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Archive for the ‘e-commerce’ Category

Six 2017 E-commerce Trends to Watch

September 15th, 2016 by Paul Matker

Trending

 

It may be too soon to predict where e-commerce is going to go in 2017, especially considering how quickly technology advances are being made, but a few things seem to be fairly obvious and worth keeping an eye on.

  1. Smartphone revenue — Will it take over desktop revenue? My guess is yes. No one predicted how quickly mobile activity related to product research and general website activity would surpass desktop activity. Mobile conversions continue to increase and it seems only logical that mobile revenue will overtake desktop revenues and I won’t be surprised if it happens in 2017.
  2. Beacons will drive more sales — Beacon technology is perfect for “nearby notifications,” and location-based marketing and proximity marketing with beacons are projected to grow exponentially in the next few years. BI Intelligence reporting estimated that beacons would be driving $44 billion in-store sales will be influenced by beacon-triggered messages in the U.S. by the end of 2016.  If nothing else, it’s a fascinating topic and a technology trend that is worth watching.
  3. Advanced personalization and context based merchandising — A user-centric optimized experience is becoming more than a priority, it’s a competitive advantage.
  4. Omni-channel is the new normal — According to Google, 85% of online shoppers start a purchase on one device and finish on another. Businesses that fail to deliver a friction-less “any-channel” experience will begin to lose market share quickly.
  5. Dynamic landing pages will continue to replace static pages — We’ve come a long way when it comes to being able to personalize the shopping experience based on the source of a visit, not to mention the ability to incorporate personal data to deliver a highly relevant landing page. It’s all about being customer-centric and understanding that today’s consumer is more comfortable with technology (and giving retailers to personal data) than early web shoppers.
  6. Big Data and predictive analysis technology will increase business margins — Last but not least, businesses that integrate big data with predictive analysis technology are going to win. Consumers are more willing than ever to allow retailers to use certain data to personalize their shopping experience. Businesses that integrate collect the right data, have the right technology and use them both in the right way are sitting on a gold mine.

It’s going to be interesting so see where it all goes!

Archive for the ‘e-commerce’ Category

Leverage Mobile to Deliver Personalized Messages “In The Moment”

August 25th, 2016 by Marcel Munoz

Black Friday shopping concept

 

Last year we saw an increase in the number of retailers implementing personalization into their holiday strategies. With almost a full year of experience under their belts, marketing and merchandising professionals can now turn their attention to making personalization truly personal.

Personalized emails are a natural go-to for many retailers, new technologies that enable targeted or location-based personalization on mobile phones are growing in popularity, especially among retailers that have a brick-and-mortar presence.

U.S. Consumers Want a More Personalized Experience

Accenture research found that 60% of shoppers want to receive real-time promotions when they’re inside the store. The most welcome in-store communications and offers cited by the survey respondents include:

  • 82% enjoyed automatic discounts at checkout for loyalty points or coupons
  • 57% liked real-time promotions
  • 54% liked complementary item suggestions

The desire for a personalized experience isn’t limited to in-store. When it comes to personalized on-line experiences the most popular features include:

  • 64% noted website optimization by device
  • 59% noted promotional offers for the items the customer is strongly considering and personalized web navigation
  • 59% compared prices to buy an item

There are some generational differences when it comes to which consumers are willing to share information with retailers.

  • Generally, Millennials reported the highest response when it comes to sharing information and being receptive to advice and recommendations regarding their purchases.
  • Baby Boomers tend to be more demanding and have higher expectations when it comes to being rewarded in exchange for their data. According to the study, 74% expect to get automatic crediting for coupons and loyalty points and 70% expect special offers as compared to 58% and 61% of Millennials, respectively.

“Leading retailers understand that every shopper is different and look for insight in terms of what works best across product and service lines or with high-value customers,” said Chris Donnelly, global managing director for Retail, Accenture Strategy. “It is critical to test how customers might respond to a particular personalization strategy. Data-driven testing should include the behavior of individual customers, demographic indicators and factors relating to the item itself. For instance, while some people may want to be told they are out of milk, they may not feel the same way about personal care products.”

Getting Holiday Personalization Right

  • Right Story — A “me too” approach to personalization in the form of discounts is overused and only appeals to customers who are discount shopping. Focus on the distinct attributes of your brand and product, connect with your customer, and tell a story.
  • Right Way — Shoppers are getting increasingly blind to paid media and referrals. Shoppers are sharing their experience on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and through other forms of user-generated content, like product reviews. Make it easy for your shoppers to share the story and then, get out of the way.
  • Right Time — Understand where the shopper is in the shopping journey and target messaging to make the most of the micro-moments. Learn more about how to find and win the micro-moments here.

Here’s to a happy and personalized holiday shopping season!

Archive for the ‘e-commerce’ Category

How to Manage Holiday Season Out-of-Stocks

August 19th, 2016 by Dan Bulauski

out-of-stock-holiday

It’s estimated that at least 35% of customers who are unable to find exactly what they are looking for switch brands, especially during the holidays. As we all know, online shopping has made it easier than ever for customers to find what they are looking for on a competitor site if you run out of inventory. During the holidays, how a retailer manages out-of-stocks can make or break the season.

In an ideal world you’ve done a fantastic job of purchasing the right inventory during your preseason planning, the supply chain is ready and can easily be replenished and there is no cross-channel conflict over who owns the inventory.

But, sometimes out-of stocks are inevitable and these best practices can help you avoid a poor customer experience, negative feedback and lost sales.

Managing Holiday Season Out-of-Stocks

  1. Avoid surprising the customer — It’s not uncommon for a consumer to want the chance to look at a product in person before buying it and the last thing you want to have happen is for someone to see a product online, think it’s in stock in your store, and then are surprised when they find out it’s out of stock. If you have  a brick-and-mortar presence, provide options for consumers to check in-store availability and offer the option to put items on hold (for a reasonable amount of time), in addition to the option to buy online and pick up in store.
  2. Use inventory from other channels to fill the order — If an item is unavailable in one location, offer to bring it in from a nearby store, or ship it to the customer’s home at no extra cost.
  3. Offer the option to pre-order — For “hot items” on back order, allow customers to place a pre-order with a clear (and realistic) delivery date.
  4. Offer alternatives and match the promotion — Before busy season even starts, identify great alternative products for items that may be at risk of selling out. Merchandise them on your website and make sure your store associates are aware of what they are. Match the promotion and pricing for the original item and/or on other items to keep the customer’s business.
  5. Help them find the product elsewhere — If there is no way that you can fulfill the customer demand, offer them suggestions on where they might find the item in stock, even if it means sending them to a competitor. It’s a great opportunity to demonstrate you are a customer-first organization and generate positive feedback. Chances are good that the customer will remember how you helped them and come back again.

 

Archive for the ‘e-commerce’ Category

4 Tips For Holiday Marketing | Make Your Season Sparkle

August 18th, 2016 by Dan Bulauski

santa_july

The biggest shopping days of the year will be here before we know it and there’s no doubt that there’s a lot on the line for most online retailers. The holiday shopping season can either make or break the year and set the stage for the following one.

In addition to making sure your website merchandising strategy is in place and you’re ready with  holiday-themed landing pages, gift guides, content and promotions—your marketing strategy needs to be spot on for a successful outcome.

The stakes are high, but there’s no need to be intimidated. These four tips can help you grab the holiday season by the horns.

Holiday Marketing Tips

  1. Go Mobile — Mobile commerce made a big splash during the 2015 holiday season, racking up $12.65 billion in sales (a 58% increase over 2014). There’s no doubt it’s going to be even bigger in 2016. Think mobile when planning your digital marketing campaign and consider promotions geared to the small amount of real estate on a mobile device. For example, make it easy for mobile shoppers to pre-order holiday items by tapping on a banner. Use geo-targeting to personalize offers and send location-based reminders about purchasing holiday foods to a shoppers mobile device when they are near a grocery store.
  2. Be Social — Use social media as a way to build engagement and humanize your brand. User-generated content (UCG) such a pictures, can be a powerful “secret ingredient” in the holiday marketing mix. UCG that is shared on social is like free advertising. Consider running a Pinterest board or hosting a holiday photo contest on Instagram and give prizes for the best photos. Combine UCG platofrms and encourage people to submit photos and videos and share them through Facebook and Twitter.
  3. Be Engaging — Quizzes, contents, and other types of activity designed to encourage interaction with a brand or product can gain a lot of traction during the holiday season. They give “grown ups” a chance to play and have a little fun while shopping. The online retailer Journelle ran a highly successful 2015 holiday promotion. The online lingerie retailer’s “25 Days of Journelle” page, designed to resemble an Advent calendar, produced a conversion rate that was 3X higher than the site average.
  4. Keep Promises — One of the biggest challenges during the holiday season is with cross-channel services such as buy online/pick up in store. Successful retailers will start hiring and training additional staff early to make sure they avoid over-promising and under-delivering.

Archive for the ‘e-commerce’ Category

3 Omni-channel Tips for a Profitable Holiday Season

August 11th, 2016 by Paul Matker

Babbo Natale compra online

It may feel like the holiday shopping season is several months away, but summer is winding down and now is the time to make sure your holiday strategy is in place and that you’re positioned to have a profitable peak season. If you have a brick and mortar presence, hopefully you’ve already taken steps to integrate your online and offline channels to  capitalize on the increasing importance of mobile devices in the online shopping experience.

If not, take this season to closely monitor key metrics, keeping these omnichannel retail tips in mind so you can hit the ground running in 2017.

  1. Provide real-time inventory visibility — Shoppers are becoming more channel agnostic and there’s a growing desire to check in-store product availability before visiting a store. 73% of shoppers are more likely to visit your local store if you provide this information on your website. In fact, 49% of U.S. shoppers say this capability improves their shopping experience. Don’t lose out on a chance to make an in-store sale by shying away from providing real-time inventory visibility.
  2. Buy online & pickup in-store — 78% of shoppers say it’s important for retailers to offer in-store pickup. Why? Because they can avoid shipping costs and they can get their order sooner. It also increases store foot traffic that can lead to upsell opportunities. Buy online and pickup in store may be the only way for many retailers to compete with Amazon Prime.
  3. Unify your customer care channels — Delivering a seamlessly consistent experience during the holiday shopping season (and all year long) means making it possible for customers to initiate contact through their channel of choice. Whether it be phone, email, online self-service, live chat, or social media, customers expect to be able to initiate it in one channel and shift to another without missing a beat. It’s a tall order, but one that retailers need to master.

It no longer makes sense to think of customers in terms of their “channel preference.” Truth is, they probably don’t have a preference and use web, mobile, and social in addition to visiting your store. Their channel preference depends on their current needs, and what’s clear is that they want a consistent experience regardless of the channel they choose.

Providing customers with a true omni-channel experience can increase loyalty, reduce costs, and increase profits during the peak holiday shopping season.

Archive for the ‘e-commerce’ Category

Staying Ahead of the Competition with the Right E-commerce Platform

July 14th, 2016 by Marcel Munoz

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As consumers shift more and more of their purchases from in-store to online, merchants of all sizes have to think one step ahead of the competition; this may especially true for small to mid-size merchants in both the B2B and B2C space.

Shopper expectations are steadily rising and they are more tech savvy than ever before. They’re going to buy from companies that make it easy to research products and make a purchase at any time and from any device. For many e-commerce businesses, this may mean it’s time to re-platform from their current environment to a solution that is extensible and designed to meet today’s business needs and scale to meet the demands of the future.

When is it time to re-platform?

There are a few key triggers that may indicate it’s time to make a change:

  • You lack omni-channel ability and the buying experience is inconsisitent across channels and devices.
  • Consistent customer complaints about the website experience, such as:
    • Products are hard to find
    • Search results aren’t relevant
    • Navigation isn’t consistent throughout the website
    • Slow page load times
    • Customers can’t figure out how to complete a purchase
  • Minor changes to the website take too long to complete and frequently have unforeseen negative consequences (something else breaks).
  • You are unable to make adjustments to your merchandising strategy without the assistance of the IT staff. For example:
    • Product recommendations aren’t personalized
    • Marketing and merchandising campaigns cannot be targeted
    • Lack of ability to boost and/or bury products at a category level

If your current platform isn’t meeting the needs of your customers, it’s time to consider a new e-commerce platform, one that will enable you to integrate with your existing systems, meet current demands and add functionality tailored to your specific needs without having to reinvent the wheel.

The key to a successful implementation (especially one as large as a new e-commerce platform) is to understand and define your internal requirements before you start reaching out to vendors with an RFP. It’s amazing how many differences of opinions can emerge when defining the needs of an organization. You don’t want them to come out after the project has started and run the risk of a failed implementation.

Ready to get started? Check out these five must ask questions before you begin your search for a new platform.

Archive for the ‘e-commerce’ Category

Going Global? 3 Tips for Thinking Local

July 12th, 2016 by Dan Bulauski

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Digital commerce enables traditional brick and mortar businesses to grow their businesses and reach customers who live across the country or even across the ocean. Little by little, online retailers are finding ways to overcome the challenges of selling globally and tap into the sales potential of doing business internationally.

EMarketer Inc. projects global e-commerce sales will reach $3.5 trillion in five years. Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing region with a 25% year-over-year increase in online sales. Much of the growth is coming consumers in rural areas who are making online purchases from mobile phones. Monica Peart, forecasting director for eMarketer says, “Rural populations are picking up in terms of using mobile devices. That is what seems to be spurring a lot of the retail e-commerce growth.”

If you’re considering expanding your business selling internationally, it’s important to adapt your global marketing strategy to target each local market.

Thinking Globally & Locally

  1. Marketing — Selling internationally is about more than implementing a multi-language feature on your website and translating your marketing messages. A marketing strategy that works in the US won’t necessarily be successful in Mexico, Asia, or Europe. There are cultural differences from country to country that marketers will need to take into consideration when defining the marketing strategy and shopping experience for each local market your business plans to enter.
  2. Customer Service — During the IRCE 2016 session about expanding to international markets,  Jim Ramsey, global head of technology at U.K.-based Maclaren, emphasized the importance of thinking locally when it comes to customer service and local payments. “Have 24/7 customer support, multi-language operators and offer local phone numbers, he said.” He suggested that retailers consider accepting local payment options and think through who will pay foreign transaction fees.
  3. Fulfillment — One of the biggest challenges associated with doing business in other countries is order fulfillment. Before launching an e-commerce presence in another country or geographic region, it’s important to think through the most cost-effective way to get products into the hands of your new customers and the best way to handle returns. This may mean building a network to handle logistics on the local level with local warehouses, outsourcing to a logistics provider or using global fulfillment contractors.

Going global? Think local and make the experience mobile friendly.

Archive for the ‘e-commerce’ Category

Online Retailers: Is Your Website Ready for Santa?

July 7th, 2016 by Paul Matker

santa_july

It’s July, and the annual holiday countdown clock has been ticking since June for most online retailers. There are only a few months left to lock down marketing strategies and implement new technology and e-commerce functionality.

E-commerce retail sales are projected to grow 13.3% this year and the bar has been raised when it comes to meeting customer expectations. Amazon’s highly personalized and relevant product recommendations have influenced the way consumers want to shop. They are growing less patient with online retailers that don’t deliver a relevant, easy to use, and fast online experience.

3 Key Ingredients to Holiday Shopping Success

  1. Know your customers better than the competition and personalize their experience — Technology today makes it possible to recognize consumers across devices, track their online and offline behavior and preferences, and use that information to deliver a highly relevant and personalized experience. You don’t have to be Amazon or Zappos to have the ability to immediately customize the shopping experience when a shopper visits your site. Modern on-site search engines and predictive product recommendation engines make it possible for you to leverage first-party customer data to exceed customer expectations and win the sale.
  2. Make it fast! — Page speed is easily one of the most crucial ingredients to a successful holiday season for online retailers. Customers expect the experience to be fast and secure. Start doing load testing now to make sure you have the capacity you need to handle the holiday traffic.
  3. Make it easy for customers to find products — Holiday shoppers are crunched for time and are not in the mood for browsing through thousands of products to find the right gift. Product findability and merchandising based on shopper behavior can make a big difference in conversion rates and average order value. Your product offering should be well organized, based on how customers think about your products (not how you organize them internally) and it has to be easy to filter results based on item attributes.

The holiday shopping season is a great time to earn new customers by delivering a top notch experience. The million-dollar question is: Is your website ready for Santa?

Archive for the ‘e-commerce’ Category

What’s Trending at IRCE 2016

June 6th, 2016 by Marcel Munoz

irce-2016

It’s tough for retailers to keep up with shopper preferences and emerging trends while tackling the every day challenges of running a business. That’s one of the many reasons more than 10,000 e-commerce professionals gather every year at the annual Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition (IRCE) in Chicago. There’s no better place to learn about the latest technologies, processes, and best practices from industry leaders.

June 7 – 10 promises to be a great event, and the place to discover innovative marketing and merchandising strategies to drive traffic and win customers. Changes in the shopping journey are shaking up e-commerce’s winning and losing strategies and tactics; mobile, social, and omni-channel will underscore this year’s theme.

IRCE 2016 — The Don’t Miss List

The week will be packed with great speakers and it won’t be easy to choose. We’ sharing our top three picks and you won’t want to miss these highlighted sessions! (download the complete inside guide here)

  1. A Social Strategy Tailored for All of Humanity — June 8 kicks off guest speaker John Yembrick, social media manager for NASA.  He’s going to share how NASA elevated followers from observers to participants and there’s no doubt that retailers who are struggling with social media will walk away with some out-of-this-world ideas.
  2. How Steve Madden Keeps It Edgy at Every Touchpoint, Digital and Beyond — This June 9 session is sure to be packed with participants intent on learning from one of the top omni-channel retailers. Mark Friedman, president of e-commerce at Steve Madden Ltd., will discuss the elements that must be in place to support a unified customer experience.
  3. Stamina—Not Shortcuts—Gets your Social Endorphins Pumping — On Thursday June 9, round out the discussion about social media and learn how TigerFitness.com has successfully leveraged social media to produce sales.

In addition to the keynote sessions, there is a great line up of topics that will help you identify opportunities to take your business to the next level. The tracks include:

  • Mobile — Keeping up with mobile
  • Fulfillment — Customer Convenience (maybe this should be called keeping up with Amazon!)
  •  Technology — Learning from the past – what we can learn from our legacy systems
  • Omni-channel — Bridging the divide between channels and devices
  • Search Marketing — Never-ending changes in paid and organic search
  • Social Media — Become the storytellers

If you’re in the B2B space, there are some great sessions lined up—pre-conference B2B workshops that are focused on exploring how to effectively serve business buyers.

We’re looking forward to showcasing Hawk Search, ROC Commerce and Site Vibes at this year’s conference. Be sure to stop by and visit us at Booth #1710!

This is e-commerce now.

Archive for the ‘e-commerce’ Category

Site Vibes: Leveraging Customer Engagement to Increase Conversions

June 3rd, 2016 by Marcel Munoz

Trending

People buy what is hot and trending. Bestseller, top reviews, and most popular item filter and sort features only tell part of the story because they only include items that have been purchased. Product purchases are only one of many activities that can be used to identify products that are trending upward in popularity. The challenge is harnessing and leveraging data related to consumer behavior both on the website and on social platforms to deliver a unique merchandising experience.

Online shoppers vote with “likes” and “shares”

Very few shoppers make a purchase on their first visit to a site. They spend time reading product reviews, sharing what they like on social channels such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and talking with their friends. Product trends may emerge on Facebook or Pinterest long before the first product review is written.

Abandoned shopping carts are a gold mine

According to a July 2015 Survey from Market Track, the majority of customers who abandon their shopping cart have an intent to buy, they just weren’t ready to make the purchase during their first visit to a website. Regardless of whether they put the item in their cart because they were doing research or wanted to wait for it to go on sale, it’s a positive sales signal that can be used to influence other shoppers.

Merchandisers lack real-time behavioral information

Time and resources are limited. There’s never enough time to wade through a mountain of data and interpret shopper behavior to make decisions about marketing, merchandising and product development quickly.

In addition to the need for real-time browse, add to cart and purchase behavior, today’s merchandiser really also needs access to the social engagement at a product level in order to understand what is resonating with consumers and to expose top trending products to shoppers in real time.

How do online merchandisers gain access to real-time on and off-site consumer behavior without hiring an army of analysts?

Site Vibes Delivers

Site Vibes is the social engagement platform that captures shopping and social activity about the products on your website and exposes them to help extend your social reach and improve the customer experience.

Site Vibes tracks shopper activity, including:

  • Add to cart
  • View product detail
  • Facebook likes
  • Tweets
  • Pinterest pins
  •  Product reviews

Site Vibes uses this data to calculate which products are trending on a website. Each of the activities has a different value that rolled up together give merchandisers and marketers insight into what is most important to your customers and followers now.

The top trending products are displayed together on a unique “Trending Now” page which features each product with an image, price, and colorful symbol, such as the Facebook or Twitter logo.

 

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Paul Matker
CEO
Paul looks forward to discussing ways to develop your website into the ultimate sales channel, while also bringing you the latest Thanx Media news and announcements.
Marcel Munoz
CTO
Check out Marcel’s blogs for insight into developing a more technical approach for your website, as well as creative ways to generate more revenue.
Dan Bulauski
VP of Sales
Dan’s years of retail experience allow him to contribute helpful tips on how to capture greater metrics and carve out a larger market share.

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