Archive for the ‘SiteLINK News’ Category

IRCE 2014 Recap & 4 Key Take-Aways

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Posted by: Laura Hills

Dydacomp participated as a sponsor in recent 2014 Internet Retailer Conference Exhibition (IRCE) in Chicago. This year IRCE celebrated its 10th year as the world’s largest eCommerce conference and exhibition and our staff had a fantastic experience at the show!

We spoke with many retailers, fulfillment, distribution, and wholesale businesses of various sizes who were eager to discuss the latest developments in internet retail. Our days at the conference were filled with informative meetings and great conversations about the challenges and opportunities businesses face when managing their continued growth.

So what was the buzz at this year’s show? Here are our top 4 key take-aways from IRCE 2014:

irce

#4 Opportunities abound for best-in-class order and inventory management technology solutions with multichannel retailers. At IRCE we heard how order and inventory management automation, efficiency, and insight have delivered real value to the bottom line of many multichannel sellers. These businesses shared experiences of how their multichannel operations continue to expand the needs emanating from their ‘back office silos’. The successful businesses view order and inventory management operations as essential solutions that drive their business’ ability to compete and win from the point in which a customer engages with them through their shopping cart to the receipt of their orders at their door, and beyond.

#3 The Magento Community fully embraced a tightly integrated cloud-based OMS solution. Visitors to Dydacomp’s booth at IRCE were excited to experience Freestyle Commerce first-hand! Freestyle is Dydacomp’s latest innovation—a cloud-based online inventory and order management system that complements Magento eCommerce platforms and Amazon. Those who had the chance to see Freestyle in action were quickly delighted with the benefits its tight integration provided, including:

• Unification of the workflows for ALL Magento and Amazon sales channels orders into a single stream for expedited pick, pack, ship and bill processing.

• Complete visibility into on-hand stock levels, and the tasks involved with purchasing, receiving and updating new inventory counts across sales channels; combined with the ability to manage drop ship supplier operations.

• Connected customer insight and business intelligence tools to help make more informed business decisions and help manage the growth of businesses to their full potential.

#2 SMB retailers focus on drop shipping to drive efficiencies and cost savings. For many start-up and established small to medium-sized (SMB) growing businesses drop shipping was a hot topic. Drop shipping provides a way for savvy business owners to aggressively expand their product offerings without incurring the upfront costs of purchasing new inventory or having to directly manage the pick, pack and ship process for those orders. To further support these businesses, we were able to demonstrate how easy it was to include drop shipping operations into their order management mix through our solutions to meet their business objectives and growth goals without the overhead costs of maintaining inventory locally.

#1 Experience matters when it comes to technology solution providers. Many SMB retailers who sought us out at IRCE were looking for a solution provider that could relate to their specific business needs and who had the experience and the know-how to take businesses like theirs to the next level of success. We were proud to share our own personal success story. Many were surprised to learn that Dydacomp is a technology company that was started by retailers with solutions for retailers. Today, thousands of multichannel merchants rely on our Freestyle Commerce™ and Multichannel Order Manager (M.O.M.®) solutions to automate their retail back office operations and drive business growth. In total, our clients collectively generate nearly 10 million in gross merchandise sales every day! So how can we help you?

We hope to see you at next year’s IRCE but don’t wait until then to get started!

For additional information on operational improvements through automating order management, read this eBook entitled “Drive Your Retail Sales Growth With Operational Efficiencies.”

 

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Posted in CEO, Customer Satisfaction, Customer Spotlight, Dydacomp News, Ecommerce, Email Marketing, Industry News, Multichannel Order Manager, Press Release, Search Marketing, Shipping, SiteLINK News, StoreFront.net, Support, Webinar | No Comments »

Avoiding Stock Outs

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Posted by:  Laura Hills, VP of Marketing

Out of Stock

We speak with retailers every day who tell us that their biggest challenges are with inventory and making sure they have enough product on-hand at all times.  The key is to have just enough to avoid a stock out situation, yet not carry too much product and tie up funds that could be spent elsewhere.

A stock out, or out-of-stock situation is caused when inventory has been depleted. The most common types of retail stock outs occur in the business to consumer goods industry (e.g., electronics, perishables like cookies, flowers or nutraceuticals).

Stock outs are the opposite of overstocks, where too much inventory is on hand.  In this era of multichannel retail, when orders are coming in to a retailer from multiple sales channels, stock outs are more of a concern than ever before.

Research shows that approximately 70-90% of stock outs are caused by poor inventory management and replenishment practices while 10-30% results from a shortage of stock from a supplier. Keeping your back office order workflow process and inventory levels in sync is essential to keeping eCommerce operations on track.

So how do you avoid Stock Outs?  Here are some tips we’d like to share with you from our experience:

  • Centralize the management of inventory from all sales channels
  • Manage multiple warehouses from one system
  • Set up ‘low inventory’ alerts per stock item
  • Manage & issue Purchase Orders to Suppliers from one system
  • Gain insight on trends & peak selling seasons

At Dydacomp we totally get it because we’ve been there too. We’re a software company started by retailers with solutions for retailers. We’ve been helping retailers find that delicate balance of just enough inventory to avoid stock outs without overstocking for years. And when they do, it makes all the difference. Happy selling!

 

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Is it Time for an Order Management System?

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Dydacomp_compterImageby Roxanne Brown, CQA – Consulting 4 Quickbooks


My firm has worked with hundreds of eCommerce clients over the years and many have started the conversation with “My company has really taken off and my current order fulfillment processes just aren’t cutting it anymore; what are my options?

Many of the business owners we’ve worked with started out using Quicken or QuickBooks, coupled with Excel to track and manage their inventory, orders, customers, etc.  While this approach may be acceptable when you first start out, it can quickly turn into an inhibitor of the growth for your company.

As your business grows, copying and pasting information from one system to another and constantly updating Excel (no matter how good you are at it) must be replaced with better and more efficient processes.  This is when we get the calls, asking “there must be a better way, what are my options?” – and the answer is automation!

While no two eCommerce businesses are exactly alike, they all follow the same basic fulfillment processes and can benefit from automating these tasks.  Automation is king; it’s what will allow you to take you time away from the time consuming task of copying and pasting so you may can focus on really running and growing your business to the level you know it can achieve.

The first step in achieving business process automation is to switch from Excel or Quicken to QuickBooks; however that’s just the beginning. QuickBooks (or whatever accounting system you use) is designed to handle the accounting portion of your business; it’s really not meant to handle everything else needed to run an eCommerce business. What you really should consider implementing is an order management system (OMS).  This type of implementation can strike fear in the heart of a business owner as they imagine the challenges of adding and changing many of their business processes – therefore many put this decision off much longer than they probably should have.

I won’t lie and say the transition is easy; however I will tell you that it’s well worth the time and effort to make the change.  No one has been sorry they made the decision to automate their business processes and increase productivity.  Many of the business owners we’ve worked with are shocked at how much they can now accomplish in a day, without adding employees.  I’ve seen businesses double and triple revenue in a year or less, solely because a good order management system was deployed!

When reviewing order management systems there are many things to consider beyond whatever your biggest pain point might be at the moment.  Inventory and order management is just the beginning; there are a lot of additional factors to consider as you take your business to the next level.

  • How many sales channels are you currently on?  Do you plan to add any in the near future?
  • Are you maintaining 100% of your inventory, or do you also drop ship?
  • How can you easily manage the ordering and receiving of products?
  • How can you automate your drop ship processes?
  • You MUST be PCI compliant.  If you’re not, you’re running a risk your business can’t afford.
  • How many states are you required to collect sales tax?
  • How many warehouse locations or fulfillment centers are in the mix?
  • What type of selling tools would make running your business more streamlined; and thus more profitable?
  • Fraud protection is key; what tools are available to reduce your risk?
  • How can you provide top-notch customer service?
  • The order management system needs to integrate properly with your accounting system.

Deploying a good order management system will make it possible to do all of the above and SO much more.  So, are you ready to take your business to the next level?

For additional information on the benefits of automating order, inventory and customer management, read this real-world case study about a luxury bedding etailer.  And for more insight on QuickBooks® and eCommerce Training & Integration check out the Consulting 4 QuickBooks blog here.

 

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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, Press Release, Search Marketing, Shipping, SiteLINK News, SMB Index, StoreFront.net, Support, Webinar | No Comments »

The Importance of a Millennial Marketing Mindset

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

Posted by Fred Lizza, Dydacomp CEO

Millennials control 21 percent of consumer discretionary purchasing power in the US or $1.3 trillion[1], making them an audience that deserves recognition and attention. A recent survey conducted jointly by Merchant Warehouse and Retail Pro International identified a serious knowledge gap that exists between retailers and their millennial shoppers.  Each generation has their own specific buying patterns and understanding their unique characteristics and purchasing behaviors creates business opportunities that give retailers a competitive advantage.

MillennnialsThe millennials, or Generation Y, often forgo traditional marketing and do much of their shopping via the Internet from a wide variety of mobile devices.  They are visual communicators who look for real life examples to show them the value of their investment and what their money buys them.  Brand names are big with this group.  So is having the latest technology. They are extremely connected and look to their contemporaries for approval.  This group is attracted to the experience, value, cost, quality and service they can expect from a brand, product or company. Social media is the preferred channel for reaching this market. Key influencers for this group are online-savvy peers, the Internet, eCommerce, Reality TV and digital music.

With attitudes and behaviors shaped by technology and dramatic economic volatility, they are more conservative and share many characteristics of people who came of age during the great depression.  Millennials are 2.5 times more likely than their predecessors to adopt new social, mobile and digital channels and they integrate technology into their customer experience.  This is an important demographic for multi-channel retailers.  Alexandra Frith, director of marketing at Retail Pro International comments, “The reality is that there just isn’t room for error; with so much competition – whether in-store or online – retailers can’t risk losing this important demographic.” Knowing how to better attract and engage this group should be an important part of your retail strategy.

According to the survey, millennials are information-seeking shoppers with 60 percent doing pre-purchase research through retailer websites. In addition, 53 percent stated that their shopping experiences are seamless across channels although they note that retailer sites often lack the extensive functionality they have come to expect. They are looking for what is known in today’s vernacular as an ‘omnichannel experience’ and retailers need to consider this to create a relationship with these shoppers.

In addition, millennials are the most multiculturally diverse group in the U.S. today.  Brands that incorporate multicultural themes are winning with millennials as are those that effectively use social media channels to create inclusive communities.  This enables millennials to connect with each other as well as develop stronger relationships with actual products and brands – a retailer’s goal.

Tapping in to generational nuances can help strengthen your marketing strategy.  Staying on top of and utilizing what is current and trending for the millennial demographic will enable you to better connect with this target audience to increase brand loyalty along with your bottom line. Your order management system contains a wealth of information about your customers and, with an eye on strategic marketing, you can use the data to create targeted, effective campaigns to entice your Generation Y customers with promotions uniquely suited to them.

For additional information on operational improvements through automating order management, read this eBook entitled “Drive Your Retail Sales Growth With Operational Efficiencies.”


[1] MillennialMarketing.com – March 21, 2014: The Optical Industry: 3 Tips to Consider When Marketing to Millennials

[2] MillennialMarketing.com – Millennials and Multicultural Marketing

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Drop Shipping 101

Friday, April 18th, 2014

DropShippingPosted by: Megan Castillo,
Dydacomp Product Marketing Manager

Wouldn’t it be great to start an online store with very little investment upfront and manage it from anywhere in the world? Even better, have someone else pay your upfront inventory costs and manage the processing and shipment of orders. It sounds like it’s too good to be true, but it’s not, if you know about drop shipping.

If you’re not familiar with drop shipping, to put it simply, drop shipping is a fulfillment model where you don’t keep the products you sell in your stock.  Instead, you partner with a wholesale supplier that not only stocks the inventory for you, but the supplier then processes and sends orders directly to your customers – you never see or touch the product!

The Advantages

There are a lot of advantages to this fulfillment model. The biggest advantage is not having to buy inventory upfront. It’s basically a pay-as-you-go model because you don’t purchase product until you make a sale and the customer has paid, so you don’t tie up your funds in inventory. And since you don’t have to pick, pack and ship the products, it frees up your time to focus on what matters – revenue generating activities like promoting your website and investigating marketing tactics.  Spending time on promoting your website is key to your eCommerce success.  The fact that it’s easy to establish an eCommerce store with the drop ship model is a double edged sword – it’s as easy for others as it is for you!  That means competition is sometimes steep. However, with a little bit of time and effort, you can make your store stand out, resulting in a successful online business.

Some Drawbacks Do Exist

Like anything else, the good sometimes comes with a little bad.  In the case of drop shipping, aside from competition, there are some other drawbacks associated with the fulfillment model, but nothing that can’t be overcome with a little planning and strategizing. By putting your product fulfillment in the hands of another, you do give up a degree of control in terms of the way the product is packed and shipped, as well as running the risk of an item being out of stock. The latter is easily overcome by working with multiple suppliers with overlapping product lines so you always have a backup plan.

Overall, the drawbacks are minimal in comparison to what it would cost you, in both time and money, to stock, house and ship products yourself. And at the end of the day, drop shipping isn’t a new concept.  In fact it’s a fulfillment model trusted by some of the big guys in the eCommerce game, such as Sears and Home Depot, giving them an opportunity to expand product lines without dealing with the hassles associated with the additional inventory.

How To Get Started

Figuring out the right products to sell and then finding a wholesaler you can trust is the tricky part.  There are a lot of resources out there to help with this process, and then of course there is the good old Google search.  When doing a web search, be mindful that wholesale suppliers are traditionally not the best marketers, so you may have to dig deep into the search engine results to find the right partner.

Final Thoughts

Drop shipping offers a great alternative method to get started, or expand your current product offering, without having to dip too far into your own pocket. Of course there will be some investment involved in establishing your eCommerce presence, but nothing compared to what it would cost if you had to stock and ship your own product.

For a full list of both the benefits and drawbacks of the drop ship fulfillment model, along with some tips on how to get started, check out our white paper, What’s the Deal with Drop Shipping?  

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Posted in CEO, Customer Satisfaction, Customer Spotlight, Dydacomp News, Ecommerce, Email Marketing, Industry News, Multichannel Order Manager, Search Marketing, Shipping, SiteLINK News, StoreFront.net, Webinar | No Comments »

Omnichannel Retailing – What is it? Why is it Important? And how do you apply it?

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Posted by: Megan Castillo,  Dydacomp Product Marketing ManagerPicture1

Everywhere you look these days you see the phrase ‘Omnichannel Retailing’ – trade shows, industry publications, news blasts, etc. -  but what does it mean and why is it important to online retailers? More importantly, how do you apply it?

Multi- vs. Omni- Channel – Same or Different?

There’s a lot of confusion as to whether or not Omnichannel is just a new hip way to say Multichannel, or if it’s actually different – the answer is … it’s different. Multichannel refers to the actual sales channels through which you are selling – storefront, online, mobile devices, etc.  In the past, these channels typically worked independently of each other, which seemed foolish if you ask me.  Our society is all about networking, so why wouldn’t a retailer ‘network’ between sales channels, after all it’s one brand.  In the past, there’s been an emphasis on making sure the look and feel of the brand is consistent across channels, but what about cross channel promotion?  This is one of the ways Omnichannel retailing comes into play.

Omnichannel retailing is the marketing term that came about as a result of multichannel retailing.  Omnichannel refers to the ‘experience’ the customer has when shopping in one or more of your sales channels, making sure it’s consistent and emphasizes the importance of cross channel promotion.  Obviously customers aren’t going to have the exact same experience shopping in your storefront versus on your website – you lose the ‘touch and feel’ aspect, no sales reps to help you find product, etc. – but there are a few keys things you can do that customers can expect to see across channels – consistent service, product availability and pricing.  At the end of the day, you’re one brand, so you want customers to have a positive interaction at all levels.

Why is Omnichannel Retailing Important?

Retail has always been about the customer experience, and Omnichannel doesn’t change this, it takes it to another level.  It’s now an end-to-end experience that begins whenever and wherever the customer orders, not necessarily beginning/ending in the same place.  A shopper’s journey is no longer a linear one, meaning he or she goes to one sales channel and decides on a purchase.  Today we see shoppers incorporating some, and sometimes even all, of the retailer’s channels into their decision process.  That’s why it’s so important to be consistent, whether in messaging, prices, etc.  If not, you risk tarnishing that customer’s experience and potentially losing them as a repeat customer.  That’s critical, because it costs 5 times more to get a new client than to keep an existing one and existing clients are much more profitable than new ones.

There have been a lot of reports and surveys done recently on the benefits of applying an Omnichannel retailing approach, and the number one benefit is always ‘stronger brand identity/recognition’.  This is key to your survival as a brand/retailer.  Other benefits attributed to applying an Omnichannel approach include revenue growth, expanding your customer base, higher customer satisfaction, and it can be a competitive differentiator, at least until the rest of the retail world catches up.

How do you apply an Omnichannel Retailing Strategy?

There are lots of ways to apply an Omnichannel retailing strategy.  Some of the easier ways include: making use of social media, integrating customer reviews (for online channels), offering cross channel services, and the easiest of all – providing consistent pricing across all channels!  I’m sure most of you use, or know others who use, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.  Social media is an easy, free way to get in front of your customers.  Additionally, it can help you expand your reach!  Each time a customer ‘follows’, ‘likes’ or ‘retweets’ something you post, each and every one of their connections now sees it – essentially it’s like free marketing!

Customer reviews are great for boosting online sales, especially for those products are harder to sell due to the lack of ‘touch and feel’ aspect.  And I’m sure many of you have seen retailers offer the option to ‘buy online, pick up in store’, but what you may not have realized is that this is an Omnichannel retailing strategy.  In this example, two of your sales channels are working together, your website and storefront.  These are just a few quick examples.  We’ll talk more about applying an Omnichannel Retail Strategy in future posts.

Final Thoughts

An Omnichannel retailing strategy is a necessity for those of you working in multichannel sales environments, and it makes sense.  You’ve worked hard to build out each of these channels, now let’s start using them to our advantage!

For a more in depth look at Omnichannel retailing, along with additional examples on how to apply the strategy and then how to evaluate the success of your efforts, check out our webinar, Omnichannel Retailing – Finding Value in a Multichannel Sales Environment .

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

Use Customer Profile Data to Capitalize on the 80/20 Rule

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Posted by Laura Hills, VP of Marketing

We’ve all heard about the 80/20 rule that states 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers.  That 20% is definitely a group worth cultivating to keep them engaged.  The more you know about this customer segment the better for your business.

Most retailers capture basic information about their most active customers but that may not be enough to establish a good connection to this audience.  To develop relationship longevity requires that you develop an intimate knowledge of the customer that goes beyond their name, email address and order history.  In this age of digital marketing, you need to connect on a broader level that includes social media, sales channel preferences and buying habits. Having a more complete customer profile will enable you to design more relevant, timely and targeted campaigns and communications to fully engage your top shoppers.

Go beyond the standard demographic data to include:

  • Birthday
  • Anniversary
  • Family size and make up
  • Favorite color/fragrance, etc.
  • Preferred shopping method
  • Work information, if applicable
  • Detailed purchase history

Also try to capture:

  • What they are saying about you – social media
  • What they like – social media can also provide this information
  • What they are purchasing – favorite items, for self or for gifts
  • When they are shopping – how frequently, time of day, day of the week
  • How they are shopping – website, mobile app, brick and mortar store

All channels need to be integrated to capture relevant data both online and offline that you can easily tap into to develop meaningful communication streams to attract customers.  You need an order management system that can collect detailed customer information along with order details that you can extract and utilize to keep your 20% coming back.  Increasing customer engagement levels through relevant promotions to this target group can drive revenues and enhance your bottom line.

For information about making sure your back office systems keep up with your shoppers’ demands, access our latest whitepaper: Is Your Back Office Keeping Up With Your Online Store? The Top 5-1/2 Reasons You need an Order Management System. 

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Back to Basics. Do You Know How People Find You Online?

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Posted by Laura Hills, VP of Marketing

If you operate a brick and mortar retail store, it is easy to ask customers how they found you.  And, you can see firsthand which products are selling and which may require further explanations to help the shopper understand either how to use the product or how it would fit them, if, for example, they’re looking at apparel.

Running an online retail business is a different story.  Do you know who is visiting your website?  Where are they coming from?  What do they like or dislike? Getting these answers is not so easy to do with customers who visit you online but the information is available to you.  The information can be found through online analytics.  Analytics are a valuable asset when it comes to your website and your online marketing efforts. The more informed you are about customer interactions with your eCommerce store and the products you sell online, the more effective your marketing efforts and your site will be to drive sales.

It’s so important to understand where your visitors are coming from and how they found you– whether they reached you directly, via a search engine, through social networks or other referring sites.  An analysis of website visitors helps you keep track of new and returning visitors.

Through tools like Google Analytics, you can capture and analyze how much time people are spending on your site and which pages on your site are attracting the most attention. Monitoring website analytics on a fairly frequent basis can make all the difference to growing your online business. We have found that there are two critical areas where even simple analytics can help to hone your web marketing strategy effectiveness.

The first centers around Internet search keywords.  Keywords drive traffic, messaging and sales. Analytics can help you determine which keywords are working and which keywords are not. Words or phrases that you thought described your product may not be what online visitors use to search for your product and find your site. You may have the right keyword, but the wrong content surrounding it.

You don’t have to manage hundreds of keywords. In fact, most PayPerClick (PPC) and SEO experts will agree that you should keep your primary keyword list under 25 or even under 15.  These are the words that shoppers would use to find the products you offer and/or to find you, in particular.  They can be common terms for the market(s) you serve coupled with your differentiators.  For example, in the fashion apparel market, popular keywords may include ‘women fashion shoes’, ‘fashion accessories’, ‘vintage handbags’ … to name a few.  You can actually search for ‘common retail search keywords’ and then check out those listed for your specific audience.

The second centers around your landing pages.  If you don’t have the time to analyze your site’s keyword performance in depth every day, we recommend, at a minimum, understanding your landing page content relative to your most important keywords. Understanding key website performance indicators like the ones listed below will help to maximize its overall effectiveness.

It is important to know how many people landed on a page that may have been designed to support a specific promotion, how many people exited the page quickly, where they came from, what keyword they searched to get there, how long they spent on a page?  You can also track results by seeing if they converted.

Your home page is often the top landing page and it typically can have the highest bounce rate if visitors don’t find what they’re looking for right away or if the messaging doesn’t match what they searched for in the first place. Test a few different designs and messages to find which ones offer the lowest bounce rate and drive the most conversions overall.

Secondary pages or internal landing pages are often the most valuable parts of your site. These pages often contain the specific information your customers are looking for. Designed properly, internal pages answer your customers’ questions and drive them to convert.

Break down the top landing pages and evaluate what makes them successful.  Analytics can tell you what keywords your site visitors used to get there to help you refine your content. Define the type of content on that page and the calls to action (CTAs) you are using.  See if this can this be replicated on other pages. This type of analysis gives you key information on how customers interact with your site and how you can provide them with a great experience by having the right design and content.

Many of our retail customers are finding the effective use of videos to support product descriptions.  A short video can not only showcase a product and drive sales, they can also cut down on the common ‘how to’ customer support calls.

Consider the following in analyzing your site:

  • What are the top landing pages?
  • Which pages have the highest bounce rate?
  • What pages do people spend the most time on?
  • Which pages lead to the most conversions?
  • Which campaigns led to the best sales performance?

Effective website analytics can help you to find out which of your marketing strategies and tactics are bringing the most customers to your site – whether it is a newsletter, social media posts, email promotions, club memberships or other marketing programs you are using.  The more informed you are relative to customer interactions with your site, the more effective (and more efficient) your marketing efforts will be.

Online marketing methods need to be supported by web analytics so that you know what is working, where your shoppers are coming from and what you can do to attract customers. If you don’t already have good analytics in place, make this the year that you add this function so that you can run your site more efficiently.

If you haven’t heard about omnichannel retailing, it’s the latest buzz around giving customers a 360 degree experience with your business.  If you’re interesting in learning more about omnichannel retailing and the latest trends in people finding you and experiencing your brand, check out this on demand webinar: Demystifying Omnichannel Retailing: Finding Value in a Multichannel Sales Landscape.

 

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Connecting With Your Customers

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Posted by Laura Hills, VP of Marketing

If you’re old enough to remember the 1980s television sitcom Cheers, you’ll be familiar with its popular theme song, Where Everybody Knows Your Name? That’s the concept at the heart of omnichannel retailing.  It’s the feeling that customers are hoping to find when they shop with you; whether it’s online, in store, or over the phone. Customers are less concerned with the size of your business and more concerned with the quality of your products, timeliness of receiving their order and how you treat them when they come to you through whatever channel they may opt to connect.

Everyone wants to be treated like the individual they are and this is especially true for shoppers who want to be recognized, responded to and valued as if they were your only customer. Creating a positive shopping experience needs to be a priority on your company’s to-do list.

As customers set the agenda through social media it is important to create and continually nurture the connection to your customers that engages them and keeps them coming back to you.

Technology has put the consumer in control with the expectation for 24/7 access to their shopping experience via digital devices and you need to be ready to respond.

Here are a few tips for developing strategies to maintain a strong connection with your customers.

  • Be Sam – Sam wasn’t just the bartender at Cheers, he was the business owner and he knew everyone that came in. Fast forward to today, and you can use technology to stay connected with your customers.  When they’re browsing in your physical store, on your site or requesting information, never ask them twice who they are.  Use technology to pre-populate online request forms.  Use traffic intelligence tools to become familiar with their needs and personalize the customer experience.

 

  • Become obsessed with your customers – make it a point to develop a continuous process of excellent customer service throughout your company for gathering and utilizing customer insight through preferences and ratings.  It’s not enough to have one good customer rep. or salesperson; everyone that interacts with your customers needs to be customer-centric.

 

  • Listen to your customers – encourage feedback and respond. If you made a promise be sure to keep it, building trust and confidence in your company and your products.  And listen to your customer service staff.  They’re hearing from customers first-hand.  They are a great source of trends, suggestions and areas for improvement.  One online retailer we know listened closely to their support representatives who were answering ‘how to’ questions over and over again.  The solution?  Videos for each of the products.  The videos enhanced the customer experience with products and cut down on the ‘how to’ call volume.

 

  • Be where your customers are – your customers are active on social media.  Are you?  Encourage your customers to be in touch with you.  Their interactions and feedback give you the opportunity to keep the lines of communication open and to continually deliver the positive experience they are looking for.

So keep the Cheers theme song in mind when focusing on customer-centric strategies this year.

Let all your customers know that they are the most important part of your business, that they are always welcome, valued by everyone in your company and that you’re always glad they came…

To learn more about Omnichannel retailing, view this on demand webinar: Demystifying Omnichannel Retailing: Finding Value in a Multichannel Sales Landscape.

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March Madness – Bargains and Deals Attract Shoppers

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Posted by: Laura Hills, VP Marketing, Dydacomp

After one of the coldest and harshest winter in recent memory, retailers are hoping that shoppers come on full force with pent-up buying demand as they turn their sights to spring and more moderate weather.  As the weather starts to improve, consumers will be able to once again enjoy the outdoors, go for walks and take on projects that they put on hold because of the weather. Most people have paid off their holiday bills and are ready for a fresh round of shopping.

March is a busy month including Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day, the start of the NCAA basketball tournament schedule and the first official day of Spring.  All reasons to celebrate, especially this year, and lots of bargains to be had. We once again turn to Jeanette Pavini, MarketWatch columnist for her advice as to what’s trending in March – from prom dresses to cruises – and what consumers can expect in the way of bargains and promotions. We offer these insights so that online and multi-channel retailers can take advantage of what’s trending to help you zero in on targeted promotions to attract and capture shoppers.

Below are Jeanette’s recommendations with some additional advice for eCommerce retailers provided by Dydacomp:

  • The cruise industry’s “wave season” takes place during March. This is typically the time to get some of the best deals as cruise lines discount fares and offer perks to get travelers to book with them. They often offer free room upgrades and onboard credits.  Last minute cruises, as space permits, are likely to result in the lowest per night fares.  Jeanette advises that additional savings can be had in booking on an older ship that has been refurbished or on a repositioning cruise that takes place when ships need to relocate as seasons change.  For eCommerce retailers, offer merchandise to make cruisers’ lives easier; from pre-season summer clothes that may still be packed away at home, formal cruise wear, bathing suits and good shoes for sightseeing to luggage, travel accessories, snorkel gear and other sun essentials that would be costly to buy onboard.

 

  • March is National Craft Month – and for those of us that are not craft-impaired, there are a lot of events promoting all sorts of do-it-yourself crafts.  It is a great opportunity for parents and/or grandparents to connect with their kids and grandkids.  Get in on this celebration and offer crafting supplies, ideas and specials to entice your customers to stock up on craft items.  Post a video with step-by-step instructions and offer all of the items needed for a special price. Know which of your shoppers are families with kids and the same for grandparents and create a promotion just for them. Offer teacher discounts if possible to attract volume purchases.

 

  • We typically see winter coats, outerwear and other cold weather gear heavily discounted in February.  This year with much of the country still in the grips of severe and record cold weather, it is likely that the best sales on cold weather gear will take place in March. Some retailers were hard pressed to keep cold weather gear in stock and reordered in mid-season so they still have some inventory available. This year’s winter apparel got heavier than normal usage and shoppers will be looking to replace worn items while shopping for the best prices.  We recommend not going with the trendy colors that this season offered, but look for muted or neutral colors that will be in style next year and beyond. Promote coats or jackets one or two sizes up for kids so that they are ready and outfitted next year. If possible, offer hats, gloves and other accessories as a bundle to go with the outerwear to drive even more sales.  Here again, it pays to know your shoppers and their family make-up so that you can design promotions that will definitely draw them in. If possible, offer an opportunity for people to donate coats that they have outgrown or will no longer be wearing; there are many of these available and it makes people feel good to donate. Jeanette recommends onewarmcoat.org which offers information on coat drives across the US.

 

  • Even if where you live is still snow covered, it’s not too early to think about spring gardening and property maintenance.  Many garden centers host planting season kickoff sales and promotions and online retailers can also get in on this opportunity. If you offer gardening tools, yard decorations, patio furniture and other like items, it’s not too early to load your site with pictures of how you can transform a bleak landscape into a beautiful one.  As with the craft supplies, post easy to follow videos that walk customers through the gardening and planting processes and promote the items needed to actually complete a project.  Offer seeds, yard decorations and other outdoor spruce-up items that get your customers thinking about Spring. Gardening, planting and property maintenance offer opportunities for ongoing communication with your customers as you guide them from Winter recovery through Spring and back again to Fall plantings.

 

  • The National Frozen and Refrigerated Foods Association has declared March as the 31st annual National Frozen Food Month.  To promote this national initiative, they will be distributing 36 million coupon inserts with participating brand and stores will be encouraged to offer their own in-store promotions.  Now you may not offer frozen food on your site, but if you offer grocery services including home delivery, you can certainly jump on this bandwagon and create shopping campaigns to feature National Frozen Foods Month.  If your site features spices, baking ingredients or kitchen items, you can post easy-to-prepare recipes that utilize frozen foods along with the specialty items that you offer to grab the attention of your busy shoppers.  We all appreciate help in the kitchen.

 

  • As the parent of any high school senior, or junior in some cases, girl knows it is never too early to start shopping for the perfect prom dress and all of the must-have accessories that complete this year’s prom look.  Waiting until the last minute is definitely a recipe for disaster.  Jeanette recommends wedding outlet stores as the perfect place to find special occasion dresses and accessories. Shopping online for a prom dress broadens your range of options and minimizes the chance that you will have the same dress as someone else in your class – a total social no-no. As an online retailer of dresses and accessories, be sure to post your return/exchange policy in case your prom attendee changes their mind on a dress. Use your site to display the entire package – dress, shoes, small handbag, jewelry and other accessories that will make the dress stand out from others.  I already know two high school seniors who have ordered their dresses and are now hoping for dates to go along with them.

Knowing your customers gives you the advantage to target them for special March deals based upon their sales histories and shopper patterns. As we’ve said before, offer specials, sales and promotions to attract your best, repeat customers and be sure to get targeted offers out often to capture shoppers’ attention.  If you don’t tell them about your offers, who will?

Click here for the full text of Jeanette’s article, “March Deals – Prom Dresses to Cruises.”

(http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303880604579405330530919394?mg=reno64-wsj)

Welcome Spring and happy selling!

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