Key Takeaways from “Start Selling Online”

On Wednesday, April 22nd, geekspeak Commerce hosted a free webinar titled Start Selling Online: Shifting from Brick & Mortar to eCommerce. The webinar covered everything from current sales data, to top eCommerce platforms and marketplaces, to tangible tips that can help retailers get started today on their shift to an online channel.

Presented by Tricia Williams and Megan Kimmerer, facilitated by Melanie McCabe, and with Isaac Wanzama as a Q&A panelist, the webinar covered a lot of ground and saw great engagement from audience members interested in making the shift.

To view the full webinar, click here.

Here are some key takeaways from the session:

1. It’s not business as usual.

We’ve all had to adjust to life during this pandemic, whether that’s personally or professionally. Because of this, businesses have adapted in order to survive – and they’re doing so creatively, innovating in ways big and small. Online, we’ve actually seen some promising numbers in terms of sales and revenue. According to Digital Commerce 360, during the weeks of March 22nd to April 4th in the USA and Canada:

  • The number of online orders for web-only retailers increased 52% from the same period last year.
  • Revenue for these web-only retailers increased 30%.
  • The number of online orders for primarily brick and mortar retailers increased 56% from the same period last year.
  • Revenue for these brick and mortar retailers increased 43%.

2. What are consumers actually purchasing?

The top 5 fastest growing items:

  • Disposable gloves
  • Bread machines
  • Cough and cold medicine
  • Soups
  • Dried grains and rice

The top 5 fastest declining items:

  • Luggage
  • Briefcases
  • Cameras
  • Men’s swimwear
  • Bridal clothing

These trends, which are provided by Stackline as of March 2020, make sense given what most of us are doing in our new day-to-day lives – staying home, stocking up on non-perishables, and putting weddings and events on hold.

3. eCommerce activities include much more than just selling product online.

 When considering the shift from brick and mortar to eCommerce, companies can explore any of the following:

  • Online auctions
  • Online banking and electronic payments
  • Online ticketing
  • Trip/flight booking (though most of us are not currently doing this)
  • Appointment booking and payment
  • Subscription model
  • Deals, coupons and promotions
  • On-demand services and delivery

4. Why does eCommerce matter?

In the current climate, eCommerce is helping businesses survive and thrive by giving consumers access to the goods and services they cannot otherwise pick up in store. In more general terms, eCommerce allows companies to expand their reach from local foot traffic to international audiences. It’s a long-term sales strategy that should continue to supplement your in-store sales, even as the world goes back to “normal.”

5. What are the key considerations when exploring eCommerce?

What in-store operations can you leverage to help with your online sales?

  • Warehouse space
  • Inventory management
  • Customer service
  • Payment gateways
  • What logistics might your team need help with from a local partner?
    • Shipping/delivery
  • Where will you sell online?
    • On your own direct-to-consumer website, with full control over products, marketing, customer support and more
    • On a marketplace like Amazon, which provides instant access to shoppers as well as logistics support
  • If selling on your own website makes sense for your business, what are your options?
    • Add a plugin to your existing site in order to enable eCommerce capabilities
    • Leverage a hosted platform like Shopify to help you build a new website
    • Create a self-built eCommerce store using your development team or knowledge of web design

6. How to properly merchandise your products online

  • Categorize products online like you would in-store
  • Identify your key customer and target your messaging to them
  • Use great photography and other visuals
  • Make sure your product listings are optimized for a mobile screen

7. Top 5 tips for getting started today

To dig in deeper to each of these areas and find out exactly what was shared during the live webinar, be sure to check out the recording here.

DTC or Bust in 2020: How Manufacturers Are Selling Direct-to-Consumer & Why You Should Too

As professionals and consumers alike, we’re used to technology changing the way we work and live. In product manufacturing and selling, this is no different. Over the years, technology, specifically eCommerce, has enabled selling in ways that were once inaccessible – namely, Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) selling.

DTC is known to help strengthen brands, improve customer experience, and increase profits. It was pioneered by major companies like Dell, who in 1984 became the first computer manufacturer to sell directly to its consumers rather than through a retail channel. Though a much younger brand, Warby Parker is often considered a pioneer of DTC for disrupting the prescription eyeglasses industry in 2010 by selling directly to consumers online and offering the ability to try on different pairs at home before making a purchase.

Traditional Retail vs. DTC: What Are They?

In the traditional retail model, manufacturers sell their products in bulk to retailers or distributors, who then resell the product at a higher price to the consumer. Often unable to take on the cost of maintaining brick-and-mortar stores, to handle order fulfillment and shipping, or to effectively tap into a customer base, manufacturers rely largely on their retail partners to take on those responsibilities. After all, they are conventionally more equipped to do so.

While this traditional retail model is of course still the most common way product is sold today, the rise of eCommerce has simplified each of its steps to the point where manufacturers no longer require the physical retail space or employee base needed to take on the act of selling product to consumers. Recognizing this, there has been a considerable increase in the number of manufacturers who are doing just that – making DTC part of their go-to-market strategy, building eCommerce websites and selling straight to their customers without the need for a retail partner in the middle. For seasoned manufacturers who already have channel partners in place, DTC can become an additional selling avenue.

Direct-to-Consumer selling has been proven successful, even in highly unlikely categories. Casper is perhaps the most well-known DTC brand, often used as a success story when discussing the benefits of selling directly to consumers. By simplifying the act of shopping for a mattress, including offering just one standard bed model in the beginning, Casper was able to open the doors to a massive consumer base online. The company made over $100 million in its first two years. Since then, the brand has grown to become a $1.1-billion company, with its own brick-and-mortar stores now also in the picture. The success of online DTC selling has enabled brands to expand beyond just one selling avenue, often balancing eCommerce with retail stores and wholesalers for even more success.

Why Sell DTC?

There are many positives associated with selling directly to your consumers:

  • Ownership over customer relationships
  • Building brand recognition and loyalty
  • Potential cost savings and higher revenue by removing or supplementing the “middle-man”
  • Stronger control over brand perception
  • Access to customer data and buying patterns
  • Flexibility to sell where and how you want
  • No direct competition with other brands on your own eCommerce store
  • End-to-end control over the manufacturing, merchandising, marketing, logistics, and customer service

The big takeaway for manufacturers is often the end-to-end control, including the control of brand perception. A major part of this comes through in the ownership of content that can be created on a DTC eCommerce store. By running your own online store as a manufacturer, you’re not relying on a retailer to write your product content for you (which can sometimes end in misrepresented or inaccurate information).

Dollar Shave Club, a wildly successful subscription-based DTC brand, launched in 2012 with a funny, tongue-in-cheek YouTube video that quickly went viral. It earned 25-million views and so many orders that the manufacturer’s eCommerce website crashed. While the company was purchased in 2016 by Unilever, Dollar Shave Club’s eCommerce store still features content with the same humorous tone, something the brand and parent company have been able to hold on to by taking control of the selling channel.

By selling DTC, manufacturers take on the responsibility – and control – of crafting engaging and brand-specific content including website copy, product descriptions, buying guides, product photography, video, and even digital advertising. While this may be overwhelming for the manufacturer who is new to the DTC space, there are eCommerce service providers like geekspeak available to produce these assets.

DTC Challenges

Like any new business strategy, there are challenges associated with selling direct-to-consumer that many manufacturers will need to navigate.

  1. Existing retail partnerships: When a brand adds DTC as a selling channel, it becomes a competitor of its existing retailers. Developing a well-thought-out strategy that involves strengthening retailer relationships, being mindful of products, pricing and promotions, and balancing the effort placed on all channels will help lead to success in this area.
  2. Lack of experience: For manufacturers who have never sold directly to consumers, the lack of retail experience can prove to be overwhelming when developing a DTC strategy. From understanding consumer trends to effectively marketing and merchandising a catalogue of products, manufacturers should consider working with experts in the retail field to aid in their transition – or at least be patient and willing to deeply develop a strategy and stick to it.
  3. Taking on the work: By selling DTC, a manufacturer must ensure they have the bandwidth to handle all steps in the selling cycle – or access to services, platforms and tools that can help them. Product design and development, marketing, shipping and logistics, customer service and more will all become work performed by the brand.
  4. Owning relationships and reputations: Taking on all the work also means taking on the responsibility related to customer relationships and brand reputation. While control over perception is considered a positive of DTC selling, it is a component that needs to be nurtured and carefully executed day-to-day.

How to Get Started with DTC

So how does a manufacturer start making the transition into becoming a DTC brand? There are some key steps and considerations to make before diving in head-first:

  1. Do your research: Identify your brand’s direction and define a goal. Determine areas in which your competitors are selling, how and where your audience likes to shop, etc.
  2. Be transparent: If you’re currently selling through retail channels, be transparent with your vendor partners to ensure they’re aware of your move to DTC. If you’re planning on balancing your selling channels by keeping up with both retail commitments and DTC, work with your retailers to avoid channel conflict and strengthen those relationships.
  3. Find a platform: Decide where you want to sell – on a marketplace like Amazon or eBay? On a self-developed eCommerce store? On a website created through a platform like Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento or Volusion? On Instagram? A combination of these? Decide as well if it makes sense for you to sell in your own brick-and-mortar or pop-up shops.
  4. Build an eCommerce website or launch on a marketplace: Once you’ve decided where you’ll be selling, build that eCommerce shop or create that marketplace account and fill it with engaging product content that will drive shoppers there.
  5. Invest in your product content and assets: In order to effectively merchandise your products online, it is important to invest in the creation of high-quality and highly engaging content including product descriptions, product photographyproduct video, and enhanced marketing content.
  6. Market your products: With your DTC channel, you’re no longer relying on retail partners to market and sell your products. Develop a marketing strategy based on where you’re selling and who you’re selling to. Will that include digital advertising? Influencer marketing? Traditional advertising routes like TV and radio? Do what makes sense for your brand and its goals.
  7. Prepare to serve your customers: Now that you’ll be closer to your customers, it’s important to ensure you can serve them well. Put the preparations in place to ensure you can handle customer service inquiries, quick order fulfillment and shipping, returns and refunds, and more.

Need help creating compelling DTC content? Contact geekspeak today to get started.

Amazon News: Introducing A+ for Seller Central

The line between Seller Central and Vendor Central accounts on Amazon is becoming thinner and thinner, with many of the features once exclusive to Vendors being made accessible to Sellers. The latest news in this area has to do with Enhanced Marketing Content and the distinction between Enhanced Brand Content (EBC) and A+ detail pages.

Up until recently, Vendor Central users could enhance their product listings with A+ Pages, while Seller Central users had access to EBC. Both types of enhanced marketing content served the same purpose on Amazon – provide more detailed, visually-appealing information that will help customers make the decision to purchase.

Over the last year, Amazon has been making slight changes to the way Seller Central users view and edit their EBC pages – first, expanding the module offerings to include those available in A+ pages, then renaming the EBC editor to “A+ Content Manager”. Finally, the announcement was made by Amazon that they would do-away with EBC entirely, opening A+ content up to Sellers as it has been to Vendors.

What does this mean for me, as a Seller Central account holder?

Luckily, not much else has changed, other than certain improvements to the platform. According to Amazon:

  • You can preview, edit and create new A+ pages in the same area as you would have created EBC (Seller Central > Advertising > A+ Content Manager)
  • You can now publish A+ content to multiple ASINs, instead of a single SKU
    • This saves time and effort in duplicating A+ pages to child SKUs, allowing entire families to use the same A+ page with one convenient click.
  • You can easily preview your A+ page for mobile flipping between desktop and mobile views
  • You can now house and easily access language variations of your A+ content from the same A+ Content Manager page, or sort your list of A+ pages by language if needed

If you’re a Vendor Central user, you will also benefit from the improvements listed above.

Amazon Seller Central vs Vendor Central A Guide for 2019

Whether you are an Amazon Seller or Vendor, one thing is for sure – Amazon is always changing and expanding to improve its processes for those who choose to list their products on its wide-reaching marketplace. These processes, selling tools and capabilities differ depending on what kind of account you have – Seller or Vendor.

The Basics – What is the difference between an Amazon Seller and an Amazon Vendor?

Amazon Sellers control their products, listings and sales processes, selling their products directly to consumers and handling all pricing, storage, shipping and returns themselves.

On the other hand, Amazon Vendors sell their products in bulk to Amazon, who then prices and sells the products to customers. As of right now, and into 2019, brands can become Amazon Vendors through invitation only (while there once was the option of choosing to become a Vendor through Vendor Express, that option no longer exists).

Amazon Seller Central and Vendor Central have different interfaces and controls, and the brands within each have different abilities in terms of what tools they can use to market their products. Some of the key differences include:

Seller Central

If you’re a smaller shop, able to handle your own logistics or want more control over how your products are priced and presented, then a Seller Central account is likely the right option for you. Most brands selling on Amazon will at least start off as a Seller, given the fact that Vendor Central is open only to those personally invited.

Seller Central Pros

Pricing, Payments and Margins: When it comes to money, Sellers have much more control over how their products are priced on Amazon. This leads to potentially higher margins than their Vendor Central counterparts who have to leave pricing up to Amazon. Amazon tries to stay within minimum pricing requirements and often chooses low prices to stay competitive, which can hurt the margins of Vendors. Another great component of Seller Central is the method and frequency in which you get paid. Once sales start to come in, Sellers are paid via deposit into their Amazon account every 14 days.

Seller Support: One common complaint between Amazon Vendor Central users is lack of support. Since Amazon does most of the heavy lifting after a wholesale purchase is made from a brand, they do not offer the same level of support as they do to Sellers who handle their sales processes themselves. Seller Central users gain access to priority email support as well as responsive phone line support.

Seller Central Cons

Responsibility and Costs of Handling Sales: With Seller Central, the onus is on the brand to ensure their items are stocked and ready to be shipped as quickly as possible when an order comes in. This is the case 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year (or at least until your inventory sells out). Sellers may sometimes find the cost of fulfillment high, and coordinating returns challenging. That being said, Sellers do have the option of enrolling in the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) program in which Amazon stores and ships a Seller’s products, for a fee.

Fewer Advertising and Enhanced Marketing Options: While both Sellers and Vendors now have access to Amazon Advertising (formerly AMS for Vendors and Seller Central Advertising for Sellers), Sellers are slightly limited in terms of how they can use the service. Product Display ads are not currently available to Sellers, while they are to Vendors. In terms of Enhanced Marketing Content (EMC), Sellers who have completed Brand Registry can create EBC (Enhanced Brand Content) Pages, which have fewer functionalities than the Vendor Central version, called A+.

Vendor Central

Even though brands must be invited to become Vendors by Amazon’s team of buyers, it is good to know the ins and outs of this account type should your brand ever receive an invitation. If the idea of selling your products wholesale to Amazon and letting them take the reins is attractive to your business model, then accepting this invitation may be valuable to you.

Vendor Central Pros

Higher Levels of Customer Trust (and Sales): Vendor Central products have different messaging on their listings than those sold through Seller Central – “Ships from and Sold by Amazon.” This one line, while short, offers a level of confidence to consumers who might prefer to buy from Amazon directly, rather than through a third-party seller. Traditionally, this has led to higher sales for Vendors compared to Sellers.

More Advertising and Marketing Options: Amazon Vendors, through Amazon Advertising, have the option to create not only Sponsored and Headline Search Ads, but Product Display Ads as well. While Sponsored Ads and Headline Ads target shoppers based on their search terms, Product Display Ads utilize more specific targeting, reaching customers at the interest and product level. These ads are displayed on a competitor’s product listing for ultimate visibility at a key point in the buying journey.

No Need to Handle Shipping or Returns: By selling wholesale to Amazon, Vendors do not need to worry about handling customer shipping or returns. That being said, there are logistics like inventory requirements to stay on top of as an Amazon Vendor.

Vendor Central Cons

No Control Over Pricing, Therefore Lower Margins: Once Vendors send their products to Amazon in bulk, Amazon then controls how the items are priced and sold – something to be mindful of when selling through multiple channels. In order to stay competitive and offer the best prices to shoppers, Amazon often lowers the cost of Vendor products. While this might lead to better sales, it can often hurt a Vendor’s profit margins.

Slower Payment: Unlike Sellers who get paid regularly for sales made (the standard is every 14 days), Vendors are often locked into 30, 60 or 90-day payment terms based on purchase orders fulfilled. Waiting three months to receive payment for a bulk shipment can be frustrating for an Amazon Vendor, and opting for the 30-day term comes with additional fees.

Strict Logistical Guidelines: Though Vendor Central users do not need to handle the storage and shipping associated with selling directly to consumers, there are strict guidelines put in place by Amazon when it comes to fulfilling purchase orders and keeping up with stock requirements. Struggling to keep up with these guidelines often results in chargebacks.

In Conclusion

Both Seller Central and Vendor Central have their pros and cons, as does any eCommerce selling platform. The weight of those pros and cons depends entirely on your own business objectives. It is important to understand the differences between the two account types so that you can grasp the full context of Amazon’s merchant base and be informed of your options should an Amazon buyer ever invite your brand to join the Vendor side.

Time for Summer Maintenance? Here’s How to Refresh your Online Store for the Season

This is the time of year that signals refreshing change, growth and renewal. For many, it also signals the right time to clean and declutter. Spring (and summer) cleaning is important not only in a personal capacity, but when it comes to your eCommerce store as well. Now that we’re nearing the end of June, it’s time to kick-start your summer maintenance online.

Why Update Your Online Store?

Updating your eCommerce shop most often comes down to reviewing and editing your product content first. While online sellers should strive to create evergreen content as much as possible, even the greatest product copy needs to be maintained. Creating a content maintenance schedule – every six months as an example – ensures you stay on top of how your brand and products are being positioned in the market. Some reasons to maintain or update your store’s content include:

  • Stay relevant to your shoppers and what they care about
  • Keep up with industry trends, including trending keywords
  • Optimize your listings for promotional periods
  • Stay up to date with what competitors are doing, or find new competitors to watch
  • Monitor analytics to find high-performing trends you can adopt across your catalogue
  • Ensure you’re familiar with all of your existing content

What to Update

Now that you know all the reasons an online seller might adopt a maintenance schedule to keep their site’s content updated throughout the year, the next section will highlight what exactly you can update and how to tackle each piece of product content.

1. Product Images

As eCommerce standards change, you may also need to adapt your product photography style. The same can be said as new technologies and methods of creating images emerge. With the increased popularity of 360-degree photography, it might be time to look at how you can include this immersive visual technique in your own image gallery.

If your product images are looking outdated, if they feature call-outs that are no longer relevant, or even if they just need some sprucing up, it’s time to get new photography done. Contact us today to learn more.

2. Product Title

Your product title is likely the component that requires the least updating, since the content it contains should include evergreen elements like the brand name, item type, model name and primary keywords. However, treating your product title as a short sales pitch, especially on a marketplace like Amazon, can leave room for certain key features that may change as search trends do.

Include your product title in your maintenance schedule to ensure all of the information is still correct season after season – perhaps there’s been a branding change or there’s a seasonal use or feature you can call out for a portion of the year.

The product title is updated to include the new Spring/Summer colour: Charcoal Sand.

3. Feature Bullets

Your feature bullets, whether positioned on your own eCommerce website or on a marketplace like Amazon, should contain the most important information about your product.

All key features and their corresponding benefits should be outlined in this section. As such, much of the information will likely stay the same as the seasons change.

It is important, however, that the keywords used within your bullets are still relevant and producing good traffic. Audit your bullets’ SEO optimization as a part of your maintenance schedule to ensure you’re ranking well for the best keywords possible.

Summertime music lovers will care about certain features, like splash resistance for listening by the pool and a long battery life for camping trips.

4. Product Description

Product descriptions often contain narrative content, romance copy and explanations of uses and applications. Your product description is a great piece of content to include in your maintenance schedule, as it offers more character space to fill with seasonal copy, new keywords and updated content based on industry and competitor trends.

The product descripton inspires shoppers to pick up a Beoplay A2 for their summertime social adventures.

Learn more about how geekspeak handles the optimization of product descriptions.

5. Other Areas to Update

In addition to updating your product content (copywriting and photography), use your maintenance schedule and the new season to look at opportunities to introduce new sales and promotions. This is also a great time to audit the organization of your website, ensuring promotional items are featured in their own easy-to-find section, and all products are easy to find. If your site’s taxonomy has become outdated, see how geekspeak can help.

Pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns should constantly be monitored and updated, but Spring/Summer or another scheduled maintenance period offers the opportunity to perform a deeper audit into your online advertising to determine what’s working and what’s not. Update your ads to leverage the latest search trends, promote new sales and use season-specific language to relate to shoppers.

Whether you have a new product that just launched a month ago, or a range of legacy products that haven’t changed in years, it’s important to take this time to audit each one equally – from their titles to their ads – in order to make the most of your online assortment.

Common Amazon Seller Content Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

For the new seller, Amazon can be a tricky platform to navigate. The marketplace has many lengthy guidelines that sellers must follow, related to anything from the content you can publish, to logistical requirements like how quickly you need to respond to customer inquiries or ship products after they are ordered. Because of the number of detailed guidelines, it can be easy to make mistakes, especially for the first-time seller.

Below are some of the most common content-related mistakes made by Amazon sellers, and how to avoid them.

1. Not optimizing your written content

When it comes to selling on Amazon, it is not enough to simply list your product and hope shoppers will make a purchase. Optimized copywriting that takes full advantage of formatting allowances, character limits and search engine optimization (SEO) is key in ensuring your products are searchable to the Amazon audience. Most Amazon categories allow for five feature bullets and up to 2,000 characters in the product description – this is valuable real estate for SEO-friendly keywords that will drive traffic to your product. Another important tip to note is to present the most important information upfront, within the product title and feature bullets, leaving additional information and more narrative content further down in the long description. 

Need help with optimized Amazon product listings? Learn more here.

2. Not localizing your content for the market

For sellers expanding into new markets for the first time, it is important to remember to localize your content for the specific geographical area in which you are selling. This may seem obvious when it comes to selling in different languages – but taking into account the subtle differences in the spelling of certain English words between Canada, the US and the UK shows that you’ve put thought into marketing your products in those areas. In terms of presenting your content in different languages, it is worth investing in a professional translation service to ensure your copy is properly interpreted and makes just as much sense to a shopper across the globe.

Looking for a professional who can translate and localize your content on Amazon? We can help.

3. Not following eCommerce photography standards

The ideal way to showcase your product in a hero image is to make sure the product is set up alone on a white background. This ensures shoppers can see exactly what it is they are buying, and excludes any potential distractions within the frame. For Amazon, it is important to ensure your product takes up at least 85% of the total frame and that there isn’t any small text on the image that would render un-readable on mobile. While you can have infographics and lifestyle images within your gallery, the leading image should be your product on a white background.

Need to fill your Amazon image gallery with great photography? See what we can do for you.

4. Constantly changing or updating your content

While it is okay – and sometimes important – to make updates to your content every now and then, you should aim to create product content that is evergreen (meaning it can stay the same season to season). Each time you make a significant change to your Amazon product listing, the search algorithm re-indexes your page, potentially leading to a decrease in your organic ranking. Including seasonal promotions in your title, bullets or images can date your listing if not removed immediately after the promotional period, and so should be kept to a minimum.

If your Amazon content is in need of a refresh, see how we can optimize it once for better ranking.

5. Not paying attention to the real people

For a first-time Amazon seller, it can be easy to forget about “the other guys” on Amazon. Your goal in selling on a marketplace is to direct shoppers to your page over your competitor’s. As such, it is important to understand what your competitors are doing on Amazon – including what kind of content they are using to market their products. Complete a brief competitive landscape analysis to make sure your content is at a comparable or higher quality than other sellers’.

Perhaps even more important than understanding your competitors is understanding your shoppers. Pay attention to your reviews and customer questions when you receive them, responding to people in a timely manner. Before you receive your first reviews, check out reviews on your competitors’ product listings and make sure your content reflects common questions about the kinds of products you are selling.

Trying to do everything on your own as a new Amazon seller, without the help of an Amazon content expert, can be a daunting task. From account setup and management, to inventory coordination, to content creation, the Amazon marketplace can seem overwhelming at times. These content mistakes are common to many first-time sellers and can be easily avoided by following the tips provided.

The Latest Facebook Ad Specs and Image Sizes

As 2018 ends and we head into a new quarter, it is important to start thinking of your 2019 advertising strategies. For eCommerce sellers, social media is steadily becoming an alternative – or addition – to traditional Google and Amazon pay-per-click advertising. As such, we have put together a guide explaining the latest Facebook ad specs and image sizes so that you can optimize your social advertising.

Businesses may have different reasons for advertising via Facebook and other social media channels. From brand awareness to lead generation to sales, social media offers a good chance at reaching your advertising goals because of the sheer number of people using social platforms every day.

Depending on your specific goals, there are a number of ad formats available to you on Facebook – image, video, carousel and collection are the four main formats we will discuss in this guide. Each has its own features and set of ad specs depending on placement within the Facebook interface.

1. Image

Image ads on Facebook can appear directly in a feed, on the right-hand side of the feed, in Facebook Instant Articles, in the Marketplace, in Stories, in the Messenger inbox, or as a sponsored Messenger message. Depending on the placement of your image ad, specs may differ slightly, but in general the recommendations are as follows:

  • File type supported: jpg or png
  • Image ratio: 9:16 to 16:9
  • Resolution: the highest resolution available that meets the above ratio requirements (600 x 600 px minimum)
  • Text on image: must take up no more than 20% of the image itself
  • Ad copy: optimal length is 125 characters, with anything over that being truncated
  • With link: 1.91:1 to 1:1 image ratio; 1,080 x 1,080 px resolution; 25-character headline; 30-character description


When a still image won’t cut it, opt for a video ad on Facebook. Video ads can appear in all the same placements as images except for Messenger messages. Videos can also appear as ads within organic videos posted to Instagram. Just like image ads, specs depend on the placement of the video, but the general guidelines to follow are:

  • File type supported: most video file types
  • Video ratio: 9:16 to 16:9
  • File size: 4GB maximum
  • Resolution: the highest resolution available that meets the above ratio and file size requirements
  • Video length: 1 sec to 240 mins
  • Captions and sound: recommended but not required
  • Text on video thumbnail: must take up no more than 20% of the thumbnail image itself
  • Ad copy: optimal length is 125 characters, with anything over that being truncated
  • With link: 25-character headline; 30-character description

Need to create eCommerce videos that can help sell your products online? Request a quote for product video here.


The Carousel ad is one of the most intriguing ad types on Facebook, allowing for more creative space and promotional links. Built of 2-10 individual images or videos, each tile has its own link and short ad copy. This allows a brand to showcase multiple products, product features or pieces of information that together create a holistic brand message. Carousel ads can be placed in the feed, right column, articles, Marketplace or in the Messenger inbox. General spec guidelines are as follows:

  • Number of tiles: 2-10
  • Image file type: jpg or png
  • Video file type: most file types supported
  • Maximum file size: 30MB for images; 4GB for videos
  • Video length: 1 sec to 240 mins
  • Resolution: at least 1,080 x 1,080 px
  • Image or video ratio: 1:1
  • Ad copy: optimal length is 125 characters, with anything over that being truncated
  • Headline copy: 40 characters
  • Link description: 20 characters
  • Text on image or thumbnail: must take up no more than 20% of the thumbnail image itself

Newer to the Facebook ad game is the Collection ad, which happens to be perfectly centered around eCommerce companies and their sales objectives. Collection ads are generally composed of a cover image or video, followed by smaller product images in a grid format. This allows potential customers to see your products at a glimpse, and when they click, they are immersed in your brand through an Instant Experience. Instant Experiences are full-screen mobile takeovers that allow the customer to explore more of your brand story and seamlessly make a purchase. Collection ad specs are as follows:

  • Placement: in the Facebook Feed only
  • Cover image file type: jpg or png
  • Cover video file type: most file types supported
  • Cover media: must choose to show either an image or a video
  • Grid images: optimized for 1:1 ratio (can be cropped)
  • Headline: 25 characters recommended
  • Ad copy: 90 characters recommended

Facebook advertising can be an important tool for eCommerce sellers. Taking advantage of one of the four main ad types on Facebook means placing your brand and products directly in front of the eyes of your audience when they have free time to browse. With Collection ads specifically, your products take the spotlight and your branding becomes a unique, immersive experience for potential customers.

Top 7 Free Instagram Analytics Tools for Social Sellers

As eCommerce grows and evolves, new platforms emerge for brands and retailers to leverage in their online selling strategies. Traditional channels like Amazon can now be complemented by a social selling strategy – particularly on Instagram for highly visual brands and products.

Instagram is steadily growing in popularity among professional accounts including eCommerce sellers. As a result, tools are being added both to the app directly and through third-party developers that allow businesses to sell products, promote themselves, and better track important analytics. Instagram analytics tools are aplenty and can provide incredible insights into how consumers are engaging with your account and individual posts. Here are our favourites:

1. Instagram Insights

Instagram comes with its own built-in, easy to use analytics tools for business accounts. Direct from the app, you can track your posts’ impressions, website clicks, profile visits, audience breakdowns (for accounts with more than 100 followers), engagement on posts, and more. The platform’s analytics tool is quite in-depth for being a free inclusion. That being said, there are additional third-party apps that can help you track even more.

2. Simply Measured

Simply Measured is an Instagram analytics tool that focuses on post performance and audience engagement. Measuring reach, impressions, clicks, shares, saved posts and more. It even provides insights into your Instagram Stories, showing you numbers related to taps forward, taps backward, Story replies and exit points. Being able to see how engaged your followers are with specific posts and Stories allows a business to understand the kind of content they should be posting more often in order to grow via social.

3. Squarelovin

Similar to Simply Measured, Squarelovin shows engagement metrics on specific Instagram posts. Taking this one step further, Squarelovin attaches a numbered engagement score to each post, allowing for a more visual understanding and easier comparison of your best performing images. One key component of this analytics tool is that it showcases the best and worst times of day to post based on your audience, industry and content history. Knowing this information can help ensure you’re reaching the maximum amount of people and gaining important engagement.

4. Union Metrics

Union Metrics is an Instagram analytics tool that offers some unique insights compared to others. For example, one focus of this app is on your most engaged followers, offering a valuable look into specific fans of your brand or users of your products. Union Metrics also outlines performance trends and outliers so that you can easily see specific posts that have performed extremely well or very poorly – a metric that proves to be valuable when planning future content.

5. Iconosquare

This Instagram analytics tool provides easy-to-read reports that detail anything from most-liked photos, to follower growth, to your posting frequency over time and how it has affected engagement. Iconosquare also offers help to those who handle multiple accounts through a post management tool much like Hootsuite or Buffer. In addition to providing helpful analytics reports and management tools, Iconosquare also offers first-time users a free Instagram audit that outlines tips to improve and optimize content.


Perhaps one of the most user-friendly Instagram analytics apps out there, takes into account your follower base, engagement metrics, post frequency, rate at which you communicate with your commenters and more. It then assigns an influence score to your account. This simple numbered score is the only real output delivered by, but it is an important one to track. This Instagram analytics tool also allows you to view the influence scores of competitors and other accounts in the system to see how you compare.

7. Crowdfire

Crowdfire focuses entirely on followers, allowing you to see potential followers that are relevant to your content and have a good chance of following you back. Another helpful tool for accounts trying to grow their follower base is the ability to see inactive users and users who have unfollowed you, so that you can unfollow them if it means clearing up space for more valuable relationships that could lead to higher engagement.

As you can see, these tools help track various metrics including followers, engagement, types of posts that perform and do not perform, times of day to post and more. Using more than one of these free Instagram analytics tools is a good to idea to build the most well-rounded account for your eCommerce business.

Follow us on Instagram at @gspkcommerce for news, events, eCommerce trends and more!

Need to WOW Your Online Shoppers? Capture Every Product Angle with 360 Degree Photography

With more customers shopping online than ever before, a well-presented image gallery is becoming increasingly important for eCommerce sellers. Without the ability for customers to pick up a product, feel it, and experience all of its details as they would in a brick and mortar store, it is critical that sellers provide their online shoppers with a comparable experience.

Through 360 degree photography and video, your customers can view your products from all angles. In some cases they can even interact with the file to drag, rotate, zoom and more. This provides an engaging online experience, allows a shopper to gain a better understanding of your product, and can lead to increased sales.

360 Still Photography and Seamless Videos

The 360 views of a product can live in an image gallery as individual still photos that showcase the product’s front, back and sides. These images can be used to fill up your online gallery with photos that provide information about the product. Various angles provide the 360 view experience on websites or platforms that do not allow for video integration. Adding text call-outs and infographic elements to these 360 product images can further engage shoppers and re-enforce the value of the product.

When listing your product on your own website or on a marketplace or platform that allows video, multiple images can be encoded together to create a seamless 360 degree image of the product. To create a spinning product video, the product must be placed on a turntable and rotated while multiple shots are taken in succession, capturing the product in all possible angles (25-100 shots are recommended to make the movement as smooth as possible, but you can create a spinning image with as few as four images). These images are then stitched together to create a video in a seamless loop.Video Player00:0800:24

Still 360 degree images and seamless videos work best on marketplaces like Amazon where a dedicated image gallery sits above-the-fold of a product listing and entices a shopper to click to view photos and a video. On Amazon specifically, a video capture of a 360 spin image would be created and uploaded to your image gallery in an .mp4 file format.

Interactive 360 Images

Taking it one step further, 360 product spin videos embedded on your own eCommerce website – or another platform that allows for them – can include interactive components like drag-to-rotate technology that allows a customer to take control of their view of the product. Shoppers can spin to focus in on specific points of interest, which adds another layer of interaction to your product page or website.

Interactive 360 degree images also allow for audio integration. Additional graphic components like text call-outs can be added frame-by-frame to act as interesting pop-ups and provide more information to the customer in an intriguing way.

Why Go 360?

eCommerce is a competitive space and it is important to continue evolving and enhancing the content that is being presented to your online customers. By leveraging 360 photography and spin videos, you give your shoppers the chance to better understand your product and to engage with it in an interesting way. Not only that, but you prove to the market that you can be innovative and able to work with the latest technologies.

At geekspeak, we create interactive and enticing 360 product images and videos using exciting state-of-the-art equipment in our in-house photo studio. Let’s see how we can improve your product pages with better photography.

How to Create Content that Drives Google & Amazon PPC Success

Beyond a foundation of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) expertise and a well-established advertising strategy, content is one of the most important factors that drives ad success. A strong Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign should feature high-quality, engaging and persuasive SEO copywriting in both the ad itself and on its landing page. Here are the top four areas in which quality written content leads to PPC success on Amazon and other channels.

1.  Increased Click-Through Rate (CTR):

Good quality copy on a Google or Amazon PPC ad can help improve your campaign’s click-through rate by up to 161 percent (according to marketing expert Neil Patel, changing a single word can lead to that much of an increase). Persuasive content can lead an online shopper in the direction of your ad over a competitor’s. Well-written copy can also help build trust and brand recognition starting from the first moment a consumer views your ad. According to a recent study by WordStream, the most popular word used in the highest performing ads is “your.” The best ad copy speaks to the consumer directly, providing them with a good reason to purchase your product over that of anyone else.

Working with a professional Amazon Copywriter can give you that extra boost. Learn about our copywriting services here.

2.  Improved Quality Score on Google Ads or Other Platforms:

The Quality Score of a PPC ad is determined by how relevant your keywords, ad copy and landing page content are in the context of one another. A good Quality Score can even decrease your Cost Per Click (CPC) within Google Ads. The goal of advertising platforms like Google Ads or Amazon Advertising is to ensure shoppers are not only viewing ads that are relevant to their search, but that continue to make sense for them as they click through to their final destination – the landing page. Having well thought-out SEO copywriting on your landing page increases your chances of earning a high Quality Score.

Learn about how our PPC management services can help you reach your goals here.

3.  Improved Organic Ranking on Search Engine Results Page (SERP):

With proper SEO tools like keyword research, high quality copywriting on a landing page can also lead to a better organic ranking. Including keywords and phrases with high search volume within your landing page content provides a better chance of showing up at the top of the SERP for a related query. In addition, the more content you have gives you more real estate within organic rankings. A blog is an excellent content tool that builds brand visibility and could encourage shoppers to click on your ad due to the recognition that comes with consistent posting. According to Tech Client, websites that post consistent blogs have an average of 434 percent more pages indexed by search engines than sites without a blog.

geekspeak’s SEO copywriting services include blogs, buying guides, product descriptions and more, all produced with meticulous keyword research to help you rank higher.

4.  Increased Conversion:

On your own eCommerce site or on Amazon, good copywriting can also lead to increased conversion from PPC traffic. The idea here is similar to the points above – if your copy is relevant to the shopper and is written in a way that is persuasive and engaging, then it is more likely that he or she will feel enticed to make a purchase (or fill out a form, request a quote, etc.). According to ABG Essentials, the right content – specifically content marketing – can lead to conversion rates that are six times higher than companies who are not adopting quality content as a strategy.

The proof is in the numbers – with higher conversion rates, click-through rates, Quality Scores and organic rank results, good copy really does make a difference in the success of a PPC campaign. It is critical that advertisers put as much effort into their content as in their overall Google or Amazon PPC strategy. The best way to secure that winning strategy is to work with a trusted PPC management company that delivers both PPC services and copywriting services holistically.