Archive for the ‘Search Marketing’ Category

How Were Holiday Sales? With Too Much Data, It’s Hard to Tell.

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Posted by: Laura HillsDydacomp-Order-Management

The data has been collected but the results are confusing.  How did the 2013 holiday season sales perform overall?  Researchers seem to be divided on the numbers and what they mean to retailers.  There’s no simple answer to the big question, “was 2013 a good holiday season for retailers?” Shopper Trak and the National Retail Federation (NRF) were divided in the first seasonal measure of Black Friday Sales.  Shopper Trak reported a 2.3% gain while the NRF reported a 3.9% loss over 2012. The many reports and the varied metrics used to assess holiday sales have made the holiday season of 2013 hard to call.

MasterCard publishes a credit card purchases report; Shopper Trak uses data from its Shopper counting devices combined with cash register transaction information.  The NRF hires a polling firm to ask consumers about their spending then makes estimates based on the responses. Online sales, reported as a separate category, contributed to the confusion. comScore which tracks eCommerce figures, reported a 10% increase in online sales; however they only includes purchases made from desktop computers, not mobile devices.  Retail analysts warn that the real score for the season can’t be given in a single number – it is best to look for a separate scorecard for each retailer.  Understandably, retailers play it close to the vest, remaining positive without sharing detailed information.

Howard Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates, a national retail consulting and investment banking firm maintains that the only holiday score that matters to retailers are their margins and whether they come out of the holiday season profitably.  This is certainly true for small to medium-sized eCommerce retailers as they sort out their results. The big picture data may be helpful as a comparison to industry averages, but the only true and meaningful measure is how your business has performed.

As you review your 2013 holiday season results, determine where you succeeded and where you could improve.  Were you visible in places where your shoppers could easily find and interact with you?  Did you create the best possible shopping experience and did you handle all orders effectively and efficiently?  Were there any bottlenecks in your back office operations that you could be improved this year.  It’s worth the time to reflect on these questions now – it’s never too early to start thinking about the 2014 holiday season.

For additional perspectives behind keeping the retail forecast score, click here to read this article by NorthJersey.com’s Senior Writer, Joan Verdon.

 

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National Retail Federation Predicts A Good Year For Retailers

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Posted by Laura Hills, VP of Marketing

While consumers are still being careful about their spending, the National Retail Federation (NRF) has predicted that retail sales will show an increase of 4.1% in 2014, outpacing the 3.7% increase delivered in 2013.  As a part of this increase, the NRF is predicting online sales to increase 9% to 12%, good news for our online and multichannel merchants.

Behind the optimistic forecast is the NRF’s expectation that 2014 will be less volatile than 2013 which brought economic concerns from a fiscal-cliff scare, a government shutdown and a tax increase.  Jack Kleinhenz, the NRF’s Chief Economist has said that he “expects less drag on growth from fiscal policy” which will greatly benefit retailers as shoppers show more confidence amid fewer economic concerns.

Retailers have already posted January gains with an average increase of 3.1% over 2013 sales and ahead of the 2.2% gain predicted by research firm Retail Metrics.  NRF President and Chief Executive Matthew Shay commented, “We’re looking forward to an even better year than last year (2013) for retailers.  We’re on the right trajectory. We’re seeing continued modest and incremental growth.”

So prepare for a good year by determining where operational improvements can be made to help you to respond to sales opportunities.  If you haven’t already done so, now’s the time to think about connecting your back office with your eCommerce store to simplify your day-to-day operations leaving you more time to source new products and reach new markets.

For tips on growing your business, click here to access Dydacomp’s whitepaper “Retail Trends – Is Your Back Office Keeping Up with Your Online Store” that addresses the benefits of an order management system for your online store.

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Posted in CEO, Customer Satisfaction, Customer Spotlight, Dydacomp News, Ecommerce, Email Marketing, Industry News, Multichannel Order Manager, Payment Processing, PCI Compliance, Search Marketing, Shipping, SiteLINK News, SMB Index, StoreFront.net, Support, Webinar | No Comments »

Keeping New Year’s Resolutions That Can Help You Grow Your eCommerce Business

Friday, February 14th, 2014

Posted by: Laura Hills, VP Marketing, Dydacomp

New Year’s resolutions aren’t only for individuals.  Many business owners make resolutions intended to help their company achieve success and start off the year with a plan for growth. Statistics show that just one week into January, 25% of personal resolutions have already been forgotten and by the end of the year, 88% of resolutions will have been broken.  Let’s look at how this year can be different.

According to Tom Connellan, the author of “The 1 Percent Solution: How to Make Your Next 30 Days the Best Ever” there are several reasons that stand out above the others as to why resolutions go by the wayside. They are as applicable to businesses as they are to individuals. They are:

  • Relying only on motivation. – Connellan believes that motivation comes from small successes.  Most of us think that we need one major motivator that will sustain us throughout the year which is not realistic. Success is a great motivator that will keep the motivation level high which leads to continued success.
  • Having only big goals.  - People tend to think in large terms that can be unrealistic.  Smaller goals are just as important and often easier to achieve.  Instead of saying this is the year for 500 new customers, try breaking this down into a weekly or monthly targets and develop short term strategies that you can implement to achieve your goal.
  • Change is uncomfortable – Any kind of change, even good change, is a break from the norm which takes people out of their comfort zone.  This makes it harder to continue a behavior and stay with a resolution.

Doug Sundheim, co-author of “The 25 Best Time Management Tools & Techniques: How to Get More Done without Driving Yourself Crazy” feels that time management can go a long way toward keeping you on track with your business resolutions for the new year. Sundheim recommends following the steps below to keep you on track:

  • Rank your goals. -  You probably have a laundry list of things that you’d like to achieve in 2014. Pick the top three goals for your company and focus on them. You can always modify or add to your list once you’ve accomplished a goal.
  • Be aware of information overload. – With so much data available, you have to be selective in what you pay attention to. You can spend all day trying to keep up with information on your industry which won’t leave time for much else.  Focus on a few trusted sources and industry experts to stay updated.
  • Just say no. - Saying no gives you more time to say yes to what is important to your business.

Now that you’ve got a handle on how to keep your resolutions, we have a few recommendations of our own that will help keep your eCommerce business on track for success in 2014.

  • Revisit your marketing plan. – Review what worked in 2013 and look ahead to trends for 2014 that you’d like to incorporate into your plan.  Reevaluate your target market and the strategies you used to reach them. Determine which marketing tactics worked, which didn’t and how you can augment your plan to achieve better results. And if you don’t have a marketing plan, now’s the time to create one.  Remember, small steps will go a long way.
  • Examine your website. – If you sell online, the importance of support for online shopping cannot be stressed enough.  Make sure your website best reflects your company, products and what sets you apart.  Be sure everything works as it should and that the site connects with customers across multiple sales channels and mobile devices.
  • Market your company every day. – Find a way to do at least one thing to promote your business. It can be as simple as updating a directory listing or posting to Facebook. It can be as involved as creating a series of short videos, email blasts or developing a new advertising campaign.
  • Check your prices. – Know what your competitors are charging for similar products and understand what customers are willing to pay. You may need to adjust your margins or find alternative suppliers, but offering the right products at the right price goes a long way to attracting new and repeat shoppers to your site.

You likely have resolutions of your own that will support your vision for 2014.  We offer the above advice to help you keep your resolutions and achieve greater success in 2014.

Happy Selling!

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Romance and Winter Deals Attract Shoppers

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Posted by: Laura Hills, VP Marketing, Dydacomp

At this point consumers have received their holiday bills and they’re paying them off, just in time for the next popular gift giving occasion –Valentine’s Day.  For retailers, Valentine’s Day has become more than just a holiday to celebrate love, it’s an important part of retail’s winter season. Consumer spending on Valentine’s Day gifts results in notable retail sales, so much so that many businesses see it in their bottom line each year.

Valentine’s Day has become a global holiday celebrating love and romance that often includes gifts from chocolate and flowers to over-spending on lavish gifts.  Men reportedly outspend their female counterparts by two to one.  Fat Wallet, a growing resource for online shoppers, is predicting Valentine’s Day Sales to reach $19 billion this year and is ready with special deals and coupon offers.  In 2013 CNN reported that 40.7% of people used their smart phone to make a Valentine’s Day purchase.

So how can your customers show their love and affection while still trying to save some money?  And what about other good deals typically found in February?  We turn to Jeanette Pavini, MarketWatch columnist to help us navigate Valentine’s Day opportunities and beyond. Online and multi-channel retailers can take advantage of Jeanette’s insight and plan promotions to attract online shoppers for everything from romantic gifts to tax preparation software and more.

Here are Jeanette’s recommendations to shoppers:

  • The more than 23,000 jewelry stores in the U.S. sold an estimated $2.8 billion of merchandise in February 2013, thanks to Valentine’s Day. Engagement rings and diamonds are a good buy in February and this year the halo setting (a small circle of diamonds around a center stone) is the trendy design.  In addition, earrings and bracelets are popular and many retailers will be offering good deals to showcase their products and move their inventory.  One note of caution – be sure to keep the store tags on any jewelry that you buy until you are sure the person wants to keep the item.  Returning jewelry can sometimes be tricky.
  • Perfume is a popular Valentine’s Day gift and many retailers opt to promote fragrances by offering a gift with purchase.  Some of the best gift with purchase deals can be found in February.  Check the sizes and prices carefully; you typically pay less per ounce when buying the larger size.
  • Tax preparation software companies are getting more creative in selling their once a year products. TurboTax has teamed up with Amazon to offer special incentives on their products, offering a $50 upgrade to TurboTax Deluxe users who opt to put $500 of their refund toward an Amazon gift card.  Items that can help people get organized for tax preparation will be welcome at this time of year also.
  • Travel to Europe is a bargain because it is cold there which tends to keep people away.  Cities like London or Paris have plenty of indoor attractions and airlines are offering good deals (with the exception of President’s Day – February 17).  Europe’s Carnival season has been slow in recent years and prices are expected to remain low all winter.  Hawaii’s peak season doesn’t get underway until mid-March so if you’ve got the time, you can book before airfare and hotel rates rise. Travel accessories and off-season clothing would play well with these travelers.
  • February is Canned Food Month and you can stock up and save especially with the family-sized options.  Just keep an eye on the expiration dates and be sure to buy only what you know you’ll use.  This is a good time to buy canned goods to donate to food pantries – the items are on sale and the need is high as the holiday donation season has ended. If you have a disaster supply kit (and if you don’t now’s a good time to think about creating one), swap out your close to expiration canned goods and replace with the sale items you can pick up in February.

Take advantage of historical sales and shopper patterns to see which of your customers could use some ideas for Valentine’s Day.  Be the online retailer to offer specials, sales and promotions to attract your best, repeat customers.  Get your offers out early and often to capture shoppers’ attention and be ready to fill last minute orders for procrastinators.  Keep your audience informed and be sure you are visible across all platforms.

The full text of Jeanette’s article, “Winter Deals That Might Surprise You” can be found at

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/
SB10001424052702304007504579347021413822800
.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day and happy selling!

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Understanding Today’s Content & Media Strategy to Grow Your eCommerce Business

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Posted by: Laura Hills

With all of the media choices available, do you know the best optioUnderstanding-Todays-Content-Media-Strategy-to-Grow-Your-eCommerce-Businessns to promote your business?  The first step is to understand the variety of media available to support your content management marketing strategy.

Let’s start with your company’s website.  This is often the first impression that a customer or potential customer has for your business.  Your website is media that you own and control, whether you physically maintain the site yourself or have someone else do this for you. Your site should always be up-to-date, easy-to-navigate, function properly and be an inviting source of information about your company and products.  It is important that your site is search engine optimized (SEO) to be sure that those searching for your company or products have the best chance of finding you.

Your website is a place to feature your active social media channels, blog postings, relevant publications including catalogues, newsletters, videos, webinars or other content that you publish.  Email blasts and direct mail that you produce and distribute are other forms of content. All of this is an important part of your content strategy.

Depending upon your business strategy, public relations and other outreach efforts can promote your products or company with placements in magazines, newspapers, broadcast media or online to help tell your story and get you noticed. Good public relations doesn’t have to involve using an agency to represent you. Today this media includes blogger and social media channels that enable you to gain greater exposure for your message.  Whether you write your own blogs or follow and post comments to other blogs, have your own social media pages or follow and comment on others, you are spreading the word about your company.  And, in spreading the word through social channels, you are driving attention back to your website or storefront.

Providing information on relevant and timely topics, whether through articles in newspapers, magazines or internet channels helps your company gain recognition.  To supplement your content management strategy you should take time to cultivate opportunities and business connections through attending industry events, writing blogs (your own and/or guest blogs for others), reaching out to any local media outlets and being active in social media channels. Quality content tends to get shared which helps to increase recognition and is an important component to overall content strategy.

Another area to consider is paid media which includes any type of promotion or advertising that you pay for.  There are limitless opportunities to buy advertising space for your company including all forms of print and online ads, product and service directories, radio and TV spots and all forms of online search advertising including pay-per-click (PPC), Google and LinkedIn sponsored content. Facebook now offers paid advertising and it’s said that Twitter won’t be far behind.

Budgets play a big role in the type of paid media you can utilize.  Determine where your customers and potential shoppers are likely to see your ads; where do you see your competitors advertising?  It pays to know your shoppers – are they internet savvy and online most of the time? Do they read or subscribe to magazines or newsletters that would be a good fit to promote your products? Don’t be afraid to test new outlets for your message. It is important that you blend available media options to create a cohesive and targeted content strategy.

For additional information on developing a converged media content strategy, read Jayson DeMers’ article, How to Execute a Converged Media Content Strategy (And Why You Should) which appeared in Forbes online Entrepreneurs column.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2013/09/11/
how-to-design-and-execute-a-converged-media-content-strategy-and-why-you-should/2/

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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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