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The Future of Ecommerce is Customer Engagement

By Brent Leary

According to companies like Adobe and ChannelAdvisor, 2014 Black Friday online sales were up around 20 percent over the previous year. Others report Cyber Monday sales increasing 10 percent from last year. And Walmart reported their Cyber Monday 2014 was’s biggest day in its history for online orders, as customers viewed over 1.5 billion pages on its site, with 70 percent of traffic coming from mobile devices.

These numbers represent just how important ecommerce is in today’s world. In recent conversations with Brennan Loh of ecommerce platform Shopify, and Jon West of Social Commerce service AddShoppers, I got their take on what small ecommerce businesses need to do in order to build on holiday season momentum. Below is what they had to say.

Where does customer engagement fit in with e-commerce road? 

Brennan Loh: The key is establishing and creating a truly robust brand. And by owning the Web store you have the ability post-transaction to communicate with customers on an ongoing basis. And the notion of having a CRM software that allows you to track and hold on to emails or phone numbers you can and continue the conversation throughout time, and not just at the end of the first transaction.

On top of that, we looked at the traffic coming from a social side of things, and Facebook accounted for two-thirds of all visits from social media sites to the 120,000 Shopify stores. And what that meant was as long as you have a strong Facebook presence, you were hitting the number one platform that had the largest impact on referral traffic to your site.

While two-thirds of visits from social sites come from Facebook, 85 percent of orders do as well. So it shows you that anyone can create a Facebook page, and anyone can interact with their customers by creating great content. Creating engagement throughout the buying process is a very important thing to recognize.

How do you measure the impact of social channels has on your ecommerce efforts?

Jon West: What most people do is last click revenue attribution. That’s someone that came from Facebook to a website, added to a cart, checked out immediately. But social is more of a soft-selling environment; you may post something that drives a customer to your website 14 days before they actually purchase, and you need to measure that. We measure both last click and assisted revenue attribution, tracking someone over a 30-day period to see which social networks they interacted with and how those affected the sale.

If you go to, we have it broken down per category, the revenue that each social network is driving. You can look across all of our 10,000-plus websites and see the percent of sharing, clicks, sales, revenue, etcetera per social network — then you can drill down into clothing, home and garden, medical, whatever you want and see how things vary. You have to get analytics in place and start measuring this stuff before you really know.

How do e-commerce businesses holiday season momentum to build relationships lasting beyond the Christmas?

Jon West: You have to nurture the relationship with your customers, so it’s all in following up and staying top of mind. It’s very brand specific how you interact with people; if you want to offer deeper discounts on things left over in inventory, and if so how you want to handle it. For us, we help to identify the people that are influential so we’ll tell you in a really easy report, these are the people that are sharing. These are the people that actually generated sales from that sharing. These are the people that are influential in general on the Internet; who you need to be really connecting with and treating a little differently.

In the end, even though it’s ecommerce, it’s still people interacting with people on the other side of those clicks.

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