Ecosystems: eCommerce's Next Frontier
Google's AI updates for small business | Cart Abandonment Syndrome infects eCommerce globally | Apple Shot their last event on iPhone: why it matters
Regardless of what they think, money is generally tight right now, and any purchasing decisions will be strongly influenced by many factors including discounts & bundling, BNPL schemes, and anything else that caters to value-based buying decisions.
Also, apparel brands—you should expect a lot of returns and exchanges this holiday season. Here’s Gorgias with some ways to reduce them. Every dollar is going to count.
By the way, I’m hosting a webinar showcasing how REP clients use AI to give their site conversions a boost. Their results actually blew me away and I can’t wait to share them with you.
You can sign up here—or click on the image below. Or you can just scan the QR code in the image to register.
If you can’t make it, no worries. The recording will be available.
Here’s today’s slate:
Editorial: Ecosystems: eCommerce's Next Frontier
The Latest: Google’s Big AI Updates For Small Business
BX: Apple Shot Their October Event On iPhone: Why It Matters
MX: A Copywriting Cheatsheet from DemandCurve
UX: Emotional Copy Drives More Conversions
CX: Cart Abandonment Syndrome (and how to solve it)
EX: How To Avoid Search Marketing Burnout
DX: 21 Cart Abandonment Statistics To Drive Your Strategy from Drip
Shall we get started?
Ecosystems: eCommerce's Next Frontier
The past few weeks, we discussed, in order:
Each is part of a larger narrative combining macro trends, and the need for a more holistic approach to commercial activities because of market shifts and evolving technology.
Today, let’s talk about ecosystems, and why it’s necessary to form one around your core products.
Not just because it will strengthen your brand, or that it gives you some unfair advantage. Of course, it can do those things — when executed well.
No. It’s because the market demands more today than ever. And, because of technology, the demands and expectations will only increase and continue to get louder.
Because technology doesn’t just shape its generation’s culture, it can upend power structures as well.
In their 2018 book, New Power, Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms make the case that technological advances have created new power structures.
New Power can be best defined as a form of power that is collective, participatory, and peer-driven. Toss in transparency as a bonus.
Some examples of this shift include:
Media and Entertainment:
Old Power: Traditional broadcasting networks with scheduled programming. Gatekeepers to any air time.
New Power: Streaming services offer on-demand content and platforms like YouTube give anyone the power to create and share their own content—like a one-person media channel.
Software and Technology:
Old Power: Closed-source software developed and controlled by a single company.
New Power: Open-source software projects like Linux and GitHub, where the community contributes to the development and improvement of the software.
Old Power: Brick-and-mortar stores with inventory controlled by the retailer.
New Power: eCommerce platforms like Etsy or Shopify empower individual sellers and small businesses to reach a global market directly.
Old Power: Hotel chains with standardized rooms and services.
New Power: Platforms like Airbnb enable people to rent out their private homes or rooms, providing a more personalized and varied experience.
Old Power: Institutional education with a set curriculum delivered in person.
New Power: Online learning platforms like Udemy and Skillshare offer flexible, self-directed learning from anywhere in the world. YouTube fits here as well.
New Power impacts every institution and industry. Also notice that all new power models are characterized by a shift towards decentralization, participation, and two or multiple-sided interactions.
Take a look:
Imagine new generations of young people growing up within a new power culture. How does that affect their mindset when it comes to life and work? Well, we can see how it’s already changing the workplace.
But more than that, consumer expectations will also affect how your brand delivers value in the near future.
From New Power to Ecosystems
The rise of New Power isn't just reshaping who holds the reins; it redefines how value is created and exchanged. In this new era, power flows through networks, communities, and collaborative efforts (remember: current, not currency). This is fertile ground for ecosystems to thrive.
Why Ecosystems? Because they’re a natural progression from the New Power model.
Take the principles of participation, collective action, and peer-driven exchange and apply them to the commercial realm and what do you get?
A robust ecosystem — where every participant, from the producer to the consumer, becomes an integral part of the value-creation process.
An Ecosystem Mindset
Adopting an ecosystem mindset means recognizing that your product is already a node within a larger network. Your brand's true potential only gets unlocked when it fosters connections, enables meaningful experiences, and builds community — around your existing products and services.
Remember the Sony Camera example? A camera by itself is just a tool, but when it's part of a value ecosystem that includes educational tutorials, editing software, online support communities, and accessories, it becomes more than a product — it becomes a gateway to creativity and expression.
Again, the ecosystem already exists. But who’s building it? Who’s controlling the flow of value? Who’s ensuring that the ecosystem thrives — by generating more value — versus just barely surviving?
That ‘who’ should be you.
Your brand must be more than a provider; it must be a connector, an enabler, a hub of badassery where customers don't just come to buy, but come to belong, grow, and contribute.
Let’s get into what this looks like. Here’s a look at some possibilities:
Fashion and Apparel:
Ecosystem: A clothing brand that not only sells apparel but also offers style advice, virtual fitting rooms, and a community platform for fashion enthusiasts to share their outfits.
Actionable Steps: Partner with fashion influencers to create content, offer a subscription box for personalized outfit selections, or develop an app that helps customers mix and match pieces from their wardrobe with new items.
Ecosystem: A company selling gardening tools that also provides educational content on sustainable practices, a platform for gardeners to exchange tips, and a service that delivers seasonal plants or seeds.
Actionable Steps: Create an online forum or app where customers can track their garden's progress, get reminders for plant care, and share their harvest stories with the community.
Ecosystem: A fitness equipment retailer that offers workout plans, nutritional guides, and access to a network of personal trainers and health coaches.
Actionable Steps: Integrate with health-tracking apps, organize virtual fitness challenges, partner with fitness YouTubers, or offer a subscription service for personalized workout and meal plans.
Gourmet Food Products:
Ecosystem: A gourmet coffee brand that doesn't just sell coffee beans but also educates customers on brewing techniques, the origins of their beans, and the impact of fair trade practices.
Actionable Steps: Host virtual coffee tastings, create a subscription service for coffee lovers, or partner with dessert brands or influencers to suggest pairings.
Beauty and Skincare:
Ecosystem: A skincare brand that offers virtual skin consultations, a blog with skincare tips, and a recycling program for used containers.
Actionable Steps: A mobile app where users can track their skin's progress, get product recommendations, and join live Q&A sessions with dermatologists.
Ecosystem: An online pet store that not only sells pet food and accessories but also provides pet care advice, a service for scheduling vet appointments, and a community for pet owners to connect.
Actionable Steps: A platform for pet adoption services, pet sitter connections, or a line of pet-friendly travel accessories for customers who like to travel with their pets.
Standing still is the only wrong move. As the business world pivots towards more ecosystems of value — where every product, every service, and every customer interaction interlocks to form a greater whole — we must also begin to see our own business through this lens.
To kickstart that process, think about your business and ask yourself: what invisible ecosystem already exists around my products or business without my knowledge? How could I create an ecosystem that supports and nourishes my customers and market?
How does my product really make people better in the area that matters most to them?
What services could enhance the product experience?
What education or know-how makes my product more sticky, more useful?
What other products or services naturally complement my product, or make it even better, or more unique?
What cultural trends or social practices is my product a natural part of? Which niche or taste communities are using it?
Stay tuned as we dive into the practical steps that will empower your brand to not just participate in the market but to actively shape and influence it.
Next week, I’ll delve into the 'how' side of things — the practical steps to evolve your brand into a thriving ecosystem using a simple framework.
Google’s AI Updates For Small Businesses
From The Verge:
Starting today, Google merchants in the US can label themselves with a new “small business” attribute that makes it easier for shoppers to identify mom-and-pop-style stores. Stores that carry this new attribute will be clearly labeled as a small business in Google Maps, and products sold by these merchants will feature a “small business” tag in Google Search.
They’re also rolling out Product Studio, an AI image generator that’s designed to get your ads more clicks. According to Google:
To top it off, they’ve upgraded their ads platform to a more natural language campaign builder, which makes creative ad production, particularly for those with limited resources, more accessible (read: simpler).
Generative AI for Ad Creation: Google's new tools can generate both text and images for ads, allowing for quick iterations and a more creative advertising process.
Uniqueness Guaranteed: Google ensures that generated images are unique, preventing brand overlap in advertising imagery which could be vital for standing out in the market.
Integration with Existing Tools: The AI ad tools will be integrated with Google’s Performance Max, offering a seamless experience for current users.
Enhanced Editing Features: If you have a Pixel phone, then you’re familiar with Google’s AI blackmagic. Now changing backgrounds on ad creative can be done with just a few clicks. Major.
Content Verification: AI-generated ad content will include SynthID metadata watermarks to identify anything that’s AI-generated, to help maintain transparency and trust in advertising.
The implications are profound. Maybe Google will finally democratize high-quality ad production, allowing smaller brands to produce standout creative work that engages customers more effectively—and competes with the much bigger players.
Apple Shot Their Entire October Event On iPhone: Some Takeaways For You
Apple's products hold such a high standard of excellence that the company decided to 'drink its own champagne' and use the iPhone 15 (its latest model) to shoot its October event.
Some maybe not-so-obvious takeaways for you:
Make Your Product A Hero: Just as Apple used its own iPhone to record a major event, how can your brand showcase your products in action? Maybe a kitchenware brand could produce cooking shows with its products. How can you demonstrate your product in real-world scenarios?
Sip And Share: Speaking of champagne, encourage your team to use your products regularly and share their experiences. Maybe a skincare brand’s staff could share their daily routines on social media. Or a food brand's employees posting their meal preps.
Customer Stories: How can you highlight customers who are using the products in exceptional or everyday ways? Find those outlier testimonials and case studies, and share away.
Quality Assurance: Share behind-the-scenes looks at how the products are tested and used by the company before they hit the market. This level of transparency can build instant credibility and demonstrate your commitment to quality.
When you integrate the product into the fabric of the company's culture in this way, it tells customers, "We don't just make these products; we live with them, and we love them."
This reinforces confidence in the product and strengthens the community around the brand, as both employees and customers feel more a part of the brand.
An early gift from DemandCurve:
Use that to help you write more emotional copy, because…
How does your product make people feel?
Blue Stout with another good one on how emotional copy increased conversions by close to 4% for a luxury brand.
Well, your copy should reflect the true benefit that people receive. And if the goal of every product is to make people more ‘badass’ in some way, then there are only so many ways you can make people feel more capable, like:
Socially or status-capable
Audit Your Copy: Review your current homepage and product descriptions. Are they fact-heavy and feature-focused, or do they tap into the emotional aspects of your customer's journey?
What’s The Story?: Consider the story your brand tells. Is it about empowerment, transformation, or perhaps community? How can your products be woven into this larger narrative?
Emotional Triggers: Identify the core emotions that your brand and products evoke. Is it joy, confidence, nostalgia?
Listen Deeply: If you don’t know how customers feel when they use your products, then just ask them. Your customers are a treasure trove of great copy waiting to be unearthed.
Cart Abandonment Syndrome (and how to solve it)
According to The Forter Trust Report, the checkout experience is killing sales more than anything right now (maybe next to your product and website itself).
When people experience cumbersome checkout processes—we’re talking SMS verification, Captcha tests, 2-factor authentification, and whatever other obstacles you place at checkout—they abandon your cart, at a global rate of 77.4% (it’s 79% in the US).
That’s a lot of frustration. What’s the obvious answer? Just reduce friction and simplify the checkout process. Easier said than done.
And false declines are a major problem, too, with over 40% of shoppers saying they won’t retry a purchase if they’re denied.
Let’s get those checkout experiences fixed before things get busy.
How to avoid search marketing burnout
To all you marketers out there, with all that pressure to always optimize and perform at your best, with limited resources, it’s easy to succumb to burnout.
From this deep-dive on SearchEngineLand:
Harvard Business Review estimates the annual healthcare spending due to workplace burnout is anywhere from $125 billion to $190 billion.
According to a global study from the Workforce Institute, managers impact employees’ mental health (69%) more than doctors (51%) or therapists (41%) – and even the same as a spouse or partner (69%).
Burned-out employees are 63% more likely to take a sick day and 23% more likely to visit the ER (Gallup study).
More than 80% of employees would rather have good mental health than a high-paying job (WFI).
Holiday seasons can also add to the strain, so take care of yourselves.
21 Cart Abandonment Statistics To Drive Your Strategy
Earlier, we discussed Cart Abandonment Syndrome. Here’s a deep-dive into the topic with Drip, and it’s deep.
Be mindful of extra costs. Nothing like seeing overpriced shipping fees to make anyone cringe.
Page load times are more than 3 seconds? It’s costing you.
Forms, forms, forms. The more cumbersome, the more likely shoppers will bounce.
Discount codes: if they don’t work, well, neither does their credit card. Be mindful of coupon or deal sites, as they share tons of expired codes.
Delayed gratification? Yeah, nobody has that anymore. And Amazon didn’t help with all their next-day or same-day shipping. So just be mindful of long delivery times.
Hope this helps.
Thanks for reading (or skimming) today.
Until next week.