Amazon planning to build physical shops across the South of England

| January 26, 2019

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Amazon is planning to build physical shops across the South in an assault on our struggling high streets.The online giant has invited bids from potential partners to find retail space for its Amazon Go stores, according to documents seen by the Daily Mail.There are nine of the shops in the US, selling ready-to-eat food and take-home meal kits.Customers use the Amazon Go app, and any items they take from the shelves are added to a ‘virtual trolley’ which is automatically charged to their Amazon account when they leave the store.

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EU and US apparel consumption could fall by 300 billion US dollars in 2020

Article | April 13, 2020

Most European countries and the United States have been in lockdown since mid-March due to the Covid 19 pandemic, and brick and mortar stores have been closed accordingly. Although online retail continues, it is proving difficult due to falling consumer spending, transport issues and disruptions of the supply chain. A forecast by Indian management consulting company Wazir Advisors, which focuses specifically on the apparel sector, predicts a decline in apparel consumption in 2020 of 45 percent in the EU and 40 percent in the US, which could lead to a reduction by 300 billion US dollars (around 274 billion euros or close to 240 British pounds).

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Traffic to US retail stores has almost entirely vanished due to Covid-19

Article | April 1, 2020

At many malls and retail stores around the US, foot traffic has been in decline for some time. Even so, they’ve never seen anything like this. In a research note sent to clients today, investment firm Cowen and Company estimated total foot traffic to US retailers was down 97.6% for the week through March 27 compared to the same time last year. It has come to a “near complete halt,” Cowen said, following the outbreak of the new coronavirus. Many stores across the country are closed, of course, so shoppers couldn’t visit even if they wanted. Retailers have voluntarily shuttered stores to protect workers and help slow the virus’s spread. Simon Property Group, the largest mall owner in the US, closed its malls through at least the end of March.

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3 SEO Lessons from Amazon for Ecommerce Product Pages

Article | March 8, 2020

Product detail pages on Amazon rank for roughly 34 million keywords in Google in the U.S. In this post, I’ll address three tips for optimizing the product pages on your own ecommerce site using lessons from Amazon. The name of a product greatly influences organic search rankings. Product names are typically in title tags, heading tags (H1, H2), and other metadata. Search engines use product names for relevance signals, and shoppers use them to scan search-result pages. Product names are important for Amazon’s site search. Thus merchants tend to go overboard there. The principle, however, is the same for optimizing search on Google or Amazon. Highly descriptive product names such as “Deck Plus #10 x 3-in Ceramic Deck Screws” leave little doubt both to searchers scanning the results page and to search engine algorithms. However, when a product name is more general, such as “Cuisinart Electric Cordless Tea Kettle,” neither searchers nor engines know with certainty what’s on the page. Which Cuisinart electric kettle is it? Stainless steel or plastic? Big or small?

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5 Shopify Alternatives in 2020-21 that Make Ecommerce Simple for Beginners

Article | October 16, 2020

In 2004, Tobias Lutke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Luke established an online website to sell snowboards. They tried a bunch of online store builders but were not satisfied with the status quo. So, they decided to build a tool that could operate their website. Soon, they realized that the tool was more powerful than the website's business. And hence, Shopify was born. Eventually, Shopify became one of the largest eCommerce store builders in the world. By 2009, the company had $100 million in sales and decided to launch its own API as well as an app store. More than a decade later, Shopify is now supporting over 800,000 stores globally and is a $125 billion company. While the company has shown remarkable growth in its business, it would be ignorant to say the market's needs have been fulfilled by the Shopify platform. Shopify's eCommerce platform works for a lot of businesses, but that does not mean it will work for every business. Here is why Shopify is Not the Right Fit for Every Business: Shopify's growth over the years shows that the company has taken several steps to address the market's inherent needs. However, the presence of several other companies and the issues still faced by merchants show some significant gaps in Shopify's offerings: 1. Cost of Setting Up: Each price-point offers a fixed set of features and functionalities. If you want anything over and above that, you will have to buy the subsequent package. For instance – something as conventional as a Gift Card is not available in the $29 per month package; to get it activated, pay as much as $299 per month. 2. Cost of Operations: The additional functionalities and features cost extra in your package. Even basic features like transaction or credit card processing attract an additional fee. To add to that, you have to purchase the app to activate the feature from the Shopify app store. Even though some apps are free, the apps that offer maximum value tend to cost north of $39.99 per month. 3. Limited and Expensive Themes: The entire Shopify store has a total of 73 themes, with the prices going as high as $180 a theme. This means that as a merchant, even after paying the high price, you may end up with an eCommerce platform that hardly stands out from the crowd. In short, while Shopify was started with great intentions, the cost of using it has started outweighing the probable value it has to offer. This issue gets further highlighted when one starts looking at the Shopify alternatives. Best Alternatives of Shopify While Shopify suits the needs of a certain set of merchants, here are the alternatives that can suit the merchants looking for more tailored, affordable, or customizable solutions: 1. Quick eSelling Quick eSelling is one of the most affordable and easy to deploy ecommerce store builder among the Shopify alternatives. It can be deployed in under 10 minutes for the basic variant. Its free variant has some prolific features like a native Android app, responsive website, and a catalog that can support up to 1000 products. The free package requires a 5% transaction fee, which gets eliminated the moment you upgrade to a paid plan. All the paid plans have a fixed monthly fee and no setup costs. The list of standard features includes a wide set of functionalities like customizable web-store themes, SMS & Email marketing, comprehensive payment gateway integrations, detailed analytics reports, inventory management systems, social media plugins, discount coupon codes, and even live chat. The premium package which costs around 50% the price of the $299 Shopify package, comes with a dedicated account manager and enterprise-level integrations. Ideal for: Merchants who are seeking an affordable, easily usable, and quickly deployable solution. 2. WooCommerce WooCommerce is popularly considered one of the most preferred alternatives for Shopify. It is quite convenient for website owners as it is a plugin for WordPress. Unlike other tools in the list, WooCommerce is designed to make WordPress sites work as functional eCommerce platforms. And in that particular aspect, it does a great job. However, if you are not already using an established WordPress site with high traffic, running WooCommerce can become quite expensive. On average, a website owner has to spend as much as $1000 in setting up a WooCommerce store with a moderate degree of customization. Even if you are not customizing a lot, running a WooCommerce store can cost you as much as $150 in a month. This would cover your hosting, themes, shipping plugins, security, and SEO. You will pay additional 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. Ideal for: Someone who has a successful WordPress website and now wants to convert it into an eCommerce store. 3. Yo!Kart: Yo!Kart is a popular self-hosted multi-vendor platform for building online marketplaces. Unlike Shopify, it is a standalone platform that comes with a lifetime license and rich ecommerce features. The platform is fully customizable and scalable. Yo!Kart packages start from $999 and every package comes with a 1-year free technical support, free installation, and full source code. There are no monthly or yearly recurring fees. Considering it is a comprehensive platform, you may need some technical training to understand the system. Ideal for: Business owners who want to start ecommerce websites like Amazon or ebay where multiple sellers are selling under the same roof. 4. PrestaShop PrestaShop runs on the basic premise that creating an online eCommerce store should be an affordable exercise for any merchant. That is the reason why it is available for free and comes without any additional monthly fees. Its features include eCommerce functionalities like CRM & Email Marketing, Inventory Management, Multi-Store Management, and SEO Management. You can get a basic eCommerce store running by paying the registration fee for the domain and the hosting fee dues. While this may seem like a great alternative, given the fact that it is practically free, there is one major caveat – you cannot deploy or personalize your PrestaShop eCommerce store unless you know how to code. The entire platform has been designed, keeping in mind people who can code at professional levels of proficiency. The cost of hiring a developer who can add features to your store or modify the theme can be very costly. In addition to this, some basic features like promotions & reviews management, data security, and mobile access are not available on the platform. Ideal for: The merchants who have access to programming talent and don't mind a basic eCommerce store. 5. Wix Wix became popular as an online website builder. It also offers interesting eCommerce functionalities. For as low as $35 a year, you can have the Business Basic package that comes with a free year of using the domain, analytics reports, and 20 GB of storage. If you want greater control of your eCommerce platform but are not a professional programmer and are not interested in hiring one, Wix can be a great alternative. Its most expensive package costs about $80 a year. It comes with features like email marketing, SEO management, inventory management, data security, and promotions management. The challenge is – most of the charges marketed by Wix are very affordable for the first year in operations. After a year, many of these features, like the domain, will become payable elements. This way as soon as the first year of your operations is over, your cost of running the eCommerce platform will dramatically go up. Ideal for: Merchants who want to have greater control of their website's design without the need for coding skills and those who want the first year of operations to be largely affordable. Conclusion: Shopify can work for you if you are seeking a limited set of features. However, for lesser price-points, the alternatives for Shopify offer great functionalities. Quick eSelling is good for cost-effective and rapidly deployable eCommerce websites that come loaded with native features. WooCommerce is a viable option if you have a WordPress site and want to convert it into an eCommerce store. Yo!Kart specializes in building multi-vendor marketplaces. PrestaShop can be handy and very budget-friendly if you have access to coding talent. And Wix is good if you want greater control over what your store looks like, without getting into the programming aspects.

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With over 30 years of experience, Proforma remains clearly focused on meeting the marketing and graphic communications needs of North American businesses and organizations.

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