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6 Actionable Steps to Start Your Own Online Store

While some may tell you that starting an online store is rather simple, we’re here to offer actionable advice on how to start your online business on the right foot. We’ll let you know some trade secrets that will help you install a solid base for empire building. Find Your Niche While it’s always best to work in a niche you’re passionate about, not every entrepreneur knows what they want to sell and to whom. You shouldn’t despair if you don’t have a clue what type of online business you want to start. According to this article, the selection of a product or niche is one of the hardest things you’ll have to do. With the right questions and a bit of brainstorming, the right idea (or ideas) will come sooner than you think. Here are some of the questions that should put you on the right path: Are you looking to attract only local audiences or do you want to go national/global? What’s the main thing people complain about when it comes to services or products in your area? Which commercial niche presents interest to you? (it’s always best to select a niche you know) Can you improve upon the niche you select? Is the niche popular on Google? (are people interested in searching products or services?) These questions will help you get a rough idea of your skills and the possibility to be successful. Research, Research, Research We can’t stress this enough! The research will provide the knowledge needed to understand the product/service and its audience. You should start with online stores that sell a similar product or service, and reverse-engineer their marketing strategies. Also, learn from other successful online entrepreneurs who managed to replicate their initial success in other online businesses. Next, learn about the market surrounding your chosen product/service and understand how the people who buy/use it think. Also, get in touch with the audience (using message boards, forums, blogs, and other tools) and ask for their opinion and feedback. Producer or Reseller? As a reseller, you work with a product (or products) that’s already been…

Five Tips for Going Global

Now that the holiday season is upon us and consumers have the world at their fingertips, even the smallest of online businesses has the opportunity to “go global” with the click of a mouse. The idea of selling – and needing to ship – your goods internationally, however, is a big step and can be intimidating. At FedEx, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many of our small business customers as they access the international marketplace and begin selling their goods overseas. I asked some of our customers to share their best advice on how to take their businesses to the next level by going global. Read what they had to say: If You Build It, They Will Come – Dana Donofree, founder of AnaOno, which makes comfortable clothing for women with breast cancer, was surprised by the demand from abroad when she launched her company. “I quickly learned that our international access is so important to getting solutions to customers around the world, and that borders shouldn’t stop us from doing just that,” Donofree said. Be prepared for international orders before they happen, so you can ship quickly and efficiently. This means getting familiar with export regulations, expected delivery times and required paperwork. Optimize Supply Chain to Limit Costs. Mike Wilson, founder of Catastrophic Creations, quickly learned that building out his supply chain could help reduce costs associated with shipping his heavy cat contraptions. “Expanding to international distribution has helped our brand grow in other countries,” he said. No Surprises! — Zack Fleishman, co-founder of Shark Wheel skateboard wheels, says small businesses must be as transparent as possible about additional taxes and fees incurred on cross-border transactions. “It is important to post a disclaimer on your website informing international customers that they may incur further charges from their country’s custom agency,” Fleishman said. Failure to do so “can lead to unhappy customers.” An ideal solution for this challenge is FedEx Cross Border, which uses software technology to simplify common cross-border selling challenges for e-tailers and provides customers information in their own currency and language within their shopping cart,…

Online Shopping: How Different Factors can Impact your Small Business

In today’s world, more and more people turn to online retailers and websites for all of their shopping needs. From holidays to birthday, big-ticket items to daily household products, people are flocking to the web for everything in sight. In fact, online shopping has gone up from 19% to 30% of consumers ordering online daily. With this shift in shopping trends, it should come as no surprise that retailers must shift their marketing for optimization. Online Retail Implications With the growth in online retail shopping, more and more small businesses need to concentrate on their online reputation and marketplace. Unless the physical storefront of a small business is extremely successful, the majority of a business’s focus may need to rest in a great online experience. Without a total package to offer, a small business may lose its ground in a quickly changing retail world. Sometimes the lack of an online storefront, or a subpar availability to shop online, can even cause problems for a small business. Many times, consumers will check out a small business or a ‘locally owned’ shop online before deciding to make a trip to see the store itself. If the online presence of the company just doesn’t cut it, then consumers may be quick to mark the business off the list. What all this means is that small businesses are needing to invest more in their online marketability and how they conduct their day to day business. This includes shipping options for those who may not have shipped to the customer before. This could also mean offering preordering options when a business would typically only sell what would be in stock for a physical location. You should considered all of these factors when creating an online presence to keep up with the technical business world. The Online Shopping Experience The downside to online shopping is how easily it can make or break a business. For small businesses, this can be incredibly critical for the long-term success of the business. One bad experience can cause a severe blow to one’s reputation, despite having a good repertoire otherwise.…

5 Tips for Increasing Your Ecommerce Following

Research indicates that 8 out of 10 consumers shop online regularly. If you’ve recently started an ecommerce business, your new company could benefit from implementing a few strategies. Growing your… Read more » The post 5 Tips for Increasing Your Ecommerce Following appeared first on

Summersalt raises $6M for its direct-to-consumer line of eco-friendly swimsuits

Founders Fund has led the $6 million Series A for Summersalt, an early-stage e-commerce startup embracing the next-gen consumer’s penchant for inclusivity and affordability. Headquartered in St. Louis, the 1-year old company sells swimsuits designed in-house with eco-friendly fabrics directly to consumers. Like other D2C brands, Summersalt cuts out the middlemen to give its customers access to its swimsuits for $95 or less. What sets it apart is its data-focused fit system. With a patent on recommending garments based on body type and consumer preference, it uses more than 10,000 scans of real women’s bodies and some 1.5 million measurements to create what it says are designer-quality garments. Co-founder and chief executive officer Lori Coulter and her team design all the swimsuits and source the fabrics directly with factories in the U.S. and Asia. With the latest investment, Coulter says the company will launch a line of travel wear and expand its inventory to offer more sizes. “A core value of the brand really is inclusivity and we know from an economic perspective that by moving up to size 22, we really can acquire a broader set of consumers,” Coulter told TechCrunch. Reshma Chattaram Chamberlin, co-founder and chief brand officer, said their strategy is to cater to women like them. Chamberlin herself is an immigrant, originally from Mumbai, while Coulter, a mother of two, was born and raised in Missouri. “We were both tired of seeing the oversexualized approach to swimwear,” Chamberlain told TechCrunch. “We wanted a brand to appeal to women like us so we could feel sexy on our own terms. We wanted to appeal to women across the country, whether that’s a mom in Missouri or a stylish girl in Brooklyn.” “Women like us are immigrants. Women like us are moms. Women like us are size 2 and women like us are size 22,” she added. The pair said the move to incorporate a travel line is in keeping with their wanderlust-themed brand, which appeals to younger consumers. “It’s a unique time in retail; women prefer experiences over things,” Coulter said. “We really see this as the next frontier in retail.…

Sick of managing your Airbnb? Vacasa raises $64M to do it for you

Airbnbing can be a ton of work. Between key pickups, tidying, and maintenance emergencies, renting out your place isn’t such a passive revenue source. But Vacasa equips owners with full-service vacation home management, including listings on top rental platforms like Airbnb and HomeAway, as well as local cleaners who come between guests. It now manages 10,600 vacation rental properties in over 16 countries. With the peer-to-peer housing market maturing and Airbnb looking to go public, private equity firms see an opportunity in who controls the end relationship with home owners like Vacasa does. So today the startup is announcing it’s raised $64 million in a Series B bridge round led by Riverwood, and joined by Level Equity, Assurant, and Newspring. The cash will fuel Vacasa’s expansion into real estate as it seeks to sell property to people who want to own and rent out a vacation home. Vacasa was impressively bootstrapped from 2009 until 2015. “I’ve always been passionate about vacation rentals. When traveling with friends or family, I love having common spaces to come together in” says CEO Eric Breon. He founded the company after owning a vacation cabin on the Washington Coast. He’d go up in the Spring, spend a weekend fixing up the place, it’d sit idle all summer, and then he’d have to spend another weekend closing it up. He considered a local property manager, but they massively underestimated how much he could earn off renting it out. So Breon built Vacasa to make it easy for home owners to earn the most money without a hassle. After years growing the business organically, Vacasa raised a $35 million series A from Level Equity in 2016, then $5 million more from Assurant. Then in fall of 2017, it raised an $103.5 million series B. Now it’s topping up that round with $64 million and a new valuation warranted by the startup’s growth this past year. That brings Vacasa to a total of $207.5 million in funding While that’s just a fraction of the over $4.4 billion Airbnb has raised. But Vacasa caters to a more upscale market that…

Dagcoin and Co-founder Nils Grossberg are Disrupting the Future of Ecommerce

If you happen to stay up to date with the events happening in and around the cryptocurrency sector, you will be familiar  Nils Grossberg, who co-founded Dagcoin in May 2017.… Read more » The post Dagcoin and Co-founder Nils Grossberg are Disrupting the Future of Ecommerce appeared first on

Walmart is working with Eko to create interactive content

Walmart and Eko announced a partnership this morning to create a joint venture for interactive content called W*E Interactive Ventures. The best example of the interactivity that Eko enables is probably “That Moment When,” a comedy web series that the startup created last year in partnership with Sony. In a series of short videos, you take on the role of Jill, a young-ish woman struggling to get her life together — the viewer decides what Jill says and also plays mini-games to help her achieve her goals. According to the announcement, W*E content will include a variety of formats like cooking shows and interactive toy catalogues. Eko CEO Yoni Bloch said they aren’t announcing any specific shows yet, but they will be “free and distributed everywhere,” and will be united by an aim to make the viewer “be the hero, be a part of the decision-making in the story.” The plan is to start releasing this content sometime next year. Walmart might not seem like the most obvious partner on something like this, but the company has been expanding into digital media with efforts like Vudu (it just announced a partnership with MGM) and, more recently, Walmart eBooks. Bloch said the deal also includes a Walmart investment of undisclosed size into Eko. Apparently the joint venture will work primarily as “the funding vehicle” for this new content, with Walmart staying out of the creative decisions. “Walmart has been an incredible partner, allowing us to have creative control, which we are passing on to the creators,” Bloch said. Tribeca Productions co-founder Jane Rosenthal will serve as strategic advisor to W&E Interactive Ventures, and Eko Chief Media Officer Nancy Tellem will be on the board. “Our partnership with Eko will help us accelerate efforts to deepen relationships with customers and connect with new audiences in innovative ways and is one part of an overall entertainment ecosystem we’re building,” said Scott McCall, senior vice president for entertainment, toys and seasonal at Walmart U.S, in the announcement.

Origin launches protocol for building cheaper decentralized Ubers & Airbnbs

The sharing economy ends up sharing a ton of labor’s earnings with middlemen like Uber and Airbnb, and $38 million-funded Origin wants the next great two-sided marketplace to be decentralized on the blockchain so drivers and riders or hosts and guests can connect directly and avoid paying steep fees that can range up to 20 percent or higher. So today Origin launches its decentralized marketplace protocol on the ethereum mainnet that replaces a central business that connects users and vendors with a smart contract. “Marketplaces don’t redistribute the profits they make to members. They accrue to founders and venture capitalists,” said Origin co-founder Matt Liu, who was the third product manager at YouTube. “Building these decentralized marketplaces, we want to make them peer-to-peer, not peer-to-corporate-monopoly-to-peer.” When people transact through Origin, it plans to issue them tokens that will let them participate in the governance of the protocol, and could incentivize them to get on these marketplaces early as well as convince others to use them. Origin’s in-house marketplace DApp Today’s mainnet beta sees Origin offering its own basic decentralized app that operates like a Craigslist on the blockchain. Users can create a profile, connect their ethereum wallet through services like MetaMask, browse product and service listings, message each other to arrange transactions through smart contracts with no extra fees, leave reviews and appeal disputes to Origin’s in-house arbitrators. Eventually, with the Origin protocol, developers will be able to quickly build their own sub-marketplaces for specific services like dog walking, house cleaning, ridesharing and more. These developers can opt to charge fees, though Origin hopes the cost-savings from its blockchain platform will let them undercut non-blockchain services. And vendors can offer a commission to any marketplace that gets their listing matched/sold. It might be years before the necessary infrastructure like login systems and simple wallets make it easy for developers and mainstream users to build and adopt DApps built on Origin. But it has plenty of runway thanks to $3 million in seed token sale funding from Pantera Capital, $6.6 million raised through a Coinlist token sale, plus $26.4 million in traditional…

Ware2Go: UPS Launches Flexible Warehouse Fulfillment Solutions

The industry of e-commerce is on the rise. While already crucial to a business’s financial success, efficient e-commerce practices are predicted to become more and more essential in a society that expects goods to be purchased conveniently and delivered quickly. According to leading market research provider Statista, 360.3 billion US dollars worth of physical goods were sold in 2016, and that number is only expected to increase to 603.4 billion US dollars by 2021. Another study by Statista states that currently, 9% of retail sales in the United States are goods purchased via the internet, but if trends in countries like China, in which online sales of physical goods amount to 23.1%, and the UK, in which online sales of physical goods amount to 19.1%, are to be evaluated, the United States is soon to follow in their tracks. This emerging trend of e-commerce has been putting small businesses, who are already facing heightened competition as a consequence of global growth, at a significant disadvantage to larger businesses. While large businesses have the funds and resources to open warehouses all over the country, or to purchase the services of career warehouses (which require long-term volume and time commitments, as well as individual contracts for each warehouse) so as to get items to customers as efficiently as possible, small businesses cannot afford to do so. As a result, small businesses often must ship items from far-away locations and take days or weeks longer than their larger competitors to reach customers. According to Dotcom’s Distribution’s 2016 study, 87% of online shoppers say delivery time affects their decision to buy a product and 44% of online shoppers say quick delivery increases their trust in a brand. Bloomberg News claims that 60% of buyers expect 1-2 day delivery. Research by KPMG’s network of independent consulting firms, published in 2017, states that 43% of consumers cited “delivery options” as the most important factor in deciding where to purchase an item from online, following only “lowest price” at 57%. While large corporations are making moves to meet this demand for quick service, smaller companies have been…

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