Salesforce, the global leader in customer relationship management, invited Redstage to join their exclusive Salesforce Commerce Cloud (SFCC) partnership program. Redstage is now listed as an official partner on the SalesforceAppExchangeto provide eCommerce development services to SFCC merchants.
With a shared vision and a wide range of capabilities, Salesforce and Redstage now collaborate to digitally transform online companies. As a jack of all trades, whether it’s keeping track of marketing campaigns, improving productivity, or integrating with other apps, Salesforce can execute and complete any long-term vision.
Partnering with Salesforce helps us further our mission to create leaders in eCommerce. With the ever-changing habits and demands of today’s buyers, our clients require a unified customer experience across all touchpoints. To that end, Salesforce Commerce Cloud will be the most important set of tools in our arsenal. We are integrating Salesforce as a core part of our strategy going forward.
— Adam Morris, CEO of Redstage.
With this partnership, Salesforce and Redstage have a unique opportunity to provide a higher standard of service, expertise, technology, and insights for online sellers using Salesforce’s complex eCommerce solutions. Services will include:
You can control the migration process by switching from legacy platforms such as Magento, Big Commerce or Shopify Plus. To conquer sales and increase revenue, Salesforce has a unique ability to save valuable time and resources through its streamlined capabilities.
Becoming more efficient and productive is easier with the right technology on your side. Salesforce’s scalable handpicked technology ranges from data and campaign management, app development, search optimization, and personalization tools.
Merchants will now be able to make wiser decisions with reliable data backing them up. With an in-depth business analysis equipped with technology and optimization strategies that will convert sales, you’ll never have to act on a gut feeling again.
The world is being reshaped by the convergence of social, mobile, cloud, big data, community, and other powerful forces. The combination of these technologies unlocks an incredible opportunity to connect everything together in a new way and is dramatically transforming the way we live and work.
— Marc Benioff, CEO, Salesforcre
As Redstage and Salesforce move forward with this agreement, the pair will continue their commitment to empowering clients with the right technology to accelerate eCommerce initiatives. Looking for a start? Redstage has launched in the Salesforce App Exchange for all B2C merchants.
The clock is ticking and Magento 1’s end of life (end of support) is right around the corner. For over a year, we’ve providedwebinars, E-books, and security insights to help ease your migration worries. Now, Redstage teamed up with PayPal to provide access to Magento Migration loans for qualifying merchants.
With a “no merchant left behind” mentality, Redstage and PayPal are committed to making sure all business owners can scale further while fully experiencing the power of Magento 2. Here are 5 ways to get the best out of your migration experience.
1. Why You Should Migrate
Magento 1 support ends on June 30, 2020. While it may be difficult for some merchants to say goodbye, more revenue is waiting to be unlocked with Magento 2. On average, a Magento 1 Migration takes6-10 monthsto complete and with 7 months until the platform sunsets, merchants are running out of time. More importantly, you’re missing out on additional revenues. Migrating to Magento 2 gives merchants access to a newer and more advanced eCommerce platform that provides security, functionality, and flexibility. Grab our free Magento Migration eBook here, or read on for a quick breakdown:
With good reason, we’ve shared many tips on how to help protect your onlinestore from fraud. End of Life means the end of security, and once June rolls around there will be no more Magento 1 security patches to save you. Hackers have familiarized themselves with the platform and broken extensions make their job easier. In the past year, Magento has released over 10 security patches for M1 (that’s at least 1 a month), and developers have stopped upgrading M1 extensions to focus on M2. These constant breaches leave your store, customers, and your bottom line at risk.
A positive customer experience is measured by many things, most notably how safe your customers feel. 41 percent of consumers switch retailers due to poor personalization and lack of trust. Magento 2 shows merchants are taking security seriously as the platform provides security updates with bug fixes, back-end administration protection, and encryption for credit card information.
60% of B2B buyersdemand a seamless customer experience and 47% expect traditional retailers to be as agile as Amazon. Magento 2 is committed to delivering a better shopping experience that allows merchants to produce a fast, simple, and frictionless checkout experience across all devices. Page loading and checkout speed have increased by 50 percent and 38 percentrespectively, compared to the Magento 1 platform. The Magento 2 migration is the perfect recipe for a successful customer experience.
In a world where responsive design is trying to give customers all the same functionality we have on desktop in mobile, there may be a divergence here where we have to start thinking about different mobile experiences. Customers need to be able to go through the entire journey, from the research perspective to pricing, negotiation, approval, and purchase, ALL through their smartphones. Millennials will switch to your competitor immediately if you can’t give them that entire experience.
–Adam Morris, CEO, Redstage.
As our ongoingMobile Optimization Initiative shows,Magento 2 gives merchants total control over creating a great user experience. The platform includes highly customizable themes and over 2,000 extensions. Your customers are more likely to come back for more if you continue to meet their expectations, so keep impressing them by upgrading your experience on different devices. Customize your theme in a way that highlights your brand and tells your brand’s story, or highlight products and provide a secure checkout all in one place.
38.8% of total Magento Merchants(Community or Enterprise) are still on various versions of M1. By not upgrading, merchants are putting themselves and their customers at risk. Magento 1 sites, among a dwindling community of users, will face a lifetime of declining usability, patchwork fixes, increased upkeep costs, and a higher level of maintenance than if they migrate to a new site or platform.
– Aidan Mcknight, Solutions Engineer, Redstage
2. The Migration Loan Explained
Migrating your website, budgeting for next year, and making sure you meet your end of the year sales goals can be overwhelming. The Magento Migration Loan can ease your worries, especially if you haven’t budgeted for migration.
The loan can help your businesses experience the new and improved advancements of the Magento 2 platform and provide the means to help keep your customers safe. PayPal and Redstage understand that the future of retail is digitally optimized. Online retail sales are expected to reach $735 billion by 2023.However, more than half of today’s retailers do not have access to debt or equity financing to help scale their business.
This migration loan is a first step to bridging the gap in financing solutions for online businesses. To accomplish your migration with a Magento Migration Loan, you must first apply for the Magento Migration loan here. Loans can range from $5,000-$500,000 with no hidden charges attached2. Upon approval, WebBank will transfer funds to your business’s bank account as fast as the next business day 3.
3. How to Apply and Receive the Credit
To secure a full credit on the cost of financing your migration, start by applying for the Magento Migration loan by visiting theLoanBuilder application page. If approved, you must follow these three steps to receive the credit4.
Sign a Magento renewal license invoice that shows at least one payment.
Sign a 3-year processing contract or renewal agreement with Braintree and process with Braintree on your new Magento 2 website for at least 3 months.
Benefits of Braintree
Driving revenue and maximizing business opportunities are crucial in scaling your business. To fully experience the power of Magento, should also be taking advantage of Braintree. The global payment partner is the missing piece you need to combine safe and frictionless customer experience like those seen in ourrecent tests. Braintree is a payment platform that delivers mobile and web payment systems in a single, seamless integration.
This year, there are approximately 1.92 billion digital buyers out there. That number is expected to almost double by 2021. The smart money is using this time to plan and test new ways to unlock more holiday revenue. The Magento migration loan is your first step to guaranteeing a prosperous future.
Moreover, Braintree offers other ways to drive revenue and maximize business growth overall. The single integration allows you to reach more buyers around the world, reduce checkout friction, increase efficiency, and migrate fraud risks. Remember, a fast, safe, and frictionless checkout experienceincreases conversion rates.
4. How to Become Eligible
If you’re operating on the Magento 1 platform and have been in business for at least 9 months, you’re halfway through the eligibility process. Your business must also be located and operated in any of the 50 United States or Washington, D.C. and earning at least, $42,000 in annual revenue. That’s it!
Unfortunately, the M1 end of life comes at a time outside of the normal re-platforming strategy for many clients. When we design and build on the latest technology, we want to amortize the costs for as long as possible and switch only when the pressure from competitors and customers increases. I love that PayPal is helping our clients solve this problem by helping them fund the migration process. This makes the process much easier to handle from a cash flow perspective and allows us to invest in a customer experience that’s outside of the normal cycle.
– Adam Morris, CEO, Redstage
With roughly 200 days remaining on the Magento 1 End of Life countdown the time for procrastination is over. Each day merchants wait, their revenue, customers, and reputation are at risk. Redstage and PayPal are committed to helping businesses grow and thrive, showing merchants how to unlock the revenue they deserve and build positive customer experiences. In the name of a prosperous and profitable 2020, revitalize your brand, enhance your customer experience,check your eligibility, and apply now for a chance to enjoy a fully credited migration loan from PayPal.
1 The lender for the LoanBuilder Loan is WebBank, Member FDIC. This is an invitation to apply and not an offer or commitment to provide capital. Applicants must satisfy certain requirements to be eligible. WebBank is not affiliated with the offer to receive a full credit on the cost of financing and the credit is not part of your credit agreement with WebBank.
2 In addition to the fixed fee (Total Interest Charge) for the loan, the only other cost is a $20 Returned Item Fee that is only assessed if a payment is returned.
3 The lender transfers funds to your business’s bank account as fast as the next business day if the lender has received the documents the lender asked for and approved the loan by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (excluding bank holidays).
4 Merchants will receive the full credit from PayPal within 6-8 weeks of having fulfilled all three migration requirements. Merchant may be contacted by a Braintree Enterprise Sales Representative to receive more information about creating a merchant account with Braintree.
Scooch over Amazon! Shopify may be stealing the crown…
It’s not about who did it first, but who did it right, and inclusivity wins every time. Undoubtedly, Amazon is the king of eCommerce. However, small businesses pack a powerful punch, and they want their recognition.
The workforce is changing as technology advances are leading to growth in small businesses. According to the US Small Businesses Administration, there are almost 30 million small businesses in the United States, employing nearly 47.8 percent of U.S workers. In 2014,Forbes reported that 50 percent of the workforce may be freelancers by 2020; with just four months left until the new year, it seems as those analysts knew what the heck they were talking about.
Introducing Shopify’s Fulfillment Center
Details of the fulfillment network were first revealed at Shopify Unite 2019. The network looks promising to merchants of all sizes. However, those who own and operate under a small business will benefit. The responsibilities are endless for a business that has under 50 employees; Shopify is ready to clean up shop. Getting inventory out of a cluttered office or space and into a fulfillment center sounds like a huge relief. Doesn’t it? Merchants no longer have to worry about logistics or fulfillment and can finally focus on building their business.
More power is going to the platforms that facilitate relationships between third-party logistics providers (3PL) and end-users. We saw it in 1998 with Fulfillment by Amazon and now with Shopify. While Amazon and Shopify are no direct competitors. Shopify is diversifying and acquiring consumers through indirect interfacing a.k.a, merchants and 3PL providers. As a result, this formula has over 820,000 third-party merchants doing all the talking for Shopify; bringing in the big buck.
Shopify will win with Inclusivity.
There is no business too small or big. The Fulfillment Network is set to support merchants who ship from 10 to 10,000 packages per day, with hopes of expanding from 3 to 30,000. Craig Miller, the Chief Product Officer at Shopify stated, “the services will be offered to small and medium-sized business owners whose fulfillment processes are not typical or ideal and those whose needs are not being met by their third-party logistics provider.”
“If Shopify can bring an amazon class logistics and fulfillment to small and medium businesses, Shopify could change the world as we know it. Wal-Mart famously changed the retail world with logistics and pushed out many other retail businesses. Amazon re-invented this model for the web, and similarly pushed out many other eCommerce retailers. If Shopify is able to democratize the logistics model, we will enter a whole new realm of competition in retail, dramatically benefiting the consumer, and providing a wealth of opportunity to businesses of all sizes.”
-Adam Morris, Redstage, CEO
With a $1 Billion budget to own and operate fulfillment networks, there are already seven centers. These centers are located in some of the larger states that house major metro cities with the most small businesses such as Georgia, Pennsylvania, California, and Texas. There are also centers located in Ohio, Nevada and New Jersey.
Shopify’s solution is a merchant’s dream come true.
The market for 3PLs providers exploded following the birth and exponential growth of ecommerce. Most Fortune 500 (86%) companies and 96% of the Fortune 100 use services like these.
A year later, Shopify found a solution for its’ end users by introducing this network that will also give merchants an opportunity to differentiate themselves.
Artificial Intelligence is at the forefront of the Fulfillment Network. Merchants will find this opportunity hard to pass up with all the features the network includes.
“I don’t want to make life easier,” said no one, ever.
The Shopify Fulfillment network includes the following features:
Custom Packaging and Branding
The customer experience is now controlled as merchants will have the ability to customize their packaging that compliments their brands’ aesthetics. This is the extra touch merchants need to ensure consistency in their brand even during delivery
Returns and Exchanges
Merchants have less hassle to worry about returns and exchanges as the fulfillment centers will work to handle all logistics.
With a 99.5 percent accuracy rate, Shopify is promising merchants that their orders will be picked, packed, processed and shipped within 2 days.
Inventory and Back Office Management
Through intelligent machine learning the back office keeps track of inventory and provides restock alerts. Customer data syncs across warehouses and sales channels to reduce errors, and lastly, Customers will have access to fast and low-cost delivery.
Everyone wants the underdog to win. While Amazon is focusing on serving only larger businesses. Shopify will focus on ensuring merchants have the opportunity to operate on Amazon’s level delivering the best experience on all levels. There is an application process for those interested in joining the network which requires an assessment based on product types and fulfillment needs. No worries. If you are not accepted, Shopify has provided 3PL checklist just for you.
Your fulfillment network is just one piece of the enterprise puzzle. Dive into our eCommerce platform analysis kit to find out which tech is best for your store! Take the quiz now!
Here at Redstage, we’re constantly working to improve every aspect of our business. From customer experience to our in-house innovation team, we have exciting developments to report for the year ahead. First I’d like to reflect on our achievements from 2018.
Quick Recap of 2018
Last year Redstage’s business transformed both digitally and physically. We launched a completely redesigned website, at the same time renovating and increasing the size of our Jersey City office. We strengthened our commitment to B2B with new content and messaging, while bringing on additional clients in aerospace, manufacturing, wholesale, and distribution. Hasan Elkomey joined the team to provide leadership for sales and partnerships, and his experience in B2B and digital transformation are driving big opportunities.
Our teams put their heads together and forged a renewed innovation practice within the company to test and drive additional client services. We held our first ever Fall Wine Tasting event and our first Tandem event, Redstage & Fulcrum Digital’s annual celebration of innovation and culture. This year, I’m proud to say we’re aiming even higher.
Sites Worked On
Redstage was ranked among the top 3 Magento B2B Developers in the world, earning us a place in the Clutch 1000 for 2018. We were also awarded the titles of Top Magento Developers, Top Shopify Developers, and Top Ecommerce Developers in New York, trophies and plaques that now hang proudly in our office.
We helped create the Mobile Optimization Initiative with PayPal, HiConversion, and Magento with the aim of closing the mobile conversion gap, and created new partner initiatives. The Redstage team continued to develop relationships with clients in the US, Brazil, Australia, India and the UK; opportunities nowpoised to blossom in the year ahead. Additionally, the team worked on 90 different sites for the year, a new annual high for our organization. Lastly, we achieved Elite BigCommerce Partner status, and look forward to working with their team in 2019.
The Year Ahead:
For 2019, we’ve planned to make customer experience, employee experience, delivery quality, and research & development our foremost focus areas. I’ll dive into our goals for developing and innovating on each below:
Increasing Quality & Expanding Practice Areas:
We’re enhancing code quality with code review automation and better processes for manual overview. Additionally, continuous integration tools will speed up the deployment process. These new tools are all part of Redstage’s Dev Ops practice, which is critical for our workflow and project success.
Together with our parent company Fulcrum Digital, we’ve also built an innovation lab in our Jersey City office, bringing in leading edge technologies to continue our pursuit of data-driven ecommerce experimentation. The tech we’re implementing in the lab will help us provide advanced client work for the next wave of new experiences. We’ve already begun experimenting with virtual reality, voice-shopping, IoT, and hope to expand to AR, and eye-tracking.
Our team is hard at work refining our processes to enhance our customer experience. This year we will be releasing a variety of new offerings, relaunching our support plans with the goal of better tailoring our products to the needs of the market. These product bundles include baked-in tools for conversion optimization, business uptime, security, site monitoring, and more. As a result of our collaboration the past year, we’ve been named a the #1 Top Magento agency in both New York and Chicago for 2019!
Research & Development:
The innovation team is hard at work, striving to increase the amount of “Accelerators” — home-grown, reusable components that help clients get where they want to go faster at reduced costs. We are in the process of developing a partner portal, as well as additional middleware tools online retailers can use on top of their platforms.
We’ve put renewed focus on career development, learning & development skills, and implementing a learning management system to help scale up, train new employees, and grow each team’s capabilities, furthering our mission: To be a world-class B2B agency by cultivating top talent in the industry.
Our increasing knowledgebase of B2B systems and operations continues to drive the company further into the manufacturing, wholesale, and distribution segments. Additionally, we’re getting more and more attention from the aerospace industry and related government agencies, creating new opportunities in the government sector.
Transformative B2B Ecommerce: The dramatic B2B transformation in the market is our top focus, helping companies not only to develop their online presence, but redevelop the teams and skills necessary to go digital. More and more, we’re doing our best to inform B2B business about millennials’ views on B2B ordering, and the new paradigm of customer experience as a whole (Get our free Digital Sales Handbook here).
Magento 1 End of Life: With Magento ending support for the Magento 1 platform in June of 2020, we’ve started a massive awareness initiative to keep retailers informed of the opportunities of migrating to the latest ecommerce platforms and revamp their customer experience. Many retailers don’t understand that moving from Magento 1 to Magento 2 isn’t a simple upgrade, but more of a full-replatforming process. Redstage and our partners are working diligently to inform the market of the impending dangers of migrating too late (Learn more here).
Mobile Optimization Initiative: Redstage continues to lead the way in mobile optimization, working with a community of system integrators and merchants as we expand the initiative around the world. So far, the initiative has increased revenue per visitor by an average of 8.56% for customers who have already made it to the checkout page. With new data coming out each week from a variety of different tests, merchants now have the info they need to justify starting tests of their own. The initiative has already yielded $22 million in additional revenue across all merchants involved in the initiative. As a result of our collaborative work, it’s clearer than ever that these testing methods help merchants to capture more mobile revenue (Learn more here).
Events: We’ve put our heads together and nailed down a list of industry and platform events we’ll be attending and speaking at this year. We hope to see you there!
Northeast Ecommerce Summit (April 3-4; Atlantic City, NJ)
Design Thinking (April 16-17: Austin, TX)
Magento Imagine – (May 13-15; Las Vegas, NV)
Shopify Unite: (June 18-20; Toronto, CAN)
B2B Online: Digital Marketing Conference for Manufacturers & Distributors (April 29 – May 1; Chicago, IL)
IRCE – (Jun. 25-26; Chicago, IL)
BigCommerce: Make It Big (Aug. 6-10; Austin, TX)
As a Final Note…
I’d like to thank all of our clients, partners, and employees for your trust, dedication, and continued support of our vision. Here’s to a wonderful 2019!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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
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:
Brick and mortar
Location based marketing
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
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
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
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
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.