All Articles Tagged "e-commerce"

The Pros & Cons Of Shopping Online This Black Friday

November 25th, 2013 - By Blair Bedford
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source: Shutterstock

source: Shutterstock

What is one of the most exciting days in stores all year? Black Friday of course! Black Friday turns (some) consumers into beasts, with shoppers getting their claws out for the latest gadgets, toys and clothing throughout Thanksgiving, all at the same time.

While some might love the thrill of the hunt in stores, many are turning to their computers for their shopping adrenaline rush. If you haven’t considered Black Friday shopping online as an option, let us give you a few pros and cons about the splurge in e-commerce shopping this holiday season.

How To Use Instagram To Grow Your Business

November 18th, 2013 - By Rhonesha Byng
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Despite it’s lack of defined revenue streams, Instagram is a billion dollar company with 150 million monthly active users.

Recently the company launched ads, in an effort to address that revenue issue. However, even before the formal launch of advertising, businesses have long been using Instagram to showcase their products and grow their businesses.

According to figures compiled by Bloomberg Businessweek, 72 percent of adult internet users are joining social media and 44 percent of cell phone users sleep with their phone next to their bed. And with over $231 billion being spent on online shopping, it’s clear the internet and social media is big business.

king panda instagram

It can be a great option for small businesses just starting out to reach the audience they want to tap into. Jeff London and Marc James, founders of a New York based independent clothing company, King Panda Apparel, utilized Instagram to reach out to high profile celebrities, influencers and stylists to take their brand to another level.

“Kevin Mccall, we reached out to him a while ago, and we tagged him in several photos and then we wrote him a message on his Instagram photo and he connected us to his person, and we were able to get in touch with him,” explained London. “The same thing [with] Craig Wayans.”

Other high profile personalities they’ve successfully engaged with on Instagram include DJ Absolut (Hot 97), Planet VI (songwriters for the likes of Kelly Rowland, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus) and Jazzy Pha.

Tyra Banks’ Fierce Capital Makes Money Moves, Invests In New Startup

July 15th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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Having recently completed business school, fashion model-turned-TV mogul Tyra Banks has made a new business move. She just announced that her company, Fierce Capital, LLC, will invest in The Hunt, the first community driven online shopping experience that makes products seen in social media photos locatable, reports Black Enterprise. This is also the first investment for Fierce Capital.

Banks, who recently completed the three-year Owner/President Management program at Harvard Business School, created Fierce Capital, LLC to help  startups raise capital and develop profitable business plans.

Fierce Capital aims to identify, develop and invest in early-stage startup companies, including firms that are female-led or female-focused. It’s the investment arm of The Tyra Banks Company, of which Banks is chairwoman and CEO.

The Hunt is the first community driven online shopping experience that makes it simple to shop for the things you see in photos on sites like Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr. Based in San Francisco, it was co-founded by tech entrepreneurs Tim Weingarten and Simon Peck.

“The site provides a true social shopping experience, allowing consumers to find and buy products based on suggestions from others in real time,” notes BE.

“The Hunt brings a fun and innovative approach to shopping and fashion,” said Banks in a press statement. “What I love most about The Hunt is that women help other women find their perfect outfit H2T [head-to-toe]. I am excited to be part of this new approach to collective retail and styling.”

The Hunt has already surged to one million monthly unique visitors and hundreds of thousands of active members that have started more 150,000 hunts and found over 250,000 products for each other.

For This College Student, Vintage Fashion Pays the Bills

March 4th, 2013 - By C. Cleveland
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Jacque Amadi, college student and owner of Lioness, a vintage e-boutique

Jacque Amadi, college student and owner of Lioness, a vintage e-boutique

College students have been finding innovative ways to make money since the birth of higher education. From waitressing weekends, to setting up salons in dorm rooms, hustling is just as much a part of the college experience as the classes themselves. Current students like University of Kansas senior, Jacque Amadi, are giving that hustler’s spirit a tech upgrade.

A psychology major and business minor, Jacque doesn’t have a resume that screams fashion. She dabbled in fashion blogging, but never thought to pursue it professionally. Her online boutique, Lioness, started as a celebration of her hobbies and interests, one she hoped would ease the financial woes that come with a college education.

“I would sell clothes on eBay whenever I needed money,” says Jacque. “And I love thrifting, even if I don’t keep what I find. With blogging and taking pictures – I loved doing it, but I was broke. So, I wanted to do all these things that I love in a way that could make me money.”

There’s one extra twist. Lioness is a digital time machine where the dial is always set to 1995. Jacque may be too young to remember the top news stories of the decade, but the images she saw as a child made a big impression on her.

“At first I was selling any vintage clothes I found, but then I decided to focus on the 90s because I felt that time period was the best time period for African Americans in terms of our exposure and our reach on television,” Jacque said.

#Shopaholic: American Express And Twitter Will Let You Shop Using Hashtags

February 12th, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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Shutterstock

Shutterstock

American Express is giving us more ways to shop, because that’s exactly what we need.

The financial service company has partnered with Twitter to introduce “Amex Sync,” which will let cardholders sync their accounts with Twitter in order to buy things using special hashtags. Customers already had the ability to learn about new discounts via Twitter. But this takes the social media integration to another level to include the ability to actually purchase goods. A statement from American Express (quoted in Business Insider) says that, starting today, users can buy a $25 Amex gift card for just $15 “by tweeting #BuyAmexGiftCard25.”

Once you activate your account, you’ll start interacting directly with the @AmexSync handle. This, of course, adds to the perks of having an Amex card. For Twitter, this could be a moneymaking opportunity. And for shoppers, here’s your chance to buy a little something without clicking away from your Twitter timeline.

After the jump, we’ve got a short clip with the details. If this proves successful for Amex, certainly other card companies will follow suit. Will you be shopping on Twitter any time soon?

Re-Sell & Make Money: Skip The Consignment Shop. Sell Your Clothes On eBay

January 4th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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Elena Elisseeva/Shutterstock.com

Elena Elisseeva/Shutterstock.com

Last year after her first baby was born, Asharah Damore was looking for something to keep her creative juices flowing as well as make a little money while she stayed home with her newborn son. “Although this was a tremendous blessing I felt like I was losing my identity after about the six-month mark. I knew I didn’t want to go back to work but I wanted to make money doing something I enjoyed,” Damore explains to us.

So she turned to eBay. “I frequent the thrift stores and I would always see brand new or next to new items not in my size which I would pass [on] buying because I had no one to buy them for,” she says. “So I decided to start buying a few of those items too see if I could re-sell them on eBay.”

Damore found nearly immediate success, but the eBay format took time to master. “The first month was great and but it was hard to keep the momentum because on eBay keywords are very important and depending on how you list your items someone searching for what you have may or may not be able to find it,” Damore points out. “So you have to be creative on how title you listings.”

It’s not hard, however, to get started. First, you need to set up an account by registering on the website. “There’s no fee for listing items so long as you do not exceed 50 items per month; after that, the fee is nominal. In addition, once your item sells, you must pay eBay nine percent of the sale price, with a maximum fee of $250,” reports Forbes.

Ebay gives users two options on how to sell their products. The most common is the auction method. A seller establishes a baseline price (reserve), the length of auction and can even strike a deal, called “Buy it Now.” You can also lists items for sale at a set price with no bidding.

Now, you have opened a virtual business. Treat it as such and be professional in your approach, online language and dealings with customers. Forbes suggests picture your eBay business as a virtual storefront. “There are also websites, such as auctiva and The Seller Sourcebook, that provide thousands of templates based on a variety of categories. Pick one that works for you. Then be sure to categorize each item correctly so it can be easily found,” reports Forbes.

Still Shopping: Cyber Monday Sales Expected to Top $1 Billion

November 26th, 2012 - By Tonya Garcia
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iStockphoto

Holiday shopping officially began four days ago on Thanksgiving Day and it just keeps on going… Today is Cyber Monday. And experts say it’s shaping up to be a big one.

Like Black Friday, Cyber Monday is a marketing creation, born out of the increasing use of Internet on the job. Historically, people would head back to work on Monday where the Internet connection was better and faster, and do their online shopping at their desks. But that was back in 2005. Nowadays, your handheld device has enough connectivity to let you do your shopping on the go. As a result, some suspect that the fire surrounding Cyber Monday may start to burn out.

USA Today took a look at comScore numbers, showing that Americans are expected to spend another $1.5 billion today, up 20 percent from last year. But online shopping is now taking place across a more dispersed amount of time. Consumers spent $663 million on Thanksgiving Day, up 32 percent. CBS News reports that 57 million people have already gone online to shop during Black Friday, with sales topping $1 billion for the first time. And “for the holiday season-to-date, comScore found that $13.7 billion has been spent online, marking a 16% increase over last year,” USA Today writes.

In addition, retailers are trying to cut off e-commerce sites at the pass. “In an effort to get a leg up on online retailers and each other, many brick-and-mortar retailers — including some of the biggest, such as Walmart — opened their stores as early as 8 p.m. the day before this past Black Friday, and advertised their deals online in the days and weeks leading up to the event,” reports Mashable.

In other words, you can shop anywhere, anytime, using almost any device you can get your hands on. So Cyber Monday may one day be just another day online. But if today is your shopping day, here’s a list of deals.

Tech Talk: E-Commerce Owners Should Get to Tweeting! It Boosts Website Visits and Purchases

November 21st, 2012 - By Kimberly Maul
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iStockphoto

Black Friday is just two days away (or less if you’re planning to venture out Thursday evening for deals). But when you’re out shopping, or looking at retailers’ websites online, how much does your Twitter activity influence your shopping habits?

Compete, the market research division of Kantar, partnered with Twitter for the “Tweets in Action: Retail” study, which found that if a user sees a tweet from a retailer, they are more likely to not only visit that retailer’s website, but they’re also more likely to make purchases.

The study analyzed 7,600 consumers around the back-to-school shopping season (August 1 to October 14, 2012) and separated them into three groups: average Internet users, Twitter users who were exposed to retailer tweets, and Twitter users who were not exposed to retailer tweets.

All users were very likely to have visited a retailer website, with 89.9 percent of average Internet users doing so. But both sets of Twitter users were more likely, with 94.4 percent of normal Twitter users and 95.2 percent of those Twitter users who were exposed to a retailer’s tweet visiting retailer sites.

Looking at actual purchases, 38.9 percent of exposed Twitter users made an online purchase during the time frame, compared to 33.4 percent of non-exposed Twitter users and 26.9 percent of mere Internet users.

In general, Twitter users are already Web-savvy, which may be a factor in their propensity to visit retailer websites and make online purchases. But the fact that people exposed to retailer tweets are even more inclined to do so is great news for Twitter—and the brands that are on the site.

This exposure doesn’t have to be Promoted Tweets or advertising on Twitter, the study found. It could be seeing a regular tweet in their feed, seeing a friend re-tweeting a retailer’s comment, visiting the retailer’s page on Twitter, or seeing a retailer tweet while searching on Twitter. We’ll be curious to see how inundated we are with retailer tweets come Black Friday.

Do you see retailer tweets while you’re on Twitter? Does that impact your online shopping habits?

Tech Talk: Facebook Expands Gifts Program, Mobile Apps

November 16th, 2012 - By Kimberly Maul
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AP Photo/Facebook

Just in time for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Facebook is pushing its new Gifts program, which officially launched in September and allows users to purchase physical items to send to friends or family.

At an event at the famed FAO Schwartz store in New York, the social network announced new retail partners, including babyGap, Brookstone, and Lindt. Users can also purchase online subscriptions as gifts, such as Hulu Plus or Pandora.

PC World spoke to Jeff Petrosillo, a senior e-commerce manager for L’Occitane, one of the new retail partners. L’Occitane will offer gifts starting at $19, he said, and using Facebook will be just one more way to sell products.

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, users were able to use Facebook to give gifts to charities, and that will still be available, said Lee Linden, head of product for the gifts division. But the main focus for post-IPO Facebook is diversifying its revenue streams and attracting sales.

Additionally this week, Facebook announced updates to its mobile presence for both iOS and Android devices. On Wednesday, Facebook debuted its share button for mobile, its version of the re-tweet, allowing users to re-post an update or photo posted by a friend or Facebook page. It was originally available on Facebook’s mobile site, but with the debut of new versions of the Facebook app for iOS and Android yesterday, it is now more widely accessible.

Taking It To the Web: How To Launch An Online Business

November 7th, 2012 - By Ann Brown
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iStockphoto

Today, there are 644 million websites on the Internet, many of them online businesses. That means a lot of competition if you are thinking of starting your own e-commerce business.

Getting Started

Doing business virtually is still doing business. Tom Antion of the Great Internet Marketing Training Site suggests you approach an online business the way you would with any other: find an in-demand product or service; create a business plan; then figure out what Internet path you want to take. “Focus on a few social media platforms that work for you,” says video strategist Miss K, who has successfully sold two online magazines.

Good Visuals Are Key

“Have clean page layouts,” says Krista Jackson, site manager of Internet retailer Ruby Bag. “Remember that clutter can be bad online. The easier your site is to navigate, the more likely you are to provide a positive user experience. No online shopper wants to work just to get through the website.”

A split test, says Antion, will let you see which designs attract the most attention. “This is how great online marketers maximize the value of every promotion,” he explains to Madame Noire.

Pictures alone don’t make a site great. Write text that is not only informative but attracts attention. “Learn to write sales copy which will also apply to your videos and articles,” says Antion.

Keep Them Coming Back For More

Don’t just look for one-time users, you want to develop relationships with your customers so they keep coming back for more. Special deals and regular sales can help with that. “Deals have increased our sales, as well as promoted customers to return to our site in order to see what the new deals are,” says Jackson, who also emphasizes the positive business impact of good customer service.

How To Promote Your Online Business

To keep your customer base growing, you need to consistently promote your site. Steve Caradano, founder of Italian luxury bed linens seller Vero Linens, turned to bloggers to promote his site and products. He blogged himself as well. “I blogged like crazy. [S]earch engines like new and fresh content. I found other bloggers that had huge followings and sponsored a product giveaway. Regardless of how much I could spend on advertising, I could never tell my message as effectively as they do and with their credibility,” he says.

Using the right keywords for your business is also a way to drive people to your site.

And promote your business directly to your customers. “A lot of e-commerce businesses don’t use social channels or their email newsletters to their advantage,” notes Jackson. “These are all great ways to have a conversation with your customers. Businesses are really missing out when they don’t use those channels to hear back from their customers about what they want.”

And, don’t forget offline promotion. “Network offline to promote your online business,” Miss K tells us. “Use video as an cost-effective and powerful way to promote your business.”

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