Our Unbiased Comparison of Hosted eCommerce Platforms: Shopify, Volusion & Bigcommerce

February 3rd, 2015

There are numerous eCommerce platforms out there that can help merchants create an appealing online storefront, and provide consumers with an outstanding shopping experience. eCommerce platforms are generally fall into 1 of the following groups: hosted or self-hosted solutions. In this post we look at the most popular hosted platforms – Shopify, Volusion, and Bigcommerce.

At eBridge Connections, we believe that all three are great platforms, with each possessing its own unique characteristics. That being said, I will discuss the distinctive features of each platform from an unbiased point of view.



Bigcommerce is a fairly easy platform to utilize when setting up an online store. It’s a fully loaded eCommerce platform consisting of a wide variety of features that help you create an attractive storefront. As with many platforms, it provides several search engine optimization (SEO) tools, such as page titles, meta descriptions, search engine friendly URLS, sitemap submission with Google and Bing, to help make your storefront visible and accessible on the web.

This platform provides various built-in marketing tools, such as discount/coupon codes, social media integration, newsletters, automatically generated customer lists and an abandoned cart saver, which can help attract potential customers to your store and drive sales. Additionally, Bigcommerce offers product reviews, product recommendations, wish lists and product comparisons, which aid in increasing conversions by turning store visitors into buyers.

What’s more, you can build your online store however you like! Bigcommerce has a large collection of themes that you can choose from. If you are a beginner, you can utilize the point and click design tool to change the layout and functionality of your store. For those who are more advanced, the eCommerce platform has customizable CSS/HTML that you can use to perfect your webstore to suit your needs.

As well, the platform provides it users with Bigcommerce University, where they have access to tips and step-by-step tutorials for running a successful online store.


Bigcommerce charges a monthly fee, depending upon what type of plan – Silver, Gold and Platinum – you invest in. The Silver plan is the cheapest at $29.95 per month and offers all the basic necessities that are required to launch your storefront. The Gold plan – the most popular – charges a monthly fee of $79.95 and offers additional marketing tools, such as loyalty marketing, Omni-channel sales and abandoned cart saver. As well, there are no transaction fees and you get unlimited storage and bandwidth. Last but not least, the platinum plan charges a monthly fee of $199.95 and provides the same features as the gold plan, while adding in Google trusted stores automation,- a certified badge that helps drive traffic, build trust and improve conversion with excellent customer service- data migration, one-on-one expert setup and troubleshooting.

If you wish to try out the eCommerce platform before making the big investment, Bigcommerce also provides a 15-day free trial.



Having similar features as Bigcommerce, Volusion is a less expensive yet fully loaded eCommerce platform. It offers over one hundred ready-made templates, free and paid, that help in designing an appealing storefront. If you’re looking for something customizable, Volusion also allows you to create your own storefront design with full access to HTML and CSS files.

The Easy Editor tool is a great feature that allows you to make design or content changes easily without any coding. It’s an easy to use tool if you are creating an eCommerce storefront for the first time or even if you are highly advanced. It saves you time and effort by not having to update your code every time you need to edit content.

A very popular feature offered by Volusion is the Deal of the Day and the Free Slideshow. The Deal of the Day creates a sense of urgency with your customers by offering them daily deals on your website, which immediately increases revenue. The free slideshow highlights the top discounts and best-selling products provided on your website directly on your homepage.

Additionally, Volusion features a one-page checkout tool that has the ability to create custom checkout fields, making it easier to convert shoppers into buyers.


Similar to Bigcommerce, Volusion has four monthly plans – Mini, Plus, Pro, and Premium – which you can choose from. The low-priced mini plan charges a fee of $15 per month and includes unlimited storage, no transaction fees, 100 products, and other basic add-ons, such as online supports, social media tools, Facebook store, and many others. On the other side of the spectrum, the premium plan charges a monthly fee of $135 and offers unlimited storage, no transaction fees, unlimited products and additional add-ons, such as priority support, a dedicated account manager and unlimited products.

Just like Bigcommerce, Volusion provides a 14-day free trial to those interested in testing the platform to see if it suits their needs.



In addition to Bigcommerce and Volusion, Shopify possesses some of the same characteristics. It has over a hundred different professional themes that you can select for your storefront. Similarly, it allows you to customize every aspect of your website and checkout with full access to HTML and CSS files of your store.

Shopify has an app – Shopify Mobile –  that allows you to manage your inventory and fulfill orders right from your mobile device, making it convenient when you’re on the go. As well, Shopify Mobile includes a built-in mobile commerce shopping cart, allowing your customers to browse and purchase products from any mobile device or tablet from anywhere!

Shopify provides you with a full blogging platform with great features where you can publish and categorize articles, create look books of your products and encourage discussion on your blog. This helps in promoting your storefront through the use of relevant content to your buyers.


Shopify offers three different monthly plans – Basic, Professional, and Unlimited. The basic plan charges a monthly fee of $29 and includes features such as 1 GB of file storage, unlimited products, 24/7 support, discount code engine, a free Shopify card reader and many others. The unlimited plan charges a fee of $179/month and includes features offered in the Basic and Professional plans with a few add-ons, such as unlimited storage, advanced report builder, and real-time carrier shipping. If you are looking for a very basic plan, Shopify also offers a starter plan for just $14/month. With this plan, you get limited features that allow you to upload up to 25 products, 1 GB file storage, unlimited bandwidth, no transaction fees, if you use Shopify Payments, chat and email support.

Similar to the other eCommerce platforms, Shopify provides a 14 day free trial to prospective users, allowing them to evaluate the platform before making the purchase.


The integration capabilities are similar for all three of the eCommerce platforms. They can integrate with several marketing and store management applications, such as Facebook, Help Scout, MailChimp, and others.  Additionally, using an integration provider such as eBridge Connections, you can integrate Bigcommerce, Volusion and Shopify with your accounting/ERP system – for example MS Dynamics, NetSuite, Sage, SAP, and several others.

What type of business should use these platforms?

The eCommerce platforms mentioned are targeted towards small to mid-size businesses that are in search of a simple, easy to use eCommerce platform that helps them through the process of building a storefront for their business from beginning to end.

All three eCommerce platforms – Bigcommerce, Volusion, and Shopify – possess great features that will aid in development of your online store. However, it is the specific features that your company needs to operate a profitable eCommerce property that will ultimately help determine which platform is the right fit for you!

Please let us know your thoughts on these platforms in the comment section below. We would love to hear what you are looking for in a platform.

Anum eCommerce, eCommerce Integration , , ,

Enhanced ASN Label Service for eBridge On The Cloud Customers

January 28th, 2015

At eBridge Connections, we are dedicated to providing our customers with solutions that simplify business processes, saving them time and money. One way we do this is by developing product enhancements. Recently we have enhanced our ASN Label Service for eBridge On The Cloud (EOTC) customers, by adding the option to save labels as a PDF.

Many existing EOTC customers have already benefitted from the repository of label templates that we maintain. The templates are maintained by eBridge to align with EDI trading partner specifications. With the enhancement, customers will now be able to configure the ASN Label Service to print labels directly as an image file or send them to a warehouse as a PDF. A label image file will be sent directly to a locally-accessible printer from your ePortal Account. A label PDF file will be saved to a local directory where you can distribute, print, and archive as needed. Both of these options can be automated, allowing labels to be generated as ASNs are built, or you can choose to release labels as needed.

Below is a sample process flow for automated label pdf creation and label printing is as follows:

If you are interested in adding or reconfiguring the ASN Label Service, please don’t hesitate to contact your eBridge Account Manager for more information.

Amanda EDI Integration, General EDI, Integration, Uncategorized, eBRIDGE Blog , , ,

eBridge Connections Shines in the Holiday Spirit, Donating to a Local Food Bank and Children Christmas Sponsorship Program

December 23rd, 2014

Employees of eBridge Connections joined in the holiday spirit and organized a food drive for the 5th straight year to bring hope, relief and security to Burlington families struggling with hunger. Nearly 17,000 residents in Burlington are living below or at the poverty line, and approximately 10% of children are at risk of going to bed hungry.

Left: Cam Jackson, Vice Chairman, Board of Directors, Partnership West Family Support Network; Centre: Colin Brown, CEO eBridge Connections; Right: Paul Tammeorg, Operations Manager, Partnership West Family Support Network

Over the course of a week, employees at eBridge collected boxes full of food to help feed the less fortunate. In the end, together we collected an impressive 572 lbs. of food – the highest amount yet in the last 5 years! All of this food was donated to Partnership West Food Bank – a local food bank in Burlington dedicated to acquiring and distributing food to the less privileged. Partnership West Food Bank provides food to over 700 people in the Burlington area, which is made possible through the donations they receive from individuals, corporations, churches, community events and many other means. They distribute packaged, canned, perishable and non-perishable food items that meet all Canada Food Safety Standards.

In lieu of purchasing the weekly fruit groceries for the employees for the past two weeks, eBridge Connections donated the monetary value of $200 to the food bank as well!

In addition to the food drive, we participated in the Halton Region Children Christmas Sponsorship Program as well. With generous donation contributions from eBridge employees we were able to support a family for Christmas by providing them with warm clothes and gifts.

Left: Bryan Christopher; Centre: Lesley Gibson; Right: Kim Hawley

A special mention to some of our eBridge employees – Bryan Christopher, Lesley Gibson and Kim Hawley – for organizing and running the food drive! And a big thank you to Lesley Gibson again for organizing the Children Christmas Sponsorship! Last but not least, congratulations to everyone at eBridge Connections for a job well done!

Anum Events, Uncategorized, eBRIDGE Blog , , , ,

Top 5 Ways to Enhance eCommerce Store Performance for the Holidays And Beyond

December 18th, 2014

Excitement is in the air as Christmas is just around the corner! The malls are packed with large crowds of shoppers trying to finish – or start – their shopping. However, there are also people who have decided to avoid malls altogether and chosen to shop online from the comfort of their home. What last minute things can you, as an eCommerce retailer, do to attract these shoppers? Fear not, I will be outlining several tactics that can be used in order to enhance your web store’s performance for the holidays…. and beyond!

Let’s get started!

1. Mobile Optimization

This point cannot be stressed enough! In today’s digital age, everyone has a mobile device and uses it for just about everything. If your eCommerce platform is not optimized for mobile performance, you risk losing a considerable amount of traffic to your site. Make sure your website is optimized for mobile and tablet usage, making it easier for shoppers to browse around the site on these devices.

2. Free Shipping and Extended Return Policies

In order to attract shoppers to purchase products from your site, consider offering free shipping as an incentive during peak shopping seasons, such as pre and post-Christmas. Additionally, as consumers purchase gifts, there’s a general fear of defective items or worse, the fear that the recipient won’t like the item. Thus, you may want to simplify and extend return policies as a means of persuading shoppers to choose you over other retailers!

3. Server Performance

Delay in site load time can reduce conversion rates by a significant amount. To accommodate high traffic volume to your site during the holiday season, check to see if your site is fully optimized to handle the changes in traffic. If not, make the necessary changes, such as upgrading your hosting plan or server hardware.

4. Promote Popular Products

Research your sales metrics on the products that are being sold and determine the return you’re generating on each product. Focus on promoting products that are popular amongst shoppers and have a healthy profit margin. This will help drive your bottom line immediately and moving forward!

5. Secure Site

You’ll need your customers trust in your site in order for your eCommerce activities to succeed during the holiday season. Make sure your site is fully secure in terms of customer data not being hacked or breached.

Utilizing some of these approaches will help engage consumers on your site and convert traffic to sales. What other tactics have you implemented to your site that have proven to be successful? Feel free to share them in the comments!

Anum eCommerce , , , , ,

eBridge Business Rules: A Primer on Personalization

December 17th, 2014

eBridge Business Rules are like paint: they personalize your data integration, enabling you to meet your business needs. Like the joists and framing of a house, our Web Connectors and Accounting Application Components, provide the structure for data integration between your systems.

What is data integration personalization? Let’s illustrate with an example of creating a new customer during the sales order creation process.

Suppose your Web Store order data contains the following information about your new customer:

Name: Joe President
Address: 1601 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington DC
Telephone Number: 555-555-5555
Email Address: president@email.gov

Your Accounting Application has the following fields on the Customer Record:

Telephone Number
Customer Comment 1
Customer Comment 2
Customer Class

Our Accounting Application component will handle the obvious: mapping the Name, mapping the Address, and mapping the Telephone Number. However, what about the Email Address? What if you have an accounting practice that requires data in the Customer Comment fields?

Below are 5 ways you can personalize the remaining 4 lines of data to meet your business process needs using eBridge Business Rules:

1. Map the Web Store Email Address to the Customer Comment 1 field
2. Specify the Customer Class ‘WEB’ as configured in your Accounting Application
3. Map ‘New Customer’ or other comments you require to the Customer Comment 2 field
4. Capitalize the Name field
5. Delete the Telephone Number from the data

Keep in mind that the data transferred between systems is primarily determined by your eCommerce and Accounting systems. If your eCommerce store only sends Customer First Name and no Customer Last Name, then that’s all we can work with. Similarly, if your Accounting system has a field for Customer Telephone Number but not Customer Email Address, you will need to determine an alternate field to store the Customer Email Address.

eBridge Business Rules allow you to combine, split, re-arrange, add, and remove data during the data integration process. How would you like your data personalized?

Amanda Education, Integration , , ,

Heavy Order Volumes during the Holidays – No Problem!

December 16th, 2014

We at eBridge Connections are pleased to update you with a holiday success story of our own that may be of interest. Since Thanksgiving (Nov. 27), our ePortal integration application has processed over 2.5 million documents – over 1,750,000 inbound and 750,000 outbound! Of greater importance, ePortal handled its largest volume of transactions ever over the Thanksgiving shopping weekend without experiencing any major outages – a great performance milestone!

Why is this important you might be wondering? It’s a simple answer. When businesses need integration in order to keep growing they need an integration solution that is scalable and reliable. No matter the volume of the amount of orders that need to be processed, they need a solution that can handle it. eBridge customers don’t have to worry about their documents not being processed in time or having to deal with major technical issues during the busiest times of the year. We know the headaches of having to deal with mishaps during peak times. That’s why we provide our customers with integration solutions that provide consistent, optimal performance.

We’d like to congratulate our Dev and IT teams for a job well done and to our customers who have placed their trust in us! If you’d like to know more about eBridge and the integration services we offer, please visit our main site or give us a call at 1-800-755-6921.

Anum CRM Integration, EDI Integration, General EDI, Integration, The ePortal Web-based Transaction Engine, eCommerce, eCommerce Integration , , , , ,

Black Friday & Cyber Monday: Will shopping from mobile devices be the new trend?

December 5th, 2014

With hopes of setting new holiday sales records, Black Friday is the most anticipated day of the year for retailers. However, this year’s Black Friday turned out to be a bust in terms of in-store shopping. Instead, the real shopping happened online, where, according to NPR News, there was a 9.5% increase on Black Friday and a 14.3% increase in sales on Thanksgiving Day compared to the same time last year. Similarly, sales rose on Cyber Monday, although, as reported by NorthJersey.com, at a slower rate of only 8.1% compared to last year’s 20.6% rise in sales. However, as Practical Ecommerce stated, Cyber Monday still outperformed Black Friday, as web sales were 30.5% higher than those of Black Friday.

As just about everyone has access to mobile devices, online shopping for both of the year’s marquee shopping events was specifically driven by consumers utilizing their mobile devices. Forbes reported that mobile devices accounted for a third of online shopping, with 30.3% of online sales done on tablets and mobile devices, up from only 22.5% on Black Friday 2013. For Cyber Monday, Internet Retailer reported that mobile sales accounted for 22% of the sales and 41.2% of online traffic. Mobile shopping proved to be the real game changer during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday madness. Due to the mobile shopping frenzy, Best Buy’s website received a vast amount of traffic on Black Friday, causing its site to crash and forcing the large retail chain to shut down its website in order to restore it.

Several big box retailers achieved great results from the Thanksgiving weekend and Cyber Monday sales. Target and Wal-Mart reported strong online sales throughout the Thanksgiving weekend. According to Supermarket News, By 9 a.m. on Friday morning, Target reported that its online sales had exceeded its total sales from last year’s Thanksgiving shopping weekend. Similarly, Wal-Mart reported its online sales were record breaking for Black Friday and came second to its Cyber Monday sales from 2013. Additionally, Wal-Mart claimed they received a record number of web orders for their Cyber Monday discounts.

Although online shopping sales for the Thanksgiving weekend proved to be successful, overall shopping traffic was down 5.2% compared to last year, reported Supermarket News. This may be a result of retailers continuing their sales and discounts past Black Friday and Cyber Monday. As a result, consumers don’t feel the urgency to spend money on deep holiday discounts, which are still available well past these holiday shopping days. As well, many retailers started promoting and offering holiday discounts a week before the busy shopping weekend. This allowed shoppers to shop around for the perfect deal before committing to purchasing a product and provided them the option to shop earlier.

To see ongoing success in the coming years for online shopping, retailers should pick up on the trend of mobile shopping and ensure their websites are optimized for mobile users, and even tablet users, as the majority of shopping traffic will be encountered through these devices. Since most big box retailers started offering discounts before the Thanksgiving weekend, other retailers will have to start promoting and offering discounts before the popular shopping weekend in order to compete with the big box stores.

As consumers shift their shopping habits to the online realm and use their mobile devices to conduct purchases, it will be interesting to see how retailers continue to shift their attention online for popular holiday shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday!

Anum eCommerce , , , ,

Feature Overview: Magento Enterprise Edition 1.14.1

November 19th, 2014

Released on November 13th, Magento Enterprise Edition 1.14.1 provides merchants with new and updated features that can help create a more appealing online shopping experience.

I will introduce the various features that the new Magento Enterprise version has to offer below, along with the benefit of each feature for businesses in hopes of increasing their overall performance.

Product Presentation

A new “swatch” feature is present in Magento Enterprise Edition 1.14.1 that helps merchants make their products appear more appealing. It allows quick access to product information – such as colour, size, fabric, and much more. The swatch feature has the capability of updating the product image instantly once clicked, providing the shopper with the opportunity to view what the colour or fabric looks like on the product before proceeding with the purchase.


Through the swatch feature, merchants are able to better display their products by showcasing different attributes to the shoppers. As shoppers are able to visually see what the product would look like with a certain colour or fabric, they are likely going to be more confident in making a purchase, hence increasing conversion rates.Magento Enterprise Edition Update

Responsive Design

Magento’s updated responsive design theme includes mobile-friendly features that are accessible through any device. Core Magento features included are gift registries, downloadable products, multiple wish lists, add-to-cart by SKU, and private sales. As well, the design caters default email templates, allowing customers to read email order confirmations and newsletters on various devices.


The previous version of Magento Enterprise already featured a mobile-friendly responsive design theme that functioned flawlessly. While there were not any drastic changes to the responsive design theme in 1.14.1, some of the added features, such as gift registries and wish lists, will allow merchants to further leverage special events to increase sales. Consistent with the previous version, merchants can get a responsive site in about half the time, allowing them to market products quickly and freeing up resources that can be used for other projects.

Visual Merchandising Tool

The new visual merchandising tool – available only in the Magento Enterprise Edition – lets merchants see exactly what the category page will look like to consumers through the drag-and-drop attribute the tool offers. It allows merchants to adjust their product positioning to their satisfaction and feature popular products at the top of a category. Additionally, the tool provides the freedom of setting up rules to automatically assign products to distinct categories and allowing sellers to create their own categories based on product characteristics – such as “on sale items,” “new products,” and so forth.


The visual merchandising tool provides a quicker and easier way to organize products on a webstore, reducing the amount of time merchants spend on categorizing their products. As well, as the products are more organized into their respected categories, it makes it easier for shoppers to navigate around the store interface and find products that they were wishing to purchase easily, ultimately increasing sales.

Improved Performance and Security

The new Magento Enterprise Edition version enhances performance and security by supporting MySQL 5.6 and PHP 5.5. Through MySQL 5.6, sellers experience improved site speed and scalability, reduced memory usage on the database server, and better debugging tools. Similarly, PHP 5.5 provides merchants with security improvements and continued access to code updates.


These upgrades will enhance the overall store building experience for merchants and site performance for visitors. The previous Magento Enterprise version supported PHP 5.4, which had already provided better performance and efficient memory usage. However, by supporting PHP 5.5 and MySQL 5.6, shoppers will benefit from heightened security and will be able to browse webstores at quicker speeds.

Quick resolution to Technical Issues

Merchants are able to produce comprehensive reports about their installation that help support teams to quickly analyze and repair any technical issues that arise. The reports consist of detailed system information – such as the Apache version, MySQL settings, extensions, database corruption status, etc. – providing support teams with the necessary information required to diagnose the problem, without the nuisance of multiple back-and-forth communication.


With quick resolving of technical issues, merchants don’t have to worry about their site being under maintenance for a long period of time, reducing the negative shopping experience for consumers, losing out on potential customers, all together.

Improvements in Quality and SEO Support

This feature is perhaps the most important that applies to many eCommerce stores out there. To improve product quality, the Enterprise update includes many improvements to promotions, product import/export capabilities, security, etc. In addition, this Magento update now allows merchants to use full-page caching when running on HTTPS, which Google has stated it will consider as a ranking signal.


The improvements in SEO support will help merchants further optimize their sites for search engine rankings. Additionally, as the update allows the usage of full-page caching when running HTTPS, this allows merchants to follow Google’s guidelines while maintaining peak performance of their site.

The new merchandising features found in this version of Enterprise Edition are indeed valuable in creating in overall optimized performance for merchants and shoppers alike! If you are interested in reading more about the updated release, please visit Magento’s Blog.

Anum eCommerce , ,

5 Useful Blog Posts about What’s Happening in eCommerce Today

October 27th, 2014

The dynamic world of eCommerce is constantly changing and evolving, making it difficult to keep up! There are countless blog postings and articles on the web that highlight the latest trends and news related to eCommerce.

eCommerce Trends

In an effort to save you the time it would take to sift through what is worth reading or not, I have hand-picked 5 of the most useful blog posts published in the last few months. Enjoy!

1. KISSmetrics
“Three Risky Ecommerce Techniques That Could Actually Increase Your Conversions”

What it’s about: Who would have thought using a popup, giving away free things and creating a long landing page – all the techniques that we have been told to avoid – would now translate into increasing conversions! KISSmetrics discusses how these techniques can be implemented strategically so they aren’t considered “annoying.”

Why it’s useful: The post provides valuable ways as to how the “risky” techniques can be applied in order to increase customer conversions. By providing examples of businesses that implemented the techniques and what steps they have taken to make them work, it makes you want to step out of the safe zone– like they say, there’s always an element of risk involved when conducting business!

2. Bigcommerce
“Does Twitter’s ‘Buy’ button signal a new era for eCommerce?”

What it’s about: Twitter announced the addition of a new eCommerce feature – the ‘Buy’ button – that will allow customers to view offers and merchandise that they can’t get anywhere else and act on them straight from the social media platform.

Why it’s useful: If you sell or are looking to sell your products through social media outlets, such as Twitter, this post is for you! It provides comprehensive insights as to how the process works and what advantages it has for its users.

3. Shopify
“The Ultimate Guide to Pop-Up Shops”

What it’s about: A new trend of pop-up shops is emerging as the divide between the online and offline world of business is rapidly disintegrating. Businesses that once solely sold online are now expected to take advantage of this trend to engage with the consumer on a face-to-face basis.

Why it’s useful: Pop-up shops are the new “cool” thing on the block. It’s a way to engage the consumer with your brand through a physical appearance rather than just a digital presence. If you have only sold online and aren’t aware of the steps to take in starting a pop-up shop, don’t worry, a complete step by step process is provided from beginning to end.

4. Practical Ecommerce
“5 Way to Jumpstart Mobile Ecommerce”

What it’s about: With nearly everyone owning a smartphone today, it was only a matter of time that mobile eCommerce would become mainstream. The article highlights five key ways that you can optimize your eCommerce website to capture sales from mobile devices.

Why it’s useful: A lot more people are starting to purchase items from their smartphones as it becomes more convenient. The post outlines comprehensive steps that an eCommerce retailer can take in order to generate sales and be successful in the mobile environment.

5. Econsultancy
“Seasonal Pages and SEO Strategy: What Works Best?”

What it’s about: Holidays are a great time to attract people to visit your eCommerce store to purchase products. However, how do you attract people to visit your site versus competitors? By comparing tactics of well-known retailers who have an online presence, this post provides a rundown of what SEO strategies work for seasonal pages and which strategies you should skip.

Why it’s useful: As the busiest holiday season is just around the corner, online retailers can benefit from this post by utilizing the advice provided to develop or modify their seasonal pages for SEO optimization.

If you are looking for new techniques that are emerging in the eCommerce world, check out these blog posts for more insights!

Do you know of any other unique blog posts discussing the latest trends evolving in eCommerce? If so, feel free to share them in the comments!

Anum eCommerce , , , ,

The Advancement of Amazon & Its Impact on eCommerce Retailers

October 14th, 2014

Amazon, an innovative powerhouse whose brand is recognized globally, has become the largest online eCommerce retailer, accounting for approximately 23% of all online purchases made by consumers. The eCommerce icon has experienced continued growth and has opened doors for several other online retailers to follow in its footsteps. On September 30th, ChannelAdvisor held a webinar, in which their Amazon experts, Rachel Miller and Gina DeFrank, discussed the recent advancements of Amazon and their effect on online eCommerce retailers. Below are the highlights from the webinar.

Programs Offered by Amazon

Amazon offers two main programs that have proven to be a great success in helping eCommerce businesses grow. They include:

1. Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime was launched in 2005, offering customers free two-day shipping on millions of items, unlimited instant streaming of over 41,000 movie & TV episodes and over 350,000 Kindle Titles to borrow for free. Over the years, members of Amazon Prime have grown significantly from 30 to 40 million in the U.S. and 40 to 50 million globally. On average, Amazon Prime members have been spending 2.3 times more on Amazon purchases each year, compared to non-members. For users who are attracted to special incentives, Amazon has been encouraging a slower shipping method (FREE no-rush shipping) to its Prime members by offering them incentives. Recently, they changed the incentive to include a $1 credit that can be applied to buy books or eBooks.

2. Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)

FBA is a highly recognized program offered by Amazon, helping businesses worldwide. How does the program work you ask? It’s actually quite simple! Businesses store their products in one of Amazon’s fulfillment centres and Amazon takes care of packing, shipping and providing customer service for these products. It’s a fast and easy process!

Mobile & Social Aspect of Amazon

On July 2014, Amazon launched its Amazon Fire smartphone. It has a distinctive recognition feature, known as the Firefly, that helps users scan and identify products such as books, songs, movies, etc. Users can then find the product on Amazon for a lesser price and purchase the item directly from the phone.

An effective strategy that Amazon has implemented is the usage of hashtags on Twitter. They created two hashtags – #AmazonCart and #AmazonWishList. They both work in the same way by allowing users to tweet or retweet a mention of an Amazon product, including either of those hashtags. These items are then dropped into your Amazon shopping cart for purchase. Retailers, whose products are found on Amazon, are using these hashtags to promote their products on Twitter. It’s a pretty neat concept!

Advertising Products using Amazon

As mentioned in the webinar, retailers can choose from three opportunities to promote their products on Amazon:

1. Product Ads

This option allows you to upload product information onto Amazon. Once shoppers click on the ad, they are redirected to the landing page on your website, where they may purchase the product. All you have to pay is a cost-per-click (CPC) fee every time a shopper clicks on the ad. By using Product Ads, businesses benefit from increased web traffic to their website and highly targeted placements.

2. Sponsored Products

This is similar to creating website content for search engine optimization. You upload product info and enter keywords. Once the targeted keyword is searched, the ad is displayed and shoppers are taken to the detailed page where the offer is listed. Similar to the Product Ads, you pay a CPC fee.

3. Sponsored Links

By using this advertising opportunity, ads for external sites that relate to the product or content being searched are placed on the page.

What does this mean for eCommerce Retailers?

You may be wondering how these programs assist eCommerce retailers in progressing their business. As mentioned previously, the Amazon Prime members are growing at a substantial rate and they consist of loyal and active shoppers who are accustomed to fast, free shipping, not only from Amazon, but even when purchasing from other sites. Consequently, you may want to think about offering free shipping and/or low or no cost, fast shipping, if you don’t do so already in order to attract the Prime members and appeal to new customers. Additionally, FBA is a great way to access Prime members and you may want to identify products that you can sell using FBA – the Amazon Selling Coach is a great place to start for suggestions.

We all know that the usage of mobile devices and social media is on the rise. Retailers who aren’t using these outlets are losing out significantly. It is becoming increasingly more important that your products are seen by on-the-go shoppers. As well, if your target market for your products is the millennial age group, it’s a great way to reach this market as they are highly tech-savvy! If you don’t already have a presence on Twitter, now is the time to create an account and develop a strategy. For those who do have an account, continue to promote yourself and gain followers. As well, promote your products that are on Amazon and incorporate the hashtags!

Lastly, by promoting on Amazon, new opportunities are available to be visible to more shoppers and to participate in the daily deals that take place. As well, it allows more traffic to be directed to your own webstore.

The recent and preceding advancements have taken Amazon to new heights. It will be interesting to see how Amazon continues to innovate within the eCommerce market and create new opportunities for everyone!

We would like to thank our industry partner, ChannelAdvisor, for putting together such a great webinar. For additional insights on Amazon view the on-demand recording here.

Anum eCommerce ,