Posts Tagged ‘Dydacomp’

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

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Posted by: Laura HillsDydacomp-Order-Management

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

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

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

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

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

 

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End-to-End EDI: The Key to Running an Efficient Business

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Posted by: Rebecca Kaelin, Marketing Coordinator, Logicbroker

It’s an indisputable fact that eCommerce has changed the way we do business  – just ask any eTailer. While each eTailer strives to be more efficient and keep up with customer demand, more effective means of communication became necessary. That’s where Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) comes in.

EDI involves the transfer of data between organizations through electronic means, replacing postal mail, fax, and email. Though email is an electronic approach, documents exchanged via email still require someone to open, read, and translate the message, which can slow down processing and open the door to errors.  Due to its speed and considerable cost savings, EDI has become the medium of choice to transmit electronic documents and business information. Typical documents exchanged via EDI include purchase orders, invoices, and advance shipment notices (ASNs).

So what can EDI do for you? Well, eTailers that elect to implement end-to-end EDI allow their businesses to perform more efficiently. Without manual touches, errors are eliminated from the order fulfillment process, saving you time and money. Tracking information can be brought over, ensuring it is always accurate, which eliminates costly shipping errors. When there are no errors, no time will need to be allocated to correct them. With manual EDI, if you were importing/exporting information multiple times a day, it would be easy to duplicate or miss orders, which would alter the authenticity of your books. If numbers were off, time would be lost painstakingly going over orders to find out where the error was. Fortunately, end-to-end EDI ensures this scenario never happens.

EDI has been praised for its efficiency and automation capabilities, but only an end-to-end EDI solution can guarantee manual touches will be eliminated from your order fulfillment process. Many retailers and suppliers will implement EDI, yet still have to log into multiple portals to verify and complete orders. If you are spending just one hour a day manually processing orders, in a typical work year that will add up to 250 hours, which is simplified to 31 work days. With an end-to-end EDI solution, you get that month back. Your end-to-end EDI provider maps to your trading partner’s EDI so documents flow effortlessly between the systems and the need for you to log into portals is eliminated.

Your EDI solution can also act as an integration hub by connecting your backend systems. With an EDI integration hub, the powerful systems your business depends on can communicate seamlessly. EDI messages will be received and translated and deposited automatically into the appropriate system. Purchase/sales orders will flow from your shopping cart or trading partner directly into your order management software, and pricing and inventory updates can be brought up from your OMS into your shopping cart. Your EDI provider can also automatically trigger the sending of PO Acks (purchase order acknowledgements), ASNs (advance shipment notices), and invoices. With these backend efficiencies, your staff will not be tied up with manually fulfilling order information. If your backend is running inefficiently, customers will be turned away because of inaccurate stock and poor ratings. But, with a powerful backend that runs efficiently and reliably, your main focus can be developing your front end and growing your business.

In today’s eCommerce ecosystem, EDI is becoming a mandate. EDI opens the door to more business opportunities because of the efficiencies it creates, such as processing orders faster and eliminating manual tasks. By implementing an end-to-end EDI solution, you are optimizing your business in a way that regular EDI cannot. For more information on implementing end-to-end EDI, click here.

Access a special on demand webinar, Tools to Connect Your Online Store and Back Office, created by Dydacomp and Logicbroker to learn how Logicbroker’s deep integration with Dydacomp’s M.O.M. (Multichannel Order Management System) fully automates the EDI order process.

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

Friday, February 14th, 2014

Posted by: Laura Hills, VP Marketing, Dydacomp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Selling!

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Romance and Winter Deals Attract Shoppers

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Posted by: Laura Hills, VP Marketing, Dydacomp

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

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

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

Here are Jeanette’s recommendations to shoppers:

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

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

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

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

 

Happy Valentine’s Day and happy selling!

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Technology Enables Retailers to Help Customers Fulfill New Year’s Resolutions

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Posted by Laura Hills, VP of Marketing

The most popular New Year’s resolutions continue to center around making better food choices and leading a healthier lifestyle.  People who strive to be as healthy as possible increasingly turn to dietary supplements and nutraceuticals to achieve their desired results and fulfill their New Year’s resolutions. With fast and inexpensive highly processed food readily available, it is not always easy to meet daily nutritional needs with the foods that we eat which fuels the continued growth in the multi-billion dollar nutraceutical market.

The best sources of recommended nutrients are found in a healthy, balanced diet that incorporates fruits, vegetables and fresh, whole foods. We know making healthy and optimal food choices is not always easy; even people that try to eat a well-balanced diet can often miss essential nutrients and that is where dietary supplements and nutraceuticals can be beneficial.

According to a Nutraceuticals Industry Overview published by NewsMedical.net, nearly two-thirds of the American population takes at least one type of nutraceutical health product in an attempt to accomplish desirable therapeutic outcomes with reduced side effects. In RNCOS’ latest research study, “US Nutraceuticals Market Forecast to 2017,” RNCOS analysts estimate the market reaching $75.3 billion in 2017; growing at a CAGR of nearly 6% during 2013-2017. The market growth is driven by the aging Baby Boomer population which is fueling the focus on health and wellness and Generation X concerns about natural, organic and green products.  Both of these have helped to increase the consumption of dietary supplements and have propelled the functional food and beverages market as well.

With favorable demographics and an increase in online consumer spending, the nutraceuticals market offers immense opportunities for eCommerce retailers. It is increasingly important for nutraceuticals retailers to be visible across multiple sales channels to reach new and repeat customers. Technology has enabled nutraceuticals etailers to offer detailed online merchandise descriptions, video explanations and offer valuable online shopping assistance to help shoppers navigate the variety of product choices available and the benefits that each product has been developed to deliver.

Managing a nutraceuticals eCommerce platform is no easy task. Utilizing the appropriate technology tools to help manage the gaps between the front-end customer experience and the back-end merchant experience is critical for success. An order management system enables you to gain visibility and bridge the divides between your eCommerce store and back office to stay on top of inventory and order processing across multiple sales channels, keeping customers supplied and satisfied, which will keep them coming back.

A competitive nutraceuticals market challenges retailers to differentiate themselves through effectiveness, price, supply and packaging. As we enter a very busy season and year of growth for the nutraceuticals market, having an automated solution to address order processing, inventory management and customer service enables etailers to efficiently handle increasing order volume and provide personal customer service while streamlining and automating key back office processes all leading to increased productivity and profitability.

An order management system facilitates the integration of business processes from shopping cart integration, selling tools, Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance and gift card redemption to CRM, fraud protection, inventory management, payment integration, order fulfillment, tracking and logistics across all sales channels.  When these diverse processes work together, it simplifies day-to-day operations, leaving nutraceutical retailers with more time to connect with customers, source new products and innovations, develop strategic marketing promotions and keep their business healthy.

Click here to download the white paper Growing Your Health and Wellness Business – Best Practices for Nutraceutical Retailers. Click here to download the on demand webinar Growing Your Health and Wellness Business – Best Practices for Nutraceutical Retailers.

To access the latest RNCOS Study, US Nutraceuticals Market Forecast to 2017, click here. http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/us-nutraceuticals-market-forecast-to-2017-212161321.html

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

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Posted by: Laura Hills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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How Videos Can Help You Grow Your eCommerce Business

Monday, January 13th, 2014

Posted by: Laura Hills, Vice President, Marketing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some other reasons for using video in your marketing strategy:

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

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

Happy selling!

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Advantages of Drop Shipping vs. Ship from Store

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

Posted by: Laura Hills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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