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Going International As A Small Business: How Globalization Is Changing The Face Of The SMB Landscape

by Kurt Elster

This is a guest blog post by Owen Andrew, an ecommerce journalist.

Before ecommerce became a borderline necessity for doing business in the majority of verticals, small business owners and their employees were limited to doing to their marketing in mostly localized ways.

A sign in front of the store, in-store signage and front window displays, and perhaps an ad in the city’s newspaper or phonebook; if they were lucky, perhaps a regional or even national publication may write them if their story or products were particularly compelling.

How Globalization Affects SMBs

However, now most businesses can easily and nearly seamlessly access the other side of the world through technology. Ecommerce is thriving in places like India, Russia, China, Brazil, and more; and mobile is quickly taking hold as well thanks to the increasingly widespread availability (and relatively affordability) of high end smart phones.

One could say that mobile is changing ecommerce in similar way to how ecommerce altered brick and mortar retail - so SMBs owe it to themselves to learn the technology and understand which ecommerce portals are the most effective for their market.

Empowerment Via Technology And Careful Research

In fact, mobile commerce (or m-commerce) is becoming the standard everywhere, and executing it successfully can set a small business marketer apart from larger competitors. People around the world generally want to make purchases in the way that is easiest and most cost-effective for them - and via a localized interface they already use and understand.

Therefore, doing your research on the digital habits of your audience is key - different cultures and countries use the internet in very different ways, so what is basic or intuitive to you might be completely foreign in another country, and vice versa.

And it is not all about mobile or even the common marketing tactics like paid search, Facebook, and more. Think outside of the typical big names (especially the ones popular in the U.S. or your home country) and try niche networks specific to each target audience or location. An added bonus? Smaller platforms and markets can lead to easier, more budget-friendly market entry - which is nearly always a positive.

Downsides Of Globalization

Supply-chain management, customizing products and marketing campaigns to suit the idiosyncrasies of each target market, and determining how to send and receive funds can all present challenges for SMB marketers. Currency rates and local/country-specific taxes can also present problems - but all of these have solutions that can be less complex and costly than you think.

Knowing when the key holiday seasons are along with any special dates or events, and preparing your ecommerce site is essential as well. Lastly, what people tend to purchase when is important as well - especially for business owners who sell across hemispheres or to widely different cultures.

Understanding Your (New) Global Business

Lastly, understand the types of devices (even brands and models) and optimize your global strategy accordingly, along with your analytics so you can enable precise tracking for your global audience - but this advice applies to SMB ecommerce overall!

At the end of the day, many of the difficulties of globalization can be combated through strategic deployment of SMB-centric technologies. Even better, the sheer variety of possibilities for ecommerce and mobile commerce growth are growing every day, making it an important aspect of growing your small business internationally.


Author Bio: Owen Andrew is an eCommerce journalist who spends free time studying online marketing practices and attending EDM concerts. He hopes you enjoy this post, and would like to thank ethercycle.com for hosting him!"

How The Kewl Shop Stays Competitive

by Kurt Elster

I talked with Charles Fitzgerald about his Shopify store, The Kewl Shop, and came away with loads of actionable insight.

Started in late 2012, The Kewl Shop have quickly grown to become one of the top 150K web sites in the world. Founded by Charles, their focus has narrowed into the supply of top quality bandage dresses, shoes and leggings– areas of immense competition in the online world.

So how do they stay ahead of their competition in an a fiercely competitive niche? Listen and find out. :)

What Your eCommerce Business NEEDS to Know Before Holiday Season

by Kurt Elster

This is a guest blog post by Owen Andrew, an ecommerce journalist.

Over the last few years, it seems that stores have their Halloween decorations on display before you've even had your Labor Day barbecue. By the time September comes to a close, candy canes, snow globes and red and green M&Ms can be found on the shelves.

Retailers now spend months preparing for the holiday rush, and although procrastinating consumers can ignore them and wait all the way until Christmas Eve if they choose, eCommerce businesses don't have the same luxury.

Whether you know it or not, your entire business may depend on its performance during the holiday season. As discussed in the article "What Your Startup Needs to Know to Get Through the Holiday Season," your first step to success must be an attitude adjustment. You have to embrace the holiday shopping season no matter what your personal feelings, and you absolutely can't afford to treat it as business as usual.

It's coming. Have a plan.

Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the Fading Online/Retail Line

Black Friday is the traditional launch of the holiday shopping season for brick-and-mortar retailers. In 2005, the term Cyber Monday was coined after analysts noticed a spike in online shopping sales the following Monday. Research gleaned from 2013, however, indicates that those divisions may no longer be as concrete.

Three percent of previous Black Friday shoppers stayed home last year, leading to a 3 percent ($1.7 billion) decrease in physical sales. A record 66 million people, however, shopped online — not on Cyber Monday like they were supposed to, but on Black Friday. In fact, Black Friday was the season's first billion-dollar-plus online shopping day, raking in $1.2 billion when the dust settled.

What does all this mean for your website? Your success depends first on breaking out of the traditional mindset that Black Friday is for the wild masses pushing and shoving and occasionally trampling each other to death at the mall, and that the following Monday is for online shopping. Waiting for Monday means big-time losses. Pretend you're KMart — you're on deck as soon as the turkey leftovers are put in the fridge.

eCommerce is Mobile Commerce

Recent research proves what you already should know — mobile sales dominate more and more of the online market every year. This is never more so than during the holiday season. If you don't have a strong mobile presence, now is the time to establish one. In 2013, mobile sales jumped an astounding 55 percent from the year before. 12.7 percent of all online sales came from tablets and 5.6 percent came from phones.

  • Utilize responsive web design (RWD) or some other strategy to make sure that your awesome website looks equally awesome on mobile devices.
  • Revisit your social-media marketing strategy — social media drove $148 million in sales last year between Black Friday and Cyber Monday alone.
  • Make a final push! Push notifications increased 77 percent between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday.

Other Actions to Take this Fall

Forbes reminds us that the busy holiday season is the perfect time to institute or revamp a stellar search-engine optimization (SEO) campaign as well an equally amazing pay-per click (PPC) strategy. SEO and PPC are complicated concepts that require research, investment and action. But if you're uncertain about the brawn of either when it comes to your website, don't wait until Thanksgiving to move.

As Kurt Elster illustrates in his "12 Days of Ecommerce," the simplest, yet most effective ways to prepare for the rush is to create a holiday-themed landing page. This serves three functions: it boosts the chance of your site being found through an organic search, it builds anticipation for sales and promotions and it makes your site more likely to be shared.

If you sell online, the holiday season is massively important to you, whether you like it — or know it — or not. Between 20 and 40 percent of all annual purchases happen between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The time when most of the money changes hands is right around the corner — give yourself the gift of preparation.


Author Bio: Owen Andrew is an eCommerce journalist who spends free time studying online marketing practices and attending EDM concerts. He hopes you enjoy this post, and would like to thank ethercycle.com for hosting him!"

Down the Rabbit Trails: Demystifying the Conversion Funnel & Your Customers

by Kurt Elster

This is a guest blog post by Owen Andrew, an ecommerce journalist.

The conversion funnel may as well be a great unsolved mystery to many businesses. They know they want to get their customers to the end of the funnel (a sale) like everyone else. What they don’t know is the steps along the way that lead a customer down that path of having no knowledge or interest in a product right to the cash register to purchase it.

These businesses have no understanding of how to hook their potential customers at the various points along that funnel as a result, and it’s greatly limiting their effectiveness in appealing to those customers in a meaningful way.

The first step to removing the shroud of mystery that cloaks the funnel is to understand each of the steps along the way. These are the same for virtually any business and customer, and are therefore relevant to every business owner and marketer.

For the purpose of our analysis, let’s create a business together. Let’s keep it simple and start an online T-Shirt retailer, which is an infinitely present niche with theories applicable to other niches.

So what about those steps along the way, and how do they apply to our new business? Adria Saracino breaks it down in her Kill It in Content Creation piece for Distilled.net in five steps:

  • Discovery – This is the very first step towards landing a potential new customer, one that has just discovered a specific product or service for the first time. Depending on the niche, this customer may be very rare or, perhaps even non-existent. In our case, our customer knows he or she wants a T-shirt, we just either A) need to offer a design or theme not offered elsewhere, or B) need to convince our prospective customer they should purchase with us instead of a behemoth retailer. As Richard Lazazzera puts it in his article on starting a T-shirt business, ever-slimming margins means you need to get your conversion funnel gameplan correct from the get go.
  • Interest – The next step is their developing interest in that product or service as something that could be of worth to them. At this stage they are still not committing to purchasing anything from anyone in particular, but are broadly interested in the idea as a whole. Again, with our T-shirts, we need to offer something on our site that no one else is offering. Even the subtlest difference can give us the upper hand.
  • Conversion – This is the stage where they’re transitioning from mere interest into a full-blown desire to purchase the product or service, and are now researching brands and comparing offers and prices. Even if they were led to this point by one company, this is where they could go astray and be poached by the competition, making it the single most important step in the process, and one that should be researched thoroughly.
  • Purchase – The purchase. That glorious moment when the previous steps have led a customer to invest both their money and their trust in a product.
  • Loyalty – As you can see, the purchase is not in fact the last step. Maintaining the loyalty of those purchasers is, and that is accomplished through honoring their trust with a quality product, exemplary support, and rewards for that loyalty. If we continue to have reliable delivery times, consistently updated T-shirt options and great customer service, why wouldn’t this sale come back for more?

Avoiding the Rabbit Trails and Building a Superhighway from Discovery to Loyalty

Now comes the tricky and fun part; crafting an all-encompassing marketing strategy that deftly finds your customers at one of the early stages of their purchasing journey, and guides them firmly but lovingly through the funnel and out the other side as a newly loyal customer.

This begins by determining where best to find those customers that could have interest in a specific niche, but have yet to hear about it or put much thought into it. Depending on the niche this may be quite difficult or readily apparent. A prime directive should be to determine the likes and dislikes of the existing customers of that product. These same tastes will likely translate to other potential customers as well, providing insight into where they are likely to be found or not.

Actually reaching out them can be accomplished through methods such as host-beneficiary relationships, whereby a partnership is formed with a leading figure in one of those industries that are generally liked by the target audience.

From there it’s a matter of building upon the established interest and pushing them towards a purchase by offering incentives and regular updates on how good the product is and how much they need it. This can be accomplished in tandem through a combination of social media, e-mail campaigns, and webinars.

Lastly, ensure you have a proper reception waiting for them on the other side of the funnel by thanking them for their business and offering them loyalty rewards and bonuses for remaining a customer.

With this, you turn browsers into buyers.


Author Bio: Owen Andrew is an eCommerce journalist who spends free time studying online marketing practices and attending EDM concerts. He hopes you enjoy this post, and would like to thank ethercycle.com for hosting him!"

12 Days of Ecommerce: How to Prep Your Shopify Store for Black Friday

by Kurt Elster

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The Christmas holidays are a stressful time. Your in-laws fly in for a long visit, the weather is lousy, you spend more than you anticipated on gifts, and you can feel yourself coming down with a cold.

For 72 hours or more, your life turns into a bad sitcom.

Now imagine you’re a retailer. On top of the personal drama, you’re facing a single day that may make or break your entire fiscal year: Black Friday. That’s actually why it’s called Black Friday. It’s the day that a retailer’s books go from red (operating at a loss) to black (operating at a profit).

Retail storeowners are motivated by two things: earning money from their store and reducing their risk. With the holidays around the corner, a retailer wants to be prepared to make the most out of Black Friday with the highest degree of success – and the lowest degree of stress. So tackling a full-site redesign in October is probably out of the question. While it might work, it’s too risky.

Instead of gearing up for a huge project, let’s focus on 12 quick wins that you can implement to prep any store owner for Black Friday and the holidays. In this case, we’re going to define "quick win" as anything a Shopify Expert can achieve in a day for their client.

Before Black Friday

Day 1: Build Their List

It's important to build excitement before Black Friday. Merchants should promote it on site for customers in advance, and drive email signups to a newsletter. I’d use a pop-up window to invite customers to join. Be specific about why they should join by focusing on benefits. Say something like, “Join us as we share incredible Black Friday deals, exclusive finds, and holiday survival tips.” I’ve made this step 1, because the sooner they start collecting emails, the bigger their list will be.

Day 2: Conversion Rate Optimization

While we probably don’t have time for A/B Testing, you can still look for conversion optimization quick wins. In the store’s Shopify dashboard, check the Website Conversions section. Where are customers abandoning? Look for problems, apply best practices, and make educated fixes. For example, I bumped a Shopify client’s conversion rate 133% just by making fixes to their shopping cart.

Here are the changes we made (and you should consider trying):

  1. Hide extraneous inputs: We removed the "special instructions" field. What could that possibly include anyway?
  2. Remove unnecessary text: This site had a note about currencies but didn't actually support multiple currencies. Removed! 
  3. Remove extra buttons: Having multiple buttons creates confusion. In this case, the update button was being confused by non-native speakers for the checkout button,
  4. Simpler layout: This site had a customer guarantee near the checkout button. While we like that, we don't necessarily want it so close to the checkout button. We instead moved it to the left of the button area, where it should actually be read more, according to eye-tracking studies.
  5. Accurate button labels: The checkout button label previously was "CHECKOUT". This seems simple and clear, but it's high-pressure. We replaced it with "Proceed to checkout", which is lower pressure and a more accurate description of what the button does.

Day 3: Enable Abandoned Cart Recovery

Not everyone who adds a product to their cart makes it all the way through to purchase a product. Sometimes they give up along the way. Any time a potential customer provides their contact information but doesn't complete the order, Shopify stores record that information and can automatically follow up with that customer – if you have an advanced account.

I like to treat these abandoned cart recovery emails as customer service opportunities. Help the merchant send a personal email asking why the customer didn’t complete checkout. If there’s a problem with their checkout process, these follow-up emails will quickly reveal it. If there isn’t, then you’ve both reminded the customer about their unfinished order, and demonstrated to them your top-notch customer service.

And here’s the best part: these “personal” emails are entirely automated. Once they’re enabled, the shop owner won’t have to do a thing.

The template that Shopify includes by default is good, but I like to make it a little more personal. Here’s the template I start with:

Hi {{ billing_address.name }},

Joe here from Acme Corp.

I saw you put together a shopping cart on our site but didn’t >finish your order. Do you need any help? Or did you have any >questions about the order I can answer before you submit it?

If there’s anything I can do, just hit the reply button and >drop me a line with any product or order questions.

Your shopping cart:

I’ve included a list of your shopping cart contents below. You >can click this link - {{ url }} - to load up the shopping cart >again.

{% for line in line_items %}{{ line.quantity }}x >{{ line.title }}

{% endfor %}

If you need to discuss your order in more detail, feel free to >call me.

Talk soon!
Joe from Acme Corp

Abandoned Cart Recovery is a special feature for Professional or Unlimited plans. If your client is on the Basic plan, there are several apps available in the Shopify App Store. (Type the word "abandoned" in the search bar on the app store.)

Day 4: Build a Holiday-Themed Landing Page

Check out any major big box retailer’s site before the holidays.They’ll have landing pages built especially for the holidays. This really doesn’t have to be complicated. At the minimum, this could be as simple as making a product collection, calling it “Black Friday sale,” and adding a holiday-themed collection image and text.

This has three effects: People find the page through an organic search or by visiting their site, they see the sale items in advance which builds excitement, and the special collection makes the sale easy to share. Heck, the merchant could even “leak” this page early.

Day 5: Performance Optimization

Slow is annoying, right? If something takes too long to load, we move on. That's why performance of a website is so important. Test their site out now. Ideally it should load in two seconds or less, but you won’t run in to problems unless it takes more than four seconds on a smartphone.

Surveys tell us that nearly half of people say they'll abandon a page that takes longer than four seconds to load. In actual testing we know they're a little more patient than that, but if a page takes longer than five seconds, we can expect about half of people to abandon the page.

It’s simple: the faster a merchant's page loads, the more people will view their site, and the happier they'll be. More happy users means more conversions.

I could write another 2,000 words on performance optimization, but I’ll spare you the nerd talk. Images are usually the culprit when it comes to slow load times. That’s where you should focus your efforts to get your client's Shopify store to lose the most weight. Remove excessive slides from carousels, resize images to their native resolution, and compress them using a free tool like ImageOptim.

Day 6: Retargeting

Have you ever viewed a product on a major retailer’s site and then had ads for that product follow you around for the next two months like a lost dog? That’s retargeting, and it’s a hugely effective way to show highly-focused ads to engaged users.


Basically, it ensures that visitors who abandon a merchant's site are reminded of it for the entire holiday period.

My personal preference for retargeting services is Perfect Audience because of its ease of use, but there are other retargeting services like AdRoll.

While you can run a campaign for as low as $25/week, I’d recommend spending $350/week for every 10K weekly visitors a store receives. That money’s not wasted either, because Shopify store owners typically generate $10 in sales for every $1 spent.

Day 7: Holiday Styles

Ready to let people know your client is in the holiday mood (and subtly suggest they’re going to have great sales)? You’ll need to update their logo – with a Santa cap. It’s the universal sign for “we’ve got holiday sales!” It’s fun, festive, and easy. It’s so easy, I’d also do it for their other branding collateral such as Facebook and Twitter icons.

Day 8: Live Chat

In a retail store, we expect to be greeted, and we expect to be able to ask questions. As a customer, it’s really frustrating to not be able to find an employee when you need them. Live Chat is the website equivalent of that. It provides the convenient answers that customers want on demand. Olark is my favorite pick for this, but of course, there are others.

Day 9: Add More Ways to Pay

Customers expect to be able to pay with a credit or debit card. If I could pick one payment gateway, it would be Shopify Payments (or Stripe) as my client's primary payment method. I’d also consider adding PayPal. Not only are some customers more comfortable with PayPal, but it also allows provides financing on purchases over $99 through their PayPal Credit service (formerly known as Bill Me Later). The seller gets paid as usual, and the buyer gets more time to pay.

To maximize the benefit (and conversion rate), add a note in your cart or product area about the available financing.

Day 10: Marketing Automation

On Black Friday itself, customers may be shopping from their couch, but they’re still feeling the rush. According to IBM’s annual Online Retail Holiday Readiness Report, the typical customer will only spend about seven minutes on your client's site.

Sometime on Thanksgiving evening, it’s time to start promoting on site. Make it as easy as possible to find sale products. Put all of the sale items into a Black Friday specific collection. Feature that collection, along with other popular items, on the home page. Remove, hide, or disable other distractions. Hide non-sale promotional materials from the home page. Heck, I’d even consider temporarily disabling that newsletter pop-up window we set up on day one. Remember, today is the biggest shopping day of the year, and everyone on the Internet has just become a deal-obsessed maniac.

Your client is going to need to stay on top of phones and emails to answer questions and put out fires as they arise. No one is going to wait two hours for a response from them today. That means they’ll need your help to promote the sale on Black Friday.

To be ready, I’d have two promo emails scheduled to go out to list subscribers. One at 5 am, and one at noon. At 5 am, announce that the sale is happening and give readers a direct link to the sale collection. Then later at noon, send another email with a list of the top 10 sale items. At the same time, promote the sale via social media. I’d have Facebook posts and tweets scheduled to fire off every hour throughout the day. For scheduling social media tweets, Buffer or Hootsuite are my favorite tools.

It’s incredibly important to set up marketing automation for Black Friday. When the day gets hectic and the phones are ringing, promotion will be the first thing the store staff neglects.

After Black Friday

The party's not over. After Black Friday has come and gone, there are still at least three weeks of online shopping before Christmas. Implementing any or all of these suggestions will pay dividends for your client after Black Friday.

But there’s still one more thing we can do before the holidays are over...

Day 11: Countdown

We can create urgency by reminding customers of the absolute last day they can order and still be guaranteed free shipping. (This is great for those procrastinators among us who didn’t get out early on Black Friday.) Include the date in email newsletters, in the website’s header, and if you’re feeling really fancy, in a countdown timer.

Day 12: Email Remarketing

By now, the shop owner has probably created a pretty large list of opt-in customers. Now here’s the thing about email marketing: it practically prints money. I would send an email at least twice a week to promote their holiday sales.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Ways to prep for the holidays
  2. Segment customers by past purchases
  3. Coupons and discount redemption codes
  4. New product announcements

The magic of a consistent newsletter is that it keeps the brand top of mind with its recipients. I’ll receive an email newsletter, ignore the content, but purchase something else as a result because it reminds me.

Now It’s Your Turn

I’m sure there’s at least one great idea in here for every Shopify store owner you work with. So take the best, and leave the rest.

What else are you doing to get your clients ready for the holidays? I’d love to know, so please tell us about it.

Ecommerce interaction design with NickD

by Kurt Elster

Today we're talking with Nick Disabato of Draft, a small interaction design consultancy in Chicago. His previous clients include Gravitytank, New Music USA, Chicago Magazine, The Wirecutter, and too many other attractive, intelligent people to count. We spent quite a bit of time talking about his work designing a delightful user experience for Cards Against Humanity.

We discuss...

  1. Cards Against Humanity marketing strategy
  2. Split-testing
  3. Conversion rate optimization
  4. And more

Links:

  1. Cards Against Humanity - http://cardsagainsthumanity.com/
  2. Cadence & Slang - http://cadence.cc/
  3. Draft: Revise - https://draft.nu/revise/
  4. Nick's newsletter - http://eepurl.com/vqJgv
  5. Visual Website Optimizer - https://vwo.com/

Brutally Honest SEO Advice for Ecommerce Entrepreneurs

by Kurt Elster

Kai Davis is a dynamite internet marketing professional. He’s really reinventing how his clients view SEO and creating an amazing suite offerings with which anyone can build an amazing organic stream for their website.

We discuss:

Download MP3 (10.6 MB)
  1. How he boost a website's findability
  2. Why you should focus on results, not SEO
  3. What best practices to follow
  4. What does on-site SEO involve?
  5. How do you get quality backlinks?
  6. The education problem that SEO faces
  7. What a bad SEO engagement looks like
  8. Link-building strategies for real SEO results
  9. The easiest SEO win you can use for your site
  10. How important are search rankings?
  11. An easy way to improve click-through rates
  12. Are you communicating trust?
  13. Kai's number one SEO tip.

If you want to learn more from Kai, he's got a newsletter where he dispenses more of the hot truth you heard here. Sign up at http://kaidavis.com/newsletter/

7 Thoughts On Your New Apple Watch Overlords

by Paul Reda

It's been an entire week since the announcement, so I'm sure you're totally clamoring to read yet another take on the AppleWatch. That's good because I've had an entire week to noodle on it, and as you might have guessed, I Have Opinions.

1. It's called AppleWatch and not iWatch because Apple is starting to worry about creeping genericization of their trademarks. Apple products so completely dominate the mindshare of the portable hardware industry that most (regular) people just call their things an iName. This had already happened with iPods (then again when was the last time anyone used an MP3 player not made by Apple?). I've heard several Moms I know say things like "I have a Samsung iPhone." Even NFL announcers refer to the (paid, product placed, and heavily branded) Microsoft Surfaces on the sidelines as "iPads." Harder for people to confuse the actual name of the product when the name of the company is in it.

2. Using the crown as an interface made everyone at the office go OOHHHH! at the exact same time. It's so damned obvious once you see it. Watches have used crowns as "interfaces" for years, but the first thing all the other smartwatch manufacturers did was strip it off. Apple kept it for a consistent watch UI, extended its abilities, and helped solve the problem of big fingers trying to scroll on a small screen. This is what happens when you put in the effort to care about hardware design and user experience.

3. I was surprised the price point for the entry-level AppleWatch is only $350. The Ethercycle office consensus was that they wouldn't go below $400, and I wouldn't have been shocked at $450. At $350 they won't be able to keep them in stock. It's only $50-$100 more than Apple's competitors, which is generally where Apple pricing ends up. Thanks to some new clients we've picked up recently I've gotten a crash course in the watch market over the past few months, and $350 is pretty cheap for a mid-level watch. Note that I didn't say "luxury" or "high-end", that is a completely different ballgame, I'm talkin' regular ol' watch that looks good and just tells time. The low/midrange mechanical watch market is going to get slaughtered.

4. It's verrrrry interrresting that no price has been announced for the gold "Edition" edition (god, what a stupid name). Apple is trying to feel out how high they can go, and the sky is the limit. Techcrunch claims it could sell for $1,200. Cringley says $3,500. John Gruber thinks $5,000. I think Cringely and Gruber are close to being right, and it could be more. $4,000 is nothing for a luxury watch. The cheapest Omega starts at $1,800. The cheapest gold Tag Heur is $4,200. The cheapest Rolex (that don't tick-tock) is $5,000. And these are the lowest models, it's easy for a luxury watch to go over $20,000. People like showing off how much money they spent on something - hell, that's the entire point of the luxury watch industry. The most expensive iPhone is always the highest selling model. And "champagne" (read: gold) is the highest selling color. I say again, $4,000 is nothing for this market.

That being said, Rolex and Hublot are competing in a completely different world than Apple. They can get away with charging those prices because their names convey a level of status and luxury that Apple doesn't. These watches are looked at as heirloom pieces that will hold their beauty and value for decades. Will an AppleWatch model be seen as a useful item for even 5 years? Do you want a cell phone from 2009 (say an iPhone 3GS) today? Hoping to pass your vintage iPod Mini down to your children? Apple is taking the idea of being a high fashion luxury brand very seriously, poaching executives from Burberry and Tag Heur. Still, the big guys will be safe.

5. I'm unconvinced at how much the watch can move Apple's bottom line - that's not a slam on the product, merely that Apple is a behemoth. Swatch Group made $9 billion in 2013. Apple made $170 billion in 2013 - so managing to equal the largest watchmaker in the world would increase revenue by 5%. Obviously Apple intends to grow the watch pie, the same way they did with smartphones, but how big can the pie really get?

(NOTE: the preceding two paragraphs are the ones you can throw back in my face in 7 years when Apple controls the watch industry and I look like an idiot.)

6. The smartwatch will become huge when the apps really get moving. When you can use your watch to make payments, track your health, control your house, etc. that's when it will seem like a no-brainer to buy. The killer app/service that makes everyone want a smartwatch probably hasn't been thought of yet. Think before 2007, would you have ever thought that people would buy a $400+ phone? Much less see it as being totally indispensable?

7. I can see myself being in the market for an AppleWatch 3 - after they've worked out the kinks, have the apps up and running, it includes a SIM card, and it looks like a Moto360.

Michael DiMartini, Everest Bands creator, talks Kickstarter success

by Kurt Elster

Michael DiMartini from Everest Bands come on the show to chat and share his success with us. He’s gone from failed businesses to two successful Kickstarter campaigns and an amazing product line sold through Shopify. Michael doesn’t just sell watch bands. He sells literally the best rubber watch strap made- and it’s for a Rolex.

We discuss:

  1. What Everest Bands is all about (it’s more than just swiss rubber)
  2. What goes in to a successful Kickstarter
  3. The ROI of Facebook likes
  4. What it takes to be a luxury brand
  5. The Apple Watch
  6. Michael’s favorite watch
  7. And his single best tip for Shopify store owners.

Give it a listen now or their download the MP3 for later.

Is Your Website Ready For iPhone 6?

by Paul Reda

Everyone's going gaga about the new screen sizes for Apple's latest iPhones. (Us too, we take office bets on the Keynotes.) The iPhone 6 has a 1334x750 display while the even bigger iPhone 6 Plus comes with a whopping 1920x1080 screen. This is in comparison to the iPhone 5 which was only at 1136x640. The secret sauce in Apple's Retina technology is that it tells websites that it's screen is only half as sharp as it really is, so when it comes to websites, every iPhone up until today has had a screen that was 320px wide.

The new iPhone 6 however, will report itself as 375px wide - and the iPhone 6 Plus will be probably be a stunning 540px viewport! This represents a big question and opportunity for your website. You might be saying "But my website is already responsive, I'm covered." Well, maybe yes, and maybe no. If your site was built with a fully flexible fluid layout that covers all sizes, you're probably fine. (That’s the right way to do it anyway.) However, many websites that claim to be responsive, really just reconfigure themselves to specific, preprogrammed "breakpoints" that match up with a few (often as little as 3) popular devices. This can leave the customer high and dry when new phones come out and these breakpoints change (like today!).

Our design philosophy has been to use fully flexible designs whenever possible. While other designers were treating the space between 320px (iPhone) and 768px (iPad) as a no man’s land of screen sizes to cut corners and save themselves time, we’ve been writing fluid code dictated by content instead of devices.

You can check how your site will look on an iPhone6 by resizing your browser window and seeing where it breaks. If it always looks good, congrats, you have a fluid layout! If it breaks at various sizes, then you can either choose to let the future king of all mobile browsing show a jacked-up version of your website to your customers, or you can get it done right. What’s that old saying? Oh yes: If you think it's expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.