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We recently hosted an AMA with Andrew Youderian, the founder of Ecommerce Fuel about how he built his community, current trends, and what the future looks like for ecommerce.
 
What is an AMA? As part of the Octane AI Messenger Master Class, we regularly interview ecommerce experts including merchants, agencies and technology companies. Sign up today to be the first to view our AMAs.
 
Watch the full AMA with Andrew below. Read on further to learn more about Ecommerce Fuel and how Andrew views the past, present, and future of ecommerce.
 

About Ecommerce Fuel

Ecommerce Fuel is the largest vetted community for seven-figure Shopify store owners. With over 1,000 expert members, it’s the best place on the internet for fast-growing ecommerce businesses to be, fostering engaging and enlightening discussions on all things ecommerce.
 
Between their online forum, live events, and directory for software and service providers, Ecommerce Fuel ensures merchants can get non-biased, practical help to build their teams, outsource, and find the tools they need to get meaningful, sustainable growth.

What’s Trending In Ecommerce?

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Ecommerce Fuel recently concluded their annual “State of the Merchant” report, where they surveyed 400 store owners averaging about $3 million in yearly revenue on 50 different metrics. Some of the early takeaways from the data:
  • Between 2017 and 2018, Amazon revenue grew significantly as a percentage of total merchant revenue, from 20-27%. However, in 2019, that growth has flatlined at 27% for a consecutive year.
  • More merchants are manufacturing their own products. Ecommerce drop shippers dropped from 16% to 8% of all stores surveyed, while manufacturing jumped up by 33%.
  • Amazon appears to have become much more competitive and difficult due to international sellers and manufacturers flooding the market and because Amazon is beginning to push their own private label brands.

Is Amazon the Death Knell for Independent Ecommerce?

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Short answer: No. While Amazon both gives and takes from independent merchants, their evolving business model makes it essential for merchants to own something unique about their product. Whether that’s the product patent and manufacturing itself, complete control over distribution channels, or totally owning a niche in the market, scalable ecommerce ventures must be able to exist without Amazon.
 
Amazon’s strengths are in convenience and in helping you get the best price when you know exactly what you want, however the flooded market also dampens their credibility and makes their store difficult to browse. Their reviews can be untrustworthy and there are literally thousands of weak, non-name brands. This means that small stores can still win with super niche products and outstanding customer service.

How Real-Time Messaging Helps Small Merchants Stand Out

The biggest difference between slightly successful and hugely successful ecommerce businesses is how well each has identified the stages of the customer journey. When you know who your customers are and whether they’re looking to buy something quickly, trying to shop carefully, have already added something to their cart, have already purchased, or any number of indicators, you can send them nudges and engage with them at optimal times to push conversion.
 
Engaging with customers along the journey is easier with Facebook Messenger than email. Email is getting crowded and less effective because there’s just so much junk. Messenger sees clickthrough and engagement rates of about 5x-10x over email, making it a crucial element of marketing strategy.
 
While it can be used for prospecting for first-time customers, it’s even more valuable as a retention tool, keeping shoppers up to date with shipping and cart notifications, special promotions, and more.
 
With Octane AI chatbots, you can get more granular with your Messenger strategy, which can be a big deal for merchants looking to scale. Octane AI suggests different things you can have your chatbot ask your customers or answer in a brand-specific way. You can also customize those questions and answers with multiple variations, leveraging the neural network to recognize the intention of questions and keep a conversation with a customer going.
 
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As CEO Matt Schlicht notes, one client has trained her bot to understand thousands of inputs so her customers may speak to the bot for hours.
 
The ecommerce landscape is changing and it’s more important than ever to embrace creative, unique solutions. If you aren’t using Facebook Messenger to engage customers, you’re missing out on a highly effective channel. To try it out yourself, add Octane AI to your Shopify store and see how it can help your brand stand out from the Amazon cacophony.

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