Archive for the ‘SiteLINK News’ Category

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.

Millennnials The Importance of a Millennial Marketing Mindset   The 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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Retailers Seek Advice as They Head Into 2014

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Post by: Laura Hills, VP Marketing, Dydacomp

The top names in retail met to discuss the future of the industry at the National Retail Federation (NRF) Conference & Expo.  Joan Verdon, a senior writer from The Record, a North Jersey newspaper, keeps us informed on what’s happening in the retail industry.  She asked six industry experts to name the three top issues that retailers should be focusing on for 2014 and beyond. Their perspectives are all worth noting and a must read for all retailers, whether eCommerce or in-store.

These experts included:

  • Howard Davidowitz, Chairman, Davidowitz & Associates
  • Marshal Cohen, Chief Analyst, THE NPD Group
  • Nikki Baird, Managing Partner, Retail Systems Research
  • Bob Phibbs, Chief Executive, The Retail Doctor
  • Bill Martin, Founder, Shopper Trak
  • Ken Perkins, President, Retail Metrics

Marshal Cohen predicts that 2014 is likely to be one of “monumental change for retail” and that retailers need direction. According to Cohen, “Retail has hit a crossroads where the consumer is heading in one direction, retail’s heading in another and manufacturers are stuck in the middle trying to figure it out.”  All of the experts’ responses are valuable for anyone focused on the retail industry. Click here to read the entire article and excerpts from each of the industry leaders. http://www.northjersey.com/news/239794711_
Retailers_get_sales_advice_as_they_head_into_2014.html

Happy Selling!

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Shoppers Look for January Deals

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Posted by: Laura Hills, Vice President, Marketing

The after holiday sales started before the holidays even ended this year with mega-markdowns seen on holiday items and popular gifts as retailers did all they could to attract shoppers across all channels.  We have come to expect savings of up to 75% off pricing for holiday merchandise and similar deep discounts for winter clothing and accessories left over from the holidays. January has traditionally been a good month for home goods and promotions offered by furniture retailers on in stock and custom furniture.

In addition to clothing, holiday items and furniture, there are other good deals to be had in January and shoppers never tire of seeking out bargains. Many start the new year off resolving to spend less without compromising their shopping habits.  Others look for the amazing buys that can be had before their holiday credit card bills arrive in their mailboxes.

For what’s trending in January, we turn to Jeanette Pavini, MarketWatch.com columnist to help shoppers save money. We offer our own observations and tips along with Jeanette’s advice. Online and multi-channel retailers can aid shoppers in making the most of their post-holiday spending by offering deals and promotions to help move leftover inventory and also offer deals on the following items:

  • White sales have been a January tradition since the first white sale in 1878.  Towels are a major component of the traditional white sale and upgrading bathroom towels can give this important room a whole new look for very little money. The same for sheets, bedspreads and other linens.

 

  • Hot tubs and spas are not normally items that people are thinking about after the holidays so retailers tend to get creative with deals to try to move inventory.  Since these items need to be installed, buying on sale while sales are slower will usually enable you to pick your timing as far as installation. If you already have a hot tub or spa at home, now is a good time to make sure it is running efficiently and schedule any needed maintenance.  Look for deals on accessories and cleaning products for spas and hot tubs also.

 

  • Coffee sales offer multiple ways to save.  The first way is for coffee-themed gifts (hot cocoa and teas also) which are popular holiday gift items that get creatively packaged but don’t always move off the shelves. Minimum discounts after the holiday are 50% on these items with deeper discounts often available.  So even if you don’t need all of the items in the gift set, you’re still saving money on the coffee, tea or cocoa mix that you will use and enjoy.  The second way to save on coffee is to check gift card marketplaces like Cardpool.com or Raise.com. According to the National Retail Federation’s Gift Card Spending Survey, some 19% of gift cards purchased are for coffee.  These often end up on gift card marketplace sites at 10 to 25% discounts.
  • January is the month when people try to get rid of their unwanted gift cards.  These are not only ones received during the holidays, but throughout the year as well. As mentioned above, gift cards that people received but don’t really want can be found on gift card marketplace sites and purchased at a discount. Just check for expiration dates and fees before you purchase. If you don’t want to venture into buying pre-owned gift cards online, check with your friends, family and coworkers and create your own gift card exchange market.
  • Men’s Formal Wear hits the sale racks this month. Although the holiday black-tie events season is over and wedding season is still months away, it’s not too early to think about when you may need formal wear for future special occasions.  Tuxedo rentals are typically at 20% of the purchase price, so look ahead and estimate how often you’ll need formal wear. Investing in a tuxedo or formal attire, especially on sale, can save you repeated rental costs plus the time and effort involved in renting – measuring in advance, picking up and returning. If you are going through your closets and find suits that you no longer need, you can take them to a resale shop where you get cash for your items or donate them to local organizations that resell or reuse them.  The Save-A-Suit Foundation provides former military personnel with business attire and accepts both men’s and women’s clothing.
  • Tech accessories such as cell phone cases, headphones, and wireless speakers were great gift items this past holiday season.  Now that the holidays are behind us, these items are on sales and being heavily promoted.  Office supply stores will be discounting a lot of these and other items during January as well.

Whatever deals, specials, sales and promotions you offer this January, be sure to be visible through email, social media, direct mail or wherever your shoppers are found. Use customer data from previous orders to identify shoppers that would be likely targets for your promotions and engage with them to get them to your site.

The full text of Jeanette’s article, “There Are Deals to Be Had in January” can be found at online.wsj.com/news/articles/.

Happy New Year and happy selling!

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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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Managing Inventory During Peak Selling Periods

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Dydacomp Santa 2014 1 Managing Inventory During Peak Selling Periods

Inventory management can be a time-consuming and error-prone process for multi-channel eCommerce businesses.  The quality and accuracy of inventory management is especially critical during the peak holiday selling season, which can be can be the single most important time of the year for these retailers.  According to the NRF, nearly 20% of retail sales happen from Black Friday through Christmas with close to 40% of sales taking place between November 1 and December 15.  Having the right amount of inventory on hand to meet consumer demands can make all the difference in the success of a retailer’s holiday season.

Putting time into some advance planning can better prepare you to meet the unpredictable demands that your business will face, especially this year with only 26 shopping days.  Without proper planning, this peak holiday selling season can create a perfect storm of inventory management challenges.  By recognizing problem areas likely to cause problems, you’ll be better equipped to weather the season. Avoiding stockouts, fulfillment bottlenecks and meeting delivery demands can make the season merry and bright for you.

So how do today’s multichchannel retailers address these challenges?  Here are suggestions based upon our research and our customers’ experiences:

  • Get an Early Start

Synchronize your schedule of marketing campaigns with the availability of products featured in promotions. Actively manage merchandise assortments in conjunction with marketing plans to know what items you’ll need to keep the demand plans balanced. Get areas of your warehouse or store ready to receive the products you’ll need and have a logistics plan to efficiently move these items. If you’re drop shipping, coordinate schedules with drop shippers and/or warehouses that store and distribute your products.

  • Create a Holiday Sales Forecast

Analyze previous holiday sales, consider anticipated consumer trends and, if the research is available, evaluate recommendations in your industry segment.  Determine what worked and what areas are in need of improvement.  Consider orders from your best shoppers and look at their buying behaviors during peak selling periods. Look at impulse or fast moving items that tend to sell out quickly and be sure you can readily restock these items to meet demand.

  • Have Accurate Information

Accurate inventory and sales data enables you to make efficient and effective decisions before the season starts and throughout your busiest holiday times. And don’t forget to manage your customer list along with any mailing lists you may purchase.

  • Automate the Inventory Management Function

An inventory management system allows you to track and control your inventory across all sources. Inventory management software that integrates data across multiple selling channels adjusts your inventory levels when an order is placed or a sale is made. Inventory management software allows you to track your inventory status and will make it easy to manage and fulfill orders from shopping to shipping all year long.

  • Connect with Suppliers

Your vendors have holiday sales goals just like you and are likely to be looking for ways to get their customers to buy from them. Don’t be afraid to negotiate prices or delivery terms which can help you save money and keep you stocked with the items you need.

  • Don’t Overlook the Details

If you ship your own merchandise, in addition to having the right amount of inventory available, you also need to be sure that you are well stocked with other retail holiday essentials including gift wrap and bags, gift cards, bows, special holiday packaging, extra shipping boxes, packaging tape and other supplies.  You can’t move your inventory if you don’t have the packing and shipping supplies you need.  If you work with a drop shipper, drop shipping transfers the pick, pack and ship tasks to the shipper.

  • Think Ahead

Give some thought to how you’ll handle returns and the impact anticipated return levels will have on your inventory levels.

Take the necessary steps now to ensure you have the inventory on hand meet your shoppers’ demands.  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”.

Happy & Successful Holiday Selling!

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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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Amazon Continues to Redefine Online Retailing

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Posted by: Laura Hills, VP Marketing, Dydacomp

amazon growth Amazon Continues to Redefine Online Retailing  A recent 60 Minutes segment featured a rare interview with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.  In preparation for the show, 60 Minutes was granted unprecedented access inside Amazon’s operations and was able to visit one of the 1.2 million square foot seventh generation fulfillment centers (there are 96 of these worldwide) that are at the heart of Amazon’s customer-centric approach to order fulfillment.

A classic American business success story selling his first book on Amazon in 1995, Bezos shared information on the following:

  • Humble Beginnings – Bezos used to drive the packages to the post office himself for shipping.
  • Fulfillment Center Efficiencies – Amazon warehouses can store twice as many goods as they did five years ago. By building distribution centers close to the customers they serve, they are able to accelerate the delivery process. Their centers are automated, hi-tech marvels.
  • Other Amazon Businesses – Amazon Fresh offering same-day grocery delivery; Amazon Fashion offering high-end clothing; Original television programming – its first series Alpha House was written by Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau; and Amazon Web Services (AWS) offering cloud based data storage and website hosting for hundreds of thousands of outside companies and government agencies, including Netflix and the CIA.
  • Company Philosophies – building customer trust, delivering shareholder value and always looking to increase market share and improve the customer experience.
  • The Future – more distribution centers, more efficient operations and drones as delivery vehicles for the majority of Amazon orders – this is a must see!

Amazon has 225 million customers throughout the world and its self-proclaimed goal is “to sell everything to everyone,” and delivering it as quickly and efficiently as possible.  For the full interview between Charlie Rose and Jeff Bezos, go to http://www.cbsnews.com/news/amazons-jeff-bezos-looks-to-the-future/.

Check out the Dydacomp on-demand webinar that provides information on selling through Amazon Marketplace.  It is a must watch if you are considering Amazon Marketplace or looking for a more efficient way to manage your existing Amazon Account.  Click here to access this free on-demand webinar.

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 Using Social Media To Help Grow Your eCommerce Business

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 Attracting Shoppers Is Critical to a Successful Holiday Shopping Season

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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