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Lessons from 20 years of ecommerce




My first ecommerce site was a supplement to my brick-and-mortar shop in 2000. There was little online competition. Amazon sold only books. Most of my competitors were small independents like me, and it was easy to stand above the crowd. I advertised the site on shopping bags, on leaflets at conventions, and in an occasional magazine.

This post is the second in a series on starting and growing an ecommerce business. The first installment, “Launching an ecommerce business: the first steps,” I published last month.

As my online business grew, I hired a specialist company for search engine optimisation. (Note the spelling of “optimisation.” I deliberately chose a company in the U.K., as my customers were mainly there.) Soon I had doubled and re-doubled my visitors. The company taught me many things — the most important was metrics.

The author's ecommerce site in December 2000. Source: Wayback Machine.

The author’s ecommerce site in December 2000. Source: Wayback Machine.

Learning the Metrics

An ecommerce merchant can gather many numbers about visitors — their behavior, where they land on your site, where they leave, how they search, and so on. A merchant can spend hours looking at this data and tweaking the site.

And I did.

Eventually, however, I concentrated on just two metrics: The number of visitors and orders. I drilled down on the orders to ensure they were profitable. That is the goal, after all: How much profit does the site make?

Over time I moved to pay-per-click advertising using Google AdWords. Metrics became essential, especially the conversion rate, which is the number of orders divided by the number of visitors. If a site has 100 visitors and receives one order, the conversion rate is 1 percent. The cost per 100 visitors must exceed your profit on that order or you are wasting your time.

If the conversion rate exceeds your competitors’, you can pay more for marketing. You could potentially double or triple your conversion rate by, say, improving your descriptions, images, and menu structure, and offering a no-quibble 30-day return policy (as examples). Increasing the conversion rate results in more profit from the same number of visitors.

Discovering Email

An email list drives conversions. Capture the email address of all customers and then offer products based on their individual interests. Targeted promotions have a much higher conversion rate. Assembling an email list was easy when I started. There was little or no resistance to spam and no regulations. Now, in 2020, merchants must explicitly obtain permission from each customer.

In my experience, the key to successful email marketing is restraint (not sending too often), relevancy, and list hygiene (promptly removing unsubscribes and bounces).

Order Management

As my business grew, a growing proportion of sales came from the website. Online sales were an extension of my physical shop and were easy to manage. As online sales increased, however, the process became more involved. Items sold in quantity on the Internet did not sell in the shop. Products and quantities started to diverge. Buying stock became more complex. The Internet allowed for pre-orders, which helped calculate order quantities. I expanded to eBay and Amazon. eBay was especially good at selling overstocks and collectibles, such as signed books. And sales from Amazon escalated, taking revenue from my own site.

Offering items in more than one place creates stock problems, such as selling a single product simultaneously on, say, Amazon and my own site. Order management is minimal with just one or two orders per day. But it can be a nightmare with many dozens per day. I chose software called Linnworks to manage orders from multiple channels. Linnworks tracked my inventory across all channels and reduced available stock levels as appropriate. It also automated shipping, fulfillment, and customer notifications.

Like many order management platforms, Linnworks includes features that I wished were different. It was cheaper, however, to bend my processes to the software rather than vice versa. I used Linnworks for many years, and it was essential when I began processing more than 100 orders a day. It easily paid for itself. However, Linnworks kept increasing the price. I had to move to a cheaper, less feature-rich alternative.

Payment Processing

There are now many providers that offer services to ecommerce companies. The fees of many of those providers are a percentage of the order value. I avoid these providers as the percentage is typically the same for orders of $1 or $1,000, for example. Why charge so much more for the $1,000 order? It becomes a travesty when the provider’s fee is more than your profit!

The one exception to a fee percentage is credit card processing. The processing companies take a risk, which increases with the order value. Nonetheless, it’s daunting to find an affordable processor that fits your business.

The one exception to a fee percentage is credit card processing.

When I started, I used the credit card machine from my physical shop for online orders. My ecommerce site would send an encrypted email with the card details, and I would type them in on the credit card machine. This was the height of security then. These days it’s laughable.

For many years I used a merchant account for online trading only. I paid set monthly fees for the privilege. I had an annual Payment Card Industry (PCI) scan and audit. I completed PCI compliance forms. I spent thousands on making sure my checkout was both seamless and secure so that shoppers did not abandon their carts.

Eventually, I gave up and switched to PayPal. Customers had to pay via PayPal by leaving my site and then returning to consummate the transaction. I paid a higher fee percentage per transaction, but overall it was cheaper. Surprisingly, my conversion rate increased, not decreased as I thought it would. Apparently my customers preferred PayPal.

If I were starting today I would use just PayPal or another well-accepted payment platform, such as Amazon Pay, Google Pay, Apple Pay, or similar. It avoids the need for PCI compliance and it shifts the security headaches to the experts.


What did I learn over the years? Having a quality ecommerce site is essential. It requires excellent content, such as detailed product descriptions and clear pictures. Easy and secure checkout and excellent communication throughout the order process will bring customers back. A decent inventory system is fundamental so that customers are never told that we cannot fulfill their orders. And finally, produce a consistent email newsletter that customers want to receive. These are the foundations of a good ecommerce business.



Sayduck enters three-year license agreement with Forms+Surfaces to create 3D product models for AR visualization




In Augmented Reality News 

October 23, 2020 – Bublar Group has announced that its subsidiary Sayduck has expanded its collaboration with one of its oldest customers and entered into a three-year licence agreement with design and manufacturing company Forms+Surfaces based in the US.

The new assignment will consist of Sayduck building an online 3D configurator for over 80 of Forms+Surfaces’ different furnishing products for public spaces. Forms+Surfaces designs and manufactures architectural products used in public spaces, from walls and elevator interiors to site furnishings and lighting.

According to Bublar, the 3D configurator will make it possible to realistically present complex products that come in a multitude of variations and combinations that typically are not easily showcased online. It will also allow Forms+Surfaces customers to visualize product selections in augmented reality (AR), a core feature of the Sayduck Platform.

“We are truly excited about our continued collaboration with Sayduck. We knew that we were only scratching the surface as far as business opportunities when Forms+Surfaces introduced the AR technology to architects and designers for select products back in 2013. This new 3D configurator project is a natural extension of our digital outreach, helping streamline the specification process of our entire outdoor product line for our customers,” commented Jeffrey Stork, President, Forms+Surfaces, Inc.

Examples of Forms+Surfaces’ products

Earlier assignments from Forms+Surfaces have included an AR-enabled iOS app. In addition, Sayduck states that it has created multiple products as simpler, non-configurable items in the past.

Commenting on the agreement, Niklas Slotte, Managing Director at Sayduck, said: “I am very happy that we have gained continued trust from one of our oldest customers. We have had a strong collaboration for more than seven years and with this agreement we will develop our partnership even further.”

Bublar added that Sayduck’s strategy is to help product manufacturers and e-commerce companies to showcase and present their products in more immersive ways. The Sayduck Platform allows companies to create unique web 3D and AR experiences for their customers, helping to drive product engagement and customer confidence.

For more information on Sayduck and its 3D Configurator product, please visit the company’s website.

Image credit: Sayduck / Forms+Surfaces

About the author

Sam Sprigg

Sam is the Founder and Managing Editor of Auganix. With a background in research and report writing, he covers news articles on both the AR and VR industries. He also has an interest in human augmentation technology as a whole, and does not just limit his learning specifically to the visual experience side of things.


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Revuze, the first SaaS Consumer Insights eCommerce Platform





🚀🔥 Israel, Tel-Aviv – TAM Media Research has announced a partnership with Revuze Ltd., the provider of Revuze Explorer, the first SAAS consumer insights eCommerce platform, to launch TAM CRISP (Consumer Reviews and Influencer Sentiments for brand Performance) for the India Market. 👇

TAM is a joint venture between AC Nielsen and Kantar Media Research and is India’s main Audience Behavior & Brand Communication data provider.

🗨 As businesses embark on digital transformation initiatives and modernize their business operations, requirements are growing for strengthening eCommerce performance to enhance customer experiences and deliver suitable products to the Indian market.

“After showing significant success in the USA, Revue is entering the Indian market by partnering with TAM Media. This is a natural choice as both are part of the Nielsen family. TAM contributes 20+ years’ experience and deep understanding of the Indian media landscape”, said Shai Etzion, Chief Revenue Officer. “While Revuze Explorer will be a compelling product and a game-changer for India to understand consumer sentiments and reviews.”

🔥 “Today’s evolved Indian Voice of Consumers (VOC) is not just pragmatic about the products they purchase, but also extremely vocal and quick to give reviews. For a Marketer, this customer feedback can help realign Product & Communication strategies effectively. Hence, it is crucial for Marketers to constantly keep track, understand & re-connect while managing consumer sentiments towards Brands.” Said L.V. Krishnan, CEO, TAM Media Research.

✨”TAM has partnered with Revuze to bring a new-age, robust data analytics tool – CRISP, for Marketers to decode the realms of unstructured feedback data from consumers and retrace it back to defining sharper Brand strategies. In a fast-paced, evolving environment, it can be a crucial weapon for Marketers to win additional Brand Sales & Market Shares. CRISP will help build the much-needed superior analytical prowess within the Marketers business, help analyze product usage, and identify areas of product/service improvement based on feedback, so as to take quick-footed decisions.” 👇

● About TAM:

TAM Media Research-a 50:50 joint venture between two global media research organizations, Nielsen & Kantar Media Research. Set up in 1998, TAM has been the Central Media Intelligence Unit of Audience Behavior & Brand Communication data in India for more than 2 decades. TAM’s Media Intelligence repository is of central use by media & brand marketing organizations and is based on data collected & analyzed across both paid & earned media. TAM’s vision is to establish the Science of Data Monetization within the Indian Media and Marketing Industry.

● About Revue:

Revue is an Israeli market research startup backed by global investors such as, Nielsen, Prytek, and Maverik Israel utilizing artificial intelligence to simplify market research so that anyone can make decisions based on consumer opinion data. Revuze’s AI collects and turns unstructured data into market insights about your brand, competitors, products, features, and benchmarks it against the competition. This unique approach allows brands to understand the customer’s voice for a better strategic direction, connecting the dots with qualitative eCommerce opinion insights from multiple sources to succinctly identify the root cause of consumer issues in hours instead of months.


👉Read more at Revuze & Revuze’s Blog


✍ Source: Alon Ghelber CMO / Revuze

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transcosmos becomes a certified “Lazada” partner,…






Since 2015, transcosmos has been highly recognized by Lazada for its localized e-commerce support services respecting cultures and commercial practices of ASEAN countries and cross-border e-commerce operations based on each specific logistics situation, law, regulation, etc.

transcosmos inc. is proud to announce that the company has become a certified partner of “Lazada,” a leading e-commerce platform in ASEAN. transcosmos delivers clients’ superior products into the hands of ASEAN consumers by enhancing its cross-border e-commerce services building on its bases in ASEAN countries and its e-commerce and distribution network.

Lazada certifies companies that show excellence in e-commerce store operations, and who deliver timely and effective operations and high-quality customer services, serve brands in expanding their e-commerce eco-systems, and over-achieve standard requirements as a partner. As Lazada strengthens its focus on the Japanese market, the company has launched its certification program in Japan, and recognized transcosmos as one of its first four partners. transcosmos initiated its services for Lazada in Thailand in 2015. Since then, the company has been highly recognized by Lazada for its localized e-commerce support services respecting cultures and commercial practices of each ASEAN country, and cross-border e-commerce operations that take into consideration each country’s specific logistics situation, laws and regulations, and other factors.

In the ASEAN market, transcosmos not only sells its clients’ products on local e-commerce shopping malls and assists their cross-border businesses, but also offers services that integrate online, offline and digital marketing. The integrated services help clients drive their Online-Merge-Offline (OMO) initiatives by connecting their online stores with physical stores in the market, succeed in in-flight duty free channel, and execute social media marketing. With such services, transcosmos serves clients in boosting their brand recognition and expanding sales. As a Lazada partner, transcosmos will further drive e-commerce and retail businesses in the ASEAN market.

● About Lazada Group

Founded in 2012, Lazada Group is Southeast Asia’s leading eCommerce platform. With a presence in six countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – we connect this vast and diverse region through our technology, logistics and payments capabilities. Today, we have the largest selection of brands and sellers, and by 2030, we aim to serve 300 million customers. In 2016, Lazada became the regional flagship of the Alibaba Group, and is backed by Alibaba’s best-in-class technology infrastructure.

With its operations bases in Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, transcosmos offers a variety of localized services including contact centers, digital marketing and e-commerce one-stop services. Its e-commerce support services tailored for each client based on their phase of globalization and local market strategies help clients expand their businesses in each local market. More specifically, clients have the option to choose cross-border e-commerce services including test marketing that let them quick start a new business channel, distributor services where transcosmos acts as an importer and a seller in the local market, and e-commerce one-stop services for clients who already have e-commerce channel in the local market. Through such services, transcosmos provides clients with end-to-end support to help them succeed in each market.

transcosmos’s cross-border e-commerce services include flagship store opening, shipment to ASEAN countries, sales management and customer services all at one-stop. All clients need do is deliver their products to transcosmos.

transcosmos offers e-commerce one-stop services that fit clients’ e-commerce business and brand strategies across 48 countries including Japan, Europe and the United States, China, Taiwan, South Korea, ASEAN, India and Latin America. With the aim of contributing to clients in enhancing brand value and expanding sales, transcosmos will continue to deliver the best services to each country in this fast-changing e-commerce market.

  • transcosmos is a trademark or registered trademark of transcosmos inc. In Japan and other countries.
  • Other company names and product or services names used here are trademarks or registered trademarks of respective companies.

About transcosmos inc.

transcosmos launched its operations in 1966. Since then, we have combined superior “people” with up-to-date “technology” to enhance the competitive strength of our clients by providing them with superior and valuable services. transcosmos currently offers services that support clients’ business processes focusing on both sales expansion and cost optimization through our 168 bases across 30 countries/regions with a focus on Asia, while continuously pursuing Operational Excellence. Furthermore, following the expansion of e-commerce market on the global scale, transcosmos provides a comprehensive One-Stop Global E-Commerce services to deliver our clients’ excellent products and services in 48 countries/regions around the globe. transcosmos aims to be the “Global Digital Transformation Partner” of our clients, supporting the clients’ transformation by leveraging digital technology, responding to the ever-changing business environment.

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