Tools, Technologies and Tips for Ecommerce in 2017

Tools, technologies and tips for ecommerce in 2017

As someone who lives and works in Vancouver, I spend a lot of time popping around the city attending tech industry meet-ups, networking events, and panel discussions. I love that our city is buzzing and that new opportunities present themselves at every turn. Our local tech industry is growing by leaps and bounds and I'm thrilled to be a part of it!

But does that mean that you're doomed if you DON'T live in a tech hub? Are you automatically at a disadvantage if you want to make it in our field outside of these areas? Are your chances of becoming a quality web designer/developer lower from the start?

NOPE, nope nope!

Thanks to the internet, information is instantly accessible to anyone, anywhere in a way that has never been seen before. This means that even if you don't live in a major area where tech events are happening every night of the week, you can still get the Coles Notes of these events with a little research!

I'm trying something new in today's article and am sharing my notes from a recent tech event I attended called "Tools, Technologies and Tips for Ecommerce in 2017".  This way, even if you weren't able to attend in person, you can still see what experts in the field have to say on the topic!

Related: 5 tips for attending your next tech event - video

I don't do a huge amount of ecommerce implementations beyond basic Squarespace ecom or PayPal/Stripe integrations, so I enjoyed getting out and learning more about this branch of the industry. It was especially interesting to hear about future trends and apply them to my own real-life shopping experiences!

Related: Everything you need to know about Squarespace commerce and setting up payment processing

Without further ado, here are my event note from "Tools, Technologies and Tips for Ecommerce in 2017".


Tools, Technologies and Tips for Ecommerce in 2017

Ecommerce Market Trends

  • Ecommerce is taking off, especially for younger people (Gen Y / Millenials)

  • Amazon dominates the market share

  • Commerce & ecommerce are merging through omni-channel integrations
  • Personalized shopping experience. New, relevant & unique content provided based on demographic profiles, previous purchases, visited products, website history on company's website, etc.
  • People tend to research and view products/services on their phones but purchase on PC (disconnect between sessions & revenue between platforms)
  • Top priorities for ecommerce: ease of use/usability and conversion optimization. Also a big focus on sharing and saving products on website so that they are highlighted and presented on future visits
  • All machines are being trained to learn and problem solve which is changing the way customer service is handled - moving away from real people since most queries can be handled by bots. 
  • Increase in live chats. Buyer conversion rate is 5-10x higher following a chat session. Bots will automate this process since they are able to retain more information than a person (& less time spent ramping up to high-level knowledge). 
  • Expect to see more personalized buying experiences (customer profiles), automated customer service (e.g., through chat, bots, & knowledgebase answers) and price comparison shopping

Ecommerce Technologies

  • Web apps come from 3 parts: database, server, client side
  • Use client information to create and store information. Built CMS (like Squarespace or WordPress) has this already 
  • Payment processing (e.g., PayPal or Stripe) gets connected
  • Integration statistical/conversion tools (Google Analytics, Clicky, Woopra) to analyze user behaviour on the website. Easy to implement, simply sign up for an account, paste code into script file then view data on their platform
  • Complex sales driven techniques only happen when you extract data from multiple databases/servers to create/use advanced algorithms. Things like predictive analytics, focused marketing campaigns (e.g., segmented sales funnels), etc. Amazon's "people who bought this also bought that" feature is a great example. Requires research and a large budget to implement

Ecommerce Tools

  • Comparing Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento
  • Shopify: strong for starter B2C, simple for B2B websites, SAAS based model (not very customizable), worry free, easy to use out of the box system. Depends on plugins for many integrations so keep an eye out for plugins which are the root for extra charges that can quickly ramp up. Shopify also limits who they work with (not for all businesses / industries) through payment gateways. Rapidly growing user base, investment closer to $5k 
  • WooCommerce: Simple to modify, B2B & B2C websites (strong entry solution). WordPress open source plugin, hosted model (not SAAS) so requires hosting and security ($1k/year at least), good for content marketing. Customizable but watch ROI. WordPress focused, second largest installed based, investment around $10k mark (plus more for customizations, plugins, multi-level pricing)
  • Magento: Mid-sized Community edition / large business Enterprise (lots of capabilities). Based on open source technology, hosted model, excellent for integration and customization. Dominates market and is rapidly growing, focused on B2B and omni-channels. Largest installed base with investments around $15-40k mark for Community and $100k mark for Enterprise. Inexpensive compared to IMB, Oracle, SAP ("bargain" for cost & implementation)
  • Challenges in ecommerce: customers' product data; unprofessional plugins have limited functionality, don't always play well with each other, and have poor code/usability; Integrations (CRM, ERP, inventory); the "multis" - store, language, currency, brand, etc.

Omni Channel

  • Convergence of sales channels
  • Covers in store, desktop and mobile shopping with a focus on overall experience
  • Going to see more and more physical stores set up with iPads for online shopping / browsing AND gathering data for customer profiles (like you would with online purchases)

Ecommerce Logistics

  • Fulfillment planning - what are you selling and to where? How will it get there (shipping)?
  • Flat rate vs real time rate for shipping costs. Flat rate is less popular and real time rates are more common
  • Mail carriers vs couriers (Canada Post, UPS, FedEX) and connecting inventory & shipping directly to them

Event Photos

I snapped a few pics to share on my Twitter, see below:


Final Thoughts

Ecommerce is one of the fastest growing industries and is taking up a bigger percentage of market share every month. More and more people are browsing and shopping online and it has direct impacts on almost every physical and online business. While ecommerce opens up products/services to a whole new market, it also requires business owners to think strategically about attracting new customers and developing a long-term relationship with them. In order to be profitable for years to come, business owners need to invest in the ecommerce platform that is right for them, fits their budget and meets all their needs.

As I mentioned above, this is a new article format so I'd love to hear what you think about it! Would you like me to continue sharing tech event recaps and notes? Does this type of content interest and help you? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email with your feedback! 


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Charlotte O'Hara

Vancouver