The online business environment is constantly changing. One minute your business is airtight, sales are coming in and then the next minute, it changes out of your control and your sales drop beyond recovery.
Unfortunately for us, we are not in control of every single aspect of our online sales.
This is why I think as business owners who sell online, we need to keep abreast of all the important changes that is happening in our country, region and beyond. This way, you will be able to adapt your business to the new business environment as it happens.
As such, I’ve decided to come up with a monthly news roundup on all the relevant news that I think will be useful for you if you run an online business.
These will cover areas that are most relevant to online businesses such as Facebook, Google, SEO, online marketing and conversion optimisation.
Here are the news for March 2018:
How Facebook Changes Will Affect Your Online Business in 2018
In January 2018, Facebook announced that news feed will shift its focus from brands to friends and family. This has huge implications on brands which have been focusing on creating shareable videos on Facebook. These are some of the important developments that have happened since the changes:
The once viral site with over 12 million Facebook Fans, LittleThings has become the first site to go from a highly profitable to a loss-making company overnight because of changes in Facebook algorithms. LittleThings had to lay off its over 100 people team.
What happened with LittleThings is a good example of how becoming too dependent on one platform can be a dangerous business proposition. You are not in control of what happens and a decision by the platform can literally wipe out your business overnight.
Another Facebook-popular brand name Thought Catalog has also had to downsize its Facebook-focused team since the algorithm changes.
The lesson here is to always diversify your business into more than one platform. This way you can avoid the sad situation of losing all your income when the platform decides to make a change.
For example, if you are selling on Lazada, make sure to also try to sell on other online marketplaces like Shopee and 11Street. You could also set up your own online store to further diversify your revenue sources.
Some brands are moving from a Facebook-focused social media strategy to include Pinterest in their marketing mix.
One of the biggest benefits of Pinterest is that unlike Facebook, it is a content-focused platform. In this way, right from the beginning content from brands never competed with content from family and friends.
Pinterest is engaged with brands in a win-win situation because more quality content from brands are welcomed by Pinterest users who primarily use it to seek inspiration for ideas on home decoration, wedding and so on.
Although not all brands will find Pinterest useful, if you haven’t tried it already, I recommend you checking out what Pinterest has to offer.
For brands who are still keen to use Facebook to reach your customers, the new algorithm changes mean you need to adopt a new strategy when it comes to reaching your audience, especially organically.
This article shows a few ways you can tweak your Facebook outreach strategy you can try. However, it’s only been two months since the changes. There is no guarantee that these methods will work and even if they work now, that they would continue working in the future. A lot is left to be seen in terms of what works best on the platform moving forward.
No matter if you manage to find a great strategy for reaching your fans on Facebook, it is still better to diversify your traffic sources so as not to become a victim to the whims of Facebook in the future.
Is Your Business Ready for Changes in Google Algorithm in 2018?
Other than Facebook, Google remains one of the dominant traffic sources for most businesses online. As such, if you have an online store, changes in Google’s algorithms are likely to affect you as well.
Here is some news that will help you grow traffic to your site in 2018:
Google releases Mobile Scorecard & Impact Calculator tools to illustrate importance of mobile page speed
Site speed has been something Google has been talking about for years but this year it seems the site speed of mobile sites, in particular, has become an important ranking factor for Google.
This shouldn’t be a surprise because more and more people are accessing Google, not through the desktops but their mobile phones.
Use this tool to make sure that your online site is fast enough, especially when stacked against your competitors.
The Status of E-commerce in Malaysia
Thanks to GST and a rise in petrol prices, more and more Malaysians are going online to shop. This trend is expected to continue to rise as none of these expenses are disappearing anytime soon.
More and more Malaysians prefer to stay at home, log into their computers and buy what they need rather than drive or take the train to go out to shop.
This is, of course, good news for people who have already set up their online businesses. My recommendation is to continue to explore ways to increase your online presence.
On the other hand, for people who are still on the fence about whether to start an online business, especially those selling physical products, my recommendation is to start exploring as soon as you can. You may be missing out on making some nice side income.
In an effort to encourage more people to sell on Lazada, Lazada has now reduced the commissions on Fashion category items to 0% and 2% for all other categories except for electronics and home appliances.
This cut means more take-home profit for sellers on the platform. Good news if you are an existing seller. But if you haven’t started selling on Lazada yet, now is a great time to test waters.
Be warned though, this low or zero fee structure is unlikely to last forever. Adjust your prices and expectations accordingly. The last thing you want to do is to raise your prices too much once the fees go back to how they once were.
My recommendation is not to discount too much, but finding a balance between attracting customers as well as keeping their expectations in the future realistic.
This comprehensive report by ecInsider gives you a bird’s eye view on some of the top players in the e-commerce industry of Malaysia in 2018.
More and more malls nationwide are becoming emptier as the days go by. Some e-commerce players in the country have started looking to these vacant shopping malls as good locations for satelitte warehouses to aid their last mile logistics.
If your e-commerce business has been expanding and you need more space, why not consider checking out malls around the country also?
Lazada has recently received a fresh injection of USD2 billion. With this injection, Alibaba’s investment in Lazada has grown to USD4 billion.
As a Lazada seller, I’ve definitely seen the changes to the Lazada seller centre. New features are being added every few weeks to stay competitive.
As it appears, a chat feature just like its strongest rival Shopee is coming up.
This means more fuel for Lazada to grow bigger. If you haven’t jumped on board yet, I recommend getting started. It’s only getting bigger from here.
Regional News on Online Business
Shopee has added a ‘China Marketplace’ to its platform. With this marketplace, shoppers can buy directly from China without needing to pay any shipping or agent fees.
This new feature has been launched following Lazada’s own ‘Taobao Collection’ which features products also directly shipped from China.
As the battle goes on between these two e-commerce giants, sellers on both platform now have to plan their businesses while taking into account the lower prices that China sellers can offer.
That’s it for March 2018. See you next month!
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