The eCommerce industry saw a sudden spike because of the pandemic that disrupted our whole system of transactional activities. It is rather safe to state that eCommerce will be the way to conduct business, it is the ‘new normal’ now. Though we have seen traditional brick and mortar shops resume operations with adherence to safety guidelines, ‘cautious consumers’ are still steering clear of any gatherings and are trying their best to keep human contact at a bare minimum. It is imperative to state that now is really a good time to start that little pet project or side hustle of yours if you were contemplating about it during the recent past.
Many people and ‘entrepreneurs’ (as they like to call themselves) have started to jump aboard this rocket to the stars called eCommerce. I would just like to give a few pointers as to how you can actually setup an eCommerce business which will provide you with what we like to call a ‘competitive edge’.
- The Niche
This is a very important aspect that I have seen many people ignore while planning their new venture. I have seen many eCommerce sites that have product categories which have no similarities and logic whatsoever. The Target Group is so widespread that God knows how many shopping campaigns they have to setup to get success.
The key here is to identify a niche that is not overly competitive thus giving you some shot at the market share and also doesn’t lack competition, which actually means that there is no (read as enough) demand in that niche.
- The Model
There are many models that may or may not apply to your business. Base your eCommerce business on the most suitable model and work your way up accordingly. Try to research and find out what other successful brands are doing in the same model. The models are bifurcated in the following manner:
- B2C – Business to Consumer
- B2B – Business to Business
- C2B – Consumer to Business
- C2C – Consumer to Consumer
Value Delivery Methods
- D2C – Direct to Consumer
- White Label and Private Label
- Subscription Based
Platform Based Methods:
- Mobile Commerce
- Facebook Commerce
- The Platform
Many people are still confused about how to setup their online business and which platform they should use. Refer to your budget and the kind of brand outlook you want to portray before cashing in on any platform. Following is a list of platforms, with names of brands currently using them, that you can consider for your ecommerce business (the order of the list do not signify anything and it is a random depiction of the platforms available):
- BigCommerce – SkullCandy, Bliss World and John Paul Mitchell Systems
- Shopify – Hasbro, Heinz and Penguin Books
- Wix – NetMD, Victoria’s Secret and SAG-AFTRA
- 3dcart – Daktronics Inc, Dotmailer and Webimax
- WooCommerce – Analytic Focus LLC, Fresh Realm LLC and Air Lift Company
- Squarespace – Tony Hawk, Airwalk and Lyft Blog
- Magento – Hermes, Christian Louboutin and Oliver Sweeney
- Weebly – Dwarmis, The Readydesk and Wall’ in
- Volusion – polartcenter, Nitecorestore and ansgear.com
- Prestashop – salling, pop-line and Harryfay
- The Registration
I will be focusing on how to register your business with respect to India only. If you belong to any other nationality please conduct thorough research before setting up your business.
- Submit the DIN 3 form on the official website of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Just attach and upload the necessary documentation and you will get your Director’s Identification Number.
- You need to have a PAN (Permanent Account Number) and Digital Signature Certificate.
- After getting your DIN you can check for the availability of the name you have chosen for your company on the official website of the Registrar of Companies (ROC) and even on the website of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.
- Once you get approval for the name you can incorporate your company within six months.
- You also need to apply for the Goods and Services Tax (GST) certification (Shops and Establishment License) which is required for Payment Gateway Integration and Professional Tax.
- The Marketing
The most important piece of the puzzle, the one that will ensure that quality traffic pours in your website and conversions keep raining heavier than peak monsoon. The aspects that you need to focus on to get your marketing straight and make your dreams a reality are:
- Search Engine Optimization also known as SEO – Well this is smart marketing and this rules over anything and everything. There is nothing like getting free, organic traffic to your website by just popping up on the results page with respect to your consumers’ search queries. I may have made it quite a lot simple there but the main point that I wanted to drive through is the fact that there is no harm in investing in SEO. The earlier you start the more advantage you will have over your competitors. You need the help of experts to guide you for this. SEO if executed properly will continue to provide you with returns over a long period of time. The right mix of low competition and high search volume keywords which pertain to your audience will bring the results that you wish for.
- Social Promotion and Advertisements – You can use all the tools at your disposal and invest in social media platforms to drive sales and increase your brand’s awareness. Again your niche and Target Audience will play a vital role in providing you the right results. If you run Ads blindly then you are most likely to miss and burn a hole in your pocket without any returns. Use Facebook and Instagram’s Shopping Campaigns to increase the number of conversions and boost sales for your brand. The manner in which you showcase your product/service will determine the conversion percentage. Try to put yourself in the shoes of your consumers and ask yourself if you would click on your Ad and buy your product/service or not. This will help you to fine-tune your Ads.
- Retargeting – This is a process where a cookie (not the one in your jar) is placed on the system of those who have visited your site and exits without making a purchase. Now if this visitor enters another site which hosts retargeting ads then he/she will get to see ads of your products. Though this is an expensive route to use the rate of positive results is much higher if you use this method.
Those were some vital points which I believe many people do not take into consideration while planning about their eCommerce venture. Wish you all the best and do not hesitate to reach out to us if you are stuck somewhere while planning your next eCommerce business.
Facebook in the recent past started showing leniency in certain cases towards their 20% text rule in Ads. It was not a total surprise when we found out that Facebook had completely removed the rule and also the Text Overlay Tool which was used by all advertisers to make sure that their Ads perform efficiently.
The Following message was communicated directly to media buyers:
So what does this sudden change mean? Theoretically speaking it will still be relevant but there will be no enforcement of the rule. Keeping the proportion of texts used in an Ad lower, will simply force the advertiser or creator to only focus on the main points that they want to convey. This is the best practice as Ads should be able to communicate with the target audience without the need for much attention and within a short span of time.
People don’t read all that is written on an Ad, so if someone runs an Ad with only texts on it, it is less likely to fetch desired results.
Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller in his latest Ask Google Webmasters video revealed that there is no ranking benefit associated with having keywords in a domain name. Keyword based domain extensions also known as top level domains (TLDs) offer no ranking benefit according to John.
This contradicts many studies and surveys which indicates that having keywords in the domain helps in ranking. Mueller specifically mentions in the video that a keyword in a domain name will not help a site rank better for that keyword. This is what he said, “Just because a website has a keyword in its domain name doesn’t mean that it’s more relevant than others for that keyword. In short, you don’t need to put keywords in the domain name.”
He even further went on to mention that using a keyword in a domain may put the site at a disadvantage. He states that it will be difficult for any particular site to shift to a different niche if they have a specific keyword in their domain.
Mueller said, “From a practical point of view, it’s worth also keeping in mind that businesses evolve over time, and moving domains is hard. So it often makes sense to pick a domain name that you can use for the long run and not necessarily one that just matches what you’re offering today. For example, if you focus on making awesome blue widgets, and build your website on BestBlueWidgets.com, what do you do when you start offering red widgets?”
Planning for the long haul is the key here. Choosing a domain name which can be used universally, irrespective how the business changes itself. It is absolutely unnecessary to worry about your site’s domain name and whether it will help you to rank for a specific keyword or not.
In John’s words, “So instead of spending too much time on the domain name, or the top-level domain name, focus instead on building a site that you can continue to use for the long run.”
You can watch the full video here: https://youtu.be/nSAVmUvMU_0
Google has rolled out new attributes for its My Business listings with options to help highlight health and safety measures. The aim is to help businesses highlight the measures they are taking to protect customers during the pandemic and this can make all the difference in choosing one business over another.
The new attributes that businesses can add to their listings are:
- Appointment required
- Mask required
- Staff wear masks
- Staff get temperature checks
- Temperature check required
Searchers can now take precautions accordingly and can use these attributes to decide about where to visit and more importantly the ones to avoid.
These attributes have already started showing up on Google My Business listings on all platforms. Though the response to rolling out these attributes has been relatively slow from Google’s end, it is still an important one. The new health and safety attributes join an expanding list of attributes that were added by Google specifically for the pandemic.
Google added the following attributes beforehand. Let’s take a look at the attributes which were added before:
Attributes for Local Restaurants (Added in May)
- Curbside pickup
- No-contact delivery
Attributes for Online Services (Added in June)
- Online Care
- Online Appointment
- Online Estimates
- Online Classes
Steps for adding attributes to your Google My Business Listing:
- Sign in to My Business Account
- Select and Open the Location that you want to make changes to
- Click on Info (from the Menu)
- Look for “Add Attributes”
- Click on Edit
- Search for the attributes or browse through the list of options
- Click on Apply once you are done.
Bing’s enhanced robot.txt tester has new features that improve the testing and diagnosing. Robots.txt is an essential file and producing a perfect one is a top priority for SEO.
The tool bridges an important gap as getting this wrong can create unpredictable SEO outcomes. A robots.txt file is a file that tells search engine crawlers what to do and not do on a website. A robots.txt file is one of the few ways a publisher can exercise control over search engines.
Errors in the robots.txt file can result in search engines crawling pages that were not meant for indexing. Without a search crawler block, your site will generate 404 error log notation in a random manner. Wrong entries in this file may result in diminishing the ranking of your web pages because they might have got blocked and you don’t have the slightest knowledge about the reason behind it.
With the introduction of Bing’s new tool, publishers can now review and test their robots.txt file in a much more efficient way.
Following are the actions that Bing’s new robots.txt tool takes to provide valuable information:
- Analyze robots.txt
- Identify problems
- Guides publishers through the fetch and uploading process.
- Checks allow/disallow statements
Read More about the official announcement here: https://blogs.bing.com/webmaster/september-2020/Bing-Webmaster-Tools-makes-it-easy-to-edit-and-verify-your-robots-txt/
Google issued the following statement: “In order to maintain our standards of privacy and strengthen our protections around user data, we have made changes to our Search Terms Report to only include terms that a significant number of users searched for.”
The effect of this change will primarily depend on how Google defines ‘significant’. This will surely affect the campaigns and budgets of many advertisers. The range of impact is yet to be ascertained. Currently we can see search terms with only one impression or click present in the search term reporting. This is a common sight but we can guess that this will not continue in the near future. All we can do now is wait and see how Google approaches the change to the search terms report.
We have to respect the fact that Google wants to protect user privacy but we also have to consider the impact once the data is withheld. The purpose is clear, Google wants to prevent misuse the access of personally identifiable information which users may have included in their search queries. It is also to prevent advertisers from exploiting query data to identify users.
Google already has a limit in terms of query data in their Search Console for this particular reason. A users’ query triggers ads and whenever a user clicks the advertiser has to pay for that. Now if this data is taken away, advertisers won’t know what we can’t see.
If the change is limited to only sensitive queries which trigger privacy issues then it is fine. Our main worry is that the statement has a different essence and there are thousands of low-volume queries with absolutely zero privacy risk. We hope Google will take the best course of action as far as this change is concerned.
The main challenge will be in the area of negative query management. Advertisers will have far less control over the queries that trigger their ads. Over the period of time advertisers have gradually shifted their focus a lot from positive keyword management to negative keyword management approach to their keyword optimization. Search terms reports play an important role nowadays because of this.
Limiting access to this data will create problems for advertisers. They will not be able to determine which queries should be added to the negative keyword lists to make their campaigns more efficient. A single low-volume keyword will not have much impact but in aggregate the costs will add up. Advertisers will not be able to understand which words or phrases are working and which ones are not.
Everyone thought that voice and virtual assistants will take over the market by storm. A lot of products were launched to target the consumers in this category. You will be amazed to know that the most voice search queries are placed from smartphones till now even after a few years has passed after the first virtual assistant products were launched. The likes of Google Home and Amazon Echo range are yet to see success in this segment.
Google still believes that there is a potential in this market and they continue to do intricate research on human language and wants to improve their search results with natural language understanding. The following voice search study data shows how much gap exists in terms of quality between Google and Amazon.
While previous studies had shown a different picture, the above data show the Google Assistant (on Android smartphone) and Siri had the lowest percentage of unanswered questions (2%) compared with Alexa, which couldn’t answer 23% of questions. This shows an astounding improvement for Siri and Alexa is the only one which is lagging behind in this competition.
We know that various voice assistants rely on different sources of information for generating answers to search queries. This is because they provide different results for the same set of questions.
Google Assistant responds to local queries with content from Google My Business (GMB) and the local pack. Siri draws primarily on Yelp. Alexa relies on Bing, Yelp and Yext.
Areas of focus for Google optimization:
- Focus on Google My Business
- Use structured data
- Use content that are in conversational language
- Focus on common user questions and standard FAQs for your products and services
Areas of focus for Siri:
- Optimizing Yelp business profiles
- Choosing the correct business categories
- Adding lots of images (applicable for GMB too)
- Keyword Optimization in Yelp profile content
- Having a steady stream of reviews
- Responding to reviews on a regular basis
It is needless to say that if you are already in the habit of using best practices for SEO then you will do relatively well in results for voice search too. The key to optimizing for voice search is to write content for your users and their needs. To summarize, we believe that keeping your focus on the platform specific factors, voice or conversational optimizations (FAQs), creating the right content for your customers and paying attention to listings and reviews should fetch you good results.