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What Prime Day Can Teach Us About Holiday Sales

What Prime Day Can Teach Us About Holiday Sales

Prime Day is Over, but Holiday Sales Have Only Begun

If January is the finish line for holiday sales, Amazon’s Prime Day is the starting gun. This year brands came out in force to compete and capitalize on the sales event. Flexing omnichannel marketing muscle, both digital natives and big-box stores sought to grab their share of winnings. Most importantly, the performance-enhancing tools both Amazon and others used on Prime Day can be repurposed for the holiday race ahead. Let’s review.

 

Quick Recap: Prime Day Milestones

This Prime Day, the ecommerce ecosystem got more than it bargained for. Brands broke through the clutter with new strategies to piggy-back off the holiday, while others launched their own sales events. Amazon’s reported sales for the two-day event beat last year’s totals for both Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. According to Internet Retailer, “The ecommerce giant sold more than 175 million items across its platform. Plus, sales by third-party marketplace sellers ‘far exceeded’ $2 billion.” However, Amazon wasn’t the only winner.

Last week, Adobe Digital Insights discovered a massive industry shift. Data shows that average daily revenues for retailers with revenues over $1 billion saw lifts of 54% and 72% Monday and Tuesday, respectively. The report concludes that mid-sized retailers shared the gains, witnessing an average revenue bump of 28%.

The two-days of sales also mark a notable shift in the industry at large, pushing the entire category to new highs. Thanks to this month’s 1.7%  increase in sales across the online retail industry, non-store retailers (including Amazon and digital-only stores) now only trail Auto dealers in the U.S. retail market. As Bloomberg notes, “Online shopping has become the second-biggest chunk of the $520 billion U.S. retail market, after overtaking grocery stores and restaurants in June.”

 

How Amazon Became a Crowd Favorite

From free shipping to premium content, Amazon Prime members get an awful lot of added value. For an annual price of $119 (or $59 for students), users get unlimited music and photo storage, audiobooks, Kindle books, discounts at Whole Foods, and Prime Video where they can watch their favorite movies and shows.

The loyalty program also gives special deals to users, including early access to lightning deals 30 minutes before non-members. Additionally, Prime members can even share their benefits with other members of their household (or anyone for that matter). One of the newest features, Prime Wardrobe, allows loyal members to ship up to 8 clothing items from Amazon sent right to their door, and they can return any and all items for free.

The result of this massive loyalty program? Membership now exceeds 100 million subscribers. At the end of 2018, Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CRIP), determined the average Prime member spent $1,400.00 on Amazon goods for the year, more than double the $600.00 that non-prime customers spent on average. 

 

Building Your Fanbase Through Loyalty Programs

Users expect more from brands and online vendors. They want value beyond the products they’re buying and an interface that makes for swift shopping. Most, if not all DTC companies acquire the bulk of their new customers for the year during the holidays. The problem is engaging these customers and retaining them once the ball drops on New Year’s Eve. A loyalty program built specifically for your audience can help you keep the sales flowing and boost retention year-round.

The question is, how does your current loyalty program achieve this, and can it be optimized? Are there additional “freebies” you can provide outside of the occasional blog post, up-sell, or discount? In ecommerce, brand loyalty can be a massive differentiator between you and your competition. While Amazon’s loyalty program is difficult to match, exclusive deals, early releases, customer perks, and unlockable rewards are great ways to keep customers engaged and coming back.

If your rewards program was based on a subscription payment, how much could it cost to provide free shipping for customers? Perhaps rolling revenue would allow you to create new content for members like style guides, product videos, or pop-up events like Amazon’s Treasure Truck. Rewards programs like Swell even reward customers for creating content like product reviews, videos, Instagram photos and more, which in-turn drive additional revenue. For the holiday’s it’s time to think seriously about the value of customer loyalty.

 

Using Amazon To Your Advantage

Amazon offers benefits to sellers who use the platform, including specific advantages for Prime Day. Omnichannel merchants can submit for a lighting deal, which if approved, puts the platform’s marketing engine to work for you. Sellers who are selected for the option typically see a big boost in sales, though significantly lower prices are recommended to get approved (at least 20% off the current Amazon listed price and at least 5% lower than the lowest listed price for the same product in the past 28 days). 

Amazon coupons are another example of some of the benefits sellers can use to get some extra juice out of the Prime Day frenzy. The coupons show up in search results, on the Amazon Coupons page, in the shopping cart, in your brand store, and in sponsored products listings. This year, many merchants combined these strategies with an increase in marketing budget to get their products seen and to the top of specific categories, but only with product that were performing well already. 

Companies that sell consumable products have a massive advantage. Amazon’s subscription feature lets customers sign up for automatic rolling purchases that will keep sales going long after Prime Day. Using this option in combination with those mentioned above will likely prove powerful for merchants who sell on Amazon, and makes a compelling case to add subscription functionality to your ecommerce site. Our developers recommend using this extension here for Magento 2.

 

The Sales Race Ahead

Vendor beware, Amazon is currently taking steps to build it’s own collection of private-label brands. While the deal may seem outrageous, the “Amazon Accelerator” program offers free marketing support, preferred listings, and more perks for vendors. The catch? Amazon reserves the right to purchase brands that sign up for as little as $10,000 flat (WSJ). Most brands would agree this is a ludicrously unfair price for an entire product line. However, it’s likely one or two tiny companies in each category will part with a brand for the fast cash-grab before they’re bought.

While we don’t advise tossing your hat in the ring, this is a gentle reminder that competition for selling on Amazon will only increase, and you can bet the brands Amazon plans to snatch up will receive preferential treatment. Then again, if you’re a retailer or reseller with the ability to create a new brand quickly, it might not be a bad idea to sign up.

 

Final Thoughts

This Prime Day, brands proved a decisive ability to compete against Amazon. While some profited by selling on Amazon, others kept customers close by hosing their own sales events, focusing on mobile optimization, or pumping up their marketing budget. The road to beating Amazon isn’t easy, but these successes point to new ways to match the giant’s might (or at least profit from it).

Customer loyalty is just one area where merchants can improve their overall experience and prepare the holidays ahead. Whether you manage a B2B or B2C operation, there are likely tools and strategies available you haven’t thought about. Grab our free Power Index for insights on how to improve even the strongest tech stack and keep customers coming back long after the holiday season.  

 

Update! The Mobile-First Holiday: Ecommerce Stats You Need To Know

Update! The Mobile-First Holiday: Ecommerce Stats You Need To Know

At this very moment, retail executives around the US are likely screaming about their Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales performance. For some, these sounds resemble a triumphant war chant, for others, these are the shrill cries of defeat. The reason? Mobile-first adoption.

No matter where you stand, this data changes the ecommerce landscape. Here are the latest stats and key trends from the long-weekend of holiday sales events. We will update this article as soon as new data is released, so make sure you subscribe to be the first to know!

Thanksgiving Takes an Extra Helping

On Thanksgiving day, as of 7:00am Pacific Time, U.S. consumers spent $406 million. By 2pm, Adobe announced that this number skyrocketed to a whopping $1.75 billion, representing a 23% increase over sales in the same time period in 2017. By the end of the day, Americans beat out last year’s sales for the day by a shocking 28%, resulting in a shocking 3.7 billion dollar Thanksgiving. Adobe initially projected a $3.1B bottom line for the holiday.

Mobile Wins Big

Here’s a quick breakdown of the major events in bite-size chunks:

Thanksgiving Day

“Mobile stole the show Thanksgiving Day with smartphones representing more than 50% of traffic to retail sites, as well as record amount of revenue,” Taylor Schreiner, Director of Adobe Digital Insights

Black Friday

$2.1 billion or 33.5% of sales came from smartphones this Black Friday. Another 10% of sales, or roughly $627 million, came from tablet users. All in all, the day yielded an impressive $6.2 billion, a 23.6% increase over 2018.

Cyber Monday Breaks The Internet

Here’s the big one. Cyber Monday sales shattered all previous records for online sales… in U.S. history.

“Cyber Monday [topped] $7.9 billion by the end of the day, making it the largest online shopping day of all time in the U.S. This represents a 19.7 percent increase year-over-year (YoY) as of 7:00 p.m. ET. In comparison, Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday brought in $3.7 billion (28 percent growth YoY) and $6.2 billion (23.6 percent growth YoY) in revenue, respectively.”BusinessWire

Here’s the share of devices (as of ~1:30pm ET November 27, 2018):

the mobile-first holiday ecommerce stats you need to know See more live stats at ExploreAdobe.com

7 Days of Spectacular Sales

Additionally, Adobe’s latest report notes that this November has seen 7 days where total sales broke the $2 billion mark (as of Nov. 28, 2018)… Thanks in no small part to the mobile sales spikes.

Omnichannel Adoption Drives Sales

The trend of “buy online, pick-up in-store (BOPIS)” continued, with the trend growing 50% during this past weekend over 2018. According to Adobe, this spells dollar signs for omnichannel merchants: “As the online and offline retail experience continues to blend, retailers with physical stores drove 28 percent higher conversions online.” While this trend helped retailers increase their share of online earnings, in-store sales lagged far behind.

It’s time to join the mobile-first movement. As Adam Morris, Redstage CEO notes, “Cusotmers are no longer expecting an in-store Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but instead, an omnichannel experience.” While many retailers successfully ramped up their omnichannel strategies for this holiday, the data shows this trend is here to stay, and more work is needed.

If you want to reduce mobile checkout friction before the holidays are over, contact us asap! To see the results we’ve achieved with our recently launched Magento Community Initiative, find the latest data here.

Final Thoughts

These extravagant stats spell success for an industry racing to close the mcommerce gap. It’s seems the industry is all-aboard the mobile-first customer experience wave. As Internet Retailing points out, retailers may have finally reached ‘always-on‘ mobile consumers. Now it looks like the key areas for improvement are streamlining mobile checkouts, and optimizing omnichannel experiences.

Update Nov. 28, 2018

Black Friday + Cyber Monday Stats You Need To Know

Here’s a breakdown of YOY holiday sales by device and region based on data collected by our partners at Nosto!

    • United States
      Desktop: 39% (2017) / 34% (2018)
      Mobile: 56% (2017) / 61% (2018)
      Tablet: 5% (2017) / 3% (2018)

 

    • United Kingdom
      Desktop: 47% (2017) / 40% (2018)
      Mobile: 42% (2017) / 48% (2018)
      Tablet: 11% (2017) / 12% (2018)

 

    • Northern Europe
      Desktop: 39% (2017) / 37% (2018)
      Mobile: 51% (2017) / 57% (2018)
      Tablet: 10% (2017) 6% (2018)

 

      • France
        Desktop: 69% (2017) / 67% (2018)
        Mobile: 19% (2017) / 22% (2018)
        Tablet: 12% (2017) / 11% (2018)

     

    • DACH
      Desktop: 40% (2017) / 53% (2018)
      Mobile: 42% (2017) / 39% (2018)
      Tablet: 8% (2017) / 8% (2018)

 

Update Nov. 29, 2018

PayPal Mobile Payments Get A $2B Holiday Boost

    • For the first time in PayPal history, mobile payment volume topped $1 billion, and did so on both Black Friday (November 23) and Cyber Monday (November 26). – PAYMNTS

 

    • Adobe reports U.S. shopping carts averaged $138.00 during Cyber Monday, a 6% bump over last year.

 

    • 49% of Black Friday traffic came from smartphones, driving 30% of online sales.

 

  • “In the [PYMNTS] Checkout Conversion Index report, the 30 merchants with the fastest, most streamlined online checkouts ranked well. Conversely, the 30 merchants with the lowest scores offer a widely inconsistent checkout experience…”

Update Nov. 30, 2018

Cyberweek 2018 Trends Report

Our partners at BigCommerce identified a few additional trends in their Cyberweek 2018 Trends Report. Key findings include:

      • While online stores continue to have the highest AOV for any sales channel, Facebook took second place, accounting for “70% of total GMV” for Fashion and Jewelry brands using the channel. Home and Garden brands selling on Facebook came in at 16% GMV.

     

    • “The Fashion & Jewelry and Toys & Games verticals saw the highest GMV increases over 2017.
Black Friday Countdown: 4 Critical Last-Minute Store Optimizations

Black Friday Countdown: 4 Critical Last-Minute Store Optimizations

The 2017 holiday rush was a tipping point for eCommerce optimization. Between mobile sales taking over traditional retail and other trends that took the industry by surprise, the holidays gave retailers myriad reasons to rethink digital strategy. Today, with Black Friday looming only days away, 2018 stands to be another make-or-break point for online sellers who did or didn’t adapt.

Our partners at Shoppimon put together this list of last-minute reminders for retailers prepping for the big week of sales ahead. Dive in to discover the top recommendations for managing traffic, guaranteeing uptime, and perfecting conversion optimization that just might save your store this season.

#1. Test the full sales funnel – from landing page to checkout.

Black Friday Countdown: 4 Critical Last-Minute Store Optimizations

The full sales funnel should be tested and optimized leading up to –and throughout– the holiday season. However, some key points of weakness that lead to significant business downtime are:

1. Search: 0.7% of all issues Shoppimon sees are problems with search. When search isn’t working on a website and shoppers can’t find what they’re looking for, it’s all too easy today to buy elsewhere.

2. Page Errors: Exposed error messages are surprisingly common. In fact, they’re responsible for 0.6% of all issues Shoppimon identifies. These pose a problem for several reasons. The first is that they stop the shopping process dead in its tracks. As a result, they also scare shoppers off. Not only are customer unable to complete a purchase, but after seeing an error message, they may lose all trust in the site going forward. Lastly, depending on the error, exposed messages can pose a serious security risk to a website… Ensuring these types of message don’t happen should be a top priority.

3. Error Message Text: To cover all your bases, make sure the language in your error messages is friendly and less automatic. This will let the customer know you are aware a problem is occurring, and that it may be fixed soon. “Error 506!” sounds a lot worse than “Hey there! We are experiencing a slight issue due to heavy site traffic. Check back in 15 minutes and the problem should be resolved. Happy holidays!”

4. Missing Product Images: If a shopper can’t see a product, they won’t buy it, end of story. Missing product images are surprisingly common. In fact, they make up 2.1% of all issues we spot. Understanding when this happens and fixing it before you lose a sale is a must. Monitoring your site will help keep you aware and in the know about missing product images and info.

5. Add to Cart & Checkout Errors: You are likely losing 4% or more of your total sales to issues occurring in these two key shopping stages. Issues here range from missing add to cart buttons to problems with payment providers. The average retailer will lose approximately 13% of sales to functional and performance-related website issues during the holidays. To avoid this, thoroughly test your conversion funnel and upgrade your website in advance of the seasonal surge. It can make a significant difference to your bottom line. If you’re out of time for a significant upgrade, monitoring your site closely and proactively address issues as they occur. It will have a dramatic and positive impact on your bottom line.

#2. Stress-test your site’s ability to handle increased traffic.

Black Friday Countdown: 4 Critical Last-Minute Store Optimizations

Under enough stress, every system will fail. Stress-testing your website before the holidays is a great way to find out if additional traffic could be your downfall. Leading up to Black Friday, we recommend you do both of the following:

1. Load Testing: making sure that your site can handle a given number of users/requests consecutively and concurrently.

2. Completing A True Stress Test:
 load the site to the point that it crashes to see how that crash is handled by your software (and potentially, your team).

When a site is overloaded, if a server is properly configured, it should be able to handle the benchmarked number of consecutive or concurrent requests, after which requests will be queued. If you then pass the benchmark for you queuing, requests should time out, rather than the site itself going down completely.

If your server does crash, splitting the load across other third party solutions like CDNs will help in the long run, so the servers don’t need to handle each and every request. However, if you need a last minute fix you can quickly tune the configuration of your servers to change the amount of memory they use. You may also be able to manage the number of requests they handle (assuming your code has been built to allows this).

#3. Be prepared to scale-up on the fly (and know how to). 

The first thing an eCommerce manager should do is simply talk to their team. Understand what is already in place and what it would take to scale-up their web and database servers if needed. In an ideal situation, when a website is on a cloud platform, you should have deployment automation that allows you to quickly spawn more servers (which should only take a couple of minutes to complete). This does however require that automation is already in place to allow you to do this, and that the code was written in a way to support the expansion to additional hardware. And this is true not only of web servers, but database servers as well.

In a typical eCommerce setup, the biggest bottleneck is the database, which also tends to be the hardest to scale in an emergency situation. With limited time  to prepare before Black Friday and Cybyer Monday, your top priority should be to check if your database hardware can scale if necessary. This is critical. If the situation arises where the database needs to be scaled and it wasn’t prepped in advance, it will usually result in significant downtime for the full site.

Going deeper into the issue, Redstage CEO Adam Morris states, “…when downtime occurs, or things do go wrong during the holidays, the effect of those issues is compounded because you’ve probably expanded your customer service team to make up for higher demand, as well as increased marketing budgets to attract more holiday spending. So when things go wrong, those marketing dollars are lost, and [customer] support may suddenly be relegated to  a more junior team with less experience and a lower quality of service.” (Check out more insights on holiday emergency management from Adam Morris here on Shoppimon’s blog).

#4. Find problems before your customers do.

Black Friday Countdown: 4 Critical Last-Minute Store Optimizations

At Shoppimon, we see retailers monitoring their websites in a multitude of different ways; From manual checks conducted by different team members, to using completely automated systems like Shoppimon, and everything in between. Unfortunately, many of the systems require resource-heavy investments, not just for setup, but also to understand them and react to the data they generate.

While we know that monitoring automation is key for any business at scale, it’s important that a team’s resources spend as little time as possible on the monitoring itself. Instead, team members should be free to spend their time making a website or application better, fixing bugs, and creating a great customer experience.

Luckily, Shoppimon supports script-free and integration-free automated setup, which takes minutes. The solution also automates issue prioritization and notification, so users get critical information when it’s most needed, but never bothers them when it’s not.

These benefits have made a huge difference for our customers leading up to the holiday season. We’ve seen brands successfully roll out new updates and upgrades just before the sales surge, and also helped them identify better ways to plan for next year.

Each year we see the biggest challenges and successes of major brands in the eCommerce Industry. Last year, in our Online Store Health & Usability Index (OSHU Index), we saw brands like Birchbox, Dollar Shave Club and Saatva excel during the holiday season, with consistently faster load times and fewer issues both leading up to and during the holidays. However, we saw other retailers, like One King’s Lane, that experienced significant downtime during Cyber Monday, really struggle. The difference relies on your ability to react.

Final Thoughts:

Monitoring your online store for bugs and the ability to react quickly will determine the winners and losers for 2018. Testing is paramount (especially if you had issues last year), which means diving into your funnels, your site, and being prepared to tackle anything that needs fixing, fast. However, without a monitoring solution in place, you might not notice significant issues on your site causing lost revenue every minute. Do your due diligence and walk through each stage of the customer journey to make sure your holiday haul will be a happy one. Let us know what you think of these tips in the comments below, and enjoy the holidays!

For more insights on last-minute holiday strategies, check out this post from our partners at Brightpearl on omnichannel & backoffice prep!

Black Friday Countdown: 8 Omnichannel & Back Office Final Touches

Black Friday Countdown: 8 Omnichannel & Back Office Final Touches

Sellers wait anxiously as distant bells chime through the chilly air. Less than a week remains until Black Friday, and projections are looking good. Despite the ghost of retail’s past taking down giants this year, U.S. retailers are positioned for a “Trillion Dollar Christmas” in 2018 (eMarketer).

In line with holiday tradition, Redstage and our partners have an early gift for online merchants. Together, we’re launching this last-minute holiday prep series to ease your seasonal anxieties. The geniuses at Brightpearl combined this year’s top trends and strategies to create the ultimate holiday guide for omnichannel and back office prep.

Use this post as your last-chance optimization guide so you can sleep soundly and avoid the dread of feeling there’s one last thing you forgot. Here’s 8 critical areas you need to master to survive this year’s holiday rush:

#1 Understand your omnichannel buyer journeys

#1 Understand your omnichannel buyer journeys

To truly tackle omnichannel retail this holiday season, there are a few steps you need to take. The first is to understand your omnichannel customer and the path they take to get to your ecommerce website or brick and mortar store, so that you can ensure you’re on the channels they use the most.

Nicole from Retail Minded has identified the following omnichannel buyer journeys. Which do you focus on?

1. The Omnichannel Savvy Customer:

○ The journey: Visits store > Connects on Facebook > Buys online via mobile
○○ This customer typically spends 10% more when shopping online

2. The Last-Minute Buyer

○ The journey: Searches online via mobile > Buys online via tablet or desktop.
○○ 75% of last-minute buyers rate shipping costs as the most important buying factor.

3. The Researcher

○ The journey: Searches online > Visits multiple stores > Continues researching online > Buys from one of the original stores
○○ It’s said that over 92% of online consumers don’t intend to buy during their first visit.

4. The Impulse Shopper

○ The journey: Visits store > Buys in store almost immediately.
○○ 5 in 6 Americans admit to impulse buying.

5. The Feel-Good Buyer

○ The journey: Scrolls through social media > Buys online or in store.
○○ 45% of digital buyers worldwide say reading reviews, comments and feedback on social media influence their shopping behavior.

#2: Gain a strong presence on your customers’ most used channels

Black Friday Countdown: Omnichannel & Back Office Final Touches

Today’s digital age means connecting with customers has never been easier. As the above buyer journeys show, the majority of shoppers experience multiple touchpoints before buying. It’s important to show your presence across a number of channels and offer a consistent customer journey throughout (based on what you know about your own customers).

The following channels are a guide to show you what you need to consider adopting within your business:

  • Ecommerce
  • Brick and mortar
  • Social media
  • Online marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Special events
  • Mobile
  • Location based marketing
  • Loyalty programs
  • Text message marketing & live chat

Know which popular channels your customers are most frequently fulfilling their orders, so that you know where to concentrate your marketing and inventory planning.” – Anthony Payne, VP of Global Marketing, Brightpearl

#3: Use omnichannel fulfillment as a differentiator

Black Friday Countdown: 6 Omnichannel & Back Office Final Touches

Getting omnichannel fulfillment right can have a huge payoff but it can be one of the most difficult areas to implement without the right technology. This is because it requires inventory to be tracked across all physical locations and sales channels.

Some key examples of how omnichannel fulfillment can be used as a differentiator this holiday season are listed below. Which are you taking advantage of this season?

  • Click and collect: The option for a customer to purchase online and pick up in store. By offering this service, you can expect an immediate uplift in revenue based on impulse purchases made in store when picking up items.
  • Ship from store/endless aisle: The ability to offer products not available at the location the customer originally visited. This helps avoid losing a customer if a product is out of stock at a particular location.
  • Online store inventory availability: The ability to lookup inventory at a given store online. This is important as it’s said that 33% of millennials (today’s most influential spenders) won’t visit a store if online inventory availability isn’t published.

#4: Clean up your inventory data

Black Friday Countdown: 6 Omnichannel & Back Office Final Touches

No one likes the idea of disappointing a customer due to inaccurate inventory availability, and especially not when that item was intended as a gift for someone else. Therefore, ahead of the holiday season, you should always endeavor to do a complete inventory count in your warehouse, ensuring inventory is correct across your back office and sales channels.

Furthermore, it’s also important that you know (and have recorded) your true landed costs as well. The holiday season is driven by discounts, promotions, and flash sale days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so getting a clear gauge on your true landed cost of products (e.g. the associated freight, duty, tax, and storage expenses) ahead of time is essential for making business decisions on pricing and for final supplier selections.

#5: Analyze your sales and inventory data

Black Friday Countdown: 6 Omnichannel & Back Office Final Touches

From knowing what items your customers love the most to knowing where you should be stocking your products, last year’s data is this year’s sales gold mine. At the very least, you should use your back office data and reports to analyze the following (and act on your findings) ahead of the holiday season rush. Check the box if you’re using your data for the following:

  • Best selling products: Stock them again if possible or look for similar alternatives
  • Top performing channels, stores and locations: Ensure you’re fully stocked up on your best channels
  • Most loyal customers (MVPs): Send offers and discounts to lure them back to your website or store
  • Stock-outs: Consider ordering more inventory or implement a process that ensures reorders are fast
  • Returned inventory reports: Ensure you know why inventory is being returned; you may need to add more detailed product descriptions, change suppliers or improve packaging
  • Time to ship: Consider the use of automation bots to speed up your time to ship and avoid unnecessary fulfillment delays
  • Warehousing inefficiencies: Implement barcode scanning in the warehouse to power up your staff and reduce cases of human error
  • Checking for business-wide integration

 

It’s not too late to ensure your different departments are all talking to each other where relevant. We suggest you focus on the following as a priority. What tech are you using to keep teams informed, in the loop, and up to speed?

  • CRM + Marketing: Ensures order confirmation emails, discounts, offers and other marketing messages can all be personalized, which increases their ability to convert.
  • Ecommerce + Shipping: Customers want to be able to track their orders all the way to their door, which means shipment notifications must contain tracking references. This is where easy to use back office shipping integrations like ShipStation or Shiptheory become your new best friends.
  • Inventory + Ecommerce: Avoid stock-outs and disappointing customers by ensuring your inventory levels can be automatically updated across all your sales channels whenever an item is brought into stock, shipped or returned.
  • Inventory + Accounting: With holiday season discounts and sales taking place, knowing your true margins is essential. With each inventory update, you should ensure your accounting is updated automatically… after all, who wants to be updating their accounts manually during the holiday season rush?

#6: Automate your workflows

If you already have a back office system that allows for automated workflows, then you should definitely make use of it as best you can. When setting up automation bots, it’s recommended that you map out your current workflows first in a tool like Lucidchart. This allows you to identify where bottlenecks can be removed by automation software.

Make sure your operating systems don’t need any final touches and any special workflows are all set up before the holiday season because as you get closer and closer to the big day, your order volume and site traffic will just continue to increase. Fast and Frictionless experience is key for all your busy customers. Both before and after the holidays.” – Justin Press, VP of Global Customer Success, Brightpearl

 

#7: Make sure you’re ready for the inevitable holiday season returns

Black Friday Countdown: 6 Omnichannel & Back Office Final Touches

It’s estimated that 28% of holiday gifts bought last year were returned at a value of $90 billion. We all know that returns are inevitable after the drama of the holiday season, but you should be putting in steps now to ensure you’re able to ride the returns tsunami like a surfing pro.

Here are a few actionable steps for you to take as a starting point:

  • Assess your current ability to handle holiday season returns
  • We’ve recently created a self-assessment that enables you to assess your current returns processes. You’ll also gain actionable advice along the way for what needs to be improved. Check it out here.
  • Understand your return rates and reasons for return
  • Analyze your returned inventory reports from last year to identify common themes for why items were returned. Do you need to source a new supplier to improve quality? Should you stop stocking a certain item altogether? Does your packaging need to be improved? Try to isolate the problem and prevent it from happening again this year.
  • Give customers what they want

 

Everything that happens in exceptional events (such as when items need to be returned) is where your customers will measure the service they receive from you and whether they want to shop with you again, so it’s important to understand what your customers want (and expect) from your returns process. A survey sponsored by shipping technology leader Endicia revealed these insights about American shoppers:

  • 51% want free return shipping
  • 36% want an easy and convenient shipping process
  • 12% want a swift refund or credit
  • 89% say they’ll shop again at an online store after a positive returns process
  • 62% want a returns label in the package
  • 61% want an easy to print returns label

 

#8: Identify your “serial returners”

Recent data suggests there is a rise in “serial returners.” These customers are identified as those who purposefully buy more items with the intention of returning some. By flagging this type of customer within your CRM software, you can ensure they don’t receive certain marketing promotions or discounts as they are already likely to inflate your return rates. Check out Brightpearl’s Returns Readiness Guide to assess whether or not you’re ready to face the returns tsunami this season.

 


Author Bio: Justine Cross is the Content Marketing Executive at Brightpearl – a cloud-based back office solution for retailers and wholesalers. Brightpearl allows you to provide a truly omnichannel experience for your customers, whilst unifying all of your sales channels, inventory, accounting, CRM, suppliers, fulfillment, warehouse management, reporting and POS in one single automated system.
3 Little-Known Holiday Payment Hacks for Mobile eCommerce

3 Little-Known Holiday Payment Hacks for Mobile eCommerce

Costly Mistakes & Recent Findings

Counted among our 5 Most Costly Ecommerce Mistakes of 2017, payment method optimization is a must. Over the past year, we’ve seen a big push towards Apple Pay, PayPal Express, and even Venmo becoming “must-have” holiday payment methods for online stores. The reason? Customers that can click-and-go are more likely to convert.

With this in mind, we recommend reviewing what ways your site can keep gift-giving second-guessing to a minimum. In our mobile conversion optimization report, we found a few simple tweaks to reduce checkout abandonment and increase the likelihood of customers converting. If you don’t have time to review the full report, here’s our 3-minute breakdown as our gift to you.

Holiday Payment Hack #1. Zip-Code-First

On almost every site, the checkout form is the same, always starting with the customer’s first name. Sure, the name, phone, and email address areas might auto-fill based on browser settings, but location information isn’t always part of the one-click equation. Working with one of our clients, we found that a simple re-stacking of the typical model can cause checkout disruption to the tune of a 4.6% conversion rate lift (across all devices). Placing the zip-code first triggers browsers to auto-populate the country, city, and state data, making your checkout faster. In our report, we found that this simple change can yield conversion increases of 1.48% for desktop, 8.14% for smartphones, and a whopping 18% increase for tablets. Put this on your holiday upgrade wish list.

#2. The Card-Detecting Checkout

card-detecting-checkout-by-Redstage

As the second test in our study, Redstage’s developers created a credit card checkout form that automatically detects the type of card entered based on the first 4 card numbers. I know, I know, you have that already, but what you don’t have is a checkout form that uses this data to automatically adjust your checkout form into the layout of the customer’s credit card. Different cards have their numbers, expiration, and even security codes in different areas, making the typical credit card form a little lacking in the CX department. Imagine a new customer with their card in one hand and their phone or tablet in the other. Now imagine them fumbling as they try to figure out how to enter their info… don’t let this be an opportunity for them to abandon the sale. Our smart bit of code automatically matches the form to the card in-hand, making it easier to fill out. Remember, the less friction, the better.

It might seem like a negligible CX change at first, but for phones and tablets, this smart checkout option drove a 3.7% and 6.1% conversion rate lift, respectively. The test didn’t add so much for traditional online checkout, only increasing desktop conversions by 0.4%… but every little bit counts right? How much extra joy would these numbers add to your holiday return?

#3. The Big One: PayPal-First

For the third and final portion of this 3-step study, Redstage analyzed what happens when we place a “PayPal Express Checkout” button above the traditional “proceed to checkout” button on the product page… The results were astounding. This change led to a 10.3% decrease in checkout abandonment across devices. That’s right. Simply putting the PayPal checkout option first on the page led to a 8.7% decrease in abandons on desktop, 11.2% less abandonment on smartphones, and shockingly, a 30.7% decrease in abandonment on tablets.

Final Thoughts

With so many payment options out there, it’s easy for the simplest conversion enhancements to go overlooked. Remember, it’s not just how customers can pay, it’s “how quickly” customers can pay. Want to get these holiday payment upgrades and more for free? Join round 2 of our conversion study now! Sign up here to see if you qualify for this round, and don’t forget to subscribe to receive the results of our next conversion report 2 weeks before anyone else!

17 Awesome & Odd Geek Gifts For The Nerd In Your Life

17 Awesome & Odd Geek Gifts For The Nerd In Your Life

With the holidays imminent, shopping is a must, and based on the crazy black Friday estimates, all the trending “cool” stuff is flying off the shelves. However, I must point out that we nerds are a misunderstood people, and where some nerdy gifts are held in high regard, others simply don’t make the cut. In an effort to right this wrong, I sent a mass email to the designers, developers and techno-forward geeks at Redstage asking for suggestions… They delivered. So from the bottom of our hearts, here’s 17 awesome & odd geek gifts for the nerd in your life.


#17 The Star Wars Death Star Tree Topper

No Christmas tree is complete without the paying homage to the doom wrought across the galaxy by the Death Star. Bring some light (side) into your nerd’s home this holiday with a warm reminder of the first blow to the Empire delivered by the Rebel Alliance. This warm, explody ornament will give your nerd a new hope and inspire many happy holidays to come.

#16 The Circuit Board Necktie from Amazon

The ultimate nerd dad gift. It’s also made out of 100% microfiber so he can clean his glasses.
Pressure him into wearing it to the office at least once. We would.

#15 This Really Disturbing “Squirming” USB Tentacle

Seen on LaughingSquid.com
This… thing… is guaranteed to make anyone you give it to really uncomfortable.
Don’t even watch the video. Just skip it…

Who would buy this???

Better yet, buy it for someone at work. Jeff, the weird guy.

Jeff would love this.

#14 Deathwish Coffee & K-Cups

Coffee isn’t exactly nerdy, but with great power comes great responsibility. Death Wish Coffee upholds its title as the world’s strongest coffee on the consumer market, and I personally attest to that statement. Need to write a 20 page project proposal in 1 hour? DONE. Need to network your butt off at an event and completely reverse the effects of jetlag? ALSO DONE! Need to crunch 30 hours of coding into 5 so you can enjoy the holidays? FA-La-La-La-Laaa—La-La-Laa–DONE. This stuff is powerful. Use it wisely.

Do not operate heavy machinery.

#13 Logitech Wireless Bluetooth Ultra-Portable Keyboard

Hear about on Tim Ferris' podcast.

Heard about on Tim Ferris’ podcast.

Finally, a portable keyboard that’s small enough to fit in your bag, wireless, and actually comfortable to use. Find it on Amazon here.

#12 The Five Minute Journal

Heard about on Tim Ferris' Podcast

Heard about on Tim Ferris’ Podcast

The Five Minute Journal is a great way to start every day with optimism by making you focus on the positive things in your life. It comes highly recommended by well known author, entrepreneur and e-marketing wiz Tim Ferris.

#11 A Portrait of Your DNA

Seen on

Seen on DNA11.com

Want a gift that’s both highly intrusive and also incredibly awesome? Say no more! The lab geeks at DNA11 make custom portraits that include a little piece of you or a nerd you love by using your actual DNA. Buying it for someone else? Secretly remove the cotton swab from the company’s special kit and place it into your loved one’s mouth when they’re sleeping. Next send off their DNA to a company you just heard about. What’s the worst that can happen? They might never trust you again, but these posters look really, REALLY awesome.

#10 Tentacle Cupcake Toppers

Seen on Etsy of course...

Seen on Etsy of course…

Apparently this is a trend… Make any dessert creepy and unsettling with these tentacle — I can’t even say it. This is the last time I ask around the office for gift suggestions.

#9 Nano Quadcopter Drone

This little guy is sure to create a little bit of buzz this holiday. Here’s what GeekWrapped.com has to say about it: “This quadcopter is one of the smallest in the world and uses a ton of scientific and engineering marvels to fly. It’s incredibly fast, stable, and agile, offering hours and hours of high-speed fun and mid-air racing around the house.” Create the cutest non-lethal drone army ever by buying 500 of these puppies here.

#8 Aftershokz Bone-Conduction Wireless Headphones

Tired of putting those wireless earbuds in your ear? Wish there was some space-age technology to make your entire skull into a speaker instead? Well now there is with the Aftershokz Trekz Titanium headphones. This headset uses bone-conduction audio to boost your beats from INSIDE your head. Just don’t use them when your boss is calling…

#7 Bookniture

What do you get when you combine strategic innovation, origami, and functional design? Bookniture is redefining furniture for the modern age. These amazingly engineered books unfold into tables, chairs and leg-rests that can hold up to 1000 pounds! Bring one to your next conference or throw a chair-in-a-book in your bag for a place to sit at the park.

#5 The Sphero App-Enabled Robot Ball

Seen on Sphero.com

Seen on Sphero.com

Forget drones and the antiquated radio controlled cars of old, Sphero is here for a new generation of kids and nerds of all ages. This app-enabled robot lets you program and control the Sphero from your smartphone. You can make it change colors, teach it to roll, flip, spin and more! Definitely one of our top picks. We’re not excited to see these rolling around the office at the end of the month…

#5 The AMPware Crank-Charging iPhone Case

17 Incredibly Geeky Gifts for the Nerd in your Life

Seen on AMPware.com

Never run out of phone battery ever again. Never be stranded in an unfamiliar city after a late client meeting or drinks after a tech conference. Here’s a handy dandy way to crank power into your phone from the genius geeks at AMPware.

#4 The MYO Gesture Control Armband Wearable

Seen onMYO.com
Feeling like the Internet of Things hasn’t quite caught up with your lifestyle? Get ready for the next level of nerd-dom with a MYO Gesture Control Armband. Using a variety of gestures based on muscle movement, you can control everything from Netflix, YouTube and Spotify to drones and more!
Buy one or check out the full feature list at MYO.com

#3 The 3Doodler 3D Printing Pen

Seen on Amazon.com

Seen on Amazon.com

The latest explosion of 3D-printed art is changing the way we live, work, and design. Forget the Legos and use this pen to create standing structures from this hand-held 3D-printer pen!

#2 The Cube Portable Color Digitizer

17 Incredibly Geeky Gifts for the Nerd in your Life

Seen on Amazon.com

This insanely cool piece of geek tech lets you scan any color, anywhere and add it to your collection within the CUBE app. Great for designers and creatives of all kinds, with one click, the CUBE automatically captures color data in HEX, RGB, CMYK, LAB, LRV and more for later use.

#1 The Gaderffii

17 Incredibly Geeky Gifts for the Nerd In Your Life

Seen on Amazon.com

A favorite of Star Wars geeks everywhere, you’ll find Gaderffii’s all over
Redstage’s Jersey City office. Our developers and sales guys can be seen raising the staffs and yelling a threatening “Olololololol!” battle cry whenever they complete a project or score a goal in foosball. The Gaderffii or “gaffii stick” was the traditional weapon of the Tusken Raiders of Tatooine, adopted by the Rebels and Ewoks alike as a powerful tool and lethal melee weapon. The Gaderffii makes an excellent addition to your nerd’s collection, trophy case, or office cubicle. You can learn more about this weapon’s history on this Wookiepedia page.

Redstage’s Jersey City office

What gifts top the list for the geek in your life?
Let us know in the comments below!