy RFP could cost you months in wasted time, so be detailed, clear and over communicate your needs. This post will provide everything you need to do so.


For ecommerce platforms, you should issue an RFP. This because of the various attributes unique to online businesses that must be accounted for.

Each ecommerce platform handles these needs a bit differently. You want to see their proposal, along with a quote, not just a quote for typical services.

RFPs generally require more work on both parties –– and this guide will explain your part, as the business.


Get your free RFP template.

2. Write the RFP.

Before you start committing the rest of the organization to an ecommerce replatforming project, you should conduct an initial ROI modeling session and begin internally mapping out the RFP process.

This is the first step to writing a RFP.

Sit down with finance and do an honest review of the ecommerce business. Before you can begin developing a detailed set of requirements and an RFP, you will need to have the numbers for your business locked down.

These include the usual:

  • Unique Visitors
  • Gross Revenue
  • Average Order Value (AOV)
  • Conversion rates
  • Number of transactions
  • Number of units per transaction
  • Gross Margin
  • Net Margin

If you decide to go down the SaaS platform route, you will be sharing this information with the vendor so they can calculate anticipated usage and pricing.

3. Forecast revenue and total cost of ownership.

Next, create a three year forecasted improvement on the above metrics if you were to deploy a new platform.

Allow six months post launch for site optimization. Don’t forecast any lift during those six months.

Here’s a sample walkthrough of how you might achieve this for your own business.

The numbers below are based on a last 90 day calculation. The forecast based on 57% overall ecommerce growth by 2018.

Conservative numbers are used here.

Once you figure out your business forecast, look into how much each ecommerce technology solution will cost.

You can use our Total Cost of Ownership Calculator here, or take a look at the sample chart below for reference, based on a business making at least $2,500,000 in revenue annually.

Then, calculate your savings, and figure out the average cost for services like SEO, social media and more.

Finally, add in the revenue lift generally seen by these services, and the upside associated with it for your business’ revenue.

Again, you can use our calculator to do this automatically for you, or take a look at our sample below.

Through this analysis, you will have determined the amount of investment you can reasonably afford for your website replatforming project.

This will save you time later on and help you to avoid looking too far into platforms that you simply cannot afford.


Many ecommerce platforms will pass you off to a partner for transferring your catalog and customer data (what many people refer to as “data migration”), adding anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 to your initial launch fee and 6 weeks to 6 months in go-to-market timing.

That’s a lot of money and time – and can significantly affect total cost of ownership.

BigCommerce offers free transfer services with a 4 week GTM timeline when coming from non-custom solutions.

Ask the platforms you’re considering about their options and account for this in your ROI model.

Free data migration services.

4. Investigate built-in functionality vs. third-party apps and integrations.

A technical replatforming project is an opportunity to change and improve your efficiencies in other areas of the business.

To make sure you get the most, then, out of the RFP process, take a look at all existing business processes and determine if there are better ways to achieve the same results.

I also suggest taking a look at the various third-party apps that you have undoubtedly accumulated through the years, including:

  • Automated order notifications
  • Product filtering and faceted search
  • Automatic sales tax calculated at checkout

Many of these can be replaced with features that now come standard on modern ecommerce platforms.

Add the savings from these projected changes into your budget.

For example, 68% of online carts are abandoned and SaaS platforms like BigCommerce now recover on average 15% of those.

Be sure to calculate that revenue in your model. Here is a calculator you can use to do so.

Try to use a fact-based measurement criteria during this discovery process. I prefer projected savings, revenue or ROI.

This phase of the process can be contentious since you’re talking about eliminating tools, processes and potentially people.

The measurement criteria helps to keep the emotion out of the process.

A note on steering committees

I know many people recommend setting up steering committees for this process, but they’re not for everyone and they can definitely slow the replatforming process down.

I prefer to have one decision maker leading the project from the client side and have them ensure that all stakeholder requirements are captured and ranked.

There will, of course, be the need for stakeholder reviews, but they’re different from establishing an actual committee, specifically in the area of final decision-making.

For the fastest and most effective GTM strategy, avoid committees and appoint a project head.

5. Scope integration redirects and initiation.

This is the stage of the replatforming process where you should spend significant time and effort mapping out every touch point between the ecommerce platform and all other systems at your company.

Create a list of each integration point and determine what will happen to that integration during replatforming.

It’s at this crucial stage that you determine what’s in scope for the project and what is not.

Also include a review of any catalog transfers that will be necessary and make sure to include them in the RFP, including:

  • Customer data files
  • Product catalogues
  • Assets or content such as product images

Proper due diligence at this stage of the process will save time and money later on. Review everything 2 or 3 times to make sure that nothing has been left out.

6. Meet with all potential stakeholders.

Confirm that all stakeholders have been given ample opportunity to share their requirements as well as all business processes that interface with the ecommerce platform.

Stakeholders are usually from the following departments/disciplines.

What Not to Do in the Replatform Process

On a very large project I personally worked on, after numerous sessions with all necessary stakeholders, I asked one last time if we had covered every process, integration point and application that would interface with the new ecommerce platform.

Everyone nodded in acknowledgement … until one voice at the back of the room asked if we had accounted for the two guys in Turkey.

I thought he was joking.

He explained that those two guys performed a critical database conversion on the global master product data file on a nightly basis.

True story.

Don’t forget about the two guys in turkey!

But don’t go overboard, either.

I’ve seen countless million – tens of millions of dollars actually – wasted on high priced consulting firms more concerned about billable hours than finding the absolute best solution for the client.

Don’t fall into the trap of over engineering your solution.

I’ve also seen architecture scoped out on PowerPoint slides that look amazing but are entirely unrealistic in the real world, either because they would run too slow, cost too much or just not integrate properly.

It’s a myth that you can take the “best in breed” products in various categories and try to make them all fit together.

It’s much better to get one good platform and use it to the fullest extent possible.

I’d be lying if I said I’ve never seen a company scope out a behemoth of integrated apps only to spend tens of millions of dollars and never see it run properly.

True story:

Recently, a company I know of spent millions of dollars (high teens) to deploy a large, well known ecommerce platform.

Problem is, that by the time they got done engineering their idea of nirvana, the ecommerce platform’s role was basically relegated to that of a shopping cart!

  • A state of the art full-blown platform operating at maybe 20% of its potential.
  • Millions of dollars wasted
  • An unnecessarily complicated architecture that took way too long to implement

What they ended up with could have been replaced with at most, a $3 million alternative.

This was a CIO gone wild. And this isn’t an isolated case. I’ve seen it way too often.

A Handy Ecommerce Replatforming Checklist

There are numerous ecommerce platforms available today, everything from simple carts to enterprise grade platforms that include strong search, personalization and CMS capabilities.

For our purposes, let’s say that there are about 30 different platforms to choose from. That’s far too many to engage in an RFP.

You should be able to narrow down your RFP list to 5-8 vendors based on your:

  • Current online revenue
  • SKUs
  • Ratio of traffic vs. transactions
  • Average order value
  • Units per order
  • Any unique elements specific to your business such as hard goods vs. soft goods, continuity/subscription business or complex configuration capabilities

At JCH, we use a process called the Accelerated Vendor Selection Process (AVSP).

This process is based on our experience and knowledge of ecommerce platforms, and this helps us to narrow the focus of the RFP down to the key features that are most important to the client.

Our RFPs contain over 150 questions to confirm vendor capabilities and for use in vendor comparison charts.

This may seem like a lot, but let’s put it into context: a mid-tier SaaS platform contains over 280 features.

That doesn’t include third party integrations, catalog transfer services, systems architecture or security compliance issues — all of which will need to be addressed in the RFP process.

Ecommerce Migration Checklist:
  1. Determine the best platform options for your business.
  2. Issue an RFP to those platforms.
  3. Forecast revenue and total cost of ownership.
  4. Investigate built-in functionality vs. third-party apps.
  5. Determine integration redirects and initiation.
  6. Meet with all potential stakeholders and put platforms to the test.
  7. Determine data shopping cart migration service and launch migration.
  8. Redesign site, relaunch in beta and QA with stakeholders.
  9. Relaunch site publicly, and redirect URLs.

How to Put Platforms to the Test

Based on the responses to your RFP, you should now have a short list of 3-5 potential vendors.

The next step is to create a detailed set of use cases to be performed by the vendor, via webex for smaller opportunities and onsite for larger deployments.

There are a couple reasons for this:

  1. Stakeholders get to see what a day in the life of using the platform will be like for them. Their feedback is invaluable. They get to see the different ways various vendors have chosen to execute various tasks in the platform and can see which methodologies might suit their particular requirements better. Lastly, maybe most importantly, they feel a sense of ownership in the process and an appreciation for the final vendor selection.
  2. The more important reason for these tests is to make the vendor demonstrate their capabilities live. It’s easy for a vendor to say that they support a feature, but when it comes time to demonstrate it, the finer details are revealed. For example, a vendor may say they support a certain feature but in reality it requires a separate customization to actually deploy it in the field.

The list of use cases that you develop will depend on the size of deployment, but for the larger ones, it is advisable to schedule about four hours.

Some scenarios take 10 minutes to run through, others can take 30 minutes.

It’s very important that each vendor be given the same list and allotted time to complete their scenarios.

This creates a level playing field upon which comparisons can be more easily made, especially for the stakeholders who are new to the process.

You can use this checklist and agenda for your teams and the platform you are testing. This covers the majority of common needs during a replatform.

Download a printable version here. 

We also allow half an hour at the beginning of the meeting for a general company sales pitch presentation, and about 20 minutes at the end for closing remarks and a final pitch.

Here is what our top level agenda looks like, simplified.

Don’t Forget About Data Migration Services

Transferring your product, category and customer data is perhaps the most overlooked aspect of an ecommerce replatforming or replatforming applications, in general.

Accurate data is essential to running your business.

A poor transfer could result in:

  • Incorrect product mapping.
  • Incorrect product commendations.
  • Incorrect product options.
  • Incorrect product images.
  • Inaccurate customer data.
  • Poor syncing with ERP or POS (think Square or Netsuite).

And those are only to name a few.

You’d be stuck going through each individual SKU and updating all information for product data that was transferred or migrated incorrectly.

For customer data, it would just be lost forever. I cannot stress enough how big of a deal this is.

Again, I’m preaching to the choir.

So, once you’ve decided which platform, or have narrowed it down to two, you will switch to, ask immediately about migration and transfer services.

And don’t let an unclear answer pass.

Many ecommerce platforms will pass you off to a partner for catalog transfer services, adding anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 to your initial launch fee and 6 weeks to 6 months in go-to-market timing.

That’s a lot of money and time – and can significantly affect total cost of ownership.

Do not sign a contract until you have this information. If you are passed off to partner, talk to that partner immediately.

Get a solid understanding of how the catalog transfer or data migration will be done and similar stores they have already transferred, ideally from the same platform you are on. Reach out to that brand, too, and ask about the service.

Better yet, choose an ecommerce platform that provides this service in-house.

At BigCommerce, they have a team of dedicated experts with a combined 30+ years in ecommerce and 15+ years in catalog transfer services.

In the last three years alone, they have transferred more than 20,000 online stores from 50 different ecommerce technology platforms. The service typically take 4-8 weeks for GTM.

This comes at little to no additional cost to a brand.

Because their team has worked with so many brands, they’ve learned that every single online store is unique, and that as they’ve scaled, so has their service.

To ensure catalog & customer data is transferred successfully, our catalog transfer services team implements a 3 steps quality assurance process.

This process includes spot checking the data on your new BigCommerce store. The team’s goal is to transfer these items safely, swiftly and securely.

Top 5 Data Migration Myths Debunked

In the course of performing so many transfers, our team has spoken to a diverse group of business owners, walking them through the process of moving to a new platform.

Below are the top five myths they’ve heard about catalog transfers.

1. Data Migration Myth #1: We miss out on sales while you transfer our data.

Your store won’t go offline during the transfer process.

We do all the work on your new BigCommerce store backend, then give you as much time as you need to customize your settings, test your site and train your team.

When you’re ready, and only when you’re ready, you can launch your new ecommerce storefront — complete with updated data already uploaded into your backend.

This allows you to continue business as usual from day one.

While all of this is happening, your original store stays live on your current platform. We don’t require that it come down, and BigCommerce and our global network of partners actually advise against it.

We understand that uptime is one of the most crucial factors to gaining and maintaining consumer trust, so all our work can happen with no downtime required.

2. Data Migration Myth #2: We’ll lose our design if we replatform.

Worrying about losing your beautiful, custom design? Don’t.

BigCommerce’s open template files allow you to bring custom design elements to your new store, and our design partners, ensure that it happens seamlessly.

Check out a full list of BigCommerce’s best designed customer sites – and how those designs have increased conversion.

3. Data Migration Myth #3: When we move the store to a new host, we’ll lose all our traffic.

It is true that moving to a new server, even when using the same domain name, can impact search engine rankings if done improperly.

The good news, though, is that people move servers all the time, and search engines like Google have best practices which mitigate the effects.

We follow those best practices to minimize all controllable risk. We properly implement 301 redirects for your product and category pages.

Our goal is to move your product data with the same search ranking foundation you had built on your previous platform.

That way, our SEO-friendly platform can quickly drive your traffic to new heights.

4. Data Migration Myth #4: Replatforming means we can clone our store exactly.

No, you cannot clone your store exactly.

You can, however, transfer a majority of your existing data from your current ecommerce store to your new backend. In fact, we make sure that happens without opening you up to any potential issues or liabilities.

As for your store’s look and feel, you’re probably thinking about leaving your current platform because it’s lacking in some way, so why would you want to recreate those same shortfalls?

The quicker you embrace the idea that it requires some change to improve your online business, the quicker you can benefit from transferring to a fully featured enterprise solution like BigCommerce.

We offer a wealth of next-level features that will ensure your transition is as painless — and profitable — as possible.

For instance, with dozens of integrated payment gateways, you’ll rarely need a payment option we don’t offer. Chances are that we have an integration with the payment gateway you are using right now, and you may even find new options like Square and PayPal powered by Braintree that you like more.

In all, BigCommerce offers more than 250 one-click integrations with leading software providers like Survey Monkey, HubSpot, Alibaba and Salesforce. That makes it easy to integrate with the tools you already use.

Plus, our open and unrestricted API blows our competitors out of the water.

Seamlessly connect to critical business software with a powerful API that processes updates up to 100x faster than Shopify Plus.

BigCommerce can handle 100’s of API calls per second. Shopify Plus limits you to 10 per second. Performing an ERP inventory sync of 25,000 products and variants on BigCommerce would take 60 seconds, compared to 2hrs using the Shopify Plus API.

5. Data Migration Myth #5: We have great engineers. We can do it ourselves.

Even if you’re a great developer, our experience has taught us that the first time you undertake an unfamiliar task like this, it rarely goes according to plan.

Anybody who has tried to renovate their own house knows how steep the learning curve can be.

Wouldn’t your time be better spent growing your business and serving your customers while delegating your transfer to veteran engineers who can get it done quickly and correctly?

Your data isn’t something you want to risk, and we’ve heard our fair share of self-transfer horror stories.

When you’re talking about securing and improving your financial future, you can’t afford to let your ego get in the way. Instead, trust your migration to an industry-leading team with more than 20,000 successful migrations completed.

For more information on BigCommerce’s transfer services, read our support documentation on how to move your store to BigCommerce.

And know, this is only documentation. You’ll have an account manager and on-boarding consultant by your side, handling all the heavy lifting, every step of the way.

Tools to Help You Make the Move Now

In all, figuring out which ecommerce platform is right for your business is a time consuming task. But a proper replatforming project is well worth the wait.

A modern ecommerce backend allows you to streamline processes while increasing site speed, stability and security to outperform industry standards.

SaaS works the way technology should – behind the scenes.

Plus, it does so cost effectively, allowing you to invest in marketing initiatives that drive growth for your brand.

Take BigCommerce on a test drive.

Learn more about self-migrating from the following platforms:

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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Digital Commerce and the Threat of Card-not-present Fraud https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/digital-commerce/ https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/digital-commerce/#comments Tue, 19 Dec 2017 21:33:22 +0000 https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/?p=26181 Digital commerce continues to be top of mind for online retailers. Consumers shop more and more across a variety of…]]>

Digital commerce continues to be top of mind for online retailers.

  • Consumers shop more and more across a variety of devices and channels.
  • Retailers continually optimize their sales channels to deliver more seamless consumer experiences.

But within this focus on digital commerce is also increasing pressure from fraudulent activities.  

According to a recent survey of North American digital enablers (e.g., ecommerce platform providers) commissioned by Discover® Global Network, mid-sized merchants with annual revenues of $250 million to $1 billion are seen as the most high-risk targets for fraud over the next 12-24 months.1

This risk for mid-sized merchants could be caused by two factors:

  1. First, fraudsters likely see mid-sized merchants as having enough revenue and customer volume to make attacks worthwhile.
  2. Second, mid-sized merchants often lack the necessary complex risk management systems used by larger digital commerce companies that would help thwart fraud.1

There’s not much you can do about factor #1, and that makes the second factor here incredibly important.

As digital commerce continues to grow, so do new methods to commit fraud.

Let’s look at a few of those –– and what you can proactively do about it.

New Payment Methods, New Fraudulent Activity

The method in which consumers shop is continually evolving.

Take digital commerce, for example. In 2016, shoppers spent more than $1.9 trillion worldwide.2

Some estimates project that global ecommerce sales will reach $4 trillion by the year 2020.2

Mobile payments are also making an increasing impact. This shift to mobile is pushed along with the ever-expanding list of payments-enabled devices.

Consumers can now pay with:

  • Their phone and apps
  • Smartwatches
  • Voice-activated assistants
  • Connected cars  

The list goes on.

In fact, in the U.S., 28% of millennials prefer shopping on their smartphones (a mobile device) rather than on their computers.3

Not only is mobile building amongst consumers, but retailers see the importance of incorporating a digital payments and mobile strategy throughout their business to potentially capture a greater share of wallets.

This shift towards m-commerce is predicted to reach $284 billion, or 45% of the total U.S. ecommerce market, by 2020.4

And the use of mobile payments is expected to grow at an 80% compound annual growth rate through 2020 — reaching $503 billion.5

Along with this evolution into digital commerce come new payment technologies that aim to meet the needs and expectations for a more seamless, secure and immediate payments experience.

Currently, examples of prominent payment technologies include:

  • Digital wallets – apps that store credit card information on a mobile device—be it phone, smart watch or other payments-enabled devices. Common examples are Android Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay; but individual companies have also begun developing their own branded digital wallet.
  • Hybrid online-mobile systems – the use of a personal computer and mobile device, which enables consumers to do things like authenticate an online purchase through their mobile device.
  • EMV technology – a chip embedded within credit and debit cards that is generally harder to clone than the traditional magnetic strip of a card. EMV chips create data unique to each transaction, which make card validation possible for each transaction.
  • Contactless payments – technology that allows consumers to hold their payment method of choice (e.g., mobile device) near the merchant point-of-sale terminal to complete a transaction, as opposed to inserting or swiping a card.

However, the rewards of new payment technologies, like faster transactions through digital wallets, and the shift towards new preferred methods of paying also come with new challenges.

Common challenges include consumer adoption.

Retailers generally want their consumers to adopt new technology before considering investing expenses and efforts to support it.

However, until retailers support a technology, it is difficult to demonstrate an interest.

Another challenge: retailers and issuers need to communicate with employees and consumers about how to complete transactions on new technologies and systems.

A notable risk of these challenges: card-not-present fraud.

Let’s start from the beginning here.

What is CNP Fraud?

Card-not-present (CNP) transactions are when the consumer does not or cannot present their physical card to the merchant at the point-of-sale.

An ecommerce site is a common example in which this is the case.

Therefore, CNP fraud is when a consumer’s credit card is used to make a fraudulent transaction in a CNP setting.

The State of CNP Fraud

CNP fraud is likely to become more prevalent as emerging payments technologies gain wider acceptance and as consumer preference for digital methods continues to grow.

And digital enablers would agree.

In the same survey of North American digital enablers commissioned by Discover Global Network, 62% of digital enabler respondents cited an increase in fraud year over year. This fraud occurred among their merchant customers, with one in five noting the increase as significant.1

These results are not surprising, as similar trends continue to be reported.

In 2016, one research and advisory firm predicted CNP fraud will exceed $7.2 billion in the U.S. by 2020, which, according to the report, is a 225% increase from 2015 levels.6

With so much value lost to fraudulent activities, where are these attempts coming from?

Some common examples include:

  • Hacking and data breaches – When a data breach occurs, user credentials and payment information can be attained. This information can end up on the dark web and, subsequently, bought by fraudsters.
  • Bots – Fraudsters use bots as a way to more easily and efficiently test stolen data across digital commerce sites.
  • Phishing attacks – Phishing is a common fraud method in which fake communications are sent by a seemingly legitimate “company” in an effort to get consumers to enter in sensitive information.

Other examples include malware, new account fraud, digital wallet fraud, account takeover and many more.

Regardless of the method, though, one thing is certain: Fraud will likely continue to grow.

CNP Fraud Likely to Grow

CNP fraud is commonly associated with the implementation of EMV technology as merchants across the U.S. upgrade their point-of-sale terminals.

And though EMV technology will and has likely given rise to an increase in CNP fraud, other factors may be contributing to CNP fraud growth too.

One such potential factor is the continued growth of digital commerce, because as purchase volumes in digital channels continue to grow in value, so does the potential reward for fraudsters.

And digital commerce is growing.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce Census Bureau, U.S. retail ecommerce sales have increased by 15.5% from Q3 2016 to Q3 2017.4

This upward trend has been present since at least 2008, when the Census Bureau reported that ecommerce sales accounted for about 3.5% of total sales, compared to now, where ecommerce accounts for about 8.4% of total sales.7

Authentication Strategies for Managing CNP Fraud

To better manage CNP risk in the new payment frontier, among other methods, merchants could consider embracing a holistic solution that includes:

  1. Layered security
  2. Collaborative security
  3. Consumer-centric security

1. Layered Security.

Layered security is when the payments network, the issuer and the merchant all perform separate aspects of risk analysis and notify one another of potential events.

Since each respective player has different levels of information throughout the full transaction process, this method has inherent potential to be more effective than just one party performing a risk analysis by itself.

Large online retailers have incorporated a variety of authentication services as part of their layered security.

Some real-time services and tactics include:

  • Device IDs
  • Fingerprint identification
  • Sophisticated rules engines
  • The 3-Domain Secure protocol

During pre-transaction activity, retailers have used predictive analytics that can help determine whether the consumer is an actual consumer versus a bot or fraudster.

Knowing the nature of the transaction helps the retailer permit only transactions that seem legitimate.

Layered security, broadly, can be implemented to help detect fraud throughout the entire payments chain—that is, before, during and after transaction authorization.

2. Collaborative Security

Collaboration across the entire payments ecosystem is critical.

Retailers who partner with networks, issuers and even other retailers to extend the benefits of security best practices and insights could potentially have more effective anti-fraud security measures than those who do not engage in a collaborative approach.

And this is important to having a strong layered security.

3. Consumer-Centric Security.

Of course, the key to any strategy is keeping the consumer at the center of it all.

If a security strategy disrupts the consumer experience by being slow or complex, consumers could be frustrated and go elsewhere.

But fortunately, anti-fraud tools continue to evolve into being more transparent and more frictionless for consumers.

Take mobile devices, for instance, and the implementation of biometrics to authorize payments.

Regardless of the security strategy, retailers should take a pragmatic approach by weighing risks versus sales in context.

From there, retailers need to determine if the hard losses avoided through fraud prevention will balance out the unrealized margin due to potential incomplete purchases.

What Next?

As it stands, retailers must understand the current payments environment, implement current and evolving best practices to help reduce risk, increase consumer satisfaction and plan for the future direction of transactions.

It is not necessarily an easy task, and it can be a continual process in this shifting payments landscape.

An effective approach is to work with partners who are already experienced with the latest payment technologies, including fraud service providers, issuers and leading payments networks.

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.


  • 1 “Combatting Fraud in the New Digital Commerce Ecosystem,” 451 Research, September 2017.
  • 2 Worldwide Retail Commerce Sales Will Reach $1.915 Trillion This Year,” eMarketer, August 2016.
  • 3 “The 2016 Smartphone User Behavior Report Millennials’ Mobile Shopping Habits,” Coupify, 2016.
  • 4 “The Mobile Checkout Report,” Business Insider, February 2016.
  • 5 “The Mobile Payments Report,” Business Insider, June 2016.
  • 6 “Card-Not-Present Fraud Losses to Exceed $7 Billion by 2020,” Aite Group, May 2016.
  • 7 “Quarterly Retail E-commerce Sales 3rd Quarter 2017,” U.S. Department of Commerce, November 2017.

The information provided herein is sponsored by Discover Global Network. It is intended for informational purposes, and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.

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How One Pillow Manufacturer Is Putting Amazon Fraudsters to Bed, One Scammer at a Time https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/amazon-fraud/ https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/amazon-fraud/#respond Wed, 13 Dec 2017 19:09:30 +0000 https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/?p=26063 In 1990, my dad set up shop with my mom, selling this pillow with a hole in the middle. He’s…]]>

In 1990, my dad set up shop with my mom, selling this pillow with a hole in the middle.

He’s a dermatologist, and made the pillow to provide relief to patients of his suffering from tender ears caused by a condition called Chondrodermatitis Nodularis Helicis (CNH for short).

They’ve been in business ever since then, and up until this year when my husband and I bought the business from them, they did everything exactly the same as they did back in 1990.

That means no advertising, marketing or sales channel changes in almost 30 years.

So, my husband I took over in January and have since changed everything (it is 2017, after all!)

That’s when our sales doubled!

My parents were shocked. “That’s the power of Amazon!” I told them.

We were going to be the next big Amazon success story –– I just knew it. And then, our listing was deactivated.

Someone else had the lowest price.

“OK,’ I said to my husband, “that’s impossible. Nobody else can have the lowest price for this pillow, because nobody else has this pillow. My dad invented it. We have the lowest price, because we have the only price.”

I was freaking out.

It was the first time either of us had ever experienced fraud — and I had no idea what was going on.  

But that was then.

I’ve since learned that the kind of fraud we were subject to is a huge problem on Amazon.

I’ve also gone through all the necessary steps each and every time to make it stop. And for my business, I have it down to a science.

Let’s start with what not to do.

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What Happens When You Call Amazon About a Fraudulent Seller?

After that first incident, in my panic mode, I called Amazon customer service.

At that point, I had tried to do everything I could within seller central.

Nothing was working. So, I picked up the phone.

They wouldn’t tell me anything about the other seller.

I supposed that it made sense, after all, it’s private and it could be “somebody else’s business,” in theory.

But we’re the only ones who make this pillow, remember?

So I told Amazon:

“This person says they’re selling my product and they can’t be! Nobody else has my product. It’s my own product. Nobody has it.”

To be fair, they were very calm about the whole thing and let me freak out over the phone. They asked me to explain the issue entirely –– and that they’d look into it. So, I did.

Here’s what I told them:

  • Another seller listed my item
  • They used my picture with my hand on the pillow
  • They used the description that I wrote myself
  • They had *our* customer service number on there
  • And worst of all, they lowered the price to $5.47 –– when the cost is $59.95.

Let’s get transparent on the pricing part.

Our pillow costs us $20-something to make it. There’s no way somebody could have made a similar or knockoff product for even close to $5.

Of course, they weren’t saying it was a knockoff.

  • They were saying it was the real deal.
  • Our product.
  • Our custom-made, copyrighted product.

It was frightening, but Amazon was able to take that seller down decently quickly.

Problem solved, right?


As soon as that seller was taken down, a few hours later another one popped right up again. It’s part of the scam.

Beware the Amazon Seller Scam

Several years ago, Amazon had a big push to become a global marketplace, and so they opened themselves up and made it super easy for international groups or people to sell and open up a store on the platform.

Essentially, almost anybody, almost anywhere, can sell on Amazon within minutes.

It goes like this…  

One scammer somewhere in the world says to a want-to-be Amazon merchant:

“Pay us a certain amount of money, and we’ll set you up with a store on Amazon. You pay us and we’ll set you up with a store with 20,000 items for sale. People buy the items from you, and all you have to do is drop ship. You never actually hold any items in stock at all.”

Now, I can only assume that somebody has a program which allows a “seller” to select many items at once and set a price that’s some very low percentage of the price that is originally on there.

It’s why our $59.95 pillow was listed at a little over $5.

I say that this is the case because when you go to the storefronts of these fraudulent sellers, they have hundreds, if not thousands of products listed, all at insanely low prices.

I’m at the storefront for HairWOW. You can see at the top left this newly launched store has 114,976 products! Including mine. Hopefully lots of other vigilant sellers are also reporting them. You’ll need the link to this storefront page to put in the email you send to Amazon.

The products they list alongside might be related, or not.

In our case, there was the CNH pillow, plus a lot of other bedding, and then a lot random stuff.

It’s almost always the case, however, that the scammers will target ‘Just Launched’ items, from genuine sellers with few or no ratings.

Yep, there’s my product, being “sold” by another seller and me. HairWOW is on top because of their lower price, and I’m second. If there was another lower price before mine, I would be bumped completely off the page. If that happens, just repeat all the steps in this article with each fraudulent seller. Usually the seller will be Just Launched, as in this case, and offer free shipping.

This has something to do with the way Amazon lists products.

If I’m a new seller (a genuine one) with no reviews, and I’m ‘competing’ as it were with two scammers, listing my product for a fraction of the price, then even though none of us has any reviews, the scammers will appear above me because their offering is less expensive.

Why Does the Scam Work In the First Place?

The scam works in part purely because of the sheer size of the Amazon marketplace.

Even if Amazon had a team dedicated to tracking down the scammers, it would be incredibly difficult to catch them all at launch.

In practice, the scam works because:

  • Before shoppers buy one of these fake items, they’re told it will ship from inside the U.S.
  • Then, as soon as they place the order, the fake seller changes the shipping information from U.S. Post, to China Post, and attaches a tracking number.

How do they attach a tracking number when there’s no product to send?

Yep, it’s fake, too.

Why put a tracking number in the first place?

Amazon pays sellers every two weeks. Items posted from China take between three and four weeks to arrive.

The plan is that they’ll get paid in two weeks, then, when in four week’s time the customer hasn’t received their item, that customer will complain to Amazon.

The customer will be refunded by Amazon, but by then the fake seller has already been removed, and set up shop as somebody completely different.

Even if they succeed in getting a small fraction of those sales to work, the scammers are making money. The customer wastes time, but they eventually get their money back.

In the end, it’s the seller who’s losing out, because:

  • The customers are angry
  • Trust is broken
  • They might never want to buy from you again.

This has been the case with us a few times, and when I speak to customers who have been scammed, the conversation goes something like this:

“Hey, I haven’t received my order.”

“I’m sorry. I have no record of you buying from us.”

“I only paid $7.00.”

And so I explain what’s happened, and usually they say, “Well, that sucks. Can I order now?”

But it’s a waste of everyone’s time.

Is There Anything Amazon Can Do to Fix This?


  • Making sellers jump through a few more hoops before being able to list items would be a start.
  • Placing some restrictions on new sellers would help to curb the scammers, or at least slow them down.

But honestly, the way we’ve dealt with things on our own has been really effective, and if it can save you the hassle of going through what we went through, then I would be all too happy to share.

How to Stop the Amazon Scammers

There’s a bit of policing you’ll need to do yourself when it comes to taking down the scammers, but it’s totally worth it.

1. Keep checking your inventory.

If you have just a few items for sale on Amazon, then the first thing you ought to do is go to your inventory page on a daily basis — I do this multiple times a day — to make sure you’ve got the lowest price.

I’ve got my pillow, and I’ve got my extra pillow cover.

Those are my only two items. So I know that I should have the only price on Amazon.

There’s a little green check mark by each item saying, “Yes, you’ve got the lowest price.” I know if that’s the case, I’m fine.

This screenshot is of my inventory page. I checked it this morning and put a red box around the area I was looking at. I wanted to see check marks by both products showing I had the lowest price because I should have the only price, since no one else has my exact product. My extra pillow cover showed I did not have the lowest price, and instead showed someone else had it listed for less. Amazon puts a link there for me to click if I wanted to match their price – which tells me there’s a fraudulent seller out there (or maybe more than one) listing my item.

If you no longer have the lowest price, and you’re the only one selling that item, there could be problem.

If somebody has significantly undercut you on a similar item, do some research before going in guns blazing.

2. Get as many reviews as possible.

If your product has lots of positive reviews, it will help to keep you up high in the listings.

It’s also more work for scammers to fake reviews right after launch.

3. Be open and honest in your product description.

The other thing I do — since it’s my product that I own and manufacture — is to address scamming right there in the product description.

Here’s what I say…

“Beware fraudulent sellers! They don’t have a cheap knockoff version, they do not have a version at all. There is not an item, this is a scam.”

Explaining to people what’s going on –– that if they see something that seems too good to be true –– that it probably is, that helps a lot.

4. Send an email to Amazon.

The third thing –– the most important thing –– to do is to send an email to Amazon.

You don’t want to flood them with emails, or you don’t pester them with phone calls (it doesn’t work) but you do need to reach out.

The email is seller-performance@amazon.com — just send them one email per day.

If you’ve got a lot of fraudulent sellers on your account every day, just pick a time of day and then send them an email.

Here’s the format and process that I use.

  1. Compose an email to seller-performance@amazon.com
  2. Subject line: Possible Fraudulent Sellers
  3. In the email body, put the name of fraudulent seller’s store, with a link to their storefront
  4. Do this for however many fraudulent sellers there are
  5. Underneath, say, “We believe the above sellers are engaging in fraudulent selling activity. Please investigate.”

Presto. They will sort it.

This is what it looks like:

To: seller-performance@amazon.com

Subject: Possible Fraudulent Seller


Seller Name: HairWOW (or whoever it is)

Link to their storefront: (paste here)

We believe the above seller is engaging in fraudulent selling activity. Please investigate. Thanks!

And then you wait. That’s all. If there are multiple fraudulent sellers, you can just list them all in one email.

Bonus tip: Lay the smack down!

Because I believe that everyone should be held accountable for their actions, I also go to that fraudulent seller’s store and click on the button that says, ‘Ask Seller a Question’, and I hit them with my standard shaming paragraph:

“Didn’t your mother teach you not to cheat people out of their money? Don’t you know you’re hurting people’s businesses? This is not a victimless crime. Shame on you.”

I have no idea how many times that’s worked, but it makes me feel much better.

I hope that helps you to navigate this more seedy section of Amazon, and that you won’t get discouraged from selling on what has to be one of the best platforms we’ve ever used — after BigCommerce, of course!

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Selling Swimwear to Alaskans: How 3 Retailers Successfully Expanded on Amazon https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/amazon-success-stories/ https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/amazon-success-stories/#respond Wed, 13 Dec 2017 13:00:56 +0000 https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/?p=17432 It was a typical work day for Alex Young in 2012. He was at the Kap7 headquarters, his employer’s office.…]]>

It was a typical work day for Alex Young in 2012.

He was at the Kap7 headquarters, his employer’s office. It was lunch time, a Wednesday maybe.

He had a friend’s event that weekend and needed something … shoes, a pair of pants.

It doesn’t really matter, because, as usual, he was shopping on Amazon.

A tried, tested and trusted 2-day delivery was in his grasp.

It didn’t matter what he bought, or how late he bought it; he knew he would be able to get the item in his hands for when he needed it.

In fact, Alex and the rest of his co-workers, including the former Olympian founders of the company, Wolf Wigo and Brad Schumacher, all regularly shopped on Amazon. And they did this while running their own, independent online store.

On one of those quick Amazon shopping days, Alex did a query for the product his company sold:

“Water Polo Ball”

It’s hard to say what Alex saw years ago, but today, you do a similar search and two brands clearly dominate on Amazon:

  1. Misaka
  2. Alex’s own Kap7.

And Kap7 is the only one that is NCAA and NFHS official.


Kap7 also sells water polo swimwear, so I did a quick search for that, too.

This small, 7-person company headquartered in L.A. comes up third on Amazon, right behind Nike. That’s one heck of a search engine optimization success story.


Note: Turbo is Kap7’s water polo suit brand. 

“We were personally shopping on Amazon all the time, and there wasn’t anyone that was selling our type of products there,” says Alex.

“We needed to take advantage of that. None of our direct competitors have moved onto Amazon yet, so we are ahead of the game in the water polo market. Once you have it dialed-in [to Amazon], it runs itself.”

Alex thinks about Amazon as simply another sales channel for his business. Of course, Amazon does play by different rules than a typical webstore.

For instance, Kap7 can often make 50% margin off of its products. On Amazon, that may go down to 25%.

But a 50% decrease in margins for a highly trafficked and high sales channel doesn’t cause a bit of concern for Alex and his team.

They have full control over their marketplace selling, understand the industry and when it will spike, and know that different customers shop in vastly different ways.

For Kap7, control, sales and buyer personas make the expansion to Amazon a success — and a no-brainer.

“There are people who only shop on Amazon, and there are people who want to shop on direct ecommerce sites. Both sets of people are growing,” says Alex.

“Water polo is growing extremely fast in the U.S., and we can get spikes in orders. If we get low on inventory for a product we have to order in bulk, like balls, we will turn off our marketplaces and keep selling on our website.”

This level of control and ability to turn on and off selling options on Amazon as needed gives the Kap7 team, and Alex in particular, the freedom to use the webstore in unique ways.

For Alex, Amazon revenue is a known. It will come in. People are shopping there.

On a webstore, it’s a different story.

Amazon already has an audience. Independent websites must build an audience –– and that’s tough work.

But with Amazon as a steady source of income, Alex has figured out how to use additional tools –– like Google AdWords and Google Shopping –– to target consumers elsewhere on the web and bring them back to a dedicated website targeting their specific needs.

After all, you can customize a website to serve a buyer’s persona. With Amazon, you’re going for keywords and mass relevance.

“We do a lot of marketing to the end-user, who is the age-group athlete, and then the purchaser who is the parents. We try to loop things around with product reviews and videos, and water polo drills and tips,” says Alex.

“We use BigCommerce to power our ecommerce website, which also gives us more opportunity to focus on really specific groups. For example, we focused on selling Alaska-printed suits to people in Alaska using Google AdWords, and they sold really well for about six months.”

That’s right, the combined power of Amazon and independent webstore earned a water polo company in L.A. a buying audience in Alaska.

That’s how to optimize sales channels.

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Uncovering 100% Growth on Amazon through Search

We’re in L.A. again. This time, in the home of Emily Ironi, the sole founder and employee of The Dairy Fairy –– a quickly growing nursing bra company serving the likes of Zoe Saldana and Chrissy Teigen.

But this is no celebrity-only brand.

A little over four years ago, Emily Ironi was a new, working and single mom. And like any parent, she wanted to give her kid the best shot at life.

To her, breastfeeding was a part of that legacy.

The selection of nursing bras she found, however, were not.

To Emily, they looked like medieval torture devices.

  • They weren’t attractive.
  • They weren’t comfortable.
  • And even though they did the job, allowing a woman to breastfeed with a bra on, they left much to be desired.

For one, postpartum depression is real – and no new mom wants to be made to feel unattractive simply by trying to feed her baby.

For two, the pointy and uncomfortable nature made nursing bras near impossible to actually wear as a bra.

Instead, you’d need to wear another bra, and then change into the nursing bras before nursing to achieve maximum comfort and functionality from what was on the market.

No one has time for any of that.

So, Emily made her own bra – patent pending.

Today, new moms and older ones alike wear that bra, many of them choosing to continue wearing the bra beyond breastfeeding thanks to its comfort, support and … well … let’s just say it’s pretty.

In 2013, she launched her online store –– and immediately, sales began rolling in. She’d found a niche market. Customers were finding her by Google and bloggers.

Then, in October of 2015, she looked to Amazon and launched a test run.

Sales doubled.

“Amazon’s been incredible for my business. I started selling on Amazon in October of 2015, and it’s doubled my sales,” says Emily.

“What that tells me is that there’s a whole slew of people who didn’t know I existed, and they’d just go in and type ‘hands-free pumping bra.’ It’s working way better than a Google search for me.”

Amazon search outperforming Google’s isn’t surprising.

Research has shown that 44% of all product searches start on Amazon.

If you rely solely on Google search to bring in customers, your first competitor to sell on Amazon will mop up all the buyers that search there first –– much like Kap7 did.

Think about it.

Amazon is a search engine for products that likely has your credit card on file, allowing you to check out in a single click. It’s arguably the easiest shopping destination in the world. If you have an audience that is busy (and all of us are), Amazon is the quickest, most convenient shopping solution for them.

That doesn’t mean, though, that your own website isn’t relevant.

“Amazon as a business is becoming more of a competitor to some of the brands, and bringing out their own products,” says Emily.

“I find that it’s still critical to have your own retail presence. I have a lot of peers, especially in the baby products industry, their businesses were 100% on Amazon, and now they’re starting to catch up and trying to migrate more of their business to their own websites.”

“Ultimately, you have a lot more control over everything and also your interaction with customers. It’s about finding that perfect balance.”

Customer’s Choice: Using Data to Sell the Products They Want Where They Want Them

Relative to Austin Bazaar, The Dairy Fairy and Kap7 are newbies to Amazon.

Seetha Singh, the owner of the instrument retailer, launched her webstore almost simultaneously with her Amazon presence back in 2007 –– nearly a decade ago.

Her goal then and now is still them same: be wherever the customer is. Cost-effectiveness is high on her list as well.

“We wanted to be present wherever customers for our products like to shop,” says Seetha.

“Selling direct and via third party channels has helped us broaden our reach. Selling on Amazon affords us the benefit of reaching millions of Amazon customers without spending the advertising dollars up-front.”

And as you might expect from such a seasoned Amazon seller, Seetha has drafted a comprehensive multi-channel strategy for Austin Bazaar.

The company’s Amazon success is no fluke.

It took years of sales data and multiple iterations in the analyzing to determine which products sell best on the channel, and how to optimize each selling point for the highest conversion.

“We do not offer the same products on all channels,” says Seetha.

“We offer our best selections on our webstore, but also have products that are unique to each channel. The selection offered on each channel depends on the strengths of that channel and the kind of consumers that they attract.

By offering specialized inventory on our webstore, we are better able to mitigate the effects of cannibalization that can occur when multi-channel selling.”

For Seetha, marketplaces like Amazon are just the right places to be. Too many consumers are already shopping there for any retailer to ignore it. Getting in front of your customers in the way they want to shop is the most important part of selling success.

Your website can offer the who, what, when, where and why –– but your customers get the final say in how.

Too Much of a Good Thing

Know this: Amazon is not a set-it-and-forget-it channel.

You can go too big. It’s possible you’ll need to pull back.

But then again, is that the worst problem to have?

“Make sure you are focused on the channels you already have in place, so they are running themselves. Then step over to the next channel and build that,” says Alex.

“The biggest mistake we made is we tried to go full-bore on all of them – Etsy, Jet, eBay. We’ve actually pulled it all back because we want to focus on each one, make sure it’s perfect and understand why products are selling well, or not.”

“Once they’re running well it’s just a management and maintenance scenario, which is not that big of a deal.”

First, do the competitor research; then launch in the channel; finally, use product data to optimize.

That’s how these three companies are seeing 100%+ growth in revenue coming from their Amazon channel, plus extra time and money to spend on acquiring new audiences for their independent webstore.

It isn’t a no-sum game. In fact, it’s a winner takes all –– and the winner is the retailer.

The winner is you.

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