Posts Tagged ‘SiteLINK eCommerce’

6 Ways Successful Businesses Manage Inventory

Friday, February 6th, 2015

Posted by: Laura Hills

In working with thousands of small to medium-sized online retailers, time and again experience shows us that the customer experience doesn’t end at checkout. Efficient and effective back office inventory operations are crucial elements to any online retailer’s successful operation.

infographic 231x300 6 Ways Successful Businesses Manage Inventory

Asked about their top challenge in 2014, 43% of retailers ranked inventory management 1. That’s more than accounting, compliance, tech implementation, e-commerce integration, order management, or payroll. *Intuitive Accountant Survey

Here are six proven ways to reduce the retail inventory management burden.

1. Track Inventory From All Sales Channels
In the “Amazon Age” of retail, multiple points of demand and fulfillment require real-time visibility into multiple sources of inventory.

2. Gain Control of Kitted & Bundled Products
Adding kits to your product mix is a great way to increase sales, but can complicate things if you don’t have good inventory control in place.

3. Better Manage Drop-Ship Orders
In a drop ship scenario, the merchant is the middleman between the supplier and customer, integrating Purchase Order management, streamlining and speeding up the process so customers get their orders faster.

4. Beat Back Backorders
With real-time inventory management across sales channels, you can avoid out of stock situations by always posting accurate available-to-sell levels on all sales channels.

5. Enable Bin & Lot Tracking
Recall anomalies can wreak havoc on inventory accuracy.

6. Implement Barcode Scanning
Barcode scanning improves picking and packing accuracy while dramatically reducing the time required to process orders.

Click here to view the full Infographic entitled 6 Ways Successful Businesses Manage Inventory.

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

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Posted by Laura Hills, VP of Marketing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consider the following in analyzing your site:

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

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

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

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

 

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Connecting With Your Customers

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Posted by Laura Hills, VP of Marketing

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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March Madness – Bargains and Deals Attract Shoppers

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Posted by: Laura Hills, VP Marketing, Dydacomp

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

Welcome Spring and 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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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 inventory and order management solution 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.

Download the eBook 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 Business Understanding Today’s Content & Media Strategy to Grow Your eCommerce Business ns 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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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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Lessons Learned: Avoiding Holiday Shipping Woes

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Posted by: Laura Hills

MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse reported that U.S. retail sales rose 3.5% during this past holiday season.  According to ComScore Inc. merchandise purchased via personal computers rose 10% to $42.75 billion.   IBM Digital Analytics cited Internet sales soaring 37% over 2012 in the last weekend before Christmas as last minute shoppers rushed to order gifts at the 11th hour. Statistics indicate that while the bulk of holiday spending still takes place at physical locations, online shopping has gained immense popularity and is becoming a much larger part of holiday spending.  This is good news for online retailers.

Reliable deliveries are a crucial part of the online shopping experience, especially with shoppers that wait until the last minute to make their selections.  This year Amazon raised the bar by offering expedited shipping with Sunday package delivery via the USPS and packages guaranteed to arrive by Christmas. Many retailers followed Amazon’s lead, extending their order cut-off dates, promising same-day and Christmas delivery even if orders were placed as late as December 23rd. Shoppers’ reactions were so overwhelming that UPS and FedEx experienced overloaded systems that caused numerous Christmas and same-day delivery promises to go unmet.

The growing popularity of free shipping to entice consumers was another major factor that resulted in increased shipment volume. In the third week of December, Amazon’s Prime membership drew more than 1 million people.  Prime membership ($79 annual fee) offers free two-day shipping.  Most last minute online orders needed to ship via air or other expedited methods to reach their destination in time.  Bad weather across the nation cancelled or delayed many flights which contributed to the shipping woes.

Chetan Ghai, senior product officer at ShopperTrak feels that online businesses will continue to experience the greatest growth although he feels that next year, people who procrastinate until a few days before the holiday may be wary of relying on deliveries.  He said, “I think there will be some people who choose to go into the store, rather than risk a missed delivery.”

Being prepared comes from lessons learned and this holiday shopping season was certainly a teachable moment for both shipping companies and online retailers. Both need to pay attention to aggressive shipping options, promotional offerings, weather considerations, order volume and timing issues to avoid a repeat of 2014’s shipping woes.

There is a lot of revenue riding on the ‘run-up to Christmas’ and 2014 will only see the gain of one more shopping day (26 to 27 days) between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Shipping schedules that allow for unforeseen delays will need to be factored in to deliveries.  Connecting with customers early in the season (before Thanksgiving), offering more realistic order cut-off dates, not waiting until the last minute to offer the best deals and handling logistics more efficiently can  help to avoid future holiday shipping issues.

For a closer look at the issues and opportunities surrounding shipping, please view the On Demand Webinar,  Because Free Shipping Isn’t Free: The Top 7 Reasons You Need Effective Retail Promotions.

 

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