I was able to conduct an interview with Jim O'Hara, President at Ecwid and wanted to share some of his thoughtful insights with you today. Ecwid is in the ecommerce niche and they had a ton to say about how it has changed, challenges they face being in the industry, and more. Now, let's go ahead and jump in and get started.
1. Thank you for joining me today. For the benefit of my readers, could you tell me more about what your company does?
Ecwid allows anyone to start selling anywhere online - quickly, easily and cost-effectively, starting with a free store. Ecwid powers over one million online stores for small businesses in 175 countries.
2. How has eCommerce changed in the year 2016?
Mobile now comprises more than just a small segment of customers, and has become the most important growing traffic channel for e-commerce, even eclipsing desktop traffic in 2015. Consequently, merchants, and the companies that serve them, need to focus specifically on the experience for mobile users.
3. In what way is Ecwid changing to meet the needs of eCommerce audiences now?
Ecwid enables its merchants to build an omnichannel business operation so their customers can shop and complete transactions effortlessly everywhere: on mobile devices, social media pages, websites, blogs, in brick and mortar stores and in-person on the go.
That's why we partner and integrate with the world's leading sitebuilder and point of sale (POS) providers. Further, we make our merchants' lives easier with innovative features like automatic sales tax calculation and making available an e-commerce native mobile app (ShopApp) for any small business globally.
4. Can you say the launch of Ecwid ShopApp is a sign of our ultimate shift to mobile?
Yes, it is another major milestone in that shift. While Ecwid was ahead of the game in making its web version fully mobile-responsive so it always looks great on mobile phones, we see ShopApp as a game-changer and equalizer for small business merchants. Many mobile users typically start on their home screens, whereas desktop users tend to use search first. So we allow our merchants to occupy the real estate on the phone screen, and also take advantage of the phone's capabilities like direct communication with client, support and push notifications to increase customer engagement.
5. What do you think are the biggest challenges faced by merchants today?
Keeping up with the various new technologies that have been introduced. First merchants need to tell their story on these new mediums and then need to learn how to sell on them. The new social networks are huge sources of traffic and some are very e-commerce friendly (like Facebook) and others (like Instagram and Pinterest) require directing traffic back to the website for the sale. Beyond those "old" networks, merchants need to keep up with live video (Periscope, FB Live, Snapchat) and help to turn that interest into traffic and sales, and keep an ear to the ground about the next big thing -- VR, bots, etc.
6. Why did you choose to partner with TaxJar to provide your clients with tax compliance?
TaxJar offered the solution that met our requirements (automatic tax rates and keeping up with various laws, while providing tools to file taxes) so our focus was on a smooth integration and to make it available seamlessly to Ecwid customers across many geographies. They are more cost effective than other solutions and the technology and support are fantastic. We tested their service for several months and determined that they are the best option for Ecwid clients.
- They are highly accurate in terms of merchant area taxation detection. They know your tax compliance by the zip code and even street name.
- They work in USA, Canada, Australia and European markets. Most of the services do not provide as extensive of coverage and our customer base is global.
- TaxJar has a very good API and documentation for integration into your product. Our development team integrated TaxJar into an easy, one-click setup.
- Great customer support experience with TaxJar, they replied to all of the questions we had within a couple of hours.
7. Other than tax compliance, do you see any other new ways merchants' lives can be simplified with?
There are many that we have in the works that we can't share until they are ready, but making our merchants' lives simpler is one of the reasons we updated our APIs for our App Market. This allows our e-commerce platform to be extended into such things as an automated pay-per-click ads and remarketing solution by SiteWit, auto scheduling of social media posts by Around.io and many more time-saving and revenue-driving automation tools. We also will to continue to make it easier for more and more small brick and mortar retailers to extend their selling reach and start selling online through our continued collaboration and integration with the most popular point of sales system providers globally.
8. What are your thoughts on the future of eCommerce post-2016, particularly in regards to new technology?
We know mobile usage for commerce is growing so we will continue to lead innovation on mobile. Social networks will continue to come out of nowhere like as with Instagram and Snapchat and whatever is next. Voice activated search and bots are on the rise and will have ramifications for e-commerce. Further out, VR is turning the corner and will probably start in the gaming world, but that will also open up a new avenue for online merchants. Those are just a few of the technologies we are watching and working with to see how we always can leverage the most compelling technology on behalf of Ecwid merchants.
Now there you have it straight from Ecwid's mouth. E-commerce is here to stay and it is only going to evolve as time goes on.
What do you predict is next for the eCommerce industry?