In our latest ecommerce monthly roundup, summer kicked off with a lot of new and interesting updates throughout the month of May. With each of our monthly roundups we continue to focus on bringing you news you can use, helpful resources and guides, and hopefully some interesting topics to think about in the coming summer days!
Big updates from Shopify include making KIT (the virtual assistant app) completely free, new channels including Buzzfeed, and a whole new look and feel. On the advertising front, we saw updates from Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat that open opportunities for merchants.
Finally, we leave you with a video to watch that we’re thinking about: “The Rise of the Machines” and how it’s affecting us, the world around us as automation starts impacting our jobs, and the way we work.
Let’s jump into our roundup of the best ecommerce resources for the month of June!
Kit is Now Free for All Shopify Store Owners
Date: June 7, 2017 Author: Kit
KIT is now free! This handy virtual assistant on the Shopify platform use to cost $10-25 a month to help you with marketing your website. Among the many things KIT can do, a few examples include helping you create and run Instagram and Facebook ads, help you win over customers who abandoned their checkout carts, retargeting ads, and it can help you set goals for your business. In addition to all of that, KIT has a whole slew of skills that connect with some of the more popular apps on Shopify to help you with additional capabilities.
Instagram Creates a Feature to Make Sponsored Posts More Clear
Date: June 14, 2017 Author: Thomas Hobbs
There has always been two ways to reach your customers on Instagram – use Instagram ads, or find influencers to sponsor a paid post. In the latter method, an influencer’s post is shown to their audience mixed in with their organic posts – which sometimes make it hard to know if a post was paid. Instagram is instituting new rules to make it more clear to consumers that a paid post is sponsored. The benefit to the advertiser is you now get shared access to the data behind that post including reach and engagement. Although this is rolling out slowly, you should start seeing this in your Instagram feeds starting with the most popular influencers. Take advantage of this functionality when it becomes available to stay out of legal trouble and to get more insights when you work with your influencers!
Facebook Adds “Family Targeting” to Ad Products
Date: June 28, 2017 Author: Andrew Hutchinson
Facebook is constantly adding new ways to target your audience on their platform. In this newest release, you can now use the new targeting option as a way to target a whole household at once which would expand the reach of an ad to everyone in the family. This is a good option to use for some product categories where a product can benefit the household – say for example a new couch or a new leash for the family pet. If you’re doing Facebook advertising and have a product that helps a whole household, this could be an interesting experiment to try!
Amazon’s Launches “My Mix,” a Personalized Shop Filled With Your Favorite Things
Date: June 9, 2017 Author: Sarah Perez
Amazon quietly announced “My Mix” as a new way for consumers to discover and find interesting products to buy. Aside from a new user experience that is almost Pinterest-like, they introduced the concepts of “My Hearts” which are ways to (heart) and revisit products as consumers explore the stream. Based on what you (heart), Amazon will suggest and recommend products as well. If you sell on Amazon, or use the Shopify or Bigcommerce Amazon syndication, you may want to learn more about this feature to see how it may expand exposure to your product listings on Amazon.
Announcing Exchange: Shopify’s Marketplace to Buy Ecommerce Websites
Date: June 28, 2017 Author: Fabien Mouvet
Shopify recently announced “Exchange” as a way for merchants to sell or buy fully built-out ecommerce sites. If you’re looking to get started in ecommerce, or want an additional ecommerce site to to run, look at the listings on Exchange as a way to find merchants looking to sell a site they no longer want to run. Many of these sites have existing traffic, customers, and even inventory that can get you started in ecommerce faster. Shopify even discloses the verifiable revenue and traffic behind these sites and gives you a way to contact the owner to work out a price and terms of sale.
Barclays Strategist: We Could Lose Another 1 Million Jobs in Retail
Date: June 16, 2017 Author: Jacqui Frank and Kari Chin
If you’ve been following the news, you may know that the retail sector has been becoming significantly impacted as shoppers move from brick and mortar shopping to online shopping. With more and more services this “stay at home” economy is expanding at the expense of retail stores and with it, retail jobs are being reduced as many traditional retailers close their stores or reduce their employee headcount. According to Barclays, they anticipate that the number of retail jobs may shrink 10-15%, or almost a 1 million jobs, as the industry resizes. For online merchants, this should be an opportunity – not only to expand in the changing behavior of shoppers, but also to have access to a large talent pool of former employees who have retail experience. If you’re a retail employee, this is the time to think about participating as an online merchant!
Snapchat Makes Buying Ads Easier Than Ever
Date: June 12, 2017 Author: Villy Devlioti
With Facebook chasing and copying every one of Snapchat’s moves, Snapchat is also rapidly expanding their self-serve ad manager that we first discussed last month. Now that the platform is completely open with no restrictions and bevy of new features, you can start your Snapchat advertising right now. Snapchat offers a more simplistic way to target audiences (age, gender, country) and offers new types of ad formats you can’t find on Facebook such as Sponsored Geofilters and Sponsored Lenses. Furthermore, you can also build audiences based on custom audiences, or “partner audiences” based on PlaceIQ (location database platform) locations. If you haven’t tried Snapchat advertising, this is a good time to get started at the ground floor where there’s less competition and plenty of opportunities to be first.
Behind the Scenes of the Buzzfeed Channel: An Interview with Ben Kaufman
Date: June 20, 2017 Author: Anshuman Iddamsetty
As they announced during Shopify Unite conference, Shopify is spending more and more effort on developing their channels. One new channel that was recently unveiled is the Buzzfeed channel that is unlike the other channels available so far. This channel allows a merchant to showcase their products directly to the editors and writers of Buzzfeed. You pick the commission amount you are willing to offer and, if your product is selected, it gets included in a story-like post on Buzzfeed. Read the post to understand how the Buzzfeed channel works, listen to the podcast to get the backstory on why Buzzfeed has partnered with Shopify, and then go enable the channel if you’re on Shopify!
App of the Month
Date: June 7, 2017 Author: Joe Teplow
Every so often we want to feature new apps that are interesting and unique, so this month we wanted to showcase “Rebel Shop,” an app that recently launched to help you get sales directly from emails. Instead of sending the standard emails where a user has to click back to the site to checkout, this app turns your email into the a checkout interface directly. With one-click purchase form email your users can quickly act and buy straight from their inbox, reducing the friction to complete a sale.
We Analyzed 100 Million Headlines: Here’s What We Learned
Date: June 26, 2017 Author: Steve Rayson
If your store has a blog and content marketing is an important part of your growth strategy, then this resource is a must read. If you haven’t heard of BuzzSumo before, it’s a tool that helps marketers find content that’s popular based on social shares or engagement. Since they have access to hundreds of millions of different posts online, this post is a culmination of their findings to learn what makes a good headline for a piece of content. See what you can learn from this post, but I promise you that the #1 headline format will make you feel more confident to reach more users!
How to Find Customer Lifetime Value
Date: June 9, 2017 Author: Jon Loomer
The customer lifetime value of a user is one of the most important metrics to understand on your site. It impacts not only just how much revenue you generate, but it can also impact how much you can afford to spend to acquire a customer. On Facebook, they now let you target users based on their lifetime value when you upload their value into Facebook. You can then create a custom audience based on these users, and like all custom audiences, you can then create lookalike audiences based on your most valuable customers. Jon Loomer walks through an example using Infusionsoft, but you can replicate his efforts using your own email service provider.
Date: June, 2017 Seller: Marshall Hass
When Shopify’s Exchange launched, we were curious to see what kind of stores would be immediately listed for sale. To our surprise one of the featured stores was Primary Goods. From their website and store description, Primary Goods is over 4 years old and operates in the “Home Essentials” category – a growing and popular vertical for online shopping (according to ComScore’s State of the U.S. Online Retail economy in Q1/17). Primary Goods is listed at $195K and has a revenue of $196K with over 240,000 sessions in the last 12 months. Take a look at this store, and others on the new Shopify Exchange!
What We’re Thinking About This Month
The Rise of the Machines: Why Automation is Different this Time
Date: June 8, 2017 Creator: Kurzgesagt
This last resource comes from the team behind Kurzgesagt (which means “In a Nutshell” in German). They’ve created this animated and beautifully illustrated video about the role of automation and how it might impact our future. As merchants, we straddle both sides of the shift towards automation – we both benefit from and are challenged by its rapid growth. On one side, we have amazing tools like KIT and other tools we use to make our jobs as merchants possible. On the other side, our customers and audiences as a whole are suffering from lower wages and the lack of job opportunities. There’s no immediate takeaways from this video, it’s simply a thought exercise to ponder and consider, but we encourage everyone to watch the video to see the ways that automation might affect your future, whichever side of the coin you’re on.
This concludes our round-up of the relevant news, tools and resources for the month of June. Take the time to explore some of these highlights and share them with your friends or colleagues in the ecommerce community. We’re constantly looking for new updates and topics of conversation in this ever-changing industry so make sure to stay tuned for next month’s roundup.