Online Retail Today
What Consumers Expect When Shopping Online This Holiday Season

What Consumers Expect When Shopping Online This Holiday Season

The 2015 holiday season is shaping up brightly, with seasonal sales expected to increase 3.7 percent this year, according to the National Retail Federation. This healthy spending prediction of approximately $630.5 billion across November and December is welcome news for retailers, as the last two months of the year can account for as much as 30 percent of annual sales.
Among this revenue, the National Retail Federation expects that $105 billion will be spent through online sales this season. That means a sixth of your holiday sales revenue could come from online orders. But to take full advantage of seasonal spending, brands and retailers must have the technology and tools in place to handle the multichannel retailing trends of today.
A sophisticated, enterprise-level order management system (OMS) enables the consumer to find what they need, at an experience they expect, while saving time and money. It can simultaneously offer you enterprise-wide inventory visibility, drive traffic into retail stores and create more loyal customers.
As the leading SaaS platform for distributed order management, Kibo is in the unique position to understand consumer spending preferences. In a special seasonal study, Kibo surveyed 3,000 consumers across North America and the United Kingdom to get the most recent facts about what consumers expect this holiday season:

No. 1: Convenience is King

Long lines, parking headaches and a limited number of hours in the day have encouraged many to skip the stores and shop online. Kibo’s seasonal survey reports that a whopping 56% of Americans and 57% of Brits plan on using delivery-to-home this holiday season. With many retailers offering low-cost or free shipping, who can blame them?
Unfortunately, retailers and brands can struggle to fulfill these online holiday orders. With distribution centers historically acting as the go-to fulfillment location, brands and retailers are missing big opportunities by not utilizing store and dealer networks as additional fulfillment locations.
Time is of the essence for holiday orders and distribution centers tend to be inconvenient to shoppers’ actual locations, resulting in longer shipping times and higher shipping costs.  In fact, Kibo’s research has found that retail and dealer storefronts are 47 percent closer to customers than warehouses or distribution centers, making the ship-from-store fulfillment option faster and more affordable.
Additionally, ship-from-store capability eases the burden of the warehouse seasonal employee frenzy. According to Forrester Research, warehouse square footage and associated pick-and-pack staff for seasonal peaks that last just a few days of the year is a major investment for any retailer. The opportunity to offload some of the work from existing web fulfillment locations and spread this load across hundreds or thousands of stores can reduce temporary worker costs, potentially remove the need for investment in fulfillment center expansion and reduce customer support volumes by reducing fulfillment center backlogs.*
Ship-from-store is a highly efficient solution for retailers and manufacturers because it allows them to better optimize their dealer or store networks and ship from every possible storefront available. A distributed order management system is key to orchestrating the most efficient and timely fulfillment from all possible locations, enabling retailers and brands to make the sale and consumers to receive the items they want in a timely manner.

No. 2: The Storefront is Not Forgotten

Despite the strength of online shopping and in-home delivery, the storefront has not been forgotten. Nearly one-third of the American and UK consumers polled in the Kibo seasonal survey plan to purchase gifts online this year and pick them up in-store. This is good news for retailers as 40 percent of shoppers make additional purchases when they come in for pickup.
Unfortunately, only 21 percent of United States retail executives said they had the technology in place to handle in-store pickup, according to a 2015 study by RIS News. Even worse, that 21 percent doesn’t address whether the company can handle same-day pickup, a fulfillment option that is rapidly becoming an expected consumer preference.
With a distributed order management system, all storefronts in your network can become in-store pickup locations, without the need to have inventory data from each of them. Retailer stores can fulfill in-store pickup orders with their inventory, or have the items shipped to them by a distribution center if they don’t have the item in stock. In-store pickup ensures that customers get their orders quickly, with no shipping costs, while simultaneously driving  shoppers into retail locations.

No. 3: Shopping on the Go

Finally, this season’s busy shoppers plan to do a lot of purchasing on the go. More than a quarter of American and British consumers will be using their smartphones and tablets to make purchases this holiday season. Forrester Research found commerce transacted on smartphones today already comprises 10 percent of eCommerce, up from 6 percent in 2013 and 3 percent in 2012.** And while all online sales may seem equal in the eyes of the manufacturer, they are not. As consumers become more technologically advanced, so must you.
With digital savvy consumers, brands and retailers must constantly evolve new ways for consumers to shop on the go. New technologies such as  Local Product Search can provide consumers all local product availability, with or without retailer inventory feeds, and deliver search results directly to a shopper’s mobile phone. Through one text message, the shopper has the ability to choose the most convenient stocking retailer to make their purchase, then head into the store to pick it up.
Consumer shopping habits are evolving. They don’t care how or from where they receive their products, as long as they can receive them quickly and through the fulfillment option that they prefer. Do you have the competitive technology and tools in place to give the consumer what they want? An enterprise-level order management system from Kibo can put the power in the hands of your business users.
*Why Every Online Retailer Should “Ship-From-Store”, Forrester Research, Inc., May 1, 2014.
**Forrester Research eCommerce Forecast, 2014 To 2019 (US), Forrester Research, Inc., April 22, 2015.
The Invisible Hand of eCommerce

The Invisible Hand of eCommerce

Adam Smith, one of the greatest minds of all time, is often referred to as the father of economics. Amazingly, a few centuries later, his insights are still very relevant in today’s technology era. In our day and age, software may have supplanted the more traditional labor of Smith’s time, but the guiding principles he set forth are still applicable. Smith discussed three perceived benefits of the division of labor in The Wealth of Nations. Here is how the three benefits are applied to the division of software vendors in delivering an eCommerce environment.

 

  1. Specialization increases speed

Vendors who are more focused on a specific niche become experts in that area and are much more efficient at delivering within it. As a result, they can provide more custom consulting and a quicker time to market for their capabilities than their end-to-end counterparts. A reduction in time that can be from a year or more down to a few months. An eCommerce software vendor who focuses on end-to-end deployments will not be as dexterous as a software vendor who focuses on one part of the eCommerce process chain.

This is especially true for focused SaaS providers who are increasingly using APIs and scalable cloud-based infrastructure. These vendors offer multiple product releases and enhancements per year versus one or two that is common for on-premises solutions. SaaS vendors are also able to quickly and seamlessly integrate into legacy systems or existing, outdated solutions that aren’t delivering on market demands. As a result, they are able to get a front-end commerce platform, order management system or supply chain management system up and running in 12 weeks or less. A company could choose to launch one, two or all three of these at the same time without impact on total deployment time. Each one is focused on its particular niche and as a result can launch in tandem with the others versus using one vendor for the end-to-end solution, which would require a much longer deployment.

 

  1. Not having to switch between tasks saves time

Vendors who try to tackle an end-to-end eCommerce solution are faced with a bigger scale of problem. As a result, their internal team needs to grow exponentially. The cumbersome size of the team and the scope of the problem they are dealing with, along with switching between the customized deployments of their clients, makes these vendors less efficient and as a result they take more time to get things done. Specialized vendors have a singular focus on their area of expertise that increases efficiencies, sending cost savings back to clients. This is reflected in the quick deployment times and lower total cost of ownership for SaaS solutions.

 

  1. Using the right technology saves time and money

Each specialized vendor will be using the latest and greatest technology to support their platforms. Hence we see a growing adoption of SaaS technology while on-premises solutions remain unable to accommodate agile software changes. This move allows for these specialized vendors to iterate at the speed of the market and to provide upgrades and support to multiple clients at once versus having to deal with multiple one-to-one scenarios, which are inefficient and consume time and resources from both their clients and their own teams. With emerging trends like this, it’s no surprise that analyst firms, like Forrester Research, are recognizing this in their research, pointing out that “SaaS is eating traditional licensing’s lunch” and that they anticipate SaaS adoption to grow from one-third of US customers today to nearly half by end of decade.

 

The specialization of functionality that is occurring with SaaS technologies allows companies to pick and choose the best solutions on the market for their eCommerce environments, a luxury that hasn’t been a reality until recently. With SaaS based technologies, a company can swap out any software for another one relatively easily, quickly and affordably. This is enabling businesses to have best-in-class technologies and to deliver on consumer demands. The days of multi-year replatforming projects are quickly becoming obsolete.

 

For example, a SaaS based company like Kibo pushes out about 6 releases per year, which benefit their entire client base. Releases that encompass components like user interface and workflow enhancements to keep up with market developments and demand. Whereas if a company goes with a clunky on-premises, end-to-end solution and customizes the version to fit their needs then it becomes increasingly hard to upgrade to the next version. Whatever customization was appropriate at the time of deployment will quickly become obsolete as the market is moving at an increasingly quick pace. The time, cost and resources needed to upgrade systems often becomes too daunting for teams who opted for an on-premises solution, so daunting in fact, that many teams neglect investing in regular upgrades. Forrester Research reports that such upgrade neglect forces these operators into major upgrade programs or, in many cases, pushes them back to the drawing board to undertake a complete selection and replatforming program.

 

A real life example of a company capitalizing on the division of labor as manifested in software providers contributing to different parts of an end-to-end eCommerce environment is that of Home Hardware. When Home Hardware selected Kibo to provide complex fulfillment capabilities via our cloud-based distributed order management platform, they selected us for our specialized expertise and state-of-the-art technology. This criteria enabled them to be up and running with Kibo in 3-4 months without having to uproot their POS, supply chain and front end solutions as they would have had to do in a typical end-to-end implementation. Additionally, the ability to integrate Kibo as a separate functionality piece, allowed Home Hardware to do a Ship-to-Store program incredibly quickly, even though they couldn’t do it in their current system.

Learn more about how you can get up and running with order management capabilities today whether or not you want to integrate them with your existing infrastructure or roll them out with a whole new end-to-end eCommerce environment.

 

1 Retrieved from US Commerce Platform and Services Forecast, 2014 to 2019. Source: Forrester Research, Inc. February 5, 2015.

The Stats Are In: Cross-Channel Holiday Deals Offer Biggest Returns for Retailers

The Stats Are In: Cross-Channel Holiday Deals Offer Biggest Returns for Retailers

Let’s face it. Black Friday in-store sales are not for everyone. While thousands of shoppers truly enjoy the energy and excitement of single-day, in-store holiday promotions each year, it’s not surprising that many others prefer the more laid back coffee-computer-couch approach to holiday shopping.

This year, we surveyed our retailer clients to find out how much of a sales bump omnichannel retailers saw when they offered cross-channel promotions (online and in-store) throughout Thanksgiving weekend and beyond. As it turned out, the numbers were impressive.

Cyber Week Performance

  • Retail spending over Thanksgiving weekend fell 11%
  • …but omnichannel retailers on the Kibo platform enjoyed 40% gross merchandise value (GMV) growth spanning eight days.
  • Kibo retail customers also saw spikes over the holiday weekend that led to year-over-year growth of more than 93%.
  • Kibo retail customers saw impressive growth rates throughout the “Cyber 5” weekend, including:
  • 38% GMV growth on Black Friday
  • 77% GMV growth on Cyber Monday
  • 62% year-over-year GMV growth on Small Business Saturday
  • 93% increase in order volume over 2013 on Sunday

Demand for In-Store Pickup

This year’s Cyber Week also saw growing demand for in-store pickup, with heavy traffic Monday through Wednesday, until retailers abandoned store fulfillment in favor of managing Black Friday store operations and door-busters.

  • The rate of in-store pickup orders during the week leading up to Thanksgiving was 3.5x higher than aggregate in-store pickup rates for the Cyber 5.
  • In-store pickup transactions peaked on Monday, November 24, representing 15% of total orders.

Mobile Confidence

The rise in smartphone usage once again fueled the biggest online shopping holiday period. This year, consumers demonstrated their confidence in mobile shopping might be growing, by making larger overall mobile transactions.

  • The average order value originating from mobile transactions grew significantly compared to desktop transactions, growing 2x as much throughout the weekend as desktop purchases grew.
  • Black Friday’s average order value of mobile orders increased 51%, while desktop average order value grew 35%
  • Desktop eCommerce remains the preferred channel for high-ticket purchases, with mobile average order values hanging 9% below desktop orders on Black Friday.
  • Mobile traffic on Black Friday represented 47% of total traffic, while mobile sales accounted for only 30% of overall Black Friday sales.

[Infographic] How Mobile is Transforming the Retail Landscape

How Mobile is Transforming the Retail Landscape

We’ve all heard the hype about anytime, anywhere shopping. Mobile commerce is transforming the retail landscape – changing the way consumers connect with the products they love. How do we know? If seeing shoppers roaming store aisles armed with their mobile devices isn’t enough to convince you, these five stats will:

  1. 56% of consumers have used their mobile devices to research products from home (Forrester)
  2. 34% use their mobile phones to research products in store (Forrester)
  3. Cross-channel shopping journeys involving mobile devices rose on average by 20% from last year (Cisco)
  4. More than a third of visits to online stores come from mobile phones and tablets (Custora)
  5. US mobile eCommerce is expected to hit $50 billion in sales this year (Custora)

In anticipation of Shop.org, I was excited to see this fact-filled infographic from NRF detailing the changing mobile commerce landscape. Fifty-three percent of retailers listed mobile as one of their top initiatives this year. Find out why below.

Mobile Movers and Shakers in Retail

Source: Mobile Movers and Shakers in Retail

Why Smart Shoppers Love Your Website, But Hate Your Dealer Locator, Product Recommenders

Why Smart Shoppers Love Your Website, But Hate Your Dealer Locator

Chances are, if you’re reading this blog post, you’re a savvy consumer. You know which brands you like and can Google among the best of them.

In fact, I’m willing to wager my morning bagel that you’re among the 78% of adults who research products online before making a purchase (Pew Research Center). And I’ll bet my afternoon chips that you’re among the 52% of US consumers who prefer to purchase products directly from a manufacturer’s website (Price Waterhouse Cooper).

Today, millions of consumers like you (though not nearly as special) are hitting up the websites of their favorite brands, with credit cards raring to go. That makes it more critical than ever to deliver a stellar experience that captures online sales and lifetime customer value.

These five tips can help turn your browsers into buyers:

  1. Sell direct-to-consumer: This is a no brainer. Do not lose out on customers who visit your website, eager to make a purchase. We know you love your retail dealers, but your first responsibility is to make it easy for customers to find and purchase your products over the channels they prefer. With Kibo’s cloud-based distributed order management platform, you can route as few or many orders as you like to your retail dealers for fulfillment. This will allow you to offer the retail shopping experiences your customers want, including ship-from-store, local in-store pickup and returns, without ever losing a sale. Remember, when you sell direct over your brand’s website, everybody wins.
  2. Ditch the dreaded Dealer Locator: Few things are more frustrating than finding a dealer locator widget on a website. When your customers come to your site ready to buy, the last thing they want to do is enter a zip code and parse through a list of dealers, forcing them to chase down inventory, often to no avail. What’s more, many locator widgets actually drive customers off your site into the proverbial arms of retail dealers, who just happen to carry all of your competitors’ products as well. With Kibo’s easy-to-integrate APIs, customers can place orders on your site, which can be routed to the closest retailer for fulfillment. Given that 83% of shoppers rate knowing when a package will arrive as the most important service a merchant can provide (Forrester), why risk losing a sale? Tracking down inventory should be your job. Create a frictionless shopping experience for your customers by instantly connecting them with available inventory and best-in-class fulfillment capabilities.
  3. Invest in professional product photos: Your mobile uploads may generate raves on Facebook and Instagram, but in order to do justice to your products, you’ll need to invest in a professional photographer. If shoppers are searching for products on your brand’s website, they’re already hooked. Help push them over the edge by providing a variety of well-lit, well-sized, high-resolution product images that feature your products on white backgrounds as well as in inspirational settings to seed their imagination. Fail to offer this, and those looky-loos may go searching on other websites for visuals. And those other websites are likely to feature your competitors’ nicely photographed products as well.
  4. Tell your company story: In a universe of anonymized data, sharing your personal story is the best way to break through the noise. Give your customers a reason to connect with your brand by sharing your company history and values, and by introducing your customers to the people behind the products. Be sure to host a company blog featuring actionable tips on how to use your products. And consider running contests on your social channels to solicit customer stories, photos and videos. Leverage your blog and social channels to drive conversation and engagement with your customers. This will help you create a memorable brand that keeps customers coming back for years to come.
  5. Provide extensive product information: Your customers are searching on your website for product information. Why? They assume you are the most credible source. Don’t disappoint. To prevent shoppers from abandoning your website for another eCommerce site loaded with rich content, you need to offer comprehensive data about your products, including detailed specs that leave no question unanswered. By the same token, consider enabling product reviews and ratings (like Amazon) to keep customers on your site where they belong. Even if the reviews are not all glowingly positive, you will demonstrate your transparency and thereby gain trust. You will also get valuable feedback for future product development.

To find out how Kibo can help your brand create a better website ux, check out our Resource Center – or, better yet, call us at 1-877-350-3866 to request your free demo today.

Why Smart Shoppers Love Your Website, But Hate Your Dealer Locator, Product Recommenders

Overcoming Fear of Abandonment in the Fast Lane

We’ve all done it before – loaded up our online shopping carts with products we love, only to abandon minutes later. The question is why?

Some of it has to do with the online shopping experience itself. Simply put, it’s more fun to shop than it is to pay. Still, driving conversion is big business in the fast lane of retail commerce. According to Cooper Smith of businessinsider.com: “Approximately $4 trillion worth of merchandise will be abandoned in online shopping carts this year.”

In a recent article, Smith revealed findings from a June 2014 study by UPS and comScore. One of the key takeaways? Lower shipping costs and faster delivery times lead to higher conversion rates. (Yep, no surprise there.)

Other causes for abandonment?

  • High on the list was a poor mobile shopping experience. Consumers expect to enjoy a frictionless journey via any connected device. Fail to deliver, and you’ll lose that sale.
  • Information security and privacy were also rated as top concerns for wary online shoppers. Companies that enact stringent policies, like Kibo – which is PCI compliant – give shoppers the peace of mind they need to purchase online.
  • Lastly, respondents increasingly expect a convenient, no-questions-asked return policy. Enabling in-store returns of online purchases – which Kibo’s distributed order management supports –makes this easy.

In sum, offering competitive pricing, policies and promotions, such as free shipping, have never been more critical than in today’s click-happy retail landscape where your top competitor is only a bookmark away.

The chart below highlights some of the key findings from the UPS/comScore study.