How smart retailers join social content, e-commerce for robust customer experience

DAVE FEINLEIB | October 4, 2018

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From the farmer's market to the mall, social and commerce have long been connected offline. Now, leading brands and retailers are combining the best of retail and social online to increase shopper engagement and drive higher conversion rates. Earlier this year, Amazon made its basic A+ content free to all Vendor Central users. A+ content consists of rich media and social content, like lifestyle images and bulleted lists, embedded in the middle of product detail pages — the pages where shoppers make purchases. Just a few months later, Walmart re-launched its flagship e-commerce site with the goal of making the shopping experience more immersive and engaging. The company has been working with Content Service Providers (CSPs) to build rich media and influencer content directly into its product pages. CSPs have direct integration with Walmart systems. This means they're able to host social content like images, videos and PDFs on the retailer's website on behalf of their brand clients.

Spotlight

Reebonz - Your World of Luxury

In late 2013, members were introduced to an all-rounded ecosystem where they could not only buy, but also sell or consign their pre-owned Reebonz purchases to us. In early 2015, we launched Closets, to add to our growing suite of services for local and global online shoppers alike. Fashion lovers can now buy and sell pre-owned luxury designer fashion through the Reebonz mobile app. Our latest addition to the suite is Reebonz Marketplace, where we bring independent multi-brand boutiques, pre-owned luxury merchants and vintage dealers from across the globe onto one single platform.

OTHER ARTICLES

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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Retail store space can have myriad uses

Article | March 22, 2020

Brick-and-mortar retailers have embodied this concept since the inception of physical stores. The saying is taking on a different meaning for retailers seeking to reimagine the concept of physical stores. No-inventory stores, like Bonobos, are exchanging storefronts filled with large amounts of costly inventory for showrooms stocked with personal stylists, cafés or office space. The concept of the store as a showroom benefits retailers, their customers and their workers. The combination of decreased square footage, lower rents and freed-up cash typically tied up in massive inventories creates new opportunities for all to enjoy. Consolidating most inventory in a few central locations, rather than scattering it across all stores, will increase margin and inventory turns significantly.

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Are you thinking about retail customer experience all wrong?

Article | March 5, 2020

It's not hyperbole to say that modern retail lives and dies by one overwhelmingly powerful metric: the customer experience. But knowing how to actually provide it, to a given retailer's unique collection of customers, is what has escaped so many of the retailers we once thought were too big to fail. As the industry becomes more conceptually innovative and tech-driven, there isn't a single obvious path that guarantees the ability to deliver on that promise. Customer demands pop up too quickly, and retailers are running out of fingers to plug the dike. It's time to find a more sustainable approach.

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How Retail Security Can Welcome IoT Innovations Without Putting Customers at Risk

Article | March 11, 2020

Retail businesses, from mom-and-pop shops to major department stores, are investing heavily in technology to enhance the in-store experience. With the imminent arrival of mainstream 5G, smarter systems are expected to dominate the retail space as the internet of things (IoT) expands. But as we know from connected device deployments in other sectors, such as financial services and healthcare, the IoT is fraught with security vulnerabilities. For retail security, the risks of deploying IoT devices are no less dire. As organizations rely more on the IoT to enable internet connection at every stage of the retail process, protecting IoT infrastructure is critical. Getting on board with the right mindset can go a long way toward achieving a win-win for retail security.

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Spotlight

Reebonz - Your World of Luxury

In late 2013, members were introduced to an all-rounded ecosystem where they could not only buy, but also sell or consign their pre-owned Reebonz purchases to us. In early 2015, we launched Closets, to add to our growing suite of services for local and global online shoppers alike. Fashion lovers can now buy and sell pre-owned luxury designer fashion through the Reebonz mobile app. Our latest addition to the suite is Reebonz Marketplace, where we bring independent multi-brand boutiques, pre-owned luxury merchants and vintage dealers from across the globe onto one single platform.

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