Posts Tagged ‘ecommerce’

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

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Posted by Laura Hills, VP of Marketing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consider the following in analyzing your site:

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

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

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

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

 

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Connecting With Your Customers

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Posted by Laura Hills, VP of Marketing

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

To learn more about Omnichannel retailing, view this On Demand Webinar: Demystifying Omnichannel Retailing: Finding Value in a Multichannel Sales Landscape.

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March Madness – Bargains and Deals Attract Shoppers

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Posted by: Laura Hills, VP Marketing, Dydacomp

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

Welcome Spring and happy selling!

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

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Posted by: Laura HillsDydacomp-Order-Management

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

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

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

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

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

 

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National Retail Federation Predicts A Good Year For Retailers

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Posted by Laura Hills, VP of Marketing

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

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

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

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

 

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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. Check out this blog for more information on implementing end-to-end EDI..

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.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day and happy selling!

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

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Posted by: Laura Hills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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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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