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.

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!

Shoppable Video: Coming to a Screen Near You

Competition is fierce when it comes to ecommerce, and retailers need to stay ahead of the curve to remain competitive with today’s consumers. The relevance of video is growing as the number of platforms, services and devices available to consumers increases. This growth has lead to more interactive ways to communicate with consumers, such as an unobtrusive yet engaging option known as shoppable video.

The Rise of Video Content

The use of video content itself is nothing new; many retailers have implemented some form of it already. Studies show that viewers are anywhere from 64–85 percent more likely to buy after watching a product video.  As such, the potential to use video in new and engaging ways is huge.

Shoppable video offers a quick, direct route to purchases by providing clickable links to shop products featured throughout a video. When a consumer clicks an item of interest in the video, they’re directed to a site to learn more and potentially buy the item. The real benefit of this interactive method of shopping is that it captures consumers in the moment, which encourages impulse purchases and turns passive viewers into active consumers. This goes to the heart of what video does best—telling a story and appealing to the emotional connection a product or brand has with its customer base.

A Seamless Shopping Experience

Initially known as ‘click-to-buy’, this technology is always improving and allowing for more seamless ways to shop through video. Some brands even allow users to save the selected items in a cart to view and shop at the end of the video for an uninterrupted viewing experience. Shoppable and Shopstyle are currently working on creating universal shopping carts where users can store products from multiple retailers in one cart. The potential end goal of shoppable video is to develop a way to buy products from videos without using a cart at all.

Shoppable video provides the added bonus of allowing brands to gather specific, real-world data at a personal level. In the future, we will likely see technology that allows retailers to programmatically place products in videos based on known customer preferences and make it shoppable. When this happens, the sky’s the limit for converting customers.

Mobile Browsing

As with everything these days, when retailers look to create shoppable videos, they need to consider the importance of mobile devices. While desktop still dominates with conversion, mobile is the preferred choice for browsing and the use of mobile devices to make purchases is only growing. Thus, a seamless omnichannel experience is necessary for shoppable video to be impactful. Users expect a consistent interface and process across all platforms, and this includes video content. With over 50 percent of online time now spent on mobile, retailers need to actively engage customers on all platforms, regardless of where the final purchase is made.

An exciting media, shoppable video offers a truly engaging and interactive way for retailers to promote their brand, develop a loyal customer base, and increase conversions and sales.

The Big Shift Towards DTC (Direct-to-Consumer) Selling

Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) selling in the world of retail can be a game changer for any manufacturer whose brand carries clout. For big brands such as Coach, Nike and Michael Kors, choosing DTC selling packs a lot of value as it preserves their brand integrity and allows them to control how and when their products are marketed.  For consumers, it’s all about having access to the latest styles, customized offers and superior customer service.

DTC eliminates the third-party retailer and allows manufacturers to market and sell their products directly to the consumer. Whether it’s through brick-and-mortar stores, pop-ups or on-line channels, the allure for manufacturers is the agility that comes with the DTC process and the ability to control how, when and where their brand and products are presented.

For luxury fashion leaders, Coach and Michael Kors, it gives them control over the growing concern of diminished brand integrity resulting from years of over-exposure in outlet malls and constant red tag sales offered up by leading retailers. With sports apparel giant, Nike, it was all about growing their business and recognizing the phenomenal untapped pull they had with a loyal customer base. In fact, Nike expects to grow this side of their business by 250%, to $16 billion by 2020.

Thinking about DTC selling? Here’s why it might work for you

Six reasons why brands and manufacturers should consider including DTC in their business model:

Loyalty: It creates loyalty and builds an emotional connection between the consumer and brand – not between the consumer and the retailer.

Data: Manufacturers can gather consumer sales data in real time to help inform marketing, sales, merchandising and design decisions.

Customer Experience: The ability to control the customer experience through media rich messaging, target marketing and personalized service versus having a product simply sit on the shelf of a multi-brand store.

Margins: Removing the retailer eliminates high mark-ups that lead to markdowns that erode brand credibility. Slow moving items can be discreetly removed from a website versus discounted.

Product Selection: Manufacturers can introduce an unlimited number of new products, services and special offers to their consumer without negotiating with a retailer for shelf or advertising space.

Product Releases: Brands can launch and promote premium products whenever they choose, without being hindered by a third-party retailer’s demographic.

But don’t drop your retailer just yet

While the decision to move to a DTC platform may seem like a no-brainer, for brands to win at this consumer-centric game they must have an in-depth knowledge of their customer base, develop a corporate culture that supports this style of retail and deliver both tangible and intangible benefits that are unique to their industry and exclusive to their end user.

They must also be cognizant of the fact that while DTC can be good news for the manufacturer and consumer, it’s a growing concern for retail partners who feel the pinch of diminished sales and a sense of betrayal by brands they have supported for years.

Before abandoning the traditional retail concept entirely, manufacturers and brands might benefit from better understanding what portion of their market prefer this mode of shopping and then decide if it warrants ending, maintaining or simply adjusting the partnership.

Mobile Ecommerce and Beacons: Where Online and Offline Shopping Coexist

Beacons offer a relatively new and innovative way for retailers to communicate with customers through their mobile devices, bringing online and offline shopping together. While online shopping is continually growing, most retailers are omni-channel; beacon technology helps to bridge the gap between the various shopping channels for a highly personalized experience.

Apple was the first company to bring beacon technology mainstream with iBeacon. Apple’s iBeacon is built into its devices and iOS7 mobile operating system, however third party manufacturers have built beacons that can send iBeacon messages to Apple devicesEstimote and Kontakt are a few popular beacon manufacturers.

All modern smart devices are capable of supporting beacons (iPhones, Android, Windows and Blackberry) as long as Bluetooth is turned on. Beacons communicate wirelessly with devices using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) signals, a version of Bluetooth that uses very little power and transmits small amounts of data. Beacons are tiny, battery-operated, low-cost hardware devices that attach to walls or physical objects and transmit signals directly to a smartphone or tablet. They are solely one-way transmitters that require the user’s device to have the brand’s application installed. Since users must have a specific application downloaded on their phone, beacons are most powerful when the retailer and customer already have an existing relationship.

Beacons are location-based tools and transmit signals to smartphones and tablets that fall within a certain range. Standard beacons have a range of 70 meters with no obstructions. A smart device constantly scans for their signals and if it’s within a beacon’s proximity, the installed app responds by displaying personalized advertising content as a notification or directly in the app. This allows for highly contextual, hyper-local, and meaningful messages and advertisements to be sent directly to consumers. Since the consumer’s phone must be nearby to receive these signals, beacon technology appeals most to retailers with physical locations.

85 percent of the top 100 retailers in the US will have deployed at least some beacons by the end of 2016 and beacon technology will have influenced over $44.4 billion worth of retail sales, a staggering increase from 4.1 billion in 2015.

A few benefits of using beacons are:

  • Greet and Guide Customers. Signals allow the app to know when a customer is getting closer or further away. This gives retailers the opportunity to identify and engage a customer with hello or goodbye, or an invitation into the store. Even if the app isn’t running, beacons can wake it up.
  • Engage customers with relevant information. Retailers can send out location-specific deals, discounts, coupons and recommendations to consumers in the store. This makes it easier for stores to share contextual information like special sales or product information when consumers are close to a particular item or display.
  • Enhanced in-store experience. Beacons help personalize the shopping experience, especially if a store is crowded or salespeople aren’t available. They let consumers find relevant information quickly, get new information based on location as they walk around, and receive personalized offers based on previous purchases. They also simplify and ease checkout processes, allow for digital payments and receipts, and much more.
  • Beacons and loyalty apps. Retailers can use these together to reward customers for all types of location-based actions, even just walking into a store.
  • Provide insight into customer behaviour and build loyalty. Businesses can learn about footfall patterns, entry and exit data, time spent, repeat visits, purchase history and other customer data that can be analyzed to improve the customer’s overall shopping experience. Beacons can send or collect information from devices, allowing retailers to deliver a rich and targeted shopping experience.

Some examples of retailers who’ve jumped onto the beacon craze are:

  • Macy’s teaming up with the Shopkick app and sending customers location-specific deals, discounts, and recommendations
    while in their stores. The test was a huge success, leading them to install over 4000 iBeacon devices nationwide.
  • Urban Outfitters took a different approach from more commonly used aggressive promotions. They used their own app with the beacons plugged into the Urban On loyalty program, a section that gives shoppers rewards and access to events. They also focused on using beacons in three in-store areas: the checkout line, fitting rooms and the entrance.
  • Beacons are also popular in stadiums and airports to help with things like food sales, check in and navigation.

Check out these other retail examples.

It’s worth noting that beacons can only operate/talk in one direction. This means they can broadcast data but cannot read things off your phone. In short, beacons don’t track you, your smartphone tracks the beacon.

A great resource for brick-and-mortar stores, beacons are a cost-effective way to drive customer engagement and connect in-store and ecommerce shopping. A consumer might walk down an aisle with a digital storefront, pass a particular display and be directed to an online portal with discounts or cross-sell opportunities. Online and offline shopping begin to coexist at this point, delivering the ultimate retail experience.

Beacons make a great location-based marketing tool for engaging customers in a personalized way and gaining customer insights. Make sure you deploy them effectively, however, by offering targeted content that encourages customer loyalty. It’s a fine line between engaging customers and alienating them with too many push notifications and pesky messages.

Ecommerce Trends – The 2017 game changers!

It’s another bright and shiny new year, and ecommerce continues to evolve with new and innovative trends. Online spending is growing and is expected to exceed $400 billion per year in the U.S. by 2018 and nearly $40 billion in Canada by 2019. In order to actively engage customers and stay ahead in today’s competitive market, consider the following game changers affecting ecommerce in 2017.

Mobile Engagement

While consumers have been using their smartphones and tablets to shop online for a while now, to date they’ve been less likely to convert on purchases than desktop users. However, according to think tank Gartner, by 2017 ecommerce-driven mobile revenue in the U.S. will increase by at least 50%. This creates huge potential for motivated retailers to improve the performance of their mobile sites and increase mobile conversion rates. Just think—if you’re not offering your customer an effective and engaging mobile shopping experience, you’re missing out on a huge audience for your brand, and potentially losing sales.

More Pay Options

Offering customers quick and easy online payment options results in more conversions and improved customer retention. Rather than entering payment and shipping information over and over, digital options store the information for repeated use on the site. Most ecommerce sites at the very least offer a mobile payment option for PayPal.

Another incentive for mobile engagement, mobile wallets will play a big role in how consumers pay going forward, often replacing traditional wallets altogether. They hold information about credit and debit cards, store coupons, loyalty programs and more. Some of the most common mobile wallets used by consumers include PayPal, Google Wallet and Apple Pay. In addition to smartphones, consumers will now be able to make payments from other accessories like watches and rings.

User-Centric Shopping

The best way to gain and retain a customer is to deliver content that is relevant to that individual. Customer-centric technologies let retailers track past orders and anticipate future needs, allowing them to focus advertising, sales and location-based deals at a highly personalized level. Companies like Kissmetrics offer software that delivers real-time analytics of detailed consumer shopping behavior. This allows retailers to provide a unique online shopping experience to each consumer, increasing conversion rates and repeat business.

Virtual Sales Force

Expect to see more virtual sales teams on ecommerce sites in the coming years. Addressing customer questions and concerns in real time allows a shopper to get information at anytime, anywhere, without delay. We’ve already seen success with chatbots (fully automated chat agents) and digital assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana. Live online sales assistants, however, offer a truly personalized shopping experience. Spending and conversion rates are shown to increase following live chat sessions.

Faster Delivery Times

In today’s world, not only do consumers want to easily make purchases from anywhere, they want products delivered quickly. Amazon Prime led the way and other retailers are following suit, working through the logistical issues that arise with such quick turnaround times. Startups like Postmates often begin by offering same day service in select cities, with the aim to expand in time. And Amazon’s idea of a crowdsourced delivery system where regular people will deliver packages for a small fee could change the way businesses look at shipping in the future.

These are just a few of the ecommerce trends that will continue to pick up steam in 2017. Ecommerce selling is becoming increasingly personalized and interactive; engaging customers in real-time and customizing their experience has never been more important to sales and brand loyalty.

Selling with email marketing? – Here are 4 simple ways to boost ecommerce sales

It’s a fact: email marketing outperforms social media for selling online. That should come as no surprise. Post an offer or discount on social media and there’s a risk that target customers may not be online at the time. Consequently, the offer gets lost in an avalanche of posts when they do eventually log in.

By contrast, send an automated – yet personalized – email and your offer will reside in the most intimate of digital spaces: the inbox.

Research by the Direct Marketing Association uncovered these interesting numbers:

  • 4,000% is the estimated ROI of eCommerce marketing emails;
  • 72% of consumers would rather receive promotional material via email than social media; and
  • 38% of consumers say that they subscribe to email lists to get special offers.

Keeping these statistics in mind, consider the following points to help use marketing emails to convert subscribers into buyers:

Make your email stand out

Billions of emails circulate the world on a daily basis. Your customers are busy people. It’s important to make sure your email stands out from the crowd and can be read on any device. Chances are, the mail will be opened on a mobile device, so text should be responsive to the size of screen.

Bear in mind that the aim of your subject line is to get people to open the mail. No more, no less. Keep the subject line short and specific. Address the mail to a particular person, if possible, rather than to a company. Avoid words such as “free,” that have a tendency to trigger spam detectors.

Content matters

Once the customer has opened the email, it’s important that they see the benefit to them. It could be a great offer, or perhaps some amazing informational content. Use graphics and images that add value and vary the visual dynamic with bullet points.

Call to action

Once the customer has a few salient details about your offer and understands the benefits, insert a call to action. Focus on the one action you’d like the customer to take. It could be “Buy Now,” “Download Today,” or “Read More,” but try to use a button graphic rather than text. Shopify’s email Buy Button is a perfect example of a visible call to action.

Don’t forget to place any button or text where it can be easily seen without the customer needing to hunt for it.

Time is of the essence

Before hitting the “Send” button, think about the timing of an email. While it’s true that the mail will be waiting in the inbox for the customer, catching them at the most convenient time can be key. For example, a number of studies by email marketing management platforms such as MailChimp and Hubspot have shown that most email is opened mid-morning on weekdays.

However, this is just a general trend and might not be true for your audience. Test and analyze when your mails are opened – most email marketing software products will be able to check – and customize your mail-outs accordingly.

Not every customer will be in a buying mode, so it’s important to nurture your email contact list from time to time with items that inform rather than sell, such as newsletters or info blog posts.

And remember, email marketing is one of the rare forms of advertising where the customer has actually consented to receive information from you. Use that fact to your advantage to move people who have browsed your site into customers familiar with the checkout process.

The social media BUY button is here! But will it really impact your eCommerce sales?

Since its introduction a few years ago, much has been made of the social media “Buy” button. Its impact on online sales, however, is still yet to be truly seen. Social media presents an enormous potential to drive online revenue, but is the Buy button the answer? In this post, we’ll look at the different buttons and how they’re being used.

Make Mobile Buying Easier

The main aim of the Buy button is to make it easier for eCommerce businesses to connect and engage directly with customers, drive more conversions, and remove some of the inconvenience from the mobile device purchasing process. Although 60% of retail browsing is done on smartphones, according to research, only about 15% of purchases are made on these devices. Considering the small size of smartphone screens and the tendency to browse on the go, it’s not surprising that many users wait until they’re on their laptops to make their final purchase decisions.  The Buy button facilitates driving mobile conversions on social media sites such as Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram, by implementing a secure and simple buying process for on-the-go users.

Social Buying through the World’s Most Popular Sites

Twitter was one of the first social media sites to introduce the Buy button in 2014. It went on to sign up some key retail clients, such as Best Buy, Adidas, and PacSun. However, Twitter users have to wait for the shoppable tweets to appear; there’s no way currently to search for them.

Pinterest introduced the blue “Buyable Pin” concept in June 2015. The successful online site has already signed up giant U.S. retailers such as Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Michael’s. Homemade shop Madesmith has reported that around 7% of their sales are coming via buyable pins.

Facebook added a Buy button for ads seen on newsfeeds in the U.S. The popular social site uses the Shopify eCommerce platform and makes it easy to purchase products without leaving Facebook. The social giant’s unique access to user data and its success in targeting audiences with relevant ads means it has a head start in the social media eCommerce market.

Owned by Facebook, Instagram introduced its “Shop Now” button in 2015. However, this call-to-action button still takes the user to the retailer’s site, rather than facilitating sales within the social network itself.

A Click to the Future?

According to the Washington Post, while e-retailers of all sizes have been embracing the Buy button technology, social media channels accounted for just 1.8 percent of online sales during the 2015 holiday season. However, analysts believe that the button has huge potential.

According to market data, social media users spend about 1.72 hours per day shopping and account for 28 percent of online activity. Over the past two years, major social media sites have been scrambling to introduce some sort of buy button, trying to turn their networks into eCommerce shopping malls.

eCommerce sites have typically lacked those “impulse buy” moments that we all experience in a brick-and-mortar store. That moment when we’ve bought what we came to buy and are suddenly seized with the impulse to buy something else unrelated.

The “Buy”  button in social media may fix that.

Bro: Millennials are turning eCommerce on its head. Here’s how to reach these shoppers!

Millennials are becoming the single most influential generation in the eCommerce universe. In the U.S., millennials (now aged 18 – 35) comprise more than half of online shoppers. In Canada, one in five shoppers in that age group made a purchase from a mobile phone. In Europe, 78% of millennials chose to purchase from one retailer over another based purely on delivery options.

Some known facts: millennials like to browse in-store, then seek out the best price online. They’re won over with the cheapest delivery options. They want to buy when stores are closed. They’re more likely to buy personal care items and cosmetics offline but flock to eCommerce sites offering products such as electronics, music, clothing, furniture, and e-books.

Here’s how online stores can respond:

Make Supremely Shareable Content

Millennials are tech-savvy and social media-hungry. They expect eCommerce sites to be optimized for digital devices.

Rather than relying on brand advertising, millennials are adept at searching the web for information and typically turn to review sites and social media outlets. They’re active participants, both seeking out information about an intended purchase and posting reviews on products they buy.

They fill out surveys on everything from customer service, to products and content. And they’re not shy about sharing experiences, both positive and negative.

Offer an Array of Related Products

Millennials love to window-shop and will click on cross-sell and up-sell opportunities where they happen to be shopping and on social media sites. In fact, millennials are notorious “clickers” without completing sales. They have been shown to put products in the shopping cart and leave the site in the hopes that the retailer will email or target them with a special offer.

On the upside, this generation is amenable to retargeting, also known as remarketing. Retargeting is a cookie-based technology that uses code to anonymously follow a targeted audience over the web to determine shopping habits and product preferences. A recent survey indicated that 72% of millennials view this type of targeted marketing as acceptable.

Make Saving Fun

Compared to their parent’s generation, millennials have grown up in relatively lean financial times and have an eye for a bargain accompanied by the technological know-how to find it.

Virtual coupons and loyalty programs are popular with this group. Surveys have indicated that millennials are a key segment for brand loyalty programs. Almost 70% of millennials surveyed said they would change where they shopped if it meant getting more rewards, and one-third responded that they had bought something online that they didn’t need or want to simply earn points or increase membership status. Gaming techniques are popular with this generation.

Embrace Their Unique Tastes

The millennials are a challenge to eCommerce. E-retailers are responding by optimizing their sites for mobile devices. They’re offering a personalized experience, targeted ads, loyalty programs, and easy-buy, easy-return options.

Above all, millennial-savvy eCommerce stores offer great customer service and keep in touch – via mobile devices and social media sites, of course.

The BIG round-up! Site add-ons that are helping sellers build better online stores.

Major DIY eCommerce platforms such as Shopify and Bigcommerce have extensive app stores offering hundreds of add-on applications designed to help merchants build more successful online stores. From inventory and shipping management to customer service and cart abandonment, the focus of these applications is to help sellers drive sales by improving their online stores.

Although not exhaustive, here are some apps that can help an eCommerce store drive purchases and boost revenue:

Product Description Generator

A downside to operating an online store is the necessity to describe every single product in a way that is not only concise but also persuasive and unique. It’s a specific skill that not every company has the time or expertise to put together. Enter the automated product description generator.

kopigin draws from a deep database of product descriptions—written by a team of professional writers—and automatically generates content for eCommerce stores. Easily customizable and export-friendly, kopigin tailors the descriptions by attributes chosen by the user. It’s a quick and affordable way to generate hundreds of product descriptions that will help drive sales.

Live Chat Feature

In a physical store, a consumer typically has access to a salesperson to ask questions and get guidance before buying. The eCommerce equivalent is the live chat feature. Research studies suggest that consumers who take advantage of live chat are more likely to complete their online purchases.

ZopimOlark and LiveChat are just three of the many web-based apps that offer to engage your customers and drive conversion. There are apps that wait for the customer to initiate the conversation and others that offer intervention strategies when it looks like a shopping cart is about to be abandoned.

Reviews and Referrals

Studies indicate that online customer reviews have a positive effect on buying completion rates. Sharing those reviews via social media helps spread the word. Yotpo is designed to help eCommerce stores generate customer reviews and, because it’s integrated into social media, makes it easy to share those reviews on a store’s Facebook page or Twitter account. The result is more qualified traffic on the eCommerce website.

Another app, Kudobuzz, authenticates customers via a log-in from their social media account. It solicits comments after purchase to assure potential buyers that they can trust reviews on your site.

However you choose to garner reviews, customers love to know that other people are happy with their purchase.

Cart Abandonment Solutions

Shopping cart abandonment is the bane of many eCommerce stores. Anywhere between 60% and 75% of shopping carts are left without a purchase. Picreel offers exit strategies that target customers about to leave the store and direct them to special deals. ShopStorm has created a number of eCommerce apps, such as Jilt and Happy Ending, to tackle the abandonment issue, increase conversion, and turn customers into fans.

New apps appear on a daily basis and many of them are geared towards the eCommerce market. Review your store with an eye to where apps might be useful to take your customer service up a notch, drive conversion, and increase revenue.