Social media has emerged as an engine of growth in the e-commerce age, but amongst all the social media platforms, none has quite the untapped potential that YouTube does.
This is because creating video assets gets you more bang for your effort than just about any other kind of content. For example, YouTube videos can be used:
To drive engagement, loyalty, and content marketing directly
To show off products in listings and offers
To provide detailed information about your company and your offerings
As ads on other social media platforms
As ads on YouTube itself
Successful small- to mid-sized business are increasingly using video content to drive traffic and sales. Based on what some of the most successful are doing, here are several kinds of videos you should be considering making about your products.
As you read, check out the videos on the right side of this post for varied examples of what successful eBay sellers in particular are doing with video.
1. The "our business" video.
These videos introduce your business and tell your audience why they should buy from you. They're emphatically not just ad pitches; social media is generally the wrong place for that.
In this kind of video, you may choose to get excited about your mission and values in the world. You may talk about why you love the business you're in, the products that you sell, and the people that buy from you. You may show a few of your products, but all by way of showing enthusiasm for your mission.
Whatever you choose to put in it, it should show something beyond your inventory and something beyond the idea that you want to earn sales.
2. The "how to" explainer video.
These videos are not primarily about the products that you sell, but about how those products get used. These are the classic social media "content marketing" videos.
Sell garden tools? Start producing videos on key gardening topics—using and pitching your tools along the way. Sell wristwatches? Start producing videos on how to use a chronograph with a tachymeter to time a race, or how to use bezel compass marks to indicate direction. And so on.
Use this content not to sell your products or your company but rather to sell your expertise about the kinds of products that you sell. It's useful to your audience, which builds loyalty amongst precisely the people that are your biggest potential market, and it establishes by implication that since you are an expert, the products that you offer are expert-approved.
3. The "show off a product" video.
These videos, which are easy to make, simply show your excitement for the best products in your niche (at least the majority of which you conveniently carry).
Start the video by introducing yourself, your store, and the product featured in the video as an excitement-worthy item in your inventory.
Show the product a great deal, from different angles, as you talk about its specifications and properties. Gush over the good points. Relay weaknesses, but don't call them that—simply outline them accurately and move on (not "it's only got one megabyte of memory, which is a forgivable downer" but rather "it comes with one megabyte of memory and an 8.4 inch screen").
Include common uses for the product (not necessarily shown, but named) and how much buyers have liked it. Wrap up with a price and a nudge to go and pick one up at your store.
4. The "review" video.
Closely related to the the product video, the review video tries harder to be objective, pointing out both strengths and weaknesses of the product objectively.
In some cases, you might pick two products that you carry that directly compete with one another—and between which shoppers might be having difficulty deciding—and help shoppers to decide.
The best review videos give shoppers an honest view of the strengths and weaknesses your products, building trust in your honesty and expertise as a seller, while continuing to drive enthusiasm about your goods and your business.
5. The "seasonal promotion" video.
As YouTube marketing videos have grown amongst sellers, the promotion video has also become a genre of interest to shoppers.
In the promotion video, sellers outline a promotion—a discount, holiday sale, bundle buy, free gift, or other shopper enticement—and they do it before the promotion actually begins.
The video outlines which products are going on sale, at what prices, when the promotion begins, and when it ends. It sells the promotion as an opportunity for shoppers to get a great deal—and as something you're really excited to offer them as a seller.
Be sure to mention any promotions that are rare and unusual. Think "this is the first time we've ever discounted products from Brand X" or "we've never offered a discount this big before; it took a lot of work, but we're thrilled to bring it to you."
These videos go over well with shoppers and, combined with clear timing information, tend to magnify the successful effects of a promotion by orders of magnitude.
Get Out There and Video
Over the last year or two, some of the most innovative and successful small and mid-sized sellers have led the way in creating this new genre of promotional video content that shoppers not only enjoy, but adopt as entertainment.
In fact, there are three keys to making all of these kinds of videos a success, beyond the content shown in them:
They should feature a real person and a real voice, who excels in speaking on video and is ready to represent your business through many videos to come
They should be entertaining and useful—things that shoppers seek out and want to watch
They should be made regularly and in volume, and posted to a single place—like your YouTube channel—that shoppers are encouraged to like and share
We won't say that you'll be completely left behind if you don't start a video channel somewhere—though it could certainly happen if a competitor takes these steps and you don't—but we will say that if you aren't out there branding yourself in video over the next year or two, you're likely leaving money and loyal shoppers on the table.
Posted on November 30, 2018
You've heard that video is hot in e-commerce. But what kinds of videos should you be making? Here are some ideas and examples.
We know that there are a number of sellers using inkFrog who count drop-shipping as an important component of their business model—and that at any given time, new sellers are considering entering e-commerce via drop-shipping.
Drop-shipping is a constantly moving target, however—particularly with the speed at which e-commerce is evolving today and the number of new entrants who are always looking to give drop-shipping a go.
Here are five timely tips for those looking to start drop-shipping in 2019.
Competing on price is no longer a winning strategy for most drop-shippers. Instead, try competing on value—the value of the entire experience that you provide. (Image: © gustavofrazao / Fotolia)
1. Basically forget about competing on price.
Not so long ago, drop-shipping direct from China was a key strategy that sellers used to undercut domestic competitors on price. Long shipping times and worse customer service were offset by direct import pricing that was significantly less expensive, enabling both high margins and happy shoppers.
Those days are over.
The China wholesale supply chain is now firmly in place for sellers of virtually every size, meaning that drop-shippers are now competing not against sellers that pay much more for their inventory, but sellers that pay less—and can often deliver faster thanks to on-shore inventory.
If you're looking for drop-shipping product(s) that will enable you to undercut the market with a reasonable margin, you're going to look for a very long time—and if you discover one, other sellers will soon jump in and undercut you, destroying any margin you had.
2. Instead, compete on aspiration, lifestyle, personalization, and marketing.
Take a look at our previous post on e-commerce trends and note the mention of personalization.
For drop-shippers, this advice counts double. You can still earn the sale as a drop-shipper, but you'll have to offer something other than lower prices. In most cases, this something will be an appealing "bigger picture" that it's your job to assemble:
Want customers at any price? Delight them with who you are, what you do, and the pleasure that you take in serving them. Preferably on social media. (Image: © Photographee.eu / Fotolia)
One-stop shopping for shoppers that fit a particular profile and have particular interest(s)
Aspirational marketing and branding that speaks to lifestyle and personal identity
Convenience and ease—both in finding your products and in completing the purchase
Anything else you can do to build trust and excitement
The last bullet point matters and is really what we're talking about with our next two tips.
3. Build your brand and audience relationships on social media.
As a drop-shipper, you're probably small—a one- or two-person operation. You're less well-positioned to buy and warehouse in quantity or to compete on price, but as a sole (or small band of) decision maker(s), you're better-positioned to nurture a brand and speak directly to your audience.
In the era of social media, this is no small thing.
Don't think of your business as the collection of products that you sell. Your business is your brand and your voice; the products are a part of your offering, but not all of it.
Begin to build and nurture an audience by reaching them on YouTube and other social media channels. Nurture a relationship with them. Show your work and invite them to see and understand your business—and the fact that you want to serve them.
This personal relationship is more than able to pay off in trust, loyalty, and sales.
4. Focus on making your shipping policies passable.
Shipping times are becoming more and more important in e-commerce, with larger retailers and marketplaces now angling to reach same-day delivery and "economy" 5-7 business day methods now seen as "slow."
Paying customers waiting a month or more for products stuck in shipping yards? They're not going to be repeat customers. Find products and suppliers that can get reach your customers in less than seven business days if you want to compete. (Image: © Idanupong / Fotolia)
So where does this place you if you're offering 28-40 day delivery from overseas? Directly in the crosshairs of shopper impatience. When shoppers could save 50 percent or more by waiting a month, some would. With the lower margins of today's market, unsuccessful sellers ask shoppers to pay nearly as much, or in some cases more, to wait months instead of hours.
That's not a winning proposition.
You're rarely, if ever, going to be able to compete directly on shipping policies with sellers that have on-shore inventory. But what you can do is work harder to hide some of drop-shipping's dirty laundry. Go through your product and provider list and:
Eliminate or consider backgrounding any instances of extended shipping times, focusing instead on those that can be fulfilled via air in domestic "economy shipping" delivery windows of a week or so, where at least you'll be in the ballpark
Eliminate shipping costs to the buyer by labeling everything as free shipping, then marking up prices as needed, relying on the strategies above—instead of price—to generate sales
Again, as a drop-shipper, you're never going to win on shipping overall, but there are steps that you can take to at least avoid losing entirely on shipping, and 2019 is the year to take them.
5. Make customer service a top priority.
In the days when price was the key benefit to drop-shipping, customer service was also seen as a bit of an afterthought. After all, consumers came to drop-shippers to save, and part of what they were willing to sacrifice was a smooth experience.
If you're sensing a pattern here, it's because there is one. Those days are gone.
Do your best to take joy in customer service—these are your customers, after all—and to bear the costs and delays yourself, rather than pass them on in each individual case. You'll be rewarded with loyalty, word of mouth, and repeat sales. (Image: © zinkevych / Fotolia)
With Amazon in particular providing stellar customer-centric service at stellar prices—and eBay trying hard to follow in Amazon's footsteps—customers have come to expect an online buying experience that challenges the in-store buying experience for convenience, trust, and safety.
No-questions returns for weeks after the sale
Immediate refunds or exchanges without restocking fees
The ability to reach someone right now, as they type or call, to address concerns and solve problems
A pleasant and cheerful interaction throughout all of these things
Our advice? Provide these things with confidence. Yes, it's more painful for a drop-shipper up front. No, you're probably not going to build a sustainable drop-shipping business in 2019 by skimping on them.
Grit your teeth and eat the costs in time and dollars.
Remember that you're no longer focusing on pure price competition, and you will have to adopt the other strategies discussed here to make these kinds of costs bearable for your business. Do it and consider the change to be an investment in the viability and profitability of your future.
You Can Do It!
Yes, drop-shipping is changing. No, it's not the same low-touch, set-it-and-forget it business model that it once was. It's hard work.
But those who say that drop-shipping is dead are wrong. It isn't—instead, drop-shipping is growing up. It's not an also-ran any longer; it's an established retail business model—requiring you to provide all of the things that an established retail business provides:
A clear target audience
A story about why people should buy your product(s) and do so from you
Quality, convenience, and value (which, note well, is not the same thing as price)
Good customer service
The flexibility to grow and adapt to changes in the retail landscape
If you're able to find a way to do these things as a drop-shipper, you'll thrive in 2019—and beyond.
E-Commerce has been around for more than twenty years now, yet it's impossible to get the feeling that the really big changes to the way the world buys and sells are just getting started over the last several years.
What do you need to do in 2019 to keep even with—or pull ahead of—your toughest competition? Here are five trends we're seeing in research circles and around social media that show the way to success.
In the coming year:
1. Mobile Will Continue to Grow
Mobile commerce continues to grow at more or less the same rate that it has done in recent years, with nearly half of all e-commerce orders now coming from handheld devices of one kind or another. This growth will continue in 2019.
Any remaining resistance to mobile shopping is disappearing. Shoppers are buying wherever they happen to be. (Image: © Christian Müller / Fotolia)
What can you do?
Make sure that you're making mobile-friendly content and web pages
Use mobile-friendly templates from inkFrog for your eBay listings
Keep content concise for mobile screens, where length descriptions can seem overwhelming
Test your Shopify or primary website using mobile devices and make any needed adjustments
2. Personalization Will Drive an Increasing Share of Sales
Shoppers are becoming more and more accustomed to the convenience offered by the personalization that major marketplaces and web platforms are delivering. Rather than having to hunt for what to buy, they expect useful product suggestions. Rather than having to express preferences, they expect to be learned about.
What can you do?
Use the cross-promotion space in inkFrog templates to show related products
Take time to organize your store(s) by category or theme, to help shoppers find their preferences
Increase your investment and time spent in turning sales data into data about and lists of customers
Message customers of particular "types" with newsletters promoting things that match their interests
Polish up your seller ratings and keep them polished. Shoppers are showing less and less tolerance for any customer service headaches. (Image: © Vasily Merkushev / Fotolia)
3. Customer Service Will Become a Key Decision Factor
Time is increasingly up for sellers that would prefer to think of customer service as secondary to "making sales" online. The major marketplaces and platforms have boosted expectations and customers are increasingly reporting that public customer service data plays into their buying decisions.
What can you do?
Strive to perfect and maintain feedback scores on marketplaces at almost any cost
Make sure that your returns policies everywhere match the level of service provided by Amazon
Renew your focus on rapid customer service responses, or hire extra help for speed
Go the extra mile to delight customers with problems, for great referrals and social buzz
4. Rapid Delivery Will Increase in Importance
Time has also run out on sellers that are delivering products slowly. Large companies at the leading edge of e-commerce are now fighting hard to achieve same-day delivery to most markets. Most smaller sellers can't compete with same-day, but even next day or two-day is better than the tired old 7-14 days or longer of "mail order" fame.
What can you do?
Forget about economy for non-oversized items; figure priority services into your standard pricing
Offer economy services as a cost-saving option and position it as a discount, as Amazon does
Keep track of which carriers have performed well for you in on-time delivery and stick with them
Get labels printed as close to order time as you can, since shoppers are now keyed into delays
It's time to get out there and talk about your products on YouTube—shoppers are rewarding sellers for doing so. (Image: © Diego Cervo / Fotolia)
5. Social Video Will Turn Competitors Into Winners
More and more shoppers are expressing the desire to see products in video rather than merely in images, since video presentation often gives a better sense of product quality and properties. Some of the best small-to-mid-sized sellers are now narrating or even appearing in their own product videos and earning thousands of followers.
What can you do?
Creating brief product videos whenever eBay and Amazon don't
Consider creating a YouTube channel to discuss the products you'd most like to move
Use these videos to gush about and show off the product
Appear yourself or use your own voice to show that "real people" are behind your business
E-Commerce is Getting Interesting
Twenty years ago, e-commerce was just a slightly different wrinkle on the catalog shopping days of old.
Shoppers browsed for the products they wanted while sitting in their living rooms, made a decision based on one or two fuzzy pictures, waited weeks for products to arrive, and expected headaches if anything went wrong with a "mail order" transaction.
In 2019, things are different. Shoppers are buying wherever they happen to be and expect relevant suggestions to save them time along with high-fidelity ways to really explore possible purchase. When they do make a purchase, they're increasingly expecting it to arrive within a day or two, if not within hours—and if something goes wrong, they expect the problem to be resolved immediately.
This is all a tall order, but it's also an opportunity—sellers that are able to deliver with earn loyal shoppers that are opening their wallets for remote purchases more than ever before in history.
So get busy and win 2019!
Posted on November 29, 2018
What's coming in e-commerce during the coming year, and how can you capitalize on it? Read on to find out.
Join the Newsletter