Mobile first eCommerce: Yay or Nay? Jesse Ness from Ecwid weighs in!

Mobile First Commerce

Understanding the mobile first economy can be a little daunting to the average business owner, especially one who’s new to the eCommerce scene.

We’ve scored an interview with one of the great minds in this industry, Jesse Ness who’s the Senior Manager at Marketing at Ecwid, an eCommerce company that’s pushing the boundaries of eCommerce with experiments and bold moves. Read on more to find out exactly what they’re cooking up.

Q: Jesse, I’m really impressed with your Linkedin profile and the things you’ve achieved so far. Could you share a little about your passion for marketing and in particular digital marketing, and how companies can leverage on this to move forward?

Jesse from Ecwid:

I have been doing some sort of digital marketing for probably 10 years now, in some form or another whether it’s been some side businesses or working for agencies. My experience started in Pay-Per-Click (PPC) area, so I ran Google campaigns. Now,  it’s more than just Google. I also run and manage Facebook campaigns and ads and other forms of social media marketing. I kinda started with numbers, little creativity but lot of numbers. I always believed numbers have to make it worthwhile. While the medium might change, my belief in the numbers do not, and that is how I approach my marketing strategies. 

I have worked on 2 eCommerce platforms now. Miva and Ecwid. The beauty of Ecwid is we get thousands of sign ups every week and it definitely played into my interests. Ecwid had a freemium plan and so more of conversion play, so the marketing strategies are different. The target market is also different. We are helping people from step 1, they want to sell first thing online and we can help them grow. So for me that’s more interesting than making 3 or 4 sales per week. 

I find that I like working with entrepreneurs, helping entrepreneurs because adding value to them means adding value to the world.

Q: We read your latest blog post about the future of eCommerce, and we’re really intrigued by this. It even sparked some deep conversations within our team. Can you expand on how the new complexity of the buying journey has posed new challenges to companies, and how can companies navigate that minefield?

Jesse from Ecwid:

Let me think back to the blog post, I’m not looking at it so I am making this stuff up fresh but I think mobile is kind of the biggest thing for it where you can’t expect people to type in all the information with their two thumbs. This is evident when you see conversion rates are lower on mobile than they are on desktops.

But millennials, emerging markets, they are people that lives on the internet and their phones, they would never have had a desktop so no matter what and you have to adapt to that, it’s just the reality. And so for us, being a widget is helpful because you can be responsive to the size of the screen, but making a streamlined check-out is kind of the key.

So anytime there is a new technology, make sure you have PayPal available. Depending on the country there might be, you know, PayPal is not accepted worldwide so what’s the payment option that you need to have there? We kind of have a beta program launching soon for kind of our first conversational commerce play. Well, that’s probably all I should say.

I think if you’re taking a look at a little bit more longer-term, social is not new, so I don’t want to sound like that just happened in the past few months. But adapting to a world where people used to come to a store from a Google Search and you know exactly what they wanted and they were probably in the market.  Social is you got to tell a story, for merchants you have to take a different approach to customers. They aren’t interested in what you are selling right now, but they might be interested in your video or your story so you got to make sure you have more of a drip campaign, you’re doing the inbound marketing

Q: You were speaking about mobile commerce, etc. So the new evolution’s effect has been coming up, so what is your take on geolocations, mobile payments, IOTs, available texts? So all these things, how do you think about potential customers?

Jesse from Ecwid: That’s a big question. So we have tried a lot of different areas. Actually, one area that we have done now that I think is fairly unique in the eCommerce market is we allow people to launch their own app. So it’s not just a store, it’s their own app.

So like if you are particularly somebody that let’s say they have more of a repeatable business – you sell food item, you might need to reorder once a week. So we allow people in our unlimited plan to take essentially this software that we have and we poured it over to an app and then we help them get on Google Play and on the Apple app store, so we take care of that whole process. And like two years ago that would have been $5000 or a lot of work, and more if you want it customized but I’ll kind of go on the low side here.

So we allow people to make their own app. We have taken care of mobile responsiveness, whatever size phone it is, it will adapt to it if it’s not chosen, we did that pretty early.

So, let me see, what else from mobile?

So we have something coming out for conversational so we think… and actually, we debated inside the company whether is this a fad? There was a year or two ago, the idea was the buy buttons, right? So the buy buttons in Twitter and all the other social places, and it’s completely dead, and that happened in like a year where you could spend all sorts of dev resources and get your buy buttons and nobody use them. So conversational is like, we know what is going on in China with WeChat; is that going to work in the US and in other western countries? We don’t know yet, but we are going to have our test out there so that we can test it out without betting the company on it.

Q: So you also mentioned about having an omnibrand rather than omnichannel; we couldn’t agree more on that. So how can companies achieve that and what would you consider a target/goal for the company to be an omnibrand out successfully?

Jesse from Ecwid:

So a little pitch for Ecwid. I think the key is getting all of your product photos, your prices, everything in one spot, and this is kind of a pitch for you guys too. We are more on the front end, we’ll call this a simple starter site where it’s a one page site.

The actual store with the layout of the products itself, that’s Ecwid, and if you want to put it on a blog that you also own, and you want to put it on your Facebook page, these are all hosted on Amazon, these are one store. So you can have multiple instances of the exact same store wherever it exists and everything looks the same, your mobile app is the same. So it is the exact same store in multiple different instances. You can even create, I have seen this where people create like a banner ad, like a tall banner, it’s three products really, but it’s not an add, it’s actually a store, like you can buy it from the store.

So the key there for us is we’re like the omnichannel for the front end.

And we also sync up with the backend. So a lot of our people sell stuff physical as well, so we work with Square, PayPal here. So let’s say you go to a weekend market, and art fair or something, you can accept the Square payments, you can accept it on your phone by typing it in, and that syncs to your inventory. So if you sell everything out, well you don’t want to be selling it out on your website as well or on Amazon or wherever else, so totally synced. Our philosophy is we are definitely going in the front end, so we are thinking probably a little more front end where you guys are probably thinking back end.

But the philosophy is very similar, and just being everywhere the customer wants to be. If that customer wants to shop on Facebook, great, we’re there. If you want to be on Facebook Messenger, great. Web, mobile, we don’t really care so we just try to give our customer that access to everything out there.

Q: We support the same thing. Probably a merchant wants to sell on Amazon,  Snapdeal, eBay, or Etsy, so it has to be synced with all of them.

Jesse from Ecwid: So yeah, same philosophy. We don’t quite have as many market places as you guys; that’s not quite our game, but a little bit. But we are thinking more front end and definitely supporting the Point of Sale (POS) market and the, we’ll call it the Mobile Point of Sale(mPOS). So people that they just do weekend markets, they don’t have a cash register but they have a phone with a reader and everything works together, so that’s important.

And also I think something maybe for you guys, I don’t know if you guys are targeting the US this much, but being a Singapore company you get international. So we are very international, we are probably bigger internationally than we are in the US even though we do very well in the US. But we have translated to like 50 different languages like if there is a payment provider like in Brazil, you have to have PagSeguro, in India we have PayU. We were founded in Russia so we have a few Russian integrations as well. So the way it would look like in the US where everybody uses PayPal and has a credit card, that’s great. But in Russia people use cash on delivery, so that has to be different, it’s just different. If you are in the Netherlands everybody uses the exact same payment provider and you have to be connected with them. So we stay pretty flexible on that and always looking for what’s something that you have to have for this country.

Q:. In the future e-Commerce economy the power is in the hands of the consumer, so what can companies do to retain some control on these things? And what is the role of marketing in such an economy in the future?

Jesse from Ecwid: Sure. I agree, the power is with the consumer because you are just one click away from being gone or one thumb swipe or whatever, whatever the latest and greatest. Now it’s going to be you just tell Alexa to get rid of these guys. I think the key is creating the brand and creating your story because they price doesn’t really matter all that much unless you are the only person in the world that makes your product, which is pretty rare.

You got to keep a store, you have to keep your brand, and unfortunately, it’s a lot of work for the brand owners because yes you have to be active on social. Maybe not every one of them, you need to pick one or two. Maybe it’s just Facebook and maybe you want Pinterest and it is impossible to be on every social. Even though we have a team here, we just can’t do it because, you know, it just happens.

So yes, you have to pick where your customers are and master that one, or maybe two to three networks – maybe it’s Instagram, if your customers are young it’s probably SnapChat, if it’s international you have to pick it properly. So yes, you have to keep that story out there so that they remember you so that when they are looking you’re out.

I think it’s always important to have, even if it’s hard to improve that, I don’t know why, you always keep a remarketing campaign going. And with remarketing, if you are on Facebook and Instagram, the look-a-likes are extremely powerful. And I doubt there are many businesses that can’t benefit from at least a small campaign that is look-a-likes and re-marketing, and even dynamic re-marketing as well.

So the tools are there, if a merchant can have the patience to read through some support docs and do what they have to do, it’s very powerful to see product following this person around wherever they go on the internet. So these are not new, but I think for some merchants just being reminded, you have to figure these couple pieces out.

So anyway, story, remarketing and look-a-likes these are 3 major takeaway.

Q: Where does Ecwid fit in?”

Okay, you have Magento on the high-end side, Shopify is a great competitor, they do a lot of things right, WooCommerce is great if you are a developer. So where we probably fit into the mix is for people that they have a great website, they have all sorts of great SEO rankings, they don’t want to change a thing, and I would say, “Yeah, don’t change a thing. Add Ecwid where you can retain your look and feel.”

We have a thing they call Chameleon which I think it’s public now, at least it’s sort of public, where we adapt to the CSS. So if you have something like crazy design, you put our widget on there, it looks like your site, it’s not going to be like a different font and different color. So very adaptive, we are not making people cut out their old site and start from scratch. We are being very add-on, eCommerce, and actually not that different from WooCommerce where WooCommerce is WordPress only and it’s pretty technical, so you kind of need to be a developer on WooCommerce – if anybody doesn’t tell you that, they’re lying. So we’re kind of like embed-ability of WooCommerce, but sort of the ease of Shopify where you don’t need to be a developer for Ecwid or Shopify.

So anyway, hopefully, that helps you and let you know where we fit in.