In the winter of 2007, Corinne Prevot was a 17-year-old high school junior who loved cross country skiing.…
Forbes Magazine got wind of Corinne's story and wrote a great article called All Star Student Entrepreneurs: Hat Trick.
In the winter of 2007, Corinne Prevot was a 17-year-old high school junior who loved cross country skiing.…
At first glance, online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay seem to be a creation of mutual benefit. Ecommerce…
At first glance, online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay seem to be a creation of mutual benefit. Ecommerce store owners gain increased exposure for their products, and the marketplaces gain an expanded product range without having to increase inventory.
On closer inspection, the mutual benefits remain, but the reality is more nuanced. Should you expand your presence beyond your online store and start selling your products on Amazon and eBay?
The answer is... it depends. A marketplace strategy may be a boon for some retailers and a bust for others. There are a lot of variables that need to be taken into consideration, including the type of products you sell, the intensity of competition in your category, marketplace fees and restrictions, and so on.
There are, however, some pros and cons that apply across the board. In this post, we’ll explore those pros and cons, so you can make the decision of whether or not to sell on marketplaces well-informed as to the upsides and the downsides.
Once you’ve got a customer in the door, even if it is through a marketplace, you’ve got a chance to win repeat business through excellent service and fulfillment. This is especially the case if you’re selling products in a category that encourages frequent, repeated purchases such as hobby supplies or fishing gear.
Additionally, there’s nothing to stop marketplace owners - in the case of Amazon, Sears, and so on - from “going to school” on third-party sellers, identifying popular products and stocking them themselves.
Two of the largest and most well-known marketplaces are Amazon and eBay. Amazon’s Marketplace takes the sharper retail tack, and as a retailer itself Amazon provides tools to help third-party sellers become part of a seamless shopping experience, including “Fulfillment by Amazon”, which involves shipping your inventory in bulk to Amazon and letting them handle shipping.
eBay, on the other hand, is essentially a massive marketplace. Where Amazon focuses on the Amazon shopping experience, eBay offers seller tools and features that make it easier for you to feature your brand, as well as sell non-standard items.
Check out our free guide on 50 Ways to Make Your First Sale.
Article by Matt McDougall, Director of Marketing for Ordoro, a comprehensive order and inventory management solution for online retailers. Ordoro is available in the Shopify App Store and has a free 15 day trial.
Global online music revenues are expected to rise by 7% this year to $6.3 billion. Selling music online…
Global online music revenues are expected to rise by 7% this year to $6.3 billion.
Selling music online is big business, and so is selling everything that goes along with it. Ecommerce provides bands and musicians with an additional stream of revenue, in addition to traditional sales outlets like ticket sales, concert merch tables, and iTunes. Good news is, it's never been easier to sell music, apparel, and merchandise online.
With Shopify you can easily create a beautiful online store to sell merchandise. You can also let your customers instantly purchase songs by using either Fetch, or Delivery - two of our digital download apps.
We've got quite a few musicians, bands, and even some music festivals selling on Shopify - here are a few of the most popular:
You’ve finally decided to go ahead with that crazy ecommerce business idea and decided to setup your online…
You’ve finally decided to go ahead with that crazy ecommerce business idea and decided to setup your online store.
However, after some market research you realize that a potential consumer has dozens if not hundreds of other online destinations they could choose instead of you. So, then why would they buy from you? That’s the question you need to answer as you start formulating your unique selling proposition.
It can drive you crazy. Especially, if you’ve never thought too deeply about it. What is it about your online store that would make a potential customer shop there and not elsewhere?
There’s got to be something about what you do that helps you stand out from the pack, otherwise, how are you ever going to stay in business? Call it “positioning”, “differentiation”, “mission statement”, “vision statement”, or insert any other business terminology in there and it all comes down to the same thing. Why would a customer choose you and not a competitor?
Part of determining your unique selling proposition is understanding the value that your product brings to the market. One of my favourite books, “Business Model Generation” defines a value proposition as the following:
“It solves a customer problem or satisfies a customer need. Each value proposition consists of a selected bundle of products and/or services that caters to the requirements of a specific customer segment. In this sense, the value proposition is is an aggregation, or bundle, of benefits that a company offers customers.”
The beauty of that definition is that it forces you to take a holistic approach to your value proposition when it calls it an aggregation or bundle of benefits, meaning it doesn’t have to be just one thing. Otherwise, you’d resort to citing one of these common value adds (which are really just boosters to what you have to offer):
However, rather than go down the “me-too” route, you’re going to want to carve out a unique space in your customer’s mind, one that’s reserved just for you. That may sound like a difficult or intimidating thing to do, but it’s critical - especially with Amazon a click away.
To figure out what makes your business unique, spend some time trying to uncover what makes your story remarkable and revealing any hidden benefits that you products may have. Start by asking yourself the following questions to discover where in your business that unique selling proposition can come from:
Once you’ve come up with answers take a look at how you can build your "unique business story". I’ve listed a few examples of online stores who do a great job at showcasing what it is that makes them unique to give you an idea of where you can go with this.
Bee’s Wrap founder Sarah Kaeck created an alternative to plastic wrap for food storage on her family farm in Vermont for her own needs. Little did she know that she would be giving people around the world also concerned with the environmental impact and health safety of plastic a means to try something different and hits home on all those values. The end result was a fabric infused with beeswax, jojoba oil and tree resin, and built to be the perfect alternative to plastic.
Here’s a story for you. Cardigan, a small town of 4,000 people has a jean making factory where 400 of them are employed. After making jeans for three decades, it one day closes and all those good people are laid off. What comes next is the origin of a new jean making company, Hiut Denim Co. that puts a premium on quality and has “Grand Masters” who are skilled in the ways of making jeans. The catch is, they only product 100 jeans a week. In other words, they offer hand crafted, limited edition jeans as well as the opportunity for customers to support a local economy.
It’s no secret that physical books have been getting hit hard both in demand and distribution resulting in the decline of things like the art of bookbinding. So, how does DODOcase keep the traditional alive while adapting to the digital era? Simple, make accessories for our digital devices like iPhones and iPads using the same bookbinding methods used to make books. Add local and handcrafted manufacturing in San Francisco and what you end up with is unique and high quality Apple accessories in sea of "me-too" competitors. How can you combine wo seemingly unrelated products and bring them together to create something entriely new and unique?
How can you combine two seemingly unrelated products or ideas and bring them together to create something entirely new and unique?
It’s not everyday that a company that started off selling t-shirts with a holster stitched on decides to dedicate itself to helping people live more mindfully. Since originally launching Holstee in 2008, the company has grown into offering uniquely crafted products and exclusive design prints while cultivating a community around its manifesto. It encourages people to do what they love and stop wasting time on everything else. Something that clicks with a generation in flux striving to find their mark in the world.
How does a self-taught fashion designer selling leggings out of his kitchen go on to creating a global brand raking in millions of dollars? By designing products so unique that they are impossible not to talk about. From prints that include everything from muscle suits, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and galaxy designs on your leggings, swimsuits, and full on bodysuits to several other eye-catching designs, Black Milk Clothing has been able to effectively carve a niche for themselves. They have also created a social media-powered community of raving fans that engage and interact with each other.
Early last year two men ventured out to disrupt an entire industry, they saw massive opportunity in creating a direct-to-consumer mens line that offered premium quality sneakers without the premium price tag. The result was the Greats Brand, and online store which sells retro mens footwear that ranges in price from $59-$99, and aims directly at global sneaker brands with cheaper yet high-quality goods with a radically shorter product development life-cycle. With the company's sights set on becoming the Warby Parker of footwear, they're out to be yet another game changer in their industry.
What if buying a product from an online store also served as an initiation into a community? That’s exactly what Mr. Gugu and Miss Go, a European brand that wants the entire continent to look fresh, brave, original, and self-confident does. Taking advantage of social platforms like Instagram, it promotes and sells not just apparell, but an attitude and way of life, in addition to belonging to a global collective of “Gugu People”.
Those are just a handful of companies that have figured out their winning difference and how to make their products resonate with their target audience.
But the real question is, what’s so unique about what you’re selling? In other words, why does your company or brand matter?
Answer these questions honestly and sincerely and you’re bound to get a unique selling point that will not only stick out in your target consumer’s mind, but will have them coming back time and time again.
If you know of any other ways that ecommerce companies can stand out in the minds of consumers, let us know by commenting below.
The start of the year is the perfect time to plan for the year ahead. Consumers are looking toward…
Brian Scates is moving from Dallas to San Francisco at the end of July and doesn't want to…
Brian Scates is moving from Dallas to San Francisco at the end of July and doesn't want to lug everything he owns over 1,500 miles across the country. So instead of renting a moving truck he's decided to sell the lot (including his $26,500 Audi A6), and start with a blank slate. Since he doesn't have a garage, Brian decided to open an online store to sell everything he owns. Smart.
Every day we hear from several retail, brick and mortar stores looking to expand their reach beyond their…
Every day we hear from several retail, brick and mortar stores looking to expand their reach beyond their physical storefront and sell their goods online. Shopify, coupled with Vend and Xero software, is the ideal solution for retailers looking to sell both online and offline, and easily keep track of it all.
Shopify gives you a beautiful looking online storefront, with a shopping cart allowing you to securely accept credit card orders online. Vend is a web-based POS (point of sale) and stock management system designed to work from anywhere on computers, phones and tablets. Finally, Xero is your bookkeeper. It automatically imports your sales from Shopify & Vend, connects to your bank to get all your bank transactions, plus handles your bills & expenses. This trio of software is all you need to run your store both online and offline.
Here are two video case studies that will show you how easy it can be for traditional retail stores to start selling online:
Shopify powers your online store. Shopify is a hosted ecommerce platform that makes it incredibly easy to create a beautiful online store.
It’s no secret that Angry Birds is one of Shopify’s most successful stores. Angry Birds has swiftly flown…
It’s no secret that Angry Birds is one of Shopify’s most successful stores. Angry Birds has swiftly flown into pop culture by means of an obsessively addictive game of ticked-off birds catapulting themselves into green pigs.
The game has been downloaded more than 50 million times and is the #1 selling iPhone app of all time. To say these feathery animals are successful would be an understatement. A recent article by cnet reports that Angry Birds owner Rovio has sold more than 2 million plush toys. Also of interest, more and more people are making in-app purchases.
Angry Birds approached Shopify at the end of October 2010 asking for an online store to sell their (still being sewn together) plush toys. The catch? They needed the store to be fully designed and operational before Christmas shopping began. That gave us about 3 days and change to put it all together. No big deal….
We assigned one of our top designers, Mark Dunkley (@markdunkley), who with steps of urgency jogged to a local Italian grocery store to buy pasta, tomato sauce and bottled water. He went home and worked around the clock, 48 hours straight, to get the Angry Birds store up and running. He denies drinking Red Bull, but we suspect otherwise. From day one, the Shopify Angry Birds Store has been a massive success.
It's important for ecommerce merchants to plan well in advance for key shopping dates. Consumers begin searching for…
It's important for ecommerce merchants to plan well in advance for key shopping dates. Consumers begin searching for the perfect gift for occasions like Valentine's Day, Mothers Day, and Halloween up to a month ahead of time.
The best way to see when consumers begin searching for specific products is by using Google Trends. This free tool will tell you how often a particular search-term is entered relative to the total search-volume. Here's an interactive example using the term "Valentines Day Gifts" looking at last year:
Shopify? Apps? I Thought It Was an Ecommerce Thingy! It is. If you want to sell stuff…
It is. If you want to sell stuff or services online in exchange for money – a business model so crazy that it just might work – Shopify is the best, easiest and most hassle-free way to do it. You can use a store that lives on our hosted service or build a program that calls our API to do the ecommerce stuff: the catalog, the shopping cart, the credit card hoo-hah, and so on.
While Shopify does a lot, it can’t do everything. Perhaps there’s a feature that you wish Shopify had, but it applies only to a small vertical or maybe even only your business. Or there just might be some feature that we haven’t thought of implementing yet.
That’s where apps come in: they’re applications that make use of the Shopify API to:
Want to declare a “happy hour” where you drop the price of an item from 5 to 7 p.m. next Thursday? Shopify doesn’t do it out of the box, but an app can! Want to send a Twitter direct message or SMS text to a merchant whenever a customer places a big order, so s/he can make sure it gets handled properly? You can write an app for that. If you can think of a feature to make the experience for customers or shopowners (or both) better, you can make it an app. And you can make money doing it!
You can reach the 15,000 Shopify users – a very focused, dedicated bunch – and sell apps to them through the Shopify App Store. We know a number of developers who are doing quite nicely selling apps and making Shopify showowners productive and happy, and when our customers are happy, so are we.
That’s what this series of articles is all about: selling more Shopify Apps. If you’re a Shopify App developer (or thinking of becoming one), this series will show you how to sell them better. We’ll also be publishing articles about writing apps, from how-tos to ideas for apps that we’d like to see become real.
Take a look at Shopify’s App Store, and I’ll walk you through the typical customer’s decision making process when they’re looking for apps.
When you visit Shopify’s App Store, you see a page like the one shown above, featuring apps displayed on shelves. Rather than being broken up into pages, the App Store’s main page is an “infinite scroller”; you simply scroll down the page to see all the apps in the Store. For the user, scrolling -- especially in the age where most mice have scroll wheels and scrolling-by-flicking is increasingly common thanks to smartphones and tablets -- seems faster and more effortless than paging.
Each app is represented by its icon, with its name and a short description (140 characters maximum) to its right. Clicking on the icon, the name or the description will take you to the page for the corresponding app.
There are a number if ways users can sift through the apps in the store. They can filter the apps by category, as shown below:
They can also filter apps by which software or services they integrate with:
And they can also change the way the apps are sorted in the store:
The default sort is “from newest to oldest”, and the other three options are:
Ideally, you want your app to be as close to the top of the App Store page as possible – what they used to call “above the fold” in the newspaper world. Being on top of the list puts you in the user’s path of least resistance and makes it more likely that the user will move to the next step on the path to purchasing your app: your app’s page.
Your app will be on top of the list just after you submit your app for the first time, as it will be newest. However, your app won’t remain the newest forever, so your eventual goal will be to make your app the highest rated, the most popular, or preferably both.
You’ll also want to make sure that your app makes a good first impression on the App Store’s main page. The good news (and the bad news, too) is that once the user sees your app on the page, there are only three things that you have at your disposal to catch his/her attention:
Get all three right, and you’ll increase the odds that the user will get to the next step in the decision-making process: moving away from the big list of apps and focusing on just yours.
If your app has piqued the user’s interest on the App Store’s main page, s/he’ll click on it and be taken to your app’s page, which displays a lot of information about it, namely:
Each of these items affects the user’s decision-making process, and in this series of articles, we’ll look at what you can do with them to make it more likely that the user will buy it.
Based on experience with app stores of all sorts, from Shopify’s to shareware to smartphone and tablet stores, here’s what the users typically do next…
Eye- and click-tracking studies show that once the user has landed on your app’s page, they tend to look at the screenshots and videos first. This means a couple of things:
In this series of articles, we’ll cover ways to get the most out of the video and pictures on your app’s page.
A very important factor affecting how well something sells online is the rating. Ever since Amazon, we’ve become quite accustomed to checking the ratings before buying something. It happens not just online, but in real life; I’ve seen people at all sorts of bricks-and-mortar stores – restaurants, liquor stores, big-box electronics stores, car dealerships – whip out their smartphones and check out the ratings for something they’re thinking of buying. That’s why social media and word-of-mouth marketing are hot topics these days: they influence people’s opinions, which in turn can make or break sales.
“Get a good rating” is the obvious advice. Less obvious is how you get that rating. We’ll cover what we believe are best practices for getting good ratings, and through them, good sales.
Once the user’s done with the quick-and-dirty visual scan of your app’s page, they then look at your app’s description. If the user has come this far in the process, they’re close to the point where they make the decision to buy or not buy. The description is where you close the deal, and we’ll show you what successful apps do in their descriptions.
If you’ve done everything right, this is when the user clicks the “Install App” button. Get enough users doing that, and life’s like this:
Next: A picture is worth a thousand…bucks?
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