The benefits of ecommerce channels

Choosing where to market your products is an essential part of any marketing strategy. Different channels offer different opportunities and challenges and not every channel is right for your business. Where will you get the most value; marketplaces or affiliate networks? Shopping Ads or social media? Understanding the subtle difference between channel types will help you strategize effectively and get your products in the right places.

Comparison Shopping Engines

One of the main benefits of comparison shopping engines for merchants is better qualified leads. Product listings on comparison engines are more than just text-based ads; they include essential product information that help consumers make informed purchase decisions. In addition, comparison engines allow shoppers to sort and filter products by attributes like price, size, colour and availability. This means that when someone clicks on a product ad, they already have a sense of the product features and cost, putting them further down the purchasing funnel than the average shopper. Essentially, comparison shopping exposes a merchants’ products to buyers at every stage of the buying cycle- from awareness right through to purchase.

Another appeal for merchants is that shopping ads appear not only on the engines themselves, but also on display networks, alongside search results and on partner websites.

We support: Google Shopping; Shopzilla; Kelkoo

Social Networks 

Advertising products on social networks like Facebook are becoming more and more of an ecommerce standard, and this is thanks to billions of users across these kinds of platforms, worldwide. It has become the norm to communicate with your customer base via social media, and the platforms lend themselves well to building loyalty and acquiring repeat buyers. The draw of social media marketing is not just about communicating, though. It’s about targeting.

Social media platforms gather huge, precise data sets on everything a merchant might want to know about their potential customers . Facebook, for example, allows audience creation based on a number of factors: interests; behaviour; location; demographics and so on. Want to get your ads in front of middle-aged women who live within a 10km radius of your store, like your Facebook page and have kids under 18? Facebook can make that happen.

We support: Facebook; Pinterest

Affiliate Networks 

Affiliate networks are an excellent way to broaden your reach and improve your rankings on search engines. With a number of affiliates marketing your product in different spaces, you’ll get more backlinks, upping your domain authority over time and essentially conducting content marketing on your behalf. Affiliates (generally bloggers) often have a good following and this will expose you to entirely new audiences and niches, not to mention how shareable blog content can be when done right.

We support: ShareASale; Affiliate Windows

Marketplaces 

Marketplace shoppers are often registered users, meaning sellers have access to existing high traffic as opposed to trying to generate their own. Beyond that, having your products listed on a marketplace adds a level of trust and credibility to your brand, especially on marketplaces with product reviews like Amazon. Cross-border selling is essentially built in with marketplaces, making them a great way to acquire new customers.

We support:  Fruugo; Amazon Product Ads; Shop.com

Retargeting 

Retargeting is one of the most effective ways to stay top-of-mind, by advertising to customers who have interacted with your products, pages or website before. Retargeting is precise; it allows you to target based on products viewed or actions taken, such as cart abandonment or clicks on your page. You can even target specific contacts using your customer database. Once you’ve set up conversion tracking on your website, retargeting ads can boost brand recall amongst shoppers, ultimately improving your CTR. Google ads and Facebook are the most effective platforms for retargeting.

One of the challenges with multichannel marketing is the slight changes you’ll need to make to your product feeds for each specific channel. That’s where we come in: ShoppingFeeder crawls your site data to create a unique feed for each channel. Any changes to your product info can be changed from the dashboard, seamlessly updating multiple feeds in different locations.

Understanding Facebook Ad Sets

Facebook Advertising offers a host of options to give you complete creative control over your ads. With all the customization available to you, creating your first ad set may seem a little intimidating. But with the right resources and a solid understanding of campaign settings, advertising on Facebook can be a very lucrative investment. In this post we’re covering every aspect of ad sets.

Choosing an objective

Facebook will place your ads based on the objective you choose, so you need to think carefully and choose the objective that aligns the best with your advertising goal.  The objectives available are shown below:

Split testing is really your friend when it comes to Facebook ads, allowing you to test the same campaign with different objectives and compare respective CPCs.

Create an audience

Facebook’s audience selection tools allow you to reach people who are actively interested in your business and will help you achieve the conversions you seek. You can get hyper-specific in terms of demographics as well. Facebook gives you two options when you create a new audience:

Custom audiences

With custom audiences, you can target people who have interacted with any of the sources shown below:

Focusing on your existing connections means you can create repeated, positive brand engagement and foster relationships. You’ll need to have the Facebook pixel installed on your website. Check out how to set up the Facebook pixel here.

You’ll also need to add further specifications regarding the source you selected. For example, using your website as a source allows you to create an audience for all site visitors, visitors who spent a certain percentage of time on your site, or visitors of specific pages.

Lookalike audiences

If you want to reach brand new customers, creating lookalike audiences lets you target Facebook users whose behaviour is similar to that of one of your previously created audiences.

Your audience size is set as a percentage of the population of your combined ad set locations. Your Lookalike Source is the custom audience on which you would like to base the lookalike audience.

Next, you’ll need to add locations based on a radius of a specific area, the age range of your audience, gender and languages.

Detailed targeting  and Connections 

Detailed targeting allows you to customize your audience according to demographics, behaviour or interests and you can browse a number of different options here. Here are a few examples:

  • Interests>Entertainment>Movies>Animated Movies
  • Demographics>Parents>All Parents>Parents with Preteens (09-12 years)
  • Behaviour>Digital Activities>Facebook page admins>Health and beauty pages

Connections lets you target people who interact with your Facebook pages, events or apps, as well as custom combinations of the three.

Make sure to save this audience once you’ve selected all of your parameters.

Placements

Facebook recommends using Automatic Placements- meaning they will choose your placements in order to maximize your budget and performance. If you choose Edit Placements, you’ll need to decide which platforms and devices your ads show up on.

Platforms:

  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Facebook messenger
  • Audience network

Devices:

  • Mobile and/or
  • Desktop

Placements

Next, you’ll need to select your placements. Make sure to click on the drop-down menu for each section to select where your ads will appear. As you scroll through each section, you’ll see an image to the right change according to how your ad will look to the user.

You can also choose specific mobile devices, exclude certain content, and apply block lists to exclude certain people from seeing your ad.

Delivery optimization 

You can choose from Conversion, Landing Page Views or Other options such as Link Clicks, Daily Unique Reach or Impressions for your ad delivery optimization. This essentially means that Facebook will optimize your ad delivery based on the option you choose as  your priority.

You can control your cost per conversion event – in this case for each subscription – by entering a dollar amount in the Cost Control box.

Additional Bid Strategies

Under Show Additional Bid Strategies, you can choose between the following:

Cost cap

This means that Facebook sets your bid for you so that you reach all the lowest cost opportunities while spending your entire budget. You can’t control the cost of each action here, rather Facebook finds the least expensive opportunities for you and exhausts them. This option will spend your budget efficiently at first, but it’s designed to get you the lowest cost in the short term. Facebook will eventually start bidding more in order to spend the rest of your budget for that day- even if the there is higher advertiser competition.

Bid cap 

If you use Lowest Cost in combination with a Bid Cap, this means that Facebook can still up your bids as they try to spend your budget, but only up to a certain amount i.e. the cap you set. This stops Facebook from spending too much on a particular audience action, which is helpful if the conversion you’re after is only worth so much to you. With this option, Facebook may stop running your ads if the bid cap you set is lower than what’s needed to incite the desired action.

Target cost

Using Target Cost strategy means you maintain a stable average cost per conversion. Some results may cost more or less, but the average will be consistent. Facebook recommends this strategy if an advertiser is launching a campaign they plan to scale over time and increase ad spend for, which is what majority of Facebook advertisers aspire to. It’s important to note that the target cost strategy is only used for app installs, conversions, lead generation and catalog sales.

Conversion window

For conversion windows, you specify two aspects:

  • Length of time (e.g. 1 day)
  • Type of action (Click and View)

Your window differentiates between user clicks and user views. So if my optimization event is ‘subscribe’ and I use a conversion window of ‘7 day click or 1 day view’ that essentially means that Facebook will track if a user subscribes to your service within 7 days of clicking on your ad, or within 1 day of viewing the ad.

Budget and schedule 

You can choose a dollar amount for a daily budget or lifetime budget, both of which will require a start and end date unless you want your ad set running continuously. A lifetime budget simply means that you set the amount you’re willing to spend over the duration of the dates you set, whereas daily budget spends a set amount each day.

Under Show Advanced Options, you can add further specifications for your scheduling, as shown below:

Standard delivery means you budget will be spent evenly throughout the selected schedule. Accelerated delivery means your budget will be exhausted to get you conversions as soon as possible- although be wary, this means you may spend your ad budget before the End Date for your ad set arrives.

If you choose to run ads on a schedule, you can select the specific days and hours, as shown below:

Voila! Now that your ad set is complete, you can go on to create your ad and set up conversion tracking.

What is Google Shopping?

Shoppers looking for the perfect watch can crawl through several different online stores looking for the perfect one, or  simply type a search query into Google, switch to the Shopping tab and compare prices and products from different vendors seamlessly. Retailers want to get their products listed on Google because they not only show up on the Shopping platform, but also in Gmail and as image ads in search engine results, getting their products exposure to millions of potential customers. Let’s talk about what Google Shopping is, how it works and how to get started.

What is Google Shopping

Google Shopping is essentially a cost per click product advertising platform, where product listings (or Shopping Ads) from merchants are displayed and indexed according to certain key word product descriptions and bidding .

Unlike online marketplaces like Amazon, Shopping doesn’t show organic results. Every product listing is paid for by the merchant, who is charged for clicks or conversions from the platform. Shopping products can be filtered by seller, brand, color, style, price and department and clicking on a listing redirects the user to the retailer’s online store and the product landing page.

How it works

Google Shopping requires a merchant to make use of the entire Google Ads ecosystem; that is, the merchant needs to have a Google Merchant Center, Google Ads account and Google Analytics. The exchange of data is facilitated through all these platforms so the merchant can list products, manage bids and create campaigns and track performance via key metrics. Check out or posts on linking your Ad and Analytics accounts, and linking your Ad account to the Merchant Center. 

The Google Merchant Center account is a product dashboard where you can create your product data feed- an organized list of your products and their attributes which Google will use to retrieve and display your product info. On the Merchant Center, you must claim and verify your website in order to push your feed. Try to do this as soon as possible, as verification can take 3 – 10 days.

Since Google wants to offer the best possible shopping experience, they won’t hesitate to reject your product listings if images are low quality. This is why Google has guidelines for your product images as well as product data specifications;  if certain requirements aren’t met, Google may pause your ads.

Creating a feed and managing listings for channel requirements can be quite a laborious task if you have a lot of products, which is why we recommend signing up for ShoppingFeeder instead. From our dashboard you can link all your Google accounts, easily create, manage and customize your feeds and manage your listings across multiple channels. If you would like to add your feed manually, however, check out our guide here >>>

Note: merchant center pulls your product imagery from your online store, which means you must optimize images on your own store before creating Shopping Ads.

Once your feed is ready, you can log into your Ad accounts where you can create your first Shopping campaign. From Google Ads you can create campaigns, manage your bid strategy and track campaign performance, as well as create audience lists for remarketing.

You can create a campaign with the goal of Sales, Leads or Website Traffic. A Sales campaign drives sales, a Leads campaign gathers leads by encouraging shoppers to complete an action, and a Website Traffic campaign directs buyers to your online store.

You’ll also need to set your bids and campaign budget. Your bid is the maximum amount you will pay per a certain action e.g. 1$ per click. If you select ‘Maximize Clicks’ Google Ads will set your ads to get as many clicks as possible within your set budget. Your campaign budget is the maximum amount of ad spend you’re willing to pay in a month.

With Shopping Ads, merchants don’t have the same control as they would with Sponsored Product Ads. Google looks at your product information and your bid and decides who to show your products to based on the search query, which is why optimizing your product listings is so important. Google gets paid for every click you get on their platform, so naturally they will want you to get as much traffic as possible, but you can serve your own interests best by ensuring that your product data is structured according to Google’s best practices.

Once your listings are live, shoppers can click on your products and be redirected to your online store. And there are even more features available on Shopping.

Reviews

You can add reviews to your store to gain credibility as a merchant and improve your product offering. Reviews are widely used and shoppers expect to see star-ratings on listings to help inform their purchase decisions. Shoppers tend to lean towards products with a high number of reviews and those with higher ratings. As a merchant you’ll need to share all of the reviews you receive, so make sure you’re getting good ones.

Dynamic remarketing

Google Ads is able to push ads to shoppers who have already had some form of engagement with your product. Whether that’s viewing a product category, adding an item to a cart or abandoning a cart full of products just before checkout, the Google ads remarketing tag remembers at which point in the conversion funnel a shopper left your page and can push relevant ads to them based on their activity on your site. This means the shopper will see an ad for a product they’ve previously interacted with, making them more likely to convert this time around.

Local inventory 

Google Shopping underwent a redesign recently and merchants in the U.S are now able to use local inventory ads. Shoppers can filter locations to nearby stores to find which physical locations are selling the products they’re looking for, and check online to find out if those products are in stock.

Shoppingfeeder can help you optimize your listings, manage them across channels and even offers campaign management for Microsoft Advertising, Pricecheck and Google Ad campaigns. Contact our team and we can help you add value to your business: support@shoppingfeeder.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Google Shopping’s Redesign

Google Shopping has undergone some exciting changes this month, announcing on Thursday that the platform will now offer price tracking, local inventory search and order placement directly through Google.

Google Shopping Updates 

Personalized Homepage and New Design

Now available in the U.S via mobile and desktop, Google Shopping’s redesign offers personalized product recommendations on your homepage and product categories to simplify your shopping, with the Browse tab including departments for Apparel, Groceries, Electronics and so on. The Lists tab also helps you organize shopping lists and keep track of receipts.

Buy on Google

In the previous version of Google Shopping, clicking on a product listing would redirect the user to the retailer’s online store. Since its redesign, Shopping now offers direct purchase for some brands which places products in a Google Shopping Cart. This means you can purchase products without leaving the platform and make use of Google’s own customer support who handle returns and refunds on your behalf. To find items that you can buy directly on Google, look for the colorful shopping cart icon next to product images. Checkout is simple thanks to Google saving your payment information, and every order is backed by a Google guarantee. Finally, Google has even gone so far as to offset the carbon emissions created from your shipping order.

via GIPHY

Price tracking

Under product pages, you can now select a Price Tracking toggle that will send you a notification when the price of the product falls. With the holidays and Black Friday around the corner, this new feature is perfectly timed.

Local inventory

If you’re in a hurry to buy a gift and you don’t have time to wait for delivery of an online purchase, you can make use of Google Shopping’s local inventory. You can search for a product and filter nearby locations to check if local stores have stock of the product you’re looking for.

Google Lens

In addition to the redesign, Google  also announced changes to Google Lens, a function which allows users to take a photo of a piece of clothing or furniture, from which Google will suggest similar products. With the update, you can take a screenshot of an Instagram post, for example, and use Lens in Google photos to see similar looks or styles. Lens can give shoppers inspiration on how to style their garments, and also pulls similar products on Shopping.

 

Offering a new and immersive experience, Google Shopping’s new desktop ad mobile features are an exciting addition to the platform.

5 Easy Dropshipping Tips

Many beginners in the e-commerce game are drawn to dropshipping because it doesn’t require any storage or handling of inventory. You can set up an online store, take orders, then ship products directly from your supplier to the customer without ever seeing the product. Dropshipping as a business model has extremely popular for this very reason, but nothing is as simple as it sounds. Here are 5  tips to help your dropshipping business thrive. 

Have excellent customer service

Dropshipping has become incredibly popular in recent years, largely due to its low entry barriers. Dropshippers require relatively low investment and have none of the inventory and fulfillment responsibilities of traditional online stores. That said, there are some drawbacks. With no control over packaging, dropshippers are unable to add customized touches to their deliveries that help the store stand out- that means that all the energy saved on packaging needs to be poured into marketing and SEO so you can grow the business and drive traffic to your online store.

With the low barriers to entry, dropshipping has become an extremely saturated, highly competitive space warranting impeccable customer service.  You may have no control over your fulfillment process, but you can position yourself as the brand that cares from the get-go as a way to build your brand and develop trust.

Ship durable products

The appeal with the dropshipping model is that you don’t have to store or handle inventory. This is totally irrelevant, however, if the money you save on warehousing is spent giving unhappy customers refunds because one of your products got damaged somewhere in the shipping process. Fragile or technical products can be extremely touch-and-go, so unless you’re testing the products thoroughly yourself, you’ll want to avoid dropshipping products like digital cameras or delicate jewelry that can easily arrive on your customer’s doorstep in poor condition. Of course, another way to prevent this happening is through simple research. Oberlo’s product catalogue gives you useful information on product reviews and how many buyers there have been in the last month, so you can avoid purchasing products from suppliers who aren’t reliable when it comes to their delivery processes. Testing your products regularly is another way to ensure customer satisfaction, and dropshippers should always have a backup supplier in the event that their current suppliers raise their prices or cannot fulfill orders for any reason

Create your own product descriptions

XML feeds from suppliers are usually pretty generic, which certainly won’t help your products stand out. Although it is time-consuming, it’s worth it to create your own product descriptions to ensure you rank better in searches and get better conversion rates. If you need assistance with product categorization, the ShoppingFeeder team can help you manage your data feed effectively.  ShoppingFeeder also supports Oberlo, so any products you add to your store can quickly be managed through your ShoppingFeeder dashboard.

Check shipping times

You may want your customers to think you can do it all: quick shipping to anywhere in the world. But if there’s one area in which you need to tread carefully, it’s shipping. Nothing will frustrate your customers like a product taking longer to be delivered than than they expected. Put simply, people don’t like to wait for goods they’ve paid for. Make sure you research shipping times for different countries because they aren’t always the same. Suppliers may take longer to ship to different regions and you’ll lose money if you have to refund customers because products don’t arrive in time. It’s important to be clear about when your customers can expect delivery. If you can setup tracking on shipped items, even better!

If you’re using multiple suppliers to fulfill one order, your customer may incur high shipping costs- which can lead to them abandoning their cart. Dropshippers may want to consider a flat shipping rate based on cart value rather than have customers abandon their carts due to unreasonably high shipping costs.

Don’t underprice!

People often make the mistake if discounting all their products when they see they’re not making enough sales. This can be extremely detrimental to your brand and position your products as cheap or poor quality. Just because you’re not making the desired conversions, doesn’t mean the problem is necessarily in the pricing structure. Have a look at your marketing tactics, how easy it is to navigate your website, your product descriptions etc. before you go panicking and marking everything down by 50%. Pricing your products just above cost isn’t going to help you in the long run- but a good marketing strategy will. That said, bundle offers and discounts for first-time buyers can up your sales if done strategically.

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Making the most of Black Friday 2019

Black Friday weekend, followed by Cyber Monday, is one of the most profitable times for online retailers globally. With online sales increasing annually, even small e-commerce stores stand to make a considerable profit the weekend after Thanksgiving, all over the world.

Black Friday wouldn’t be the spectacle that it is without frenzied customers spilling into the streets outside brick and mortar stores, as well as online buyers flooding websites to the point of crashing just to get that coveted 50% off. How does an e-commerce store create that sense of urgency and frenzy among its customers when competitors are reducing their prices drastically, too? Competition is incredibly high around Black Friday weekend, so retailers need to be thoroughly prepared for November 29th this year.

Promotion and awareness

You can guarantee that your competitors will be planning for Black Friday. If everyone’s got a shiny new deal to offer, how do you get yours to stand out and drum up awareness?

Out of the multitude of stores to choose from, your store needs to be top of mind when your customers begin the big shop. Of course, you don’t want to spam any inboxes, but customers are going to expect a lot of advertisements and emails around this time from a number of stores. Many retailers will scale up their ads drastically up to a month before November 29th, so you’ll need to have your digital marketing plan set well in advance.

Create a little excitement and mystique by advertising “Exclusive Black Friday Deals” long before November 29th to select customers and follow-up with regular reminders. This will entice shoppers and create anticipation.

Retailers often use Black Friday as an excuse to attract new customers, but don’t forget that your most profitable shoppers can be the ones who already have experience with you. Your existing customer base trusts you, thinks you’re credible and has experience with your products, making them an easier sell especially at a time when shoppers are spoiled for choice. Now is a good time to reward customer loyalty and offer a targeted customer group exclusive Black Friday information.  Pre-sale emails notifications will make your customers feel they’re being treated exclusively. If they feel they’re getting the scoop on deals the rest of the public are not privy to, they’re likely to shop with you over your competitors.  Offer them a free gift with purchase or notify them of individual products going on sale based on their buying history.  Personalized recommendations combined with a feeling of special treatment is sure to make you money on Black Friday weekend and long after.

Remember, customers will be overloaded with Black Friday promotions, so every social media post, paid ad or email needs to get exposure to the right people at the right time. Think about posting on social media 2-3 times daily and timing your emails for the beginning of the work day, lunch time, and the end of the work day. Of course, your timing will be audience-specific and based on a thorough understanding of your target group’s behaviour.

Keep your deals and offerings interesting to help you stand out among the mass of  other Black Friday promos. You don’t want to offer a blanket 50% off your products store-wide. With most ecommerce stores offering discount prices all through the weekend and the following Monday, you have the opportunity to give people an exciting new offer every, single day. There are a number of ways to do this:

    • Buy 1, get 1 free
    • Buy 2, get 30% off
    • Spend $50 or more and get a free gift
    • Free shipping on purchases of $100 or more

Do your research and learn what deals your customers respond to the best and how much they plan on spending. If you want to keep shoppers coming back to your online store, offer a Deal of the Hour. This will create a sense of urgency and curiosity that will earn you repeat business all weekend.

Tip: If your products are on other marketplaces, you’ll need to review your feeds well in advance and ensure your product listings are eye-catching, up-to-date and targeting phrases that are common in searches around this season.

Black Friday is also an excellent opportunity to get rid of old stock and clear out your warehouse for new products!

Getting your website ready for action 

There is nothing more frustrating to a customer than adding amazing products at a discount to a shopping cart that disappears at checkout- an annoyingly common occurrence on big sales days. Your website needs to have a simple user interface and mobile functionality to compete with other online stores. Credit card payments often fail on Black Friday due to high traffic, so ensure your store accepts other payment methods such as direct transfers. A second’s delay in page loading speed could mean a user abandoning your page and not returning, so ensure your site is speedy and simple to navigate once Black Friday rolls around. Test your checkout process on multiple devices and ensure you validate your mobile APIs.

Your product categories are also important. It’s incredibly frustrating for shoppers when they have to shop around to find the best deals. Create a collection or a category of promo items where all your deals are stored to make it simple for users to find what they’re looking for. Add product recommendations to each product page and equip your landing page with attractive banners and offer pages to attract clicks. Add a countdown timer on your landing page to create urgency and let shoppers know the deals you’re offering are time-sensitive.

You can prepare for site errors in your email strategy to account for any unforeseen technical issues. Notify customers that you’re aware of the technical problems they’re experiencing and are working on getting the site up and running again. In the event that your customer loses items in thier cart, it may be useful to have a reserve of limited stock items to ensure customers don’t leave your site dissatisfied.

Tip: BigCommerce has a detailed guide on improving your site speed here.

Shipping and returns

If you kill it with sales this year, you’re going to need to fulfill every single online order to be packaged and shipped to your buyers. You need to ensure that you have the resources in place to ensure an excellent customer experience right up to product use. We can’t forget the basics of sales just because it’s Black Friday weekend. Your product still has to look like it did on your glittering product page and it has to arrive on time and in perfect condition. If you sold more than ever, prepare your team to receive more returns than ever. This is an unavoidable part of doing business online, so make sure your distribution center and customer support team are prepared. Some retailers will decide to implement a no-returns policy on sale items, but this may scare people away from your site on the big day. You need to consider your clientele and the long-term effect that kind of decision will have on your brand image. Remember, business doesn’t halt after Cyber Monday, and the real winners during this time are retailers who do well over Black Friday weekend and continue to sell to the same customers long after the frenzy has come and gone. If you’re prepared to handle an increased number of returns, then allow certain sale items to be returned under reasonable conditions. At the end of the day, you want to make your customers happy and for them to know they made the right choice  shopping with you.

Protect your margins!

If there’s one thing customers love, it’s free stuff. If some of the Black Friday deals you’ve opted for include a free gift or free shipping on purchases over a set amount, great! That’ll get your customers coming back all weekend, but the last thing you want to do is lose money during a time with such high profit potential. With every sale you put in place, every deal, every offer, keep one thing in mind: Protect. Your. Margins.

It’s crucial that you factor in the cost of anything ‘free’ in your sale price to ensure you’re not bleeding money.

Know your products 

There are certain products customers are more inclined to search for and purchase every  last quarter with many customers doing their holiday shopping early. BlackFriday.com conducted a survey of 5000 U.S adults which found that the percentage of respondents shopping in each category will be as follows:

41% Clothing

38% Home goods / appliances

32% Laptops / televisions / tablets

30% Smart home gadgets & tech

25% Toys

12% Travel

You can check out other insights from the survey but remember to conduct your own thorough research as well. Of your existing products, find out which show interest peaks on Google trends and think about adding new potentially top sellers to your store just for the weekend.  

Tech products historically do well over Black Friday because shoppers can take advantage of huge discounts, but retailers still benefit from high margins. You can explore Oberlo’s product database to find products with a peak in sales over the last month that may be trending, and cross-check their popularity on Google Trends as well.

Think like a shopper. If you wanted to save money, how would you go about it? Let’s take Apple products as an example. They’re expensive and they become obsolete regularly. It would be foolish to discount a newly released iPhone model, but you can capitalize on the release by selling the previous model at a reduced price over Black Friday weekend and recommend related products that are still going at full-price. Shoppers will jump at the opportunity to purchase an expensive item for a fraction of the cost, and may opt to add related products like Airpods to their carts to meet the Free Delivery threshold.

Of course, different niche products perform well every year and retailers need to keep their ears to the ground to stay in the loop regarding trending products. Shapewear such as Spanx has shown a significant upwards trend of late, as well as the Amazon Echo Dot 2nd generation. Shopify has a list of 10 Trending Products to Sell in 2019 which you can check out here. Remember that Google Trends indicates search volume and not necessarily intent to buy, so make sure you research product sales as well. 

Product strategy aside, think about how much your customers plan to spend. What will they spend the most on? What are their deciding factors when choosing between similar products? When do they plan on doing their shopping and from what devices? The more insight you have on shopping behaviour from previous Black Fridays the better. 

Your product data feeds need to be optimized to maximize conversions. It’s a good idea to check your stock and update the availability attribute on your feeds multiple times a day. This will hep you avoid wasting ad spend on products that are out of stock and disappointing customers. Leverage custom labels in your shopping campaigns to focus marketing efforts on products with high margins, or simply to help you manage your campaigns better by grouping products based on sales performance or seasonality.

This can be a daunting time, especially for new retailers, but with the tips above and a focused approach to research and strategy, Black Friday may be your best sales weekend yet!

 

 

 

ShareASale affiliate marketing channel

ShareASale, an affiliate marketing network launched in 2000, is one of the many channels supported by ShoppingFeeder. Let’s talk about their business model and why over 3000 merchants use their platform.

How it works

ShareASale provides a platform through which merchants and affiliates can communicate, where merchants can sign up, import their products and approach bloggers or influencers to drive traffic or conversions on their behalf.

When affiliates join the ShareASale network, they’re able to choose the product packages they feel their audiences will respond well to and market those products using the method of their choosing. Affiliates can post on their websites, blogs or social media, as well as create their own PPC, SEO, RSS, email or Google AdWords campaigns! ShareASale also offers detailed reporting on clicks, traffic, conversions and earnings in real time so that merchants and affiliates can effectively implement, track, and manage their programs all from one platform.

Advantages for merchants

    • Flexible, performance-based payment structure

Merchants decide the commission rates for affiliates, which can differ for each product or program. Affiliates can earn based on clicks, leads, traffic or conversions, meaning merchants only pay for results.

    • Exposure

Affiliates like bloggers and social media influencers often appeal to niche markets merchants may not have considered, and with the financial incentives in place, affiliates will do their utmost to drive as much traffic for merchants as possible. This means new business, new audiences and greater exposure. Successful bloggers are usually skilled at ranking organically in search engines, which means improved searchability for merchants’ websites.

    • Detailed reporting and real-time tracking

Merchants are notified the moment a banner is clicked, a sale is made or a commission is generated.  Clickstream attribution reporting also allows you to see clicks made leading up to a purchase. Reports are program specific and include earnings per click, reversal rates, average sale amount and average commission.

    • Segmentation of pre-approved affiliates

All affiliates are screened for approval. ShareASale also segments affiliates by performance and promotion methods so merchants can easily source the right affiliates for their business needs.

    • Payments processed through ShareASale

All payments to affiliates are done by ShareASale. They process the payments monthly on behalf of merchants.

    • Training and best practice resources

ShareASale provides monthly merchant training webinars as well as a series of best practices guides to help merchants make the best returns with their affiliates.

    • Affiliate recruitment tool

The recruitment tool is immensely helpful for getting affiliates on board. The tool allows merchants to search for affiliates by categories they actively operate in i.e. Fitness; Beauty; Niche Content and so on. You can also search for affiliates by URL if there is a specific publisher you wish to recruit.

 

You’ll need to upload your data feed once you’ve signed up as a merchant. Luckily, you can push your feed to ShareASale from your ShoppingFeeder dashboard!

 

 

Ecommerce in Africa needs a shake-up: Here’s why

In light of the recent World Economic Forum on Africa, we thought we’d take a look at the Africa E-Commerce Agenda. ShoppingFeeder began in sunny South Africa and we love to hear about the exciting transformation of the ecommerce game that’s looking to create jobs and make a sustainable impact on the continent. We’ve read the WEF and ITC’s agenda (so you don’t have to) and touch on a few key players who embody the same vision. 

CALLS TO ACTION 

The agenda report is extensive, covering ecommerce’s potential in Africa, as well as aspirations and challenges in eight different areas which we’ve outlined below.  You can read the complete report here

1. Refresh policies

Policies shape the business environment, that much is inarguable. Without conversations between stakeholders, policies necessary for industry growth will be impossible. Associations of these stakeholders need to be put in place to spearhead policy creation and standardize industry practices. Without regulation, there’s far too much uncertainty on issues such as payments, privacy and consumer protection for ecommerce to thrive.

2. Expand connectivity

Despite Africa being the second largest population of internet users after China, internet penetration is significantly lower in African regions than in the rest of the world. There is a need for widely available, affordable internet access to create an inclusive digital economy. The agenda points out that markets aimed at the unconnected, in particular, should be encouraged.

“Only a quarter of Africa’s population regularly uses the internet. Costs are high. On average, 1GB of data is 9% of monthly income” 

3. Upgrade logistics

Logistics and delivery services are crucial if we are to access the global market, and both are especially important for cross-border selling within Africa. Creating sustainable logistics models will help e-retailers’ effort to manage returns, handle payments and reduce trace-ability problems. 

4. Enable e-payments

The agenda calls for a dialogue among policy-makers to identify challenges and solutions in the payment ecosystem in order to increase security, reduce risk and support global access and transactions in international currencies. 

5. Manage data

Merchants need information and support in order to comply with privacy regulations overseas. Again, legislation is key with regards to the protection of personal data. 

6. Grow the tech industry

Foreign investment has a huge role to play here. Supporting and financing of start-ups can increase the availability of risk capital and infrastructure gaps can be addressed more efficiently. 

7. Coach small business

If Africa wants to compete globally, its industry players will require skills, coaching and market access using all of the calls to action listed above. With the help of incubators, small businesses can attract foreign investment and drive innovation. 

8. Join forces

To make all of the above possible, dialogue between African countries to develop best practices is essential. Contributions need to come from every direction- researchers, policy-makers, retailers, logistics services, government officials, industry experts and so on. The WEF report calls for cooperation among all stakeholders. 

Here are a few useful infographics on the global digital landscape in 2019:

COMPANIES TO WATCH 

Jumia

The largest ecommerce company in Africa, Jumia operates across 14 different African countries, its largest market being in Nigeria. One of the major challenges Jumia faced with regards to logistics was delivering to areas with incredibly informal addressing systems. This hasn’t put them off, however, as the company is determined to grow the industry sector and make their services widely accessible. Jumia co-founder and CEO Sacha Poignonnec discussed the company’s approach to such challenges in an interview with McKinsey&Company.

 “In Africa, there’s no address system in most of the cities. For someone to find a consumer, you need to have a local partner who knows where the consumer is, based on very subjective information. And, for example, if you say in a city in Africa, ‘I live in the third street by the church with the blue door,’ that’s the address. You and I, we would not find this consumer. But if you partner with the right local player, who has the right local knowledge, then they can find those consumers because they understand that. Now the challenge, of course, is that to have a lot of fragmented logistics players is a risk, unless you have what we created, which is a very good set of standard technology tools and processes that we give to the local players so that they can operate their last-mile, cash-on-delivery, door-to-door-delivery businesses according to international standards.” 

                                                   -Poignonnec, CEO Jumia

Now that’s the kind of long-term thinking the African ecommerce industry needs, and Jumia isn’t just concerned about access. Part of the company’s slogan is “We build a digital Africa” and they certainly seem to be living up to that. JumiaPay is the company’s own payment gateway that provides secure online payments, the first of its kind released in Nigeria in 2016. In March, the company announced a strategic partnership with MasterCard to explore innovations in payment platforms and enhance Africa’s digital infrastructure. 

M-PESA

M-Pesa is a banking service that allows users to transfer money via mobile. The service launched under Safaricom, the country’s biggest network provider, in 2007. In 2018, Safaricom teamed up with PayPal and TransferTo (now thunes.com) creating a service that allows funds to be transferred from M-PESA to Paypal accounts, allowing online shoppers in Kenya to purchase goods and services globally. This gives e-retailers the opportunity to expand their reach and participate in the global marketplace. The collaborative effort by these companies has made it cheaper and faster to transfer funds, focusing on alternative payment methods like mobile wallets for the majority of Africa’s population who remain unbanked. 

Check out this list of South African incubators for start-up. 

WooCommerce Builder for Divi released with 16 new modules

WooCommerce, one of the ten shopping cart platforms ShoppingFeeder supports, is an open-source e-commerce plugin for WordPress. Last Thursday, Elegant Themes rolled out a new WooCommerce builder for Divi with 16 new modules you can use to customize your product pages. Let’s take a look.

Say goodbye to boring standard product templates. The WooCommerce builder gives you creative control over every element of design for individual products. Once you enable the Divi Builder on WooCommerce, you can use any combination of modules to create and customize anything from Add to Cart pages, to image galleries, to Checkout. Available Divi modules have an abundance of design settings; combine that with WooCommerce’s 16 new modules and the possibilities are endless.

Source: elegantthemes.com, The WooCommerce Builder For Divi

Product pages now come with new sidebar options, customized buttons, you can even design your up-sells and cross-sells using the Woo Related Products element. Divi has a range of templates to choose from which you can modify using the Woo modules from either front or back end- yep, you can build without code using the visual editor or add custom CSS if needed. You don’t even have to use the default style settings to build product content, Divi and WooCommerce integration allows you to build your product pages completely from scratch. Now you can control what appears on your product listings and display product infp in entirely new and creative ways.

You can explore the product pages made by the Elegant Themes team using their new features here.