We’ve reached the end of 2021, and it seems like just yesterday we were talking about omni-channel marketing and the massive evolutions that eCommerce saw in 2020. But now it’s time to recap what we’ve learned on Season 2 of Next Level Ops, as well as look towards what’s in store for 2022.
To help us do that, we have Brian Richards, founder of WPSessions and organizer of WooSesh, the only WooCommerce-focused event. Brian has developed eCommerce sites, has been teaching WordPress for nearly 10 years, and now focuses on running WordPress and WooCommerce events. As a result, he has some fantastic insight on what’s going on and what’s to come.
In this Episode: Where we Went, and Where we’re Going (and how you can best prepare!)
We covered a whole host of topics this year, from omni-channel — the idea of selling your products directly on your own store, plus platforms like Facebook and Instagram — to performance, security, and effectively selling.
We’ve extolled the virtues of being where your customers already are… which is the point of omni-channel: bring your products to the people. Before 2021, this was a difficult take and most store owners weren’t equipped to deliver such features. But that has gotten a lot easier with WooCommerce plugins and Plesk’s eCommerce Toolkit.
Brian talked about (and Joe agreed) how omni-channel definitely works well for people who sell physical products. When you do get people to your store, you need to make sure it’s fast and secure. Tools like Google’s Core Web Vitals can help with the speed part. They’ll run your store through a number of tests and recommend optimizations.
From a security standpoint, you should at the very least have SSL and a payment gateway, which Chris Tietzel told us all about. We even got a deep dive on Payment Gateways from EVO Payments.
When speaking about this, Brian and Joe discussed the benefit of using software vs. writing software. Since they’re both developers, they can get things launched pretty quickly. But they both admitted that a payment gateway is one thing they don’t want to touch!
As Brian and Joe have well-established online stores, they both implemented some of what Jason Coleman taught in the Black Friday / Cyber Monday episode, to great success. The lessons here were the same that Jason talked about: don’t be afraid to email, devalue, or otherwise place your product on sale. Brian referenced another post from Justin Ferriman of LearnDash: ignore Black Friday at your own peril.
When it comes to 2022, Brian mentioned that we’ll continue to see many trillions of dollars get spent in online stores. But he also talked about the idea of “headless” commerce: the ability to place a buy button anywhere, with online checkout.
Imagine emailing customers a custom checkout link that they can click on and pay for right there. Or sending the link via text… sharing on Twitter, or embedding on a website wholly different from your store’s website. We’re already seeing this trend happen with Apple and Google Pay, as well as Stripe, Paypal, and Shopify’s own unified checkout buttons. If you sell online in 2022, this is definitely something to look out for.
- You need to tell people who want what you’re selling, what you’re selling. And you need to do it a lot.
- Don’t be afraid to send emails. Most people don’t check their inbox as much as those who run their own business.
- Omni-channel is a great strategy because you want to be where your customers already are. But it definitely makes sense for some types of business more than others.
- Until recently, omni-channel was hard for small store owners. But that is changing thanks to tools like the Plesk eCommerce Toolkit. SMBs can now access tools that have traditionally only been available to giant businesses.
- A quick win for the performance of your website is optimizing for images. Make sure to resize and use a proper number, where it makes sense. If your products need high quality photos (as Maddy Osman mentioned in Episode 7), definitely use them. But you don’t necessarily need 25 huge images when 4-5 will do.
- Reiterating what Patrick Rauland talked about in Episode 6, Brian and Joe talked about how hosted solutions are great for proving a concept. But they also talked about how we’re all likely to use some type of hosted solution. A great example is payment gateways, which do a lot of technical heavy lifting, and take liability out of SMBs’ hands.
- Lots of people in the software space especially are hesitant about doing a Black Friday sale. But you definitely should! People are primed to buy that weekend, and might have even been waiting to see if you’ll do one.
- You likely won’t send enough emails, let a lot too many. Both Brian and Joe sent 4 on the last day of their sales. Each email lead to at least one purchase. And every email they sent in that week made money.
- Many trillions of dollars will be spent online in 2022 (just like 2021, 2020, etc). Being on top of trends could help you make even more!
- One trend that is becoming more mainstream is headless commerce: the idea that you can place a buy button anywhere online (email, text, social media) and have an inline checkout experience. Widespread use of Apple Pay and Google Pay have brought use one step closer to that.
- Small retailers will start to look like well established brands because the tools are getting better for us. Be sure to implement things like personalization, targeted marketing, and other techniques that will make buying from you easier, and more enjoyable.
- Finally, commerce will happen in more places than previously expected. Hybrid live/online events are changing the landscape, and things that were originally thought to only be possible in real life are happening online. Think house showings, trade show booth presentations, and more.
The Official Plesk Podcast: Next Level Ops Featuring
Joe is a college-accredited course developer and podcast coach. You can find him at Casabona.org.
Brian is the founder of WPSessions and organizer of WooSesh, the only WooCommerce-focused event. Brian has developed eCommerce sites, and has been teaching WordPress for nearly 10 years.
Did you know we’re also on Spotify and Apple Podcasts? In fact, you can find us pretty much anywhere you get your daily dose of podcasts. As always, remember to update your daily podcast playlist with Next Level Ops. And stay on the lookout for the new season, coming soon in 2022.