How One Paper Designer Made the Leap from Wholesale to Omni-Channel Retail


When Fiona Richards became tired of working as a graphic designer for corporate clients, she decided to start her own business. That was over eight years ago. Today, her wholesale greeting card business, Cartolina, sells worldwide to some of the most iconic retailers, like Harrods, Anthropologie, The Smithsonian, and The British Museum.

Cartolina now also sells directly to the consumer, via their online store, and has most recently opened a retail storefront in BC, Canada. Omni-channel retail is here, and many merchants like Fiona are wise to adopt it. Recent consumer studies by Forrester and MIT highlight many of the advantages of taking your business in this direction. Consumers are approaching purchasing from multiple angles – 80% of shoppers check prices online, and a third are checking product info via mobile while shopping in-store.

Companies with omni-channel engagement strategies see higher customer retention rates and increase in annual revenue versus those with single-channel strategies. Omni-channel shoppers, on the other hand, spend 50% more than single channel shoppers.

For Cartolina, the transition to omni-channel retail didn’t happen overnight. We chatted with Fiona about her decision to dive into new distribution channels. She shared with us her wins and losses as well as some valuable advice for other businesses taking the same path.

Retail Design Photo Contest: Your shop could win a $500 prize package including custom business cards and retail supplies. Read to the end of this post for details.

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9 Essential Podcasts Every Ecommerce Entrepreneur Should Subscribe To


While blog posts are great, there's also a lot of incredible content out there in the form of Podcasts. If you’re not familiar, Podcasts are recorded audio discussions or interviews that anyone can create and that you can listen to on your smartphone or computer. They're perfect for getting your daily dose of inspiration wherever you might be, and whenever you have an idle moment. 

The problem with anyone being able to create a Podcast means that there are a lot of low quality Podcasts out there. That's why we have sifted through hundreds of them to expose the gold.

In this post, we will present the nine essential Podcasts that every ecommerce entrepreneur should subscribe to.

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How Online Reviews Impact Local SEO and Why They Matter to Your Bottom Line


In today's digital age, how would you feel as a small business if you found out that 90% of customers say that their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews? 

I'd imagine that you'd perk up and either pat yourself on the back if your business already has a strategy in place for acquiring reviews and managing your online reputation, or you'd scratch your head and think 'dang, I better get on this.'

Regardless of where you fall on that spectrum, online reviews are important for a number of reasons, and have major implications through their ability to affect:

  • Your rankings in local search engines
  • Which search results actually gets clicked on
  • Consumers purchasing decisions

That makes online reviews as critical to your local SEO strategy as building citations and on-site optimization. In my previous posts, I covered the nuts-and-bolts of building citations, and provided a primer for local SEO to help you digest some of the concepts. 

In this post, I'll be covering how online reviews affect modern-day consumer's decision-making, along with where they fit into your Local SEO campaign, how you can go about acquiring them, and how to proactively manage your online reputation.

Let's get started.

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Warning: Are These Four Ecommerce Conversion Killers Hurting Your Sales?


Do you have lots of visitors but not a great deal of sales? In other words, are you having trouble converting customers?

It’s a condition that affects many online stores. But don’t worry: It can be fixed.

There are lots of reasons for people being hesitant to buy from you after they visit your online store. In this post, we diagnose the most common issues for why someone would fail to make a purchase after they visit. Then we propose solutions so that you can make your customers feel more secure and more comfortable buying your products.

Here are common problems, as well as their solutions.

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5 Data-Driven Tips for Smarter Pinterest Marketing


Pinterest and ecommerce are like peanut butter & jelly. You’re selling things people want, Pinterest is a place for people to pin things they want. You have product photos, Pinterest loves photos. It’s no surprise that in 2012 Shopify found that the average order value from Pinterest traffic was $80, double that of Facebook.

We recently conducted a Pinterest analysis of our own. While our data set didn’t include revenue, it did reveal some interesting (and applicable) insights on Pinterest user behavior. For example, we found that:

  • Pinterest is dominated by women: 92% of all pins are made by women
  • Pinners keep on pinning: 84% of female users are still pinning in their fourth year of using Pinterest
  • And quite a bit more…

In this post we’re going to share five data-driven tips for smarter Pinterest marketing.

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Where to List Your Business Online and Why It Matters for Local SEO


Just how important is local SEO for small businesses with a physical location? According to a recent study, 78% of local searches on mobile and 61% of local searches on laptops result in offline purchases. 

If you take a moment to consider the 7 billion monthly unique local searches that take place on Google in the US alone, that's a pretty decent conversion rate no matter how you slice the data.

So what exactly are these people searching "locally" for? Here's a breakdown of the top tasks that consumers perform when searching locally:

  • Searching for address/location
  • Finding a business with desired product/service
  • Searching for a phone number
  • Finding out hours of operation
  • Getting driving directions
  • Discovering coupons/special offers
  • Reading ratings and reviews

If any or all of those above tasks apply to your small business, then you'll undoubtedly want to pay attention to local SEO and make sure your business is covered when consumers are on-the-go or doing their research. Previously, I wrote a post that was intended as a primer on getting started with local SEO and all the different components that you need to pay attention to. 

In this post, I'll be getting into the nitty-gritty of what some consider to be at the core of local SEO, creating, double-checking, and optimizing local citations across the multitude of local business listing channels out there.

Let's take a deep breath in and dive right into it. 

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The Definitive Legal Guide to Ecommerce


Whether you're starting a brand new business or you're an established company, taking your business online is a fantastic and exciting growth opportunity.

In fact, there has never been a better time to start an ecommerce business.

However, with all of the advantages an online business brings, there are also some complex legal issues that go along with them. Different countries have different laws and knowing which ones apply to you is critical. In addition to the large variety of laws to take into account, you must remember that the law is fluid and subject to change. In order to reap the rewards that a successful online store can bring, it's important to stay informed and protect yourself and your business.

And that's exactly why we created this guide.

The Definitive Legal Guide to Ecommerce is a comprehensive - but easy to understand - resource that outlines the most common legal issues online business owners face.

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How Two Ecommerce Entrepreneurs Generated $91,470 in Three Months Selling Cloud Notebooks


Marshall Haas and Jon Wheatley are two serious entrepreneurs.

Their company Need/Want specializes in physical products. There are half-a-dozen ideas between the two of them, including a novel dice game, classic paintings like the Mona Lisa re-painted with your face, and their most recent product, Mod Notebooks, physical notebooks that can be synced to the cloud.

Jon and Marshall are radical, and not only for the number of businesses they work on. Along their journey starting these two businesses they’ve provided unparalleled transparency of their progress, and sometimes lack thereof. These posts included the detailed thought process behind cancelling a Kickstarter campaign, the profit from leasing apartments and listing them on Airbnb, and most importantly for ecommerce entrepreneurs, the costs and revenues of launching their businesses.

After they announced that their most recent product, Mod Notebooks, made $91,470 in three months, we decided to catch up with them to see if they may share their advice for other entrepreneurs.

Here’s the interview, spliced with a few of the choicest excerpts from our favorite Need/Want posts.

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Ecommerce Shipping Toolbox: Apps, Tools, and Resources to Help You Streamline Your Business


You've spent months building your online store and preparing your marketing strategy. You launch your business and cha-ching!, you make your first sale. Now what? 

Many new ecommerce entrepreneurs tend to neglect their fulfillment and shipping strategy. The reason tends to be the fact that the world of shipping is complex and confusing. However, a well educated shipping strategy is a core element of every successful ecommerce business.

In this post, we round up of some of the most practical and important tools, resources and apps to help you develop a rock solid shipping strategy for your business.

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Make Your Pins Count: 7 Ways to Drive Sales and Traffic with Pinterest


It is Pinterest’s fault that I now own a 1970 camper trailer.

It all started quite innocently at the apex of the glamping trend, when my childhood nostalgia collided with a romance for adventure travel and a Pinterest Board called “Mobile Abodes”. It climaxed in a parking lot cash-for-goods exchange. This is discovery commerce.

On Pinterest – the social platform built on beautiful, shareable imagery – opportunities for shopping come cleverly disguised as outfit inspiration and smoothie recipes and DIY centrepieces and VW bus renovations and french bulldog puppies. These collectible, bite-sized visuals feed our human instincts to covet and hoard and categorize. For consumers, it’s a place to hunt and gather. For brands, it’s a goldmine. Take my money.

Last year, we told you why your business should be using Pinterest. Since then, the reasons to join become more and more impossible to ignore. We recently analyzed data from over 529,000 Shopify store orders to find that Pinterest was the second largest social source for traffic (over Twitter), and resulting visits had the third highest average order value (beating Facebook).

If you’re still not convinced, consider this: sales and traffic from Pins can occur long after the item is pinned. In fact, 50 percent of visits happen after 3.5 months, according to Piqora. Compared to Twitter and Facebook where the content half-life is around 5 minutes and 80 minutes, respectively, Pinterest is more bang for your social buck.

As a merchant, there are several ways to maximize your efforts on Pinterest, including choosing the right content, running contests, and engaging with your community. We’ve compiled seven ideas to add to your Pinterest marketing strategy now:

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