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Holiday Shipping Deadlines

Make-or-Break Holiday Shipping Deadlines for 2019

By | Blog, Holiday, Uncategorized

There are few things more important to e-commerce sellers than ensuring their products arrive on time during the holiday season. This quick blog outlines some of the most important U.S. holiday shipping deadlines for sellers using Newegg fulfillment services as well as sellers utilizing USPS, FedEx, and UPS. Read up and memorize these dates by heart, because they may be the most critical 2019 dates to your business!  Read More

[Blog] Best-Kept Secrets for the Peak Holiday Season

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Looking for some guidance as you prepare for the peak holiday season?

Here’s a tip: Think beyond Black Friday.

With the explosive potential of each day from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, Black Friday is far from the only shopping holiday online sellers should prepare for.

This was one of several key takeaways from our recent webinar: Discover E-Commerce’s Best-Kept Secrets for Q4. The popular event combined knowledge from e-commerce and logistics experts at Newegg, ShipStation, and ChannelAdvisor to surface the best strategies for holiday selling in 2019.

In case you missed it, here are the highlights.

 

2 Trends That Will Impact 2019 Holiday Selling

In the 2019 holiday season there are key deadlines e-commerce retailers need to pay attention to in order to maximize their coverage in Q4.

1. A shorter season

Did you know the 2019 holiday season is six days shorter than it was in 2018?

After experiencing one of the longest Thanksgiving-to-Christmas e-commerce seasons last year, sellers are now faced with the shortest on record. Turkey Day falls on November 28, taking the Cyber 5 for a ride into December. This shift has numerous implications that you’ll need to be prepared for.

First, be sure to budget accordingly. While year-over-year revenue may not be as strong in November, there’s a chance you’ll see it rise the following month.

In addition, ensure you have processes in place to handle larger order volumes later in the season. The shorter season means you’ll have less time to handle an increased number of orders, so preparing inventory and logistics is essential.

 

2. An earlier start

By the time Halloween costumes are put away on November 1, holiday promotions will already be in full force. That means you’ll need to be ready with advertising extra early this year — and have promotions in place well before Black Friday hits.

Why? Because if you aren’t ready to start encouraging online sales before November 28, you’ll be missing out on a mountain of revenue potential.

Although Cyber Monday is still the biggest online shopping holiday, consumers are starting earlier and earlier. Thanksgiving Day shopping grew 28% year-over-year in 2018 — the biggest increase ever — and experts expect that Thursday-to-Wednesday momentum will continue in 2019.

In fact, based on analysis of sellers using the ChannelAdvisor platform, the strongest year-over-year increase in sales last year occurred on Thanksgiving Eve. With this in mind, be sure your systems are prepared for an influx of traffic starting Wednesday afternoon.

 

4 Strategies to Sell More This Holiday Season

Planning holiday strategy starts early with content, pricing, and maximizing channel coverage.

1. Optimize your product content

Planning for peak season advertising can be so intensive that it’s easy to let product content fall by the wayside. And yet, that’s exactly what consumers are most interested in. Seven in ten shoppers want to learn about products via content instead of ads.

Set aside time to optimize your listings and personalize your campaigns. In addition to product titles, descriptions and bullets, be sure to prioritize your email campaigns since this is where most consumers get the information they need to make purchasing decisions.

 

2. Time your pricing just right

When it comes to price-based promotions during the peak season, timing is everything. Our e-commerce experts suggest focusing on increased traffic starting November 1, followed by price drops as you get closer to Black Friday.

You can also maximize your profits by adjusting pricing intelligently. The last thing you want to do is drop to your bottom price right out of the gate. Customers will continue to shop throughout the holiday season, so you’ll need to have a bank of offers ready if you want to stay competitive well into December.

For example, minimum order promotions can be a great way to ensure your average order value is preserved as you entice customers to engage with your deals. If you can’t offer a discount — such as “spend $100, get 10% off — consider using a free shipping strategy to incentivize consumers to increase basket size.

 

3. Diversify your marketplace portfolio

If you’re selling on Amazon and eBay, you already have a great start. But based on the latest findings, it’s time to ramp up marketplace expansion.

Half of all worldwide online sales come from marketplaces, which jump during peak season. An impressive 60% of consumers plan to shop on marketplaces during the 2019 peak holiday season.

Yet another reason to expand your marketplace presence: Different marketplaces make it easy to extend different options for shipping and promotions, which allows you to extend a variety of offers to consumers. Consider options that allow you to reach wider audiences, such as Newegg, Walmart and Rakuten.

Just keep in mind that you’ll still want to maintain some individual value on each platform. It wouldn’t make sense to diversify your channels only to offer the same promotional deals on all of them.

The trick is to stagger your offers across various marketplaces to maximize your impact all season long. This “price exclusivity” will help ensure each placement is primed for success in the best way, and also keeps your partners happy.

 

4. Extend your shipping capabilities

If you really want to generate as much revenue as possible this season, expanding to global markets is key. More than 80% of retailers worldwide agree that cross-border e-commerce has been profitable, and 70% of consumers purchase from foreign sites.

Global selling can be highly lucrative during peak seasons, to say the least.

Of course, extending your reach across international borders can feel like a logistics nightmare when you’re just getting started.

To avoid issues and keep things running smoothly, the key is to focus on shipping software that can help manage international components such as international labels and customs forms.

This is also a time when you’ll want to overcommunicate delivery times, shipping costs and related information, since these are likely to take longer and cost more for overseas fulfillment.

 

Looking for more insights you can use to get a bigger competitive advantage in the Q4 holiday season for 2019? We have plenty! Leading experts go into greater detail on each of the above trends and strategies in our recent webinar. Watch it on-demand now for practical suggestions from ChannelAdvisor, ShipStation and Newegg.

 

This post was contributed by Cindy Puryear, Partner Marketing Manager for ChannelAdvisor.

[Blog] How Changing Customer Expectations Impact Your Holiday Shipping

By | Uncategorized

Each year, more customers pivot from brick and mortar stores to online shopping. As this overall volume increases, it’s only logical that holiday sales would also trend upwards. In fact, 2018 Black Friday brought in $6.2 billion in online sales, a growth of 23.6% year over year. Naturally, with increased online holiday shopping there is an increase in holiday shipping. And while there are more opportunities to attract more customers, this also makes for that much more competition. Understanding changing consumer demand is what makes you stand out among the competition and is your best shot at winning more sales and gaining repeat customers once the holiday season ends.

 

Free Shipping is the New Norm

While consumer demand for express shipping is high, there is still a greater emphasis on free shipping among most customers. According to the National Retail Federation, 75% of consumers expect free shipping on orders over $50. This is up from 68% in 2017.

To break it down into generations, Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) wanted free shipping more than other groups—88% actually expecting it. That compares with 77% for Generation X (1965-1980), Millennials were the lowest with 61% for Millennials (1981-1994) and 76% for Generation Z (1995 and later).

While cart abandonment is an ever-present issue, many customers won’t even place an item in their cart unless they know shipping will be free. As we move into the holiday season—particularly the big, high-competition shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday—free shipping can mean the difference between making a sale or not. In fact, ShipStation’s survey and found that 69% of consumers would rather have free 5-10 day shipping than pay for it to arrive more quickly.

 

What About Express Shipping?

Expedited holiday shipping is a must-have for customers who are getting a late start on shopping, and helps bump up sellers in the eyes of consumers.

While Amazon Prime has rewired how we think about online delivery, not everyone sees all online purchases as needing express shipping. Express shipping is still important, but it is still seen as a value-added charge. This is particularly true of items in the following categories:

• Medicine
• Food
• Electronics
• Pet Supplies
• Personal Care & Hygiene Products

Express shipping is generally seen as 2-day delivery and quicker. ShipStation’s study found that only 49% of consumers expect it to be offered. And 37% expect to have to pay for this option.

The major reason to offer expedited shipping, though, is that it is often incorporated into gift buying. In ShipStation’s study, 76% percent of customers said they are more willing to pay for expedited shipping if it is as a gift for someone else. As we approach the holiday season, especially December’s procrastinators, offering expedited holiday shipping is a great way to increase cart conversions.

 

Related Content: [Webinar] Discover Q4’s Best-Kept Secrets

 

Ship Orders the Same Day They Are Placed

Whether you can offer expedited or free shipping or not is one thing. But, expeditiously shipping products out of the warehouse is a must. The sooner a customer receives their shipping confirmation email with the tracking link, the sooner they breathe a sigh of relief. Staying on top of order fulfillment can be challenging, but it leads to repeat customers. Offering free “Same-Day Shipping” is a great way to incentivize customers to shop with you. This doesn’t mean they’ll receive their order the same day they place it. It just simply means that you’ll ship out an order on the day it’s placed. Using a shipping software is a great way to stay on top of your order volume and keep them going out the door as quickly as they come in.

 

Returns Are Becoming a Selling Point

Returns are objectively unenjoyable for everyone involved—except the carrier. However, there is a lot of selling power in doing returns well. According to Allbusiness, 91 percent of customers factor return policies into their online shopping. During the holiday season, returns are more common. And a website that doesn’t offer returns, or offer them well, will likely be sidelined in favor of a company that has a good returns policy.

80% of customers expect to be able to return purchases for free. This can be difficult to offer—particularly if you offer free outbound shipments as well. This is certainly an area that express shipment is not necessary. If you can use cost-effective shipping options like First Class Mail or hybrid services (Surepost or Smartpost), do it.

 

What This All Means for Your Holiday Shipping

Holiday shipping demands can incur a rather nasty dent into e-commerce Q4 budgets if not properly understood ahead of time.

As customer demands shift and grow more towards express and free shipping, it’s important to protect your profit margins. While free shipping and easy returns can be costly, remember that these options are the new norm for many customers. And, unfortunately, if you can’t offer these shipping options to the customers, there’s likely someone else who can.

 

About the Author: ShipStation is the world’s leading web-based shipping solution that helps e-commerce retailers import, organize, and ship orders quickly and easily—wherever they sell, however they ship. ShipStation integrates with over 160 of the top marketplaces, selling channels, carriers, and fulfillment providers. Utilize features like auto-selecting shipping preferences, customizable automation rules, multi-carrier rate calculators and shipping, and much more.

 

[Webinar] Discover E-commerce’s Best-Kept Secrets for Q4

By | Uncategorized

A fireside chat with experts from Newegg, ShipStation, and ChannelAdvisor

View the Discover E-Commerce’s Best-Kept Secrets for Q4 webinar and come away with answers to the following questions:

  • Trends in the market
    • How is the Q4 shopping timeline evolving, and what can retailers do to maximize their sales beyond the quarter?
  • Pricing/channel strategy for listings
    • Does the lowest price always win?
    • Is the best cross-channel strategy to blast out the same price to everyone at the same time?
  • Shipping and fulfillment
    • What do I need to know about Q4 shipping and global shipping/software/carriers/shipping trends?
  • Global impacts
    • Are there other shopping holidays in Q4 I need to consider besides Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Green Monday?
    • What are the opportunities for retailers to drive additional revenue outside the domestic market?

[Blog] Demystifying Global Selling During the Holidays

By | Uncategorized

 

With back-to-school shopping coming to a close, retailers redirect their efforts toward one of retail’s biggest shopping seasons — the Q4 holidays. In years past, much of the focus for online US-based retailers has been around the Cyber Five weekend (Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday) and the Christmas holiday. These key dates will continue being a staple that you cannot and should not avoid, but other global holidays are paying massive dividends for those venturing into the international scene.

 

Time Frame Global Holiday 2018 Online Revenue (Est.)
October or November India – Diwali $4.3 billion
November 11 China – Singles Day $30.8 billion
November Mexico – El Buen Fin $750 million
November US – Black Friday $6.22 billion
November US – Cyber Monday $7.9 billion

 

Before taking a deep dive into these “new” retail opportunities, it is critical that you do not assume a one-size-fits-all strategy when going global. Doing so can result in unmet expectations and discourage further exploration of global retail. Create a scalable strategy, start as early as possible and test as much as possible. We have laid out some guidelines as you begin planning.

 

Be Strategic by Starting Small

Let’s face it: Expanding to every country and expecting significant ROI for Q4 is a tall order. Assessing product interests is a great way to narrow down which countries make expansion sensible. Leverage free tools such as Google Trends when researching. If you are already selling in the US, targeting lookalike markets is another viable option. For example, if you are selling tech products, countries such as Australia, the UK and Saudi Arabia are great markets whose consumers exhibit similar tastes and shopping behaviors to that of the US consumer. Next, identify gaps between your business and the consumer demand for that target market. Who are your competitors? What should be your price point?

 

Clearly Communicate Your Shipping Offers — and Meet Them

Timely delivery, a seamless returns process and exceptional customer service drive branding and garner repeat buyers. But how that looks within each country is different. European consumers, for example, have embraced the click-and-collect method. They simply purchase online and collect their purchase in the store or at a participating location. Retailers penetrating this market understand that the click-and-collect method is a valuable aspect to the retail shopping experience because of its speed and convenience. Additionally, this is especially appealing to budget-conscious shoppers who want to avoid shipping charges. Contrast this to the US, where the majority still prefers direct home delivery.

Either way, clearly communicate shipping methods, times and costs from the start. Fast shipping does not always equal free. Free shipping does not always equal fast.

It is important to offer your customers a wide variety of shipping options. There is no need to offer fast shipping if it is not something your customers are demanding. However, in this case, offering free shipping is advisable. As a particular global holiday approaches, you want to consider offering faster shipping options for last-minute shoppers. If it makes financial sense, then consider offering free expedited shipping. Including free shipping can be presented in many forms. For example, you can offer free shipping on a single item or offer it once a customer hits a spending threshold.

By providing a variety of shipping options, you empower your customers to make the best choices for themselves.

 

“Glocalize” Your Approach — On Everything

Tailoring your business to meet the needs of your international consumers is a significant part of creating a successful globalization strategy. A marketing campaign might be well received in one part of the world, but can send a completely different message in another part. Localizing for regions is much more than just translating content for websites and apps — it means focusing on local phrasing, terminology and features according to the cultural norms. Keep this in mind when creating intuitive and personalized listings, storefronts and landing pages. The goal is to facilitate seamless shopping experiences, because they are not only the table stakes for international commerce but also will help improve your chances of converting sales. This is just one part of laying a proper foundation. The next layer involves piecing together the right mix of promotional strategies.

While you research lookalike markets, you may wonder if retailers in other countries promote products the same way as in the US? The answer is both yes and no. Yes in the sense that the marketing practices used are similar, but no in the sense that selecting the best combination for a region can be challenging. Some markets utilize online promotions leveraging mobile and social media for outreach. Other regions prefer printed materials or physical events where both retailer and customer can connect. When putting together a strategy, it’s best to research, test and optimize as you go.

Consider this: Advertising discounted pricing on tech products is crucial to increasing conversions in Australia and the UK. Contrast this to the purchasing habits of the Saudis who buy tech products regardless of price, provided there is a wide variety of consumer electronics and computer components being promoted.

 

Seek Established Partners That Bridge Gaps and Help You Avoid Common Pitfalls

By now, you may be thinking that selling internationally is filled with complexities that far outweigh the benefits, even during key holiday seasons. Despite the hurdles, cross-border e-commerce is booming. It is estimated that 35% of consumers currently shop on sites based outside their home country. In 2020, international transactions are projected to reach nearly $1 trillion, up 20% from 2019.

 

How Are Sellers Removing Complexity and Making the Most of These Opportunities?

Online marketplaces and their networks of specialized partners have made international e-commerce less convoluted. They are a popular solution because they have historically reduced the complexities. Sellers can tap into different services ranging from marketing to operations to logistics that comes with the partnership. The most compelling benefit is the immediate access to an established customer base. It means less investment dollars being spent on customer acquisition, nurturing, converting, and retaining. This is easily one of the biggest hurdles and it’s quickly removed with the marketplace model.

Selling globally during Q4

[Blog] Strategic Q4 Marketing: Developing a Winning Holiday Strategy

By | Uncategorized

 

For most consumers, the “holiday season” means the joyful last two months of the year celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Hanukkah holidays with family and doing some holiday gift-giving. For e-commerce retailers and brands, Q4 is often the make or break chance to capitalize on the massive amount of digital traffic, fueled by a shopping frenzy and low-price offers. If a tactful e-commerce strategy is implemented properly the holiday season can result in not only increased short-term sales, but also sustainable growth into the new year.

So what key elements are needed for a winning holiday strategy? It all has to do with the timing, laying the groundwork ahead of time with rich content, balancing the promotional calendar, and capitalizing on any momentum generated. 

 

Get the Timing Right

With the bulk of the holiday shopping done online between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, e-tailers need to get the timing of their marketing execution nailed perfectly.

                                                                                          Source: BazaarVoice

 

The number one critical component, before getting into the individual e-commerce strategy tactics, is timing. As with anything, the right action taken at the wrong time can be ineffective, and nailing the timing for each activity can make or break the Q4 holiday season. 

Getting the right timing for Q4 marketing strategies is especially important when considering the short amount of time that the holiday shopping season is made up of, putting the best holiday tips through a trial by fire. 

Considering the vast majority of the entire holiday shopping volume takes place between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday (collectively called the “C5” or “Cyber Five”), the window of time for capitalizing on the traffic influx starts long before the turkey makes its way into the oven.

 

Components of a Winning Holiday Strategy 

Laying a Strong Foundation with Content

Prepping for Q4 begins long before the calendar strikes October. Like professional athletes, savvy brands and retailers do the bulk of their training and heavy leg work in the off-season. While some elements of the holiday strategy can be implemented ad-hoc, developing a strong content strategy requires time to put the pieces together, execute, and see the impact. 

With the growing digital clutter of banners and advertisements that consumers face on a daily basis and diminishing customer attention span, e-tailers need to cut through the noise to deliver high-impact, unique content. This not-so-new trend of content marketing which drives home the value for customers, departs from the traditional price-based incentive, opting instead for organic representation of the benefits, uses, experiences, and dynamics of products. 

Editorial product reviews, buying guides, how-to guides, and videos explaining product use are among the most popular types of content for delivering rich experiences to consumers, with a long-tail SEO benefit to surface pages in Google searches without paying for placement. Additionally, these types of unique content are often shared by other individuals and organizations, helping to add to the organic exposure and driving traffic back to the product pages. 

The tactic of providing rich content for customers isn’t just limited to blogs or videos, which do carry their own resource requirements, but product pages can also (and most definitely should!) be a home for providing in-depth detail about the products and use cases. This not only helps customers become more informed when they are in the purchase phase of shopping, but lifts the product pages in organic search during the awareness and research phases of the funnel.  

According to the Adobe’s State of Digital Advertising Summit 2018, more than half of people think online ads are easy to ignore, and the same amount of surveyed respondents indicated they had only ever accidentally clicked on ads as those that intentionally clicked ads. That, with increasing CPCs makes developing a strong content strategy pre-Q4 a tactic that not only adds value in the short-term, but sets a foundation for extended growth into the future. 

 For most consumers, the “holiday season” means the joyful last two months of the year celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Hanukkah holidays with family and doing some holiday gift-giving. For e-commerce retailers and brands, Q4 is often the make or break chance to capitalize on the massive amount of digital traffic, fueled by a shopping frenzy and low-price offers. If a tactful e-commerce strategy is implemented properly the holiday season can result in not only increased short-term sales, but also sustainable growth into the new year.

So what key elements are needed for a winning holiday strategy? It all has to do with the timing, laying the groundwork ahead of time with rich content, balancing the promotional calendar, and capitalizing on any momentum generated. 

 

Promotional Pricing: A Strategic Twist on the Default Tactic

According to the Adobe Digital Price Index, the price of various categories decreases at different rates throughout November and December. Nailing the right promotional pricing at the right time is critical.

                                                                                                                            Source: Adobe Digital Price Index

 

Promotional pricing is no new holiday strategy, but far too often retailers get caught in the “race to the bottom”, slashing prices to the bone in hopes of netting high volumes of orders. While it may succeed in driving high quantities of orders, the margins become sabotaged and the competitive edge can easily be overtaken by someone else who is willing to make even less per sale. 

For brands a price reduction can be detrimental to the long-term value of the product, often for the remainder of the product’s lifespan. However, that isn’t to say that promotional offers are bad by any means, and with the right pricing strategy it can be a huge boost that drives widespread awareness of the product, contributing to increased revenue down the road. The key to promotional pricing is all in the strategic approach with a key focus on the timing. 

Holiday shopping starts not with Black Friday, but the beginning of November, which means that your holiday strategy should kick off at the beginning of November as well (if not sooner). Early shoppers start scoping out deals on things they want to receive as gifts from their families, and eager shoppers are taking advantage of some of the early bird deals. 

 

While the market promotional price for products generally takes a dive during Black Friday, there is opportunity to get shoppers out of the market early to save some of your holiday margins.

                                                                                                                          Source: Adobe Digital Price Index

 

In fact, 48% of customers purchase for themselves while shopping for others, which means that even if products aren’t the lowest of the season they will be getting increased traffic before the peak shopping days, with chances for conversion. This gives retailers an opportunity to start slowly discounting prices, making their products appealing to the early shoppers while still maintaining margin as much as possible. As you can see from the Adobe Digital Price Index charts above, once Black Friday hits the market price drops and price competition is extremely stiff. 

One way around a straight price discount is to offer value bundles, creating a unique offering with core products and accessories or peripheral items. This tactic works well for retailers who want to discount certain hot items but find themselves bound by MAP restrictions, but also for brands who want to differentiate their holiday deals across channels. 

While many in retail have been letting out a collective sigh of relief for making it through the holiday shopping season, and throwing together an afterthought of an “end-of-year/clearance sale” for the remaining days of the year, the focus is often not on maximizing opportunity but on simply “filling the gap”. 

The fact is that there is an inherent spike in traffic on sites the day after Christmas, as the hectic nature of the holiday has relatively subsided, consumers might have heavier pockets from extra gift cards or cash gifts, and all those unfulfilled wishlists get a second look.

 

A One-Punch Knockout is Never Enough

Very rarely in e-commerce strategy development do we see a “one-punch knockout”, which accomplishes every goal in the first iteration. With that mindset, e-tailers should not think in terms of dedicating all the strategic holiday marketing towards one area in hopes that it will be enough. Chances are, a multi-faceted approach is necessary for a robust holiday strategy. 

Part of developing a deep strategic approach to e-commerce is by diversifying your sales channels, and list on e-commerce marketplaces like Newegg if you have not already. In the Internet Retailer consumer survey, 60% of customers plan on purchasing from online marketplaces during the holiday season. 

The value of marketplaces is that each one caters to a different demographic, and while everyone is well aware of Amazon’s coverage of the digital shopping space, there are numerous other specialized or niche marketplaces that might be a perfect fit for your products, with potentially much less competition. Additionally, when considering a marketplace strategy for Q4 it is a good idea to not just have one set promotional deal calendar for all the different channels or marketplaces you are selling on, but to stagger the offers to have some channel exclusivity to maximize the impact of each placement.

While the main focus of the holiday e-commerce strategy is of course the time leading up to the holiday, the massive influx of shoppers is a perfect opportunity to capitalize on Q4 sales as a stepping stone for increased consumer engagement and future sales into the new year.

For brands or retailers with access to consumer and purchase data, leveraging that information for digital remarketing campaign with supporting products, services, or programs is a strong tactic to establish a relationship with customers which can blossom into a fruitful endeavour. Sources cite the cost of acquiring a new customer as five times higher than retaining a current customer, and thinking about the new holiday shopper as a potential long-term customer can pay dividends long into the future. 

 

Holiday Planning and the Changing E-commerce Landscape

Alt Text: Retail overall is booming, lifted by an increasing strength in e-commerce, which is taking up more and more ground from brick-and-mortar shopping.

Image Source:

Retail overall is booming, lifted by an increasing strength in e-commerce, which is taking up more and more ground from brick-and-mortar shopping.

                                                                         Source: Internet Retailer

 

Q4 and beyond is bright for online retailers, with the upward trending growth of U.S. e-commerce sales as a percentage of total retail sales hitting 11.6% in 2016, 13% in 2017, and 14.3% in 2018, paving the way for continued opportunity. Rapidly developing mobile commerce and a 3% annual growth in consumer comfort purchasing gifts online helped contribute to an overall 19.2% growth YOY from 2017 to 2018, totaling $22.55 billion during the five days from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday. 

Even though consumer confidence projections for the rest of the year are slightly dampened by the expected tariff increases on Chinese imports (although at their highest levels in 18 years), and there is apprehension about a potential recession, the flurry of shopping from holiday shoppers will be a monumental opportunity for brands and retailers to maximize their sales. With an established e-commerce holiday strategy, merchants can prime themselves for immediate growth in Q4 and long-term compounding success for the new year ahead that capitalizes on emerging trends. 

[Blog] SEO Series pt3 – Five Key Principles of SEO to Rank Higher and Drive Customer Engagement

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If you’ve been following along with our SEO blog series, you should have a solid understanding of how search engines work, and insight into the history of search engine optimization. Now that you have the context and background behind SEO, let’s take a look at five key principles for getting your listings to the top of Google’s search results, and keeping them there.

 

1. Know Your Audience

In some ways, the old edict of “the customer is always right” can be adapted to SEO. When you’re working on optimizing your content, your guiding principle should be doing what’s best for the searcher. Another way to look at this golden rule of SEO is to think of your customers as being on a quest to find your products, and that everything you do to make your listings easier to find directly helps them along their journey. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind when helping your audience reach their destination:

 

Relevant Content is Key

If you’re going to do what’s best for the searcher, you need to think about more than just a single query that you want to rank for. If you’re selling, say, a smart thermostat, it’s not enough to just cover a single search intent — you need to cover ALL people’s search intent. 

Think of some other keywords directly or peripherally related to your product. When you’re designing content for that product listing it would be beneficial for both you and your audience to address all these facets of the topic on the page. 

By doing so, you’re increasing your page’s relevancy for more than just a single query, and you’re enhancing your customer’s experience by making your listing a sort of one-stop-shop that fulfills every search intent they have. Best of all, you’re broadening your reach by focusing on more than just one potential keyword.

See all the various topics related to the smart thermostat in the image below:

Broad vs. Narrow Search

Broad search terms aren’t usually going to lead a purchase. It’s the narrow and highly specific terms where you have an engaged audience who is interested in purchasing a product. 

Let’s return once more to the smart thermostat example: if you want searchers to discover your listing, keywords like “thermostat” or “air conditioner,” while important to target, aren’t going to be enough to bring in the customers who would be most interested in purchasing your product. 

By targeting more specific terms related to your product, like “Wi-Fi thermostat” or “learning thermostat” in this example, you are laying down a much clearer path for your target audience to reach your listing and buy your product.

 

2. Detailed Product Specs

If you want to aid Google in getting your product in front of searchers, you need to give it a deep dive into your product’s specifications. The more details you provide, the more opportunity you have to be crawled and ranked.

To elaborate, Google thrives on knowing what people are searching for. Ideally, every product listing you create should have as many of the specs added to the page as possible so that when Google crawls and indexes the page, it has the data it needs to analyze and understand what search queries you should be matched to. 

This information can also affect where you’ll show up on that page — if you don’t have as much relevant content as Google feels you need for the topic, they may not rank you as high. 

 

Here are just a few mandatory behaviors when filling out product specs:

Highlight the Brand

Make sure your products are labeled with the proper brand. It sounds obvious, but omitting this piece of essential information is more common than you may think. 

It should go without saying, at this point, that leaving out the brand or manufacturer can hurt the product’s visibility in search. If a user doesn’t find this information, they may end up deciding not to purchase.

 

Provide ALL the Details

Missing specs don’t benefit anyone. Again, doing what is best for your customer benefits SEO. 

By giving your customer as many details about a product as possible, you’re making their buying experience easy, and in turn, making them more likely to purchase — all while increasing your visibility to search engines. Another tactic to consider when creating content for greater visibility is to include questions for any product questions a customer might ask. 

 

Correct Categorization

Putting your product in the wrong category can be an easy mistake. If a product is too ambiguous to nail down to one specific category, turn to the SEO principle of thinking about what your audience would search for and categorize accordingly.

 

Don’t Game the System

Be honest with your specifications. Don’t mislabel a product or place it in a category it isn’t meant for as a way of trying to increase visibility — doing so is playing with fire. Google’s algorithms are sophisticated enough these days that they may weed out pages that are intentionally trying to exploit it, which can have severe repercussions.

 

3. High-Quality Product Content

What your customer wants and what Google wants is the same: quality content. 

Create a robust overview that gives customers a look at your product from every angle. It’s one thing to specify a fast shutter speed on a camera, but it is even better to explain further what circumstances that shutter speed is used for. Having high-quality content helps the search engines understand what your product can do and improve the visibility to your customers. 

 

Here are a few elements that will enhance your product content:

  • Informative Text
  • Rich Imagery
  • Videos
  • Comparison Charts

 

For more help, here are some SEO best practices for ecommerce product pages.

 

4. It’s All About the Experience

Google is always looking for the best way to improve a user’s experience. That principle should be at the core of your decision-making in SEO. Everything you do in optimizing your listings should be tied back to the fundamental question, “Is this the best experience for my customers?” 

It may sound idealistic, but the truth is that if you always work towards doing what’s best for your customers, you’ll find that Google, whether actively or passively, is aiding your business in turn.

 

5. SEO isn’t Magic

SEO takes consistent effort: There’s no magic formula or instant fix when it comes to improving page rankings. It requires frequent attention and an ability to quickly adapt to changes (Google changes their algorithm, on average, every thirteen hours). Making sure you’re always relevant in a changing world is tough, but it will keep you at the forefront of customers’ minds. And that makes SEO one of the best investments a business can make.

 

What’s Next?

While this is the final entry in our SEO blog series, we still have plenty to share when it comes to helping you reach the peak of search results. For more tips on optimizing your listings visit us at newegg.com/sellers, and be sure to check out our SEO eBook!

[Blog] SEO Series pt1 – How Do Search Engines Work?

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This will be the first article for our series on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Before we get too deep into the weeds with best practices and tips for SEO, we thought we should cover the fundamentals. We aim to outline the foundations of how search engines work, and in the second post we discuss the history of SEO, before we later build up to an SEO plan.

 

What is a Search Engine?

Search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Baidu, and DuckDuckGo act as our tour guides to the World Wide Web. They help us discover the information (search results) that we are looking for. As an ecommerce seller, a top marketing goal of your business is to have your products ranked highly within these search results.

This is the “O” in Search Engine Optimization.

 

how do search engines work

How Do Search Engines Work?

Search engines all deliver results a little differently to their users. The logic and algorithms they use create different results, but the fundamentals of how search engines find their content are all the same.

Crawl

This term disguises the frightening truth behind what’s really going on – robots roaming and rummaging through your page’s data and URLs! These “crawlers” act as a user would and scan billions of documents, webpages, images, and videos for content and keywords. After this, the bots then follow all the links associated with your content and add this data to an index.

Index

Once these bots have found the data, they decipher its code and then store and categorize the info for later search queries. As you can imagine, all of this data takes up monumental amounts of storage space, which leads to the need for massive server farms.

Rank

Now that sites have been indexed and the search query is made, the search engine will use its complex algorithms to determine the context and order in which to display these web pages.

 

How Do Search Engines Differ?

Think of these different search engine companies as competing fast food chains, each with algorithms acting as their “secret sauce” to differentiate them. The algorithms these search engines use to rank content are all trade secrets that are constantly evolving.

For example, it is believed that Google’s algorithm is updated every two days, and although countless businesses have tried to game their algorithm, it’s Google’s prerogative to make sure no one ever gets the upper hand. We’ll never know the nuances of each search engine’s code, but their core prioritizations will always be the same.

 

What Do Search Engines Prioritize?

Though their methods may vary, all search engines strive to provide high-quality answers to their users’ questions. By introducing different mediums such as videos, reviews, articles, comparisons, and images, search engines deliver innovative platforms that answer these questions.

A leading trend in search engine prioritization for the last decade has been a focus on mobile platforms. Accounting for over 50% of searches in 2018, mobile platform searches show no signs of slowing down, and therefore content that can easily be adapted to mobile will always be well received.

Trends aside, the biggest influencers of what ranks on search engine results pages (SERPs) are:

Content

Content should be looked at in two ways:

  • Is your content easy to find? You need to make a search engine recognize and associate your content as the answer to a user’s search queries.
  • Does your content do a good job of answering their question? As we’ve addressed earlier, there is no magic bullet for creating the best content, but the best solution for your ecommerce blogging strategy is to always strive for creating valuable and accessible content.

Backlinks

Think of backlinks as other sites linking to your content and creating an internet “buzz”. Search engines will associate you with the specific content other sites have mentioned you in with various links. If important and reputable sites are referring to you, then search engines can presume your content is trustworthy and relevant for users.

 

Which Search Engines Should I Focus On?

If this were 2005, we would be having a much different conversation here, but the fundamental truth is that appeasing Google should be your business’ primary SEO concern. The reason behind this is when you stack up Google’s 30+ major search engine competitors, their combined traffic equates to only 10% of global web searches.

Google is just that big.

When you factor in all the Google properties such as Images, Maps, and YouTube, it’s easy to see just how dependent so many web users are on their platforms.

Don’t think that Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines aren’t worth your time, though. It goes back to what we referenced earlier – that all search engines prioritize informative and engaging content, and with a solid SEO strategy in place, you can see success on any search engine.

 

how do search engines work

What’s Next?

With this SUPER top-level view of how search engines work, we can now take what we’ve learned and apply it to our SEO efforts.

We’ll go into more detail about SEO in the next blog post in the series, but it’s important that sellers understand what search engines, and their users, want to see. From there, you can work to create it.

[Webinar] Grow Sales by Selling on NeweggBusiness

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Everyone knows that selling on marketplaces is a great way to tap into a wide customer base and diversify your revenue stream. What you may not know is that having a specific strategy for our business marketplace holds a key part of driving incremental sales for many of our sellers. In 2015, B2B e-commerce sales soared well over $780 billion on consumer electronics, computer hardware, and office equipment with a projected growth of 19% for years to come. This is an opportunity you do not want to miss out on!

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