Archive for the ‘StoreFront.net’ Category

November Deals Can Help Shoppers Stretch Holiday Budgets

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

Posted by: Laura Hills, VP Marketing, Dydacomp

Black Friday has been the unofficial kickoff to the holiday shopping season, featuring unbeatable prices especially for popular electronic gifts, gadgets and gizmos. But this year that has changed.  With only 25 days between Black Friday and Christmas, this is one of the shortest shopping seasons in the past decade with retailers and shoppers facing six fewer days to shop than in 2012.

According to a recent survey from Shop.org, 32% of retailers will be offering discounts earlier than they did last year which helps shoppers who want to maximize their holiday budgets. To see what’s trending for your customers to stretch their budgets and manage their expectations in November, we’ve taken a few tips from Jeanette Pavini, MarketWatch columnist.

Below are Jeanette’s November deals and promotion suggestions to shoppers that range from gifts, home improvements and turkey dinners to help make the holidays bright. We’ve included a few of our own suggestions as well.

  • In addition to shopping and comparing early holiday promotional pricing for electronics, Jeanette recommends shopping on Mondays as additional discounts and rebates are often offered earlier in the week. Trade-in/trade-up programs are becoming more popular which can go a long way toward making holiday electronics purchases more affordable.
  • Photos and portraits are popular holiday gifts and November is the month to get these done. You’ll have the finished photos in time for the holidays and many studios offer photo greeting cards at reduced rates if you are having photos done.
  • Start home winterizing projects now to help reduce utility bills and also save on winterizing materials and products including insulation, weather stripping and programmable thermostats.  Consider a switch to LED lighting for the holidays – the electrical savings can offset the cost of the replacing the lights.
  • Look for food retailers to be luring shoppers in with extra coupons, low price guarantees on popular holiday food items and other holiday special offers. Look for free shipping if you are purchasing holiday food items online either for yourself or as gifts.  Don’t overlook the free with qualifying purchase items when shopping since you’ll likely spend over their qualifying amount as you stock up for parties, family dinners and extra food and holiday goodies to have on hand.
  • If you are not already a loyalty club member at the places you do a lot of shopping, now’s the time to sign up. These programs typically offer both savings and rewards which can help to stretch holiday budgets. Check credit card promotions for those that offer significant incentives and rewards (think cash back) that you can enjoy throughout the season and beyond.

Reach your shoppers early and often and keep them informed about special products, pricing or promotions that you are offering. View Dydacomp’s webinar, The Top 5 Insights to Help Prepare for Seasonal and Holiday Rushes for additional holiday sales strategies.

The full text of Jeanette’s article can be found at The Wall Street Journal.

Happy holiday selling!

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Technology Helps Sporting Goods Retailers Score with Customers

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Posted by Laura Hills, Vice President of Marketing, Dydacomp

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

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

Sporting goods retailers need to implement effective market strategies to:

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

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

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As Car Sales Rise Aftermarket Auto Parts Retailers Can Benefit

Friday, November 1st, 2013

Posted by:  Laura Hills, VP, Marketing, Dydacomp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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It’s time! Get Your eCommerce Site Ready for the Holidays

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Posted by: Laura Hills, VP Marketing, Dydacomp

It’s that time of year – shoppers are starting their holiday shopping earlier and earlier and retailers need to be ready with timely offers, the right amount of inventory, and sufficient staff to handle the demand and to be ready to keep up with customer demand.  For a growing number of consumers, Back to School signals the start of the holiday shopping season.


When Consumers Begin Holiday Shopping

 

When consumers begin holiday shopping

Source: National Retail Federation (NRF) 2012
Following the lead of these early birds, well prepared retailers can begin holiday advertising and promotions to catch the almost 40% of shoppers who start shopping in September and October.  Help them to find the perfect gifts at the right prices early on.

Here are 5 Top Insights to help you prepare for the 2013 holiday shopping season.

  1. Free shipping increases online spending – but it must be managed appropriately. Take advantage of group shipping rates and “least-cost shipping” options to increase bottom line revenue.
  2. Manage stock levels to meet seasonal demand spikes and maintain inventory control. Be prepared for the Black Friday through Cyber Monday sales period.  Use last year’s sales as a benchmark for this year’s needs.
  3. Leverage best practices to ensure that you have visibility across all sales channels. Utilize cross channel online inventory control especially if you use third party eCommerce solutions and offsite fulfillment centers – have what you need so you don’t disappoint.
  4. Employ marketing and customer service approaches that work to engage and delight your shoppers. Use customer data to segment your site visitors and create targeted marketing for each segment. There’s no such thing as an over-satisfied customer.
  5. Optimize your existing operations to enable expansion into new marketplaces to uncover more buyers. Focus on the consumer experience and preferences that drive shopper’s choices. Don’t forget about Amazon, eBay and other online outlets for sales.

 

For additional information on how to be prepared for the upcoming holiday season access our on-demand webinar, “The Top 5 Insights to Help Prepare for Season and Holiday Rushes”.  You and your shoppers will be glad you did!

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Mobile Device Shoppers Taking the Lead in Online Spending – Are They Finding You?

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Posted by: Laura Hills, VP Marketing

In the second quarter of 2013, consumers using smartphones and tablets increased their online spending by 24% over 2012 reports comScore Inc., the global leader and preferred source for digital business analytics.  Internet Retailer estimates that total online sales increased 16.2% to $54.54 billion for the same time period.

comScore also reports that the 2013 second quarter sales marks the 15th consecutive positive quarter for eCommerce and the 11th consecutive quarter of double digit growth.   “Increased spending growth for the second quarter not only reflects the long term shift towards digital commerce, but also the near-term signals of sustained improvement in consumer sentiment,” says Gian Fulgoni, comScore chairman.

This is definitely positive news for online retailers, but only if shoppers can easily find them online. Etailers need to be sure to focus on getting in front of their ideal customers and prospective customers through direct site, paid search and search engine access. It is easy to identify just how easy (or difficult) it is to find your business by doing your own searches to see where you are listed on the popular search engines.  And don’t hesitate to look for help if needed to boost your rankings – not everyone’s an SEO specialist.

With over 5 billion Google searches per day, more than half done on a mobile device, your business may be hard to find.  Know the keywords that people are using to find you, and be sure your site is optimized for SEO rankings.

About.com offers the top 10 factors that positively affect your search engine rankings: [1]

1.        Keyword Use in Title Tag

2.        Anchor Text of Inbound Links

3.        Global Link Popularity of Site

4.        Age of Site

5.        Link Popularity within the Site’s Internal Link Structure

6.        Topical Relevance of Inbound Links to Site

7.        Link Popularity of Site in Topical Community

8.        Keyword Use in Body Text

9.        Global Link Popularity of Linking Site

10.     Topical Relationship of Linking Page

In addition, be active on social networks where your customers are likely to be.  Update your site content and offer promotions and/or links that direct them to relevant content, giving visitors reasons to visit often while keeping the search engines running. Your site should be optimized to be displayed and function across all popular devices.  Make sure that there is no loss of integrity or functionality on mobile platforms as more and more shoppers are using them to making their online purchases.

For additional tips on managing your retail back office operations, read this white paper entitled:  “Is Your Back Office Keeping Up With Your Online Store?”


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SMB Marketing Tactics Help Win and Retain Customers

Friday, October 11th, 2013

Posted by Laura Hills, VP Marketing, Dydacomp

SMB marketers share many of the same challenges as their larger counterparts and have the same desire to make their companies successful.  What is interesting, according to a recent study conducted by BtoB Magazine[1] is that SMB marketers are more active in social media marketing than marketers at larger companies and are also more likely to rely on content, email, search techniques and webinars than marketers overall.

This study found that email is the favored distribution channel for SMB marketers, with 71% citing this as their most important channel compared with 64% of marketers overall.   Content marketing was identified as the number one role for all marketers coming in ahead of branding, managing the website, company events and search marketing.  Seventy percent of SMB marketers see content marketing as their primary task compared with just 58% of marketers overall. Webinars and virtual events are used more often by SMBs at 35% versus 28% for marketers overall.

Another study that looked at marketing tactics used by SMBs found that 38% of small businesses offer customer loyalty programs.  BIA/Kelsey’s ongoing study of advertising behaviors, “Local Commerce Monitor” shows that SMBs use of loyalty programs has remained steady from 2012 to 2013 with 21% likely to add loyalty programs within the next 12 months.  Businesses are recognizing that these programs are important to customer retention and will help them to increase their sales.  SMBs tailor their loyalty program offerings and rewards to fit their frequent customer profile and target specific customer segments.   SMBs are taking advantage of transaction marketing tactics that include deals, coupons and loyalty programs to win and retain as many customers as possible.

For additional information on best practices for growing your business, we invite you to view our on demand webinar Tips, Tricks and Tools You Need to Drive Business Growth in 2013.



[1] “Defining the Modern Marketer: SMBs Driving Results.”  Sponsored by Eloqua. Conducted by BtoB Magazine, May – June 2013.

 

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Shorter Holiday Selling Season Calls for Creative Retailing

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Posted by: Laura Hills, VP Marketing

Retailers aren’t letting a shorter holiday selling season in 2013 [there were 32 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2012 but only 26 days this year] dampen their sales expectations as they gear up for this year’s holiday shopping.

As evidence of the optimistic outlook, the National Retail Federation (NRF) reported that the country’s retail container ports are anticipating a 5.1% increase in the number of cargo containers in September 2013 over September 2012.  Import volume at the New York and New Jersey ports is expected to rise 10.6% over 2012 in the fourth quarter of this year and first quarter 2014 deliveries are expected to increase 6.7% over 2013.  It looks like retailers are eager to stock up to be ready to meet customer demands.

Several factors are contributing to the positive outlook for holiday sales.  Ben Hackett, founder of Hackett Associates who produced the NRF’s Global Port Tracker Report noted that “Second quarter GDP was well above expectations and surprised most forecasters, the unemployment picture is improving, and we believe consumer confidence will translate into increased sales during the fourth quarter.”  Despite ongoing concerns related to the shorter selling season, the consumer spending impact of a government shutdown, increased payroll taxes, unemployment levels, and small income gains, the National Retail Federation expects U.S. sales in November and December to rise 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion. That would surpass the 3.5 percent increase seen in 2012 and average growth of 3.3 percent over the past decade.  Retailers have already started the big holiday push and will keep this up to attract shoppers across all channels.

Retailers who don’t want to wait for Black Friday and Cyber Monday are coming up with creative ways to attract customers sooner.  Here are some suggestions to attract more people to your site this holiday season:

  • Be mobile optimized.  You can’t ignore the trend.  More and more shoppers are using smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices not only to browse, but also to shop and place orders.  There’s no telling when, where and on what device your shoppers will be accessing your site so it’s up to you to be sure everything looks great and works well across all devices and across all of your shopping channels.
  • Have real people available to respond to inquiries.  Help shoppers resolve any ordering issues that they encounter.  Don’t lose or frustrate customers by not being able to talk to a ‘live’ person during the holiday season.
  • Put together gift suggestion guides on your website and email the link to your loyal customers.  It’s not always easy coming up with just the right gift and shoppers will appreciate your help.
  • Attract early shoppers by starting now.  Twenty percent of shoppers will start their holiday shopping in October, so don’t wait for Black Friday to get their attention.  Time your promotions and let customers know that you’re fully stocked and ready to meet their holiday shopping needs.
  • Plan a holiday season contest.  Contests are a good way to drive business and get new customers for your brand.  According to Listrak, three to four percent of recipients of contest offers place orders from the registration confirmation email.  Contests such as name Santa’s newest elf will engage shoppers.  Encouraging your audience to vote for their favorite names enables you to widen your reach even more.

For additional information on how to be prepared for the upcoming holiday season, access our on demand webinar, “The Top 5 Insights to Help Prepare for Season and Holiday Rushes.”  Happy selling!

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Need for Speed – A Slow Website Won’t Win in the Race for Customers

Friday, September 27th, 2013

Posted by: Laura Hills, VP Marketing, Dydacomp

A recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Riverbed Technology[1] revealed online shopper behavior that every eCommerce retailer needs to be aware of. This survey is one of the most extensive to date on website performance and mobile shopping.

The survey found:

  • On average, online shoppers consult three websites before making a purchase
  • Poor website performance causes an online shopper to go to a competitor
  • 68% of adults expect to shop online for holiday gifts this season
  • Over 40% of adult online shoppers will evaluate their purchase with a local retailer

The survey also found that if online shoppers encounter website issues such as slow speed and reliability on their mobile device:

  • 67% of shoppers would stop using a website if pages loaded too slowly on their smartphone
  • 29% would buy from a brick and mortar store
  • 22% would buy from a competitor’s website
  • 20% would abandon the purchase

Speed and performance are important factors to online shoppers – and may even outweigh price considerations.  All of this underscores the importance of delivering a high performing website that is optimized across sales channels and is scalable to handle peak loads during your busy seasons.   Be sure that the checkout process can be quickly and easily accomplished and that your site integrates well with your back office systems.

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?  



[1] New Harris Poll Reveals 67 Percent of Online Shoppers Will Leave a Website Due to Slow Performance – http://finance.yahoo.com/news/harris-poll-reveals-67-percent-130000804.html

 

Apparel Retailers Dress for eCommerce Success to Attract Shoppers

Friday, September 6th, 2013

Posted by Laura Hills, Vice President of Marketing, Dydacomp

Apparel retailing is a highly competitive sector and apparel retailers are keenly aware that today’s shoppers have no limits as to where, how and when they shop.  Where once the brick and mortar storefront was the only way of getting apparel into customer’s hands, shoppers today expect to be able to shop 24/7, 365 days a year.  According to Moody’s Investor Services, online apparel and footwear sales are expected to exceed $40 billion in 2013 and $45 billion in 2014.  It is estimated that online apparel and footwear sales account for close to 20% of total eCommerce sales in the U.S. and smart apparel retailers are honing in on this fast growing segment.

Apparel retailers must be active and visible in a variety of sales channels to reach the widest variety of new and repeat customers. Technology has enabled etailers to offer improved online merchandise presentation to present multiple views of an item in varying colors and styles so that website shoppers can interact with their selections.  Detailed customer reviews offer valuable online shopping assistance to simulate shopping with a friend.  Online shoppers are also attracted by special promotions, especially “free shipping,” which more retailers now feel pressure to offer.  Multi-channel retailers with brick and mortar locations often allow in-store returns to further enhance the flexibility of the online shopping experience.

An order management system can help online retailers gain visibility and bridge the gap between their eCommerce store and their back office to stay on top of available inventory and order progress across all sales channels. Order management systems support Customer Service activities to effectively engage with customers with timely and accurate order information.

“Best in Class” Apparel and Multi-channel Retailers focus on:

  • Effective Inventory Tracking – never miss a sale by stocking the latest fashion items
  • Superior Customer Service – solving problems and surpassing shopper expectations
  • Being Proactive – anticipating their customers’ wants and needs
  • Delivering Convenience – across all platforms and according to the shoppers’ schedules
  • Promoting Value – promotions and offers helps shoppers stretch and save their clothing dollars

A consumer-facing website, catalog sales and physical stores, or any combination, require a high level of coordination and information management with the objective to create a personal shopper experience across all retail platforms, encouraging shoppers to return again and again for their apparel needs.

Apparel retailers benefit from seamlessly integrating all business processes across multiple sales channels to capture data, manage inventory and shipping and create the best online shopping experience.   Utilizing an integrated order, inventory and customer management system will enable access to a complete history of previous purchases to create an enhanced level of personal service.  Having this information at the fingertips of customer service representatives facilitates up-selling and cross-selling and gives customer service staff the ability to make relevant purchase suggestions based on customers’ preferences from past purchases.  Capturing this information lets the retailer create targeted mailings and promotions aimed directly at the most likely to buy shoppers.

At Dydacomp, we have worked with thousands of SMB retailers and have learned from them what best practices they follow for success.  By delivering positive shopping experiences and interactions, apparel retailers create targeted promotions to attract and retain a constant stream of customers. Dydacomp’s whitepaper “Dressing for Success – Best Practices in Apparel and Specialty Retailing” addresses the characteristics, strategies and practices to grow your business.  Click here to access this special report.

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Make Your Online Store Stand Out

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Posted by Fred Lizza, CEO, Dydacomp

In 2012 retail shopping websites accounted for $186.2 billion with this number projected to reach $361.9 by 2016.  Mobile commerce revenue, defined as customers using their mobile devices for online shopping was estimated at $10 billion in 2012.   More than 37.6 million people in the U.S. alone are considered to be mobile shoppers – using their smartphones, tablets or other mobile devices to shop online.[1]  eMarketer, a market research firm specializing in digital marketing, media and commerce, estimates the number of digital shoppers to grow from 137 million in 2010 to 175 million in 2016.  That’s a lot of dollars and a lot of shoppers.  What is hard to estimate is the number of online retail stores as the costs and technical barriers to setting up an online store have been significantly lowered.

So what can you do to set your online store apart from all the others?  In a recent Fun Friday posting on ShareASale, Chris Rueckert, Network Launch Manager, provided information on what he considers to be three essentials for an eCommerce site: Differentiation, Shopping Cart and Analytics. According to Chris:

  • Differentiation – your differentiation doesn’t need to be a grand innovation.  Look for defined differentiators that can set your site apart.
  • Shopping Cart – this is the gateway to your online store and need to provide integrated features that range from marketing, inventory management, reporting and business analytics.
  • Analytics – without the proper analytics you won’t know how shoppers are interacting with your site.  Analytics will enable you to evaluate the success of your overall operation and your individual products.

It is also smart to be sure that you have the right technology to enable your back office to keep up with your online store. This will allow you to grow your online business by being able to better focus on creating targeted marketing efforts, improve customer service and expand market visibility.  An online order management system can help you do this.

Dydacomp’s whitepaper “Retail Trends – Is Your Back Office Keeping Up with Your Online Store” addresses the benefits of an order management system for your online store.  Click here to access this free special report to learn about the top 5 ½ benefits of automating order management.

You may also be interested in our recent webinar, The Top 5 Insights to Help Prepare for Seasonal & Holiday RushesAccess the free on-demand recording here.

You can find Chris’ full post, “Building Blocks of an Online Store” at http://blog.shareasale.com/2013/07/12/building-blocks-of-an-online-store/.



[1] Statistics and Facts about Online Shopping by Jessica Kril. http://www.statista.com/topics/871/online-shopping/.