285: Linda Bustos On The Latest Trends In Ecommerce

285: Linda Bustos On The Latest Trends In Ecommerce

Today I have an extra special guest on the show, Linda Bustos. When I first got started in ecommerce way back in 2007, Linda’s articles were what got me through the dark periods of my business.

She runs the Get Elastic Ecommerce blog which is recognized as one of the top 15 entrepreneur blogs worth reading and a top-50 spot on the AdAge Power 150.

She has an incredible breadth of knowledge in ecommerce and I’m excited to have her!

What You’ll Learn

  • The primary source of growth for her clients in the past year
  • The latest ecommerce trends. What’s working well and what’s not
  • Linda’s opinion on Amazon
  • How her clients prepped for the holiday season

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Klaviyo

Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
Privy

EmergeCounsel.com – EmergeCounsel is the service I use for trademarks and to get advice on any issue related to intellectual property protection. Click here and get $100 OFF by mentioning the My Wife Quit Her Job podcast.
Emerge Counsel

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.

Sellers Summit

Transcript

Steve: You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into the strategies they use to grow their businesses. Now today, I have one of my early e-commerce mentors on the show Linda Bustos and Linda’s posts on the get elastic blog were instrumental in helping my online store get off its feet way back in the day. So I’m excited to finally meet her and have her on the podcast.

But before I begin I want to give a quick shout-out Privy who’s a sponsor of the show. Privy is a tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store and right now I’m using Privy Display a cool Wheel of Fortune pop-up basically user gives your email for a chance to win valuable prizes in our store and customers love the gamification aspect of this and when implemented this form email signups increased by a hundred thirty one percent. Now, you can also use Privy to reduce car abandoned with cart saver pop-ups and abandoned cart email sequences as well one super low price that is much cheaper than using a full-blown email marketing solution. So bottom line Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers and recover lost sales so head on over to privy.com/steve and try it for free if you decide you need to the more advanced features use coupon code MWQHJ for fifteen percent off once again that’s privy.com/steve. Now on to the show

I also want to give a quick shout-out Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode. Code Black Friday is right around the corner and for my e-commerce store email marketing is a heavy part of my holiday sales strategy. And in fact last year, it was close to 50% of My overall sales. And of course as you all know klaviyo is the email marketing tool that I use for Bumblebee Linens now Klaviyo is the growth marketing platform chosen by over 20,000 Brands generating more than three point seven billion dollars in Revenue in just the last year and with the holiday season right around the corner klaviyo has created the ultimate planning guide for crushing those holiday Revenue targets for marketing creative to segmentation strategy. These are proven tactics for more personalized marketing, especially in time for the holiday season. To get ahold of this guide, visit Klaviyo.com/mywife. Once again, Klaviyo.com/mywife.

Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast we will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle so can spend more time with your family focus on doing the things that you love. Here’s your host Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today, I have an extra special guest on the show, Linda Bustos. Now. Linda has been an e-commerce for as long as I can remember and when I first got started in e-commerce way back in 2007. Linda’s articles were what got me through the dark periods of my business and her post were they were like the Bible to me and during her earlier years. She wrote in managed to GetElastic e-commerce blog growing it from 200 to over 20,000 daily readers with recognition from the Wall Street Journal as one of the 15 entrepreneur blogs worth reading and a top 50 spot on the adage power 150 and she’s also provided consulting on conversion optimization, web experience, content marketing strategies and more. To some of the world’s largest and most exciting online companies and after getelastic. She started her own firm called EdgeAscent where she now helps e-commerce companies with strategy and growth and with that welcome to the show Linda. How are you doing today?

Linda: Well Steve. Thanks for having me on.

Steve: Yeah. So Linda, you know for everyone who doesn’t Not know that you are a legend in e-commerce. Tell us about how you got into the field and kind of what you’re up to now.

Linda: So I feel like I kind of bustled my way into to this. I’ve always been interested in internet marketing like ever since College, you know, and I found that my college education was way outdated Because the Internet moves a lot faster than textbooks can be written. So kind of when I was released into the wild after school, you know, I had to do quite a bit of my own research on SEO and paid search and got my hands dirty quite early on, you know working as an SEO and internet marketer for a web design company and working with clients right away and and but what I really really loved to do was write, write about strategies right in online forums. And that kind of thing. I started a Blog called the smoger the Social Media blog.

Steve: I didn’t know about that blog. Okay

Linda: Yeah, it was like blogger.com like one of those create free and there was this meme going around that a friend of mine added me on to is called the Zedd list or the Z list. Sorry I’m Canadian, so we say Zedd, but it was useless and it kind of went all all around the internet and I got reposted on like Seth Godin blog and all this kind of stuff. It was a meme of all these blogs and so I got a readership kind of by accident off of that and I got Twitter followers by accident through this thing that went around and then I just really, you know, just really double down on blogging, I loved it. I loved I loved just finding examples and compiling them and putting them together. It was just kind of I enjoyed that a lot more than doing actually.

Steve: Okay.

Linda: S o I got into that and then and then one of the founders of elastic path, which ran the get elastic block at the time was also a friend of mine here in Vancouver and and you know brought me onboard full time to run that blog because I really found e-commerce to be the most exciting pocket of the web. Right? And there’s so much to talk about e-commerce and and I’m also an avid online Shopper so to blend to blend my own consumerism with work is great.

Steve: Yeah. No, I mean I used to read getelastic blog religiously. Actually, I read it religiously until you left and then I was happy to see that your articles are popping up again on that blog. So that made me very happy.

Linda: Yeah that Blog has undergone a complete reinvention since I’ve left the blog now has wow, probably over 50 guest contributors now and Coast daily. So yeah, it’s a different animal. Than when I left but there’s a lot of different voices and a lot of different perspectives on e-commerce. So yeah, I’m happy to be part of that project again and excited for some of the new new types of content. We’re gonna..

Steve: yeah, I know definitely start reading it again after a what is it like a four-year Hiatus. So

Linda: 4 years on the nose. Yeah

Steve: Yeah. So Linda I know that you’re always up to date with all facets of e-commerce. I was hoping you could just talk a little bit about Trends and what you’re kind of seeing and how how new companies are. To the adjusted landscape with Amazon and other competitors.

Linda: Yeah, so this year I think a couple breakouts have kind of come to know, number one being chatbots and the ability to use chat Bots kind of as an alternative list to your email. So there’s a couple different types of chatbots. You can have you can have one that’s just basically a virtual assistant on your site and you can program it with pre-built dialogues to handle, you know live person. For example, they’ve been a long time Live help service and they run numbers and on e-commerce inquiries and they say that 70% of Life help questions could easily be handled instantly by a chatbot and what that can do is if you can automate the first initial contact and then once the chat bot runs out of answers hand them off to a live person that just helps first of all speed never have to wait for a life help agent to get back from their other conversations again. And also, you know 24/7 accessibility and also, you know just reduce the load on your your life people as well.

So that’s just a basic, you know, question-and-answer bot and some of them are allowing you to do some merchandising in there to like show actual product recommendations and that kind of thing. But then there’s another arm of chatbots which can actually especially when they’re integrated with like Facebook Messenger or some of these other apps like kick or telegram, Skype they’re able to tap that Into that users phone in the messaging service and do follow-ups and remarketing and opt-in email and cart recovery, campaigns and all that kind of stuff, which is you remember back in the day like those recommendations that get that email in the first step check out right so that you can actually talk to these folks again. And now you can do it based on just cookies and remarketing through these through these platforms. So so that’s a great opportunity.

Steve: So what you are saying is completely accurate so we have a live chat bot actually on our e-commerce store and about 70% of the questions before were you know, how long is it going to take to get delivered? And what is the status of my order? And those have been completely automated away along with shipping times and and that sort of thing. So it’s been a huge help for our customer service team like we get a lot less phone calls now.

Linda: Yeah. Yeah, and I mean that really we live in an age where people don’t tolerate waiting for anything right so you can do something and silly, especially during the holidays, right?

Steve: What software is popular to implement some of the things that you were just talking about like remarketing Landing card and that sort of thing. What are some popular e-commerce software that are implementing these things?

Linda: Well, there are so many plugins that will do the remarketing. So there it’s it’s fairly easy to find some and then that that’s a double-edged sword right? Because there’s a lot of low cost free, you know, no friction tools that you can use but the more choice that you have can be a lot of legwork just making the right choice. So do you mean for chatbots?

Steve: Let’s talk about chatbots. Actually.

Linda: Yeah, I also like a short list ones I thought were the top ones for e-commerce and they kind of spend two categories. So there’s a there’s platforms like software-as-a-service chatbots that you can use where it’s hosted by the tool provider and you can just go in and basically build your dialogue flows. And that’s where the legwork comes in right? Because some of these providers have templates that you can kind of customize for basic inquiries and that kind of stuff but really, I mean that’s where the bulk of your work and bulk of you’re planning as a merchandiser as a retailer as an operations manager as a customer service department is to actually build those dialogues and decide what type of personality your Bot is going to have. Do you want it to have kind of more slang and talk like your Market or do you want it to be more professional?

You know, is there a branding team that needs to be involved in that? So that’s where the big work is but these builders make the actual building of the Bots and testing of these Bots quite easy. Also, like if you if you see chat Bots as more of an integrated conversational Commerce strategy, right? You can integrate a lot of these tools or build your own using the AI machine learning languages. So there’s like Microsoft has their Louis programming language and Google has one has a framework

Steve: That sounds really involve..

Linda: Dialogue flow.

Steve: Yeah. Does that involve coding? Like I think I’ve dabbled with the dialogue flow and it but you need to know how to code in order to implement it?

Linda: Yes, you need to know how to code so that’s kind of the platforms and software as a service ones are kind of more marketer friendly. Some are a little bit hybrid, you know, so your marketing can do their work and you know, get a little bit of extra feature with with they’ll integrate with dialogue flow and they’ll integrate with some of these other Frameworks, even though there are a builder? Technically. And then you have the pure builds and you know, if you’re just dipping your toe in and you want to get something up really quickly before the holidays, are you want to have a minimum viable? Product and kind of gather some data and then start investing in a bigger, you know more tech-heavy project a wise person once told me we many years ago get good at free right?

Steve: Yeah

Linda: get good at easy and then build from there.

Steve: So what are some creative uses for these chatbots that you’ve seen companies use?

Linda: Well, I guess customer service is kind of the entry level line, but for merchandising being able to kind of take a guided selling approach, especially on mobile because a couple things if you’ve ever tried to fiddle with a hamburger menu and the more categories and subcategories that you have, you know that slider many you can have three or four different, you know, layers deep of navigation also with site search on a mobile phone. First of all, you’ve got the phone often times tryna autocorrect what you’re trying to henpeck with your fingers and for product names and brand names, they don’t always exist in the dictionary. So you’ve got weird auto corrections and failed searches and the the keyboard pops up and takes up half of your Mobile screen and then the auto suggestions Papa.

Steve: Yes, yeah..

Linda : Yes? right. So being able to use your voice and just I mean voice recognition software has gotten pretty good so far and being able to use chat bot or just have it spit options to you. So if it says hey, what are you looking for? And it gives you three or four different pre-baked options and you just do one tap and then that dialogue breaks down from there and that bot can guide you towards a department or a set of products or gift recommendations or hone in on something that I think that’s the future right? You’re going to be talking and interacting and bypassing navigation menus and bypassing clunky search processes on mobile and just do everything fluidly with your voice or through one tap responses.

Steve: interesting. So instead of just using the hamburger menu, you’re suggesting just I guess replicating that in a chatbot to guide people to all your products that you sell.

Linda: Yeah. I think it’s an alternative to I mean, there’s always going to be people who want to browse in the traditional way and that serves them. But if you really want to give if you want to replicate that store experience, right you walk in and you talk to a sales person and they know everything they know all of of the inventory in the store and their job is to you know, ask you probing questions and to upsell you and to you know, give you details and attributes about the product and give their opinions and experiences like some of these chat Bots are integrated with like the yacht pose and the other site review application so that they can spit out product reviews in the future.

I think in the next two or three iterations of this you’ll be able to say show me the top rated, you know boots for boots for toddlers 3 Five, you know in the color green or whatever and you’ll be able to get that refined set of results provided that here’s the other caveat, you know, we need to get really a lot better with product data and consistency with product data to be able to actually feed that because even when we know with site search now you can type in like all of Green gum boots and you’re going to be missing a few because they didn’t have specifically Olive or you know, they use an alternative keyword.

Steve: What is is your take on voice search? I’ve been hearing that buzz word around like all a lot of shopping is going to be occurring via like Alexa and some of these other devices. Have you seen any of that take place yet?

Linda: Yeah the data that I’m seeing or the number that I keep seeing spit out is that it’s like two percent of Alexa users have you know made a purchase more than one purchase by voice? I think the initial purchase might be a little bit higher because I’m going by memory here, but It’s a very low adoption like through Alexa, but I do think that you know, the chat bots on individual retailers. And as people get more comfortable with actually talking through their phone. This is going to change.

Steve: How does that work? Exactly. I’ve actually never purchased anything via voice and I could imagine like when I’m just doing a search on Google like a whole bunch of things pop up, right? And I usually pick one with voice. It seems like you’re only given one choice.

Linda: Yeah, kind of what it’s doing is its speech-to-text right on the back end. So we’ll take your speech turn it into a text based query pull up the results and then maybe pick one based on Card results or or whatever is the top hit and then text to speech that back to you. You know, I think I think kind of like I hear a lot of fun from my friend people, you know when we’re just casually talking about AI or relax. Anything like that that I think there’s this perception that it is an actual fully baked artificial cognitive Computing that’s understanding exactly what you’re saying. But right now it’s very still programmatic. It’s very rules-based and it’s basically a voice version of search.

Steve: Okay. Does that imply then that you need to be like number one in the results then in order to get that sale?

Linda: Well, if we’re talking about like Google Voice optimization, so so Google has made a move towards cards based results for a while now and you’ll see that right away. If you type in a question and you’ll see kind of these top this top box of results almost like you don’t have to go to the website anymore to get your answer.

Steve: Yeah,

Linda: which is not so good for Publishers, but it’s kind of the way that Google wants to move to surveying and I think Amazon is going to be the next one to use that card spaced if they’re not already through Alexa. However, the challenge with that is exactly that you know, how do you optimize for that? If you’re product how do you get into search results and right now mostly it’s not for actual product results. It’s more about you know information about the product. So, you know, if you want to create a lot of QA content and attach it to your product page. I mean that’s a lot of legwork to get to answer a question that the customer is not even going to click through to your site anyway. Like I wouldn’t recommend it but other ways that are potentially that you can get there is number one.

You have to have really good mobile site speed because that’s part of like it’s a mobile first index now, so if you don’t have great mobile performance and mobile optimized site, you’re not even going to get in the main results.

Steve: What’s considered good right now or what is considered like passable.

Linda: Google has actually a tool the mobile check tool think it’s through Google analytics.

Steve: Yeah pagespeed insights right?

Linda: pagespeed insights. And so that’ll tell you those basic things. But yeah, you want to have a really fast loading speed. You don’t want to have too many. Also that pop up, you know, like pop-ups that my interrupt the users experience and yeah image image load size page load size that kind of thing, right? And yeah, and so there’s that but then also getting your like semantic markup and that kind of thing into Google as well. So having your prices having your stock availability having your local product data, I think the next iteration that Google will roll out will be for local results. Right? like show me the Sony, you know Sony headphones in and steel gray, you know closest to me and they’ll be able to tell you the retailer. So Google will have to pull in that feed data,

Steve: right I guess most shops who are using Google shopping already have that markup. I think if not in the feed but in structured markup on their site, so I would imagine Google will just take that data, right?

Linda: Hmm. Now if ever if most sites are doing that then it becomes like wow

Steve: Yeah I doubt that yeah. let’s do it have but quick question. So we were just talking about chatbots earlier where you can get them as a subscriber and then send them broadcast messages via messenger, just curious with the companies that you’ve been dealing with. Right now, I know with my store that the engagement on the messenger channel is 5 to 10 x better than email. So I was just wondering if you have been seeing that same thing. And if so have the priorities changed in terms of getting an email versus a chat subscriber.

Linda: Well, I think we’re kind of like now is a nice window to start doing it because it hasn’t really hit full saturation yet. Once it does I think the numbers will change because it will become just like email, right? Your essay, your Facebook Facebook Messenger is going to be become a Spam feed, you know, right because a lot of these retargeting campaigns don’t actually need an opt and right? it just needs you to engage on the site on your mobile while you have the Facebook pixel running. I was kind of caught off guard the first cart abandonment messenger thing that I got right because I didn’t even know it was a thing at that time.

I was like what the heck and and it felt very spammy to me and I opted out right away and it kind of gave me a negative impression of the brand. That was my experience. But but I think that, you know, kind of when something gets popular it kind of spoils it for everyone so get it get in on it now, but I think Smart marketers that are doing it now are going to be doing that testing to see like what’s the right timing? What’s the right Cadence who’s the right segment of visitor to remarket to under what conditions right? So it’s much better to send a cart abandonment message then just send a random offer that wasn’t asked for for example. The language that you use do you augment it with an offer right? Hey come back at 10% off make it worth your while versus just hey, we’re just tapping you on the shoulder because cuz we want your business back or you know, self-serving kind of remarketing.

So there’s a lot of ways that individual companies can get in there now and do that testing and figure out what works for them and really have that Insight at the time when it starts getting more difficult to to Market to people because everybody else has joined the party.

Steve: It’s interesting that you said the abandoned cart messenger message turned you off. Do you know what the general opinion is now, I guess this happened earlier on right or a while ago or?

Linda: yeah, it happened a while ago and then I’ve seen it a handful of times since but and now I just collect them because of course I want to blog about them and compare them and say who’s doing it, right and who’s doing it wrong, for me? It turned off because full disclosure. I wasn’t actually really interested in purchasing the item either. I mean I add stuff to cart to test checkouts all the time and that was the case with this one. So, so maybe my opinion would be different if I really wanted the Item and appreciated the reminder and I also don’t feel like I’m exactly the same.

Steve: way to advance of a shopper.

Linda: Yeah. I just know the back end a little bit too much in the marketing side of things to kind of experience things as a consumer. Okay, but you know, the numbers are speaking for itself like your experience you’re saying I’ve heard that up to 90 percent open rate on mobile marketing messages. And again, I believe that is just because it hasn’t become.

Steve: It’s not saturated, Yeah?

Linda: but I mean, yeah, this is a text-based culture right? Like I keep trying to convince my mom. She’s like I got I got a call your I got to call your knees. I got to call your nephew and my mom they don’t they don’t pick up the phone it was like..

Steve: Hahaha

Linda: Right?and like it’s like 69 percent or 70 percent of online Shoppers today would rather interact through a messenger or through instant message instant, instead texting or something then pick up the phone or even deal with email. So there’s there’s a lot of support for it. That way.

Steve: what is your take on push notifications? Any times?

Linda:: Yeah, I think they’re great if they’re opt-in. I mean that’s a great opportunity for you as a merchant take advantage of it, right? It’s just another opt-in. It’s one that kind of just gets a little bit more attention a little bit more engagement rate or a lot more than email. So it’s a great great great opportunity and SMS email list. If you’re not doing that now got to get doing that, you know, everybody’s using those pop-up. Here’s ten percent off your first order use Enter your e-mail, right and and I think is a big missed opportunity. If you don’t have an SMS option there.

Steve: interesting. So how are people using SI? So I’m actually not using SMS with my store yet. So you’re getting a cell phone number and then you’re sending text messages to the customer?

Linda: That’s right. Yeah.

Steve: Okay, is that intrusive? How is that working?

Linda: Well, because it’s opt in right. So that user has already given you permission and then again as a campaign manager, it’s up to you to test and watch your unSubscribe rates or your stop your text back when they stop and and and measure that back to what tactics you were using like how frequently were you doing? What was the offer? You know, what is the segmentation of that user that you can discern right you can kind of do a little bit of break down by like the users area code or stuff like that. If they’ve also opt-in by e-mail or you can use device detection to mount them back to what they actually do on the site. What categories theyclick into how frequently they visit and segment then that way I mean you wouldn’t want to be sending a weekly push to someone who visits your site once every three months or you might, right? So you have to encourage more visits. I mean, it’s very context dependent.

Steve: Yeah, that’s what software are people using for that.

Linda: Well there there are opt-in providers that will give you like your your opt-in lightbox your modal window or whatever. There’s a lot of different providers to do that so some have an SMS option some have Professional Services that could build it for you. Like if they don’t have it in their product yet or if you’re using your own. I mean, it depends on your platform too, it might need to be a plug-in or if you have kind of a developer friendly platform. We might be able to you know, build something that integrates with your own.

Steve: If you sell an Amazon or run any online business for that matter, you’re going to need a trademark to protect your intellectual property. Not only that but a trademark is absolutely necessary to register your brand on Amazon. Now, I used to think that any old trademark registration service would work and that could even try to register my own trademark by myself on the cheap, but I was dead wrong. Securing a trademark without a strategy in place usually results in either an outright rejection or a worthless unenforceable trademark. Now, that is why I work with Stephen Wagner and his team from Emerge counsel. They have a package service called total TM, which provides the same attention to detail and process that large law firms do at a fraction of the price. Now for me personally, I like Emerge Council because of their philosophy, their goal is to maximize IP protection while minimizing the price. So before you decide to register a trademark by yourself or file for other I could protection such as a copyright or a patent, check out Emerge counsel first and get a free consult. For more information go to emergecouncil.com and click on the Amazon sellers button and tell Steve that Steve sent you to receive a $100 discount on the total TM package for Amazon sellers. Once again, that’s emergecounsel.com over at emergecounsel.com now back to the show.

SMS sounds really intrusive like more so than messenger. Like I only SMS is my friends that can imagine getting marketing messages on there. So yeah, I’m just kind of curious I realized I actually haven’t encountered a site that I’ve shopped at debt takes my SMS yet, but I’ll be on the lookout for now for sure.

Linda: Yeah, I can offline I can dig up some that. I’ve encountered see how you doing it.

Steve: Yeah, what are you seeing in terms of Amazon and some of the Retailers you’ve been working with just kind of reconciling whether to go all in on Amazon versus focus on their site and that sort of thing.

Linda: It’s tough. I mean, I think it you’re at a really good Advantage. If you’re a digitally native vertical brand that you know, you have your Shopify site or you’ve got your your main site and then you yourself have put your products on Amazon versus others kind of getting their hands on your product and putting it in the marketplace if you know what I mean or Amazon itself. If Amazon itself is stalking your product like your own branded product. I’m not talking about if you sell another folks products that’s a I’ll get to that in a moment. But yeah, I think those are those are the brands and the and the merchants that have the most Advantage because you’re controlling the distribution and you’re controlling your merchant account in in Amazon. It gets a bit trickier when especially late let’s say you’ve been you have three or four local stores and then you have a website and you’ve got a good following in in your local let Let’s say you’re a surf shop right and you carry a lot of the national Brands just like, you know million other channel partners for those Brands.

So that’s where it gets tricky because that’s where customers are going to come in and use your retail shop as a showroom for Amazon or for, you know, other other sites with massive discounts or whatever, right? I think that’s where it’s the biggest threat and then and then if you’re a brand that has Amazon somehow getting Hands, like either through a third party distributor, for example, a lot of retailers and Brands can’t help that Amazon is getting their hands on stuff and then they undercut the minimum advertised price. They control the buy box and their stocking itself. They’re not going to show you as a as another by box option until they run out of their inventory. I mean this this is where it gets tricky.

Steve: How do you fight that so if you are an online store that sells other people’s products that are also listed on Amazon. I mean, how do you what are some things that you can do to stand out?

Linda: So that’s where you know using these Facebook remarketing using SMS messaging. One advantage that you have as a retailer with your own site is the ability to merchandize a lot better than Amazon does because Amazon is a haystack right? And it doesn’t always do the best job in supporting guided selling or building a bundle. I mean, they have the customers who bought this also bought but that’s purely based on you know billions and billions of skus of data and that kind of thing. So if you’re let’s go back to the online skater shop or snowboard shop. Then you will a you’re able to have build a relationship with a customer or with a visitor, you know, if you’re using the right cooking and device tracking and and remarketing that kind of thing.

But the way that you merchandiser site it can be easier to navigate with a tighter set of Skus. You can build bundles or the way. That you merchandize and decorate your pages the way that you handle look books and the way that you organize your site the coupons and the and the promotion’s that you send by email can can stand out from Amazon because again Amazon’s kind of like you go there you have to know what you’re going to buy. It’s not a browse friendly site not a project discovery engine. It’s really a spear fishing engine.

Steve: but the ship so how much of a factor is the shipping like two day shipping Prime shipping?

Linda: Oh, it’s huge. Yeah the customer today. A kind of expects it by Divine right? but there’s there’s some things that you can do on your website to actually improve the uptake of free shipping, right? So we did some testing on free shipping thresholds with a with a retailer. I was working with you know, 50 $50 free shipping or $75 free shipping or $100 free shipping and actually doing those tests. So to find what is that sweet spot of both revenue and conversion rate at different free shipping thresholds, and it’s Current for different retailers you’d be surprised in different markets and you know Finding ways to actually put those those free shipping incentives actually on the product page as well, you know being able to say like this this order qualifies for free shipping for this product qualifies for free shipping because it’s already over the $50 interesting is ready.

Steve: ahh Interesting.

Linda: Yeah, and and in the cart page saying congratulations you’ve qualified for free shipping instead. Just the generic free shipping over a hundred you just telling them and giving that feedback that yes, you’ve added this to cart and you’ve already qualified just reinforcing your

Steve: actually that I have on my site. I have like dollars to free shipping and when they achieve it, it turns a different color and it says you have any okay, it’s good.

Linda: Yeah. Yeah.

Steve: Do you think Drop Shipping is kind of dying?

Linda: I think it’s getting harder to do mainly because you know, the margins are so small, right? Yeah, and if your Drop Shipping from overseas and you can’t really control the shipping time, I mean if you’re competing with Amazon Prime right that that becomes a lot more difficult and also the cost to acquire a customer so you have to make sure that you’re advertising costs in your acquisition costs aren’t inflating so much that you’re actually losing money.

Steve: Yeah, I mean what I’ve noticed is that the margins are pretty small right? For dropshipping but then you can find the same item on Amazon and oftentimes it’s actually the manufacturer who is selling on Amazon right? at a lower price. So it seems like it’s just really hard to compete if you’re selling other people’s products.

Linda: Yeah, I think if you have a good way to convert if you have a good conversion rate and if there’s a sort of blindness for the customer that there are other options right? like I’d be surprised if I mean I sell I sell in the Etsy Marketplace.

Steve: Okay

Linda: so that site kind of has a even though you can find similar stuff for a lot cheaper, right? It tends to attract the type of customer that wants to stay within that market place?

Steve: right

Linda: and Look elsewhere. So if you have a Drop Shipping site that maybe has a lot of content or a lot of you know, authoritative, authoritative brand and where the content really that sells the, sells the guidance on what to buy and you’ve got a guide and then, you know, you’ve got three or four products in a carousel that they can purchase directly from your site then that’s kind of more of a closed system than you know, somebody who’s typed in. You know washing machine and you clicked on you and then they’re going to click back out and click, you know, five other Google shopping results. It is kind of depends on that too.

Steve: I guess the advantage with that c is everything there is unique, right? I think of smaller, you know retailers and manufacturers selling their own handmade products. So yeah can’t just hop on Amazon and buy that.

Linda: Yeah, I mean Amazon did launch its own handmade Marketplace as well. And I’m not exactly sure how that affected because I know a lot of sellers sell on both platforms and you know get into the prime, but the other thing too where I think as a drop shipper you can do well as if you acquire a customer through things like Instagram and Pinterest right? like they discovered you not through a search engine not through a comparison shopping mindset they discovered you by serendipity and I think in those situations you can still do really well with Drop Shipping.

Steve: Have you seen any do you have any data regarding websites that use Amazon pay? Or you know, you can essentially do a one-click checkout.

Linda: Yeah. Yeah. I don’t have any data but in the context of mobile wallets, right which will be another Trend. So you’re asking about Trends might as well talk about that one. So certain mobile wallets do. Do better so if you think about Apple pay there’s some friction in actually using Apple pay especially if you’re on a more newer device where you have to use face ID, you know and you have to set up all your stuff within Apple pay and it’s it’s a different experience, right? Because the pay sheets the Apple pay sheet that you have to inject into checkout is kind of limited. You can’t ask for things like you can insert your own fields for You know it is this a gift or do you want to split shipment? Do you want to pick up and start like you can’t do that kind of thing.

But things with Apple pay or Amazon pay and PayPal. Yeah. I mean Amazon has what over a hundred million or maybe 200 million now Prime members, so just being able to use that as a wallet and check out quickly. I think there’s a perception that Amazon pay also means it’s Amazon Prime.

Steve: ohhh

Linda: do you might If it a little bit from that kind of halo effect

Steve: well unless they’re disappointed when there is no Prime shipping.

Linda: Yeah. Yeah. I don’t actually I haven’t had any direct experience with Amazon pay like with with anyone. I’ve been working with or have any data or numbers around

Steve: Apple and Google Play.

Linda: Yeah, Apple and Google pay, it’s funny because it’s very very hyped up. Right? but the conversion rates. Are you have to consider it as first of all you have a smaller segments that’s actually using the iPhone right?

Steve: Sure.

Linda: then then a portion of that has Apple pay enabled then a portion of that prefers to use Apple pay. So I’ve seen a lot of data come out of apple itself, you know, or their pilot that two or three pilot retailers that have done it and I all you know hundred and fifty percent higher Revenue per visitor and all these kind of things and then you go to that website and go. Okay cool. I want to check out I want I want to test out this This Apple pay implementation in the checkout and then it’s gone right? I’m not going to call anyone out. But I’m like, okay, that’s interesting. They were the poster child case study and now they’re not even using Apple pay anymore and their digital check out. So what does that mean?

Steve: I just want to let you know that tickets for the 2020 Seller Summit are on sale over at sellersummit.com. Now what is seller Summit? It is the conference that I hold every year that is specifically targeting e-commerce entrepreneurs selling physical products online and unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high-level BS. Mine is a curriculum-based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an e-commerce business. And in fact, every speaker I invite is deep in the trenches of their e-commerce business entrepreneurs who are importing large quantities of physical goods and not some high-level guys who are overseeing their companies at 50,000 feet. The other thing I can assure you is that the Seller Summit will be small and intimate every year we cut off ticket sales at just a couple hundred people. So tickets will sell out fast, and in fact, we sell out every single year many months in advance now if you’re an e-commerce entrepreneur making over 250K or 1 million dollars per year, we are also offering an exclusive mastermind experience with other top sellers. Now, the Seller Summit is going to be held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. From May 6 to May 8. And right now, we are almost sold out of Mastermind tickets already and I will be raising the ticket price regularly starting the day after Cyber Monday for more information, go to sellerssummit.com. Once again, that’s SELLERSUMMIT.COM or just Google it. Now back to the show.

Interesting. So I guess in my experience the more payment options kind of confuses customers. So right now for us, I think PayPal’s are number one, I guess because a mobile like PayPal one touch and then we just offer credit cards and just wondering is there a Harmon throwing up Apple pay GPA and Amazon pay I mean, what would you advise just kind of limiting the options?

Linda: Well Paradox of choice right that that’s the thing and if you go to apple pays kind of guidelines or style guide, you know how to implement. They’re always saying will put Apple pay first time top of your check out by the way. Yeah, and when you’re on a mobile screen and you’ve got like one window that you’re scrolling through and Apple pay is like the first and it’s a black styled button that spans a rectangle that spans the size the width of your Mobile screen like that. That is dangerous right? to put it first or even put it second because these buttons kind of stack on top of each other. So yeah, it can be confusing. It’s always good to test stuff. It’s a Sometimes it works for a retailer. You know, you’re in a certain Market where yeah, you’ve got that demographic that wants to pay with Samsung pay or Android pay digital downloads, you know.

Steve: Yeah

Linda: video games that kind of thing. Yeah.

Steve: Yeah, we’ve opted not to put those on just mainly because I think PayPal is much more ubiquitous. But

Linda: yeah and trusted and understood.

Steve: Yeah. So we’re talking at a time when the holiday season is right around the corner. So what Some things that clients are prepping for, you know coming up as we roll into Prime shopping season

Linda: Yeah, usually around this time. There’s not a lot of new future delivery. Not a lot of work on on the website you want to have that code lock down and even the promotions and the promotional calendar or done well, well well in advance and one thing that I’ve been an advocate for is being a little bit more Nimble and more like real-time merchandising and responsive merchandising and what I mean by that is allowing yourself some flexibility to to adjust your merchandising and promotion strategy while the in play, right? And so oftentimes these promotions and these emails and and the merchandising is fixed so far in advance your kind of, you know, licking your finger and putting it in the in the sky and just testing where the wind is right now.

Last year’s data isn’t super predictive of what’s going to happen this year. So I always like to leave some leeway be able to run some tests really quickly early on you don’t want to be applying test results or even running A/B tests now and letting them extend into into the holiday season you want to stop all of that. And then have a plan of saying like Okay, we want to we want to test let’s say in the first week that there’s a there’s a trick to that too. Right? Because Behavior changes rapidly through the you know from from the Cyber weekend to the next weekend to the next weekend people are in a different mindset to there’s more urgency. There’s there’s some times less stock availability Right Stuff start selling out.

There are retailers start getting more aggressive with their holiday plans. They start promoting even earlier. So you never know what your competition is going to do. There’s there’s so many things. So if you can have a testing plan of like, okay, these are our hypotheses. These are our options and take advantage of that extra traffic spikes so that you can get test results earlier and keep those test results and applications of them within the context of the holiday. That’s one way to kind of prepare yourself now for optimizing in real-time during the holiday Spike. And then you know do things like make sure that your ad spend like communicate with your ad agencies and all those kind of things because because click rates go up, impression share, you know can go down as your competitors get more aggressive and stuff.

Make sure that you’re not bidding on stuff that’s not seasonal so that you can spend more of your available budget to the things that you know are seasonal and you sell, so like you have yeah, just non-holiday non, non seasonal products turn them off. Make sure you have a system that turns off ads when products go out of stock.

Steve: right

Linda: or have a back-up plan for when things go out of stock so that your product recommendations will show similar items not customers who bought this also bought that because those can sometimes be from different departments. So you might want to adjust your product recommendation engine for certain categories to Show similar products that kind of thing.

Steve: Okay, cool, Linda. We’ve been.

Linda: And get a chat bot

Steve: And get a chat bot. But actually I that’s what I want to get out of you. What are some sass providers for chatbots that your clients have been using?

Linda: Well, you can look into Mobile monkey as one that focuses on their Facebook. Yeah. Yeah, and there’s Optimum Unk and there’s WeChat

Steve: Are there any that specialize in e-commerce that you know, that’s really popular?

Linda: But I don’t think Any that specialize purely in e-commerce? I think chat Bots are mostly used on B2B SAS, you know or like those kind of like lead gen kind of sites and e-commerce is kind of a second branch that I think has a lot of room to grow.

Steve: Okay.

Linda: Hmm.

Steve: Well Linda, I really appreciate your time and coming on and it is a great honor for me because as I mentioned earlier in this interview, that getelastic blog is what got me through the early years of e-commerce. And I am really excited that you are writing for them again and just because of that. I’m going to start following the blog again. So

Linda: loved it. Thank you.

Steve: Yeah and everything

Linda: and thanks for having me on the podcast.

Steve: Yeah everyone out there go check out the getelastic blog. I mean Linda’s articles are always here’s what I like about it. Here’s just a quick plug. I always liked that you pull in like statistics and examples to support all of the facts that you give in article and so it’s just very convincing and it just inspires you to want to give that a try. So..

Linda: and in my Hiatus from getelastic. I wrote a Blog called e-commerce Illustrated, which if you don’t mind me plugging it,

Steve: no, go for it

Linda: it’s very very in-depth guides from home page to check out so you can hone in on like if you want to look at I want to have some ideas for best practices for category Pages or A/B Testing category Pages. Like there’s a 24 to 40 page chapter on that that that you can go check out and that’s kind of like my little labor of love.

Steve: Nice, I wasn’t aware of that site. Is that something you’re still maintaining?

Linda:: You know, I did the home page to check out. I have a couple more. I have like check out order, order summary and mobile checkout left to post. So the project is almost done but most of its they’re just as static.

Steve: Cool. Awesome. Yeah, I’m gonna go check it out now. Thanks a lot Linda.

Linda: Yeah. Thanks Steve.

Steve: Really appreciate you coming on.

Linda: Yes. Thanks for having me. I really enjoyed it.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. Now as I mentioned earlier Linda is one of my early e-commerce Heroes. So you should definitely check out her writing over on the GetElastic Blog. For more information about this episode go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode285.

And once again, I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode, Klaviyo is my email marketing platform of choice for e-commerce Merchants. You can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence a post purchase flow or win back campaign. Basically, all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo. Once again, That’s mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo.

I also want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use the term visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture exit intent and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it is so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any parameter that is closely tied your eCommerce store. Now, if you want to give it a try it is free so head on over to privy.com/steve. Once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/steve.

Now I talked about how I use these tools in my blog and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce store heading over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six day mini-course just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away. Thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com

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