Archive for the ‘Search Marketing’ Category

How Videos Can Help You Grow Your eCommerce Business

Monday, January 13th, 2014

Posted by: Laura Hills, Vice President, Marketing

Have you ever viewed a video on another company’s website and thought, “this video does a good job of talking about the company and its products?  I wish we had one.” Companies are using short, concise and visually appealing videos to explain not only their products and services, but to convey who they are.  They’re called ‘explainer videos’ and they provide information to customers and potential customers so that they understand what the company is all about and why they should do business with them.

Here’s an example of a video that we created to explain who Dydacomp is and to explain the benefits of order management systems.  It’s just over a minute, yet it captures what we do and why that’s important to the retailers who we serve.

We chose to work with a video design agency to capture our messages in an animated format.  Many of our retail clients are producing their own videos to explain the products they’re selling through their eCommerce store.  A video doesn’t have to be fancy.  It needs to be accurate and to the point.   By using the power of video to visually convey your message, you will help your customers increase their understanding of your products and move them closer to wanting and selecting what it is you offer.  Videos can motivate buyers and help to create a competitive advantage for you.

Video agencies will tell you that your ‘explainer video’ should be under 90 seconds. Effective videos can be 30 seconds or 60 seconds in length. Think of how you would describe your products in one minute or less and visualize this in video format.

The format you choose is a matter of personal preference and budget.  One of the most popular and effective ways to explain an idea is with an animated video – like the Dydacomp video you viewed.  These simple videos are developed through a process that begins with messaging.  Once messages are developed, a script is written for a voiceover artist or one of your employees to convey the message in the time allotted.

Kickstarter, the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects says that projects that use video have a 50% vs. 30% rate of funding and they are used by companies of all sizes, across all industries and are helping to attract and convert shoppers. This type of video increases conversion rates.  By helping the consumer to fully and quickly understand what you do, you are more likely to get them to take the next step sooner rather than later – and isn’t that what you want?

According to Dr. James McQuivey at Forrester Research, a one-minute video conveys the value of 1.8 million words.  That’s pretty amazing! Studies confirm that we retain more information when more than one of our senses are engaged and we are also more likely to recall more of what we saw and heard. A recent survey by Forbes of C-level business executives indicated that 59% of respondents would rather watch an online video than read text covering the same information on a website.

Some other reasons for using video in your marketing strategy:

  • Increased ROI on site traffic
  • Better rank in Google Search
  • Easily shareable and always on
  • Grabs the attention of your audience
  • Customers prefer video

So how can videos help you grow your retail business?  Short, concise explainer videos are typically more budget friendly and will result in more traffic for your site. Creating one and making it available on your website is an investment that will pay dividends for quite a while.

Happy selling!

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Lessons Learned: Avoiding Holiday Shipping Woes

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Posted by: Laura Hills

MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse reported that U.S. retail sales rose 3.5% during this past holiday season.  According to ComScore Inc. merchandise purchased via personal computers rose 10% to $42.75 billion.   IBM Digital Analytics cited Internet sales soaring 37% over 2012 in the last weekend before Christmas as last minute shoppers rushed to order gifts at the 11th hour. Statistics indicate that while the bulk of holiday spending still takes place at physical locations, online shopping has gained immense popularity and is becoming a much larger part of holiday spending.  This is good news for online retailers.

Reliable deliveries are a crucial part of the online shopping experience, especially with shoppers that wait until the last minute to make their selections.  This year Amazon raised the bar by offering expedited shipping with Sunday package delivery via the USPS and packages guaranteed to arrive by Christmas. Many retailers followed Amazon’s lead, extending their order cut-off dates, promising same-day and Christmas delivery even if orders were placed as late as December 23rd. Shoppers’ reactions were so overwhelming that UPS and FedEx experienced overloaded systems that caused numerous Christmas and same-day delivery promises to go unmet.

The growing popularity of free shipping to entice consumers was another major factor that resulted in increased shipment volume. In the third week of December, Amazon’s Prime membership drew more than 1 million people.  Prime membership ($79 annual fee) offers free two-day shipping.  Most last minute online orders needed to ship via air or other expedited methods to reach their destination in time.  Bad weather across the nation cancelled or delayed many flights which contributed to the shipping woes.

Chetan Ghai, senior product officer at ShopperTrak feels that online businesses will continue to experience the greatest growth although he feels that next year, people who procrastinate until a few days before the holiday may be wary of relying on deliveries.  He said, “I think there will be some people who choose to go into the store, rather than risk a missed delivery.”

Being prepared comes from lessons learned and this holiday shopping season was certainly a teachable moment for both shipping companies and online retailers. Both need to pay attention to aggressive shipping options, promotional offerings, weather considerations, order volume and timing issues to avoid a repeat of 2014’s shipping woes.

There is a lot of revenue riding on the ‘run-up to Christmas’ and 2014 will only see the gain of one more shopping day (26 to 27 days) between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Shipping schedules that allow for unforeseen delays will need to be factored in to deliveries.  Connecting with customers early in the season (before Thanksgiving), offering more realistic order cut-off dates, not waiting until the last minute to offer the best deals and handling logistics more efficiently can  help to avoid future holiday shipping issues.

For a closer look at the issues and opportunities surrounding shipping, please view the on- demand replay of the webinar entitled:  Why Free Shipping Isn’t Free: The Top 7 Reasons You Need Effective Retail Promotions.

 

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Advantages of Drop Shipping vs. Ship from Store

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

Posted by: Laura Hills

Whether you’re managing an established or growing retail business, you know too well the challenges of processing orders in a timely manner and managing inventory efficiently.   Retailers of all sizes have found benefits in alternative order fulfillment strategies such as drop shipping.

Unlike direct order fulfillment or ship from store, drop shipping is an order fulfillment strategy that does not require a retailer to keep products on hand in inventory; rather it relies on fulfillment and distribution centers, wholesale distributors and manufacturers to ship orders directly to customers. One of the biggest benefits to the merchant is that a physical inventory storage location or warehouse is not needed.

Instead, online retailers focus on managing their webstore(s) and other sales channels to monitor inventory levels and order fulfillment processes. Retailers often supply their own shipping labels and packaging materials to their drop ship vendors so that their customers receive the items they ordered with the same packaging as if they received them directly from the retailer.

In addition to avoiding the upfront investment needed to buy and keep products in inventory, drop shipping offers additional advantages that make it attractive to online merchants. These include:

  • Offering more products for sale without the overhead of space or budget constraints
  • Sourcing products from a wider variety of vendors at competitive rates
  • Excess inventory concerns are minimized
  • Better shipping rates due to increased volume and shipments aligned with geography
  • Eliminating or reducing lead times by shipping orders directly to customers
  • Getting to market more quickly without having to wait for inventory
  • Offering a broader range of products that will help to attract more customers
  • Having more time to sell products – time is not needed to receive, store, pick, pack or ship products
  • Reducing the overall investment – eCommerce start-ups may not require significant investment to get up and selling

The drop shipping process is relatively straightforward; a customer places an order, the retailer receives the order and collects payment and then either manually or electronically alerts the distributor/shipper, issuing a purchase order for the item(s) and providing shipping instructions to deliver the items to the customer.

If the online retailer has not automated the order management and fulfillment process, they may face challenges with drop shipping.  For drop shipping to be a successful strategy, retailers should automate the order fulfillment process and keep the following information current for every item they sell:

  • Product descriptions
  • Product images
  • Price
  • Available inventory
  • Accurate shipping weights

This requires open and continual communications with your drop shipping vendors.  An order management system enables retailers to streamline transaction processing while reducing or eliminating manual data entry errors and multiple data entry requirements. Consider a system that offers electronic data interface (EDI) enabling the electronic exchange of data to allow process automation and efficiencies.

When using drop shipping for order fulfillment, retailers rely on the distributor or manufacturer to ship orders correctly, efficiently and on time.  Larger retailers are able to use their volume to compel their drop shipping vendors to comply with their shipping and customer service requirements but SMBs may not have the same leverage.  It becomes very important to check references on drop shipping vendors and track their performance once they have started to ship. Have procedures in place to respond in the event of order mix ups, out of stock situations, customer service challenges and product returns. Address issues as quickly as possible to keep your customers happy.

Drop shipping continues to grow in popularity as an order fulfillment strategy, especially with SMB eCommerce and multichannel merchants.  According to Jeremy Hanks, co-founder and CEO of Dropship.com, “The use of drop shipping to satisfy demand among ecommerce retailers has been one of the main advantages of doing business on the Internet.”

For addition information on order processing and fulfillment, access Dydacomp’s On-demand webinar,  Process and Fulfill More Orders with Less Staff: Why You Need an Order Management System.

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Your Brand Logo – To Update or Not To Update – That is the Question

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

Posted by: Laura Hills, VP Marketing, Dydacomp

Yahoo! unveiled its new logo design recently and it has opened up the conversation about the value of logo redesigns for companies and brands. There are no hard and fast rules for when it’s time to update your company or brand logo.  Some companies can go for decades without a change and other companies make it a part of their marketing strategy to update or change their logos on a regular, pre-planned basis. Sometimes all it takes is a comment about the logo, whether from management, on social media or from the business owner that gets the process started.

In 2013 many well-known companies including Facebook, Hooters, Ernst & Young, Instagram and Procter & Gamble made changes to their logos. For the first time in its 19 year history, multinational internet corporation Yahoo! redesigned its highly identifiable logo, issuing a “logo a day” over a month for people to weigh in on. Most logos are introduced and accepted without incident.  However, in 2010, The Gap unveiled a new logo that was met with universal dislike, prompting this high profile retailer to ditch their new logo and return to the old.

The purpose of a logo is to get the attention of your audience and make a positive impact and lasting impression.  It should enable easy and instant recognition, conveying who you are and a realistic image of what your company and/or brand represents.

How do you determine if your logo could use some updating?  And if you decide to make a change should you go for a full redesign or just some more up-to-date touches?  We’ve provided a few things to consider when evaluating these questions.

Is Your Logo Showing Signs of Age?

Just as clothing goes out of style (think of shoulder pads or parachute pants from the ‘80s), fonts, popular colors and images can make your logo look dated.  Even classic clothing – think trench coats – get refreshed every now and then with new colors and updated styling.  Often all that’s needed is an update to remain current to capture the attention of today’s digitally savvy audiences.

You can make simple changes that will enable you to retain your logo’s original design while updating its look. Subtle changes may help you attract new customers while remaining fully recognizable to existing clients.  Look at Facebook’s new logo and see how a simple change (no definitive bottom to their well known lower case f) makes a very distinct visual difference.

Who Originally Designed Your Logo?

Today’s logos need to translate across more media channels than ever before. Companies may not always budget for professional design services to create a logo and build their own logo without the benefit of a design professional.  Although these logos may look nice, they don’t always work from a technical standpoint and may not transfer from online to print or from a PC to a tablet, phone or other mobile device very well.  It is always a good idea to have a professional design, or at a minimum, review your logo to be sure it works across multiple media.  Even professionally designed logos may need to be changed or updated from time to time and this should be handled by a design professional for the best results.

Has Your Company Undergone a Major Change or Transformation?

There will be times when updating your company or brand logo will be necessary.  Major business changes, such as a new name, change in ownership, business focus, merger or acquisition, new product introduction, pursuing a new audience, or business expansion may all warrant a change to your logo.

You may find that you no longer stand out from your competitors and need to find ways to differentiate yourself. With your logo being one of the first things a customer sees, it is good to have a logo that stands out from others in your industry and readily identifies your company and products.

New Logo or Rebrand?

Rebranding is a larger decision.  Companies consider rebranding for many of the reasons listed in the above paragraph, but the change may go deeper than just the company logo.  Rebranding can include the company image, product lines, individual products and beyond; often eliminating an old brand and introducing a new one.

Your website and/or storefront are places to showcase your brand image.  Refreshing the image through a change in logo design is an investment that can carry your business to the next level and make a huge impact on your company and/or brands’ creditability and success.

For a fun look at popular company logos that have changed significantly over time, click here. (http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/logo-evolution/)  For additional information on updating your brand logo, check out “9 Answers To Why, When And How You Should Update Your Brand Logo” at http://eleventygroup.com/site/2013/09/11/why-when-and-how-you-should-update-your-brand-logo/.

 

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SMB Retailers – It’s A Good Time to Prepare for Growth

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Working with many SMBs, the newspaper headline “Advice for small companies: Take stock, take risks” caught my attention.  This article by Joyce Rosenberg, small business editor at The Associated Press, encourages small business owners to step back from their day-to-day operations to evaluate how they are running their companies.  According to Rosenberg, crisis mode has passed and business owners need to be sure their companies are poised to take advantage of growth opportunities expected on the horizon.

A recent National Small Business survey taken in June and July indicates that small business owner confidence is up 38% from six months ago.  The Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index July survey shows that confidence has risen 9 points from the start of 2013.  Indications are positive and business owners need to be ready to respond to customer and market demands that are to come.  One issue that small businesses are facing is the uncertainty surrounding the Affordable Care Act.  Businesses don’t have a clear picture of what it will ultimately end up costing to provide health care coverage for their employees.  Paul Sarvadi, adviser to small business owners and CEO of Insperity, a Houston-based human resources provider advises not letting this uncertainty limit or stall future plans.

Rosenberg cites three major steps that small business owners should be taking right now as they prepare for a strong year end and continued growth in 2014.

  • Look Ahead –Step back and take a hard and realistic look at where improvements are needed.  Reducing costs, increasing customer satisfaction and differentiating yourself from your competitors are all areas that need to be explored.  Don’t be afraid to be critical in analyzing your business and don’t be locked in to how things have been done in the past.
  • Take Risks – Business is risky and doing nothing can be the riskiest behavior of all.  Be prepared to respond to opportunities.  Consumer spending and the economy can rebound quickly and you’ve got to be ready to jump in to take advantage.
  • Be Good to Employees – The backbone of your organization – retaining good employees needs to be a priority.  Determine what rewards would be appreciated by your staff and implement incentive programs that will have the best return.

The growth trends cited in this article are consistent with those we observe for multichannel etailers transacting business through our order management and eCommerce solutions.  Running an SMB retail business is as much of an art as it is a science.  Connecting back office retail operations with the eCommerce store is essential to bridge the gap between the orders coming in through your online store, the fulfillment of orders and inventory visibility on the back end.

To access Joyce Rosenberg’s full article, click here: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/advice-small-companies-take-stock-take-risks.

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Holiday Season Offers Exceptional Deals

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Posted by: Laura Hills, VP Marketing, Dydacomp

Consumers have become savvy shoppers and adapted to the spending cycle of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.  While they clamber for deals over this weekend, they also realize that more promotions will follow over the next few weeks.   With only 25 shopping days this season, retailers are pulling out all stops to attract shoppers both in store and online.

Jeanette Pavini, MarketWatch.com columnist has provided some shopping insights for consumers looking to take advantage of great deals and discounts to help them fill the stockings of family and friends. These cover a wide range of products to help buyers stretch holiday dollars. Below are items that she is highlighting to shoppers as trends for December.

  • Classic Toys are never out of style.  Kids may have digital wants but according to the National Retail Federation’s 2013 Top Toys Survey, classics like Barbies and Legos still make it to the top of many wish lists.  Lego offers bundled sets at one low price that can be given as two separate gifts.  If you order Barbie and accessories from the Mattel website, signing up for their email list before you shop will save you 10%.  If you missed the Thanksgiving and Black Friday toy specials, you can still get a bargain as many of the season’s most popular toys are discounted even more in December.

  • Hot items from the NFL.  If your NFL team is like mine and out of the running for a playoff spot, you may be able to grab some clearance priced licensed gear during December.  And these prices will likely go lower after December 25th as retailers try to empty their shelves. Game tickets are also subject to a team’s success (or lack of) with underperforming team tickets available at a discount – TiqIQ’s NFL Power Rankings has the average price for the Jacksonville Jaguars at $59 whereas Chicago Bears tickets are averaging $374.

  • DVDs can be a great buy. Blockbuster is closing its doors, announcing the closing of its remaining 300 stores by January.  They have planned giant close out sales for movies, music and even video games.  In addition, with more people streaming movies, stores are finding themselves with excess DVD inventory.  Clearance bins often have great buys on popular and classic movies.
  • We all need clothing. If you can wait until December 26th, the bargains will get better.  Clothing, accessories, and shoes are the most returned gifts which often get further mark downs before being returned to the shelves.  Excess inventory will typically be reduced after the holiday for even more savings.
  • The go-to Gift Card.  Many retailers and restaurants offer gift card bonuses at this time of year. Buy a specified amount of gift cards and get a bonus gift card that you can give as a gift or use to treat yourself.  Just be sure to check the fine print and expiration date of the bonus cards – these often expire within a shorter time period and may require a minimum purchase.

Great offers that no one knows about won’t bring shoppers to your store or website so continue to reach out to your shoppers with whatever promotions and deals you are offering.  For additional holiday sales strategies, view Dydacomp’s webinar, The Top 5 Insights to Help Prepare for Seasonal and Holiday Rushes.   

The full text of Jeanette’s article, “Surprising Deals of the Holiday Season” can be found at MarketWatch.  http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304011304579220462813394556

Happy holiday selling!

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Using Social Media To Help Grow Your eCommerce Business

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Posted by Laura Hills, VP Marketing, Dydacomp

multichannel-order-management-social-media

Marketers are placing a high value on social media with 86% of marketers responding to a recent survey indicating that social media is important for their business.  This is up from 83% in 2012.  Facebook and LinkedIn are the two most important social networks for marketers and if forced to choose only one platform, 49% of marketers responded that they would select Facebook.  Despite Facebook’s popularity among the marketers surveyed, only about one in three find their Facebook efforts are effective.

In a recent survey of Dydacomp SMB retail customers, 50% of respondents indicated that social media is one of the emerging channels that they plan to leverage in 2013.

The 2013 Social Media Marketing Industry Report conducted by SocialMediaExaminer.com reveals current and relevant insight to marketers as they evaluate their social media marketing efforts.  This annual survey, now in its fifth year, of 3,000 marketers seeks to understand and then share how social media is used to grow and promote a wide range of B2C and B2B businesses.  A little more than half of the respondents are self-employed or work for small businesses (2 to 10 people).  Responses are summarized and presented in easy to read and follow graphics with nearly 70 charts to visually convey the report’s findings.

Get information about social media time commitment, benefits, pitfalls and platforms that your peers and perhaps competitors are using and compare yourself against other marketers.  Are you getting the same results?  What more should you be doing?

The 2013 Social Media Marketing Industry Report is a must read for anyone that needs to evaluate the commitment to social media marketing.  Click here to access this special report.

 

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Attracting Shoppers Is Critical to a Successful Holiday Shopping Season

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Posted by: Laura Hills, VP Marketing

Facing the shortest holiday selling season in quite some time, many U.S. retailers are already well into their holiday promotions and special offers to get shoppers into their stores and placing their online orders as early as possible. Traditionally, U.S. merchants have focused on the Friday after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, to get their holiday sales season underway. Black Friday is followed by Cyber Monday when the best online deals are typically offered.gift-card-bow

Kimberly Greenberger, an analyst with Morgan Stanley predicts this year’s holiday season to be the most promotional-oriented and discounted since 2008 with eCommerce sales accounting for between 12 and 13% of overall retail sales.  Last year’s eCommerce figure was 11% of total sales.

This year, Black Friday is November 28th and Cyber Monday is December 2nd, which are both late in the holiday shopping game.  Hanukkah is early this year and all of this has prompted many retailers to get a big jump start on this critical selling season.  Wal-Mart has already kicked off its online deals, starting with an online sales event on November 1st – a full month earlier than usual.  They offered some of the lowest prices to be found this season along with free shipping on 99% of online items – more typically the type of promotions that were previously reserved for Cyber Monday.

Wal-Mart isn’t the only major retailer to get an early start.  Toys R Us started their holiday ads earlier than ever before and even offered cash back incentives to loyalty rewards customers who purchased specific toys by October 31 – Halloween.  They’ve added another incentive and are offering their Black Friday deals to their loyalty rewards members on the day before Thanksgiving.  Target is also spending more on holiday advertising, extending its price-match policy and expanding its buy online/pick up in store service.  Best Buy has run Holiday Kickoff sales via email and in the stores while L.L. Bean and Lands End are offering early discounts as well, both online and in store to attract this year’s budget conscious shoppers. Many retailers have even opted to open on Thanksgiving this year to give shoppers more time for their holiday shopping.

So how can you as an SMB retailer attract customers to your site to do their holiday shopping? Follow the lead of the big box retailers and get out there early and often.  Look to promote your products in the online and social media places where you know your customers will be congregating.  Take advantage of social media channels that your shoppers will likely be visiting this season and become highly visible. This could be the time for Our Staff’s Holiday Picks Pinterest page.

Use third party sites to feature your items and associated promos.  Many customers time their purchases according to coupons and other promos that you can easily distribute.  Keep in mind that mobile device usage for product and gift research as well as actual ordering is growing rapidly so be sure to make your offers attractive and easy to read on all platforms.  The larger retailers will continue to use Free Shipping, often with a minimum purchase, to entice customers which means you should too, if at all possible.  After a decade of offering free shipping on orders of $25.00, Amazon has raised their limit to $35.00 for orders to receive free shipping.  If free shipping isn’t possible for you, link your order management and fulfillment system directly to your carrier so that you can provide the lowest shipping price options.

Higher visibility helps lead to higher sales and there are ways to attract large numbers of motivated and ready-to-spend holiday shoppers.  Incorporate a third-party service, such as buySAFE, to verify that you are a reputable merchant and all information shared over your site is guaranteed secure. According to buySAFE, displaying this seal has resulted in a six-percent increase in conversion rates.

Study shopping abandonment data on an ongoing basis and reach out to those shoppers.  Consider running targeted campaigns to drive consumers back to your site to complete their orders – sweeten the deal, if needed with additional incentives.  Come up with catchy headlines and text to cut through the deluge of holiday promotions out there.  Help your shoppers by counting down the shopping days and devise promotions that tie into time, such as a gift a day promotion, featuring different items each week, or play off the 8 Days of Hanukkah or 12 Days of Christmas. Consider a Wrap It Up Early theme or ‘Tis the Season to Be Shopping with special items and prices offered.

For additional tips to help you have a great holiday selling season, access our on-demand webinar, “The Top 5 Insights to Help Prepare for Seasonal and Holiday Rushes”.  There’s no such thing as over reaching your customers this holiday season, especially with targeted and enticing promotions and offers.

Happy Holiday Selling!

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Technology Helps Sporting Goods Retailers Score with Customers

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Posted by Laura Hills, Vice President of Marketing, Dydacomp

The Sporting Goods industry generates close to $40 billion in annual revenue and covers a wide variety of activities from individual to team sports and from archery and biking to yoga and ziplining.  Sporting goods retailers are starting to see a rebound in consumer buying habits as more people of all ages are becoming active for the health and well-being benefits while continuing to support local recreational sports and their favorite professional teams.

Local and online retailers are challenged to remain competitive despite pressure exerted by cost conscious consumers and price and inventory competition from department stores and big box stores. Critical to success in retail sporting goods is awareness of market trends, product mix shifts, customer needs and preferences. Sporting goods retailers need to have the ability to collect, analyze and be responsive to consumer demands, sales trends and changes in sporting equipment to be successful and score sales with their customers.

Sporting goods retailers need to implement effective market strategies to:

  • Offer the right mix of equipment, accessories and sports attire
  • Continuously analyze consumer preferences, shifts and sales trends
  • Manage inventory levels to stay ahead of seasonal sports and identified trends
  • Effectively time promotions, sales campaigns and special events to increase visibility across multiple channels
  • Provide special services, such as personalization, team outfitting or sports instruction clinics, whether in person or online

Small to medium sporting goods retailers need to find ways to differentiate themselves from what is available through mass market channels or to extend their business through online channels.  On a local level, they can stock unique or hard to find items, support local sports teams, provide extra services, and offer quick delivery with hassle-free returns to develop customer loyalty.  To sustain a multichannel business model, sporting goods retailers need to seamlessly integrate all business processes across all channels of business to capture data, manage inventory and shipping and create the best experience for their customers.  Dydacomp’s whitepaper “On Your Mark, Get Set, Go! Order Management Best Practices for Sporting Goods Retailers,” addresses the technology needed to capture, integrate and utilize data across multiple channels to level the playing field with larger retailers.   Click here to access this special report.

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As Car Sales Rise Aftermarket Auto Parts Retailers Can Benefit

Friday, November 1st, 2013

Posted by:  Laura Hills, VP, Marketing, Dydacomp

New car unit sales rose 1.5 million in August of this year, which was the highest level in more than six years and a 17% increase over August 2012.  Toyota, Ford, Nissan, Honda, Chrysler and General Motors all posted double digit gains over August 2012 and are running leaner, more cost efficient organizations contributing to greater profitability. Chrysler and GM each forecast that total U.S. sales in August ran at an annual rate above 16 million, a pace not seen since November of 2007, a month before the start of the Great Recession.

The recovery in the auto industry is not confined to a single market segment.  It is broad based and includes luxury and small car buyers, along with work truck buyers which signal increased confidence among all consumers.  A combination of factors has been cited as the impetus behind this growth including:

  • Need to replace older vehicles (average age of cars and trucks is 11.4 years)
  • Low interest rates
  • High trade-in values
  • More people are working
  • Sweet lease deals
  • New vehicle designs
  • Fuel efficient options
  • Uptick in construction raising demand for pickup trucks

Aftermarket auto parts and accessories are also experiencing significant growth, with online sales well outpacing brick and mortar sales.  Hedges & Company, a digital agency specializing in the automotive aftermarket is forecasting online sales be nearly $4.4 billion in 2013, up from a revised $3.8 billion in 2012 to grow by 15.5% from 2012.

Several auto industry trends will greatly impact the aftermarket and aftermarket retailers need to take notice.   These include:

  • Big engines in both cars and trucks remain hot.  This has always been a sweet spot for the aftermarket companies that sell parts for these large engines, including parts to improve gas mileage and should continue.
  • Two new pony cars are expected in 2014 – a new Mustang and a new Camaro, which are always popular in-demand cars.  Aftermarket parts and accessory dealers need to be ready to react quickly with new products for these vehicles.
  • New light truck and SUV registrations have shown a 10.6% increase over last year.  This definitely is good news for aftermarket parts and accessory retailers in the truck market.

Amazon sells more auto parts and accessories than any other online retailer but many retailers who started selling through eBayMotors and Amazon are now looking to drive more customers through their own websites.

Just as the automakers have retrenched and improved their operations to weather the economic storm, aftermarket retailers need to refocus their efforts to better respond to shopper demand.  Customer satisfaction basics now drive the auto industry and aftermarket retailers need to be able be equally as responsive in connecting with their target audiences.  With more online business, you need to be sure that your eCommerce operation is ready to handle all of your customers’ needs. Provide better product descriptions, be sure your online order process is easy to use, add how-to videos, live customer support and become the go-to place for aftermarket parts and accessories.

For additional information and help with growing your auto parts and accessories business, plan to attend that 2013 SEMA from November 5–November 8 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.  The SEMA Show is the premier automotive specialty products trade event drawing the industry’s brightest minds and hottest products. SEMA offers its members a variety of business tools and resources to help you make smarter business decisions and be more strategic and targeted with your promotions.  For information on the 2013 SEMA Show click here. 

For Dydacomp’s special white paper, The Keys to Drive the Business, Best Practices for Aftermarket Auto Parts Retailers, click here.

For the Associated Press article on U.S. auto sales for 2013 by Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin, click here.   (http://www.theledger.com/article/20130904/NEWS/130909697/1178?Title=Double-Digits-Automakers-Report-Big-Gains-for-August).

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