3 Data Visualization Tools — Basic to Robust

Charts and maps can increase the effectiveness and expressiveness of data. Microsoft Excel in 1985 was the first of many visualization tools to help communicate data, such as big-picture executive-level reports and detailed weekly dashboards.

Many visualization tools have emerged since then. In this article, I will evaluate three of them — Excel, Tableau, and Datawrapper — based on (i) pricing, (ii) level of training needed, and (iii) ability to generate professional-level charts quickly.

To illustrate, I’ll create the same graph on each of the three tools based on a Statista data set, below.

Ecommerce Platforms
Global Market Share
(Source: Statista)
Market Share %
April 2020
WooCommerce 28.24
Squarespace Online Stores 17.69
Shopify 10.98
MonsterCommerce 5.99
WixStores 4.6
Magento 3.44
100sklepow 3.37
Weebly eCommerce 2.25
SAP Commerce Cloud 1.6
OpenCart 1.6

Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Excel is widely used for data visualization. Here is how I visualized the data after a bit of editing.

Microsoft Excel is widely used for data visualization. Its price, via Microsoft 365 Business, is affordable for most any business.

Microsoft Excel is widely used for data visualization. Its price, via Microsoft 365 Business, is affordable for most any business.

  • Pricing. Microsoft 365 Business is inexpensive compared to other tools. The price is $5 to $20 per user per month with an annual commitment. The $5 option includes Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. The higher-end versions also include Outlook, Publisher, and Access.
  • Level of training needed. Most office-type employees have at least a basic knowledge of Excel. They might not know how to create dashboards or an interactive visualization, but they are likely familiar with the process of generating charts.
  • Ability to quickly generate professional charts. The default Excel charts are outdated and tend to be cluttered, include redundant design elements and low-contrast colors, which are inaccessible for visually-impaired users. One can always customize and improve the design, however, but it requires more effort.


Tableau was founded in 2003. It quickly became a data-visualization leader and innovator. Tableau is the leading business intelligence software, with, reportedly, at 12.3 percent U.S. market share. Tableau’s software resides on a user’s computer.  There’s also a cloud-based version.

Here is the same Statista data in Tableau, visualized almost identically to the Excel version, above.

Tableau is the leading business intelligence software. The tool is robust and relatively easy to use.

Tableau is the leading business intelligence software. The tool is robust and relatively easy to use.

  • Pricing. Tableau offers three pricing options: (i) Viewer is $12 per user per month, (ii) Explorer is $35 per user per month, and (iii) Creator is $70 per user per month. Note that these prices include Tableau Desktop and Tableau Server. Desktop is the tool to build visualizations; Server is the cloud-based platform to publish and share those visualizations.
  • Level of training needed. Tableau is a drag-and-drop tool. It’s relatively easy to learn. Users can drag “dimensions” (qualitative values) and “measures” (numerical values) into the appropriate locations (for colors and shapes) and select a chart from a substantial built-in library. Tableau offers extensive, free online training.
  • Ability to quickly generate professional charts. Tableau has many more visualization features than Excel. For example, when the user drags a measure or dimension into the color mark, Tableau automatically recommends an overall color palette with appropriate contrasts. The chart templates are cleaner and better designed than Excel. Users can replicate an Excel chart in Tableau, as in my examples above. The difference is that Excel requires more time in editing and composing charts in terms of color, shape, position, and type.


Datawrapper is a cloud-based visualization tool with more features than Excel but not as many as Tableau. Here is the Datawrapper version of the Statista data.

Datawrapper is cloud-based. It has more features than Excel but not as many as Tableau.

Datawrapper is cloud-based. It has more features than Excel but not as many as Tableau.

  • Pricing. Datawrapper offers a free version that includes Datawrapper branding, such as in my example above. The Custom version, without the Datawrapper branding, is €499 per month. The price for the Enterprise version is not published; interested prospects must reach out to the company. The free version has limited design features and fewer chart types. The Custom version is more robust. The Enterprise version offers even more functionalities.
  • Level of training needed. I created the chart above in Datawrapper with no training. The process involved four steps, called “Upload Data,” “Check & Describe,” “Visualize,” and “Publish & Embed.” Datawrapper offers support via email. Among the three tools, Datawrapper was the most intuitive and required the least amount of training.
Creating charts in Datawrapper involves four steps: "Upload Data," "Check & Describe," "Visualize," and "Publish & Embed."

Creating charts in Datawrapper involves four steps: “Upload Data,” “Check & Describe,” “Visualize,” and “Publish & Embed.”

  • Ability to quickly generate professional charts. Like Tableau, Datawrapper incorporates compelling design and offers many chart and map options. All visualizations are highly customizable, although the free version is more limited than Custom and Enterprise.

WooCommerce Tech Stack: Grundéns’ Global Web Manager

Not your normal online store: a 100-year-old, $24 million-dollar brand shares their eCommerce tech stack. Unique, enterprise-level apps are just the start.

The post WooCommerce Tech Stack: Grundéns’ Global Web Manager appeared first on WooCommerce.


Launching A Niche Business with $500

Jason Wong, founder of Doe Lashes.

Jason Wong is a serial entrepreneur who loves to thoroughly research and challenge himself to launch quickly and efficiently. In this episode of Shopify Masters, we speak with Jason Wong on why he decided to launch Doe Lashes, the research he did to find customer pain points, and how he launched with around $500 and in a matter of few a days. 



Service is the New Battlefield of Marketing

The Times They Are a-Changin’

… sang Bob Dylan 57 years ago, in a time of uncertainty and change. In such trying times as we’ve seen in recent months, uncertainty thrives and business leaders have questions about how to navigate their organizations through these dire straits. Just about every business sees their digital transformation initiatives being greatly accelerated. Now is the time to ensure business continuity, react with agility, and pivot to the new normal.

In the last few months, business transformation has happened with unprecedented speed. However, we had already been in a transformational shift the last few years where the basic rules of competition have changed. In what Oracle calls “The Experience Economy”, companies increasingly compete on the quality of customer experiences, and less based on price, packaging and brand identity.

While experiences are a very visible, hands-on outcome, not much has been written about the building blocks that make it possible to deliver these experiences. The key to sustainable differentiated experiences in the experience economy is how well you as a business collect, manage and activate data.

Evermore data for personalization
Customer data takes many forms. Marketing, CRM, loyalty, back-office ERP, Assets and IoT, website behavioral data, geo location, different devices, 3rd party data, social, credit cards, point of sale systems, and on and on. Through consolidation and activation, we're getting to the point where unprecedented levels of customer intelligence are becoming available. This is super exciting because this enables the holy-grail of marketing: personalization at scale.

The more you know about your customer, the better you can serve them. Over decades, organizations have been growing the number of data points, but very few companies successfully manage and use it to offer personalized experiences. These businesses that do it well have been tremendously successful. McKinsey found that personalization can lift revenue by 5-15%, increasing your marketing efficiency by 10-30% and reducing acquisition costs by up to 50%!

How it Works

It’s actually simple, although perhaps not necessarily easy. When you combine a rich customer profile with 1000s of customer attributes – like Customer Life-time Value, Age, Channel Preferences, Gender, Brand affinity, and more – with real-time event triggers – clicks, add/drop shopping carts, likes, shares, downloads, etc. – one can craft personalized, timely messages to the customer.

The personalized message can then be orchestrated and distributed across all available channels, whether a personalized landing page, an email, a text message, a push notification or an ad on a webpage. Of course, you could do this manually with the right data, but that’s not really feasible on the scale of B2C with many millions of customers. This is where Oracle CX Unity comes into play.

Human Personalization

I want to focus this conversation on the question Who is better at delivering a personalized message to a human being than another human being? Personalization is something that needs to go beyond event-based marketing, mar-tech and ad-tech. It should include authentic human-to-human interactions that occur in customer service.

No matter how perfect your personalized marketing messages, it only takes one bad service experience to throw all that investment away.

Customer Service engagements are data-rich. Service typically involves a digital interaction generating rich behavioral data. This is often followed by human interaction, from which even more insight can be derived. Machines have their place, such as analyzing data sets and deriving insights. A human can bridge gaps in understanding that data just can’t provide. Think about how humans pick up subtle cues from language, tone and body language from a regular conversation.

Customer service is often the most intimate moment the business will ever have with the customer across the entire customer lifecycle. A conversation with a contact center agent is so much more personal than any email, push notification, or SMS will ever be. Human service offers a tremendous opportunity to personalize the experience with authenticity and persuasion.  Yet, many marketers still do not see service as part of their realm.

We at Oracle declare that now – right now – is the time to start seeing Customer Service as a prime distribution channel to deliver personalized marketing messages. If data is the life-blood of marketing, then service is the battle-field of personalized marketing.
How Can Customer Intelligence be Used for Personalized Service Experiences?

1. First, there’s service segmentation. ‘Segmentation’ may be more associated with marketing than to service, but think about it. Why do the overwhelming majority of organizations still treat their customers as “the customer” without consideration of the value that that customer brings?

Whether you’re a top 1% spender, or that notorious person who just loves contacting Customer Service 5 times a week, you are going through the same service processes and queues. It’s time to start segmenting your customers for customer service.

2. The second area is about responding to service signals. Just about everything we do as consumers generates data. As described above, these events are activated for marketing purposes, but customers emit just as many signals regarding service requirements as purchase intent signals. Think about a customer downloading a manual and browsing the same pages repeatedly. He is fruitlessly searching for answers on your help page. He isn’t using an app anymore. It is important to always be there where the customer needs you.

3. The third area is to drive more sales via service. The idea of transitioning the contact center from a cost-center to become a profit-center is decades old. Everyone likes the idea, but it’s difficult to do. We have now arrived at an inflection point where different technologies, economic shifts to digital business and other factors are creating the opportunity to pivot and use service as a revenue generating channel.

What this all now means is that by blending a 360˚ customer view with real-time behavioral data insights and digital personalization technologies with a seamlessly connected enterprise suite of CX applications  – nothing is blocking customer service agents to now become trusted sales associates. It’s as simple as that.

Service Segmentation, Responding to Service Signals and Driving Sales from Service are key components for success in a strategic shift to extend your marketing channels to include customer service. Where do you see most opportunities for Customer Intelligence in Service in your business?







How to Find the Right Dropshipping Products to Sell

Not sure how to find dropshipping product ideas to sell online? In this article, we cover the tactics & tools you can use to find the right ones for you.

The post How to Find the Right Dropshipping Products to Sell appeared first on A Better Lemonade Stand.


Get on Board: Pay-Over-Time Options are Transforming Ecommerce

One of the fastest growing trends in ecommerce today is paying over time in fixed monthly installments. It has disrupted the traditional credit industry to become a $1.8 trillion ecommerce opportunity in the United States. What online store wouldn’t want a share of that pie?

While the practice of paying over time may still be new for some Americans, it’s been popular in other countries for years. In Australia it accounts for 8-10% of all online sales. In Brazil, 54% of all purchases made online in 2017 were paid in installments, according to Ebanx. And in the UK, two-thirds of millennials buy with monthly payments when shopping online.

Many millennials do not have a credit card. This demographic came of age during the Great Recession, watching revolving credit card debt hurt their families’ finances during that time. 

Instead they’ve adopted mobile-first payment methods like pay-over-time financing that better fit their tolerance for debt and desire for convenience. With a provider like Affirm, for instance, shoppers see the entire cost of their purchase up front, with zero late fees or surprises. 

Younger consumers see these new payment options as necessary, said Gartner Senior Analyst Derek Stubbs in an interview with Vogue Business

Your ecommerce businesses can capitalize on this buying preference by offering customers a pay-over-time platform. If you’re still on the fence, the information below will give you more clarity about the opportunity for your business.

What is Pay-Over-Time?

The pay-over-time method is a modern, more convenient twist on an old practice. For years U.S. shoppers have had a “layaway” option in some department stores that works in a similar way. 

Shoppers pay for an item, like a sofa, via monthly installments over a set period, and afterward they own the item. This form of financing has helped make expensive items more affordable for many budget-conscious consumers.

How Does Pay-Over-Time Work?

Let’s use the example of a customer looking for a new flat-screen television that’s big enough to fit on her family room wall. She finds a TV she likes at an online store called Acme Electronics, priced at $800. The next steps take us through her journey and show how it works to buy with monthly payments.

1.The customer discovers the offer to finance the purchase.

A message near the TV’s price on the product display page invites her to consider monthly payments as a way to buy the TV. $800 is a little more than she wants to pay up front, so the pay-over-time option gets her attention — especially since it’s a 0% APR offer, meaning she won’t have interest charges if approved. The invitation message includes a link to apply for financing with a pay-over-time provider, such as Affirm.

2. She creates an account.

The customer clicks on the link and provides her name, phone number, date of birth, email address, and the last four digits of her Social Security number. The information is processed in seconds by the payment provider’s underwriting technology, and the customer is instantly notified about the approval decision right on the screen. The message includes the total amount she’s approved to spend, and this process does not affect her credit score.

3. She chooses to buy the item.

 At checkout the customer selects the pay-over-time option, choosing from among 3-, 6-, or 12-month repayment terms. A window pops up showing exactly what she will owe each month, including any interest. (In this case it’s an interest-free offer, but some transactions may include 10-30% APR. In some cases, a down payment may be involved, depending on credit approval. There is no annual fee.)

4. The ecommerce merchant is paid immediately.

The merchant is paid the full amount, minus the fee for the financing provider. Acme Electronics’s partnership with the pay-over-time provider frees the store from collecting customer installment payments. 

5. The customer pays the financing provider.

The customer makes regular monthly payments according to the schedule she agreed to. The financing provider, in the case of Affirm, does not charge any hidden or late fees, collecting only the total agreed to at the time of purchase.

In the end, the customer completes her payments by the due date and is happy she got the TV she wanted without having to stretch beyond her budget. The buying experience was simple and clear, and she’s likely to use this payment option again for her next big-ticket purchase. She may also recommend it to her friends. 

The gains for the online store, Acme Electronics, include a sale with a price tag that might not have been as high without the customer choosing to buy with monthly payments. The positive experience she had, and the knowledge that she can pay over time for her next electronics purchase, might also lead her to become a loyal Acme Electronics customer for years to come. 

The advantage of paying over time is the increase in value achieved for both the customer and the ecommerce business. Let’s dive deeper into how this payment method benefits online retailers.

Why is Pay-Over-Time Compelling for Customers?

Shoppers appreciate the flexibility of paying over time. It can help them spend responsibly without overextending, while still buying what they want or need today. 

1. It’s more budget-friendly for customers.

Waiting to save a lump sum of cash for the entire price of a new mattress or furniture item, for example, is not always practical for shoppers. Giving them a pay-over-time option can increase their spending power so they’re able to buy what they want or need and make monthly payments that fit more comfortably into their budgets.

2. Consumers favor brands that offer flexible payments.

With U.S. credit card debt at an all-time high, many shoppers appreciate being able to pay with an alternative to credit cards. In addition, 60% of shoppers think more favorably of brands that offer flexible payment methods. 

 6  Reasons to Bring a Pay-Over-Time Solution Into Your Store

Giving your shoppers more flexibility with payments can bring surprising benefits for your business. These are great ways to add value for both customers and your bottom line.

1. Reach new customers.

This high-value group of shoppers has embraced pay-over-time options as a simple, straightforward way to finance large purchases. And the estimated spending power for millennials and Gen Z is over $2.5 trillion, according to YPulse. That’s an opportunity you can’t afford to ignore.

2. A pay-over-time solution can increase your average order value.

This is powerful: At Affirm we’ve seen lifts up to 85% for average order value (AOV) among our merchant partners. Giving shoppers a fair and honest way to pay over time can lead them to a more informed decision to buy. Once they see what they can spend and exactly what they’ll owe — with no hidden fees and no surprises — shoppers can commit to adding more to their carts. 

3. You can reduce abandoned cart rates.

Paying over time removes price as a barrier for many of your customers. This can benefit your bottom line by reducing cart abandonment up to 11%, according to one study.

4. Reduce return rates.

When shoppers have the option to pay over time, they often make more deliberate purchases, which can lead to fewer returns. Some fashion retailers have seen return rates reduced up to 15% after offering Affirm as a payment method. 

5. Accepted internationally.

As mentioned earlier, paying over time is a popular payment option for ecommerce in many countries. Some economic projections indicate this method of payment is on track to double its market share by 2023

These advantages work for ecommerce businesses in a wide variety of industries, including fashion, travel, automotive, home & lifestyle, jewelry, outdoor gear, and more.

6.  Ease customers’ minds.

Let’s face it: handling personal finances can cause stress. Just think about the paragraphs of fine print that come with a credit card. Nearly 40% of consumers don’t know the interest rates on their credit cards because the average agreement is 5,000 words long — that’s more than twice the number of words in this blog post! 

And the complexities of deferred interest and hidden penalties — which often lurk in those long passages of legalese — can come back to bite you. That can lead to a debt spiral.

Your business can offer a pay-over-time solution, however, that’s easier to understand. Partner with a provider that puts customers at ease with up-front transparency into financing terms and repayment schedule. 

A simple, straightforward breakdown of monthly payments must be communicated at checkout without fine print “gotchas.” This kind of transparency is just what consumers expect from brands today, and it can facilitate healthier financial habits. 

Most importantly, the financing provider you choose should never prey on customers’ misfortunes by charging late fees, which can also push them into runaway debt. Affirm was founded over eight years ago with a commitment to never charge late fees.

Offer Pay-Over-Time Financing on Your Ecommerce Website

Several financial services companies, like Affirm, can partner with you to offer pay-over-time financing for your ecommerce business. As you consider giving customers the option to buy with monthly payments, these three questions can help you decide what’s best for your business.

Questions to consider: 

1. Does financing make sense for my business?

You’ll want to consider things like your average order value and inventory categories. If you have a low AOV, it may not be cost-effective to engage a pay-over-time platform. Your business may not be eligible to offer this kind of financing if you primarily sell groceries or alcohol, for example.

2. Is the solution compatible with my ecommerce platform?

Most of the companies that specialize in pay-over-time solutions have advanced technology that easily works with ecommerce platforms.

3. Are my customers interested and eligible?

As more ecommerce shoppers embrace paying over time, they may be asking if it’s available on your site. Also, the mix of credit profiles in your customer base may be a factor to consider. You’ll want to check on the underwriting process of any potential financing provider to make sure it will likely approve many of your customers who are interested in monthly payments.


Payment methods that allow consumers to pay over time are projected to be the fastest growing online payment preference over the next five years, according to financial technology leader FIS. This projection alone should drive plenty of FOMO among ecommerce companies that don’t offer this payment solution. 


New! More Oracle CX Customer Webinar Series for July 2020

In the era of the experience economy, customer service is a key success factor in building sustainable relationships, optimising time to value and facilitating the dialogue between the customer and the brand.

In times of change, this is more true than ever. Organisations are providing advice in challenging situations, guiding information search and facilitating important decisions for individual customers at the same time as they are adopting new ways of working in a dynamic business environment.

Oracle is collaborating with thousands of companies globally around service excellence and we are here to support with advice, inspiration and open dialogue.

Please join our CX Customer webinar series, focusing on today’s relevant topics and discuss the role and importance of customer service in an ever-changing world.

Join this webinar series to:

  • Hear about timely topics in the domain of service and customer experience
  • Discuss with service experts and other CX Service customers on best practices, challenges and solutions
  • Get advice on where to turn for support and answers to your questions

Click here to learn more and register for the webinars you want to attend.

Augmenting the Service Center with Conversational. How to leverage chatbots and other conversational interfaces to drive dialogue and value.

Date: 17 June, 2020
Start Time: 1:00 PM BST
Duration: 45 mins

Delivering Effective Advice through Personalized and Timely Solutions. How to enhance customer self-service and personalized, automated solutions to timely questions.

Date: 1 July, 2020
Start Time: 1:00 PM BST
Duration 45 mins: 45 mins

The Shift to a Digital Business Model. The role of service in the digital customer journey.
Date: 15 July, 2020
Start Time: 1:00 PM BST
Duration: 45 mins

Field Service in a World of Social Distance. The role of intelligent logistics, remote fixing and diagnostics, and predictive intelligence in a service model.
Date: 29 July, 2020
Start Time: 1:00 PM BST
Duration: 45 mins

Click to learn more!


14 Marketplaces to Hire Freelance Designers, Developers, Writers, Marketers, More

Here is a list of marketplaces to hire freelance designers, developers, writers, finance professionals, social media marketers, and more. There are general marketplaces with huge pools of workers in hundreds of fields as well as specialized marketplaces focused on areas such as design, Amazon stores, and even expert consulting.




Upwork (formerly Elance-oDesk), is one of the most popular freelance marketplaces. The platform includes unlimited proposals, built-in collaboration tools, work history verification, and reviews. Categories include “Web,” “Mobile Dev,” “Design,” “Writing,” “Data Science & Analysis,” “Sales & Marketing,” and more. Browse the marketplace to find professionals, pre-packaged projects, or use Upwork staff to find the help you need. Advanced features include dedicated project assistance, project promotion, project tracking, and reporting. Price: Free to post a job. Premium service plans start at $49.99 per month.

Amazon Mechanical Turk

Amazon Mechanical Turk

Amazon Mechanical Turk

Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) is a crowdsourcing marketplace enabling individuals and businesses (known as Requesters) to engage a 24/7, globally distributed workforce (known as Workers) to perform human intelligence tasks (HITs). The Requester site provides a broad set of sample templates to get started creating HITs for Workers to complete. Workers use MTurk to find assignments, submit responses, and manage their accounts. Price: 20 percent of the reward and bonus amount paid to Workers.

Jungle Scout Market

Jungle Scout Market

Jungle Scout Market

Jungle Scout Market is a marketplace that connects Amazon sellers with expert freelancers. All freelancers are prequalified and specialize in all areas of FBA and Vendor Central, including product photography, listing creation, listing optimization, product research, pay-per-click management, graphic design, coaching, legal services, and more. The marketplace is part of the Jungle Scout platform, which provides data, insights, and tools to sell on Amazon. Price: a 5-percent fee on all orders.




Fiverr is a popular marketplace, connecting businesses with freelancers offering digital services in 300-plus categories. Fiverr lets you browse the selection of freelancers, and place orders in just one click. A service on Fiverr is called a “gig.” (Originally, all gigs cost $5.) Only registered users can buy and sell on Fiverr, which also offers Fiverr Pro for higher-quality services. Price: All purchases are subject to a service fee of $2 up to $40 of purchases, and 5 percent on purchases above $40.




Gigster helps companies create custom software. The Gigster Talent Network fills development roles in under 10 days, from a group of 1,000-plus members with advanced skillsets, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, React, Kubernetes, and more. Contact for pricing.




Clarity is a community of advisors to guide entrepreneurs and their growing businesses. Search through the experts to find the right one. Set a time for the call and specify your reason. Invite up to eight others from your team to join the call. A conference line is provided. After the call, pay the expert’s per-minute rate and leave a rating and review.




Guru is another popular marketplace for freelancers, with 2 million service providers, including 500,000 developers and 300,000 designers. Post a job for free. Manage multiple freelancers for the same job in separate workrooms. Manage files, team members, communication, and payments in one place. Price: 2.9-percent handling fee. However, the fee is refunded if you pay via e-check or wire transfer.




Outsourcely is a platform for hiring remote freelancers with an emphasis on long-term projects. Outsourcely does not take a percentage of a worker’s pay, so you should be getting the most work for your cost. Engage teams in 14 primary categories, including web development, web design, video editing, writing, customer service, software development, and more. Manage workers with real-time communication, including instant private chat and live video. Outsourcely also uses a third-party work history verification system to ensure employers can review profiles. Price: Plans start at $19 per month.




Freelancer claims to be the largest freelancing and crowdsourcing marketplace by the number of users and projects, connecting nearly 45 million employers and freelancers from over 247 countries. Hire freelancers to do work in areas such as software development, writing, data entry, and design — as well as engineering, sciences, sales and marketing, accounting, and legal services. It’s free to post your project. Use the desktop app to track progress, monitor hours, and communicate. Use the mobile app for on-the-go messaging and updates. Release payments according to a schedule of your goals, or pay only upon completion. Price: 3 percent of the job (fixed rate or hourly).




Toptal, a derivation of “top talent,” focuses on working with freelancers who are experts in their fields. Each applicant to the Toptal must pass a screening process (two to five weeks to complete) to measure expertise, professionalism, and communication skills. The network offers expert designers, developers, financial analysts, project managers, product managers, and more. Contact for pricing.

Envato Studio

Envato Studio

Envato Studio

Envato Studio, part of the Envato network that includes ThemeForest and Tuts+, is a freelance marketplace of hand-picked designers, developers, and digital talent — for logo design, web development, video production, and more. Compare prices, portfolios, and community recommendations to find the expertise you need. Manage your job with inbuilt messaging and job management tools. Quickly purchase Express Jobs, offered by freelancers and agencies for quick installation without customization. Price: Envato Studio does not charge a processing fee on top of the freelancer’s invoice.




99designs is a platform to find designers in logo and brand identity, web and app design, advertising, and more. You can run a contest with fixed-priced packages and pick your favorite design. You can also hire a designer from over 90 skillsets. Filter designers by category, level, recent activity, and search terms. Price: 5-percent platform fee.




DesignCrowd is another design marketplace to run a contest or search freelancers for hire. The platform hosts over 800,000 designers. Set project packages with a budget starting from $99 and turnaround times for as little as three days. DesignCrowd includes a money-back guarantee for design contests. Price: 4-percent transaction fee and a posting fee up to $129.




Textbroker is a marketplace for freelance writers. Outsource product descriptions, blog posts, press releases, social media posts, news stories, and technical articles. Add your target keywords to the order dashboard. Create an open order available to over 100,000 writers, commission an author with a direct order, or use a team order for hand-picked practitioners. Price: Starts at 1.5 cents per word.


A 4-step Plan for Video Marketing Success

Videos are a potent way for ecommerce businesses to build lasting, profitable customer relationships.

YouTube, for example, reaches more viewers on mobile devices alone than the total U.S. audience of any television network. Overall, in 2020, more than 2 billion logged-in users visit YouTube each month, according to the company’s press page.

Add to this the growth of other video platforms, including Facebook, Instagram TV, and TikTok.

What follows are four steps — before you film — for successful video marketing.

1. Set Goals

Content marketing offers a lot of room for creativity. But it is not shooting fun videos with friends or trying to be an amateur filmmaker. It is the act of promoting a business, encouraging sales, and generating profit.

Your content marketing should have a defined goal, including key performance indicators.

For example, maybe your videos are meant to develop an audience on YouTube or Instagram, as more subscribers could mean more shoppers.

As an example, Michael’s, an omnichannel craft-supply retailer, has roughly 230,000 YouTube subscribers. The company’s videos include links to the products mentioned in the video. If she likes the project being described, the viewer is likely to click the link and purchase products.

In the example below, Michael’s might be using the number of YouTube subscribers as a KPI. The company could also add tracking code to the link in the YouTube description and learn how often those clicks generate a sale. Finally, Michael’s could monitor watch time (the number of minutes users spend on their videos) as a KPI of engagement.

Michael's includes a product link in the description for many of its videos on YouTube. The company can track KPIs such as subscribers, video watch time, and clicks.

Michael’s includes a product link in the description for many of its videos on YouTube. The company can track KPIs such as subscribers, video watch time, and clicks.

2. Understand the Audience

Understanding your audience is especially important with content marketing. Consider, for example, two articles unrelated to ecommerce.

The first article, “Planning a Summer RV Vacation: For Airstreamers or Anyone,” was published on June 9, 2020, on the Airstream blog. It is content marketing for Airstream, the travel-trailer brand. The audience is likely to be recreational-vehicle enthusiasts. The article offers several tips for planning an RV vacation in light of the recent Covid-19 pandemic.

“Start planning your summer camping trip now so you’ll be ready once restrictions lift in your area. We’ll walk you through destinations, packing, and more,” the article begins.

The Airstream blog's audience is made up of folks who enjoy recreational vehicles.

The Airstream blog’s audience consists of folks who enjoy recreational vehicles.

The second example, “When Work From Home Means Working From an RV,” was published on June 8, 2020, in The Wall Street Journal. Its readers are likely to be investors who might want to buy stock in Thor Industries, which makes Airstream.

This article explained how the pandemic has the potential to increase Airstream sales as some buyers try to use Airstreams as home offices or seek travel alternatives to airplanes and hotels.

The Wall Street Journal's audience is investors and business professionals who might be interested in the market for RVs, not vacations.

The Wall Street Journal’s audience is investors and business professionals who might be interested in the market for RVs, not vacations.

Now imagine if these two articles were switched. What if Airstream has published the investor-focused article on its blog? It would not have been as meaningful for vacation-planners.

3. Identify Topics

Once you know the audience, start to identify engaging topics. There are a few ways to do this.

Keyword research is a foundational tactic for search engine optimization. It’s also helpful for understanding what your audience searches for when you’re trying to identify content topics.

Use your intuition. If your ecommerce store specializes in, say, restored antique axes, hatchets, and tomahawks, you will probably be safe trusting your intuition when it tells you to make videos about ax making and repairing.

Similarly, if your ecommerce store sells spices, sauces, and rubs for barbeque, you might want to take an idea from “5 Content Marketing Ideas for July 2020,” my recent post, since your intuition is that your audience might be interested in a backyard vacation centered on grilling.

If your business sells products for barbeque, a video about planning a backyard vacation that includes grilling makes sense for your audience.

If your business sells products for barbeque, a video about planning a backyard vacation that includes grilling makes sense for your audience.

Focus on your products. Sometimes those products can spark compelling content marketing ideas.

4. Create an Editorial Calendar

Imagine an online store that sells automotive parts and accessories. The company’s audience is do-it-yourself vehicle owners who love their cars and getting their hands dirty.

This auto parts store has decided to launch a video series called “Quick Automotive Tips,” wherein a professional mechanic offers advice for tackling specific maintenance tasks.

If the store wanted to release an automotive tip each Friday, it would need to plan the video, prepare the script or at least make a list of topics, and include time to edit. Thus, showing up at a shop on Friday morning and interrupting a mechanic won’t do.

What’s more, it could make sense to record several videos at a time. But doing that requires a schedule of when each video will be released. You can plan for a few weeks or even a few months.

I’ve addressed planning and scheduling content, at “Developing a Content-marketing Editorial Calendar for Ecommerce” and “Manage Your Business Blog with a Kanban Board.”

See “A 5-step Plan for Video Production and Distribution.”


Ecommerce Product Releases: June 14, 2020

Here is a list of product releases and updates for mid-June from companies that offer services to online merchants. There are updates on visual search, lending, loyalty programs, payments, fraud protection, and gaming.

Got an ecommerce product release? Email

Ecommerce Product Releases

Avalara helps businesses automate consumer use tax compliance. Avalara, a provider of cloud-based tax compliance automation for businesses, has announced the availability of Avalara Consumer Use, a new product to self-assess consumer use tax obligations and achieve compliance quickly. Use tax is owed by buyers when they’re not charged the full amount of sales tax on a purchase, or the item is used in another location or for a different purpose. Avalara Consumer Use integrates with Avalara AvaTax to automatically calculate consumer use tax based on current rules and rates. Businesses can easily integrate consumer use tax accruals into the filing process in Avalara Returns to automate sales and use tax return preparation.

Avalara Consumer Use

Avalara Consumer Use

USPS to launch a loyalty program. The United States Postal Service has created a loyalty program for shippers. The program has three tiers: Basic, Silver, Gold. Basic (no minimum spending) provides $40 credit for every $500 spent; Silver (at least $10,000 spent) provides $50 credit for every $500 spent; Gold (at least $20,000 spent) qualifies for commercial pricing. The loyalty program applies to customers using Click-N-Ship for Priority Mail Express and Priority Mail at retail rates. Beginning on August 1, 2020, the Postal Service will automatically enroll these customers in the Basic tier of the program. On January 1, 2021, the loyalty program will expand to the three tiers.

AWS and Slack partner for enhanced enterprise collaboration tools. Amazon Web Services and Slack have announced a new multi-year agreement to deliver services for enhanced enterprise workforce collaboration. The partnership will help distributed development teams communicate and become more efficient and agile in managing their AWS resources from inside Slack. Slack will migrate its Slack calls capability for all voice and video calling to Amazon Chime, AWS’s communications service for users to meet, chat, and place business calls. Slack is also utilizing AWS’s global infrastructure to support enterprise customers’ rapid adoption of its platform and to offer residency options for their stored data.

Amazon offers line of credit to sellers. Amazon Lending announced a new partnership with Marcus by Goldman Sachs to provide a Marcus Business Line of Credit for U.S.-based sellers. The Marcus Business Line of Credit offers competitive fixed-interest rates and provides Amazon sellers with funds as needed. As with the direct loans from Amazon Lending, the goal is to help sellers grow their Amazon business, as well as other online or offline channels. Eligible sellers will receive invitations via Seller Central to apply with Marcus for the line of credit. The rollout will occur gradually.

Amazon Lending

Amazon Lending

BlueSnap integrates with Splitit to offer installment payments. BlueSnap, an all-in-one payment platform, has announced its integration with Splitit to improve the merchant and customer experience on installment payment transactions. BlueSnap provides businesses with a payment gateway, merchant account, and advanced features that improve bottom-line performance. Splitit offers no-fee installment payments on credit card purchases, allowing consumers to break payments into smaller increments. Shoppers can buy now and pay later using a card they already have with no need to obtain additional cards or lines of credit, no application, no credit check, and no interest fees.

ClearSale updates Shopify app for increased fraud protection. Fraud protection player ClearSale has announced updates to its integration with Shopify, now as a public app, providing merchants with protection from fraud and chargebacks. ClearSale’s large, in-house team of analysts ensures that no order is declined without a fraud expert investigating it, providing merchants with a low rate of false declines. The public app, available to download for free from the Shopify App Store, requires minimal technical knowledge to add to an existing Shopify implementation.

Scuti offers ecommerce marketplace for video games. Scuti, an ecommerce platform, has announced its new marketplace, accessed directly through video games. Scuti’s platform lets brands market, sell, and ship directly to game players from within any Scuti-enabled game. The marketplace incentivizes players with Scuti points, which are redeemable against future purchases. Scuti is the creation of Nicholas Longano, who built in-game advertising company Massive Incorporated, which he sold to Microsoft in 2006.



Amplitude launches no-code product analytics. Amplitude has launched a no-code milestone analysis, empowering product teams to pinpoint the exact moments in the customer journey that convert new users into high-value customers. With the capabilities, Amplitude combines behavioral analytics with relative-time analysis (placing the event in the context of the user’s journey) to identify critical events. By identifying key milestones, product teams can engineer experiences to drive conversions.

Amazon expands aircraft fleet. Amazon has announced the lease of 12 Boeing 767-300 converted (into cargo) airplanes from Air Transport Services Group. These planes will join Amazon’s existing fleet of 70 to bring its entire network to over 80 aircraft. One of the new planes joined Amazon’s operations in May 2020, with the remaining 11 to be delivered in 2021. Amazon continues to expand on-the-ground operations in addition to aircraft. Amazon will open new regional air hubs at Lakeland Linder International Airport in Florida later this summer and at San Bernardino International Airport in California next year, along with the central Amazon air hub at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in 2021.

Pinterest adds a Shop tab to its Lens camera for image search. Pinterest has launched a shop tab right on Lens results. Users just click the camera in the search bar, snap or upload a photo, and see a “Shop” tab with a feed of shoppable pins based on the in-stock products identified in that image. Each product pin links directly to the checkout page on the retailer’s site. Pinterest has also partnered with Shopify to make uploading catalogs to Pinterest easier. Additionally, Pinterest announced shopping spotlights, a new way to shop curated picks from influencers and publishers.

CartSquad launches to help companies navigate marketplaces. CartSquad, a new company, has launched its end-to-end channel management for established and up-and-coming brands. Founded by a team of distribution professionals, CartSquad will launch and manage a brand on top ecommerce marketplaces such as Amazon,, Wish, Overstock, Wayfair, Rakuten, Tophatter, and more. CartSquad will optimize, market, warehouse, fulfill orders, provide customer service, and more. Pricing starts at $79.99 per month.