The importance of using Instagram for e-commerce

InstaP1Feature-860x410ShipStation tells it like it is

No matter what you sell, if you’re not using Instagram, you’re likely leaving money on the table. The social media platform is a force to be reckoned with, boasting 400 million monthly active users, 80 million daily posts and 3.5 billion daily likes. For teens, it’s become the single most important social network.

Ninety percent of the top 100 Interbrand companies have Instagram accounts. So do tech startups, such as MailChimp, and non-tech companies such as Dollar Shave Club and Warby Parker, which sells prescription eyewear and sunglasses.

And the evidence shows that Instagram has some advantages over its parent company Facebook, especially when it comes to engaging users:

  1. Thirty-two percent of Facebook users interact with brands, compared with 68 percent of Instagram users.
  2. Instagram has more engagement per follower than Facebook. In December 2015, an average post engaged 1.08 percent of total followers. Facebook’s total was 0.37 percent.
  3. Ninety-three percent of marketers use Facebook; only 36 percent are using Instagram, which gives you a better opportunity to connect.
  4. Even the average order value is higher on Instagram: $65 vs. $55 for Facebook.
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What’s love got to do with it?

moneyoragamiHow to make the most of your relationship with your payment processor, despite how you feel about fees

By now you’ve probably realized that, despite what your mother told you about love, it’s actually payment processors that make the world go ‘round. Certainly there are many aspects of your company that qualify as essential, but the ability to move money from your customer’s pocket to your business’ bank account quickly, efficiently, and safely is truly what makes your online retail business a business.How to make the most of your payment processor, despite how you feel about fees. @RobMcGrorty #Unify Click To Tweet

Given the complexity of the payment system and the important part it plays in your business, it’s no wonder there are so many different fees associated with a simple transfer of money. When you add up a year’s worth of sales, these fees can be alarming. Some of the most common payment processor charges retailers find themselves responsible for are the start-up or annual fee, monthly statement fee, discount rate, transaction fee, batch processing fee, minimum monthly fee, gateway fee, chargeback fee, address verification fees, and termination fees.   Continue reading

4 ways to grow your company while keeping your staff small

The Lim family holds Lollaland’s first product, the Lollacup. (Photo: Caroline Tran)

Hint: Automation is one of them

When you start a business, especially in consumer products, the odds of succeeding are bleak. Some say if you can make it to year three, you’re in good shape. When your business does succeed and begins to grow, it can be tempting to staff up in order to accelerate the process, but no startup wants to spend all of its funding on salaried employees, only to lay off those hires later on.

One company that has grown successfully while remaining small is Lollaland, which produces “innovative infant/toddler goods that are functional and fun.” The company was founded by husband-and-wife team Mark and Hanna Lim in 2011, spurred on by their frustration trying to find sippy cups with functional straws for toddlers. Three months after launch, Lollaland had earned close to $30,000 in sales and was picked up by 50 retailers. These accounts were secured exclusively by Hanna, who had no prior sales experience. Then the couple got onto ABC’s TV show “Shark Tank,” and on that one night alone the brand’s e-commerce site did more than $100,000 in business.

Unlike some companies that see a short-term boom around a media hit, only to have sales trickle back down, Lollaland kept growing. Last year, the company took in more than $1 million in sales, but they’ve managed to maintain a lean staff. They currently have just four full-time employees and three part-timers. Here are some of Hanna and Mark’s tips for growing a brand while keeping your staff lean, and your fixed expenses low:

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How to retain quality as you expand your business

how_to_retain_quality_as_you_expand-14631771892115 ways to protect your passion from too much, too soon

Expanding your business can spark a lot of complicated feelings. On the one hand, you’re elated that you’re finding success and that your venture is resonating with your customers. On the other hand, you’re worried that when you expand, you’ll lose or dilute the special sauce that got you to this place. It is possible to grow your business while staying true to your mission, but you can’t lose sight of what’s truly important. Here’s how:Here's great advice on how to stay in control while your business grows. #Unify @Square Click To Tweet

Keep up with employees. In the beginning, you and your employees are on a mission to get your business off the ground. Everyone is wearing multiple hats and filling in where needed, which fosters a sense of teamwork. But as you grow, employees have more defined roles and the business has more formal processes, so it’s easy to lose your collective “us against the world” mentality. Still, it’s crucial that you keep up your relationships with employees, both new and old. Whether it’s a scheduled meeting or a casual coffee run, it’s important to stay current on what’s happening with them and get feedback on how things are going at work. Your employees are the people who got you to this point, so their input and perspective are as valuable as ever. If you’re new to managing a larger team, brush up on some tips for how to be an effective leader.

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Taking IRCE by storm

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Heads up, everyone. We’re wrapping up our busy trade show season with the biggest and best—IRCE! Come see us at the
Internet Retailer Conference and Expo (IRCE), the industry’s leading e-commerce event, which is being held in Chicago from June 7-10.

#eCommerce stars at #IRCE16, Booth 1442 @ParagMamnani's Zen of Financial Intelligence Click To TweetAt IRCE, online retailers like you can learn more about our products and our plans for the future, and meet the team in person. So you’re officially invited to…

  • Join us for the BigCommerce Best Practices in Ecommerce Workshop on Tuesday, June 7 from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Attend keynote presentations and how-to sessions from e-commerce experts. Network with Webgility, BigCommerce, and other industry leaders and peers.
  • Learn how to achieve “The Zen of Financial Intelligence” at a session by Webgility Founder and CEO Parag Mamnani’s on Wednesday, June 8, from 11 – 11:30 a.m. The talk will also feature Webgility customer and president of multi-channel retail business Wedding Collectibles, Carla Sancho. If you miss this fascinating session, be sure to register for our upcoming webinar, which will cover the same material.
  • Visit Webgility booth 1442 for product demos and to learn more.
  • Meet with Parag in person, as well as Head of Product Rob McGrorty and Head of Marketing and Partnerships Christina Del Villar.

IRCE is always an exciting show, and we’re looking forward to leading the industry dialogue on how SMBs in e-commerce can compete and stay on top of their financials. The Webgility team looks forward to meeting with industry partners and retail customers, and making new friends in the community.