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It’s been a busy week. Between coming down from the Cyber Week high and office holiday parties, no one would blame you if you missed a few top ecommerce news stories.
Not to worry, we’ve been keeping our finger on the pulse of the ecommerce industry for you. From Apple and PayPal to a serious mobile shopping shift, we’ve rounded up the top four stories you need to know before you head into the weekend.
Mobile Accounts for 30% of All Ecommerce Transactions
More and more shoppers are turning to their smartphones to not only browse products, but also complete purchases this holiday season. In a new report from Criteo on the state of mobile commerce, 52% of all U.S. mobile retail transactions were on smartphones in Q4, with the top quartile of U.S. retailers reporting almost 40% of their ecommerce transactions originating from mobile.
Globally, mobile is also on the rise, now reaching 30% of all ecommerce transactions, according to the report. Fashion and luxury items top the survey for the most purchases via mobile at 33%, with travel a close second at 27%.
52% of all U.S. mobile retail transactions were on smartphones in Q4.
“The report demonstrates that mobile is now about purchasing, not just researching, and that there are huge opportunities for ecommerce businesses to capture increasing sales via mobile devices, particularly in the retail and travel industries,” said Jonathan Wolf, Criteo chief product officer. “We expect mobile to rapidly move towards 50% of all transactions as mobile usage continues to skyrocket and retailers better optimize mobile sites for conversions.”
This news hits at the same time as reports that small business optimism is hitting an 8-year high in the U.S., with Q4 U.S. retail sales further proving the end of the economic recession. Shoppers are eager to spend, and ecommerce sites must be ready to sell at every possible touchpoint.
“If you’re an ecommerce player and you’re not focusing on allowing mobile audiences to purchase from you, then you may not be in business in a couple of years,” said Wolf.
Apple’s Online Store Now Accepts PayPal
Even Apple is smartening up when it comes to online payments and customer convenience. PayPal, already accepted in Apple’s iTunes Music Store and App Store, is now a possible payment method for those purchasing Apple hardware. The move suggests Apple is less interested in dominating the payments space and more interested in providing the most convenient payment methods for customers.
PayPal and Apple have had a recently rocky relationship following the introduction of Apple Pay, when PayPal used the mass celebrity photo leak as a way to suggest Apple’s security practices are insufficient for protecting user transactions.
This suggests Apple is less interested in dominating the payments space.
Security issues remain an important topic when it comes to both on- and offline retailers and point-of-purchase providers. Among the more notorious credit card breaches this year is that of Home Depot, which tallied up to 56 million credit and debit cards put in jeopardy.
In an effort to combat breaches, many companies are looking to NFC chips, already widely used in Europe, to heighten consumer financial protection as well as checkout convenience. Apple, MasterCard, Visa and PayPal have all taken strides toward implementing the technology throughout their user bases.
Changes to Facebook Algorithms Could Most Hurt Small Businesses
Come mid-January, some small businesses may need to rethink their Facebook advertising strategies. According to recent surveys, more than 80% of small businesses using Facebook list the social networking site as their top marketing tool — but this may not be the case for much longer.
As announced on Facebook’s page, “Businesses that post free marketing pitches or reuse content from existing ads will suffer a significant decrease in distribution.”
Instead, as many small business owners understand, in order to get your post viewed by your followers or their friends, you’ll need to pay up. As of now, Facebook advertising helps to expand your ad reach and better target your audience on the platform — at a premium. For small businesses, though, the most often used advertising mechanism is boosting a post, or paying a bit extra to get more eyeballs on a post many in your fan base have already liked.
More than 80% of small businesses using Facebook list the social networking site as their top marketing tool.
This helps to increase likes to your Facebook page as well as serve clickthroughs back to your site and potentially grow your loyal customer base. Of course, many small businesses maintain small marketing budgets and the upcoming Facebook changes will focus on algorithmically removing company posts from user feeds. And, the more you attempt to post promotional, ad-like posts, the more your company page will be punished.
In other words, company promotional posts will be filtered out from fan feeds unless businesses pay up. Keep in mind, though, that non-promotional content will still be seen. For instance, posts by Coca-Cola, Red Bull or Harley-Davidson likely won’t be penalized because of their Facebook popularity — their fans want to see their content, and their posts often don’t have anything to do with product directly.
It might be time, then, to reallocate a few extra dollars toward your Facebook marketing strategy and look toward using Facebook as a brand awareness generator rather than a revenue funnel.
Beacon Technology: The New Darling of the Retail World
Beacon technology is taking the retail world by storm. Beginning first with Wal-Mart, Apple stores and Macy’s, the tech has now expanded throughout London’s Regent Street, with high-end brands including Hugo Boss, Burberry and Karl Lagerfeld opting in to the newest Internet of Things trend.
Beacon technology is the use of Bluetooth low energy (BLE) on consumer smartphones to triangulate their location with that of a strategically placed beacon. The beacon can then push notifications to shoppers — with their permission — as well as provide in-store tracking data for merchants. Beacons are, essentially, bridging the gap between online and offline data on shopping habits, allowing retailers to use proven offline trends to upsell on mobile, an already increasing purchasing platform for consumers.
How does it work? First, consumers must download the store app, agree to the terms of service which explain the use of beacon technology, and have their Bluetooth turned on (automatically done by iOS 7 and higher). Once the capabilities have been turned on and the consumer has agreed to receive messages, some shoppers will receive messages on their phones from the stores they pass offering online promotions, product reminders and other sales-related information.
The opportunities here are endless to blur the lines between mobile and brick-and-mortar shopping.
“It points me to things that I hadn’t even thought about,” Mike Johnson, a 45-year-old engineer, told The New York Times. “I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, so any help is welcomed.”
For retailers, the opportunities here are endless to blur the lines between mobile and brick-and-mortar shopping.
“If you ping people with messages indiscriminately, it quickly becomes spam,” Henry Lawson, chief executive of autoGraph, the Seattle digital marketing company that developed the Regent Street app, told the New York Times. “But if you’re selective, you can build up a level of trust directly with each consumer.”
As an estimated 30% of global consumers are already using smartphones for checkout, many are calling this a retail revolution that will increase sales, product promotions and meet consumers where their attention is already focused: on the go and on their phones.
For brands who do not want to invest in creating their own app, stores can use Shopkick, an app similar to the Regent Street app.
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