14 Must-Read Ecommerce Articles on the Shogun Blog in 2020

December 29, 2020

You don’t need us to tell you that 2020 has been an eventful year.

A lot has happened in these 12 months. And the ecommerce industry — which had been forecasted to do big numbers in 2020 — saw some big surprises as well. 

Below, we’ll take you through our Shogun blog roundup, featuring some of our most popular and trend-driven content this year. Whether you want to revisit some of the biggest news stories or get your online store up to speed for 2021, there’s a blog post for you.

COVID-19 and the Ecommerce Industry

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Q1 2020 kicked off in a big way: the global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In “The Ripple Effects of COVID-19 on Retail — And How Brands Should Plan for the Future,” we reviewed how COVID-19 affected shopping behavior. Then, we went over techniques that stores can use to adapt to the pandemic, such as introducing a subscription pricing model and creating digital experiences.

Various types of online stores were impacted by COVID-19 in different ways. “How Off-Price Retailers are Approaching Ecommerce During COVID-19” addressed how the pandemic affected off-price retailers such as TJ Maxx and Marshalls. And in “How Online Clothing Resellers are Surviving — and Even Thriving — During Quarantine,” we took a look at how the online resale community responded to the novel coronavirus. 

While there’s no doubt the pandemic has been bad for the economy as a whole, sales of some products actually went up during this time.

In “8 Profitable Ecommerce Niches for 2020,” we covered these trends in detail. Unsurprisingly, the skyrocketing sales figures for most of these products is the direct result of social distancing and lockdown orders — the list includes work-from-home equipment, home gym equipment, gardening supplies and more. 

Behind-the-Scenes: Managing Your Online Store

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In addition to COVID-19-related pieces, we also published evergreen content on the blog.

For example, unless you actually produce your own products, you’ll be interested in “The 5 Best Online Wholesale Supplier Directories.” This article just might lead you to better suppliers, which could lead to a higher profit margin for your store. And if you’re new to ecommerce, the section on which factors to consider when choosing a supplier should be quite useful to you. 

In “What is a SKU? And 10 Plugins to Help You Generate Them,” we show you which SKU generator tools stand out as the best. Here’s the answer to the first part of that title — SKU stands for “store keeping unit.” Assigning a SKU to each of your products makes it much easier to keep track of your inventory, but manually creating SKUs is a tedious, mistake-prone process. With a SKU generator plugin, you’ll be able to save a lot of time and avoid data entry errors. 

And in “The Top 8 Order Fulfillment Companies & Benefits of Each,” we review the pros and cons of several popular order fulfillment companies. As with many other decisions regarding ecommerce, the best solution for one business isn’t necessarily the best for another. In this post, we discuss options for low- and high-volume stores, and include top companies, such as Rakuten Super Logistics and ShipBob. 

Platform-Specific Content for Your Ecommerce Business

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You’re probably especially interested in content about the ecommerce platform you use for your store. From Shopify to BigCommerce to Magento to Salesforce Commerce Cloud (SFCC), we’ve provided guides for just about every type of ecommerce merchant.

Themes are important. If your store isn’t attractive and easy to navigate, many people who might have otherwise stuck around long enough to make a purchase will just back out immediately instead. 

In Top 10 Free Shopify Themes in 2020,” we show you where you can find a great Shopify theme without spending a single cent. This is an inclusive guide, with options listed for single-product stores, retailers with particularly large catalogs and everything in between. 

Magento saw a big change this year — as of July 1, 2020, there are no longer any quality fixes or support patches provided for Magento 1. In order to keep their customer data secure, merchants will need to migrate to Magento 2. Our “How to Fix the Most Common Magento 2 Installation Issues” guide will help you through all the issues that often pop up during this process.

To make your BigCommerce store more successful, you should look for inspiration from online stores that have already achieved a high degree of success. No ecommerce store is bigger than Amazon, and one of the key drivers of that success has been the company’s “Frequently bought together” section

Indeed, it’s been estimated that 35% of Amazon purchases are generated by these product recommendations. You can learn how to add a similar feature to your store in “How to Set Up Related Products on BigCommerce.” 

Search engine optimization (SEO) is another important aspect of ecommerce. It doesn’t matter if you offer high-quality products at competitive prices on a well-designed site — you’re going to fail if people aren’t able to discover your site in the first place. 

In “5 Common SEO Issues (And Fixes) in Salesforce Commerce Cloud,” we show you how to improve the search rankings of your SFCC store.

Increasing Consumer Engagement

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Regardless of the ecommerce platform you’ve chosen for your store, you’ll need to find a way to convince first-time customers to become repeat customers.

The numbers for one-off vs. recurring buyers are pretty telling: Repeat customers are five times more likely to make a purchase when they visit your store, and their orders are 31% larger on average.

Establishing a loyalty program is one of the most effective techniques for encouraging repeat sales. We review everything you need to know about this topic, from general tips to specific plugins you can use in “How to Create & Design a Loyalty Program for Your Online Store.” We made sure to include both affordable and high-end plugins in this guide, so you should be able to find a solution that meets your needs without breaking your budget. 

You should also work on improving customer experience in general. Personalizing feedback requests, offering how-to content and streamlining your returns/exchange process are just a few of the things you can do to bolster your brand’s reputation and stand out from the competition. You can learn more about this in “5 Ways to Improve Your Post-Purchase Experience.” 

Finally, in “How — And Why — You Should Use Buyer Profiles and Quizzes for Your Store,” we go over two more methods for improving engagement. Quizzes are an effective way to collect more customer data (in addition to your raw stats on web traffic and purchases), and buyer profiles will help you organize all this information.

Knowing more about your customers has all sorts of benefits — this data allows you to create more effective marketing campaigns, make better decisions regarding your product line and more.

Get Ready for Next Year

The more you understand about the past, the more prepared you will be to succeed in the future.

There’s a lot you can learn from the articles covered in this guide — and with this information, you should be able to hit the ground running with your online store and blow past the competition in 2021.

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Adam Ritchie

Adam Ritchie is a writer based in Silver Spring, Maryland. He writes about ecommerce trends and best practices for Shogun. His previous clients include Groupon, Clutch and New Theory.