It’s cumbersome, it's outrageous, and simply a pain in the arse. Building an ecommerce website yourself is something you should not break your head with. Especially when platforms with plug and play templates get you started in no time. Publishers who plan to kickstart an e-commerce store, going with a platform that offers everything they need is the most viable option. Here are 4 platforms publishers should consider while diversifying to e-commerce.
Make way for Linear Commerce
Like ink in water, both digital media and e-commerce are gradually merging into one. Times, when publishers and e-commerce businesses were separate entities, are slowly getting blurred, making way to a linear way of looking at things. There are ways beyond advertising to monetize an audience. and that’s exactly what some publishers are doing - setting up e-commerce verticals to grow their revenue.
There comes a time when publishers inevitably stumble upon these questions- I now have a captive audience, how else can I monetize them better? I can keep my readers entertained - What else can I offer them? Can this also help me earn more than a couple of bucks?
There have been instances (a lot lately) when publishers embrace e-commerce and ecommerce brands are venturing into the publishing space. Here is a representation of the launch strategies often found in the direct to consumer space-
The Publisher With A Crystal Ball
Dennis Publishing, one of the most popular magazines in the UK and the 6th largest consumer magazine publisher saw what others didn’t way back in 2014 - an opportunity out in plain sight to monetize by diversifying to ecommerce. They entered the ecommerce realm with its website BuyaCar.co.uk and started selling new and used cars. This transformation led to a turnover of over £115m, and an award-winning company. BuyaCar.co.uk was also shortlisted for Digiday’s “Best E-Commerce Strategy” award for 2018. You can read more about them here.
Build yourself an e-commerce empire
In 2018, BuzzFeed made $100 million from income sources that didn’t exist two years ago. With publishers free-falling into different revenue streams, e-commerce has turned out to be one of the best ways to crack revenue-
I know it might seem like a ‘raise an eyebrow’ statement, but the surge in numbers over the years says it all. It has now become too big space for publishers to turn a blind eye to. An 18% increase in year on year sales is no joke afterall-
Publishers Who Show How It’s Done
NYTimes, Marie Claire, Buzzfeed and Vogue and some who have taken the leap and setting standards for others to follow.
Okay, you have got my attention. Where do I start?
First and foremost you need to select a platform to put your store up. Here are the best 4-
Shopify is one of the best e-commerce platforms. It lets you create different pages easily, has a simple editor, and makes it possible to set up a store in a jiffy. One need not have any coding experience whatsoever to set it up. Transaction fees are enforced if one has not signed up for Shopify Payments. One major con is that switching themes becomes cumbersome as content needs to be reformatted. The pricing starts at 29 dollars/month and provides all the important features for a new store. Buzzfeed makes use of the Advanced plan of Shopify and has created an amazing store experience.
- Abandoned cart recovery- Send reminder emails to users who abandon a cart without making a purchase. You can also make use of apps like iZooto to bring back lost users and encourage them to buy the products in the cart.
- Auto-shipping price calculator- This feature lets you calculate shipping rates based on the customer location so that you don't have to break your head.
- Gift cards for special occasions- If a customer wishes to send a gift card to their loved one they can do so without scratching their head thinking about the perfect gift. The loved one can then redeem t to make a purchase
- Customized shopper profiles- You can track user activity on your store, which makes it possible to know their purchase history as well. With the information obtained, you can run targeted campaigns to increase sales.
- Shopify analytics- Get valuable insights into your store. With this feature, tracking sales and conversion are easy-peasy. One gets to see a detailed report of customer rate, order value, and many more in real-time. The store performance is clearly shown, helping to strive towards improvement.
With Shopify Plus, publishers can get more features and tools that will help them get more done. Enterprise-level publishers with more staff should definitely look at this to run things smoothly. Shopify Plus can handle more than 10K transactions per minute. It also has a feature where publishers can create multiple versions of their store and it supports multiple languages and currencies, making it an amazing option for international e-commerce. Shopify Plus gives higher support and dedicated priority support 24/7. It also has lower transactional fees. The price varies, depending on the sales and your business needs, but it starts at $2,000 USD per month.
NYT, Penguin are publications that make use of Shopify Plus to promote their products.
- Can handle massive traffic pouring in - We are talking over 200,000 users at the same time and have the capability to process 8000 orders per minute.
- Automated workflows and campaigns - It automatically re-orders inventory once it's almost over, hides out of stock products, follows up with customers who have returned products and so on. It lets you schedule campaigns as well, making sure that you are not piled up.
- International e-commerce capabilities - It has multi-language support, has a variety of foreign currencies to choose from, and has more than 100 payment gateways.
- Avalara’s Compliance Cloud - Makes it possible to calculate tax for every invoice according to regional specifications so that you don’t have to delve into overseas regulations.
BigCommerce is beneficial for large businesses. One of the best things about BigCommerce is that it has a lot of built-in tools and features. It also has built-in advanced SEO and multi-channel integration. It gives the liberty for developers to tweak the HTML and CSS of their online stores well. The terminologies can get a bit confusing for a beginner other than that it is a good option for publishers to consider. Live agent support 24/7 is available in all plans. BigCommerce offers a free trial for 15 days as well.
- Built-in blog and product reviews- Super easy to start off with a blog within the website. One can also showcase product reviews easily.
- Basic SEO support built on store - Get you basic SEO in place so that you are discoverable.
- Sync inventory - Lets you sync inventory across social and digital marketplaces to increase reach.
- Side-by-side product comparison - Users can easily compare products and arrive at a decision.
Full list of features available for these plans here.
WooCommerce is an open-source platform, making it easier for customizing the store as per your whims and for building custom extensions. To start off with WooCommerce, you’ll need a domain name, SSL Certificate, and a WordPress hosting account. One can integrate it with its WordPress site making it easier to start off with a WordPress e-commerce website with just a few clicks. It is amazing for users who prefer WordPress. Publishers can also get 24/7 support from in-house WordPress experts. But since it is self-hosted, publishers have to handle updates and maintain the site. There are many features available, but it takes time to get acquainted if you are new to this, and it goes without saying that coding knowledge is a must.
Head here to compare Shopify vs WooCommerce.
- In-Built Payment Processing - Set up payments in a few clicks and get going
- SEO in place - WooCommerce runs on WordPress which is why it becomes easy to optimize your store.
- Local Customization - Target users in a particular region in terms of currency and language.
Volusion works well for publishers who do not have the know-how of the technical aspects. One of the best aspects of Volusion is that there are over 50 payment gateways. It has really good analytical tools as well. Volusion has around 11 free templates to choose from. But features are not as exhaustive as compared to a few leading platforms. Unlike most platforms, they do not charge transaction fees, though they charge for bandwidth overage fees that are roughly $7/GB. Volusion’s basic plan starts at $15 per month and a free trial for 14 days is also available.
- Store management - Effectively monitor all the inventory. Volusion also alerts you when the inventory runs out. Custom reports also help analyze and maintain the store.
- VZoom - This allows users to zoom on a product to have a better look at it from different angles.
- SEO features - Helps rank better on search engines
- Deal of the Day - Helps grab attention and drive sales. This is available without any extension.
Check the entire list of features for different price slabs here.
These 4 platforms are the best platforms out there to start off with your e-commerce store. Start working towards the top by diversifying to ecommerce, the view, I promise, is breathtaking. If you want to know how web push notifications can build your marketing list once your e-commerce store is all set up, hit us on chat.