Category: Direct to Consumer
Why 2023 Will Be The Year of Influencer Marketing And How to Maximize It
Can you guess how long the average person spends on social media?
145 minutes per day. That’s over a month each year (36.75 days, to be exact!).
With people increasingly glued to their influencer marketing’s meteoric rise was inevitable.
Creator collaborations play a huge role in driving leads and sales for many businesses, especially eCommerce and retail brands. So much so that 80% of shoppers have made a purchase after an influencer recommended the product.
Like social media apps, the influencer marketing world is constantly changing. Therefore to run engaging and profitable campaigns, you’ll need to keep a keen eye on the trends shaping the industry and use them to adjust your strategy.
To help you get a head start, we’ve compiled the hottest trends set to brace 2023 and some expert tips to hit a home run with your influencer marketing strategy.
Let’s dive in.
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Top influencer marketing trends to watch for 2023
To set your brand up for success with creator collaborations, it’s essential to study the road ahead to create a fitting strategy. Let’s run through the most significant influencer marketing trends for 2023:
Customer acquisition costs continue to rise
Thanks to rising costs, you now need to pay more to play and even more to win in ad channels like pay-per-click. This is clearly bad news for eCommerce brands that use such marketing strategies as their bread and butter for customer acquisition.
Luckily, the influencer marketing industry is not only cost-effective but is still growing and is expected to reach $16.4 billion in 2022. Also, the vast size and variety of the influencer marketing industry can fit any budget. These characteristics make influencer marketing an excellent alternative to get more eyeballs on your products and acquire new customers.
Consumer trust in traditional ads will continue to wane
Fatigue and distrust towards traditional ad channels like celebrity endorsement is fast becoming the norm. Why? People value authenticity and trust suggestions from those they like and trust, which happens to be their friends, family, and influencers.
To put this into perspective, 70% of teens place more trust in creators than in TV personalities and celebrities. To succeed in 2023, you’ll need to pick influencers with great reputations and engaged audiences.
eCommerce platforms get involved in influencer marketing action
We aren’t the only ones who noticed the rise of influencer marketing; leading eCommerce solution providers have caught on too. Shopify and Walmart Marketplace have created influencer connection platforms to make finding and working with the right influencer simpler.
So, if the potential workload had you postponing giving influencer marketing a try, there’s never been a better time to get involved.
Learn more about how to leverage Shopify Collabs to boost your marketing.
Video promotion goes viral
With apps like TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube gaining a global reach with innovative video-led content, creators are finding new ways to bring products to life through video. From short and engaging inspirational reels to engaging and informative unboxing videos, the options for developing a strong brand and showcasing offers are plentiful.
60% of millennials are more inclined to take advice from a YouTuber than a traditional media personality. So tap into different video formats and channels to capture your target customer’s attention in 2023.
Social commerce is on the up and up
More shoppers have started to interact with social shopping opportunities, with avenues such as live shopping and social stores gaining ground fast. As a result, social commerce rakes in $89.4 billion each year worldwide. Brands that can blend their social selling initiatives with influencer marketing will fare well in 2023. Put the social selling trend to the test in 2023 with social selling features on your pages or setting up events and stores with influencers.
What are the benefits of influencer marketing for eCommerce brands?
When you’ve seen success with tried and tested marketing options like pay-per-click ads and email marketing, you may wonder whether you really need to give influencer marketing a try. But influencer is in a league of its own and is a worthwhile investment when executed correctly. Here are some benefits you can look forward to:
- Accelerated sales: Influencer content’s viral potential allows you to turn clicks and likes into sales fast. And with the right strategy, you can produce profitable campaigns time after time.
- Maximize your ad budget: The diverse range of influencers available means you can split your ad budget among different creators, from micro-influencers to celebrities, allowing your cash to go further. This means more cash left over for other campaigns and projects too.
- Make your products more discoverable: 86% of shoppers flock to Instagram to find new products. Influencer marketing campaigns can explode your brand’s reach and give you more chances to convert.
- Unearth new profitable audiences and niches: Influencers cover many niches, industries, and topics. As you work with different influencers, you can find lucrative sub-niches to scale your business.
- Access more user-generated content (UGC): UGC is huge for winning buyers’ trust and building. Influencer marketing provides the ultimate opportunity to build a portfolio.
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How to dominate the checkout with influencer marketing?
To succeed at influencer marketing, you’ll need a realistic budget, some creativity, and a curious spirit. Once you’ve checked these off your list, it’s time to put together a winning strategy. Let’s cover some steps to take:
Choose your social media channels and influencers wisely
If you want to hit it big with influencer marketing, you must get two things right: your platform options and influencer selections.
But don’t stop at Instagram. Research other platforms your target customer spends time on and test them with small campaigns. Double down on the niches, audiences, and stories that work and cull those that don’t resonate. Some social media platforms you can experiment with include:
Who you work with will play a huge role in determining whether your influencer campaigns are a hit or miss. Some areas to ensure you and the creator are the right fit are:
- Brand look and feel
- Mission and beliefs
- Audience members
Tell great stories to increase engagement
People learn and connect through stories. So, naturally, the best influencer campaign has a captivating storyline that hooks viewers in and encourages them to learn more. To craft your own scroll-stopping storylines, use your product’s unique value proposition as a guide and expand from there.
For example, say you own a vegan, celiac-friendly snack line. You could share your customers’ stories on how their quality of life has improved by having access to more delicious snacks that won’t harm their health. You could also use any charitable initiatives you’re involved with to share how your products are making a positive impact.
Repurpose influencer and UGC content into ads
Mixing influencer and customer-generated content from your campaigns into a PPC ad is a fantastic way to increase your reach. It also maximizes your influencer content utilization to help you squeeze more conversion out of them. There are many content formats you can request from customers and influencers. For best results, start with:
- Videos (Short, Reels, and long-form)
- Testimonials and reviews
Test collaborations with micro-influencers
When it comes to who makes up influencer marketing space, micro-influencers take the top spot, with their market share hitting 91% in 2021 and still growing. So, take this opportunity to find creators that match each of the customer personas you target.
You can also find micro-influencers in niches you’re eager to break into or have products launching in soon. For instance, if you have a fitness brand but hope to break into swimwear, you can find micro-influencers in these niches and test them simultaneously.
Mesh influencer marketing content into your social stores
Social stores are growing in popularity and are the perfect place to house some of your well-crafted influencer content. You can even take things up a notch by working with creators to be the cover of a collection or item in your portfolio and share the news via the influencers page to drive even more eyeballs to your social shop.
Leverage influencer marketing tools
Whether you aim to stay local or want to deliver multi-territory campaigns, there are tools available that help you find and monitor the influencer partners, store contracts and agreements organized, payouts, and more.
Examine what areas you need help with and use tech solutions to fill the gaps. Here are a few to help set up and run your first campaigns:
- Discovery and collaboration platforms: Shopify Collabs, Pixlee, Phlanx
- Campaign design and management: Grin, CreatorIQ, AspireIQ
Make the cash register ring with influencer marketing
In 2023, a new breed of influencer marketing is coming to a screen near you. To ensure your campaigns are relevant and engaging, get up to speed on developing trends now, tweak your tactics, and start testing.
Remember, people flock to social media to engage with their network and find new and interesting things. Keep these reasons at the forefront of your mind when planning campaigns, so they feel authentic and people-centered rather than sales-y.
Finally, involve your target customer in your influencer campaigns to drive reach and engagement and make it easy for potential buyers to take the next step, whether it’s signing up for an email list or buying your products.
Soon you’ll have another profitable marketing strategy you can depend on to scale your business to new heights.
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7 Essential Growth Tools For eCommerce Sellers
But when you have an ever-growing to-do list and not enough hours in the day to complete them all, scaling can feel like an uphill battle. Don’t fret. That’s where growth-focused tools come to share the load and get you paid.
In this post, we’ll share why investing in a robust tech stack is a good idea when taking your eCommerce brand to the next level. We’ll also share the best business areas to strengthen with tech tools and which solutions are worth your dollars.
Worried about blending in? Learn how MyFBAPrep uses technology to set eCommerce brands apart.
Why it pays to upgrade your tech stack when scaling
Whether it’s the latest social media craze or profit-boosting selling strategy, there are many worthwhile investments you could be making in your eCommerce business. So, you may be questioning whether up-leveling your store’s technology is the best move. We think so! Let’s explore some reasons why:
Gain a competitive advantage
Many brands focus on sales and marketing, but improving your backend processes can pay huge dividends. With top-tier tools in your corner, you can achieve incredible feats. These include removing inefficiencies, slashing costs, increasing brand visibility, and uplevel customer service. Plus, smoother processes and happier customers will improve brand loyalty and advocacy to get your store leaps ahead of its competitors.
Get more done with less input
Running a business doesn’t mean you and your team must wear all the hats. Take advantage of automation to streamline processes and uplevel key areas in your business without increasing your team’s workload. This way you’ll have more time and energy to focus on other important tasks that can’t be entirely automated like sales calls and product development.
See bigger growth and profits
You never want to scale for scaling’s sake. The numbers should make sense. That’s what makes technology so valuable for growing eCommerce brands. You can gain access to actionable insights and the right tools to help you improve key metrics like return on investment, customer lifetime value, and average order value for bigger profits and sales.
7 critical areas to optimize for massive growth
Now you have a clearer idea of why technology is so critical when scaling; the next question becomes which parts of your business you should improve for faster and sustainable growth. Let’s dive into the 7 areas to focus on:
1) Product research
Spotting upcoming product trends and launching new lines are essential for increasing and diversifying your store’s income streams. Investing in a reputable product research tool can help you make more accurate predictions on buying trends to expand your winning product portfolio.
2) Onsite optimization
It’s important to understand how customers behave on your website. From here you can tweak your store’s setup to increase the quality of their shopping experience and make buying irresistible. That’s where Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) comes in.
Using conversion boosting solutions like heatmaps, split testing software, and landing page builders, you can uplevel your store’s CRO to squeeze more cash out of your sales pages, websites, and marketing campaigns.
3) Cart optimization
Optimizing your pre and post-sale cart strategy is an effective way to get more sales through your digital doors. Some helpful tools include upsells and cross-sell software, cart recovery solutions, and live on-site customer support.
Data can reveal hidden gems essential for molding your eCommerce marketing strategy to produce bigger and better results. For example, with eCommerce analytics software, you can zoom in on your store data to reveal things like your:
- Top performing product(s)
- Emerging customer and product trends
- Best content assets
- Most popular marketing channels
5) Product Listing
Listing optimization is another crucial task to add to your list. A dependable product listing solution will help you upload products to different channels and keep your listings fresh for better rankings.
Data from your chosen product lister can help you find the optimal messaging, branding, and imagery combinations that resonate with your target audience. A dependable product listing solution will help you upload products to different channels and keep your listings fresh for better rankings. Look for features like automated listing and dynamic content.
6) Product pricing
eCommerce has more players than ever, making it vital to competitively price to stand out. A product repricing solution will help you overcome pricing blocks that prevent lookers from turning into buyers. Find a tool that can change prices based on market trends and behavior for best results.
7) Supply chain management
From tracking purchase orders and product locations to monitoring stock levels and customer orders, you must know what’s happening in your store. Look for a tool to help you predict demand, monitor inventory levels, spot trends and opportunities, and save cash on shipping, transport, fulfillment, and more.
Pro tip: Work with a reliable fulfillment or prep house to level up your order processing and shipping and get more value from your supply chain management solution.
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7 growth-boosting tools for scaling eCommerce brands
Whatever growth stage your business is at, tools are available to help you reach your goals. But be warned, the tech market is huge and you’ll need to set aside time to find the best fit. To give you a head start on your search, here are our top picks by business area:
1) Product research: Helium 10
Product highlights: Keyword finder, product performance monitoring, listing optimizer, fraud alerts
Backed by ground-breaking AI and marketplace data, Helium 10 is one of the most powerful product research tools on the market. With this comprehensive solution, you can get product ideas, verify sales data, track product performance, and find keywords for Amazon and Walmart. Helium 10 also has a brand protection tool to help monitor inventory, track refunds, and spot listing fraud. Pick and mix the tools or opt for the full suite; the choice is yours.
2) Cart optimization: Optinmonster
Product highlights: Personalization, cart recovery, template library, behavior-based automation, A/B testing
With a solid reputation for helping brands drive more leads and boost conversions, it’s no surprise Optinmonster’s Cart Abandonment solution delivers. As a user, you’ll benefit from message personalization technology and behavior-led automation, an extensive template library A/B testing capabilities, and more. So, if abandoned carts are hurting your store’s growth potential Optinmonster is a solution to have on your radar.
3) CRO: Hotjar
Product highlights: Colored-coded heatmaps, live feedback boxes, surveys
From colored-coded customer movement tracking to real-time feedback and surveys, Hotjar opens up a whole new world on your website. Uncover what shoppers need on your website now to informed decisions on what optimizations to make for higher conversions. Plus, you can clip parts of your recorded insights to store and share with your team. This makes for easier and more precise insight distribution.
4) Analytics: Kissmetrics
Product highlights: High-spec analytics, simple-to-understand dashboard, sophisticated tools
Using innovative analytics and simple dashboards, Kissmetrics helps you understand your customer journey, marketing strategy, and product selection’s effectiveness to supercharge growth. Kissmetrics also reveals who your audience consists of and allows you to visualize funnels through detailed reports for easier optimization. If you need better insights that see shoppers as people and not data points, Kissmetrics is the ticket.
5) Product pricing: Repricer
Product highlights: Competitor spying, pre-defined pricing strategies, actionable dashboard insights, Cross-channel repricing
With billions of products adjusted each week and proud members of Amazon marketplace’s Developer Council and Google Partner program, Repricer knows what it takes to price competitively on eCommerce marketplaces. Combining accurate insight analysis with competitor performance tracking, Repricer helps you grab shoppers’ attention, secure more buy box wins and increase profits. Choose from pre-defined strategies and track your results on an action-focused dashboard to uplevel your pricing positions and get ahead.
6) Product listing: Zentail
Product highlights: Bulk listing, automated change management, custom reports, multichannel listing
A bulk listing tool, price management, inventory management, multichannel listing, and business analytics are just a few of the perks you’ll gain access to when you onboard Zentail.
Tap into Zentail’s alerts and timely advice for listing issues and revolutionary change management solutions that alter your data according to new requirements. With Zentail you can not only keep your brand remains within terms of service but scale product lines across channels with ease.
7) Supply chain management: Preptopia
Product highlights: warehouse communication channels, store and inventory analytics, threat and opportunity finder.
Leveraging store performance insights, native integrations, and analytics for opportunity and threat spotting, Preptopia ensures you have clarity on your supply chain 24/7. Communicate with your warehouses, monitor inventory levels, create stock orders, and calculate profits on the Preptopia platform to keep your business on track and customers satisfied. Plus, you can combine this solution with MyFBAPrep’s reliable fulfillment and prep services for a post-purchase experience your customers won’t forget in a hurry.
Looking for a supply chain management solution you can trust? Preptopia is all you need.
Thrive with eCommerce technology
Investing in better eCommerce tools helps generate more sales and create higher customer satisfaction, margins, and efficiency. To ensure your tech stack is built to win, they’ll need to complement your support of your store’s biggest needs, accommodate existing marketing strategies, and put you in a position to make the vision for your store a reality.
So, research tools thoroughly, complete test runs, and continue to upgrade as your eCommerce business matures. Make the right investments now, and you’ll reap the rewards for years to come.
Innovative technology is essential for getting ahead in today’s competitive market. Discover how MyFBAPrep can help you win.
5 Holiday Trends to Guide Your Q4 eCommerce Strategy
The eCommerce industry is ever-changing. Things move fast and trends come and go. In an industry that’s always evolving, you need to stay on your toes.
Jump on a trend too late and you may have to stand on the shorelines as your competitors (and customers) sail on by. If you want to improve your product sales, you need to stay informed of the seasonal trends throughout the year.
Meet customers where they are by keeping on top of the current and upcoming trends. Let’s look at some of the biggest eCommerce holiday trends to be aware of this Q4.
5 holiday trends to be aware of this Q4
There is a never-ending list of eCommerce strategies you can leverage throughout the year to boost your business. From bundle strategies to free shipping offers and post-purchase surveys, it can be difficult to know which ones to pick up and leverage for your store.
While some strategies can be used day in and day out, others will only be here for a fleeting moment in time. Move too slow and you might miss the next big thing before it’s even happened.
To help you stay ahead of competitors this Q4, here are five of the biggest eCommerce holiday trends to be aware of.
Marketplace sales set to increase due to inflation
All around the world, inflation has been creeping higher and higher. The US inflation rate has reached new heights since the early 1980s. Consumers are being hit by price increases at every angle and their wallets are sure to feel the pinch.
Many shoppers will cope with record-high inflation records by putting a halt on spending. Meanwhile, other shoppers will move toward “thrifty” shopping styles as they try to be more cost-conscious.
Marketplaces such as Amazon make it easy for customers to shop around. They can easily search for a wide range of products to try to get the best deal.
The top three spots for the leading eCommerce sites in the US were all held by marketplaces. In 2021, Amazon recorded 2.45 billion monthly visits as it soared into the top spot. Marketplace competitor, eBay ranked second with over 885 million visits, and Walmart came in third.
As inflation rates rise, it pays to be active on marketplaces. Embrace a marketplace model to give your store a greater chance of getting in front of your customers.
Consumers value marketplaces for convenience and value for money. As a retailer, you too can benefit from listing products on marketplaces. Marketplace selling lets you keep a close eye on competitor pricing strategies. Use a competitor price tracking tool to monitor competitor product price changes and automatically adjust your product prices. By doing this, your products will remain competitively priced during the holiday season and you’ll be the preferred seller for consumers looking to make thrifty online purchases.
Wondering which marketplace is best for you? Check out our guide on Walmart vs. Amazon here.
Party supplies are on the rise
COVID-19 restrictions and safety measures over the past couple of years meant many people missed out on holiday celebrations and in-person events. The holiday season the time to get together with loved ones. We expect to see an increase in party supply purchases as people start planning their holiday gatherings.
An ongoing survey by Numerator highlights that 49% of consumers are planning to get together to celebrate holidays throughout 2022. Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Eve are set to be the biggest holidays for gathering with friends and family in Q4.
In their survey, Numerator found that 90% of consumers intend to buy something for their celebrations. So, party supply retailers should look to stock the (virtual) shelves in anticipation of more holiday parties compared to last year.
Don’t forget to invest in your marketing strategy and plan campaigns around party supplies too. Increased awareness will help further boost your sales while consumers are on the hunt for the best party supplies they can find.
Welcoming the live shopping era
Live shopping has been on our radar for the past few years now. In the last 12 months alone, we’ve seen social media giants Meta experiment with live shopping and TikTok trialing live shopping in the UK.
Whether it’s here to stay for the long-term or it’s just a short-term fad, we expect to see more live shopping as we head into the Q4 holiday season. Live shopping is a widely popular sales strategy in China. We assume the Western market is just trying to find its feet in the world of live commerce.
As we move toward the Q4 holiday season, consumers will be overloaded with a paradox of choice. Hosting fun, immersive live shopping events will offer an enticing edge over competitor retailers. Live shopping can positively influence shopping habits through gamification, FOMO (fear of missing out), and other immersive shopping strategies.
Seeing to the needs of sustainable shoppers
Sustainable lifestyles are on the rise as more people commit to doing their part to help the world around them.
With sustainable lifestyles and attitudes comes sustainable shopping habits. Consumers are aware of the impact consumerism has on the environment. They value retailers with sustainable shopping practices and transparent brand values.
But, brand values need to go beyond a sustainability mission statement on your about page. Consumers want to shop with brands that actively live their sustainable values. Research by Amazon found that 62% of consumers actively sought brands with sustainable business practices. They care about the environmental and social impact of the brands they shop with.
For other consumers, Q4 sustainability choices are driven by COVID-19 lifestyle changes and 2022 inflation concerns. The global pandemic caused customers to shop more locally and seasonally, causing many consumers to adopt sustainable shopping habits inadvertently.
Meanwhile, the rising cost of living means customers are looking for new ways to reduce impulsive spending habits. Adopting a more sustainable lifestyle and buying long-standing, durable goods is one way they can ensure they’re getting their money’s worth from their purchases.
Incorporate sustainable practices into your retail model to accommodate sustainable shoppers. Explore sustainable materials for products and packaging. Set up a recycling scheme that makes it easy for customers to return old goods for reuse. Develop a range of sustainable gifts and be loud and proud about your ethical values.
Whatever you do, make sure you walk the walk as well as talk the talk. Consumers will be able to see through dishonest practices.
Rise in research online, purchase offline (ROPO) shopping behavior
The 2020 global pandemic meant online sales surged. Local shopping malls were closed, people stayed home, and online shopping was a convenient solution. But, what does that mean for Q4 of 2022?
Shopping malls are open, brick-and-mortar stores are back in action, and people’s lives are returning to a degree of normalcy. As brick-and-mortar stores reopen, we expect to see a rise in research online, and purchase offline (ROPO) shopping behavior.
Consumers will blend the convenience of shopping online with the experience of in-person shopping. Take click-and-collect, for example. Consumers can shop from the comfort of their homes and then collect their goods in person, rather than having to wait for delivery.
Richard Brassey, Head of Business Partnerships at Barclays Partner Finance, commented on the impact of click-and-collect on the UK retail market:
“A year of uncertainty has accelerated many retail trends and created some new ones. Retailers have had to adapt to ensure they remain competitive, and the service could offer retailers a great opportunity as shoppers may browse more online and purchase additional items when picking up their orders. A win-win for customer and retailer alike.”
Curbside collections don’t seem to be slowing down. Perceived as being faster and cheaper, click-and-collect is a ROPO shopping tactic many customers will continue to use. Consumers are busy during the holiday season so we suspect many will find comfort in the convenience of ROPO shopping behaviors.
With holiday events and parties on the horizon, many shoppers may want to reduce their exposure to strangers to minimize the passing of germs, infections, and viruses.
So, how can you leverage ROPO strategies for your online store? Lean into the online research element of ROPO by offering information online that helps customers make purchase decisions. From informative product guides to online reviews, and events, you can offer helpful insights to aid purchase decisions. Investing in influencer campaigns, online events, and loyalty schemes also helps build your online visibility and positions you as the go-to retailer.
Holiday seasons tend to go hand-in-hand with gifting seasons. Develop an omnichannel strategy that spans online and offline store experiences for your customers, helping them seamlessly move from online browsing to in-person shopping. You could create online wishlists or reward schemes for shoppers.
Wrapping up — eCommerce holiday trends to incorporate into your Q4 retail strategy
Move too slow and you might miss the next big thing before it’s even happened. If you want your Q4 to be a success, invest in upcoming holiday trends.
Many of this year’s Q4 trends will be influenced by last year’s global pandemic and emerging concerns around inflation.
Therefore, take care when choosing holiday trends to implement. Test performance and don’t be afraid to switch tactics if something isn’t working.
Additionally, data is your friend when testing trends. What works for one retailer may not necessarily work for your brand, so don’t be too hasty. Make sure you do your research, test performance, and tweak strategies as you go along.
Above all else, have fun and embrace the holiday shopping season.
WordPress vs. Magento: An Overview of Two Powerful Business Platforms
This is a guest post from Muhammad Safeerullah. Muhammad is a professional digital marketer and content writer who is currently working for FME Addons. He likes to research and write about eCommerce, search engine optimization, and digital marketing trends. His goal is to help others use WordPress and WooCommerce in innovative ways.
The market is flush with eCommerce platforms designed for various business needs. Some are built specifically for eCommerce businesses, while others have multi-purpose functions. The two most popular platforms for eCommerce are WordPress and Magento, both of which have a vast range of tools and design options.
Each provides open-source and self-hosted platforms. Magento offers Magento Open Source and Magento Commerce, while WordPress has WordPress.org, a self-hosted platform, and WordPress.com, a premium hosting service.
Despite their similar natures, these platforms operate differently as eCommerce business solutions. Both WordPress and Magento have unique pros and cons that affect their suitability for an eCommerce business. In this article, we’ll briefly discuss each platform’s advantages and disadvantages to help you decide which one is right for you.
Incorporating 37% of the websites on the internet, WordPress is one of the most embraced content management systems (CMS) for eCommerce and non-eCommerce websites alike. It’s user-friendly, with a quick installation process, and boasts hundreds of plugins for almost any functionality — at no cost.
WordPress boasts over 455 million active websites. The reason for such a high number is its ease of usability and eCommerce-friendly nature.
Pros of WordPress
- WordPress is not a dedicated eCommerce platform, but you can easily set up an eCommerce store by downloading its WooCommerce plugin (one of its most popular extensions). Additionally, the process of installing a plugin is simple, requiring minimum technical knowledge.
- It’s affordable and easy to run an online store on WordPress thanks to its user-friendly UI/UX that simplifies operations.
- WordPress accommodates various website add-ons like WooCommerce conditional checkout fields, Facebook Messenger chatbot, and many more. In addition, the WooCommerce plugin allows you to add new products and categorize and manage them easily.
- Users can customize their storefront and personalize themes without investing significant time.
- WordPress lets users include various payment methods for their eCommerce business through plugins such as Paypal, Square, Stripe, and more.
- It’s commonly used in small businesses with tighter budgets and requires the least technical knowledge.
Cons of WordPress
- WordPress lacks built-in eCommerce functionality to run a business; you have to install a WooCommerce plugin to operate an online store.
- For every functionality on WordPress, you have to install a new plugin on your website, and some plugins and themes may be incompatible with each other.
- WordPress’ security isn’t robust, making it risky to run a large eCommerce business.
Magento (Adobe Commerce) is a dedicated eCommerce platform seeing increasing adoption. Its purpose is to help users build an eCommerce business, but it can also support blog posts and regular site pages (however, this capability requires a plugin).
Like WordPress, Magento offers Adobe Commerce (also known as Magento Commerce), a fully hosted website, and free open source for a self-hosted, developed website. Big companies like HP, Coca-Cola, and Ford have built robust eCommerce businesses using Magento.
Pros of Magento
- Magento has built-in eCommerce functionality, making it a powerful and effective platform for online businesses.
- It can support medium to large stores more easily than WordPress, and constructing a multi-vendor marketplace is also more convenient.
- You can sell both physical and digital products on the platform, as well as manage multiple stores and catalogs.
- Magento boasts a high level of customization and functionality, with users able to use almost 5,000 extensions and apps in the Magento Marketplace plugins to enrich their store’s functionality and boost sales.
- Magento provides extensive user support through its dedicated help desk.
- It’s a very secure platform with built-in features like a web application firewall and DDoS mitigation. (Note: Open source users are required to install a security plugin.)
Cons of Magento
- Due to its vast, complex structure, businesses will likely need a team of experienced, professional developers dedicated to setting up a store on Magento. It can also be difficult to manage for those new to eCommerce platforms.
- Launching a Magento site requires a large investment of both time and money, and the costs of premium Magento extensions are much higher than those of WordPress.
- Magento’s functionalities are limited, as it only supports eCommerce extensions.
The final verdict
WordPress and Magento are popular open-source CMS options for eCommerce. Magento has the upper hand over WordPress in terms of running a large business, as it’s more stable and has robust security. However, WordPress offers many advantageous features and plugins that are less costly compared to Magento’s extensions.
Overall, WordPress is suitable for content-driven websites while Magento (Adobe Commerce) is ideal for building an eCommerce website (provided you have an expert development team and a large budget). If you’re an eCommerce merchant looking for a highly secure, eCommerce-focused platform, Magento is the better option. If you’re new to eCommerce and looking for an easy-to-use eCommerce platform, then WordPress would be your best bet.
How to Run an eCommerce Business: Outsourcing vs. In-House Work
This is a guest post from Career Karma, the easiest way to find a job training program online. They help over 1 million workers navigate their careers every month through advice and coaching.
Running an eCommerce business can be challenging for both first-timers and established business owners. Primarily, it’s crucial to understand the market and then determine the tasks that can be outsourced and the ones to keep in-house. When making these decisions, it’s important to consider key factors including language, location, company needs, and quality of services.
Generally speaking, outsourcing is quickly becoming the go-to service for both small-scale and large-scale businesses. In fact, research shows that the global outsourcing market is valued at approximately $92.5 billion, and nearly 74 percent of businesses rely on eCommerce outsourcing services. However, to run a successful eCommerce business, you must understand the ins and outs of outsourcing and in-housing.
This article will explore the benefits of both services and determine the right tasks to outsource and keep in-house.
What is the Difference Between Outsourcing and In-Housing in eCommerce?
The difference between outsourcing and in-housing is primarily based on the delivery model. eCommerce outsourcing involves hiring a third-party company or contractor to complete duties and responsibilities related to your company. On the other hand, in-housing or insourcing involves completing all company operations with the help of in-house staff.
Benefits of Outsourcing Work in eCommerce
Focus on the Company
When you’re overwhelmed at work, it’s easy to overlook significant aspects of the company. Hiring third parties lets you focus on your core and uphold the company’s vision through brand-influencing activities. For example, you don’t need an entire department for content creation, as you can outsource content creators and retain a smaller sales and marketing team.
Outsourcing tasks can save your company a lot of money. Full-time employees require a monthly salary, benefits, and training. You must also maintain office equipment and invest in system integration, logistics, web development, and back-office support. Investing in a third-party contractor allows you to save money because you’ll invest less capital on these necessities.
Outsourcing tasks is an excellent approach to improving your organization’s productivity. When you rely on a small in-house team to handle all processes, you’ll typically experience less productivity. Outsourcing allows you to work with a larger team. The team handles customer needs and achieves company goals on time. You can also keep up with your competition without hiring more employees.
Offer Flexible Hiring Processes
In-house employees usually have long-term contracts. However, outsourcing tasks offers a flexible hiring process because you can find employees based on need and project type. For example, if you’re working on a three-month project, you can outsource short-term contractors without long-term obligations.
Keep up with New Technology
The eCommerce sector is growing rapidly, thanks to regular tech advancements. Outsourcing allows you to find skilled individuals in different areas, like web design, programming, data analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI). As a result, your company will maintain high standards in technology.
Five Types of Work You Can Outsource
Selecting which tasks to outsource can be challenging because you must safeguard company data. You must consider several factors and work with the right contractors. However, despite the seriousness of the process, the tasks below are perfect for outsourcing.
1. Content Creation
Blogging, social media posts, videos, infographics, and podcasts are pivotal in taking your company to the next level. However, you don’t need a full content creation department within your organization. Instead, outsourcing these duties to content creators and influencers on different platforms creates extensive brand awareness for your company.
Content creation is part of marketing because it tackles an array of social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and blogs. However, the marketing team also handles merchandising, email marketing, Pay-Per-Click services, analytics and reporting, brand management, and research. You can outsource all of the marketing duties of the organization to skilled contractors.
3. Order Fulfillment
You may outsource your order fulfillment duties to an experienced fulfillment partner. Usually, the contractor will store your products in their warehouse, packing and shipping them upon request.
For example, MyFBAPrep monitors inventory and handles logistics. In fact, outsourcing order fulfillment allows you to manufacture more while eliminating the stress of meeting deadlines and handling large consignments or international shipping.
4. Web Design and Maintenance
You may feel apprehensive about opening your platform to a total stranger. However, unless you’re highly skilled in web design and development, you should outsource this task. The increase in coding boot camps allows more people to sharpen their programming and web design skills, opting for freelance gigs. You can take advantage of these professionals to tackle these duties while you focus on growing the business.
5. Administrative Tasks
Virtual assistants (VAs) are becoming popular as companies seek to outsource various administrative tasks. You can hire a virtual assistant to manage your schedule, create reports, prepare travel arrangements, manage files, and organize presentations. A VA should be available around the clock and meet all of your administrative needs, despite the distance.
Factors to Consider When Outsourcing for an eCommerce Business
While outsourcing is cost-effective and productive, you must consider the following factors before opening your business to a third party:
- The resources and technology that are available to the third party.
- The third-party’s rates should be within your budget to avoid spending more than you use for in-house services.
- It’s important that you find someone fluent in your language.
- Your contractor should be able to meet company deadlines with minimal supervision.
- The outsourced contractor should be trustworthy and maintain good communication skills.
Benefits of Insourcing in eCommerce
Insourcing enhances your ability to safeguard company data, such as tech developments, sensitive passwords, trade secrets, and confidential documents. Employees can’t access or distribute this data to other computers when all company information is in one location.
Insourcing makes it easier for you to manage your team in one location. For example, you can access performance, assign employees to different projects, and manage employee development. In addition, insourcing will create stronger employee relationships, leading to better teamwork and retention.
When all employees are in one location or linked to the same system, communication becomes easier between the management and employees. Furthermore, everyone is in the same time zone, meaning you don’t have to worry about late responses and separate meetings. You can quickly call your employee to the office in an emergency.
Insourcing allows you to maintain the company’s quality through direct supervision and one-on-one management. You can work with the in-house team to identify loopholes as well as correct shortcomings immediately. For example, if everyone working on a project is at the office, it’s easier to identify who dropped the ball and how to fix problems onsite.
Four Types of Work You Shouldn’t Outsource
Outsourcing is a brilliant move for your eCommerce business. Nonetheless, not every task is up for outsourcing. Below are four vital tasks that you should delegate to your in-house team.
1. Executive and Leadership Positions
You should never outsource executive roles and leadership positions that significantly impact your company’s success. The CEO and management staff should include professionals who are invested in the company and understand the vision. In addition, company leaders should have physical access to the company location and team.
2. Human Resources (HR)
Many companies work with third-party hiring companies to find competent employees. However, you should never outsource full HR responsibilities to a third-party firm. Your management team should always have the final say regarding hiring and firing your employees.
In addition, you should handle all HR responsibilities in-house, including payroll processing, disciplinary actions, benefits analysis, and employee conduct analysis. Remember, you can always invest in employee training at top management boot camps like Flatiron School, Simplilearn, and Thinkful.
3. Core Company Competencies
Your core company competencies should never be available to third-party contractors. If you value your company resources and strategies training, using a third party may not be the best fit for you. Moreover, an external contractor may provide training that doesn’t align with your vision. It will help if you use your in-house team to handle duties related to your core competencies.
4. Company Finances
You can outsource specific accounting tasks like bookkeeping, tax accounting, and financial data analytics. However, you should not give a third-party contractor access to your finances. In addition, you should only work with reputable and trustworthy external contractors when dealing with company finances.
Outsourcing is becoming the norm in various industries, and you can outsource various tasks to ensure company productivity. In addition, tech advancements are improving eCommerce businesses, so in turn, outsourcing opportunities are also rising. You may see this trend become more prevalent as more and more companies adopt hybrid and remote work setups.
However, you should always prioritize the company vision, whether outsourcing or using in-house staff. MyFBAPrep is ahead of the game in eCommerce outsourcing services. They offer high-quality inventory management services to ensure efficient order fulfillment.
Community Building Strategies For DTC Brands
There was once a day when TV commercials ruled the world. Over-the-top production quality, crowd-stopping visuals, and emotional storytelling were common methods brands used to grab people’s attention.
These days, people have grown numb to disruptive advertising techniques. Consumers want meaningful connections. They want to know brands care. As such, we’ve seen a dramatic shift toward personalization and community-building.
The secret sauce for DTC success is to create an immersive experience for consumers. Running a DTC brand is about more than selling products. Flourishing DTC brands curate the entire customer experience. Things aren’t slowing down either. This is just the beginning of the DTC takeover.
If you want to build a champion DTC brand at every step of the customer experience you need to build an affinity with your audience. In this article, we’re sharing our favorite strategies for building a strong DTC community.
How DTC brands differ from traditional retailers
The key difference between DTC and traditional retail is that DTC cuts out the middleman.
The traditional method of selling products relied heavily on go-between solutions for manufacturing, marketing, and sales. DTC brands, however, favor direct relationships with their suppliers and customers.
Rather than relying on out-of-home (OOH), television, or magazine ads, DTC brands reach customers directly through online mediums such as social media, YouTube, and podcasts.
Traditional retail tends to focus on the product experience and selling as many products as possible. DTC prioritizes the entire customer experience. They want to create a favorable experience every step of the way, not just at the point where people are ready to purchase. It’s evident that DTC is more focused on community and loyalty than one-time purchases.
Another key priority for DTC is hyper growth. Traditional brands often rely on longevity and brand heritage as an indicator of quality. Yet, brand age no longer holds as much value as it once did.
Tactics such as personalization, AI chatbots, reactive campaigns, and increased product development are some of the ways DTC brands are innovating at a faster rate. With increased innovation, these DTC brands are overtaking traditional brands on the road to hypergrowth.
Community + Loyalty = The secret to DTC success
Community and loyalty are arguably the secrets to running a successful DTC brand.
Consumers are more likely to be loyal to brands that offer higher quality products than competitors. Yet product quality isn’t the only influential factor over brand loyalty. Many consumers will stay loyal to a brand if they feel a strong sense of community.
Community-building is one thing that DTC brands get right. From a brand perspective, community-building means capturing customer loyalty with interaction and engagement. Loyal brand communities can be built naturally through customer reviews, feedback, and forums. These communities can also be curated through smart community-building strategies. Curated brand communities create a sense of exclusivity where community members feel like valued insiders.
Building brand communities also provide a coveted space for customers to share their feedback, wants, and challenges. These consumer insights can be used to tailor your brand to your ideal audience’s expectations and desires.
6 community-building strategies for DTC brands
Don’t leave community-building up to chance. Leverage the secret power of engaged brand advocates by tapping into these tried-and-test strategies for building strong DTC communities.
Get to know your audience
First things first, you need to understand your audience. If you don’t know who your audience is or what they care about, you won’t be able to create the product, content, or experiences they love.
Find out what makes your target customers tick by conducting audience research. Interview customers and carry out surveys to get to know your buyers better. Speaking with your customers and target audience is the best way to unearth their desires and challenges.
Talking to your audience also offers an opportunity to optimize your brand tone of voice — how do they speak? What’s their emoji use like? What phrases and slang words do they use? What would they never say?
Focus part of your audience research on uncovering the brands and channels they enjoy. If your target audience hangs out on TikTok, you know to add this channel into your marketing strategy. Looking at the other brands they engage with presents an opportunity to analyze these brands and find out what it is that people love about them.
Let your audience guide your brand strategy by focusing on adding value to their lives. Everything from product development to tone of voice, marketing campaigns, sales messaging, and design can be led by audience research.
Daye, a CBD tampon brand, is a DTC brand whose strategy is led by audience research. Daye goes beyond product-led marketing. Instead, they focus on sharing content informed by audience interests and values — sexual health, culture, and innovation. Being an active participant in these conversations allows Daye to show their audience that they care.
Daye also collaborates with other brands that are affiliated with their target audience. Partnering with Squish beauty, a purveyor of acne patches, allows Daye to increase their appeal to its younger audience members. Daye and Squish can use this collaboration to bolster both of their communities.
Content-wise, Daye can be found sharing relatable memes, educational threads, and empowering messages as a way to tap into audience interests.
Hone in on word-of-mouth recommendations
Word-of-mouth will likely always hold the reigning crown as the most powerful marketing tactic. Yet, how word-of-mouth looks will change over time.
Where word-of-mouth once focused on recommendations from friends and family, it now extends to peer-to-peer selling, referral schemes, and influencer relationships. There are countless opportunities to hone in on word-of-mouth recommendations as a brand.
Shoppers are actively seeking word-of-mouth recommendations before making a purchase — almost 50 percent of consumers will seek social media comments to learn what others think about a brand. But word-of-mouth recommendations aren’t a one-way street. Customers these days expect brands to actively respond to social media comments. Publicly responding to customer feedback is key to building a trusted community.
Word-of-mouth recommendations influence consumer emotions and intentions. Customers are more likely to be enthusiastic about your brand, feel more strongly affiliated, and be much more likely to purchase. Tapping into word-of-mouth marketing builds strong bonds with your target audience.
In the digital era, you can build a community through digital word-of-mouth methods such as influencer activation, affiliate marketing programs, referral schemes, and review platforms. Remember to engage with any recommendations and be active in online forums where consumers are discussing your products.
Direct peer-to-peer selling is one example of how word-of-mouth recommendations have undergone a digital transformation. In peer-to-peer selling, consumers become advocates as they buy products, share them with their peers, and encourage them to also make a purchase. Brands like Storr are capitalizing on the power of peer-to-peer selling.
Storr is a peer-to-peer sales channel that lets people make money selling brand-new goods with their peers. With Storr, anyone can open an online store to easily sell products they love and recommend. Storr’s model allows brands to acquire new customers based on trust, expanding their community every time a new customer comes via peer recommendations.
Inject some personality into your brand
Don’t be afraid to have fun — inject personality into your brand as a way to attract your ideal customers. If you want to build a cult following, you need to embrace your brand personality.
Think about it: people connect better with people. Personifying your brand makes it more relatable for people. Research shows that creating a strong brand personality can positively impact brand love. This heightened brand love subsequently increases brand loyalty, word-of-mouth, active engagement, self-disclosure, and a willingness to pay more.
Channeling a conversational tone of voice can increase customer affinity as they associate your brand with more ‘human’ qualities.
The translation app DuoLingo has nailed its brand personality and tone of voice. With 4.5 million followers (and counting) on TikTok, DuoLingo has successfully used its Duo mascot to personify its brand and grow an active community.
Looking toward a DTC retailer who has embraced their personality, we have Who Gives A Crap. Toilet paper isn’t the most glamorous product on people’s shopping lists. It’s something we all stock up on as part of our grocery shop, often without a second thought. Yet, Who Gives A Crap toilet paper has leveraged its brand personality as a way to revolutionize the way we see toilet paper brands.
With the fun tone of voice, quirky designs, and caring values, Who Give A Crap has built a bought-in community of followers. Who Gives A Crap encapsulates a down-to-earth tone of voice that makes them seem relatable to consumers. Their DTC brand started with a crowdfunding campaign engaging an early community of insiders by promising social media shout-outs, launch party invites, and branded swag in return for investment. Who Gives A Crap’s brand strategy has been informed by community-building tactics from the very start.
Leverage the power of live shopping
Get up close and personal with your customers with live shopping.
The immersive experience of live shopping goes beyond the norm of plain products on a shelf or online storefront. Live shopping offers real-time interaction and conversation. Use live shopping to offer a behind-the-scenes view of your brand or drum up hype for new product launches. Live shopping combines shopping with entertainment by drawing upon tactics such as expert collaborations and gamification.
35% of people purchase products after watching a brand’s social media live stream. If anything, this statistic demonstrates the power behind building authentic immersive experiences for your brand followers.
Recognizing the power of live shopping, TikTok is currently testing a live shopping feature that lets brands and creators sell products in real-time. Learning how to sell on TikTok is critical for nurturing a loyal brand community — and the addition of live shopping only makes TikTok a more central component for any DTC brand strategy. The rise of live shopping on TikTok’s UK platform is transforming the iconic ‘TikTok made me buy it’ phrase.
Image credit: Retail Insider
Outside of TikTok, many brands are already using live shopping as a core sales strategy. Shoe retailer, Aldo, hosted a live shopping event in partnership with celeb stylist Mimi Cuttrell and TikTok creator Nate Wyatt. Hosted on their native ‘Aldo Live’ landing page, the event saw a spike of 17,000 page views in the first five days following the event. The average viewing time was 12 minutes and six seconds and an engagement rate of 308% showed high levels of community interest.
Popping off on TikTok right now — e.g. Paula’s Choice https://www.tiktok.com/@paulaschoice / https://www.paulaschoice.com/on-the-rise – regular TikTok live shopping videos & work with 10 on the rise influencers to promote their skincare range and live shop
Focus on user-generated content
You get the idea by now — person-led content is king for building engaged communities. Forget corporate product-quality content, DTC brands that want to resonate with their audience need to zoom in on homegrown content creators.
Add a user-generated content (UGC) strategy into your marketing strategy to ensure you’re creating engaging content that resonates with your audience.
UGC refers to any content — be it text, videos, reviews, or images — that is created by people, not brands. Better yet, these people are everywhere. UGC creators can be anyone from your everyday customers to influencers and online content creators. These UGC creators can be found all over the internet; on TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, blogs, and podcasts.
Work with creators who resemble your audience as a way to build a strong community for your brand. Hire UGC content creators to create native content for your own channels and promote it on their channels. Working with content creators that have established audiences will help your brand forge connections with their community and, in turn, expand your own loyal following.
When bringing UGC into your marketing strategy, make it easy for everyday consumers to create and share content. Have a hashtag, incentivize people for sharing your brand online, tell them where to share (e.g. tag us on Instagram), offer templates and filters, and reshare their content to your channels too. UGC acts as social proof, letting other people know how consumers feel about your brand.
UGC generates deeper connections by humanizing your brand, much like crafting a unique brand personality. Even traditional brands have tapped into UGC such as Coca-Cola’s 2011 ‘share a coke’ campaign that encouraged people to take photos of their named beverages. While UGC isn’t a new concept, it has seen a significant uplift in recent years as more brands uncover the power of humanizing their brand.
Paula’s Choice is a skincare brand that understands the potential behind user-generated content. On their own social media channels, Paula’s Choice hosts share educational and entertaining user-generated content that busts common skincare myths, decodes ingredients, and cuts through scary jargon. They are also backed by their ‘on the rise’ team of ten skincare influencers who create user-generated content promoting Paula’s Choice.
UGC-led social media strategies are one of Paula’s Choice’s main tactics for nurturing their community. Their first-ever influencer campaign leveraged user-generated content. They hired 18 content creators and gifted 1,500 influencers to generate user-led content featuring their products. This campaign drove $963,000 in earned media value and was received positively by beauty and skincare fans.
Collaborate with your brand allies
Building trust can be hard when you’re just getting started. One way to make sure your brand reaches the right people is by collaborating with complementary DTC brands. The trick to successful brand collaborations is to make sure they are complementary brands rather than direct competitors.
Brand collaborations are a mutually-exclusive way to boost brand exposure and strengthen your communities. When finding great partners to collaborate with, revisit your audience research. Partner up with brands that your audience already loves. A pizza oven brand may, for example, want to partner with an outdoor furniture brand or a clothing brand might benefit from partnering with a haircare brand.
You can have fun with this community-building strategy. Take Glossier for example — the beauty brand Glossier partnered up with pet brand Bark on a limited-edition range of Glossier-branded pet toys. The team behind Bark originally approached Glossier for a collaboration after noticing how many Glossier companies were bringing dogs into the store. This fun campaign reflected the light-hearted nature of Bark’s brand personality while tapping into Glossier customers’ love of pets.
Wrapping up — Grow your DTC community
Community is everything in the world of direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands. Customers who feel like they belong to a community will have higher levels of brand loyalty and will be more engaged shoppers.
Community-building is a viable strategy for any DTC retailer that is willing to create immersive experiences. Get creative and don’t be afraid to add a flair of personality to your brand strategy.
Above all else, make sure your audience is at the heart of everything you do. From live shopping events to brand collaborations and user-generated content, creating unforgettable experiences for your audience is crucial for building loyal and engaged communities.
Here at MyFBAPrep, we offer seamless order fulfillment services for passionate DTC brands. You can focus on nurturing your community while we offer them the 5-star experience they expect to receive.
Looking for more DTC inspiration? Take a look at our ultimate list of DTC brands here.
How to Start a Subscription Box Business
The 2021 global pandemic revived subscription boxes. And their popularity doesn’t seem to be fading anytime soon. There’s a reason why subscription boxes are so popular among consumers.
Thanks to its convenience, personalization, and savings potential, the subscription box model is here to stay.
If you’re yet to embrace the powers of subscription boxes, we’re here to share the best practices behind selling them and how to start your own subscription box business.
Already offer subscription box services? Keep reading to learn how to grow and scale your subscription box business.
The power and popularity of the DTC subscription box model
Subscription boxes come in many shapes and sizes. From replenishment services to curated collections, subscription boxes typically contain multiple products. Customers will receive their subscription box on a regular basis — be it weekly, monthly, or another frequent schedule.
Direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands that offer subscription boxes add a lucrative recurring revenue stream to their business. Repeat orders will routinely roll in as subscription box orders go out. Meanwhile, customers will benefit from predictable deliveries and may even have control over what they receive.
According to Jennifer R. Wolkin, PhD, an NYC-based clinical psychologist, subscription boxes can uplift our emotions — “When we find something new in the box, the mesolimbic dopamine pathway, thought to play a primary role in our brain’s reward system, is likely stimulated to release dopamine. Dopamine is known as one of the reward and pleasure-inducing neurotransmitters.”
Essentially, subscription boxes act like mini-rewards by firing up our dopamine receptors (the reward center of our brains) and result in making us feel happier.
Research in the UK noticed the popularity of subscription boxes soared during the height of the 2020 pandemic and is set to grow to £1.8 billion ($2.16 billion) by 2025. 55% of shoppers said they signed up for a subscription box as a way to treat themselves — backing up Wolkin’s claim that we buy subscription boxes as a way to reward ourselves and evoke positive emotions.
In the US, the Washington Post found that some Americans were subscribed to as many as ten subscription services. The subscription economy in the US is expected to grow to an impressive $1.5 trillion by 2025.
As a DTC retailer, subscription boxes offer an opportunity to increase your bottom line while delivering positive experiences for your customers.
Subscription box business best practices
Understanding what it takes to deliver a showstopping subscription box will allow your brand to stand out against a sea of subscription competitors. Before you dive into adding subscription box services to your online store, brush up on some best practices.
Learning from some of the subscription box giants, we’ve pulled together our best practices for DTC retailers looking to start (or grow) their subscription box model.
Carefully choose your niche
Get specific about what you want to sell as part of your subscription service. Choosing a niche will allow you to enhance your bottom line by becoming the go-to merchant for that product type.
When choosing your niche, aim for an industry that is desirable without being overly competitive. Look for a gap in the market and aim to fill that gap with your subscription service.
Dollar Shave Club is a DTC subscription brand who are reaping the rewards as a result of niching down. Dollar Shave Club could have easily curated a subscription box of skincare products but they took their model a step further by specifically niching down to razors.
They recognized a gap in the market and fulfilled that need with their subscription box. According to McKinsey, Dollar Shave Club is the most popular subscription box among men and the second most popular subscription service overall, just behind Amazon Subscribe & Save.
Take inspiration from Dollar Shave Club by seeking out a popular, yet underserved niche.
People often buy subscription boxes as a gift for themselves or others. So, keep that gifting experience alive by investing in presentation.
By putting that extra effort into your subscription box presentation, you’ll curate an unboxing experience that will fill consumers with joy whenever they open it.
A carefully created unboxing experience can increase perceived value, generate brand loyalty and increase your chances of going viral. You only have to search “unboxing experience” on YouTube to know how much people love presentation.
As part of their Unboxing series, Lumi unboxed Empathy Wines, a DTC subscription wine service co-founded by entrepreneur, Gary Vaynerchuk, the outer mailer packaging is branded. This creates brand visibility from the offset. This branding continues on the inside, oozing personality and creating a visually appealing backdrop to your subscription products. Bonus gifts of collateral cards, stickers, and information cards about the farmers and brand pull the customer into the experience and enhance the brand values.
Level up your presentation to create powerful unboxing experiences.
Choose a fulfillment partner
Don’t fall victim to fulfillment bottlenecks. Before you even launch your subscription service, consider how you plan to fulfill orders.
Shipping subscription boxes require more legwork than selling standalone products. You need to curate boxes, add multiple products, remember additional details (such as information cards), and ship them out on time. You also need to account for new subscribers and any cancellations. Managing subscription box fulfillment can quickly get overwhelming.
Find an experienced subscription box fulfillment partner to help you smoothly ship subscription boxes. The organization is key here. Inform fulfillment partners in advance of upcoming subscription box contents and ensure they have all the inventory they need in good-time to prep orders.
The pull of personalization is one of the main factors that encourage consumers to buy subscriptions. Subscription box customers also want to be delighted and surprised by their subscription.
Whether you curate boxes based on customers’ answers to a quiz or you give them the freedom to choose their own products, consider personalizing the subscription box experience. Tailor subscription box contents to delight customers.
Stitchfix is one subscription service that knows the power of personalization. Stitchfix sends clothes straight to its customers’ doorstep with each item carefully hand-selected based on consumers’ size, style, and price range.
Customers simply complete a style quiz, choose their frequency schedule, and they’ll receive personalized clothes as chosen by a personal stylist. Stitchfix shoppers can choose the items they want to receive from stylists’ recommendations or they can leave the choice down to the stylist.
Follow Stitchfix’s example by weaving personalization into your subscription box model.
How to start a subscription box business
Now we’re aware of the best practices underpinning successful subscription box models, let’s look at the steps you need to take to start a subscription box business.
Conduct market research
If you want your subscription box business to be a roaring success, you need to find a lucrative angle. Conducting market research will allow you to uncover consumer interests and identify gaps in the subscription box industry.
Get inside your target customer’s head to find out what they want from a subscription box. You can do this by speaking directly with customers, conducting market research surveys, or researching forums and competitor offerings.
Figure out what your customers want from a subscription box — is there a particular category or product type? How much are they willing to pay? How often do they want to receive the goods? Is it for themselves or someone else?
When conducting consumer research, remember there are typically three main reasons why people buy subscription boxes:
- Replenishment – To save time and money by automatically replenishment repeat purchase items
- Curation – To receive a curated selection of different items, designed to delight and surprise
- Access – To gain access to exclusive opportunities, offers, and products with additional VIP perks
Analyzing the subscription box market will also allow you to identify which boxes perform exceptionally well, along with spotting any gaps that aren’t yet being fulfilled.
Take meal subscription kits for example. This category of subscription boxes is really popular. From child-friendly meal kits to healthy recipes and prepped meals, there’s an abundance of choices for anyone looking for a meal subscription box. With so many companies already offering this service already, you may struggle to make your brand stand out if you don’t have a great unique selling proposition (USP).
Identify opportunities in existing inventory
As well as scouring the subscription box market for ideas, you can also look for opportunities within your existing inventory.
If you already sell products, you should have a good idea of your consumer’s main interests. Whether you are a general merchant selling a wide variety of stock or you’re a specialist retailer who has niched down to one specific category, analyzing your existing inventory offers great insight into what your customers already enjoy.
First, review your popular products to see what items your customers purchase most. Next, look at what products people frequently buy together. Then use these insights to build curated subscription boxes based on customer interests. You could offer replenishment subscription boxes or curated collections related to the most popular products.
Don’t forget to also look at the slow-moving stock. Building subscription boxes also offers an opportunity to clear old stock. While these items may not sell so well on their own, they could make great additions to subscription boxes when positioned next to star products and best sellers.
Know your numbers
You should have a good grasp on your inventory, fulfillment, marketing and sales costs if you already sell products online. Knowing your numbers will allow you to dig deep into the financial viability of your subscription box idea.
When crunching numbers for your subscription box, remember to look at the costs of:
- Presentation box
- Mailer packaging and any packing materials
- Picking and packing
- Printed materials
- Products to be included in the box
Consider every cost related to launching your subscription box and use those insights to work out your budget, price point, and potential returns.
Create a powerful unboxing experience
We’ve already discussed the power of presentation but we felt now would be a great time to reiterate the importance of creating an unboxing experience.
Think about what your customers will see when their subscription box lands on their doorstep. Consider how you can create moments of delight through packaging choices, design, print materials, and the small unexpected details throughout.
Review packaging suppliers and team up with someone who is able to bring your unboxing visions to life. You may be able to work with existing suppliers or you might want to expand your network by working with new packaging providers.
Map out the customer journey
Knowing how your customers interact with your brand will make sure you cater to them through every step of the customer journey.
The customer journey is made up of multiple touchpoints. It’s likely your customers will experience several of these touchpoints before making a purchase decision so you need to make them count.
Some touchpoints you need to consider when mapping out the customer journey are:
- The very first interaction someone has with your brand
- Product pages
- The buying experience
- Social media content
- Online reviews
- Post-purchase communications
- Delivery experience
- Follow-up communication
- Ongoing interactions
Analyze each step of the customer journey and look at ways you can make customers feel appreciated and delighted. Focus on optimizing user experience at each stage to create an unforgettable experience for your subscribers.
Set up your tech
Offering subscription services often require more advanced tech capabilities than your standard eCommerce website.
Some eCommerce marketplaces and websites make it easy for retailers to offer subscription services. Shopify users can set up recurring payments so they can sell subscription products. Meanwhile, Amazon merchants can offer Subscribe & Save options for customers wanted repeat purchases of frequently-bought products.
Alternatively, you might want to set up a dedicated subscription platform. You can use a platform like Subbly to build an intuitive subscription website.
Other tech considerations to think about when launching a subscription product are an onboarding quiz, email campaigns, and a subscription app. While none of these are necessary to launch your subscription box, they could help you stand out from the crowd.
Birchbox, a subscription beauty box, lets customers build a tailored subscription box based on their answers to a beauty quiz. This tech feature is a great way to add layers of personalization to the subscription experience.
Nail picking, packing, and shipping
Shipping subscription boxes requires more attention to detail than standard customer orders. So, nailing your fulfillment strategy for picking, packing, and shipping orders is a crucial step when launching a subscription box service.
Ensuring subscription boxes go out in a timely fashion is an organizational masterpiece.
Take HelloFresh for example. Recipes will be shipped to subscribers on a weekly basis. Yet, not all subscribers receive the same products, nor do they all receive their subscription on the same date. Subscribers get to choose what recipes they want (or receive a random choice curated by HelloFresh) and they get to choose which day of the week they want their box to arrive. HelloFresh subscribers can also opt to skip boxes or add on additional recipes.
As you can imagine, a lot of thought and preparation goes into making sure each HelloFresh subscribers box goes out accurately and timely.
Make sure you have the resources and systems in place to seamlessly pick, pack and ship subscription boxes.
Market your subscription box
Finally, you can’t start a subscription box business without marketing. If you want to make sales, you need to invest in your marketing strategy.
Your subscription box marketing strategy should consist of pre-launch, launch, and post-launch marketing activity.
Before launching your subscription box, ramp up demand with sneak peeks and teasers. Create a waiting list so interested customers can be first to hear when the subscription box drops.
When launching your subscription box, invest in launch campaigns across social media, email marketing, and paid marketing channels. Map out PR opportunities and out-of-home advertising too. Working with content creators and influencers is a great way to increase visibility and demand for your subscription box so pull together a roster of well-aligned influencers.
Marketing your subscription box doesn’t stop after the launch period is over. Ongoing marketing activity is key for ensuring your subscription box continues to grow month on month. Plan subscription box content into your ongoing marketing activity and consider creating subscription box-centered campaigns.
Other marketing activities could include designing a customized quiz, offering exclusive gifts and discounts, introducing a loyalty scheme, integrating reviews and social proof into your marketing content, or collaborating with other brands and creators on exclusive boxes.
Get creative with your marketing to create showstopping content that attracts, nurtures, and converts your target audience.
How to grow and scale your subscription box business
Launching a subscription box business is just one part of the puzzle. Once you’ve launched, you then need to hone in on strategies for growing and scaling your subscription box business.
New challenges will arise as your subscription box business grows. Learning how to maintain momentum is one of these challenges. Hitting a plateau is normal when launching a subscription business. But, with the right strategies in place, you can soar past the plateau and secure healthy subscription rates.
Grow and scale your subscription box business by investing in these activities.
Tap into customer needs and interests with surveys
Want to know what subscribers love about your subscription box? Ask them! The same goes for understanding what grinds their gears.
Use customer interviews and surveys to find out where your customers’ needs, interests, and challenges lie. Speaking with your subscribers is the best way to find out how you can deliver even more value with your subscription box.
Ask for feedback
Feedback is valuable so be sure to ask subscribers for their thoughts and opinions.
Make it easy for customers to leave feedback in post-purchase surveys or product reviews.
Other shoppers can use this feedback to make informed purchase decisions about signing up for a subscription box. Your marketing team could also use feedback as part of their marketing strategy to demonstrate customer satisfaction. Meanwhile, product development teams can use feedback to optimize and improve future subscription boxes.
Optimize your inventory
Opportunities are all around you —- especially in your warehouse. Grow your subscription box business by optimizing your existing inventory.
Improve inventory turnover rates by finding ways to turn your inventory into subscription box opportunities. You could create mystery boxes containing surplus stock or create exclusive seconds boxes where customers can get products with minor defects at a discounted rate.
Optimizing your inventory doesn’t mean clearing old stock. You can also strategically order new stock from suppliers to gain preferential rates. Order high-volume stock for items you plan to include in subscription boxes, saving money and ensuring you have enough items to fulfill subscription box orders.
Outsource fulfillment to an experienced partner
As your subscription box business grows, staying on top of orders can be hard work.
Working with a subscription box fulfillment partner may be just what you need to optimize subscription box fulfillment.
At MyFBAPrep, we can manage the prep and fulfillment of your subscription box orders, ensuring everything goes out as expected and building customer trust. Meanwhile, you can focus on other areas of your business such as planning the next subscription box contents to wow your subscribers.
Create an engaged community of subscribers
Your subscribers fuel the success of your subscription box business. Without those subscribers, your business model wouldn’t exist. So, how can you create an engaged community of subscribers?
Engage with them!
Show your subscribers you genuinely appreciate them by engaging with them consistently. Create an exclusive group for subscribers and release content that is for their eyes only. Interact with their posts on social media and forums, reshare content they post about your brand, and send them frequent emails.
Building a genuine connection with your subscribers is a surefire way to maintain long-standing customer lifetime value (LTV).
Develop a referral program
Reward subscribers for their loyalty by developing a referral program. A well-designed referral program incentivizes existing subscribers for spreading the word about your subscription box.
If you want to acquire new subscribers and grow your subscriber rate, create a referral program. By doing this, your subscribers will inadvertently become your marketing team. They will spread the good word about your subscription box in hopes of receiving something in return. You can offer subscribers rewards such as money off their next box, exclusive discounts, or free gifts whenever they refer a friend who also signs up.
Referral programs can lead to rapid subscriber growth so this is one strategy you don’t want to overlook when scaling your subscription box business.
Wrapping up — start your subscription box business today
Subscription boxes are a lucrative opportunity for online retailers looking to increase their bottom line and generate high levels of customer satisfaction.
Build a subscription box business today if you want to deliver outstanding experiences for loyal subscribers. Before starting your subscription box business, take time to look at market opportunities so you can craft a powerful solution for your target audience. And don’t forget about that all-important unboxing experience.
Need a subscription box fulfillment partner to support the growth of your business? Get in touch to see how we can help you take your subscription box model to the next level.
What is 3DS (3D Secure) And How to Use It
Unless you’re new to eCommerce, you’ll be aware of the business dangers of online fraud, and they aren’t going away anytime soon. LexisNexis’ 2021 study reported both the cost and volume of fraud are increasing significantly year-on-year, not the type of growth we want to see.
Security systems like 3DS are vital to combating fraud. This checkout process is a requirement for eCommerce stores selling in Europe (including the U.K.). Yet, the path to 3DS implementation hasn’t always been smooth-sailing.
Here, we take a look at the importance of 3DS and how merchants can use it. We will also be sharing actionable steps to reduce the risk of failed transactions or abandoned carts.
What is 3DS (3D Secure)?
3D Secure is an online fraud protection protocol. From your customer’s point of view, this means an extra step to verify their identity.
You’ve almost certainly experienced 3DS as a customer. Before completing your purchase, you have to enter another password, or agree to the transaction on a mobile app. This process helps prove it was you making this purchase, not a fraudster.
But what if you’re on the other end of the transaction? From a merchant’s point of view, the most important step is to enable 3DS. It’s mandatory for anyone selling into the European Economic Area (EEA), as well as other countries like India.
Putting legalities aside, setting up 3DS is a sensible step to take wherever you’re selling. As WorldPay clearly states, not enabling 3DS will result in declined transactions, losing you valuable business.
3DS stands for Three-Domain Secure. This refers to the data shared between the three domains involved at checkout: the customer’s bank sending money, the merchant’s bank receiving money, and the infrastructure in between (the internet, website, server, and so on).
You may see references online to ‘3DS2’. The ‘2’ merely signifies the newest version of 3DS. For example, as 3dsecure2.com explains, this newest version allows for ‘dynamic authentication methods’ like biometrics (such as FaceID on your iPhone), providing even tighter protection against fraud. Other advantages of 3DS2 include improved design and two different authentication flows.
How 3DS protects your eCommerce store and customers
There are a lot of ways that implementing 3DS can protect you, the eCommerce store owner, and your customers.
Protecting eCommerce stores and customers from fraudulent activity
Picture this: a fraudster enters the details of a stolen bank card at checkout. Instead of immediately being able to purchase the item, they’re challenged to prove their identity. They’re unable to provide the extra password or dynamic authentication so the purchase is declined.
In the above scenario, everyone benefits (except, of course, the fraudster). The eCommerce business doesn’t lose revenue to fraudulent activity. Consumers benefit because their bank details aren’t illegally used. Banking partners of all involved spend less time and resources investigating and compensating fraud.
Minimizing chargebacks for eCommerce stores
A further financial benefit to eCommerce stores is the avoidance of ‘chargebacks’. Chargebacks happen when a cardholder disputes an unrecognized payment on their bank statement. This ‘dispute’ costs banks non-refundable fees, which are passed on to the merchant. Plus, the merchant may also have to return any money taken in the transaction.
3DS (specifically 3DS2) protects your eCommerce store against chargebacks.
As Judopay explains, 3DS2 reduces chargebacks by shifting liability. Instead of the merchant paying chargeback costs, liability is shifted to the customer’s bank because 3DS2 enabled them to check the customer’s identity. In other words, it’s not the merchant’s responsibility if a fraudulent transaction was checked by 3DS2.
Improving customer loyalty
Aside from the technicalities of declined authorizations and chargebacks, 3DS has huge potential benefits for customer loyalty. Shopping from a website that uses fraud prevention like 3DS is a sure sign that the store takes financial security seriously — a sure-fire way to increase potential customer trust.
Trust is a big game in eCommerce. The World Economic Forum points out that it’s often harder for suppliers to gain consumers’ trust online compared to offline. This challenge increases when a merchant is in a different country from the customer.
In a survey by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), 22% of consumers said they don’t shop online. Almost half of those non-online shoppers said it was because of a lack of trust. When asked what online behavior changes people were making, 12% responded ‘making fewer online transactions’, meaning lack of trust may also be preventing repeat customs as well as new business.
CIGI’s survey was run in early 2019 so we suspect the data would have changed since, especially given the consumer impacts of lockdowns. But it remains a fact that making your online store feel, and be, as safe as possible for all involved is a win-win situation.
How to use 3DS for your eCommerce store
You’re now clear on the benefits of 3DS. Whether it’s building customer trust or minimizing fraud, adding 3DS to your eCommerce store can offer great advantages.
So, how do you implement it?
Luckily, setting up 3DS is a relatively straightforward process.
The first step is to check whether your payment gateway supports 3DS. Chances are it will, especially if you’re using one of the main players. Worldpay, Braintree, N26, PayPal, and Stripe are all examples of some of the payment gateways offering 3DS.
If your payment gateway doesn’t support 3DS or makes it difficult to implement the latest standards, it’s time to consider moving. Use this blocker as a chance to review your wider approach. Start by taking a look at our blog How to optimize your checkout process.
So now you’ve got a 3DS payment gateway. What next? We’ll use Stripe as an example.
Setting up 3DS with Stripe
Enable Stripe to automatically display 3DS in countries or areas with mandates or regulations such as Europe’s Strong Customer Authentication). While 3DS is optional in other countries, you can still use it as a way to reduce fraud.
Stripe lets you manually set parameters in the API so customers are prompted to complete 3DS authentication.
In fact, Stripe offers three default rules for dynamically requesting 3DS during the checkout process. These default rules make it easy to implement 3DS on your site.
When implementing 3DS, make sure the secure flow is displayed to customers throughout the transaction. If you are using Stripe, they will automatically do this.
Stripe will also automatically redirect customers to their bank’s website to complete authentication. Once the authentication is complete, customers will be sent back to your site. You can choose where customers land when being redirected back to your site so be sure to set this as your order confirmation page.
While you can’t choose what 3DS looks like, you can decide how and where it will be shown on your site. Most merchants opt for a modal dialog above the payment page.
As with most payment gateways, Stripe uses 3DS2 as the highest standard in preventing fraud. However, if the customer’s bank can’t support that protocol, it will ‘fall back’ to the original 3DS with its more static, yet still protective, features.
Payment gateways are vying for business like the rest of us, so their websites and documentation are helpful. Check out the nitty-gritty details of Stripe’s 3DS process here.
The impact of 3DS in Europe
As we’ve touched on above, 3DS is mandatory in Europe. This requirement of 3DS in Europe came into effect following the phased implementation of the revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2).
The European Commission proposed PSD2 back in July 2013. However, the final compliance deadline wasn’t until December 31 2020 for Europe. The U.K. had an extension until September 2021 due to Brexit.
All this means that 3DS is relatively new to Europe. With the newness of 3DS in Europe come many tales of teething issues. When 3DS first came into effect, we saw stories of merchants experiencing increased rejection rates after implementing 3DS.
The main reasons why 3DS transactions fail
To better understand the impact of 3DS and the issues merchants may face, we need to remember that there are three main reasons why 3DS transactions fail. These are:
- Fraud – as discussed, the ‘payer’ is unable to verify their identity due to not being the legitimate card holder
- Abandonment – customers find the 3DS process too taxing, and abandon checkout
- Transaction failure – technical issues mean that checkout doesn’t complete
This third reason is especially frustrating for all involved, as no party (merchant, customer, or bank) gains anything from the situation. By constantly reviewing your site performance and keeping an eye open for potential issues, you can minimize the risk of 3DS payments failing due to transaction failure.
In addition, work on your cart abandonment rate to identify ways to speed up the checkout process and reduce abandonment rates. We will cover how to avoid this below.
The reasons behind technical issues are wide-ranging. The Mastercard Payment Gateway support site lists some of the potential issues that are within the merchant’s control – branding of iframes, month formatting, and descriptions, to name a few. As you can see, there are many things you can be doing to reduce 3DS technical issues.
With that said, transaction failures are sometimes caused by the customer’s bank which eCommerce stores have very little sway over. In these cases, you simply have to be patient and understanding. And hope that your customer will return once the issue has been resolved at the bank’s end.
As Vlad Macovei wrote on The PayPers in October 2020, “it is known that issuers are more ready in some countries than in others” and this readiness is evident in 3DS performance. Fraud prevention company Ravelin analyzed millions of payments and found a huge variation in how the top twenty global banks performed. According to Ravelin, acceptance rates ranged from 68-92% between the top 20 global banks. As Ravelin’s research was conducted in 2021, we would like to hope that many of these issues have been since been resolved as banks work on their 3DS compatibility.
Macovei’s warning was further proven when different countries experienced hugely different failure rates after implementing PSD2. According to dynamic payments company Forter, the U.K. (which was known to be more prepared) experienced a 9% failure rate. While 9% is still a significant chunk of potentially missed revenue, it pales in comparison to France’s 71%.
The good news is that, according to Forter, “over 80% of the transactions that fail are the result of abandonment and issuer bank failure. This means that many of these failures could have been prevented.”
How to mitigate the risks of 3DS
eCommerce sellers can’t do much about customers’ banks. As 3DS has now been mandatory since December 2020 in Europe, many banks have made vast improvements to their 3DS performance. We suspect that if Ravelin ran their study today, they would find much-improved acceptance rates.
Asides from technical issues on the bank’s side, there is plenty in your control regarding 3DS failure due to cart abandonment.
Firstly, educate your customers. Tell them about 3DS before they reach checkout. It’s not exactly the most riveting of information, so publish little signposts everywhere that people might notice: in product page footers, at the basket stage. You could even share more in-depth information about 3DS on your blog or social media pages so potential customers can read more if they wish. Educate them about the importance of fraud prevention, and they might just thank you for it.
Increasing education around 3DS and how it combats fraudulent activity could also work wonders for increasing your trust score.
Prioritize the user journey
Secondly, ensure the user journey from browsing to payment completion is smooth regardless of the device used. Test your website flows and ensure your payment gateway provider is as well integrated as possible across different mobile and desktop devices.
Be sure to continually test performance too. If you’re seeing a high volume of cart abandonments, it just may be a sign that something is broken. So, routinely test the 3DS is performing as expected and fix any issues as soon as they arise.
Switching to 3DS2, rather than 3DS, can also improve the user journey. 3DS2 introduces Frictionless Flow which allows issuers (banks) to automatically approve transactions deemed to be low-risk. This automatic approval reduces the number of steps required to complete the payment.
Prepare to fail
Thirdly, prepare to fail.
While telling you to get ready to fail isn’t the most inspiring advice we’ve shared, it may be the most useful.
What do you want your customer to do if their 3DS transaction fails? Contact you? Try again?
By preparing to fail, you’re putting assurances in place to help customers seamlessly move forward from a payment failure. You are providing solutions long before problems arise.
You could add a section to your payment FAQs about the next steps customers should take in the event of 3DS failure. The Trainline has a great example of this on their site from 2018 when 3DS failure was much more common.
Trust the process
Finally, take comfort in the fact that the latest version of 3DS was designed to be an improved protocol, even if it had a somewhat rocky start in some areas. All tools, services, and products experience problems in their early days. You, more than anyone else, can likely relate to the need to reiterate designs and improve product quality. It’s all about testing and improving.
As 3DS becomes more and more commonplace, we suspect that the 3DS implementation will become easier, connections with payment gateways will become more seamless, and technical issues will be minimized.
Removing common pain points such as static passwords can simplify the user experience too. As we know, simplifying the user experience can help improve cart abandonment rates.
Your next steps for 3DS eCommerce
With all these variables and actions to take, we’d understand if 3DS was beginning to sound like a headache – but we encourage you to think of it as an opportunity to improve eCommerce security for your customers.
Implementing 3DS will make your presence safer, more welcoming, and, ultimately, more profitable. After all, if customers don’t believe your checkout process is secure they are more likely to drop off without completing their purchase.
Ultimately it is up to you as a merchant whether you decide to implement 3DS. But in a world where eCommerce is only getting more competitive, it makes sense to grasp the advantages — especially when they overlap with preventing fraud and improving consumer trust.
How to Take Your eCommerce Store Global
Selling online allows you to reach a whole world of customers at your fingertips. If you’re only serving consumers in your town, region, or even country, you are missing out on valuable growth opportunities.
Expanding your eCommerce business into international markets is a potent strategy for scaling your eCommerce store and reaching even more customers.
At the same time, global expansion can be overwhelming. There are a lot of i’s to dot and t’s to cross as you navigate the various processes involved in taking your eCommerce store global. Thankfully, we’ve rounded up the steps on how to take your eCommerce store global.
The power of global eCommerce expansion
The rise of eCommerce has brought us all far closer, across oceans and islands. For eCommerce stores, it’s crucial to take advantage of the ability to sell internationally.
Global eCommerce is the process of selling your goods to customers in foreign countries. Unlike local eCommerce where you only sell to customers residing in the same country as your store, global eCommerce lets you reach customers from all corners of the globe. Your reach will expand, and your sales will increase, allowing you to build loyal communities in exciting new markets.
While 2020 may have been a challenging year for many, the eCommerce industry saw unprecedented growth. Every market experienced double-digit growth, with Latin America having the largest growth at a 36.7% increase.
The growth trend doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon. Global eCommerce sales are forecasted to hit $5.5 trillion this year and surge past $7 trillion by 2025.
If those numbers tell us anything, it’s that a plethora of opportunities lie within expanding your store globally.
Other benefits of taking your eCommerce store global are:
- Greater access to new customers
- Shorter sales cycles
- Improved product-market fit
- Building your international presence
- Easier expansion into new markets
- Decreased sales and support costs
Plus, most eCommerce platforms, marketplaces, and storefronts have made it easier than ever to sell in foreign countries. Global expansion really is just a few steps away for your eCommerce store.
Steps to taking your eCommerce store global
International eCommerce expansion isn’t a case of clicking a button and watching the global sales roll in. Expanding your store globally requires careful planning, expert partners, and a few handy tools.
Research the market — is there a good product-market fit? Who are your competitors? How can you increase visibility? There are a lot of questions to answer before expanding your eCommerce store.
From finding the perfect fulfillment partner to navigating taxes and localizing your eCommerce strategy, we’re sharing key steps to follow when taking your eCommerce store global.
Identify and analyze target markets
Before diving straight into selling your products everywhere and anywhere, do your research. Identify the markets you want to expand into and analyze potential performance.
After all, there’s no point in investing in a new market, if you won’t be able to reap the rewards.
Analyze the target markets you are most interested in by looking at:
- Product-market fit
- Any potential restrictions or limitations to cross-border selling
- eCommerce market research
- Keyword research
The above data will all give you valuable insights into the potential growth opportunity in your chosen market. Repeat this research for each of your chosen markets and, where possible, speak to potential customers directly through audience surveys and interviews.
Find an international fulfillment partner
Shipping to international customers from your country of origin will quickly get expensive.
Reduce shipping costs while speeding up deliveries by working with an international fulfillment partner.
Your eCommerce fulfillment partner should be equipped to handle international warehousing and storage. Utilizing warehouse facilities close to your international customers will reduce shipping costs, improve efficiency, and minimize delivery windows. At MyFBAPrep, we work with a network of warehouses, handling multi-warehouse fulfillment set-ups for eCommerce and DTC merchants.
We’ll store your products, manage shipping, and do all of the quality checks you’d expect from a fulfillment partner. We’ll even scale alongside your business, growing your warehousing and storage needs as your business grows. Not forgetting, unexpected roadblocks will become a thing of the past as we seamlessly manage item prep and delivery from our international network of warehouses.
Get a tax calculator on your website
Taxes, import duties, and customs charges — the tax implications of selling across borders can get somewhat complicated.
Each country has its own tax rules and regulations for international imports. Before selling into another country, read up on the international laws and taxes such as import duties, tariffs, value-added tax (VAT), and other tax obligations.
Help customers understand the expected taxes by adding a tax calculator to your website. A tax calculator will minimize customer confusion and set expectations as they get a clear insight into how much tax they’ll pay on imported goods. You’ll be able to sell internationally and your customers will get upfront transparency on their orders.
Zonos is a great eCommerce tax calculator and best of all, it’s free. With Zonos’ tax calculator your customers can get estimated taxes and duties whenever they add an item to their cart. This way, they won’t get any nasty surprises when their order arrives.
Add a translated version of your website
Give international customers a localized experience by adding a translated version to your website.
In 2021, $3.33 billion in global eCommerce sales came from non-English speaking countries highlighting the need to set up a multilingual site that is accessible (and readable) by people outside of your native country.
Translating your site to multiple languages doesn’t have to be a giant feat either. Several apps will automate the translation process for you or you can hire a native speaker to translate your content.
We recommend working with a native speaker for key pages where accuracy is crucial. While translation apps are great, they aren’t 100% error-free. So, where possible, work with a native speaker to either translate your content or edit your translated pages.
Localize your website
Localization is not to be confused with translation.
Translation, in its simplest form, focuses on converting the language of your site’s content into the new target language. Meanwhile, localization adapts every aspect of your eCommerce site to create a user experience that is a perfect cultural fit for your new target market.
Localization takes the site appearance, flow, and features into consideration, changing these to suit the target country. Localizing your eCommerce site will make customers feel at home, wherever they are in the world.
Elements to consider when localizing your site include:
- Ease of navigation and how people move through your site
- Language and regionalism
- Societal codes of humor, etiquette, and symbols
- Images, videos, and graphics
- Colors, shapes, and styles
- Values and beliefs
- Measurements, currency, and geographical references
- Date and time formats
- Contact information
- Legal information
- Payment methods
Localization is a fundamental aspect of any global expansion. Shopify’s eCommerce Market Credibility Study found that 47% of consumers said having a local presence was a significant factor in deciding which brands they shop from.
A further 52% of global shoppers are more likely to shop from a company with shared values. So, if you want to increase sales with a global market, you best be focusing on localization.
Offer multiple payment methods
Shoppers preferred payment methods will vary from country to country. If you’re planning to expand your store globally, take time to consider which payment methods you will offer to customers.
In the Netherlands, 61% of eCommerce transactions are made using iDEAL — a Netherlands-based bank transfer company. Meanwhile, the majority of online shoppers in the UK use Visa and Mastercard as their preferred payment methods.
Research the preferred payment methods in your target countries and update your eCommerce payment options accordingly.
Offer localized customer service
Set up localized customer service as part of your eCommerce global expansion strategy.
81% of shoppers say a positive customer service experience will influence the likelihood of them making another purchase, according to research by Zendesk. When customers reach out for support, it’s important that you do everything possible to minimize friction and frustration.
Language or cultural barriers, lack of local call centers, and anti-social contact hours could all play a role in maximizing customer frustration. Therefore, if you want to improve the user experience for international customers, you need to offer localized customer service.
Work with customer service teams in each of your target markets to ensure you provide customer support that takes cultural differences into account. Having native customer service agents for each of your target markets will facilitate communication, build trust and loyalty, and help both parties reach a suitable resolution faster.
Use an intuitive customer service platform such as Gorgias to manage customer service on an international level. Gorgias can detect up to 54 languages in support tickets, making it an ideal choice for global eCommerce stores wanting to deliver outstanding customer service.
Diversify supplier relationships
Working with local suppliers could mean the difference between running a global eCommerce store that generates money versus a global eCommerce store that eats into your profit.
The logistics of shipping products to your customers can be hard work if you aren’t working with local suppliers. Find international suppliers for your products and locate manufacturers who are based in your target markets.
Local suppliers will be more reactive than those who are farther away from your customers. Working with local suppliers will allow you to offer faster shipping times and potentially reduce production costs for some target markets.
Better yet, diversifying your supplier network will help your store stand strong in the face of disruption. If the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything, it’s how fragile the supply chain really is. Working with multiple suppliers around the world will help reduce the impact of supply and demand shock, border closures, or other unexpected disruptions to the supply chain.
Develop market-localized marketing
Just as you need to localize your eCommerce store, you also need to localize your marketing strategy. When it comes to marketing your eCommerce store, you need to lead with a localized lens.
Adapt your marketing messaging, imagery, channels, and offers to suit each of the countries you operate in. The marketing campaigns that work for your US market may not necessarily work for European or Asian markets. So, tailoring your marketing is key to ensuring global success.
Not doing your marketing research could have severe consequences for your brand. Take the American beer brand Coors, for example. Their “Turn It Loose” campaign worked wonders with their US customers. Meanwhile, its impact went down the toilet (so to speak) in Spain. It turns out their “turn it loose” tagline loosely translated to “suffering from diarrhea” in Spanish — not an association you want to be made with a drinks company.
While the Coors example may be an extreme example of international marketing gone wrong, it highlights the importance of localizing your marketing messaging.
Localize your marketing strategy by working with marketers in your target markets and adapting marketing materials to suit each market. When adapting marketing material, go beyond translations by researching cultural and societal expectations in your target markets.
Remember to double-check those translations too — if it doesn’t make sense, come up with a new tagline that works best for your chosen country.
Humanize your brand per market and change imagery to suit your target audience. Work with local influencers in your target countries and localize any marketing photography or videos.
Offer favorable international shipping options
Finally, nobody wants to pay over the odds to receive their order. In their global shipping survey, BigCommerce found that 77% of global shoppers had abandoned a purchase due to unsatisfactory shipping options.
The “Amazon effect” has undoubtedly put pressure on global merchants to offer fast and affordable shipping options to customers around the world. Give your eCommerce store a competitive edge by offering favorable international shipping options.
Team up with an international fulfillment partner and work with shipping providers local to international customers. Give customers a choice of shipping options so they can choose the shipping rates, lead times, and providers that they prefer.
Be transparent about shipping prices too. Make sure customers can see the true cost of purchase before they checkout by sharing estimated taxes and import duties for their order.
Wrapping up — Scale your eCommerce store with global expansion
Expanding your eCommerce store globally presents an exciting opportunity to scale your business and connect with customers around the world.
Selling in other countries may be a whirlwind adventure but once you get your head around the key strategies for globalization, you’ll be ready to take on the international markets. Be sure to do your research and localize your store to really prepare it for global success.
For more insights on how to grow your eCommerce store, read this blog article where we share our 5 favorite ways to scale your eCommerce business.
10 Common eCommerce Scams And How to Avoid Them
The world of online shopping brings a load of exciting opportunities for consumers. However, this presents a similar amount of opportunities for eCommerce scam artists and fraudsters.
The best way to protect your store and customers against eCommerce scams is to take preventative measures, keeping you one step ahead of fraudulent behavior at all times.
What is an eCommerce scam?
eCommerce scams encompass any type of fraud that takes place on, targets or impersonates an eCommerce site or platform. The COVID-19 pandemic saw a dramatic shift towards online shopping. As more and more people joined this shift, eCommerce fraud jumped 18% over the previous year and surpassed a total of $20 billion in losses.
The eCommerce ecosystem makes it easy for cybercriminals to get their hands on consumers’ card details, create convincing-looking eCommerce scams, and trick people into believing they are genuine, all while masking their identity. Compared to the pre-internet days, the ease and anonymity of eCommerce scams make it all too appealing to scam artists.
66% of consumers wouldn’t buy again from an online store where their account was compromised. Therefore, if your store is targeted by eCommerce fraud, you run the risk of losing customers and money.
The long-term impact of eCommerce fraud can be hard to recover from. Rebuilding consumer trust isn’t a fast process and lost revenue won’t materialize on its own.
Be vigilant and make sure you’re familiar with the common eCommerce scams that could impact your store and customers.
10 Common eCommerce scams to avoid
From brand impersonation to click fraud, chargeback fraud, and phishing, eCommerce scams are everywhere. Here are some common eCommerce scams, how to spot them, and the steps you can take today to protect your store and customers from fraudulent activity.
1) Brand impersonation
Brand impersonation is the name given to situations where someone pretends to be a trusted brand or company to trick consumers into disclosing personal information, including their bank account details.
This impersonation can come in many forms. Cybercriminals may use brank hijacking to impersonate a company email address, so they can send emails that look official. Alternatively, they may use service impersonation where they pretend to be part of a brand’s customer service team to glean sensitive and personal information from customers.
Brand impersonation can happen online, over the phone, by email, or even by postal mail. Therefore it’s important to remember that just because you’re an eCommerce brand, it doesn’t mean all fraud attacks happen virtually.
If you notice a brand impersonation attack circulating, take action immediately. Publicly address the spam and inform customers of how to recognize brand impersonation. Also, what to do if they suspect fraudulent activity.
2) Google Ads click fraud
Google Ads click fraud is an eCommerce scam that can significantly harm your bottom line.
Click fraud occurs when someone fraudulently clicks on your pay-per-click (PPC) ads to generate advertising charges that exhaust your advertising budget.
Google Ads click fraud can be committed by competitors, click bots, web crawlers, or click farms. Competitors may repeatedly click your Google ad to waste your budget so they can claim the number one advertising spot. Meanwhile, click bots, crawlers, and click farms are designed to click your ad thousands of times to deplete your budget and unnaturally inflate engagement.
It’s estimated that advertisers will lose over $100 billion globally to ad fraud by 2023. You could even be committing click fraud against yourself if you ever click your paid Google Ads link over the organic result in search engine results.
Thankfully, Google Ads has a robust anti-click fraud program in place to minimize click fraud occurrences. This program uses machine learning to detect and filter invalid clicks before advertisers are charged. You can also report suspicious activity to Google Ads for review.
To further prevent click fraud, we recommend setting up IP exclusions for suspicious IP addresses, being mindful of competitor activity, and adjusting ad targeting to remove any locations with a high volume of invalid clicks.
3) Card Cracking (AKA card testing or CNP fraud)
Also known as card testing or CNP fraud, card cracking is a credit card scam in which the scammer will use a person’s credit card information despite the card not being present (hence the abbreviation CNP).
Card cracking can weigh heavy on your bottom line. If a customer detects their card has been used on your site for CNP fraud, it’s your responsibility to reimburse them. This means you lose out on any product shipped during fraudulent transactions, plus the reimbursement that has to be made to the real customer.
You could be putting your customers at risk of card cracking if your eCommerce store doesn’t have security measures in place to protect their personal information. To protect your customers from CNP fraud, ensure sure your payment gateway provider requires their billing address and CVV verification to authorize their payment.
4) Phishing scams
Phishing happens when cybercriminals use emails, phone calls, or text messages to trick consumers into giving away sensitive information.
Customers targeted by phishing scams might unknowingly give away their passwords, memorable information, bank account details, billing address, or Social Security numbers. The tactics scammers use to gain that information vary, as does the activity they commit with them.
While phishing scams might change from time to time, there are some common signs you can use to recognize phishing scams.
Phishing scams tend to look like they’re from a known or trusted company. This could be a bank, credit card provider, or eCommerce store, for example. Phishing scams can look scarily real. Tactics used during phishing scams include:
- Saying they noticed suspicious activity on your account
- Stating that there is a problem with your account or payment information
- Insisting you confirm personal information
- Encouraging you to click a link to make a payment or provide personal information
- Offering a coupon or offer
Protect your customers from phishing scams by making them aware of any currently active phishing activity and inform them of what signs to look for.
5) Chargeback fraud (or friendly fraud)
Chargeback fraud, or friendly fraud, is an eCommerce scam committed by customers. When committing chargeback fraud, customers will make a purchase with their credit card, then request a chargeback from their bank after they have received their order.
By contacting their bank, consumers can bypass the merchant and get their bank to reimburse them for the cost of the purchase.
Customers might intentionally or accidentally request a chargeback. Reasons for chargeback disputes include:
- The customer is dissatisfied with their purchase
- A customer doesn’t recognize the charge on their bank statement
- The customer is expected a refund but hasn’t yet received one
- A customer was charged more than once for a purchase
- The customer intentionally requests a chargeback so they can get their money back and keep the purchase
Friendly fraud can harm your brand. From product loss to chargeback fees, revenue, and operational costs, there is a high number of costs associated with chargebacks.
6) Account takeover fraud
Account takeover fraud (ATO) takes place when cybercriminals impersonate genuine customers by accessing their eCommerce accounts and making unauthorized transactions.
Scammers committing account takeover fraud might use phishing or another type of fraudulent activity to gain access to customers’ login credentials. Once they have access, scammers can use the customer’s account to make fraudulent purchases. They will likely try to cover their tracks by changing the account information or password.
If you spot ATO, pause the transaction and investigate the situation by comparing the order information with previous transactions from the same customer. Monitoring account activity can help you identify any behavior that might indicate account takeover fraud.
7) Refund scams
Refund scams are similar to chargeback fraud except, rather than going to their bank, customers will request a refund directly from the merchant.
Customers committing refund scams will fraudulently request a refund by claiming the item was never received. Consumers will attempt refund scams because they believe they can get away with it. If they didn’t sign for a package, it can be hard for merchants to prove the customer received their order.
Thankfully, if you use a reliable shipping provider, you should be able to debunk refund scams by providing evidence that the customer received their order. From signature requests to taking a photograph of the customer receiving their parcel, you can collect proof of delivery that helps minimize the risk of refund scams.
8) Mail interception fraud
Mail interception fraud happens when cybercriminals place an order using another customer’s account and then after tries to intercept the parcel after the order has been made.
To start with, they’ll keep the customer’s original billing and shipping address. After the order has successfully been confirmed, the fraudster will attempt to redirect the parcel to their address. They might do this by contacting the merchant while pretending to be the real customer and asking them to reroute the package to a new address. Alternatively, they might bypass the merchant and go straight to the shipper to get the parcel rerouted.
Not allowing customers to change shipping information after placing an order will help minimize the risk of mail interception fraud. If a customer tries to change their shipping address after placing an order, inform them they can cancel their order and place a new order. This allows you to minimize the chance of cybercriminals committing mail interception fraud.
9) Triangulation fraud
Triangulation fraud is a complex eCommerce scam where fraudsters will set up an illegitimate storefront so they can steal the credit card information from any customers on their website.
These storefronts will look genuine and might even exist on reputable marketplaces and eCommerce platforms such as Amazon or Shopify. The storefront will likely sell high-demand products at low prices as a way to entice consumers to place an order. Once customers have placed an order, the scammer behind the storefront will use their credit card details to fraudulently purchase the products from another site, then send the goods to the customer.
The customer will think they are getting a good deal without realizing that they’ve actually paid for their order twice. Once when placing an order on the fake site. Then a second time when the scammer uses their card details to place their order with a genuine merchant. It can be damaging to your brand reputation if your eCommerce store is used as part of triangulation fraud. Customers will lose trust in your brand if they see your branding on shipments that have been delivered as part of triangulation fraud.
10) Affiliate scams
With many eCommerce brands using affiliate programs as part of their marketing strategy, there has been an increase in affiliate scams.
Affiliate scams happen when affiliate users fraudulently inflate their affiliate clicks or code uses to gain more commission from the brand. Consumers might use click farms to falsely increase their affiliate activity. They may also go against the affiliate policy by sharing their referral link on pages that will result in mass activity.
Affiliate scams can be prevented by using a reputable affiliate network that can detect spam clicks or suspicious activity. These networks will be able to recognize fraudulent activity and prevent merchants from unknowingly paying out for ingenuine behavior.
How to spot eCommerce scams
Knowing how to spot eCommerce scams is crucial for preventing your store from being financially impacted by fraudulent activity. The sooner you can spot eCommerce scams, the sooner you can take action to prevent fraudulent activity.
If you see any of the following behavior when a customer places an online order, it could be a sign that someone is trying to commit an eCommerce scam:
- Conflicting customer information
- Invalid contact details
- Larger than average orders
- Unusual purchase location
- Multiple shipping addresses
- Numerous transactions in a short timeframe
- Multiple orders from different cards
- Several declined transactions in a row
The best thing to do if you think your store has been targeted by an eCommerce scam is to put a hold on the order and immediately investigate.
How to prevent eCommerce scams
Knowing how to spot eCommerce scams isn’t enough to protect your store and customers. You need to have strong preventative measures in place to stop eCommerce scams from ever happening in the first place.
Early detection + preventative measures = increased security against eCommerce scams.
Implementing high-security procedures on your store will protect your consumers from being targeted by eCommerce scams. Plus, it will help your store stand strong against fraudsters.
Some security protocols you should adopt include:
- Following PCI Standards for card security
- Developing a multi-level fraud prevention strategy (e.g. setting purchase limits, implementing returns policies, limiting how much customer data you collect, and using HTTPS, for example)
- Deploying layers of security throughout your entire eCommerce tools and processes
- Conducting frequent site security checks and updates
- Analyzing device fingerprinting
- Using an Address Verification Service (AVS)
- Use a reverse social media lookup to see if the user has a social footprint
- Implementing an eCommerce fraud prevention tool such as SEON or Riskified
The tighter your security protocols, the harder it will be for fraudsters to commit eCommerce fraud on your store. Implement as many fraud prevention measures as you can and make sure they work harmoniously together. Finally, routinely check and update your security measures. This ensures your store is always protected from the most recent types of eCommerce scams.
Wrapping up – Reducing eCommerce scams
Scrub up on your eCommerce fraud knowledge and put strong preventative measures in place to protect your store and customers.
eCommerce scams come in many different shapes and they are constantly evolving. Cybercriminals are always looking for new ways to deceive unwitting customers and merchants. Therefore, you need to make sure you fully understand how to spot eCommerce fraud. Also, what to do if your store or customers are targeted.