Friday, 31 August 2012

Twitter marketing to improve customer targeting

Twitter released a new marketing tool yesterday that allows advertisements to be sorted into different categories of interest. For example, if you run an online store that sells electronic goods, your advertisement will be tagged under "electronics."

Once the advertisement has been sorted into the correct category, the advertisement will then begin appearing on the Twitter feeds of those users who tweet content that is related to the specific category. This allows an ecommerce store to improve their targeting by aiming their advertising content solely at those who would have a genuine interest in what you sell. 

Furthermore, businesses who use Twitter's "promoted tweets" feature to have their content appear on various users Twitter feeds will also be able to use this form or targeting to ensure that they only spend money promoting their Tweets to users who they know will have an interest in their products.  

So what does this mean for small businesses?

Well straight away it makes promoting your Tweets to other users a much more viable and cost effective way for a business to get their brand identity up and running. Before, small businesses couldn't really afford to spend money promoting Tweets when they might not actually go to people who would in interested in the products or services that the business offers. This way you are getting much more for your money as you know that your content will definitely be seen by people who have shown an interest in that category and would most likely be interested in purchasing from your store. 

and what does it mean for Twitter?

The changes to Twitter's advertising setup is expected to help their annual revenue total double to over $540 million in 2014, according to figures published by eMarketer.

Mobile marketing and the power it holds - Statistics included

While everyone tends to use email marketing to advertise their online business and the products they sell, many business tends to overlook mobile marketing as they believe that this form of marketing bears very little results. In fact, in some cases mobile marketing can be a much better promotional tool than it's email counterpart.

Here are a few statistics that may help to open your eyes about how successful mobile marketing could be for your business:

  • 61% of local searches on a mobile device then result in a phone call
  • 52% of all advertisements seen on a mobile device result in a phone call
  • 91% of all mobile phone owners have their phones within arms length
  • By 2016 mobile marketing will make up 15.2% of all global online advertising 

Although pretty much everyone has an email account, some people may only check their inbox once day. In comparison, the average user checks their mobile phone over 100 times a day. This means that when you are sending out a mobile marketing campaign, you have a greater chance of your message being seen by a user than you would if you were to send it out by email.

Following on from this, to view an email, the user has to actually willingly click on the on the link to then open it up. This means that your email needs to be successful in two different stages, the subject heading and the message itself.  When a person receives a SMS message on their phone, generally the users will first have to open up the message to then delete it from their inbox. Not only does this give your message instant exposure, but it also increases the likelihood of your message being successful, as the will be instantly exposed to your message. Even if they decide to then delete the message, they will still have become aware of your brand. 

Another benefit of mobile marketing is the ability to incorporate other forms of marketing into the device. With over 835 million smartphone users worldwide all using their phones to send messages, view websites and interact through social media, the ability to reach your audience has never been greater. It isn't just SMS marketing that can have success of a mobile phone. With 44% of Facebook's 900+ million users accessing the platform on their mobile devices, if you decide to run a promotion on a social media site such as Facebook and Twitter, the user will receive a notification on their phone regarding the post, if they already follow you. This 44% are also twice as active on Facebook as those who access the social media site via their desktop computers. While this is not strictly mobile marketing, more social media marketing, it just gives you an idea of the potential all forms of mobile marketing hold in gaining a brand image for your ecommerce store.

eBay's free listing promotion

eBay have announced that between the 1st-9th of September, private sellers will be able to list items for free. 

As any listing of 99p or less is already free, eBay have now given users the ability to list up to 150 items over this price with no cost for the first 9 days of September. However, the promotion is only available to eBay sellers living in the UK.

Any products listed below the £1 threshold will not count towards this promotion and will count towards your 100 monthly limit

Items listed in "Cars, Motorcycles & Vehicles" and "Property" will be excluded from being able to take part in this promotion.

Also, if you use professional listing tools such as "Turbo Lister" or "Selling Manager Pro" you will also be unable to take advantage of this promotion. 

Move your images up the rankings

If you run an online store, you are going to have numerous images of the different products that your business  sells. While we all know the importance of search engine optimisation in ensuring the highest possible ranking for your website, you shouldn't forget the need to carry out this optimisation on your images. 

When a customer is looking to find a particular item they want to buy, they sometimes use the image section on a search engine to find a product that they are interested in. Ensuring that each of your images has the correct level of search engine optimisation will mean that when a user carries out a search related to your product, your images will be as high up the ranking as they possibly can. This will drastically increase the chances of you gaining extra traffic to your website, resulting in a number of extra sales.

Alt Tags

For those who don't know, alt tags are descriptive text for images which can be placed into an image using HTML. This descriptive text is what the search engine uses to determine it's ranking within certain keyword searches. When selecting your description text you must ensure that it clearly describes that the image portrays while still including some keywords.

If you wish to insert alt tags into your images, insert the following code into your webpage, entering the required information into each field: 

<img src="Image file" alt="Image description text"/>

Anchor Text

Like the alt tags, this allows you to link your image to the text when describing the content of the image. When inserting the anchor text you should look to use words that are keywords related to not only what the image depicts, but also the content for the webpage. 

File name

The name of the image is very important when it comes to a search engine identifying it's keywords. A search engine is going to have difficulty placing an image with a keyword if the file name is for example,  "img00232." When you select that image to place within your ecommerce store, you need to rename the file so what it is called something that relates to what the image depicts.

SEO the whole page

It's no good just going SEO for that images that you wish to place in your store. Whatever images you decide to place on your website, you need to make sure that the entire page is optimised for search engines. This means making sure that your page contains the correct keywords, meta tags and has backlinks placed on other sites that point back to your page.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Mobile commerce set for Christmas boom

The number of online sales made on mobile devices could reach 20% by Christmas according to figures published by the Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG)

In the last two years, the number of sales made through mobile commerce has risen by a staggering 2900% to 11.6% and is expected to keep growing over the coming months. While many customers are now turning to mobile devices to make their purchases, the high expectations from customers is resulting in online stores having much higher bounce rates. 

When a customer visits a website through their mobile device, they expect the site to load up in under three seconds and want to be able to manoeuvre easily around that site, allowing them to purchase products in the quickest time possible. If an online store doesn't have a mobile friendly version of their website, they are going to leave this site to go in search of one that is easier to use, hence the high bounce rate. 

The Christmas period is already the busiest times of the year for ecommerce stores and with many small businesses struggling to get the number of sales needed to keep afloat, sellers can't afford to lose out on 20% of sales because they don't have an online store that is mobile friendly. 

If you are looking to establish a mobile platform for your online business, we at eSellution can help incorporate mobile commerce into your currently sales platforms, ensuring that you are maximising the amount of sales and profit you can achieve. You can find out more information about how eSellution can help you here: eSellution mobile commerce

How to find the right domain for your business

When you are setting up your own ecommerce store, finding the right domain is important in allowing your customers to easily find your site, as well as helping you market your brand much easier. 

When it comes to selecting a domain name for your business, there are a number of different factors you need to consider:

Length - The shorter your domain name, the easier it will be for customers to remember, aswell as increasing the chance of customers coming across it during search engine queries. Although having a longer domain name may give customers a better idea about what it is your online store offers, it is very unlikely that they will remember the name to then enter it into a web address at a later date.

Keywords - This is probably the most crucial part of selecting a domain address. When you select a domain address, you want it to contain keywords that are related to what your business does. To find out what the most popular keywords are in search engine queries, you can use free applications such as 'Google Keyword Tool' to see which are the most popular in terms of being searched for, both locally and globally. The better the keywords, the higher your website will be placed in search engine rankings, improving the levels of traffic your site will generate. However, you need to remember that the more popular a keyword is, the more likely someone will have it within their domain name. This means that when you come to try and find a domain name that includes this keyword you may find that most of them are taken. The better a keyword is in terms of generating traffic, the more you will most likely have to pay to purchase that particular domain.

What you also don't want to do is just try and cram as many keywords into your domain address as you possibly can. The key is to try and include keywords into the address, while still having it make sense and keeping it catchy.

Think outside the box - If for example, you are setting up an electronics store, there are going to be a wide range of stores already out there meaning that you are not going to be able to get a domain that is straight to the point in terms of what it is you sell. For this reason you need to start thinking outside the box. Come up with a name that is not only related to what it is your business provides, but is also catchy and something that other people probably haven't heard of. This will not only help your store stand out from the rest, but will increase the chance of a customer remembering your name, creating brand awareness right from the start.

Get a '.com' address - You may search for a domain and find that although '.com' is taken '.co' or '.net' is still available. These are available for a reason. Websites that end in '.net', '.co' or any others apart from '.com' receive substantially less traffic. When setting up your only online store  you must ensure that you have a '.com' web address. Even if you only sell within the UK using a '' domain, you should also look to purchase the '.com' equivalent of that address as although you aren't using it now, there may come a point in the future when you expand to sell internationally and by then you may find that the domain has already been taken by someone else. 

If you are struggling to find a domain that you really want for your business, you could try using a hyphen, although I would only do this as a last resort. While using a hyphen gives you access to a whole new crop of domain names, it isn't as memorable to customers as you will specifically have to tell the customer where the hyphen goes for them to enter the the web address themselves. 

If there is a particular domain that you really want for your business but when searching for it you find that it is taken, check the lease for the domain using the "whois" feature from the domain provider to see when it expires. If the lease on that particular domain is set to expire soon, you can look to back order that domain which means as soon as it comes available you will be able to purchase it. But don't wait too long, each day you wait for a particular domain is a day when you aren't selling your products and missing out on a potential profit. 

A statistical look at why your business should be using Pinterest now

Yesterday, we looked at all of the various types of social commerce a business can undertake to help not only grow their business's brand, but also increase customer traffic and sales. While we did touch on Pinterest  and some of the benefits it can offer your business, today we are going to highlight why for some online stores, it is absolutely imperative that you use Pinterest today to begin taking advantage of the substantial customer traffic it can bring to your store. 

Behind Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest is the third most popular form of social media with over 11 million total users and 4 million active users every day. In the past we have highlighted the need for social commerce, with a particular focus on Facebook and Twitter as they have substantially more traffic then other social media platforms. However, recent studies have found that buyers who are referred to your store from Pinterest are 10% more likely to buy something than those who have come from other social media platforms. Furthermore, these customers also spend on average 10% more than other referrals, underpinning the increased revenue stream that Pinterest can bring to your ecommerce store.

The beauty of Pinterest is that it combines all aspects of social media as well as some aspects of mobile commerce. The Pinterest app has received over 250,000 downloads on to android and smartphones. If a customer comes across an image of your product, they can then use the application to access the mobile version of your store, increasing the mobile commerce aspect of your business. Not only that, but you can also use Pinterest to create some form of convergence within your social commerce. When a customer finds an image they can not only access the mobile store, but also share this image across other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. This level of convergence dramatically increases the number of customers who will become aware of your products as although Pinterest has 11 million users, if one of these users shares the image, your product then has the potential to reach over 900 million on Facebook and over 100 million on Twitter. 

While Pinterest is better for certain businesses in comparison to others, as the social media platform is free to use, there is no harm is using it to help generate added traffic to your site. Out of all the members who have joined the social media site, 60% are female. If you run an eBay store or other ecommerce platform that provides products aimed particularly at women, this is a great platform to promote your content. While the gender of users is more orientated towards females, the age of these users varies between all ages. This means that no matter what age range your products are aimed at, there will be an audience for your items on Pinterest. 

The more disposable income a customer has, the better it is for your online store, it is more likely that they will be willing to make a purchase. Around 83% of all Pinterest's users earn a yearly income that exceeds $25,000. Furthermore, according to statistics released at the end of Q2 2012, Pinterest accounts for 40% of all social media purchases, with the other 60% belonging to Facebook. However, this doesn't mean forget about Twitter altogether. Although Twitter may not bring the direct revenue through referrals, Twitter is an important tool in regularly building up your brand image by personally engaging with customers and industry leaders through Tweets and is something that you should definitely be using on a regular basis.  

When you decide to pin a particular product from your store on to Pinterest, you need to be aware that it is not only just the image itself, but the content that goes with the image that is important. What you need to remember is that Pinterest is not a platform for you to pitch your products at customers in order to try and make a sale. It should just simply be a platform to show an image and if a user is attracted to the image of your product, then it is up to them to then make their own mind up as to whether to purchase the product, with you of course giving them a nudge in the right direction with links on how they can access your store. Brands using Pinterest to show their products have found that they have more success in creating sales through this social media when they do not show the price of the product. Telling the user how much the product costs on the pinned image is almost a turn off for users as you are turning this from a social media platform into more of an advertising channel. 

With only around 53% of all small businesses actively engaging through social media channels, there is a number of great opportunities to get ahead of your competitors by increasing the number of people who are aware of your business and the products you sell, helping to create a positive brand image.

Customer fears and habits - How to overcome them

With the power being very much in the hands of the customers due the vast number of online stores all seeking their business, many businesses are finding it difficult to allay any fears customers have, keeping them happy and willing to purchase from their store.

The best way to get rid of any customer fears and turn them into happy customers, is to understand all of the fears they may have when they visit your online store for the first time. Once you know what fears users will experience, you can then work on making sure that you are able to take the steps required to ensure that these initial fears are quickly squashed and the customer is then comfortable to purchase from your store. 

The biggest concern that many customers face is the fear that they are paying too much when buying from you and could be finding the same product at a much better deal elsewhere. While there could be a store out there offering the product at a slightly cheaper rate, it is up to you as a store owner to provide the customer with all the positives as to why they should buy the product from you. 

Many customers are also concerned by the fact that, although a product looks good based on your images and description, it might not live up to their expectations. This is where your customer reviews come into play. Encouraging customers to review your store and products once they have made a purchase not only provides you with information on how you can improve your business for future customers, but it also provides these future customers with information as to whether they should buy a specific product or not While this is true for all ecommerce stores, customer reviews are vitally important if you run an eBay store as customer feedback plays a pivotal role in a customers decision making process. What you shouldn't do is pick and choose which reviews to show as it's unrealistic that an ecommerce store will not have one single bad review on a product. If a customer sees a long list of top reviews without one single negative review or highlighted issue, it seems almost too good to be true and will serve to increase those initial fears rather than reduce them.

As a rule people tend to stick to what they know. If we find something we are comfortable with we are unlikely to change and shopping is no different. If a customer has been using a specific site to purchase products, they are unlikely to change to your store unless you force them to do so. I don't mean force them in terms of actually dragging them to your store, but you can encourage them to make the change to your store by giving them options that they can't turn down. This means offering regular sales and having products that are better priced than your competitors. If you simply have the same products that their regular store has at pretty much the same price, you aren't giving them any reason as to why they should leave their regular store to purchase from yours.

While your ecommerce store may offer the best deal, many people today are concerned about what our friends and people around us will think about the clothes we buy and wear. This is why people must have the latest brands or 'in' fashion. People will be reluctant to purchase certain items even though they may like them as they are worried about what their peers may think. The same applies when it is a business to business sale as a businesses does not want to damage their professional reputation. This underpins the importance of creating a good reputation for your business right from the start. 

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Monday the best day to sell?

According to a study carried out by owners Rakuten, the day when the British population buys most of there items online is a Monday, based on traffic and sales made through their various marketplaces.

There are a number of theories as to why this could be. It could be because people are disappointed to be back at work on a Monday after having time off over the weekend, so they look to purchase items online in order to make themselves feel better. Another theory is that they have more energy at the beginning of the week than they do at the end, so they are more willing to make the effort of browsing through online stores in order to find a product they want to purchase

While these are only figures taken from platforms owned by Rakuten, it gives you an insight into the buying behaviour of certain individuals. So if you run a small online business how can you take advantage of this?

Although you can't directly control when a customer will purchase from your store, you can have some influence on their decisions through your marketing. If you currently look to send out your email campaigns and other marketing tools during the week, you may want to start looking to send these out during the weekend, with a focus on Sunday evenings to target these shoppers first thing on Monday morning. 

The study also found that the British were the most impulsive taking shoppers on average around 40 seconds when deciding whether to buy a product or not. This underpins the need for all online stores to have a streamlined purchase process which allows customers to easily navigate through your store, find a product they wish to buy and complete the payment process. 

The basic guide to social commerce

As we have highlighted in recent weeks, Social commerce is becoming an ever increasing part of online selling. Businesses who actively engage is social commerce see greater levels of interaction, traffic and most importantly sales. Social commerce is a great way to help your online business develop their own brand identity and generate increased levels of profit.

However, if you have yet to look at social commerce for your business or are looking to improve the efficiency in which you carry it out, what are the basic steps you should look to do correctly to give you the best chance of success?

Today we are going to look at the different social media sites you should be advertising your business on, explaining what they offer in terms of promoting your brand.


The most popular form of social commerce for any business with over 900 million regular users. Creating a page for your business allows you to provide your customers with various pieces of information such as product images, sales or simply sociable information to engage with your customers. It is this engagement which makes Facebook such a valuable tool. While customers engage with your website in terms of making a sale, there is not really any form of informal conversation. Facebook allows you to not only speak to your customers, but it also allows your customers to speak to you, ask you questions and give opinions regarding your business. If you are looking to get your business's social commerce platform off the ground, Facebook needs to be your first port of call. Facebook has also developed it's own F-commerce platform within online selling as a number of businesses now sell products directly on Facebook through a Facebook store.


Allows users to follow your business through your Twitter page. They will then be able to see any status or product information you display through your Tweets. People can then respond to your Tweets with their own messages or Retweet your message for people who follow that user to then see, giving you the chance to increase your brand awareness and gain more followers. However, what you must always bear in mind is that the majority of people only follow you on both Facebook and Twitter to find out about any sales and offers your business is running. For this reason you should look to engage with your followers on a regular basis and provide them with the information they require. This could mean offering certain discounts solely to these people who have followed you on your social media channels. 


Whether you decide to use YouTube or not for your business depends entirely on what it is your business does and what types of marketing techniques you use. As YouTube is a site for sharing various videos, your business needs to have the relevant content for this platform. This means if you have created any promotional ads or other video content, you should put it on YouTube as it will greatly increase the number of viewers you have for your content. If you run a business that sells various goods, such as an eBay store, you can look to create a slideshow displaying the images of products you have for sale in your store. A customer may then come across the slideshow, find a product that they like the look of and then visit your online store to purchase the product. 


Like YouTube, Pinterest is another social media platform that specialises solely in visual content. However, rather than displaying videos, Pinterest displays images which you can pin to various boards for people to see. Like I said earlier with YouTube, if you run a goods store, you can 'pin' images of your products on to Pinterest for users to see. If a user finds an image that appeals to them, they can access the profile of the person who originally pinned the image and find a link to visit the store that has the product for sale or share the image between their friends. Either way it is great for an online store as you gain an extra platform to advertise your products for free, you can gain sales through people becoming interested in your products and you can also increase your brand awareness through your products being shared and seen by numerous people. 


This is a site operates pretty much the same way to Pinterest but isn't as well known with just under a million user, compared to over 11 million on Pinterest. Like Pinterest, the site allows you to add images with you have come across on the web for your friends to then see and also "re-fancy" them if they like the look of the image. However, the problem users are finding with the site is that it is much more commercialised than Pinterest, seemingly taking away the feel of social sharing it offers. That being said, Fancy is a great way for online stores to sell their products as it is much easier to access the a store once the customer finds a product image they like.


Fake Twitter followers and how to find them

When creating a Twitter account for your online business, you want to try and get as many followers as you can because as we all know the more followers you get, the more people will become aware of your business. Well actually this isn't always true. There are a number of fake accounts on Twitter, who each have different reasons for being there. Some are just bots, while others are looking to possibly scam Twitter users.

There are also a number of fake accounts who claim to be people they aren't, meaning that if you are looking to follow an important figure within your industry, you can often find it difficult to as there are numerous accounts claiming to be a specific person.

While it does look better for your business from an outside perspective if you do have a number of Twitter followers, if the majority of those followers are fake accounts or bots, your messages aren't going to reach many people. So, how can you find out if you do have any fake followers on your Twitter account?

Check their followers

If you see that they are following a large amount of people but only have a small number following themselves, this is a clear indication that the Twitter account is in fact a bot. What I mean by large and small is that if for example, if they are following 2,000 people but only have 20 followers themselves, this tells you that their own content output is pretty much non-existent and that they are indeed a bot.

Check their direct messages

Looking at their direct messages is another clear indication of whether an account is a bot or not. While most people send various messages on different subjects to a variety of users, a bot will simply send the exact same message to everyone they are following. While this isn't subtle, it is one of the clearest indications that the Twitter account is an automated bot. 

Wait it out

A lot of fake accounts who are looking to gain a number of followers will start following a number of different accounts. They will then wait 24 to 48 hours to see if you begin following them. If you decide that you don't wish to follow them, they will then unfollow you. If after 48 hours they are still on your Twitter account, you can then use some of the other steps to determine whether they are fake or if the account is a bot. 

Use a tool

There are a few different tools out there such as "Status People", which you can use for free to check how many fake followers you have on your account. This will then allow you to manually remove these fake users from your Twitter account. The website also provides you with names of accounts that are 100% fake so that you can look out for them in case they start following you in the future.

Look for a verification

If you are looking to follow your favourite celebrity or figure within your industry, there may be a number of different accounts that claim to be theirs. In order to find the one that is actually really, you should look for the small image next to their Twitter name which signifies that it is a verified account. This image consists of a white tick within a blue bubble. Once you see that image you know that it is the real account of that person and has been verified as real by Twitter. 

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Time saving SEO for your online business

When running an online store, you can't afford to spend all of your time focussing on where your site is placed in the search engine rankings and how you can move your site up the rankings as there are other things which may take priority, such as enticing customers to your store and making sales.

However, while you can't spend all day keeping track of your search engine ranking, there are a number of things that you can look to do each day that will help you keep on top of it all. These are simple things that you can do first thing on a morning that will take you no time at all.

Google Analytics

Whether you are focussing purely on SEO or not, checking your website's analytics is a must for any online business. Not only does it give you an indication of how many people are visiting your ecommerce store, it allows you to see which specific pages they are visiting, how many pages each visitor goes on and where they originated from. All of this information is key in developing your marketing campaign and ensuring your website is as efficient and enticing as it possibly could be. In terms of SEO, this allows you to see which keywords are drawing people to your website, which backlinks are working and which are your most popular landing pages. If you find that certain keywords or backlinks aren't drawing any traffic to your website, you may need to look to alter or remove them altogether in order to replace them with ones which will result in more traffic. 

Check for duplicated content

If you produce a blog or various articles for your online business, having none duplicated content is extremely important when determining your search engine ranking. However, it isn't just you duplicating other people's content that could damage your ranking, but people duplicating your content on other websites. You should check on a regular basis whether there are any websites out there that are duplicating your content. There are a number of easy ways to do this. The easiest way to check this is to copy a chunk of text from an article and place it into a search engine. If the content brings up a search result that isn't your own website, it tells you that someone has duplicated your content. Another way to check on duplicated content is through websites such as "Copyscape." Copy in the address of your blog post into the address bar and then click "Go." The website will search the web to find any websites that have the same information as that included in your article. If you do find that there is a website that has duplicated your content, you should contact that website and demand that your content be removed from their site. If they refuse to remove the content you could request the the site be banned from search engine results. You could also bring legal proceedings against the site by giving them a cease and desist order which legally requires them to remove the content from their site or face further ramifications. 

Social bookmarking and forums

The more direct links you have to your website, the higher your online store is going to place in search engine rankings. When you create content such as articles, you should visit various social bookmarking sites and place links to your pages for users to access. Forums are also another great way for you to gain some easy links to your website. What this essentially involves is visiting forums related to what your business does and interacting with the community. This could be posting on a particular thread or creating your own thread to do with your business. If you comment on a thread, make sure you have a link to your website in your profile signature. This gives people who view your comment a way to access your business in order to find out more information about what it is your business does and what you offer. 

While sites like Facebook and Twitter are considered social engagement sites rather than bookmarking, you should also be placing links to various parts of your business. If you publish a blog, you should be placing article links for people to read. If you run an eBay store or other ecommerce business, you should post content advertising your products and offers on a regular basis along with links for users to access.

Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster tools allows you to check your website to see if there any crawling errors that have been flagged up on your site. Not only that you can see how fast your website is, any HTML improvements you can make on your site and how your click through rate is fairing on particular keywords. If you are constantly adding new content and new pages to your site you should look to check this everyday to see if any of these links have been flagged for errors. 

The "third wave" future of online shopping

While pretty much all of the ecommerce sector has highlighted mobile commerce as the future of online shopping, there are a number of other technologies which could be seen in the not too distant future which will similarly revolutionise online retail. These types of technology have become known as "third wave" shopping and according to eBay, could bring an increase of £2.4 billion to the retail industry in the next two years. Today we are going to look at what each if these are and how they could benefit both buyers and sellers.

Image Recognition

This involves using a device such as a mobile phone or webcam to identify a customer based on their attributes. What this would then do is allow you to search for images based on what your camera is viewing. For example, if your device is showing a pair of jeans in your room, the camera will analyse the image and then show you all of the pairs of jeans which are available to purchase across different eBay stores. This recognition of a customer through physical attributes, allows you to create a tailored shopping experience by which their preferences and shopping habits will be remembered and then shown to the user when they access the shopping platform.

It is not only in identifying items where this image recognition will shine, but also in the payment of those items. Using image recognition software can give the customer a more secure way to purchase a product online as, to use a credit card to complete a payment, the person who the card belongs to would have to have their facial features recognised by the software to confirm that it is indeed the authorised card holder who is making the payment. While this is just an example of how the image recognition could be used, it shows the potential it has to change the landscape of online retail. 

Augmented Reality

Although this is very much in the early prototype phase, it could be a way to merge both online and offline shopping into one. This will allow customers to browse through various products, looking at a 3D projection of the product rather than a 2D image. While we do currently see some levels of augmented reality through the ability to allow customers to scan products in a bricks and mortar store to then find online alternatives, this in depth augmentation through 3D graphics could result in customers being able to virtually 'try on' a 3D projection of a product. For online sellers this can only be a positive as it allows customers to see their products in greater details and the more information a store can give a customer regarding a product, the better chance they have of the customer purchasing from their online store.

Smart Devices

Essentially this is the ability for your devices to interact with you. This has the potential to be very beneficial to online sellers as they could gain more information as to the buying preferences of online shoppers, allowing them to tailor their marketing and products to meet these customer needs. For example, you may have a device such as a smart phone or tablet which could suggest to the customer clothing items they may wish to purchase based on the clothes they have in their closet. This could then redirect the customer to an ecommerce store where they could purchase there items. This allows online stores to creater greater levels of personalisation for their customers, enhancing the overall shopping experience. 

According to eBay, online sellers who invest in these types of technology could see a sales increase of 4% by 2014 in comparison to those who don't invest. 

July highlights the online retail revolution

Online sales reached it's yearly high through the month of July according to figures published by the Interactive Retail in Media Group (IRMG) which showed a 17% year on year growth.

While these figures show an increasing growth in all online store categories, a particular increase has been seen in clothing and electrical sales, with clothing sales increasing 15 percent on it's previous year and electrical sales increasing 30%. 

When reading these figures, you shouldn't think that this growth only applies to large corporate brands. Small online retailers, such as those who run eBay stores, are also finding a growth in their online sales. While their income may not be as high as other ecommerce brand chains, many customers see small online sellers as a better platform to purchase products as they provide the customers with the products they desire at a lower price.

No matter what product you sell, there will be numerous stores out there who also sell the same products. This competition for customers is what brings about greater value for the customer as online sellers look to gain an advantage over their rivals by offering lower prices on products. This underpins the growing strength of online retail. As more businesses launch online, competition for customers grows. This growth in competition creates greater benefits for customers in product choice and price, enticing more people to transfer from bricks and mortar to online shopping. 

When we look at the rise of online retail, it isn't just sales made via a computer screen. Mobile commerce has seen the biggest growth of all online platforms with an increase of 313% through July when compared to the same point in 2011. However, while this may be an increase on the previous year, it is lower than the figures for May and June. Although this is a decline on previous months, you shouldn't think of this as mobile commerce being on the decline, in fact it is the opposite. 

A recent survey conducted by "InMobi" found that 59% of all people surveyed use mobile devices to complete transactions. Mobile commerce is increasing exponentially and is one of the most successful online platforms with many online businesses both big and small now looking to develop their mobile sales platform in order to gain access to this increased traffic and revenue streams. 

Many customers have now begun using their mobile devices in order to find the best price on products. When a customer finds a product they like in a bricks and mortar store, they then use one of a number of different mobile apps to find the best deal for that product online. This is essentially a win win for an online seller as it not only encourages customers to purchase from an online store, it is the bricks and mortar store that has brought the product to the attention of the customer and the mobile application that has then brought the customer to your store. 

Although many have suggested that this increase could be down to the recent London Olympic games, this growth through July, when combined with online shopping's rise as a whole throughout 2012, is just one more indication of the ever growing dominance online retail has over it's bricks and mortar counterparts.