I talk to 3-5 ecommerce owners or business operators each week. And our conversations vary widely.
It always starts with the same question –– one I learned back in my journalism days to solicit long answers that slowly reveal the direction of the entire conversation:
How did the business get started and how did it get to where it is today?
It’s all about how to set up the story, and to do that, any good interviewer needs to first know how the person they are talking to tells their own story.
From there, I can create something magical. What’s magical in ecommerce content? The intersection of two things:
- Something that is ***helpful*** (i.e. not a waste of time)
- Something that speaks not only to ecommerce businesses looking to grow
- (though yes, primarily to them) but also to the human nature of running and scaling an idea that is now real, tangible and likely providing all of your income.
Those two things are nearly the exact same thing, but the point is this: every good interviewer needs to understand where someone almost failed, how something almost didn’t happen, how this “being human” and making mistakes part factors into what the rest of the world widely views are massive success.
In all, this means that I’ve interviewed and uncovered these “don’t do what I did” secrets from more than 96 brands over the last 2 years –– here at BigCommerce alone.
Before that, I worked at Mashable, where I did largely the same exact thing. And, before that, at Elle, where I also did largely the same exact thing.
In total, I’ve interviewed upward of 252 brands over the course of nearly a decade.
What I’ve learned is that no two brands or people view or come to success in the same way. But, more importantly than that –– which is something you likely already know –– is that every single story about the journey to success, which is often meandering and hilly at best ( treacherously mountainous at worst) –– helps other business owners and managers figure out their own path.
This is because humans are attracted, inherently, to story.
And it is story that keeps us inspired and on track –– no matter how hard the current path, how stormy the current weather, how impossible that next step.
Below are 33 of the ecommerce strategies –– which are really just stories –– that have inspired me, from 12 of some of my favorite brands (innovating their way to crazy success).
Each comes with its own tips and tactics, and each its own version of what success is, how it happens and why anyone beyond that individual who achieved it should care.
Dive on in.
1. How to Use Video to Power Proof of Concept Sales
Sully, the founder of BombTech Golf, knows how cliche his launch into ecommerce sounds. He was fired from his job on the same day he learned his wife was pregnant.
And the convergence of those two incidences lit within him a fire.
He needed to put food on the table. He needed to provide. He needed something that wouldn’t have him fired inconveniently ever again.
That is when he launched BombTech Golf, the brainchild of his love for making clubs and his conversations with warehouses and distributors the world over. With a single sample product, he headed out to a golf course near his home to see if it would work. The guy next to him was impressed, and asked to borrow it for a shot. And then, asked to pay $300 to buy it.
Sully was in business.
Today, Sully sells more than just a single golf club –– but he keeps true to his “test and try and let other people see it” roots, so to speak.
Video is a major part of his ecommerce strategy.
His product pages are essentially landing pages, chalk full of call to actions, psychological countdowns to get people to purchase faster, but, most importantly, videos showing him using the item on the page.
These aren’t videos that are necessarily high-quality, though they are nice. Sully started with just his phone and Facebook Live. After one of those Live videos hit 1,000,000 views (with a bit of social media promotion), he realized he was on to something.
No one else in the space was doing this –– and the audience was very much there.
Today, he partners with Eric Carlson, one of the absolute best Facebook advertisers out there, to grow his Facebook Advertising ROAS –– using videos to show proof of concept on Facebook and his own site.
Here’s your takeaway.
Ecommerce Strategies from BombTech Golf
- Use video: Proof of concept is important in golf, and plenty of other industries. Double down where you competitors aren’t and use your passion to prove not only the quality of your product, but to also grow brand love through your personality.
- Treat your product pages like landing pages: Landing pages are all about getting someone to take a specific action. That’s exactly what your product page should do –– using clear CTAs and exciting proofs of concept (i.e. video) to engage visitors. Better yet, video on product pages increases that page’s search visibility –– driving in increased brand visibility and traffic from organic search.
- Hire the experts: Once you’ve found something that works, hire experts to take it the final mile. This is especially important for lean businesses –– like Sully’s. You may be experiencing exponential growth, but that’s no reason to think you know best. Talk to influencers and experts. Find out what works best –– and get help to execute it better than not only your competitors, but anyone else out there. The 10X Ecommerce Slack channel is a great place for that, if you aren’t already using something else.
2. How to Turn Great Photos Into Millions in Revenue
Shari Lott, founder of Spearmint LOVE, was your average mommy blogger only a few years ago. Being such, she had access to trade events and new products the average parent doesn’t get to sneak peak.
It was at one of these events that Shari realized something vital: people like her were being invited to these events to help these brands sell more. And Shari was pretty sure she could sell more anyway –– beyond a blog.
In other words, Shari decided to launch an ecommerce site and pull in new products she particularly liked.
That last part is important: Shari doesn’t just sell anything. Every single item on her site must be seen and vetted and quality approved. Moreover, it has to fit within her super, super stylish aesthetic.
See, Shari is more than just good with words with an entrepreneurial eye:
She is also one of the best online baby goods merchandisers in the world.
Her styled images receives thousands and thousands of likes on Instagram and Facebook. She receives hundreds and hundreds of letters thanking her for taking her products the final mile –– that is, for styling them and allowing customers to purchase entire outfits.
It takes the pressure off of hip new moms to put something together for an event or just daily life. Instead, they can follow Shari’s aesthetic and see not only what is good and quality, but what is cute and on trend, from the onesie to the booties to the beanie to the blankie.
Shari doesn’t miss a beat –– ever.
And neither does her husband and business partner John. With photos unrivaled across the web and an already loyal following thanks to the blog, John’s job when he came onto the Spearmint LOVE team in early 2016 was to grow loyalty –– and Facebook Ads was how he planned to do it.
It took him nearly a year, but with high quality images and a cohorted Facebook Ad nurture stream (no kidding) he figured out how to turn his wife’s eye for baby style into a multi-million dollar powerhouse brand that outsells its competitors –– and even Amazon, for it’s category.
Next up? Spearmint LOVE will be designing its own goods. And you know they will be the most stylish baby clothes and accessories on the web.
Ecommerce Strategies from Spearmint LOVE
- Photos are worth millions of dollars: Don’t skip the most important part of your customer experience, showing them exactly how to style and put together an entire look. Let them shop by these collections. Build up your average order value by just making it easy to look so good. Pictures matter –– every. single. one.
- Build your network: Blogging gave Shari insight to one of the oldest adages there is –– that who you know is everything. By building a community around her great writing, and then around her ability to merchandise, Shari has built a following well beyond her customers. Her distributors love her too –– and that changes the game when you’re talking about warehousing, bulk ordering and coming out with new lines. For her, it’s about the tide that rises –– and she leaves only her competitors behind.
- Focus on your ad spend bottom line: Facebook Advertising has been a golden bullet for the brand. But they don’t advertise like many others on the web. Using cohorts, Spearmint LOVE pushes new and various ads to different stages of parents so that the right baby goods are showing up at the right time. It took a year of testing to get this down, but now John and Shari sit on the Facebook Small Business Advisory board –– helping to educate even the Facebook team on how to personalize ads based on cohorts to drive ridiculously high Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). The tools they use to do this? BigCommerce’s Ecommerce Insights.
John’s advice: To other small to mid-sized online retailers working with Facebook ads, John Lott says, “Start small, and don’t give up if you don’t see quick results. Start with a budget of $50-$100 per week rather than spending your entire budget on a single campaign, and be willing to learn.”
3. How to Activate Millennial B2B Buyers
Atlanta Light Bulbs began selling online in 1999. Adopting ecommerce early gave the brand an edge for nearly two decades, but 3 or 4 years ago, the ecommerce tides began to change.
With more B2B sellers launching an online presence, digital competition took a fierce turn. No longer was ecommerce alone the edge Atlanta Light Bulbs needed to win the sale.
Today, the company is growing online revenue more than 25% YoY.
That’s when Doug Root, CEO of Atlanta Light Bulbs, decided the company needed not just an ecommerce presence, but a marketing powerhouse to deliver the customer service and experience millennial B2B buyers expect.
Today, the company is growing online revenue more than 25% YoY –- mainly due to the apps and ecommerce strategies below.
Ecommerce Strategies from Atlanta Light Bulbs
- Shopping apps are still relevant: Atlanta Light Bulbs worked with a BigCommerce partner, AppMixture, to build out a mobile app for their B2B buyers. B2B buyers often require personalized prices –– which you can get by logging in on Atlanta Light Bulbs site (they use customer groups to make this happen). So, the team already had the data, but mobile customers found logging in inconvenient. Now, mobile B2B buyers can use the app to put their favorite products in their phone, and then click order. It’s that easy and it all talks back and forth with the main site seamlessly. This is how you do B2B mobile commerce.
- Let customers name their price: ALB uses PriceWaiter on their product pages –– which lets the buyer name a price. The buyer goes to the site and says, “Hey, I want to buy 50 of these at $2 a piece.” On the backend, the team has loaded up all of their pricing rules –– i.e. cost-based pricing vs. value-based pricing –– into the PriceWaiter system. That app knows if the company is willing to sell X items for Y dollars –– as long as the order value is above Z. PriceWaiter auto-calculates all of that on the fly for the B2B buyer so no one has to do it manually –– or wait for an answer. They just get a message that says ALB has accepted their offer, or if the price is too low, Atlanta Light Bulbs offers them a different deal.
- Combine personalization with loyalty programs for maximum conversion: Doug uses BigCommerce’s out-of-the-box Customer Groups to give discounts to different groups based on how much they estimate they will spend with Atlanta Light Bulbs. Their customers will sign up for a “Business Account” and let the team know how much they plan to spend each year. Depending on that answer, the site then drop them into various customer groups with percentages off the advertised priced. Then, Doug puts them in a reward program through RewardCamp –– another app. With RewardCamp, customers get store credits every time they buy something. The RewardCamp backend keeps up with how much each person gets. After all, the ALB team doesn’t have time to keep track of everything. Then, when that customer logs in the next time, they can see their store credit and choose to use that on orders. ALB also sends them a monthly email reminding them about their store credit in RewardCamp. “Combining Customer Groups with RewardCamp’s loyalty program has really helped with our loyal B2B buyer who we want to come back and buy over and over again,” says Doug.
4. How a Team of 2 Can Manage 10 Million Dollars Brands
When I first chatted with Corey in the fall of 2016, Exxel Outdoors’ two flagship brands –– Kelty and Sierra Designs –– had just undergone a redesign that optimized for mobile and SEO using product page videos and responsive design.
Then, the brand, which has 9 subsidiaries, was seeing nearly 60% of their traffic coming in from mobile. And not a soul was checking out.
That was the move that prompted them to change platforms over to BigCommerce. But choosing SaaS wasn’t the easiest of decisions. They also looked to Demandware (too expensive) and Magento (too complicated).
Trouble was, Demandware and Magento are notorious for being able to solve their one biggest need: a multi-store solution –– something that only 2 ecommerce managers could very easily control.
After all, with 9 brand subsidiaries and plans to turn their umbrella brand –- Exxel Outdoors –– into a retail site all its own (totaling 10 ecommerce sites), the 2 ecommerce managers had a lot of their hands.
So, when they chose to give BigCommerce a try, they started with migrating their two largest brands –– using the migration as a chance to ramp up on product videos and build in room for innovation –– if only with a team of 2.
Today, their mobile conversion rate is up 272% across the board and each site both builds upon each other as well as stands completely separate. All orders are tracked simultaneously through BigCommerce APIs and integrations, but each individual site can cater to its specific audience using customer groups and store specific apps.
Now, the Corey and his team can focus beyond just updating product description or images. They have launched a blog to drive even more organic traffic and are beginning to double down on social advertising.
Ecommerce Strategies from Exxel Outdoors
- Automate where you can: Before moving to BigCommerce, Corey and his team had to upload 1 set of images for desktop and another for mobile –– among a variety of other manual and time consuming tasks. For a team of 2 managing 10 sites, that just wasn’t going to cut it. Focus when you can on automating tasks and finding solutions that combine systems rather than separate them. Then, spend that time driving more traffic and conversions.
- Test the technology waters: Demandware and Magento have well-known solutions for multi-store needs, but they are expensive and complicated. Without a user friendly interface and looking at tens of thousands in design and launch costs –– Corey decided to reach out beyond just those two. That’s when he found BigCommerce, offering multi-store, integrations and a user friendly interface the entire company could learn overnight. That saved money went to product videos that drive increased traffic.
5. How to Turn Your Customers Into Influencers
Tori Gerbig initially started Pink Lily, an online women’s fashion store, as an eBay shop in 2011. She put more focus into the venture when she went on maternity leave 2 years later. By January 1, 2014, Gerbig launched the Pink Lily official website.
Just six months later, both Gerbig and her husband, Chris, left their jobs to concentrate on Pink Lily full time –– all done without any outside funding, with large thanks to the way they leveraged social media.
How exactly did they leverage social media? The made their audience their biggest star.
Using daily contests, live chats and videos from trade shows and featuring customers on their website –– Pink Lily isn’t just your average fashion brand. It is powered by it’s customers –– who get a huge say in what items they want in the shop and how those items are merchandised (i.e. often on the customer themselves).
Today, Pink Lily pulls in more than $13,000,000 annually with 23 full time employees and only 3 years in business.
All in all, Pink Lily today is looking to expand beyond social media and find new channels of revenue –– but they are keeping their customers a core part of that strategy every step of the way.
Ecommerce Strategies from Pink Lily
- Daily contests: When customers like, share, comment or pin Pink Lily posts, they’re automatically entered into a drawing to win a popular/new-release product or gift card. The tactic can help drive more people to consumers’ sites, benefitting them beyond the potential contest win. To do this, Pink Lily uses BigCommerce discounts and coupon codes –– a feature built into the platform, with tracking within analytics.
- Market show feedback: When at market shows, the Gerbigs or their employees post photos of items they are considering purchasing or partnering with for Pink Lily. They let customers comment on and respond to those posts and use the feedback to make the final purchase/partnering decision, which helps Pink Lily shoppers feel like insiders with a real say.
- Shopper marketing on website: Pink Lily products ship in a customized bag with the company logo and the hashtag #pinklilystyle. Customers who post a photo of themselves in their new outfit with the hashtag on Instagram are featured on the Pink Lily website through the company’s feed.
6. How to Visually Mature Your Brand After Making It Big
Jessica McQueen discovered Henna in college and immediately fell in love with it. But there was one problem: it was nearly impossible to get good Henna product or even just basic information about the tradition.
Everything was like your grandma’s spaghetti recipe –– a closely guarded family secret.
But soon, McQueen figured out how to make her own recipe, then taught herself how to code and built a website from the ground up using basic HTML and PayPal Cart in 2001.
Seven years later, the business was booming and McQueen needed to upgrade the site to reflect Henna Caravan’s maturity in market. After all, with more and more buyers and traffic to the site, her homegrown, learn-it-on-the-fly website wasn’t giving off the “grown up” brand appeal she wanted.
What she needed was enterprise appeal for her mainly B2B business at small business prices. She had been through Magento development pricing rounds with plenty of consultants –– which had taught her what was too low for a quote and what was much too high.
Finally, she found an agency quoting her in that sweet spot –– between $5,000 and $25,000 for the complexity and customization she needed. That agency designed and developed on BigCommerce, so the site moved.
The only problem? It was the middle of busy season.
Relaunching a site during the highest trafficked time isn’t the ideal scenario –– for anyone. Typically, you want to give it a bit more time. Drive some traffic. See what happens. See what converts.
But Jessica didn’t have the time. The old site was losing customer loyalty –– beyond not letting everyone checkout. It needed to be updated –– fast –– and it needed to perform immediately.
Within 3 weeks and with only a single Instagram post, Henna Caravan had a 4% conversion rate, the highest ever for the company. Moreover, Jessica is using tools she never had access to before.
Abandoned cart emails, for instance, are already pulling new customers back in –– at around 12%. On her former platform, Jessica didn’t even realize people were putting items in cart and then never checking out.
“I had no idea that people were leaving their cart empty and how much was sitting on the table at the end of the day,” says Jessica.
Jessica is also using coupons and discounts to get customer loyalty back up and then to surpass record levels. She’s set up birthday coupon codes to automatically send out to customers –– and is actively building lists for customer segmentation on site –– showing various folks the prices they’ve negotiated just by them logging in.
These tools save her time –– and save her ladies in the warehouse time too. They’ve learned the platform overnight and are shipments are now more accurate and going out faster than ever before.
Ecommerce Strategies from Henna Caravan
- Just do it: There is rarely a right time to do anything that will force function growth –– but that isn’t a reason to do it. Henna Caravan launched in the middle of busy season, putting the company is a risky spot. But if your site isn’t allowing checkouts and is poorly designed, the cost of customer dissatisfaction is way worse than any launch bugs you might have on day 1.
- Surprise customers (without working at it): Keep customers happy and loyal with little surprises throughout the year. Coupons for their birthday is one thing –– but keep in mind that small surprises like this don’t have to be difficult. Simply set up the couponing send automatically with your email nurture streams so that your customers get nice, feel good notes on their big day, and you get more sales without any of the additional work. You can use MailChimp + BigCommerce Coupons and Discounts to set this up.
- Let people check out (and keep your margins, too): It seems to obvious, but checkout isn’t just about being able to purchase. Your brand needs to be able to spot any fraudsters as well as refund items quickly and easily. And, it needs to be able to do this in a way any accountant or business personal can understand. Ease of use matters here, too –– as do your transaction fees!
7. How to Package the Most Difficult of Products
When Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams decided to launch an online store back in 2004, just two years after opening her first retail location, her entire team knew that the logistics of shipping –– like third-party logistics or same day delivery –– a product like ice cream wasn’t going to be easy.
Add to the equation that the company’s frozen products are made without stabilizers, and you can see why this aspect of the online business proved to be increasingly complex.
But the team wasn’t about to let that stop their online sales mission. They experimented with dry ice. They worked directly with USPS. They had a lot of melted ice cream on the hands way more often that they wanted.
But they eventually figured it out (hint: what you ship it in!).
And, being able to ship their products opened the doors to national fans beyond their retailer locations. It’s one of the reasons why the Jeni’s brand is so ubiquitous in the U.S. today.
In total, about 10% of total brand revenue comes in from their online store.
This allows the team to build brand credibility without a physical footprint in cities across the U.S.. Plus, they’ve built themselves a really nice email list, too.
Ecommerce Strategies from Jeni’s Ice Cream
- Online stores create opportunities to earn brand advocates: Happy customers rave about positive experiences and talk about them online, which is good news for the business and word-of-mouth marketing.
- Enabling online ordering opens doors for gifting: Today, gifting drives a big part of Jeni’s online revenue, which allows important moments to become associated with their product.
- Smart packaging around online orders creates big brand moments: Lowe said that if you sweat the details and make it memorable, the unpacking experience can be extremely impactful and can help you earn long-term customers. For shipping complexities, Jeni’s uses ShipperHQ.
8. How to Innovate on a Dime (And Get 3K Orders Overnight)
When Russell Westbrook was announced as the MVP Award recipient at the NBA Awards this year, fans of his team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, were overjoyed. Jon Staub, Director of Merchandise for Legends Hospitality, saw this exciting announcement as a moment to capitalize upon for sales, too. By tapping into the buzz around Westbrook and the team, he saw that this moment created an opportunity to promote team merchandise to excited and proud fans through their online store via special edition items.
As the Oklahoma City Thunder’s official third-party vendor, Legends runs a unique business model in the world of sports merchandise. All sales (both in-house and online) are managed on-site –– which means the brand can often create and launch special edition items around big wins and announcements like this one at a moment’s notice.
That’s what they use BigCommerce for –– a platform nimble enough to handle the excess fan traffic weight as well as launch innovative pages, products and customizations on a moment’s notice.
These ecommerce strategies help to build brand loyalty and awareness, but also contribute heavily to overall revenue.
For this event in particular, Legends saw a record breaking 3,000 sales.
And that’s just for a single event.
Here’s how Jon and team innovate within a fanatic industry.
Ecommerce Strategies from the Oklahoma City Thunder
- T-shirt of the month club: For a membership fee of $25 per month, members of their “T-shirt of the month club” are sent a new, exclusive t-shirt each month. For fans who don’t want to shop, but love getting new sports merchandise on a regular basis, they’ve discovered that this approach works well. The team has set this up on BigCommerce using partner Be a Part Of, which builds custom recurring subscription apps for brands on the platform.
- Mystery box deals: The element of surprise is captured in the mystery box deal, which includes a different collection of merchandise each month. Not only does this help the brand move slower-moving stock, but it also customers discover new items they may not have otherwise.
- Online ordering with in-store pickup: For local fans who want to order online ahead of time and pick up their items, adding an in-store pickup option to their online store has been helpful. Staub explained that they’ve seen this new option drive sales both pre- and post-game for fans who aren’t interested in fighting the crowds on game days.
9. Why Automation is the Secret to $20M in Revenue
When Nine Line Apparel launched as an ecommerce store back in 2012, they had no idea how quickly they’d grow. But grow they did: With a three-year growth rate of almost 7,000 percent and more than $14 million in sales by 2016, it’s been a steep upward trajectory for this company–and this success landed them at number 31 on the Inc. 5000.
So what’s the secret?
For one thing, Tyler Merritt, the store’s founder, built this company with an interesting mission in mind. As an active member of the military, his apparel brand promotes a patriotic sensibility –– and donates a portion of its revenue to military charities and disaster relief initiatives.
Nine Line Foundation has hosted at least 10 different initiatives to help fund efforts aiding wounded veterans, including hikes, walks, 5Ks, 10Ks, t-shirt fundraisers and individual-specific campaigns.
They’ve even partnered with Alaskan Healing, a wounded veteran-led reality TV show based on the coast of Alaska, focusing on “exploring the power of nature to heal the soul and the ability of motivated Vet fueled teams to compete to win.”
But giving back is only one tool in Tyler’s arsenal to ecommerce success.
Today, Nine Line has grown a home-based online operation to a 60,000 square foot warehouse with a projected 2017 revenue of more than $20 million.
Here are the tools Tyler recommends to get that done.
Ecommerce Strategies from Nine Line
- An inventory management tool: Effective SKU management was one of the first concerns Merritt encountered as the company started to grow. Each time new products were added, it made inventory management more complex. And working in the apparel niche where sizes and returns only make things more complicated, he quickly realized they needed a better tool for inventory management. Once they found a solution (they use SkuVault) that worked with their constantly-growing product base, many of those original problems became more manageable.
- A shipping solution: Logistically, Nine Line Apparel’s quick growth could have been a nightmare. However, by implementing a shipping tool (ShipStation) that allowed them to outsource order fulfillment, shipping became one less aspect of the business to worry about. No matter where Merritt was deployed or working from, he was able to rest assured that order fulfillment was in capable hands.
- A flexible platform for online retail: Originally, Merritt built his own online selling platform when the company was started back in 2012. However, as the company quickly grew, he found that he needed a platform with more flexibility. His self-built platform couldn’t handle the high volume of traffic they were getting, and rapid growth in sales meant increasing complexity. It was time to find another resource –– and they’ve since seen 87% YoY growth on BigCommerce.
10. How to Find New Customers No One Else Knows About
An ecommerce veteran of 15 years, Ben Johnson has trained countless brands on how to use the web to grow sales. His expertise has been sought out by the likes of NBC, CBS and ABC to explain the backend of business to a larger audience.
In 2014, that same expertise had one of North America’s largest sports novelties distributors –– Casey’s Distributing –– seeking out his advice and GSD attitude.
After landing the deal, his KPI was to reduce website costs and increase business revenue for the 27-year-old brand using a site that had been built on Magento by a local firm.
First, Ben had to fix security issues, high development costs and lack of functionality –– not to mention give more power back to Casey’s Distributing employees –– who were spending countless manual hours on tasks that could easily be automated.
Casey’s Distributing works with several thousand resellers across North America, distributing for over 50 manufacturers and more than 50,000 SKUs.
Soon, the company will launch an app off of BigCommerce’s APIs to grow that list of resellers even further –– allowing other ecommerce customers to expand their catalog and grow their sales with a click of a button.
Here are the tools Ben uses to make that innovation possible.
Ecommerce Strategies from Casey’s Distributing
- Managing 50,000 SKUs in a matter of minutes: Using spreadsheets and backend upload functionality, employees at Casey’s Distributing now online take minutes to upload 50,000+ new SKUs each season to the site. Now, employees can leave at 3 p.m. to better manage work and life, rather than 9 p.m. from their Magento days. In total, the staff is now 8X more productive thanks to BigCommerce, Brightpearl and Shipstation.
- Build an app to grow your sales: Casey’s Distributing already uses the BigCommerce API to sync inventory across their thousands of resellers. Soon, even more will be able to get in on the reselling game (turning Casey’s into a technology solution as well as a distributor). Using the app, the API connects the dots between available merchandise, product photos, descriptions and more –– allowing those without inventory or looking to expand their inventory products they can sell without the overhead.
11. How to Get a 5% Mobile Conversion Rate –– Right Now
Brandon Chatham runs around 30 various stores online, but his tech accessory ecommerce store, NatoMounts, is unique.
Around 90% percent of NatoMounts’ traffic comes from mobile devices and nearly 85% of his sales are on mobile. In fact, when launching his website and testing his mobile optimization, he was able to get a new visitor on the site and checked-out in 43 seconds.
The results are the outcome of hyper-focus on mobile and various A/B tests in combination with Chatham’s use one-touch payment integrations with PayPal, Amazon and Apple.
PayPal makes up 50%, credit cards with Stripe come in at 25%, Amazon Pay makes up about 20%, and Apple Pay makes up the rest.
The moral of the story? Optimize for where your customers come to you.
Ecommerce Strategies from NatoMounts
- Optimize for mobile checkout: The whole experience from landing on the site to checking-out has got to take a minute or less. Brandon’s goal is to have them order as much as possible, as quickly as possible. BigCommerce’s integrations with one-click payment systems and the platform’s optimized single-page checkout helps him do just that. Digital wallet integrations include Amazon Pay, Apple Pay, Stripe and PayPal One Touch. NatoMounts’ breakdown of digital wallet usage comes out to: PayPal makes up 50%, credit cards with Stripe come in at 25%, Amazon Pay makes up about 20%, and Apple Pay makes up the rest.
- Getting ship in shape: One of the biggest differentiators you can have online same-day delivery and shipping. Using a tool like ShipStation makes that possible for teams like Brandon’s, where as orders come in, the shipping team can get alerted, print everything out and get the goods out within an hour or less.
12. How to Build It, Sell It and Retire Happy in 3 Years
In 2014, Suzanne Moore, a seasoned ecommerce entrepreneur, set out on a new business venture: selling stamps to the crafting community she had built on Facebook.
But to do that, she needed plenty of technical help –– all as a super SMB rate. Beyond that, Suzy was on the lookout for automation tools she could use to provide a personal touch to every single customer –– without actually having to be online 24/7.
What she found grew her business to profitability within a year –– and she was able to sell it another year later. Now, she owns her own ecommerce consultancy, helping other SMBs grow a brand, make some money and enjoy their retirement.
Emails that come in through the InStockAlerts app come back to purchase at an 80% conversion rate.
Here are the tools she recommends.
Ecommerce Strategies from So Suzy Stamps
- Get out in front of people –– but make sure your inventory syncs: In 2015, Suzy opened her own physical location. She was using PayPal on her online store –– and started using Square to sell in shop. But doing that quickly became an inventory nightmare. She would be selling stamps online and then have people in the shop trying to buy that very same stamp –– it had already sold online. That’s when she synced her BigCommerce shop and Square, where if you have the Square Register, your online and in-the-shop inventory just sync automatically. No more overselling! “Seeing it all work so well was beautiful, says Suzy. “I cried I was so happy!”
- Speaking of inventory –– let people know when it’s out: For Suzy, The InStockAlerts app is worth its weight in gold. When she was starting out, she didn’t have a lot of inventory, nor did she understand how fast she was going to grow. During a new product release, she’d be out of product within an hour. Suddenly, all her customers wanted to know when a product would be back in stock. And, they wanted an email to let them know so they didn’t miss out on it a second time. She knew she didn’t have time to send everyone an email. That’s what InStockAlerts let her set up. Now, sales from those emails collected are at 80%.
- Spend time automating, and then watch sales roll in: Happy Email sends automated emails that don’t seem like they are computer generated, even though it is. Any time someone placed an order, Suzy had an automated email setup to send a friendly little message saying, “Hey, thanks so much for shopping with us today. While you wait for your goodies, check out this video.” She received so many emails back from customers from that email saying they loved the shop, they were so happy to buy from her and wanting to know if they could add the item from that video to their cart. And adding an item was never a problem. She’d go into the BigCommerce backend when they ordered the product from the video and refund their shipping. Then, she’d send both orders out at the same time.
18 Must Have Tools for Ecommerce Growth
To wrap up, here is the full list of tools mentioned above by each of the brands. Test each out. Use it to your best capabilities. Let me know if you have any questions (you can just use the comments below –– I see them, read them, respond, etc.). Or, if you have any tools you prefer, drop them on in!
- 10X Factory –– Private growth slack channel for tips on absolutely everything.
- BigCommerce Ecommerce Insights –– An ecommerce merchandising and cohort tool that allows you to export lists of cohorts of your customers (i.e. best customers, highest AOV, customer who prefer deals, etc.) and drop them into Facebook for lookalike campaigns.
- AppMixture –– Company that helps ecommerce brands build out customized apps for their shoppers on mobile (works very well for B2B brands selling to millennial B2B buyers).
- PriceWaiter –– App that allows you to put in what prices are acceptable and which aren’t, and which will show customers negotiated prices via an algorithm to help convert at product page.
- Customer Groups –– BigCommerce offers out of the box Customer Groups which let you drop customers into specific groups and change product visibility and pricing for those customers when they login. Folks use this for B2B versus B2C, VIP customers, etc.
- Discounts + coupons –– BigCommerce offers these out of the box as well, but whatever you are using, make sure these are easy to make, can sync within your email platform and can be used at the cart-level as well as customer group specific level.
- Instagram –– You know what this is. Use Hashtags! And get ready for Instagram Shopping to launch Fall 2017.
- ShipperHQ –– A shipping app that is just plain wonderful (or so every brand I’ve ever talk to who uses it has said). It helps you figure out even the most complex of shipping issues for your online store. Literally, there is nothing they can’t do.
- Be a Part Of –– A BigCommerce partner the builds customized recurring billing apps. Also, ridiculously good. Here is their first app (for B2B & wholesale customer needs). A recurring billing one will be launching soon for less customized needs.
- SkuVault –– An inventory management tool and soon to be one-click app. Used by Nine Line to grow to $20M in revenue.
- ShipStation –– ShipStation works best for those looking to streamline their warehousing and packaging operations and get deals on national shipping rates. They are a one-click app that many brands say has increased productivity in 8x.
- Brightpearl –– Brightpearl is the quickly scaling business’s ERP solution of choice. It is hosted in the cloud, easily connects with BigCommerce, ShipStation, ShipperHQ, etc. and is flexible enough to manage your brand from $1M in annual revenue through $100M.
- Digital wallets –– Use Amazon Pay, Apple Pay and PayPal One Touch to increase your mobile conversions. How does this help? Instead of customers having to type in long lines of numbers –– they can simply click a button to checkout, often using their fingerprint to verify the purchase. Secure + convenient. That’s a winning package.
- InStockAlerts –– This is an app in the BigCommerce marketplace that syncs with your inventory –– and then, when inventory hits 0, shows a “Notify Me When Back In Stock” email form on your product page. This allows you to capture emails from interested customers even when you don’t have the product in stock any longer. Then, you can automate emails to send to those customers when the product in back in stock so they can come back and buy what they originally wanted.
- Happy Email –– Happy Email is an email automation platform that allows you to personalize and customize your automated messages to keep customers engaged and build AOV and lifetime value.
- Built-in Pre-Order functionality –– BigCommerce’s built-in pre-order functionality allows you to gauge customer interest in a product before you even have that product. This helps to build the funds needed to actually produce the product (think like Kickstarter) and have a list of super interested folks already lined up and ready to go.
- Square POS –– Want to have a pop-up shop but ensure you don’t oversell online or off? Or, do you have a brick and mortar shop and are tired of managing separate inventory for online and off? There are dozens of other scenarios for when, where and why needing your online and offline sales to automatically update inventory across the board. You don’t want to oversell. You don’t want to let customers down. You don’t want to have be knees deep in spreadsheets all day. Square and BigCommerce’s integration solves this for you. No matter where someone makes the purchase, inventory is automatically updated across the board –– whether you are an SMB with a single card swiper or major retailer with hundreds of Square registers.
- RewardCamp –– A loyalty app within the BigCommerce marketplace that keeps track of customer points they can use to apply to new purchases and that sends automated emails to remind customers who haven’t come back in a while that they have points to spend.
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