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We’re reaching the end of 2023, and with that, another work year is about to close. If you have hopes of clinching a promotion, a raise, or maybe even a change of career in 2023, then you have to beef up your skillset and expand your resume.
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Starting up in the e-commerce sector is a challenge because of market saturation, which is why many savvy business people opt to buy an already established e-commerce store
The exponential growth of the e-commerce sector cannot be argued with. The Office of National Statistics reported that the proportion of adults aged 65 and over who shop online trebled since 2023, rising 48% in 2023, a 32% increase on 2008. While the percentage among all adults who have bought goods or services online was 78% in 2023, and this is a figure set to grow further.
In less than a decade some of the largest e-commerce brands such as Amazon, eBay and Alibaba have grown to a colossal size and there is always scope for new brands to make their mark. Retail has changed for good due to the truly global nature of e-commerce. There are zero barriers or borders which gives e-commerce businesses plenty of opportunities, but also huge competition.
Starting up in the e-commerce sector is a challenge because of market saturation, which is why many savvy business people opt to buy an already established e-commerce store. Just make sure you are fully up to speed on all relevant e-commerce trends for this year, and beyond before taking this route.
Of course, there is a risk, as with all businesses, so you need to be 100% focused during the buying process and make the right decision when choosing your future business. There are many things you can do to improve sales to grow your e-commerce business but, first, here are five steps to buying the e-commerce store you want while mitigating risk and maximizing the chance of good returns.1. Due diligence
Do your homework. Is there market demand for the business you’re looking at? Is there space for it to grow and your store to flourish? Competition is so high in this industry that you cannot afford to get it wrong so you need to do some in-depth analysis of competitors as well as your potential purchase.
Look at e-commerce businesses that have found their own niche market or niche product – this is where success is found as demand will be steady and competition much lower. In addition, there are likely to be plenty of new innovations.
Check out potential investments technically. Look at the site from a completely unbiased and analytical viewpoint. How does the site rank? Check out its statistics using Alexa and SimilarWeb, but also go more in-depth and look at their Google Analytics as closely as possible.
Examine their traffic to see if there are any patterns and trends. This will allow you to assess whether there is scope for you to improve and build on their current position. Where there’s scope for growth, it is worth looking further into the business.
Do not forget to look closely for any supply chain issues, as this is key to the success of any e-commerce business. Look into existing business relationships, costs and lengths of contracts already in place. Anything that doesn’t seem legitimate or quite add up should be analyzed in closer detail.
Be sure to look under the hood of the website to see what is powering it, whether Shopify, Wix, WooCommerce, Weebly or one of the many others. There are also various e-commerce guides to help you get your head around the confusing ins and outs of e-commerce stores, such as this review of the ever-popular Shopify that includes pros and cons.2. Post-purchase costs
The costs of your new e-commerce business do not stop with the sale price and you need to seriously consider the post-purchase cost of your new investment. The overall value of the transaction incorporates many other factors including branding, website maintenance, digital asset costs, supply chain, marketing investment and more.
Dependent on the current setup of your potential investment, you may only need to make small tweaks. But in other instances, you may want to fully overhaul the look and feel of the business, so this is something you have to factor in.3. Digital intelligence
Is your potential new business a success online? Again, you must research the current outlook for your investment in terms of digital presence, as this will have a big impact.
How successful is their content strategy? Are they active across social media? What networks currently seem to work for them and where are they missing out? Again, you should be looking for successes but also places where you can grow and develop the business. Don’t forget to also examine at their conversion rates – are they converting traffic on their site into customers?
Most marketplaces where you can buy e-commerce stores provide verified traffic data and even revenues, giving you a clear picture of the store’s current position. Dig into their SEO and website analytics as you may be pleasantly surprised. If their SEO is poor then you have a big opportunity to improve things; if their SEO is working well then you’ll have more time to focus on growing the business in other ways.
You should also make sure to test the customer service of the store in its current state. Ring them, email them and use any additional messenger services and social media channels they may use for customer service. Customer service is a big indication of how well a business treats its customers and how well (or not) it trains and helps its staff. It’s also a big part when it comes to building customer trust.
Look where there may have been problems in the past and see if any negative feedback has been handled well. You don’t want to invest in a business that is already viewed in an extremely negative light.
Similarly, look at what they do well, how is their content creation? Do they engage well with their audience? These are things you can pick up and continue with. But, lastly and perhaps most importantly, look at how their checkout performs – what percentage of checkout processes end with an abandoned cart? Find out why.4. The legal stuff
Legal compliance is not the most interesting element of any purchase, but it is completely essential. You need to make sure you have the full legal rights to run the new business and are in the position to do so.
This includes ensuring you obtain the intellectual property necessary to continue operating the business after purchase. It is very easy to fall foul of intellectual property law over issues you may not even have considered.
Does the individual you’re buying from own the copyright to all imagery on the site? What trademarks are in place and can you purchase them legally? Be sure to ask every question necessary to get the full legal picture before agreeing to any purchase.5. The financials
You will also need to check through any existing contracts the store has with external agencies, such as marketing companies and SEO agencies, and see if you are obliged to keep them on or there are break-out clauses or other provisions you can make use of.
You need to do the same when it comes to the company revenue and ensure everything adds up properly and there is nothing untoward before you get involved with the business.Summing up
Buying a successful e-commerce store isn’t always possible but you can buy one which is well-positioned to grow and develop. With global sales revenues estimated to have reached $2.8 trillion, according to Statista, there may never be a better time to get involved in e-commerce.
2012 Ford SVT Raptor: updating an off-road icon [Video]
In Texas, trucks are a big deal. Texans buy about 1-in-5 out of every truck that Ford sells. When you combine Dallas and a few other major Texas cities, the individual cities alone sell more trucks than many states do in their entirety. This is why when a new truck is being unveiled, Texas is the place that Ford comes to. At the 2011 Texas State Fair yesterday Ford pulled the covers off the new 2012 SVT Raptor off-road pickup. The truck has some interesting updates for this year that will make Raptor fans happy.
One of the key updates to the car comes in a new Torsen differential in the front. The official press release on the truck doesn’t mention the ratio in the front differential, but I believe it was said to be a 4.10 ratio in the front. The Torsen differential is the same type of diff used at the rear of the 2012 Boss 302. What the Torsen differential brings is a better ability to put the power down in instances where one tire has more traction than the other tire does.
On the outside of the new Raptor truck key styling changes for the 2012 refresh inside a new side graphic that says Raptor. When I drove the 2011 Ford Raptor with the graphics designed to resemble digital dirt on the side the thing most people asked was if you could get the truck minus the graphics. I think the new graphics are much more attractive than the old version and buyers will like them on the truck much more.
The other big exterior change is the addition of a new wheel style that looks a lot better than the wheels on the 2011 Raptor. The new wheels are a Euroflange design that put the weights on the inside to protect from the bumps and debris that comes with off roading. The new wheels are shod in SVT-tuned 35-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain TA/KO 315/70-17 tires. The suspension remains the same with internal triple-bypass FOX racing shocks. The big tires and special suspension give the Raptor 11.2-inches of suspension travel in the front and 12.1-inches of rear suspension travel on both SuperCrew and SuperCab versions.
The engine under the hood is the same 6.2L as last year packing 411 HP and 434 lb-ft of torque. One of the key new tech features of the 2012 model is the addition of a front camera in the grill area. This camera is angled down and is made to allow the driver to see what is in front of them even when the grade they are climbing means they see nothing but sky. The front camera shows what it spies on the LCD in the center cluster of the truck and has an integrated washer to keep the lens clear of mud and dust. The screen has graded lines to show distance to go and when in use it has blue dynamic guides so you can see what the truck is headed towards.
Inside the new 2012 Raptor, you can now get heated and cooled seats as an option. In previous models, the seats offered heat only. The seats are also now trimmed in blue thread with the same leather and mesh design that the 2011 models had, but with more color. The dash area also gets a blue anodized trim package option. The Raptor will be offered in a new Race Red color, which will not get the blue interior trim package option.
Pricing on the new 2012 Raptor hasn’t been announced at this point, but Raj said the increase wouldn’t be large since it’s an incremental upgrade. During the unveil the speaker noted that Ford is selling every Raptor it can build and has traditionally offered its dealers only a 14-day supply of the trucks. The supply will be increased in 2012 to meet the market demand for the Raptor. Check out our exclusive video below to see the new 2012 Raptor for yourself.
President Obama wants to give NASA’s missions a big boost. Monday afternoon, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden updated the nation on the state of its space agency, noting that the Obama administration is proposing an $18.5 billion budget for NASA for the 2023 fiscal year. That’s about $500 million more than the agency received for 2023.
The funds are aimed at covering the costs of NASA’s ongoing, manned deep-space exploration projects, such as sending astronauts to Mars. But money is also being set aside for some new, extremely exciting ventures. The project we’re most excited about is a trip to Jupiter’s moon, Europa; it’s a big candidate for finding potential life elsewhere in our solar system, and now that the White House has approved the mission, it can finally get started.
Of course, much of the money is focused on getting to our red neighbor first. About $8.51 billion of the proposed budget is allocated to human exploration, and a large chunk of that–$2.863 billion–will go toward the Orion Crew Capsule and Space Launch System. Dubbed NASA’s “monster” rocket, the SLS is currently in development at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, and officials hope to use the vehicle to send the astronaut-carrying Orion to Mars sometime in the 2030s.“[NASA] is firmly on a journey to Mars. Make no mistake, this journey will help guide and define our generation.”
“[NASA] is firmly on a journey to Mars. Make no mistake, this journey will help guide and define our generation,” Bolden said on Monday.
The rest of the human exploration budget is geared toward maintaining the International Space Station ($3.106 billion), as well as funding the space taxis that will transport American astronauts to the orbiting laboratory. Through the Commercial Crew Program, NASA awarded private companies SpaceX and Boeing with contracts to design and build crew vehicles that will ferry astronauts to and from the ISS. Under the proposed budget, the program will receive $1.244 billion for 2023, representing a $400 million increase from the 2023 Commercial Crew budget. Bolden says the increased allotment will help both companies reach the goal of operating space station flights by 2023.
Yet the really intriguing stuff lies in the budget for science, which will receive $5.288 billion. While $1.947 billion of that is going to Earth science (e.g. maintaining its SMAP satellite), $1.361 billion is going to planetary science, and that includes funding for a long-awaited robotic mission to Europa. The satellite is thought to house a vast ocean underneath its icy crust, leading many scientists to wonder if the waters are home to organic life. Although Congress gave NASA $100 million to start the design process on a Europa mission in 2023, the proposed White House budget will add on $30 million. And with NASA being an executive branch agency, President Obama’s approval means NASA can now get started on the project.
As always, Congress will meddle with the president’s budget request, so it’s doubtful the final version will look the same as this proposal. But the suggested increase spells good news for your average space enthusiast, indicating the executive branch better understands the significance of space exploration. Meanwhile, just remember: NASA’s budget still represents only half of a percent of the overall national budget.
Marketers concerned about legitimate e-mail blocked as spam will find confirmation of their fears, a report finds. The costs of such blocking will nearly double, soaring to $419 million in 2008 from $230 million in 2003, according to Jupiter Research (a unit of this site’s corporate parent).
Ironically, the percentage of wrongly blocked permission e-mail will drop from 17 percent today to just under 10 percent in 2008, researchers found. However, total spending on retention and sponsored e-mails will increase, accounting for the higher amount of money wasted on messages that are never delivered.
“The report may be just the tip of the iceberg,” said Trevor Hughes, executive director of the E-mail Service Provider Coalition (ESPC). “If they’re just tracking e-mail marketing, the cost is lost marketing opportunity. But if you count newsletters, paid subscriptions and messages that are a critical component of e-commerce, the cost could be much higher.”
The report recommends that marketers use confirmed opt-in practices and says those sending millions of messages should participate in identity-based trusted and bonded sender programs. The latter measure will kick up costs to $0.005 per message from the current $0.002, according to the report.
Companies won’t have to look far to find offerings to help them meet the second recommendation. The report mentions IronPort, Habeas and TRUSTe as emerging forces in the nascent trusted- and bonded-sender market.
Worries about permission e-mail ending up in spam filters or simply dumped as spam have mounted for many months, prompting a rash of deliverability services to pop up offering other methods of getting e-mail into mailboxes where it is welcome.
“Because of the deluge of spam and ISPs having to deal with it so aggressively, often well-intentioned marketers or newsletters will have something in their e-mail that makes the ISP think it’s a scam,” said Jennifer Wilson, VP of marketing for Return Path, another company that helps businesses get their e-mails through.
Some ISPs, including AOL and Yahoo!, allow members to identify spammers with a spam button. However, e-mail marketers have complained that users indiscriminately hit this button, seeing it as a way to unsubscribe from mailings. AOL has said its members use the button 4 million times a day.
In addition to using third-party trusted sender programs, marketers should make the permission and opt-out process easier by following four steps, according to the report. Companies should clearly state the date and time when customers opted in; they should send e-mails only for a limited period of time or make customers opt back in after a specified period of time; they should make opting out easy and make relevancy the ultimate determinant of e-marketing frequency.
“What they’re getting at [in the report] is that when you are sending e-mail to someone you have to make sure you’re sending something they’re expecting and they want. If they’re not engaged in that e-mail it doesn’t matter if they opted in, they are not going to read it and it’s going to be spam to them,” said Wilson.
“Companies are going to have to put some resources behind managing their e-mail and making it as relevant as they can,” Wilson noted. “If they can, their response rates will go up and deliverability will rise because they won’t have as many complaints about their mail.”
Our recommended blogs that every retail and E-commerce professional should be following to use the latest innovations and grow their sales General E-commerce sites
The E-commerce Times News Network. We start here since this is the Granddaddy; some of us remember it from the dot-com boom days of 1998 when it focused on tech stories, and it’s still running. These days it’s really broad, covering retail marketing techniques, but it’s still got the latest on tech issues like security and payment.
Digital Commerce 360
. This may be a new publisher to you, even if you’ve worked in E-commerce for a long time. The reason is that the venerable Internet Retailer (IR) has recently rebranded. As before, it’s US focused and covers developments by the main marketplaces and in different sectors.
Internet retailing. The similarly named Internet Retailing focuses more on UK and European suppliers and examples, with the latest merger and acquisition news on European providers. It doesn’t tend to have so much analysis on practical best practices these days (plenty of these examples to follow).
Econsultancy. Like Smart Insights this blog covers a range of sectors but recognizes the importance of retail and E-commerce, with examples of best practices in this sector.
Smart Insights E-commerce marketing strategy channel. We’re well-qualified to write about this one. Our focus across the whole blog is on digital strategy and optimization. It’s perhaps no surprise, given our name, that we also share compilations of KPIs on performance benchmarks that are of interest to retailers, such as Desktop vs mobile E-commerce conversion rates.
Many of the best sites on getting better results from E-commerce are from vendors. Here’s our pick.
Practical Ecommerce blog. We naturally thought of this blog first in this section. It’s been around, nearly as long as the E-commerce Times. We like its main channels which are Marketing, Conversion, Management, and Design and Development. Be warned though that some of the articles can be quite thin and aren’t necessarily specifically on E-commerce specific issues.
Shopify blog. This is a well-known E-commerce platform and well regarded practical blog for retailers to learn from. Naturally, it does tend to focus on smaller SMB retail topics and examples of using its own platform.
Big Commerce. This is one of our favourite blogs on this list. The reason? In-depth content on retail growth strategies, with examples. Its categories tick all the boxes of the topics that matter: E-commerce design, E-commerce marketing, how to sell online, online payments, and shipping and fulfillment.
Practicology blog. We’re recommending this since it has a firm focus on retail improvements, from a consultancy specializing on E-commerce.
Blue Leaf blog. This is another specialist, in this case a design and platform implementation vendor. They have relatively few blog articles; instead, here I’m recommending them for their quarterly ‘Inspiring Great Retail’ series, available in print, which we find useful for examples of the latest trends.Operations-focused blogs on cross-border commerce, marketplaces, payment and fulfillment
PayU blog. As an alternative payments provider, PayU naturally covers the topic of payments, with a strong focus on best practices for cross-border eCommerce. (Note that PayU is a content partner of Smart Insights and commissioned us to compile this round-up, but all viewpoints are our own.)
E-commerce Expo Insights. This blog covers topics from one of the largest European events on E-commerce, including payment, fulfillment, and marketing.
Flex E blog. With discussion and examples of the latest models in fulfillment, this blog focuses on the US market.
Tamebay. This blog has intelligence and news for all businesses and business people who want to improve their use of online marketplaces.Stories to inspire start-up retail entrepreneurs
In this final short section, we look at a different type of blog which is more personal since they’re from owners of businesses explaining how they have grown them.
E-commerce Fuel. Different from many of the other blogs we have featured, E-commerce Fuel is described as a ‘private community for 6 and 7 Figure store owners’. It also has a blog covering how to manage the growth of SMB E-commerce blogs.
A Better Lemonade Stand. This blog has a nice domain name and in-depth articles with strategies owners can use to grow their retail store.
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