by Amy Buchanan | Feb 5, 2022 | Commerce Strategy, eCommerce Platforms
I’ve been there. You’re staring at a seemingly impossible amount of data in Excel with no idea how to eat the proverbial elephant. You know that you need structure; you know that data is everything to grow your eCommerce channel and maybe you aren’t entirely sure why. You hear experts talk about “data quality” and “data governance” and quite honestly, you just want to sell more of your product and ensure your site is following best practices for your customers.
It can be challenging to sell process and back-end systems improvements to senior leadership. The systems are not customer facing and they aren’t bringing anything new and shiny to your website to draw in a customer. Yet as everyone knows, if your house foundation is damaged or faulty, you are likely facing some serious (and costly) issues. Maybe not today but in the future, as your business grows, suddenly you find yourself with a huge mountain of data and no way to consistently manage or gain valuable insights. It’s also common that your company has gone through a merger or acquisition and now you’re faced with multiple sources of data with no strategy to consolidate it into a unified experience for your customers.
We’ll get started with a few tips, to at least make your research efforts more targeted. Need more help? Feel free to reach out to our team and we can get you connected to our Redstage experts.
1. Fix the Foundation – Invest in Structuring Your Data
Depending on the current state of your product data and what system capabilities you have today, you may be able to start applying some structure and getting immediate results.
Do you have product data attributes that you could clean up and make into a drop-down list?
Each industry is different, but here’s an example applied in the clothing industry:
Clothing is often bucketed in size ranges on websites to help customers browse to the section that applies to them. You may see values like:
Or values such as:
That seems straightforward. However, if your data is not normalized, perhaps from different sources, you may also see values like:
While to a human reading this list, we will interpret these values as the same thing, your systems cannot. This will lead to miscategorization of the products due to the redundant filter/attribute values. The customer may be confused, and they may even abandon their session if this lack of organization occurs as a less effective user experience…and that turns into lost revenue for your organization.
2. Call the Experts – Implement a PIM Solution
You’ve tried MS Excel; you’ve tried outdated data warehouse tools. Maybe you even tried to build an MS Access database to add structure to your data, and it just isn’t enough. You have too much volume or even too much complexity to your data and you need help and fast.
There is good news! There are a variety of PIM (Product Information Management) or MDM (Master Data Management) tools out there that will suit your business. The organizations that support these systems have done all the heavy lifting of providing you with a tool to help your business, and all your team needs to do is work with an implementation team to configure and stand one up. Depending on the size of your product assortment and organization, a typical PIM implementation can take anywhere from 3 to 12 months, and it is well worth the investment.
As you stand back and look at the structured data, workflows to review and approve data, various channels you can create to customize data for different sources, you will see how your team will be able to move faster and reach those company sales goals easier.
3. Does Your Data Speak SEO? – Optimizing Your Data for Search
Your website data may be pristine, but if search engines like Google cannot find it, then you will always be chasing how to get more traffic on your website. If you aren’t sure where to start, Redstage can make some suggestions on SEO partners that can help put together a strategy and plan to get your website where it needs to be.
You can also leverage resources on schema.org to ensure that your website is using the correct markup – that’s the language the SEO Crawler likes best. You can also use the work you put in step one to increase the SEO value of your website. By giving your products the titles that your customers are searching for, you are more likely to increase your ranking in Google Search Results, which means an increase in organic traffic to your website. More customers very naturally lead to an increase in sales!
4. Cross-Selling and Upselling – What does that have to do with Product Data?
While you can manually associate products to one another using your CMS (Content Management System) tool, this can be a time-consuming manual effort. If you have taken the step to implement a PIM solution, many products out on the market will also allow you to create relationships between products.
These relationships can often be created manually or dynamically leveraging how the products are categorized in your PIM. You may have a product that has some accessories you want to suggest to your customers for an upsell opportunity. Or there may be related products (like similar brands or items in the same category) that you want to make available to your customers. Many eCommerce platforms also automatically assist you with this step by offering widgets to display popular products (based on website sales) or even feature new products (based on when products are added to your store) right on your home page, without any additional effort.
5. Use Analytics to Understand Customer Behavior
You probably already have Google Analytics set up on your website, and if you do not, go do that after you read this post!
How are your customers searching for products?
Make sure you use their words in your website content. Another thing you can do for a quick win is identify which attributes your customers use to shop for your products, and make sure they show up in the filters on your website and are included in your website’s search criteria.
Attributes such as:
- Battery Type
…or whatever attributes suits your products and customer expectations.
Perform some competitive analysis using a tool like Google Trends (for example) or see how your competitors are structuring their data. This type of data can usually be identified from an existing data set if you have written a description of your product on your website’s product detail page. Once you have these attributes separated out, you can also use them to create a more personalized experience for your customer and get them to the content they want, quickly, so they can click “Add to Cart” and make their purchase.
6. Data Ownership – Accountability Ensures Your Business Stays on Track
So, let’s say you perform step 1-5 and you are really proud with all the work your team has put in to get your website product data in good shape. Does that mean you’re done? Unfortunately, not yet. We would suggesting having someone in your organization to continually monitor your data quality and data completeness, so everything is continuously optimized.
By assigning data owners to different aspects of your product data, you will ensure that someone is continually monitoring and ensuring that your product data meets your company guidelines and fulfills your business goals.
For example, if you have compliance needs, it’s a common best practice to ensure you have a team member that can validate data from a safety and hazardous materials perspective. This may be within your legal department or even an outside agency. Establishing processes to validate new products going to the website can be facilitated by a PIM solution, and periodic review can also be performed to ensure that you catch any compliance concerns before they turn into costly legal issues.
Phew! I know this can seem like a lot and whether you just need some guidance or if you are looking to create a partnership with a team that will be your Sherpa up Mount Product Data, please let us know how we can help you!
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by Latoya Young | Oct 5, 2019 | UX/UI Design
Whether you’re a retailer or service-based business, content is your secret weapon to driving business onward and upward. Creating content that resonates and aligns with your brand (and audience) isn’t an easy task. However, experts agree it’s worth taking time to produce quality content. If content marketing isn’t a key part of your strategy by now, consider making it a top priority in the new year.
“Content marketing should be a major cornerstone in your marketing arsenal. By providing valuable, free content, that builds customer empathy, you will attract and convert new prospects into brand-loyal customers. The caveat to producing great content is having the foresight to produce content that aligns with customer interests, while continuously delivering new content that your customers hunger for.”
— Christopher Yin, Creative Director, Redstage
There are many platforms and channels that make it easy for people to find, consume, and share content. As a result, it’s even more challenging for companies to connect with consumers. Retailers understand that creating a holistic consumer experience is a significant challenge. On the other hand, B2B companies are challenged with building loyalty and relationships within their customer base. However, there are still traditional touchpoints like email, case studies, social media, e-books, and mobile apps that customers rely on to fulfill their content needs. Each of these channels is a spoke on the content marketer’s flywheel. Here‘s how to produce “Evergreen” content that can continue to drive value far into the future across all channels.
1. Empower Customers with Brand Storytelling
Content is a form of storytelling. Your end goal may be selling a product or service, but your customers want to know if that product can relate to their journey or benefit their business, before completing a transaction.
Melanie Allen, the CMO of Brooks says “I don’t focus on the brands, I focus on the runners,” stating the importance of getting into your customer’s head to create effective content that engages customers.
Technology and human nature are now intertwined. Understanding this can help with the creative process. To resonate with and evoke emotion from your audience, your content needs to:
- Create impact and opportunity
- Drive purpose or connect to a social cause
- Contain thought leadership
- Feel organic, authentic, and true to the brand
3. Source Creativity, Rather than Influencers
Influencer marketing is meant to impact consumer behavior and drive sales through the use of public figures with large followings. However, this strategy is becoming overused and influencers pitching product after product seem inauthentic to audiences. Additionally, it’s important to select an influencer that has a direct connection to your brand messaging and mission. Constellation brands, for instance, chose an influencer who published photos regularly, sharing her love for Corona Extra and all things summer. It was a natural choice to pick her to move forward with additional promotion strategies.
Also, the Corona brand delved into cause marketing this year with a “Pay With Plastic” campaign to clean up beaches. The plastic waste collected was turned into Adirondack chairs, which were repurposed for in-store displays. When you think of Corona, you think of summer and the beach, so what better way to connect with customers on a more intimate level than with a cause today’s consumers care about?
According to several panels at Advertising Week New York, the best marketers are those who give equal attention to both content, products, and data. They do this by testing various methods, analyzing the results, and incorporating a natural message. Think outside the box to create a conversation between your audience and your brand. Help them think critically about the industry. Remember, visual communication resonates better than written when it comes to online, mobile, and OOH audiences.
4. Data Quality Is Everything
There should always be a purpose behind creating content and each piece of content should have a specific objective you want to achieve before your pen hits the paper. Not even a simple twitter post should be published without a particular goal in mind. Here are some KPIs today’s top brands use to track content engagement and value:
- Interaction: How much time is your audience spending interacting with your content?
- Emotional Engagement: Is your audience finding, reading, loving, remembering and sharing your content?
- Brand Building: Is your brand expanding, lifting and converting?
Think about the ritual your customers go through when engaging with your brand. When do they use your product? When do they buy it? How do they buy it? Determining the “Magic Moment” when your product solves the customer’s problem should be the epicenter of customer stories and content that revolves around that ritual. For runners, content about different routes, trails, or morning routines could be a trigger to buy a new kind of shoe or water bottle. If new mothers are your target, a blog about a child’s first steps or first finger painting can touch your customer’s heart and connect with them with your brand products on a deeper level.
There are many creative strategies to ensure you are producing the best content possible for your audience. B2B companies should be producing content at every part of the sales funnel to see an ROI. While these tips can be helpful in the planning process, it is also important not to limit yourself in the creative process. Don’t be afraid to dream big and be bold or educate and entertain, as long as your ideas are anchored to your customers’ lives, habits, and connection to your brand. With content marketing comes the need to personalize, track, and measure the effectiveness of your messaging. Learn more about the top 5 ways eCommerce companies are making the most of their content marketing in our blog post: Top 5 Trends in Personalization and Social Selling!
If you missed out on Advertising Week this year, be sure to check them out for further updates and information.
by Don Pingaro | Dec 13, 2018 | Commerce Strategy, Press, System Integrations
“It is easier to invent the future than it is to predict it.”
This variation of a quote by computer scientist Alan Kay was the last line of a 1994 job listing written by Jeff Bezos, and still holds true to this day. While Redstage’s team of forward thinkers possess a knack for accurate predictions, we’ve also helped shape the future of eCommerce through our mobile research initiatives.
Throughout 2018, our team made strides to advance the cause of B2B eCommerce, offering insight into new technology, mobile commerce, and the millennial customer experience. We remain dedicated to helping clients and readers alike stay informed of emerging trends and the strategies you can use to master them. With this said, here are the top insights and articles of the past year:
OUR YEAR IN REVIEW: TOP ARTICLES OF 2018
“B2B eCommerce has several types of customers, each with their individual requirements for how they define their success. These customer types include B2B consumers (the company plans to resell the product or service to them). Other customer types include wholesalers/distributors who will sell your products and services to other B2B companies and dealers who sometimes resell the company’s product for them. Knowing your customers, here’s a few things to consider when selecting the best eCommerce platform for your online store.” — Read More
“Will it be the illustrious AI, the illuminating abilities of augmented reality, delivery drones, or perhaps… chatbots? With the emergence of all this new tech, marketers are left to base their budget allocation for 2018 on speculation. As a result, I am inclined to believe that without a doubt, 2018 will be somewhat of a plateau for marketing; defined by a knowledge-gap surrounding new avenues for advertising and the deteriorating value of current methods. Here’s why…” — Read More
“At this very moment, it’s likely that retail executives around the US are 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.” — Read More
“The development of AI and Big data, in recent years, has given online retailers both opportunities and challenges. In the next decade, digital stores will be equipped more optimized tools based on AI, and through this, they are empowered to strengthen customer relationship and enhance customer retention. This is a technology competition and I believe that the one who wins the game will also win the customer’s heart.” –Read More
“Today, a single blogger has the same opportunity to get a million comments on a post as Walmart does. A mom and pop online store has the same chance of winning over customers as Amazon. Time, resources and budget notwithstanding, the Internet provides a fair medium for all business to compete, and we owe the state of our world to this universal marketplace of ideas… With the Net Neutrality repeal in effect, major changes are coming that will affect every businesses, especially in the world of advertising and eCommerce.” — Read More
Top Case Study of The Year!
Check out our most viewed case study of the year: White Mountain Footwear
. If this were a blog post, it would hold the #3 spot above!
Top Download of The Year!
Take a look at our Digital Sales Engagement Ebook
, our most viewed downloadable of 2018! Discover all the tools you can use to optimize your digital sales team and top tactics to revolutionize your digital acquisition strategy.
Top 5 Most Popular Articles of 2017:
#1. Online Buying Behavior: The Difference Between Men & Women
#2. Selling & Upselling with Psychology & Human Behavior
#3. How All B2C Companies Should Be Marketing By 2020
#4. The Incredible Benefits of Magento 2
#5. Top eCommerce Challenges Stores Will Face This Holiday Season
Can’t find info on a specific topic? Send us a message and we’ll help you find it, or we’ll add it to our content schedule! Our team of researchers and thought leaders are always looking for ways to best serve our readers. Visit our blog page to subscribe!
by Don Pingaro | Nov 28, 2018 | Commerce Strategy
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:
$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):
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.
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)
Desktop: 69% (2017) / 67% (2018)
Mobile: 19% (2017) / 22% (2018)
Tablet: 12% (2017) / 11% (2018)
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.
by Tandieka Johnson | Dec 1, 2016 | Commerce Strategy, System Integrations
With every new store display that goes up both in the physical and online stores, we are reminded the holidays are here. Online retailers put in a lot of effort to prepare their store for the holidays because of the potential increase in purchases (especially last-minute). The increase in customer traffic means there are potential increase in challenges; how you effectively deal with these challenges, can either make or break you to cement your online presence. Here are some of the challenges that you may face and how to address them:
#5: Increased website traffic
This is a great part of the holiday season but could have a negative effect on your store. It’s good because increased traffic can convert to increase in sales, however, unpredictable traffic could mean surges which may make your store go offline, something you obviously do NOT want to happen. To avoid this coordinate with your hosting company and your technology partners to ensure your disc space and bandwidth are increased appropriately. There are cloud hosting options and many other solutions to ensure that your store stays up and running during the holiday rush.
#4. Shipping Demand
The last thing your customers’ need to worry about is whether their items will be delivered on time. Not meeting your delivery schedule results in an unhappy customers who could take theirs and other business elsewhere. Evaluate your shipping options to see where it lacks and ensure it meets all potential customer demands. Any and all logistic issues with shipping products also increases your customer service requirements and taxes your staff causing mistakes and furthers the discontent of your customer base.
This doesn’t only effect small or medium sized eCommerce businesses. Just recently, we heard an internal story of a holiday related snafu with regards to Walmart. Their system shipped out a product incorrectly and it took a Redstage staff member 3 lengthy customer service calls to get it sorted out! This type of customer experience is why sites lose customers and what can stifle growth. Make sure your systems are running smoothly and your staff is trained to avoid these types of problems.
#3. Bad User Experience
Customer expectation for the look and ease of use of your online store can be very high. It is important to exceed this expectation to ensure that the user experience (UX) for the customer is memorable but most of all easy to use. Your products should be easy to find via navigation or search and contain enough product information to convince the customer to complete their purchase. Mobile optimization for your store is especially important in this day and age since a large percentage of shoppers use their mobile devices to shop online. Work closely with your web team’s designers and developers to optimize your store’s UX.
#2. Payment Fraud
The increase in online purchases during the holiday season also means you and your customers are more at risk to be victim to payment fraud. It is important to your customers to know that your website is secure since their card and bank information can be easily stolen if a merchant does not take the proper security measures. According to the National Retailer’s Federation, the average retailer loses 0.68 percent of revenue to fraud. This does not include the cost to you for fees, time and overhead and the loss of customer trust. Customer trust can cascade exponentially to ruin your brand and lose you much more than the industry average over time. To effectively manage this risk ensures that your store is in Payment Card Industry Security Standard Council (PCI) compliance, monitor customer daily transactions to look for any red flags in customer spending, use the address verification system and the Credit Card Verification Value (CVV).
Also, make sure that your software platform is up to date – We’re looking at you Magento 1.7 users! The security issues that can arise from out of date software need to be fixed immediately to protect you and your customers from hacking and fraud.
#1. Stock Control
It’s important to have sufficient stock to meet customer demand for the holiday season, it is also just as important to ensure you are not left with a large amount of holiday stock going into the new year. Make sure to monitory inventory ensure you have adequate amounts of stock for potential orders and storage is not an issue. Pull a report on your best-selling items in the last few months to ensure you’ve ordered the appropriate stock levels in time for Christmas. If you’re running any flash sales or pushing deeply discounted loss-leader items, you should have the data to support the inventory levels and not run low or end up with massive overstock.
Overall, these challenges aren’t impossible to overcome. If your company is facing any of these holiday difficulties or in general need any help or support with your store, please get in touch with Redstage anytime. You can reach us at 1-888-335-2747 or email us at email@example.com.
Discover the top trends, insights, and strategies from the 2018 holiday season here!