International Franchise ExpoIf a company is franchised, it’s safe to say that they’re doing something right. Franchising is a business practice that’s experiencing an impressive level of global growth in the current business world. Becoming a franchise is equated with success in large part because it takes a business plan that has proven to be successful to grow in such a way, and because such growth creates job opportunities and a place to put collaborative ideas to work, it’s easy to see why hundreds of thousands of small businesses aspire to join the movement.

E-commerce and online marketing is part of the reason franchising is becoming so popular on the global scale. Now more than ever, business owners have access to the tools, storefront platforms, and audiences they need to brand themselves and secure new clients.

Since helping businesses gain traction is what WebiMax is all about, the International Franchise Expo in NYC is an event we’re thrilled to attend. As the largest franchise expo in the United States, this event is an opportunity for attendees to network with over 400 of the country’s top franchises, learn how to grow their own franchises, find opportunities with others in their field, and gain insight about ways to catalyze their business’s growth. Whether you’re looking to get on board with an established franchise or seeking tips as a new franchise owner, this is an event you won’t want to miss.

No matter what industry you’re interested in, the International Franchise Expo is going to have an opportunity for you. The event is put together specifically to connect investors and those seeking opportunity with franchises that have opportunities to offer. It’s a unique and invaluable experience for franchisees to learn the ropes and find out about new and exciting industries. The event runs this Thursday through Saturday, the 20th to the 22nd, so drop by our booth if you’re going to stop in! We’ll be at booth number 373 for the entirety of the event. Hope to see you there!

HBA Expo ImageWebiMax is fortunate enough to have a booth at the HBA Global Expo in New York City from now through Thursday. Guests who attend this event will get to see exhibits from some of the top brands in the beauty industry from all around the world. Whether you want to check out some new products and technology, learn about the current trends, or find ways to promote your own beauty products, the HBA Expo has it all.

As with nearly any industry, brand development and consumer relationships are integral to retailers in the field of cosmetics. Getting to know your consumers is the best way to help create the products they want, and reaching out to your customers is the best way to get to know them. In today’s technological world, this often means using social media, blogging, integrating user-created content onto your site, and marketing online. The workshops at the HBA Expo cover these points. I’m particularly excited for Beauty Goes Social: The Link Between Content with Consumer Behavior, a workshop where I hope to get new ideas about how beauty companies can use social media to market their products and make new suggestions. It’s no secret that Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram are huge players in the beauty industry right now, helping fashionistas and makeup artists to gather inspiration and gain traction. I’m excited to see how different cosmetic companies use it to spread the word about their products.

Beauty in the Digital Age is another workshop of interest, which will cover how “going digital” was once a way for brands to be ‘hip,’ but is now a marketing and selling necessity. I think it will tie in nicely with the e-commerce event I attended last week – digital marketing and e-commerce most definitely go hand-in-hand.

If you plan on being in NYC this week, definitely stop by our booth, which is number 1033. We’ll be set up all three days for the entirety of the event. Hope to see you there!

It was great seeing everybody at the IRCE 2013 in Chicago! Thanks to everyone who stopped by our booth; we feel the event was extremely useful and it was a great success.

Danelsy Medrano presents at the IRCE 2013 Chicago event.

The speed at which e-commerce is developing and fueling the fire of the global economy is incredible. It’s amazing how the Internet makes it possible to overcome nearly any obstacle an entrepreneur might encounter – businesses can now expand their clientele outside their locale, have an organized space to put products on display, and provide service 24/7. E-commerce is really revolutionizing the world of retail, and that’s what we focused on at the IRCE. Conferring about the changed landscape of retail in social, mobile, global, personal, and interactive aspects brought many new ideas to the table and created some interesting discussions. We were also lucky enough to be in the presence of some really great and knowledgeable speakers who shared some valuable insights.

When you think about what makes an e-commerce website successful, SEO and web development are important tools. With the popularity of e-commerce comes competition, and in order to rise above the competition, you’ve got to have a well-developed and well-optimized e-commerce website. That’s why choosing the right e-commerce platform is so important:

  • A good platform gives you control of head and meta content. When you can customize your meta description, H1, title tag, and image alt attributes, your page is better optimized for Google.
  • A good platform allows for URL rewriting. This makes for a well-optimized page. Similarly, a platform that let you control your redirects and 404 pages is more user-friendly.
  • A good platform provides control of image handling. Some platforms will create new image URLs, which is a big don’t in the SEO world.
  • A good platform is a speedy platform. As you may have seen in our whitepaper, site speed and performance is related to conversion. You don’t want customers navigating away from their shopping cart because of a slow-loading page or page error.
  • Are you mobile? Of course, your e-commerce site should always have a mobile-formatted option so users can easily shop from their phones.

Don’t forget – it’s important to combine your solid platform with good social media,Chicago Skyline as it is becoming increasingly important in the online retail revolution. Social media makes it easy to target your ideal demographic – not to mention, 86% of American adults use social media daily, and 46% consult social media prior to making an online shopping decision.

Of course, these are just a few of many reasons why choosing the right platform is crucial to your e-commerce convers

Today kicks off the Internet Retailer Commerce Event of 2013, otherwise known as the largest e-commerce event in the world, and WebiMax is proud to be attending! This two-day event, taking place on June 4th and June 7th, consists of a slew of workshops and talks from noteworthy speakers for representatives from online companies to attend. Here, the guests will be able to get some tips on how to take advantage of the latest e-commerce technologies, strategize, prepare for the future of online retailing, and use social media to their advantage. WebiMax will not only be attending workshops and talks, but will be featuring our own booth as well, where attendees can stop by and get a free website analysis onsite. I’m excited to return to WebiMax with some expert insights from speakers like Al Gore, Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani, HSN CEO Mindy Grossman, and more.

So what does WebiMax, and SEO in general, have to do with e-commerce? Quite a lot, actually, and what with SEO being the ever-changing animal that it is, we can only anticipate that the relationship between the two entities will continue to grow.

Take into consideration the fact that when sites rely on e-commerce, no matter what they’re selling, they’re going to have to compete with online retail giants like Amazon, eBay, Wal-Mart, and more. However, for these sites, being smaller and more focused on a particular product is pretty advantageous. Amazon isn’t going to optimize their page for selling sunscreen or running shoes, since they’re an e-commerce site with literally thousands of categories to peruse, but a retailer that specializes in these products can (and should!). At the conference, I’m hoping to conjure up some more ideas about how sites can optimize their layout/design, content, images, and marketing to generate an organic sense of authority on the product or service, encouraging customers to trust the smaller search engine results while shopping around rather than going straight for a site like Amazon.

What I’m particularly excited about, though, is the workshop on how social media networks can be a sale-boosting sidekick. Here at WebiMax, our social media department is always coming up with fresh ideas about how to use the ever-popular social media platforms as grounds for optimization – in today’s SEO climate, if you don’t have social media profiles, you’re missing a huge chunk of your campaign. I’m hoping that getting an inside look on how other companies use tools such as the Facebook app, Youtube playlists, viral images, and general social media interaction to boost their e-commerce success. By collaborating creatively with others in the field, our social media department will be more successful than ever in driving traffic and making sales. I can’t wait to get some new tricks up my sleeve and share some ideas of my own!

Since WebiMax’s ultimate goal is always to get clients’ webpages to the first pages of Google’s results, SEO goes hand-in-hand with e-commerce more than one might think. I know that discussing e-commerce topics with those in the industry all around the world and hearing from the visionaries of the field is going to be a fruitful experience for me and the company.

Online shopping has been rolling along in Europe like in the US and much of the rest of the world, both in emerging and developed markets. This is a trend that is showing no signs of slowing down despite still a shaky economic state around the globe and especially in Europe. A consistent bright spot though has been the growth of ecommerce and now with predictions out from Forrester, mobile commerce (or mCommerce) looks to be headed for steady growth as part of that sector as well.

The process of mCommerce specifically through the smartphone (not including tablets) will represent just under 7% of online sales in Europe by 2017. This translates to €19.25 billion or $23.49 billion. As a side note, this statistic illustrates how large the overall market is for online shopping in terms of sales. It is simply an exploding sector of business. These numbers will only look more favorable when shopping from tablets is factored in as well.

The Figures By Year
The report is called the EU Mobile Commerce Forecast: 2012 to 2017 and is clear in its predictions. The following is the set of figures for mobile commerce in the retail, ticket, and travel sectors for the represented span of years.

  • 2012, 2.74 euro, $3.34
  • 2013, 4.62 euro, $5.64
  • 2014, 7.42 euro, $9.05
  • 2015, 10.76 euro, $13.13
  • 2016, 14.66 euro, $17.89
  • 2017, 19.25 euro, $23.49

The average spend of each buyer in this market is expected to rise as well from €201 in 2011 to €227 in 2017, but surprising that is not where the power of the growth comes from. Rather, it is in the increase of overall volume of mobile shoppers that particularly seek lower-cost items.

Reasons for Growth
There are a couple factors in play with this growing trend. First, smartphone growth is a large catalyst as more and more users are adopting the new technology. Reports vary regarding the actual adoption rate for the smartphone across Europe but it is roughly between 45-50% in Western Europe.  Beyond the simple increase in the device’s penetration, is the comfort level that consumers will ascertain in the coming years getting more familiar with the processes of using the device for mobile shopping.

It will be become more convenient and shoppers will trust it to greater degrees. As this occurs, mobile shopping will reach mainstream adoption by 2017 and at that time the population that will be buying products will be 79 million up from 7.6 million in 2011.

Additionally, the report indicates that impulse purchases like books and DVDs will be a driver of this growth and location is a big motivator for items that make location relevant like ticketing.

Takeaway
Businesses in this market need to understand that this is a trend that is only going to develop further. Companies that are already engaged in e-commerce should develop m-commerce capabilities if they have not already done so, and businesses who have neither should initiate the development of both. This depends largely on the aims and ability of a particular company to support adding these web solutions, but there is positive potential for many businesses across the spectrum. Those companies selling impulse-buy type products, as detailed earlier with book and DVDs, are especially positioned to receive benefit from this activity.

E-Commerce and SEO agencies that work to redevelop shopping platforms and bring increased numbers of online visitors to it to ultimately increase sales are also positioned to assist in this positive trend. Drawing in the mobile shopper requires a varied tool set that is unique to the standard online shopper because the experience is inherently different.

Reach out to me directly at rbuddenhagen(at)webimax.com or @ryanwbudd for more information about mCommerce growth in Europe or how your business could benefit from adding mCommerce solutions.

E-Commerce continues to surge, even in an economy that although showing signs of a return has not accelerated and people remain concerned about their spending. The viability of e-commerce globally over the past two years especially in the US and across Europe though, two regions that have been hit hard by the recession, shows its value and promise for the future.

True as the economy returns, there is a chance shoppers may not be as concerned with cost and slow their online shopping (as 73% of respondents currently expect lower process for online shopping). But more likely, the growing habits surrounding the convenience, comparative shopping capability, and lower costs formed in recent years will secure online shopping for the foreseeable future.

Now, a global survey out from Capgemini of 16,000 online shoppers from 16 different countries including the US, Brazil, Mexico, China, Germany, Russia, and Turkey sheds light on consumer expectations and what the e-commerce landscape could look like going forward. Simply put, retailers must recognize these expectations and respond to them, proactively creating a shopping experience that is in line with consumer behavior and coming trends, staying at the forefront.

Simply A Showroom?
According to the survey, consumers largely envision physical store locations in the future to be more of a showroom of products (that can be bought online) essentially rendering it an additional research tool to support online shopping – being able to physically see, touch ,and experience the products. 51% of respondents said they expect by 2020 that most locations will be focused on being a show place for their online shopping platform.

This is a daunting thought for many physical-based retailers but they need to recognize and take proactive steps to address this idea. Enter media convergence. 60% of the global respondents expect by 2014 the convergence of media in retail will be the baseline norm, but interestingly, more than half of them also indicated that the majority of retailers do not have a consistent convergence strategy yet, or at least have not rolled out its implementation.

What Convergence Looks Like
What does this mean? It means businesses need to cross promote their products and services and support efforts across all their retail and media points (physical store, traditional media, website/e-commerce platform, online ads, social media, and mobile).

For example, mobile integration will continue to be essential to support the shopping experience and bridge the physical with the digital, web presence of a store. Social promotions facilitated by partnered social media and SEO agencies and engagement to get customers active at the store will become more important. Looking at mobile, 41% of survey respondents indicated they want to be identified using their smartphones in store to ease the process for frequent shopper discounts. Similarly, 61% of respondents would want the same for the online experience, having the stores keep both browsing and purchase history to make the shopping experience that much quicker.

Some physical stores like Gap have already begun this transition offering receipts to be sent via email rather that printed in front of you, in order to make it easier for returns and exchanges – flashing your emailed receipt on your smartphone if the need arises later.

The Physical Location – Online Research Connection
Internet searching is still the top research function for online shopping, rather than social media or email for example, says 80% of respondents in developing markets and 63% in mature markets. But, with convergence in mind, retailers can engage in ways to make it easier for online research to support in-store purchasing as well making it a two-way street rather than distinctly a showroom experience. 56% of global respondents indicated they would spend more money in store if they had researched products online beforehand.  Retailers must respond by doing more to assist this process, like for example, making it easier to see online what items are available at specific physical stores.

The Future Experience
Retailers have a real opportunity to be at the forefront in the way that they engage with their customers across all access points. The more they do to integrate in various online marketing and SEO campaigns with social media, mobile, and the physical location opportunities – the more prepared for this shift the companies will be. With this in mind, below characterizes the potential future experience of the consumer, retailers take notice:

Research a selection of products online – establish what products are in the store nearest you – track social media for sale dates – visit the store – be identified using your smartphone – make in-store purchase – get emailed receipt –  have an idea of future online purchases after experiencing the products in store.

Reach out to me directly at rbuddenhagen(at)webimax.com and @ryanwbudd for more information on establishing greater convergence in the retail space.