July Roundup: The eCommerce News You Need to Know

Welcome to our first ever monthly eCommerce news roundup! We’re looking back at the hot button issues from July with veteran eCommerce experts, podcast hosts and funny guys Andrew Youderian and Drew Sanocki. Here’s a look at the biggest news in the world of eCommerce.

Authorship Pictures and Thumbnails are Disappearing from SERPs

Adios mug shots! Moz and Wistia put together two great posts on this issue already, that you should check out here and here. Authorship isn’t gone but the photos that go along with it are, which will change the way SERPs are looking. Video thumbnails are also going to be limited, except for YouTube and other big brands. The pictures helped click-through rates quite a lot, so the change won’t just affect sites, but Google as well. The removal of all this metadata used to be a great way to own that first page in Google. We’ll see if all of these rich snippets continue to go away, like product ratings and local store information. Google claims it’s all to make mobile a better experience. But some folks are wondering is Google doing this to drive up ad revenue and cut down on organic search?

Sanoki’s Take

The paid search results look more and more like organic search results anyways. The latest change a couple months ago was removing the light colors behind AdWords, and maybe this is being done in the spirit of reducing differentiation.

Youderian’s Take

Someone on Twitter summed it up best: Google used to be a search engine with ads, now its an ad engine with a few organic search results.

Magento Go…Stopped

BigCommerce will be taking on all of Magento Go’s clients.  After a number of years of trying to compete in the hosted cart space against the likes of Shopify and Bigcommerce, MagentoGo never really made any serious progress in winning marketshare – at least from our anecdotal experience of talking with store owners.  So this doesn’t come as too big of a surprise.

Magento is trying to get their community edition accessible to smaller merchants. It’s a great platform if you’re tech savvy or have development resources, but not so good if you’re a smaller bootstrapped eCommerce company. We’ll see if Community or Enterprise wins out. Hopefully the migrations go well for anyone that has to jump ship.

You can read more about this issue on Recode.

Is Amazon Losing It’s Sparkle?

Speaking of companies that may have gotten too big for their britches, Amazon’s Q2 results came out. Revenues were up but their losses were about twice as big as expected. They are expecting a loss of $810 million in the third quarter, compared to a loss of $25 million last year. Yikes.

Amazon isn’t just the “everything” store anymore, they are the “everything” company (hat tip to forum member Miracle Wanzo for the analogy). They’ve got so many different arms and the big thing about this news, is the reaction from Wall Street. People are going to start to wonder if they’re going to ever make money. Amazon is starting to get some more questions asked if they’re a legitimate business model.

You can read more about Amazon’s earnings in this piece from the New York Times.

Youderian’s Take

What happens if Amazon’s stock tanks? There’s the confidence issue for hiring talent, you’re waiting for people to have stock options to vest, the allure of providing stock options to future hires is gone and then you also wonder if management starts to freak out. There’s going to be pressure for Amazon to increase pricing or pricing to sellers, so it will be interesting to see what happens.

Sanocki’s Take

In the grand scheme, they don’t cater to Wall Street, you don’t know whats actually going on inside. I’m still bullish on Amazon.

 

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Yup. People Shop From Their Phones!

Old timers are finally having to change their mindsets on mobile. Mobile has been getting a lot of talk, but in 2014, non-mobile sites and brands are really starting to feel it hurt their bottom line. The mindset shift between people that are older or younger is taking its toll on businesses.

Read this awesome post from Kevin Hillstrom on the topic that you simply must check out.

Youderian’s Take

Mobile makes up about 50% of the traffic at Right Channel Radio. This is the fist year we haven’t grown year over year, but I realize 1) it’s because mobile is exploding, 2) our site is terrible for mobile and 3) our “add to cart” button on our mobile site wasn’t working. We didn’t know this because we didn’t do device-based testing. We’re all finally waking up.

Sanocki’s Take

Try this out for us. Right now, go into your Google Analytics, see how many people are going to your site via mobile, and if that’s significant, you should be developing a responsive site. Shoppers are on an omni-channel level now, so sites should be too.

Congress Taking Action on Internet Tax Bills…Again

In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. – Benjamin Franklin

Congress is once again on the march towards an internet sales tax bill. Internet Retailer reported that it is a little sneakier and more assiduous this time around. We know there’s been a ban on taxing access to the internet. This is just a legislative ban to say you can’t tax people to get online, which has been in effect since 1998 and it’s being passed again in Washington. But what’s happening this time is that they are adding a clause saying we will also pass the sales tax on the stores that are making $1mm or more. Its got a bipartisan sponsorship and tied to some pretty important legislations. Sites may have to increase prices to then increase revenue.

Youderian’s Take

I just finished reading “The Death of Money”, which basically believes the dollar is doomed. If anyone has some optimistic, positive leaning books on the future of our economy, please send them my way.

Hot Forum Feeds

A few threads in our private forum that really took off this month includes a seller getting banned from eBay and why you should never, ever work with a friend.

I Got Banned from eBay for Life

One of our forum members got kicked off eBay since they discovered an old account of his had a few bad shipments. Turns out, it’s not as easy to fix as you’d think, as a number of different members weighed in with war stories.
Read the discussion here

How Frequently Should You Send Emails

Josh Caba from Cortex Commerce posted a great study that looked at the correlation between how often you need to send emails for them to be effective. The result for best metrics was 15 per month! Seems like a lot, but email frequency does deserve a test. The trick was remembering that these can be segmented out. Retailers in general should not think of their email list as lifelong subscribers but instead, a list filled with people that will always taper off. The savvy retailers get that you want to stay top of mind with the customer while you can since the relationship won’t last forever.
Read the discussion here

Should You Have a Business Partner?

One of our members wanted to ask a friend to help with marketing initiatives and asked our forum members to weigh in. The overwhelming answer was “Don’t do it!” Members shared a myriad of horror stories of business partnerships – with friends or otherwise – gone sideways.
Read the discussion here

Is a $4mm Company Worth It If It Doesn’t Make a Profit?

Interesting topic. We hear about this a lot. It sounded like this company was stagnant, no growth opportunities. Sanocki and Youderian both agree that it doesn’t make much sense. Unfortunately, it’s rare that you’ll find gems that are poorly managed with bloated expenses. It’s easy to make excuses if they are comping lunches at the sushi bar every week, but most of the time, a company with high revenues and no profits means they don’t have a good business structure and operating line and it’s probably a lost cause.
Read the discussion here

That’s it for our first ever roundup. If you have any ideas for topics you’d like Andrew or Drew to cover in our next edition, send them a tweet to @youderian or @drewsanocki.

Post tagged in: News

10 Comments

  1. Great post! Might be off topic a bit but I was just curious what you guys think of ppc management? The design company who designed my website does ppc management for a fixed price of $250 a month instead of a percentage and I thought it might help with being profitable in the end. Have you guys had any experience with ppc management?

    1. Thanks Nicholas! If you go with a solid firm, it can work well – but I’d be suspect of a firm who does both website design and PPC management. The best usually tend to focus on one area.

      1. Andrew,

        If I were to order your $599 course will it teach me how to do SEO and PPC? I’m debating whether to outsource all of this or do it myself. I’ve been searching for the right SEO firm for months and I keep debating whether or not to do it myself. I don’t want to hire some loony firm for $1k a month and get shot in the head by an algorithm update down the road. I figure if I can do both PPC and SEO myself I could save a ton of money and reach my profit goals quicker. In addition though, I also don’t want to be working 24 hours a day doing all the necessary SEO tasks and PPC management. If you respond I will greatly appreciate it as I feel like just ordering your course and forget all outsourcing. Thanks Andrew.

        1. My Insider’s Guide training does do a deep dive on SEO, including site structure, keyword research, outreach, link strategies and more. So I’d say the SEO side is comprehensive.

          It does cover AdWords with an in-depth training with a former Google AdWords employee but isn’t as focused on PPC as SEO. So while it covers much of what you’ll need to know, you’ll also want to use other resources as well if you start doing a lot of PPC.

          I’d really advise against having someone do your SEO. It’s hard to get that done right, and especially on a smaller budget. On the PPC front, it’s much easier (and less risky) to outsource that, but I’d learn it first so you have a good foundation to understand how and outsourcers are doing.

          Hope this helps!

          1. Thank you Andrew! This really helps. One last thing, I’m not sure if I should get the full course or the store owner’s edition course. At my stage the niche has already been chosen (it’s a furniture niche), the site is about 90% complete but no on page SEO has been done and we haven’t really done any keyword research yet.

            Thanks!

            Nick

  2. It’s interesting. I used to have a job working within eBay on the Prostores Merchant Solutions team. I remember when eBay acquired Magento for a large sum and it was causing mucho waves within the company. Then they began to roll out Magento Go, and promised it to be the most robust and fabulous eCommerce platform to ever grace the interwebs; and my team was responsible for helping several merchants make the transition from Prostores to Magento Go.

    I wasn’t too impressed with Go. It was kind of chunky, to say the very least.

    Behold, now both Prostores and Magento Go are shutting down soon.
    What an interesting turn of events considering how much resources eBay put into them over the years.
    In a way, for someone with my background, it’s sort of sad to see them go, but, I’m just glad none of my stores are being forced to move to another platform!

    1. Very cool perspective, thanks for sharing Shehzad! Yeah, Magento Go never really came into it’s own. Could be wrong, but it seemed like Magento / eBay thought “Hey! We’ve got this great open source platform for more established merchants and we should probably have a lower-end SAAS offering too”…..but then kind of neglected it.

      Good news for Shopify and Bigcommerce, and will be interesting to see what route Magento takes in the future….

      1. Thanks for the reply, Andrew!

        As a seller on the eBay marketplace, I wonder/fear that this will effect seller fees and such.
        Since eBay has been monetizing on their marketplace sellers for many years by giving them SAAS eCommerce platforms to use, there is bound to be some changes as a result of the platforms going away.

  3. Hey Andrew,

    Great List!

    I wonder if you have already covered Enhanced Ecommerce? It’s the biggest thing in the Ecommerce Industry! If you haven’t, I would be happy to share with you our blog link.

    Cheers!
    Boni