Three E-Commerce Retail Trends We Are Seeing In 2019

Three E-Commerce Retail Trends We Are Seeing In 2019

Three E-Commerce Retail Trends We Are Seeing In 2019

Amazon wants to be the marketplace, for everyone and everything. And it seems to be working. So should you even build an e-commerce store of your own, when Amazon already provides one for you? For some smart brands, the answer is clearly a resounding “yes.”

Amazon is Big, with Even Bigger Headaches  

Amazon is the new Sears, but with a big twist: there’s less regulation than you think. Because of its amazing growth, it has become the wild west of the global marketplace, with bad actors using ruthless tactics, and small businesses left with few options for recourse. According to an article on Verge about the dangers of the Amazon marketplace,

“For sellers, Amazon is a quasi-state. They rely on its infrastructure — its warehouses, shipping network, financial systems, and portal to millions of customers — and pay taxes in the form of fees. They also live in terror of its rules, which often change and are harshly enforced.”  

So, while most brands who sell products (and soon, services) probably need Amazon to be part of their distribution channel mix, the reality is that they need experts in guiding them to get to the top of the search results, and to stay there. These experts, lawyers, and Amazon enforcement issues cost a lot of money—dollars that could be spent on other distribution channels instead.

A Both/And E-Commerce Strategy

 So, while many retailers are already on Amazon, the smart ones are hedging their bets by investing deeply in their own customer-centric websites and user journeys. Casper, Huel, and a host of other well-known brands are playing in both areas: their Amazon pages are mimicking the information of their websites and using it for the conversion part of the sales cycle, while their websites provide a more tailored approach to the user, both in terms of information, as well as social proof (e.g. user reviews).

Why? They don’t want to be limited by Amazon’s highly controlled pricing and inventory structure, a review system that can be easily gamed (see above article), or being exposed to the dark underbelly of that marketplace. How do they get it done? They invest heavily in their brand message, creative, compelling content, and nailing down a customer-centric journey from ad content to purchase.

As seen below, Casper’s strategy was to launch with their website-only sales funnel first, and then branch out to Amazon as a secondary source. The Casper website has 10x the amount of user reviews, as well as richer informational content than could ever be on Amazon. To make things easier on the conversion facet of their website, they match their mattress prices to Amazon, as well as the free shipping and return policy. Organically, people know that it is no different buying from their site as opposed to purchasing it on Amazon. Knowing Amazon’s fee per sale, we can deduce that they are making much lower margins selling on Amazon, but because they are on there, we also know that it is still an important distribution channel for them.

Focus on the Lifetime Value of a Customer, Rather than First Purchase

Huel has a different approach. Huel sells their meal replacement products on Amazon, but they only sell their starter kit there. There is no option for Amazon’s “Subscribe and Save,” as they want the monthly customer to buy their additional products directly from the Huel website. To entice the user even further, Huel’s pricing strategy rewards customers for buying from the site to begin with. As seen below, their website pricing is significantly lower than it is on Amazon, and, like Casper, they match the free shipping option of Amazon Prime.

In this example, Huel is using Amazon in what we refer to as a defensive flanking strategy. How do we know that? Just look at the search results for “Huel” on Amazon:

If it weren’t for their sponsored ad (and extra ad dollars to have the coveted “Amazon’s Choice” ribbon), they wouldn’t show up at all on the first row. Their organic search result on the second row would be surrounded on all sides by the Soylent products. We can safely assume that the margins for Huel on their site are the same (or even better) than their margins on Amazon, even with the sizable delta in product price, considering the ad investment. Their “website-subscription-only” sales strategy is guided by their focus on the lifetime value of the customer (LTV), rather than the initial sale.

Bonus: Customer Data Is (Almost) As Valuable As Product Sales

Here’s the other part of both Huel’s and Casper’s (and everyone else’s) focus on directing some or all of their customers to their website: the brand owns the data. Like Amazon, intelligent retailers use customer behavior and analytics from their site to create better user experiences and offers. And you can only obtain that type of deep data if the consumer is on your site. Conversely, you can tell just as much why people aren’t buying your products by looking at site data, event tracking, and other attribution metrics. You can’t do that on your Amazon product page.  


Even more importantly, traditional customer demographics like age, gender, interests, and HHI (household income) tell about the “who” of the customer, and are commonly used to build brand personas. With site behavior and tracking of user experience from ad/organic all the way to purchase (and re-purchase), you are able to tell the “what” of the customer, what they are doing, where they are clicking, and what they end up buying. In many cases, the brand’s assumptions of “who” don’t match up with the “what.” With event tracking, heatmaps, and other behavioral data sources, you can target your messaging and better your customer’s experience, resulting in higher retention (aka increased lifetime value) of a customer.


Retail brands are wise to position their own e-commerce sites as the go-to education source for their product. Amazon will likely be a sizable source of top-line revenue for brands, but the savvy brand managers use Amazon as a defensive strategy, at best getting the first purchase there, but at worst, making sure competitors don’t steal potential customers. Lastly, smart product and brand managers look at the LTV of the customer, rather than getting that one-time sale as a part of their overall customer acquisition cost (CAC). The lifetime value will go up tremendously if you aren’t paying the Amazon commission fee, but rather using those resources to interpret customer data from your website and create a better online experience for those returning customers.

Get In Touch With Us

Don’t be shy, say hello! We’ll utilize every tool in our digital arsenal to empower you to listen to your customers, reach out to potential clients, engage with relevant audiences, and increase revenue opportunities. All you have to do is drop us a line.

Copyright © BuzzShift 2019

Why Brands Need to Take a Netflix Approach to Content

Why Brands Need to Take a Netflix Approach to Content

Why Brands Need to Take a Netflix Approach to Content

To stand out and grow in today’s world, brands need to approach their audience more like Netflix, and less like broadcast TV.

Once upon a time, people used to watch this thing called broadcast TV. It was a crazy concept: everyone would watch the same thing at the same time. Everything was mainstream, designed to generally appeal to everyone, but not ideally suited to any specific person’s tastes.

We’ve moved beyond that now. If you want to watch Friends today, you don’t have to wait until Thursday evening at 8 p.m. (7 central). You can watch any episode you want, at any time. And if you don’t want to watch Friends, you have other options: namely, everything ever put on any form of video, ever. People today are used to choosing the content they want, and have no real reason to put up with a mass-market approach that isn’t tailored to them.

The Landscape Has Changed

 This new Netflix model of creating and consuming content also applies to brands. The old one-size-fits-all approach does not fit all. More importantly, it doesn’t really fit anyone perfectly. And in a world of endless choices, you’re not going to get very far by just kind of appealing to people a little bit.

Different Values

For example, different audiences value different aspects of your product or service. To a 22-year-old, a new iPhone may represent innovation and prestige. It’s a chance to own the latest and greatest shiny new object. For a 55-year-old, that same iPhone might mean convenience and accessibility. It’s not about being cool, but about being able to FaceTime with their young granddaughter. A message designed for one audience wouldn’t appeal to the other, and a generic message aimed at both would get ignored or skipped over by both.

Different Consumption Values

The way that people consume content has changed, as illustrated by the trend away from network TV (including cable channels) and towards on-demand services like Netflix. Networks still offer a chronological lineup of shows, broadcast nationally and blandly blanketed across all demographics. Even with niche channels, you still have to buy the larger package in order to see the specialized channel you want, and you’re still limited by their schedule.  

Netflix puts the consumer in charge. Their shows are not time-bound or channel-bound, so the customer can pick and choose as they please. And from a business perspective, because the platform is dynamic and discoverable, Netflix can present new shows and depth of interests without spending (and charging) additional dollars for content expansion.

Different Expectations

We all now expect things to be delivered instantly (Postmates), on-time (FedEx), and in a frictionless, uninterrupted manner (Amazon). With a network TV approach, you have to wait for your show to run in its time slot; you can’t binge or go through a series quickly, much less skip episodes; and you have to suffer through commercials disruptive to the experience. None of that exists in Netflix. It’s on your own time, at your own pace, and there are few interruptions.

Current Marketing Methods Are Out-Of-Date

Consumers are still consuming, but they now go about it in a different way. If your advertising and brand messaging are being planned and distributed like network TV, you’re not keeping up with your consumers. In fact, you may be turning them off to your brand.

Current Methods Are No Longer Working

The “fill-my-feed” strategy of distributing content only on your organic Facebook feed and blog is both wasteful (in time and resources spent creating the content) and ineffective (less than 1% of your followers will ever see that post, much less people who don’t “like” your page at all).

Additionally, the aggregate result of your Facebook, Instagram, or other social feed is like network TV: blanketed across all of your target demographics, and unpersonalized to your customer’s unique user experience.

Current Metrics Are No Longer Relevant

In network TV advertising, the key measurement was always the number of impressions. But if a message is seen by a million people, and due to its generic, non-targeted nature doesn’t really connect with any of them, how much are all those eyeballs worth? Similarly, online metrics such as the number of followers or likes don’t necessarily mean anything if those people aren’t actually seeing your content, or are seeing it but never taking action.

 Current Spend Is Not As Effective As It Once Was

Of course, ad money spent chasing after the wrong people, with the wrong message, in order to reach the wrong goals, is not going to be money well-spent. And that low ROI puts your company at a competitive disadvantage.

Applying the Netflix Approach

To solve these issues, brands need to start approaching customers the way that Netflix approaches its viewers.


Comedy? Horror? Girl power movies? Reality TV shows about food?

Nobody is going to like all the content on Netflix. In fact, you may not be interested in 99% of the shows and movies they offer. But you’re going to love that other 1%. And with the way Netflix works, you never have to watch something that you’re not interested in.

Your brand should likewise strive to provide potential customers with only the content that they would be interested in, with messaging that speaks to their pain points and personality. Unlike Netflix, your company probably can’t be all things to all people, but you can target your different audiences with the content that matters most to them.

Dynamic vs. Linear Distribution

With Netflix, the viewer is not forced to watch whatever episode comes out this week. If they are new to a show, they can go back and start at the beginning, with the pilot episode; if they are familiar with it, they can skip to a later season or re-watch their favorites. Either way, they get exactly what they want, or need, to move forward in their relationship with the show.

Marketers need to do something similar with their content. You should match your content to where each user is in the customer lifecycle. For example, you don’t ask for the sale before they even know who you are. You need a series of content pieces that drive people through the stages of awareness, consideration, conversion, loyalty, and advocacy. Through remarketing ads or email drip campaigns, you can track which users have viewed or engaged with a particular piece of content, and present them with material that drives them to the next stage.

Dashboard vs. Depth

Don’t overwhelm people with all of the content at first. Let them drive their own experience. Study them, curate what they really want to know about you, give them recommendations, and present opportunities to explore more, if that’s what they choose to do. If you can provide value for them even before they buy from you, that serves as a pretty strong signal that your product or service will also be helpful in their lives.

Measure the Right Metrics

The value of impression-based metrics is nearing zero. Engagement metrics are the floor now, while consideration and conversion metrics are the most valuable (and trackable). Test different ad variations and optimize your campaigns base on the metrics that create value.

Pay to Play

Let’s be realistic. The Facebook of today isn’t a source of free exposure for brands; it’s an ad platform with social weaved in. Google exists to provide ad revenue, not free search results. Amazon is the third-largest online ad platform, and is growing at over 100% per year.

This is an opportunity, not a threat, because it gives you the capability to target the specific people with specific messaging at specific times. And because it is all fully trackable, you can use it to test hypotheses in small batches before rolling out a campaign to a larger audience.

By taking advantage of the tools and capabilities of the digital landscape, we can do a better job of marketing to people while at the same time helping our customers more than ever before. So stop spamming people, or throwing stuff on the wall and seeing if it sticks. With a personalized, customer-focused Netflix approach, you’ll not only get more customers, but have happier customers that keep coming back.

Get In Touch With Us

Don’t be shy, say hello! We’ll utilize every tool in our digital arsenal to empower you to listen to your customers, reach out to potential clients, engage with relevant audiences, and increase revenue opportunities. All you have to do is drop us a line.

Copyright © BuzzShift 2019

If you’re in marketing and refuse to learn anything about SEO, quit now.

If you’re in marketing and refuse to learn anything about SEO, quit now.

A look back at all the SEO things I learned from MozCon 2016. Spoiler: All of it still applies.

Bosses and other people who make major business decisions; sending someone who isn’t an search engine optimization (SEO) specialist to MozCon might be the best call you’ll ever make. But you’re probably asking “why should I when they just work in social, design or project management?” or “seems like a pretty pricey ticket for someone who doesn’t know what a structured snippet is.”

MozCon set the tone with their speakers from a wide array of disciplines within the marketing ecosystem, and didn’t distract us with other tracks on purpose. It was one room, one speaker at one time, for one reason. Not every speaker was an expert in SEO, but hearing how each facet of marketing in tandem with SEO can help achieve larger goals left us feeling lucky our bosses sent three non-SEO specialists to MozCon. One of our favorite presenters barely knew what link building was, but her expertise in storytelling will forever change how we approach creating action-oriented content online.

Basically – SEO is the one ring to rule them all, or the thing that’s gonna destroy your marketing career you if you know nothing about it.

Or another geek reference: Your specialty, a great story, and knowledge of SEO are the deathly hallows of the digital world. [While we can all respect Harry for getting rid of the resurrection stone and Elder wand, we all don’t need to be saints.]
Keep your hallows close and you’ll be the greatest marketing wizard or witch of all time.

If you’re in social media, web development, digital project management, design or copywriting – you need SEO. Here’s some quick insights, inspiration and resources from our favorite speakers at MozCon.

Putting Trust into Domain Authority with Wil Reynolds

“Don’t go viral. Go helpful.”

Wil Reynolds, Founder of SEER Interactive

Don’t always focus on the most popular search trends when creating content. Everyone is going after that audience, and by following suit, you’re missing out on the people who no one is focused on helping. Look at the niche communities that still need your product or service. If you help them, they will listen.

Go to and see what people are really searching for with regards to your product or service.

The Irresistible Power of Strategic Storytelling with Kindra Hall

“Too often we allude to the story, but we don’t actually tell it.”

Kindra Hall, Author & Storyteller Advisor

Kindra Hall talked to us about the importance of storytelling. Too often, the story is there, but we do a terrible job of actually telling it. Instead, we hint at a story, or tell part of it, and miss the opportunity to really connect with our audience on an emotional level. This is
important because stories are what makes your brand memorable. They differentiate you from your competition, and foster a loyal customer base.

Focus on the transformation of your hero and ask yourself “how did things change for them due to your purposeful message and product impact?” because stories are what people remember.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image media=”49489″ media_width_use_pixel=”yes” alignment=”center” media_width_pixel=”500″][vc_column_text]

Reimagining Customer Retention and Evangelism with Kristen Craft

“Don’t try to be all things to all people.”

Kristen Craft, Director of Business Development at Wistia

Kristen Craft talked to us about the importance of capitalizing on what makes you stand-out. Don’t be all things to all people; instead, use precise language, and showcase your idiosyncrasies. By revealing what makes you different, you are more likely to attract the people that you want to attract. The people who like what makes you stand-out, are more likely to take action and engage with your brand.

A great dating analogy and helpful read to increase conversions:
Datacysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking) by Christian Rudder

Breaking Patterns: How to Rewrite the CRO Playbook with Mobile Optimization with Talia Wolf

“One can never have enough socks. Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.”

Albus Dumbledore

Talia Wolf challenged us to be the mentor that our customers need. Basically, we are Dumbledore and our target audience is Harry. Our users have a challenge and our products or services provide them the tools they need to overcome it. In this session, Talia begged us to look at our mobile and desktop experiences and analyze how our audience behaviors and needs differ when interacting with us on the go, or at a desk, or on the couch. To help gain clarity on these differences, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you know your conversions are on mobile?
  • Do you know how many people are going from desktop and then to mobile?
  • What are people searching on mobile to get to your site?
  • How do they interact with your site on mobile vs. desktop?
  • How are you helping them find what they’re looking for?
  • How are we making their life better? (e.g. you don’t sell t-shirts, you sell self esteem)

How to Be Specific: From-The-Trenches Lessons in High-Converting Copy with Joanna Wiebe

“We see 5K ads a day. We recognize 50 — We remember 5.”

Joanna Weibe

It’s a world of 5,000 competing messages a day, but people only remember a few. Don’t focus on being in the top 10, you’ve got to be better than that and every other piece of noise doesn’t matter.

And don’t dumb down your audience because you think they don’t like to read. They just don’t like to read messages that are unhelpful, vague or not directed to their specific needs. Because why? Answer: Our brains are exhausted.

Tip: Try something new and see how people-centric and more individualized and conversion-oriented copy can help you create action with this approach.

Helpful Resource:

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