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How to Use Instagram Video to Promote Your Ecommerce Store




The ecommerce industry is expected to exceed $4 trillion by the end of this year. As a slice of total retail sales, however, it makes up just 14.1%. There’s a lot of market share to be had, but simply setting up a store doesn’t mean you’ll automatically generate sales. You’ll need a plan to acquire customers and generate interest.

One platform to drive your sales strategy is Instagram. This visual social network boasts 1+ billion active users, and 72% of them say they’ve decided to purchase products after they discovered them on Instagram. 

Add to that the average order value is higher than from any other social platform except for Pinterest — this is a marketing channel you don’t want to ignore. 

What Is Instagram Video Marketing? 

Instagram video marketing refers to using video content to generate engagement and sales through the social network. On Instagram, you can publish both videos and photos — but this study from Quintly shows that video drives more engagement than static photos.


The study also found that only 18% of the posts on the network are videos. 


Publishing more videos will also help you stand out in the feed. 

Let’s look at three types of Instagram videos that provide more opportunities to communicate your value proposition and sell your products.

In-Feed Instagram Videos

In-feed Instagram videos are the regular Instagram videos that appear in your feed. They are similar to the in-feed videos that you see on other networks like Facebook and Twitter where they rank based on engagement. People can like, save, and comment on the content they engage with.

1. How do in-feed Instagram videos  it work? 

Instagram in-feed videos can be up to 60 seconds long. They default to autoplay without sound; if a user chooses to turn that feature off on mobile, a thumbnail featuring a play button will appear. 

You can either publish a single video post or a carousel post that consists of up to 10 videos and/or photos. The best video format for this context is MP4. 

2. How should I use in-feed Instagram videos?

You usually need to upload your video posts, just like you do with any Instagram post on your mobile app. You click on the ‘+’ tab, choose your video, adjust it, and create a caption. This works fine, but you can simplify your process with a scheduling tool like Napoleon Cat

With this tool you can directly upload your video from your desktop after editing instead of having to send it to your mobile device and first. That also makes it easier to copy and paste the captions and the hashtags. 

3. Best practices for in-feed Instagram videos.

Here are the best practices you should follow while using in-feed videos:

Use thumbnails

If users have autoplay turned off, adding an enticing thumbnail can help you get more views. This doesn’t have to be complicated. You can even just add the title of the video as overlay text, like Jamie Oliver did here:

Jamie Oliver video

Jamie Oliver video

This brief title will raise curiosity and encourage people to click to watch. 

To create thumbnails like this you can use a tool like InVideo.


They have templates for in-feed posts, stories, and ads. You simply need to pick a template, add your footage, and modify the overlay text on the thumbnail to match your video. You can also use their editor to add in any other overlay elements. 

Thumbnails can also help your videos generate views when someone is browsing through your account page, since the videos don’t play automatically there.

Keep them short

Do you ever wonder if the 60-second time limit that Instagram has for its videos is long enough? 

It definitely is! As a study by Hubspot found, the perfect video length on Instagram is just 26 seconds. 

So, don’t try to fill up the entire 60 seconds with as much information as you can. Instead, create short, succinct videos under half a minute. 

Use subtitles 

83% of people watch videos with the sound turned off, and 50% of people want captions so they can watch videos on mute. If you have a message you want to communicate, you should use captions on your videos.

A good example is this video from Woolrich.

Woolrich instagram

Woolrich instagram

To add subtitles, you can use InVideo again. Just copy and paste the script into their editor while you edit the video. You can also adjust the style, size, and color of the font to make sure it’s easy to read.

Tag products

Whenever you mention your products in your video, make sure you tag the products using the shoppable posts feature (yes, you can tag products in your videos, too). Natori was able to increase their traffic and sales on Instagram by 1,446% and 100%, respectively, after implementing shoppable posts.

This way, there’s no need to add the link in the bio URL and provide instructions asking people to trek towards it in your Instagram caption

Have an outreach strategy in place

If you want to gain traction on Instagram, you need to find influencers who will share your videos. You can find relevant influencers in your vertical by searching for related hashtags under your niche on Instagram. You can also use a social listening tool like Awario to find influencers on Instagram

Next, find the email address of these influencers by using a tool like Voila Norbert.

You can always direct message influencers, but it is better to email them as they already get scores of messages that will drown out yours. DM is easier so more people will use it. 

If you want to get more replies, have a good email outreach strategy in place. Make sure you reach out to influencers and let them know that the videos helped you gain more engagement and new followers and inform them that the same would happen (to their accounts) if they published them too. 

This will convince some of the influencers to publish the videos for free. Some will ask for payment. If you have a budget for this, you can pay them. 

Make sure you get the influencer to tag your account handle in the caption. This will help you attract new followers. 

Instagram Video Ads 

The above method of using in-feed videos works great. But if you want quick results or if you want to scale up your Instagram marketing, you can use Instagram video ads. You can publish both in-feed video ads and story ads. If used properly, video ads can generate more clicks and conversions than photo ads.

1. How do Instagram Video Ads work? 

Instagram in-feed videos can be up to 120 seconds long. But if you are creating a carousel ad, you can add up to 10 slides and each video needs to be less than 60 seconds long. Story ads can be 15 seconds long, but you can add up to three slides to carousel story ads.

Instagram recommends you to use 1:1 resolution for in-feed ads and a resolution of 9:16 for story ads. This should fit your entire mobile screen. 

Once set up and published, your ads should play automatically, unless the user has autoplay turned off while on data. You can also add a link to your ads if your goal is to drive traffic to your website to generate sales and or leads. And you can tag products in your video ads. 

2. How to use Instagram video ads. 

You need to set up your Instagram video ads by using Facebook’s ad manager. You simply create the videos depending on your goal and your brand vision using a tool like the one I mentioned earlier. And then you create the ad just like you would create any Facebook ad. 

The only difference is that in the placement section, you will need to choose Instagram feed, explore, and stories as placements. 

If you are new to creating Instagram ads, you can try setting up yours with a tool like Madgicx. It uses the power of AI to make it easy to set up high converting ads for Instagram, Facebook and other platforms quickly. 

It also provides detailed analytics to help you check the performance of your ads.

3. Best practices for video ads. 

Here are my top tips for creating Instagram video ads that convert.

Use less than 20% text in thumbnails

You need to use thumbnails in your video ads for the same reason you use them in your in-feed posts. This is to convince people who have turned off autoplay on data, to play your ads. 

But there’s one important rule you need to follow here, which is to reduce the amount of text on the ad to less than 20%. If you exceed this, Instagram will reduce the reach of your ads and it will cost you more to run it. 

Make the videos even shorter

Facebook experimented with Instagram videos ads that were 6, 15 and 30 seconds long. They found that those that were 6 seconds long drove the best results. 

People seem to prefer watching short videos on Instagram. As the length of the video increases the watch time decreases

This is both for in-feed videos and stories. 

So, create short ads that get to the point quickly. Your product landing page can provide the rest of the information. 

Use simple language

Another way to make sure people watch your entire video is by using simple language in your video and in your caption. The shorter and simpler your speech/caption is, the more people will watch/read it. 

There are too many distractions on Instagram. Creating something simple will help them consume it quickly before losing interest. 

Optimize the video and the funnel for mobile

Not all of Instagram’s features are available on the desktop. You can only do certain things on the app. This is why more people access it via a mobile device. So, make sure the video and the funnel it leads to are mobile optimized.

Instagram Video Stories 

Instagram stories are a popular posting format. 500 million people use stories every day. And one-third of the most viewed stories are published by businesses.

1. How do Instagram Stories work? 

Your Instagram video stories need to have a resolution of 9:16. The recommended size is 1020 pixels by 1920 pixels. Each Instagram story video can be up to 15 seconds long. But several videos can be bunched together and published as one story. There’s no limit on the number of slides your story can have. So, this is a great way to publish really long videos. 

The stories will stay live on your account for 24 hours only. Once the time elapses they will be moved to your archive. You can always select these videos later and display them as highlights right under your Instagram bio

2. How to best use Instagram Stories.

You publish your video stories just like you publish any other story on Instagram. Create your video, then upload it using the ‘Your Story’ button. You can then add other elements like stickers, hashtags, tags, a link, etc. The video will stay live for 24 hours. After that, it will be sent to the archive section. You can always go there and restore it as a highlight and add an attractive cover.

3. Best practices for Instagram Stories.

Here are the best practices for using Instagram stories.

Use stickers 

Instagram lets you embed stickers in your stories. These can help you get the most out of your videos. The four most important stickers ecommerce stores should use are questions, polls, product, and timer. 

Question and poll stickers can be used to learn more about the content your followers want to see on Instagram. They can also be used to learn about the products they like most. While the product sticker can be used to tag products using the shoppable posts feature. And the timer sticker can be used for promoting offers that run for 24 hours or less. 

Use hashtags 

You can add up to 10 hashtags to your Instagram stories. So, find the most relevant hashtags and add them to your stories. If your story gets a lot of engagement, the hashtags will help them rank on the explore page. 

Add links

If you have more than 10,000 followers, you can share links in your Instagram stories. So, take advantage of this every time you mention a product in your story and link to the product landing page. Also, add the Swipe Up sticker to drive attention to this link. 

Create a catalogue using highlights 

Another way to get the most out of stories is by creating a catalogue. You can create a carousel story where several videos promoting different products in a collection have been bunched together in a different slide. And then set it as a highlight for people who visit your website. 

An example is the flavors catalogue from Ben & Jerry’s.

In it, the different flavors from Ben & Jerry’s are bunched together in one highlight. They also add a link to the flavor’s landing page to each slide. 

Instagram Video Marketing Creates Rewards For Your Online Store

There are several benefits to choosing Instagram video marketing over photos. Here are a few of them:

1. Diversify marketing strategy. 

Photos work great for most brands on Instagram. But when you are running an ecommerce store, videos are a great way for you to share more information about your products. 

2. Use real-time marketing. 

Instagram helps you gather a vast amount of data from their insights page. This data can be used to improve not just your marketing, but also your products. Gather answers directly from your followers by using the questions and polls stickers for stories.

3. Stay top of mind. 

If you get your Instagram video marketing right, you will build a strong brand presence that will keep you at the top of the mind of your audience. They will choose you over your competitors when they are ready to buy. 

4. Engagement flourishes. 

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, the study from Quintly found that videos generate more interactions than photo posts. So, the more video content you publish, the more engagement you stand to gain. 

5. Increased sales opportunities. 

You don’t just generate engagement with Instagram videos — you generate sales. A study from Wibbitz found that 31% of people have made a purchase after watching a video ad on Instagram. 

Types of Ecommerce Instagram Videos 

There are several types of content you can use to promote your ecommerce store. Here are seven you should definitely try.

1. How to’s and tutorials. 

Before you begin promoting any products to your followers, you need to nurture them. When you nurture your followers and build a bond with them, they will be more inclined towards purchasing your products. 

How-to videos are the best type of content for nurturing your Instagram followers. The above study from Wibbitz found that how-to tutorials are the most preferred form of video content. 

So, create how-to videos your followers want to watch. Short videos will work best for in-feed posts, while longer videos will be better for stories. This is because you can upload an unlimited number of slides to your carousel stories. 

An example is this one from Bliss where they share a skincare routine.

BlissWorld Video

BlissWorld Video

2. Product videos. 

After you nurture your audience, you can publish videos that show how your products can be used and how they look from any angle. Here, you should use a combination of stories and in-feed posts to see which ones drive the most sales. And make sure you tag your products in your marketing videos to make it easy for your followers to find your products. 

If a video does well, you can replicate the format and scale results with ads and influencer marketing. For influencer marketing, try to work with influencers who have more than 10,000 followers as they can share links to your products in their stories. 

3. Brand storytelling. 

Another way to bond with your audience on Instagram is through brand storytelling. Brand storytelling refers to the narrative you create with the facts and emotions around your brand to engage with customers on a deeper, more relatable level. 

You could, for instance, create short videos that tell the story of how your company came into existence. If your target audience can relate to that brand story, they will begin to feel affinity for your brand and want to buy your products. The best place for these videos is on your story highlights. That way, people will get to see them when they visit your Instagram page to learn more about you.

4. Behind-the-scenes videos. 

Behind-the-scenes videos can have a similar effect as brand storytelling videos, as they bring people closer to your company. So, regularly publish videos of your employees at work, at events, etc. 

You can share these as stories, highlights, and even as in-feed videos. But highlights will provide the longest-term return as people will see them prominently when they view your bio. 

Here’s a good example of a behind-the-scenes video from Berlin Packaging.

Berlin Packaging

Berlin Packaging

5. Time-sensitive offers. 

Instagram stories work great for time-sensitive offers, since the stories themselves only last for 24 hours — and you can also embed a timer sticker in them. If you are running a short offer, create a story about what products are on sale and for how long, and include a link to the sales page. Also, make sure you add the swipe-up sticker. 

6. Live videos. 

Facebook found that people spend 3x more time watching live videos than video that isn’t live. So, make it a habit to run a live video every single day. This can be a how-to video where you share tips and advice or a sales video where you promote specific products. 

7. Special announcement videos. 

If you have something important to announce, make sure you share it as a story. Special announcements are usually short-term news — a story is perfect for that since it will vanish within 24 hours. 

But, if your announcement will be important in the long run, you can also publish an in-feed version. You can always convert an expired story into a highlight later. 

Building Your Ecommerce Instagram Video Marketing Strategy 

Now that you know some of the best practices for video on Instagram, let’s look at how to formulate an Instagram video strategy. Use this to promote your online store and drive more sales

1. Design a visual portfolio.

The first thing you must do is design a visual portfolio for your ecommerce Instagram videos. By keeping your audience and their visual preferences in mind, come up with a theme for your videos. Think about colors, patterns, filters and even fonts (for overlays), and then begin recording your videos. 

You can record things like the how-to video tutorials, behind the scenes footage, and the storytelling videos by yourself and add them to your visual portfolio collection. You can then plan out a publishing schedule and schedule them in advance. But before you do that, make sure you optimize them for Instagram by using a video editor. 

2. Shoot product demos and reply to FAQs.

The next thing you want to do is shoot product demo videos. You can record these by yourself, but for the best results, I recommend that you hire a videographer with experience in product videos. Even better than that would be to hire a marketing firm that specializes in creating product demo videos that sell. 

You should also create an FAQ video that you publish as a highlight. Make sure you answer all your customers’ questions in this one. 

3. Highlighting special events and offers.

In your Instagram publishing calendar, you should also reserve a spot for special events and upcoming offers and set reminders. You need to create timely Instagram content and publish them as stories to announce the events and offers. 

4. Humanize the brand.

People don’t buy from businesses, they buy from people they like and can connect with. So, give your Instagram account a face. This could be your social media manager or someone else who is the face of your company, or you could hire someone specifically for this purpose. This will help your followers develop a bond with the person and, therefore, your brand. 

5. Learn from the analytics. 

Your Instagram insights can unearth a lot of valuable information. So, pay special attention to it when you create your Instagram video strategy at the beginning. Use the data to create an Instagram strategy and ecommerce funnel that converts. 

Don’t just stop there. Keep coming back to view it on a regular basis, especially when you conduct your Instagram audit. Make sure you refer to this data to see if there is an improvement. 


Instagram is one of the best platforms for promoting your ecommerce store. It offers features like shoppable posts that make it easy to sell more. Instagram checkout is already facilitating the full purchase process directly within the app for some merchants. 

Therefore, if you want to generate a high number of sales, invest more time into your Instagram marketing efforts — Instagram video marketing, specifically — to generate the kind of engagement that leads to purchase. 

Creating video content will take longer than creating a photo post, but the potential ROI from video engagement and sales will be worth it in the long run. 



Amazon will pay $135,000 to settle alleged US sanction violations




In a statement issued this week, the U.S. Treasury Department notes that Amazon has agreed to pay $134,523 to settle potential liability over alleged sanctions violations. The charges specifically pertain to goods and services sent to people located in Crimea, Iran and Syria, which are covered by Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctions, between November 2011 and October 2018.

The Treasury Department also states that the retail giant failed to report “several hundred” transactions in a timely manner. The department adds:

Amazon also accepted and processed orders on its websites for persons located in or employed by the foreign missions of Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria. Additionally, Amazon accepted and processed orders from persons listed on OFAC’s List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (the “SDN List”) who were blocked pursuant to the Narcotics Trafficking Sanctions Regulations, the Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferators Sanctions Regulations, the Transnational Criminal Organizations Sanctions Regulations, the Democratic Republic of the Congo Sanctions Regulations, the Venezuela Sanctions Regulations, the Zimbabwe Sanctions Regulations, the Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations, and the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Sanctions Regulations.

The settlement is, of course, fairly insubstantial, compared to the massive market cap of the online retail giant. The transactions, were, however, for fairly low-level retail goods and services. In all, the violations only amounted to around double the settlement price of $134,523. 

The department doesn’t believe there was anything malicious going on, rather an issue with Amazon’s system, which failed to flag shipments to sanctioned areas. There appear to be a number of reasons this occurred. One example involves the site failing to note when product was shipped to the Iranian embassy in a different country.

Amazon opted not to offer a comment on the story, though the company notably self-disclosed what it believed to be potential violations of the aforementioned laws back in July of 2016. As The Wall Street Journal notes, a number of other tech giants have been hit with similar issues. Last year, Apple agreed to a $467,000 settlement for similar violations.


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Digital Fraud Flourishing During Pandemic: Report




By Jack M. Germain
Jul 9, 2020 10:44 AM PT

If you conducted e-commerce transactions since the pandemic struck, you have probably been the target, or even a victim, of online fraud.

Fraud prevention solutions firm Sift yesterday released a report focusing on a 109 percent increase in content abuse and growth of the fraud economy from January through May 2020.

The report, titled “Q2 2020 Digital Trust & Safety Index,” concludes that this increase is likely connected to the global disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The study shows how fraudsters have used content to deceive and exploit consumers on e-commerce sites and within online communities.

Counterfeit content has played a role in e-commerce for as long as digital businesses have existed. Scams, spam, fake reviews, and misinformation have evolved in tandem with online shopping, discussion forums, and social networks, the report acknowledges.

Sift’s analysis of abuse types shows that most of this fraud is financially motivated. Scams make up 46.8 percent of the content abuse that Sift’s technology blocked.

One of the most jarring findings includes the discovery of a fraud ring based in Russia where criminals executed a credit and debit card testing scheme through fake listings on an e-commerce marketplace.

This increase in e-commerce fraud is representative of a concerning upward trend that both e-commerce providers and their customers must navigate, according to Hank Schless, Senior Manager, Security Solutions at Lookout.

“Malicious actors are taking advantage of an increasingly complex risk landscape, and now more than ever it’s important to evaluate and secure every potential risk vector across all channels,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

Pandemic Profitable for Fraudsters

The revelations come from Sift’s global network of 34,000 sites and apps. Researchers also surveyed over 1,000 consumers in June 2020. The report also details how content abuse is a critical part of the fraud supply chain, the interconnected ecosystem of fraud.

Findings show from January to May 2020 digital e-commerce (subscriptions, apps) was hit by fraud at an exceptionally high rate. In the first five months of 2020, fraud — scams, spams, and fake reviews — occurred 123 percent more than in all of 2019.

Coronavirus has affected virtually every business, and cybercrime is no different as it is a business — a big one, according to Brendan O’Connor, CEO and co-founder of AppOmni.

“It is estimated that global cybercrime revenues exceed US$1 trillion annually. In challenging times like these, businesses must adapt,” O’Connor told the E-Commerce Times.

Cybercriminals are capable of adapting quickly, and that is what they have done with coronavirus, he added. With people around the world staying home and maintaining social distance, there has been a huge increase in both remote work and e-commerce.

“It should come as no surprise to see malicious actors investing in attacks that target these trends,” he said.

Opportunity Mongers

Since the majority of the population has shifted to working from home, malicious actors have been taking advantage of a massive increase in remote shopping, banking, and work. Their job is to scam unsuspecting victims, O’Connor explained. Looking at e-commerce specifically, fraudsters can take advantage of both mobile and web channels to successfully carry out an attack.

The situation is growing on two fronts. Cloud storage for business and online shopping for consumers.

“As critical business operations and data move to the cloud at record speed, attackers are targeting cloud applications like never before. With consumers everywhere increasing the amount of shopping they do online, attackers have naturally gone after online shoppers with sophisticated fraud campaigns,” noted O’Connor.

These trends are unlikely to slow anytime soon, he observed. He predicts that we will continue to see more attacks targeting cloud applications for businesses and e-commerce sites for consumers.

On mobile, global phishing encounters increased 37 percent during the first quarter of 2020. Many of these were attempts to steal personal data as consumers adjusted to a new normal of shopping exclusively from the web via their mobile devices, added Schless.

“On web platforms, there’s been an increase in activities like Magecart that skim customers’ credit card data from the checkout page of a website by injecting malicious code into the page,” he offered as another form of online fraud separate from the Sift research.

Content Abuse Leads to Fraud Supply Chain

Content abuse is not merely a standalone threat but a type of cybercriminal behavior that acts as a springboard for, and a bridge between, account takeover and payment fraud, contributing to what Sift calls the “Fraud Supply Chain” in its report.

“Fraud doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” said Jason Tan, CEO of Sift. “Our latest report illustrates how cybercriminals use different attack vectors to steal from consumers and businesses, often through more complex ways than merely buying stolen credit cards to make large purchases.”

Merchants must adopt a digital trust and safety strategy to protect across the entire user journey. That will combat the fraud supply chain. In turn, it will also help them protect and grow revenue, Tan explained.

Sift Q2 2020 digital Trust & Safety Index: Fraud Supply Chain

The fraud network involves three action patterns: Payment Fraud, Content Abuse, and Account Takeover.

Content abuse is a means to an end. Fraudsters use it to commit payment fraud.

They create a post, comment, email, or text message to disguise a malicious link or drive consumers to unsecured sites and media. The attack only works when people engage with that content and link by sharing it or by clicking on it themselves, the Sift report detailed.

That produces two calculated results. The first action widens the pool of potential victims. The other action directly impacts the person who clicked.

Cybercriminals make money by selling the data they steal on the Dark Web. The report describes this market as a “fraudster flea market” which is essentially an illicit mirror image of digital e-commerce.

Card-Testing Fraud Ring Uncovered

Sift’s Data Science team identified a key card-testing scheme in early June 2020. It’s one of the more covert ways content abuse fits back into the fraud supply chain. It occurs after login information, gift card details, or payment data has been stolen or bought.

A group of 15 fraudsters in Russia with identical IP addresses (a fraud ring), who Sift named “Bargain Bear,” worked together to test dozens of credit cards and digital wallets by posting fraudulent content listings on an e-commerce marketplace.

Sift Q2 2020 digital Trust & Safety Index: Content Fraud in Action

Sift’s Data Science team uncovered sinister behavior on an e-commerce marketplace: a fraud ring using fake content listings to execute a classic card-testing scheme.

Using these fake listings, they sold items to each other in order to vet stolen data, “negotiating” the costs of those items down so that the exchanges appeared more legitimate. This allowed Bargain Bear to test payment information in order to make much larger purchases thereafter.

The attempted scam also sought to bolster the fraud ring’s legitimacy on the marketplace by having the “buyer” post positive, yet fake, reviews.

Brand Loyalty Threatened

The Digital Trust & Safety Index reveals the true cost of content fraud as brand abandonment.

Content fraud decimates brand loyalty. Content abuse is typically financially motivated. The content is designed to facilitate scams making up nearly half of the attacks that were blocked.

Slightly more than half (56 percent) of consumers surveyed reported that if they discovered that their personal information had been exposed as a result of a scam on a website, they would stop using the site or service and choose a different provider.

Using the pandemic as cover, content scammers focused on ticketing sites. The ticketing and events space was hit the hardest by attempted content abuse since the start of 2020.

Those sites also experienced record drops in event volume (down 84 percent from April 2019) as large gatherings of any kind became impossible. Research shows that fraudsters have maintained their focus on businesses struggling amid the pandemic.

Caught in the Act

Sift’s research showed that a significant percentage of consumers recognized fake content and its consequences. Sift’s survey showed that 67 percent of those polled believe they come across some type of fraudulent content or false information on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

That survey also showed that 94 percent of the responding consumers deem content to be suspicious based on conspicuous factors. These include pie-in-the-sky promises, multiple typos or grammatical errors, outlandish claims, or a lack of identity information from the person posting it.

The Sift Digital Trust & Safety Index gives online merchants visibility into the covert economics that injure businesses. It also provides merchants with industry expertise to help businesses protect their customers without losing money or momentum.

More COVID-19 Fraud Tactics

Sift has tracked how fraud rates and event volumes are changing each week across multiple e-commerce verticals in response to the pandemic since March of 2020. The pandemic is causing acute effects within the economy that fraudsters are monetizing, according to Sift’s research. These ploys directly victimize merchants as well as consumers.

Criminal tactics include using text messages to encourage stockpiling of products and sowing fear about quarantine restrictions. Other tactics include emails sent to consumers to trick them into believing a vaccine exists and is being withheld, proffering fake treatments, and offering refunds to people whose plans were disrupted by travel bans.

The fraud does not end there. Fraudsters manipulate social media posts to pose as medical representatives with access to tests and antiviral medications for a fee.

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open source technologies. He has written numerous reviews of Linux distros and other open source software.
Email Jack.


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3 Ways to Scale Ecommerce with Data




Scaling an ecommerce business requires insights into the market, consumers, and products. In this post, I’ll address each aspect and how data can help.

The Market

An understanding of selling platforms, consumer trends, and competition is critical.

For platforms, can you expand your products and brand by selling on marketplaces such as Amazon, Walmart, or Etsy? An easy way to test is by searching for products that are similar to yours on those marketplaces to understand the competition and the potential profit margin. Another key data point is the size of the marketplace. Larger sites such as Amazon may provide more traffic but with a smaller profit margin. Also, foreign marketplaces can open new geographic regions.

Consumer trends can identify new products for your existing clients as well as new marketing opportunities. To generate new ideas, consider Google Trends. For example, “home office” is a popular term worldwide. Merchants could offer products related to a home office. Social media posts, product reviews, and competitor’s initiatives can also identify trends.

Google Trends can indicate product and marketing ideas. For example, the term “home office” is popular worldwide on Google Search in the previous 90 days.

Google Trends can indicate product and marketing ideas. For example, the term “home office” is popular worldwide on Google Search in the previous 90 days.

For new marketing, conduct a small test on promising channels.

Finally, competitive analysis quarterly or even monthly can help you scale and save on marketing costs. Large competitors with huge marketing and store-optimization budgets are sources of inspiration. Marketing channels, creative, calls-to-action, personalization ideas — all have been tested by these competitors. Use those tests for your own purposes. Monitoring competitors’ product changes and discounts can indicate what is selling.

Key competitive metrics to track include marketing strategy, the number of times a company posts on Facebook, the number of emails deployed, a welcome promotion, discounted products, and site traffic. Competitor tools such as SimilarWeb (website stats), Google’s Ads for impression share of your competitors, and SpyFu for organic search rankings and ad spend. There are many such tools, but none are perfect in my experience.


Understanding your target audience’s demographics, psychographics (opinions, values), and preferences is critical in finding new customers and expanding your product line. Obtain demographic and psychographic info from (i) third-party providers such as Experian and Melissa, (ii) marketing channels such as Google Ads or Facebook, (iii) Google Analytics, and (iv) qualitative analyses from social media or surveys. For data on preferences, customer-service interactions and reviews are a gold mine. Larger sites may require automated text mining for this.

Identifying high-value customers can help scale, too. Customer scoring — assigning a value to each buyer — can help. Examples are Recency, Frequency, and Monetary model or, also, lifetime value. Identifying even a few high-value customers can help define a perfect prospect for product testing or for lookalike marketing on Facebook and other platforms.

To expand geographically, consider Google Ads’ Keyword Planner to identify your products’ potential in new locations. This may require using Google Translate for keywords in non-English-speaking regions. Remember, too, that Google is not the primary search engine in all countries. For example, Yandex and Baidu are dominant in Russia and China, respectively.

Acquiring new customers may require a different marketing strategy. Online promotions may perform for consumers under age 45. But traditional channels, such as direct mail, could be better for the 65-plus age group. Prominently displaying a phone number and using larger text could help with older shoppers, too.


Offering more products can help scale a business. Product ideas can be challenging as trends change and competitors surface. However, data can help.

First, look at Google’s auto-suggest options when searching for a category or item. The drop-down menu in Google’s search box contains the most common related phrases.

Google's auto-suggest search options contain the most common related phrases, such as for “baby teething” in this example.

Google’s auto-suggest search options contain the most common related phrases, such as for “baby teething” in this example.

Another source of product ideas is your own site search. Look for items that visitors have searched for that you don’t carry. Reviews and customer support calls can also generate new-product ideas. Other sources include social media, trade magazines, feedback from suppliers, competitors’ products, and customer surveys.

Once you’ve listed product ideas, the next step is to understand the potential. Google’s Keyword Planner can indicate the competition (and cost) for keywords. Amazon, Walmart, and other marketplaces can show existing availability. Finally, understanding a potential selling price and profit margin is essential.

Finally, test new products before rolling them out across all channels. Test them on your site and on marketplaces. Test unique goods on Etsy. Offering pre-orders can generate capital and provide a test of an item’s viability.


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